2013 Regular Season: 79-41 (65.8%)
2012 Regular Season: 164-91-1* (64.3%)
Last Week: 9-4 (69.2%)
All-time Colts Predictions: 17-7 (70.8%)
I finished 9-4 last week - solid (and still ahead of last year's pace), but when you're as smart as I am, missing four games is like Chris Polian winning NFL Executive of the Year. It just shouldn't happen... Ever.
The games I missed last week were the Raiders/Steelers, Falcons/Cardinals, Eagles/Giants and Lions/Cowboys. The Cowboys let me down in the final seconds and I really need to stop believing in the Falcons - whatever magic was there is gone. The Steelers were the struggling team that I thought would win last week and I should have taken the Giants instead.
The Colts get back into action against Houston this week after a much-needed bye. The game will be the third straight prime time match-up for Indianapolis (following San Diego on MNF and Denver on SNF) and only their second divisional game. Overall, five of their remaining nine games are within the division. There is some concern about what the Colts will do without veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne - something that will be one of the main story lines for the rest of Indianapolis' 2013 season.
The wheels are beginning to fall off in Houston - the Texans have lost five in a row, benched Matt Schaub and Arian Foster can't seem to stay on the field. Offensive yards haven't been all that bad (8th overall) but they can't put the ball in the endzone - they're 30th in points per game... and the only teams behind them are the winless Buccaneers and Jaguars. Also, the Texans turn the ball over WAY too much - they're 30th in the NFL (-11) ahead of only the Jets and the Giants.
UNDEFEATED WATCH (1): Kansas City Chiefs.
Here's a recap of my best picks from last week:
Browns at Chiefs - I love it when I see a game this clearly. Predictification isn't an exact science and some games are easier to see play out in your mind than others. I told you this game would be closer than you might think, that the Chiefs would win, the Browns would beat the spread and that the final score would be 23-17. It doesn't get much better than that, folks.
"This game will be a lot closer than you think. Yes, the Chiefs will win and get to 8-0 - but don't be surprised if this is as close as the game against Houston last week. I'm taking the Chiefs but I think the Browns beat the spread.
CHIEFS WIN 23-17"
Dolphins at Patriots - I told you the Patriots would beat the Dolphins and that the teams that New England will have trouble with down the road are power running teams. I said the game would end 27-20 - and it would have if not for a blocked field goal with less than two minutes remaining.
Bills at Saints - I know - everyone picked the Saints to beat the Bills. I'm throwing it in here because I predicted the score would be 34-17 and it ended 35-17. Let's face it, I was on my game this week.
Before we get to the games, here are some other fearless predictions, news and notes for Week 9:
- Eight weeks into the season it seems like the AFC Playoff picture is already pretty clear: the Colts, Broncos, Chiefs, Bengals and Patriots are going to be in. The way I see it, only one spot is up for grabs and I think it comes down to the Titans, Chargers and the Ravens - I'd pick the Titans.
- The NFC Playoff picture is almost as easy to predict: my gut says the Seahawks, 49ers, Packers and Saints are in. I don't think anyone deserves to go from the NFC East, but the Cowboys are the best of the worst. The final spot will come down to the Lions, Panthers, Bears and Cardinals - and from where I'm sitting, you can eliminate the Cardinals and the Panthers (not good enough yet). The final spot will come down to which quarterback plays better (Stafford vs. Cutler)... and I'm leaning towards Detroit.
- I know it sounds strange but I don't think the Kansas City Chiefs are the best team in the NFL (despite their 8-0 record) - and I'm sure a lot of you agree with me. In fact, I'll take it a step further - I don't think they're in the top five. I think the Seahawks, Saints, Broncos, 49ers and Colts are better... maybe even the Bengals.
- Every week in the NFL is better than a week in the offseason - but this is a pretty bad week for 'compelling' football games. There is only one game that features two teams with winning records (the Bears vs. Packers) and Jay Cutler won't be playing. The Jets (4-4) play the Saints (6-1), but I don't think any of us really think that'll be a 'good' game.
On to the picks!
Indianapolis Colts (5-2) at Houston Texans (2-5)
Line - Colts by 2.5
The Colts have been really good at three things on offense this season: third downs (6th in the NFL), offensive penalties (best in the league) and turnovers (tied for 5th in give/take ratio). Simply stated - they don't beat themselves. Not only that, they can get off the field on defense (except against San Diego) and are ranked 6th best in the league in defense on third down.
The Texans will be without their top two running backs (or at the very least they won't be 100%) and that should help - run defense has been the Achilles heel of the Indianapolis defense this season (allowing 4.5 ypc).
The biggest question mark for the Colts will be which receiver (or receivers) will step up to fill the void left behind by Reggie Wayne. The running game will have to be better (hear me, Trent Richardson and crew?), Coby Fleener, T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey will have to start catching the ball (don't throw it to Stone Hands!) and Griff Whalen or LaVon Brazill will have to emerge as a legitimate threat. I think at least some of those will happen.
I like the Colts.
COLTS WIN 27-17
Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) at Miami Dolphins (3-4)
Line - Bengals by 2.5
The Bengals are looking like a legitimate threat to contend for the Super Bowl in the AFC. The Dolphins started 3-0 (beating the Colts in Week 3) before losing their last four. As anyone who bets anything will tell you - ride the hot hand. The Bengals are starting to believe they have something special and the Dolphins have a lot of doubt right now. I'm taking the Bengals - and I'm taking them to cover.
BENGALS WIN 34-17
Kansas City Chiefs (8-0) at Buffalo Bills (3-5)
Line - Chiefs by 3
The oddsmakers are smart to keep the spread low. The Chiefs aren't really blowing anyone out (in fact, two of their wins have come by a single point) and it's safe to assume this game will be close, too. Here's the thing - the Bills turn the ball over way too much and the Chiefs defense is way too good. You can feel safe this week picking the Chiefs to cover.
CHIEFS WIN 24-17
Minnesota Vikings (1-6) at Dallas Cowboys (4-4)
Line - Cowboys by 10.5
The Cowboys had a major letdown last week and I can't tell if the Dez Bryant sideline fiasco will have any lasting effects - or if it was an issue at all. The Vikings don't seem to have any clue how to compete this season, so you should be pretty safe picking Dallas to win. However, I wouldn't bet on the spread - if there is one thing we all know about the Cowboys: they don't make anything easy.
COWBOYS WIN 27-17
Tennessee Titans (3-4) at St. Louis Rams (3-5)
Line - Titans by 3
The Titans have been hard to figure out so far this season. Early on they looked like a playoff contender - then Jake Locker got hurt and they started to stumble. The Rams were more than competitive against the Seahawks - in fact, they almost stole the game. This will be a good game and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Rams win... but I'm taking the Titans.
TITANS WIN 23-20
New Orleans Saints (6-1) at New York Jets (4-4)
Line - Saints by 6
The Jets playoff hopes will begin to crash over the next couple of weeks. New York was trounced by the Bengals last week - and the Saints won't be much easier. New Orleans is the team that no one is talking about that may sneak past the Seahawks and 49ers as my NFC favorite for the Super Bowl.
The Saints will roll in this one.
SAINTS WIN 38-17
San Diego Chargers (4-3) at Washington Redskins (2-5)
Line - Chargers by 1
The Chargers have played pretty decent football to this point of the season. The Redskins haven't. Here's why I like the Redskins in this one: Washington stills sees the division title as up for grabs, RGIII is getting more comfortable (slowly) and the Chargers are flying across the country to play this game.
Hey - it's not good, but it's a reason.
REDSKINS WIN 27-24
Atlanta Falcons (2-5) at Carolina Panthers (4-3)
Line - Panthers by 7.5
The Falcons look like they've had their wings clipped. Atlanta had been a regular season monster for the last several years - but something is different this year (and it started before Julio Jones and Roddy White started missing games). The Panthers are getting some momentum and are playing at home.
I'll take the Panthers this week - I hope it doesn't come back to bite me.
PANTHERS WIN 27-24
Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) at Oakland Raiders (3-4)
Line - Raiders by 2.5
This game will be painful to watch (who am I kidding? I'm not watching it...). The good news for Philly (I guess) is that Nick Foles is returning to the lineup. Here's the thing: Terrelle Pryor is a playmaker, the Raiders are at home and the Eagles will be flying across the country to play. Take Oakland.
RAIDERS WIN 24-17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7) at Seattle Seahawks (7-1)
Line - Seahawks by 16.5
You don't need a Predictificationist to predict the outcome of this one. The spread is a little large for my liking because the Seahawks haven't seemed to be be clicking on all cylinders on offense lately. I still like Seattle enough to win big - maybe just not that big.
It's the lock of the week.
SEAHAWKS WIN 27-13
Baltimore Ravens (3-4) at Cleveland Browns (3-5)
Line - Ravens by 2.5
The Ravens have been barely a shell of the team that won the Super Bowl last year. The Brows would probably trade the last 30 years to be included in any statement that ends describing them as "...the team that won the Super Bowl last year." I like the Ravens in this one... but I don't feel good about it.
RAVENS WIN 23-20
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) at New England Patriots (6-2)
Line - Patriots by 7
I've said the Patriots would struggle against teams that have a power running game - and that USED to define the Steelers. For what it's worth, I think the Patriots will struggle a bit with Pittsburgh but not enough to matter.
PATRIOTS WIN 27-17
Chicago Bears (4-3) at Green Bay Packers (5-2)
Line - Packers by 11
This game would be so much more interesting if Jay Cutler were playing quarterback for the Bears. The Packers have their share of injuries, too - but we all know that quarterback is different. You either have one or you don't - unless you have Cutler... and then you still aren't sure.
The Packers will be just fine in this one.
PACKERS WIN 34-20
BYE WEEKS: Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.
Agree? Disagree? As always, comments are welcome! I will track my picks during the season and brag when I'm right (and pretend I was right when I'm wrong). Pick against me if you dare - remember, I'm a Predictificationist.
Follow me on Twitter at @USAFootballBlog