Week 9 NFC East picks

NoVorro Bowman... He's good.

49ers @ Redskins – Back around Week 3 of the season, I wondered if the Redskins had the best set of 3-4 linebackers in the NFC.  Ryan Kerrigan was looking like a star in the making, Rocky McIntosh was playing better than most people had anticipated, Brian Orakpo was coming off 2 consecutive Pro Bowl seasons, and London Fletcher was just going about his London Fletcher awesomeness as usual.  Well, London Fletcher is still awesome, but since then, Kerrigan hasn’t been making plays the way he was when the Redskins were 3-1, Orakpo looks like he’ll be missing out on a trip to Honolulu this year, and McIntosh’s play has fallen off the cliff, as he has begun to lose snaps to Keyaron Fox.

I think the Niners have them beat.  They have hands down the best pair of ILBs in the league with Patrick Willis and NoVorro Bowman.  We all know what Willis can do, but Bowman has really emerged as an excellent NFL player.  I was thoroughly impressed with his play against Philly earlier this season.  There was an occasion where he was on an island against Michael Vick with a wide open field, and Bowman didn’t wait for Vick to make his move.  He went right after him, and Vick tried to speed around the corner.  Bowman stayed with him and make the play – There’s a microscopic number of NFL LBs that would have made that play.  He’s small by NFL measures (6’0, 242), but he has a ton of speed, he hustles, and he’s physical.  Gifted.  He has 68 tackles already this year.  Willis, for comparative purposes, has 54.  Add in my new defensive rookie of the year front runner, Aldon Smith, who has 6.5 sacks as a pass rushing specialist, as well as Ahmad Brooks (4 sacks), and the Niners look to be set at LB for foreseeable future.  The Niners’ backers ages, just FYI: Willis 26, Bowman 23, Smith 22, Brooks 27.  That defense is going to be good for a while.

Offensively, the Niners actually look a little bit like the Redskins.  Questionable QB, no scary threats on the outside, excellent play-making TE.  But that’s where the comparisons end.  The Niners have a far better OL that runs the ball very effectively with Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, who both average 4.8 yards per carry.

I see kind of a boring one here, with both offenses looking to not make mistakes.  Pick: Niners win, by a final score that’s closer than would indicate what actually happened on the field.

Giants at Patriots – I don’t even recognize the Giants anymore.  On the one hand, they have a really good vertical passing game.  On the other hand, they can’t run the ball… or stop the run.  They kind of remind of… the mid-decade Eagles?

Here are the running back performances against the Giants the last 5 weeks:

Player Rushes Yards YPC Comment
Reggie Bush 15 103 6.9 Bush’s first 100 yard game since 2006
Fred Jackson 16 121 7.6 In fairness, Fred has done this to a bunch of teams.
Marshawn Lynch 12 98 8.2 Lynch’s next highest YPC in a game this season – 3.8.
Beanie Wells 27 138 5.1 Wells’ YPC in the 3 games since… 3.0, 3.5, 3.8. He also had 3 TDs against the G Men.
LeSean McCoy 24 128 5.3 Actually, kind of an average game for Shady.
TOTALS 94 588 6.3 Yikes.

Obviously, when you look at the Pats’ offense, you think Brady, Welker, and those 2 TEs (Aaron Hernandez & Rob Gronkowski) that cause so many matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.  But if you over-commit to stopping their passing game, they can, and will, run it.  I expect a balanced offensive from the Pats this week, and really, I believe the only shot the Giants have at stopping the Pats this week is if they hit Brady early and often.  They’ve certainly proven they can do that, as they lead the NFL with 26 sacks.

Still, with Ahmad Bradshaw looking like a scratch (or at the very least banged up) this week, and Hakeem Nicks also likely out, the Giants simply don’t have the fire-power to stay with the Pats.  I don’t think it needs to be analyzed much more than that.  Pick: Pats easy.

Seahawks at Cowboys – Just because:

Ha, sorry about that.  Anyway, Mike Jenkins is out for a month.  Sean Lee’s season is in jeopardy and even if he plays it’ll be with a cast.  Felix Jones is still out.  Kyle Kosier is questionable.  The Cowboys’ defense was exposed last week, and their offense looked anemic.   None of that matters this week.  The Seahawks stink… particularly on offense.  Pick: Cowboys bounce back big.

Matt Forte: Strong runner, weapon in the passing game, and neatly manicured facial hair.

Bears @ Eagles – I’ve done a few Q & A’s with Bears websites this week that have asked me whether or not the Eagles have become a “run first” team.  I don’t think they have.  Opposing teams are forced to give a ton of respect to the speed of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, and they’ve been showing a lot of soft, deep cover 2 looks, which has opened up enormous holes for LeSean McCoy in the run game.  That’s what the Bears did last year, and they were able to contain the Eagles’ offense.  Teams have tried that approach this season, and the Eagles have made them pay (see Dallas last Sunday night).  I don’t think the Eagles need to have the mindset of being “run-first” or “pass-first.”  They do both extremely well, so they’re in a position where they can take what the defense gives them and make them pay either way.  If the Bears want to play that deep shell, they better get career games from Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs.

Defensively for the Eagles, all 22 eyes will be on number 22, and of course I’m talking about Matt Forte.  Forte gashed the Eagles last season with 117 rushing yards on 14 carries, and added a couple catches for 22 yards.  This season, Forte is aboslutely lighting it up.  He’s on pace for 1536 rushing yards and 958 receiving yards.  That would put him on pace for 2494 yards from scrimmage on the season, just 15 yards off the pace for the all time single season rcord of 2509, set by Chris Johnson back in 2009.  If the Eagles can stop Forte early, they can pin their ears back and fire away at Jay Cutler, who has been sacked 21 times this year.  The Bears’ OL also has been penalized 20 times this season. Big mismatch for the Eagles DL for the second consecutive week.  Pick: Bears.


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  22. […] writing up my picks article this morning, I noticed that the Bears OL had committed 20 penalties this season.  It seemed high, but just to be sure, I checked a few other teams for comparative […]

  23. Goetz says:

    I dunno what all these guys are talking about. I know that you picking the Bears is based on widened empiric studies and complicated physics (rocket science anyone?). Don’t they know that neatly manicured facial hair makes up for at least 4 Sacks and a couple of picks?

  24. Gary says:

    LOL at the explanation and then “Pick: Bears”

    1. It’ll be even worse next week.

      1. cwel87 says:

        I can’t wait to read how Kevin Kolb is the real deal!


        1. (Wiping egg off face)

          1. Jason-E says:

            Kolb’s not playing particularly well, but that AZ has a host of problems offensively. And defensively for that matter. Bad o-line. No receivers except Fitz, no running game, add all that to being in a new system with no offseason and Kolb was pretty much set up for failure.

          2. packimop says:

            I think you shouldn’t pick against the Eagles in a game that they should clearly win like next week against ARI. That’s just asking for bad mojo.

  25. brisulph says:

    Can’t disagree on Pats winning, but I think it will be closer than you think. As for your Eagles anti-pick, that only works if you actually, honestly believe it. You might be reverse anti-pick jinxing your boys.

    1. I’ve already set a whole list of rules in my head on the matter, and haven’t violated a single one.

    2. As for the Giants… I thought they’d have a decent chance to win outright, but with no RB (probably), best WR out, center out, and now a bunch of guys on the D banged up, it’ll be a tall order for the G Men just to keep it close.

    3. cwel87 says:

      The Giants have squeaked by the Dolphins and Cardinals so far this season, and they managed to lose to the Seahawks.

      I don’t know what the hell to make of them. This week should give s a clue.

  26. Immynimmy says:

    Hey Jimmy, I was going through some of your archives and I came across this:


    Why are there 998 spam comments? What the hell happened haha?

    1. I had been very vigilant in deleting spam, but just got sick of it. Sooooo… yeah, it’s pretty loaded up in there. The Giants 2012 draft picks page has the most. Spammers can all die a slow death from syphilis.

  27. tuna83 says:

    Jimmy you trickster you… If it works keep it up.

    I an excited about this Eagles game… Not a one of us should be sold on this being an Eagles victory. However if we do win this game it will surely show growth from last year, I don’t care what the bears record reflects.

    Offense: I really feel like we will get the chance to see how our players respond off success… I totally expect Chicago to play the two deep safties and see if McCoy can make them pay. I know the Cowboys were rated number one and blah blah blah against the run but I want to see how they do against the Bears. I’ll be sold we can shove it down everyones throat if we can do in the Cowboys and the Bears.

    Defense: Clearly the key is getting the lead in this game early like the cowboys game and forcing Jay Cutler to win this game. That will require either luck or shutting down Forte. I feel that if we can shut down Forte we can shut down any runner. Martz will no doubt use screens to keep our defense line honest and I’m fine with that.

    Anyway we shall see what happens. One thing that I was really looking forward to during are beat down of the Boys was for Dallas to make adjustments and how we in turn responded. That what I need to see out of our team. However Dallas just kept doing the same thing that lost them the game in the first half.

    I feel that if McCoy is eating them up for large chunks a safety will come down and they will force Vick and this offense to adjust. I guess time will tell.

    1. packimop says:

      Yeah I really thought that was stupid of Rob Ryan to continue to drop 2 safeties deep. It was pretty obvious after the first two drives that what he was doing wasn’t working, and yet he refused to change.

  28. Jason-E says:

    Way to go Jimmy. Love it. Keep doing it all year.

  29. Sb2bowl says:

    Jimmy, keep picking the other teams! It keeps working! If we can win this one, after a huge win last week, I’ll start to believe this team can do something special.

    In other words, I fully expect two weeks from now our matchup with the Giants will be the game that determines who wins the NFC East this year. Their schedule is freaking nasty.

    1. cwel87 says:

      Why, I think he will.

  30. Immynimmy says:

    Why the Bears? You don’t really give an explanation. I think it really depends on which teams decide to show up. There is a good Bears and Eagles team and a bad Bears and Eagles team. Since we are home (and the crowd will probably be fired up) AND it’s primetime, I think the good team that shows up is the Eagles…although maybe it’s just wishful thinking.

      1. Lew says:

        Damn straight.

      2. bdawk4ever says:

        HAHA I knew it!

      3. Immynimmy says:

        AHHHH….you clever bastard.

  31. Eagles Fan in Nola says:

    Really Jimmy, going against the Eagles again?! It seems like your game preview favors the Eagles. Why do you think the Bears will win? Or are you just hoping the Eagles will keep winning if you pick against them every week??

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