The second season begins this afternoon
"You Gotta Be Kidding!"©
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) --
At 4:30 p.m. ET the NFL's second season gets underway with the New York Jets visiting the Cincinnati Bengals to determine if the lopsided 37-0 victory posted by the former over the latter last week was just a nightmarish disaster or a portend of what would take place this afternoon. After backing into the playoff picture, the New Yorkers decided to make a statement that they belonged and they did just that at the Meadowlands in conditions that would have been rejected by Nanook of the North. That earned them a playoff berth and a resounding victory over the AFC North champions who had absolutely no reason to play as if they were getting paid to do so.
The wild card rematch at Paul Brown Stadium this afternoon figures to be a lot different. On the other hand, the Jets are coming in having won five of their last six games to reach the playoffs for the sixth time in the last 12 years. No cigars, yet, but lots of matches lit. Back-to-back victories do not seem likely in this confrontation. It is time for the home club to literally let the dogs out this afternoon, and they will come out ravenous for revenge and to prove that the visitors were handed a belated Christmas gift last week.
The Jets are coming in having won five of their last six games to reach the playoffs. |
Right now it looks like the Bengals have been installed as a three-point favorite (for home field advantage), making this game a toss-up. I cannot see it that way. A quick lead by the home team and Mark Sanchez will take to the air without a full load of bombs. Not good but the points will mount for a lead and then a catch-up. Make it Cinci and over 34.
The 8:00 p.m. night match has the Philadelphia Eagles back to play the Dallas Cowboys at Dallas Cowboys Stadium down in Arlington where the visitors were mauled last week for their second loss to the 'Pokes this season. Can they make it a Trifecta? Absolutely. The world that exists within Philadelphia refuses to acknowledge that Donovan is, has been and always will be an average quarterback given a loftier status due to statistics and not results. Couple that with a team that, for all intents and purposes, does not have a running attack that puts the fear of anything, or anyone, into the hearts of the opposition.
Gaudy statistics against a Giants team that gave up on the season after five consecutive wins against less than average competition and then besting the likes of Chicago, Washington, Atlanta, San Francisco, Denver does not a contender make. The funny thing is that it is McNabb and Andy Reid against Wade Phillips and Tony Romo for the duo that will quickly acquire, and deserve, the tag of not being able to get it done with all the chips are on the table. The Eagles have proven that for the past eleven years and you can bet, no pun intended, that Wade and Romo do not want that mantle passed on to them.
By the way, one of the Eagles' employees creating a video that quickly made the rounds last week before that contest showing him spitting on the star in the center of the field did not help much, not once but twice. Did Dallas need incentive of any sort? Not likely, but a little stimulus never hurts. It comes under that umbrella of momentum that color commentators seize upon with verbal gratification and love whenever they can.
Michael Vick will not come in and save the day. Brian Westbrook has seen his glory days come and go. The big play passing hopes of the Eagles are wrapped tightly around DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek who will not find himself as open as he did last week. Half kneeling and pointing to the distant end zone after achieving a first down does not automatically translate into much more than the expected drama of the moment.
Jerry Jones just might have a lot more to smile about later this evening than Jeff Lurie. Look for another
low-scoring contest and under 45 total.
Tomorrow, at 1:00 p.m. ET, it is the Baltimore Ravens visiting the New England Patriots and the New Englanders have been installed as a 3 1/2 point favorite by both those folks in Costa Rica and the ones in Las Vegas, reflecting the slightest of edges to Tom Brady and friends. It will not be a balmy summer day in Foxborough, but both teams are accustomed to that and the Ravens will be pinning all of their hopes on defense with the Pats counting on the return, magically, of the Brady of old. With Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren returning to their defense, this one seems headed for a total result that is under the odds-makers projected total of 43 points. New England will need all the guns they can put out there on defense to win after Houston, the NFL's second worst running attack, took them to task last week.
Can Bill Belichick stop Ray Rice and Willis McGahee? Not personally, of course, unless he went into the armory of the NBA Players Association, but with a carefully crafted plan. That is the task at hand. How good has Joe Flacco become? We will soon see. This one figures to be two poker playing coaches and teams trying to find the good hand before they shout "All in!" to their players. It will not be a run 'n gun contest by either side...so it says here.
The Pats are counting on the return of the Tom Brady of old.|
Too close to get out the mortgage for the farm, coming from a guy that came in last in our annual office competition this year, but I have to like New England to move on to next week and probably just make it past the posted 3 1/2 by which they are favored.
Finishing off the weekend are the Green Bay Packers at the Arizona Cardinals at 4:40 p.m. ET or thereabouts at the University of Phoenix Stadium where the temperature could not be more perfect whether man-made or courtesy of Mother Nature.
The uncertainty of all of these games is reflected in the, candidly speaking, point spreads...the pre-game precursors that set the tone, are seized upon by those wishing to place a wager in Vegas, over the phone to Antigua or Costa Rica, with a friend, family member, office colleague or anyone else within reach that wishes to have a vested interest of any sort on the outcome. The eventual result is something else again. Remember, all that points spreads do is what they are intended to accomplish...confuse. Consequently, for all intents and purposes, every home team has been put in place as having the home field advantage, whatever that means these days...atmosphere, lack of travel, home instead of hotel rooms, raucous and ravenous crowd support, knowledge of every part of the field, sheer comfort and confidence, and so on. Take all that away and it seems that every contest over this weekend has been determined to be a toss-up.
The Packers have become somewhat of a scoring machine, do not care where they play and will embrace anything that takes them out of Green Bay at this time of the year. Also, they are 9-3 indoors this year under Coach Mike McCarthy. The Cardinals, with their retractable-roof stadium present the most perfect of playing conditions. Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers is apparently looking forward to the controlled environment hoping to extend that to control of the game itself. It is all a matter of how real that regular season finale was when the Pack routed the Cards 33-7.
The best bet here is the over 47 total as these two teams are likely to down some low flying birds during the game. You have to wonder why Arizona is the favorite after last week and given how the Packers have been playing. Remember, confusion is the order of the day. It is too obvious to go with Green Bay. That's why I like Arizona. When it looks too good to be true it probably isn't.
Do any of us really want to do much more than watch, enjoy and make a lot of "mind bets?"
You gotta be kidding!