TOJ Week 8 NFL Picks – Extended Edition

TOJ with his week 8 NFL picks. Who are your best bets?

Last Week: 5-6-1 (Yikes)

Season Record: 52-46-3

TOJ Week 8 NFL Picks (Lines courtesy of BetUS)

Indianapolis (+8.5) vs. Tennessee Neither of these teams are quite as bad as they looked last week. I do think the Colts are truly awful but they will show some pride on Sunday and keep it close against Tennessee, who doesn’t have the firepower to blow them out.

Jacksonville (+9) vs. HoustonSimilarly, neither of these teams are quite as good as they looked last week. The Jaguars defense will keep them competitive.

Carolina (-3) vs. Minnesota Carolina will get their second win a row heading into their bye week. Cam Newton and Steve Smith have this team light years ahead of where anyone thought they’d be this season.

New Orleans (-14) vs. St. Louis I am not sure people really appreciate how terrible St. Louis is this season.

Baltimore (-13) vs. ArizonaThe Ravens should take out their anger on a pitiful Cardinals team this Sunday.

Giants (-10.5) vs. Miami The Suck For Luck tour loses in New Jersey for the second time in three weeks.

Buffalo (-6.5) vs. WashingtonOh, Canada. Jets nation will be rooting for the Redskins but won’t receive any help.

Detroit (-4) vs. DenverNot sure I can see Tebow winning two games in a row.

New England (-3) vs. Pittsburgh The Patriots have owned Pittsburgh, period. I hope it changes but there is no reason to think it will.

San Francisco (-9.5) vs. ClevelandThe 49ers should be able to rack up 11-12 wins this year considering their schedule.

Philadelphia (-3) vs. DallasThis could really go either way. I will take the home team.

Kansas City (+4.5) vs. San DiegoThe Chargers are still drowning in their tears from last week.

A New York Jets Exam Part 1

TOJ, Green Lantern, and The Jet Report debate out 20 key questions facing the New York Jets the rest of the season

Get comfortable in your seat, print out a copy and take it on the train, or get ready for an extended lunch break. Jeff Capellini from CBS New York, TJ Rosenthal from The Jet Report, along with myself have taken the time to answer 20 crucial about the New York Jets on their bye week. Enjoy, disagree, argue…let’s get after it —

CHECK BACK FOR PART TWO ON SUNDAY

1. What does THIS Jets team have (or not have) that will allow it to move beyond the AFC Championship game.

JEFF: Personnel-wise, the Jets have enough to get to the Super Bowl. They also have the great intangible called belief. What they don’t have yet is a cohesiveness. And when you get to conference title games you have to be a united front on the field and in the locker room to beat the upper echelon teams, especially in their buildings. If the Jets make the playoffs, they are not going to zip through, only to face a wild card team that went on a miraculous run, in the championship game. It just doesn’t work that way. Odds are, they could go to New England, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, you name it. They have to learn how to take that last step and it’s not something you can teach. It’s a matter of experience, execution and coaching. It’s that simple. You’d think if they are truly back and get this thing revved up they’ll be one of the most difficult outs in the entire postseason. But, again, simply making it yet again is not enough. There are no gimmes in the playoffs. Sooner or later they have to truly come together, and I mean for more than 30 minutes at a clip.

JOE: I don’t think talent is an issue here and the experience is clearly in place for the Jets to make a Super Bowl run. The difference is going to be how stingy will the defense be in January and if Mark Sanchez can put together a few big time performances at the right time. It is very likely the Jets could end up in the wild-card again, which means road victories over some combination of New England, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh need to occur for the Jets to finally make it to that elusive Super Bowl.

TJ: For many on this Jets team, there is the collective experience of having battled on the road through two straight AFC playoff runs now. That’s alot of adversity to fight through together. As for new pieces, Plaxico Burress could be a difference maker in the red zone as he was last week. The Jets were red zone failures over the past two seasons. What they also may have added, should they choose to use it, is more speed on offense thanks to Joe McKnight and Jeremy Kerley. On the defensive side, if Aaron Maybin continues to settle in, others like Calvin Pace may benefit. In that scenario you could argue that by December the Jets will have the pass rush that was not at their disposal either during the ’09 and ’10 seasons.

2. Looking back, are there any August roster changes you’d like to have back? Or attacked differently?

JEFF: I might not have let Shaun Ellis walk, but he got a king’s ransom from the Patriots, one that the Jets would have been laughed at for matching or exceeding. However, they are still, reportedly, well below the cap and the defensive line, while improving at a snail’s pace weekly, is still not a strength. I kind of think having Ellis around would have been a good thing for the Kenrick Ellises and Muhammad Wilkersons of the world. Plus, who knows? Maybe Shaun could’ve still made some impact plays at opportune moments. The bottom line is, his return would not have HURT the Jets.

JOE: Plaxico’s recent three touchdown game and the emergence of Jeremy Kerley has calmed me down about Braylon Edawrds and Jerricho Cotchery walking. I do think the Jets are moving around the receivers surrounding Mark Sanchez too much but hopefully he can continue to adjust. Obviously, it would have been nice to see Mike Tannenbaum add a veteran lineman when Robert Turner suffered his pre-season injury.

TJ: We are still uncomfortable with the notion that if Mark Sanchez has ANY sort of issues that could sideline him during a game or even for a week or two, that Mark Brunell, with all due respect to an outstanding 19 year NFL career, is next in line. We would have liked to see a better option handled over in the Summer even though the Jets would tell you that 7th rounder Greg McElroy was on pace to landing a backup role. We wanted a Sage Rosenfels type. An 8-10 year vet who could sling it if needed.

The chase for Nnamdi Asomugha was extensive and may have cost the Jets Brad Smith but the biggest move we’d take back is cutting Aaron Maybin in the first place. Could Maybin have made a difference out in Oakland, where the early season avalanche began? We’ll never know.

3. Whats the biggest fear or danger zone for this team, player or unit, as we enter the second half?

JEFF: If the Jets’ defense continues to be what it was in the second half of the Chargers game, I’m not worried at all. However, even if it is that unit, it’s still not a shutdown unit. The Jets will still allow the occasional running back to have the big game. Tight ends and second and third receivers will still post gaudy numbers. We’ve all heard of “bend-but-don’t-break” defenses. I think that’s what the Jets are, but on a more accelerated level. They are somewhere between bend but don’t break and shutdown. The hope is they will continue to make strides toward the latter, especially over the next two weeks.

JOE: The fear is the defense allowing teams to run the football on them. There is no Ground and Pound, if you allow another running back to rack up 150 yards. It is messes with the approach of the entire team and forces the offense to play too aggressively.

TJ: The biggest fear we have is cohesiveness on the field. The Jets are, barring a major change, seeing the extent of what Mark Sanchez can give the team consistently. That is leadership, hot streaks, and the ability to come from behind. If the Jets run game keeps growing, and the defense begins to cement while adding players like Maybin into the equation, then the load  that Sanchez wlll be asked to carry can remain reasonable. If parts break down too often though, the team will have to ride the arm, and decision making of Sanchez. Two traits that are best served when keeping his stranglehold on games within reason.

4. After the spreading the ball around and featuring big pieces like Burress, Greene and Keller last Sunday, is it safe to say that Schotty and the offense have a solid handle on their approach now?

JEFF: I’m confident this offensive line is very close to being what it was last season. I think it has gotten over its adjustment period, which was caused mostly by injuries and these new and somewhat absurd CBA rules on padded practices. Shonn Greene IS a No. 1 running back. He moves the sticks. Mark Sanchez is a better quarterback than he was last season. Plaxico Burress is still a premier red zone target. The Jets just have to do a better job of complimenting Greene with LaDainian Tomlinson out of the backfield and as a receiver, must not forget about Dustin Keller, which they have been prone to do, and must get the ball in Santonio Holmes’ hands. He cannot be catching 2-3 balls a game. He’s their quickest way to the red zone. Brian Schotteheimer must find new and inventive ways to get the ball in No. 10’s hands. He changes games.

JOE: I don’t think it is safe to say that after one game but they are definitely moving in the right direction. Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller should be the top targets in the passing game, with Burress being the primary threat in the red-zone. Kerley is a third down weapon. The running game should feature Shonn Greene getting around 20 carries each week, while LaDainian Tomlinson chips in 7-10 touches as a runner and receiver. Joe McKnight needs a few packages where he can catch and run the ball in space and will gradually become more involved as the season goes on.

TJ: They better. If last week was a fluke rather than the template moving forward, then the Jets will be spotty on offense in the second half and be forced to win games solely through the work of the special teams and the defense. A strategy that has a limit to it’s effectiveness without a killer pass rusher. Last Sunday, the Jets got everyone involved which kept everyone mentally in the game. This stretched the field enough to create room for Shonn Greene to run. The only way that the Jets offense can be counted on to uphold their 24.6 points per game average is to keep doing more of the same.

5. What can we expect of Wilkerson and Ellis? How high is the ceiling of Aaron Maybin as a pass rusher this year and beyond?

JEFF: I think 3-4 years from now the Jets will have serious pieces with Kenrick and Muhammad, but for now you just have to hope they continue to show the flashes they’ve shown and live with the disappearing acts. Jets are a scheme-based defense anyway, and they generate their pressure off the blitz. Maybin has been a pleasant surprise, but he’s nowhere near a polished player. He gets to the QB for sure, but he’s mostly a straight-line or speed rusher. The guy needs to learn some moves because sooner or later wise tackles will just push him outside rather than engage him at the point of attack.

JOE: Wilkerson and Ellis look like they can be building blocks on the defensive line for years to come. In Rex’s system they won’t be flashy players but will be key components in stopping the run and pushing the pocket. Aaron Maybin really only has a couple of things going for him, his speed and motor. However, in Rex’s system he may have found a perfect home. I do believe he can be a double digit sack this year and beyond.

TJ: Wilkerson and Ellis will have their moments. The best case scenario has them making impacts in a few games, or on a few game changing plays. Their time as terrorizing beasts upfront is off in the not so distant future. Maybin’s time may be now. Maybin is fast, his pursuit can wreak havoc when plays are extended. All three have a bright future at this point, but Maybin can be a difference maker for this team. He may HAVE TO continue his pass rushing growth if the Jets hope to reach Indy.

6. If the “bad” Cromartie rears his head too often, are you comfortable throwing Kyle Wilson at the corner yet?

JEFF: I think anyone waiting for Kyle to become a shutdown corner at this level may be waiting a while. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t be a responsible and useful part of this defense. He’s improved over last season. His reads have been much better, but for the time being I think you just have to live with Antonio being Antonio because he has more upside as a “big play player” than Wilson has. And on a defense that features just one true star, the Jets need all the big- and game-changing plays they can get. Take the good with the bad with Cro and keep Kyle zoned rather than out wide, where there is less margin for error.

JOE: You know what you are getting with Antonio Cromartie, which is inconsistency. I don’t think the quick hook is the right answer as the Jets need his size and speed on the outside. Beyond that, Kyle Wilson is starting to thrive in the nickel role which is a crucial one in the Jets defense. I wouldn’t mess with that anytime soon.

TJ: No. However, we are a heck of alot more comfortable with him now that he is playing the ball and his head is turned around, than we would have been had he been forced into a starting corner role last season. Wilson’s growth in roles  such as a nickel cover guy, a blitzing weapon, and a spy, along with Maybin’s blindside speed, give the Jets added elements to last year’s defense. The second year CB’s confidence is certainly growing. That bodes well should he be forced to spell Cromartie or provide health insurance for EITHER cornerback position. As scary as that is to say, considering what a thought like that means.

7. Will Joe McKnight’s role increase?

JEFF: It almost has to, but it’s hard to say it will because even Tomlinson disappears for long stretches of games. And that’s not because LaDainian is no longer a viable talent. Schottenheimer has yet to find a balance with his RB personnel.  We know Greene should be a 20-plus carry back. We know Tomlinson should be a 5-7-carry back and more of a pass-catching threat. Where does that leave McKnight, a guy with tons of talent and more maturity? It’s hard to say. If in the average game the Jets runs 60-65 plays from scrimmage and want a 50-50 run pass balance, you are looking at 30-33 touches for RBs. Well, if Greene is getting 20-25 and Tomlinson 5-7, that’s 25-32 right there. I think McKnight could be the true change-of-pace back the Jets need, while Tomlinson at this point should be in sets where he’s split out wide or used as the primary back, but only inside the opponent’s 5-yard line.

JOE: I do think it will, but the Jets still need to figure out exactly where to fit him in this year. In the long term, he is a perfect change of pace back for Shonn Greene. For this year, with LaDainian Tomlinson still in the mix it remains hard to get him many touches. Yet, the Jets must get him going in the screen game and use his receiving skills by splitting him out.

TJ: We hope so. Making McKnight a player who is part of 5-7 plays, even as a play action decoy, gives the Jets the threat of big play speed that they haven’t had under Ryan since Leon Washington was around. Speed kills. McKnight has already proven that this year on special teams. It’s not easy to find guys who cause oppoments comcern simply by lining up. Number 25 would have to be treated by defense with respect should he be sent out into the flat for a pitch outside or for a fake that could allow Sanchez to roll out in the other direction with less defenders on his heels.

8. Assess the safeties so far. Some argue that it’s time we see more of the athletic Brodney Pool.

JEFF: It probably is time to see more of Pool. He’s sound in most aspects. But, truth be told, Eric Smith, Pool and Jim Leonhard are undersized and do not cover very well. I think finding a do-it-all safety is one of the hardest things an NFL front office has to deal with on a yearly basis. Ronnie Lott doesn’t grow on trees. So, unless the Jets go out and get lucky on the open market, I think you have to rotate Pool and Smith and play off their strengths depending on the situation. I’d trust Pool more on the opposing side of the 50 due to his speed, but I’d be fine with Smith when the field gets shorter.

JOE: On paper that does make sense, but Pool hasn’t been very good when on the field this year. The Jets will have a patch-work situation at that position for the rest of the year. A playmaking safety isn’t easy to find but the Jets need to try, especially in the early rounds of next year’s draft.

TJ: Why is there so much “miscommunication” going on back there as I believe Leonhard claimed there was last week when rookie LB Josh Mauga was frantically running for his life to cover Antonio Gates in the end zone. Plays like that are happening too often and they shouldn’t, given the experience that Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith have during their time in New York together.

Covering tight ends has been a nightmare again for the Jets who may want to leave that up to corner guys like Wilson, and Donald Strickland instead of Smith. Does Brodney Pool get what defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and Rex Ryan want? If so, get him in on more plays. He hits hard. so even if he’s late to the ball, someone is gonna get dialed up, perhaps leading to some turnovers.

9. Are the Patriots better than the Jets? If so, in what ways and how much better?

JEFF: At the end of the day I see this matchup as a wash. It all depends on when on the calendar they meet. Earlier in the season is better for the Patriots because the Jets’ D is so complex it takes quite a while for the players to get comfortable in their roles. Later in the season is better from a defensive standpoint. Offensively, the Jets should always be able to move the ball and put up points on the New England defense because it’s simply not that good. The Pats have more “stars” on offense; the Jets are much more sound defensively. I just think the Pats know how to put teams away, while the Jets, due in part to their offensive philosophy, always seem to find themselves still being forced to move the ball on offense in the fourth quarter instead of just letting the defense preserve victories. It’s not by design and that’s the main reason the Jets hover around 9-11 wins instead of 12-13 and securing home playoff games.

JOE: On a week to week basis, yes they are a better football team. They are more consistent and have one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history under center with a ridiculous collection of weapons. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean the Jets aren’t more than capable of beating them in a few weeks and again in the playoffs if it comes to that. A few weeks ago, the Jets played far from their best game and hung right with New England. They have confidence against them, which goes a long way.

TJ: The Patriots of week 6 were better than the Jets. We’re not so sure if they will be by week 9. This Jets team has the roadmap to success now, thanks to a second half against the Chargers that helped highlight key blueprints. They have found their identity of spreading the ball around and stretching the field in order to open up the run game. This while locking down the corners, covering tight ends with nickel guys, and putting some heat on the pocket with Maybin and Calvin Pace. McKnight and rookie Jeremy Kerley provide the field positon in the return game. There is still room to grow for the Jets so the jury is stlll out. Falling behind by two games by failing to identify the strengths and weaknesses of this current group earlier, makes it tougher to win the division though. Obviously.

10. How can the Jets compensate for their shortcomings on defense, particularly at safety and outside linebacker?

JEFF: By getting to the quarterback. I can’t state it any clearer.

JOE: Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine. They have the ability to coach around those shortcomings, which existed last year but still didn’t prevent the Jets from beating Indianapolis or New England on the road.

TJ: By working Brodney Pool into the safety rotation for more athleticism and aggressive hitting. By rushing guys like Wilson on passing downs and again, asking Pool and the safeties to play the outside run a bit more. This would leave Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis on their own more often so Cro would HAVE TO think less and react more on his island. We all know that Revis can handle any coverage assignment by himself.

CHECK BACK FOR PART TWO ON SUNDAY

New York Jets Bye Week – A Call To Arms

In response to Rich CImini, Justin with a solution on how the New York Jets should handle their bye week

The NFL bye week is a vicious assault on the glory of the organized violence we call football. It makes even the most brutal of thugs snap out of their psychopathic routine and fall backwards toward reading trash like Twilight on their wife’s kindle, spending time with their children, and going to pansy events like poetry readings at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Hell even Ray Lewis spent his bye week writing a pacifist manifesto to be handed out to the protesters at Occupy Wall Street.

Upon the start of bye week, all cell phones should be temporarily disconnected and every player should be taken on a 13 hour bus ride to Binghamton (a place once called, by it’s own sheriff “the place where hopes and dreams die”), where they will begin readying themselves for the inhuman brutality of the east coast winter.

Upon arrival in the 9th circle of hell, the lineman, in an effort to slim them down and tone them up, will be given a rucksack consisting of raw meat and various bottles of unlabeled whiskey. The raw meat will be accompanied by a small roll of kindling and a flint to start a fire. The whiskey can be used either for the treating of turf infections or to accompany the meat.

A nice 5 day survival expedition into the wilderness of upstate New York would do wonders for team morale. Let’s start with the defense, because after all, if you can chase down a grizzly and tear it to pieces with your bare hands, tackling starry eyed quarterbacks trying to find tight ends on a hitch route would look as difficult as beating the Seahawks in Madden 12. Though there may be a few armless quarterbacks, the constant influx of young talent from college would give guys like Tony Pike and Pat White a second shot as an NFL starter.

An alternative: Drop the whole offensive line into the heart of Trenton at 3am and see if defensive ends are as intimidating as the thought of having to duck into some project building in efforts to avoid the intermittent stray gunshot. I’m pretty sure if guys like Colin Baxter were able to manage getting themselves out of Trenton in the hour of the demon, the defensive stunts of the Buffalo Bills would not be as complex as they seem today. To illustrate, the showdown between offensive lineman and the opposing defense would look like Michael Douglas trying to pay for his soda in Falling Down.

Running backs are not spared, as they should all be sent to the nearest army obstacle course and forced to scale 50 foot rope walls while holding on to a football caked in Vaseline, followed by a nice 50 yard swim across an alligator infested lake while holding onto a 20lb medicine ball. It will be beautiful…receivers being forced to run through a paintball field while avoiding fire from both sides….all sorts of mortars, land mines going off in the distance akin to the first day of Navy Seal training….there will be a point when the sheer will to get to the end zone will outweigh childish fantasy football stats, the game clock, or even what some call being “down by contact”.

Yes the bye week will allow these things and so much more. A hand to hand combat version of capture the flag, a friendly game of rugby with the only athletes who seem to make NFL players look like they have a paranoid fear of injury, and even some good old bare knuckle boxing would make the Chiefs recent fascination of bean bag toss look as dainty as the exercise routines of golfers.

Football is a wonderful game, but as Terrell Suggs and Scott Van Pelt said, it’s getting soft. Time to throw out the moisturizer.

Breaking Down The Rest Of The New York Jets Schedule

TOJ breaks down the rest of the New York Jets 2011 regular season schedule. Is 10 wins reasonable?

The New York Jets currently sit at 4-3, likely a game or two behind the place many people thought they would be at this point of the season. When looking at their remaining nine games, it is very conceivable the Jets could still finish with 10 or 11 wins. Of course the deciding factor in that is going to be if they play like they did in the second half against San Diego for the remainder of the season or like they did in the second half against Oakland. Let’s look at what’s left for the Jets —

  • November 6th at Buffalo

A huge game that will go a long way how the AFC East and wild-card race will look for the remainder of the season. I would expect Buffalo to take care of business against Washington this week, meaning the Jets will be a full game behind the Bills heading into this meeting. The key against the Bills is to not turn the football over and slow down Fred Jackson.

  • November 13th vs. New England, Sunday Night

Showdown. Especially, if the Jets can beat Buffalo and New England slips up against either Pittsburgh or the Giants in the next two weeks. Even without a Patriots slip-up in the coming weeks, a Jets win will make them relevant in the AFC East race for the rest of the season. They have never been swept by New England since Rex Ryan has taken over.

  • November 17th at Denver, Thursday Night

A short week. A long trip. Tebow Christ. This should be an interesting game.

  • November 27th vs. Buffalo

The Bills for the second time in four weeks. They are a different team on the road and if the Jets handle their business, this could be a chance to bury them in the AFC East race and seriously cripple them in the wild-card hunt.

  • December 4th at Washington

Considering the way their season is headed, this should one of the easier games left on the Jets schedule if not the easiest. Rex Ryan and his defense should be able to tee off on the John GrossBeck crap platter at quarterback.

  • December 11th vs Kansas City

The Chiefs looked like the worst team in football for three weeks but now look halfway decent. Regardless, the Jets should be able to handle them at home.

  • December 18th at Philadelphia

A difficult road trip to face Mike Vick and the Eagles, who will likely need this game as they attempt to claw back in the NFC East race.

  • December 24th vs G-Men

How many fights are going to break out in the stadium? How many holidays are going to be ruined? It looks like this game will have playoff implications for both teams and you know Rex Ryan’s off-season quotes will be plastered all over the place leading up to it.

  • January 1st at Miami

Good to know if the Jets need this one, they finish against one of the worst teams in recent NFL history.

If you remember my roadmap to the Jets making the playoffs from a few weeks ago when they were 2-3, you will see they are on pace by taking the first step in sweeping Miami and getting a split out of the San Diego/New England match-ups. Sticking to that original article, 10 wins can be achieved like this —

  • Take 2 out of 3 from remaining NFC East opponents
  • Beat Kansas City, Denver, and Miami
  • Split with Buffalo

Not too crazy, right? Nevermind the reality that the Jets have a good shot to knock off New England at home, as they have done the past two years.

Strange Vibrations in the BCS Machine, 4 NFL Teams Run Out Of Gas

A review of the past weekend’s action in college football and the NFL

Taking one final look at the BCS standings: the prophecy of SEC domination is beginning to take over, the Big 12, the Pac 12…will all bow at the altar.

I want to be a West Virginia fan. Open a dude ranch. Set my couch on fire while spitting out moonshine and reading the Book of Revelation. Drink some PBR and spend half the day tending to the livestock. I get the LSU loss, makes sense to lose with the pressure of a home game against the second best defense in football in primetime but Syracuse? They don’t do anything well, except expose that 3-3-5 stack for all it’s worth. A million passing yards, man coverage failure, beat on slants, beat deep and time to take a long hard look in the mirror and settle with the Snapshot Progressive Savings bowl. Let’s say they finish 9-3, which is two losses too many for the Big East. 2nd place and a weekday bowl game that makes football freaks sick.

It is going to get ugly for a second straight year in Texas. They have some pieces for the future on defense, but Mack Brown might make it only a few more if they don’t at least make it through the season with less than 5 losses. Texas Tech, Kansas State and Texas A&M will take 2 out of those 3 with ease, look for more recruits to find other Texas area schools as the days of National Championships are over for the next decade. The power is shifting. Move over Cowboys, we have another candidate for team most hanging on to their own history. The fat old businessmen are simply getting drunk on Saturdays and not caring about the outcome of the game. Betting is over and the Longhorns are looking like fools.

Auburn has officially gone to hell. The Cam Newton factor may have singlehandedly won them at least 3 road games last year. They did not have the overall talent to win a National Championship, and are sitting at the bottom of the SEC West, hoping for some sort of magic to hobble them through the rest of the year as a 5 loss team. They may play in Alabama, but they are not Alabama. Clemson set the wheels in motion, and LSU buried any chance of relevance for the next 2 years. Nobody cares about Auburn anymore, and nobody will by the start of next year. Michael Dyer will always be the runner up to Trent Richardson,

Will Georgia beat Florida? That’s going to be the type of game where you hope each team beats each other into the ground, akin to a Giants/Patriots, or a Packers/Steelers game. How they made it by Tennessee and Mississippi State perplexes me but they will probably get one over on Auburn, who will be scraping themselves off the floor by November 12th. If South Carolina loses Lattimore, all bets are off on the SEC East.

Arizona State Sun Devils, one of the PAC 12 phantoms that rises out of the woods and goes backwards towards the latter half of the season. They just may go undefeated through the rest of the year, but two losses keep them on the edge of the highly overrated PAC 12 conference. There is nothing I care about concerning this team, though I am sure USC is probably a better team. Unfortunately Reggie Bush ruined the beauty and sun kissed finesse of USC for the next few years.

I will root for Texas Tech for years to come. One because they are the reason for Michael Crabtree. Two because they knocked off Oklahoma. Three, because they average 383.7 passing yards per game. The only caveat to Texas Tech is of course the second half of their schedule. Texas will summon enough pride to keep that game close. Oklahoma State will outgun them, and Baylor will attempt some sort of dramatic 500 yard passing high note against a defense that averages 30.7 against it.

What I saw from the Indianapolis defense last night was not surprising. Greatest offense in the NFL against a secondary with a large majority of undrafted, third tier players? Not much of a contest. Small linebackers who can’t defend receivers, can’t stop the run, and can’t tackle in space? Indianapolis hash them. Defensive line? Freeney and Mathis are two of the best defensive ends who happen to be two of the smartest in the league. But when a quarterback can get away from the pocket and throw, defensive ends can’t do much. Especially when they start throwing the occasional power run and play action pass. If your secondary can’t give you three seconds to get the sack, all that effort goes to waste.

The Miami Dolphins are God’s way of punishing the Miami Heat. I was once invited to a Dolphins game. Reggie Bush might keep you awake, Brandon Marshall will make some big catches. But they can’t finish games once they get stopped through the air. Chad Henne would have got them 4 wins, but there is no stopping the insanity for Andrew Luck, who will in fact decline Miami’s invitation if it is given. What’s there to be excited about. A 20th ranked defense? A bunch of overrated wide receivers? No great tight end? Miami could do best by trading the Luck pick for two first rounders and two second rounders, beefing up their secondary and receiving core. They’ll be able to get someone decent at QB in the second or third round.

Now for the sorriest team from the sorriest division of the sorriest coast of professional football. The Rams are not worthy of the old Rams colors. They are second tier talent across the board. They are the 8-8 team without a highlight reel, and Sam Bradford is going to need some help at receiver. He needs a big playmaking receiver to sit across from Brandon Lloyd while Pettis and Salas grow into starters. Amendola will be relegated to the slot and Lance Kendricks will finally take over at tight end. They need secondary help and they could use some offensive lineman to keep Bradford upright. They will make do on their defensive line although Spagnolo is itching for a first round defensive lineman to accompany Robert Quinn.

Minnesota proves my theory of hedging your bets on an aging quarterback to be disastrous for twice as many years as he plays. Brett Favre for two years? Four year recovery time for any sort of playoff run. Look at the Vikings closely. Is Adrian Peterson the best running back in the NFL? There’s no way to judge that. Without Favre, the Vikings are going against a stacked box all day. When Favre was there, everyone defended the pass. Hell of a change for the offensive line. There’s going to be nothing to like about this team by the end of the year. Peterson would break all sorts of record on either the Packers, Saints or Ravens. Sadly, he will stay in Minnesota and freeze his ass off.

TOJ Week 7 NFL Picks

TOJ with his week 7 NFL Picks. What are the best bets for this weekend?

Season Record: 47-40-2

Last Week: 7-5-1

Week 7 NFL Picks, lines courtesy of BetUS

  • Tampa Bay (+1) vs. Chicago
  • Washington (+3) vs. Carolina
  • Jets (+3) vs. San Diego
  • Seattle (+3) vs. Cleveland
  • Tennessee (-3) vs. Houston
  • Denver (PK) vs. Miami
  • Atlanta (+3) vs. Detroit
  • Kansas City (+4.5) vs. Oakland
  • Pittsburgh (-4.5) vs. Arizona
  • Green Bay (-11.5) vs. Minnesota
  • New Orleans (-13.5) vs. Indianapolis
  • Baltimore (-10) vs. Jacksonville

Two Months & Still No Answers: NFL, College Football, NBA

Justin breaks down what we have learned through two months of the college football and NFL season, along with a look at the NBA Lockout

Questions remain. Is Oklahoma the best college team in the country? Don’t bother thinking about it. They’re the most explosive offense, but as Oregon found out against LSU, great defense beats great offense every time in college football. Oklahoma will fear the LSU or Alabama defense if they so happen to meet in the BCS championship game.

They will fear it because it hits hard. See Jordan Rogers. They will fear it because it causes turnovers, whether through the air or on the ground. They will fear it because it keeps coming, and even after the ball gets thrown Landry Jones will still have to pick himself up off the ground and wait for the blue moon blitz.

Alabama put a beating on Ole Miss, as LSU did to Tennessee earlier on Saturday. The debate as to who is better comes down to the running game, because both quarterbacks are probably not even in the top 10 in the country. Now LSU gets the beauty of a quarterback controversy heading into the November 5th early SEC championship game.

To break this down to those who have not witnessed Alabama and how they go about outscoring opponents by 40 every weekend I have devised this 8 part script:

Part 1 – Let the opposing offense march down the field, giving a false sense of hope
Part 2 – Start to stop the run game
Part 3 – Take away the pass game
Part 4 – Introduce Trent Richardson to opposing defensive backs
Part 5 – With 21 point lead, take Richardson out of the game
Part 6 – Hit someone so hard on defense they stop looking for screens and passes over the middle
Part 7 – With 30 point lead, insert Eddie Lacy or Marcus Fowler
Part 8 – Enjoy victory

Oh Denard. Michigan is currently sitting at the great precipice of what may be the end to their season. How did Michigan fall apart against Michigan State? They couldn’t play their game. Their game that consists of power run, option run, screen pass, QB sneak, and repeat. Michigan always runs up scores in the first few weeks against subpar teams, but Michigan State knows their game plan, and as long as Denard Robinson is around that isn’t going to change much. He, unfortunately, cannot throw the ball. What some call back shoulder, some call luck.

So there you go. Alabama will be in the title game, LSU will destroy some Big 12/Pac 12 team in a bowl game as Alabama did to Michigan State last year, and Oklahoma will finally be exposed as the pass happy big brother to Oregon. Stanford will have to beat the elusive, speed first Oregon if they are going to get anywhere close to the BCS championship, all the while praying to god Oklahoma has some sort of huge slip up. Neither may happen, so we may again be wondering if the smartest team in the country can actually hang with either the Big 10 or SEC. After this season it won’t matter, so if they are going to do it, they better do it this year.

If Clemson survives the rest of their schedule, they will make a nice story, but the great matchup of an undefeated Georgia Tech against an undefeated Clemson is sadly not to be.

Don’t trust Oklahoma State. They are horrible on defense, and they will ultimately rely on the play of their quarterback and running back to put up 50 if they have any chance to make it through the Big 12 with only one loss (Oklahoma). Giving up an average of 27 a game is not a method for long term success.

The Big East, whom I love like Gilbert Grape, will not exist in five years, so no point in getting sentimental about teams like West Virginia and Rutgers and Syracuse.

The Big 10 championship will be ugly. There will not be many points scored, and if it ends up as Michigan State against Wisconsin, look for something truly hideous.

TCU can’t pass and they can’t stop the pass, so the temporary love affair from analysts is most likely over. Someone print up posters of Kellen Moore and Justin Bieber side by side. I love Boise State, and will until I am cold and rotting. They average 14.5 points against, so I can love the defense and let Kellen sling it all over the field.

As I stated previously, the South Carolinas and Floridas are sadly not going to be a part of the SEC championship. I have a respect for Florida’s defense, and I have unabashedly announced my fascination with both Marcus Lattimore and Jadaveon Clowney. Despite this, they are a rung below the machinelike efficiency of both LSU and Alabama.

Anyone care about the Sun Belt? No? Good.

On to the NFL. Who’s the best team in the AFC North? The Ravens. They are what the Jets wish theywere. Greatest linebackers and safeties of their generation, an All Pro defensive tackle, and a running back who is the lighter/faster version of Shonn Greene. The Patriots are probably going to meet them in the AFC championship, but as we all know, defense wins in the playoffs. Can’t Wait.

NFC North? Packers. There are few things that can beat the Packers, save for some ridiculous pressure and or speed that no defense has at the moment. Aaron Rodgers will run circles around the rest of the NFC north for the rest of the season. God help any NFC team that happens to run across the Packers indoors the rest of the season.

What will happen to the weirdest team in football? Carson Palmer will probably throw for 150, two interceptions, and two touchdowns this weekend. They will not sling it out, accuracy is key when you’ve got Bush and Mcfadden in the backfield. 3rd and 4. That is until Moore and Heyward-Bey get loose and Carson Palmer says to himself, “hey now, these guys can run better than the guys in Cincinnati!”

The only question is, would Carson have fared better with AJ Green and Jermaine Gresham than he will with Kevin Boss and the two burners on the outside?

At this point, I must make my confession about the NFC East. The Redskins are a QB and a receiver from the playoffs. They should do well in this year’s draft, probably ending up with the 16th pick and finally getting the offensive help to add to one of the NFC’s best defenses. If they can get a big fast receiver and a first round quarterback, they may actually stand a chance against the overhyped Eagles and the under-hyped Giants.

As a Jets fan, it makes me sad to realize that the Giants are a better built organization. Just look at the first round picks:

Hakeem Nicks, Jason Pierre Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka, Antrel Rolle, Aaron Ross

The offensive line: Four Pro Bowls. Defensive line: Four Pro Bowls. They have consistency that most teams envy. They will make the playoffs this year and the rest of the ALL STAR teams (Cowboys, Eagles) will have to deal with quarterback inconsistency that makes Eli Manning look like Peyton.
Enough love for the NFC East. I feel sick.

There is a sad end to all of this, the NBA

The NBA will not have a full season this year. It will probably not have even half a season. If there is a season, it will be weird, short and as exciting as the last 6 weeks of college football.

We already missed the Heat vs. Knicks, Thunder vs. Mavericks and to keep the list going would make every NBA fan seethe with rage. As the NFL taught us, it isn’t over till its over but this time it feels like it’s been over since the beginning. And now the players are talking about a ten game world tour, something you wouldn’t do unless you have little to no hope. Here comes the NBA equivalent of the XFL, and it will not last. Even the most diehard fans will feel cheated.

TOJ Roundtable Week 6 – Jets/Dolphins Predictions

The TOJ writers put in their picks for Monday Night Football. Will the Jets losing streak come to an end?

Joe Caporoso: 12 Pack

Justin Fritze: I have nothing left to believe in at this point, the long awaited circus is upon us. The Dolphins will try their best but it will be their defense that does it. It gets a little out of hand as Sanchez literally crumbles into a ball after 6 man pass rush all day.  He throws 3 picks and the running game gets stopped at the line, leading to a few heroic shots down the field. Jets get a few turnovers themselves , maybe 4 in some sort of emotional last second manner.

Rob Celletti: The Jets fan consensus seems to be that the 2011 season will be a lost cause if the Jets can’t find a way to win on Monday night.  I tend to agree with that.  The Dolphins are an absolutely miserable football team that already has one eye on Andrew Luck.  The Jets have certainly had a bad week, but they can assuage a lot of doubts (internal and external) with a solid performance.  I expect the offensive line to play with a chip on its shoulder after being buried this week by the media and one of its own captains.  If they play well, the Jets should be able to come at the Dolphins with a balanced offensive attack that must include taking some shots down the field in the passing game. This is also the type of game, that if it’s close, the Jets might try something like a fake punt or other type of gadget play.  In the end, I think the Jets get it done.  It won’t be pretty, but I expect the defense to give Matt Moore some major problems and the offense will show some signs of life.  Jets win 20-10.

TJ Rosenthal: Jets Win if: They shut up and play ball. The Jets swagger has turned into chatter. Too much of it. Too much defending themselves from Joe Namath’s comments. Too much infighting. Too much concern about Schotty, from the fans to the players. This team simply needs to go out there and win one on one battles right from the center snap up front. This way, Mark Sanchez will have time to stretch the field and the run game will have room to maneuver. The defense has to be relentless. Smother Matt Moore and a Dolphins ground game that may feature a banged up RB in Daniel Thomas. Play desperate. Play physically. Play together. If they do, the Jets will go to 3-3.

Jets lose if: They start slow on offense and begin to worry about each other. They lose if the Defense allows QB Matt Moore the time to get comfortable in a game that in this scenario, would remain winnable into the late third quarter early fourth. The Jets have to take control with a two score lead in the second half. Otherwise the Dolphins will begin to take alot of interest in ruining the Jets season.

Chris Celletti: I think the Jets right a lot of wrongs this week thanks to the competition. Let’s be honest, the Dolphins area bad, bad football team with Matt Moore running the show at quarterback (although, they’re pretty bad with Chad Henne as is). This is a must-win for the Jets if they have any serious playoff contention hopes, and I don’t want to hear about how the Dolphins are dangerous because A) It’s a division game and B) They’re desperate for their first win. The Jets are a better team plain and simple. New York’s defense should be able to dictate the game against Moore, and I think the offense has its best and most consistent day of the season. I see Mark Sanchez having about 250 yards throwing with a couple TDs, including a long score (finally). The running game also shows some more progress, and the Jets roll to a 31-10 victory. And then all is right in JetsLand again…until next week at least.

Week 6 Sunday: NFC East Only Gives Jets A Little Help

A review of Sunday’s week 6 action, looking at what we learned about each division

Today was a weird day for New York Jets fans as they were forced to root for the New York Giants, our in-stadium rivals and the team many of our annoying friends root for and the Dallas Cowboys, who nobody likes to root for. The Giants came through with a win over the Buffalo Bills, knocking them down to 4-2 however Dallas did what Dallas does and choked late and lost a tight one in New England as the Patriots pulled to 5-1. For the Jets it is time to take care of business tomorrow night and next week at home versus San Diego. If they head into their back to back games against Buffalo and New England at 4-3, they just may have a chance to make the AFC East race somewhat interesting into December.

Here is what else we learned around the league today…

AFC East – Buffalo has an exciting offense and will be in the mix into December. However, they are very beatable because unless another quarterback throws them four interceptions, they have a tough time winning. New England isn’t quite as dominant as everybody makes them out to be, but they know how to win close games better than any team in the league.

AFC North – You could make a strong argument for Baltimore being the best team in the AFC because of how dominant their defense looks. Pittsburgh looks a level or two behind them.

AFC South – Just a weak overall division that will come down to the Titans and Texans battling it out, as their head to head match-ups loom large.

AFC West – Oakland needs to get David Garrard on the phone immediately if they have plans on keeping pace with San Diego. I am sorry but Kyle Boller won’t cut it.

NFC East – The division is wide, wide open. The Giants are playing well early in the season as they always do but it would foolish to write off Philadelphia or Dallas already because of their sub .500 records. Washington had an ugly loss today but will a contender all year as well.

NFC North – Don’t pat Jim Schwartz on the back. How about the Stan Van Gundy clone trying to break the fight up?

NFC South – Another division that is wide open, especially after Tampa Bay putting up a very impressive win today over New Orleans. The Falcons have had an ugly start but they aren’t dead yet.

NFC West – San Francisco should clinch any day now.

TOJ Week 6 NFL Picks

TOJ with his week 6 NFL Picks

Last Week: 5-7-1

Season Record: 40-35-1

Week 6 Picks, Lines Courtesy of BetUS

  • Green Bay (-15) vs. St. Louis
  • Pittsburgh (-12) vs. Jacksonville
  • Philadelphia (-3) vs. Washington
  • San Francisco (+4.5) vs. Detroit
  • Carolina (+4) vs. Atlanta
  • Indianapolis (+6.5) vs. Cincinnati
  • New York Giants (-2.5) vs. Buffalo
  • Baltimore (-7.5) vs. Houston
  • Oakland (-7) vs. Cleveland
  • Dallas (+7) vs. New England
  • New Orleans (-6) vs. Tampa Bay
  • Minnesota (+3) vs. Chicago
  • New York Jets (-7.5) vs. Miami

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