NFL Week 5: They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Edition

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Monday you can hold your head. Tuesday, Wednesday stay in bed. Thursday to be honest I would have taken the Rams anyway. Last Sunday Jesus Christ did I get us kicked in the teeth, my bad Holmes.

Okay, fine, it needs work. I guess I’m just not on The Cure’s level, not yet anyway. And as you’ve recently seen in photographs, backcombing is out of the question.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong. At this point I may be a member of the band, at least in spirit. Based on the music alone, I am hardly their biggest fan. That said, I love that the one band that every gorgeous counter-cultural girl in my junior high worshiped is now led by a man whose fans reverentially refer to him as Fat Bob. I love that he still maintains his whole – thing I guess? – even though all of his current and former band mates, save one, have gracefully aged into standard cool dad archetypes, and that the other remaining holdout runs around like he is Steve Harris, despite playing Cure songs with his eyes glued to the neck of his bass with every pick.

Whoa, how in the hell did we get from the week five NFL preview to The Cure in two measly paragraphs? Oh yeah, duh. It’s Friday, I’m in debt. Let’s do this!

Right after we do some reader mail. Yeah, sorry about that. Just be patient. Boys, don’t cry! (okay I will stop)

You’re a lawyer. With the Fair Pay to Play Act nullifying the Ninth Circuit’s O’Bannon holding, will the NCAA finally pay the players? Amateurism is the biggest scam going. Pay the players!

(name withheld)

This always gets me kicked out of the annual Anarchopacifist Pinko Commie SJW Sports Fan Convention, but I do not believe that the NCAA should be made to pay college football players. First off, everyone starts their argument from the presumption point that college football players are not paid. This is naive. Players receive cash all the time. It’s not commensurate with the benefit that accrues to the school, but that’s not the issue. Capitalism is not fair. My salary isn’t proportional to the money I make for my employer. Neither is yours. That’s not how the world works.

To be clear, all college athletes work extremely hard. Top-flight football players work even harder. But the lives they lead aren’t exactly spartan. Most players get tutors, the best dorms, five-star food, and since we’re being honest, let us not be myopic about access to willing participants in physical relationships. That’s great. College football is at the very minimum a full-time job. Those guys deserve all of that.

Adding some sort of salaried pay structure is both borderline impossible and more to the point completely unnecessary. The NCAA red-taped their way into letting serial rapists and molesters victimize people for decades on end. They take seven minutes to watch a downfield collision like Jim Garrison (we never did JFK, IKR, WTH?) to see if two helmets made contact, and these are the people we trust to set up an equitable system whereby a walk-on practice squadder and Trevor Lawrence? The only conceivable system would be a uniform flat fee, paid out to every player across the board. Otherwise known as a stipend. Which they already do.

Did you see those links up there? One of those guys was a strong side DE at Jackson State. His marching quad drummer probably got more gash on campus, and he still got paid. There are no shortage of insurance salesman and chiropractors whose empty, boring lives lead them to invest everything into their alma mater, sometimes literally. Let ’em. Hell, Luther Campbell bankrolled half of the 90s Miami Hurricanes and he didn’t even go there.

Drew Magary has it right; let the boosters do their thing and the rest takes care of itself. Video game licenses are just an appetizer, and the premier guys can pick up all of the loose cash, endorsement deals, and perks the market says that they are worth. And if you insist upon your pound of flesh from the NCAA, make them give the Central Florida backup kicker’s YouTube monetization money back. HEY LOOK (professional) FOOTBALL!

Okay, so first off, ugly weekend last week, but the Tanking Our Talents in South Beach update sees us up a whopping $25, as the money-line had taken a somewhat fruitful dip to -900, so I rounded up from 22.22. The Dolphins do not have a game this week, so I considered putting the stack on New England, the biggest favorite as of press time, but given that we got the rare appearance of Bad Tom Brady last weekend, I think it’s best to hold off. Early Week 6 numbers have the Dolphins as a relatively small 6.5 point dog at present, so hopefully we can up the total for the Hampton House on Columbus Day Eve.

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CHICAGO -5 v. OAKLAND

Oakland’s 2-2 record is really frustrating. I don’t mean in the literal sense, it’s not like I play for the team or anything, but it is muddying our water to some extent. Look, fellas: I want a competent Raiders team or a terrible Raiders team, none of this middle of the road crap. Give me the squad who went 12-4 and 6-10 back-to-back in 2016 and 2017, respectively. And it’s not just me. Historically speaking, the Raiders aren’t supposed to be a mid-tier team.

Why does an allegedly hobbled Bears team make sense here? Because we’ve been here before. Our buddy Chase *groan* got us paid before, and everything I said about Trubisky all season remains true. Not sure if I’m willing to call Daniel a Kyle Allen-style upgrade just yet, but I think there is at least a chance that Mitch might be worried about his proximity to the dreaded bubble. No big deal, I’m sure. People from Duke are known for taking losing in stride.

Fun fact: if you do a site-specific search for Chase Daniel you get The Misunderstood: Johnny Lawrence, which was one of my favorite articles before getting hired and fired and rehired and re-fired and excused and forgiven and turfed and re-tolerated and re-intolerated and double unexcused by the Spietate Recensioni Council of Elders. Too bad I wasn’t the only one.

The long-time-coming suspension of Vontaze Burfict will only harm the defense Oakland needed to keep them in games to this point. Let Daniel manage the team on the road while Khalil takes some payback from his former best friend.


JACKSONVILLE v. CAROLINA -3.5

I wanted to get all offended because ESPN used my Gardner Minshew looks-like-Uncle-Rico joke but in all honesty that was pretty low-hanging fruit. Of course someone else made the comparison. But just to be sure, I should state for the record that Minshew actually looks more like Wade Nichols, star of Teenage Pajama Party. Now if he shows up on Sunday NFL Countdown I could probably build a case.

Just kidding! Wade Nichols was an 80s porn guy not named Ron Jeremy, so there’s no way in hell he’s still alive. Aaaaaaaaaand yep. Sorry dude. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Rest in peace I guess.

The wife got a kick out of the announce team repeatedly saying Minshew Magic last weekend but I think it’s a little early to go annointing the kid as the next Don Majkowski. That was still a desperation drive needed to beat the winless Denver Broncos with a last-second field goal, after all. Now Josh Oliver and Jalen Ramsey are out, and five defensive starters were limited in practice this week. We have to be the wet blanket this week and take Kyle still-better-than-Cam Allen to knock this season’s funderdogs down a peg.

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TAMPA v. NEW ORLEANS -3

No need to rehash last week’s shootout in L.A., we already paid dearly for it. But I’m pretty confident that the story going forward is going to be the visible decline in Jared Goff, not the Bucs bumbling into 55 points, all of which were necessary since their defense gave up 518 yards of total offense. There are distinct differences between a return to form and an anomaly.

If you blocked me because of last week’s day games, I can’t really blame you, but the Saints did give me a win on a Sunday night Twitter pick. The PFF Foreca$t guys said that thus far the difference between Teddy Bridgewater and Lamar Jackson – both Louisville QBs, both thrust into situations early because they were supposed to back up veterans – is that Harbaugh realigned the Baltimore offense around Jackson, whereas Sean Payton is plugging Bridgewater in to play Brees’ offense. This would account for the low score in Dallas.

Bridgewater’s numbers are bad. Two TDs against one interception and a 24.2 QBR. But I think he moves those up when facing the 31st-ranked pass defense in the league, and does so with Alvin Kamara in his back pocket. The home field served them well last week against the far-better Cowboys, so I’m okay with spotting the field goal here.

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CLEVELAND v. SAN FRANCISCO -4

This line has to be an overreaction to Cleveland’s thumping of the Ravens last Sunday. Before last weekend the Browns’ only win was against the Luke Falk Jets and they let Marcus Mariota beat them by 30 in their opener after getting more hype that the fucking Joker movie.

Meanwhile San Francisco have quietly gone 3-0 to get to the top of the NFC West, and the early bye means they are coming in rested at home. They haven’t faced a back like Nick Chubb yet this season but they have the fifth-ranked rushing defense – third overall – so they won’t make it easy. The dreamboat QB has them averaging 32 points per game and that should see them to covering four in Santa Clara.

Last week was a bloodbath but it comes with the territory. My penance was letting you off the hook inasmuch as the words whistle and/or blower did not appear once in the column. We’ll put the past behind us and make some money back. How’s that for a cure?

Good luck! 

About J.J. Duquesne

J.J. is an attorney in New York City. He loves NFL Football...a LOT.