Week 7: Surprise Surprise
by Michele Christopher
Here we are at Week 7 and we are almost at the mid-point of the season.
Every year in the NFL there are always surprises. Teams that nobody expected to go anywhere look great and teams that people expected to rule the league have done nothing but fall flat.
Last week's games featured several surprises, but the biggest one for me was the scare that Arizona put into the still undefeated Chicago Bears, who hung on for a 24-23 win after Arizona's potential game winning field goal sailed left. Arizona blew a 20 point half-time lead in the loss. Ouch.
Surprise teams this year?
On the positive side, I don't think anybody expected much out of New Orleans Saints but this team has gone out and put on some impressive displays so far this year. The Saints have always been kind of a middle of the pack team and after everything that happened with Hurricane Katrina, it is nice to see them doing well.
They have some impressive wins this year against teams such as Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia.
Next week New Orleans will play another team that looked good out of the gate, but has fallen off a bit the last few weeks, The Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens had looked downright scary to start the season, with shutouts against Tampa Bay and Oakland. They hung on for a win against a rebuilding Cleveland and defeated one of the better teams in the league San Diego as well.
The last two weeks have brought The Ravens down to earth a little with back to back losses to both Denver and Carolina, but this is still a good team and this Ravens / Saints matchup is shaping up to be a good one.
Another team that has been impressive so far this season is The Chicago Bears. They were projected to be a good team this year but I don't think anybody expected them to come out of the gates and go 6-0. Looking ahead at Chicago's schedule, they have a chance to really go on a tear in the 2nd half of the season.
They have a bye week this week and then will play a fairly easy second half schedule featuring games against teams such as San Francisco (2-4), Miami (1-5), Tampa Bay (1-4) and Detroit (1-5). There are a few potentially tough games in there against The New England Patriots and The St. Louis Rams, and a few games that could go either way against the NY Giants and the Minnesota Vikings, but I don't see any games in Chicago's 2nd half schedule that screams 'loss', even against my beloved Pats.
Hey I may be biased, but don't tell me I'm not honest.
On the negative side, I know I've kind of harped on them this year, but what happened to Miami? I thought they were going to the Superbowl this year? I'm not really ragging on Miami as much as I am ragging on the NFL 'experts' that make all those pre-season predictions every year.
The Superbowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers are suffering from a bit of a Superbowl hangover, which is not really surprising to me, but I think a lot of people expected them to be doing better than they are at this point. Pittsburgh has some tough teams on their schedule in the 2nd half, featuring teams such as Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, Baltimore (twice) and Cincy. Things won't get that much easier for the Steelers...
Ok, lets check out the games this week! Here are my 'From the Gut' picks of the week. That's my new name for this part of the post every week, because my gut is always right, well, most of the time that is.
Philly at Tampa Bay - Philly. I don't want anybody to think I have it out for Tampa Bay, just because I think they are going to lose against The Eagles this week. Hey I didn't make the schedule and they are playing Philly. What do you want from me?
Jacksonville at Houston - Jacksonville should be able to get a win against a so-called 'weaker' team in the Houston Texans. Of course, the 'Any Given Sunday' rule always applies, but Jax should be able to handle Houston. I am probably totally jinxing Jacksonville right now...
Pittsburgh at Atlanta - I'm taking Pittsburgh in this one. The Steelers defense should be able to stop Atlanta.
New England at Buffalo - Once again, everybody expects a win for The Pats. Nobody ever seems to remember that these two teams always play each other tough. I think The Pats will win this one but the final score could come down to the kicking game. Buffalo is not exactly an easy place to kick... especially for a rookie kicker like the Pats' Stephen Gostkowski.
Green Bay at Miami - Miami gets on the board for win number two against the flailing Packers.
Detroit at NY J-E-T-S - Detroit will probably get another win at some point this season, but not against the Jets. I bet The NFL wishes they could pull that flexible scheduling thing for the Thanksgiving game later this year.
San Diego at Kansas City - San Diego. The Chefs could give The Chargers a run for their money in this game but San Diego is the better team right now and should prevail.
Denver at Cleveland - Denver. I have a feeling The Browns will make a game of this, but Denver will come out on top after a tough game. Or The Broncos will destroy the Browns and piss everyone in Cleveland off. How’s that for a prediction? It will either be a blowout or a close game. I feel like a weatherman.
Minnesota at Seattle - Seattle. Minnesota is on the upswing at 3-2 but I think Seattle will be too much for them.
Arizona at Oakland - Arizona had that game won last week against the still undefeated Chicago Bears and they blew it. Arizona Head Coach Dennis Green then went out and fired his offensive coordinator. Hmm. I don't think it's anybody on the offense's job to block Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher... Just sayin'. This week Arizona takes it out on 0-5 (phht!) Oakland.
Washington at Indy - Washington in an upset. I am going to just say this here and now. I'm picking against Indy every week for the rest of the way.
NY Giants at Dallas - Oooo. Now here are two teams that really don't like one another. I remember when Parcells was coaching the Pats and he was all upset about having to play a game against the Giants one year. That was 1995-96, the year he totally fucked us in the Superbowl because he was too busy lining things up with his next team, the J-E-T-S, another team that he eventually left in the lurch.
I wonder if it still bothers ol' Dwayne, playing against the team he led to a couple of Superbowl Championships. And I can't help but wonder what do Giants fans think when they see him wearing The Cowboys Star on the sidelines? Bill Parcells: spreading the seeds of hate throughout the NFL.
Well those are my 'From the Gut' picks this week. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments. If I don't hear from you, I'll just assume you think I am right.
Ernie writes daily about football and other stuff at Mr. B and W. You should check it out.