Isn't it funny how sometimes life imitates the NFL? The Broncos are playing in Cincinnati today -- a game that many pundits I've read are suggesting will be a trap game for Denver. The argument is that Denver is riding the wave of a two-game winning streak and so will be ripe for an upset at the hands of a Bengals team that desperately needs a win to stay in the playoff hunt. Likewise, the MHR Staffers are riding a three-week winning streak in the Staffers versus Readers Predictions Contest and are ripe for an upset at the hands of the Readers who need a win to get back into the thick of the contest. This week our reader is that MHR member known as J-Dog. J-Dog writes:
Hello MHR, I'm J-Dog. I have been a Broncos fan for just over 25 years. I grew up in the microscopic town of Bison, South Dakota and now call the Tulsa, Oklahoma area home. My first season of fandom was the year of "The Drive" against Cleveland. My worst memory as a fan was January 4th, 1997 when Denver was upset by the Jacksonville Jags in the playoffs. I thought my world was gonna end, then the next day got the call that my Father had passed away. With I believe Dad's help, the Broncos won the next 2 superbowls and became the best years of my fandom. I believe this year is the start of my next favorite time as a Broncos Fan! So, that's the Good, the Bad, and now the Picks (Ugly).
J-Dog will be competing with Scott Payne. Scott writes:
I'm a 23-year old Bronco fan from New York. I bleed blue and orange like many of you, and follow the Broncos yearly. I became a staffer early this year, so this is my first staffer vs reader contest, and I'm ready to go 1-0. So let's see what you got!
And now, onto the picks.
Byes: Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Houston
J-Dog: I believe that San Diego rebounds from last weeks loss. They get Mathews rolling on the ground and get Gates back involved in the redzone. KC is heading further south.
Scott: I'm pulling for KC to win this one this week. San Diego is our only division competition, so any loss they take will be good for us. KC needs to hand the ball off to Jamal Charles more, and hope Matt Cassel has a decent game. KC defense will make enough plays against Phillip Rivers to help pull this one out Thursday night
J-Dog: I think Joe Flacco and Ray Rice will show San Diego how you beat Cleveland. I do however think Cleveland is becoming a better team and may keep this game repectible at home.
Scott: Cleveland will keep this close, and may even pull off the upset, but i still think Baltimore's offense will be too much for Cleveland. Trent Richardson will have a good game, but i don't think Weeden will do enough to pull his team to a win.
J-Dog: Green Bay should be getting healthier, which will only help their game. Arizona has been welcomed to reality as of late and this should be sold win for Green Bay.
Scott: Aaron Rodgers has been on fire, and i think it will continue this week. Arizona has a good defense, but have a very weak offense. John Skeleton has been iffy, they have no real run game, and their OL line is below average at best. Look for Clay Matthews to have 2-3 sacks.
J-Dog: Arian Foster is going to have fun with this one. I expect the Texans to put up over 500 yards of offense and win by double digits.
Scott: This one won't be pretty for Buffalo. Arian Foster will run up and down this buffalo defense that ranks 31st in the league. Matt Schaub and company will pick apart the Bills secondary, and Wade Phillips defense will shut down Ryan Fitzpatrick. Look for a blow out in Houston.
J-Dog: The battle of two surprising 4-3 teams will end with Miami on top. The Colts have been outscored by 35 points this year and I think Miami's defense is good enough to make them pay for that bad trend.
Scott: Who would have thought this game would have meaning in early November. I think Tannehill plays this week, and out duels Andrew Luck. Miami's defense is pretty stout, and i think Reggie Bush will have a good day. It will be a good game, but i believe Miami's defense will be the difference in this game.
J-Dog: Detroit will rebound from the hard loss and Calvin Johnson will return to his expected greatness. Jacksonville just doesn't have the firepower without MJD.
Scott: Lions take this one by default. The Jags are terrible and still are without MJD. I think Stafford has a good game and finally hooks up with Megatron for a few TDs. Gabbert is just plain terrible and won't muster enough offense to win this one.
J-Dog: The Bears defense will hold Tennessee down and continue to turn the ball over. The Titans defense will continue to give up significant points and this will turn into a blowout.
Scott: The Chicago defense has been great this year, and it will continue this weekend. The Bears defense will shut down CJ2K and force the Titans offense to turn the ball over. Jay Cutler has a good Jay Cutler game and hooks up with Brandon Marshall, and Matt Forte has a 100+ yard game. Da Bears win!
J-Dog: I think this is going to be a very close game, but RG3 gets back on pace and Morris runs well enough on the 20th ranked run defense to pull it out. Carolina goes to 0-4 on the road.
Scott: RG3 and Alfred Morris have great games. Morris will have a 100+ yard game on the ground and RG3 will make impactful plays via his legs and arm. The Redskins offense will be too much for the Panthers. Cam Newton doesn't look the same this year, and the Panthers team looks like they just dont have the heart.
J-Dog: Tampa has been playing well and I expect D.Martin to continue to roll. Freeman and V.Jackson will take advantage of a week secondary. Oakland big win over KC gets forgotten quickly with a home loss.
Scott: I'm never picking the Raiders, so an obvious choice. Freeman has been on fire lately, and Doug Martin will have a good game. None of the Raiders corners can cover Vincent Jackson, so i expect him to have a great game. Raiders just suck, so they lose =)
J-Dog: I see this as a very close game, but the Vikings have a loosing record on the road while Seattle hasn't lost at home, so that's my deciding factor.
Scott: This one will be close, but they're playing in seattle and i think seattles defense will be too much for Christian Ponder. Adrian Peterson will be his dominate self, but i dont think Ponder will do enough to win this one. Lynch and Russell Wilson will make enough plays to eek this one out in seattle.
J-Dog: This should be a great game, but I think the Giants will pull out a close game at home with some big plays and the defense forcing some costlly turnovers.
Scott: This one will be a good one. Giants D-Line against Big Ben will be fun to watch. Pittsburgh hasn't been the same Steelers team this year, so i think Eli Manning and company will be too much for the Steelers. Victor Cruz will be salsa dancing sunday evening.
J-Dog: The Falcons will continue their winning ways with another disappointing Dallas team coming to thier house. I expect a big game from J.Jones and a few bad decisions from Romo to big the difference.
Scott: Dallas is in shambles. This opportunistic Falcons defense will pick on the turnover happy Tony Romo. The Falcons crowd will be a problem for Tony Romo and Dez Bryant who already doesn't look like he knows what he's doing already. Matty Ice will continue his great season and move the Falcons to 8-0
J-Dog: In the battle of over rated teams, I think New Orleans will rebound enough at home to pull this one out. Vick seems to be loosing the confindence it'll take to bring Philly back this year. Even though I'm not picking it, I think this game could surprise and Philly may lean on McCoy and end up winning.
Scott: This one was a toughy to pick. Both teams are a disappointment and are a mess. Mike Vick has been iffy, but can have a breakout game against this historically bad Saints offense. I look for Shady McCoy(if Andy Reid hands him the ball...) to have a great game too. Drew Brees will keep it close, but their defense will be their demise.
What Denver Must Do to Win
J-Dog: I believe Denver should win this game without any problems. However the key areas to a win are the obvious ones. We need to win the turnover battle, keep AJ Green contained, and unleash the defensive front seven and beat Andy Dalton down like a red headed step child. Let the Peyton Manning Show continue.
Scott: Champ needs to shut down AJ Green. Green is the Bengals only real weapon, if we can shut him down, our defense should have a field day against this Bengals offense. Von Miller and Dumervil need to get into Andy Daltons face, and sack him. If they do that, i believe the Broncos will force multiple turnovers. Peyton needs to continue being his dominant self, and McGahee needs to continue running hard, but also needs to cut down on the fumbles. The Broncos OL has a tough test this week, the Bengals DL is pretty good, so if they can block them, expect Manning to have another great game. This is a game the Broncos should win, and need to win.
Good Luck to both of our Contestants.