By Matthew Wieselthier
1:00 PM ET
Jets 24, Bills 13
The Jets are arguably the most surprising team this season. After being projected as one of the worst, the Jets are in playoff contention, and there is one big reason why. The “Sons of Anarchy.” The defensive line for the Jets, comprised of Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, and Sheldon Richardson, has tortured quarterbacks and offensives in general with the pressure they’ve put on QBs. The offense should also get a lot stronger this week with WR Santonio Holmes and TEs Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow returning from injuries (suspension for Winslow).
Buccaneers 28, Falcons 24
The Buccaneers may have looked bad most of the year, but the past few weeks, they have started to look like a decent team. The Falcons, on the other hand, are the most disappointing team this season, going from Super Bowl favorites to the favorites for a top 5 draft pick. The Buccaneers have looked like a good team since Mike Glennon took over at QB. The one thing they needed was a W. They got that last Monday versus the Dolphins, and the momentum should continue into this week.
Lions 31, Steelers 16
The Lions have looked very strong the past few weeks. We can say this over and over again. Matthew Stafford has looked very strong, a big thanks to WR Calvin Johnson. The Lions new two-headed rushing attack of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell has been stellar. If anything goes wrong with the Lions offense against the tough Steelers defense, the terrible Steelers offense should help them out. There has been no running game from the Steelers and QB Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t looked great either. The Lions should have ease in taking this game.
Eagles 34, Redskins 31
The Eagles are on a nice hot streak. Nick Foles has looked great in the past few weeks and so has LeSean McCoy in the running game. Meanwhile, the Redskins are exactly where they were last year. 3-6 last season, the Redskins racked up a 7 game winning streak to win the NFC East title. The Redskins are once again 3-6 and things are once again looking gloom. A miracle happens once, not twice, and not this year.
Cardinals 28, Jaguars 14
The Cardinals are another team in the running for most surprising team this season. Their most surprising player is RB Andre Ellington, who is averaging 7.2 yards per carry, is still sharing time with Rashard Mendenhall, but still taking advantage of his time and showing why he deserves to be seriously considered as a decent RB in the league. The Jaguars are still one of the worst teams in the NFL despite upsetting the Titans last week. Don’t expect that fact to change against a tough NFC opponent.
Texans 37, Raiders 17
Isn’t it about time that Case Keenum got his first victory as a starting QB in the NFL? He has played fantastic since getting the job, holding a 105.1 passer rating and throwing 7 TDs with no interceptions. The Raiders have their own QB issues. Starting QB Terrelle Pryor is out with a knee injury, prompting the first start in the career of Matt McGloin. This is a very interesting matchup of previously undrafted QBs starting against one another.
Bears 23, Ravens 10
The Bears have a nice situation in which they can trust their backup QB when Jay Cutler gets injured. Josh McCown has been quite successful this year, throwing for a 60% completion percentage and a 103.2 passer rating. The Ravens still don’t look that great and against a tough Bears defense, that fact shouldn’t change.
Browns 27, Bengals 23
The Browns haven’t played two games against the Bengals in a season since 2002. That fact may change with the way both teams have been performing recently. Since putting on an offensive show versus the Jets in Week 8, the Bengals have dropped two straight games against teams they should have dominated (Dolphins and Ravens). Now they play another division rival and need things to change before their bye week with a struggling Andy Dalton. The Browns have a chance to shock everyone with a win this week. They are in second place in the AFC North and have a chance to be one game back after this week. QB Jason Campbell has been very successful since taking over in the Cleveland QB debacle.
4:00 PM ET
Chargers 32, Dolphins 17
The Chargers are another team on the rise and surprise this season. QB Philip Rivers is having a comeback season with 18 TDs to 7 interceptions and a 105.9 passer rating and looking like the Rivers of old back when the Chargers were a regular playoff favorite. The Dolphins also looked like they were on the rise until they lost to the previously winless Buccaneers on Monday Night, not even showing up in the first half and looking dreadful all night.
Giants 24, Packers 13
The Giants may be the luckiest team in the league at the moment. After starting off 0-6, the Giants have taken down 3 straight either bad or injury riddled teams. This week, they get another injured and limping team with the Cheese heads. The Packers not only lost QB Aaron Rodgers, they lost their backup QB Seneca Wallace to injury last week. Scott Tolzein is making his first career start and he won’t have the Packers best check down target/tight end Jermichael Finley, who had spinal fusion surgery since being put on the IR, possibly ending his career. The Giants are getting very lucky. Don’t expect that to last much longer though.
Seattle 38, Vikings 14
The Seahawks were looking like they were on the decline, playing close games against not great opponents, headlined by having to squeak out an OT win versus the Buccaneers. They finally came back last week in an absolute destruction of the upsetting Falcons. Expect that to continue because the Seahawks are a top team with a top defense and a solid offensive attack against a horrible Vikings team who have not much upside.
49ers 27, Saints 25
The 49ers are very strong and arguably still underrated after losing such a tight game against the Panthers last week. QB Colin Kaepernick is back to being a top QB after a weak start to the season. The defense is also very strong, as shown last week when they held a strong Panthers offense to only 10 points. The Saints are very strong too, but tough defenses haven’t had that much trouble in stopping them. That fact should stay the same this week.
8:30 PM ET
Broncos 20, Chiefs 14
The two top teams in the NFL going against each other on Sunday Night. What more can anyone ask for? The Chiefs and their top defense in the NFL are going face to face with the Broncos’ top offense. The Chiefs are arguably the worst 9-0 team ever, that being that they haven’t played anyone with a winning record. But at the same time, the Broncos have only played one team with a winning record in their only loss of the season to the Colts. Peyton Manning is still the best QB in the league and that should propel the Broncos to victory in this AFC West showdown.
8:30 PM ET
Panthers 35, Patriots 24
The Panthers are arguably the hottest team in the NFL right now. They have the 2nd best defense and their offense is just getting better and better. The Patriots are still the walking wounded on the defensive side and Tom Brady has looked awful this entire season. Don’t bet against the hot streak. Carolina should be able to bring home the W in this week ending primetime showdown.
Matthew Wieselthier is the Sports Director at WPOB 88.5 FM, Plainview. He is also the PA announcer at all sporting events at POBJFKHS. You can follow him on twitter at @wieselsports66.
Heading into the 2013 regular season, some thought Mark Sanchez might still be the quarterback for the New York Jets. Some thought the Jets might be winless. Some people thought Rex Ryan would be fired by now. Well, none of those things have happened, in fact the Jets are in solid shape to compete for a playoff spot as we enter the second half of the regular season. The Jets have showed signs of being a true contending football team as well as signs of why many picked them to win at most four games this year. They are easily the most confusing team to understand and can’t be relied upon to give you a consistent performance, whether good or bad, week in and week out. Nevertheless, here are the Jets at 5-4 after nine weeks and currently slotted in 6th and final spot in the playoffs. It’s been a wild ride this point, let’s try to make some sense of it…
New York Jets 18 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17
Team Headline: Better to be lucky than not!
Coming into their season opener the Jets were considered to be a laughing stock. Well, in their first game of the season, New York showed how good of a defense they really have. The Jets really didn’t deserve to win this game; in fact they shouldn’t have if not for a stupid unnecessary roughness penalty by a Buccaneer defender which set up Nick Folk for a game winning 48-yard field goal. Geno Smith showed he could lead this time as he initiated a last minute drive to put the Jets in position to win the football game. Granted, they needed a little bit of luck to win the game, but a win is a win.
Week 2: New England Patriots 13 New York Jets 10
Team Headline: Geno Sucks!
Working on a short week, the Jets traveled to Foxboro for Thursday Night Football and played well once again defensively as they limited Tom Brady to only 185 yards through the air. Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory combined to run for 100 yards on the ground and showed what type of game the Jets would need to play in order to win football games this year. Unfortunately, that recipe does not include turning the football over four times, three times from Geno Smith interceptions. Geno lost the Jets this football game, and after looking good the previous week, Jets fans were back on the hater bandwagon in regards to their new quarterback.
Week 3: New York Jets 27 Buffalo Bills 20
Team Headline: Hey! Geno isn’t too bad!
Despite looking so bad the previous week, Geno Smith silenced the critics as he took down a tough divisional opponent on the road. He threw for over 300 yards for the first time in his career and also tossed two touchdowns. The Jets ran the ball effectively for 182 yards, mostly from Bilal Powell who racked up 149 yards on 27 carries. Despite losing the turnover battle again and committing a team record 20 penalties, the Jets got the win and moved to 2-1 on the year.
Week 4: Tennessee Titans 38 New York Jets 13
Team Headline: I need a drink!
Oh boy. After week three, the Jets were feeling great about themselves as they were 2-1 coming off a big road win. The Titans were 2-1 also, but not viewed as a good football team, until week four came around. That’s when the Titans put a beating on the Jets 38-13. Geno was horrendous and threw two more interceptions to put his four-game total at eight! The Jets fell down 10-0 after the first quarter and never had a chance after that. Jake Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined to throw for four touchdowns and zero interceptions as they torched the Jets secondary. This was a huge step backwards for a team that was really showing signs of life.
Week 5: New York Jets 30 Atlanta Falcons 28
Team Headline: What just happened?
So the Jets get embarrassed by the Titans the previous week and in week five they faced the Falcons, bitter off of a home loss to New England, who are usually unbeatable at home. Here is where the un-predictableness of the Jets started to kick in. Somehow the Jets led in the fourth quarter 27-14, but the Falcons stormed back as expected to take a 28-27 lead. Geno got the ball with 1:54 left in the game down two points on the road own his own 20-yard line. From there Smith would engineer a magnificent seven play drive to set up Nick Folk for a 43-yard time-expiring kick to give the Jets the win. In a game where Vegas dubbed the Jets as ten point under-dogs, Gang Green shocked the world. No one saw this coming, especially after week four’s embarrassing loss to Tennessee.
Week 6: Pittsburgh Steelers 19 New York Jets 6
Team Headline: Well, it was a nice season!
After a big road win on Monday Night Football, Geno Smith and the Jets let it be known throughout the league that they are no joke. In week six they returned home to face the Steelers and dropped the ball. Geno played his worst game as a Jet so far as he threw for only 201 yards on 34 attempts and two interceptions. They were shut out in the second half while Pittsburgh put the game away, as they fell to 3-3. It was a classic Jets let down after a huge win the previous week and another step back as the Steelers won their first football of the season.
Week 7: New York Jets 30 New England Patriots 27 OT
Team Headline: Referees 1 Patriots 0
With Rob Gronkowski returning to the field, the Patriots came into week seven feeling pretty good about themselves. They left the field scratching their heads. After getting completely shut down offensively versus the Steelers, Geno Smith played much better this week and led his team to victory in overtime despite throwing a pick six. Tom Brady was held out of the end zone and completed less than half of his passes, while also throwing a pick six. A controversial call in overtime negated a missed field goal by Nick Folk, and set up a much closer kick later in the drive which gave the Jets the victory. Once again, the Jets bounced back from mediocrity the previous week to win in improbable fashion.
Week 8: Cincinnati Bengals 49 New York Jets 9
Team Headline: Is Sanchez healthy? What about Sims?
The Jets just beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, so with the way their season is going it just made sense for them to go out and lose by 40 to the Bengals the following week. When Andy Dalton throws five touchdowns against your defense that usually is an issue. When Geno Smith throws two picks and only 159 yards you probably aren’t going to win football games. The Jets were shelled in every phase of the game and received a decimating blow to their confidence going forward.
Week 9: New York Jets 26 New Orleans Saints 20
Team Headline: We just beat the Saints in a game that wasn’t in Madden?
This one still confuses me. After losing as bad as you can to the Bengals, the Jets came right out of the gate defensively and made Drew Brees feel uncomfortable. Throughout the football game the Saints just felt out of sync, well except for Jimmy Graham because he’s well…not human. Geno Smith didn’t do much to win this football game, but he certainly didn’t lose it for the Jets. For once, the Jets won the turnover battle after getting Drew Brees to throw two uncharacteristic picks. Chris Ivory was a tank as he rushed for 139 yards on only 18 carries and found the end zone. He ran very hard throughout the game and was definitely the x factor. It was a game that was won by the Jets very good defense and their ground and pound offensive attack. Get embarrassed by the Bengals one week, and then beat the Super Bowl contending the Saints the following week. Yeah, I got nothing.
It’s absolutely incredible how on and off the Jets are each and every week. They have alternated wins and losses every single week even though some weeks have looked great and some have looked abysmal. After nine week the Jets head into their bye week in the sixth spot for the playoffs. They will face the Bills in week 11 where, if their prior games this season are indicators, they will probably get the doors blown off themselves and lose by 30 to the Buffalo Bills. The combined record of their remaining opponents is 26-30 so to imagine the Jets winning four to five more games is not so far-fetched. They are a run first team that can sometimes rely on the arm of Geno Smith to make a big play every now and then. The Jets would prefer to not have Geno decide the outcomes of games and instead just manage them while their ground and pound attack moves the offense. Their back bone has become their defense which is top ten in the league. They specialize against stopping the run as they have allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL, 77.9. As bad as the Jets were supposed to be, they have shocked many by winning five games already, including beating the Falcons, Patriots, and Saints. Their losses have been ugly, but they will gladly take a 5-4 record right now although this roller coaster has a long way to go until it has reached its end.
By Dan Lagnado
Division Winner: Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are the only team above .500 in a division that includes two perennial defensive powerhouses, the defending Super Bowl champions…and the Cleveland Browns. The Bengals have made the most of their first two draft picks this season, Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard. Both have given an already powerful offense a boost. Andy Dalton has thrown for 16 touchdowns, 12 of those to AJ Green and Marvin Jones. Geno Atkins and the NFL’s leading tackler Vontaze Burfict lead the NFL’s fifth ranked defense (of all teams in the AFC North, who guessed the Bengals would have the top ranked defense?) This defense will have to deal with the loss of Rey Maualuga who was injured against the Jets. Currently sitting at 6-2 with a three game lead on the division, despite a tough schedule the Bengals seem poised to run away with this division.
8.5 months ago, the Baltimore Ravens were on top of the football world. And then everything changed. Ray Lewis and Matt Birk retired. Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, Paul Kruger, Cary Williams, Bernard Pollard and Danell Ellerbe left either by free agency or were released. So far these losses have been hard to overcome. The Ravens are 3-4 and are only 1/2 game ahead of the Browns for second place. Joe Flacco, who signed a big contract extension after his Super Bowl MVP, hasn’t quite played up to the money with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. Ray Rice is averaging less than three yards per carry and has struggled to stay healthy. Torrey Smith is the clear offensive leader but his teammates haven’t stayed healthy. Jacoby Jones has been injured and missed five games causing the Ravens to turn to rookie receiver Marlon Brown. Terrell Suggs and new addition Elvis Dumervil have combined for 13 sacks to provide most of the defensive highlights. While still possible for the Ravens to make a late season run, it will hardly be easy. Baltimore has a tough schedule going forward including two games against the first place Bengals.
The Cleveland Browns are having one of the most bizarre seasons that anyone has ever seen. The Browns were looking for even better seasons from their big second year players Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson. As it turns out Weeden would start only two games (both losses) before being benched in favor of Brian Hoyer. Hoyer would go 3-0 in his starts before going down for the season with injury. The Browns then went back to Weeden, who would lose two more games before being benched again, this time for Jason Campbell. Richardson also only lasted two games before being traded to the Indianapolis Colts for draft picks. The Browns have actually performed better without last year’s high draft picks, going 3-1 in games not started by Weeden and 3-3 without Richardson. The main bright spots have been Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon, who have accounted for nine receiving touchdowns. Defensive back Joe Haden has played proven to be one of the best year-in-year-out and rookie Barkevious Mingo has impressed in his rookie year with four sacks in his early career. While Cleveland is not going to threaten for a playoff birth terribly soon, the roots of a good team are in place.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are feeling the effects of time. This is hardly the same team that won two Super Bowls in the past decade. Instead, the Steelers sit in last place with a disappointing record of 2-5. Ben Roethlisberger has been inconsistent with eight TDs and seven INTs. The loss of Mike Wallace has had an impact on the offense though Antonio Brown has emerged as an offensive threat this season. The Steelers have also gotten decent play from their rookie running back Le’Veon Bell. Lamarr Woodley leads the team in sacks with five, however the rest of the team has only five total sacks as well. Perennial Pro-Bowler Troy Polamalu is also having a decent season. However, the bad certainly outweighs the good for this team. Many of the games have been close thanks to the defense, but the offense has not had the necessary firepower to win more games. With five tough games still on the schedule, it may be just about time for fans of the Terrible Towel to start looking towards 2014.
In the AFC North, look for the Bengals led by Andy Dalton and AJ Green to win the division, while the Ravens will try to fight through a tough schedule to get within striking distance of a Wild Card spot. It’s not an easy road for the defending champs but if anyone can conquer the adversity and make it the postseason, it’s the Ravens.