NFL Week 6 Picks: This Whacky Game

Last week’s roll call was an easy one straight up; all you really had to do was pick mostly the Vegas favorites and you could have run a dozen correct picks easy. I came in at 13-2 with my only miscalls being Detroit’s unlikely meltdown and New England’s epic exorcism.

In a season that has otherwise been a temporal storm of uncertainty, that was one easy lineup of games to wrap your head around.

Now let’s get back to the TUFF STUFF.

Colts at Texans
The most impressive thing about Indy’s win against Baltimore this past weekend was how energetic and active they were on defense giving Joe Flacco fits all day. Elite talent or not, playing active defense is a recipe for success; just ask Peyton or Tony Dungy about Super Bowl XLI. This defense reminds me of that unit. The Texans, overall, have a top flight defense for sure but they are not that good against the run and not good enough against the pass to matter with Luck chuckin’ it around the way he has all season. I don’t like Fitzpatrick to keep up with Luck tossing five TDs or something ridiculous like that as the game wears on. Unless the Texans jump out to a very quick and big early lead, this one is a lock.
Colts

Bears at Falcons
The Bears are such a statistical nightmare to evaluate. They are practically league average in every efficiency cat across the board whether it be offensively or defensively, in the box or in the secondary. Strangely, they just keep losing games and won two questionable ones and could very easily have a much worse record. Now they go on the road to play a Falcons team that is completely different at home in a must-win situation. Not that they’re any good but the Falcons will do what the Packers did and outscore them faster on the way to a victory.
Falcons

Patriots at Bills
One of the contenders for Game of the Week. As much as I would like to call for a letdown by the Pats after their statement game on Sunday night and pick the Bills and their elite defense at home, I don’t trust Kyle Orton. He got away posting a nice stat line while playing a mediocre game because of the volume. Still, to be fair, he gave Buffalo a slightly better chance than EJ had been and for that, you gotta give him credit. I think the Patriots are going to harass him to no end. And if rediscovering the dual TE scheme is working for Brady, that might be enough to outscore the Bills readily on the road in a key AFC East battle between two 3-2 rivals.
Patriots

Panthers at Bengals
Whatever you want to say about these two teams, here is something that must be said: these are two defenses that are in need of showing up big this week. I believe they both do meaning this will be a sludgy, grungy low scoring affair. With AJ Green hobbled or out entirely, the Bengals are going to pound the rock with Gio and Hill against a Panthers team that has looked susceptible to the ground game. The Bengals’ D will have much to prove after getting smacked by the Patriots. Fortunately for them, they don’t have to worry about Carolina’s rushing (fortunate because that is Cincy’s biggest weakness defensively) since they have about one and a half healthy bodies back there. If Cam is forced to catch up through the air on the road, it may be a long afternoon. Or Superman, I dunno.
Bengals

Steelers at Browns
The AFC North is really tight and at the bottom of the division are the 2-2 Cleveland Browns, a team that maybe ought to be 3-1 or maybe even 4-0 right now were it not for a last second meltdown/FG against division rival Baltimore and a really sluggish start to the season against these same Steelers a month ago. In fact, the Browns have won or lost all four of their games by less than 3 points! Which means they’re just as likely to be 1-3 or even 0-4! Hahaha this whacky game that we love. Anyway. I love what the Browns are doing this year and can’t wait until they get their full roster but they are going to get shredded in the air by Big Ben who, along with Antonio Brown’s epic season, has been a monster. The Browns are fortunate to have an offense that can clearly move the chains when it needs to (and that did storm back on the Steelers in Pittsburgh before falling just short). But I just don’t know if they can hold them under 30 with an already tore up secondary now also missing CB Joe Haden.
Steelers

Jags at Titans
While the Titans have a win on their season and the Jags are winless, these are two teams with significantly different outlooks. The Jags are clearly going through growing pains but have an exciting young QB throwing the ball to a couple of exciting young athletic receivers. Their run game leaves a lot to be desired and their defense has been getting wrecked but they showed a little life last week. This week they visit a Titans team that is in such disarray, it is hard to figure out how they got there. More and more it is starting to seem like their week 1 triumph over the Chiefs who have since then improved in all areas was fluky at best and that this team is more or less the team that hasn’t been able to win since (and looked like shit while at it). They have an irregular commitment to the run game which isn’t doing well anyway and can’t keep their starting QB on the field. That is a recipe for disaster. And what is more disastrous than the Jags getting their first win against you in your own house?
Jags

Packers at Dolphins
The Dolphins certainly had plenty of time to prepare for the Packers with the bye and all. They’re also at home this week. And it still won’t matter a whole lot. The Packers are coming in scoring points unhindered, have rediscovered their run game and despite giving up a lot of yards defensively, also force an impressive amount of turnovers (tied for tops in the league). Tannehill does make mistakes from time to time and I think the Packers dictate the tempo of the game, force aforementioned mistakes and ultimately outscore the Phins. By a lot.
Packers

Lions at Vikings
There is a real temptation here to roll with the home team. Minnesota is getting Teddy Bridgewater back in action and that instantly boosts this offense’s value to around where it was when it shredded Atlanta en route to that beatdown. The Lions defense surely is not the Falcons defense … but there’s something seriously wrong with the Lions offense and that may very well be the determining factor of this game. They weren’t able to put up all that much in the way of points against Buffalo although Buffalo sports a pretty snazzy defense themselves. Still there has to be concern about a team without Megatron, without a healthy Reggie Bush and with a struggling Matt Stafford. Expect the Vikings to finally get Patterson and Wright going at the same time and more semblance of a running game than they showed last week. If they can score points against Detroit’s defense at home in Minny, look for the Vikes to win.
Vikings

Broncos at Jets
What can we say here? Yeah, yeah, Any Given Sunday, That’s Why They Play the Games, These Are All Pros… should I dig up anymore antiquated NFL clichés to describe the 2% chance the Jets pull off this upset at home? They’d have to break Peyton’s neck in half for that to ever happen. The Jets can stop anybody’s run game… but what if they are playing a team that doesn’t even run the ball because they have Peyton and his fifty good-to-great receivers? Why am I still typing?
Broncos

Ravens at Bucs
I was thinking about this one for some time. The Ravens are heavy favorites in terms of being picked to win no matter the line. They are one of the most solid teams in the league, no doubt. And yet I am still rolling with the Bucs at home. They have looked entirely different the past two weeks and barely lost in OT against an absolutely desperate Saints team. Fact of the matter is the Bucs are headed back to Tampa for the first time in nearly a month, are likely to play much stauncher defense at home and will square off with a Ravens team playing their second road game in a row. That is a recipe for a monumental upset. And don’t forget; these same Bucs pulled an equally impressive upset of the Steelers just a couple weeks ago. Roll em.
Bucs

Chargers at Raiders
Should I be the only not-completely-insane person to pick the Raiders here? After all, you’ve got a home game coming off a bye against a divisional rival that you have played tough in other purported lopsided matchups in the past. A game against a team that has been on such a profoundly good roll, it is almost inevitable that they are overdue for the sort of clunker that a team like the Raiders can take advantage of. There’s also this whole new coach thing and the ball he buried. You know, this is the perfect game for the Raiders to stomp the Chargers. You know… that game that I will be rolling Saturday Night on Madden when I play pretend that I am the new head coach/GM of the Oakland Raiders. Utterly STOMP.
Chargers 

Redskins at Cardinals
Kirk Cousins and the Redskins looked much better last week against the top defense in the league than they did against the rival Giants the week before. It just didn’t matter because they were utterly outmatched. That said, they have a far more manageable match up this week against a team that is just riddled with injuries and missing players. The funny thing is that even with all those injuries, the Cards are good enough defensively, especially against the pass, that it could make all the difference in the world at home. Especially with the Redskins coming to town on a short week. There’s also the matter of Arizona possibly getting Carson Palmer back and that would be a huge boon to an offense that was already finding ways to win with Drew Stanton under center.
Cardinals 

Cowboys at Seahawks
A contender for Game of The Week. It has been a nice little roll that the Cowboys have been on. They’ve won games that got out of control for their opponents and they won games that were close and tenuous. Impressive thus far, the Cowboys travel to the toughest place to play in the league to play against the best team in the NFC and possibly still the best team in the entire NFL. Unfortunately, this is where their run temporarily ends. I just don’t see them going into Seattle and beating this defense (especially when Dallas’ bread and butter these days is running the rock with Demarco Murray and the Hawks are now one of the better run D’s around) let alone being able to stop Russell Wilson who right now looks to be about as dominant a QB as you can be without spending a majority of your time in the pocket. Wilson makes throws that don’t make any sense given where he is and where the play is. The Redskins found out the hard way that the guy has about 50 eyes and they are all over the STADIUM let alone anywhere on his head. And Marshawn Lynch is probably the best overall running back of the past half a decade. Nice run but no dice this week, Dallas.
Seahawks

Giants at Eagles
This will be fun. Another contender for Game of The Week (I should have just titled this blog entry GAME OF THE WEEK, amirite?). Most of the nation is split 50-50 on the outcome of this one; that goes to show you just how unpredictable this game will be. That said, common wisdom suggests that in such a push, the home team is the one that has the ever so slight edge and while I am normally inclined to give that notion tread, these are two teams giving me entirely different impressions right now. The Giants look confident, dialed in and able to beat you with a suddenly reliable and balanced offense. Even without Jennings running the rock, rookie Andre Williams has looked strong and bruising bludgeoning in between the tackles in his stead. The return of Odell Beckham Jr. and the emergence of Larry Donnell gives Eli Manning four legitimate weapons in the passing game with which to rip apart a porous Eagles defense. On the flip side, the Eagles are an interesting dichotomy. While it is impressive that they have been scoring in a bunch of different ways, the fact they aren’t scoring consistently on offense is alarming. Even though they finally got LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles a lot of meaningful touches and they moved the chains a bit, neither scored… leaving the Eagles to build a large lead on blocked kicks and turnovers. While that works against crappy teams, these are not reliable ways to beat good teams. Home team or not, I expect the Giants to go all BIG BLUE on the Eagles and their cute little all black unis they plan on rollin’ out on Sunday.
Giants

Niners at Rams
This is one game the Rams won’t be able to climb back into if they fall behind big early on. Unlike the Eagles, the Niners will collect turnovers like Disneyland Pins. Good running football teams are great road teams because they can quiet the crowd and control the tempo by pounding the rock. The Niners, now that they’ve returned to their rushing strengths, are that kind of team and I expect them to control the game, harass Austin Davis and put up a healthy amount of points on the road on the way to a 4-2 record. Lock it up.
Niners

Dig it

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NFL Week 5 Picks: What a Comeback Looks/Smells/Tastes/Sounds/Feeeels Like…

Just getting warmed up.

Even with a couple of 8-8 duds to start the season, I am at 36-25 overall in my office pool so I’m coming in at just about the same clip as a majority of the nation. But I don’t intend on being average…

Time is of the short variety this week so let’s get straight to them.

Picks:

Vikings at Packers
The Vikes surprised everyone last week by running shod over and through the Atlanta Falcons defense. But that game was at home. Teddy Bridgewater is gonna try and go all banged up on a short week visiting the Pack at Lambeau. He will likely have to rely heavily on the run game which at this point is the plodding, uninspiring Matt Asiata and the explosive yet unproven rookie Jerick McKinnon. All the while trying to keep up with A Rod and company. Too much firepower on that offense to keep up with them for four quarters. Packers run away with it eventually.
Packers

Texans at Cowboys
The Battle for Texas between a couple of 3-1 teams is going to come down to an utter bloodbath. The Cowboys have been one of the best teams in football on both sides of the ball and are going to be at home in a statement game. The Texans have been playing a little over their heads and have had some soft match ups. This week is maybe a bit too big a test for Fitzpatrick and company to overcome.
Cowboys

Bills at Lions
This may have looked like a really exciting match up a few weeks ago when the Bills seemed atop the world. Now with Kyle Orton under center, while they can’t be any worse offensively than they had been the past couple weeks, the Bills are going to have to do business with one of the top three defensive units in the game. On the road. Yuck. Lions win big.
Lions

Browns at Titans
The good news for Tennessee is that they are probably getting Locker back and are planning on running the ball early and often with underutilized rookie Bishop Sankey. That should open things up a bit for them. The Browns are getting healthy on defense and get their opening day starting RB back which means they now have three quality backs to roll out. The Browns are due for a win especially after the debacle that was the final few minutes of the Ravens game and have had two weeks to prepare for the Titans.
Browns

Ravens at Colts
One of the best games this week as we have yet another matchup between 3-1 teams. The Ravens have looked balanced so far this season with much improved offense thanks to Steve Smith Sr. stretching the field for big armed Joe Flacco. Can they keep up with Andrew Luck and the Indy offense on the road? That’ll ultimately be the question. In such a tight contest, one is well served to roll with the home team as I think Luck is nearly unstoppable late in games.
Colts

Bucs at Saints
The Bucs stunned the Steelers last week and must be flying high and feeling increasingly confident in running Glennon out there under center. Unfortunately for them, they run into a struggling Saints team at the wrong time. Nobody really knows what’s going on with the Saints which bodes poorly for Tampa. It just looks like a funk. A funk that Brees and company will break out of in a big way at home. Not quite as big as Matty Ice and the birds did but enough to win this one by two scores.
Saints

Falcons at Giants
Speaking of the Dirty Birds, they came crashing down to earth last week against the Vikings. Granted, they ran into an underrated defense but there has to be concern about their sieve of a defense. Eli has finally got a handle on things and I feel that keeps clicking, especially in this potential barn burner. Still, I am waiting each week for the Giants defense from late last season to show up. If they do, the Falcons are going to have a hard time on the road (for a second straight week) keeping up with Big Blue in New York on ten days rest.
Giants

Rams at Eagles
Eagles will bounce back in a big way this week following not only their first loss but one of the uglier losses you will see. 21 points and not a single one on offense. Philly’s offense is already one of the most explosive units in the game and at home, it is even more so. The Rams have an even tougher defense than San Francisco’s so it is possible they frustrate Foles and company but fortunately for Chip Kelly’s boys, the Rams simply cannot keep up on the scoreboard meaning even if they were to limit the Eagles, they are unlikely to outscore them.
Eagles

Bears at Panthers
That Panther defense just isn’t what it used to be. They’ve been getting gouged left and right and I don’t see an end to that in sight. Luckily for them, the Bears’ defense is even worse. Cam Newton has been limited and the Carolina run game nearly nonexistent. Still, they are due for a win and are at home and I expect Newton to go off.
Panthers

Steelers at Jags
This may be Jacksonville’s first winnable opportunity. And it also might be the wrong time to catch an explosive Steeler team on the heels of an embarrassing loss and some bonafide Tomlin rage. The Burgh will be in fine, amped form against the Jags who are on the cusp of getting out the cellar but will have to wait a little while longer to get there.
Steelers

Cardinals at Broncos
I tried to reason with myself as to how Arizona could come in and take this from Denver on the road but I can’t get over how difficult that would be without Carson Palmer. Hell it would be difficult even with Palmer. The Cards have been one of the more surprising stories this year given all their injury issues but I just don’t see it happening. Peyton and the Broncos have been resting and preparing for this game for two weeks. I get that the Cards are coming off a bye too lol But this is Peyton we are talking about and so in a lot of ways, the Cardinals are doomed because of that alone.
Broncos

Jets at Chargers
Yikes. A team with a red-hot QB taking on a team that is having some serious problems in their secondary with bad coverage assignments. This is a recipe for a home win for the Chargers who, so far, have looked like one of the top ten teams in the league. The Jets will have to stay very disciplined and not turn the ball over to have any kind of chance in this one on the road.
Chargers

Chiefs at Niners
Hard to tell what happens here. The Chiefs are clearly coming off a huge win against the Pats in which they showed off their running game, stout defense and up-n-coming star TE. And that was against a decent defense. Well, the Niners showed off a more than decent defense last week in shutting down one of the most explosive offenses in football. That is very much worth noting. This will be a great game especially given the storyline of Alex Smith returning to SF to play Kaepernick and the Niners but I don’t see the road team winning here.
Niners

Bengals at Patriots
Oh boy. So everybody is signaling the end of Brady’s career and of the Patriots’ run. That may be just a slight bit overblown. We have simply come to expect too much from them due to a decade of domination, that a 2-2 start is like an 0-4 for most other teams. Monday night’s game has awakened this sleeping giant, trust. The Patriots coming off that loss and heading home to host the de facto best team in football is the perfect recipe for a monumental upset. And it is entirely possible. Except I’m still rollin with the Bengals. Because they are the best team in football and I believe they are licking their chops at an opportunity to prove they are for real by passing this very tough test.
Bengals

Seahawks at Redskins
After what the Giants defense did to Kirk Cousins, it is really hard to imagine him finding much success against this Seahawks defense even if the game is being played in the nation’s capital. Most weeks, I am not entirely sure what is going on with the Redskins who get away with being the Raiders of the East Coast but are never nearly as blasted for it. They have talent but much less of it than Seattle does. And it is a Monday night game. Hook. Line. SUNK.
Seahawks

On Bye: Oakland (thank god), Miami

DIG IT.

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.

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.

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!

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Power Moves: Week 3 Rankings

The Broncos had the benefit of playing with what Dick Enberg referred to as “house money” to send jolts of lightning through the spine of Charger nation and the Cowboys survived an old school shootout in soon-to-be retired Texas Stadium to remain, in my mind, the best team in football. The Niners turned a corner, the Patriots silenced a lot of people and the Panthers showed an enormous amount of potential in winning their second straight heart-thumper. DeSean Jackson gaffed.

NFL seasons tend to give the illusion that the most current version of itself is the craziest to ever grace the sport of Football. Year after year, we roll our eyes and wipe our foreheads free of the sweat and exclaim tat we have never seen a season quite like this one. Brimming with controversy, suspense and surprise, week 2 delivered validation to week 1’s promises of an intense and unpredictable year to come.

I’ve long abandoned freaking out about fantasy implications when watching the games. The stress is something inhuman altogether and I would never subject myself to it, again. The chaos that ensued throughout the fantasy world over DeSean Jackson’s premature endzone celebration was something comical to behold for me (though I started Donovan McNabb instead of Philip Rivers and was already downtrodden over that, as it is) as I had near to nothing invested in the situation. For others, the foible was hardly forgivable.

In the end, there is one thing I’ve learned about football. Always expect what is completely unexpected. You’ll save yourself a few grey hairs and maybe even a heart.

 

Let’s roll.

 

  1. Dallas Cowboys: Still the best team in football. They overcame an extremely good Eagles team in spite of a handful of mistakes. Monday night’s barn burner was the most watched game in cable TV history; and the Cowboys won it.
  2. Green Bay Packers: Still the 2nd best. Clearly this week’s match up with the Cowboys will settle the matter of number 1 but there should be a little concern in Green Bay with how easily the Pack let the Lions back into the game before wrenching it away. The Cowboys will not be anywhere near as forgiving as the Lions.
  3. Denver Broncos: Ok. The Broncos are for real. Their win, albeit controversial and lucky, was further proof that diabetes had a much more significant effect on Jay Cutler than we ever could have imagined.
  4. Buffalo Bills: I see a lot of other teams placed higher than the Bills on other rankings and I really don’t understand it. They have now beaten two good football teams in a row. In one particular stretch while trailing by less than a score late against an imposing Jags defense, they converted a 3rd and 5 with a deep pass, followed shortly with the winning touchdown strike. Scary.
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers: They squeaked out of Cleveland but the Browns aren’t a bad team and Big Ben was playing with a separated/sprained/maimed/whatever shoulder. They have a tough match up next week against the Eagles that will certainly tell us a lot about them but so far they are in control of the AFC North.
  6. Tennessee Titans: With Houston, Minnesota and Baltimore coming up before their bye, the Titans look to be in the driver’s seat in the AFC South. Best part is that VY can take his time thinking his life through while Kerry Collins rekindles his game and the Titans won’t miss a beat.
  7. New York Giants: No, I’m sorry but I’m still not convinced. Torching the Rams doesn’t tell me anything given how awful Eli looked against the Redskins a week before. They get another easy match up against the hapless Bungles and we might not know what this team is really about until they play Cleveland in week 6.
  8. Carolina Panthers: The Panthers are JUST getting Steve Smith back? This team has shown an unusual amount of tenacity so far this season with two gutsy comebacks both without their star player and premier go-to guy. Their schedule from here on out is pretty manageable so, before we know it, they might start running away with the NFC South.
  9. New England Patriots: I think it’s incredibly telling that Matt Cassel can lead this team to victory over an improved division rival in their house with very little trouble. The Patriot system is ridiculous.
  10. Arizona Cardinals: It certainly wouldn’t be fair to leave an undefeated division leader out of the top ten. The Cardinals have some tough games leading up to their week 7 bye with games against the Bills and Cowboys but Kurt Warner has made this team a much better one and possibly even a playoff one.
  11. Philadelphia Eagles: They lost a tough one in Dallas but this is still one of the better teams in the NFL and it showed Monday night. McNabb is an entirely different QB when healthy and while the defense gave up a lot of points to the Cowboys, they are capable of shutting down most other offenses. DeSean Jackson needs to run an extra half dozen laps at every practice from here till Sunday.
  12. New Orleans Saints: They’re gone again. This defense is going to be their Achilles Heel for the rest of the season unless they can shore it up a bit… especially in the secondary where they can’t cover anybody. The Redskins are getting better and all but the Saints should have been able to handle the game and didn’t because they have no way of stopping the big play.
  13. San Diego Chargers: The blown call and the “equipment malfunction” ultimately decided the Chargers-Broncos tilt but the San Diego defense remains to be the big question for this team having given up more points than every team in football but the Lions, Rams and Seahawks. However, I rank them here because they also have scored more points than anybody in the AFC not named the Broncos.
  14. Indianapolis Colts: Peyton looked much better down the stretch. Maybe it takes him a game and a half to find his groove but now that he has, the Colts are going to have to fix that running game and their horrendous run D to be serious contenders. If it weren’t for the Vikings’ impotent passing game, we’d be lookin’ at an 0-2 Colts team.
  15. Chicago Bears: They’ve been tough and have run the football hard and were it not for a very surprising Panthers team, would probably be undefeated right now. They have a couple of tough ones coming up against Tampa and Philly but both are in the windy city and can prove to be a good measuring stick of how far along they and their sensational rookie Matt Forte have really come.
  16. New York Jets: Brett Favre simply cannot do it by himself. I’m convinced that the Jets are still the Jets of old because they seem completely clueless as to what to do with Favre under center. I guess they’re not accustomed to having someone there who can do the things he can.
  17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: That defense still comes after quarterbacks as though they’re covered in powdered sugar and Warren Sapp is still roaming between the seams. They absolutely terrorized Matt Ryan but their real test will be the Chicago Bears this Sunday who have a great O line and can run the ball very well to take some of that pressure off QB Kyle Orton. The QB situation in Tampa is a mess of egos.
  18. Washington Redskins: I’m not entirely sold on this Redskins team, yet. Jason Campbell shows moments of brilliance but they took advantage of an extremely porous Saints team and I’m not sure the same Skins team that reared its head (and lost) against an abysmal Giants performance isn’t about to pop up again against tough Arizona, Dallas and Philly.
  19. Oakland Raiders: I have no problem placing them this high contrary to what just about every other sports writer in the country is doing. Quite frankly, the MNF game against the Broncos is starting to look more and more like a statement of how good the Broncos are than anything else. Russell still looks a bit lost at this level but McFadden is ridiculous, Bush is solid and that defense can be as imposing as any in the NFL. How they perform against a very tough Bills team will tell us a lot about their week 1 meltdown and whether or not Kiffin will have a job.
  20. San Francisco 49ers: How peculiar: I’m not sure how I forgot that I knew JT O’Sullivan from our time back at my Alma Mater, UC Davis, but it might have something to do with how unfair I have been to him and the Niners this season (and the fact that I lost track of him when, out of college, he ended up in the abyss that was the QB depth chart in Green Bay).  He’s turning into a monster in Mike Martz’ offense and I think I’m going to order a jersey.
  21. Jacksonville Jaguars: No, I’m not placing them too low. They’re winless and have scored a paltry 26 points behind what has looked like a lackluster offense. Garrard has already matched his interception total from last year. They’ve lost a couple of heartbreakers, to be sure, but with Indy, Denver and Pittsburgh in 3 of their next 4, this team is headed for trouble.
  22. Baltimore Ravens: They only played one game so it is hard to really change their ranking. They have a couple of tough ones ahead so I think we’ll find out real soon whether their D is back or not.
  23. Seattle Seahawks: They’re decimated offensively. I’ve never seen a team more singly unfortunate in their receiving corps than this Seahawks team. Their defense also hasn’t done much to stop opponents from scoring. This squad is slipping and slipping fast.
  24. Atlanta Falcons: They came back down to earth against the Bucs who were too tough on Michael Turner and Matt Ryan. This Falcons team will have its growing pains but I like where they’re headed.
  25. Minnesota Vikings: I’m dropping them this low until they show any kind of semblance of a passing game. I have Bernard Berrian in one of my fantasy leagues and it has been torture. Tarvaris Jackson cannot manage the offense and until something changes under center, the Vikings are not going to be able to run their way to a postseason berth.
  26. Cleveland Browns: They didn’t look much better against the Steelers but at least they kept them from scoring much. But really, did these guys even have a pre-season? They look incredibly out of sync.
  27. Houston Texans: I’m still convinced that they’re not all that bad. They haven’t had a chance to rebound from week 1’s drubbing by what is starting to look like a very solid Steelers team but we need to see more to bring them up.
  28. Detroit Lions: So at least they can score. Kitna seems to have lost the Nostrodamus outfit and a good thing, too. The Lions are absolutely atrocious defensively and aren’t explosive enough offensively to keep up with anyone.
  29. Kansas City Chiefs: Not sure what is going on in KC. The way that Coach Edwards trotted out his three quarterbacks randomly almost seemed a little conceding. And why is LJ not getting his carries?
  30. Miami Dolphins: Well, nobody said the overhaul would occur overnight and a very talented Cardinals team was enough to demoralize the team after a solid week 1 showing. The Fish still have a long way to go.
  31. Cincinnati Bengals: Not sure who is truly worse between these guys and the Rams but they were absolutely terrible against the Titans wind or no wind. There is really no explanation to where all the firepower of that once high octane offense went. Their defense is worse than ever.
  32. St Louis Rams: Scott Linehan’s job might be even less safe than Lane Kiffin’s and that is pretty, pretty bad.

 

 

Stay tuned as Week 3’s predictions will be coming as furiously as the Raiders’ rushing attack.

 

Dig it.