Thursday, September 18, 2014

NFL Week 3 Picks: Can Anyone Here Stay Healthy And Out Of Jail?

What Is Every NFL Player, Alex
I get that you come here to read about football, and that stuff that is outside of the lines is not football... but does anyone else out there feel bad about writing, watching, or spending any time at all on the NFL right now?

Sports are, not to put too fine a point on it, vice. This is all time we could be spending on the gutters, lawn, kids, spouse, workouts and so on. Most of the time, this is relatively easy to ignore, because goddammit I work hard and this is what I like and can't you just let me have this and whatevs, and it's the shared national obsession and devil's bargain.

But right now, when players are dropping like flies on the field and dropping their loved ones outside of it? It's just dirty. And with each new mug shot and embarrassment, it's just getting worse. Let's just move on and get through it, shall we?

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TAMPA BAY (+6.5) at Atlanta

Thursday night games are usually slogs, and Tampa will have major defensive penetration against the Falcon offensive line, last seen getting sand kicked in their face repeatedly in Cincy. Combine this with the Falcon defense not being able to get off the field against a strong ground game, and you've got a really sloppy cover, along with another game that you'll regret watching.

Falcons 26, Bucs 20

San Diego at BUFFALO (-2.5)


How did the Chargers beat the defending Super Bowl champions last week? By having one of the best and most precise games of QB Phil Rivers' career, with a ridiculous amount of time of possession on short passing and chain moving. In short, they got a little lucky... until RB Ryan Mathews, surprisingly good in all things except ball containment and staying healthy, went down. This week, they go all the way across the country, play at 10am on their body clock, and face a team with as good or better of a defensive front seven. The up and down Charger year continues, and the Bills continue to lead their division outright. Bizarro world!

Bills 27, Chargers 24

Dallas at ST. LOUIS (-1)


The Cowboy Cupcake schedule continues, but this week, they run into a Ram team that's got the defensive line push to make QB Tony Romo have to win the game, rather than be the game manager behind RB DeMarco Murray. You might have noticed that this isn't a prescription for success for the Boys any more, and we're also way overdue for the game that reminds everyone that Dallas can't play defense. Shame it comes against the Rams.

Rams 23, Cowboys 20

Washington at PHILADELPHIA (-6.5)


More points than I like for a team on short rest facing what might be the better of the two DC QBs, and LB Ryan Kurrigan is a major matchup problem for a patchwork offensive line. Combine that with the DeSean Jackson Vengeance Game, and I could see all kinds of Slur Cover Moments... but the problem is that DC's only really good when RB Alfred Morris is making second downs reasonable, and I don't see that happening late enough in the game to keep things close. It's also high time for the Eagles to play two good halves.

Eagles 37, Slurs 24

HOUSTON (-2.5) at NY Giants


Man alive, is it not the time for the G Men to have to try to deal with DE JJ Watt. With QB Eli Manning leaking, the WRs dropping balls, and Giant Fan ready to go full meltdown on a season that isn't, and here comes a surprising 2-0 Texans team that's running the ball really well. As much as I want to say regression here and go with the home team, the simple fact is that Big Blue hasn't had much of a home field advantage ever since they went to their sterile new venue, and an early turnover isn't going to help them much in this one, either.

Texans 24, Giants 22

Minnesota at NEW ORLEANS (-10)


Want to know why the Vikings haven't gone to QB Teddy Bridgewater yet? Because they don't want his first start to be a suicide mission into the Bayou, where the 0-2 Saints are ready to salt the Earth with the road team. Oh, and they don't have RB Adrian Peterson for some reason I haven't read about. This one will be over by halftime.

Saints 44, Vikings 20

Tennessee at CINCINNATI (-6.5)


A bit of a danger game for the home team, who will be without top WR AJ Green, and facing a club that can defend. They also haven't handled prosperity well in the past, and HC Marvin Lewis isn't exactly known for his acumen... but the talent gap is just too great, and Titan QB Jake Locker is due for one of those 3 turnover games that will turn him into QB2 for some other franchise next year.

Bengals 34, Titans 16

Baltimore at CLEVELAND (+1.5)


Just a feel pick here. The Ravens always truck the Browns in this grudge match gone wrong, and they also have long rest after last week's TNF beatdown of the Steelers. But the Browns are coming off a win against the Saints that few saw coming -- a cover and a heartbreaking loss, sure, but an actual win? -- and have quality happening on defense. Some demons get exorcised here.

Browns 24, Ravens 20

GREEN BAY (+2.5) at Detroit


Pinball game alert with two NFC North teams that come in 1-1, with the division more or less ripe for anyone. Packer QB Aaron Rodgers has dominated in this building so long as he can remain upright, and the Pack run the ball well enough to do that. Which Lions team will show up is always an open question, but the dirty little secret here is that it's a stars and scrubs team where the stars don't do enough, especially on defense. Eventually, the Packers wear them out and the Lions make mistakes.

Packers 34, Lions 31

INDIANAPOLIS (-7) at Jacksonville


The 0-2 Colts visit the 0-2 Jags in a game that's all kinds of necessary for anyone who wants to keep in touch with the Texans. Had the Colts won on Monday night, this would have been a fine backdoor cover candidate, as the Jags have historically given the Colts a lot of trouble in home games... but Indy isn't going to make the mistake of game managing this one, and the Jag secondary hasn't been the same since S Jonathan Cypriot went down halfway through the Eagles game. Road blowout awaits.

Colts 38, Jags 17

Oakland at NEW ENGLAND (-14)


Patriots QB Tom Brady hasn't been able to do much of anything downfield this year, and his WR corps doesn't look any better than last year's sorry lot... but they might not need to score any point at all on offense to cover this line, what with the best defense in years coming to play against a very weak Raider club. This won't be close for long.

Patriots 34, Raiders 10

SAN FRANCISCO (-2.5) at Arizona


I'd like the home team a lot more if QB Carson Palmer were healthy... and it's not that he was such a better guy than QB Drew Stanton, but he'd at least keep the Niner DBs from crowding the line and ending the running game. As shown in last SNF's game against the Bears, this is a defense that can be exploited, especially if you get extra possessions... but while the Cardinal D is better than Chicago's, they won't get as much good fortune. Look for a steady diet of RB Frank Gore and Others to salt this one away.

Niners 24, Cardinals 20

Denver at SEATTLE (-5)


How is this game not on SNF? The media will play this as Peyton's Revenge, but the Seahawks are in no mood after that miss in San Diego, and there's no proof that the Bronco offense is any more prepared to deal with this kind of defensive pressure than they were last winter. On the other side of the ledger, the Denver defense doesn't look that much better to me, especially when they get into Hold The Lead Shakily Mode, as they have in the last two games. It will be close, and then suddenly not.

Seahawks 31, Broncos 20

Kansas City at MIAMI (-4)


Two walking wounded clubs that had disastrous week 2 losses, but the Chiefs are on the road and have suffered much worse in terms of starter damage to the defense. I like the Dolphins to do damage on the ground and wear out the Chiefs in the heat, and for the continuing KC problem of not being able to stretch the field to make things easy on the defense. After that 9-0 run to start the Andy Reid Era, it's starting to look buzzardy in KC.

Miami 24, Chiefs 17

Pittsburgh at CAROLINA (-3)


Just a bad matchup on SNF for the Steelers, 1-1 and with long rest after the Baltimore beatdown. The Panthers are 2-0 and looking fortunate with the loss of LB Greg Hardy to legalities, but they have been better than advertised at WR, and should be able to win without too many points from the offense.

Panthers 24, Steelers 16

CHICAGO (+2.5) at NY Jets


Back to back road prime time dates for the Bears, who are probably wondering what they did to deserve such treatment. They'll get a Jets team that could have forced overtime in Green Bay, had they just not called a timeout that they should not have been able to call... in a game where they had their best DL tossed for freaking out after a 2-point conversion. Man alive, the Jets are just an all-day lunch of I Am So Happy Not To Be In Their Fandom.

As for the Bears, they showed the essential wisdom, in 2014, of just throwing the ball until the defense can't get to the QB any longer. I'm looking for the same thing to happen against the Jets, who don't have the same quality in the secondary to make the strategy a loser for much of the game. On the other side of he ball, there's not enough patience in the Jet running game, especially if they fall behind by more than one possession.

Bears 26, Jets 20

Last week: 6-9-1

Year to date: 13-18-1

Career: 501-518-40

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