Well howdy, Buffalo Gal brought the contenders back up to .500. I thought the Pats would win by three, but feared picking the push. Sure enough, the Pats topped Pey Pey 31-28. Let that be a lesson that lady luck favors the bold. Now let’s review TWILFP. Catchy, right?
GAME 1: Oakland @ Pittsburgh -7 (Both picked Pitt)
Phil: Winning teams cannot have sub-par quarterbacks. It’s that simple. Looking at Football Outsider’s crazy money ball-like rankings of QB’s you’ll see that in the Raiders don’t have a good enough QB to compete in their division, let alone with the elite of the NFL. In the AFC West QB arms race Oakland is a veritable…country without a big military. Kyle Orton and Philip Rivers find themselves in the top 3 of Football Outsider’s rankings, Matt Cassel at number 14, while Jason Campbell/Bruce Gradkowski are at 30 and 35 respectively.
Buffalo Gal: Well, Oakland, that was a bit embarrassing. But in retrospect, not that shocking. I think this blowout speaks more to the strength of the Steelers than to the weakness of the Raiders. Sure, both Gradkowski and Campbell each threw an interception. Sure, Oakland had positive momentum that should have carried more weight coming into the game. But positive momentum paired with a less-than-stellar offense is a recipe for exactly what the Raiders got, when matched against the Steelers’ fortress of a defense. My personal distaste for the Steelers aside: they have better individual players, and as a team the whole is even greater than the sum of its parts. Oakland’s previous victories were over easier teams, and Pittsburgh predictably brought its A Game.
GAME 2: Atlanta -3 @ St. Louis (Phil picked St. L, Buffalo Gal picked Atlanta)
Phil: I’m still a Falcons doubter. I didn’t watch any of this game, but I imagine the Rams being THIS CLOSE to making it 26-24 in the fourth quarter and covering. Oh well.
Buffalo Gal: Who doubted the Falcons would score high? Not me. As predicted, the Rams ran out of home-dome pixie dust. To St. Louis’ credit, Rookie QB Sam Bradford had almost as good of a game as Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. In almost every other way, though, the Falcons outplayed their opponents. Atlanta maintained possession of the ball for almost 36 minutes, they moved the ball 391 yards, and most importantly, they put the most points on the board.
GAME 3: Indy @ New England -3
Phil: Is this what the NFL really wants? A high scoring shootout between two panty-waist QB’s? Maybe I’m just a biased Ravens fan, but I’d rather see a 13-10 game than a 31-28 scorefest. Ok, ok, maybe Brady and Manning aren’t panty waists, but they still have never recorded a sack in the NFL, which I just don’t respect. Anyway, did you know the Jags are in first place in the AFC South now at 6-4? That is ridiculous. That team could finish 6-10 easily. In fact, I predict they go 7-9.
Buffalo Gal: At least the Mannings can commiserate with family over turkey, right? Because I am quite certain their fans will not be thanking them for much this week. The Patriots took an early edge in this game after Peyton’s first of three interceptions, and despite a spirited 4th-quarter rally, the Colts could never take the lead. New England played a solid and consistent game. Indy impressively bounced back after a number of mistakes and penalties. The score was closer I predicted, but not closer than I honestly expected. I was just happy to see Brady tie Favre’s consecutive-home-start-win record of 25. Will the New England quarterback manage to beat that record as well as secure the top spot in the AFC East when the Jets come to Gillette Stadium in two weeks? Time will tell.
STANDINGS: Phil 18-12-3 CONTENDERS: 15-15-3