Hello there, Ruthless Pick Off faithful!
Sorry about last week. Because Mr. Dank does not have Bill Belichick as his coach, he did not DO HIS JOB and get the picks up in time. (it was my fault too). So were just gonna count our records from last week and youre just gonna have to trust us that theyre real! I mean, Dick is 4-0, so you know we cant be making THAT up. Also, uh, Dank is currently getting blotto at some seedy Pennsylvania wedding, so he couldnt be arsed to write some picks up this week. Well chalk him up at a nice 0-2 for that!
And here we go for this week!
Saints +4.5 @ Panthers
It seems like, since about the midpoint of last year, everyone has been waiting for the Saints to right themselves. THIS week theyll get on track. Or THIS week theyre at home, surely they get off the schneid. All the way up until they absolutely shit the bed on that critical week 16 matchup last year against Atlanta. That was the week where people were like ALRIGHT! Winner of this game probably gets into the playoffs! [although it didnt end up that way] Saints in the Superdome. Heres we Brees and Co. shake off this bad season! Aaaaand they blew it. Epically. They won a meaningless game against Tampa next week, but it didnt matter. The fearsome, 2009 Super Bowl-era Saints are simply dead and buried. And, its quite possible that this team just fucking flat-out stinks.
Lets talk about the Jimmy Graham trade for a second. Usually people grade trades with either team X won! or I think it was a good trade for both sides. Is it possible that this trade was just BAD for both sides?! The Saints let one of the most unique weapons in the league loose for a Pro Bowl center. Ideally they wanted to upgrade their run game and protect Brees a little better. Oh but whoops, the Saints are in a 14 point hole by the 2nd quarter and now have to abandon their plan to run away. The Seahawks traded a Pro Bowl center for one of the most unique weapons in the league. Last week, in a critical game against Green Bay, they targeted that weapon a total of 2 times. TWO!!! The other tight end that Graham was ostensibly replacing, Luke Willson, was targeted four times. So, uh, yeah. And he reportedly hates his role, I haven’t looked closely but I suspect he is being asked to block sometimes, which he is loathe to do, because he is a little bitch who couldnt hold Gronks jock. Oh whoops, did that slip out? Anyway. The Saints! Theyre garbage. Brees is declining, and this is literally the worst cast of pass catchers hes ever worked with. Who ARE these people? Willie Snead?! Brandon Coleman? I mean, Brandin Cooks is very good. Colston is good, but hes also like 90 years old.
The Panthers theyve looked pretty good. Granted, they played Jacksonville and Houston, but is New Orleans really any better than those teams? Oh by the way, I just read that Brees has been officially ruled out, so this is now the Luke McCown show. A TV commercial AND an NFL start! Oh and uh, there are officially two McCowns now helming National Football League teams this weekend. We are through the looking glass now, people. The Panteras lost stud LB Luke Kuechly to a concussion, and it doesnt look like hell play this week either. But, the Panthers D didnt really miss a beat, with a sack, 5 QB hits, 3 TFLs and 7 (!) passes defended. Its a good thing too, because the Panthers havent been the most efficient on offense. Cams fully healthy this year, and theyve relied on his legs a little more. He was the leading rusher last week with 76 yards, and also had a nice hurdling TD. Makes sense because without Kelvin Benjamin, his only truly reliable pair of hands is Greg Olsen – though he did find Ted Ginn on a very nice TD last week as well. MAYBE the Saints can scrape their dick off the floor this game, but it really just doesnt seem like they have the personnel to do so. Carolina always plays NO tough and comes out hard at home. I’m comfortable laying the 4.5, but if the line keeps climbing, (some places have it 7 already!) I’d be worried about the Panthers anemic offense doing enough to cover a full TD or more.
edit: Okay, no sooner did I finish this and now the lines are exploding up to 8.5 or 9 in places because of the Brees injury. In that case, I have to switch this pick to New Orleans. Even though I still think they are dogshit, I havent seen enough from Carolina to lay more than a TD with them no matter the circumstances – even though Luke McCown hasnt thrown a touchdown pass since 2007 (!!!!!!!). I would not bet on this game in real dollarbucks, though. Leave it alone. Or, do what I am considering, which is doing a Seattle / Carolina teaser.
Bears +14.5 @ Seahawks
So like, traditionally, taking any team giving double digit points is a very bad idea. Very bad. Something around 40% of teams since 1978 have covered. And Im feeling very salty that the Seahawks burned me last week. But, something about this game just feels like SEAHAWKS BLOWOUT. Its just all these factors coming together. Home opener, number one. The crowd is going to be fucking nuts, in that sound-funneling building which is definitely not cheating because a team who doesnt have a +.750 winning percentage in the last 15 years doesnt have it. Oh whoops, did that slip out? No but really, how long do you think the Patriots would be allowed to have a NOISE AMPLIFYING STADIUM? Number two, the Seahawks are 0-2 have been getting shellacked in the media. I mean, even the national media is beating up on them, so I can only imagine how brutal it is IN Seattle, where this spoiled little nouveau riche fanbase expects a Super Bowl every year. The Hawks SHOULD, if Pete Carroll has a motivating bone in his body, be amped up to fucking eat people alive and give their fans something to cheer up about so they get the fuck off their backs.
Number three, and this is a biggie – Chicago is fucking BAD. Bad. They legitimately may be the worst team in the NFL – and thats WITH Cutler and Alshon Jeffery playing, which they are not. So they’re like, the double-worst. Is that a thing? Poor Matt Forte. That guy is so damn talented, and hes just running out his career on this shitstain of a team. This squad is bereft of talent at basically every position. Who are even their best defenders? Pernell McPhee I guess? ANTREL ROLLE? JARED ALLEN? Like, holy shit. So now Jimmy Clausen has to walk into the Lions Den with an offense filled out by Forte, Martellus Bennett and Eddie Royal, in like 500 decibel norse, with a total sieve of a defense taking the field after him. Okay. This game has blowout written all over it. Lynch will approach 200 yards, and 2 TDs. Carroll WILL run up the score, given the chance. And they will have it. Seahawks roll.
Bills +3 @ Dolphins
Joe Philbin is like a stock white corporate character in a bland movie about football. He’s a bland caucasian who wears khakis, fits in at the municipal golf course, and got his big job because he put in his time. He’s the sort of guy the Republicans used to cart out in elections against charismatic Democratic candidates: Bob Dole and Mitt Romney come to mind. The sort of guy who wakes up every morning to a glass of Milk of Magnesia because deep down inside he knows he’s not up for the job. I mean, this is a guy who admitted on national television that close games make him want to throw up. With this guy around Suh is going to commit manslaughter on the field by week nine. He also runs a bland offense even though he was hired away from Green Bay because of his offense, relies on his defense to bail him out, mismanages the clock, thinks that taking his team to see Straight Outta Compton is a great way to connect with his players, and giving a motivational speech on Thanksgiving in a pilgrim costume is a great idea. Fuck this guy.
The only time Rex Ryan wants to throw up is when he’s eaten too many chicken wings and hot dogs. He’s a true insanity who says that college coaches aren’t coaching quarterbacks anymore after he basically ruined Mark Sanchez who came from one of the most quarterback-friendly systems in college football. He taunts Bill Belichick even though he knows it will get his team fucked up. He’s your drunk 50-year-old uncle who wears loud shirts, buys a jet ski, and offers coke to 19-year-old girls at Lake Havasu. But damn it, his defenses are the shit. Well, except when they face Brady and Bill and Gronk and Julian and the rest of the soul eaters from New England. Why not just have Jim Kelly come in and give a pep talk and insist he compare fighting cancer to winning a football game?
For all the shit people talked about Tyrod Taylor he tries really hard and is putting up some numbers. He looks a little desperate out there, but at least he is throwing the ball at Sammy Watkins instead of just trying to run or make something up which is about all I think Rex ever tells his quarterbacks. I kind of picture Rex literally making up plays in the dirt like we did in elementary school, clapping his beefy hands together, and saying something slightly motivational/very porny like, now get out there and fuck ’em like you’d fuck your friend’s wife’s hairy pussy at an orgy!
Considering that Miami almost let Washington off the hook two weeks ago and made Jacksonville look like a real football it’s hard to envision them more than a 2.5 point favorite against anyone even at home. Buffalo blitzed the Colts’ offensive line into oblivion and gave the rest of the league a blueprint on how to beat Andrew Luck. Their defense is good enough to keep their spreads within the magical two-six point range, so seeing them get three points on the road even after getting their asses handed to them (don’t let the final score fool you, that was a blow out in real life) by the Pats feels right, looks right and is right and Buffalo’s the right side. Both teams are coming off tough losses, but I like Buffalo’s craziness factor over Miami’s we’re gonna right this ship factor. Miami is boring, predictable, and liable to lose a game because Philbin won’t have the stomach to go for it on 4th and 1 instead of kicking a 47-yard field goal. Since Rex doesn’t have any inhibitions I can see Buffalo throwing caution to the wind and being the drunken poker player who raises on every hand trying to by the pot. That sort of shit doesn’t work against Bill, but against a lily-livered pussy like Philbin, Ill take the fat drunken buffoon and the points.
Falcons -1 @ Dallas
You almost have to feel sorry for Dallas, but not really. Since Jerry has his billion dollar tax payer financed fuck palace but is still hindered by a salary cap that ensures him and the 31 other owners their insane share of the revenue pie, it’s sort of nice to watch him squirm when Tony Romo is put out of action for eight weeks after he lost Dez Bryant for a spell and couldn’t back up a truck load of money for DeMarco Murray. Thing is that the line is still only -1 for two good reasons: Dallas still has the best offensive line in football and their defense is solid. Considering that Romo is probably worth a good six or seven points when it comes to setting the line I love Dallas as a home dog even in what amounts to a pick ’em. Brandon Weeden isn’t going to light up the scoreboard. In fact, going back to his days in Cleveland he has eight straight losses as a starter, so for him it boils down to not fucking up, controlling the clock, and keeping the ball out of Matt Ryan/Julio Jones’ hands. Yeah, Philly more or less handed the game to Dallas last week and Atlanta covered on the road against the mentally disturbed Giants, but think about this: Atlanta is 1-4 ATS in their last five September road games and Dallas is 1-5 ATS in their last six at home, so God damn it, there’s no angle there. Both teams are coming off road wins, so fuck the emotional angle. Okay, Atlanta is relatively healthy, but Weeden did look good against Philly in relief (7-7, 73 yds., 1 TD) and he spent all of last year practicing with the first team while Romo had to rest in between starts because of his broken back. That counts as experience right? Fuck. Okay, but the Cowboys do have that aforementioned healthy offensive line and defense and I like that. I like that a lot. All things being equal I like going with the bigger and more physical team. Dallas, baby.
Steelers -1 @ Rams
The Steelers have the NFLs most explosive and powerful offense despite the loss of Maurkice Pouncey for the year. Ben Roethlisbergers ability to extend plays and hold up in the face of poor line play is critical. Now they get to add Le’Veon Bell back to the mix? Start planning the victory parade across the Roberto Clemente Bridge right?
Oh yeah, there is a whole other side of the football. The reason they have so many offensive weapons is they have payed almost no attention to building up their defense. The biggest star on the Aluminum Curtain is probably the crypt keeper reclamation project that is James Harrison, a man cut 2 years ago for being too old, which is coincidentally 2 years after they should have done it to Troy Polomalu. Ryan Shazier is a bright spot, but he will be out injured this week.
In contrast to one of the NFLs marquee franchises the Rams have been terrible since the end of the Greatest Show on Turf era and seem to have entered into a three team tontine to be the next NFL team to be outdrawn in LA by USC. However, after focusing heavily on defense in the last few years (man does trading away from RGIII look really smart) they have become a feisty out, particularly at home against division rivals. They seem to have won the Foles for Bradford trade with the Eagles, but their offense remains anemic at best.
So what we have is a team capable of putting up and allowing 40+ points vs a team that is capable of putting up and allowing >10 points. In today’s NFL that means side with the offense. Especially, when the line is only one point.
Eagles +2 @ Jets
Last year DeMarco Murray had the most rushing attempts and yards of any RB in football behind Dallas’ superb Offensive Line. Last week DeMarco Murray had fewer rushing yards than 24 of the league’s starting Quarterbacks (including noted three toed sloth statue Joe Flacco). Murray would seem to have been the perfect fit for Chip Kelly’s attack. This seems to be the (not-so) rare instance where a blockbuster move leaves both teams in worse position, especially now that the Cowboys have had to hire Alan Alda to walk around giving smarmy monologues. Chip Kelly has been widely criticized for shipping DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and Nick Foles (which was only done to cover how much he really hates black people… I mean it’s not like he cut the whitest man in football, Tim Tebow, or anything) out of town and the results have certainly backed up that narrative. They took the most loaded and innovative offense in football and have turned it into a bland, run-of-the-mill offense incapable of moving the ball past the Golden 50. The offense remains, meh and all of the wild formations seem to have been dropped from the playbook.
The J-E-T-S JETS JETS Just remain competitive under Todd Bowles. Yes, the Eric Decker injury hurts, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is a stink bomb waiting to happen But. That. Defense! I know, last week I said the Bills probably had the best D in football, only to to see them promptly dismantled by hometown boy Rob Gronkowski. This week I’m saying the Jets have the best D in football, so watch for the trick plays the Eagles have been hiding to manifest and shred them. That’s just how my luck works with these things.