PEWTERREPORT.COM STAFF STANDINGS

Scott Reynolds 110-67

Jim Flynn 107-70

Hugh MacArthur
97-80

LAST WEEK

Jim Flynn 14-2

Scott Reynolds
11-5

Hugh MacArthur
10-6

Baltimore at Cincinnati (Thursday 8:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – When a 10-6 week still lands you in third place, it is time to up the ante in finding the best prediction methodology. Given a couple of winning weeks in a row, it seems logical to include my friend Theresa’s thoughts in the mix. At the time of our meeting at Paddy’s Pub, Theresa’s friend Tom, a Cowboys’ fan, was stuck in LAX waiting for a flight to the East Coast. Tom became a life-line when we disagreed on picks. Lastly, to make sure we go over the top for the week, I am picking a key statistic or two for each game that will help drive the outcome. With all of that firepower, I have to make Week 13 a lucky one. The first game is a toughie. We all agreed that Baltimore was the pick. When I did the research, I found that Baltimore has the second-rated defense in the NFL and the top-rated turnover differential. That should be good enough to beat the Bengals’ 31st-rated defense in Cincy. Baltimore

Reynolds – As I begin my picks this week, I note that Flynn is catching up to me, but I continue to pull away from MacArthur, who is basically an afterthought at this stage of the season. I’ve said from the preseason that I thought Baltimore was the dark horse in the AFC this year. After crushing the Bucs in Week 1, I felt even more confident in that statement. Nothing’s changed. Baltimore

Flynn – Cincinnati’s offense, particularly wide receiver Chad Johnson, is on fire, but so is Baltimore’s defense, which is surrendering just 265 yards per game. The Ravens defense shut down the Bengals’ offense a few weeks ago. The scary part is the Baltimore defense is playing even better at this point. Although it won’t be easy, he Ravens won’t blow the opportunity to put position themselves to win the AFC North division. Baltimore

San Diego at Buffalo (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – Theresa was nearly thinking Buffalo because of the weather, but talent won out and we eventually agreed that San Diego was the pick. A stat? Take your pick. San Diego is better across the board. The thing Buffalo does best is rush the passer, amassing 29 sacks so far, good for sixth in the NFL. The Chargers have LaDanian Tomlinson, who can run, pass and catch. San Diego

Reynolds – The Bills have surprised me this year. I picked against them last week, which was a mistake. Will I make the same mistake twice? The Chargers are just a better team and have played pretty well on the road. San Diego

Flynn – San Diego got a serious scare vs. Oakland last Sunday, and it could happen again this Sunday in Buffalo, which is coming off of a big win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, if the Chargers just run the ball with L.T. they’ll escape Buffalo with a big win. The Bills are allowing 135 yards per game, which suggests they’re going to have trouble stopping the Chargers’ potent ground attack. San Diego

Kansas City at Cleveland (Sunday 1:00 ET)

MacArthur – Kansas City was the hands down pick. Beyond great barbeque, the telling football stats are that the Chiefs not only run the ball with authority, with the third most rushing TDs in the league and the sixth-most rushing yards per game, but they are good at protecting the football during passing downs, with the second fewest interceptions in the league. Cleveland has no such luck with turnovers. They both throw interceptions and put the ball on the ground with alarming frequency, and the Browns’ minus-11 differential is 31st in the NFL. It all adds up to more BBQ. Kansas City

Reynolds – Kansas City is really getting hot right now. Larry Johnson is running wild, which helps Trent Green ease back into things. The Chiefs better not get too confident because the Browns can be quite scrappy this year, especially at home (except for last week!). Kansas City

Flynn – Don’t look now, but the Chiefs are in second place in the AFC West division and pushing the Chargers for first place. The Browns were playing teams tough until last Sunday when they got dropped by the Bengals, 30-0. Most teams respond well from an embarrassing loss like the one Cleveland suffered last week, but the Browns won’t be good enough to beat the red-hot Chiefs. Kansas City

Detroit at New England (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – I have to reach back into a Christians vs. Lions metaphor for this game, except this time the Lions are the lunch. The Patriots–Bears game last week was like a heavyweight title match. Those folks thinking that the nine turnovers forced during the game were the result of shoddy offense need to look at the tape again. Those balls were absolutely ripped away by smack-down defenses. The Patriots, my friends, are on the road to Miami, and the Lions are but a speed bump. New England

Reynolds – Detroit just doesn’t stand a chance at New England. The Pats will roll big on this one. New England

Flynn – The Patriots were pretty sloppy en route to a big win over the Chicago Bears last Sunday. They’ll have no problem getting their act together against the woeful Lions, especially with the game being played at home. New England

Arizona at St. Louis (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – We needed a life-line for this match. Theresa felt that the Cardinals had to win at some point. I felt that two wins might just be enough for them in 2006, and that an agitated Rams team in the Dome was ready for a big day. I breathed a sigh of relief when Tom’s answer from the bar at LAX supported St. Louis. Want a good stat to support the theory of the case? Amazingly, not only do the Rams have the fewest interceptions thrown in the league (take that, Mike Martz!), they have they second highest turnover differential at plus-11. That and home field should be enough. St.  Louis

Reynolds – I think the Cardinals’ last gasp might have been against the Vikings last week. I think the writing is on the wall for Dennis Green and the players see it. The Rams play pretty well at home and are a respectable team under Scott Linehan. St. Louis

Flynn – The Cardinals gave the Vikings a good fight last Sunday, but to no avail. Denny Green got the troops up for the game against the team he used to coach. He might have trouble motivating them this week. This game likely will be a shootout, but the Rams should be able to outscore the Cardinals in this contest. St. Louis

Atlanta at Washington (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – Another unanimous game, but a close one. Jason Campbell is the real deal, and even without Clinton Portis and Santana Moss, he will likely be able to lead the Skins to score just enough points at home to pull this game out. I don’t like the fact that Atlanta rushes for 200 yards a game and that the Skins’ defense is terrible at stuffing the run, as anybody who watched them against the Bucs can attest. However, the Falcons have come apart at the seams. They cannot turn their yards into points, and dropped passes and a new type of “Dirty Bird” have come to represent the receivers and Mike Vick in the passing game. Washington

Reynolds – Atlanta is self-destructing (which is kind of fun for me because I’m not a big fan of Jim Mora) after an embarrassing home loss to New Orleans last Sunday. They go on the road to Washington, where the Redskins have beaten Jacksonville, Dallas and Carolina this year. All signs point to me taking Washington, yet I’m going to pick Atlanta (foolishly) one more time. Why? If Mike Vick is going to make any kind of stand as a quarterback, he better turn it on this week and save his team. Doing it within a couple of hours from his hometown and his family and friends from the Newport News-Virginia Beach area may help motivate him. Atlanta

Flynn – The Falcons are imploding, having lost four straight games to bring their overall record to 5-6. They need to win this game to keep pace in the NFC South division, but the fact that the Falcons have been swept by the first-place Saints suggest the Dirty Birds are probably playing for a Wild Card spot at this point. The 4-7 Redskins aren’t playing for anything, but hat didn’t stop them from knocking off the Carolina Panthers last Sunday. The ‘Skins might not be that good, but they’re more prideful than the Falcons, and that will be the difference in this one. Washington

Minnesota at Chicago (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – New rounds were ordered, and Chicago was toasted as the right pick. Anybody who watches this team on defense and special teams has to be impressed. Those two units can win games all by themselves, even when Rex Grossman turns the ball over.  Minnesota can stop the run, but they are 31st against the pass, so look for Grossman to take a lot of shots down the field. Some will end up in purple hands, but more will end up in black and white. Chicago

Reynolds – Chicago’s defense will carry the Bears to the Super Bowl this year the same way Tampa Bay’s defense carried the Bucs to the Super Bowl in 2002. I like the Bears at home over an inconsistent Minnesota team. Expect a close game and some turnovers from Mike Tomlin’s Vikings defense. Chicago

Flynn – Chicago could have defeated New England on the road last Sunday had it not been for some costly and untimely mistakes. This NFC North rivalry is a heated one, but the Bears still are arguably the best and most balanced team in the NFC. Chicago

New York Jets at Green Bay (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – Another tie-breaker. Theresa felt that Green Bay had the upper hand. I got queasy as she dialed Tom at LAX, but blew a cloud of relief when Tom’s answer favored the Gang Green from New York. Frankly, the Packers are better statistically in most categories, except turnover differential. That will be the difference in this match-up of rookie coaches. I also remembered that Theresa ripped Green Bay’s uniforms last week, which made me feel even better. Sorry, Theresa. New York Jets

Reynolds – The Packers are a hard team to figure out. They play well enough to lose, but not well enough to win. Well, I guess I figured them out after all. New York Jets

Flynn – The Packers didn’t look half bad in Seattle on Monday Night Football. However, Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck practically handed them the game with four first half interceptions. Green Bay has been terrible at home this season, posting just one win this season. The 6-5 Jets, on the other hand, have posted a 3-2 record on the road, including an impressive win in New England. Look for the Jets to pull out yet another win on the road as they try to keep pace for a Wild Card spot. New York Jets

San Francisco at New Orleans (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – Another tie-breaker from what was rapidly turning out to be my life-line. Theresa thought the 49ers were likely to win, mostly because she enjoys a nice Napa Cabernet. I had actually watched the Saints take apart the Falcons in Atlanta last week, and I guess Tom did, too, because we both saw a Saints win at home. Need a helpful stat for motivation? The Saints now have the number one rated offense in the NFL. The 49ers are 31st in scoring defense. New Orleans

Reynolds – After last week’s big win at Atlanta, I could see the Saints getting too full of themselves and having a let down game. I would predict that would happen if this game was in San Francisco, but it’s not. New Orleans.

Flynn – The Saints are for real. If you didn’t believe that before, you certainly believed it after they plucked the Falcons in Atlanta last Sunday. The 49ers are competitive, but they’ve still got some issues to work out on the defensive side of the ball. Drew Brees will lead the Saints to yet another win as New Orleans begins to run away with the NFC South division. New Orleans

Indianapolis at Tennessee (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – This was a scary game for Indy the first time around, but as we ordered another round, Theresa and I couldn’t muster much fright.  Tennessee is coming off a big high after dumping the Giants, but the Colts will find a way to keep scoring in this game.  Despite the first game’s low score, Tennessee has the 32nd-rated defense in the NFL. That would be dead last. Indianapolis

Reynolds – I like the pick up of Ricky Proehl to replace Brandon Stokely at wide receiver. The Bucs should have signed Proehl this year. He doesn’t drop many passes. Despite the Titans’ big win last week over the Giants, I can find too much I like about this team. Indianapolis

Flynn – Several weeks ago, this game wouldn’t have even deserved commentary and would have called for a simple, “Indianapolis.” However, Jeff Fisher has his young football team playing hard, evidenced by some of the upsets they’ve nearly pulled off this year, and their ability to come back and erase the Giants’ 21-0 fourth quarter lead and win last Sunday. However, the Colts are clearly the better team, and they should be able to pull off what could be a close win in Tennessee. Indianapolis

Houston at Oakland (Sunday 4:05 PM ET)

MacArthur – When Theresa went to the Houston well for the third week in a row, I immediately got heartburn. Houston has fallen, and they can’t get up. I was even more queasy after hearing her logic, that once again, Houston has to win sometime. I politely pointed out that with five wins between them in 22 games, it was entirely possible that neither team would win. The trouble is, I couldn’t really argue for Oakland. Stat? Oakland has the 32nd-rated offense in the league. Houston

Reynolds – I can’t pick the Raiders again this year. Houston

Flynn –I don’t envy anyone who has to watch this football game. Art Shell has the Raiders playing teams tough, which is surprising. The Texans have the Jaguars’ number and one other win on the season. They’re also 1-5 on the road. That tells me the Black Hole could give the Raiders a slight advantage in this contest, which could turn out to be a battle for the higher draft pick in 2007. Oakland

Jacksonville at Miami (Sunday 4:05 PM ET)

MacArthur – Miami is kind of like a home game for Jacksonville.  The fans their have always been tepid about the Dolphins, and Jacksonville, despite its Hooterville reputation, has more passion both on and off the field than the Dolphins have this year. So, as the Samuel Adams flowed, we had no disagreement and were just looking for a stat. However, these teams are dead-even statistically on offense and defense. I like two things in the Jags’ favor. Josh Scobee is a better weapon than Olindo Mare at this stage of their careers, and David Garrard has the Jaguar offense playing much better than Lord Byron did. Jacksonville

Reynolds – I think Jacksonville’s anger and disappointment over losing in Buffalo will do more for the Jaguars than Miami’s four-game will for the Dolphins. This game is a toss-up, but with Ronnie Brown out, I’m going with Jacksonville.

Flynn –The Jaguars just aren’t the same team when playing away from home. The Dolphins, on the other hand, have won four straight and are playing quite well. Believe it or not, both of these teams are alive and kicking for a Wild Card playoff spot. The loser of this game, however, likely will be out. Jacksonville couldn’t knock off Buffalo on the road, so I’m not sure why I should believe it can do it against the Dolphins. Miami

Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh (Sunday 4:15 PM ET)

MacArthur – You know what number bugged me the most this week? Nine. Nine and the Pittsburgh Steelers. As in the 4 -7 Steelers. The 4-7 Steelers coming of a 27-0 whipping by the Ravens. The Steelers that just had Ben Roethlisburger, he of the 72 passer rating, sacked nine times on Sunday. The Steelers that won’t have leading receiver Hines Ward or all-world safety Troy Polamalu available this weekend. The Steelers that have the worst turnover differential in the NFL at minus-12 … yes, those Steelers, are somehow, some way, NINE-point favorites over Tampa Bay on Sunday. Frankly, we were offended and outraged.  Outraged for a 3-8 team? YES! The Steelers are dead. This game is for pride. We don’t care that it will be cold, and we don’t care that the game is in Pittsburgh. The Steelers stink. The heck with them. Tampa Bay

Reynolds – I called the matchup right last week in Tampa Bay’s loss at Dallas – the Cowboys’ wide receivers versus the Bucs’ secondary. This week’s matchup will be Ben Roethlisberger versus Tampa Bay’s pass rush. When Big Ben has been hit and hurried, his play has suffered and the Steelers lose. When he has all day to throw, he picks apart teams. Expect the Bucs to get picked apart on a cold, cold day in the Steel City. Pittsburgh

Flynn – If this game were in Tampa, it might be another story. But three of Pittsburgh’s four wins have come at home. Bruce Gradkowski might have to vomit twice before this one as he’s be playing in front of his family and friends. But the defending Super Bowl champions aren’t going to take to the Bucs to kindly after getting thumped by the Ravens last Sunday, 27-0. Teams that can get consistent pressure on Big Ben have been able to halt Pittsburgh’s offensive attack and beat the Steelers. Unfortunately, I just don’t see how Tampa Bay’s depleted defense is going to do that on Sunday. Pittsburgh

Dallas at New York Giants (Sunday 4:15 PM ET)

MacArthur – This game was negotiated over e-mail and a beer, which led us to not needing our life-line to Tom at LAX. Though Theresa’s father was a devoted Giants fan, I could not countenance picking them this week. The Giants are wilting faster than a wallflower at the high school dance. Eli Manning is befuddled.  Dallas is plus eight in turnover differential, and The G-men are minus one. We all watched what Tony Romo has done, which is far beyond his rib joint roots. Dallas

Reynolds – The Giants have lost three in a row and probably can’t recover from last week’s meltdown against Tennessee. Dallas can essentially put away the Giants with a win, but the Giants have a lot to be motivated about. This one’s going to be real close. Dallas

Flynn – Dallas has a one-game lead over New York heading into this contest, which easily could be the Game of the Week. However, these teams are heading in different directions. Dallas has won three straight while the Giants have lost three straight, including blowing a 21-0 fourth quarter lead against the Titans last week. Teams typically don’t recover from those types of debacles in a matter of one week. Meanwhile, Dallas is clicking on offense and defense, and a win in New York will give the Cowboys a nice two-game lead in the NFC East and could make them the favorites in the NFC. The Giants won this contest several weeks ago, but much has changed since then, and the Tony Romo-led Cowboys will get their revenge on Sunday. Dallas

Seattle at Denver (Sunday 8:15 PM ET)

MacArthur – This game was another one where I needed my life-line, and Tom came through again as he dug into another brew at LAX waiting for his flight to the East Coast. Theresa liked Seattle against rookie Jay Cutler. I think desperation will drive the Broncos at home. Tom agreed, and we needed a stat. It’s hard to find a meaningful stat for this game, because the Broncos have a new field general and the Seahawks finally have their weapons back. One thing is undeniable, and that is the Seahawks’ defense is disappointing, especially against the pass. Look for that and home field advantage for the Broncos to carry the day.  Denver

Reynolds – I think Seattle is getting its act together with a nice home win. Shaun Alexander brings confidence to the team, especially after 200-yard games. I just don’t like rookie quarterbacks starting their first game in the NFL. Even when they play well (see Bruce Gradkowski at New Orleans and Jason Campbell at Tampa Bay) their teams usually still lose. Seattle

Flynn – The Jay Cutler era in Denver should start with a bang as Denver’s offense should be able to move the ball against Seattle’s defense. As long as Cutler takes care of the football, the Broncos should be fine. Their defense hasn’t played well as of late, but it will have to be the difference in this one if the Broncos have any hope of winning their division or making the playoffs. Denver

Carolina at Philadelphia (Monday 8:30 PM ET)

MacArthur – This looked like a great game a few weeks ago. We needed no tie-breakers or life-lines here, however, as the last dregs of Sam Adams were drained and the gloom of a misty Autumn evening beckoned outside. Philadelphia has simply collapsed on offense and on defense. I still don’t think the Panthers are that good, but we agreed that they are good enough to win this game, and have more motivation with legitimate playoff hopes, than Philadelphia does. Want a stat? Steve Smith is averaging 100 yards receiving a game. Look for that number to go up this week. Carolina

Reynolds – Jeff Garcia. End of story. Carolina

Flynn – The Panthers got upset in Washington last Sunday, but they simply can’t afford to have that happen in Philadelphia as they’re 6-5 and playing for their playoff lives. The Eagles are really hurting without Donovan McNabb, but Jake Delhomme is on the hot seat in Carolina. He should, however, respond well vs. a Philadelphia defense that’s allowing 320 yards and 22 points per game. Carolina


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