Author Archive

Courtesy Neil Horowitz

Courtesy Neil Horowitz

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

When the Seattle Seahawks No. 1 ranked defense faced off against the Denver Broncos’ No. 1 ranked offense in last year’s Super Bowl, it was the first time in NFL history the two top-ranked offense and defense met in the big dance.

And the Seahawks made the Broncos dance alone to a slumbrous tune in a 43-8 stomping. The score was more exciting than the game. In every facet of the game, the Seahawks dominated. Manning and his high octane offense took a knockout gut punch from one of the most formidable defenses the league has ever witnessed.

The Seahawks and its historical defense will hoist the Lombardi Trophy in back-to-back years, but not in a laughable 43-8 fashion over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Let me put the Seahawks defense in statistical and historical perspective.

Seattle has led the league in scoring defense in each of the last three seasons. Seattle yielded 15.3 points per game in 2012, 14.4 points a game in 2013 and capped off a 2014 campaign allowing 15.9 points per game in a “down year.”

The only team that has reached those heights were the 1969-71 “Purple People Eaters” of the Minnesota Vikings that led the league in scoring defense in each of those years.

That’s the point of the game, right? To outscore your opponents or to prevent them from scoring. Prior to the Seahawks six game winning streak to end the season, they allowed 61 point combined Weeks 9 through 11. In those last six wins of the regular season, they allowed only 39 points. That’s 6.5 points per game.

But according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Seahawks defense has a chink in their armor. And that chink’s name is Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Opposing quarterbacks have 11 touchdowns and two interceptions when targeting tight ends against the Seahawks defense, according to Elias Sports. When throwing to running backs and receivers, quarterbacks have six touchdowns to 11 interceptions against the Legion of Boom.

Interesting statistics that points to one of the most pivotal matchups, Gronkowski versus the hard hitting safety Kam Chancellor. Those top tier competitors is a violent matchup that’s on an unavoidable collision course.

But the player to watch out for is patriots tight end Tim Wright, who has been a no show since his breakout seven catch game for 61 yards and a touchdown against the Chicago Bears Oct. 26. Wright may have a larger role in the Patriots’ offense with Seahawks safety Earl Thomas nursing a dislocated shoulder that he said has since healed.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the ultimate competitor. He will find a way to get the ball to Gronk and to Wright. Julian Elderman, Danny Amendola and Brandon Lafell don’t matchup well against the Seahawks secondary, but Richard Sherman is also nursing an arm injury. New England could find success.

Seattle won’t bully the Patriots like they did Denver. Former Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner, now with New England, has made that loud and clear with his comments towards his ex-teammates injuries. 

But until proven otherwise, defense wins champions. The Seahawks have one of the best defenses in NFL history.

Seahawks 24, Patriots 17.

rodgers_wilson_luck_brady_700

A battle of elite quarterbacks in each matchup will decide who goes on to the Super Bowl.

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

It should come to no surprise that when you have an elite quarterback under center, a team is more than likely to have a successful season.

Andrew Luck has reached the playoffs in the his first two seasons in the NFL and reached the AFC Championship game in this third. Tom Brady is a three-time Super Bowl Champion and searching for his elusive fourth ring.

Russell Wilson is looking to lead his Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances and wins. The Seattle Seahawks became the first defending Super Bowl champions since 2005 to win a playoff game after beating the Dallas Cowboys last week in the now infamous “was it a catch” game.

If Seattle manages to knockoff  the ailing Aaron Rodgers at home, they’ll be one win away from becoming the first team to repeat a champions since New England in the 2003-04 seasons.

Speaking of Rodgers, this is his first Super Bowl appearance since his Packers last beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2010 season.

Analysis: Colts @ Patriots

Andrew Luck has been successful against all other teams in the NFL throughout his career, but the Patriots continue to be a thorn in his side. New England defeated the Colts in a rout last season 43-22 in the divisional round of the playoffs. Despite the fact that Luck had a poor performance throwing four interceptions. Luck and the Colts didn’t fare any better in a Week 11 Sunday night rematch when the Patriots went into Indianapolis and blew out the Colts 42-20.

Luck has thrown six touchdown passes and eight interceptions in his career versus the Patriots, including the playoffs. Against all other teams in that time, he’s thrown twice as many touchdowns as interceptions. Luck has a Total QBR of 51.1 versus New England in his career. His QBR is 64.8 against all other teams, according to Elias Sports.

But this game might be out of Luck’s hand as the Patriots running game has been successful against Indy in the past. Over the past two years, New England have called runs on 61.2 percent of their plays versus Indianapolis compared to 39.5 percent against the rest of the NFL. Jonas Gray rushed for 201 yards and four touchdowns in the Patriots’ Week 11 rout.

Luck is a superstar quarterback. He is the future of the NFL. He is already is consensus top-5 quarterback in his third season in the league. He had a phenomenal season leading the NFL with 40 touchdown passes and was fourth in passing yards with 4,761, but the young quarterback time is not now.

My heart wants to pick Luck and the Colts, but my mind is saying Brady and the Patriots.

New England 37-31.

Analysis: Packers @ Seahawks

It’s not how you start, but how you finish.

The 2014 season kicked off with the Packers visiting the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. The “12th man” was roaring after the Super Bowl banner was hung over the field. As a result, Seattle steamrolled over Green Bay 36-16 in a game where Rodgers was heavily scrutinized for not throwing a single pass in the direction of All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.

This will be just the second time that a Conference Championship game will feature the NFL’s top scoring offense (Packers, 30.4) versus the top scoring defense (Seahawks 15.9).

Sounds familiar?

The first time this happened was last’s year Super Bowl when the Seahawks top defense throttled the Denver Broncos’ top offense in a 43-8 stomping.

Defense wins champions. That has been the staple of the NFL since this beautiful sport was first created. According to Elias Sports, Rodgers was blitzed on a season-low 8.3 percent of his dropbacks against the Seahawks in Week 1. Including the playoffs, Seattle has only sent a blitz on 26.5 percent of opponents’ dropbacks this season, which is 22nd in the league.

But when the Seahawks do blitz, they’re only allowing a Total QBR of 23.3, the second lowest in the NFL. Alarming news for Rodgers who is on record saying his partially torn calf feels worse after a narrow victory over the Cowboys. His ability to extend plays with his legs will be compromised against the Seahawks.

The maturation process of Russell Wilson has also given Seattle a legit threat at the quarterback position. Last season I felt the Seahawks won in spite of Wilson, but several game have been won this year because of Wilson.

Wilson will never out duel Rodgers, but he doesn’t have to with an all-time great defense behind him.

Seahawks 33-20.

Eddie P’s Championship Predictions: Packers @ Seahawks

Russell Wilson is a dangerous quarterback. He’s smart, makes tough throws, and is an even bigger threat on the ground.

Too bad Seattle doesn’t have a passing game, or else they’d be a complete team.

In my opinion, Green Bay is more well rounded. The Packers have a top 10 passing offense. Aaron Rodgers is an elite quarterback. The Packers’ defense is a scary underrated unit. The running game, behind Eddie Lacy is also a threat.

I think Green Bay will win this one out. Just a hunch. Lets see if my gut feeling is right, and isn’t just a sign that I’m hungry.

Colts @ Patriots

My first gut instinct was to go with the change of the guard. Andrew Luck ushering in the era of the new great quarterbacks.

Then, I heard both of the Indianapolis Colts’ starting cornerbacks, Vontae Davis and Greg Toler, would both be list as questionable going into Sunday. That changes everything.

Tom Brady is still a game-changing QB. If the secondary is weak, Brady will have a field day.

Can the Cowboys slow down the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field?

Can the Cowboys slow down the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field?

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

A “slight tear.” Three words Packers’ fan have only heard in their nightmares, but the injury is all but a reality for Aaron Rodgers.

But as their Super Bowl winning quarterback once said after Green Bay started the season 1-2, R-E-L-A-X. As prolific a passer Rodgers is, his slightly torn calf muscle couldn’t have come at a worst time.


Wild Card Prediction Results

Brooks: 3-1

Perez: 2-2


 

Divisional Playoff  Brooks Perez
DAL @ GB DAL(L) GB(W)
CAR @ SEA SEA(W) SEA(W)
IND @ DEN DEN(L) DEN(L)
BAL @ NE NE(W) NE(W)

 


 

Brooks Bits

Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers 

Two extremes are at stake in Sunday’s divisional matchup: The Packers are 8-0 at home on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Green Bay has averaged a NFL-high 39.8 points per game at home with Rodgers throwing for 25 touchdowns to 0 interceptions.

The Cowboys have a winning streak of their own going 8-0 on the road led by the new “triplets,” Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray. Dallas has averaged 34.4 points per game on the road. Murray led the league in rushing with 1,845 yards, breaking Emmitt Smith’s single season record along the way. Bryant broke Michael Irvin’s single season touchdown record with 16 on the season.

Something has to give.

Not having a first-round bye was the best thing that ever happened to the Cowboys. It would’ve only slowed down the momentum for the hottest team in the NFL. Now matter what adversity Dallas has been faced with this season, they keep finding ways to win.

The 42-7 drumming Dec. 21 over the Indianapolis Colts was a telltale sign of the maturity and growth of the Cowboys. When the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Washington Redskins the Dec. 14, last year’s Cowboys would’ve lost to the Colts.

This team has a new confidence, a new mindset and new drive.

Dallas will shock the Packers on the arctic Lambeau field and defeat an ailing Rodgers.

Eddie P’s Philosophical Take

Carolina Panthers @ Seattle Seahawks 

As much as I loathe the Seattle Seahawks, I cannot deny how good of a team they are. Seattle boasts the best defense in the NFL. Running back Marshawn Lynch is one of the best rushers in the game. Quarterback Russell Wilson is a great decision-maker that can beat you through the air and on the ground.

Carolina is a team that is finally putting their potential together. The running back duo of Jonathan Stewart and Deangelo Williams is dangerous.  Quarterback Cam Newton can drop the long bombs and bust loose on a long run. Ron Rivera’s defense is always tough.

The Panthers, however, still were a 7-8-1 team. The Panthers have and will commit costly errors. Newton has turned the ball over 21 times during the season. He turned the ball over twice last week. Against a well-rounded team like Seattle, this habit of turning the ball over can–and will–be deadly.

Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers

The Dallas Cowboys broke the nasty habit of faltering in the month of December. Last week against Detroit, Jerry’s “Boys came back to win. In Lambeau Field, the Cowboys success will come to a screeching halt.

The Packers rank in the top 10 offensively. Aaron Rodgers and his receiving corps of Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson will carve you up. If Rodgers is not scary enough, imagine the bruising 230-pound Eddie Lacy running straight at you.

The Packs’ “weakness” is its defense, and it is 10th against the pass but only 23rd against the run. No matter how you look at GB’s defense, it is a tough unit. With Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers rushing the passer, it will be tough for Dallas to block.

Game. Set. Match. Packers.

At 7-8-1, how far can Cam Newton lead the Carolina Panthers through the playoffs?

At 7-8-1, how far can Cam Newton (1) lead the Carolina Panthers through the playoffs?

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

It’s the perfect time to usher in the 2015 NFL playoffs with Jim Mora’s famed “Playoffs?” rant. The Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera could’ve channeled his inner Mora as his team slipped into post-season play with a sub-500 record at 7-8-1. But the Panthers’ 34-3 laugher over the Atlanta Falcons in the win-and-you’re-in Dec. 28 season finale, punched their ticket into the big dance.

Carolina is the second team in NFL history to advance to the playoffs with a losing record. The first time this happened was in the 2010-11 season when the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks miraculously defeated the 10-6 Saints in the Wild-Card.

Will lightening strike twice as the Panthers take on the 11-5 Arizona Cardinals?

But without further ado, here’s the the Mora rant I promised you.


Week 17 Prediction Results

Brooks: 12-4; Overall: 175-80

Perez: 11-5; Overall: 178-77 (Regular season winner)

Wooten: 11-5; Overall: 153-86


 

Wildcard Round Brooks Perez
ARI @ CAR CAR(W) ARI(L)
BAL @ PIT PIT(L) PIT(L)
CIN @ IND IND(W) IND(W)
DET @ DAL DAL(W) DAL(W)

 


 

Brooks Bits

Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is the run away favorite for the Coach of the Year award. Arians led the Cardinals to a 10-6 record using three different players at quarterback. Carson Palmer played in only six games as he battled a nerve injury to his shoulder before being lost for the season to a torn ACL days after signing a three-year, $50 million contract extension.

Drew Stanton filled the void admirably in Palmer’s absence, but he too sustained a knee injury. The severity level isn’t as gruesome as Palmer’s, but Stanton has been ruled out at least for this week’s game.

Now enter Ryan Lindley who has gone 1-2 in his three starts this season. To put it simply, Lindley is a third string quarterback for a reason. His lone win was a 12-6 defensive struggle over the St. Louis Rams. The Cardinals’ point differential with Lindley under center is 67 to 35 averaging 11.6 points per game.

Yes, the Panthers have a losing record, but it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Carolina closed out the season on a four game winning streak, resembling the team that went 10-6 last season led by a stingy defense and ball control.

Cam Newton has been spectacular since his return from a car wreck that led to two back fractures. Kelvin Benjamin is apart of the historical rookie wide receiver class as he totaled 1,008 yards receiving and nine touchdowns during the regular season. Tight end Greg Olsen matched Benjamin with 1,008 yards of his own.

Playing at home and surging at the right moment, the Panthers will upset the 11-5 Cardinals. Panthers 24, Cardinals 13.

Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys

This is a matchup between two organizations trying to shake off a long, latched stigma.

The Detroit Lions are a team with a past of losing, a recent past of falling flat on their faces in big games, and a talented team that can’t get over the hump.

Every football fan in the world who has watched the Dallas Cowboys over the past few seasons are waiting on them to implode. That has been the Cowboys M.O., wait until the biggest stage to collapse right before our eyes.

The “accident waiting to happen.”

In fact the last time Dallas had one of their colossal let downs, it was to the Lions in 2011 when Detroit overcame a 27-3 2nd-half deficit to win. Tony Romo threw three 2nd-half interceptions to pave the way for the Lions’ comeback.

Fast-forward to this year, Romo, MVP candidate DeMarco Murray—who set a franchise singe-single rushing record with 1,845 yards—and Dez Bryant who broke Michael Irvin’s touchdown receiving record with 16, are the new “Triplets” in Dallas.

Jim Caldwell has brought a winning attitude to the Lions and instilled confidence in quarterback Matthew Stafford. Detroit caught a huge break after the NFL reversed their decision to suspend Ndamukong Suh. His services will be needed to slow down Murray.

However, I believe the Cowboys will continue to show the world this team is for real.

Dallas in a wild one, 38-34.

Eddie P’s Philosophical Take

Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

This game will be a tough, hard-nosed, old school AFC brawl. The Steelers and Ravens are divisional rivals, so they will bring the worst out of each other.

Pittsburgh has transformed into a passing team with Big Ben and Antonio Brown. They are ranked 2nd in the league in terms of passing yards. They’ll be even more pass-happy with Le’Veon Bell out.

This will play into the Steelers’ favor. The Ravens are ranked 23rd against the pass.

Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers

The Cards are playing with Ryan Lindley. I still do not think the Panthers are a good enough team to outduel Arizona.

Arizona has a tough, underrated defense. Carolina has faltered throughout the entire season. They are an under .500 team. There is little to no chance of them beating out the Cardinals.

The playoffs are a different ball game, however. Lindley has only two career touchdowns. His inexperience will need to be masked by a ground game and a stout defense.

I still believe Arizona will come out victorious.

Who will win the battle for the AFC North crown? Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Who will win the battle for the AFC North crown?
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

This is the last week of 2014-15 NFL regular season.

The season has flown by with numerous storylines.

The two most talked about prospects in the 2014 NFL draft in the No. 1 overall pick in Jadeveon Clowney and 26th overall in Johnny Manziel, didn’t come within a mile of their expectations.

Clowney appeared in only four games and registered seven total tackles before a knee injury sidelined him for the season. Clowney is currently facing a recovery process that will last eight to nine months, jeopardizing the start of his 2015 season.

Manziel flashed in his brief late game appearance Nov. 26 against the Bills, but didn’t get his first start until week 15 in a forgettable debut. The former charismatic, Texas A&M star finished the season, 18-of-35 for 175 yards with zero touchdown passes and two interceptions. He finished with 29 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

The Steelers are the first team in NFL history with a 4,500 yard passer, a 1,500 yard receiver and a 1,300 yard rusher.

And to date, the 2014-15 season is the best rookie wide receiver class in NFL history starring Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG), Mike Evans (TB), Sammy Watkins (BUF), Kelvin Benjamin (CAR) and Jarvis Landry (MIA).

I can go on forever, but those are a few that raised eyebrows.

In any case, NFL.com has released likely scenarios and possible seeding for the playoffs. This scenario grabs my attention:

The winner of Lions-Packers will have a first-round bye and can find themselves with home-field advantage. Meanwhile, the loser is assured the No. 6 seed.

Here are the Final Picks for the regular season:


Week 16 Prediction Results

Brooks: 10-6; Overall: 154-85

Perez: 11-5; Overall: 167-72

Wooten: 8-8; Overall: 142-81


Week 17 Matchups Brooks Perez Wooten
CLE @ BAL BAL(W) BAL(W) BAL(W)
DAL @ WAS DAL(W) DAL(W) HOU(W)
IND @ TEN IND(W) IND(W) IND(W)
JAX @ HOU HOU(W) HOU(W) HOU(W)
SD @ KC SD(L) SD(L) KC(W)
NYJ @ MIA MIA(L) MIA(L) MIA(L)
CHI @ MIN MIN(W) MIN(W) CHI(L)
BUF @ NE NE(L) NE(L) NE(L)
PHI @ NYG NYG(L) PHI(W) PHI(W)
NO @ TB NO(W) NO(W) NO(W)
CAR @ ATL CAR(W) ATL(L) ATL(L)
DET @ GB GB(W) GB(W) GB(W)
OAK @ DEN DEN(W) DEN(W) DEN(W)
ARI @ SF SF(W) ARI(L) ARI(L)
STL @ SEA SEA(W) SEA(W) SEA(W)
CIN @ PIT PIT(W) PIT(W) PIT(W)

 


 Brooks Bits

Cincinnati Bengals (10-4-1) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5)

The battle of the AFC North will be decided between two of the streakiest teams in the NFL this season.

Both the Steelers and Bengals are tied for the league’s second-most wins since Week 8, accumulating a record of 7-2 in that time frame.

Pittsburgh began the season at a modest 3-3 record with spurts of excellence, yet dumbfounded at times.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 500 yards twice in a single game Oct. 26 against the Colts.He also threw for six touchdowns that game along with another half a dozen the following week against the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers scored 94 points in that two week span only to stumble to a 20-13 loss to a 1-9 Jets team at that time.

For the Bengals, forgive me if I’m repeating myself, but on paper, Cincinnati is most talented team in the NFL on both sides of the ball. But they continue to perform under their Jekell and Hyde M.O.
After giving up 25 points in the fourth quarter in a 42-21 loss in their first defeat to the Steelers Dec. 7, Cincinnati blanked the Browns 30-0 and forced four interceptions in a 37-28 Monday night victory over Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

A key to Sunday night’s game is the health of Bengals’ All Pro receiver AJ Green. He hauled in 11 catches for a career-high 224 yards against the Steelers the first-go-round. Green has been questionable all week, but now is expected to play after suffering a bruised right biceps Monday.

Since 2001, the Steelers lead the all-time series 20-8 against the Bengals, and won five the last seven. The Bengals have created a habit of folding under the pressure in big games and both Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis have yet to win a playoff game.

In the battle for the AFC North title, the Sunday night matchup will have a playoff atmosphere, a moment the Steelers relish and the Bengals falter.
Steelers 35-24

Eddie P’s Philosophical Take

Detroit Lions (11-4) @ Green Bay Packers (11-4)

The Detroit Lions will head to Lambeau Field and battle the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North title. Both teams are at 11-4. The Lions are undefeated within the division. The Packers have a lone divisional loss, to the Lions.

The Packers will be able to avenge that loss this week. Aaron Rodgers leads a 7th ranked passing offense. They also have a pretty good rushing game behind Eddie Lacy. The Lions are tops against the run, only allowing 63.8 yards per game. Detriot is 13th against the pass as well; all in all, not too shabby.

Green Bay’s overall offensive attack might be too much for Detroit, especially playing on the road.

Arizona Cardinals (11-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (7-8)

The San Francisco 49ers (7-8) are out of the playoff picture, but it does not mean they cannot help shape how that picture ends up developing.

The Arizona Cardinals (11-4) started off on fire but have since cooled off a bit. Once atop of the NFC West, now they are tied with the Seattle Seahawks. They need to do their part and win to make sure they are not bumped down to a wild card team.

Despite playing at home, this will be a hard game to win for the 49ers. They are on a four game losing streak, including a tough overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers in Week 16.

The Cards, coming off a loss as well, will be looking to bounce back. They will succeed against the 49ers.

Words From Wooten

Arizona Cardinals (11-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (7-8)

With Jim Harbaugh’s job up in the air, he will need to win this game against their division rival Cardinals. The 49ers didn’t have the greatest season due to multiple star players being injured, but they did what they could. As for Arizona, Ryan Lindley needs to come out and show that he can lead the team to victory.

Which NFC South quarterback will lead his team to victory to shake up the division? Matt Ryan (2) left; Drew Brees (9) right.

Which NFC South quarterback will lead his team to victory to shake up the division? Matt Ryan (2) left; Drew Brees (9) right.

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

Ok, maybe I jumped the gun a little believing Johnny Manziel would flash his cape in his NFL debut.

A stat line of 10 of 18 for 80 yards with two interceptions and 13 rushing yards on five attempts in 30-0 drumming is not what the former Heisman Trophy envisioned.

Manziel needs to cash in on some points instead his patented money gesture.


Week 15 Predictions Results

Brooks: 13-3; Overall: 144-79

Perez: 13-3; Overall: 156-67

Wooten: 13-3; Overall: 134-73


Week 16 Matchups Brooks Wooten  Perez
TEN @ JAX JAX(W)   TEN(L)  JAX(W)
PHI @ WSH PHI(L)  PHI(L)  PHI(L)
SD @ SF SD(W)  SF(L)  SF(L)
MIN @ MIA MIA(W)  MIA(W)  MIA(W)
BAL @ HOU BAL(L)  BAL(L)  BAL(L)
DET @ CHI DET(W)  DET(W)  DET(W)
CLE @ CAR CAR(W)  CLE(L)  CAR(W)
ATL @ NO NO(L)  NO(L)  NO(L)
GB @ TB GB(W)  GB(W)  GB(W)
KC @ PIT PIT(W)  PIT(W)  PIT(W)
NE @ NYJ NE(W)  NE(W)  NE(W)
NYG @ STL STL(L)  STL(L)  NYG(W)
BUF @ OAK BUF(W)  BUF(W)  BUF(W)
IND @ DAL IND(L)  DAL(W)  DAL(W)
DEN @ CIN DEN(L)  DEN(L)  DEN(L)

 

Brooks Bits

Indianapolis Colts (10-4) @ Dallas Cowboys (10-4)

The Cowboys have sole possession of the NFC East after grounding the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night. But if America’s team wish to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009, a win over the NFL passing touchdown leader (38) in Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts is vital.

However, the Cowboys are already at a disadvantage with the status of MVP candidate DeMarco Murray up in the air as he battles back from surgery on a broken bone in his hand. The Cowboys haven’t ruled Murray—the NFL rushing leader with 1,687 yards—out, but you’d’ have to think playing on the hand he had surgery on just three days ago is troubling for a running back who also has a league high of five fumbles.

The hand issue is troubling enough for Dallas, but playing at home has oddly been their Achilles Heel. The Cowboys are 7-0 on the road, but are 3-4 at home. Like Dallas, the Colts are also road warriors winning six of seven on the road.

If Murray can’t run the same way he has all season, I’d trust the arm of Luck over Tony Romo.

 

Atlanta Falcons (5-9) @ New Orleans Saints (6-8)

The NFC South could send a 6-10 team to the playoffs (if you include the 5-8-1 Carolina Panthers who are second in the division).

The last time this happened was in the 2010-11 season when the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks became the first team in NFL history to advance to the playoffs with a losing record and miraculously defeated the 10-6 Saints in the Wild Card.

As pathetic and comical the NFC West played that year, I’m inclined to believe that Seahawks team could’ve won at least nine games in the 2014-15 NFC East.

On paper, both the Falcons and Saints are two of the more talented teams in the NFL. Dress Brees has gluttony of targets in New Orleans and Matt Ryan has a top-5 wide receiver in Julio Jones.

But the offense isn’t the issue with these two teams. It’s their defenses. The Saints and Falcons are ranked 31st and 32nd respectively in overall defense. In other words, first to 50 wins.

Eddie P’s Philosophical Take

Tennessee Titans (2-12) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12)

Wow. Thursday Night Football has not been much to watch this season, but this game takes the cake.

Both teams are 2-12 and share the AFC South cellar. Both are vying for the top pick in the 2015 Draft (along with the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Bucs). The difference between the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars? The Jaguars have their quarterback of the future in rookie Blake Bortles. Bortles has solid receiving options in rookies Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Marquise Lee. Also, the Jags two wins have come at home. Give me Shad Khan’s team.

Seattle Seahawks (10-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (11-3)

Arizona made a “statement” last week against the St. Louis Rams. The Cardinals will not be able to do the same this week. The Cards struggled against a “pretty good” St. Louis defense. The Seahawks are coming into the desert as one of the top defensively ranked teams. Seattle is first against the pass and fifth in run defense. Ryan Lindley will struggle mightily in his first start.

The Seahawks will be able to shut out the Cards and score points on the ground with Marshawn Lynch. Do not disregard Russell Wilson either. Despite their 31st-ranked passing offense, Russell will make key throws.

Words From Wooten

Detroit Lions (10-4) @ Chicago Bears (5-9)
It doesn’t get any better for the Chicago Bears. After a devastating loss at home against the Saints, now the Lions are coming into town with a top-5 defense to come take care of business.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Jimmy Clausen is now the starting quarterback after the benching of Jay Cutler. Of his 15 starts in his career, he has only won one game.
Brandon Marshall is injured so his weapons are not fully restored to where they should be. All in all, this will not be a pretty one for the Bears yet again.
Philadelphia Eagles @ at Washington Redskins (3-11)
The Philadelphia Eagles are looking to bounce back from a loss last week to their division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles had the lead and blew it. Now they’re going up against a Redskins team whose entire organization is questionable.
Mark Sanchez isn’t the best quarterback, but he seems to be holding his own against many teams he played this season. Look forward to him connecting on a few deep throws against the Redskins secondary.
Johnny Manziel (2) will get his first start of the season as the Cleveland Browns (7-6) hopes to make a late playoff push.

Johnny Manziel (2) will get his first start of the season as the Cleveland Browns (7-6) hopes to make a late playoff push.

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

In the words of Jack Nicholson in famed movie “The Shining,” Here’s Johnny!

The Cleveland Browns will start the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 draft, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.

And quite frankly, it was time. Brian Hoyer led the Browns to a 7-6 record, but has been atrocious as the Browns’ starting quarterback recently. In the past eight games, Hoyer has thrown four touchdowns to 11 interceptions. He was thrown zero touchdowns passes to seven interceptions in the last three games. In the Browns last 26 drives on offense, they have scored only one touchdown.

Cleveland’s seven wins have been in spite of Hoyer, not because of Hoyer. In the Browns’ 25-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck was in a Christmas giving spirit as he tried his best to gift wrap the game to Cleveland. Luck threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. One interception was returned for a touchdown and so was his lost fumble.

The Browns scored just 10 points on offense.

It’s time for Manziel. It’s time for the player who I deem as the most exciting quarterback to enter the league since Michael Vick to become the new face of the franchise for a Browns’ team that hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2002.

It’s no better time for Manziel to make his presence felt than to travel on the road to face the division leading Bengals. He’s going to have his bumps and bruises, but Cleveland made the right choice in handing over the reigns to Manziel.

But enough of that. Here are this week’s game picks


 

Week 14 Predictions Results

Brooks: 9-7; Overall: 131-76

Perez: 12-4; Overall: 143-64

Wooten: 12-4; Overall: 121-70


 

Week 15 matchup Brooks Perez Wooten
ARI @ STL STL(L) STL(L)  STL(L)
PIT @ ATL PIT(W) PIT(W)  PIT(W)
WSH @ NYG NYG(W) NYG(W)  NYG(W)
MIA @ NE NE(W) NE(W)  NE(W)
OAK @ KC KC(W) KC(W)  KC(W)
HOU @ IND IND(W) IND(W)  IND(W)
JAX @ BAL BAL(W) BAL(W)  BAL(W)
GB @ BUF GB(L) GB(L)  GB(L)
TB @ CAR CAR(W) CAR(W)  CAR(W)
CIN @ CLE CLE(L) CIN(W)  CIN(W)
NYJ @ TEN NYJ(W) NYJ(W)  NYJ(W)
DEN @ SD DEN(W) DEN(W)  DEN(W)
MIN @ DET DET(W) DET(W)  DET(W)
SF @ SEA SEA(W) SEA(W)  SEA(W)
DAL @ PHI DAL(W) PHI(L)  PHI(L)
NO @ CHI NO(W) NO(W)  NO(W)

 


Brooks Bits

Minnesota Vikings (6-7) @ Detroit Lions (9-4)

Quietly, the Vikings are a game under .500 and Teddy Bridgewater has been the best rookie quarterback not named Derek Carr.

The media has been all over Vikings’ park, and rightfully so in the issue of the child abuse case of star running back Adrian Peterson. Even in his absence, Minnesota has mustered a competitive team.

Bridgewater started off shaky in his first few starts throwing zero touchdowns and three interceptions and battled through nagging injuries, a concern going forward for a wiry 210 pound quarterback.

But he has settled in recently throwing for six touchdowns to two interceptions in his last three games. The Vikings are 2-1 in those contests. It’s highly likely the Vikings won’t make the playoffs in the NFC North behind Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers and a talented Lions’ team.

But Minnesota is headed on the right track behind Bridgewater.

As for the Lions, this is a must win game. If the playoffs started today, the Lions would be the sixth seed and face the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card. Capturing their 10th win of the season is vital to keeping the lurking 9-4 Dallas Cowboys at bay.

Detroit will have to win out to keep grasp of the sixth seed in the NFC.

Cleveland Browns (7-6) @ Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1)

If you took the time to read the opening statements, then you may have drawn the conclusion that I’m rolling with Money—I mean Johnny—Manziel and the Browns over the see-saw Bengals.

On paper, Andy Dalton and the Bengals are the most talented team in the NFL. But they are an enigma. One minute they appear to be a legit Super Bowl contender and the next they look like a bottom feeder team in the NFL.

AJ Green, Mohamed Sanu, Jeremy Hill, Jermaine Gresham and many others, the talent is there on the offensive side of the ball. The same on defense with Leon Hall, Vontaze Burfict (now out for the season), Geno Atkins and Reggie Nelson.

It starts with Dalton and head coach Marvin Lewis. Both have had success in the regular season, but falters in the playoffs. And to make matters worse, Lewis went on the air and was asked by WLW-AM in Cincinnati Monday night about facing the 5-feet-11 Manziel.

Lewis responded: “You’ve got to go defend the offense, you don’t defend the player.”

After a short pause, Lewis then added: “Particularly a midget.”

He later apologized, but it was an immature statement by a NFL head coach.

Eddie P’s Philosophical Take

Arizona Cardinals (10-3) @ St. Louis Rams (6-7)

St. Louis is riding a two-game winning streak. What is more impressive is the Rams have held their last two opponents to a grand total of zero points. Yep, the Rams have pitched a two-game shutout.

The Cardinals are the crème de la crème this season. Even without former Pro-Bowler Carson Palmer, Arizona is still capable of winning. With backup Drew Stanton under center, the red birds are 4-3. However, St. Louis is a scary place to play at right now. That defense is EATING! Give me the Rams.

Dallas Cowboys (9-4) @ Philadelphia Eagles (9-4)

These two teams are literally fighting it out for the NFC East. Both teams are 9-4, but the Eagles are 3-0 within the division – the Cowboys are 2-2. Their first meeting went to the Eagles (duh, they are undefeated within the division). That Eagle-victory came in Jerry’s house. Philadelphia sure as hell won’t find it too hard to beat Dallas again, this time at home.

Words From Wooten

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) @ Atlanta Falcons (5-8)

This is looking to be a good game between both teams. A healthy Julio Jones is a deadly Julio Jones. Going for 250+ yards against Green Bay’s secondary, but look for the inconsistencies of the Atlanta Falcons to come into play, particularly on defense.
With Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, both are top-5 in yards gained at their position. Atlanta is giving up 122 rushing yards per game on the ground, so you’re in for a treat if you’re a fan of Bell. On the other hand, the Steelers defense hasn’t been the greatest as of late.
With veteran players coming back from injury, they can use their leadership to help the younger players through the game. Look forward to the Steelers offense to keep them ahead in the game.
San Francisco 49ers (7-6) @ Seattle Seahawks (9-4)
San Francisco hasn’t been looking the same over the past few games, losing to subpar teams. Kaepernick isn’t looking like the $100 million man that the 49ers thought he was.
The entire Seahawks team is clicking like they should be. With the Seahawks rushing attack and Marshawn Lynch causing chaos to any front seven that he runs into, you can’t expect for him to have another good game. The Seahawks defense is back to their physical selves. Michael Bennett anchoring the front four and Richard Sherman being a shutdown corner that he is, and Kam Chancellor as the hard hitting safety, it’s hard to do anything against them.