After the Falcons’ second win of the season last Thursday Matt Ryan said his team could win out and make it to the playoffs. Well of course you could, but you most certainly won’t. C’mon man, you’re the Falcons! Haven’t you seen your team play? Just because you managed to hold on to leads in two of your last three games doesn’t make you competent all of a sudden. If anything it means you’re due for a hilarious collapse this week. Though, last year Atlanta did start 1-7 before going 6-2 in the second half of the season. Hey, if they repeated that they’d up at 8-8 ... and still miss the playoffs. So sure, go ahead and play yourself out of a high draft pick Matt Ryan, see what the rest of the league cares. Also, how wild is it that the Broncos get to play the Chargers and Falcons in consecutive weeks? It must be like the football equivalent of taking LSD. The doors to the universe have unlocked, the possibilities are endless! And that’s coming from a man who has never played professional football or done LSD, so you know it’s accurate.
Seattle at Buffalo
The Seahawks have forced 14 turnovers so far this season. The results? On one occasion the ensuing drive resulted in an interception. Twice Seattle knelt to end the game. The other 11 times they scored a touchdown. So from what I can gather, the best strategy for the Bills would be to not just give the Seahawks the ball. Well that’s obvious, you say? Then how do you explain this: Buffalo has committed 11 turnovers this season! If it’s so obvious they shouldn’t do that, then why have they done it 1.375 times per game? Sorry, but I had to burn ya on that one, you left me no choice. On a separate note, this is the first time the Seahawks have played in Buffalo since 2008 (these teams had a game in Toronto in 2012), and only the fourth time in the history of the franchise. You’re probably thinking that’s not very pertinent to this particular game. Fair. Then again, you’re also the person who said that stupid thing about turnovers earlier, so what do you know?
Chicago at Tennessee
After great starts, both of these teams have lost two in a row. Are these merely bumps in the road or a sign of things to come? Couldn’t they be both? After all, sometimes “Bumps” are what are on signs of things to come. One of these squads will, at least temporarily, right the ship this Sunday. It should be an interesting dynamic when Chicago has the ball considering the Bears’ offense and Titans’ defense are equally as inept. I imagine most of the drives will resemble when you start to walk through a door at the same time as a stranger and both encourage the other to go first out of politeness. Please, go ahead. No I couldn’t possibly, you first. I insist. So if that kind of dynamic is what you’re looking for in a football game, tune in!
Baltimore at Indianapolis
The Colts are looking solid at 5-2, but they should be. The combined record of their opponents thus far has been: 18-34-1 (16-29-1 if you remove Indy's impact). The record of their next four opponents is 20-8. And, in fact, all of those teams are also 5-2, each one of them Indy’s equal. Though the Ravens and Colts can’t be considered exactly the same, if only because of their quarterbacks. Imagine trying to explain to an alien that Lamar Jackson and Philip Rivers play the same position. Their response would probably be something like, “He has how many kids?!?” 9, but that’s not the point, I want you to focus on how different their styles of play are. “On our planet we asexually reproduce minutes before death. It’s a completely sustainable process.” That’s actually very interesting, and I’d like to hear more about that later, but what I’m trying to convey is “Why would a being require 9 offspring? Wouldn’t they consume a disproportionate amount of resources?” Yeah, look I’m not saying it’s normal, but it’s beside the point. “Do humans have prophylactics? If so, why has this man not used them?” Yes we do ... Hey wait, didn’t you say your species reproduces asexually? How do you even know about condoms? “If I had eyebrows I’d be raising them at you right now.” Alright, that’s enough.
Carolina at Kansas City
Hoo daddy, it’s a battle of the barbecues! That’s right, two of America’s BBQ Meccas go head to head in a throw down to decide which style reigns supreme. Fittingly, when the Panthers have the ball it will be caked in a dry rub, while the Chiefs will have it slathered in sauce. Now you’d think that KC may have a disadvantage there, due to slipperiness, however, I’d also argue that the Carolina rub may create a dusty effect that could blind receivers upon impact with their hands. It remains to be seen just how it will play out since we have no precedent for this in NFL history. And actually the league insisted that this very game won't be played with BBQ balls when I called their offices and suggested it every day for the last month. Will they come to their senses in time for kickoff? We can only hope. As for who wins this game, I’ll obviously go with Kansas City, because ironically, their offense is anything but low and slow.
Detroit at Minnesota
It seems that after struggling for much of the season the Vikings have finally rediscovered their winning formula: Don’t let Kirk Cousins throw the ball. The Minnesota QB passed only 14 times in their Week 8 win over Green Bay. Simple mathematics will tell you that if one attempts fewer passes there are fewer opportunities to throw an interception. It’s a keen strategy that I employ myself. And I’ve never thrown an NFL interception in my life. That’s tied for the all-time record low. Now, passing so infrequently in today’s NFL isn’t easy to achieve. A team needs a dominant run game and a complete lack of confidence in their quarterback. The Vikings check both boxes. With the 23rd ranked Lions run D coming to town look for more of the same from Minnesota. Which means Cousins will continue to collect somewhere in the neighborhood of the $131,000 per pass attempt that he did last week. Keep that arm rested buddy! Not sure for what, but stay cool.
New York Giants at Washington
Yes! These teams played 3 weeks ago in a 1 point thriller, and ever since I (and much of the nation) have been eagerly awaiting the rematch. I didn’t realize we’d be getting it so soon! I’m almost not fully prepared. In all seriousness though, the Giants’ recent games have been nothing if not dramatic. Their last four contests have been decided by the following margins: 3, 1, 1, and 2. Unfortunately for them they’ve only managed to win one of those. After watching some of their action I think I know what’s keeping them from getting over the hump: Daniel Jones’s self-confidence. And by that I mean he has too much. The throws that Jones attempts under pressure suggest that he zero belief in his own limitations, and also a poor understanding of physics. For every good pass there is an ill-advised, horrible heave that is inevitably intercepted. Alas, it appears that until young Jones learns he’s not great he won’t be able to be good.
Houston at Jacksonville
The Texans are the rare lousy team with no reason to tank, simply because they don’t have any draft picks to tank for. As of right now Houston won’t make a selection until the 3rd round in the 2021 draft. Their continued futility only benefits the Dolphins (who have their picks) at this point. The Jaguars, on the other hand, have lots to lose for. And with the news that they’ll be starting Jake Luton at quarterback it appears they’re ready to do so in earnest. To be fair, Jacksonville starter Gardner Minshew is hurt, but I don’t get the feeling that the Jags are too broken up about having to throw a rookie into the fire. Unfortunately, in doing so they passed over one my personal favorites Mike Glennon. And again, the main reason I like Mike Glennon is because it’s fun to say his name to the tune of the “By Mennen” jingle. Who knows, we may see him before too long, or Jake Luton could throw a wrench into both teams’ plans and actually beat Houston. Just as likely though is Jake Luton throwing an actual wrench instead of a football in some sort of strange equipment mix-up.
Las Vegas at Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers have blown leads of 16 points or more in four straight games. They did manage to hang on and win one of those, but this begs the question: what happens if LA scores a touchdown to go up 15 points in this game? Do they simply take a knee on the PAT and refuse to go up 16? Perhaps I’m reading too much into the specific number, but I know that if I were on the Chargers and saw we were ahead by 16 this week I’d start to sweat. You’re probably thinking, “Wouldn’t you already be sweating since you’re a pro football player in this hypothetical?” Nope! I don’t get any playing time so I’m dry as a bone. Joke’s on you smart guy. At a certain point you have to imagine that the Chargers will turn these big leads into wins with greater regularity. But then again, they’re the Chargers, so it’s unwise to assume anything. Nevertheless, I have charged myself with the humble task of prognostication, and so I must do the impossible every week and try to predict how their games will play out. Here goes nothing ...
Pittsburgh at Dallas
The Cowboys are still deciding on whether to start Garrett Gilbert or Cooper Rush at quarterback in this game. Either way it will be the 4th starting quarterback Dallas has used this season. That puts them on pace to have 7.1 different starting QBs this season. You figure whoever doesn’t get the nod this week will sometime soon, so that’s the 5th. Then the Cowboys will inevitably suffer more injuries or subpar play and need to sign a couple more free agents to fill in. I’m thinking Brandon Weeden and Neil O’Donnell. And then for the last game they’ll just wheel out a JUGS machine, which will account for that .1 I mentioned earlier. As if their predicament wasn’t daunting enough, Dallas now welcomes in the 8-0 Steelers. Whoops, they’re only 7-0 right now. Forgive me for already counting this as a win for them, but c’mon.
Miami at Arizona
In the first half of their Week 8 win over the Rams the Dolphins had 54 total yards of offense and 28 points. That’s just about 2 yards per point. Talk about efficiency! Then in the second half they added 91 yards but 0 points. That’s infinity yards per point. Hmm, not nearly as efficient. But hey, they still got the win, and that’s all that matters. Still though, you’d hope they could muster more than 145 yards. I mean I once saw a guy run for more than that on one play. Impossible you say? Nuh uh! His name was Ronald “Whoopsie” West; he took a handoff on his own 20 ran all the way down the field, got turned around near the goal line, mistakenly thought he was running the wrong way, and started sprinting back to the other side of the field, dodging tackle attempts from his teammates on his way into his own end zone. What’s the point of this made up story? Umm, I’m not sure. I guess just to illustrate the fact that Miami will likely need more production from their offense to get the win this week.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay
It's a crucial divisional match-up in round 2 of this NFC South rivalry. Let's get some insight from the man calling (or COLLing) the game: Cris Collinsworth.
Whoa, what a lightning rod! This guy just doesn't give an eff.
New England at New York Jets
What have we done to deserve this as a prime time game? 2020, am I right? Though this will become a supremely entertaining situation if the Patriots somehow lose to the Jets. Belichick would no doubt do his patented angry, no handshake stride off the field, but then just keep walking ... all the way to Foxboro! And get this, he’ll beat the rest of the team home! When they get back to the team facility he’ll be standing there waiting for them, not even breathing heavily. The players will just stare at each other, wide-eyed with bewilderment. At that moment they’ll know that they should never disappoint their coach again, for he has powers that are other worldly. Some will say it’s Belichick’s finest coaching job of all.
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