If I had to use one word to describe my feelings about picking this week’s NFL games, it would be “%$@#!!!!!!!” Or, more specifically, “&$%$ing *&%#$&#*$ &#*$# &$*#&$$# pikachu &$*#*@”. Don’t ask what it means, just take it as anger. Take a look at this week’s slate of games. I see about 3 games I am confident in about the outcome. 3. So, instead of ranking all the teams, I am just going to go down the list and tell you why almost every single team has a very legitimate shot to win (or lose) this week. Don’t worry we will get the bye-week teams too.
Also, due to the high volume of sports going on, we are taking a bye week on Pigskin Pick’em, but we are taking a picks-approach to the NFL this week, so that should assuage your doubts about my reasoning.
Packers @ Jets
I am somewhat confident the Jets will win here, but allow me to make the case both ways. The Jets are coming off a bye week, their offense has been very solid so far, and their defense has been good as always. The defense is bound to look even better when pitted against an overmatched Green Bay offensive line which lacks a running game, so it will be all pass-rush all the time for the Jets. I don’t think the Packers have an answer for that. The Packers are also coming off an emotional win and have a decent chance of having some hangover from it much like we saw when the Texans beat the Colts week 1 and then almost got blown out by the Redskins week 2 (among other examples).
However, that emotion can work both ways. If the Vikings were a hurdle the Packers needed to clear before moving forward, then they certainly did that Sunday night. The wrecking crew better known as Clay Matthews should be more active, and you have to assume the Rodgers turnovers will stop at some point, though they have been flowing freely this season. This offense is good enough to put points on this defense, and that is ultimately something the Jets offense may not be able to handle.
And think… this is one of the games I am more confident in.
Broncos vs 49ers in London
Nope, no idea. 49ers coming off a bad loss in Carolina, Broncos coming off an embarrassment against Oakland at home. Neither team is too good, though the Broncos are better, and the Wembley pitch sucks, so there are sure to be some slips and falls that determine the game. In whose favor I do not know. Like, my guess is as god as yours. Or an infant’s who just soiled his diapers. Clueless.
Also noteworthy is that the London game is NEVER good, so there’s that.
Jaguars @ Cowboys
The Jaguars are a very difficult to predict team (Dr. Jag-yll and Mr. Hyde, anyone? Anyone?) and the Cowboys are not good. Awesome. Will they rally behind Kitna or crumble without Romo? Will David Garrard play like Donovan McNabb or Akili Smith? Will the Cowboys avoid shooting themselves in the foot? Can the Jags defense stop anyone? Every single one of those questions is a toss up to me. I tend to think Kitna can lead this team (via the running game) to a nice string of victories, but I literally have no clue. And this is supposed to be a gimmie.
Dolphins @ Bengals
After another good game for the Dolphins last week, they are due for a stinker. However, that is way better than Cincinnati’s situation, where they stink and ar not due for a good game for a while. The bottom line is that you can’t trust the Dolphins, you shouldn’t trust the Bengals, and you have to trust one of them. There is almost no way you can feel confident either way here. The Dolphins secondary is just bad enough to screw things up, the Bengals D has just enough talent to stay hopeful, and a road game in Cincinnati sounds like something the Dolphins would mess up. Once again, I am just about clueless on the actual result of the game, though I do not think I am alone in trusting the team that has at least played well recently.
Panthers @ Rams
I like the Rams here with a surprising amount of confidence given how they threw that game away in Tampa. Carolina, on the other hand got on the board with a comeback win against the 49ers that will likely end in Mike Singletary’s head rolling and taking its place next to Mike Nolan’s. I like the Rams at home way more than I like Carolina in most places. That is the entirety of my logic on that game.
Redskins @ Lions
I don’t sip Lions Kool-Aid, I chug it by the gallon. I enjoy my Lions Drank and it makes me look pretty good because, despite their bad record, they have played pretty damn well this year. They even get Matthew Stafford back, which means more long balls for Calvin Johnson, which probably means fewer injuries for him, all of which are good things for the Lions.
However, the Redskins are pretty damn decent this year, and after beating the Bears in Chicago last week, they have some confidence. However, they really did not play well and more won because the Bears are awful, and gave them the game. Still, they are pretty good this year and much better than I thought they would be. Still, that Lions Kool-Aid tastes pretty damn sweet. I am full of what? No, I’m not lion. Sorry, had to.
Bills @ Chiefs
3 of the last 4 weeks, the Bills have scored 26 points or more. Yeah, it surprised me too. They are actually moving the ball pretty well lately, but it is beautifully balanced by their defense’s inability to stop FDR on defense. They rank last in the league in rushing defense (ummm rolling defense in the case of FDR) and that is never good when you are behind and need to get the other team off the field. Still, through all that, the Bills are looking pretty solid right now (for an 0-6 team). I mean they have to win some time, right?
However, one of the few cardinal rules of this year is that you DO NOT EVER EVER FOR ANY REASON bet against KC at Arrowhead. This holds true again, though seeing Jacksonville push them last week was pretty concerning. This is one will be closer than it should be, but I cannot go against my (and by “my” I just mean for this year) Chiefs.
Titans @ Chargers
Ugh. How the hell does anyone pick this with confidence. The Chargers have sucked like a black hole for most of the year, and yet were 2 truly idiotic and unforced fumbles and a false start on a FG from sending the Patriots to overtime and nearly beating a team many are pegging as a Super Bowl contender. They have been awful and yet they almost managed that. Not even David Caruso would have a clever quip to describe the Chargers. Just kidding, he would.
The Titans, on the other hand are riding far too high and are due for a letdown game. That Eagles score was not indicative of how close that game was, and as an AFC South guy, I know that the Titans do not put winning streaks together like this. Right when they start to enter that picture of being “almost contenders” they drop one. This is likely to be one of those games.
I have no idea who wins this game. Honestly.
Vikings @ Patriots
Everyone loves the Pats, and what’s not to love? They no longer have their deep-threat/freak receiver, they have a secondary that has been shredded by the likes of Mark Sanchez, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Joe Flacco (who is having a down year), and they are relying on Deion Branch, Brandon Tate, and Danny Woodhead to pick up the Moss slack. What’s not to like? Oh yeah, they almost threw away that Chargers game too. Elite? Not a chance.
The Vikings were a couple of Favre brainfarts (and boy were they smelly for Vikings fans) from winning in Lambeau yet again and being totally fine. I could very easily see them putting it together, pillaging the Pats on the ground and letting Percy Harvin run rampant in that mediocre secondary. However, I could just as easily see Favre starting, throwing 2 picks, getting pulled, and Tavaris Jackson helping the Pats put points on the board. I have no confidence in the Vikings, though I do have some.
I am picking the Patriots, but with absolutely no confidence, like this just is not a good situation for them.
Seahawks @ Raiders
Are the Seahawks the best team in the NFC like Tony Dungy says? Is there a best way to under-cook seafood? Either way, it is still raw fish/the NFC. The Seahawks could easily come out and put the Raiders in their place, and Al Davis in his grace, but I doubt it will happen. Especially the Al Davis part, no one has been this hard to kill since Jaws (either in 007: The Spy Who Loved Me or Jaws, but not Ron Jaworski).
The Raiders could just as easily come out and hang 59 points on the Seahawks like they did to the Broncos in Denver. The Raiders might be one of the few teams more Jekyll-Hyde than the Jags so they could very easily lose this game by 20 or win by 20. Assuming the Seahawks can score that many points.
Buccaneers @ Cardinals
Want to know what I know what I know for sure about both these teams? They play in the NFL. That’s it. Neither has really responded that well to any challenge and I couldn’t get excited about either team if the players were replaced with the hottest women from each city. Both are coming off bad losses for different reasons, and frankly, these are the types of teams that make the NFL less cool. Do I trust Josh Freeman, or a home field? I have to choose one? Crap.
Steelers @ Saints
Here is a doozy. The Steelers are playing really really well, and the Saints are not. Somehow, this worries me more than anything else. Are the Saints really going to lose again in New Orleans, on the night of Halloween (which is a big deal there)? Are the Steelers really going to cement themselves as being 1 of the 3 best teams in the NFL with a kind of win that will keep them there for the rest of the season? I know the Steelers are due for a letdown, but they have got to be excited about this game, instead of being lulled into defeat like what happened to the Saints last week vs Cleveland.
No matter what, I am almost disgracing the football gods with this pick. If I pick the Steelers I am picking against the defending champs at home in a game they need, and if I pick the Saints, I am picking against the best team in the NFL and picking that team to be from a really really bad conference. Help, I will be the guy in the fetal position in the corner.
Texans @ Colts
This is a game I feel confident about as a football fan, but am very worried about as a Colts fan. The Texans got all preseason to gear up to put their entire season on the line against the Colts in week 1 and got it done. Naturally, they had to have a bye the week before the Colts faced them a second time. Sometimes the cards just fall in your favor. Like how the Texans don’t have to deal with Dallas Clark or Joseph Addai. Or like how they only had to deal with Bob Sanders for one quarter, and don’t even have to deal with Melvin Bullitt (I don’t think) this time around.
However, the rationalist in me is screaming that the Colts do not lose night games and that the second time around Peyton will not even bother to respect the Texans secondary, which is truly awful. The Colts know about the zone blocking in more depth now, and if there was ever a player who will kill you the second time around from making adjustments, it is Peyton Manning. Everything in me screams Colts in this game.
Except of course that part of me which is a Colts fan that does not want to think about the possibility of 4-3, 3 division losses, and potentially being behind the 8 ball.
Bye Week Teams: Browns, Bears, Falcons, Ravens, Giants, Eagles
Not playing, so only getting a blurb.
The Browns continue their steady march toward respectability. I was talking about the Cavs with a friend and realized that the Browns are the only team Cleveland can hope for a Championship from in the next decade. How depressing is that?
Reggie Hodges went all Moses on the Saints, too.
He will forever be the answer to trivia questions for outrushing Chris Johnson last week.
The Bears suck, and as we wrote in last week’s power rankings, are who we thought they were. No line, bad decisions at QB, and too thin on defense to handle the inevitable injury bug.
The Falcons keep winning, but doing just about everything they can to make your confidence in them fail. They were lucky to beat the 49ers in Atlanta, Cleveland in Cleveland, and nearly folded to Cincinnati in Atlanta. Like, how much can one good team try to be bad and not succeed? The Falcons have issues moving forward, but still might be the best in the NFC just due to a low standard.
The Ravens are probably the 3rd best team in the league, but they looked horrible against the Bills. This bye week could not come soon enough for them. They have not really hit their stride yet either.
The Giants are the best team in the NFC. Not a doubt in my mind. So glad I got back on that bandwagon after jumping off after week 2.
The Eagles are decent. No more, no less. Good enough to beat the Falcons comfortably in Philly, and bad enough to get dump-trucked by the 7th best team in the AFC in the Titans.