Culture of Hoops

Sonny’s NFL Picks: Week 9

Image courtesy of Parker Anderson/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Parker Anderson/Flickr.

You guys are in for a real treat today. To counterbalance six teams being on a bye week and to commemorate the start of the 2014-15 NBA season, I’m throwing in a few random NBA predictions into this weeks NFL Picks column. I’m a people pleaser and a two-birds-with-one-stone killer. Let’s get to it!

CAROLINA PANTHERS over New Orleans Saints
The Saints found their groove on Sunday Night Football against the Packers, but they still haven’t given me reason to trust them outside of the SuperDome. This pick is a toss-up. It’s two mediocre teams from a crappy division rock fighting for the division lead. Truth be told, I won’t be watching much of this game, and neither will T.I., because he don’t want no mediocre.

CLEVELAND BROWNS over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Let’s just say there is another team in Cleveland who has their home opener tonight, and the anticipation for that one exceeds the Browns/Bucs game on Sunday by the slimmest of margins.

The Highest Individual Scoring Game of the NBA Season over The Highest Team Scoring Game of the NFL Season
Two 51 point outbursts last week prompts this prediction. Last year I nailed my “Someone will score 60 points in a game” NBA prediction, so I’m going out on a limb and saying we see another 60 point game this season. There were actually two last year—Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James scored 62 and 61 points respectively, both times against the Charlotte Bobcats—and I think we’re poised for another one this season. Russell Westbrook is going to be jacking up an unheard of amount of shots while Kevin Durant is sidelined, so he’s my top candidate. We can’t count out a returning Durant or Stephen Curry, who each have career highs of 54 points. Carmelo Anthony was the leader in the clubhouse last year so he’s in the discussion and on a night when LeBron James is playing without Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love we could see LeBron catch fire. The Atlanta Falcons have set the benchmark, scoring 56 points in a blowout Thursday Night Football victory over the aforementioned Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Let the scoring begin!

HOUSTON TEXANS over Philadelphia Eagles
I’m going to write about this game, but first let me take a #SELFIE.


You don’t wanna give the best defensive end in football even more of a reason to hit you, Zach Mettenberger. No more selfies 90 minutes before the game. It’s in your best interest.

The Texans are 4-4 and still a fringe playoff team, so this is a virtual must-win. Even though compared to the last five weeks their schedule eases up a bit down the stretch—they still have two games against Jacksonville and a home game against the Titans—going into the bye week above .500 would be a welcome conclusion to the first half of the regular season. The Eagles are 5-2 but could just as easily be 2-5 or 7-0. I’m still not sold on the idea that Philadelphia is in the upper echelon of NFC contenders. I’ve seen them play exactly one great game so far—a home victory over the Giants on Sunday Night Football that had “Typical Giants Game” written all over it—compared to three from the Texans. Both teams have a knack for close games, so I expect a tight one with (gulp) Ryan Fitzpatrick leading the way for the Texans in the end.

Let’s get something straight … the Jets don’t have a quarterback controversy. A quarterback controversy implies that a backup quarterback deserves to be in there more than the starter does. Right now, the Jets just have two crappy quarterbacks, a lack of playmakers, a coach who will probably be without a job three months from now, and one less fan. That’s right, in not so shocking news my mom has quit being a Jets fan for the 287th time in her life.

CINCINNATI BENGALS over Jacksonville Jaguars
If this game is featured on NFL Red Zone this Sunday for more than 100 seconds I will be utterly shocked AND disappointed. And I’m willing to be that at least a quarter of that time will be devoted to another Blake Bortles pick-six.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS over Washington Redskins
Like I’ve been saying all year long … Colt McCoy > Robert Griffin III > Kirk Cousins. Or something like that! Griffin gets the start this Sunday, so I’m on the Vikes.

San Diego Chargers over MIAMI DOLPHINS
The jury is still out on if the Dolphins could be a Playoff team. A win home win on Sunday will go a long way in answering that question, but I personally see the Chargers rebounding on ten days rest after a Thursday Night Football loss at Denver. Hey, speaking of rebounding …

Andre Drummond as the League’s Leading Rebounder over The Field
Drummond is a big body and he’s tremendously active, two good reasons why he was second in the category last season in only his second year in the league. Under Stan Van Gundy Drummond should assume a Dwight Howard-esque role and he’ll likely see an increase in minutes from last season. It doesn’t hurt his case that as a member of the Detroit Pistons there will be plenty of offensive rebounding opportunities.

DALLAS COWBOYS over Arizona Cardinals
Well this game lost a bit of its luster, now didn’t it? Tony Romo’s status and/or ability is up in the air for now, but you do want to hear something crazy? The winner of this game will be in first place in the NFC going into Week 10. That’s mildly insane. You want to hear something even more insane? It doesn’t even feel like either of these teams don’t belong here. I’m actually pretty sure they’re both really good. I broke down the Cowboys Super Bowl contender candidacy and they got a check mark in every category (Though a Monday Night Football home loss does make me want to re-evaluate things). If I were to go through with that exercise with the Cardinals the results wouldn’t be the same. I can’t trust the Cards offense nearly as much as I do the Cowboys, and they are lacking a statement win or a truly impressive road win like the Cowboys have.

In Arizona’s defense, their offense has shown to be capable of making big plays or finishing big drives in big moments late in games and their defense gets the slight edge over the Cowboys D. The Cards defense ranks in the top five in points allowed, rush yards allowed and turnovers forced, and would likely have to be the catalyst to a statement road win in Jerry World. I just don’t see it happening, pending a healthy Tony Romo.

Denver Broncos over NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
This game hasn’t lost any of its luster. In fact, over the last three weeks more luster has been added on, as if it needed it. The Patriots have been a machine over the last four weeks, outscoring opponents 158-87. The key has been Tom Brady who has found his form and saved my dad’s fantasy football team in the process. Since the Patriots blowout loss at Kansas City on Monday Night Football, Brady is has connected on 100 of his 144 passing attempts for 1,268 yards, 14 touchdowns and no interceptions. Even Peyton Manning is sitting there like, “Damn, Tom Brady is real good,” to the tune of the Nationwide theme.

Manning hasn’t been a slouch this season. He broke Brett Favre’s all-time passing touchdowns record a few weeks back and a 22-to-3 touchdown to interception ratio is second best in the league behind, wait for it … Tom Brady. After the Indianapolis Colts’ loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on last Sunday and the Pats recent dominance, we can comfortably call this a match-up of the two best teams in the AFC and possibly the entire league. We wouldn’t want it any other way. Since it’s in Foxborough this is a coin flip game. Literally, I flipped a coin to make this pick, because I have no idea who comes out on top.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS over St. Louis Rams
You know the old phrase, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, not happening. I’m picking the 49ers over the Rams this time around.” Wait, that’s not quite it. But you get the gist of it. I picked St. Louis over San Francisco two weeks ago and it didn’t go so well. I’m not going to make the same mistake again.

Atlanta Hawks Sleeper Potential over Atlanta Falcons Sleeper Potential
The Falcons blew a 21 point 3rd quarter lead against the Detroit Lions last week, only nobody saw it because the game was played at 2 p.m. in London, 9 a.m. on the east coast of the United States. Who in God’s name thought that was a good idea? I didn’t even entertain the idea of getting up early and catching the 1st half of that game. I’ll be honest, even as a baseball detractor I watched more minutes of the World Series—the bottom of the 9th inning in Game 7—than I did of that London game.

Anyway, the Hawks are a safer sleeper pick than their Atlanta counterpart. The Hawks nearly toppled the Indiana Pacers in the 1st Round of the NBA Playoffs last season and they are getting All-Star Center Al Horford back after a pectoral injury that kept him out of all but 29 games last season. The Horford/Paul Millsap combo should give opposing teams fits. Both are above average rebounders, but capable of operating around the perimeter offensively. I’ve seen a lot of experts pegging the Hawks as one of the teams to fall out of the postseason this year, but I’m going the other way. I think Atlanta wins the Southeast Division, claims the three seed and advances to the 2nd Round of the playoffs.

Chicago Bulls November wins over Chicago Bears 2014 season wins
The Bulls have 15 games in November. The Bears are going to go 6-10—just bad enough not to be relevant, just good enough not to get a good draft pick. This is a lock. Yeah, I’m bitter.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS over Oakland Raiders
If the Seahawks lose this game I’m resigning from my weekly picks and sticking to basketball columns, because if the somewhat desperate Seahawks lose at home to the winless Raiders then I, along with anyone else who picks Seattle this week, have no right to pick NFL games and expect you to read about said picks.

Seattle, home to an NBA Franchise over Milwaukee, home to an NBA franchise
The NBA would be a lot more fun if the Bucks moved to Seattle and became the Sonics again, and luckily, it’s in play. The NBA can buy back the Bucks if an agreement for a new arena is not reach by November 2017. New owners Wesley Edens and Mark Lasry are bringing in new investors and co-owners in an effort to gain support and funds for a new arena, but they are under a bit of a time crunch. No offense to Milwaukee—O.K., with some offense to Milwaukee—Seattle deserves a team, and why shouldn’t it be the Bucks? Plus, it’s an easy fix geographically. If Seattle enters the Northwest Division then all we need to do is move the Minnesota Timberwolves over to the Central Division in the Eastern Conference. Easy peasy!

PITTSBURGH STEELERS over Baltimore Ravens
It’s been over a month since the Steelers lost to the Tampa Bay Bucs and cost me my chances of winning an Eliminator Challenge (I’m 7-1 just in case you were wondering). A month is long enough, I’m over my grudge. I believe in the principle of forgiving and forgetting, so I do forgive the Steelers for metaphorically crapping themselves one month ago. I’m not soon going to forget about their offensive onslaught at the expense of the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday. Big Ben Roethlisberger had one of the all-time great QB and fantasy football days—40 for 49, 522 yards, six touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a nearly perfect QBR–and their defense pestered Andrew Luck all game.

I can’t figure out if the Ravens are as good as their record shows, possibly better or maybe even worse. They could easily be 8-0, but it kind of feels to me like they are behind the Bengals and Steelers in the AFC North. This game should help reveal that pecking order.

Indianapolis Colts over NEW YORK GIANTS
I’m concerned that this is a typical Giants game. You know, the version where nobody gives them a chance and then Eli Manning and the Giants offense looks like the 1984 Miami Dolphins. I feel it coming, but I can’t pick against my prospective AFC Champion. I need them to clean up these winnable regular season games so they can secure a round or two of home field advantage in the playoffs.

Dwyane Wade Missed Games over Indianapolis Colts Regular Season and Playoff Wins
The NBA season is underway folks. Get ready for an endless supply of snarky Dwyane Wade comments!

Last Week: 10-5
Overall: 78-42-1

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