PEWTERREPORT.COM STAFF STANDINGS

Scott Reynolds 130-79

Jim Flynn 122-87

Hugh MacArthur 114-95

LAST WEEK

Scott Reynolds 9-7

Hugh MacArthur
9-7

Jim Flynn 8-8

San Francisco at Seattle (Thursday 8:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – Seattle just lost at Arizona. Green Bay just won at San Francisco. This topsy-turvy season is hard to explain, and even harder to predict. Seattle’s defense is incredibly average. In fact, the Seahawks are somehow 8-5 even though they’ve given up nine more points than they’ve scored this season. San Francisco is still rated 32nd in points allowed, and that plus the 12th man should pull this one out for the Seahawks. Seattle

Reynolds – Seattle wins at home. They’ll rebound over last week’s loss to Arizona. Seattle

Flynn – A win for the Seahawks will basically win the NFC West division title for them, and the fact that this game is at home is huge. Seattle is 5-1 at home this season. San Francisco, on the other hand, is 1-5 on the road. Although the 49ers managed to knock off the Seahawks a few weeks ago, I just don’t see their defense, which is surrendering nearly 130 yards rushing per game, stopping Shaun Alexander. Seattle

Dallas at Atlanta (Saturday 8:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – Dallas was absolutely embarrassed at home against the Saints last week. The Falcons were there to be taken against the Bucs, but alas, the local 11 were in too much of a giving mood. Stop Michael Vick from running, and you stop the Falcons’ offense. Dallas is 6th against the run. Atlanta’s pass defense is awful, and you can bet Coach Bill Parcells will have Tony Romo and the passing attack ready to hit high gear. The Cowboys need the win, and they’ll get it. Dallas

Reynolds – Atlanta is a bad team who should have been beaten by a really bad team in Tampa Bay last week. I suspect Dallas will be in the mood for revenge after last week’s loss to New Orleans. With Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood ailing, the Falcons are in trouble. Dallas

Flynn – The Falcons were unimpressive in their win over the Bucs last Sunday. Tampa Bay’s rookie quarterback couldn’t take advantage of Atlanta’s suspect secondary, but Dallas QB Tony Romo and his trio of dangerous receivers will be able to. Look for Dallas to bounce back big from their embarrassing loss to New Orleans with a big road win in Atlanta. Dallas

Cleveland at Baltimore (Sunday 1:00 ET)

MacArthur – Lambs to the slaughter. The Ravens are playing for a bye, and the Browns have gone bye-bye. Romeo, my Romeo, wherefore art Thine offense? Thine defense? Thy special teams? Baltimore

Reynolds – The Ravens are rolling. Get out of their way. Baltimore

Flynn – The Ravens are marching to the playoffs, and they’re not about to let the Browns get in their way, especially at home, where they’re an impressive 5-1 this season. Look for the Ravens to win this one easily. Baltimore

Pittsburgh at Carolina (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – Carolina doesn’t run the ball well anymore, and that plus weak play from their linebacking corps has been the Panthers’ undoing this season. Delhomme is still hurting and Weinke is awful. Pittsburgh isn’t much better, and consecutive wins over Tampa Bay and Cleveland don’t convince me of much. However, Pittsburgh does have the 5th ranked rushing defense in the NFL, meaning Carolina will have to throw it more than it wants to, and the Pittsburgh offense is likely good enough to bust off a big Willie Parker play or two to eke this one out. Pittsburgh

Reynolds – I think Pittsburgh and Carolina are two disappointing teams this year, but the Steelers have some momentum heading into this one. While part of me wants to pick Carolina because they are at home, I just can’t do it. Pittsburgh

Flynn – The Panthers have dropped three straight and are reeling. The Steelers, on the other hand, have won two straight and have their sights set on finishing the season strong for the second straight year. Even if the Panthers get Jake Delhomme back in the lineup, Pittsburgh’s ground attack might be too much for Carolina’s defense to handle. Pittsburgh

Detroit at Green Bay (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – This game should be an aerial circus. Kevin Jones is out for the Lions. The Packers can’t stop the pass, and the Lions’ offensive coordinator is Mike Martz. Jon Kitna is tied for second in the NFL in passing attempts per game with 37. Any guesses as to who he is tied with? If you guessed Brett Favre, buy yourself a cheroot. The difference is, Favre throws more balls to folks wearing his team’s colors. Detroit is 31st in the league in interceptions thrown, which is well correlated with the Lions being 31st in the league in sacks allowed. The Lambeaus will be leaping on Sunday.  Green Bay

Reynolds – I like Brett Favre over Jon Kitna. I also like the Packers at home in December. Green Bay

Flynn – The Packers are 1-5 at home, but the Lions have dropped six straight and are 0-6 on the road. Brett Favre and Co. look to keep their slim playoff hopes alive with a win over Detroit, and they shouldn’t have a problem accomplishing that feat. Green Bay

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

MacArthur – Well, the Patriots’ first trip to Miami this season didn’t turn out too well. Turns out the Fish took “speaking in tongues” to a whole new level by getting tape of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with sound and stealing his audibles. Still, this Patriots team has underperformed expectations this season, and has an annoying habit of turning the ball over. Vince Wilfork and Ben Watson are gimpy this week, which doesn’t help matters.  However, the Patriots are still third in scoring defense. The Patriots are at home, and Bill Belichick is not happy. It will be cold in Gillette Stadium. New England

Reynolds – I don’t think the Patriots are the juggernaut in the AFC that some folks made them out to be. They looked bad getting eaten by the Dolphins last week on South Beach. It’s December, the Pats were out of their element. Get them at home in Gillette in December and things will be different. New England

Flynn – The Patriots are a better team than their 21-0 loss to the Dolphins suggests, and although this one might be closer than expected as the Texans are playing teams tough as of late, New England should prevail, especially with the Patriots likely to exploit Houston’s suspect run defense. New England

Jacksonville at Tennessee (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – It has become a scary proposition to pick against the Titans, but young Vince Young has been winning games with his legs, not his arm.  The Titans QB has a passer rating of just 65.7.  The Jaguars are fourth in the league against the run.  The Jags passing game is nothing to write home about, but their 375 yards rushing last week proved they could certainly move the rock on the ground, and Tennessee is 28th in the league at stopping the run.  Jacksonville

Reynolds – I’ve liked the Jaguars all year, especially after last week’s thrashing of the Colts. Combine good run defense and a good running game and that’s good enough to win most weeks in the NFL. This week is no different. Tennessee is surging, and will make it a game, but … Jacksonville

Flynn – Vince Young has Tennessee on a four-game winning streak, but Jacksonville’s potent defense will put an end to his heroics, or at least for one week. The Jaguars haven’t played well on the road (2-4), but they had an impressive win in Miami two weeks ago. Young might keep this one interesting, but he can’t stop Maurice Jones-Drew and Jacksonville’s ground attack, and neither can Tennessee’s defense, which is surrendering 140 yards rushing per game this season. Jacksonville

Miami at Buffalo (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – It’s the quarterback match-up of the century! J.P. Losman and Joey Harrington! Last interception or sack-fumble loses! I also demand a recalculation of Losman’s passer rating.  How do you get an 85 rating with the 30th-rated passing offense in the NFL? The best unit on the field by far this Sunday will be the Dolphins defense, which has been tenacious this season. The problem? The worst unit on the field will be the Dolphins offense, which can neither run nor pass. That leaves it up to coaching. I’m taking Nick Saban. Miami

Reynolds – This one is a bit of a toss up. Both are surprise teams who are turning their seasons around and coming off big wins. I like the home team because of the weather in this one. Buffalo

Flynn – Both of these 6-7 teams have a chance to reach the .500 mark. The fact that Buffalo is at home is big, especially with a chill in the air this time of year. Statistics suggest Buffalo’s defense will have a tough time stopping Miami’s offense, but the Bills put together a well-balanced game in an impressive win over the Jets last Sunday, and they’ll build on that Sunday. Buffalo

Tampa Bay at Chicago (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – “The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things:  of shoes – and ships – and sealing wax – of cabbages and kings – And why the sea is boiling hot – and whether pigs have wings.” With apologies to Lewis Carroll, it looks like the Bucs will win another game this season when pigs fly, and that is not likely to happen this weekend at Soldier Field. Reverse mojo is the only hope in this game. Chicago

Reynolds – Wow. Hugh’s actually picking against the Buccaneers. Maybe pigs are flying. Had he done that all season (instead of picking them to win) he wouldn’t be – ahem – 16 games out of first place right now. Normally, I would say that the Bucs would win any game in which they score a kickoff return for a touchdown. If that ever happens the team has instant karma for the day and enough momentum to win the game. However, if the Bucs did return a kickoff return for a touchdown against Chicago this week (and I think they might with Michael Pittman or Torrie Cox doing the honors), Devin Hester would essentially erase it with a TD of his own on the ensuing kickoff. Sheesh! The Bucs can’t catch a break in the cold Windy City! Chicago

Flynn – Chicago’s defense isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered for a Tampa Bay offense that hasn’t been able move the ball further than I can throw it as of late. The Bucs have gone 11 straight quarters without scoring an offensive touchdown, and it’s quite realistic to think that streak could be extended to 15 straight touchdown-less quarters by the time this one is over. Chicago’s return man, rookie Devin Hester, has an NFL-record six touchdowns this season. To put that number in perspective, Tampa Bay’s offense has just 14 touchdowns. Chicago’s defense and the cold weather likely will freeze Tampa Bay’s offense for another week. Chicago

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

MacArthur – The Jets stumbled badly at home against the Bills, but the Vikings have been moribund for five weeks, and were only aroused from their mid-season slumber by an horrific Lions team last week. Eric Mangini can motivate his troops, and his eye is still firmly fixed on that sixth playoff spot in the AFC. Brad Johnson is done, and his 71 passer rating and 1:2 TD to INT ratio prove that in spades. The Jets have been doing it with smoke and mirrors all season, which is a testament to Mangini and his staff. Chalk up one more for gangrene. New York Jets

Reynolds – Every time I pick against Minnesota it seems they win. I like their defense and their running game, and the fact that they are playing at home. Last week’s home loss to Buffalo crushed the Jets. They’re going to struggle against the Vikings. Minnesota

Flynn – The Jets got exposed by the Bills last Sunday, and I don’t see them recovering quickly, especially in Minnesota, where the Vikings are still alive and kicking for a playoff spot in the NFC. Minnesota’s ground attack should pave the way for a close win against a Jets defense that’s having trouble stopping the run as of late. Minnesota

Washington at New Orleans (Sunday 4:05 PM ET)

MacArthur – After his announcement that he would return as head coach of the Redskins for the 2007 season, Joe Gibbs’ troops promptly lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. This week’s motivational tactic: Gibbs announced the return of offensive coordinator Al Saunders and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Team dysfunctional will rock on in 2007! After they lose this week, Gibbs and Snyder will announce Vinny Cerrato is coming back in 2007 to “help” with personnel. And with that the Skins will have done the impossible, they will have blown next season during this season! New Orleans

Reynolds – Washington is one of the least exciting teams in the league. Blah. As Hugh said, they are dysfunctional. They are the Bucs on steroids – a really disappointing team with a better coaching staff and more talented players who are underachieving. New Orleans is the opposite. They are winners and I like their chances in the playoffs this year, too. New Orleans

Flynn – Stick a fork in the ‘Skins. They’re done. The Saints might be the NFC’s best team, or at least they looked like it last Sunday night in Dallas. The only thing to worry about here is a letdown on the Saints’ part, but this is a well-coached team, and New Orleans is still fighting for homefield advantage. I just don’t see a letdown here, especially against a bad Washington team and defense that just won’t be able to stop Drew Brees and Co. New Orleans

Denver at Arizona (Sunday 4:05 PM ET)

MacArthur – This is suddenly a scary game for the Broncos. Two rookie QBs, but with teams going in oddly different directions.  Matt Leinart just helped the Cards whip NFC Champ Seattle, and Jay Cutler has presided over the latest few installments of a four game Denver free fall. Denver’s defense is better, but their offense is woeful. I also have to wonder if the team has given up on the season and their rookie QB. The Cardinals passing game has come alive, and all of a sudden Edgerrin James has made people remember he’s in the desert. Put me on the late season bandwagon.  All aboard! Arizona

Reynolds – Matt Leinart versus Jay Cutler? Matt Leinart. Arizona

Flynn – What the heck happened to the Broncos? They’ve dropped four straight, and rookie QB Jay Cutler is still looking for his first win as a pro. Denny Green might be on the way out, but his players are still playing hard for him, evidenced by their two-game winning streak. I was going to pick Denver to win until its players starting telling members of the media about their lack of confidence in their team and how they had little faith that their season could be salvaged. Needless to say, those comments influenced my pick in this game. Arizona

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

MacArthur – This is a classic December match-up. Throw the records out the window (well, you can do that anyway since both teams are 7-6). Usually a game like this comes down to defense.  Philadelphia is very good against the pass, but is poor against the run, giving up 140 yards a game on the ground. The Giants’ defense is stout against the run, but is rated just 29th against the pass. This game will come down to who makes the big turnover. The Giants are at home, but I like Jeff Garcia to protect the ball better than Eli Manning. Watch closely, Bucs fans, your 2007 quarterback might just be playing in this game. Philadelphia

Reynolds – I was totally wrong about Jeff Garcia. This isn’t the same QB who struggled in Cleveland and Detroit. This is the Garcia who won in San Francisco – albeit he’s a little bit older now. I just like the Giants in this one because they have more weapons on offense and they are at home. New York Giants

Flynn – Jeff Garcia has the Eagles still contending for a playoff spot. Unfortunately, the loser of this one can probably kiss their chances of making the playoffs goodbye since both teams are 7-6 in the NFC East division. Garcia will be able to move the ball against New York’s defense, but Philly’s defense won’t be able to stop Tiki Barber, and that will be the difference in this one. New York Giants

St. Louis at Oakland (Sunday 4:15 PM ET)

MacArthur – I was actually tempted to pick Oakland, given how bad the Rams have looked recently. I then realized that Scott and Jim might have me committed if I did so. The Rams’ best weapon is still kicker Jeff Wilkins, but that should be good enough to beat the worst offense in the NFL. St. Louis

Reynolds – I can’t pick Oakland. I just can’t do it. It pains me to pick St. Louis, though. They are one of those blah teams like Washington. For the Raiders, the motto could be “Just Lose, Baby” to get the number one pick in the NFL Draft. St. Louis

Flynn – The Rams are bad. The Raiders are worse. Oakland’s defense can’t stop the run. St. Louis’ offense can run the football quite well. The Raiders are destined to have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, but they have to lose Sunday to stay ahead of the Buccaneers and Lions. St. Louis

Kansas City at San Diego (Sunday 8:15 PM ET)

MacArthur – The Chiefs laid an egg last week during a crucial home game against the Baltimore Ravens. The San Diego Chargers aren’t as good on defense as the Ravens, but they are close. More importantly, the Chargers have one of the best offenses in the league, and they are playing at home. Oh, and their also playing for the number one seed in the AFC. San Diego

Reynolds – With the passing of Kansas City Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt on Wednesday night, I would say the Chiefs would win this one for him. But unfortunately for K.C., they are playing the best team in the NFL this week … on the road. The Chiefs’ playoff hopes are in a freefall after losses to Cleveland, Baltimore and … San Diego

Flynn – San Diego is 6-0 at home and 11-2 on the season. The Chargers need to win this game in order to keep their one-game lead in the AFC for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Kansas City has a potentially potent offense, but San Diego is firing on all cylinders and shouldn’t have a problem downing the Chiefs at home. San Diego

Cincinnati at Indianapolis (Monday 8:30 PM ET)

MacArthur – Bombs away, folks! Carson Palmer and Peyton Manning will fill the air with footballs on Monday night. Noting that the Colts’ matador style defense also allows for productive running, Ole! Rudi Johnson is lobbying for a few carries as well.  Those folks not recently arrested are playing pretty well for the Bengals on defense, but the home team is feeling the heat, and will come out sky high. Unusually, Tony Dungy has attributed the recent poor play by the Colts as “lack of execution,” and that they just need to “play better.” Given that insight, the temptation is to pick the Colts. However, two of the last four Bengals wins have come against the Ravens and the Saints. The bet here is they keep the ball enough through running and score enough to keep Peyton on the sidelines and Tony talking about needing to “play better” again next week. Cincinnati

Reynolds – Wait, shouldn’t this be on Sunday Night Football? I mean they’ve had the best games all season – not Monday Night Football. Will they run or will they throw? That is the question. ESPN is billing this as Carson Palmer vs. Peyton Manning, but I think it will be Rudi Johnson vs. Joseph Addai because of the two really bad run defenses participating in this game. Expect a lower score from last year’s shoot out. I think the Colts are in trouble, even at home. Cincinnati

Flynn – Wow! This is an intriguing football game. The Colts will make the playoffs, but they’ve lost two straight. Their defense can’t stop the run, which is good news for Rudi Johnson and the Bengals. However, Cincinnati’s defense can’t stop anybody, and Peyton Manning won’t allow Indy to drop its third straight game, especially at home. Indianapolis


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