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 Pick 'Em games:
New Orleans Saints (6-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (5-3)
New England Patriots (5-3) @ New York Jets (5-3)
New York Giants (6-2) @ San Francisco 49ers (7-1)
Stuart Pace’s Game Picks:
Atlanta, New York Jets, San Francisco
Atlanta Falcons over New Orleans Saints -- The line is a pick 'em and for good reason. Neither team has been playing up to its pre-season hype. The Falcons run game is sporadic and Matt Ryan looks good one week and not great the next. But they are at home and I think Turner will have a decent game. My pick, the Dirty Birds.
New York Jets over Buffalo Bills -- I hate the Jets. Always have. Hate 'em. Hated Ken O'Brien, Wesley Walker, Hubert Bobo, Fernanza Burgess, Bert Rechichar...You know, all the famous guys.
I hate the Pats, too...Hoodie, Glamour Boy, Wesley the Farmhand, the guy with four names on his jersey...Hate 'em.
But since I hate the Jets the most, they win. Book it. Pats are done. They aren't as scary as they used to be. Bet your whole council campaign on the Jets. I dare ya.
San Francisco 49ers over New York Giants – Well I didn't want to pick this game, but I lost the choice by 3,000 votes so here's the pick -- 49ers. Why? Why not? The Giants are spent from their win in New England and now have to travel to the west coast to play my favorite story of the year, the ALEX SMITH'S. How awesome is it that a kid about to be thrown out of the NFL gets a coach that knows what he's doing and wins? Frank Gore gets the ground game going and Smith keeps it close.
Upset of the Week
Indianapolis Colts over Jacksonville Jaguars -- The Peyton Manning-less Colts. They are Sucking for Luck, but Jax just plain sucks and Indy's D is better than last week's performance. Bet John Cosgrove's campaign on this one. Book it. Colts (just to get Miami back in the "Suck for Luck" sweepstakes).
Curtis Painter, QB (IND), Sleeper of the Week – Boy, I Suck for Luck here. I will say Curtis "Da Vinci" Painter comes back and plays against the Jags and wins the game on a wing and a prayer.
Jake Ballard, TE (NYG), Bust of the Week -- He saved the day last week, but he is known as a blocking TE, not Mark Bavaro Jr. I know a bunch of people will pick him up this week and be disappointed in his no-catch performance. Book it, own it, love this bust.
Steve Brown’s Picks:
New Orleans, New England, New York Giants
New Orleans Saints over Atlanta Falcons -- Matt Ryan must be one of the luckiest men on earth. He has the consummate professional, future Hall of Famer and potentially best pass-catching tight end ever in Tony Gonzalez, as his THIRD best option on any given play.
It looks like Roddy White and Julio Jones have the potential to enter into the debate of best pass-catching duos to ever play on the same team. Off the top of my head there were Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, Randy Moss and Cris Carter, and Jerry Rice and John Taylor. I believe White and Jones may have four or five years in the coming seasons that match everything those duos did.
Actually what the group of them and Gonzalez reminds me of is the Dan Fouts Chargers in the 80s with Kellen Winslow, Charlie Joiner and John Jefferson.
Throw in Michael Turner, whose high-contact style seems to have slowed him down a bit, but who is still an elite running back, and you have to wonder how many lucky charms young Matt carries on a daily basis.
Oh, I pick the Saints to win in a shootout with the slightly less-talented group of Colston, Sproles and Graham because Drew Brees is that damn good and a good man by all accounts to boot.
New England Patriots over New York Jets -- Ever watch a movie where the plane was running out of fuel or the boat was taking on water and they had to jettison dead weight in the hopes of surviving? Look up in the sky people of Foxboro, Mass. That is not some doomsday asteroid, that isn’t Skylab falling, that is Albert Haynesworth’s career plummeting to earth.
In the last two seasons both Mike Shanahan and Bill Belichick have been unable to motivate the 100-million dollar defensive tackle. What coach has an ego big enough to think he can do better than these two Super Bowl-winning coaches? (Ed. Note: Apparently, Rahiem Morris)
Yeah, I wonder how Albert will look in green and white and I’ll bet Mike Devito outplays him too. Also you have to wonder if Chad Ochocinco will soon change his name to Chad Zerozero to match his stat line.
When asked on the Michael Kay show if this was a rivalry game that meant something special, Bart Scott explained that this was not a bitter rivalry compared to the Redskins and Ravens, teams Scott used to play on. I’ll go with the Patriots to win this non-rivalry over the Jets and their newly defined Jetitude of whack 'em, sack 'em and yack 'em.
New York Giants over San Francisco 49ers – Rich, are you poised over your keyboard ready to scold us for disrespecting your beloved wine and brie valley boys? Well start typing. The Giants have made believers out of me. They are getting big plays from guys like Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard. If not for an inexplicable loss to the Seahawks they would already have their division wrapped up and they’ve done all this with injuries.
Early in the blah-blah-blah-osphere of sports talk radio, Eli was asked if he was an “elite” quarterback and he got the talking heads all in a dither by saying, "Yeah," he thought he was right up there with the best of them. Last week he walked out at high noon, with his Super Bowl ring glinting in the sun and took down Tom Brady. What more do you want to see before you're convinced? Props to Coach Harbaugh, he of the elite Harbaugh coaching clan, but until I see Eli on his knees and bleeding from his scalp like Y.A. Tittle, I won’t believe Alex Smith is the gunslinger that will win this showdown.
Upset of the Week
St. Louis Rams over Cleveland Browns -- St Louis is an underdog against the Cleveland Browns? How is this possible? Steve Jackson is by far the best player on the field in this game and the Rams have shown way more spunk, yes spunk, this season than the spunkless Browns. Give me the Rams to headbutt my namesakes right off the filed unless Jackson is on the injured list with “losing fatigue”, has been abducted by aliens or retired without my knowledge.
Lance Moore, WR (NO), Sleeper of the Week – I always like to pick a lesser-known guy who will be in a shootout game and hope he pops into the end zone a couple of times. Since I see the Falcons and Saints as being highly likely to produce a lot of back and forth scoring, I’ll go with Lance Moore to get 80 yards and a TD this week. Looking to fill a WR spot with a guy who will put up yardage and might grab a score or two, watch for Moore while the Falcons are busy trying to take away all the other Saints weapons.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB (BUF), Bust of the Week -- Buffalo plays Dallas and the likelihood of a two QB explosion is pretty high. I’ll take Fitzpatrick, who couldn’t have looked worse against the Jets, as my bust this week. DeMarcus Ware’s footsteps will be in Fitzpatrick’s ear during the day and in his nightmare’s Sunday night. I’ll predict a two sack game for Ware and a three turnover game (2 INTs, 1 fumble) for Fitzpatrick.
Zak Koeske's Picks:
New Orleans, New York Jets and San Francisco
New Orleans Saints over Atlanta Falcons -- The Saints and Falcons have a history of playing close, competitive games, and this week's Sunday afternoon matchup should be no exception. The Falcons are hot, riding three straight wins including a big one on the road at Detroit two weeks ago, but I just can't get behind their signal-caller. Matty "Ice" Ryan has taken a decided step back this year, despite having the benefit of Julio Jones, arguably the top rookie WR in the NFL, at his disposal. Ryan's not accurate enough to go toe-to-toe with Drew Brees in a shootout and he hasn't thrown for 300 yards since Week 3. Saints pull this one out.
New York Jets over New England Patriots- The Patriots are looking at three straight losses if they don't beat the Jets Sunday. When was the last time that happened, you ask? You have to go back nine years, to 2002, when they lost four straight and finished 9-7, missing the playoffs. Are we going to see a repeat of that collapse this year? I actually think so. This year's Pats aren't the ones we've grown accustomed to seeing the past decade and their opponents are Green and White-hot right now. The Jets prevail.
San Francisco 49ers over New York Giants -- While he's been good this year, Eli Manning has a history of turning the ball over. With the Giants still nursing injuries to their top two skill players -- Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks -- they'll need to rely on Eli to do it all. Can he handle the load or will he falter under the pressure while trying to do too much? He may have gotten it done last week, but the Pats' secondary is as soft as they come. It ain't happening this time against the Niners, who just keep on rolling.
Upset of the Week
Miami Dolphins over Washington Redskins -- It's pretty hard to justify calling any win over the Redskins an upset, but we're talking about the Dolphins here. The Dolphins are at home, coming off their first victory -- a demolition of the not-that-bad Chiefs -- and have a QB who is playing reasonably well. The Skins have lost four straight and have a tough time scoring points. Ray Finkle's not around to blow this one. Go Fins.
Santonio Holmes, WR (NYJ), Sleeper of the Week – Holmes has been a major disappointment for fantasy owners this year, having yet to eclipse the 70 yard mark in a game. But this week's matchup with the Pats' horrendous pass defense is too juicy to resist. Holmes scored on them in Week 5 in what was his best fantasy game this year. Smart bet's that he'll do it again.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB (PIT), Bust of the Week -- Mendenhall just isn't getting the touches this year. He's only had more than 20 once this season and has recorded just 13 in each of his last three games. Throw in a matchup with the top rush defense in the league, the Bengals, who only give up 3.3 yards per carry, and it's a recipe for disaster.
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.