Thursday, October 1, 2015

Week 4 NFL Picks: Impending Doom

We Are Doomed
Faithful readers know that I am the father of a teenager, and said teenager is in distant early warning for college. As I want to make sure she makes an informed decision, and that she does not apply to any school she hasn't seen and gotten a sense of, I've been trying to schedule visits for her. It's a little early -- she's a sophomore -- but I'd rather do it a little at a time, rather than all at once. One of the schools that we've been trying to visit is Hofstra, where I know a professor from my own college days. It's not exactly a slam dunk when it comes to the money or what's offered, but the location is top knotch, and the school is a good one.

There's only one problem: King Neptune, it seems, does not want us to ever set foot on that campus. By registering for a tour on Saturday, we caused Hurricane Joaquin to immediately form in the Caribbean, then turn and attack my part of the world. Also, a bunch of NFL games. As I write this, we are clearly completely screwed, and have Asked For It by making plans.

Similarly, you should run far, far away from the picks column this week, since I went 11-5 ATS last week, and have closed some of the gap on historical coin flip futility. This is just about the time in the cartoon when I make the mistake of looking down and allowing gravity to work, but if you think I've got another 16 picks of running off the cliff in me before descent, you are more than welcome to join the festivities.

And with that... on to the picks!

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BALTIMORE (-2.5) at Pittsburgh

The Steelers lost QB Ben Roethlisberger to injury last week, which puts 35-year-old Michael Vick under center for a home game killshot opportunity against the shockingly 0-3 Ravens. These division games almost always go to the wire and have shocking amounts of violence, which is not exactly a recipe for Vick's success under center. The problem isn't that the man is too old to avoid the rush or can't make plays; the problem is that he's a turnover machine under duress, and doesn't just give up on plays or throw guys open. If Ben were here, this would have been the end, but he's not.

Ravens 24, Steelers 20

NY JETS (-1) at Miami

New York comes in good and angry after blowing a home game against the reeling Eagles, and gets to travel to Florida to play the reeling Dolphins. Lots of reeling around here, and that's before we get into the possible weather-related mess in South Florida. On a muddy track, give me the team with the better lines, and that's NY. But it'll be a slopfest.

Jets 17, Dolphins 13

Jacksonville at INDIANAPOLIS (-9)

The young Jags couldn't cover the big number last week in New England, and will come closer, but not close enough, against the desperate Colts. I don't believe, for a minute, that Colts QB Andrew Luck is going to miss a snap of this game, because this is the week where he finally gets to put up numbers.

Colts 31, Jaguars 20

NY GIANTS (+5.5) at Buffalo

Interesting spot for the G-Men, who come into a winnable road game with extra rest, while also ducking RB LeSean McCoy. The Bills have been all over the map in terms of production, but this has back and forth written all over it, particularly given that Blue coach Tom Coughlin tends to coach rings around blowhards like Rex Ryan. (Then again, so do lots of people.)

Bills 24, Giants 20

CAROLINA (-3) at Tampa

The road Panthers are trying to prove that WRs are not necessary for winning NFL games, so long as you've got enough studs on defense, and play enough tomato cans. Tampa at home qualifies, especially with a running game that's putting RB Doug Martin on milk cartons. Eventually, QB Cam Newton will put some points on the board, and that will be that.

Panthers 16, Bucs 10

PHILADELPHIA (-3) at Washington

I haven't been right about the Eagles all year, while not being wrong about the Eagles all year. It's been just a festival of good feelings, really. This game is most at risk to postponement for inclement weather, which might be the final proof that agnostics and atheists need for a kind and just God. If the game happens, I'll go with the Eagles defense to force more tunovers and make more plays in the running game, and QB Sam Bradford to continue to underwhelm with INT avoidance. It's his one big skill!

Eagles 24, Slurs 17

OAKLAND (-2.5) at Chicago

Rare to see the Raiders as a road favorite, but that's just the kind of thing that QB Jimmy Claussen inspires. The Raiders have three breathtakingly good young players in DT Khalil Mack, WR Amari Cooper and QB Derek Carr, and in this game that will be more than enough.

Raiders 23, Bears 17

Houston at ATLANTA (-6.5)

A big number for an unbeaten road team that's really not all that, but the road Texans are just suffering from back-breakingly bad QB play, and in a road dome, that's not what you want. Eventually, the Falcons will pump up this line when the Texans just can't hold serve.

Falcons 34, Texans 20

Kansas City at CINCINNATI (-4)

Year Three of the Andy Reid Era is not looking good for the Chiefs, who at least finally snapped that No WR TD Pass Problem in an otherwise hopeless beatdown at the hands of Aaron Rodgers and the Pack on MNF. Short turn and a more physical opponent are not what they need right now, especially with the Bengals smelling blood in the water, and the dream of actually running away with this division with speed and ease.

Bengals 26, Chiefs 20

CLEVELAND (+7.5) at San Diego

The Factory of Sadness does not travel well and is still wondering why they benched the young QB who might actually have a career one day, but I think they'll suck out the cover after falling behind, then mount the not enough comeback. Who cares if they win, if you do?

Chargers 27, Browns 20

GREEN BAY (-9) at San Francisco

Here's how good the year is going for the Niners: QB Colin Kaepernick has gotten a vote of confidence, and his back up is Blaine Gaebbert.

No, seriously.

I could understand this if Kaep's backup was some hotshot rookie, and the Niners were clearly just figuring out what they had before going into the next year of Oh Lord, Our Franchise Is Horrible And We've Made Mistakes That Will Echo For Decades. (Not the least of which is building a stadium 50 miles away from the fan base in a part of the world without parking. But I digress.). But he's not, and Gabbo Gabbert is the only back up in the league that gives aid and comfort to Cowboy Fan rooting on Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel (hee!) right now.

This week, Kaep gets the Niner club that he tortured in the playoffs, and one suspects that their memories will be long. Besides, Rodgers still holds grudges over his hometown team not drafting him. Idiots.

Packers 34, Niners 24

St. Louis at ARIZONA (-7)

Everything's coming up Big Red right now, and while being the best team in the NFL in September wins you nothing, they are just rolling. QB Carson Palmer is enjoying Healthy Larry Fitzgerald, and he's not even the best WR in the lineup (that'd be John Brown, at least when healthy his own damn self). The Rams will travel with a defense and can put a hurt on you, but not this week.

Cardinals 31, Rams 20

Minnesota at DENVER (-6.5)

Vikes have been a bad road team, and Denver is certainly not a place for that trend to turn around. I'm still not sure how QB Peyton Manning is going to live through the year, but he seems to be figuring it out.

Broncos 26, Vikings 17

DALLAS (even) at New Orleans

NBC wishes they could flex out of this game, but it's too early in the year for that. In the suddenly home field devoid Bayou against a winless Saints team, they win because someone has to, and they've got an offensive line.

Cowboys 23, Saints 20

Detroit at SEATTLE (-9.5)

Looks like the Seahawks figured it out last week against the Bears, and this week they get a barely better Lions club that looks as lively as their comatose coach, Jim "Steady As We Lose" Caldwell. While the 50-50 status of RB Marshawn Lynch does not inspire confidence against a big number, the back up RBs look fine, and QB Russell Wilson has more than enough game to compensate.

Seahawks 30, Lions 17

Last week: 11-5

Year to date: 27-20-1

Career: 645-651-44

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