Wednesday, September 16, 2015

NFL Week 2 Picks: The Internet Of Dumb

Let's Get Cloudy
In my day job as a marketing and advertising pro, I think a lot about what the future is going to look like. What's going on right now is an explosion of Web-connected devices, which will communicate with each other to provide more frictionless commerce and easy conservation moments. If there are motion sensor beacons, that should make, for instance, fewer people waiting at red lights, especially in times of light traffic. Wearable computers will go people fitness and heart rate trackers, and move into diagnostic. Driving will be something that humans don't do, because humans aren't very good at it, really. Besides, we'd rather be staring at our phones, anyway. It's better that way, and honestly, the words of Agent Smith in The Matrix ("You're a virus with shoes") just seems more and more like prophecy, really.

Where this matters in re the NFL is that it's being used to Increase the Dumbness, because now we know things like how fast a guy is running, or how many additional yards he ran, what with the left/right motion, or to the hundreths of a second of time that the QB had a clean pocket. None of which, well, actually matters to increase your understanding of the game. Instead of dong things like telling us a WR's catch rate, or how many times an OL has been flagged for jumping offsides on the year, or the percentage of time that a QB takes a checkdown that inflates his stats, but doesn't convert the first down.

The fact that the information will be used to make you dumber, and more weighed down with stuff that doesn't matter? Shouldn't come as any surprise to anyone, really, since this is the NFL. Phil Simms has had a long and lucrative career pouring utter idiocy in your ears. Chris Berman has spent decades making little boy noises about contact. We've spent generations listening to people who could play, but could not talk. Running into that wall faster will not make us feel better.

Speaking of running into walls, this week was going so well until the late games all went sideways, fouling the water with a hair's breadth loser. It can't happen again, can it? (Of course it can. We're running into a wall, faster.) And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

DENVER (+3) at Kansas City

Pure contrary pick. Bronco QB Peyton Manning looked terrible last week but won anyway, because the Denver defense is good now, and K Brandon McManus connected (Philly kid! Went to Temple!) four times, twice from 50+. This week, they get the home Chiefs with their loud crowd and their fresh sense of joie de vive, and I think HC Andy Reid derps it up something fierce. We know he's capable of it.

Broncos 26, Chiefs 20

Houston at CAROLINA (-3.5)

As I went to press, ESPN was lighting up with the news that New Schlub was going to get the start at QB for the Texans, which does not matter. Especially on the road, where the Panther front seven might win this game on their own.

Panthers 19, Texans 13

San Francisco at PITTSBURGH (-6)

Independent of the fact that the Niners are down a half dozen starters, they also get to travel across the country on a short work week, to face the Steelers on extra rest. It won't be easy, but they'll get it done, and make it more comfortable late.

Steelers 24, Niners 17

Tampa at NEW ORLEANS (-10)

Not loving the big line here, but if QB Jameis Winston isn't ready at home, really not loving his chances in a loud dome. Especially with the Saints also 0-1, and in no mood to mess around.

Saints 31, Bucs 17

DETROIT (+2.5) at Minnesota

Two teams that need a win after disappointing openers. As much as I think Minny might bounce back, the short week and the likelihood that WR Calvin Johnson might explode is too much to go against. Should be one of the better games on the early slate.

Lions 24, Vikings 23

ARIZONA (-2) at Chicago

Just not seeing the Bears being able to be patient enough on offense to avoid turnovers, and Cards QB Carson Palmer looked good enough last week to trust. This Bear defense is also still a long way from good.

Cards 27, Bears 17

NEW ENGLAND (pick 'em) at Buffalo

As impressive as the Bills looked last week, they still got a lot of help from Colt miscues (flags and turnovers), and weren't so much better in the trenches as to not have antsy moments a long time after it should have been out of reach. Against the Patriots with extra time to prepare, and a 100% Rob Gronkowski, this is not a good mix.

Patriots 24, Bills 20

San Diego at CINCINNATI (-3)

The Chargers overcame a big deficit with an aerial circus at home last week, but won't find things as easy on the road against a better defense, and one of the better secondaries in the NFL. For the Bengals, look for RB Jeremy Hill to impose his will late.

Bengals 27, Chargers 17

TENNESSEE (-1) at Cleveland

The Marcus Mariota Rookie of the Year bandwagon picks up breakneck speed in the Factory of Sadness, where the Browns will struggle with offensive skill players that aren't good enough, and a defense that will be discouraged by Mariota's quicks. That sound you hear during this game will be Bucs Fan becoming more and more inconsolable about taking the wrong QB at the top of the draft.

Titans 23, Browns 16

ATLANTA (+2.5) at New York

QB Matt Ryan has feasted on the Giants in the past, and with a new offensive scheme that allows for max protection and a higher reliance on solid WRs, he'll do more of the same on the road despite the short week. As for Big Blue, I'm still trying to figure out how they coughed up that SNF game, and so are they. This one will have aspects of shootout.

Falcons 34, Giants 31

ST LOUIS (-3) at Washington

Some of the best moments in the short career of Nick Foles have been at the expense of the Slurs, who started the year by staying close to Miami for a long time before falling apart. The Ram defense is too good to not do some things here, and Foles might even get back RB Todd Gurley, too. I think he's going to enjoy life away from Nero Kelly.

Rams 23, Slurs 17

MIAMI (-6) at Jacksonville

A lot of points to give up against a Jaguars club that has some friskiness to it, but I think the Dolphins put it away late. It'll help that neither team has enough of a fan base any more to make life hard for the offenses.

Dolphins 23, Jaguars 16

BALTIMORE (-6) at Oakland

A cagey veteran defense with a desperate need to not start the year 0-2 is a problem for the Raiders. They will at least have QB1 Derek Carr for this one; shame he doesn't have an OL yet. Baltimore's offense also has much to atone for after last week's stinker in Denver.

Ravens 24, Raiders 13

DALLAS (+5.5) at Philadelphia

Not getting why the team that's lost four of their last five, going back to last year, should be getting this much margin over a team that might just control the game with their running game. The Eagles have all kinds of advantages with injuries here, but the fact that Atlanta ran the ball effectively and only gave up one sack with a patchwork line does not fill me with confidence to cover a big number.

Eagles 31, Cowboys 27

Seattle at GREEN BAY (-3.5)

Can the defending NFC champions start the year 0-2? Yes, because they've got real issues on the offensive line, Lambeau isn't an easy place to win, and they just gave up a ton of points to a vastly worse offense then they will face this week. Besides, Green Bay is still fueled with massive hate over how they blew last year's trip to the Super Bowl.

Packers 27, Seahawks 20


In last week's win against Cleveland, the Jets built a big lead, but they really weren't that much better in the trenches. On the road against the Colts with something to prove after last week's de-pantsing in Buffalo, it's going to get away from them. There's a reason why Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has played for a half dozen teams, and Colts QB Andrew Luck will only ever play for one.

Colts 34, Jets 20

Last week: 7-8-1

Career: 625-639-44

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