Tailgate Confidential: Romo v. Manning and Michael Vick Comes Back

One lonely picker I be
All by myself, not even a bookie
The sun is beating down on my little black book
The air is getting hot the parlay’s getting took
Lookin’ for a girl, I ran into a guy
His name is M.C.A, I said “Howdy” he said “Hi”
Congratulations to the Beastie Boys on their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  They’re going in with performers Guns and Roses, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Donovan, Laura Nyro, and the Small Faces/The Faces.
Game of the Week

New York Giants  @  Dallas Cowboys

 I feel a little dirty concentrating on the NFC East.  Really, this division is the SEC of the NFL.  But this matchup could all but put away the division for the Cowboys. 

These two offenses are much more alike than they are different.  Both Tony Romo and Eli Manning are streaky, mostly unreliable quarterbacks, the teams total offense per game is only separated by six yards, and their points per game is only .3 different.  The big difference is how much better Dallas’ running game is than New York’s. 

The Cowboys rushing attack had stalled the last three games, but return of fullback Tony Fiammetta from missing three games with an inner ear infection.  DeMarco Murray should fare much better behind his starting fullback, especially against a Giants defense that can be expoited by the run.  New York may have the second most sacks in the NFC with 33, but they’re giving up a ton of yards through the air – 260 per game – but also almost 130 rushing yards per game. 

For all of Dallas’ coaching issues and clock management gaffes, there’s no denying th talent this team has on offense.  Dex Bryant and Jason Witten will continue to make big plays for Tony Romo in the passing game.  With the yards and points the Giants give up, there’s no way they can keep Dallas out of the end zone less than three times.

Dallas Cowboys 27  –  New York Giants 17

Upset of the Week

The Philadelphia Eagles will beat the Miami Dolphins

There are a two things that were legitimately unbelievable about this game 10 weeks ago; that these teams would have the same record and the Miami would be favored. 

Philadelphia has Michael Vick back, and while that hasn’t exactly been a secret formula for winning games, Vick should be able to bring Philly three or four plays in the game that will make the difference in this close matchup.  At this point in the season, Miami’s defense is better than Philadelphia’s, but I can’t see the Dolphins being able to stop LeSean McCoy – at 1,134 yards and 12 TDs, no one else has – coupled with the return of Vick. 

To be right, I also need DeSean Jackson to wake up and stretch the field.  If Jackson doesn’t realize that he’s auditioning down the stretch of this season, he doesn’t deserve to get paid.

Philadelphia Eagles 24  –  Miami Dolphins 14

Browns+14Steelers Steelers Steelers As much as I’d love to lean on garbage time Hall of Famer Colt McCoy to lead the team to a backdoor cover late in the game, I can’t bank on him lasting that long. If Cleveland is forced to go to Seneca Wallace due to injury, he just doesn’t have the same late game, point spread heroics that McCoy has.
Texans+3 Bengals Texans Texans All TJ Yates needs to do is lean on Arian Foster and Ben Tate and the Texans will clinch the AFC South and lock up a spot in the playoffs. Cincinnati has been struggling lately, and this game against Houston should be more of the same. Coming off of a big win over Atlanta last week, the Texans are going to be playing hard to get into the playoffs.
Vikings+12Lions Lions Lions Just when Minnesota gets news that Adrian Peterson should be back after missing two straight games, rookie QB Christian Ponder could be on the sideline with a hip pointer. Nothing official yet, but Ponder hasn’t practiced yet this week. Coach Leslie Frazier expects Ponder to be ready, but he’s a mobility QB, so this game will be very tough. Defensively, Minnesota gave up 35 points and 202 passing yards to the Tim Tebow led Broncos last week. Expect Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson to have banner days against this defense.
Saints-4Titans Saints Saints The reason this spread is only four points is because New Orleans’ defense is giving up 378 yards per game and Titans RB Chris Johnson has 190 and 153 yards in his last two games. I’ll be the first to tell you that production like that is impressive, but I can’t trust two awesome games from a guy that slept through the first 10. Especially once the Saints get up a couple of scores and Tennessee starts relying on Matt Hasselbeck to move the ball. I know Vegas thinks this will stay close, but I think it could get ugly.
Eagles+3Dolphins Eagles Eagles IF Michael Vick makes it through the game. The guy is as fragile as a Christmas ornament.
Chiefs+10.5Jets Jets Jets Under almost any other circumstances I wouldn’t trust the Jets with a double digit spread, but the Chiefs haven’t scored more than 10 in their last five games. Kansas City’s defense looked great against Chicago last week, but Chicago was without Matt Forte and with Caleb Hanie. As much as I don’t believe in Sanchez and the Jets, they out to make easy work of this Kansas City team. 
Patriots-8Redskins Patriots Patriots After New England almost blew last week’s game against the Colts, I think coach Bill Bellichick will make sure they stay in the game mentally against another weak opponent. Look for New England to take advantage of a bad run defense – Washington is giving up 117 yards per game – to get BenJarvis Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead more involved in the game plan as the playoffs approach.
Falcons-3Panthers Falcons Falcons As much as I’ve liked Atlanta this year, I was very tempted to pick Carolina in this game. But I didn’t. The Panthers will be without two DTs – Sione Fua and Terrell McClain – and without their presence, I don’t think Carolina can keep Michael Turner from running all over them. Look for Cam Newton to continue his solid rookie campaign, but Atlanta should control the ball and pull away in the second half.
Buccaneers +2.5Jaguars Jaguars Jaguars  Tampa Bay is allowing 28 points per game. Jacksonville is scoring 13 points per game. It’s possible that Tampa Bay’s defense is bad enough to make Jacksonville look professional. Maurice Jones-Drew has a good day, and that’ll be good enough. 
Colts +16.5Ravens Ravens Ravens I’m on a limb thinking Baltimore will cover, between losing to the 0-13 Dolphins in 2007 and watching Indy almost beat New England last week will keep the Ravens’ heads in the game. Ray Rice might go over 200 yards in back to back games, after rushing for 204 last week against Cleveland.
Bears+3.5Broncos Broncos Broncos  Without Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, the Denver defense should bounce back from a sub par performance last week against the Minnesota Vikings to control the Bears enough to allow Tim Tebow to work more magic.
49ers-4Cardinals 49ers 49ers San Francisco clinched the NFC West last week and will keep pushing hard to maintain second place in the NFC and lock up a first round bye. The Cardinals aren’t quite as good as their 5-7 record indicates, and they’ll definitely play worse than that against the powerhouse 49ers. 
Raiders+11.5Packers Packers Packers  Just like the 49ers, the Packers clinched thier division last week. This week, the Packers can clinch a first round bye in the playoffs. I like Oakland, but the Packers are tearing up the league. As a bonus to Green Bay getting this victory and wrapping up a bye, we could go into week 14 with the Denver Broncos having a one game lead in the AFC West. I cannot explain how badly I’d love that kind of chaos.
Bills+7Chargers Chargers Chargers  Of course, the minute I give up on Philip Rivers, he goes 22-28 for 294 yards and 3 TDs. Without Fred Jackson to control the clock, there’s no way that Buffalo can keep San Diego off of the field long enough to keep the game close.
Giants+3Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys If the Jerry World is a rockin’, don’t co… never mind.  Everyone is too busy watching that giant TV to do anything fun.
Rams No LineSeahawks Seahawks Seahawks  I couldn’t find a reliable point spread for this game. I think it’s because Vegas is just going to take Monday off and pretend this game doesn’t exist. 

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Josh says things. Here and at Josh Flagner {dot} com. #MTAF #CavsZine