We’re all about the ballsy predictions here at ETB. We’re always analyzing and second-guessing other “expert” picks, but we’ve been putting our balls on the table all season as well. Our Crystal balls. It’s been a lot of fun gazing into our Crystal Balls, revealing ghastly events yet to take place, bewildering sights to behold, breathtaking new vistas of human consciousness and (mostly) NFL player performances from week to week. Alas, this is the last Crystal Ball of 2007. Perhaps we should probably turn our precognitive powers on another subject during the offseason, like the stock market or stopping crimes. Meh.
They’re almost certainly all going to come true like always, but one or two of these picks may not. You had better believe we’ll be bragging about the ones we nail. Repeatedly. In your fat, soft face. And if/when we miss, it’ll be like it never happened. You’ll forget about it…. forget about it… forget about it…
It’s the last edition of ETB’s NFL Crystal Ball for the 2007 season. Seasons greetings and all that stuff… more importantly, here’s hoping you embarrass another grown man on Sunday, and take his money.
1. Coming into the season and in the early going the San Diego pass defense was very susceptible, but Antonio Cromartie, Drayton Florence and Quentin Jammer have taken strides as the season has progressed. They’re shutting down wide receivers and taking advantage of quarterbacks’ mistakes. They still allow 220.4 yards passing per game, but the Chargers have limited opposing QBs to just 19 TDs and snagged an NFL-best 27 INTs (Seattle is second with only 20). It all adds up to a bad week for the talented, yet inexperienced Jay Cutler, who nearly repeats his Week 5 performance against the Bolts: 20-of-32, 1 TD, 3 INTs, 3 sacks.
2. For the love of all things holy, please don’t start Chad Pennington in your championship game. The Tennessee defense has been a revelation this season, while Pennington has proved completely incapable of standing up to a strong pass rush or throwing a football any further than I can. The Titans allow just 200.8 through the air per game and have let up only 19 TD passes with 20 INTs and 32 sacks on the season. Albert Haynesworth & Co are going to mangle Pennington’s internal organs. The Crystal Ball only sees two options for this foppish dandy: 1) he will finish 18-of-34 with 179 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs and get sacked 5 times; 2) he will leave the game with a season-ending injury.
3. The Bungles are the worst in the NFL at stopping wide receivers, and Cleveland wideout Braylon Edwards puts an appropriate exclamation point on his incredible, breakout season: 9 receptions, 140 yards, 2 TDs.
(Chad Pennington Photo Credit: Anthony J Causi/Icon SMI)
4. The New York Jets defense has been one of the worst in the NFL this year, and they allow the third-most rushing yards a game at 141.1. It won’t help matters that they’re an underized unit as they face the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man this weekend. LenDale White’s 3.6 YPC on the season isn’t very impressive, but he’s toted the rock 54 times in the last two weeks and should once again be leaned on as the Titans nurse a lead. Anything short of 90 yards and a touchdown would shock me.
5. I’m going to let it ride on Rowdy Roddy White again this week. He’s made me look good each of the last two weeks, so I owe him one. White finished with just 1 reception for 4 yards against the Bucs last Sunday, easily his worst performance of the season. Don’t lose hope, Chris Redman isn’t very good but he should be able to complete more than four passes against the struggling Cardinals secondary this week. Arizona gives up plenty of big plays, especially since Adrian Wilson went down, so I’m looking for 7 receptions, 102 yards and a score from my man Roddy.
6. Drew Brees is an obvious candidate to explode this week, but I see a shootout in this Saints vs. Iggles game. The Saints pass defense just hasn’t been able to stop anybody all year, and I think Kevin Curtis is going to give Jason David fits. Assuming Brian Westbrook and Reggie Brown suit up, Donovan McNabb is going to have a fine game, throwing for 3 TDs and rushing for 40 yards.
7. I’m going to get seven of my ten Crystal Ball predictions right this week. Including this one.
8. While there’s always a chance a monsoon could come and wipe away Seattle over the weekend, from where I sit Matt Hasselbeck looks like one of the safest plays of the week. Peyton could be rested, the Pats could build a huge lead without much from Brady and Romo has that balky thumb and a propensity for implosion. Start the Seattle quarterback with all the confidence in the world, as he’s going to attempt 40 passes and drop 290 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT on the hapless Ravens secondary.
9. I’ve been saying it since last year, and finally John Madden and his ghostwriter are backing me up: Tony Romo can be figured out. As my boy Madden points out, teams now have enough film on Romo to figure out his tendencies and weaknesses. I think he tends to lock on to receivers, he can be confused by coverages, he can get rattled, he doesn’t deal with pressure up the middle well and he has just an average NFL arm. Good defensive coordinators can make Romo look bad. I think he still has a serviceable week, but with the scouting report growing and the bum thumb a factor, Romo lets his fantasy owners down with just 1 TD pass this week.
10. Goddamn, Carson Palmer has made me look like an asshole this season. Yesterday Palmer said, “I take all the blame for every struggle we’ve had because I play quarterback here, and I haven’t played well enough to get us in winning situations and win games.” Oh, jeez, thanks. Here’s what you can do to make it up to me: pick apart the thoroughly crappy Browns secondary and make my final prediction of 290 yards and 2 TDs come true. Yes, I’ve had a little eggnog. So what?