|I'm Not Happy With You, Davey|
The picks, of course, were the second-best week of my year. And did nothing more than pretty up my numbers, but not my bank account.
This week, I have no idea right now if I'll get to the sportsbook to lay a little cash on the outcome of these games. I'll only know later in the week. And if I go... I'm sure that the picks will stink. And if not, these are gold.
So with that little dare to the Beavisian Deities (or, well, angry dude with Amish farming equipment, who also seems invested in the gambling vice)...
On to the picks!
* * * * *
Tampa at MINNESOTA (-5.5)
This is the first year I've had the NFL Network, and the first year that we've had all-year games on Thursday night. So I'm sorry to have enabled this whole mess of disjointed games, awful picks, and overall mendacity, and just thank my lucky stars that my parley action never involves these awful, awful games.
This week, look for the Vikings' QB Christian Ponder to bounce back from one of his worst games, the Bucs to deepen their depression after losing a winnable game to the cheating Saints, and RB Adrian Peterson to get to his Sell Highest moment of 2012. (And seriously, AP owner, now's the time when you ease away from your horse, because he never finishes the year strong.)
Vikings 24, Bucs 17
Carolina at CHICAGO (-9)
Man, do I hate giving this many points here; the Panthers have bounce-back written all over them, and the Bears have a short and cocky week after the MNF home win against the Lions. But this defense has always done it's best work on dual threat QBs who struggle with coverage reads (see how QB Michael Vick has never, ever, beaten the Bears), and the Panthers are almost as bad on defense. This might be the week where Chicago gets survivor pool play, and I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be hating this pick for much of Sunday... until QB Cam Newton throws a pick six that ends it.
Bears 27, Panthers 17
SAN DIEGO at Cleveland (+1)
Folks, this is what Norv Turner does; you don't get to live forever with people chanting for your death if you don't win enough games to get their hopes up in the first place. The Browns are feisty on defense and have green shoots on offense, but they also really, really know how to lose in close games (see how rookie WR Josh Gordon dropped that game-winner in Indy last week? That's latent Browns DNA right there). And it's too early in the year, with the weather being too nice, for the home team to really enjoy the home field advantage yet.
Chargers 31, Browns 23
SEATTLE at Detroit (-1)
Ready to kick dirt on the Lions yet? I know I am. Since last year's sneaky hot start, this team has been Same Old Lions, albeit with fantasy relevance. This week, against a Seahawks team that has a three-day rest advantage to make up for the home field, and a defense that's potentially better than the Bear team that held them scoreless for 59 minutes last week, more people join me with the shovels.
Seahawks 23, Lions 20
Jacksonville at GREEN BAY (-13)
I've really enjoyed the Pack Revival these last few weeks, as the team has gotten back to what makes them special -- the otherworldly play of the best QB in the world, Aaron Rodgers. Last week in St. Louis, he terminated a good defense with mobility and non-convention This week in Green Bay, he'll get the ball early and often -- the Jags' offense is terrible with starting QB Blaine Gabbert, and even worse with veteran back-up Chad Henne -- and the only suspense will be if the home town fans with get prolonged exposure to the back-ups. This is going to be such a drubbing, even those snaky RB Rashard Jennings grabs in fantasy aren't going to be worth much.
Packers 41, Jaguars 17
Indianapolis at TENNESSEE (-3.5)
Can the Colts keep RB Chris Johnson from continuing to recharge the QB Matt Hasselbeck Revival? The short answer is no, and that also makes for a pretty short blurb about this one. In a few years, QB Andrew Luck will own this team, but for now, not so much.
Titans 24, Colts 20
New England at ST. LOUIS (+7)
Wow, have the Patriots really sunk to the point where I'm not expecting them to blow out the eternally blown out Rams? Yes, and because they are just the kind of smash-mouth physical defense that takes the air out of the Patriot sails. Remember the Seahawks game, or last week against the Jets -- long periods of hurry up and punt, with WR Brandon Lloyd not making enough plays on the outside, and the OL giving up penalties and sacks to put them in irresponsible third and longs. Look for more of the same here, some preposterously long FGs from K Greg The Leg Zuerlein at home, and a game that will smell like an upset all day long, but fail at the close.
Patriots 27, Rams 26
MIAMI at NY Jets (-1)
The best thing I can say about the AFC East is that it will be over in just a few short months, and what happens here won't matter much in the post-season. After that, it's just an admission of your gambling problem. But if you must, and we must. I like the Fish because they'll be able to sustain drives more often, and really should have won the game the last time these two teams met. Back then, the Jets had CB Darelle Revis. They really aren't as good without him.
Dolphins 20, Jets 16
Atlanta at PHILADELPHIA (-1)
Look at the bright side, Eagles Fans: this will either be a rousing win after the bye over the NFL's last unbeaten team, with renewed hope that new DC Todd Bowles is the latest solution to all problems and HC Andy Reid's continued post-bye magic spell will continue... or you can all join me in the five years and counting bandwagon to finally get Coach For Life out of town. It's a no-lose situation! (Feel free to also look at the Charger pick above for the same Tease Has Got To Win Middling Games To Set Up Losing Big Games Later mojo, too. If the Chargers and Eagles would simply just trade coaches, both fan bases could put a fresh face to their hate.)
And if you are looking for actual football reasons to go Green here, the Falcons' defense is secretly bad against the run, and their team is openly good enough for Reid to try to win this game with, you know, actual coaching, rather than being a mule-headed stylist. If he had this much respect and preparation for the game every week, there would be 2-3 more division crowns to his credit, and maybe even that Lombardi trophy that he'll never come close to sniffing ever again.
Damn, I just made myself depressed again.
But, um, hey -- not this week! It's a no-lose situation! And QB Michael Vick will continue to be the worst thing ever to Falcon Fan!
Eagles 27, Falcons 17
Washington at PITTSBURGH (-5)
Once more with feeling, people -- a great QB, even a jaw-droppingly sexy rookie one with wheels to burn and obvious eye value, does not make for a great team. And it really does not make for a great defense, as the thin Redskins keep losing the few guys on the roster who are actually capable of winning football. Look for RG3 to keep it close for a while, to scare Yinzer Fan all day long, and to eventually make the Young Guy mistakes that doom his club's comeback effort. And the comeback effort will be in place because, well, his defense isn't very good. And isn't getting any better.
Steelers 31, Redskins 21
OAKLAND at Kansas City (-1)
How bad is the AFC, really? So bad that the Raiders are going to get back in the AFC West race after eight quarters of football against Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne and Brady Quinn. You'd face tougher opposition in many college conferences. Arrowhead has held no terror to the Silver and Black in recent years, and while this offense is far from a finished item (RB Darren McFadden, in particular, is ruining my fantasy team), they are still capable of, say, over 300 yards in total offense and several touchdowns. Whereas the Chiefs prior to Quinn were capable of turning the ball over a lot, then scoring in garbage time. Now, they don't turn the ball over, and don't ever score. Big improvement.
Raiders 24, Chiefs 10
NEW YORK at Dallas (+1)
I can only assume this number is due to Dallas being a public team, or the gambling public thinking too much of that opening week game... but since then, the Giants have gotten better and found quality in their depth, while the Cowboys have just gotten more hurt and uncertain. Hell, they might have even lost to Carolina last week without some red zone largess from their hosts, and the notoriously front-running locals have checked out on these frauds (finally!), giving up big swaths of the Jerruhsoleum to Road Fan.(Did you know that the local ratings for Cowboy Football are through the floorboards? It's true.) Look for more of that (count the CRUUUUZE chants, for one) in this one, and the Giants to put a stranglehold on the division.
Giants 27, Cowboys 24
NEW ORLEANS at Denver (-6)
The line has moved a lot in Denver's favorite the past week, and while they are still going to win this game -- New Orleans couldn't stop a newborn in the passing game, let alone the Broncos -- Denver's disquieting tendency to slow starts makes the number a little too much for me to swallow. Look for an early Saints lead, the Broncos to come storming back to take the lead, and a back-door cover before the buzzer. And yes, this will be a gold mine for fantasy players.
Broncos 34, Saints 31
San Francisco at ARIZONA (+7)
Too big of a number for a bitter and sluggy division game, between two teams that overdose on the defense. The Cards might have shown the semblance of a pulse in the running game last week, and the Niners haven't been at their best in the desert in recent years. Prepare for an ugly game that you won't want to watch, and ESPN covering it as if it were going to be shown on an eternal loop in Canton.
Niners 17, Cardinals 13
Last week: 8-3-1
Year to date: 51-50-2