Welcome back to another edition of the Musician’s Guide to the NFL. I’m the musician, and I don’t have a gig until 6PM tonight, so meanwhile, let’s talk week 9 in football (and not politics, please, before my head explodes). On a side note, if you see some hair sprouting on my upper lip, that is because it is Movember and I am supporting the fight against prostate and testicular cancer. I plan on using both of these parts of my body for a long time to come, and if you do as well, lend your support.
Not many people expected Ben Roethlisberger and the rather mediocre Steelers to walk into the Meadowlands and beat the Giants (6-3), but that’s why they play the games. Next weekend, New York hits the road to face the pretty weak Bengals. Elsewhere, what can you say about the free-falling Eagles (3-5)? Their loss on Monday night to the Saints tells you that this is not a playoff-bound team. I find it likely that they’ll also lose to the equally crappy Cowboys (3-5) on Sunday. Finally, the Redskins (3-5) should have crushed the Panthers, but instead took their third straight loss. They have a bye in week 10. They need it.
What’s up with the Bears (7-1)? Suddenly the hottest team in football, they’ve won every game except their week 2 matchup against their division mates, the Packers (6-3). Chicago put up 51 points against Tennessee on Sunday, but week 10 will be a real test for them when they host Houston. Green Bay is finally back on track, winning four in a row culminating with Sunday’s decisive win over Arizona, and rest up in week 10. Minnesota (5-4) started hot, and then went cold (in their defense for week 9, Seattle is undefeated at home this year). The Vikings host Detroit (4-4) in what will be an important game for both teams.
Remember this guy? I wouldn't count the Packers out at this stage. Photo via Getty Images.
I’m looking down the remaining eight games for the Falcons (8-0). Their schedule includes two games against the Saints (3-5), the Cardinals, two against the Bucs (4-4), the Panthers (2-6), the Giants, and the Lions. I can’t say with any certainty that they’re going to lose a game this season, though if they did, I’d bet it would be some shocker against New Orleans. Tampa Bay has now won a couple in a row, thanks to a win over Oakland. New Orleans is starting to come around a bit, and last week’s beating of the Eagles will probably help the vibe there. Finally, kudos to Carolina for unexpectedly beating the Skins.
Despite their shaky start, the Niners (6-2) once again appear to be an NFC powerhouse this year. They’re going to need to bye this week, since week 11 has them facing the Bears. If the championship was based on home game wins, Seattle (5-4) would be a perennial favorite to take it all. They beat Minnesota soundly this week, and host the Jets in week 10. Poor Arizona (4-5) went 4-0 at the start of the season, and proceeded to lose every game since. They get the week off, but then travel to Atlanta, and it won’t be pretty. Likewise, the Rams (3-5) have this week off, but then have to go to San Francisco in week 11. Ugh.
Beast mode is scary. Photo via Getty Images.
I opened my mouth last week about the Fins (4-4) being better than the Pats (5-3), and they promptly lost to the Colts. New England had their bye week, and will host the Bills (3-5) this Sunday. Miami should have a better time against the Titans this week. The Jets (3-5) also took the week off, but head to face the Seahawks this week. I still say the AFC East isn’t a sure thing for the Patriots this year. We’ll see.
Better keep looking over your shoulder, Baltimore (6-2)... the Steelers (5-3) have won three straight including last week’s surprising 4th quarter victory over the Giants. Pittsburgh’s roll will likely continue when they face the worst team in football, the Saints, in week 10, but then the Ravens and Steelers meet for an epic clash the following week. Cincinnati (3-5) is kind of the Cardinals of the AFC; they looked surprisingly good at the start but now have lost four in a row (and I don’t have high hopes for them against the Giants this week either). Cleveland (2-7) isn’t as bad as they seem... but they’re still pretty damn bad.
The Steelers started shaky but now are gaining ground on the Ravens. Photo via Getty Images.
It’s still the Texans’ (6-1) conference to take. Defensively, they’re as strong as ever, but a huge game in week 10 will be their battle at Soldier Field. Congrats to Indianapolis (5-3) who’ve won three in a row and are returning toward their form much more quickly than anyone would have thought. Andrew Luck is a big part of that, and he’s going to keep getting better. Neither Tennessee (3-6) nor Jacksonville (1-6) are worth mentioning.
I thought it would be at least a couple of years before Andrew Luck started leading the Colts to victories. I was wrong. Photo via Getty Images.
There’s not much to talk about here. If these teams didn’t have to play each other often, I doubt any of their records would even be as good as they are (and they’re not very good as is). Denver (5-3) continues to hold the pole position, and their remaining schedule is mostly a creampuff. I fully anticipate they’ll cruise into the playoffs come early 2013 to be destroyed by whatever actual good team they face. San Diego (4-4) won a game by facing the even-more inept Chiefs (1-7), who look like they’re playing for a lottery pick. Finally, the Raiders (3-5) couldn’t beat the Bucs at home, and now will enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip to Baltimore. It will not be pretty.
That's All, Folks!
There are only three games this week with more than 10 points in the spread: New England over Buffalo (+11), San Francisco over St. Lous (+11.5), and Pittsburgh over KC (+12.5). A better bet might be the Ravens over the Raiders at +7.5; I think it’ll be that or much worse. Enjoy the games!