NFL Week 4 Picks: To London and Back Again

Oops. I swear I had these finished prior to the Giants/Redskins.

The football season continues to pillage and plunder my feeble attempts at understanding or making sense of it. That’s alright. I start my Power Rankings next week (I used to typically begin ranking teams after three weeks but I’ve found that four weeks is a far more sensible starting point) and that means my picks will get much better as I benefit from sorting through these teams in a logical, categorical way.

So let’s just suck at this for another week in the meantime!

Picks:

Giants at Redskins
Boy, those Giants just love to run a screw through everybody’s happy office pools, huh? Pesky, inconsistent G-Men. What will we get from them this week? Any guesses? Are we going to get accurate passing Eli? Rashad Jennings going to look like the best running back in the NFL for a fourth week? Will they be able to outscore a Redskins team that is putting up points like stupidity? So many questions and no answers. Here’s the thing: this game is being played on Thursday night under the lights and is an interdivision tussle. That works to Tom Coughlin’s boys’ advantage. Eli has a knack in these kinds of games to overcome logic. The Redskins, even with Cousins at the helm, are no Goliath and we know Eli has slain that dude as well (a couple times, actually). And don’t look now but something tells me Cousins is going to be brutal while Eli gives us another reason to pick wrong next week.
Giants

Packers at Bears
Another great divisional tilt. Talk about this week being an early round of must-wins for a handful of teams. The Packers desperately need to get back on track because these very Bears seem to be sneaking through games they almost have no business winning but are up on the standings. And who knows if Detroit’s going to run away with the division but they certainly have the pieces in place to do so. Either way, with the way the division sits, both the Bears and the Packers have to take this game very seriously in nearly the same way that the Giants and Redskins need to. And I think Green Bay makes that power move and further muddies the division standings. Eddie Lacy is finally going to find room to run and it will unlock the currently stagnant Packer air attack. Green Bay’s defense was surprisingly stout last week against the Lions albeit in a loss and Chicago’s defense is decimated. Packers should easily outscore the Bears in this one. Emphasis on should.
Packers

Titans at Colts
How quickly things are unraveling for the Titans. It appears Wisenhunt is finally giving Sankey the bell but there are too many issues with the Titans right now to blame their ineffective run game for their inability to move the ball. Media darling Justin Hunter who was supposed to take the top off of defenses can’t even find the ball half the time. Not that it’ll matter this week, Jake Locker can barely grip the ball and if he doesn’t go, Charlie Whitehurst can barely throw it. The defense has been torched for two weeks in a row now on the ground and is about to get dosed with plenty of T Rich and Bradshaw. And nevermind that Andrew Luck is heated over his misuse in the first couple games of the season. Oh, the travesty! An incensed Andrew Luck is a pretty bad thing though for middling opponents like the Tennessee Titans. Don’t expect much defense in this one although Indy has a slightly underrated D (did those words come out of my fingertipz?) and should easily win this AFC South barnburner.
Colts

Dolphins at Raiders
To London! Like that will make a difference for the Raiders, right? Actually… look, the Raiders have to take em where they can, even if it is on a different continent. Incidentally, there are a ton of Raider fans in England (Menelik Watson grew up a Raider fan, funny enough) and maybe that makes it more of a home game for them than just a wasted home spot on the schedule. Any support would be nice for a team that really has to get up off the mat after getting punked by Houston and then showing up against New England just to walk away dejected after a very shitty, heartbreaking ending to what may have been an OT game and, who knows, maybe a win? Blech. The Dolphins are fading fast and Tannehill, in my mind, shoulders a lot of the blame. The running game, albeit missing Moreno, is there. The receivers, for the most part, are there. The defense looked strong in week 1. But this team just cannot score. Matt Moore is a scary option and I can’t believe they’re even considering it. Then again, how much worse can things get for Miami? They could lose to the Raiders, for starters. Which really is what I expect to happen and not because I’m a homer. The Raiders showed a lot of life last week and should be able to chase the QB all day. Derek Carr is going to have to work hard out there for the Raiders to win any games this year but I have a feeling he steps up this week and gets us in the win column. This will be Oakland’s first win of the season.
Raiders (IE the Dolphins for your Office pool and/or any betting inclinations)

Lions at Jets
The Jets are a depressing case. They really could be sitting at 2-1 right now; they truly did outplay Chicago for most of that game but Geno Smith’s inconsistency and erratic play doomed them from the start when it spotted the Bears 14 points on 6 total yards of offense. Not good, Geno, not good. The sledding doesn’t get easier against the Lions. Their offense is even more explosive than the Bears’ and their defense is way, way better. In fact, that is the one thing that has really impressed me this year with the currently 2-1 Lions; their run defense, which has been good for a couple years now, is climbing into elite status. They have shut down every running back they’ve faced so far including one of the hottest backs in the NFL right now in Rashad Jennings (a paltry 2.9 ypc). Chris Johnson sucks and Chris Ivory, bless his heart, is going to be up against it. And without their run game, on a short week and with a banged up Eric Decker, DOOM looms for Gang Green.
Lions

Bucs at Steelers
Two teams moving in completely different directions. The Bucs are the worst team in football even if they look better on paper than the Jags or Raiders or whomever. And they are likely about to stink it up again against the Steelers who are riding high after a STRONG win on the road at Carolina. They shredded one of the better run defenses in the NFL with two 100 yard running backs and the usual Antonio Brown posterizing. The Bucs are mistake prone and that doesn’t bode well against Blitzburgh even if they are decimated on that side of the ball with all the injuries. Let’s face it. There’s almost no way the Bucs win this game. Except if Waleed goes and jinxes it like just now.
Steelers

Panthers at Ravens
The Panthers are reeling after a tough, tough woopin at home. Not many saw that coming unless of course you’re a Steeler fan or just straight PSYCHIC. The Panthers were gouged on the ground, ripped up in the air and nevermind how whack they looked on offense. They have almost no healthy running backs left, their QB is all beat up and isn’t looking to run (which is bad because that is what makes Cam extremely hard to gameplan against) and their defense just got dumped on. Will they bounce back? No, sadly and as much as I want to pick them, there’s something wrong with Carolina right now and that is a bad place to be in when going against a veteran Harbaugh-led team like the Ravens. They have shown some incredible resilience in the early season with all the bullshit surrounding the team and have let it roll over them like water. Harbaugh is doing the opposite of what his brother is doing in SF and really pulling his team through a very rough spot. They are finding production from the backfield consistently regardless of who it is running the ball. This week’s flavor is Coastal Carolina’s Lorenzo Taliaferro. Steve Smith has turned back the clock (and is going to be fired up against his former team). Their defense is getting it done. The Ravens keep pace with the Bengals and Steelers this week in what has suddenly become a very good AFC North (the Browns are much, much better than you think. The NFL just hates them and took away their best weapon over some bullshit but I’m not getting into all that again).
Ravens

Bills at Texans
The Bills looked so promising with a strong 2-0 start to the year and then Ej Manuel started to happen. Listen, the Chargers aren’t exactly blowing the doors open on the league or anything and by midseason, they will have regressed back to their expected line. There just was nothing Manuel and the Bills could do right against San Diego’s defense. 10 points. The Texans have a better defense than the Chargers do, too. Houston, also at 2-1, are leading the division and could use a week 4 win to stave off the oncoming offensive juggernaut that is Indy (a near lock to win this week). To do so, they will have to get better play from Fitzpatrick who was exposed last week by a blah defense in the Giants. Arian Foster did not play and that may have factored, strictly speaking, but the offense was too out of sync for them to have won either way. This week, against the much tougher Bills defense, Houston will have to find a way to keep it clean and I believe they will. Ej Manuel just hasn’t taken the next step and is the only thing holding this team back from really making some noise. His corner could be this week or the next one but as soon as he does turn it, the Bills will run away with an AFC East that is waiting for them to take over. For this week, however, the home team plays strong D and ekes out enough offense to secure the game and a 3-1 start to the season.
Texans

Jags at Chargers
Well, San Diego’s unlikely start to a hardcore schedule continues this weekend as they get to beat up on the worst team in the NFL. Except watch out because Blake Bortles is no Chad Henne and if he figures things out quickly enough, he could put some points up. Then again, Jacksonville doesn’t have a good running game and Bortles is a rookie which means turnover heaven. Watch the Chargers just bumble this one like they tend to bumble winnable games. Except Norv is gone. Maybe?
Chargers

Falcons at Vikings
The Falcons have snuck up on everyone. Sure, there were folks talking about how they would bounce back from a dismal 2013 riddled with injuries and score points and yadda yadda, but did anybody see this much balance and panache? They are putting up Tecmo Bowl stat lines and even without a healthy Roddy White (still), they are tearing people apart. Granted, they lost to the Bengals (woopty do, that’s possibly the best team in all of football and it was on the road) and they destroyed a terrible Bucs team but do we even know that anybody else is going to score damn near 60 points against Tampa? The Falcons will continue to stampede teams until they meet a defense that is as grimy as Cincy’s was. Minnesota has a vastly underrated defense but their ineptitude on offense (no thanks in part to Adrian Peterson’s absence and Kyle Rudolph’s devastating injury) is going to, like we have seen so many times with so many teams, render their stout defense ineffective. Pity, too. The Vikes at full strength with Bridgewater under center could have been an exciting play in the NFC North.
Falcons

Eagles at Niners
A must-win for the Niners? Perhaps. The one thing that is perfectly clear is that the Niners are not themselves until about midseason so they are really going to have to dig deep to survive until then and stay within striking distance of both the division lead and any potential wild card. Yes, they have to start thinking about that now. The Cardinals are trying to run away with the division and the Seahawks, minus their hiccup in SD, aren’t going to lose many games. The Niners need to start winning games and it starts with their horrendous second half play. Unfortunately for them, they get the absolute worst match up given that specific set of circumstances as they draw possibly the BEST second half team in the NFL. The Eagles don’t actually play any first halves, if you look closely. This is a recipe for disaster. And that is why I am picking the Niners! (humans everywhere scratch their heads and wonder). The Niners are in a desperate must-win situation at home where they got blasted in the fourth quarter by Chicago a couple weeks ago. Philly’s offensive line is an infirmary and their defense got shredded by Cousins a week ago. The Niners dig deep and gut out a win and stay in the hunt while the rest of the division sleeps.
Niners

Saints at Cowboys
The Saints are in must-win territory, as well. They visit a surprising 2-1 Dallas team with  a miserable 1-2 start and I say miserable because most of their points were scored in the first game of the season and since then they’ve been shut down and sneaked by an out-of-whack Vikings team that can’t beat anybody right now. Not impressed. Now they get a Cowboys team that runs the ball really well, has explosive receivers on both sides of the field and a defense that is playing way over its head. The Saints obviously have the offensive weapons to unleash at any given time but they will have to do it on the road where they have traditionally not been particularly good. Their running game is a bit banged up but from all indications, Khiry Robinson is a useful back. For the Saints, this is must-win territory but I think the slide continues. No bouncing back in Big D for the Saints.
Cowboys

Patriots at Chiefs
Is Tom Brady on the decline? That has to be the pressing question in New England. He isn’t declining to where there needs to be any concern about finding other QBs or anything like that but it would be prudent of the team to strongly consider drafting one next Spring. Just saying. His accuracy is down, his arm strength questionable, his protection a mess. He is getting banged around left and right and can’t find his receivers. There is an unbalanced rushing attack in New England with no clear idea of who is running when and why. Somehow, some way, with the awkward mixture of elements, Belichick finds ways to win and the Patriots are sitting at 2-1 and are about to go 3-1 as the rug gets pulled out from underneath the Chiefs after a strong 34 point effort against Miami last week. New England has played a soft schedule so far and it continues against a Chiefs team that just doesn’t pass the ball very well and has a lot of questions in their backfield. Certainly, the possible return of Jamaal Charles is exciting but he was fairly ineffective prior to his injury and while Knile Davis looks pretty strong, he has fumbilitis. Defensively, the Chiefs are good but not great as they give up a lot on the ground; if New England can establish the run early, it’ll open up Brady-to-Gronk and the Pats will roll. New England doesn’t lose many games in primetime and Monday Night is where guys like Brady shine.
Patriots

Dig it.

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NFL Week 3 Picks: Of Mediocrity and Hilarity

This has to be one of the messiest NFL seasons in forever; it certainly is the most erratic in recent memory (and that includes last year’s record-setting “parity”). This is part grown-man drama, part paradigm shifting social change, part epic injury pandemonium, part fantasy football mayhem. And it oddly mirrors my own personal life in its unbridled chaos which is tastelessly (albeit intriguing) and tragically funny. Or naw.

I was, again, shit awful last week with yet another mediocre, middling 8-8 showing. I have better odds flipping a fucking coin right now.

Picks:

Bucs at Falcons
The Bucs are one of the trainwrecks of the early season. So much promise, so little translation of it. Lovie Smith was supposed to turn this puppy around and instead, this team looks worse than last year’s edition. Knowing me and my shit luck, this is probably the week they put it all together on the road in primetime against a division rival and win! And yet I’m still going with the Falcons even despite their craptastic run defense and Bobby Rainey being everybody’s darling flavor of the week (or one of them, at any rate). Matty Ice will look to bounce back from last week’s tough match up and should have a monster game at home.
Falcons

Chargers at Bills
A tough call, actually. One thing you have to understand about the Chargers (and this is coming from very astute observation as a Raider fan) is that this is the one team in the NFL over the past decade that refuses to make any sense to anyone. They are as likely to beat the Seahawks in a fantastic show of offensive fluidity and rigid defensive gameplanning… and then follow it up with a dud on the road in upstate New York. Which is what I’m goin’ with. The Bills are one of the brightest surprises in the early season with an underrated defense, the same ol’ exciting backfield they’ve been rollin’ out there for the past couple years, a passing game that is gaining traction (and a QB that is gaining confidence) and a lot of off-field mojo feeding the momentum. The “Ralph” will be poppin’ and the Bills will ride this into an unexpected 3-0 start. Or they just lose just because and make me look like a tool.
Bills

Titans at Bengals
I’d tell you that the Titans are also a team on the uptick except for that stinker they laid at home against the Cowboys. They couldn’t stop anything defensively, through the air or on the ground and Locker looked lost against an overachieving but still pristinely untalented defense. Except for Delanie Walker, he found him ALL DAY. That won’t work with the Bengals defense in Cincinnati. Cincy has looked like possibly the best team in the NFL so far and that running game is so scary explosive with the two headed attack of Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill, you know they’re licking their chops after seeing what DeMarco Murray rattled off against Tennessee. This one’s a lock. Unless you are me, of course.
Bengals

Ravens at Browns
Exciting that this game is between two rivals coming off huge wins in spite of suspended and/or outright cut superstars. That said, I have been far more impressed by the Browns and that is saying a lot considering how good the Ravens have been. The Browns have an exciting young running game with Terrance West and Isiah Crowell, a QB that is getting settled in and a stout defense. If the Browns can duplicate what they were able to do defensively last week against the far more formidable Saints offense, they’ll be able to easily limit Baltimore enough to overcome their defense with a solid ground game. Oh and it looks like Jordan Cameron is suiting up and that’s gotta be great news to Brian Hoyer. I’m riding the wave.
Browns

Packers at Lions
Lots-o-points Part 1. It isn’t so much that these are two awful defenses (because they aren’t awful), it’s just that these two offenses are way more potent than either defense is able to really manage; the one caveat being Detroit’s surprisingly decent run defense which will now be the third straight game that Eddie Lacy won’t factor as much into the result as McCarthy and co. would like. Sure, you’ve still got Aaron Rodgers tossing the rock to any of fifteen good receivers but the lack of balance suggests Detroit is still going to win the game, unfortunately. There’s utterly nothing that indicates that the Packer defense will be able to stop both the air attack of Stafford to Megatron/Starscream/Shockwave and the Bell-n-Bush show on the ground. Slight edge to the home team.
Lions

Cowboys at Rams
Well that was nice, Rams nation. Now back to Shaun Hill (probably) and the fail that is the Rams offense. Stacy is holding off the guys in the wings but he is no barn burner and the Cowboys made the Titans offense look ineffective despite much better weapons than this Rams team has. The Rams can play tough defense, sure, but the Cowboys through two games have looked like a very explosive offense that was suffering from a case of the Romos in week 1 but suffering from nothing in week 2. Expect a road win here for the Boys.
Cowboys

Raiders at Patriots
Ok, just shut up. I have nothing. Except that the Raiders suck on the East Coast, suck in general and can’t possibly ruin my prognostication record this week because I’m not going to be an idiot and pick them for the 12th straight year in every match up. This one is going to be a bloodbath. I hope they don’t break our shiny new Carr because I really do like the kid and feel sorry for him to be a part of this mess. OK I really don’t know why I’m still talking.
Patriots

Vikings at Saints
So the Vikings realized last week that Matt Asiata would be a third stringer on half of the teams in the NFL and that without Adrian Peterson, they look horrible. So they tried to bring AP back… and of course everybody in the world started to hate them for being Purple Baby Eaters. Which then led to them deactivating him AGAIN (Fantasy owners, like myself, hate the Vikings right now btw). Naturally, none of that will matter in a few days. Even with the tragically poor timing of Ingram’s injury (he was having such a nice season), Brees and co. (and Khiry Robinson) is going to unleash the fury of having to lose against the Browns on the Vikings in the Superdome.
Saints

Texans at Giants
What was effectively lost in the slaughter that was the Texans and Raiders game was really how much better the Texans look (you can never tell what a team is when they play against the Raiders who will ensure you look GREAT). Their defense is pretty tough (and that’s without Clowney. Wow) and Arian Foster is bringing 2010 back. So is Andre Johnson. And Fitzpatrick is quietly not fucking everything up which is good for the Texans. Also good for the Texans is that they get to play the Giants this week which is probably the only other team not named the Raiders that is completely dysfunctional. They’re so bad, they might make the Texans look like a super bowl contender for yet another week! (aka before they start playing real football teams again). That is, or Eli goes all 2010 and feeds his crybaby wideout buddy Victor “not dancing anymore” Cruz to the tune of 100+ yards and 2 scores. Which if you’re me…………
Texans

Redskins at Eagles
How was there ever a doubt that DeSean Jackson would find a way to get on the field for this one. He may not be at 100% but this is one of those few players that elevates when he feels like it and I know he will be FEELING it. Expect whatever Niles Paul was doing last week as Cousins’ go-to to be in the good hands and lightning feet of DJax. And even though Cousins looks considerably better than RG3 and has all those myriad of weapons between Morris and Garcon and Jackson and Paul, the Eagles look like the best offense in all of football. Their defense leaves a lot to be desired but even the Colts and their explosive offense couldn’t outscore these guys in Indy. Even when you slap them with double digit deficits in every game! Chip Kelly is playing dirty by rolling out both Shady McCoy and Sprolesy at the same time. That’s just yuck. It’s like playing Madden for cryin aloud. If the Eagles even pretend to not fall behind early, they will run away with this game by halftime.
Eagles

Colts at Jags
So the last two victims of Chip Kelly and his flying Eagles meet up this week and my money is going on Luck and company to avenge their rough MNF loss with a pounding of the Jaguars. For a moment the Jags started to look a little more promising than years past when they jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead in week 1 against Philly. But then again, we now know that Philly just doesn’t like playing 1st halves because they must remind them of Andy Reid or Donovan McNabb or something, I don’t know. Since then, the Jags have been destroyed in every possible way. And the Colts and their high flying offense is coming to town to destroy them some more. WOPZ.
Colts

Niners at Cardinals
One of this week’s truer toss-ups and what is likely going to be a really fun game to watch. Division rivals playing an early season power grab in a suddenly wide open NFC West thanks to the CHARGAZ. This means one of these teams has a chance to jump into a 2-1 lead or tie in the division while the Seahawks have to mess with an angry hive of bees, nest of hornets, den of bears, or stable of broncos. Or whatever. Anyway. The Niners defense isn’t what it used to be without their vaunted pass rush and with so many dinged corners and that bodes poorly against a talented offense like Arizona’s. Good news for the Niners is that Arizona is also missing a couple of pieces from their offense, chiefly Carson Palmer and Jonathan Dwyer (what is with all these beaters, anyway?). Stanton looked respectable under center (easy to do when your weapons include Fitz, Floyd, Brown and Ellington) and should be alright at home. Defensively, Arizona isn’t as tough as everybody expected them to be coming in due to a rash of injuries but they’re talented enough to get the job done at home against the Niners. The Niners showed last week to have some serious issues closing out games with a defense that might require them to score 30 just to win in the first half of the season. The Niners are definitely most people’s pick in this one but I’m going with the home team in such a coin flip. And also because I don’t really care who wins this game on a personal level. Except for in my office pool. That I do care about.
Cards

Chiefs at Dolphins
Another total tosser. Jamaal Charles’ injury poses an interesting quandary. Kniles Davis certainly showed that he is more than capable of running the rock with authority and effectively and Coach Reid has been clear about not intending on changing the game plan because of the injury. But really what does that mean? The Dolphins got pretty smashed on the ground last week but all in all have a tough defense and it may force the Chiefs to rely more on Smith to Bowe and Smith to Kelce. The Chiefs hung tough defensively with the Broncos offense so that is extremely promising but that was also a divisional rivalry and not in the Eastern Time zone.
Dolphins

Broncos at Seahawks
Yes, I know nobody ever beats the Hawks at home. Yes, I know they are coming off a tough loss against the Chargers and they don’t lose back to back games. Yes, I remember last year’s glorious Super Bowl beatdown of the Donks. And because of all of that, I am picking Peyton and the Broncos to avenge themselves. Why? Because I suck at these picks things. That and I know that this date has probably been circled on the calendar (oh the ol’ adage!) since the damn schedules were released and that Denver has gameplanned specifically to adjust to the offensive struggles they had in the Super Bowl. The Broncos retooled their defense and are getting Welker back. The Chargers didn’t “expose” anything but they did show that A) you can beat the Seahawks by mismatching with the TE (and Denver certainly has a good one in JT) and B) control the clock, convert your third downs (the return of Welker should help) and voilà. I totally get how risky this call is. But after going 8-8 in back to back weeks, I’d be a fool to go gunshy on an opportunity like this one. ROLL.
Broncos

Steelers at Panthers
The Steelers have been one of the more peculiar teams this year. At times, they look fantastic, able to move the ball on the ground with Bell and Big Ben slinging it all over the field between Brown and Wheaton and Miller and Bell. Then there are times when their defense looks like it can be slaughtered on the outsides. Then there are times when the Steelers can’t move the ball or score with regularity, relying on scoring in bunches to carry them… except with that defense, it is beyond folly. On the flip, the Panthers look filthy. Defensively, they may be the best outside of Seattle. With or without Hardy. Cam Newton showed some rust and rookie Benjamin dropped some passes in Week 2 against the Lions but that’s ok because once they start clicking, it’s over. Their run game leaves a lot to be desired as their oft-injured and at times over hyped tandem of Williams and Stewart just can’t ever be on the field consistently. That said, even without Williams, the Panthers offense is starting to get a little more untracked with the emergence of Avant as a reliable second option in the offense and with Cam getting a week of action under his belt. This one is in Carolina and that never bodes well when dealing with that sort of defense.
Panthers

Bears at Jets
Letdown time for da bears. Great, classic comeback on the road in primetime to spoil San Fran’s big party in Santa Clara. But that’s because SF’s defense is whack these days. The Jets have been quietly a very competitive team. Granted they beat up on a worthless Raider team and gave up a ton of 2nd half points to the Packers but that’s Green Bay and keeping them in check all game is damn near impossible. Is the Bears offense capable of the same thing? Absolutely. In New York? Meh. The Bears might not be so lucky to face a defense capable of giving up that much real estate late in the game as did the Niners. The Jets can hardly be run on which means this is going to have to lie in Cutler’s hands and things are usually not ok when that is the case. Marshall and Jeffrey are a bit banged up and the Jets are physical. Offensively, I expect the Jets to run, run, run and don’t look now but Geno Smith is starting to get more and more comfortable back there and may just be enough of a game manager to win these kinds of games. The AFC East is about to get interesting!
Jets

DIG IT.

#FreeJoshGordon and the NFL’s 0-16 Season

The circus carries on.

I will spare you the long story that you most likely already know and summarize it as succinctly as I can as thus: Gordon, who marginally failed a drug test on March 5th 2014, was suspended due to it being the third violation of the old NFL drug policy that is now under revision between the NFL and the NFLPA. And now, there are reports that he will be suspended for 10 games under the new drug policy if it is agreed upon.

Which, of course, is completely asinine.

The trouble with the NFL this season is that it has shown an absolute lack of reason and consistency in its policies across the board. Whether it is the fiasco that is the Ray Rice domestic violence case or the flip flopping drug policy, the NFL has been a PR trainwreck losing public opinion in droves. The brand is an arrogant one; their product is the object of such abject obsession and addiction, they know there is no conceivable amount of public backlash that can hurt their bottom line. Even a one week boycott by every football fan across the United States would accomplish nothing outside of ruining the worlds of the already underpaid support staffs of any of the bloated pro teams. It would do nothing to exact the sort of paradigm shift in the league’s operation that most activism aims to do.

This news that the new drug policy agreement will reduce Gordon’s suspension to ten games, though, is a whole new level of fail. In fact, everybody was better off if they would have simply left the suspension at the full 16 games.

Let me be perfectly clear about something. The NFL didn’t even so much as blink at the public criticism they were receiving at the announcement of Josh Gordon’s initial suspension for the whole season when it first hit. The hate being heaped on the shield about how incongruent the suspension was to the crime as juxtaposed to Rice’s initial suspension was to his, didn’t phase the league. They even dragged their feet for an unusually long time in exacting the suspension and, in fact, didn’t announce it until a day after cuts were announced effectively double screwing the Browns!

However, it wasn’t until Wes Welker was busted with the mystery molly and suspended for four games that the league suddenly was spurned into motion, quickly acting to downgrade amphetamines from the PED list to a recreation drug and under that policy, overturn his suspension altogether as it was a first time offense. There are undoubtedly those who will pull the race card here but I won’t do any such thing; I will, however, happily pull the Peyton Card as there shouldn’t be any doubt that the NFL cares mostly about their revenue than they do about just anything else including women rights/safety, animal rights, or concussions (don’t fall for their flaccid attempts at solving the concussion matter, either. They are so far behind schedule on that, it isn’t even funny. Go read up on it and you’ll see what I mean). Oh but no, no, no… when it was Tom and Peyton’s boy Wes Weezy that was in hot water, the NFL came to his aid quite quickly.

Nevermind that amphetamines can actually be argued to enhance performance (Adderall anyone?) whereas Cannaboids can never do such a thing lol. I mean, it is obvious that Josh Gordon only ever recreationally smoked Marijuana. It is also equally obvious that he wouldn’t have been smoking during the season as nobody with half a cent of common sense would believe that a pro athlete could habitually smoke it and still be any good at their sport. Sure you can play and maybe even play well; but dominate the NFL at your position while effortlessly displaying physical gifts that indicate that your body is about as free of the toxins and laden effects of prolonged Marijuana use as anyone can be? Is Josh Gordon superhuman? No, of course he is not. Maybe if he was popping adderalls.

I understand why Welker’s suspension is going to get wiped out completely and why Gordon’s isn’t. It’s the letter of the law; a three-strikes law, no less, that has been lambasted everywhere it has ever been implemented due to its inherent inability to discern between severity of offenses. In other words, the way the recreational drug policy works before as well as moving forward is that Gordon could have easily been stoned stupid and tested ten times over the limit, even smoking before games and doing all sorts of other inane behaviors and get away without a single lost snap. And then on this exact same offense, be lost for an entire year on a 0.16ng positive (and a negative from the same sample) test three years later after passing 75 tests over that span of time. Makes sense if you look at it strictly from the perspective of the letter of the law; and makes utterly no sense outside of it.

That brings me to the reported ten game suspension. That’s simply stupid. In this case, the suspension should have either been completely tossed out (given the first two games of the season could be considered an on-good-faith time served) or the suspension upheld as a strict adhering to the letter of the law. But this ten game nonsense is entirely nearsighted and proof that they have idiots working in the league communications offices. Ten games does nothing for nobody.

Not for Josh Gordon. He still misses most of the season for something as silly as second hand smoke, a story that is truly corroborated by how ridiculously low the test result was (you can get more stoned looking at some “fire”).

Not for the Cleveland Browns. Sure it beats not having him for a whole season but this only has any kind of relevance if the Browns are anywhere near the playoff picture come week 12, where his involvement, albeit with limited chemistry and gameflow, doesn’t necessarily mean it helps them accomplish anything in 2013. What’s four more wins when you enter Week 12 bringing up the rear of the division?

Not for Fantasy Football owners across the nation. But who cares about them (us)? There are clearly far more significant issues at hand.

Not for the NFL. This makes them look like tone-deaf, hard headed troglodytes. They missed the entire point of revising the policy. Unless of course the point was to get Welker back on the field by downgrading Amphetamines to a recreational drug lol. And even then, the awkwardly arbitrary March 11th date for the NFL “year” is another slap to the face of reason. If Gordon’s test was so stupidly close to that date (a single work week), why not consider it a 2014 test? Why be such myopic sticklers?

I know, I know, the letter of the law. Policies and rules. But under that same logic, Ray Rice shouldn’t be banned from the NFL at all because this would be considered his first offense of domestic violence and warrants only the new six game suspension which is at least better than the two game suspension that preceded it but is still less than reasonable (there should be a zero tolerance policy on domestic violence). So Ray Rice should be back by week 7 and some other team should be able to pick him up. He didn’t lie about knocking his fiancee unconscious. He is a vile person, perhaps, but according to the NFL’s precious letter of the law argument, he should be back in time for the second half of the season.

Can’t say the same about Josh Gordon. After all, he has pot-smoking friends and is badmen.

There’s more. Yes, there is ever more in this 2014 NFL season, one that will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most terribly distracted of any sport ever.

Just moments ago, Adrian Peterson was indicted for negligent injury of a child (spanked his son with a switch) and may also face a suspension although it has yet to be announced one way or another. Now the NFL will undoubtedly roll out its brand spankin’ new domestic violence policy on AP and probably on Carolina Panthers’ DE Greg Hardy soon enough in hopes of winning back some public support. But will it have been too late? Peterson faces a 2 to 10 year PRISON sentence and may never play NFL Football again. And you thought folks were all up in arms about Mike Vick fightin’ dogs…

Truth is, the league (and sport at large) has a black eye (no pun intended). This isn’t MLB’s steroid black eye where some clown somewhere convinced the public that steroids actually made you a better ballplayer somehow. This isn’t the NBA’s corrupt refereeing and point-shaving. This is the most violent sport on earth showing that it not only puts young men in danger of life-long battles with terrible brain injuries but also breeds a whole host of violent, aggressive and physically imposing men who can hurt others. Now before this becomes a debate on Adrian Peterson’s specific situation in terms of child-rearing and discipline (because lord knows, that’s an entirely different blog post altogether), let’s just focus on what the real issue here is:

The NFL doesn’t really know where it stands on ANYTHING. They are just as likely to suspend him for six games as per the new policy as they are to not suspend him at all because of some legal loophole or other that distinguishes between physical assault and child discipline. Not saying there is one but why put anything beyond the NFL? In the end, as they’ve shown repeatedly throughout Goodell’s tenure as Commish, the league only really cares about its revenue and Goods has been as much a pawn of it as any of us. The league doesn’t want to lose Adrian Peterson anymore than they wanted to lose concussion-ridden Welker or Josh “Up in Smoke” Gordon.

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In the end, the NFL has demonstrated exactly how you don’t manage crisis as an organization or entity. This stuff is Public Relations 101 and the NFL does not employ good PR people which is counter intuitive because you would assume they would have the very best. Maybe they’re just having a bad season, something akin to the supreme meltdown that was last year’s Houston Texans when nearly every thing went wrong. Perhaps, the NFL after a relatively strong franchise history is having that one season it wants to forget. Except it will never be forgotten because none of us will forget it.

All the league had to do was let Gordon back right away and they could have at least earned some respect back from the mass of people who realize that Marijuana smoking is not as terrible as beating our wives and children or getting in club altercations or doing heavy drugs… but whose money they gladly take without hesitation.

Instead, they’ve taken another terrible loss and look well on their way to a miserable, winless season.

NFL Week 2 Picks: The Rogering, The Ravening and Other Stories

What a tumultuous week in the NFL, eh?

This season has already been one of the worst PR trainwrecks the league has ever found itself in and we are barely a week in. Already, there are calls for the commissioner’s head and TMZ involvement is never good. This is like that accident you see on the side of the road that keeps causing other accidents because everybody and their mother can’t resist rubbernecking to catch a glimpse of The Rogering, the harsh reckoning that’s coming to Commissioner Goodell soon. In light of the reports that he either lied about not seeing the Ray Rice elevator footage or for running an inept ship to where something like that was kept from him, his position cannot be considered a very strong one.

Not to mention The Ravening; nothing good can come from GM Ozzie Newsome’s odd albeit earnest statement that Ray Rice had told him the truth about what happened in the elevator which now puts the organization in hot water as well for not having reported it or shared it with the league or union or otherwise acted on. All in all, it is like four trains crashing into each other simultaneously.

I mean, things are so awful with the Raygate, that the previous PR nightmare the league was going through with the league drug policy is suddenly an afterthought… and rightfully so. After all, Ray Rice clean clocking his fiancee in an elevator with the one-hitter-quitter left hook is a considerably more jarring indictment of the inhumanity of some (and a more permanent black eye for the league) than… you know… Josh Gordon not even smoking any pot and getting suspended a whole season for a borderline test, anyway due to some neanderthalic three-strikes rule. And of course Wes’ mystery molly (whatever, bro, cool hat). Oh and Vance MacDonald and Greg Hardy and….

It is hard to talk about the NFL these days without having to delve into all these off-field distractions. Granted, most casual observers of the game don’t really get too caught up in the in-game drama as much as the die-hards so this stuff is like candy for them. This is reality TV at its finest and so it makes sense that it dominates the airwaves and print and the blog-o-sphere. And trust me, I’ll be sharing my own take on these issues in due time as well. Naturally.

But I’m a football guy first and foremost and the only thing I give a shit about right now is Week 2 kicking off in a few hours in Baltimore. There’ll be plenty of time later to rant about the inhumanity of Ray Rice, the indiscretion of the league, the asinine witch hunt of marijuana in pro sports and the future of Roger Goodell as a result of all of it.

Moving on.
Week 2

Steelers at Ravens
What was more surprising? That the Steelers couldn’t stop the Browns in the second half and nearly gave the game away? Or that the Ravens stormed back on the Bengals only to fall just short of an improbable win? Either way, Pittsburgh has got to be concerned about letting the Ravens back into the game although one has to wonder how all the awful media attention the franchise has been getting because of Ray Rice will affect them. Typically, it either galvanizes a team or unravels it. Forsett was a reasonably effective runner after B Pierce was shut down. They’ll have to pound the rock on Pitts to beat them. On the other side, it looks like the Steeler offense is locked and loaded behind Bell and Ben… but their defense looks like, as one pundit put it, the Soft Curtain. I am weary of a Harbaugh led, inspired Ravens team in B-more on a Thursday night.
Ravens

Patriots at Vikings
For one half, the Patriots looked like your good ol’ Pats beating up on those good ol’ buds of theirs down in Miami. Except, by the second half, the Dolphin defense really started to harass Brady and took control of the flow of the game with an excellent edge rush and a very good run game. Looking at this match up, I don’t see much of a difference. The Vikings will obviously run the rock as effectively if not more so than Miami did and C-Pat has emerged as a near-impossible to stop force underneath. New England will have their hands full on that side of the ball and the 33 points they gave up to Miami will seem mild compared to Minnesota’s potential output as they have the potential to be a sneaky player in the NFC North.
Vikings

Saints at Browns
I expected the barn burner; but I was impressed by the Matty Ice Bros. They shredded and worked this supposedly improved Saints defense like it was soft cream dropping 30+ on them easy. Granted, the Browns won’t be able to put up that kind of scoring but they also showed a bit of explosiveness in the second half of their tilt with the equally soft and creamy defense. The Browns actually have a decent shot at giving the Saints some issues if the West/Crowell tandem is for real and they can not only dictate the flow of the game and keep it out of Brees’ paws but open up their own pass game. And of course if Jordan Cameron plays. And it would be nice if Josh Gordon was reinstated already. Yeah…
Saints

Falcons at Bengals
Speaking of the Matty Ice Bros… how about that fluid offense. When Ingram pummeled into the endzone near the end of regulation last week, I knew that Birds weren’t done but it looked like I was going to get away with a correct pick. Until the Falcons of course flashed the Matty Ice Bros! The defense for Atlanta still looks extremely suspect and the Saints game was something of a tossup, honestly. The Bengals are much tougher on that side of the ball and still have the offensive firepower with a very balanced attack to put up 30 some points just like New Orleans could. I don’t see Atlanta’s defense playing well enough on the road to unseat a Bengals team that may have hiccupped a bit late against their rivals from Baltimore but generally look set to win the AFC North and contend in the postseason.
Bengals 

Lions at Panthers
This is one of the tougher ones to call this week. What we saw from the Lions is an unstoppable offense (we also watched a putrid Giants team that could neither stop anyone nor move the chains themselves). What we saw from the Panthers is a defense so good, it allowed Derek Anderson to play loose enough to perform his best Tom Brady impression. Any way you slice it, this will be one of the stiffer tests the Lions will face this year, that’s for sure. Now plug in Cam Newton and this Lions’ defense will definitely be tested far more than Eli and company were able to last week. On the road. Hard to trust the Lions here. I really do like what they’re doing in Detroit but Carolina looks poised to get theirs this Sunday.
Panthers 

Cardinals at Giants
What to do about the Giants? It is hard to figure out what is going on with the G-men on either side of the ball, honestly. We thought their defense was going to be a low key surprise after how well they finished the year last season but they got torched by Detroit. And offensively, Eli looks a mess. His timing is off, he is running for his life behind the line, his receivers are pouty, and while Rashad Jennings has looked good, even as a bellcow he isn’t too convincing. On the flipside, Arizona survived a stiff show from the Chargers and that’s no joke; the Chargers are a sneaky team that is especially tough on defense especially in primetime. Yet when it counted, Arizona moved the ball fluidly and Palmer took advantage of one of his many explosive weapons. I don’t think where they play this game matters too much. The Cardinals will give up some points with all the attrition to their defense but this offense is barely starting to take off.
Cards 

Cowboys at Titans
What to do about Tony Romo? He looked visibly hurt out there, just to be clear… this maybe had less to do with Romo being Romo and more to do with just being out of sync and out of flow. Their defense is still as worthless as we thought they’d be and they face another rough go with the Titans. Even if the Cowboys don’t make as many mistakes as they did against the Niners, they are looking at a defense that can presently stop the run way better than the Niners who have injuries/suspensions throughout their front seven. The Titans will not give up as much real estate (in Nashville, no less) as the Niners did. And sleeping on Jake Locker and the Titans offense is also a big mistake. I think they may be the best team in their division and it wouldn’t even be a question if Luck wasn’t quarterbacking in Indy.
Titans

Dolphins at Bills
This is another exciting one that is tough to call. Both of these AFC East rivals got stunning wins to kick off the new season and in largely the same way. They dominated on the ground and they forced turnovers with strong defense. Both teams come in looking eerily similar; both have exciting dual-back attacks whether it is Miller/Moreno or Jackson/Spiller, they have exciting receivers that can stretch the field and elite pass rushes. This puppy’s a push; even Vegas has no clue. But I do. Conventional wisdom would tell you that the Dolphins going up to Buffalo would be a tall order given how otherwise evenly matched the teams are. However, Miami has the more reliable QB in the often underrated Tannehill. His line is still pretty atrocious but they looked really good the second half of their match with New England and if they hold up, this could be a surprising 2-0 start for the Phins.
Dolphins

Jags at Skins
Well, they both lost in week 1 but Washington’s is far more concerning. The Jaguars arguably shocked the football world more than anyone else with their first half against Philly… before giving up a gazillion unanswered points in the second half. They are what we thought they’d be. Washington on the other hand has to be concerned about RG3 and his very obvious lack of confidence in his game. He has a full arsenal of weapons and a decent enough defense to where they can win games. Against Houston, they moved the ball fine against a very good defense, ran the ball with authority with Alfred Morris in limited touches and passed the ball effectively enough. But they couldn’t close anything. Their one TD drive came with a missed XP. That’s just it; they don’t know how to win games. They better find a way to do so this weekend in their home opener.
Redskins

Rams at Bucs
Oi, what a train wreck. First of all, this game has the potential to be a shitshow. Secondly, I feel really bad for Rams fans (ok, I lied, I don’t but it is really sad) that on the verge of a really promising season where they were going to try and sneak into the NFC West conversation with all the hopes of a dominant division, they lose their QB (again) and now lost DE Chris Long. Their strongest strength, their defense, is going to get shredded only because they are going to be exhausted and worn out from their offense not being on the field much. Their offense is going to look as futile as it did Sunday, pretty much all season. The Bucs are also a trainwreck. They had all manners of hype coming into the year (as well as from yours truly) and they laid a fatty. McCown was a bad idea for the organization, they should have trusted in the young kid Glennon with all the shiny weapons they have on that side of the ball. Their defense didn’t look terribly bad against Carolina but it was hard to get any momentum or consistency going when you had McCown and the offense failing to do anything every possession. This is one of those situations where one of these fail teams has to win and the one that is playing at home is the more likely to do it. If the Bucs can get things going, they can be a tough out for anybody. Well, anybody except for the Rams.
Bucs

Seahawks at Chargers
The Chargers certainly don’t get an easy start to the season. A week after taking their first loss in a tough one against a tough NFC West opponent, they get the class of that division (and likely all football). Luckily for them, the game is in sunny San Diego. Unluckily for them, it doesn’t really matter. Listen, after what Seattle did to the Packers defensively in completely shutting down one of the best offenses in the NFL and after what Seattle showed with their use of Percy Harvin and the power by which Marshawn Lynch is still running, this team got BETTER. They will continue to roll.
Seahawks

Jets at Packers
Gang Green got the expected win last week against my Raiders. They fall to 1-1 this week. This is the absolute worst time to play the Pack in Lambeau lol All of that frustration from Opening Night is going to get taken out on the Jets to the tune of about 40 or so points. A-Rod is goin’ off, if Lacy suits up, he’ll go off, if not, Starks will go bananas… all this against a pretty solid defensive front and shaky but serviceable secondary. The Jets offensively will be able to score about the same amount of points they scored against the Raiders. That won’t be nearly enough. This one’s a wrap.
Packers

Chiefs at Broncos
The Chiefs get some guys back that they sorely needed with Dwayne Bowe being the most notable but the truth is, they are running into a team that is on a mission to crush ALL opposition. The Chiefs were exposed in the secondary by Tennessee and that Titan defense exposed the KC line for what it is without Branden Albert. The Broncos will pin their ears back, chase Smith, force them to abandon Charles early (except maybe in the pass game) when they jump out to one of their signature 21-0, 3 TDs to D. or J. Thomas or whoever Peyton feels like feeding on Sunday. Broncos keep rolling.
Broncos 

Texans at Raiders
If you know anything about me at all, it is that when it comes to picks, I have been handicapping myself since the beginning of time by always letting the homer make the pick for me. This week won’t be any different. I was burned by the Jets loss only because there really was plenty of opportunity to take that game had the Raider offensive line held up against the blitz better and had MJD not been completely useless against New York’s stout DL. Problem for the Raiders is that the Texans aren’t any slouches defensively either and will pose the same problems for the running game. However, MJD can’t go this weekend, meaning McFadden gets a shot at validating why the Raiders went there again in resigning him on a one year contract after so many promising years ended early with injuries. If he goes off (which he has always been able to do), that might be enough to open up the pass for Carr who looked great were it not for having to run for his life the whole damn time. The Raider defense looked solid enough against the Jets until they started to really get gouged. The Texans can still hurt you on that side of the ball but this may be one of the last winnable games for the Silver n Black for a long while so they are going to need to come out guns blazing in front of the Black Hole and handle their business.
Raiders

Bears at Niners
I didn’t see either of their first games coming. The Bears weren’t supposed to lose to Buffalo with that high powered offense of theirs. Jay Cutler did his best Tony Romo impersonation and didn’t make all his weapons count for anything. Speaking of Tony Romo, he made the Niners secondary look a lot better than they actually are. Forte will have no problems doing to the Niners what Murray did to them except with more versatility and maybe more damage as a result. All of that said, Cutler is shaping up more and more to be very Tony Romo like. He is great for your fantasy team in that he will throw a lot and there are big receivers who can haul in passes… but forget expecting him to win consistently because he just doesn’t. The Niners are basically playing the same type of game back to back weeks except this one is at home opening the new stadium (in a regular season game). No dice, Chi Town.
Niners

Eagles at Colts
So, are we expecting 70? 80 points? Niether of these guys play any defense. Both of these guys have really good young QBs who love to throw it all over the place. As unbalanced as Indy is, I just think they have the better QB and are at home and quite honestly, that is what I am basing my pick on. I don’t like how easily the Eagles allowed JAX to put up an early big lead. Granted they came back but that’s because the Jags couldn’t keep scoring points. The Colts basically only stop scoring points when the final whistle blows.
Colts

 

Dig it.

NFL Week 1 Picks

And we’re back. With a new look too!

After years of bouncing around from one platform to the next, I think I may have finally settled on a home for my sports blog and it came as a result of finally giving in to the pressure to use WordPress. Despite long being told how awesome the platform was, I resisted… until I used it for both my music blog as well as for a company blog I was tasked with bringing to life. Suffice to say, I fell in love with WP! So here we are with the new fancy and powerful Power Moves. And it’s football season. Sooo…

… six fantasy drafts, a month of preseason football and enough reading to have bloodied ten eyeballs later, we are live and set to roll.

Let the pickining begin.

 

Packers at Seahawks
Memories of the Fail Mary still odorously fresh in our collective conscience, we are in for Seattle’s “We are the Champions” party on national TV and while I like the Pack a lot this year to make some major noise and expect Seattle to have a hangover midway through the season, it won’t start Thursday. The 12th man will be rockin, the juices flowin and the Hawks hawkin’
Seahawks

Vikings at Rams
The Vikes are going to look more balanced right out of the gate with more emphasis on the air game; there’s even word they want to significantly bump AP’s targets coming out of the backfield. That’s fine; I just don’t see it factoring in Week 1 much. The Rams have probably the best defense nobody talks about and certainly the best defensive front/pass rush in the NFL which means nightmares for Minnesota. AP will get his touches but it won’t matter.
Rams

Saints at Falcons
The Saints have an improved defense… which unless you just started watching football is something we talk about every year. Atlanta is improved and healthy again and that should translate to a decent bounceback story this season. Just not in Week 1. The Saints are one of my early picks to roll to the Super Bowl and will march on into the A this weekend and set the tone for the NFC South.
Saints

Bengals at Ravens
It’s hard to trust Andy Dalton with opening day games and the Cincy defense, while still good, won’t be as dominating as they were last year. I’m still not worried about the vastly more talented Bengals and their exciting new two headed rushing attack being able to work a win on the road against their rivals. The Ravens are built around the run, too but will be playing without Rice and with a “mildly” concussed Pierce. Expect the Bengals to handle their business.
Bengals

Titans at Chiefs
Don’t look now but the Titans are one of the up and coming teams in the NFL. They’re still a little ways from where they’ll be once Sankey arrives and if Locker can replicate what he was doing last year before he got hurt. But the Titans can play the sort of game that gives the Chiefs trouble. Lots of action on the ground, tough defense, lots of field goals… but I still don’t know who Alex Smith is going to throw the ball to (aside from super monster Kelce). A better air attack from the Titans will be the difference. That or a field goal.
Titans

Bills at Bears
The Bills are making strides to get out of a decade long dump but are not going to have enough offensive firepower to keep up with the Bears; even though Buffalo’s defense is probably one of the more underrated groups around. Alshon Jeffrey is set to explode this year and a healthy Jay Cutler is poised to take full advantage of that. EJ Manuel’s sluggish development keeps the Bills grounded. Too bad, too because they have the weapons to score points.
Bears

Redskins at Texans
I don’t know what to expect from either of these teams. The Texans are headed for a fairly dismal season, again. I get the excitement of having Clowney and Watt harassing QBs all year but I just wonder what Houston will accomplish on the other side of the ball when all is said and done. I don’t expect much from an aging Andre Johnson and a suddenly unpredictable Arian Foster. RGIII has to prove he can be the guy moving forward and this is as good an opportunity to take advantage of all those nice weapons he has at his disposal. Otherwise, he might get ditched for Cousins waiting in the wings.
Redskins 

Raiders at Jets
The Derek Carr era begins rather quickly in Oakland and quite frankly, not a moment too soon. He has swagger, confidence and arm strength… three things Schaub is utterly devoid of. That should, despite a handful of understandable and inevitable growing pains, ignite the Raider offense which has pieces to be serviceable. The Jets are a tough order but I, despite obvious homerism, am convinced the Raider defense is better than the Jets offense more significantly than the Jets defense is better than the Raider offense. So operating solely off that logic…

DA RRRRAAAAAIIDERRRSSS

 

Jags at Eagles
The million dollar question is whether Nick Foles is for real. The second show will tell us a lot about the kid now that the league has seen him thoroughly. He is in a position to continue to light people up if he is. The Jags are on an uptick sporting an aging but talented defensive front, a young QB with some swagger and an underrated crew of receivers though I’m unsure of what Toby Gerhart can bring even with his certain workload. The Eagle defense is pretty awful. This game may be a tight one. Or Foles is for real and blows the top off the Jacksonville secondary early at home and be done with it.

I vote for the latter.
Eagles

Browns at Steelers
I want desperately to root for the Browns and probably will. #freejoshgordon has become a personal motto. And despite the fact I hate attention-whoring antics like the ones Johnny “Football” (even if he didn’t come up with it himself, it’s incredibly narcissistic and lame) tends to be synonymous with, I think a fully healthy and functional Browns team can win a lot more games than one would expect. Including this one. Except Gordon isn’t playing, Hoyer is and the Steelers are at home. Blitszburgh’s defense, even as a shell of itself, will demolish this offense and score half of the Steelers’ points on the day.
Steelers

Patriots at Dolphins
It’ll be close. The Pats just aren’t as scary as they once were and they just sacrificed some of their legendary pass protection for a little more explosiveness which may or may not backfire against them. The good news this week is that with that excellent secondary of theirs and Miami’s godawful offensive line, NE’s mediocre pass rush will look like STL’s and force countless turnovers and eventually lead to a Patriots triumph.
Pats

Niners at Cowboys
Oh the memories of when these two used to go toe to toe in the 90s! Ok, don’t be shocked by my stupendously bold prediction: the Cowboys have an explosive enough offense to where they can outright beat the Niners and their depleted defense. There are simply too many missing players for San Francisco right now on that side of the ball and Colin Kaepernick looks terrible and out of sync with his receivers. The Cowboys have one of the more whack defenses in the league but it may not be bad enough to make the Niners’ woeful offense look any better than 20 points.

And I think Romo at home in week 1 with the likes of Dez, Terrance, Witten and Demarco Murray are capable of putting up more than 20. #Jussayin
Cowboys

Panthers at Bucs
I’m gonna keep rolling with these wild upset bids. Sure the Panthers dominated the division with a 12-4 mark last year and have one of the more dominating defenses around. FASHO. However, the combination of a passing game that will take some time to develop, Cam’s beat up self and Tampa looking better than before in nearly every way, I’m not sure the Panthers can walk into Tampa and take this one. A Lovie Smith defense at home to start the season with the kind of silly good talent he has on both sides of the ball?
Bucs

Colts at Broncos
Peyton would love nothing more than to exercise all and any lingering demons from last February with a trouncing at home of his former club. The Colts can score points. They just can’t stop anybody else from doing the same. A healthy Reggie Wayne will ensure they get close to 30. A pissed off Broncos offense that actually got better (and a defense that isn’t anywhere near as awful as Indy’s) will mean they score close to 40.
Broncos

Giants at Lions
The Giants are a mess. The Lions may no longer be. Stafford is widely touted as being on the verge of his best season yet and he must be excited about having the weapons that he will have this year to complement Megatron. With a full set of Decepticons, there won’t be many defenses that can keep them under 20 this year let alone 30. Certainly not NY. And the way they have looked offensively, unless the Giants run the ball like a top 3 rushing unit with Jennings and Williams, they won’t be able to keep up.
Lions

Chargers at Cardinals
The Cardinals are a trendy pick to surprise everyone this year with a playoff run; pretty much since they would have made the playoffs last year were it not for the Niners and Seahawks being so beast. Losing Darnell Dockett will hurt that, certainly, but this team is still so stout on defense and their offense so on the verge of utter explosion, I can’t imagine them struggling with very many teams on their schedule not hailing from SF, SEA or DEN this year. Since this tilt is in Phoenix, I expect the Cards to have enough juice to outscore the Chargers with the true difference being how much more formidable the Arizona defense is than San Diego’s.
Cards

 

Now go, my dear friends, and dominate your office pools!

Dig it.