Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Just think of this as my picks
I know that you have other choices for your NFL picks column, folks. That the Internets are filled with touts and their strange Web finds, esoteric references, detailed betting knowledge and long-view historical trends.

This column, of course, has none of that. But there is a dogged persistence, along with the knowledge that no matter how long the games go, how stress-inducing the game management of walrus-faced buffoons, or how challenged the simple act of watching too any football telecasts will make the act of writing. Or thinking, or being able to conduct oneself in polite company.

Because, well, after four weeks of this, I'm at dead zero .500, the coin flip of all coin flips. And as pedestrian as that might seem, I actually kind of feel good about it, since the first four weeks are downright diabolical in their ability to provide fool's gold and pretenders. In a league that's been rocketing towards random for years, this has gone over the top.

Then again, I could be this guy. And sure, it's not quite as good as ALL COCKY, but that's just the kind of thing you are going to get in this league. INCONSISTENT!

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

ARIZONA at St. Louis (+1)

Not quite getting the line here. If St Louis is able to go into Miami and survive the all-time Brian Hartline game, why should they lose to a Rams team that doesn't seem like they are very good outside of the special teams?

Well, because the concept of Kevin Kolb being 5-0 is just too much for the human mind to bear, and the way that the Rams handled the Seahawks last week opened some eyes. Under HC Jeff Fisher, the Rams appear to have a backbone, and don't turtle up with a deficit. But they won't be able to run the ball against this Arizona defense, and the scary thing about Kolb is that he might have only needed confidence to be competent. I still don't think they are the best team in their division, but you don't get any better than perfect. But it's not going to be easy.

Cardinals 24, Rams 22

Miami at CINCINNATI (-4)

Really not that much respect out there for the Bengals, who are a rather under-the-radar 3-1, with only the opening MNF loss on the road in Baltimore to keep them from getting actual notice. The defense has been doing it with mirrors (112 PA in 4 games), and Miami comes in feeling good about their chances to move the ball after QB Ryan Tannehill's from the blue miracle day last week against the Cardinals... but the road is another matter, even against the forgiving Bengals. Bet the over before you bet the line.

Bengals 31, Dolphins 20

GREEN BAY at Indianapolis (+7)

Things are not all good in Green Bay, where the defense still isn't making plays, WR Greg Jennings can't get healthy, and the team is still way too enamored with retread plowhorse RB Cedric Benson to notice that the once explosive offense isn't playing at the same pace. But they certainly got a lot closer against the Saints, and while the Colts will score some points in this one, the dirty little secret of the Pack under QB Aaron Rodgers is that they are actually better on a fast track and under a roof. The people that moved Rodgers in their fantasy leagues started to wonder if they made a mistake last week, but in this week, they'll feel it hard.

Packers 41, Colts 24

BALTIMORE at Kansas City (+5)

Time was that you could count on the Ravens to blow road favorite games like this one, where the home Chiefs have a running game, a conservative mindset, and a few quality defenders to make things interesting. But the biggest problem, among many, in KC is that S Eric Berry, once one of the best young hitters in the league, is now, by the numbers, one of the NFL's worst. Against a Ravens team that tests people deep and can get RB Ray Rice in space on a miss or die matchup, the road team gets the big plays they'll need to get the cover.

Ravens 30, Chiefs 20

Cleveland at NY GIANTS (-7.5)

High confidence pick here. The Browns can defend, but they do not protect the passer well, and they are going to run into a buzzsaw in the angry Giants, who had all kinds of chances to win last Sunday in Philadelphia under the lights, but didn't get it done. There's a reason why Blue has 2 rings in the last 5 years to go with their one win over the Eagles, and it's because they bounce back well from adversity. The Browns, especially on the road and in this spot, are not going to be particularly adverse. (Even with the extra couple of days to prepare.)

Giants 27, Browns 16

PHILADELPHIA at Pittsburgh (-3)

I'm going to make Steeler Fan very happy here by disrespecting his team, and it doesn't really matter that this is my lowest confidence pick of the week. After all, the Steelers have home field, the bye, and maybe the return of S Troy Polamalu and LB James Harrison to add teeth to the defense, and RB Rashard Mendenhall to the offense. But the problem with the Steelers D is that even when they've been good, they haven't forced turnovers, and as the Giants game showed, forcing turnovers against the Eagles is required. There's also the fact that the Pittsburgh OL is going to have all kinds of trouble protecting the QB, and the run game hasn't been good for a while. If the game is won in the trenches, I think it goes to Philly; if it's won on turnovers, look for the home team to triumph. Since you can't bet on turnovers, even with this Eagles team, I'm going Green. Barely.

Eagles 24, Steelers 20

ATLANTA at Washington (+3)

Maybe my highest confidence pick of the week. Look, folks, I realize that QB Robert Griffin The Fantasy Football Savior The Third is all kinds of great and a generational talent... but he's also 2-2 and nearly lost to the 1-3 Bucs last week. He's a transcendent talent on a franchise that more or less defines broken, and he's not going to get nearly enough help against a Falcons team that might have 9 of the 10 best players in this game. This won't be an unfamiliar story for Skins Fan by the end of the year.

Falcons 31, Redskins 20

SEATTLE at Carolina (-3)

Why do I still have faith in Seattle QB Russell Wilson? I'm not sure, really; he got off to a good start in St. Louis last week, but faded badly down the stretch while throwing 3 picks, and the skeptics have been out in full force to call for FA QB Matt Flynn. But the Seahawks are still 2-2, with a world-class defense and a dominant power RB in Marshawn Lynch, and everything you read about Wilson says he's a competitor that does not stop working. Against a Carolina team that has been schizophrenic at best in 2012, I think he gets it done and keeps the job.

Seahawks 24, Panthers 17

Chicago at JACKSONVILLE (+6)

Just a gut feeling here, that Chicago won't be sharp on the road for a second straight week, that the short prep against an unfamiliar opponent won't be a good mix for them, and that RB Maurice Jones-Drew will eventually benefit from a patient game plan. Add it up, and it spells back door cover. Besides, Bear Fan spent all of his money taking over Dallas; he's not making the trip to Redneck Florida with nearly the same enthusiasm.

Bears 24, Jaguars 20

TENNESSEE at Minnesota (-6)

Another feel move. The Titans are likely to start QB Matt Hasselbeck, who presided over the resurrection of RB Chris Johnson's fantasy value last week. They also are likely to have a healthy WR Kenny Britt back, which makes all kinds of difference, even to an aging noodle-arm like Haas. The Vikes beat the Lions on two special teams touchdowns last week, which won't happen against the competent Titan units. I like the Titans to take the air out of the Vikings' bubble this week with the outright upset.

Titans 24, Vikings 20

Denver at NEW ENGLAND (-7)

Another high confidence moment. The Patriots stopped fooling around last week in Buffalo and laid the Bills out, with the defense picking up turnovers and the offense showing unexpected power running prowess. Against a Denver team that has historical problems traveling, I don't like their chances. And against the Death Star in boot up mode, I really don't like their chances.

Patriots 34, Broncos 17

Buffalo at SAN FRANCISCO (-9.5)

A different kind of test for the emerging Niners; can they win the clear favorite home game where the opponent has weapons but no right, given the disparity of trench talent, to be in the game? The Bills on a very long plane flight will provide more problems than the moribund Jets, but I think the Niners are too well-coached to turn this into a track meet, and the Bills' investments on the defense haven't borne fruit. Finally, all things being equal, go with the NFC teams this year.

Niners 27, Bills 16

San Diego at NEW ORLEANS (-3.5)

Just can't see the Saints, even with their problematic defense and not very good committee RB situation, starting the year 0-5 with a loss at home to the Chargers. Even when the Saints weren't good, a night home game was never a comfortable moment for the bettor, and putting your money behind HC Norv Turner isn't going to happen. Look for QB Philip Rivers to try to do too much to make up for a weak running game, and to eventually lose the INT battle. But it will take a while.

Saints 31, Chargers 24

HOUSTON at NY Jets (+9)

Houston is basically the AFC version of the Niners, where a strong defense, running game and limited but strong offensive weapons were more than enough to show the Jets were one of the worst teams in the NFL. The problem with the Jets is simple; the offensive line is no longer elite (C Nick Mangold, in particular, looks like a shell of his former self), the WRs do not get off the line, and the RBs are ordinary at best. Even if you had Peyton Manning in his prime, he'd still be operating in a situation where the defense just doesn't have that much field to defend on any given play. The Jets basically face a red zone level of defense all over the field.

Now, add in the fact that the QB has severe accuracy issues, and that's true with both of these clowns. No team in the NFL would trade for, and give, a starting job to either Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow, so pretending that it matters which one of them gets the start is just silly.

So this is going to be a blowout, and not interesting, and not watched by anyone who isn't a glutton for Jet Fan booing their angry heads off for several quarters worth. Especially after the Texans spend the second half putting up 100+ yards on the ground and letting the air out of the ball, play after soul-deadening play...

Titans 27, Jets 6

Last week: 8-7

Year to date: 31-31-1

Career: 573-555-27

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