Wednesday, September 23, 2015

NFL Picks Week 3: Pope Pocalypse

The Pterodactyls Are A Good Touch
This is the week that has been the focus of more dread in the greater Philly area than anything in recent memory, and that's because of the Papal visit. Honestly, you can not believe Teh Dumbness here. The security corridor is immense, the traffic warning signs have been up for weeks, to the point of causing delays on their own, and the grousing has been absolutely rife. Personally, I've adapted my Saturday plans (local golf course, rather than one across town), and the office where I work the day job has been angling for full shutdown not just on the Friday, but also the Monday after. It's as if there was a blizzard coinciding with a hurricane, and the logistics involved have boggled the mind.

Why? Well, no one can respect the idea of a government plan for this that will just work. The region has some of the deepest population density in America, and has scheduled big dumb public events before, but nope -- panic. Or, and this is almost as equally predictable in its charming inevitability, others are planning on treating this as a costume party with drinking.

Folks, it's a weekend. It's going to end soon enough. If you really need to sit in your basement with canned goods and bottled water, have at it. And please, please, please, find yourself some real problems.

Speaking of Real Problems, we're over .500 (woo!) for the year, but just barely, and have some work to do to get back to historical futility. Let's flip some coins. And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

Washington at NEW YORK (-3.5)

Can Big Blue derp up another fourth quarter lead, and give the Slurs the early lead in the clubhouse in the short bus race that is the NFC Least? Well, no, especially if they get back WR Victor Cruz to make the passing game correct. Besides, it's not as if DC has any idea how to deal with prosperity. Oh, and the idea that these two teams should play on a short week to a national audience is proof, not that you needed it, that Thursday night games are a terrible idea.

Giants 27, Slurs 20

Pittsburgh at ST. LOUIS (+2.5)

One more moment of bitter for Eagles Fan: QB Nick Foles has been fine for the Rams. He'd have been better if his WRs didn't drop 12% of passes -- the most in the league -- but if and when he gets back WR Brian Quick, that'll help. He's also getting close to RB Todd Gurley, and he's at home against one of the five worst defenses in football. While QB Ben Roethlesberger will put up numbers, the Rams will be the ones with the win, with Foles having the kind of numbers that just add salt and brine to the wound.

Rams 34, Steelers 31

San Diego at MINNESOTA (-1)

1pm Eastern / 10 am Pacific start for the Chargers, who also get to deal with the resurgent RB Adrian Peterson. I'm inclined to give the Vikings a mulligan for that terrible MNF loss to open the season, and call their win against Detroit the real level of this team. Which is to say, frisky. Especially at home.

Vikings 26, Chargers 20

Tampa at HOUSTON (-7)

Surprisingly big number for a team that won in the Bayou last week, but there's a chance that says more about the Saints than the Bucs. On the road against JJ Watt and a Texans team that's due to get something going on the ground, I think it's a long day.

Texans 23, Bucs 17

Philadelphia at NEW YORK JETS (-2)

The Jets are better everywhere that matters -- both lines, WRs, DBs -- and are at home. Philly will be desperate and the likely loss of RB DeMarco Murray to a hamstring problem will have short-term benefit, and the Jets' short week also helps, but just expecting a snapback in the middle of a trainwreck is insanity. So is caring very much about what happens to this team before HC/GM Nero Kelly gets fired. (Christmas? Thanksgiving? How about Tuesday? Tuesday's good for me.)

Jets 24, Eagles 13

New Orleans at CAROLINA (-13.5)

A bad road team even under the best of circumstances, and this isn't the best, because QB Drew Brees is dealing with a rotator cuff issue. Look for the Panthers to control clock and grind out a win that will excite exactly no one.

Panthers 24, Saints 10

Jacksonville at NEW ENGLAND (-13.5)

A big line against a Jags team that won nicely against the Dolphins last week, and the Patriot secondary can be had... but the Patriots don't mess around with young and not ready clubs on the road. Besides, they like running up the score, because they are terrible human beings, just like everyone who roots for them.

Patriots 41, Jaguars 24

CINCINNATI (+2.5) at Baltimore

Gut check time for the Ravens, but the defense isn't good enough to hang without Terrell Suggs, and the Bengals have shown resilience across the board in two starts. I think the road team wins, but even if they don't, this is the kind of divisional game where getting two points might be enough.

Bengals 24, Ravens 23

Oakland at CLEVELAND (-4.5)

As much as I want to take the road Raiders after last week's surprising win at home against Baltimore, especially with the Factory of Sadness going back to QB Josh McNown, the Browns just have a better defense and the 1pm EST advantage on a West Coast team. Besides, when your coach's name translates to Masturbate the River, you don't win back to back games.

Browns 27, Raiders 20

Indianapolis at TENNESSEE (+5.5)

Everyone thinks the Colts are just going to snap out of it, but after two games of derpery, I'm just not so sure any more. The offensive line is a mess, they have no healthy CBs, and this Titans team is frisky. I'm not saying they don't win this game, but covering the spread seems like too high of a standard, especially with a short week of preparation.

Colts 24, Titans 20

ATLANTA (-1.5) at Dallas

The Falcons go for 3-0 on the road against the crippled Cowboys, who have a half dozen injuries of note and will face the league's best WR in Julio Jones. Dallas might win this game by just putting their heads down and handing it off 50 times, but I'm not sure their RBs are good enough for that, and the Falcons defense has held up, at least early. Besides, it's not as if Dallas has a home-field advantage.

Falcons 27, Cowboys 24

San Francisco at ARIZONA (-6.5)

The Niners got exposed on defense on the road against the Steelers, and it's likely to happen again, what with Big Red's stable of wideouts. Arizona's defense also has seen QB Colin Kaepernick's act before, and will know to spy him.

Cardinals 31, Niners 17

Chicago at SEATTLE (-15)

Just about the perfect storm for blowout here. Good team that's desperate, welcoming back an incredible necessary player (S Kam Cameron, ending his holdout), facing a bad road team that's starting their back up QB. If the Hawks were 1-1, I could imagine a back-door cover, but they aren't, and this is going to be a 3-hour beatdown of frustration release.

Seahawks 34, Bears 17

BUFFALO (+2.5) at Miami

I wish I had the ability to put down money on things like "The Dolphins will not be happy they signed Ndamakung Suh." The Bills aren't historically good on the road, and both teams need this game something fierce while sitting at 1-1, but I think the road team will make fewer mistakes.

Bills 23, Dolphins 20

Denver at DETROIT (+3)

The SNF game puts the Broncos under the lights in a loud dome against an 0-2 Lions team, and I think it's going to be one of those classic Gary Kubiak is Smarter Than You games, where the Broncos try to run the ball with QB Peyton Manning under center, when the only way they can move the ball is 100% shotgun and short passing. They'll fall behind early behind coaching malfeasance, then not get all the way back against a loud crowd.

Lions 27, Broncos 26

Kansas City at GREEN BAY (-6.5)

For the record, I don't miss Andy Reid, even though he was never as exasperating as Nero; that ship had run aground, and there are more than two coaches in the world. Especially when they do things like blow home leads against a Bronco team that was ready to turtle up. On the road against the best QB in the world, they won't be able to keep up.

Packers 27, Chiefs 17

Last week: 9-7

Year to date: 16-15-1

Career: 634-646-44

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