WEEK 13 RECORD:
DAN K: 1-3
DAN K: 21-20-2
The big news this week is that Marc Trestman is going to be starting the now-healthy Jay Cutler over Josh McCown, who has played very well in Cutler’s absence. “BUT WHY WOULDN’T YOU PLAY THE HOT HAND??” people cry, but that’s not the point. McCown is the backup. Cutler is the starter. The starter starts when healthy – do you hear me, Jim Harbaugh? It’s not like McCown is some 20something hotshot who could be the Bears quarterback of the future… he’s 34, a backup, a capable one, but a backup. He did his job, which is to play quarterback when the starting quarterback is injured. And Cutler has played well all year, with that 3-pick stinker against the Lions being his one truly bad game. He’s up for a new contract this year, so if you’re sitting him while he’s healthy, you’re basically saying, “thanks, but no thanks,” which is just stupid. I mean, they can still win the NFC North! I don’t think Trestman is naive enough to think they can actually go anywhere in the playoffs with their UNBELIEVABLY bad run defense, but still, you gotta do it. By the way, if you streamed the fantasy running backs that have been playing the Bears since um, WEEK 4, you’re probably in the playoffs right now. They are dead last in: *ahem* rushing yards per game, first down runs, runs of 20+ yards, and yards per carry. That’s BAD! I need that trend to continue for one more week, as I’ve been forced to start Chris Ogbonnaya this week. Now, the Browns have had one of the worst rushing attacks in football. I think it might actually be THE worst, I’m too lazy to look that stat up, but I can’t think of a worse one. They simply don’t run the ball. If you’re wondering why the Browns have been stuck at 4 wins for, um, ever, they’ve been making their quarterback drop back and throw like, 40-50 times per week. You know, the Browns quarterback. Brandon Weeden, or Brian Hoyer (RIP), or Jason Campbell. 40+ times! That’s like, Brady/Brees-coming-back-from-a-deficit territory. Luckily for Cleveland, Josh Gordon is currently looking like the most electric player in football. The first guy EVER (EVER!!!!!) to have back to back 200 yard games. What the actual fuck? The NFL? The league with Calvin Johnson, Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald. You know, a bunch of a super really fucking good wide receivers, from like, forever to now. Nope. Josh Gordon, first one. Holy shit. Who’s going to stop this guy on the Bears? Who’s going to stop Jordan Cameron? You could say the same thing about the unholy duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey (oh my god speaking of wide receivers DID YOU SEE THAT CATCH), but I don’t care what you’re saying to me. The Browns are winning this game, and fucking me by ending with 5 wins on the season when I need them to get 6 god damnit!!!
God fucking damnit. I know what’s going to happen now. I’m going to be forced to pick against my own team again. AGAIN! How many times have I picked against the Pats now? I think only twice, but it feels like a hundred. Yeah, against the Saints (Pats won) and Panthers (Pats lost). Despite the fact that I of course want to root for my team against any and all odds (I just bought a god damn Pats snuggie for god’s sake), I feel like I have a pretty good read on the way this team is trending. And I don’t like this game. I don’t like it AT ALL. And I’ll tell you why. Right off the bat, they almost lost to the fucking Browns last week. They should have lost. That last PI to put them on the goal line was ridiculous. Stuff like that is why people roll their eyes when Pats fans complain about being jobbed by penalties like in the Carolina game, or the Jets game. Number two, no Gronk. More like GronkOUTski, amirite? That just blows. Nothing more to say about it. The Patriots were solidly below average on offense without Gronk earlier in the year. Of course, they were also missing Vereen and Amendola for much of that time too, so it’s hard to truly gauge… but I don’t think it’s a great leap to assume that the Pats will struggle to move the chains without him. It doesn’t help that Miami has a very good pass defense – they’re 5th in sacks and sport a 15:16 TD to interception ratio. Brent Grimes has been playing phenomenally – he was all over the field last week in Pittsburgh. The Pats will likely have to take to the ground to get down the field. Third, the Pats defense. They’re too banged up, and frankly just not good. The pass rush has been nonexistent. Last week, they had one sack, and five QB hits. And Campbell dropped back 44 times. Come on! That’s abysmal. 3 tackles for a loss. The Dolphins biggest weakness this year has been pass protection – Tannehill’s taken the most sacks in the league. It’s been the key to beating them, and I don’t think the Patriots will be able to muster up the pass rush necessary to do so. Plus, doing that leaves the middle of the field wide open for guys like Charles Clay and Brian Hartline, who’ve been performing admirably underneath. Tannehill may even be able to stay upright long enough to hit Mike Wallace, who’s going to run down the sideline in an iso route like 40 times in this game. The Fins MIGHT even be able to run on the Patriots. Now, I know I seem down on my team here. This is still a Brady/Belichick team – they are never out of a game. Normally, I’d say all this stuff and end with an emphatic FUCK IT GO PATS. But I don’t know. Miami always, always, always plays the Pats tough. This is a “circle the date” game for them, every year. They were actually up on NE 17-3 at the half when they played in Foxboro earlier this year, though they ended up losing 27-17, that was probably the worst they’ve played since. They’re 4-2 since, their 2 losses were by 3 and 4 points, And all three of the Patriots losses have come on the road. And I’ve barely mentioned the Dolphins – Joe Philbin deserves some serious credit for righting the ship after the whole Incognito debacle. They are squarely in the playoff hunt! In fact, they have more to play for – while the Patriots have sewn up the AFC East in all but mathematics, the Dolphins are still clawing for the final AFC Wild Card spot, and realistically could make it. They lost the head to head tiebreaker with Baltimore, but the Ravens are in Detroit this week, then are home for the Patriots and at the Bengals – no cakewalk. Meanwhile the Fins are at Buffalo and home for the Jets. This game just stinks to me. I think Miami takes it.
THE PICK: EAGLES -6
CINCINNATI BENGALS -3 AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS
THE PICK: STEELERS +3
ATLANTA FALCONS -7 AT WASHINGTON R*DSK*NS
THE PICK: CRAPPY DC/MARYLAND/VIRGINIA AREA TEAM +7
THE PICK: SAINTS -6
GAME OF THE WEEK: DETROIT LIONS -5.5 AT BALTIMORE RAVENS
ESPO: The Ravens are currently in a playoff berth, but they’re going to need to do some serious work to stay there. After pulling out a crazy win against Minnesota last week, they hit the road for the booming metropolis of Detroit. The Ravens have always been considered one of those “good at home, bad on the road” teams, and… yeah, they’ve done the exact same thing this year. Aside from a weird flip-flop in Weeks 5 and 6, where they beat Miami on the road and lost to Green Bay at home, they are undefeated at home and winless on the road. Hmm. Suspect? Yeah. And most of their wins and losses have been narrow all year. Most games have been decided by a field goal. And again, the Lions have done nothing to NOT be considered the most up and down team in football. Though to be fair, it’s hard to truly rate them on the ridiculous Blizzard Bowl they found themselves in last week – you could play that game 10 times and each outcome would probably be wildly different. But they were forced to hold out Reggie Bush, for fear of injuring his ailing leg on a field slipperier than the seat Kim Kardashian was sitting on when they first met. Also, I think LeSean McCoy is a real life snow leopard. How the fuck do you run like that in 8 inches of snow?! Anyway, Reggie said he’s ready to rock this week, and the Lions can again safely deploy the whack-a-mole combination of him and Megatron – they’ve proven all year that when you try to stop one, you can’t stop the other. Also Matt Elam pulled out the ol’ “trash talk the best receiver in football before the game” trick, which will make it really funny when Calvin burns him for circus catch after catch, because he’s Calvin fucking Johnson. Anyway, I’m pretty set in my thinking that the Lions win this game – it’s only the spread that’s giving me pause. It’s a god damn perfect spread for this game. As I mentioned, the Ravens have had penchants for winning or losing by small margins. They also get back Dennis Pitta, who will give the Ravens another set of hands they desperately need. But the Lions have been stout against the run (Baltimore’s struggles in this aspect have been well documented) and should be able to get in Flacco’s face, which has traditionally been his downfall. Part of me thinks Beemore can keep this close, but another, bigger part of me doesn’t want to back a team who has been so inconsistent on offense on the road. Lions cover.
THE PICK: LIONS -5.5
DICK: How low have we sunk if this is our game of the week? We are one Aaron Rodgers collarbone away from it being the Cowgirls and the Packers just because of the potential playoff implications, but this is what we are stuck with. Sorry, Cincy at Pittsburgh has some drama, but not the sturm und drang that’s present here. Detroit should be running away with its division, but they have been hamstrung by their own ineptitude in the clutch, very suspect play calling, and a defensive line that is dirtier than four Conrad Doblers and Bernie Madoff coaching them. I’ll repeat myself: Detroit has the talent and skill to be a 13-win team if anyone like Jon Harbaugh, Mike Tomlin, or even Marvin Lewis was coaching them. They collect penalties like grandmothers gobble up Wedgwood and routinely bungle games they should win handily. This is a game just like every other that they should have won, but instead lost. Baltimore is rebuilding. Let’s just get that out of the way before we go any further. They got their Super Bowl last year, but screwed themselves by not somehow getting Flacco’s signature on a contract extension before he had a four game winning streak that netted him a contract he doesn’t deserve. Wanna know how fucked they are? Take a look at that abortion of a game they had against Minnesota last week. For 58 minutes they were able to put up a total of seven points before some football Moses opened up both defenses like the Navy letting horny basic training recruits loose in Tijuana. That being said, they have a nice little three-game winning streak going. They are winning games where Detroit has lost three of their last four against very beatable teams. Notice a trend? One team heading up and the other going down? I do and I like it. I’ll take the Ravens on the road. The Lions are not worth trusting and I’ll fade them until they prove otherwise.
THE PICK: RAVENS +5.5
DAN K: I think I speak for most sports fans when I say that last week’s snow bowl was FUCKING AWESOME. At first it was shaping up to be a 8-0 affair (seriously, they had to do two point conversions because they couldn’t get footing to kick an extra point) but as the teams found their snow legs it turned into some kind of crazy winter wonderland shootout. Two return TDs, Shady McCoy juking people out of their feet in four inches of snow..everything you want in a football game. While the Lions ended up losing by two TDs, I think you can safely say that this game was…unique. To be honest, the slate of games this week wasn’t that intriguing and me and my esteemed fellow pickers decided that this matchup between two teams in the playoff hunt was the best choice for game of the week. The Baltimore Carrion Birds had a crazy ending of their own last week, winning on a last minute TD against the mediocre Vikings, much to my dismay. It looks like there’s a good chance of Reggie Bush playing for the Lions this week, which will give them a 1-2 punch with Joique Bell combined with Matt Stafford throwing to the best receiver in the game. Baltimore has Dennis Pitta back, which gives Joe Fuckface another weapon to go with Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown. Ray Rice could be held in check, as Detroit’s defense is usually pretty good against the run if you throw out the weirdness of last week. The problem for flacco will be the Lions’ fierce D-line going against an Ravens offensive line that ranks in the bottom of sacks allowed. I went back and forth on this game but I’m going to take the home team in this one. The spread gives me a bit of pause but I think ultimately Lions are the right side. Stafford and his offense get their mojo back in their nice warm dome while Ndamukong Suh his Joe Flacco so hard that his eyebrow separates. Lions roll.
THE PICK: LIONS -5.5