Thursday, October 24, 2013

Week 8 NFL Picks: Turning Tide Or Setting Sun

Subject To Interpretation
Here's what an era of Rebuilding Year / Not Enough Good Fantasy League Keepers and Good Grief, Every Point Spread Game Is Going Wrong brings you... middling weeks that feel like Progress. My fantasy team had a nice little week and surged all the way up to, um, 10th. Out of 12. My real-life laundry got curb-stomped at home by an indifferent Dallas team, but at least the defense is looking mediocre rather than god-awful. We also got past the idea that you might one day feel good about Nick Foles being your QB. That may not seem like progress to you, but it kind of does to me, actually. There's something about looking like Napoleon Dynamite that tells me that you are never going to win playoff games, really.

So I'm actually strangely encouraged coming into this week. I mean, we were almost at .500 for the picks. My guys are on the upswing, with Ryan Matthews doing his annual Not Entirely Useless tease. (Two straight 100-yard games, and actual blitz pick up. Now, if he could just kneecap Danny Trollhead, we might have something.) My laundry might actually win a home game this week for the first time since the NFL was paying replacement refs, Mitt Romney was a presidential candidate regretting that 47% remark, and America was falling in meh with a little movie called "Pi." What an innocent age!

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

CAROLINA (-6) at Tampa Bay

This Tampa losing streak is starting to get serious, folks. On Terrible Night Football, I'm looking for the Panther running game to eventually break through the increasingly depressed Buc front, while WR Steve Smith finds space in front of what is presumed to be a national audience. Tampa will also see what a world in which QB Mike Glennon doesn't have the threat of RB Doug Martin to give him a credible play-action fake. That world is not going to be pretty.

Panthers 24, Bucs 13

Dallas at DETROIT (-3)


Wow, was Dallas ready to take the pipe last week. Dispirited and mistake-filed on offense, just kind of there on defense, but with the gift of an imploding Foles to make their road game for the division lead a winner. This week, I think they play better and get a worse result, as WR Calvin Johnson and the home dome crowd wins the game for the not going away Lions. Oh, and this team having a big TE to make plays is starting to get a bit unfair, really. 8-8 is so winning the East.

Lions 31, Cowboys 24

CLEVELAND (+7.5) at Kansas City


The second straight suicide pool mission for the Browns, who were right there with a cover with honor last week in Green Bay, before giving up even that late. The Browns might actually qualify as the best team that the Chiefs have played this year, who are suddenly left as the only undefeated team left in the NFL. I can't tell you how annoying it will be for Eagle Fan to watch Andy Reid go 18-0 this year and win a Super Bowl. Also, it was a little telling that they almost fell to the Texans starting a third-stringer at QB last week.

Chiefs 24, Browns 20

Miami at NEW ENGLAND (-7)


Seems a little high to me, but after last week's stagger loss in New York, and with TE Rob Gronkowski knocking off some rust, it looks like the time for QB Tom Brady to stop being average. If they get 40 snaps out of WR Danny Amendola before he breaks again, maybe that also helps the Patriots look like themselves. Think they regret that Wes Welker bum rush yet?

Patriots 27, Dolphins 17

Buffalo at NEW ORLEANS (-12)


There are reasons to think that the Bills can cover this number, but they tend to go away when you play QB Thad Lewis and get very little out of fantasy league murderer CJ Spiller. I may not have been right about very much this year, but staying away from Spiller was a huge win. Look for QB Drew Brees to make the Bills look bad on defense, which you can do with the secondary WRs and screen game.

Saints 34, Bills 16

NY Giants at PHILADELPHIA (-6)


I loathe this point spread. Seriously, why on Earth is a team with the longest losing streak in home games in franchise history carrying six points against anyone? Because the Giants are just that anyone, really; short week, on the road, playing for very little, the recipient of a gift win against an equally awful team with a beyond clueless game plan. As for the Eagles, QB Michael Vick might only be 80% with the hamstring and if he doesn't finish this game, we're going to watch rookie QB Matt Barkley threaten to take any remaining faith in the franchise's draft prowess and toss it in an open dumpster. With so many iffy factors, I'm putting my faith in RB Shady McCoy, who does better with Vick in the lineup, and the suddenly tolerable Eagle defense. Still, yeesh. Six points? I object. Just not strongly enough.

Eagles 31, Giants 24

San Francisco at JACKSONVILLE (+17)


You are going to laugh, but I actually feel sneaky good about the Jags this week. Second straight home game, versus a second straight road one for the Niners. WR Justin Blackmon is beasting, and RB Maurice Jones-Drew has had moments recently. The Niner defense has, for the record, had more trouble with RBs in the last month than you might think, and it's not as if the Niners are coming into this game primed for a fight. Between the possibility of a back-door cover or the front-door all-day tussle against a West Coast team playing at 10am PST, I think the Jags lose with honor.

Niners 24, Jaguars 16

NY Jets at CINCINNATI (-7)


We're on the every other week schedule with Jets QB Geno Smith, who has been everything that the Jets could have hoped for. But this week, he goes on the road against a solid front and quality secondary (though they are a little banged up). Cincy has sparked up their offense recently with QB Andy Dalton going on a bit of a hot streak, and while that's not likely to continue too much against the Jets, I like him to make fewer mistakes than Smith, and for the Bengals to prevent the late back door cover.

Bengals 26, Jets 17

Pittsburgh at OAKLAND (+2.5)


With two straight wins after a disaster start, Yinzer Fan is starting to hope about relevant football in cold weather, and a trip to 2-4 Oakland certainly looks like a place where they can get closer. But the Raiders are coming off a bye, have home field, and with QB Terrell Pryor, they've got a guy that can move the chains even if the Steelers defend the starting play. With the room and spy work that he demands, RB Darren McFadden could get loose and do damage. On the other side of the field, I'm not seeing QB Ben Roethlisberger getting enough time and space to put up big numbers... or enough support in the run game, either.

Raiders 24, Steelers 20

Washington at DENVER (-13)


A big number to cover against a suddenly resurgent Bob Griffin, with a Bronco team coming off their first loss? Well, sure... but the DC secondary may be the worst that the Broncos will face this year, and it's hard to see how the Bronco defense won't come back with a little starch after that loss. But make no mistake about this; if DC somehow wins this game, they will win the NFC East. Going away.

Broncos 41, Washington 24

Atlanta at ARIZONA (-2.5)


All credit to Falcons QB Matt Ryan, who put up numbers last week without either of his starting WRs... but at home is one thing, and on the road is quite another. The Cardinals defense is secretly frisky, too. Arizona QB Carson Palmer has been a turnover machine, but even those take a day off once in a while, and RB Andre Ellington looks like he's going to get loose against the soft Falcon defense.

Cardinals 26, Falcons 20

GREEN BAY (-10) at Minnesota


Have you ever seen a worse offensive game plan than what Vikings HC Leslie Frazier did in that terrible MNF game? On the road in NY, with a QB (Josh Freeman) making his first start after being in town for less than two weeks, with the best RB on the planet... he throws it. And throws it, and throws it, and throws it, despite the utter lack of success in doing that, and a game that was never really out of reach. I can't explain it, other than to wonder if he was trolling the national audience.

Anyway, the Pack aren't in a great position of power to cover a big number. The WRs are hurt, so is TE Jermichael Finley and prominent members of the defense, and they've historically had trouble in this spot. But the Vikings are just so moribund right now, and QB Aaron Rodgers needs this to stay in front in the NFC North. He'll cover this number late, with the running game salting it away.

Packers 27, Vikings 13

SEATTLE (-11) at St. Louis


The benefit of being an emerging team for Seattle is that your road games start showing up in prime time, when the time zone shift is less of an issue and the young and carefree players on your roster are less likely to take an opponent lying down. In St. Louis against a Rams team that is reduced to the immortal Kellen Clemens, with more and more weapons coming back online, this game looks like a runaway to me. If you gave me a passing yardage over/under of 200 yards for St. Louis, I'm taking the under.

Seahawks 34, Rams 13

Last week: 7-8

Year to date: 44-59-4

Career to date: 414-421-4

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Re: The 49ers-Jags game: Aren't the Niners playing at 5 am PST, and the Jags at 8 am EST?

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