Monday, October 31, 2016

Eagles - Cowboys Diary

Hit With Head
> KR Lucky Whitehead with the bad idea return, crunching hit, fumble and absurd good fortune to keep it; probably the last time he takes it out tonight

> RB Ezekiel Elliott for 1, then QB Dak Prescott tries WR Dez Bryant on a hook where CB Nolan Carroll jumps it, and nice

> 3rd and 9 and set a tone early is Prescott to Elliott, who runs through two hits to get the first, and goddamn it, that was not good enough by Carroll and MLB Jordan Hicks

> From the 20, Prescott is taken down by LB Marcus "Increasingly Not A Total Bust" Smith for a sack, mostly coverage based

> Elliott for 2, then 3rd and 12 and get off the field please is a short ball to slot WR Cole Beasley, and that's not a bad start at all, really

> P Chris Jones sends one out of bounds, and Green starts at their own 38 in what has to be considered a good start

> QB Carson Wentz to WR Dorial Green-Beckham for the aggro slant and first down to start things, and that looked pro as hell

> From midfield, bubble screen to WR Josh Huff, who gets 9 on angry running

> 2nd and 1 and take a chance? is another screen to WR Jordan Matthews, who is tripped at the line; WR Nelson Agholor blew the block because he, um, blows

> Wentz tries to keep it, but LB Anthony Hitchens has seen this film and ends it, with LB Sean Lee taking away the binkie throw to RB Darren Sproles

> P Donnie Jones to to the 8, but Dallas had too many on the field, which is an awesome gift and quasi-turnover; Dallas STs are doing major help so far

> From the 39, Wentz sprints out and collects Matthews for 8, then a toss to Sproles, who hides and scampers for 14 yards; nice work by T Hala Vaitai, who I'm shortening for sanity

> The repeat doesn't work, and on 2nd and 11, it's Wentz to RB Kenyan Barner for the not really aggro 5 yard out

> 3rd and 6 from the 12 is a big money down, and Wentz hits Agholor on the hands, which is a tentative drop of I'm calling footsteps, and cut this piece of crap already

> K Caleb Sturgis connects, but Dallas runs into the kicker... but HC Doug Pederson keeps the points, so Green 3, White 0, and, um, hmm

> I get that the defense is playing great and a lead is the lead, but, um, hmm

> Whitehead kneels, commerce, then Elliott tries to hurdle LB Mychal Kendricks; um, nope

> Bryant beats CB Leodis McKelvin on a deep ball for 53 on what looks like, and is, an uncalled OPI push off on the smaller CB, but that happens all the time

> Corner blitz got stood up on that play, which also didn't help

> Prescott misses a back corner throw, then Elliott through a big hole, and DT Fletcher Cox got pancaked

> From the 7, Prescott keeps on a wide open zone read, and that's your standard 5 play, 75 yard drive that looked way too much like the DC game

> K Dan Bailey connects, 7-3 Whiteys, and so much for the good start

> KR Wendell Smallwood fakes a return and gives us heart failure, but wisely takes a knee, for the first of several terrible plays by him tonight

> Sproles taken down by the face mask with no call for a loss of 2, then Wentz fakes the back throw to Huff and short arms a screen to Sproles; not good

> LG Allen Barbre out, which also is Not Good; 3rd and 12 and hoo boy it's going away fast is a timeout to give the crowd more time to yell

> After clock waste, Wentz gets to Agholor, who is in front of the sticks, not open, and yeah, that's a punt and empty yards

> Jones to the 29, not one of his better efforts, but at least it's all net

> As NBC waves their Silver pom poms, Prescott barely escapes DE Brandon Graham to throw it away, who closed on him with a vengeance

> Elliott for 9, and that wanky wiggle thing is getting old fast

> 3rd and 1 and yeah, no chance is Prescott to Elliott, who outruns Hicks, and takes a delay flag for being an asshat

> Elliott again, beats McKelvin, hurdles, and I'm having Emmitt Smith flashbacks; this is not a good thing

> Prescott heaves it to Bryant, no good, but a flag anyway on CB Jalen Mills for a cheap chuck, like the offense needs help right now

> RB Alfred Morris to the 17 for 8, and this is going to end soon

> Run blitz works as Prescott doesn't check out, Graham having a night so far, and that's the first quarter

> Prescott overshoots Bryant as White continues to do Green a big favor by throwing it

> Bailey connects because every figgie hits against my laundry, and it's 10-7 Whiteys

> Touchback, checkdown to RB Ryan Mathews for a yard, rollout to TE Zach Ertz who doesn't make a man miss, and that's two completions for one yard

> 3rd and 9 and prevent the blowout is a slant to DG-B, perfect ball, actual catch, and that was big

> Flinch for five as Wentz is good at that, then audible out to Sproles for 2, line not doing enough

> 2nd and 3 and grind clock and move the damn sticks is a drop screen to Huff, with a flag to boot; long committee meeting gets us OPI on DG-B, which was a crap call, but hey, Dallas

> 2nd and 13 is Wentz to Matthews for 3, no separation from these clowns

> 3rd and 11 from the gun is Wentz not seeing the stunt, sack, sadness

> Jones to the 3, Whitehead takes it back for no reason, and a clip; White STs are as bad as can be so far

> Morris for 3 as Silver does the favor of rotating RBs, then Prescott shorts WR Terrance Williams as holding in the end zone for a safety is not called, as if that's ever called for the home team

> 3rd and 9 and keep field position is long clock is a screen to Elliott, who doesn't make four men miss, so not a first down; phew

> Sproles with a good return to the White 45, and the offense needs to do something right about now, dammit

> Mathews for 7 yards on an actual no deception power run (good!), then audible to Sproles, who gets 2+ off to the left on pinball trippery

> 3rd and inches is a big damn deal at the edge of figgie range when you need a touchdown, and it's inside to Sproles for 9 yards of good times; LT Jason Peters does the honors

> From the White 27, Wentz from an empty backfield hits Matthews on the hands inside the 10; drop

> 12 in the huddle because we can't have nice things, then a nice fake by Wentz and Sproles goes for 19 off great patience and burst

> From the White 13, formation trickery to empty, then a bullet to the very covered TE Trey Burton for six yards

> Mathews runs 20 yards to lose one, then on third and five and money it's Wentz with too much time, then hits Agholor on a Rodgers-esque move to get the first; massive flaggery and committee meeting is an incomplete pass, because Agholor can't keep his heel in; defensive holding makes it a first anyway

> From the 4 after the good flag, Mathews gets it nearly in from a shotgun run; that looked like a score to me, but he walks it in on a massively well-blocked stroll to the left, and after the Sturgis PAT, the game is tied

> Peters and Burton with textbook work there, and we've got a game, with Green time of possession edge so far, too

> Whitehead on the end around with shoddy work by DE Connor Barwin for a first, then Elliott for 12 more, and he's just all day misery; DT Beau Allen got worked

> Prescott with all day to throw, Bryant with all day to watch the throw get to him, and this is happening very quickly

> From the 24, Elliott suffers pain from LB Nigel Bradham for a yard, and that's the 2 minute warning

> Prescott to the 5 because holding the DT on containment isn't a thing for the home team, and Green calls a timeout so that after Dallas scores on the next play, there will be time left

> From the Green 7, Prescott tries to force feed Bryant, with McKelvin knocking it away nicely

> Prescott picked in the end zone by Hicks, and thank you, White, for not just giving the ball to your stud RB behind your best in class OL

> Terrible decision by Prescott, good read by Hicks, the WR wasn't open anyway, and yeah, that was Romo-esque

> From the 20 with 1 timeout and White holding 3, Wentz hits Matthews for 9, then Sproles for a few, a first, and a clock stoppage

> Wentz to Ertz for 5 fairly dumb yards, clock still moving a lot, then to Agholor for another first and more clock hell

> From the 44, Wentz to DG-B for 12, and the final timeout with 10 seconds left

> Figgie would be 61, so some yards and out of bounds is all kinds of necessary

> Incomplete to DG-G takes five seconds

> Wentz to DG-B for 7 yards, clock still has a second left, so that was useful

> From 55, Sturgis is iced before making it, then does it again, and that's a Green lead at the half, with the ball coming their way as well

> Outstanding work by Wentz and DG-B to get the yards needed to make the figgie possible, and to get the yards on a 4-second play

> Huff makes the mistake of trying to run out a short high kick, and Green will start at their own 8

> Barbre out with the hamstring issue, which isn't going to help

> Sproles on a toss for 9, big holes as NBC is worried about C Jason Kelce, for seeming cause

> Sproles loses a yard as the line doesn't get it done

> 3rd and 2 and need to not give up momentum and field position is Sproles again, but no blocking and ye gads, someone put a hat on Lee, he's their only LB that resembles a LB

> Jones to the White 25, Whitehead back to the 38, with a clip not being a clip after commerce, because Dallas

> 25 yards of gift field position for what was obviously a clip, but why not

> Elliott loses a yard on a run blitz into the draw, then Prescott dribbles a handoff but gets it back for another loss of two, because all fumbles bounce to Dallas

> 3rd and 13 and get off the field is a front of sticks throw to TE Jason Witten who is wrapped up ASAP by Hicks, and if the phantom flag had held up, really nice field position might have happened now

> Sproles with an ungainly fair catch at the 16, with a White chop block that, miracle of miracles, stays assessed

> Not to harp on this, but the clip that got picked up would have started this drive at the White 44, rather than the Green 31; kind of a big damn difference in terms of points expectation

> Sproles for 2 as Pederson stays very conservative, then quick huddle to Ertz for four yards

> 3rd and 4 from tempo is a shoestring catch by Matthews to move the chains, and that was pretty great

> Matthews on a dicey little screen for 4, more tempo, then a bullet to DG-B for 14 and a first

> White looking scattery, drop by Matthews, ridiculous late hit on Hitchens for a gift 15, and the seconds it took for the refs to throw that flag took decibels off my roof

> From the White 22, Wentz hits DG-B on the hands; drop for what should have been an easy first, especially with Wentz looking off pressure to get the WR open

> Gahhhh

> Wentz to Sproles, long developing for 4 yards on an outlet; Peters and Vaitai doing work

> 3rd and 6 and make money is Wentz to Agholor on a slant, who toughens up and wiggles for the first

> From the 11, Sproles pinballs to the 7 as Green steps up tempo again, but DE Jack Crawford takes a sucky knee

> From the 7 on 2nd and 6, Wentz to Agholor again on the weak cross for 2, with OPI to boot on Ertz

> 2nd and 16 is a screen to Sproles, who makes spinning magic for yards after contact

> 3rd and 4 from tempo is Wentz to Matthews for the score, and White had no clue there; excellent work by Pederson, great pass by Wentz, and Green leads by two scores

> Sturgis connects, and it's Green 20, White 10

> Whitehead knee, defense with a chance at making some comfort

> Prescott with all day, settles for TE Jeff Swain, who gets 8; pass rush not getting heat or calls for hands to face

> Toss to Elliott, everyone reads it, S Rodney McLeod dumps him for a loss of seven

> 3rd and 8 and continue the good times is Prescott getting away with grounding, as Bryant stopped the route; tasty

> Fake punt or just blown coverage, massive play for 30 as the gunner just goes to goddamn sleep

> First big play for White STs all night, and just a killer

> Prescott for 4 as the QB misses open guys, then Elliott for a yard

> 3rd and 5 and keep your STs from blowing this so very, very badly is a blitz that doesn't get there, a completion to Williams, and White has all kinds of freaking life

> From the Green 23, Elliott back to life for 16, and you just can't make mistakes like that on the road

> Elliott to the 5, then empty backfield for an underthrown miss to Bryant, the only WR who exists

> Third and maybe force a figgie is clear OPI on what could have been another end zone meltdown INT; good play by Williams to save his QB

> Bailey connects, and it's Green 20, White 13 with 16 minutes left

> Short kick for Huff, who brings it to the White 45 with more excellent blocking

> Wentz to Ertz for 10 off play action with tempo again, then Sproles for little, but White offsides

> White clearly did not prepare for tempo, which is delightful

> End of Q3, then Wentz to Matthews for another first, accuracy over coverage

> From the White 16, Wentz is high to DG-B, not a great place to be, one of his few poor ideas tonight

> Slower tempo now, then tries DG-B, who drops a perfect throw for what should have been another first; sheesh

> 3rd and 10 with long clock, then thrown away on pressure, so put that failed red zone on the WR, honestly

> Sturgis connects from 34, lead back to 10 with 14:09 left

> Whitehead sits, then Elliott for nothing as the defense reads it well; Hicks cleans it up

> From the gun and alone, Prescott tries Williams while out of bounds against heavy pressure; Cox with a stunt

> 3rd and 10 and get off the field please please please is a delay; QB Tony Romo might get his job back yet

> 3rd and 15 and really get off the field is a gimmick play to Beasley, who then throws to Williams, who was wide open... but missed it

> Better lucky than good, defense

> Sproles fair catches at the Green 40 with 13:14 left, and the chance to grind clock and end this without drama

> RB Wendell Smallwood in to give Sproles a break, and he, of course, fumbles, because FFS

> Part of that was Vaitai getting trucked into the back, but still, no excuse, and for an offense with WRs that can't catch, having RBs that can't secure the ball either isn't exactly encouraging

> From the Green 36, Prescott to FB Keith Smith for little against pressure

> From the 35, Elliott for 4 as S Malcolm Jenkins fills

> 3rd and 5 and cover for another mistake is a big damned deal, and it's Prescot trying Bryant, but McKelvin knocking it down

> Bailey tries from 49, and all figgies against my laundry work, even the ones that scrape the paint on the pole going by, so it's a 7 point game again, with 11:34 left

> Huff with no chance, then Wentz nearly throws a pick six to S Orlando Scandrick, who trips while drooling on the jumped route to Matthews

> 2nd and 10 and shake it off is Sproles, who is water through a dam for 13 and a major first down

> Barner for 4 yards, under the theory that he hasn't killed the laundry with a fourth quarter fumble; tempo and gets 3 more

> Third and three and keep control of the game from the Green 45 is an easy cross to Matthews for 11, the QB showing quality

> Play action, then checkdown to Sproles for 3; he gets it again and makes another first down as the line does the job

> From the White 32 in long figgie range, Pederson tries trickery, with a backwards pass to Huff, and a deep ball to Matthews; it doesn't work and makes me itchy

> Run clock and don't turn it over, goddamn it

> Barner for 2 on a hole that Sproles might have gotten more out of

> 3rd and 8 in long figgie range, no mistakes, keep the damn ball please, Wentz throws a bad idea screen into a massive loss to Sproles, and that is just the damn near worst, outside of a turnover

> Terrible play call leads to a punt and White life

> Jones to the 11, rather than trying a 53-yarder for the 10-point lead again, and FFS, Doug

> Had Pederson ran it on first rather than try for killshot trickery, then ran it again rather than try the screen, it's likely a 10-point game with 6 minutes left, rather than 7 and 7

> Prescott to Beasley for 12 on nearly there pressure, then Elliott for a massive 60 yard gain, but it comes back on multiple calls of holding

> McKelvin takes a knee, which isn't great, considering he's been on Bryant all night

> Prescott to Bryant for 15 with 5 minutes left and tempo starting, but a near pick on a force to Bryant

> 3rd and 5 and Kind Of A Huge Deal is Prescott to Beasley to move the sticks, and that's quality work by the slot man

> Prescott to WR Bryce Butler on the out route, and White is looking like a different unit again

> Elliott for 7 on audible to the run, then again for the first

> Four minutes left as we have way too much drama for a game that could be over

> Prescott tries Bryant, no flag as Carroll fights well, pressure just not getting there

> Prescott runs for a first as DE Vinny Curry can't stay upright, and Smith can't contain

> From the Green 22, near pick blown by McKelvin on Jenkins' blitz, and dammit, another kill shot missed

> Prescott to Bryant, jump ball won by the WR over Carroll, and that was just infuriating

> Bailey connects, and 57 minutes for tied, with so many chances to end this having been squandered

> Huff takes a knee, so no ST magic to make this easier

> Sproles for 8 with major violence to end the run; Vaitai with a nice block, Wentz with the audible

> Bad throw and worse completion to Matthews, who loses two yards, and that's the two minute warning

> Everything play is Wentz to Burton, who of course isn't open, and doesn't catch a ball on the screws

> Tells you everything you need to know about the laundry is that the everything play goes to TE3 on a non-gimmick play

> Weak punt by Jones just to make Prescott's christening even easier

> Prescott takes too long and throws it away, misses Bryant

> Blitz doesn't get there, but it does nick the ball, with Bryant open but the ball not getting there

> Pure dice rolls here

> 3rd and 10 to save the game is another blitz, finally gets there, and the QB is lucky that no one was around to pick the duck; no grounding call, of course, because we're in Dallas

> Sproles lets it get into the end zone, and Wentz has 3 timeouts and 73 seconds to manage a game winning drive; as much of a stand as you could hope for from the defense there

> DG-B for a first, but it's OPI of course, on DeSean Jackson, because the refs can't get the numbers right

> 1st and 20 is a sack by Lee, and we're now into the realm of White winning this in regulation on defense

> 2nd and 26 and Just Not A Disaster is Wentz from his end zone to Matthews for 7 and another White timeout

> 3rd and 19 from the 11 with 53 seconds left needs to burn clock and take the last White timeout and not be a disaster; it's Wentz escaping pressure for a second, then taking a massive sack while somehow not fumbling

> White's last timeout with 44 seconds left, and Jones has to hit a massive punt here

> To the White 37 with a flag of course; it's holding and makes it harder on Prescott; STs did all they could there

> 38 seconds left, Green trying to force overtime

> Graham gets to the QB, nearly a fumble, dammit

> 2nd and 10 and a sack by Barwin, and Green doesn't take a timeout for some reason

> White lets it go to overtime and WTF, Doug

> White wins the coin toss, which might be a good thing, the way these offenses played in the last few minutes

> Sturgis with the touchback instead of something more aggro

> From the 25, Elliott for 4, since that can be part of the game again

> 2nd and 6 with tempo is Prescott to Williams, who skies for it and gets the first

> Prescott to Beasley off play action, already in figgie range, pressure doesn't get there, holds not called, lather rinse repeat

> Elliott for 3 as the defense gets blitzy again

> Tempo and empty backfield, audible to Beasley for 6 yards as McLeod doesn't get there fast enough

> 3rd and 1 and killshot time is a power set and dull playcall; Elliott spins but doesn't get to the sticks

> Fourth and 1 with the offense still on, and the QB sneak gets it; ballsy and benefiting from the bullspit spot from before, but that's the benefit of having the best OL in the NFL

> From the Green 26, Elliott for 12 as the defense just can't do this any more

> From the Green 14, Elliott for nothing off pointless read action trickery

> 2nd and 10, game on the line every play, Elliott to the 4 on another absurd spot, first down

> Killshot time with RB Alfred Morris, broken play option and nearly a fumble

> Prescott to Witten off a broken play, and that's the game

> McLeod and Jenkins collided, and everything about this game will just haunt

> Dallas has a 2-game lead in the East, Wentz can sue any number of his teammates and coaches for non-support, and my laundry is becoming a clear home/road outfit

> Time to go drink while I still can, and yeah, I know, road game, rookie QB, rookie HC, rebuilding year, but FFS -- 10 point lead in the fourth with any number of chances to end it is a 10 point lead in the fourth with any number of chances to end it

Sunday, October 30, 2016

NFL Week 8 Top 10 Ad Questions

Where Colon Meets Blow
10) Does Duracell make a lot of money from sick children?

9) If I buy a Honda, will I be cuckolded by my precocious offspring in the negotiating process?

8) Do women really need breast cancer pep talks from a truck manufacturer that spends most of their time rattling off Big Words of Manliness?

7) Can Drew Brees stop rattling off his statistics for a long enough period of time to get his facial scar fixed?

6) If Direct TV is upcharging with football player tackles, can't you make a lot of money from them in a lawsuit?

5) Is all use of emergency braking for people who should never be let behind the wheel?

4) Does owning a Hyundai make you care so little about life that you throw away an ungodly amount of money from boat abandonment just to watch a football game?

3) If you own a Dodge, are you not smart enough to get in out of the rain?

2) Can I fly Southwest while opting out of REO Speedwagon?

1) Is anyone else noticing the symbolism of the spastic colon blow like squiggles at the end of the McGriddle ad?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

NFL Week 8 Picks: In A Post-Good World

Here's a fun fact: the NFL isn't just having a bad year on the ratings (down +10%, for a host of reasons), but probably a worse one on the field. The best teams don't compare to best teams from past years, there wasn't a team that got out of October without a loss, and it just seems like the refs respond to every play with a flurry of flags.

Maybe all of this shakes out in time as we move into the meat of the schedule, and thin teams fall off and well-coached squads take their advantage, but the same forces were in play for past years. Really good teams should have showed their mettle by now, and with the possible exception of New England with Tim Brady, maybe we just don't have them this year. (I blame the presidential election. For everything.)

This isn't, by the way, a good reason why the ratings are down. More mediocrity means that more teams are in contention later, and when those teams are in big markets, that matters. Los Angeles has a team now, and that should matter to the ratings. It hasn't.

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

Jacksonville at TENNESSEE (-3)

Is there anything worse than the AFC South? No, expect Color Rush Uniforms, and also football on Thursday night. In case you were wondering why the NFL's ratings are down, this game is everything in microcosm. I'll take the home dregs over the road dregs, under the theory that they will turn it over less, and not watch.

Titans 24, Jaguars 20

Washington at CINCINNATI (-3) (UK Game)

I've got sneaky confidence in this game, for more than a few reasons. First, CB Josh Norman and TE Jordan Reed are both shaky following concussion protocols, and while either, both or neither might play, I doubt they'll be at 100%. The Bengals found their run game mojo last week against the Factory of Sadness, and you can run on DC, too, and QB Andy Dalton to WR AJ Green could be a lot again here.

Bengals 34, Racial Slurs 20

KANSAS CITY (-2.5) at Indianapolis

The Chiefs defense is starting to look like its projected self, and while QB Andrew Luck will get his numbers regardless, I think he does it from behind, and can't convert enough in the red zone, either.

Chiefs 31, Colts 26

OAKLAND (+1.5) at Tampa

Raiders have been a better road than home team this year, and Tampa can't handle prosperity. Raider defense might be starting to figure things out, too.

Raiders 24, Bucs 20

SEATTLE (-2.5) at New Orleans

The Seahawks are on the road, with a shorter week, and look like they have no offensive linemen of note after last week's trainwreck tie in Arizona. But the Saint defense can do miraculous things, and I just don't trust Sean Payton to do what he needs to do in this game -- trust his running game and win ugly.

Seahawks 26, Saints 20

DETROIT (+2.5) at Houston

Say this for QB Matthew Stafford; he might be playing the best football of his career, and he's been doing it ever since the OC switch to Joe Bob Cooter in mid-season last year. Against the checkdown stylings of So Not Going To Make it QB Brock Oswiler, I think the road team wins, and Texans HC Bill O'Brien is that much closer to QB Carousel. Again.

Lions 27, Texans 21

NY JETS (-3) at Cleveland

One of these games has to be the Browns' week, right? And by week, I mean a game where they get to use the same QB for the entire game. Well, maybe not, as the Jets can play very physical run defense, and the Browns are in extreme trouble when they can't run the ball. Oh, and it also doesn't help when CB Joe Haden isn't 100%, either.

Jets 31, Browns 20

NEW ENGLAND (-6.5) at Buffalo

Patriot Vengeance comes with a side order of RB LeSean McCoy injury woes, and while I hate laying this many points in the Thunderdome level of white trash insanity that is the Buffalo home crowd, it's not as if the Patriots are new to this. It'll be a grind early, then easy late, because the Bills just aren't healthy enough on offense to compete. Honestly, the WRs weren't good enough at the start of the season, and that was two WR1s ago.

Patriots 27, Bills 17

ARIZONA (+3) at Carolina

Feels like an elimination game for two of the biggest disappointments in a year filled with disappointments... and while the Cards seem like they'd be DOA in a road game after that SNF tiebortion, I think the Panther DB woes just wipe that out. But honestly, I'm just rooting for another tie. That would rule.

Cardinals 24, Panthers 23

San Diego at DENVER (-5.5)

Some things to like about the Chargers, who broke through in Atlanta last week to finally win a close one, and have gotten massive push from rookie DE Joey Bosa. But the Bronco defense is going to be too much here, especially since the way to beat them is to run it effectively. And, well, they don't.

Broncos 26, Chargers 17

Green Bay at ATLANTA (-3)

Historically, this is the time in the NFL schedule when Green Bay puts it together, Atlanta falls apart after a good early start, and the NFC North falls into line. But having watched these teams this year, and seeing how the Packer offense has become one-dimensional and error-prone, with the Falcons also getting some actual pressure on the QB... well, I think it's time for a new script. One where Aaron Rodgers isn't, um, very relaxed. At all.

Falcons 31, Packers 23

PHILADELPHIA (+4.5) at Dallas

There are two competing narratives at work with the Eagles. The first is that they play well at home, and not so well on the road; this explains the big wins against Pittsburgh and Minnesota, and the big losses against Detroit and DC. The second is that they play to the level of the opponent, and that division games are always crazy tight, and Dallas doesn't really have a home field edge with their colossal egofest of a yard.

I'm not sure I go with either pattern, but I do think the Dallas defense isn't good enough to get off the field routinely, and that the Eagles can do enough on defense to keep it close all night. Also, pure gut? Carson Wentz will do more than Dak Prescott, and with Dez Bryant not 100%, we're in a game with no good WRs. Dallas will likely win with RB Ezekial Elliott doing damage, but running game wins tends to also be back door covers.

Cowboys 24, Eagles 20

MINNESOTA (-6) at Chicago

A get well game for the Vikings, who go on the road to face a toothless defense and a populace that will be spending all of their time on the Cubs. With reasons, really. Bears QB Jay Cutler returns to put up just enough numbers to convince someone that he should keep the job for yet another year, which is kind of the functional definition of insanity, really.

Vikings 27, Bears 20

Last week: 11-4

Year: 48-58-1

Career: 807-808-50

Joel Embiid Arrives

Lead On, Process
Tonight in South Philly, the Sixers finally got to use the signature pick of the Sam Hinkie Era. And while the numbers (20 and 7 with 2 blocks in 22 minutes, on 6 of 18 from the floor, 1 of 3 from the arc and 7 of 8 from the line, with four turnovers) for Joel Embiid were intriguing, the visuals were so much more.

Dude is just, well, chill. Against a top-tier defender in Steven Adams and a credible offensive big in Enes Kanter, he showed no fear, especially in post possessions where rookies just crap the bed and turn it over. Down 2 late, he commanded the ball, toyed with Adams, and sank the best jumper in the laundry for the better part of a decade like he was at the Y. On a night where he wasn't even all that hot.

Honestly, I know this is utter sacrilege, but he just looks like Hakeem Olajuwon. Size, handle, confidence, poise -- he's just unreal. He drew fouls on Adams like the Thunder big and borderline All-Star was just some scrub. With the game on the line, he went 90 feet in transition and got a chasedown block, and while the play ended with Kanter chipping in garbage, that doesn't say anything about the effort, instinct and ability. He made his teammates better, he filled the arena for a franchise that hasn't won a game in October and November in years (honestly), and his team led a likely top five seed from the West, with the possible MVP, for most of the game.

And yeah, the Sixers didn't close, and yeah, we'd all be over the moon if they somehow had done that. But it's hard to be too disappointed because the Thunder needed every inch of Russell Westbrook (32/12/9 on 11 of 21 from the floor, 9 of 11 from the line, and only two turnovers in 36 minutes; in other words, about as much efficiency as Russ can manage while still being Russ), and an overall "A" level game. OKC only turned it over 10 times tonight, were +10 in boards and +6 in turnovers, and still only took the lead late. If the laundry plays this well for the rest of the calendar, I think they are a playoff team. And, um, they should get a lot better. (With health, of course.)

Here's what the Sixers' 3-headed center (Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Richaun Holmes) did tonight: 34/13 with 6 blocks (and, um, 8 turnovers). Perhaps even more surprising, the PGs (Sergio Rodriguez, a revelation, and TJ McConnell, finally able to be the pure PG2 of his talent limit) gave them 12/6/16 with just one turnover, and I'm not cheating either of these numbers, because the centers and point guards all totalled out to 48 minutes.

So, um, why did they lose? Because the wings didn't do enough. Dario Saric was 5/7/2 in 27 minutes on 2 of 12 shooting, including a no fear 3-pointer late that lacked nothing in chutzpah, or smarts. Bob Covington and Nik Stauskas weren't horrible, but a team where the PGs gets 16 of 21 assists isn't a team that's moving the ball well enough across the board. Saric will have better nights.

All of this is quibbling, though. Joel Embiid played basketball tonight, and looked like a historic player. The rest of this, we'll figure out later.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Late and Nearly Pointless NBA Predictions

League Life
The regular season snuck up on me a bit this year, due to personal weirdness, so let's just get into it... you might be able to make some money from a Cavs-Warriors against the field bet this year, but there's no way you can predict anything but it. Mostly because we're going to need some injuries or instability from either franchise to get a slip to happen, and with the other waiting for them in June, I just don't see either losing focus for that long.

Cleveland will have the easiest road to the Finals, because the lEast is still a year or two away from True Interest. Boston still needs to find someone to give them a dollar for their shiny dimes. Toronto can only go so far with their guards that can only get worse, and weren't good enough at their peak. Milwaukee and Detroit are mildly intriguing, but not much more than that. Indy needs second-year C Myles Turner to be as good as borderline MVP candidate Paul George, and that may never happen; it would also be good if the backcourt becomes, say, as good as Toronto's. New York is always a mirage, Chicago is a blowup waiting to happen, Atlanta missed its window, and hey presto, we're suddenly talking about my Building Something Meaningful Sixers. If the rest of the conference consolidated and played the Cavs, you'd have a series. Until that happens, or LeBron James gets old, or someone young starts looking like the best player in baseball, James is in the Finals. Health permitting.

In the West, it's amazing how many top contenders got worse in the off-season, while the Warriors (maybe?) got better. OKC, you know about. San Antonio lost Tim Duncan, and he still mattered. Portland is intriguing, but health will make things complicated. The Clippers are always too thin because their management can't figure out the bench, and now we're into Houston (wow, the defense here is just, um, special), Dallas (is this the year the finally miss the playoffs?), Memphis (always tough, rarely dangerous), Utah (promising, but too young and brittle) and yeah, wow, this is a top-heavy league.

The Warriors aren't going to win 70+ again; they aren't going to be that lucky, there will be growing pains, and they are going to get no callas and everyone else's "A" game. The world hasn't decided that a great team are hissable heels like this since James led Miami, and that could also turn people like Draymond Green and Klay Thompson into mental cases. But if you have four of the best twelve players in the game *and* a bench that routinely turns their adversaries into pudding, the least you are going to is the Finals. Which team is in your highlight doesn't really matter.

But while the Association is top-heavy, it's far from weak to watch. New York's implosion will be spectacular as always. The Lakers have young talent and a clueless management, and I have no idea what to expect from them. Sacramento is a clown car of what the blue hell. Minnesota might be the most intriguing team in the league. New Orleans has bounce back written all over them, and anyone who isn't rooting for Jrue Holliday has no soul at all. Milwaukee has crazy length and intrigue, and I honestly can not wait to see what Joel Embiid can do, and all of the other young Sixer bigs. It's going to be a fascinating year, even if it ends with the 3rd straight LeBron v. Steph narrative, this team to decide which player est truly muy macho.

Hoop is back; life is good. And the first 10 to 20 games is going to teach us a lot that most people will miss. So dig in now, while the digging is good. It's going to be great.

East playoff teams: Cleveland, Toronto, Indiana, Boston, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Charlotte and Washington.

West playoff teams: Golden State, San Antonio, Memphis, LA Clippers, Portland, Utah, Minnesota, Houston.

Rookie of the year: Joel Embiid

MVP: LeBron James.

Finals: Golden State defeats Cleveland in six.

Enjoy the games, everybody!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Top 10 NFL Week 7 Ad Questions

Another Big Fan Of Ads
10) Can I drink non-Dr. Pepper products without the threat of home invasion?

9) Does buying a phone from AT&T cause idiotic internal monologues and walking into solid objects?

8) Will Visa be satisfied with anything less than 100% of the purchases at an NFL game, and if not, what measures are they willing to take?

7) How fast can the Best Buy marketing and advertising staff be strung up by their genitalia for starting holiday gifting a full week before Halloween?

6) Is Southwest the go-to airline for people who secretly hate their jobs, and as such, enjoy that level of, um, service?

5) Can someone check in on Peyton Manning, as he appears to be going more than a little insane in retirement, what with hiring cheerleaders and announcing the arrival of food?

4) How, exactly, does butt-dialing people help to sell car insurance?

3) Did the marketing team from Chevy pay full price for the emoji ad concept, or did they farm it out to someone's tween?

2) How did Subway get a season to cut a sandwich, and doesn't that speak to a certain lack of freshness?

1) If I buy a Pixel phone, will I be unable to comprehend how VR works, and become like a dog being shown a card trick?

The Eagles Win Different

Much Of Today's Game
Going into today's game with the Vikings, we knew two things, without any shade of doubt.

1) The Eagles, especially QB Carson Wentz, made good decisions and didn't turn the ball over.

2) The Vikings, especially QB Sam Bradford with a dominant defense, had the same tendency, but even more so.

So... both teams combined for turnovers on five straight possessions damn near immediately. With the QBs being primarily responsible for nearly all of it.

Some credit should be shown to the defenses in this game, who took advantage of the dearth of WR talent to just limit all play inside the hash marks and just grind it down, but still. I suppose the wind also had some impact, but we're talking about a day in which the QBs threw it 69 times for 362 yards, with 2 TDs, 3 INTS, and 7 (!) fumbles. I'm not sure I've ever seen a game like that before, honestly.

As for my laundry, a win is a win, and you had to like the world-class hurting that they laid on Bradford today. It's also nice to see the STs make as many plays as they did in the high times of the Kelly Era, with Josh Huff's kickoff return for touchdown, and the late fumble recovery off a mid-field punt, proving exceptionally meaningful. But it's hard to feel very good about a game where the offense goes 3 for 11 on third down, where nearly all of the penalties were on the offensive line, and where Wentz looked as skittish and rookie-not-ready as we've ever seen him. There wasn't a single offensive player, with the possible exception of Huff, who had what you'd call a particularly effective day, and the offensive line was the worst of the bunch.

On the defensive side of the ball, this game showed exactly why no one in the local market is pining for Bradford. Game manager is never a compliment for a QB, and Bradford's idea of management -- checkdown, checkdown, checkdown, even when the defense is absolutely begging you to take it on third and long -- is the definition of empty calorie football stats. He's not mobile, doesn't stretch the defense, has terrible body language when behind, and just looked like he had absolutely no interest in playing football by the end of this game. Minnesota is still 5-1 and in fine shape in the NFC North, but make no mistake about it; any team that has this guy taking the snaps has a hard cap on their offensive potential, and while you can obviously win that way (see, um, Denver last year), it's not exactly easy or pretty.

Next up is Dallas in Dallas, and just to make matters even more challenging, the Cowboys are coming off a bye. I don't expect them to win that game, but I also didn't expect them to win today, or against Pittsburgh before the bye. If they bring today's defense to that game, and WR Dez Bryant isn't 100%, maybe.

They'd also be well-advised to not bring whoever was in Wentz's jersey today, either.

Eagles - Vikings Diary / Takeaways

Let's Get Ready To Check Down
> QB Carson Wentz to WR Dorial Green-Beckham for 4, then a false start on RT Halapoul- ivaati Vaitai, who isn't exactly making us all feel better about Start 2

> RB Ryan Mathews for 6 yards, setting up 3rd and Don't Fall Into An Early Hole

> Drop by DG-B for a missed first down, and yeah, Wentz is still so much better than his teammates, it's not funny

> P Donnie Jones takes advantage of wind and kills one

> Vikings QB Sam Bradford on to a chorus of hate, and sure, go nuts

> RB Matt Asiati for 2, then 3 on the classic telegraphed screen

> 3rd and 4 and get off the field is a drop by Asaita, and yeah, that was the kind of Electric Sam series we don't miss

> P Jeff Locke goes down on pressure, and that's a ST turnover; the P drew the flag by putting his leg on the rusher and falling down, which kind of sucks

> Green now leads the league in flags

> RB Jerick McKinnon for a yard as LB Mychal Kendricks does the job, then Bradford underthrows WR Charles Johnson, who had CB Nolan Carroll roasted

> 3rd and 9 and pick up the ST mistake is a checkdown to TE Kyle Rudolph; empty calorie numbers for Bradford

> Locke to PR Darren Sproles, who fair catches at the 10

> Mathews for 6 as the line looks better on running plays, then play action fools no one, with holding on LG Allen Barbre to boot; Flag 2 Of Many?

> Wentz is high, tipped and picked on a try for TE Brent Celek, and he should have never gone in that direction in the first place; disaster play

> Asiata stopped on first and goal at the 2, then a false start helps a little

> Bradford misses WR Stefon Diggs after full clock, then on 3rd and limit the damage, he's picked by S Rodney McLeod on heavy pressure by DE Brandon Graham

> Both QBs who haven't thrown bad picks all year have thrown bad picks

> Bradford's first pick in 158 attempts, and the first Purple giveaway all year, which is kind of astounding

> Wentz to Celek for 7, then takes WR Josh Huff for an easy 12 on a soft out

> Wentz and Sproles screw up the exchange, and that's an absolute gift for Purple; bad work by the QB

> From the Green 12, Bradford is stripped by DE Connor Barwin, S Malcolm Jenkins scoops it up for the fumble recovery TD, and the flag is on Purple with a 15-yard flag to boot

> I have no idea who these teams are, but this is just wacky

> Review rules that Jenkins was touched, so not a score; crap, and so much for home field officiating benefit

> Mathews loses 4 on a badly blocked sweep, then Huff gets 3 on a covered screen; line not doing much

> 3rd and 11 should have been a pick and is, with CB Xavier Rhodes making the lunge; fifth turnover in 8:15 of play, but at least that one has aspects of field position

> Just another bad decision by Wentz, who desperately needs to settle down

> Wildcat run by McKinnon for 8, then a dive for a yard, and a first down on another dive

> Bradford tries Diggs on a deep ball off pressure, and CB Jaylen Mills gets away with DPI, maybe because Diggs applauded too much

> 3rd and 10 is the classic Bradford checkdown where McKinnon can't make four men miss

> S Ron Brooks hurt on the play, and leaves on the cart in what looks like a season-ending knee injury, which isn't exactly helpful

> 4th and 5 in go-able distance and field position is a purple punt, since a non-turnover change of possession is kind of exciting; STer Cordarelle Patterson downs it at the 2 on a great play

> Wentz draws an encroachment flag, then Mathews gets 5 for the first

> Wentz to WR Jeremy Matthews for a 10-yard slant, and that was professional

> Bubble screen to DG-B for 3, then RB Wendell Smallwood for 3 more

> 3rd and 4 and Please Don't Turn It Over is a dangerous out to WR Nelson Agholor, but it works; kid does not lack for confidence

> End of the first quarter is somehow scoreless, which might be the most amazing thing so far today

> Wentz hits TE Zach Erta for 14, then misses several wide open TEs off play action, and yeesh, kid

> Flag 3 is a false start on C Jason Kelce, all of the flags on the OL

> 2nd and 15 is a drop by Sproles as pressure was disturbingly close again; with Vaitai showing weakness

> 3rd and 15 and Don't Turn It Over is a Green timeout off High Uncertainty, and as this is likely a give up run anyway, not seeing the point

> Wentz has all day to throw and a wide-open Agholor, and misses the WR for a score by several yards; might have been on the WR for slowing down, but still

> After five games of We Can't Believe This Guy Is A Rookie, Wentz is really, um, rookie-ing it up out there

> Jones to the end zone with a bounce

> McKinnon for 9, then hobbles off

> Asiata for 7 as the defense shows signs of Last Week's Ugliness

> Asiata for 5 as the defense seems to sell out for Bradford's non-fakes

> Asiata for a yard, then 3rd and 3 and get off the field is a simple dig to Diggs, nothing hard about that

> Asiata for little as DT Destiny Vaejo makes a play, then Bradford misses a wide-open Diggs by plenty

> 3rd and 8 and come on make a play already is a strike to Rudolph, way too open against terrible LB work

> In long figgie range, Asiata for nothing, then Bradford throwing it away

> 3rd and 10 and for the love of God, make a goddamn play already is an effective blitz from CB Jaylen Watkins prior to the incomplete

> Shaky K Blair Walsh connects from 48, because every long figgie works against my laundry

> Huff takes the kickoff the distance on an awesome drone camera angle, punctuating it with a backflip, and wow, speed and a lane and nice

> I'm kind of amazed Huff didn't get hurt or flagged for the flip, or that Walsh didn't just sit down on that tackle "attempt"

> Second straight week with a KR TD

> 15 yard flag on the PAT leads to a go for 2 attempt, which is pretty damned ballsy and I dunno, Doug...

> From the 1 for 2, it's Wentz keeping it for the deuce, and well OK then

> Also doesn't hurt to have the extra time for the defense there, as we saw last week on the road

> Green has the only KR TDs in the NFL this year

> S Chris Maragos down, but looks OK

> McKinnon loses 5 on MLB Jordan Hicks' penetration, then CB Leodis McKelvin nearly has a pick 6 on a telgraphed out

> 3rd and 15 and continue the avalanche is Patterson for 7 on a give up bubble screen against a 2-man rush, and That's So Sam Bradford

> Locke with a duck to the Green 35, and maybe the home offense can get moving, would be nice

> Mathews for a yard, then Wentz misses Ertz on play action, another missed throw

> 3rd and 9 and keep the damned ball please is long clock, blitz, screen into pressure and just a turd sammich

> Jones to the 23 with a fair catch

> Bradford with the near pick on pressure from Barwin, then Asiata for a yard

> 3rd and 9 and keep the defensive momentum going is a perfect pass to WR Adam Theilen to move the sticks, with the flag on Carroll for hands to the face before getting beaten like a drum

> Patterson on a screen for 8 with pain, then Bradford throwing it away on pressure

> 3rd and 2 and prevent points maybe is Bradford to Rudolph as the defense all decides to chase the QB, rather than cover the only possible outlet

> Bradford to RB Ronnie Hillman for a meager yard, then massive pressure and a ruled fumble with recovery by DT Beau Allen

> McLeod got there on Bradford's bad awareness, and yeah, we don't miss him

> Third Purple turnover of the half, so the game is even now

> Mathews for 2 then 6 as Fox gets the downs wrong

> 3rd and 2 and any points will do, honestly, just don't turn it over is long clock, then a missed throw to wide open TE Trey Burton, and good god, kid

> 4th and 2 is a non-draw, then timeout, and um, Doug Pederson is getting tricksy

> From the Purple 44, still going for it after the timeout to Troy Aikmann's disapproval, and it's a near fumble on the snap, then Wentz beating feet to the edge for the first

> Wentz tries DG-B, no flag on clear DPI on Rhodes; no idea why that's not a call

> Wentz also gets hit late, but why not, all flags are not Green now

> Delay to Mathews for little, then with the clock running down, Mathews gets it to the 17 as Purple doesn't cover the draw, oddly

> No timeouts left, 20 seconds to go, from the Purple 17

> Wentz needs to be careful and not blow the figgie here

> Tries Agholor on a pump fake, but S Terence Newman doesn't bite

> K Caleb Sturgis on with 15 seconds left as Pederson decides a half of poor Wentz decisions doesn't need to end with another

> Purple ices the kicker to prolong the overly long first half, then the offense comes back on and well OK then

> Wentz throws it away to Matthews, then Sturgis comes back on to try from 35; it's good

> Eagles 11, Vikings 3, in a score you don't see very often

> Bradford takes a knee, and that's the half

> Punts are good

> Mathews for 7, then gets it on 2nd and 3 as the idea that running it a lot might be good

> Smallwood for 4 as RG Brandon Brooks is down, as if this OL needs any more losses

> Smallwood for another 3 as Purple starts to sell out for the run

> Obvious DPI as Wentz tries DG-B, and even these refs can't ignore that

> Wentz with good patience to Mathews for a hurdle and a first, and it somehow doesn't get flagged on Green

> Wentz scoops up a bad snap and improvises to RB Kenyan Barner for the first, and Kelce keeps doing that

> Holding on Barbre because why not, Brooks returns, flag six, all on the line, I think

> Huff on a well executed screen for 14, and good blocking by the WRs to set that up

> Another blown snap, gives to Sproles, and I have no idea what the hell is going on with Kelce

> 3rd and goal and just don't turn it over is a great slant and muscle job by DG-B, and that's his first score for the laundry

> Sturgis with the PAT,and it's Green 18, Purple 3, 20:45 left

> With the held ball due to wind, Sturgis gets the touchback, which helps

> Drop by Thielen and a near pick, then Rudolph for 9 as the pressure doesn't quite get there

> 3rd and a long one is a give to Asiata, who gets it too easily

> Hicks nearly makes the play of the year with a close on Bradford, batting the ball, then nearly picking it off

> Purple timeout, and hoo boy, this offense isn't pleasing its fans

> McKinnon eaten by DT Fletcher Cox for a loss, then 3rd and 14 is a give up run to Asiata that gets the first down, and FFS, defense

> Purple with life at the Green 39; McKinnon for 3, then 5

> 3rd and 2 and keep it to a long figgie is an outlet to Asiata for just enough, as Bradford does his receiver no favors

> Bradford to Diggs for another first as Mills is beaten on a drag route, who is hurt on the play as well

> In the red zone and threatening to get exactly what they need to get back in the game, it's wildcat to McKinnon for 6 yards with the offensive face mask not called, because my laundry gets no calls now; end of the 3rd, it's 18-3 Green

> Defense does great work with stops down deep, with Asiata not getting it down with weak play calling

> Mathews for not much twice and a flag to boot, with Matt Tobin in for Jason Peters and God help us all

> 3rd and 9 and don't turn it over is a give up run for Smallwood for 4, and it's 12 minutes of clock for this defense to somehow burn

> PR Marques Sherrells with the unforced fumble error, Green gets it back, and STs have been huge today

> Sproles for 17, then a yard, as Pederson grabs his binkie late

> Wentz to Matthews for 6, setting up 3rd and 4 with a longish but very important figgie

> Sproles on the sprint screen and just gets it, because he's just that damned good

> Huff off the scary backwards pass for 11, and he's run well today

> Clock burning nicely, as Wentz is doing smart things there at least; he goes for a yard on read option

> Wentz misses Agholor, near pick, and we're just trying to get through this game with him, honestly

> 3rd and 9 is a carry by Sproles, and he gets 8 of 9

> Pederson plays it super safe and takes the Sturgis figgie; Green 21, Purple 3 with 6:08 left

> Asiata for 8 as Bradford cracks triple figures (woo!), but the flag wipes it off

> Bradford to Rudolph for 10 as the Not Hurrying offense doesn't do much

> Bradford to Asiata for 7, then incomplete as Hicks does great work

> Less then five minutes left as Asiata drops a cross, and yeah, Not Missing The Sam Bradford Experience

> 4th and 3 and put it away is a batted ball by Watkins, and that should be that

> Mathews fumbles it, and, um, that's twice in three weeks that's he's put it on the ground in the final minutes

> Bradford back on to do what he does best -- short middle of the field throws that the defense will give up gladly

> Patterson for 8, Johnson for 5, strip sack and fumble by Graham for a QB recovery

> Patterson for 11, batted ball in the pocket for an incomplete, Asaiata for 3, then Thielen for 25

> Garbage time gets Sam to 191 at the 2 minute mark, none of it meaningful

> Unsportsmanlike on Purple as Bradford moves around in the pocket with his usual molasses level speed, then 2 yards and the clock moves to Asiata

> Asiata with the checkdown (shock!) for 10, clock moves, Sam's been hit 19 times today, which is Our Idea Of Fun

> 3rd and goal from the 23, chekckdown for 8

> Bradford to Patterson for the ultimate in garbage time touchdown, with a flag on McLeod for a head shot

> That score will matter to the worst fantasy football players in America

> Onside kick is out of bounds, and that is that

> The 1973 Dolphins can go screw themselves, because reasons, and my laundry is 4-2 and Not Dead in the somehow toughest division in football

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dorking Hard, Or The Fantasy Basketball Draft

Auctions fall into de facto rounds, so I'll consider my draft accordingly.

1) Russell Westbrook, $78
2) Draymond Green, $33
3) Rudy Gobert, $31
4) Blake Griffin, $29
5) Goran Dragic, $13
6) Monta Ellis, $9
7) Al-Farouq Aminu, $1
8) Zach Randolph, $1
9) Kenneth Faried, $1
10) Andre Iguodala, $1
11) Kyle Korver, $1
12) Emmanuel Mudiay, $1

My belief about the NBA regular season is that there will be a tier of 2 guys who drive maximum regular season value -- and that those guys are James Harden and Russell Westbrook, and my pick of those two guys is Westbrook with a bullet. With no Kevin Durant around, he's been an absolute monster, and even when Durant was around, he was, um, an ultimate monster. This is an 8-category league, so turnovers don't count against you, and I just don't believe that he's going to be anything beyond obscene in his usage rate. I paid $78 for him; I would have gone to $85. I'm that all-in for him.

Draymond Green is, I believe, the only Warrior who isn't going to be really impacted by Durant coming to town. His numbers are helper-tastic, there's no more Andrew Bogut to take possible minutes away from him in the middle, and he has great assist levels for a big. I knew I wasn't going to get another big-time assist guy with my Westbrook buy, and while he's going to get more attention from the refs after last playoff's nuttery, I think he reins it in.

Gobert was kind of a moment of price protection gone wrong, but I'm not too upset with the price. He's a block monster without having too much in the way of FT woes, and if he had stayed healthy, I think he would have gone for more. I love his physical skill set, and Utah is just a lot better with him on the floor. I think there's upside at the price.

Speaking of upside... I know it's a long-standing joke that Blake Griffin is adding a three to his game this year, but that's still what is being said. I know there's injury risk here, but it's mostly cropped up in the playoffs, rather than the regular season, and the dude's actual real-life game just seems so much more than his stats, I think there's ceiling still. With the Warriors taking over the NBA's role of Hated Villains, I think he gets less in the way of punk fouling, especially with the world hacking away on DeAndre Jordan. There's always been MVP-level impact here, and for my fourth-round shove, I think it works.

Final guy who could presumably be seen as a star in this stars and scrubs roster is Dragic, who is primed for a big year in the aftermath of Miami's roster blowup. With Dwyane Wade in Chicago, Luol Deng in LA, Chris Bosh likely out of the league and Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow still around to provide actual defensive ability and competitive hoop, I think he gets 35 minutes a game and all the shots he can handle. Volume value.

Now to the scrubs part. Monta Ellis doesn't excite anyone, but he's not losing the #2 guard spot, and Paul George isn't the kind of #1 option who sucks the life out of a team. They'll play faster with Jeff Teague at PG, which will also help get them more easy hoops. Aminu was a bit of a dodge when other teams still had cash and blocking ability on me, but he's a D and 3 guy who played well in the playoffs and seems to make them better IRL.

Faried was one of a handful of guys who I had in queue until the league left me alone. I know there's been trade rumors and occasional minutes rationing on him, but just look at his game; they need him. If he does get dealt, he's a top-level energy guy who can give you great runs.

Randolph, Iguodala and Korver all fall into the same basic realm of Knows What He's Doing And Has A Role, which means that they should all be playable in high-game count weeks. Zeke doesn't give you much beyond popcorn stats, but the big minute rate usually helps hide that, and NBA players tend to age older than you might think. Korver had a great year in 2014 and a terrible one last year, so I'm hoping he can just bounce back; if he can't, he'll go for the first hot free agent on the wire. Mudiay might not be able to shoot well enough to play in the NBA, but when Jameer Nelson is in front of you, you have no one in front of you. Competency will be rewarded, and sometimes guys make strides in their second year.

We should be good enough to contend, at least until the injuries mount and Westbrook goes on a 3-state killing spree (which is to say in Oklahoma, a Tuesday) from having to carry an entire franchise that should have 3 Top 10 players, and instead has just one. I usually hate stars and scrubs teams, but with 12 teams, play 9, draft 12, your scrubs should be serviceable, and I've never rooted for Russ before. I think this is the year to become his fan.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

NFL Picks Week 7: You're Going To Get Tired Of Winning

Builds Casino, Loses Money
I apologize for letting too much of the systematic degradation of the country leak into the Sports Talk, but, um, well, when you live in remarkable times, pretending that you don't is just willful ignorance. Which is just not something we do. I don't refer to the DC franchise by their obvious trollbait name, I don't pretend the NFL has anything but money in mind when it does things like pinkwashing or concussion protocols or embracing, then rejecting, daily fantasy crack sites... and so, one (last?) thing about Donald J. Trump, Business Super Genius.

Dude went bankrupt running a casino. In the '80s and '90s, before the Internet, before neighboring states had casinos.

How, exactly, does that happen?

Especially when you are a Super Genius?

I think I've figured it out, really. Since watching three debates worth (actually, four -- I even tuned in for the veeps, because I clearly Have Issues) of this work, I've learned that if you don't want to have to own up to something terrible that you've said, you can just say you didn't say it. Video evidence to the contrary be damned.

So those disquieting number of losses in past weeks? Evidence of a rigged media. (Yes, I get that the media is, in this instance, me. Believe me, that guy is crooked.) Who are you going to believe, this week's column or your own eyeballs, looking at previous week's picks?

Anyway, we're already on the road to making our record great again with last week's gains. So on to Ohio! (In that there are games there this weekend, and they need to be picked. Also, other states.)

And with that... on to the picks!

                                                       * * * * *

Chicago at GREEN BAY (-7.5)

I'm not under the illusion that this is a great Packer squad. QB Aaron Rodgers looks like just a guy right now, and he was the biggest roadblock to his team making a meaningful comeback in last week's snoozy loss against Dallas. But Terrible Night Football is usually a curb stomp, and the Chicago offense isn't airtight enough to be on the front end of that. This will be an illusion night over how Rodgers will be fine and everyone should just pretend nothing's wrong. There is and he isn't, but Chicago's defense, on the road, can't show it.

Packers 31, Bears 20

GIANTS (-3) at LA Rams (London)

Speaking of bad games set aside so that everyone can turn them off and make people question what's wrong with the ratings, here's a bad piece of business between two flawed teams. I like the Giants to travel better as their road trip isn't nearly as terrible, and their offense is more likely to make big plays.

Giants 27, Rams 19

New Orleans at KANSAS CITY (-6.5)

Say this for Andy Reid; the man knows how to work on a bye. With last week's thorough dismantling of the Raiders in the rearview, the West looks a lot more manageable for them, especially if the Broncos continue to have injury issues at QB. Against a Saints team that doesn't travel well historically, I think they cruise, especially since their running game is starting to hit on all cylinders.

Chiefs 31, Saints 23

INDIANAPOLIS (+2.5) at Tennessee

The Colts were so close to a feel-good road victory and a resettling of the order in the AFC South, but the defense failed them in the clutch, and the offense didn't do enough to win. I think they come into this game angry, and I also think the Titans don't have the offense to get it down in the end.

Colts 24, Titans 20

MINNESOTA (-2.5) at Philadelphia

Two straight ugly games of penalty flags and intermittent defense for my laundry, and now they get a rested Vikings team and a vengeful Sam Bradford. With OL issues that were disastrous, LBs that are getting lost in the wash, and a home crowd that can turn on them, not loving their chance to pin a loss on the last unbeaten NFC team.

Vikings 23, Eagles 20

Cleveland at CINCINNATI (-9.5)

Hate to run this big of a line with the very frustrating Bengals, but they are historically good at kicking sand in the face of the Browns, and they were closer to the Patriots last week than the final score indicates. Cleveland isn't going to go winless this year, but this isn't their week.

Bengals 31, Browns 17

Washington at DETROIT (-1)

This needs to be said: QB Matthew Stafford is playing some of the best football of his life right now, and he might actually be better without WR Calvin Johnson, let alone the usual lack of a running game. Against a DC team that isn't coached well enough to do this well with prosperity, I think they get it done again.

Lions 27, Slurs 24

OAKLAND (+1) at Jacksonville

Big test and bigger road trip for the Raiders, but their run game is good enough to surprise here, especially against a Jags team that hasn't put together their talent with their scheme.

Raiders 26, Jaguars 24

BUFFALO (-3) at Miami

If you can figure out this Dolphins team, you are up on me, but the Bills have played too well for the past few weeks to spit the bit on a road division game. The Bills just seem to be to have the higher ceiling.

Bills 25, Dolphins 20

Baltimore at NY JETS (pick 'em)

A feel pick from two teams that are going nowhere, with the feeling that the Jets are just going to have to play a good football game one of these days. I know they have a short week and an iffy home field, so feel free to just call this one a coin flip.

Jets 23, Ravens 20

TAMPA (-2.5) at San Francisco

The Niner defense used to be an elite outfit. Then they hired a fraud coach who destroys football teams with an easily diagnosed tempo offense. Now they give up 40+ points a game, but all anyone can talk about is QB Colin Kaepernick. Tampa's turn to take advantage.

Bucs 34, Niners 23

San Diego at ATLANTA (-6.5)

I still don't think the Falcons are for real, but the Chargers don't travel that well, and loud home dome with an offense that keeps having big moments can cover a big number. Especially when the ground game is also clicking.

Falcons 31, Chargers 20

NEW ENGLAND (-7.5) at Pittsburgh

Without QB Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers are not going to be able to keep up with a Patriot offense that's just too opportunistic. There may be no greater drop off in the NFL than from Ben to Landry Jones.

Patriots 31, Steelers 20

SEATTLE (+1.5) at Arizona

Maybe the best game on the docket this week, and I'm more going with the season-long pick with my Super Bowl team than the one with absolute momentum now. I just think that QB Russell Wilson is going to pick up his game for the lights, and that QB Carson Palmer is at the stage in his career when he can lose any game on his own. But it's going to be a great and close one.

Seahawks 24. Cardinals 23

Houston at DENVER (-7.5)

Probably the biggest and most obvious Revenge Game on the calendar this year, with Denver Fan coming out for QB Brock Osweiler with an absolute vengeance. The Texans won't be able to run for enough yards to keep this from getting ugly.

Broncos 27, Texans 9

Last week: 9-5-1

Year: 37-54-1

Career: 796-804-50

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Top 10 NFL Week 6 Ad Questions

Welcome To Bone Town
10) If I get my data plan from AT&T, will my work life be a nightmare?

9) Does Pizza Hut have a security problem that's causing weird guys and aliens to get in their kitchen to finger the workers?

8) If you have the confidence to pack just a single pack of Viagra before your hotel bonefest with the ready to go cougar, doesn't that say you've already got enough confidence to not need the boner pill in the first place?

7) Jeep does know that Cat Stevens, more than partisan politics, inspires violence, right?

6) If you own a Google phone, are you more prone to own a poodle that inspires music about transvestism and prostitution?

5) Can you eat at Burger King without wearing an idiotic paper hat?

4) Is the point of the NFL Shop to infuriate players over how little their sacrifice and accomplishments matter?

3) Why is Clay Matthews seductively butt-creeping around while telling us how great he is?

2) Does owning a Corolla make you prone to loud singing to no one in particular?

1) Hasn't Tom Hanks already made the movie he's in, like, a half dozen times?

Eagles - Slurs Diary / Takeaways

That, Or An Eagles Fan
> First snap of the game and we've got protection issues, a sack, and a holding flag -- not exactly a great start to the Halapoulivaati Vaitai Era

> RB Ryan Mathews for 10 to make third down manageable, then RB Wendell Smallwood off the quasi-draw as Red sells out for pressure

> Loss of 2 with Smallwood, then another sack, this one for LB Ryan Kerrigan, and at this rate, QB Carson Wentz is going to be naked by the end of the game

> Kerrigan is DC's best defensive player, and he's involved in both sacks, kind of a nightmare prediction

> Vaitai looks completely outclassed, and then next ten weeks of Not Lane Johnson is looking dicey at best

> Wentz takes WR Jordan Matthews for 12 yards of they'll give that up, and it's punt time

> Weak work by P Donnie Jones, but the coverage is solid

> Pressure on QB Kirk Cousins causes a fluttery underthrow, then a not much run by a not much RB (Chris Thompson)

> 3rd and 9 and get off the field with some purpose is long clock and a supremely easy out to WR DeSean Jackson for 11

> CB Jalen Mills with the lack of break, and that was far too easy; DJ celebrates in his usual understated way

> Obvious holding at the line not called as Red tries a deep ball; Mills gets a defensive holding flag because why the hell not

> RB Matt Jones for 2 as LB Nigel Bradham closes with violence

> Pressure doesn't get there, and Cousins only has eyes for DJ; 6 yards on the out

> 3rd and 2 and somehow get off the field against a power set is a drop by WR Ryan Grant, and that's a big break

> First time today that we're going to be grateful for a lack of TE Jordan Reed; probably not the last

> Slurs punter Tress Way puts it into the end, and phew

> Wentz misses Matthews on an intermediate route; WR was open, but high pressure makes things too difficult

> Mathews for no gain, line getting beaten on every snap

> 3rd and 10 and stop the bleeding is a perfect ball to Matthews, who can't get his feet down; Wentz did everything possible on that, again with pressure

> Jones gets off a good one, Slurs PR Jameson Crowder makes a man miss, much flags on a clip, and nice change of field position there

> Pressure, drop, holding; Slur offense not exactly lighting it up so far, either

> Bradham with a knock down on a week effort by Cousins, then a middling draw by Thompson, as Slur Fan gets annoyed

> 3rd and 18 and keep the field position is Crowder for 16 against a 4-0-7 defense; nearly a disaster play from an extreme prevent formation

> Way gives Sproles a chance, and he does a little with it; Green winning the battle of field position, which isn't an actual battle

> Mathews for 4 with actual sane play-calling, then Smallwood for 3

> Third and 3 and We Need Points Dammit has Wentz draw an offsides for the first; Eagle Fan cheers suspiciously loud

> Play action does what it should, and Wentz is high to Matthews, who almost one hands it, but heaven forbid the WRs on this team make big plays

> Mathews for 4 to get it in Slur Territory, then 3rd and 6 is empty set (rut roh) and a fade route to Matthews for no chance

> This WR crew is going to be the biggest reason why this team's got no margin for error

> Jones to the 15 with the weak punt, but a chop block by Marcus Smith on a Who Knew That Was A Penalty Play ruins that

> Encroachment to continue the pattern of All Flags Are Green, then Cousins has Jackson open and deep for 35 yards

> Gosh, it must be nice to have a WR with such elite level speed; only an idiot franchise would let a guy like Jackson just go for nothing

> RB Matt Jones through a big hole as the defense looks shaken

> Slurs in the red zone in a hurry, and Crowder is wide open for the kitten-soft score against CB Nolan Carroll

> S Malcolm Jenkins also didn't really do much on that play, and yeah, the last two weeks is reminding us a lot about why hopes for the laundry weren't very high coming into the year

> Mathews for 5, then Matthews on a screen for the first, and that's the first quarter

> TE Trey Burton off play action as Wentz shows quality for 7 yards, then Kurrigan owns Vaitai for the third time in 16 minutes

> Why the Eagles are failing to give Vaitai help, we will never know

> 3rd and 9 is incomplete with multiple WRs in the zone, and no OL is doing their job right now

> Jones to the 10 for a fair catch of 50 yards, and unless the defense makes some plays soon, this is going to get ugly

> Jones loses 2 as DT Bennie Logan penetrates, and the line look challenged on that play

> Cousins takes WR Pierre Garcon for 5 on a cross

> 3rd and 7 and keep field position and a chance at stopping the avalanche is Cousins keeping it and getting the first as pursuit overruns him; just bad work by the defense

> RB Robert Kelly for 44 game breaking yards, with S Rodney McLeod taking him down by the hair

> Kelly for 5, and the Slurs found themselves a RB; short of mistakes, this game is over

> Thompson for 10 as the run defense is the next to fail

> Cousins to Jackson for 4 on the out, then Kelly for a yard as Jenkins finally makes a play

> 3rd and 5 and prevent obvious embarrassment is Cousins from the gun to TE Vernon Davis, who makes a great catch and taunts, because why not

> Slurs 14, Eagles 0, and with the way the offensive line is playing, Game Over

> Well, that's useful... Smallwood takes the short kick and runs it right the hell back, as Smith and TE Brent Celek do the work, and the STs make a big play

> K Caleb Sturgis with the PAT, and it's 14-7 with a pulse shown

> Only problem with that sort of thing is that your gassed and suddenly terrible defense goes right back on the field, but hey, points is points

> Fox goes into full blame Vernon Davis Mode, as if taunting weren't a ridiculous rule

> False start on Garcon, Thompson for 1, then Cousins to Thompson for 6

> 3rd and 8 and get back in the game is Cousins from the gun, blitz doesn't get there, Carroll runs through Garcon for obvious DPI, and Christ, what happened to the defense that stuffed the Steelers?

> Crowder loses 10 on an end-around as LB Mychal Kendricks closes nicely, but the Slurs are victimized by a bad call

> No pressure, Cousins finds Crowder for 22 and a first down, and this defense is just hot garbage right now

> Cousins off pressure from Smith makes a bad decision, Jenkins breaks on it nicely, and holy crap, that was a gift

> Sturgis connects, and the game is tied

> Curious to see if the Slurs get tentative and/or skittish now

> Jones for 4 as Logan is down; he walks off later, and yeah, he's needed

> Jones for another massive gain of 22, and the LBs and DT Fletcher Cox just look tentative

> Jones for another 6, less than his average today

> Kelly for 7 as I'm not sure why the Slurs would throw it at all right now

> DC has already run for 119 today, and that's with a 10 yard loss that shouldn't have counted

> Thompson for 5 with the requisite two missed tackles

> Jackson drops a touchdown as the WR toasts Mills and Cousins throws it perfectly, but better lucky than good

> Third drop for the Slurs in the half

> 3rd and 5 is a conversion, of course, to Garcon, as the pressure doesn't get there and McLeod is 30 yards deep for no good reason at all

> Cousins has enough time to summarize Proust, then hits Garcon for 14

> From the 4, Cousins misses Davis, with MLB Jordan Hicks distracting

> Mills breaks up a ball to Garcon, showing good bounce-back confidence

> Third and goal from the 4 is Cousins out of the end zone, but Cox is called for playing football the way it used to be played, rather than the way it is played now

> First and goal from the 2 is a bad fade to Garcon, then Thompson is stopped just short of the goal line

> Third and goal from the 1 with 10 seconds left is Jones to left for about the easiest score you'll find in the NFL; Bradham was absolutely pancaked

> Slurs 21, Eagles 14, and so much for the narrative that the Slurs have a red zone problem

> Suffice it to say, this game isn't going to do much for the Eagles time of possession narrative

> Green doesn't onside kick to start the second, which might be a mistake

> Cox jumps offside to start it, and Lord, he's been terrible today

> DT Beau Allen shoots the gap for a loss of three on Jones; encouraging

> Cousins with all day but nowhere to go, in that he wasn't looking at Jackson

> 3rd and 8 and change the feel of the game is Cousins from the gun, easy throw to Garcon for 22, and that's been all damned day

> No pocket contain, no pressure, no coverage, no competence

> Thompson for 2, then 12 more on the easy as hell screen, and the line read the play and still didn't get back

> Thompson for 8, something like the 34th out of 35th play for the Eagle defense

> Jones for 15, defense utterly gassed, linebackers AWOL, etc., etc.

> Jones for 2, and an actual flag on Red to boot

> Face mask on S Ron Brooks to make sure no difficulties will be faced by Red; second time today the defense has gifted a big flag for red zone ease

> Jones for nothing, then a near pick by Jenkins in the end zone, and that's just a drop by the S that he had to have

> 3rd and 10 is an incomplete off actual pressure, and hey, actual competence

> K Dustin Hopkins connects, and Red leads by 10

> Sproles for 6 as the Eagles remember what offense feels like; holding on C Jason Kelce on second down as Sproles goes nowhere

> The semi-weekly Nelson Agholor sighting, as Wentz shrugs off pressure for 15

> 3rd and 2 and need to keep it is Wentz on a keeper, and the kid knew that was necessary

> Smallwood for nothing as the line shows that nothing is getting better

> Wentz tries Smallwood as Kerrigan is there nearly faster than the snap, and I have no idea what Vaitai is doing out there

> 3rd and 11 and keep the QB alive is Wentz making a ridiculous play to fight off all kinds of pressure to get it to WR Dorial Green-Beckham, but the 38 yard play is wiped out on a miserably cheap flag on Smallwood

> Wentz may be the only good player on this offense

> 3rd and 21 and keep the QB alive is a give up screen to Smallwood that gets 15

> Jones to the 14, and he's on the short list of guys who is earning a paycheck today

> Cousins to Garcon for 21, Hicks spinning like a top, DBs not close, lather, rinse, repeat

> Cousins with de facto grounding, Davis with a textbook hold/choke on LB Brandon Graham, refs only call the latter

> Jones for 6, still not sure why they just don't run it all the time

> Green down two defenders (Logan and Smith) as Cousins takes Thompson, Brooks whiffs, Carroll down, 14 yard gain, not sure why I'm still watching

> Eagles are out of CBs, but might not have any when healthy, so it's kind of theoretical

> 3rd and 2 and the Slurs do Green a massive favor by rolling out and throwing it away

> Sproles picks up a bounce and gets it to the 9, so, um, still a game, I guess

> Mathews for 5, too much clock for down 10, then the RB again for 9, and first down number... five!

> Mathews for a yard, end of the third quarter, and yeah, not seeing how Pederson is doing much other than managing this game to not lose his QB

> Wentz from an empty backfield, has time and DG-B is open, but the ball sails and the DB asks for OPI, so, um, yeah

> 3rd and 9 and it might still be a game, I guess, has LT Jason Peters take the flag, because why should Vaitai have all the fun

> 3rd and 14 and Jebus is Wentz with an absolutely perfect ball to Matthews for 54 yards, and the ball is just perfect to a guy that really isn't open

> RB Kenyan Barner on a delay for 6, then a deflected ball that Wentz nearly catches

> 3rd and 4 and have to have it is a weird cross run by Barner that doesn't get it done, and that was overthinking it / we can't block people

> Sturgis from 38 connects, and it's Slurs 24, Eagles 17, and the first offensive points of the day

> Mistake by Thompson to take the kick out of the end zone, big play by S Chris Maragos to pin the Slurs at their 10

> Jones through a run blitz that fails, 13 yards and easy as hell

> Cousins to Davis, Jenkins blows the coverage, no pressure, 37 yards of simple

> Slurs in figgie range after 6 yards for Thompson, missed tackle of course

> Offsides as McLeod walks up too far, free play for the Slurs gets nothing

> 11th flag for 99 yards, and counting

> Timeout by the Slurs for no good reason; 10:41 left in a game that neither team should win

> Jones loses 3 as Hicks does the job, then Cousins misses Jackson in the end zone

> 3rd and 13 is a misfire by Cousins against pressure, and hmm

> Hopkins from 50 is good, because long figgies always work against my laundry, and it's 10 points again, with 9:43 left

> KR Josh Huff with hesitation and a bad decision, but it only costs 4 yards and seconds off the clock, so I guess it could have been worse

> Mathews for 21 as Wentz audibles, then Sproles for nothing as I'm not liking the lack of hurry-up; there's holding to boot, because of course there is; Kelce again

> Wentz to DG-B for 23 of lightning, then finally finds TE Zach Ertz for 22, his first touch of the day

> If the Slur line is too tired to get to the QB, this could get fun

> Sproles for 11, then 1, as Pederson sucks his binkie and forgets that there isn't enough clock yet for running

> Wentz to Agholor to the 5, third and 5 and have to finally score a TD goddamit is too much clock, then... a false start on RB Brandon Brooks, Flag #13

> 3rd and 10 from the 10.5 is Wentz through Ertz's hands, because he's just terrible in the red zone, and the QB should be the only guy who gets beverage service on the trip home

> Sturgis with the figgie, still a game with 5:20 left, but what a crapfest of mistakes this has been

> Sturgis executes the pop up kick, but the STs don't stop it before the 25

> Kelly for a yard as Fox notices the historic performance in penalties for my laundry

> Cousins misses Jackson, dangerous territory, Mills probably gets away with a flag

> 3rd and 9 and dear God let this still be a game is pressure and a throwaway, and an actual three and out by the defense

> Cox and Graham haven't done nearly enough in this game, but they were there on that play

> Sproles gets it to the 30, then curses loud enough to be heard on television, because there might have been a slight chance at more

> All on Wentz with 4:05 left

> Wentz to DG-B, drops it on helmet pressure with no flag, injured DB on the play

> 2nd and 10 is Wentz trying Agholor off pressure, too high, but an actual flag against DC for five and a first

> Wentz tries DG-B, gets hit, sails it out of bounds; line not doing the job yet again

> Long clock, then a draw to Sproles for a disaster yard and loss of clock

> 3rd and 9 and miracle time is Wentz ducking pressure, then finding Agholor for 18, and man alive, is he a player

> Wentz to Sproles for 4, dangerous pressure every play, but the QB is just covering a lot of checks

> The Slurs rush 3, the Eagles don't block it long enough to let Wentz find a man or run it, and that's a huge sack befor the 2 minute warning

> 3rd and 16 from the Eagle 48 is manage the situation by getting something, so Wentz... takes the fifth sack of the day, because sure

> On 4th and 24 with 1:44 left, Pederson elects to punt, probably to keep Wentz alive for another week

> With 1:38 left and 2 timeouts, not really defensible, but neither is the Eagles' idea of pass protection

> Jones for 2, nearly had a lot more, timeout

> Jones for 1, took forever to get down, timeout

> 3rd and 7, last chance time, Jones goes for 57 yards, and that's the most fitting way to end this game

> Eagles drop to 3-2, defense is about as bad as recent memory, DC is alive in the East, and there's still time for this laundry to finish below .500 and have all of the good feelings of the first three weeks go away

> Fourth straight loss to the worst franchise in the division, all of them beyond galling; Cousins should send the Eagles a nice check for the continued mirage that he is an NFL QB

> Other than that, hell of an effort, Green

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

NFL Week 6 Picks: The New And Terrible Normal
Yes, Yes It Is
After five weeks of this, it is just like the never ending race for the White House. In that it is intolerable, eternal, and getting uglier by the minute. I've never had a stretch like this before, and even when I'm right, I'm missing on the half points, or on injuries or garbage time covers.

Well, no way through it but to do it. Everything yields to effort. Either that, or I'm fulfilling the classic definition of insanity.

Also, in the time that it took me to write this column, five different women charged the Republican nominee for President, who is supported by tens of millions of people, of sexual assault. We've got four more weeks of this, too.

And with that... on to the picks!

                                                                   * * * * *

DENVER (-3) at San Diego

Division games are always ugly, and Denver player terribly just this week at home against the suddenly dominant Falcons... but the Chargers just look snakebit this year, and there might not be a less imposing home field than one that (a) every opponent's fan base loves to travel to, and (b) the home team is constantly looking over its shoulder as to whether or not this is the last time such and such happens, because they are constantly looking to move. Look for Denver to control this with the ground game even if QB1 Trevor Siemian misses another game, and for their secondary to recover in a big way. Also, well, Terrible Night Football means it won't be close or run to watch.

Broncos 22, Chargers 13

San Francisco at BUFFALO (-7.5)

A lot of points to go for a run-first team that didn't look all that good until recently, and the Niners might get a bounce from a QB change to Colein Kaepernick... but the deck chairs on the Titanic don't have that much impact, and this defense is getting increasingly gassed, hurt, and apathetic. It's almost as if Chip Kelly's strategies don't work at the NFL level, or that he's not very good at coaching in the pros!

Bills 27, Niners 17

PHILADELPHIA (-2.5) at Washington

Second straight winnable road game for my laundry, who didn't set the snooze alarm early enough to avoid real trouble last week in Detroit. This week, I think the defense bounces back, and DC plays to its actual level, rather than their better lucky than good standing of the past two weeks. But this game is always worrisome, and if Philly loses, the shine of the 3-0 start is well and truly gone. Really bad time for DC to lose TE Jordan Reed, who is undergoing concussion protocols, and historically destroys my laundry.

Eagles 20, Slurs 16

CLEVELAND (+7) at Tennessee

I think this week's Browns loss is heart-breaking, rather than soul-crushing. Also, I don't think the Titans are good enough to play competent football in back to back weeks. But if you've got serious interest in this game, you have bigger problems in life, really.

Titans 24, Browns 20

Baltimore at NY GIANTS (-3)

Home cooking for Big Blue after two straight weeks of taking prime time beatings from NFC North royalty. The Ravens are coming off a dispiriting home loss to the Slurs that could have been a win, but all of their wins could have easily been losses, too. It's coin flippy, but I'll take the home team and expect the offense to finally put it together, in a game with more scoring than expected.

Giants 34, Ravens 23

Carolina at NEW ORLEANS (+3)

Are the Panthers really just this bad? They get a short week after a bad home loss, the record is really starting to become a problem, and the Saints at home are usually good enough on offense to cover sins. The Super Bowl Loser curse strikes again.

Saints 34, Panthers 30

JACKSONVILLE (+2.5) at Chicago

Two nowhere teams, but the Jags seem to have a higher ceiling, and I'm just not seeing QB2 Brian Hoyer putting up back to back good games. Jacksonville is also coming off the UK bye and a win, which in the AFC South counts as life-changing momentum.

Jaguars 24, Bears 21

LA Rams at DETROIT (-3.5)

The Lions' surprising win and defense of home field continues against a maddeningly inconsistent Ram team that doesn't usually travel well, and comes into this game after a dispiriting loss to Buffalo. Which means I'm probably getting this wrong, because random events rule the NFL, but the Lions are actually pretty good at stopping the run. Also, QB Matthew Stafford really is playing well.

Lions 27, Rams 20

PITTSBURGH (-7.5) at Miami

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has been prone to massive home/road splits in the recent past, and Miami can get after the QB... but Steeler Fan is going to turn this yard into Heinz Field South, and the Yellow is just a much more potent outfit with RB Le'veon Bell in the mix, since he's basically uncoverable as a WR, too. This one could be over fast.

Steelers 38, Dolphins 20

Cincinnati at NEW ENGLAND (-8.5)

I hate giving up this many points on the road in New England with a team like Cincy, who have the historical tendencies -- physical offense, playmaking defense -- that expose the Pats in the playoffs. But after last week's total no-show in Dallas, and with RB Jeremy Hill seemingly hobbled by a chest injury, I just can't. This has the potential to be like the Buffalo game two weeks ago, but QB Tom Brady will keep it from going that way.

Patriots 27, Bengals 17

KANSAS CITY (+1) at Oakland

Andy Reid after a bye, with a fully healed and rested Jamaal Charles, might set things to rights in the AFC West. (If they had LB Justin Houston back as well, which might fix their lagging pass rush, that would be even better, but he's not quite there yet.) Oakland is the NFL's most interesting team in terms of close and surprising games, but I'm thinking that will take a week off here.

Chiefs 31, Raiders 24

ATLANTA (+6.5) at Seattle

If Atlanta can win this game, a week after handling the Broncos in Denver, we might have to consider them the best team in football... but against the Seahawks in Seattle, coming off a bye, I'm just not seeing it. Then again, I didn't see last week's game coming, either. At some point, QB Matt Ryan has to revert to career norms, right? I'm not calling for a win, but with the Seahawks OL, a cover seems more likely than not.

Seahawks 27, Falcons 24

DALLAS at Green Bay (-4.5)

Kind of the flip side of the Falcons' game, in that Dallas can lay serious claim to being the NFC's best team with a win... but, well, won't, because the Packer defense is starting to put it together, and the Dallas offense isn't good enough to win a tough road game without WR1 Dez Bryant at 100%. But it'll be a grind.

Packers 27, Cowboys 24

INDIANAPOLIS (+3) at Houston

I don't really have a great feel for this game, other than QB Andrew Luck under lights seems like it will work better than QB Brock Osweiler. Why NBC chose to put the AFC South in prime time, we'll never know. Oh, and K Adam Vinateri is just unreal.

Colts 26, Texans 24

NY JETS (+7.5) at Arizona

Two very disappointing teams, and I'm just not comfortable laying the points. Besides, both of these QBs are just ready to crap the bed with multiple picks.

Cardinals 27, Jets 24

Last week: 4-10

Year: 28-49

Career: 787-799-49

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