PEWTERREPORT.COM STAFF STANDINGS

Scott Reynolds 121-72

Jim Flynn 114-79

Hugh MacArthur
105-88

LAST WEEK

Scott Reynolds
11-5

Hugh MacArthur 8-8

Jim Flynn
7-9

Cleveland at Pittsburgh (Thursday 8:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – If this game were in Cleveland, it would be even more challenging to pick. I still can’t decide it the questionable status of Charlie Frye is a good thing or a bad thing for the Browns. Watching the Steelers against the Bucs last week certainly drove the point home that Pittsburgh is not a good football team this year. Both teams give the ball away as if it was a party favor.  It really is anybody’s game in a rivalry like this, so I will take the home team to eke out a win, but I don’t feel good about it.  Pittsburgh

Reynolds – Whoa, wait a minute there, Hugh. Where are Theresa and all of the witty tales that include you and your friend downing some beer at your favorite watering hole and making your weekly picks? Oh, that’s right. You fired Theresa. You fired her for rightly suggesting to pick against the Buccaneers the last couple of weeks – even though that was the smart move. You should have listened to her, Hugh. You would have been a couple of games ahead of where you are now, which I will remind you is 16 games OUT of first place. So where is Theresa now? Read on to find out. The pick here is Pittsburgh, who rebounded nicely from a humiliating loss to Baltimore to score a home win against Tampa Bay. Pittsburgh

Flynn – The Browns are playing better and will be tough to beat in this in-state rivalry as bragging rights will be on the line, but Cleveland’s run defense is surrendering 132 yards per game and will have a tough time stopping Willie Parker. Pittsburgh

New York Giants at Carolina (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – What’s wrong with Jake Delhomme? What’s wrong with Eli Manning? This game could well come down to which QB makes the last mistake. Latest reports have Delhomme questionable with ligament damage in his thumb. That could mean Chris Weinke, and who knows what that means? The Panthers’ defense can be run on this year, and the Giants can run the football. The Panthers cannot run the ball as effectively as they have in past years, and are relying on Delhomme more than ever, which could be part of the problem. The Giants are still reeling from Tony Romo’s 41-yard completion to Jason Witten that set up Martin Gramatica’s (WHO?) game-winning 46-yard field goal. Carolina just seems too banged up for the win, so count me in to take the reeling Giants.  New York Giants

Reynolds – Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, Hugh. You should know that. If I remember correctly, Theresa liked the Giants because that was her father’s favorite team. I like them this week, too. Both teams got stung by painful losses last week. Carolina plays better at home, so they should be the pick, but I’m going with the Giants … for Theresa. New York Giants

Flynn – This game could eliminate a playoff contender. Both teams are 6-6 and in desperate need of a win. The Panthers, particularly Jake Delhomme, just aren’t playing good football right now. The Giants, although they lost last Sunday, looked like an inspired football vs. the Cowboys. Tiki Barber will step up and lead the Giants to a win in a close one. New York Giants

Minnesota at Detroit (Sunday 1:00 ET)

MacArthur – Boy, three tough games in a row to start. This game is another tough pick. Detroit played better than advertised at New England last week. Even though he threw three picks, Jon Kitna kept the offense in the game. The defense swarmed to the ball in Rod Marinelli fashion, and the front four really got after Tom Brady.  Ernie Sims brought back some memories of vintage Derrick Brooks. The game is in Detroit. The Minnesota pass defense stinks, and Mike Martz will be calling for some long throws down the field. Brad Johnson, whose passer rating now stands at 71.2, is giving fans ample reminders of why he wore out his welcome in Tampa Bay. The Vikings’ swoon continues.  Detroit

Reynolds – The Vikings defense is quite good thanks to Mike Tomlin, but their quarterback situation is a mess with Brad Johnson at the end of his NFL career, Brooks Bollinger not being the answer and rookie Tavaris Jackson being … well, a rookie. The golden rule in the NFL is don’t pick a team that could be a starting a rookie quarterback. It worked out well for me last week when I picked Seattle to score a road win over Denver, especially watching rookie Jay Cutler throw an interception for a touchdown to Darryl Tapp. This was a toss-up game and Theresa let me pick it (did I mention Theresa?). Detroit

Flynn – The Lions are 0-6 on the road this season. It’s a good thing they’re playing the Vikings at home, where Detroit has recorded its only two wins of the season. Minnesota’s defense is playing well, but its offense is struggling. Even with Brad Johnson on the bench and Brooks Bollinger starting, the Lions will pull this one out at home. Detroit

Indianapolis at Jacksonville (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – Well, Indianapolis made me look silly last week by losing to the Titans. Seems like they really just cannot stop the run, and have a penchant for losing road division games. Bad luck for the Colts that this week they are visiting a division opponent with the third-most productive rushing offense in the NFL. The Jaguar defense is also clamping down on opposing backs, with the 5th rated defense against the run. Peyton Manning’s gaudy passing numbers will need to look really gaudy after this game for the Colts to win. It’s possible, but the Jags need the game more and David Garrard has been a good caretaker of the offense.  Jacksonville

Reynolds – This is a tough game to pick. Do we (did I say we?) see Indianapolis losing two straight games this year? No. Do we (what do I mean by we?) see Jacksonville losing at home? No. Someone has to lose and we’re going to go with the Jaguars at home. Jacksonville has always felt like second fiddle in the conference and generally regard this contest as a rivalry game. They get up for the Colts … and they’ll win. Jacksonville

Flynn – Both of Indianapolis’ losses have come on the road this season. To make matters worse for the Colts, Jacksonville is 5-1 at home this season and has an offense that’s averaging 143 yards per game. Indianapolis’ run defense is surrendering a whopping 164 yards on the ground per contest. The Jaguars will be fighting for their playoff lives and can gain some ground in the division with a win over the Colts. Jacksonville

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

MacArthur – The Patriots make their first visit to Miami this season on Sunday. Nick Saban is trying to right the ship, but he does not have the offense to threaten a stout Patriots’ defense, anchored by #1 picks Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren on the defensive line. Offensively, Bill Belichick has probably been stuffing footballs with $100 bills in practice this week to teach his team to hang onto it better. The turnovers stop Sunday, and you can mark down 10-3 for the Patriots.  New England

Reynolds – In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Theresa is now assisting me with the picks for the rest of the season because Hugh fired her last Sunday night. Hey Hugh, revenge is spelled I-A-M-G-O-I-N-G-TO-J-O-I-N-S-C-O-T-T’S-T-E-A-M. Theresa knows a winner when she sees one. She’s a smart lady. And I can spot talent when I see it, that’s why she and I are going to double-team Hugh and see if we can actually bury him by 20 games this season. That’s the goal – to gain a game over him each week for the last four weeks of the regular season. The pick here is the Patriots, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Miami keeps it real close. New England

Flynn – The Patriots didn’t look great in their win over the Lions last week, but they’re 5-0 on the road this season. The Dolphins, on the other hand, are just 3-3 at home. This will be a defensive battle, but the Patriots have enough offense to escape Miami with a much-needed win. New England

Philadelphia at Washington (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – Washington is done. Stick a fork in them. I’m not certain if Joe Gibbs’ announcement that he’d be coming back next season was supposed to be a good thing or a bad thing for “team dysfunctional.”  Rookie quarterbacks do not fare well against Jim Johnson defenses, and Jason Campbell has already shown that he tends to throw picks when under duress. Jeff Garcia may well be the old hand that stabilizes the Eagles for a playoff run (and gives Bucs fans a glimpse of who their future QB might be next season).  Philadelphia

Reynolds – This was a tough game for Theresa and I to pick. Theresa called her aces, Tom and Mark, for some assistance but got mixed reviews. I can see Washington winning because they do play well at home, but Jason Campbell is a rookie and Jeff Garcia looked pretty good last week (gulp) for Philly – much to my surprise. The Eagles have something to play for and I think defensive coordinator Jim Johnson will figure out how to beat Campbell. Philadelphia

Flynn – The Eagles handled the Redskins easily at home earlier in the season, but that was with Donovan McNabb in the lineup. Philly is 6-6 and very much alive for a playoff spot in the struggling NFC. If he keeps playing like he did against Carolina, Jeff Garcia and the Eagles could be playoff-bound, especially with a big win over the ‘Skins. Philadelphia

Oakland at Cincinnati (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – Phew!  Finally, what looks like a game I can pick with confidence. The Florida Gators could stop the 32nd ranked Raider offense, so I’m not too concerned with them scoring many points at Cincinnati. The Raider defense has been playing very well and, believe it or not, are the 3rd rated unit in the NFL. However, the Bengals will score, and the Raiders might well not, and you have to score to win.  Cincinnati

Reynolds – Theresa and I both agreed that the Bengals would simply throttle the visiting Raiders at Paul Brown Stadium. That’s all the analysis needed. Cincinnati

Flynn – The Raiders have two wins, but they’re not going to get a third in Cincinnati. Oakland’s defense is playing better as of late, but Cincinnati’s offense will be too much for them to handle on Sunday. Cincinnati

Tennessee at Houston (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – Houston is not very good on offense. They can run it a bit, and throw it a bit. The problem is, at 16 points a game they are rated 30th in scoring in the league. If you cannot score, you cannot win.  The best thing the Titans do is run. And they will pound the football on Sunday. Jeff Fisher is an excellent coach, and he can feel his team’s momentum and confidence building after the big win at Indy. It will be close, but I like Vince Young’s moxie and the Titan rushing game.  Tennessee

Reynolds – I listened to Theresa’s reasoning for picking Houston over Tennessee – George W. Bush is from Texas and Al Gore is from Tennessee – but that would have been a wise pick in 2000. This is 2006, and the Vince Young-led Titans have won three-straight, including a dynamic victory over Indianapolis after a stunning, come-from-behind win over the Giants. Plus, Young is returning to his home state for this one to show the Texans what they missed out on in the 2006 draft. Tennessee

Flynn – How can anyone pick against the Titans at this point? They’ve won three straight, including games against the New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts. The Texans had an unimpressive win in Oakland, but they better enjoy it while it lasts because the Vince Young, who will be looking forward to returning to the state that he played his college ball in, and the Titans are playing inspired football right now. Tennessee

Baltimore at Kansas City (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – Kansas City is a tough place to play in December, but the Ravens have the better team and are playing for a possible bye in the playoffs. The Ravens also own the top turnover differential in the NFL at plus-14 and have the number one rated defense in the league. Look for a low-scoring game with a turnover deciding the outcome.  Sorry Herm.  Baltimore

Reynolds – I know Theresa doesn’t like the town of Kansas City and she’s picked against them when she was on Hugh’s losing team. I am inclined to side with her this week given the Chiefs’ opponent. Baltimore is 9-3 this year. However, having grown up in K.C. and rooted for the Chiefs for several years, I know they are very tough to beat at home in December. After a tough road loss last week in Cleveland, they turn it around at home. Kansas City

Flynn – The Chiefs, who are 5-1 at Arrowhead Stadium this season, just don’t lose at home in December, especially when so much is a stake. Kansas City is 7-5 and trying to earn a playoffs spot. A loss to the 9-3 Ravens would severely hinder their efforts. Baltimore can afford to drop this one. Kansas City can’t. Kansas City

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

MacArthur – Oh dear.  I’ve been beaten like a rented mule picking the Bucs all season. The Bucs are last, as in last in the NFL in scoring, with a measly 12 points per game as the output, and Bruce Gradkowski is last, as in last in the NFL in passer rating at 66.1 (Jake Plummer is thankful). More happy thoughts? The Bucs are 31st in turnover differential at minus-11. I don’t like the thought of Michael Vick running wild on the Bucs’ defense again, but this time Monte Kiffin has seen their plays on tape and will be more ready to accept the challenge. Vick only throws the ball about 16 times a game, so stop the run, and you stop the Falcons. Also, the Falcons defense isn’t what it used to be, especially through the air where it is ranked 31st. The Bucs need to win this game for their self-respect and for their coach, and I think they will rally at home (OK, maybe I am hoping they will rally at home) to pull this game out. It is a grudge match, and these teams, coaches and front offices do not like each other. That should lead to maximum effort on the field. If you see Michael Vick getting popped on a few runs early, that’s a good sign.  Tampa Bay

Reynolds – I’ll step aside and let Theresa make this pick. “Because ‘someone’ has overruled my decision to pick against his beloved Buccaneers, this one’s for you, Hugh. Atlanta.” So that’s the pick. I must say I agree with Theresa. The Bucs could win this one at home (and need to for confidence’s sake), but I just don’t see it happening. I think the Falcons’ speed will shred the Buccaneers defense. I see Michael Vick, Warrick Dunn, Jerious Norwood and Tampa native Michael Jenkins all having big days in a Falcons rout. Atlanta

Flynn – I know I shouldn’t, but something tells me to pick Tampa Bay to beat Atlanta because it’s the last chance the Bucs have to win a game this season with upcoming road games vs. Chicago and Cleveland, and a regular finale at home vs. the playoff-bound Seahawks. Atlanta’s defense is allowing 343 yards per game, including 238 through the air. Bruce Gradkowski is under the gun to take care of the football and put some points on the scoreboard. Tampa Bay’s defense, which got ripped apart by Atlanta in Week 2, is playing well against the run as of late. Here goes nothing. (Gulp!) Tampa Bay

Green Bay at San Francisco (Sunday 4:05 PM ET)

MacArthur – Jon Gruden’s “Bring Brett to Tampa” campaign continues as the 4-8 Packers invade San Francisco. Favre still has some life, but the Packers’ 20th rated rushing attack isn’t helping him. Frank Gore and the resurgent 49ers are running the ball very well, taking pressure off of Alex Smith and the passing game, which by the way the Packers struggle to defend.  One last reason to take the home team? The Packers have given up more points than any team in the league.  San Francisco

Reynolds – Theresa and I both like San Francisco. She likes the city (of course), and I like the 49ers at home where they are 4-2 this year. Brett Favre is hurting, and we think San Fran’s defense will rise up for this one. San Francisco

Flynn – Brett Favre should have a field day against San Francisco’s woeful defense, but the 49ers typically play tough at home, evidenced by their 4-2 record. Plus, San Francisco’s offense should be able to outscore Green Bay and its defense, which got picked apart by the New York Jets last Sunday. San Francisco

Seattle at Arizona (Sunday 4:05 PM ET)

MacArthur – Dennis Green’s farewell tour makes another home stop this week. Seattle is healthy again and needs to pile on some wins to have any hope of nabbing a bye in the playoffs. Matt Leinert has promise, good receivers, and Edgerrin James. What Matt Leinert does not have is an offensive line. Arizona’s defense is bad against the run, and Arizona’s defense is bad against the pass.  Other than that, they just aren’t very good.  Seattle

Reynolds – Arizona has showed some spunk lately with Matt Leinart at quarterback. However, Seattle is on a roll with the return of Tim Hasselback and Shaun Alexander. They’ll nail down the division with a win in the desert, which is what Theresa and I predict. Seattle

Flynn – Seattle is running away with its division and is hoping to secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Arizona is playing for a draft pick. If the Seahawks can win in Denver, Arizona should be looking like a picnic. Seattle

Denver at San Diego (Sunday 4:15 PM ET)

MacArthur – The Chargers are playing like they want to earn a bye for the playoffs, and they have the best player in football on their team in LaDanian Tomlinson. Jay Cutler might well be the answer in Denver, but unfortunately he isn’t going to be the answer on Sunday.  San Diego

Reynolds – Remember when I picked against Denver last week because of Jay Cutler? I’m doing it again this week. Cutler may be a good QB in time, but he is prone to making rookie mistakes. San Diego’s defense will cause many of those rookie mistakes. San Diego

Flynn – The Chargers might be the most balanced team in the NFL, and they’re looking to secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs thanks to Indianapolis losing to Tennessee last Sunday. Jay Cutler might be in for a long day against San Diego and its relentless pass rush. San Diego

Buffalo at New York Jets (Sunday 4:15 PM ET)

MacArthur – Give the Bills credit, they are playing hard and have been competitive more often than not this year. The problem is, the Jets have been drinking the Mangini Kool-Aid, and it says here they are likely to nail down the 6th playoff spot when all is said and done. With more motivation, the green take it.  New York Jets

Reynolds – Theresa and I both like the Jets. They’re playing at home against a team that struggles on the road and are in the playoff race in the AFC. That’s all the motivation New York needs. New York Jets

Flynn – The 7-5 Jets are right in the thick of things for a Wild Card playoff spot. They’re also only two games behind the Patriots for the division lead. New York simply can’t afford to slip up against Buffalo, which is 2-4 on the road this season. New York Jets

New Orleans at Dallas (Sunday 8:15 PM ET)

MacArthur – Here’s the dirty little secret about the Saints:  They have the No. 1 offense in the entire NFL averaging 400 yards a game.  However, the rushing offense contributes just 25 percent of the offense, and is only good enough for 21st in the league. Drew Brees has been great, but live by the pass, die by the pass.  The Saints turnover differential is minus-6. The Cowboys can stop the run, run themselves and pass. Their turnover differential is plus-7.  Look for an entertaining game, but one in which the Saints turn it over one time too many.  Dallas

Reynolds – Theresa and I both like Dallas in this one. Tony Romo is just on fire and with this game being in Cowboys country, the Saints will lose a close one. This contest has game of the week written all over it. Damn, NBC has had some great games this year. Dallas

Flynn – This could be a preview of the NFC Championship Game. However, Dallas seems to have the most balanced attack. New Orleans will show up and put up a fight, but Dallas’ 3-4 scheme will give Drew Breese and New Orleans’ potentially potent offense some problems. Dallas

Chicago at St. Louis (Monday 8:30 PM ET)

MacArthur – Has Rex Grossman been reading “How to Succeed as an NFL Quarterback by Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel”? Whatever the cause, this former Gator is in trouble. Fortunately, he has an all-world defense and special teams group to bail him out.  The Rams are fading, and are giving up over 150 yards per game on the ground, good for next to last in the league. So, Lovie Smith can relax and give St. Louis a steady diet of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson to seal a victory.  Chicago

Reynolds – The Rams defense may be the perfect tonic for Rex Grossman, who has come under siege for his poor play. Regardless of what Chicago’s offense does, its defense is top-notch and will help the Bears win a low scoring affair. I’d like to thank Hugh for making Theresa the scapegoat for his awful picks this year so I could have the pleasure of her assistance with my picks this week. Oh, by the way … Chicago

Flynn – If Rex Grossman and Chicago’s offense can’t move the ball against St. Louis’ defense, they won’t be able to do it against anybody. The Rams are giving up 342 yards per game and allowing opposing teams’ offenses to convert 46.2 percent of their third downs. The good news for Grossman is the Bears likely will attack the Rams’ suspect run defense with Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson. Chicago


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