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Walter's best and worst picks ever (part 2 of 10)

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  • Walter's best and worst picks ever (part 2 of 10)

    Week 9:
    Best:
    New Orleans at Tampa Bay:
    Like I state every week, the only way to beat Tampa Bay's defense is to have a power running game, backed by a solid offensive line. New Orleans has Deuce McAllister and a big offensive line, and that is why the Saints swept the Buccaneers last year. I have a feeling they are going to do it again. Tampa Bay won't be able to stop Deuce McAllister, which will lead to lots of time for Aaron Brooks to throw into a depleted Tampa secondary.

    The Buccaneers are having trouble scoring points because of the numerous injuries that they've accumulated. They can't run the ball with Michael Pittman, because Pittman has to do the things Mike Alstott had to do. Plus, Joe Jurevicius and Roman Oben have been out of the lineup. In the two losses against the Saints in 2002, the Bucs could not run the ball. Before playing Carolina last week, the Saints were 13th against the run. Tampa will not run on the Saints with Pittman. Surprisingly, New Orleans is 5th against the pass. They hold opposing quarterbacks to a completion percentage of 54%. As a defense, they have 16 sacks, so they might be able to get to Brad Johnson, who has only been sacked 6 times this season. Look for domination to continue in New Orelans' favor.

    Prediction: Saints by 4. Double Money Pick. UPSET OF THE MONTH. Over

    Real Score:
    New Orleans: 17
    Tampa Bay: 14

    Worst:
    Indianapolis at Miami:
    Indy's offense works best when Edgerrin James is able to run for over 100 yards. However, Miami has the best run defense in the NFL. They shut down LaDainian Tomlinson last Monday and they should do so against James. I do believe the Colts will score some points, because Miami's defense can be beaten by a deep passing offense, but don't assume Indianapolis will score a lot, because Peyton Manning won't have his running game operating.

    Dave Wanntstedt has not announced his starting quarterback yet, but I believe it will be Brian Griese, because Jay Fiedler is still banged up. Furthermore, the Miami Herald took a poll, asking who the starting quarterback should be, and an overwhelming 94% said that it should be Brian Griese. I agree. Fiedler is one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL, while Griese could actually get them to the playoffs. Whoever the quarterback is, should enjoy a great game from Ricky Williams, who goes against the 30th ranked run defense. The Colts are 9th against the pass, but it might not matter because they'll be so focused on stopping Williams.

    Prediction: Dolphins by 17. Money Pick. Under.

    Real Score:
    Indianapolis: 23
    Miami: 17

    Week 10:
    Miami at Tennessee:
    Its no secret that the Miami Dolphins' offense revolves around Ricky Williams. If Ricky can't run, Miami can't score (see last week). Tennessee has an outstanding run defense, so I don't see Ricky Williams getting close to 100 yards rushing. The Titans are 31st against the pass, but Brian Griese won't be able to beat them by himself, although he is better than Jay Fiedler. Tennessee has gotten to the quarterback 21 times this season, so Griese may turn it over once or twice.

    Miami is first against the run, but like I've been saying, it doesn't matter because the Titans don't have any sort of running game. Tennessee moves the ball through the air with the MVP of the season thus far, Steve McNair. Miami can be beaten with a deep passing offense (they are 29th against the pass), and that's exactly what the Titans' offense is. The Fish also have 21 sacks this season, but McNair plays well under pressure.

    Prediction: Titans by 17. Money Pick. Over.

    Real Score:
    Tennessee: 31
    Miami: 7

    Worst:
    Minnesota at San Diego:
    San Diego has a real shot in this game, if they can keep the scoring down. If they do that, LaDainian Tomlinson can run often, but I'll get to that later. Can the Chargers stay in the game? San Diego is 19th against the run, so they're a bit shaky in that area. However, they have to go up against Minnesota's mammoth offensive line, that blocks for quality backs like Michael Bennett and Moe Williams. The Chargers made Chris Chandler look like a Pro Bowler, so imagine how Daunte Culpepper will perform. Randy Moss should have no problems against San Diego's secondary, and I think Minnesota will put up a lot of points in this contest.

    I was mentioning how the Chargers had a chance if LaDainian could run often earlier. Minnesota has the worst run defense in the league, while the Bolts gain an impressive 5 yards per carry. The problem is, their defense gets scored upon early, and they have to abandon the run. This forces Drew Brees to throw the ball too much, and he's not able to lead San Diego to a huge comeback. Doug Flutie may start in this game, and I don't think he'll be able to come back from a huge defecit either.

    Prediction: Vikings by 20. Over.

    Real Score:
    San Diego: 42
    Minnesota: 28

    Week 11:
    New York Jets at Indianapolis:
    Jacksonville exposed Indianapolis' run defense for what it really is, so Curtis Martin could get a lot of carries. The problem is, Martin is not performing well. Against an equally pourous Oakland run defense, Martin only managed about 3 yards per carry. Chad Pennington will have to beat Indy with his percision passing, but the Colts are pretty solid against the pass. They have generated an adequare 19 sacks this season, and it'll be interesting if they can get through to Pennington, because the Jets' offensive line has only permitted 11 sacks.

    I don't know if Marvin Harrison will play or not, but I do know that it won't affect Indianapolis' game plan. The Colts will run the ball with Edgerrin James as much as possible, because New York can not stop the run. Last weekend, the trio of Fargas, Wheatley and Crockett (sounds like a law firm) ran very well against the Jets. Edgerrin James is a much better back than all three of those guys, so look for over 100 from the Edge. The Jets happen to be third against the pass, thanks to 27 registered sacks. Indy's offensive line has only allowed 8 sacks this season, so it'll be interesting to see what happens. My money is on Peyton's guys, because the Jets failed to sack Rick Mirer last week, even though the Raiders have allowed 21 this year. I look for tons of points and major revenge from Manning and company.

    Prediction:
    Colts by 7. Money Pick. Over.

    Real Score:
    Indianapolis: 38
    New York Jets: 31

    Worst:
    Arizona at Cleveland:
    Marcel Shipp is the real deal, but he was held up by Pittsburgh's outstanding rush defense. This week, Shipp will look to sail the Cardinals to victory, against Cleveland's 30th ranked run defense, which gives up a pathetic 4.7 yards per carry. This will set up play-action Jeff Blake, and when Blake has that in his arsenal, he is at his finest. The Browns are 5th against the pass, but Trent Green was able to torch them last week. Arizona should put up a good amount of points on this young Cleveland defense.

    Cleveland will have William Green this Sunday, but Arizona is very underrated against the run (7th in the NFL), so I don't think it matters much. As for the Browns' arial attack, that won't work either because the Cardinals are also 7th against the pass. Pittsburgh was able to score 28 on the Cardinals due to turnovers and a great punt return by Antwan Randle El. Arizona's defense is the best kept secret in the NFL, and I think they'll shut Cleveland down.

    Prediction: Cardinals by 7. Money Pick. UPSET SPECIAL. Under.

    Real Score (my gosh):
    Cleveland: 44
    Arizona: 6

    Week 12:

    Best:
    Jacksonville at New York Jets:
    I start off every Jacksonville offensive segment by asking if they will be able to run the ball or not. Without Fred Taylor's ground game working, the Jaguars can't do anything. The Jets are 19th against the run, so Fred Taylor should be able to have a pretty decent game, provided the Jaguars don't fall behind by double digits. New York also struggles against the pass, ranking 27th. Although they have a poor ranking, the Jets have 28 sacks this season. Jacksonville has given up 23, so look for Leftwich to be under pressure all day.

    Curtis Martin has really been picking up steam; he went over 100 rushing yards on only 13 carries against the Colts. You might be surprised by this statistic, but the Jaguars are tied for first against the run. Incredible. They'll shut down Curtis Martin, forcing Chad Pennington to throw on 2nd and 3rd & Longs. That is where the Jaggies fail to stop their opponent. They are 23rd against the pass, mainly because they can't get the quarterback. Jacksonville has only 13 sacks this season, which is 2nd fewest in the NFL.

    Prediction: Jets by 3. Over.

    Real Score:
    NY Jets: 13
    Jacksonville: 10

    Worst:
    Pittsburgh at Cleveland:
    Will the Browns' defense please show some consistency? Every other week, it seems as though they have one of the best defenses in the NFL, while at other times, they allow almost anyone to have big games. I think this will be one of those good weeks. Pittsburgh's offensive line can't block at all, so Jerome Bettis could get shut down. That means, Tommy Maddox will be throwing into a defense that allows a 69.6 QB rating to opposing passers. Even though Cleveland doesn't get too many sacks, they should have no problem getting though Pittsburgh's pathetic offensive line, which has given up 25 sacks this season.

    With William Green out, the Browns will have to throw the ball a lot. That type of offense works really well against Pittsburgh. The Steelers' secondary can't cover a soul, so expect Kelly Holcomb to have another outstanding performance.

    Prediction: Browns by 14. Money Pick. Over.

    Real Score:
    Pittsburgh: 13
    Cleveland: 6

    Week 13:

    Best:
    Tampa Bay at Jacksonville:
    Mentally, I don't think Tampa Bay will be prepared for this game. You have to figure that they know they have to win out, and they've looked down their schedule and penciled this game in as a win. They have the Saints next week, and New Orleans has had their number, so they will be looking ahead.

    Tampa Bay will not be able to run the ball, because Jacksonville has the top run defense in the NFL. If the Jaguars could get some players in their secondary, they could have one of the top defenses in the football. Brad Johnson will have to throw on long yardage situations, and he just can't do that, even against Jacksonville's pourous pass defense.

    I hate to sound like a broken record, but if the Jaguars can run the ball, they can win this game. Its well documented that the Buccaneers can not stop teams that carry the football up the middle. Fred Taylor should have a great performance, which will assist Byron Leftwich, who will start this game, despite Jack Del Rio threatening to start David Garrard (you figure either ownership talked to him, or he listened to the negative reaction by the media and fans).

    Prediction: Jaguars by 7. Money Pick. BONUS UPSET SPECIAL. Under.

    Real Score:
    Jacksonville: 17
    Tampa Bay: 10

    Worst (this was hard because he got A LOT wrong really badly):
    San Francisco at Baltimore:
    I don't know how this tired Baltimore defense will play this week, after that exhausting comeback against the Seahawks. San Francisco runs the ball often, but the Ravens are 4th against the run. Tim Rattay will have to throw the ball on lots of 2nd and 3rd and longs. The Ravens are ranked 10th against aerial attacks, but I don't think that statistic means much, because Matt Hasselbeck was able to throw for 330 yards and five touchdowns against Baltimore, without a successful running game. Baltimore will not be able to cover Terrell Owens.

    Obviously, the 49ers will have to contain Jamal Lewis in order to win this game. They are 12th against the run, letting up 4.0 yards per carry, but they couldn't stop Ahman Green last week. Anthony Wright led Baltimore to a huge comeback on Sunday, but I don't think he can produce again. I'll count on the Niners shutting down the Ravens' passing game if they are somehow able to contain Jamal Lewis, because they'll be able to put tons of pressure on Wright.

    Prediction: 49ers by 4. Under

    Real Score:
    Baltimore: 44
    San Francisco: 6

    Week 14:

    Best:
    Chicago at Green Bay:
    Anthony Thomas might play, but Brock Forsey was outstanding last week; albeit it was against the lowly Cardinals. Whoever starts at running back for Chicago will have the pleasure of running against a Packers run defense that made Shawn Bryson look like Barry Sanders on Thanksgiving. Kordell Stewart has played well in two consecutive games for the Bears, but as I state in my Extra Yardage section of my Top Story, Kordell Stewart plays poorly when expectations are high, and great when expectations are low. Two weeks ago, he came off the bench and played well because he wasn't expected to do so. Now, shows on ESPN are talking about the Bears like they are a playoff team. They're not. I think Kordell will falter in this game, and I'm basing this on what I've seen in the past.

    Like the Pack, Chicago can't defend the run. Ahman Green should be able to toast the Bears on his home grass. There is no sign of rain or snow, so Green should be fumble free. No sign of wetness is also a great sign for Brett Favre, who won't have to worry about the ball slipping out of his hand. The Bears aren't bad against aerial attacks, but they won't be able to stop the usual from Green Bay: runs, screens and check-down passes.

    Prediction: Packers by 13. Over.

    Real Score:
    Green Bay: 34
    Chicago: 21

    Worst:
    Tampa Bay at New Orleans:
    Tampa Bay's season is in the toilet, so I expect little effort from the Buccaneers in this matchup. New Orleans might have one of the worst run defenses in the league (allowing 4.7 yards per carry), but the Bucs could do little on the ground against them in their first meeting. Michael Pittman ran for 48 yards on 16 carries. Brad Johnson threw for 321 yards in that contest, but over 100 of those yards were to Keyshawn Johnson. Tampa Bay's offense will go nowhere on Sunday, and it could be time for Chris Simms to step in.

    The Buccaneers can not beat the Saints because they can't stop a power running back, who is getting blocks from a huge offensive line. McAllister totaled 110 rushing yards against Tampa in their November 2nd meeting. Since then, Tampa has gotten worse against the pass, which indicates that Aaron Brooks should have a pretty good game.

    Prediction: Saints by 17. Double Money Pick. Under.

    Real Score:
    Tampa: 14
    New Orleans: 7

    Week 15:
    Best:
    San Francisco at Cincinatti:
    I hate when two solid trends collide. Read below for details. Anyway, the 49ers should be able to move the chains via the ground game, because the Bengals are 27th against the run. In fact, they allowed 180 rushing yards to Jamal Lewis last week. San Francisco is one of the few teams in pro football that has attempted more than 400 carries, so you know that Kevan Barlow will get around 25 carries. Cincinnati is average against the passing game, but with play-action working for Jeff Garcia, the Bengals have no hopes of stopping Garcia to Owens under normal circumstances. However, the weather may be a factor.

    Unlike their opponent, San Fran stops the run successfully; they are ranked 11th in that department. They limited Marcel Shipp to 30 yards on 13 carries last Sunday. Without either Corey Dillon or Rudi Johnson running the ball well, Jon Kitna will be faced with a lot of long yardage situations, which will be difficult to convert in poor weather.

    Prediction: Bengals by 4. Money Pick. Under.

    Real Score:
    Cincinatti: 41
    San Francisco: 38

    Worst:
    Atlanta at Indianapolis:
    Michael Vick makes this offense better. Now, instead of keying in on the run, defenses have to be focused on Vick, allowing T.J. Duckett to break for big gains, especially against a team that can't defend the run like Indianapolis. Vick, in turn, will use the running game to throw passes downfield and to do the thing he does best, which is scramble for long yardage.

    Like I stated last week, Vick makes Atlanta's defense much better. To see a detailed explaination, check out my Top Story around Thursday. Atlanta's defense took care of Stephen Davis last Sunday Night, and they should be able to do the same against Edgerrin James. Stopping Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne will be more of a task than what the Dirty Birds did against Carolina, but I think the Falcons, being highly motivated, can take down the Colts in a shocker.

    Prediction: Falcons by 3. UPSET SPECIAL. Over

    Real Score:
    Indianapolis: 38
    Atlanta: 7

    Week 16:
    Best:
    New York Giants at Dallas:
    The Giants are on a six game losing streak, being beaten by an average of 18.7 points per game. Scoring has been a problem for them, as they are averaging only 8½ points during that stretch. New York's only hope to move the ball is via the ground game with Tiki Barber. Unfortunately for them, Dallas ranks sixth against it. Jesse Palmer is talented, but inexperienced, and he'll be faced with plenty of long yardage situations, which he couldn't convert last Sunday Night.

    The Giants are 28th against the pass, because their entire starting secondary is out. Dallas' three receivers, Joey Galloway, Terry Glenn and Antonio Bryant should be open all day long. This could be a breakout game for Quincy Carter. I believe the passing game will open up some running lanes for Troy Hambrick.

    Prediction: Cowboys by 20. Over.

    Real Score:
    Dallas: 19
    Giants: 3

    Worst:
    Miami at Buffalo:
    Not only is it going to snow on Sunday, it is going to snow in Buffalo every day until Christmas Eve. Miami can not win in the snow, which makes picking this game very easy. The Dolphins will be looking to give Ricky Williams plenty of carries, but Buffalo is ranked 3rd in run defense, permitting only 3.4 yards per carry. In the snow, Jay Fiedler will have trouble connecting with his receivers on long yardage situations.

    Miami is ranked second when defending the running game, but like I said last week, they can be beaten with the long pass. Expect Drew Bledsoe to air it out against the Dolphins' overrated defense. The ball will be flying around the field all afternoon, which makes me wonder why the total is only 34.

    Prediction: Bills by 20. Double Money Pick. Over.

    Real Score:
    Miami: 20
    Buffalo: 3

    Week 17:
    Best:
    Minnesota at Arizona:
    Defensively, Arizona is a different team at Sun Devil Stadium than they are on the road. At home, they've stopped many quality running backs, such as Ahman Green, Stephen Davis and Marshall Faulk. Their run defense at home has translated into strong performances. In fact, they've only lost one game by more than 8 points, which was their September 14th matchup against Seattle. Last Saturday, Minnesota was able to gain over 200 rushing yards against Kansas City's pathetic defense. However, Arizona should hold the Vikings to minimal yardage, despite this game being very important for the Vikes. If Daunte Culpepper is put into long yardage situations, he may throw interceptions or fumble the football.

    Minnesota's run defense was impressive against Kansas City, but I doubt they can do what they did again. They are still ranked 31st against rushing attacks, so I feel that Marcel Shipp could gain over 100 yards on the ground. If he can do so, it'll help out Josh McCown, who was impressive against the Seahawks last week, throwing 25 of 40, for 274 yards and a touchdown. Look for a similar game from the former Sam Houston State standout.

    Prediction: Cardinals by 3. Money Pick. UPSET OF THE MONTH. Under.

    Real Score:
    Arizona: 18
    Minnesota: 17

    Worst:
    Dallas at New Orleans:
    This line and the movement of the line really shocked me. First of all, I made my projected line without the knowledge that Joe Horn would be out. Secondly, Deuce McAllister is questionable and the Saints have nothing to play for, so why is the public favoring New Orleans? Anyway, don't be shocked if Troy Hambrick has another 125+ rushing yard day. The Saints are 29th against the run, and they have nothing to play for. Plus, they have to be deflated that John Carney missed the extra point that would have tied the game, after one of the greatest plays in NFL history. The Saints are ranked 4th against the pass, which really is shocking, but they will be too preoccupied with stopping Troy Hambrick.

    Against the run and the pass, the Cowboys are ranked 4th and 1st, respectively. With Joe Horn out and Deuce McAllister potentially unavailable, Dallas could pitch a shutout in the Big Easy. If Philadelphia somehow loses to Washington on Saturday Night, look for this to be a Double Money Pick, even though the spread could move three points in Dallas' favor.

    Prediction: Cowboys by 20. Under.

    Real Score:
    New Orleans: 13
    Dallas: 7

    Playoffs:
    Best:
    Indianapolis at New England:
    If the Kansas City Chiefs had any sort of defense, we'd be talking about how poor the Colts' stop unit is, because they are almost as bad as Kansas City's. They'll finally be exposed at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots are not a running football team, but they've been successful running the ball when going against poor run defenses. The Colts have never stopped Tom Brady's aerial attack, and I don't expect that to change on Sunday.

    Like I said in Week 13, Bill Belichick has never lost to Peyton Manning. In fact, in their two meetings in 2001, the Patriots were victorius 44-13 and 38-17. Earlier this season, New England got out to a huge lead before Peyton Manning led a comeback that was halted at the one yard line. The Patriots simply have Indianapolis' number, because Belichick's schemes confuse Manning. As most of the country saw on Sunday, Peyton Manning studies each defense thoroughly, and that is one of the reasons why he has been so successful in his football career. However, there are a few defenses that he can't decode, and New England's is one of them. I believe that this game will be a carbon copy of the one we witnessed back in November; New England should get out to a large lead, and Manning will attempt a comeback, but fail.

    Prediction: Patriots by 7. Double Money Pick. Over.

    Real Score:
    New England: 24
    Indianapolis: 14

    Worst:
    Denver at Indianapolis:
    Obviously, everyone remembers the meeting that these two teams had two weeks ago. Denver ran all over Indy in a blowout. Normally, I don't think a team can waltz into an opposing team's field and defeat them a second time, however, this could be an exception because the Colts are terrible against the run, and the Broncos didn't even have the services of their best player, Clinton Portis. Indy is 24th against opposing ground games, and if Quentin Griffin can accumulate 150 rushing yards, imagine what Portis can do. Jake Plummer will use Portis to create play-action bootlegs, where he will connect to his talented wide receivers downfield.

    Last time against the Broncos, Edgerrin James was only able to rush for 42 yards. The Broncos have a top ten run defense so James could be in for another struggle on Sunday. Peyton Manning was also pitiful; throwing 12 of 23 for 146 yards and 3 fumbles. Denver held the ball for so long, that it distrupted Manning's rythym. Also to be considered is that Manning has never won a playoff game. Winning this one will be no easy task.

    Prediction: Broncos by 7. Upset Special. Under.

    Real Score:
    Indianapolis: 41
    Denver: 10

    BEST PREDICTION OF 2003:
    Week 13: Jacksonville at Tampa Bay

    Prediction: Jaguars by 7. Money Pick. BONUS UPSET SPECIAL. Under.

    Real Score:
    Jacksonville: 17
    Tampa Bay: 10

    WORST PREDICTION OF 2003:
    Week 1: Houston at Miami

    Prediction: Prediction: Dolphins by 24. Money Pick. BLOWOUT SPECIAL. Under

    Real Score:
    Houston: 21`
    Miami: 20
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