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The Final Week: Seven Teams Still Chasing Three Playoff Spots

We get to make big money one more time. It’s Week 17 in the NFL, the final week of the 2011 regular season and it could be the most exciting week of the season.

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Matt Stafford gets Lions Into Playoffs for first time this Century.

With one week to play, only nine of 12 teams have secured spots in the post-season.

Last weekend, Detroit and Atlanta clinched playoff spots – the Lions for the first time in this Century – and that means five teams in the NFC have punched their tickets to the post-season – Green Bay, which clinched homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, New Orleans, which clinched the NFC South last Monday night, and NFC West champion San Francisco (both 12-3 and battling for the No. 2 seed) and Wild Cards Detroit and Atlanta.

This week, the winner of the Dallas at New York Giants game will win the NFC East and clinch the final spot in the Conference.

In the AFC, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Houston and New England have clinched playoff spots while five teams still have a shot at a post-season berth.

That means there is a chance for some tremendous games this week. Besides the Sunday Nighter between the Giants and Dallas in New York, the big games with playoff implications — all in the AFC —  include the Jets at Miami, Kansas City at Denver, Baltimore at Cincinnati, Tennessee at Houston and San Diego at Oakland.

Last week the Doc went 14-2 (156-83) and was 13-3 (134-105) against the spread. The Coach went 12-4 (161-78) straight up and 8-8 (131-108) against the spread.

This week, The Doc writes our rationalizations while The Coach makes smart-ass remarks.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON

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Rex Grossman Going Nowhere

Washington Redskins (5-10) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-8)
              Line: Eagles by 8.5

A disappointing season for both teams comes to an end in this one. The Eagles will have another great game offensively as the Redskins defense doesn’t have the all-around talent to stop them. Expect Philly to utilize LeSean McCoy a ton, and this will spell an Eagles victory. (Coach sez: If you can figure out the Redskins, you’re a better man than I. It’s a box of chocolates football team that shows up one week and stays home the next. Of course, Rex Grossman is the quarterback. Who knows what he’s going to do? This team is coach Mike Shanahan’s Waterloo.)

DR FOOTBALL: EAGLES TO WIN BUT NOT COVER

THE COACH: EAGLES TO WIN AND COVER

San Francisco 49ers (12-3) at St. Louis Rams (2-13)
                         Line: 49ers by 10.5

With or without Sam Bradford, the Rams are doomed. Who would want to win and jeopardize the Number 1 draft pick?

DR FOOTBALL: 49ers TO WIN AND COVER

THE COACH: 49ers TO WIN AND COVER

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Joe Webb: If he plays, the Vikings win.

Chicago Bears (7-8) at Minnesota Vikings (3-12) Line: Vikings by 1 

What looked like an exciting New Year’s Day game in September is in reality, a dud. Both teams are finishing the season with this one, and both teams are missing their starting running backs. Chicago put in QB Josh McCown last week, and he played much better than Caleb Hanie ever has. Expect McCown to get the start this week, and his first win. (Coach sez: the Insane Clown Posse that runs the Vikings keeps saying Christian Ponder “could be ready to go this week.” That’s just nuts. Joe Webb has proven he’s the quarterback of now and the future and yet the bat-shit crazies who run this football team keep talking about Ponder. Loonie).

DR FOOTBALL: BEARS TO WIN

THE COACH: VIKINGS TO WIN AND COVER (if Webb plays). 

Detroit Lions (10-5) at Green Bay Packers (14-1)
                               Line: Lions by 3.5

Both teams have locked up playoff spots, the Lions however, are playing for the number five seed, and depending on how post-season plays out, could give them home-field advantage at some point. The Packers have home field advantage throughout the playoffs regardless and since they aren’t playing for a perfect season, expect to see most of the starters on the bench. The Lions have more to play for.

DR FOOTBALL: LIONS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER

THE COACH: PACKERS TO WIN.

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NFC Rookie of the Year Cam Newton

Carolina Panthers (6-9) at New Orleans Saints (12-3)
                     Line: Saints by 8.5

Drew Brees will be adding to his “most passing yards in a single season” record this week as the Saints will be playing for the number two seed in the playoffs. The Saints offense is going to dominate this game as the Panthers defense does not have enough to stop them. (Coach sez: True, the Saints are clearly the better team, but this will be a game in which Cam Newton announces his presence with authority. Don’t be surprised if Newton throws for 350 yards and four touchdowns and yet the Saints still cover. What’s that tell you about the Panthers defence and Drew Brees? Of course, there is a chance Drew Brees doesn’t play much this week and that means Carolina could win the football game.)

DR FOOTBALL: SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER

THE COACH: SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER (if Brees plays).

Tennessee Titans (8-7) at Houston Texans (10-5)
                             Line: Titans by 3

The Texans are in the playoffs and regardless of a win, their seed won’t change. Expect them to rest their starters to keep them healthy.

DR FOOTBALL: TITANS TO WIN AND COVER

THE COACH: TITANS TO WIN AND COVER

Indianapolis Colts (2-13) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-11)
                   Line: Jaguars by 3.5

The Colts won’t be able to stop Maurice Jones-Drew and will be picking number one in the 2012 NFL draft.

DR FOOTBALL: JAGUARS TO WIN AND COVER

THE COACH: JAGUARS TO WIN AND COVER

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Matt Moore plays for his job.

New York Jets (8-7) at Miami Dolphins (5-10)                              
Line: Dolphins by 1.5

The Jets are a team in desperate need of a win, and Miami is the last place the Jets want to be this week. The Dolphins have nothing to lose in this game and will be attacking the Jets defensive secondary while and spreading out the playbook with their running game. Offensively, the Jets, specifically QB Mark Sanchez is going to struggle against Dolphins defense that knows how to put pressure on a QB.

DR FOOTBALL: DOLPHINS TO WIN AND COVER

THE COACH: DOLPHINS TO WIN AND COVER 

Buffalo Bills (6-9) at New England Patriots (12-3)                           
Line: Patriots by 11 

A win for the Pats and they get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The first time these two teams played each other, the Bills won in overtime. This time, New England have huge momentum and incentive and Tom Brady won’t make the same mistakes he made last time these two teams met.

DR FOOTBALL: PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER

THE COACH: PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) at Atlanta Falcons (9-6)
                    Line: Falcons by 12

Atlanta will be playing for playoff positioning, so they will have their starters on the field. The Bucs are going want to play spoiler, but expect Falcons QB Matt Ryan to shake of Monday’s loss and put a lot of points on the board.

DR FOOTBALL: FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER

THE COACH: FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER

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Andy Dalton: Ginger Power

Baltimore Ravens (11-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)
 Line: Ravens by 2.5

Big game for both teams. The Ravens have already clinched a playoff spot, but with a win could clinch the number two seed which would mean a first-round bye and at least one home game in the playoffs. For the Bengals, it’s win or no playoffs. The key to this game for the Ravens is QB Joe Flacco to give the ball as many times as he can to RB Ray Rice which will wear the Bengals defense down. This game will be a close one.

DR FOOTBALL: RAVENS TO WIN AND COVER

THE COACH: BENGALS TO WIN 

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4) at Cleveland Browns (4-11)
                     Line: Steelers by 7.5

The Steelers are playing for a first-round bye (with a win and a Ravens loss) so they will have their starters on the field. With or without Big Ben, Pittsburgh is a way better team than the Browns. Dog pounded!

DR FOOTBALL: STEELERS TO WIN AND COVER

THE COACH: BROWNS TO WIN 

San Diego Chargers (7-8) at Oakland Raiders (8-7)
                          Line: Raiders by 3

Oakland needs a win to get into the playoffs, San Diego was eliminated last week. The silver and black will make their former owner Al Davis proud as they win and make the playoffs this year.

DR FOOTBALL: RAIDERS TO WIN AND COVER

THE COACH: RAIDERS TO WIN AND COVER

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Tim Tebow: This is it.

Kansas City Chiefs (6-9) at Denver Broncos (8-7) Line: Broncos by 3

Denver needs a win to make the playoffs, the game means nothing to the Chiefs except pride and wanting to knock out a division foe out of the past season. The Broncos defense is going to enable Tim Tebow to prevail late in the fourth quarter to continue his fairy tale season.

DR FOOTBALL: BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER

THE COACH: BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER 

Seattle Seahawks (7-8) at Arizona Cardinals (7-8)
                            Line: Cardinals by 3

Neither team has a chance at the playoffs and are playing their last game this season. Watch for Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch to have a huge day running the ball. This will be the reason for Seattle to finish 8-8 this season.

DR FOOTBALL: SEAHAWKS TO WIN

 THE COACH: CARDINALS TO WIN AND COVER

SUNDAY NIGHT

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Tony Romo

Dallas Cowboys (8-7) at New York Giants (8-7) 
Line: Giants by 3

There couldn’t be a more perfect end to the 2011 regular season and on Sunday Night Football no less. This game means one thing to both teams. Win and you are in. Lose and you are done. As I said last week against the Jets, go with the QB who is has proven he can win the big one. Eli Manning. (Coach sez: This might be the culmination of everything Tony Romo is. He will either emerge from this game as a guy who is considered “a million dollar arm with a 10 cent brain,” or a winner. For Romo’s career, this one game is absolutely huge. As for Eli Manning, he’s in a position to get back to the playoffs with a team that isn’t that good.)

DR FOOTBALL: GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER

THE COACH: GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER



Week 5: Vikings! This Time for Sure.

Ndamukong+Suh+Detroit+Lions+v+Minnesota+Vikings+o84CWy3kwFhl1 223x300 Week 5: Vikings! This Time for Sure.

Ndamukong Suh chases down Donovan McNabb.

We have certainly been consistent. Both Doc and I have stood by the Minnesota Vikings for most of the first four weeks of the season. Doc picked against them in Week 1 and I picked against them in Week 4, but we still believe.

We still believe that any team with Adrian Peterson at runningback can win football games. We still believe that Donovan McNabb has one last season left in him. We still believe that a defense that includes Jared Allen and Chad Greenway  has to be successful on some level.

That’s why both of us are going back out on that limb and taking the Vikes to beat Arizona — handily at Mall of America Field this weekend. Call us crazy, but even if we don’t like the Vikes all that much, we like them more than the Cardinals.

Last week The Doc was 11-5 straight up and 9-7 against the spread. He is now 39-25 on the year on straight bets and 33-31 vs. the spread. The Coach was also 11-5 straight up and 9-7 against the spread. That leaves me 46-18 on straight wagers and 33-31 against the spread.

This week, Doc writes, The Coach argues…

SUNDAY AFTERNOON

Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) at Indianapolis Colts (0-4)
Line: Colts by 2.
 

The Colts seem to be improving each week and their defense is going to be the difference in this game. As long as the offense can put a few points on the board, the Colts defense will do their part in stopping the Chiefs.

Dr. Football: COLTS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: COLTS TO WIN AND COVER.

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Adrian Peterson

Arizona Cardinals (1-3) at Minnesota Vikings (0-4)
Line: Vikings by 2.5.

Minnesota is going to rely completely on RB Adrian Peterson to win this game, especially since Arizona’s run defense is less than mediocre. This will be Donovan McNabb’s last chance. If he doesn’t win this week, he’ll get a clipboard and the best seat in the house to watch Christian Ponder.

Dr. Football: VIKINGS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: VIKINGS TO WIN AND COVER.

New Orleans Saints (3-1) at Carolina Panthers (1-3)
Line: Saints by 6.5.

Carolina has definitely stepped up their game and is at least able to complete this year. QB Cam Newton may eventually be able to lead the team into the playoffs but week they are going to be out-played in every aspect. The Panthers run defense was routed last week, and this week should be no different. In addition, New Orleans will exploit their defensive secondary and will be able to put a lot of points on the board (Coach sez, “Upset of the week. Newton is for real.”).

Dr. Football: SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: PANTHERS TO WIN.

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Buffalo RB Fred Jackson

Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) at Buffalo Bills (3-1)
Line: Eagles by 2.5.

Philly’s “dream team” prediction is turning into more of a nightmare this season. The Eagles offensive line is not allowing the team to put enough points on the board and is hanging Michael Vick out to dry on almost every play. Another problem” Why sign a corner as good as Nnamdi Asomugha and play him is a zone?C’mon man. The Bills story book season continues here because the Bills are a legitimately good team.

Dr. Football: BILLS TO WIN.

The Coach: BILLS TO WIN.

Oakland Raiders (2-2) at Houston Texans (3-1)
Line: Texans by 5.5.

Will Oakland’s RB Darren McFadden be able to run against the dominant Texan defense? If they don’t they’re doomed as their passing game is inconsistent and Houston will control that. Houston’s run game, featuring Arian Foster, will be in full speed and they’ll run all over the Raiders.

Dr. Football: TEXANS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.

The Coach: TEXANS TO WIN AND COVER.

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Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck

Tennessee Titans (3-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2)
Line: Steelers by 3.5.

Pittsburgh may be without Big Ben and RB Rashard Mendenhall, and if this is the case, they’re toast. Tennessee’s defensive line will dominate this game, putting pressure on the Steelers QB and run game. This will create mistakes and turnovers. Matt Hasselbeck should shine as a result when the offence is on the field (Coach sez: “Steelers aren’t done yet.”).

Dr. Football: TITANS TO WIN.

The Coach: STEELERS TO WIN AND COVER.

Andy+Dalton+Buffalo+Bills+v+Cincinnati+Bengals+um0p0oi82YXl 200x300 Week 5: Vikings! This Time for Sure.

Cincinnati's Andy Dalton

Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3)
Line: Jaguars by 2.5.

Cincinnati’s offense has really seemed to come together in the last few weeks and with QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green completely in sync they’ll have success against a weak Jaguar secondary (Coach sez: “This will be Blaine Gabbert’s week to shine.”).

Dr. Football: BENGALS TO WIN.

The Coach: JAGUARS TO WIN AND COVER.

Seattle Seahawks (1-3) at New York Giants (3-1)
Line: Giants by 9.5.

This game is a complete mismatch. The Giants are better all around. Seattle has one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, and Peyton’s healthy brother is going take complete advantage of it.

Dr. Football: GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) at San Francisco 49ers (3-1)
Line: 49ers by 2.5.

The key match-up in this game is San Francisco’s Vernon Davis vs. Tampa Bay’s secondary. The Bucs don’t have the talent to cover him. However, the Bucs defensive line is strong against a weak 49er offensive line. The 49ers will have Frank Gore back this week and have home field advantage to grind out a win.

Dr. Football: 49ERS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: 49ERS TO WIN AND COVER.

New York Jets (2-2) at New England Patriots (3-1)
Line: Patriots by 9.

Tom Brady is going to attack the Jets defensive secondary over and over, and he’s going to put up some huge numbers here. The Jets offensive line hasn’t been able to keep QB Mark Sanchez off his butt, and that ain’t gonna change against the Patriots.

Dr. Football: PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.

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San Diego RB Ryan Mathews

San Diego Chargers (3-1) at Denver Broncos (1-3)
Line: Chargers by 4.

The Chargers defense will own this game as the Bronco offense is struggling big time. Philip Rivers hasn’t been playing that well, but it won’t matter when you’re playing a weak team, and the Broncos are a weak team. And, to top it off, Broncos QB Kyle Orton is a loser. Expect San Diego runningbacks Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert to run forever.

Dr. Football: CHARGERS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.

The Coach: CHARGERS TO WIN AND COVER.

SUNDAY NIGHT

Green Bay Packers (4-0) at Atlanta Falcons (2-2)
Line: Packers by 5.5.

Atlanta in one word? INCONSISTENT. This week won’t be any different, especially on offense. Defensively, the Falcons match-up with the Packers, however, Green Bay’s offense lead by QB Aaron Rodgers who scored six touchdowns last week is on fire. The Packer defense is ranked number two against the rush, and the Falcons will be no match.

Dr. Football: PACKERS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: PACKERS TO WIN AND COVER.

MONDAY NIGHT

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Detroit's All-Pro WR Calvin Johnson

Chicago Bears (2-2) at Detroit Lions (4-0)
Line: Lions by 5.

Lions QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson are dominating defenses, and this week won’t be any different, especially after watching Cam Newton expose the Bears secondary last week. It also won’t hurt that young Titus Young and Brandon Pettigrew are starting to dominate, as well. Meanwhile, the Lions defense is emerging as one of the best in the game.

Dr. Football: LIONS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: LIONS TO WIN AND COVER.



Week 1 in the NFL Has Arrived: Look Out for the Pack.

Praise the lord. There is once again a reason to get up in the morning. The NFL is back.

The 2011 National Football League regular season gets underway tonight as the New Orleans Saints play the Packers in Green Bay (7:30 p.m. CDT on TSN).

On Sunday, there are 13 games, including Pittsburgh at Baltimore, the Giants at

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Will they boo Chad Henne again?

Washington, Minnesota at San Diego and on Sunday night, Dallas at the Jets. Monday night, it’s a doubleheader with New England at Miami and Oakland at Denver. The first game will give all the NFL experts a chance to rag on Chad Henne and the second game will give them a chance to rag on Tim Tebow who might not even play. Talk about a collection of one-hit wonders. But, hey, that’s sports in the 21st Century.

The Coach’s prognostications for 2011 are pretty simple. He likes Pittsburgh in the AFC North, Houston in the AFC South, Kansas City in the AFC West and New England in the AFC East with the Jets and Ravens as wild card teams. He likes Philly in the NFC East, Green Bay in the NFC North, New Orleans in the NFC South and St. Louis (despite an absolutely brutal schedule in the first half)  in the NFC West with Detroit and Atlanta as the wild card teams.

This year, we once again welcome the brilliance of Doctor Football who will write most of our weekly series of picks. I’ll certainly be happy to argue with him.

So no more fooling around. Here it is: Week 1 of the 2011 NFL season.

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Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers

THURSDAY NIGHT

New Orleans Saints (0-0) at Green Bay Packers (0-0)
Line: Packers by 4.5.

The defending champions open up the season at home and will be playing for the NFC title in the same place in January. Might even be against the Saints. Aaron Ridgers is still the NFL’s best quarterback, until such time as somebody beats and while we all know Drew Brees is still among the game’s best, the question remains: Will he get enough time to throw? Especially against that ball-hawking Packers defense. Meanwhile, Saints receiver Lance Moore, who had eight touchdowns last season will not suit up for New Orleans tonight, nor will kicker Garrett Hartley.

Dr. Football: PACKERS to win and cover.

The Coach: Packers to win and cover.

Detroit Lions (0-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0)
Line: Buccaneers by 1.

Tampa Bay isn’t a very large favourite at home against the Lions which may be attributed to many pundits loving Detroit’s defensive line, and Matt Stafford is healthy to start the year but his shoulder is being held together by tape. And considering that the Lions best running back gained just 555 yards last year, I’m gonna go out on a limb (like Stafford) and say that Detroit won’t win more than 5 games this year. Tampa Bay is a rising young team, but serious holes at linebacker and safety will hurt the defense (The Coach respectfully disagrees).

Dr. Football: BUCCANEERS to win and cover.

The Coach: Lions to win.

Atlanta Falcons (0-0) at Chicago Bears (0-0)
Line: Falcons by 3.

The Falcons being 3 point favourites is surprising considering that Chicago was in the NFC championship game last season. They have a strong running game, great passing game,  solid defense, and they are a fast team. However, they don’t play well outdoors and the field in Chicago will be a speed equalizer. Bears are always tough at home .

Dr. Football: BEARS to win.

The Coach: Bears to win.

Buffalo Bills (0-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-0)
Line: Chiefs by 6.

The Chiefs were a playoff team last season, while the Bills didn’t do much last year, and didn’t seem to make any big offseason moves to improve the squad either.

Dr. Football: CHIEFS to win and cover.

The Coach: Chiefs to win and cover. 

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Will Arian Foster eat up the Colts.

Indianapolis Colts (0-0) at Houston Texans (0-0)
Line: Texans by 9.

If the Texans don’t take the division this season then they never will. Their defense is better and they’re loaded on the offensive side of the ball. The Colts are entirely reliant on the health of Peyton Manning. Indianapolis is playing host to the Super Bowl in February, but I don’t see the Colts being the first team to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium. Peyton Manning is NOT expected to play.

Dr. Football: TEXANS to win and will only cover if Manning doesn’t play.

The Coach: Texans to win and cover.

Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-0)
Line: Eagles by 4.5.

The Eagles have impressed everyone during the offseason with the talent they signed and all the trades they made and are heavy favourites for a road squad. St. Louis is a young and improving team though and won’t want to be embarrassed on their home field as the season begins. If Sam Bradford and the offense can quickly learn Josh McDaniels’ system, we’re looking at a club capable of winning at least nine games. Just not this one.

Dr. Football: EAGLES to win and cover.

The Coach: Eagles to win but not cover.

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) at Baltimore Ravens (0-0)
Line: Ravens by 2.5.

The Steelers have looked very good in the pre-season and probably are pissed that they couldn’t beat the Packers last February. Expect them in Indianapolis this February. The Ravens are a solid team capable of beating anyone. However, their defense is aging and Joe Flacco is pretty much on his last legs.  I think the Ravens will end up as a wild card team this year, but they just don’t have the talent to get past the Steelers (The Coach disagrees. Although The Coach picks the Steelers to win the division and maybe the conference, he does not expect them to win IN Baltimore in Week 1).

Dr. Football: STEELERS to win.

The Coach: Ravens to win and cover. 

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Is Colt McCoy the Answer?

Cincinnati Bengals (0-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-0)
Line: Browns by 6.5.

Bengals fans got excited when they heard that Carson Palmer was at the Bengals complex recently. However I think the reason he was there was to help his brother clean out his locker after he got cut. The Bengals are a disaster. A couple of years ago they had the best team in the AFC North, and now they’re so bad that their star quarterback would rather retire than play another game with them. The Browns will be an interesting team to watch. Peyton Hillis had a big year last season and Colt McCoy has been given the reins to the offense. Cleveland will win this season’s first battle of Ohio. Easily.

Dr. Football: BROWNS to win and cover.

The Coach: Browns to win and cover.

Tennessee Titans (0-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0)
Line: No Line.

Who is Luke McCown? I’m sure that the line will change when the odds makers figure out who he is but it won’t matter. Matt Hasselbeck and Chris Johnson will restore some pride in Tennessee fans this season.

Dr. Football: TITANS to win and cover (when the spread comes out).

The Coach: Titans to win and cover no matter the spread. 

Seattle Seahawks (0-0) at San Francisco 49ers (0-0)
Line: 49ers by 5.5.

The NFC West was tight last season because no team was able to finish with a .500 record, so everyone was in that same mediocre range. 49ers new Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has a lot of hype behind him, and that probably explains the big point spread in their favour. He will learn the hard way that Alex Smith is not the guy. Seahawks will be horrible this year with Tarvaris Jackson fooling around under center.

Dr. Football: 49ers to win and cover only because they’re the home team.

The Coach: 49ers to win and cover.

Carolina Panthers (0-0) at Arizona Cardinals (0-0)
Line: Cardinals by 7.

When you start a rookie quarterback, you’re going to be the heavy underdogs in lots of games especially when you were the worst team in the league the year before. The Cardinals are optimistic with new their new quarterback Kevin Kolb but he is no Kurt Warner. Kolb will rely heavily on Larry Fitzgerald this season who should be very happy as he locked up to nice new, lengthy deal with the team.  It’s gonna be a long season for Panther fans.

Dr. Football: CARDINALS to win and cover.

The Coach: Cardinals to win and cover. 

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Adrian Peterson

Minnesota Vikings (0-0) at San Diego Chargers (0-0)
Line: Chargers by 8.5.

This seems like a pretty wide point spread for the Chargers, even at home considering they didn’t make the playoffs last year. The Vikings want to rebound after failing to perform to expectations last season, and they have Adrian Peterson, Donovan McNabb and a stout defense to help do just that.

Dr. Football: VIKINGS to win.

The Coach: Chargers to win but not cover. 

New York Giants (0-0) at Washington Redskins (0-0)
Line: Giants by 3.

The Giants have been battered by injuries and some turmoil in the offseason, and so they’ll be limping into this game. But the Redskins aren’t expected to do anything this season; they don’t have a quarterback, running game or defense. I’m pretty sure that Scotty, me and 9 other fat guys would beat these bums.

Dr. Football: GIANTS to win and cover

The Coach: Giants to win and cover.

SUNDAY NIGHT 

Dallas Cowboys (0-0) at New York Jets (0-0)
Line: Jets by 4.

The Jets defense will be solid and the offense will be good enough to win. If Mark Sanchez can open it up just a little more, the Jets could have another solid season. I’m still not convinced that Dallas has the talent and coaching to win yet.

Dr. Football: JETS to win and cover.

The Coach: Jets to win and cover.

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Tom Brady

MONDAY NIGHT

New England Patriots (0-0) at Miami Dolphins (0-0)
Line: Patriots by 7.

The Patriots Tom Brady is healthy and Bill Belichick spent the summer fixing the team’s defensive line. The Dolphins didn’t fix anything over the off season and will get a big reality check in their home debut. Fact is, the Patriots might be better this year than they have been at any time in the last four or five years. Albert Haynesworth seems to have found a home and Brady’s offensive tool box is overflowing with skilled weapons. In the first game of a Monday Night Football doubleheader, the Dolphins could get filleted.

Dr. Football: PATRIOTS to win and cover.

The Coach: Patriots to win and cover.  

Oakland Raiders (0-0) at Denver Broncos (0-0)
Line: Broncos by 3.

That huge “click” you will hear on Monday at 9:15 is millions of television viewers turning off this lemon of a game before the opening kickoff. The QB situation in Denver will rear its ugly head as soon as Kyle Orton makes any bad plays. The Bronco fans want Tim Tebow in the game. Oakland is Oakland. Good one minute, horrible the next. Take the home team in this sure-to-be-a-stinker.

Dr. Football: BRONCOS to win and cover. 

The Coach:  Broncos top win and cover.



The NFL Playoffs Begin. Here are Our Picks for Week 1

It’s playoff time in the National Football League this weekend. In fact, it’s called the Wild Card Weekend and quite frankly, it should be pretty wild. There are two potentially outstanding games and two potential blowouts as the New Orleans Saints become the biggest road favorites in NFL playoff history.

First things first, however, it was quite a week around The League:

(1) The Dolphins talked to Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh on Thursday and then called up their current coach, Tony Sparano, and told him that he’ll be back next season. That’s classy.

(2) As we told you Monday on NCI FM, the Cowboys finally made it official on Thursday and announced that Jason Garrett will be the full-time head coach in Dallas.

(3) The Tennessee Titans said that quarterback Vince Young would be traded or released, but there is no word on the future of head coach Jeff Fisher.

(4) Before sitting down with the Dolphins, Harbaugh interviewed with the the San Francisco 49ers. If Harbaugh doesn’t accept an offer from the 49ers, he’ll stay with Stanford.

(5) Darrell Bevel is out as offensive co-ordinator in Minnesota and the Vikings interviewed Mike Singletary to be their linebackers coach.

(6) And Brett Favre is still retired.

This Saturday, New Orleans plays at Seattle at 3:30 while the Jets play at Indianapolis at 7, both games are on NBC. On Sunday, Baltimore is at Kansas City at 12 Noon on CBS and Green Bay is at Philadelphia at 3:30 on FOX. New England and Pittsburgh have the byes in the AFC while Atlanta and Chicago have the byes in the NFC. New England and Atlanta have home field throughout the playoffs – as long as they keep winning.

Because Dr. Football won the season, he’ll keep writing our weekly picks. At least, until I beat him. Let’s take a close look at Wild Card Weekend:

Saturday…

New Orleans Saints (11-5) at Seattle Seahawks (7-9) Line: Saints by 10.5

The Seahawks will look to pull a massive upset against the defending Super Bowl champs, but it won’t be easy. Did you know the Saints never have won a road playoff game in their entire team history? This will change on Saturday. The worst division winners in the annals of the NFL will get blown out by Drew Brees and company.

Dr. Football: SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER.

New York Jets (11-5) at Indianapolis Colts (10-6) Line: Colts by 2.5

In a rematch of last year’s conference championship game, the Jets visit a Colts club that overcame numerous injuries to reach the post season for a ninth straight time. The Jets took a 17-6 advantage late in the second quarter versus Indy last year, but failed to score again as Colts QB Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes; two in the second half to rally his team to a 30-17 victory. The Colts are not the team they were during last year’s run to the AFC title game, but Peyton is still Peyton. In what should be an excellent battle, expect the experience of Manning to beat the Jets one more time.

Dr. Football: COLTS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: COLTS TO WIN AND COVER.

Sunday afternoon….

Baltimore Ravens (12-4) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) Line: Ravens by 3

The Chiefs are a young team with a lot of players in their first postseason game as the Chiefs haven’t played this late in the season since 2006. The Ravens have played great football all season; look for Ray Rice to put on a run clinic on Sunday. Despite the home crowd cheering on the Chiefs, the experience of the Ravens will leave the KC fans hoping for next year.

Dr. Football: RAVENS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: RAVENS TO WIN AND COVER.

Green Bay Packers (10-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) Line: Eagles by 2.5

These two teams have squared off seven times since 2003, including a 2004 Wild Card game that the Eagles won, 20-17, in overtime. That game featured one of the all-time great plays in Eagles history; a Donovan McNabb to Freddie Mitchell fourth-and-26 conversion with just over a minute to play. Prior to Green Bay’s win in Philly in week 1, the home team has won five straight.  Despite that week 1 win, the Packers three road wins this season is the second fewest of any of the playoff teams. Fortunately for them the Eagles’ 4-4 home record is the worst of any team in the postseason. This is the toughest game of the week to pick, as I smell an upset.

Dr. Football: PACKERS TO WIN.

The Coach: EAGLES TO WIN AND COVER.

The Doc went 10-6 last week and finished up 157-99 on the season. Against the spread I was 10-6 and finished up 140-116. The Coach went 8-8 straight up last week and finished 148-108 on the season. Against the spread he was 6-10 and finished  116-133-7.