When making those water cooler Week 15 NFL Picks, consider the football youth explosion at quarterback. The 2012 NFL season has become the Year of the Rookie as Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden have taken firm control of their respective franchises. Out of the night (via Richmond, Virginia) came Wilson, who is leading all of the young guns: completing 63 percent of his passes with 20 TDs and only nine interceptions.*
RGIII has 18 scores to four INTs (plus 748 rushing yards), Luck has 18 TD tosses, 18 picks and a bunch of comeback wins, while Tannehill and Weeden are each at 57 percent completions per attempt. See the smiling faces of the Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns fans? Yes, Cleveland. Rookie signal-callers have taken the gridiron by storm. The only remaining question is: Can they take their teams to January?
Thursday Night Football
Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles. Philly's Nick Foles came closer to keeping his quarterback gig on Sunday, throwing two last-quarter touchdowns, keeping both drives alive with clutch fourth-down plays, showing excellent clock-management and stealing a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. No further stats needed.
The 'Iggles D finally played well against a B+ Bucs offense, holding Tampa Bay to 314 total yards, though studly rookie RB Doug Martin torched them for 136 yards on 32 carries. They'll need to improve that rushing defense versus Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis or Cincy QB Andy Dalton will have a stupendous night under the lights.
Green-Ellis certainly did his part last week against the Cowboys, with 7.4 yards per carry. One wonders whether the Bengals lost as much to emotion as to a flesh-and-blood team as they let the game slip away against Dallas. When Tony Romo is on, he can be devastating. When Dez Bryant is paying attention, he can be dazzling. Add in the threat of rusher DeMarco Murray and even the stout Bengals D couldn't hold the line.
Prediction: The Eagles come home to roost and the Bengals eat them for dinner. Cincinnati by six.
Sunday Early Games
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears. Winter football officially arrived Sunday with a wet and snowy night at Lambeau Field. In the absence of former Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson and soon-to-be DPOY Clay Matthews, the Packers sported a pair of rookie DBs to face down Detroit's Calvin Johnson. Tramon Williams did a darn good job of it, too. The Green Bay Packers eventually heated up on a cold night, beginning with a field goal and picking up steam when D-lineman Mike Daniels scooped up a fumble and practically tilted the field as he strode into the end zone. QB Aaron Rodgers and rookie rusher DuJuan Harris both ran in for six, while PK Mason Crosby seemed to get his groove back and capped off the evening with a 41-yarder.
The closest Bears fans can come to comparable achievements would be to cite Matt Forte's 13 carries and six receptions for a combined 89 yards. While fans probably understood why an Urlacher-less defense had trouble tackling the Super Nova known as Adrian Peterson, they were likely less sympathetic when Jay Cutler threw a pick-six to a rookie safety. Chicago faithful also won't be happy when they read that Cutler's two interceptions contributed more yards toward the Minnesota victory than all of the Vikings passes on the afternoon. Isn't that the football equivalent of "sleeping with the enemy?"
Cutler has a neck injury, kicker Robbie Gould has a strained calf (don't laugh -- he's still their most consistent points-producer) and those two concussed WRs are still on the injury list.+ Terrific.
Prediction: As long as Cutler, WR Brandon Marshall and Forte can play, the Bears should make it a game. Green Bay still wins by three.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans. The Titans mirage of an offense made the Colts D look positively competitive. Don't get too carried away: Indy has given up an average of 120.6 rushing yards per game and are the 20th-ranked passing defense. Andrew Luck throws too many interceptions, but he did cap off his six fourth-quarter comeback of the year. Could he be the new Brett Favre? Naw.
Rushers Vick Ballard and Delone Carter have taken possession of the Indy running back position. Ballard had the "hot feet" on Sunday with 94 yards on 19 carries, but Carter had one of those Jerome Bettis-like one-yard TD efforts.
They face a Houston Texans team that was publicly spanked on Monday Night Football. Matt Schaub did absolutely nothing to make fans think he's an elite QB. He may have a career completion percentage of 64 with almost twice as many scores as picks, but he looked like he would rather be anywhere else in the solar system than Gillette Stadium on Monday night. This is an understandable reaction to seeing Vince Wilfork across the line, but Schaub must lead his team to touchdowns rather than field goals or squandered red-zone opportunities. The offensive game plan for Week 15 will show fans how much faith Gary Kubiak still has in his starter. Expect multiple broadcast shots of Arian Foster and Ben Tate rushing the football.
Luck will try to take advantage of a "wounded-warrior-and-the-new-guy" Houston secondary to emulate Brady's eight yards per pass. As for Ballard and Carter -- good luck facing that third-ranked Texans run D.
Creepy stat: Matt Schaub and Tom Brady each finished the Monday game with 21 completions for 26 passes. Schaub had an interception and Tom Brady had four touchdown passes. Talk about being outclassed.
Prediction: Houston is still the better team and should recover to win by a TD if they can hold down Andrew Luck in the fourth quarter.
Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens. Regardless of your NFL affiliation, this is obligatory football viewing. Last Thursday night, the Broncos dismantled the Raiders in spite of the rare presence of RB Darren McFadden. In an eighth straight win exceeding even the most ardent Peyton Manning fan's vindictive hopes, Denver led from the jump--to shamelessly mix sports metaphors. Manning completed 26-of-36 passes for 310 yards and a score (joining the previously-cited Brett Favre's 5,000-yard club). RB Knowshon Moreno cemented his return to relevance with a 119-yard afternoon.
However, an Oakland defense ranked dead last in the NFL going into Week 14 held the "Sheriff's" squad to a red-zone success ratio of 2-7. And that isn't going to cut it in January versus a Patriots team scoring in the 50's.
Denver should be wary of the frustrated Ravens, who have lost back-to-back games to the Steelers and Washington. Ray Rice and his rushing compatriots racked up 186 yards on the ground, but the passing game was anemic at 173 yards last weekend. "Anemic" is being polite. Ravens brass must have agreed since Cam Cameron was fired as the offensive coordinator and replaced by erstwhile Indy Head Coach Jim Caldwell. Joe Flacco may not be Peyton Manning, but he possesses a legitimate skill set and could only benefit from having Caldwell teach him how to perfect the "no huddle." Who knows? Pre-snap drama may be landing on the Ravens' field.
Prediction: Denver takes its show on the road, winning by a mere three.
Jacksonville Jaquars at Miami Dolphins. The Jaguars last few seasons are enough to make one request a "mercy rule" in the NFL. It's hard to even find solace in converting three fourth downs last Sunday because, of 16 third down plays, the team converted only two. QB Chad Henne completed less than 50% of his passes, threw three interceptions and was sacked three times. The Jags rushing duo consisted of Montell Owens and Richard Murphy. Who? Exactly.
Southern Florida should have the advantage in this matchup on every level except tackle, where LT Jake Long's value grows every day that he is on I-R. In his absence, Ryan Tannehill's production has slumped to the point where Miami has only scored 17.7 points on average over the past three weeks. The rookie QB is passing for only 185 yards each weekend with a mediocre average of 5.2 yards per attempt. Reggie Bush may have wanted to be a featured running back, but it's difficult to imagine this is quite what he envisioned. He is lifting his share of the offense as the main component of a run game averaging 128 yards recently.
In reality, these teams have almost identical statistics across the past month. Neither has averaged even 18 points per game and both defenses have surrendered more than 23 on the scoreboard. However, at least the Dolphins have a big-time running back still in uniform and a QB capable of some excellent play if protected.
Prediction: Dolphins by a touchdown. Jacksonville will have a few key defenders back in the fold or it might be more.
Washington at Cleveland Browns. Robert Griffin III, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Rookie of the Year contender RB Alfred Morris called and executed an opening drive so impressive that the Ravens defense must have been embarrassed. In fairness, how does one protect against both Morris and Griffin's running ability and also cover WR Pierre Garcon downfield? Regular readers, please do not suffer apoplexy at my surprise praise of Shanahan the Younger. The guy's growing on me. Of course, having a super-star franchise QB will make any play-caller look brilliant. Just ask Dad.
Unfortunately, the thin and injured Washington D promptly surrendered an answering first-quarter score in a drive lasting about 30 seconds. And so the game went until RGIII sustained a knee injury on a fourth-quarter game-tying drive. In true Hollywood fashion, rookie Kirk Cousins not only threw a TD, he also ran for the two-point conversion. PK Kai Forbath deserves tremendous credit for this victory with three FGs, including the overtime game-winner.
In a year where Joe Flacco was supposed to cement his position as a premiere passer, it was the rookie Griffin who put up 13 passing first downs and 248 aerial yards. Washington may also have found a new return specialist in Richard Crawford, who set up the winning drive.
The Cleveland Browns have won three straight games, sparking general jubilation in the Rust Belt! Despite fighting injuries all season, Trent Richardson has nine touchdown runs, tying Jim Brown for the Cleveland rookie record. In Week 14, young WRs Greg Little and Josh Gordon came down with 12 balls on 19 targets. Now, that's more like it!
Meanwhile, the Browns defense may be 23rd in yards allowed, but they are ninth in points scored against them. Undrafted free agent DB Tashaun Gipson has been a gem since cracking the roster and came down with a crucial interception in last week's win. Veteran D-linemen Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin are still only at partial strength, but rookies Billy Winn and John Hughes are evidence that not everything the Mike Holgren era produced was a failure.
Reinforcing once again that special teams are "special," Phil Dawson booted his 300th career field goal. The guy is an orange rock.
With RGIII, Washington will still be fighting for a playoff berth. Without him, the Browns just might continue their climb back to respectability. Both Griffin and star CB DeAngelo Hall swear they'll suit up.
Prediction: Washington by three.
Minnesota Vikings at St. Louis Rams. According to ESPN, Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has his eye on the single-season rushing record. With three games left, the human dynamo has 1,600 yards. Over the last three games he has gained 472 yards -- so breaking Eric Dickerson's 2,105-yard mark is possible. As is the MVP trophy. It's a tragedy that Peterson couldn't have hooked up with Favre when No. 4 was 35 years old. Without WR Percy Harvin in the lineup, Christian Ponder is regressing -- against defenses that load eight and nine guys into the box against Peterson. Most of my neighborhood could find someone to whom they could throw a ball downfield against the remaining three defenders! Over the last three games, the Vikes have run for 175 yards courtesy of you-know-who, passed for a paltry 113.3 and scored 15 points. That's just wrong.
Defensively, St. Louis isn't feeling generous. They're only allowing opponents to score 14 points recently. This is not a good combination for the Vikings. The key matchup will be a Rams D giving up less than 100 rushing yards per game against -- you know.
The Rams offense may have turned the corner. Sam Bradford's two WRs (Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens) both had good games on the very same day. The third-year QB is starting to return to form and led his second consecutive fourth-quarter game-winning/tying drive against the Bills D. Of concern to Sam's family would be the ongoing back problems of LT Rodger Saffold.
Jeff Fisher continues to "fisherize" this D, helped partially by rookie DT Michael Brockers, who notched another 1.5 sacks.
Prediction: St. Louis on the upswing wins by six.
Tampa Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints. The Bucs' Ronde Barber and Washington's London Fletcher are tied for the longest active streaks in the NFL: the venerable TB safety made his 212th start in Week 14. However, he couldn't prevent the Eagles rookie QB from completing a game-winner with no time on the clock. The Bucs should have won that game, leading in the fourth quarter with four minutes left. The defense held the Eagles to 29 rushing yards, but Josh Freeman got off to yet another slow start and finished only 14-of-34 for 189 yards and fewer than six yards per pass. Well, that isn't going to cut it against the Saints, no matter what kind of slump Drew Brees has been battling.
For a few weeks Tampa Bay had a combustible offensive squad. While Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams have still gotten their receptions, the overall offensive production has slacked off--with due apologies to rookie star RB Doug Martin, who managed yet another huge game with 128 yards. Tampa Bay maintains the 13th rushing and passing offenses and are fifth in points. Well, that's all that counts, right?
How about Drew Brees as the MVP? What? He's thrown 16 interceptions! Yes, with 31 touchdowns. Without Brees, the Saints season would have been beyond miserable; it would have been unremittingly humiliating. His leadership has kept the pride and the professionalism in N'awleans. Further, he throws the football to about 50 different players, newest being Joe Morgan. This second-year third-stringer from Walsh College finished Sunday with 106 receiving yards. The Buccaneers are the 32nd-ranked passing defense in the NFL. Brees is relieved.
Defensively, the Saints secondary isn't the pushover many believe: they picked off Eli Manning twice Sunday. The pickers? Elbert Mack (a 26-year-old former Buccaneer) and Isa Abdul-Quddus (23-year-old playing in his 27th game). It's a far different secondary than the Championship group led by Darren Sharper and Tracy Porter. Unless Doug Martin does to the linebacking corps what David Wilson did to the entire defense in Week 14, New Orleans has a chance.
Since the Bucs aren't handing out rushing yards to opponents (66.3 per game over the last month) and the Saints are in a giving mood to RBs in different-colored jerseys (134.3 yards per game) the Bucs would win--except that the game is in the Superdome.
Prediction: New Orleans by two.
New York Giants at Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta didn't improve its credibility by laying a collective egg in Charlotte last weekend. How does one lose a game in which Matt Ryan passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns? Roddy White and Julio Jones both scored and White even had another 100-yard day. However, RBs Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers combined for only 11 carries and 35 yards. Even in a game where the Dirty Birds were playing catch-up, that's pitiful. No matter how thin and weak the Panthers secondary may be -- when they know the ball is coming, they can cover accordingly.
They may have been facing Cam Newton, but how does a defense this improved give up 403 yards to essentially one player? And how, exactly, does 5'9" Steve Smith take out two Falcons defenders on a block? Two. See, guys--this is why the NFL world doesn't take you seriously.
Giants Rookie RB David Wilson has arrived. After being benched in the season opener for fumbling, relegated to the return game and frequently dressed down for poor decision-making, the former track ace gave his team an answering score in the opening quarter against the Saints with a 97-yard kick return. He had several other big-time returns on the day and scored twice as a ball-carrier, finishing with 327 all-purpose yards. Guess he's catching on. And how about the five-foot high backflip in the endzone? Pouring down rain and he stuck the landing. Yeah, he's got game.
Wilson's "sparkle" also outshone a defensive outing that gave up a ton of yards, but came away with four turnovers. By the way, Eli Manning and his WRs contributed four TDs. How can a two-time Super Bowl MVP remain such an after-thought?
Prediction: Giants by three.
Sunday Late Games
Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills. Want to know if Seattle can consistently handle the road? This game will provide enlightenment. After a win of "Little Big Horn" proportions at home in Week 14, the 'Hawks will face Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcel Dareus and Shawne Merriman on the Bills defensive line. The group has finally become a unit and, poor record or not, would be overlooked at the peril of a 5'11" QB. Marshawn Lynch, backup Robert Turbin and return specialist Leon Washington all scored on the ground last Sunday. They may not do that well, but they will still be the basis of the offense. Golden Tate is now a mature NFL WR with toughness extending well beyond his physical frame. On their backs, Russell Wilson will try to increase both his stellar stars and the number of "W's" in his team's record.
Defensive success will be in direct proportion to the number of suspended DBs who can suit up for Seattle. Richard Sherman is still awaiting appeal, but Brandon Browner was out Sunday in the first of a four-game suspension. Guys: you're 23-years-old. Do you really need an amphetamine to play football? With at least one of this cornerback duo, Seattle has achieved the fourth-ranked NFL passing D. Maybe Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick should just call in sick.
The Bills dismal 2012 got worse with a lackluster showing at home in the elements against dome-bound St. Louis, who came from behind to hand Buffalo another defeat. The offense mustered 281 total yards on 58 plays. They also lost Fred Jackson late, but had been unable to establish the run with either rusher. The team finished in defeat with only 61 ground yards. C.J. Spiller will get another shot at being the featured back, since Jackson is likely out for a few weeks. One wonders at Chan Gailey's job security after another disappointing year.
Prediction: Seahawks by two in Toronto.
Carolina Panthers at San Diego Chargers. Both teams came up with statement wins last week. Whether either will save their coach's job is somewhat doubtful. The Falcons had the fifth overall defense in the NFL and Cam Newton made them look like high-schoolers. Slow high-schoolers. Outside of one overdue breakout run from DeAngelo Williams, Newton was the offense. This may not be a successful strategy against the resolute Chargers D. Regardless of his celebrations or press conferences or ability to rush for 72-yard scores, No. 1 completed 23-of-35 passes with an 8.2 yard-per-pass average. Those are "big boy" NFL quarterback numbers. San Diego, underestimate at your own risk.
Philip Rivers and Danario Alexander gave Charger fans a glimpse of what might have been in 2012. Alexander looked like Reggie Wayne Sunday and begs the question: "Where has he been all season?" Probably in the same black vortex that held Rivers' third-down efficiency (only 11 third-down passes moved the chains). San Diego held the ball for 36:46 on Sunday. This would be an excellent plan against the Carolina Panthers quarterback.
Defensively, the Bolts rank fourth versus the run, but only 22nd against the aerial attack. This will undoubtedly suggest a game plan involving passing the ball as opposed to running around like you're in the backyard. Whether the decimated Carolina offensive line can hold up a pocket will determine the outcome.
Prediction: Chargers by six.
Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals. Both Ryan Lindley and John Skelton played quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals--and it didn't make one bit of difference. In one of the worst halves of football ever executed (and one uses that term loosely) on a gridiron, the team had already given up six turnovers--and 38 points. Seattle (58 points) ran 14 drives on Sunday. Arizona (zero points) ran 13. The Cards offense managed 154 total yards. Okay, I'll stop.
As for the in-fighting Arizona D, both Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin rushed for over 100 yards last Sunday in Seattle. Lynch scored three times.
On a disappointing evening in Green Bay, Detroit's star wideout Calvin Johnson carved out 118 receiving yards, edging closer to Jerry Rice's single-season record of 1,848 ("Megatron" goes into Week 15 with 1,546 yards and counting). He has a chance to get those yards, since the Lions are down to using Stafford's college teammate Kris Durham as the other WR. Stafford even threw his 6'6" beanpole buddy four balls for 54 yards. Unfortunately, after a brisk first quarter featuring two TDs, the Lions got bogged down in field goals. By the fourth quarter, Matthew Stafford was playing from behind again and finished the game with 27 completions out of 45 attempts. The Lions achieved 27 first downs, but couldn't convert them into points. They fielded a respectable almost-100-yard running game between Joique Bell and Mikel Leshoure and even held the ball 37 minutes to just over 22 minutes for the Pack. Apparently Aaron Rodgers doesn't need that much time to score. At least it will be warm in Arizona.
Prediction: Lions by a touchdown.
Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders. Oakland Raider Coach Dennis Allen is on record as anticipating RB Darren McFadden's ability to start this week. No McFadden, no win. Period. Even with No. 20 and emerging WR Rod Streater (100 yards on four catches), the Raiders couldn't score in Week 14. Carson Palmer managed 19-of-30 with 8.8 yards per completion and only one actual sack. The offense may have made their plays count (only 47 plays with 14 first downs and only 22 minutes of possession), but it's hard to win that way, especially with a weak defense (32nd in points allowed).
Both Kansas City RB Jamaal Charles and WR Dwayne Bowe sustained rib injuries in last Sunday's letdown defeat versus the Browns. Charles returned and rushed for 165 yards. Bowe did not and will not play this week. One wonders if Dwayne has already moved on in his mind. In his absence, Brady Quinn was only able to throw for four first downs. That, in case you're not a first-down stat person, is not good. None of the other passing statistics paint any more appealing a picture.
If Darren McFadden can play, his chances of success are decent against a Chiefs rush D that allowed rookie Trent Richardson to tie Jim Browns' rookie Cleveland touchdown record.
Prediction: Oakland because they're at home.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys were able to pull together enough focus to prevail on the road over an up-and-coming Cincinnati Bengals team that helped them along with some uncharacteristic blunders. The leadership of both Tony Romo and Jason Garrett has been universally challenged and yet they held their team steady on a day when nothing but grey reigned in their hearts. Surprising and somewhat impressive was the focus of both CB Brandon Flowers and WR Dez Bryant. Flowers is a former Chief and has spent far too much time dealing with death in the last two weeks, yet he made a key interception. Young Dez Bryant scored with one of those athletic catches that make fans remember why Jerry Jones rolled the dice on No. 88. For Bryant to keep it together on Sunday could signal a turning point in his life and the team's fortunes. It's unfortunate that his fractured finger may be a setback. Kicker Dan Bailey showed his own mental toughness in making the game-winning FG on a somber day. Bailey has a 92% success rate this season. Now if Jerry Jones and the Nose Tackle can manage to not kill each other, the 'Boys could prepare for the Black and Gold.
Mike Tomlin defended his new-fangled Todd Haley passing offense in the post-game press conference: "We'll do it the way we've always done it...We're too far down the road...and it's not broken." The scheme may not be broken, but the offensive line certainly is: anchor guard Willie Colon is probably gone for the year. Even those of us who spend way too much time thinking about football would be hard-pressed to name the remaining O-linemen.
Statistically, Tomlin has a point: 14 passing first downs, 61 plays for 340 yards with a 5.6-yard average gain. Almost all of it came after the team stumbled through a somnambulant first half. The defense is top-five in multiple categories, but that prowess was hardly on display last weekend.
Fun stat: Dallas has averaged 15.8 points in the fourth quarter over the last five games. Hear that, Pittsburgh? Keep those old legs churning.
Prediction: Steelers by seven.
Sunday Night Football
San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots. Does anyone in the NFL world remember that Alex Smith won a playoff game last year with his legs? While not arguing Colin Kaepernick's more explosive option abilities, one would think that Smith had been absolutely Drew Bledsoe-esque! Kaepernick is certainly better at finding Randy Moss, who had two grabs for 30 yards. No. 7 put up decent young-QB numbers (18-0f-23 for 185 yards), but "Frank Gore Express" is the name of this playoff-bound train. No. 21 hit 1,000 yards for the sixth time on just 12 carries. Rookie LaMichael James has jumped into the No. 2 RB slot and acquitted himself quite nicely in his first NFL action, whereupon the team suspended disgruntled Brandon Jacobs. The Niners boast the second-ranked rushing attack with 161.5 yards per game.
Defensively, Aldon Smith is proving that his standout rookie campaign was no aberration. The sophomore DE has 19.5 sacks thus far. Yes, that's a Niners record. The San Francisco D also held Reggie Bush to 65 yards and made Ryan Tannehill look like, well, a rookie quarterback.
Speculation that the Patriots will have a letdown after steam-rolling Houston Monday night is something upon which Jim Harbaugh will not depend. Given that New England has all the personality of an assembly line, they will probably just keep marching relentlessly forward in their quest for post-season home-field advantage. If there is anyone who underestimates Tom Brady, have them ponder whether another QB could throw for less than 300 yards -- and score four times. Brady may have two speeds (monotonous and angry), but he has always been a legitimate MVP contender. To say that the patchwork Houston secondary was no match for him is tantamount to saying that Boston harbour has a bit of boat traffic.
The Pats defense punched Matt Schaub and the Texans offense in the face early and Houston played the rest of the game as if literally dazed. RB Arian Foster, the one spark of life, was held to 46 rushing yards.
On the other side of the pigskin, Harbaugh has infused his team with toughness and Frank Gore will "bring it" to the Pats D. You want contact? Gore will be happy to oblige. The D-line will take on the challenge and you know that the Smiths (both Aldon and Justin) salivate at the thought of a Brady sack.
Prediction: New England by a touchdown.
Monday Night Football
New York Jets at Tennessee Titans. Sticking with the Shonn Greene / Bilal Powell tandem at running back has given the Jets two consecutive wins and 166 rushing yards in Week 14. Mark Sanchez was back to rookie-level QB management, attempting only 19 passes. He did complete 12 of them, so perhaps this week they'll let him attempt 20 passes. Start packing, Mark.
Ultimately, it's impossible to get excited about having trounced the Jacksonville Jaguars. The best news for Gang Green? Only one penalty. Break out the bubbly.
Peyton Manning is so happy that he didn't choose Tennessee. The Titans suffered a self-inflicted, soul-killing loss in Indy on Sunday. Even when Jake Locker has an accurate (for him) day passing and manages 22-of-35 for 262 yards and a score, he blows it in the final minutes with a room-service pick-six thrown inside his own five-yard line. The brightest spot in the Titans solar system right now is former (one hopes) wild-child Kenny Britt, who finished the day catching eight of the nine balls thrown his way for 143 yards. About time. Chris Johnson managed a whopping 2.3 yards per carry. Um, the Colts defense isn't that good.
The Tennessee defense ranks 31st. Even the Jets might break 10 points this weekend.
Prediction: New York Jets by three
*statistics courtesy of nfl.com, espn.com, NFL Network's Gameday Final and Total Access, NBC's Sunday Night Football, athlonsports.com and usatoday.com
+ injury information courtesy of cbssports.com and usatoday.com
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