9.20.2019

NFL Picks - Week 3

Sunday Morning

Cincinnati @ Buffalo
After opening their season with consecutive MetLife Stadium wins over the Jets and Giants would it be hyperbolic to say that the Bills are the lords of New York? Maybe. Would it be hyperbolic to say that they’re the best team in all 50 states? Yes. Would it be hyperbolic to eat an entire can of kidney beans? No, that would be hyper-folic. But if you’re pregnant it may not be a bad idea. Are you pregnant? If not, then why’d you eat all those beans? Look, either you’re prego or some sort of bean freak, and I deserve to know which it is! Anyway, I think the Bills will devour the Bengals on Sunday ... just like you devoured an entire can of kidney beans, you sick twist.

Bills 23-16




Miami @ Dallas 
In my season preview I predicted that the Dolphins would go 1-15. I may have over estimated them. After their performance in the first two weeks of the season, and with the front office’s eagerness to trade any and all quality players on their roster, Miami looks destined for 0-16. We’ve seen two winless teams since 2008, so that’s not the most ignominious feat imaginable, but the way that Miami is losing is what’s truly astounding. After two games they’ve already been outscored by 92 points. The record for an entire season is -287 by the 1976 Bucs, who managed that in only 14 games. At this pace though, the Dolphins will get to that mark by Week 7. Do I really think they’ll keep losing games by 40 every week? Probably not. But if you’re in an eliminator pool I would recommend riding with whoever is playing Miami. They don’t have a repeat opponent until the Bills in Week 11, and by that point you may have won your group already. That is, unless everybody in the group employs the same strategy. So I guess what I’m saying is all eliminator pools should just fast-forward to Week 11, when the real decisions need to be made. 

Cowboys 38-6




Denver @ Green Bay
The Packers are 2-0 with two divisional wins, which on its surface is a great start to the season. But outside of the 1st quarter against Minnesota the offense hasn’t been super impressive. We were told that the offense had grown stagnant under former coach Mike McCarthy, and that the arrival of Matt LaFleur would unshackle Aaron Rodgers to fly free into a stratosphere of record production and mind-boggling statistics. Wait, a STATosphere! Damn it, that’s what I should have said. Ok, forget what you just read ... Rodgers would be free to fly into the statosphere. No that’s not a typo, it’s a fabulous new portmanteau that I created. Shakespeare did it all the time, so why can’t I? Obviously I’m not trying to compare the two of us, that would be silly; he never wrote about football (to my knowledge at least). If Shakespeare did write about the NFL he’d be hard-pressed to pen flattering prose about the Packers' pedestrian offense. That’s not to say things can’t get better for Green Bay though, and they probably won’t need an amazing effort to outscore the Broncos.

Packers 24-13




Atlanta @ Indianapolis 
After a second straight putrid performance in Week 2, Adam Vinatieri made some cryptic postgame statements that led many to believe he’d be retiring on Monday. Instead, he said he’ll be sticking around, but that he just needs “clear the demons” from his head. “Greeeeeat,” replied the entire Colts organization. Indy would have likely appreciated it if he had just bowed out gracefully, but now they have to figure out how to tell probably the greatest kicker of all-time to hit the bricks. I’m not saying you have to retire because you’re 1-3 on FGs and 2-5 on PATs, but if you’re 46 you should probably think about it. If he were a rookie, or just a no-name kicker he’d have been cut by now. It’s a touchy situation. This is what it must feel like when a Midsommar elder refuses to jump off the cliff. C’mon Adam, everyone has done it before you. Your death is an offering to the football gods that will bring about a more fruitful Autumn for your brethren. 

Colts 21-19




Baltimore @ Kansas City
Whoa, this Ravens team is on a roll! They’re 2-0 and look unstoppable. Or maybe they do, I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to tell. They beat the Dolphins by 49 and the Cardinals by 6. At this point we really can’t be sure if either of those wins are impressive. For all we know Miami could lose a game by triple digits by the end of the season once they’ve traded away most of their players and have resorted to filling out the roster with classic football movie/commercial extras. You know those guys where it’s like, sure they’re big, but something's just not right, and their jerseys always fit weird? Anyway, it’s safe to say that the task at hand for Baltimore this week is much more difficult. That being said, the Ravens went into Kansas City last year and probably would have beaten the Chiefs, if not for Mahomes pulling out a miraculous 4th down conversion, a no-look pass, and an overtime win. Will we have another thriller on our hands this Sunday? Your guess is as good as mine. No seriously, I’m not very good at this.

Chiefs 31-24




Oakland @ Minnesota 
Both teams come into this game at 1-1. Not super interesting on its own, but consider this: these teams played each other in Super Bowl 11. Now it starts to seem that something larger is at play. 11, 11, 11:11 ....You thinking what I’m thinking? Say it together ... this game will be played by Us-style netherworld beings that are much stronger and more violent. Of course the offensive schemes will have to be a little more rudimentary, and the unintelligible audibles will make adjustments at the line extremely difficult. But if you’re a fan of literal knockdown, drag-out fights this will be the game for you. Or I suppose it could just be a mediocre game in Minnesota played by normal humans; but the helmets will make it easy to pretend otherwise.

Vikings 27-17




New York Jets @ New England 
The Patriots have started the season 2-0 by outscoring their opponents 76-3. They’ve given up a total of 6 points over their last three games if you include the Super Bowl. At this point it’s fair to wonder if New England can go undefeated. And wonder I did! So I looked ahead at the remaining 14 games on their schedule, and well, there are some definite roadblocks. Especially treacherous is a five game stretch starting in November: @ Baltimore, @ Philadelphia, vs. Dallas, @ Houston, vs. Kansas City. Looking at that, I’m not so sure the Pats will make it out unscathed. I’m certain that they will get to 3-0 though, because, well, Jets.

Patriots 31-3




Detroit @ Philadelphia 
The Lions’ record is beautiful in its symmetry: 1-0-1. I happen to know that Matt Patricia is a student of Taoism and believes in spiritual balance; the yin and yang. As such he’ll try his damndest to maintain this record equality. Obviously the goal now is 8-0-8. He would maybe settle for 7-2-7, but that just doesn’t look as good if you try to fold it onto itself, ya know? What do you mean no? I’m saying, sure it’s a numerical palindrome, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually physically symmetrical. I don’t know how I can make it any clearer than that. Of course, a loss here would maintain perfect symmetry for at least one more week. Unfortunately for the Lions (but perhaps fortunately for the enlightened Matt Patricia) that’s probably The Way this one goes. 

Eagles 26-16




Sunday Afternoon 

Carolina @ Arizona
Is Cam Newton really hurt, or did he drop a weight on his foot after last Thursday’s game to explain his terrible play? I wouldn’t blame him if so, I mean, ya gotta come up with some sort of excuse. The Panthers’ motto is “Keep Pounding”, and Cam gave it new meaning by repeatedly pounding errant passes into the turf, well short of their intended target. He’s likely to miss this game as a result of that injured foot, which one would assume means that the Cardinals will get their first win of the season. They may have to do it with strictly field goals however, as koach Kliff Kingsbury made it clear last week that he’s risk averse in the red zone. Arizona made history by becoming the first team to ever attempt 3 FGs from inside the 5 yard line while trailing in a game. The good news is: 6-pointers may not be necessary against Kyle Allen and the Carolina offense.

Cardinals 18-16




New York Giants @ Tampa Bay
Eli Manning has officially been benched and he’s never looked sadder. He’s never looked happier either. The guy is completely neutral. So much so that his career record as a starter is 116-116. Perhaps his legacy will be that he was perfectly average, except if you ever watched him play you know that’s not true. He went through wild swings of maddeningly inconsistent play that peaked with him winning Super Bowls but also included countless ill-advised throws, exasperated shoulder shrugs, and an exploded face in a preseason game against the Jets. But for every down, there was an up, and so now here he sits, a perfect 116-116. It’s satisfying, yet totally confusing. He’s a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and we’re still not sure if he was very good. It’s an eerily similar narrative to that of Jim Plunkett, who led the Raiders to wins in Super Bowls XV and XVIII, and who’s career record as a starter ended at ... 72-72. Whoa! My head just exploded. Sorry Eli, I didn’t mean that literally. 

Buccaneers 23-17




Houston @ Los Angeles Chargers
After Eli’s benching and Ben’s trip to the IR, Philip Rivers is the only quarterback from the ‘04 draft left standing. He’s the ol’ gunman still strapping on his holster and he’s got the bolo tie to match. Sure he threw a back-breaking interception last week that basically sealed his team’s loss, but hey, sometimes that’s how it goes for an old desperado. Ya know, you’re in a duel and you misfire and hit lil’ Jack the precocious rickets-stricken youngster whom you swore you wouldn’t let down, and you’re run out of town on a rail. It happens! The great news is that Phil hasn’t been run out of town, he’ll be back out there slinging on Sunday. Now, if he throws another game-ending pick against the Texans, well maybe the fan base will start calling for his gun and his bolo.

Texans 27-24




Pittsburgh @ San Francisco
With their record already at 0-2, and Ben Roethlisberger out for the season, the 2019 Steelers seem to be in trouble. The good news is that even if they do plummet in the standings, they’ll at least have a good draft pick to help them reload for 2020. Oops, no they won’t, they just traded their 1st rounder to the Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick. So maybe the future is now for Mason Rudolph and Pittsburgh. Rudolph looked inconsistent, but occasionally competent in the second half against Seattle last week. And he did lead his team on a late 3 yard touchdown drive to pull within two points. So perhaps we should buy in to the 2019 Steelers as much as their front office has. Or we could just wait for them to lose this game, assume they’ll be irrelevant, and move on with our lives. Yeah, that sounds better to me. 

49ers 24-18




New Orleans @ Seattle 
In case you haven’t heard, the Saints will be without Drew Brees for an estimated six weeks. As a result the New Orleans quarterbacking duties will be handled be some combination of Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill, and I for one am very excited. Not necessarily because I’m a big fan of either player, but because they could set the record for QB gloves! 3! Two for Teddy, one for Taysom. I’ve heard of a three-headed running back monster, but a three-gloved quarterback monster? I haven’t heard of that! And I’m not sure anyone’s ever fathomed it. But as Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” And even he only gave Mickey two gloves. This could be a really magical situation. That being said, I’m picking Seattle. 

Seahawks 23-13




Sunday Night

Los Angeles Rams @ Cleveland
The Browns got their first win of the season last week against a depleted Jets group. As a result we're not really sure what to expect from them next. And whenever I'm unsure of anything, in football or in life, I turn to Cris Collinsworth:
I couldn't help but notice that he didn't make a pick there. Guess it's up to me. Based on what I've seen from Cleveland so far I'm not confident in them. I'll pick L.A.

Rams 30-23



Monday Night

Chicago @ Washington 
Washington has scored 48 points on the season while running for 75 yards. That ratio doesn’t seem sustainable to me. Meaning that either their points per game will go down or their rushing yards per game will go up. I’m tempted to go with the former. Washington is playing the Bears this week who have given up 70 yards on the ground per game, which would seem stingy, but would actually be a monumental total for this Washington squadron. So perhaps an improved Washington ground attack is in the cards. Then again, maybe the Bears will completely snuff them out. And Chicago may need to do just that based on how Mitchell Trubisky has played this season. I’m not saying Trubisky has been bad this season, his stats say that for me. Expect the Bears to slip by in spite of their quarterback again.

Bears 19-12 

9.19.2019

NFL Picks - Week 3 Thursday

Tennessee @ Jacksonville
At a Tuesday press conference Jalen Ramsey said he’s excited to play in this game as long as he’s “still here.” The “here” he’s referring to is likely Jacksonville based on his recent trade request. But what if he’s using “here” in a more existential fashion? Maybe Ramsey knows that tomorrow is promised to none of us and he’s grateful to be alive and playing football. Or he’s just saying the right thing to the press and really wants to get the hell out of Jacksonville. Who could blame him? Even Jags coach, and apparent Ramsey rival, Doug Marrone is getting sick of watching Jacksonville games. So much so that when quarterback Gardner Minshew led the team to a potentially tying touchdown with under a minute left against the Texans, Marrone took the drastic action of going for two to ensure that the game would end one way or the other. Jacksonville failed to convert the two pointer and lost to fall to 0-2, but Marrone was still a winner, because he didn’t have to watch anymore Jaguars football that day. The same can’t be said for the rest of us on Thursday night; we’ll have no choice but to stare at this approximation of sport.

Titans 21-18

9.13.2019

NFL Picks - Week 2

Sunday Morning

San Francisco @ Cincinnati
If you choose to watch this game, be prepared to see the clip of Joe Montana’s Super Bowl XXIII winning TD pass to John Taylor at least six times. Also, you might catch a highlight from that other Super Bowl these teams played in. A lot of people don’t remember the first Niners/Bengals Super Bowl from the 80s. And I say that based solely on conjecture. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to anybody about that game, and I absolutely haven’t polled a wide enough sample size to have a good idea of what percentage of the population has any knowledge of it taking place. But yeah, like I said not many people remember Super Bowl XVII. Oh whoops, it was actually Super Bowl XVI. Wait a minute, do I remember the game? What was the score? Did it even actually happen? The only reason I thought it did was because Cris Collinsworth bragged to me that he had 100 yards receiving in a Super Bowl once. He said it was Super Bowl XVI, but I never bothered to verify. Hmm, I’ll have to get back to you about this.

Bengals 23-20




Los Angeles Chargers @ Detroit 
Last week, with their starting kicker hurt, the Chargers turned to first year punter Ty Long to pull double duty. He performed admirably, which is borderline stunning for a Chargers kicker, by converting all three of his extra point attempts and nailing a 40 yard field goal. It’s still TBD whether or not LA's starter Michael Badgley will be returning for this match-up, but I for one hope that he doesn’t. Not because I have anything against the guy, I just want Long to handle the kicking duties again, and make another 40 yarder, so that we can see the headline: Ty Long Ties Long. It’s the storyline that I’ll be monitoring most closely this week.

Chargers 31-21




Minnesota @ Green Bay
The Vikings manhandled the Falcons in Week 1 en route to a 28-12 victory. And how many passes did Kirk Cousins throw in his team’s win? 10. Cousins went 8-10 for 98 yards. And I say bravo! In today’s modern NFL where everyone says you have to throw to win, Cousins has proved that when your defense forces 3 turnovers, and the special teams blocks a punt, you don’t necessarily need to throw the ball 30+ times to compete. Meanwhile, the Packers only scored 10 points in their opening win at Chicago. In the process they proved that you don’t need offensive fireworks to prevail, you just need to be playing against Mitchell Trubisky. But who wins this Sunday? I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cousins go 1-1 for 99 yards and 1 TD in an 8-7 loss to Green Bay. That’s the kind of hyper-efficiency we’re dealing with on both sides here. But I suppose I should guess something a little more realistic. After all, that’s what you come here for, right? The realism.

Vikings 20-19




Indianapolis @ Tennessee
I don’t think anybody wanted Andrew Luck to retire, but I’m guessing the Titans weren’t extremely disappointed by his decision. It’s not they’re jerks (though Marcus Mariota seems like a real bastard, don’t be fooled by his calm demeanor and sterling reputation), it’s that they just couldn’t beat Andrew Luck. And I’m not exaggerating, they literally never beat him. Luck went 12-0 against Tennessee. The old saying goes: “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Well if you can’t join ‘em, you can always hope that they’ll retire prematurely. The sea has now parted for the Titans. No longer do they have only 14 winnable games on their schedule. And judging from their Week 1 romp in Cleveland they’re invigorated by that prospect. 

Titans 27-20




New England @ Miami
Normally a trip to Miami has been a stumbling block for the Patriots, with the Dolphins winning five of the last six games played in America’s finest state. So normally it’s circled on New England’s calendar as a potential problem. This season it’s circled on the NFL’s calendar as a potential problem, because afterwards they may have to address the issue of the league’s sudden competitive imbalance. I’m tempted to pick this score to approach the all-time record rout of 73-0 (from the 1940 NFL Title game in which the Bears kicked so many PATs into the stands that they were forced to go for two after their last few TDs due to a shortage of balls (that's actually real)), but I suspect that the Antonio Brown will be such a team cancer that he instantly poisons the culture in New England, causing their margin of victory to be a paltry 40ish.

Patriots 45-3




Buffalo @ New York Giants
If you looked solely at the amount of points these teams scored in Week 1 you might assume they’re on equal footing. You’d also be pretty dumb though. Sure they both scored 17 points last Sunday, but did you even bother to look at how many points they gave up? What’s going on with you? Sometimes I wonder if you even know football. Maybe I'm just on a higher level. Anyway, as for this game ... Um ... Hey, did ya ever notice how these teams have similar colors? Also they played in a Super Bowl once. So that should be interesting to keep an eye on. 

Bills 16-12




Seattle @ Pittsburgh 
Pete Carroll has long preached the motto “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” It’s a nice sentiment, but unfortunately it seems like Pete believes that means you have to start poorly. At least that’s what one could infer based on the Seahawks’ routinely sluggish beginnings to games and recent seasons on the whole. Look, I’m all for growth and improvement, but it couldn’t hurt to try to start off well and then just keep building off of that, right? Seattle managed to slip away with a win last week, but beating the Bengals by 1 point at home is sort of like microwaving a frozen dinner. Yes, you accomplished what you set out to do by eating a warm meal, but don’t be offended if no one congratulates you for it. The Hawks will need a few more metaphorical culinary flourishes when they travel to Pittsburgh to take on a Steelers team that figures to be real peeved after being embarrassed by the Patriots on national TV. Whether or not said peevishness will result in improved play is anybody’s guess, but one thing we can be certain of is that ... um ... Whoops, I didn’t really know what I was going to say there, I just started typing, and now I look like a real moron. Whoa, Pete Carroll was right! Finishing is the important part. Now I have to pick Seattle.

Seahawks 27-24




Dallas @ Washington
 Sure, Dak Prescott was impressive against the Giants in Week 1, but let’s also give some credit to Case Keenum. In his Washington debut he threw for 344 yards and 3TDs in a one dimensional offense that only mustered 28 yards rushing. Just when we think we can count this guy out he comes storming back to have a serviceable enough season that he catches on with a different, quarterback-needy team the next year. Washington is now the fourth squad in four years Keenum has started for. He’s played in 58 career games, but never more than 16 with any single team. Taking all of this into consideration I don’t think it’s too early to start speculating on where Case will be playing in 2020. I’m going to guess Tampa, and I’m setting a reminder in my phone right now to revisit this in about 9 months. 

Cowboys 30-16




Arizona @ Baltimore 
After an up and down opener it’s hard to know exactly what to make out of this Cardinals squad. So far though it really seems like they play to the level of their competition. And I mean exactly to that level, because they tied the Lions in their first game. It will likely be tougher to match a Ravens team that looked unbeatable in Week 1. Of course, Baltimore was playing the Dolphins, and as of now it’s unclear whether or not a 49 point win over Miami should be considered impressive. 

Ravens 33-21




Jacksonville @ Houston
Last week the Jags opened their season at home in the swampy 90 degree heat of Jacksonville and Myles Jack lost his mind as a result. He was ejected from the game for throwing a punch, refused to leave the field, appeared to attempt to go after a ref, had to be escorted off the field by two Jags staffers, and then seemed to feign fainting in a failed last-ditch effort to escape his escorts and get back on the field. Sometimes a player just feels too much inside. And then other times a player’s brain is melted by the heat and there’s no turning back. Speaking of players’ bodies deteriorating, if Deshaun Watson keeps absorbing the kind of hits he took in Week 1 he’ll likely be wheeling himself to the field in a Rascal scooter by Week 6. And he’ll probably still throw for 3 TDs. 

Texans 34-17




Sunday Afternoon

Kansas City @ Oakland
In Week 1’s nightcap of Monday Night Football the Raiders proudly proclaimed that they didn’t need the petulant receiver, who shall no longer be spoken of in Oakland, to win football games. Heck, they’re probably better off without him! And I agree! ... As long as they get to play the Broncos every week. I checked the schedule though, and unfortunately that’s not the case. In fact, the 3 time defending AFC West champs are coming to town on Sunday, and after a 40 point performance in their opener, the Chiefs seem to have picked up right where they left off. Though if there’s one team that could slow KC down it may be the Raiders. Not because of their defense, but because they still play with a partially dirt field, which may literally slow KC down. I’ve heard they’re even leaving the pitcher’s mound and some of the bases in on Sunday. Every little bit helps; but it likely still won’t be enough.

Chiefs 31-20




Chicago @ Denver
Looking at Joe Flacco’s stats from the Broncos Week 1 loss could fool one into thinking he had an average outing. I, however, watched (a good amount of) the game and I can tell you that Flacco was well below average. Even worse, he was totally non-threatening. Well, except for that one series where he brought a knife on the field. But that threat wasn’t exactly football-related. Fortunately for Denver, they’re going up against a quarterback who had an even more tepid 2019 debut. To his credit, Mitchell Trubisky did throw a pass that was caught in the end zone. The refs ruled that it didn’t count for points however, because it was caught by a Packer. So which QB will get nearest to mediocrity this Sunday? Hard to say, but I can’t imagine Flacco having any chance against this Bears D, with or without the knife. 

Bears 16-9




New Orleans @ Los Angeles Rams
I’ll consider it a surprise if Sean Payton doesn't challenge for pass interference on the first throw of the game. Strangely it will be a 75 yard Saints touchdown, but this man has principles damn it. Sure, the TD will get overturned, and the Saints will go on to lose by 4, but Payton will have proved his point! And yes, this loss will trigger a downward spiral that results in the Saints missing the playoffs, Drew Brees retiring, and Payton getting fired, but the world will known that he meant business. And certainly, losing his job will send Payton into a deep depression that will ruin his marriage and he’ll one day die alone because of a pass interference challenge. But I’m sure that when he gets to the pearly gates he’ll tell St. Peter that he doesn’t regret it one bit. St. Peter will then cast him down to hell for his stubbornness, but at least Sean Payton will be able to look himself in the mirror. Of course, there are no mirrors in hell, but you get what I mean. 

Rams 31-27




Sunday Night

Philadelphia @ Atlanta
 The Falcons looked like straight up garbanzo beans last week in Minnesota. Now they come home in need of a win against a tough Eagles squad. Which bird will fly the highest this Sunday? Why ask me when you can turn to ol' CriColl himself:
That seems a bit biased Cris. I'm going to stray from convention and disagree with you, likely to my own detriment.

Eagles 26-23 




Monday Night

Cleveland @ New York Jets
Both of these would-be upstarts had disappointing openers last week, with the Browns getting creamed in Cleveland (possible title for a much racier, long overdue, Sleepless in Seattle sequel), and the Jets treating their home fans to a blown 16 point lead. Now an 0-2 start looms for one team, as does a reaffirmation for that fan base that God does exist, and s/he hates their football team. But who does the lord despise most? Tune in this Monday to find out! And don’t be surprised if there’s a lightning delay. 

Browns 24-10