If the three stooges built a nuclear submarine, I probably wouldn’t want to go anywhere near it, but it sure would be entertaining to witness from afar. On an unrelated note, our three NFL experts are back with picks for week six. Dick is the veteran of the group, with a long record of picking NFL games. If you want more picks and some hockey talk, follow Espo on twitter. If you enjoy seeing TCOTs reduced to ashen husks, follow Dan K.
LAST WEEK’S RECORD:
DAN K 3-1
DAN K’s Parker Lewis locks.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS +2.5 AT NEW YORK JETS
Full disclosure: I’m a Steeler fan. However, I’ve resigned myself to a 4-5 win season and am confident in my ability to look at this game objectively. The Steelers are bad in most aspects of the game. While “sieve” would have been an accurate descriptor of the offensive line in recent years, the 2013 incarnation resembles…..a sieve somebody unloaded on with a a 12-gauge I guess? Losing the best offensive lineman on the team in the first game was a big hit, but last year’s second round LT Mike Adams proved that he’s as bad as blocking pass rushers as he is at not getting shanked after leaving the bar, which is usually super easy. They added Levi Brown from the Cardinals over the bye, who while mediocre, is still a great improvement over Adams. Big Ben does his usual running around and trying to extend the play, but this year he appears to be looking for the best spot to throw a momentum-killing interception. Steeler fans kind of lived with his antics because he won games, but this year rest of the team isn’t good enough to overcome the result of him taking a bad sack or throwing a pick. The main problem is that Todd Haley, who is actually Todd from Beavis and Butthead in Real Life, is not good at coordinating an offense. Something works and they don’t go back to it again, three consecutive running plays when there are no good running backs on the team, the list goes on. Plus, he and Ben have what appears to be a less amicable Walter White / Jesse Pinkman relationship, only partly due to Haley looking like a meth cook.:
The only bright spots in the offense are that Le’veon Bell looked good in his first appearance of the season, and Antonio Brown appears to have settled in as a legitimate #1 receiver. The defense, on the other hand, has to be frustrating for anyone who still holds on to the antiquated notion of “Steeler Football.” The only stats that matter there are zero turnovers this season, and 4 total sacks, 3 of them in one game.
The Jets have been all over the place this year. Anonymous “experts” and “front office guys” shit all over Geno Smith in the offseason, like they do with every black QB prospect for reasons having nothing to do with race. However, he’s shown a lot of promise. While Smith has thrown a few picks this season. he’s a rookie with the tools to be a very good QB. He’s shown a strong arm and poise, especially in the Atlanta game where he was lights-out. The Jets defense has been fairly good this season and did a nice job of keeping the Falcons in check, even with a late comeback attempt by Matty Ice.
Now, for the pick. I’m going to relate something I head from beer/gambling expert and Actual Physicist Eric: “The Jets just had a huge win in a game in which they were expected to get blown out. Everybody is talking about them being in the hunt for the playoffs all of a sudden, how Geno Smith is coming along faster than expected, and that the defense is really solid, etc. The oddsmakers are playing along, too — Pitt opened as -1 road faves before the Monday night game, but now it’s up to NYJ -2.5 in some places. The Jets are feeling good about themselves, and only have to get past a winless Steelers team before facing their arch rivals the Patriots in week 7. ” I’m inclined to agree. While the Jets did look good pulling off the upset on Monday, I think it’s a case of Atlanta not being that good and the Jets simply pulling out a close win over a team that’s at the same level as they are. My view is that this game should be a pick ’em or that the Jets should be favored by 1 at most. Pittsburgh has been blown out by good teams like Chicago and and Cincinnati, and narrowly lost to other mediocre teams like Tennessee and Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Jets have beaten average teams and barely lost to the Pats and their hobbled offense. With those factors in play, combined with the above situational aspects and Pittsburgh getting time to rest and regroup after the bye, I’m taking them as an underdog. Pittsburgh gets their first victory or loses in a one point game on the road. THE PICK: STEELERS +2.5
DETROIT LIONS -2.5 AT CLEVELAND BROWNS
The Lions are a frustrating team. Great pass rush, the best receiver in the league, a QB that can sling it all over the place, and yet they still consistently disappoint. I get that last week Johnson was out and their #2 receiver broke his arm in a pizza-related car accident, but I don’t think they would have pulled out a victory over Green Bay anyway. They are 3-2 but this is a team that is worse than their record indicates. It looks like most of the money is on Detroit to cover which is understandable because for the average bettor the word “Cleveland” should be prefaced with a trigger warning for hilariously awful football. Their woes were only amplified by their promising young QB getting knocked out of the game in the first quarter of his first start, reminding them that there is no joy and they live in a nightmarish Rust Belt hellscape. It’s not all bad, though. Brandon Weeden parked his Hoveround, came in and looked suprisingly competent, connected with Josh Gordon (who could be one of the best receivers in the league) at will. The Browns defense has been excellent all year. I’m picking Cleveland because I like Joe Haden and the secondary to contain Johnson and the d-line to hit Stafford enough that he throws the ball up for grabs. Drew Carey is still a dumb conservative shithead though. THE PICK: BROWNS +2.5
OAKLAND RAIDERS +9 at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
I never thought I’d say this, but the Raiders have been a pretty enjoyable team to watch this year. In recent history, Raiders football has been associated with barely passable, retread QBs (hello Carson Palmer), ‘speed’ players that can’t catch or run with the ball, a carousel of coaches (Lane Kiffin being the only one I can name at the moment because he’s one of the most hated coaches in sports whose name doesn’t rhyme with ‘tan husky’), and just general incompetence. However, picking up Terrelle Pryor in the supplemental draft, a move that most viewed as another dumb Raiders pick, has been the catalyst for some interesting football. Admittedly I was rooting for him to succeed because of how moronic the NFL suspending him for getting free stuff in college was, but even I was skeptical that he’d be an accurate enough passer to start full-time. In the game against the Chargers, Pryor made no mistakes, threw on point, and ran around both to gain yards and to find receivers downfield. The Raiders D even managed to limit Philip Rivers, who is having a career year. Meanwhile the Chiefs are undefeated due to Alex Smith playing smart, a good running game, and solid defense. They are a legit 5-0, and I think the Chiefs still win this one and keep their streak going, but not by 9. THE PICK: RAIDERS +9
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS -1.5 AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
The topic on the forum has been trends, so I’ll play along. The Colts are coming off of two massive wins in the last three weeks against Super Bowl contenders and the Chargers are coming off a loss against the worst team in football since 2001 after looking really good against – ahem – the Cowboys who are cream of the NFC East. The Colts are steadily developing into a dragon slayer while the Chargers behave like a sorority girl at a party with a .401 BAC. Andrew Luck is infinitely better than Phillip Rivers because he’s not distracted by bright, shiny toys, Jesus camps, and fire engines. The Colts play a disciplined brand of football that focuses on offensive execution and keeping the other team guessing while making subtle adjustments on defense to keep the opposition off balance. The Chargers game plan is drawing plays in the dirt on offense and calling out who their man is on defense right before the snap. It’s as if Norv Turner never left the building. The Colts can play really well no matter where they are. The Chargers only play well at home and even then they blew a four score lead against Houston. Colts all the way especially since it feels like the spread should be closer to four. THE PICK: COLTS -1.5
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS +27.5 AT DENVER BRONCOS
This is just sad and depressing. Historically large spreads like this are usually covered by the dog, (except for Tampa at +26 against Pittsburgh back in 1976) but even though Peyton Manning will be watching the game from the sidelines in a baseball hat by the third quarter, 30 points still wouldn’t be big enough. Jacksonville hasn’t covered a spread yet this year (Even at +19 in Seattle!) and they’re probably not going to this year unless a spread goes to 42. In the name of Jimmy the Greek, they made the Rams look semi-competent. The only way I see Jacksonville covering is if Denver takes mercy on them and eases up enough to win by only three touchdowns. Jacksonville is a historically bad team whose home market had to apologize to its fan base for being mandated by league broadcast rules to show its games on television. Denver is not looking to treat the Jags like their bitches, they just have no choice but to crush them and keep their game sharp. It’s strictly business, guys. It makes me sad because I like kittehs and this game will make even the most hardened degenerate gambler feel a little bad which is why I’ll be pouring out a 40 oz. for the Jags after I collect on this one. Broncos. THE PICK: BRONCOS -27.5
TENNESSEE TITANS +13.5 AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
This is another really big spread that defies common sense until you think about the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick is quarterbacking the Titans and Seattle is at home. Mostly, I have Seattle because their defense is superior to the Titans’ entire team. It’s one of those weird games where I see Seattle getting themselves back on track after they got away with a win in Houston they didn’t deserve and lost in Indy while looking a little confused and intimidated. That won’t happen at home, especially against a team that runs offensive plays out of the 70’s. Seattle will be looking to right the ship, fatten up on an inferior opponent, and remind everyone why Fitzpatrick was cut loose in the middle of a massive five-year contract with Buffalo. Seattle. THE PICK: SEATTLE -13.5
ESPO’s Pesto Guessos
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES -1.5 AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Once upon a time, a lonely game hunter staking out the scenic hills of Northern Virginia came upon an ostrich. Having never seen such a magnificent, flightless beast, he soon felt a stirring in his loins. The product of this unholy union is named Mike Glennon, and he is the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this week hosting the Philadelphia Eagles. The wings that proudly adorn their helmets will serve as a painful reminder of of the flight that he and his mother could never achieve. Um, yeah, anyway, so Vick may or may not play in this game. The Eagles will be on the road for the third week in a row, which isn’t the easiest spot to be in. Tampa Bay is a dumpster fire, fitting for the embarrassment of a state that they play in, with a head coach who seems like that high school gym teacher you have that takes indoor volleyball WAY too seriously and screams and gets really red faced and you all write stuff on the bathroom walls about what a spaz he is. But they are coming off a bye, and this offense still has some weapons. Philly is giving up points by the bucketful. Doug Martin has yet to impose his will on a game, and with All-Pro guard Carl Nicks back and with a full week of practice, this seems like a good spot for that to happen. Glennon put together a nice opening drive against Arizona’s very good defense last week, before a game full of mediocrity, but he’s got a big arm and a very big receiver named Vincent Jackson who is one of those guys that will go off against a poor secondary and then be held in check for 2 weeks. On the other side of the ball, Tampa has an above average defense, with some guy named Revis who you might have heard being called the best shutdown corner in the league, or something. He’ll square up against DeSean Jackson this week, a super quick receiver who won’t go over the middle and alligator arms any catch he thinks might result in him getting popped. And guys always want to pop him, because he talks mad shit and basically acts like a total dickface any time he does anything. Also he is kind of wall-eyed. So yeah, he kicked off this week saying that he doesn’t think Revis can “keep up with him”, which is definitely not the kind of statement that makes a 4 time Pro Bowler want to prove you wrong or anything. I think the stars align here to give Tampa their first win of the season. THE PICK: TAMPA BAY +1.5
ST. LOUIS RAMS +7.5 AT HOUSTON TEXANS
So, Matt Schaub has had a pretty rough go of it lately. He’s thrown like a hundred pick sixes in a row, had someone threatened him at his house or something, and he’s been bald for like, ever! Okay, that wasn’t fair. But yeah, the Texans are tailspinning hard right now, but lucky lucky, they come home to face the completely unimposing St. Louis Rams. I mean, it’s entirely possible that Houston could cover this spread without Schaub throwing one forward pass. They still have a sick one-two running game punch with Foster and Tate, the possible TWO-time Defensive Player of the Year in JJ Watt, who continues to eat eat eat MC’s for breakfast lunch and dinner, and the #1 pass defense (?!?). The Rams somehow covered that spread against the Jags last week, but holy shit, they let the Jags score 20 points! 20! And they got blown out by teams inferior to Houston. To win this game, Matt Schaub simply has to be game manager Schaub, not put-the-team-on-his-back Schaub. I don’t have a lot to say about this game, other than that Houston wins by 10 in a super boring affair. THE PICK: HOUSTON -7.5
ARIZONA +11 AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
When I moved to San Francisco, I had my heart open, ready to accept the 49ers as my second favorite team. I loved their old school, ground-and-pound, smashmouth game, running the ball down your throat, kicking your ass on defense, and just playing solid fundamental football. That all changed when they played the Patriots last year, a rollercoaster ride of comebacks, lead changes and swearing. When the dust had settled, I almost got in two fights at the bar and was so enraged I couldn’t bring myself to root for them again until they faced the much more loathsome Ravens in the Super Bowl. I resented how they jobbed out Alex Smith, a guy who no one is mistaking for Tom Brady, but is the definition of a solid quarterback. He doesn’t do anything GREAT, but he doesn’t do anything horrible either. He makes smart plays, takes care of the ball, and has been around the block. But no, San Franciscans couldn’t WAIT to kick him in the ass on the way out the door, raising up Colin Kaepernick and his big doe eyes and shitty tattoos and little gazelle legs as the second coming of Jesus himself. Fuck flash-in-the-pan Kaepernick and his bicep-kissing. Why is that his taunt? HE HAS NO BICEPS. Out of the roughly 1,700 active players in the NFL, he’s gotta be in the bottom 5th percentile of bicep circumference. I mean, even some of the kickers have him beat. Jay Feely would probably put him through the table in an armwrestling competition. Anyway, it’s a shame, because aside from Kap and Harbaugh, I still really like pretty much everyone on the Niners, especially Gore and the defensive front 7. But the Niners have kind of become my reverse Patriots – like I am always looking to take the Patriots over the most obvious odds, I now look to fade the Niners at every opportunity, so I can derisively laugh in the face of everyone I’m at the bar with. I have been stymied the last 2 weeks with the blowouts of the Texans and Rams, but this week, this week I will be vindicated! Let’s crunch some numbers really quick. The Niners are the second worst passing offense (!! kapstinkskapstinks) and 6th in rushing. The Cards are the 3rd best rush defense and 19th against the pass. Something’s got ta give, something’s got ta give, ERRRAGGHHHH! Let the Niners hit the floor! I still don’t think the Cards have what it takes to beat the Niners straight up on the road, but this should be tighter than the 11 point spread. This is going to be your classic divisional warzone, going to come down to some punt return or special teams gaffe or something. Niners win by 7. THE PICK: ARIZONA +11
GAME OF THE WEEK: NEW ORLEANS SAINTS +3.5 AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
DICK: This is where I think the Brady factor doesn’t mean shit. If the game was in the snow or if Jimmy Graham was in jail on murder charges or recovering from multiple surgeries or if Darren Sproles morphed into the second coming of LeGarrette Blount, I’d take the Pats. But since Brees is in beast mode and Sean Payton is on a mission to make Roger Goodell hand him the Lombardi trophy while wearing a shit-eating “fuck you” grin, this is a non-conference test game that not even Brady can prevent the Saints from coming up big in. It’s in New England, you say? Oh, in early October? Good luck unless a massive cold front comes in and pours rain on the field turning it into a sea of mud. Oh, yeah, Brady’s receivers are officially dogshit, Big Bill has forgotten how to manage the fourth quarter (nice call kicking a FG on 4th and goal in Cincy, genius) and the Pats have zero running game. Saints, baby. THE PICK: SAINTS +3.5
DAN K: This is a tough one. It feels that Vegas set the line perfectly to ensare both “FACKIN BRADY AT FOXBORAH? FAVORED BY 3.5???? HEY MA, THE BOOKIE IS GIVIN’ AWAY FREE MONEY!!” crowd and the “Brady has no weapons, lost to Cincy, and is full of fail, the loss of Wilfork makes their defense also a fail” side which is why they’re in Vegas and I’m a guy on the internet. While the Pats O looked woeful last week, at least it’s looking like they’ll have Gronk back. The defense did manage to hold Cincy to a low scoring game but as I’ve said before, Dalton makes what could be a great offense average. Meanwhile, the Saints have been unstoppable. Brees and Jimmy Graham just rack up yards at will, but the main thing I noticed is that Sean Payton is in a playcalling zone. It seems like he always calls the perfect play for the situation. Meanwhile the Saints defense, their weak spot in years past, has been playing lights out as well. It’s hard going against Brady at home, but a top 3 QB with 3.5 points? I’m going Saints. THE PICK: SAINTS +3.5
ESPO: God damnit! Stop making me pick against my own team! Alright, fuck. So that Bengals game went pretty much as I feared. The D-line thumped their orange and black dick all over the field, limiting the once-mighty Patriot offense to a sad 6 points. And now they host the Saints, who are on a Fuck You, Payback tour around the NFL. I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but uh, the Saints are Super Bowl contenders. Brees and Payton have put their magic rings together and are in complete control of that offense. Jimmy Graham is an uncoverable freak of nature. The defense, and specifically the pass rush, is running guys around all over the field. Rob Ryan has got these guys AMPED UP, and they’re champing at the bit to get some respect back after being literally the worst defense in NFL history last year. I’m telling you now, either the Saints or Seahawks are going to be reppin’ the NFC in the Super Bowl, and it will probably come down to who has home field for the NFC championship game. The Saints are nigh-unbeatable once that dome gets rocking, and Seattle boasts that same advantage. Wins are at a premium, and no one knows that more than Sean Payton. They’re leaving it all on the field, every week. So, to be honest, I’m surprised the Patriots aren’t dogs at home. They are clearly the weaker team. I’m assuming this is just the books showing them respect because they are a big public team. Also, Amendola is back (for the moment, I bet he doesn’t make it through this game) and apparently Gronk is good to go as well, but is that really enough to make me think the Patriots will win this game? Gronk is a touchdown-grabbin’, ball-spikin’, pornstar-bangin’ stud, sure. Will he be rusty? Is he 100%? Will he even make it through the game? The Wilfork-less defense held Cincy to 13 points, but now they go from whathisface to one of the best quarterbacks of this era. I just… I can’t. I can’t pick the Pats here! If they were home dogs, maybe. Maybe. The Saints are just too good. God damn it! THE PICK: SAINTS +3.5