Thursday, September 26, 2013

NFL Week 4 Picks: As A Nation, We Can All Agree On One Thing: Thursday Night Football Sucks And Must End

No One Would Miss This At All
As I was watching last week's slopfest in Philly, I tried to remember a good time that I had watching a Thursday night game. After all, these things have been playing for years; it's not a small set of data at this point. And try as I may, there was, well, none. Not a single moment.

The ratings for these games are good, of course. It's the only game in town, America will mark out for NFL in any form or time, and sports are immune to time-shifting. We will be fortunate to avoid, in the long run, doubleheaders on every single night of the week, as increasingly bitter and beleaguered fantasy football players and gamblers (which is to say, gamblers and more gamblers) have their lives ruined, no matter what level of money they play for. Games on Thursday night are the NFL equivalent of holding down a fat diabetic kid and force-feeding him the worst chocolate available.

Yes, I'm bitter. I'm also bitter over things like Seattle calling off the dogs in the third quarter and still not allowing the wide-open back-door cover, or the Raiders failing to take enough opportunity of a plainly bored Denver team to do the same. Tennessee won and pushed the points, my Eagles spit the bit for the 8th straight time at home (can we just play one game on the parking lot where the Vet was, so we can actually have a home-field advantage again?), Buffalo had so many CBs drop that even the freaking Jets resembled a 21st century offense... and on and on and on. Three straight losing weeks are not helping my mood. Neither is the persistent fall flu that I can't shake.

So I'm good and bitter, and then work kicked in with one of those triple shifts that made the exercise of writing this a fourth shift fun time. Let's just get this over with, slam some winners, and cleanse the palate with righteous anger, OK?

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

SAN FRANCISCO (-3) at St. Louis

What a game this would be on Sunday. Two increasingly desperate teams coming off bad losses, the ugly specter of Seattle running away with what was supposed to be a great division, the home dome Rams crowd screaming their fool heads off for a genuinely nasty defense against a road team that might only have one good pass catcher with TE Vernon Davis hobbled.... but none of that is going to happen, because it's on Thursday night, and Thursday night games are where the NFL pees on your back and tells you it's rain.

Give me the Niners in a field goal festival of epic dullness, close enough that you can't turn it off even though you really want to, with the Missouri Dome sounding like the sad little warehouse it is, and half of the crowd wandering off to take the underground moving sidewalk to the casino in the third quarter, slowly feeding quarters into machines that will never, ever, give them back anything. Nothing like being a Rams fan! Or watching the NFL on Thursday night. Someone, anyone, please bash in Roger Goodell's head with a claw hammer. And post it on YouTube. We'll need something to watch after this.

Niners 18, Rams 13

BALTIMORE (-3) at Buffalo

Poor Bills Fan. You had some actual hope of being the frisky second place team in the AFC East this year after that win over Carolin, with QB EJ Manuel combining with WR Stevie Johnson and RB CJ Spiller to give you a mildly intriguing Young Trio vibe... and then you went to Rexland, lost a half dozen defensive players to cholera, mange and scurvy, and watched the previously rushless Ryans sack the QB a dozen times, providing the blueprint on how to crush your team. Namely, send the house at Manuel, because while he's big and can run, he's too mindful of being a Real QB to take the opportunities his legs can give him. The Ravens will eat that up, along with the fact that the Bills secondary is so riddled with injury, they even made Santonio Holmes look spry last week. Sigh.

Ravens 24, Bills 17

CINCINNATI (-4) at Cleveland

Had fun last week, didn't you, Browns Fan? No one expected you to win after Tankest 2013, but the guys on the roster took one look at returning WR Josh Gordon and said Let's Boogie, and by the time the Vikings adapted, it was too late. Oh, wait, did I just say the Vikings adapted? I kill me! No, they just lose.

This week, you get to try that trick again against a real defensive line, and that's going to make a wee bit of difference. As in, damned near total. I'd take the Bengals at 2X the points here, MNF Jinx be damned. (It's also not that big of a road trip for them, really.) Cincy scores on some short turnover fields and rolls.

Bengals 31, Browns 20

CHICAGO (+3) at Detroit

Love, love, love this line. Chicago is a complete team with the ability to overcome mistakes; Detroit is a stars and scrubs outfit with questionable coaching and turnover issues. The Bears know they can put something damn near a hammerlock on the division this week with the Packers on bye, and the league hasn't shown that it can stop the Marc Trestman Offense (hint: it contains linemen who belong in the NFL!) yet. Oh, and this will be yet another game in which the Bears score on defense. That must be fun to root for, really.

Bears 27, Lions 21

NY Giants at KANSAS CITY (-4.5)

OK, New York, I give -- you are just that bad, really. I know there's bound to be a bounce-back game in this collection of slugs, but why do we believe that, really? Maybe HC Tom Coughlin is just starting to check out; at his age, no reason not to. The RB carousel makes no sense, QB Eli Manning has the worst body language this side of Josh Freeman, and the defense shows no evidence of fire or a pass rush. There's no excuse for never being in a game with an 0-3 team where a third of their home crowd is wearing your colors, and that's just what happened to Big Blue. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have extra rest, the absolute knowledge that they need every game to make the Denver contest meaningful later in the year, and all kinds of playmakers on defense. Oh, and HC Andy Reid has also had surprising success against Coughlin over the years, too. Lay the points, lay the wood, and the growing realization that the NFC East is horrible, well, grows.

Chiefs 31, Giants 20

PITTSBURGH (-1) at Minnesota

The Vikings generate no pass rush, might be starting Matt Cassell (Matt Cassell!) at QB, and are going against a veteran defense that usually does well against the run. Why is this a pick'em game? Oh, right, because Pitt lost on MNF, is on the road, and is winless from the weaker conference. On the other hand, the Vikings are starting Matt Cassell, and the game is in London, which means it will also be horrible. If the NFL ever plays a Thursday Night Game in London, I think both teams will score negative points.

Steelers 31, Vikings 17

Arizona at TAMPA BAY (-1)

New QB (Mike Glennon, a game manager with draft pedigree and size, if no actual top-shelf potential) in Tampa, where HC Greg Schiano looks to be in that second year spiral to unemployment. His team is physical but really dumb and undisciplined, and the old QB was so bad, he couldn't put up numbers with a top 10 RB (Doug Martin), WR (Vincent Jackson), and defense that's better than most. All of that goes away this week as they play pinball with Cardinals QB Carson Palmer, and Bucs Fan tries to convince himself that the year is still salvageable, and Josh Freeman was the problem all along. Um, OK then.

Bucs 27, Cardinals 16

INDIANAPOLIS (-9.5) at Jacksonville

Is it too early to start the Perfect Speculation? The Jags look to be ready for all of those oh so unfortunate season-ending injuries for the handful of players that will be in the NFL in 2 years, and with the exception of DE Jason "Play Every Play As If It Were Your Last, And It's A Deep Drop Pass" Babin, it's going to be one of those rare games where QB Andrew Luck isn't taking a ton of punishment. Jax usually plays this game tight at home, and the Colts are no fans of heat and real grass, but nothing is going to save this collection of Jagoffs from their date with NFL winless history. Even if the Colts are secretly mediocre.

Colts 31, Jaguars 17

SEATTLE (-2.5) at Houston

I really want to go with the Texans as a home dog here, and probably would if I saw 4.5 as the number. Seattle has a history of sleepy road play, and these WRs are not conducive to comebacks.  But at 2.5, I'm just not getting the margin I need to feel good about it, and there's the sinking feeling that the Texans are still a paper tiger team that's about to get punched in the month -- a lot -- by a tankish offensive unit. If rookie WR DeAndre Hopkins has a good game this week against the best secondary in the NFL, he's my early choice for AFC Rookie of the Year. Not counting on it, though.

Seahawks 31, Texans 28

NY JETS (+3.5) at Tennessee

Maybe it's just time to accept that the Jets aren't a laughingstock this year. The defense has played well, the special teams aren't putting it on the ground, and while QB Geno Smith is a turnover machine, he doesn't get enough opportunities to be that, and hence, to break the backs of his teammates. RB Bilal Powell is running away with the lead committee carries, WR Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley aren't playing horrible, and the coaching has ben close to the vest. On the road against a QB that had a good game last week and is due to regress, they get another win.

Jets 24, Titans 17

Philadelphia at DENVER (-11)

The game on the calendar that no one in Eagles Nation thought they were going to win is here, and while I'm not as doom and gloom as many -- they could just get out to an early lead, get lucky on defense, and play up tempo to the point where the short-rest Broncos don't have their usual altitude advantage -- the chance of keeping that up for four quarters, not making mistakes, and converting on the very few opportunities that Denver will give them aren't enough to cover the number. Especially when Broncos QB Peyton Manning makes *good* defenses look like toe jam, let along bad ones, at altitude, losing the time of possession battle.

Broncos 45, Eagles 31

WASHINGTON (-2.5) at Oakland

If Raiders QB Terelle Pryor had made this start, it would be a true toss-up and a mildly entertaining game to watch, albeit one between two teams with no chance at the post-season. Instead, we'll get QB Matt Flynn, and while he'll still do some damage to the Washington defense -- so would you and I, really, and I'm 44 and a hobbit -- it won't be enough to sustain drives or open up enough room for RB Darren McFadden to carry the load. For one week, at least, Robert Griffin keeps those Kirk Cousins fans at bay.

Washington 34, Raiders 20

DALLAS (-1.5) at San Diego

The usual non-home game crowd for the Chargers, who host a Dallas team that played one of their best games in forever last week in curb-stomping the Rams. Here, they'll give up yards but not too many points, and CB Dez Bryant goes off for major numbers. Surprisingly easy, and further proof for the nation's media that the perpetual .500 franchise with one playoff win this century is finally putting it all together for a Super Bowl run. (Dallas Fans are like Charlie Brown with the football, but a lot less likable. PULL THAT BALL BACK, LUCY! PULL IT BACK!)

Cowboys 30, Chargers 20

New England (+2) at ATLANTA

Home dome, night game, against a team that can't really exploit their weak secondary, because they are all out of plus receivers. This looks to me like one of those games where the Falcons get out early and almost spit up the entire lead before finally securing the cover late. No one makes victory taste like defeat like the Falcons!

Falcons 34, Patriots 30

MIAMI at New Orleans (-7)

My upset special of the week. Yes, the Saints are looking good and Miami is no one's idea of a 3-0 team, but the way to beat NO is with constant pressure on the QB -- and the Dolphins are getting that from everyone. QB Ryan Tannenhill is showing breakout signs, the WR tandem isn't hopeless now with Mike Wallace in the mix, and RB Lamar Miller has to keep re-earning his job as if RB Daniel Thomas wasn't a cadaver and a half. I think Miami stays close all night, makes a play on defense, and sneaks out of town with a fairly shocking win, after a week of chalk stompings.

Dolphins 27, Saints 24

Last week: 6-9-1

Year to date: 19-26-3

Career: 689-688-33


snd_dsgnr said...

You think that the Giants are going to score 20 against the Chiefs? Did they sign 5 new offensive linemen while I wasn't looking?

snd_dsgnr said...

Would've been fun to be wrong about that one. Oh well, maybe they can get a package of picks for the #1 overall.

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