THE PICK: COLTS -3
THE PICK: BEARS +3
Every time the Chargers do this sort of thing semi-savvy gamblers around America want to punch holes in walls. They’ll suffer a couple of injuries, but their collective talent explodes for a few weeks and they go on a scoring splurge that makes them look like the best team in football. Public yahoos and random fans start yapping about them being really good then they Chargers act like the town drunk, pass out, and shit in their own bed and make everyone feel foolish for taking them favored by a touchdown against the Raiders. Well, it’s a little early for that to happen and the Jets are not a division rival, they are just a really desperate club that knows their season is more or less over if they lose this week, their run game is solid, Geno Smith knows his place as the “quarterback of the future” is still dicey, and the defense is not just good, it’s pissed off. All sounds like a recipe for a big upset, right? Or a cover at least? No. Fucking. Way. Look, I know the public can fuck the fuck off, but this is the time of year where division contenders start to separate from the pretenders and also-rans and the Jets are a straight up also-ran even in a down-trending AFC East where the Pats suddenly look human. The Chargers laying less than a touchdown at home against a club that got pasted at home by the fucking Lions (who are doing exactly what I was waiting for them to do the last 20 regular season games) who not only exerted their will, they straight up pounded the Jets into submission. San Diego is going to be leaning heavily on their rush defense and Jesus Rivers’ arm, but that’s okay because the Jets are built to stop the run. Right now the Chargers are focused on stacking up wins before they have to go eyeball to eyeball with Denver. They know it’s games like this that will prep them for the division fight. The Jets are not straight up terrible, but I liken them to a test bout a title contender gets. I swear, I hear Mickey from Rocky talking: “Kid, we’re putting you in the ring with a defensive specialist who’s got a good left hook (strong defense and run game with a QB who hits a big TD every so often). You get by this guy and get him good and people are gonna start talking about giving you a shot at the title, but you’re gonna have to knock ’em out by the fifth round, alright?” I think the Chargers aren’t looking past this one and take it by two scores.
THE PICK: CHARGERS -6.5
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS +5.5 AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
Fair warning, my pick on this one is filled with just a belly full of fuck you for the Niners. And Niners, fans, no, you’re not picked on: You’re thin-skinned pussies who think your team is unappreciated. That’s bullshit. You’re a bunch of whiney assholes who don’t have a sense of humor about themselves. Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles fans know when we suck and we shove it in your face when we’re good, but when we get called on our bullshit we laugh with you. When you guys get called on your shit you play the victim card. So go back to the fucking Marina, make yourself a martini, and cry yourselves to sleep in your red footy pajamas.
Anyways, two years ago everyone was talking about how Jim Harbaugh was exactly what the Niners needed: Fiery, disciplined, intense, etc. etc. and he turned Alex Smith into an actual quarterback and got all that talent to gel and went on a run of division titles and a Super Bowl appearance. Just one problem, the truth is out: Harbaugh’s a fucking dickhead who thrives on being hated! Listen, not even Vince Lombardi, the patron saint of football coaches wanted to be hated, he just wanted his teams to just execute and not fuck up. He was a master psychologist who knew which players needed a pat on the ass and which ones needed a kick in the ass and which ones commanded respect when they would pull him aside in private and ask him not to embarrass them in front of teammates they had to lead. Here’s looking at you, Bart Starr. It’s not fair to compare the insanity man who chucked his steady and unspectacular starting quarterback who was having a career year to the guy who the Lombardi Trophy is named after, but when you act like a prima donna cunt and spend all of your time antagonizing everyone who crosses your path, you have to take it. Especially when it comes to that overrated moron you have at quarterback right now.
The Niners are winning games by the grace of Yahweh. I swear there is no other explanation for this team winning any games at all and it’s not because the defense is that terrible or the running game sucks, it’s because Harbaugh just sort of throws Kaepernick out there and play sandlot ball. I’ve been saying it since he took over at starter: He’s not a good quarterback. In fact, he’s fucking awful and the most overrated motherfucker in football. I’ve been watching this idiot for almost three years and the game plans get dumber and dumber not better and better. The Niners are really good at running the ball. They have an elite-level line, but for some reason Frank Gore isn’t getting a ton of carries. He’s backed up by Carlos Hyde who could be starting for just about any other team in football right now. Yet, they don’t run the ball consistently and instead rely on the jackass with the worst religious tattoos and worst decision-making skills in football to win games for them. Kaepernick’s career so far comes down to one play: Last year against Seattle when he decided to just chuck the ball up to Crabtree against Sherman. Remember how he didn’t even look at any other receivers? Remember how he walked up to the line of scrimmage, looked directly at Crabtree and then kept looking that way as he lofted the ball up for Sherman who turned Crabtree into a national punchline? Remember how he did the SAME FUCKING THING in the Super Bowl the year before? Now think back to just the last three weeks and see if you can think of one time that Kap looked off a defender or didn’t throw into double coverage because he watched Favre sling his guns when he was a kid? You could easily make the argument that he made damn sure to spot the Eagles an 11-point lead last week when he threw into triple fucking coverage because he is a Hall of Fame-level idiot.
Kaepernick’s a drunken hobo’s version of Randall Cunningham who was a legitimately great QB who made intelligent reads, could use his legs strategically, and didn’t lose you games by throwing into double coverage every third passing play. Kaepernick does stupid shit like throwing the ball across his body, not looking off his first read, and runs when his first read isn’t open. Where Niner fans see a Greek god under center, the rest of us see a Baby Huey who doesn’t understand that if you can’t succeed in the pocket you will not succeed. Want a better comparison? How about Russell Wilson? You know, the guy who is having an offense built up around him piece by piece. Ever notice that he always seems to make the right decisions? That’s because instead of just cutting him loose to do his thing there is a game plan he’s following. Ask yourself if you can discern any sort of plan behind the Niners last 16 games? Seriously? Is there any sort of balance? Do they switch things up between the pass and the run? Do they ever look like they have a plan or is it just a haphazard playground game where it’s Harbaugh basically saying just letting Kap do his thang?
So, about that game. Fuck Andy Reid and his shitty clock management, forget the Chiefs putting up 70-something points in two games, fuck the short week for KC, and fuck the Niners ground game. Take a look at who is playing quarterback for KC. Oh, is that Alex Smith over there? You know, the guy that Harbaugh benched in favor of the dickwad who kisses his biceps after he scores a touchdown? Listen, from the angles I like the Chiefs because the Niners are sloppy and the Chiefs are being led by a guy who will, in spite of what he says in public, most definitely want to shove his dick in the faces of every person in San Francisco who was all up on Kaepernick taking his job. Smith isn’t Steve Smith, but I can easily see Smith showing everyone exactly why he is better overall than Kap: He’s smart, makes good decisions, doesn’t throw into double coverage, is mobile enough to be trouble, and can make good, accurate throws. The Chiefs are gelling on defense, have a decent run game, and even though they are coming off a huge win and are due for regression are still going to be able to give the depleted Niners linebackers fits. Speaking of which, the Niners straight up shut down the Eagles last week, but if you’ve been paying attention, the Niners are prone to mistakes (see Kap and special teams) and even with all that talent they are coming unhinged. The one thing I am really hoping for is that this game will not come down to Andy Reid having to manage the clock because that could fuck up the straight up win, however it won’t fuck up the spread. I’m all over the Chiefs because I think they can win outright and at the very least might be in the same position Philly was last week because the Niners are a straight basket case right now.
THE PICK: CHIEFS +5.5
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS +10 AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
First off, ask yourself if you can see the Bucs winning two in a row on the road. Second, ask yourself if you think Breesus is going to lose his third in a row. Then think about whether Brees is going to lose at home knowing that a loss right here puts him in the same place he was when Sean Payton was suspended for a year. Look, no one is going to deny that a double-point dog on the road is usually a good bet in the long run, but in a vacuum there is no way I can even contemplate the Bucs as a back door cover when Brees and company got their last win, incidentally at home, against the Vikings when they covered, you guessed, a 10-point spread. The Saints are desperate to keep themselves alive for the playoffs and the Bucs are playing for respectability. Doug Martin is a big maybe and the Saints have five legitimate receiving threats. Sure, their defense sucks and Mike Glennon is obviously better than Josh McCown. And by the way, I know the Bucs are back to being the Bucs of yore because they signed a journeyman (McCown) quarterback to a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract after he had a run of like five games in which he was throwing to the biggest receivers in football while they already had a guy (Glennon) who kinda’ looks like he could develop into someone really good for the next five or so years if you don’t fuck him up. Way to go, Bucs!
So, factoring in the Bucs being the Bucs and Lovie Smith already looking like a man who is eating Rolaids by the bottle, I can’t help but shake the feeling that the Bucs revert to their Buccaneer ways this weekend while the Saints desperately try to show everyone that they are still the Saints. Both teams are 1-3 against the spread, neither team is showing much on defense, but I think the Saints are less prone to game-changing mistakes and the home field advantage for them is almost transcendent. I really don’t like taking a double-digit favorite anymore, but I’ll throw the public a bone and say this: Believe in Brees and his desire to remind everyone that he still counts.
CINCINNATI BENGALS -1 AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Okay. Okay. I’m okay. Yes.
Hearing a Patriots fan bitch is probably like hearing about someone elses bad poker beat, right? No one gives a fuck. Oh, wahhh, the winningest franchise of the past 12 years is having a pwobwem? YES. YES WE FUCKING ARE AND I WON’T STAND FOR IT!
Tom Brady doesn’t deserve this shit, god damnit! Brady has restructured his contract a fucking hundred times so the team could “remain competitive.” Yes. He’s left with a bunch of Welker-lites, 65% of Rob Gronkowski, and a offensive line so patchwork that merely using the word patchwork is insulting to the quilts from which it derives its name! I, loyal disciple of the Church of Belichick, made several excuses for the decision to trade Logan Mankins. Surely, I thought, Billy B knows more than I, simple viewer. Under his watch, the Patriots have a pretty good track record of dispensing of players just before they hit a sharp decline. Mankins’ play had indeed been slipping from his All-Pro level, and he had a pretty significant cap hit, so it seemed logical. But, uh, I am now willing to believe that this may have been, a, how you say, HUGE FUCKING MISTAKE?
The uneducated, and haters of all things Patriot, point their fat, uncultured fingers and laugh, AH HA HA, TOM BRADY IS DECLINING, HE’S ALL WASHED UP. And yeah, he’s… certainly not what he used to be. Much has been made of his diminishing deep ball accuracy, and yes, it’s true. But that’s really not the biggest deal. How often do you really see Peyton launching 35-40 yard passes? It’s not super necessary to win games. Let’s not forget that Brady LITERALLY hauled this team on his back last year to 12 wins like fucking Luke Skywalker carrying 52 Yodas and should have been in serious conversation for MVP. The problem is the line. Brady has no faith in anybody on it right now. He’s seeing ghosts in the pocket, he’s getting chased all over the place, he’s constantly getting blindsided, it’s really a god damn joke. I think Nate Solder might have transformed into an ACTUAL turnstile when he let Tamba Hali just completely run around him untouched. What the fuck? Yeah, Solder was playing very well the last 2 years, but this year he is really playing poorly, which is pretty bad when you’re supposed to be the anchor of the line. Hm, let’s see, what could have precipitated that change? Could it be the loss of the guy who stands to his right, a veteran left guard who also was the emotional leader of the line? Could it also coincide with the loss of “offensive line whisperer” coach Dante Scarnecchia, who has kept this Patriots o-line top notch since dinosaurs roamed the Earth? HMM. HMMMM. MAYBE. The Patriots seem to have no idea who to start at left guard, which is pretty weird when you just traded your franchise left guard. They’ve been shifting Dan Connolly, longtime utility linemen around the entire interior of the line because they can’t find a solution. They had him at center and Jordan Devey at RG, and Devey was a disaster so they put Connolly at RG and rookie Bryan Stork at center, and Cannon at LG, but then HE was a disaster so they moved Connolly to LG, who isn’t great at that spot either… It’s just a mess. They might have to move the other veteran, RT Sebastian Vollmer to LG just to seal up Brady’s blindside, and hope someone else figures it out at RT. Oh yeah, and the line is struggling open holes for the running games, which is also something your offensive line is supposed to be good at doing.
Oh yeah, and Josh McDaniels is a little visor-wearing, Napoleon complex TROLL. Some of his offensive mantras? “If it worked once, never run it again.” “3rd and 5? Let’s pack it in boys.” “They’re expecting us to do this, so let’s not not NOT run this. How many nots was that? Aw fuck it, run a draw.” “3rd and 2? Let’s go deep.” I know it’s easy to scapegoat offensive coordinators whenever your offense is underperforming. I mean, it’s obvious right? But his playcalling is, at times, infuriating, as is his use of personnel. Why are Edelman, Amendola, and LaFell on the field AT THE SAME TIME? They’re the same player! Why dress 5 RBs and use 2? The thing is, this isn’t just an overreaction to the Chiefs game – these have been problems all year. The Miami game, the Fish looked great, but I don’t think we realized how bad the Pats were, and it became a little more suspect when Miami got beat twice in a row after that, and didn’t look great doing it. The Minny game was a blowout only because Cassel threw 4 picks. We BARELY beat the Raiders. The Raiders!!! And then we get absolutely shamed on Monday Night Football. And now we host maybe the current best-looking team in football, off a bye! SWEET!
There’s many numbers that make this game look a little more even. The Patriots record after a loss, record at home, record on Sunday Night, record in games which they lose by X amount of points or throw for X amount of yards, and so on and so on. That’s probably the only reason this is only a 1-point spread. Football-wise, I have almost zero good feels around this game. I don’t necessarily think this is the sky-is-falling, end of an era, hit the panic button moment in this Patriots dynasty. It’s too early in the year, Belichick has proven doubters wrong too many times. I don’t think this team is going to go 3-9 the rest of the way. But I don’t see how they win this game, barring an epic Dalton meltdown. The Bengals defensive line is superlative. Their running game is efficient and productive – Giovani Bernard is an absolute stud. AJ Green is AJ Green. They’ve had an extra week to prepare, and prepare diligently, for a matchup that will probably determine AFC playoff seeding. They will be motivated, and rested. Obviously I won’t actually be wagering on this game, because that is something that sick, sick people do. And I will be rooting hard and thrilled if the Pats somehow eke out this victory. But I just can’t back them currently, based on what I’ve seen so far on the field. There’s just too much work that needs to be done – just the cohesion of the offensive line alone will take time. They’ve been shuffling guys around it so much that might as well be day 1. Bengals take it.
THE PICK: BENGALS -1
This is quietly one of the more intriguing matchups of the week, in my mind. The Colts shook off an 0-2 start by beating up on the Jags and Titans… you know, those teams that make the AFC South the AFC South. The Ravens are 3-1, winning three straight after losing to Cincy in week 1.I’m not so sure what to make of the Colts. I’m thinking they’re still kind of bad team led by a superlative quarterback. And the Ravens are a very good team led by an average quarterback. I MEAN AN ELITE QUARTERBACK JOE FLACCO IS ELITE. I wonder what would happened if you swapped the two QBs on these teams. I feel like the Ravens would cruise to a Super Bowl and the Colts would be like 5-11. But haha that’s not how it works stupid!
Anyway, even with Flaccid at the helm, I’m leaning towards Baltimore being a Very Good Football Team. Their main problem last year was their total inability to run the ball, which appears to be mostly remedied thus far. They’re getting solid blocking, have put the Ray Rice… unpleasantness behind them, and are getting good work from Justin Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and to a lesser extent supposed “starter” Bernard Pierce. Steve Smith is balling at the highest of levels right now, and a motivated Steve Smith is a truly frightening thing. It remains to be seen if the loss of Dennis Pitta will handicap them much moving forward, but they’ve been able to hang so far with a combination of Owen Daniels and Some Guys.
The defensive stats for both these teams are pretty interesting. The Ravens are actually giving up more passing yards than the Colts, though I suspect that has a lot to do with Indy’s aforementioned matchups with Jacksonville and Tennessee, as well as being mostly beaten on the ground by Philly. The Colts also have a middle of the pack rushing defense, but again… matchups. They certainly don’t pass the eyeball test as well as the Ravens do, and it bears out in the total points scored per game – the Ravens are third best with 60 total points allowed.. and the only two teams below them have only played 3 games so far (Cincy and Arizona). Meanwhile Indy is 16th with 95, and, again.. Jags. Titans.
It’s almost impossible to bet against Andrew the Giant and his late game heroics, but I think 3 and the hook is too much to lay here. Aside from Luck being fucking awesome, there’s a lot we don’t know about this Colts team yet. The Ravens are a well-rounded team that’s been able to move the ball in a variety of ways and defend solidly. Give me the points.
THE PICK: RAVENS +3.5
NEW YORK JETS +6.5 AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Come one, come all! Come see the New York Traveling Circus LIIIIIIVE for one day only in sunny San Diego, California!
I think at this point, the Jets might have a ROAD-field advantage. Like, how fun is it to play in a building when you just get booed mercilessly if you fuck up at all? Geno Smith said FUCK YOU to a bunch of fans last week! Holy shit! I mean, that’s a pretty big deal! I know he immediately apologized and all that, but even the Sanchize never let the vitriol get to him THAT much, and he got wayyyy more of it. It’s probably easier to just plan for the crowd making noise when your offense is on the field and just be done with it.
Meanwhile the Chargers continue to roll, with a 3-1 record straight up and a 4-0 one against the spread. Feels kind of weird to say that, no? There’s been no regression with Mike McCoy’s offense that reignited Philip Rivers’ career last year, and he continues to excel, completing 70% of his passes, hitting 8.4 yards per attempt, with a 9:1 TD:INT ratio. Like, wowzers. At first blush, you might say that they should carve up this beleaguered Jet secondary, because why not? They’ve been simply unable to cover ANYBODY. At the same time, the Jets run defense is the best in the league, allowing a stifling 63.2 yards per game. Doesn’t bode will for a gimped up San Diego ground game that’s missing Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, and is averaging a mere 70 yards per game. Donald Brown is the lone healthy starter, and his stature and running style doesn’t really fit this matchup. He’s going to get bottled up pretty mercilessly. On the other side, the Jets are actually running the ball really well, with Chris Ivory pounding the shit out of people and Chris Johnson occasionally getting motivated enough to break off a couple big gains.
So, I’m taking the Jets here. The Chargers look good, but if the Jets simply just stop fucking up and run the ball and control the clock and defend the run, they should have a fighting chance. This is also probably a bit of a letdown spot for the Chargers who have been on a really good run and are probably feeling good about themselves – meanwhile the Jets again have their asses on the hot seat and are desperate for a win. I’m not sure if they have the juice to win outright but I’m pretty confident that they cover here. And if they don’t, I’m officially dumping them in the garbage because that will be three straight weeks where they burned me.
THE PICK: JETS +6.5
ATLANTA FALCONS -4 AT NEW YORK GIANTS
I was following my usual pattern of writing a bunch of irreverent malarkey for this pick and realized I was running out of stuff to say so I started looking at other people’s picks for observations to steal. I noticed a lot of them were commenting on how the Falcons have lost nine straight outdoor games and was gonna brush it off with some wiseass comment like “Yeah, I guess they must have a fear of constellations!” but I then began a minor Google odyssey which led me to some Reddit post where this guy had compiled the records of every dome and non-dome team for the last 50 years and found a pretty significant advantage for dome teams playing away in outdoor stadiums. I think this marked an important turning point in my inevitable decline into a stat-obsessed maniac. Anyway, my initial instinct was to go against the Giants because everyone’s been talking about how they’re on a hot streak and have found their stride and I love betting against streaks because I am a genius and realize all sports teams are operating under a kind of constant Al Bundy curse where anyone who’s on a roll must by definition inevitably come crashing down. The Giants also just had a blowout win on national television which as I learned from hanging out with degenerate gamblers on the internet artificially inflates their spread for the following week. Boy, I really seem to have written myself into a hole here. Fuck it–I’m breaking my 4-week no-favorites policy for this one.
THE PICK: GIANTS -4
CLEVELAND BROWNS +1 AT TENNESSEE TITANS
OK, I am not gonna pretend to know jack shit about either of these teams. Here is my formula for writing these picks: I look at the respective home and away records for both 2013 and 2014, and I also have a spreadsheet of points for and points against for every team to see if they might be undervalued or overvalued based on having a win total that inaccurately reflects their performance on the field. I talk about these things for about 100 words, and for the other 700 I talk shit. I will sprinkle in a couple facts here and there, like that the Titans will have Jake Locker back this week who’s worth about three spread points, but this is only after I’ve already decided who I like through an initial gut feeling and then Googled solely for information that bolsters my argument much like a conspiracy theorist engaged in a debate on a message board. Say what you will but this method of spewing ignorant codswallop has garnered me an unimpeachable 7-5 record. Now, both of these teams blew last year but the game is in Tennessee and there appears to be a pretty considerable home advantage in the NFL, unless you’re talking about someone like the Raiders who could be playing at home and be allowed to have the opposing team’s grandparents duct taped to them for use as human tackleshields and still lose 42-3.
THE PICK: TITANS -1
CINCINNATI BENGALS -1 AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
I know everything is pointing in favor of the Bengals and against the Patriots lately, but I can’t help being a contrarian. I am in fact so contrarian that I am contradicting myself from last week, where I shit all over the Patriots for being a public team and having a better record than their ability. But New England is 9-0 in its last nine at home whereas Cincinnati is 4-5 on the road, and while I think we are probably witnessing a decline for a New England team that we’ve all taken for granted as good since the days when I would come home from high school to log into AOL Instant Messenger under the name Deftones770, I refuse to believe it happens this quickly. The Patriots also seem to have this thing where they don’t have back-to-back losses. They get pissed off or something. In fact, if they want to win the Super Bowl this year they should make it so they lose the game right before the Super Bowl. Actually wait, they should not do that. There are reasons to be hesitant about this pick. Dalton is a good quarterback. I know this because I hear the word Dalton a lot. You know, I think the fact I don’t know anything allows me to view these games with a kind of childlike purity. The rest of these guys amass too much information and start overthinking things and get themselves all fucked up. Their heads swell from the abundance of data and the weight pulls them down and they fall from their ivory towers. Also the fact I am too cowardly to put any actual money on my picks gives me a weird sense of confidence. When baseball season ends and I start laying down a few bucks a game in order to get my fix, that is when I will inevitably go 0-15.
THE PICK: PATRIOTS +1