Welcome to the weekly Patch NFL Pick 'Em, where Fair Lawn residents and wannabe NFL prognosticators Stuart Pace, Steve Brown and Zak Koeske offer up their picks for three games each week, and dish out a little fantasy football advice to boot.
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This week's games are:
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) @ San Francisco 49ers (10-3)
New England Patriots (10-3) @ Denver Broncos (8-5)
New York Jets (8-5) @ Philadelphia Eagles (5-8)
Stuart Pace’s Game Picks:
Pittsburgh, New England and New York Jets
Pittsburgh Steelers over San Francisco 49ers -– Hmm. This is tough one to call. Big Ben is hobbling on an ugly looking ankle. And San Fran is starting to come to earth. 11 Super Bowl wins between 'em and Pitts HAS to win this game to stay in the playoff hunt. Defenses similar, offenses similar, but Steelers are the experienced team. Taking the Steelers based on past experience.
New England Patriots over Denver Broncos -- Oh for THE LOVE OF PETE, how many more times can Tim Tebow come back from a deficit? Well, defensively, I think they can harass Tom Brady and the Pats. But I just don’t see this story having the same ending as the last few weeks. Brady isn’t Matt Moore, Caleb Hanie, Christian Ponder, etc. It's Tom Brady. And there ya have it. The Mile High Miracles are going home with a loss this week.
New York Jets over Philadelphia Eagles -- Well, here’s hoping. No secret I am a Dolphins fan, and my motto is every Jet loss is a win for me. I am hoping the revitalized dream team smokes Ganglius Greenius into a palpable pulp. Vick made the Dolphins D look silly (which they are), but their defense played very well and harassed the QBs all day last Sunday.
So here’s my pick- Jets. Because they always win and make my life miserable. Two Grinch-colored teams playing each other -- but the Jets' small hearts will grow three sizes that day.
Upset of the Week
San Diego Chargers over Baltimore Ravens -- I don’t think there are anymore REAL upsets. The good teams are good, the bad teams bad. I will take the Bolts at home who are slight dogs to the Ravens. Baltimore is not overwhelming anyone these days and I can see a Rivers to Jackson score with 8 seconds left to win the game.
Eric Decker, WR (DEN), Sleeper of the Week – Why, of why do I even choose this? I haven’t been right once. So lets say Eric Decker of the Broncos puts up gaudy numbers- say 3 catches for 45 yards and 2 TDs. I just can’t pick 'em.
J.P. Losman, QB (MIA), Bust of the Week -- EASY. Replacing Matt Moore on Sunday versus the Iggles, he looked about as good as I would. He couldn’t even handle the snap on a QB sneak. BURY this pick cause I am RIGHT!
(Editor's note: Nice bust pick, Stu. I know countless fantasy owners were seriously considering inserting Losman into their lineups Sunday)
Steve Brown’s Picks:
San Francisco, New England and Philadelphia
San Francisco 49ers over Pittsburgh Steelers – Hard not to go with the 49ers in this one even after their embarrassing, humiliating, debilitating loss to the Cardinals last week. I base this on The Big Banged Up Big Ben Theory coupled with San Fran having home field advantage.
The wine and cheese crowd should be as fired up as they ever get for a game out there in Paradise, and if Ben can’t go, it will be tough sledding for Rashard and Ike. James Harrison looks to be suspended for knocking Colt McCoy loopy but that hit may have been the difference between a loss to the Browns, who
hung tough with Zak’s boys, and a victory, so ultimately worth it for
the Steelers. San Fran by 3 in a low-scoring game.
New England Patriots over Denver Broncos -- Divine intervention might be the only way to explain the self-destruction of Marion Barber, but I am a football atheist and I’m preaching the gospel of Tom Brady with this pick.
Simply put, an angry, vengeful Tom Brady, like the one we saw squabbling on the sideline last week, is impossible for me to pick against when matched
up with the Broncos' Bronko Tebow, I mean Tim Nagurski. The fact is
New England will not make the two or three giant mistakes that lesser
coached teams have been making late in games against Saint Tim.
Speaking of which, wouldn’t the Saints be the perfect place for Tim to
play? So, at the risk of more time owed in purgatory, I’m going with
Philadelphia Eagles over New York Jets -- I dub this game the battle of the coach killers. Tony Sparano got whacked after the Eagles ran LeSean McCoy 27 times for a whopping 38 yards, but managed to get him into the end zone twice on those miniscule gains. It was a bit of a surprising plot twist after he had survived last year’s assassination attempt and had the team actually winning games this year.
Todd Haley felt the shiv slide between his ribs after Rex and the boys worked him over good in the Meadowlands last week. Honestly his fate was sealed when he lost Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry, and had to insert Tyler Palko in as his starting QB.
So what to make of this matchup? I think the Eagles have righted their ship a bit going 2 and 2 since their win over the Giants. I think the Eagles’ team speed on offense still presents too great of a problem for the Jets' defense to handle. Couple that advantage with home field and a rabid hatred for all things New York, and it leads me to expect the Eagles to hang a Jets helmet next to the Giants one in their trophy room and complete their “New York Sweep”. BTW if you haven’t seen the movie "Big Fan" yet, you should.
Upset of the Week
San Diego Chargers over Baltimore Ravens -- It is weird how certain trends develop and then seem to self-perpetuate, a la the Giants late-season collapses or Tebow’s miracle fourth quarters.
Playing one of these trends, I will take the Late Season Champion San Diego Chargers to batter out a win against Baltimore this week. If Norv could get his boys to play early in the year they way they have played late in the season the last few years, we’d be talking about a Charger dynasty instead of his job prospects as a future offensive coordinator. So, it may be to little to late, but
the Chargers win another one.
Brent Celek, TE (PHI), Sleeper of the Week – Brent Celek is no Rob Gronkowski when it comes to getting into the end zone. Nor is he having a stellar season this year with his lowest per catch average in his career. But that is what makes him a sleeper. He is a mobile, sure handed tight end going up against a slow footed Jets linebacking corps who will have one eye on McCoy and another on Vick. Since none of the Jets' linebackers appear to have a third eye in their team photos, I’m expecting a big game out of Celek.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB (JAC), Bust of the Week -- For fantasy purposes, it is hard to argue that the NFL’s leading rusher is not someone you should play, but if I had a reasonable alternative to him, Maurice Jones-Drew might be wondering how a four-touchdown performance last week got him benched by the head coach of the now defunct Steveland Brown’s.
Here is my thinking: We’re late in the season, he's coming off a 33-touch week,
playing on short rest in the Thursday nighter, and his team is the definition of a one trick pony when it comes to offense. Atlanta needs this game desperately and would be foolish not to game plan exclusively to stop MJD. Will they be good enough to do so is another question. My guess is yes.
Zak Koeske's Picks:
Pittsburgh, New England and New York Jets
Pittsburgh Steelers over San Francisco 49ers - Injuries and suspensions aside, as Coach Mike Tomlin likes to say, "the standard is the standard," for the Steelers. No matter who's starting for the Black and Gold, they have a way of coming out and competing against any team in the league.
Roethlisberger is the only guy whose absence I think would truly and noticeably be felt, but since I'm counting on him to gut this one out, I have to go with the Steelers.
As strong as their defense might be, the Niners lack a credible offense, or at least one that can perform against elite defensive squads. And they've yet to beat a great team this season. All of their wins have come against middling teams (8-5, 7-6) at best.
New England Patriots over Denver Broncos - Both of these teams are red hot, coming into the game with a combined 11-game winning streak between them.
But someone has to falter on Sunday, and I'm putting my money on that someone being the Broncos.
It's been a long time since Tim Tebow has gone up against an opposing QB with any true bonafides. If you don't count Philip Rivers -- who's had a pretty miserable season and probably doesn't deserved to be counted -- then Tebow hasn't faced a quality quarterback during this whole miraculous run of games.
The last time Tebow went up against someone who could really sling it, it wasn't pretty. The result: A 45-10 shellacking at the hands of Matthew Stafford and the Lions. It's Tebow's only loss since taking over as the team's starter.
The ugly kind of game in which Tebow excels works fine when your opponent struggles to put point on the board. But when you've got to deal with the likes of Tom Brady and the Patriots, who've dropped at least 31 points on their last five opponents, ugly doesn't cut it.
The Pats are too explosive.
New York Jets over Philadelphia Eagles -- I'm torn on this one because this is exactly the sort of game where I'd choose the Eagles because they're the more talented team, and then end up cursing myself all game as they get blown out and wonder, "Why did I trust them?"
So I'm going with the Jets, even though I think they stink. The Eagles are too fickle. Shonn Greene has been playing well of late and Mark Sanchez is having a career year (not that that's too tough when your season-high passer rating is 75).
Upset of the Week
Carolina Panthers over Houston Texans -- This is just going to be one of those inexplicable games that Houston loses every year. Arian Foster should have a huge game against the Panthers, but I'll bet on Cam Newton to be the one celebrating at the end of this one.
Randall Cobb, WR (GB), Sleeper of the Week – Aaron Rodgers isn't going to be slowed by the loss of his top receiver for the next couple weeks. Someone else is just going to become the benificiary of his touchdowns and I'm not buying James Jones. I think Randall Cobb is the guy this week.
Frank Gore, RB (SF), Bust of the Week -- Banged up and facing the Steelers doesn't sound like a good combination. After five consecutive 100-yard games earlier in the year, Gore has cooled off and hasn't topped the 90-yard mark, let alone the century mark, for his past five contests.
About Stuart Pace:
Stu has been played fantasy football for more than 15 years and also spent a number of years hosting a Fair Lawn TV show called "Electric Football" with Steve Brown. He's currently in four leagues. A die-hard Miami Dolphins fan ("The Dolphins make me cry"), Stu has a Miami Dolphins tattoo and a Dolphins cause bracelet ("The lost cause").
About Steve Brown:
Steve was co-host of "Electric Football", the highest-rated NFL-related YouTube video series shot in Fair Lawn that we are aware of. When he's not producing that cult favorite, he spends way too much time crying quietly in the closet after Viking's losses. Steve has come in second place in more Fantasy Leagues than anyone he knows of since he started playing in 1992, and is still famous among his friends for the ill-fated KiJana Carter No. 2 overall pick.
About Zak Koeske:
Zak's a 9-year fantasy football veteran who has made a tradition of producing pre-season Power Rankings and crafting league write-ups for his personal league the past few years. This season he took part in his first auction-style draft, and is still trying to recover from the damage of spending all of his money on his first four picks.