|Yes, Brock Sampson, It Is|
And yet, in our Age of Trumpian Declining Standards, this barely hit the radar as even all that dumb. Multiple WRs could not run out of bounds at the end of games. Teams went for 2, rather than force overtime, because defense doesn't exist, and neither did killing the clock. After converting the deuce, teams then celebrated and got 15 yard flags that nearly gave away the game as well. Refs failed to call finable offenses because, well, I have no idea why, but did make sure to protect America from the horrors of Choreographed Happiness. Teams called fake punts without punters. Everywhere you looked, idiocy reigned.
I wasn't above it. All of that dumbness also applied to my picks, which combined poor luck (3 picks lost on the half-point "nickel") with an over-estimation of the goodness of home field favorites, and somehow deciding that Case Keenum and Jeff Fisher were fine to ride as road favorites. Will it continue this week? Man alive, I hope not, because it hurt a lot, and Daddy needs a new pair of everything. And my lifetime coin flip record says it's time to bounce back.
And with that... on to the picks!
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NY JETS (pick 'em) at Buffalo
This one is a much more interesting game on paper than reality, with both teams fighting out of the opening loss hole, and the Jets having last year's devastating late loss and Ryan Problem distracting them from the job at hand. Buffalo's got a great home field advantage, will likely rebound from last week's terrible game, and have a mobile QB to help limit the damage the Jet defensive line can do... but the Jets are just better in a lot of places, and will eventually show it.
Jets 27, Bills 19
Cincinnati at PITTSBURGH (-3)
Not the best spot for the Steelers to be missing RB LeVeon Bell and with a short week, but the home crowd and improved defense should make up for things. Also, there's something terrifying about the idea of going against WR Antonio Brown right now, and I'm not convinced that HC Marvin Lewis can be trusted to win a game where he needs to be patient.
Steelers 27, Bengals 23
TENNESSEE (+5.5) at Detroit
This is probably wishful thinking on my part, as I'm hoping that Lion Fan is going to sell off a ticket to the Eagles game to me and my group in a few weeks for less if his team doesn't look like a surprise contender in the NFC North... but that defense was absolutely shredded by the Colts last week, and their line and running game is terrible. At home against a Titans club that was handling the Vikings before turnover issues, I don't think they cover the number, and maybe even lose.
Titans 24, Lions 23
BALTIMORE (-6.5) at Cleveland
There's a real chance that the Factory of Sadness goes deep into cold weather before lucking out to a win, and being at home won't matter that much against a Raven club that looks like it remembers how to defend. Look for RB Terrance West to make his best bid to end the RBBC with a vengeance game against the team that drafted and quit on him, and for this game to end without anything but relief that it's over.
Ravens 22, Browns 13
DALLAS (+2.5) at Washington
If you are wondering how Dallas lost a game at home where they came out and pretty much dominated the ball for most of the first half, you aren't alone. But that's what happens when you go crazy with the Rookie QB conservatism, and when said rookie QB isn't willing to force feed overrated WR1 Dez Bryant. This week in DC, I think HC Jason Garrett plays to win instead of not to lose, and QB Dak Prescott prospers accordingly. Also, um, DC's defense is garbage, and they are on a short week. One that will end with them 0-2, with both losses at home. Woof. Oh, and does anything say Dumb DC more than CB Josh Norman in Single Side of the Field Siberia?
Cowboys 27, Racial Slurs 24
New Orleans at NY GIANTS (-5)
What happens when a terrible defense loses its best (only?) CB to injury, then has to travel for an outdoor game against what might be the best WR in the league? Fantasy spooge in a big way for Odell Beckham Jr.'s owners, and Big Blue jumping out to a 2-0 start despite not having much in the way of an offensive line.
Giants 34, Saints 27
San Francisco at CAROLINA (-13)
Boy, is this not going to be pretty. Carolina is at home, on extra rest, smarting from a tough luck loss. They get a Niner team that travels across the country on short rest, probably are feeling way too good about themselves after a surprising home win, with a gimmick offense that gave the Panthers absolutely no problem last year, when it was manned by much better personnel. It might take a little while, but this is going to be a cover with ease, and everyone's slam dunk Survivor pick.
Panthers 34, Niners 9
MIAMI at New England (-6.5)
Bipolar performance for both teams last week, with New England mixing dominant plays with terrible ones, then getting lucky with a missed field goal at the gun. Miami hung tough in Seattle by manhandling the Seattle offensive line and hanging an ankle injury on QB Russell Wilson, but couldn't get stops when they needed them late anyway. The AFC East is, you will be shocked to hear, setting up perfectly for the Patriots, who will likely clinch the division by Halloween. Against my better judgment, I think the Fins cover the number here.
Patriots 24, Dolphins 20
KANSAS CITY (+2.5) at Houston
There's certainly a strong argument to make for the Texans here, in that the Chiefs defense was getting royally trucked at home last week to an inferior Charger team, right up until WR Keenan Allen went down with a devastating ACL injury. WR Jeremy Maclin also bagned up, and RB Spencer Ware set up for regression. But at some point, you have to think that actual talent levels will bear out, and the AFC South will betray its, um, pedigree. I have the Chiefs going deep this year, so I'm taking the road club. But I'm not loving it.
Chiefs 24, Texans 20
SEATTLE (-3.5) at LA Rams
Kind of the same story as the Chiefs, in that I got burned for loving a presumably good team to cover a big number at home, only to watch them derp around before recovering too late to get the number. Seattle has offensive line issues, a possibly gimpy QB in Russell Wilson, and the biggest name in the NFL that doesn't really do any anything in TE Jimmy Graham... but the Rams have no QB, no WR that can do much beyond run ahead in the backfield like a second-rate overpaid punt returner, and there's only so much a quality RB can do when he's facing 11 in the box. Gimme the Seahawks, with WR Doug Baldwin continuing to punish people who doubt his talent.
Seahawks 24, Rams 13
TAMPA (+7) at Arizona
Just too big of a number for me to feel comfortable with the home team, who are desperate to not start 0-2 with two home losses, but not so good that they keep the emerging Bucs from scoring and keeping it close. QB Carson Palmer is also INT-prone enough to make me think the Cards never get any margin.
Cardinals 27, Bucs 24
JACKSONVILLE (+3) at San Diego
Time for the baby Jags to move past the Good Try phase? They get a crippled and heartbroken Charger team, who were shocking the world until they suddenly weren't, in their home date in yet another Last Year Ever? in San Diego. I think it's going to be a year of misery, that RB Chris Ivory returns from his illness to save the team from TJ Yeldon, and that the Jags pull away late.
Jaguars 27, Chargers 20
Atlanta at OAKLAND (-5)
Even before the Raiders were good, they gave trouble to road teams, let alone road dome teams that were in free-fall, the way these Falcons are. Look for a bounce-back game from the Silver and Black defense, a patient and potent offensive game plan from David Carr and friends, and Raider Fan to become well and truly delusional about their first 2-0 start since many of you have been alive.
Raiders 34, Falcons 19
Indianapolis at DENVER (-6)
A good QB can help to lessen the impact of a turnstile offensive line, but man alive, are the Colts pushing that theory hard with the bums in front of QB Andrew Luck. At altitude, with long rest, I think it's a very long day for the Colts, with a ball-control attack slowly squeezing the life out of them.
Broncos 24, Colts 16
GREEN BAY (-2.5) at Minnesota
Lost in the statistical struggles that QB Aaron Rodgers had last week in Jacksonville was the fact that the Packer defense made plays all day against a solid offense. This week, against a Vikings offense that didn't score an offensive touchdown in their Week 1 win in Nashville, I think they have another solid outing... and, well, you aren't holding down Rodgers forever, especially with WR Jordy Nelson shaking off the rust.
Packers 27, Vikings 16
Philadelphia at CHICAGO (-3)
National spotlight and hype for rookie QB Carson Wentz, who is selling jerseys hand over fist and exciting the Eagle fanbase... but he's going to be without security blanket TE Zach Ertz in this one, against a team that won't roll out the red carpet the way the Browns did. I think he turns it over a couple of times, the defense doesn't get off the field on third down against Smoking Jay Cutler, and the Bears get a tight but professional home win. I'm not ready to say the Eagles are an above .500 team this year, but if they get this win, they just might be.
Bears 27, Eagles 20
Last week: 5-11