Somebody posted a comment last week that the only enemy we need to keep an eye on is Mike Brown. They may have a point, but unfortunately he's still around and all the words I could write won't change jack squat about it, so I'm going to yammer about the other teams in our division instead.
Last week I went 1-2, but with one of those losses caused by blatant cheating that the twerp even proudly admitted to! I really wish the league office would do something about that. Then again, I've wished they'd do something about the screwed up officiating and instant replay rules for years now, and they aren't listening there either, so I'm not holding my breath. But at the VERY least that should draw a fine, and really it should have drawn a suspension in my book. I'll admit I'm biased, but blatant cheating that you brag about later is just not kosher.
The really sick part of that crappy outcome to the game? Now my prediction (elsewhere) that the long streak of the top ESPN team losing the next week would only end when the Falcons took over that spot is probably about to come true. I hate being psychic about good things for teams I despise.
Anyway, this leaves me at 8-8, so somebody with some extra luck to spare loan me a bit for a while so I can get my record cleaned up a bit, OK?
Baltimore Ravens @ Carolina Panthers
Ravens go from playing the first place team in the NFC South to the last place team in the NFC South. Both are on the road, but we beat the Panthers when they were still actually halfway healthy. Now Moore, Clausen, Williams, and more are all out or even on IR, and they're starting a journeyman QB with all of like five NFL regular-season passes. If the Panthers score more than a field goal or two all game, it will be a minor miracle. The kitty cats do still have a semi-decent defense though so this might not be a four-score-plus blowout. Maybe. Ravens 24, Panthers 0.
Oakland Raiders @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Injuries are just decimating the Steelers right now. I'm not complaining, mind you, though I won't wish them on a team but I'm not going to pretend the twerps don't have it coming either. And they are blatantly misrepresenting the rules about illegal hits to try to score cheap points with the moron sector of public opinion. As badly as they obviously are willing to do or say anything necessary to try to keep the rules in their favor so they can try to injure other teams' players, they deserve the injuries they have already gotten and four times more.
On the other side of the line, the Raiders are fairly healthy and are actually semi-relevant at this point of the season. Furthermore they even have a shot at the playoffs for the first time in, what, 25 years? OK, slight overstatement there, but still, a Raiders team that isn't mathematically eliminated by October is a significant improvement over recent history.
Pittsburgh is still probably the better team. They certainly have the better QB, they have the better defensive coordinator (few others even give LeBeau a run for his money, much less are better than him), and they have home field advantage. On the other hand, they already had a poor OL and now it's an injury-ridden sieve. Pittsburgh should win this game if they can figure out a way to keep Ben off the turf long enough to pull off lots of his patented wait-two-minutes-until-a-receiver-finally-gets-open plays. But with Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly playing as well as they are, I wouldn't be too surprised to find the Raiders don't even need to catch them napping to pull out the upset. I expect a defensive struggle here, and while in those games your best bet is that the better QB or the better DC will pull out a lucky break at the right time to eke out the win, I'm taking my chances on the Raiders anyway. Raiders 17, Steelers 13.
Cleveland Browns @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Man the Browns got robbed last week didn't they? Yet another instance of a game they should have been able to pull off the upset (or at least force the Ryan brothers to give each other a big smooch) but couldn't quite seal the deal. Still, they beat the Patriots and the Saints, so they do have two quality wins no matter how badly their opponents were playing that week. This week I think they really should be favored, but they are instead one to 1.5 point dogs. Last week the Jags needed an outright miracle to defeat a team with practically the worst pass defense in the league (and pretty bad in every other way). Though the Browns' secondary is still a liability, they have a better defense than the Texans in everything but rush (and there they aren't far behind). Compared to the Jags, they just flat out have the better defense, they have a better QB, and even a better RB as well. This one should get ugly as the boys in brown take out their frustrations over losing last week on a far inferior opponent. Browns 33, Jaguars 17.