In an effort to get more sports content up on my blog, my buddy Bob and I pick NFL football games every week. Sorry for the lateness this week, but unfortunately, real life intruded.
WASHINGTON over Kansas City (6.5)
Steve: Washington -6.5
Given how absolutely, frighteningly insipid Kansas City has looked this year, I'm not sure why this number is "only" 6.5. Yeah, they played tough against Dallas, but Dallas is pretty dysfunctional at the moment. As weird as this might sound, I trust the Redskins a bit more than them; I feel like after a rough initial start to the season, they are ready to beat up on some of the Sisters of the Poor they are now facing.
Also, this has nothing to do with football picks, but I wanted to mention it toward the top to give you time to respond - How DARE you not sign the Thank You card from your wedding! I got a wonderful note from Mrs. Kristin Hanson, a true saint, and she signed your name on there as well, it looks like. Hey, what else does she do for you now, Bob? Does she go into work for you sometimes and analyze TPS reports? Honestly. You must stay at home with the crotchet needles to knit scarves for your many adopted kittens and puppies.
Bob: Washington -6.5
Living down here I get to see the putridity of the ‘Skins every week, and have absolutely no faith in them. I desperately want to pick the upset, but looking at how these two teams have performed I just can’t. The ‘Skins defense is fifth—FIFTH—in the league, and their offense is better than KC’s as well. Kansas City did look frisky against Dallas last week, but as you mentioned this is not exactly a fantastic Cowboys team. I have to pick the Redskins here, although I really feel like this one could be an upset.
Oops on the thank you card. I didn’t realize she was sending them out that quickly. I thought she was doing her family first. Oh well. You should be happy you got a thank you card; this is totally the type of thing I would forget to do if left to my own devices. That’s why you get married—so at least one of you has common courtesy. Anyway, let me be the second to say thank you, Steve, for coming by the wedding and your gracious gift (which I will not publicize in a public manner).
CINCINATTI over Houston (5)
Bob: Bungals -5
Looking at statistical rankings can sometimes be deceiving. For example, Houston currently has the No. 11 offense (by yardage) in the NFL, compared to Cincinnati coming in at No. 18. On defense, the Bengals are a mediocre No. 17 while the Texans fall at No. 25. Both of these look like pretty clear differences, but if you delve deeper it is not so. Houston is giving up about 35 more yards per game on defense, but six extra points per game. Meanwhile the offenses are only separated by 14 yards per game, and less than three points. Looking deeper, there is a key mismatch—Houston is pretty bad against the run, and the Bengals can run because somehow Cedric Benson is “good.”
I’m worried about the Bengals, though. They have beaten some teams (Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore) that are well regarded, but may not be as good as was assumed. I get the feeling that the Bengals are going to have a letdown game pretty soon. But that shouldn’t come against Houston.
Steve: Bengals -5
While I don't think the Bengals are going to go 15-1, I don't think this Houston team will be the one to trip them up. Look at last week's game as an example - The Texans were coming off a win, and have a pretty soft Arizona team to beat, and they sleepwalked through half the game. I mean, as a Bengals fan, I am worried about the Good Texans showing up Sunday, but it is seemingly just as likely that Matt Schaub will be too busy on his iPhone to play the first half seriously.
PITTSBURGH over Cleveland (14)
Steve: Pittsburgh -14
Another threateningly large line for one of the dregs of the league, the Browns. Again, out of personal greed, I am picking the Steelers because I want Mendenhall to have a big game. It worked great for Ronnie Brown and the Dolphins, although he waited until there were about 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter to clinch my victory. Rashard plays a little bit earlier than Brown did, so hopefully he won't make me sweat things out.
Speaking of the Browns, although I wasn't, they are just unbelievably awful at this point. I have no idea how the final of that game was only 6-3. Did Terrell Owens dropkick Trent Edwards during the game? After showing some spunk against the Patriots in the first week of the season, the Bills have been awful, to the point that they let the lowly Browns win. This was with Derek Anderson going 2-14 on the game, which is a bad week for a baseball player, nevermind a single game for a guy who fancies himself an NFL quarterback. The Steelers actually have a pulse, so I'll be very surprised if they don't put up more than 14 points on the Browns.
Bob: Terrible Towels -14
The Steelers have the statistics of an elite team, but they haven’t played like it (if that makes sense). I don’t know if it’s the loss of Polamalu, the lack of ferocity since they just won a Super Bowl, or the fact that the season is still young and there is not much urgency yet. That being said, the Browns are devastatingly bad. I hope Mangini enjoyed his one year stint in Cleveland.
MINNESOTA over Baltimore (3)
Bob: Baltimore +3
I would feel better about this pick if it were a few weeks ago. The Ravens were playing well, but have lost some of their swagger after the last two games. Still, I think Minnesota has benefited from a weak schedule (Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, an okay Green Bay at home, and a miracle win against the 49ers). Also, even though Baltimore’s defense isn’t as stifling as years past, they still are great against the run. I see this game not even really being close, although you never know what kind of magic Favre can come up with.
Steve: Minnesota -3
I'm actually surprised that the Vikings aren't favored by more. They dismantled that okay Green Bay team, and while that might have been more of a win via emotion, they looked good enough that I'm picking them here too. I also think Baltimore has flip-flopped, going from a dominant defensive team to (at least by season's end) a dominant offensive team. Baltimore still has Ed Reed, who is awesome, but Ray Lewis sure looks old now.
[Left] David Garrard attempts to solve the Seahawks defense last week.
JACKSONVILLE over St. Louis (9.5)
Steve: St. Louis +9.5
I hate having to pick this game. Jacksonville showed absolutely nothing last week, as they let a pretty bad Seahawks team crush them. I was doubly pissed because I had started David Garrard for my fantasy team, because his match-up against the Seahawks seemed a lot better than Brady vs. Denver, especially since he was coming off a 30+ point week. Obviously, that was a poor decision on my part. From now on, I shouldn't trust Garrard to do anything. That includes this week, as I'm picking the horrible Rams to at least cover against the Jags.
Bob: Jacksonville -9.5
This pick literally pains me. I don’t trust Jacksonville to do anything, and that showing last week was pathetic. I think Seattle should be better than it has been playing, but a shutout? Ouch. That being said, the Rams are averaging less than a touchdown a game. You heard that right. They are averaging 6.8 points per game. They have been shutout twice, and have only scored more than a touchdown in games where they lost by double digits. Furthermore, Jacksonville’s defense is most vulnerable against the pass. And the Rams cannot pass.
This brings me to Marc Bulger. What happened to that guy? The guy was really good until 2006, and then just tanked. You could blame the injuries, but he only played half of 2005 only to bounce back in 2006 to throw for 4,300 yards and 24 touchdowns. His fall to earth has been meteoric, he has been awful for three straight years, yet the Rams have stuck by him. I suppose it helps to have Kyle Boller backing you up at QB, but I really don’t understand how they could do worse at this point.
NEW ORLEANS over New York Giants (3)
Bob: New Orleans -3
For what should be a great game, this really hasn’t been getting that much hype. Perhaps it is because these two teams don’t really have much history (imagine if the Pats and the Colts were playing as well as these two now and matched up). Still, this match-up will tell everybody a whole lot about who is the cream of the NFL crop this season. These teams are roughly equivalent on offense, but on defense the Giants have been unbelievable. They are giving up 210 yards per game, 40 yards per game better than the No. 2 team on defense (Denver). If one looks at points, however, New Orleans is only giving up two more points per game but is scoring almost a touchdown more on offense. Really, these two teams are about equal.
But there is one difference between the teams. One of them played Washington (ugh), Dallas (overrated), Tampa Bay (pew), Kansas City (yuck), and Oakland (really? How did they get this schedule???). The other played Detroit (again, ugh), Philly (frisky), Buffalo (stinks), and the Jets (hmm). Honestly, both of these teams haven’t had very strong schedules to this point, but it is striking how bad the teams the Giants have played are. Furthermore, the Giants beat the ‘Boys and ‘Skins by less than a touchdown each. I hope we get some good Eli Manning face (stupid helmet catch).
Steve: New Orleans -3
I agree with you neither - Neither team has played a good schedule. However, I view the Saints as being a bit more legit because of their offensive talent. Seriously, it's the type of roster you normally only see in Madden, as the quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end can all catch passes and run well, and you even have the ambiguous "this guy is highly rated but we don't really have a need for him" player in Reggie Bush. The Giants are better on defense to me, but the Saints just have so many weapons that you can only hope you guess correctly on any given day.
Carolina over TAMPA BAY (3.5)
Steve: Tampa Bay +3.5
Another confusing game to pick between two teams that will probably end up between 3-13 and 6-10. If we took a time machine back to 2006, this would be a Game of the Week candidate. Now, we have two teams that will essentially be fighting for placement in the 2010 NFL Draft.
I'm taking Tampa for two reasons. 1) They're at home, and if I consider two teams pretty equal, I take the one playing at home. 2) They are inexplicably getting points for this game. I'm not sure why this is the case, and it makes me nervous, because this resembles Seattle vs. Jacksonville from last week in terms of my befuddlement with the line. Still, I'm going to trust my instincts, as bad as they have been this year.
Bob: Tampa Bay +3.5
I’m sticking by the Simmons rule of never take Jake Delhomme on the road. But let me write why Carolina should win. First, Carolina has secretly been fielding an elite pass defense—No. 2 in the league by yardage. This, of course, means they are spectacularly bad against the run, but Tampa doesn’t really have a strong running threat. So this game should be pretty cut and dry. But never take Jake Delhomme on the road.
GREEN BAY over Detroit (13.5)
Bob: Detroit +13.5
Detroit is frisky this year. Not good (they are giving up an average of more than 30 points per game), but definitely not a team you can sleep on. Green Bay, on the other hand, is average. They don’t really do anything well, and there’s not really anybody to be afraid of besides Aaron Rodgers, who is getting approximately 10 milliseconds of protection from his line on each play. Conceivably, the spread might not be the only thing Detroit can beat. That being said, Daunte Culpepper isn’t exactly a guy I would relish betting money on.
Steve: Detroit +13.5
I agree with you about Detroit - They're like the nerd in a 1980s movie. You know, you can't really count on them to get the girl (win), but you know they'll at least make a move, even if it is a really clumsy, ill-conceived move. This is a team that will be a lot scarier next year, when Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford and A Real Running Back are used to one another, but for now, I still think the Lions are decent enough to stay within the spread.
Philly over OAKLAND (14)
Steve: Philly -14
It seems like Philadelphia gets to play every horrible team in the NFL this year. Didn't they just get done dismantling the Bucs last week? Whatever. I imagine this game will proceed along a similar storyline. Unless Donovan McNabb really manages to eff things up, this should be another blowout win for the Eagles. Maybe we'll even see some Mike Vick time, which would be a great pleasure for the Oakland crowd, I imagine. Al Davis might even have a heart attack from the thrill of it all.
Bob: The guy who puked trying to lead a drive during the Super Bowl -14
I dump on McNabb last week and his team goes to town. It was against the Bucs, but he still looked good. People are talking about St. Louis as the worst team in the league this year, but I think they’re better than Oakland. I can see a path out of wretchedness for the Rams, but the Raiders look like they could be awful forever. I’m not sure where you would have to set the line for me to take the Raiders here. I would have to think hard about even taking the Raiders +30…
[Left] Trying to pick a Star Trek picture Bob would find sacrilegious...
SEATTLE over Arizona (3)
Bob: Seattle -3
Seattle is to football as Frasier was to sitcoms. Seattle has a tendency to put together teams that are dangerous from week to week, can be very good, but you just can’t explain why. What is it about that team that has made it good in years past? Matt Hasselbeck is good, but he’s never really been great. Shaun Alexander was really good, but you could never get very excited about it. Frasier was the same way. The show was funny, but it was never really something you would make a point of watching and sometimes the jokes just didn’t make sense. It’s inexplicable.
Anyway, I think Seattle is better than they came out the gate playing, and now they don’t have Seneca Wallace playing quarterback. Also, the Cardinals have been pretty below average this year. This game shouldn’t really be close—but the way the Seahawks are playing, I wouldn’t discount the possibility.
Steve: Arizona +3
I was surprised that Seattle was favored in this game, but then I noticed that they were at home. But hell, I'm going with the Cardinals anyway! Overlooking their fourth quarter collapse or the Texans' fourth quarter surge, depending on your point of view, they played pretty well for three quarters last week. I will take their somewhat-better overall consistency, vs. the super-streaky Seahawks, who kind of came out of nowhere last week to beat the snot out of the Jags.
NEW YORK JETS over Buffalo (9.5)
Steve: Jets -9.5
Remember after Week 1, how I said that I thought the Bills' success against the Patriots wasn't a fluke, and how I liked the swagger Terrell Owens brought to the team? Well, yeah, just ignore all of that. After that nuclear, atomic, aggressive crime against football that they committed against the Browns last week, I can't justify picking them in another game unless they're going up against another truly miserable team.
Bob: Jets -9.5
I think Buffalo and the Jets are pretty close together, at least on offense. The Jets defense is better, but has looked vulnerable over the last few weeks. This line is a little bit high for me, but until the Bills show signs of life I just can’t pick them. Interesting fact — Buffalo has scored 20 points total over the last three games.
NEW ENGLAND over Tennessee (9.5)
Bob: New England -9.5
This game is scary. Tennessee badly needs a win, so they are probably going to pull out all the stops. Even scarier is the fact that Tennessee’s defense is stifling against the run but is worst in the league against the past. The Patriots’ success of the Patriots will fall squarely on the shoulders of Tom Brady. If Brady cannot succeed against this defense, it is time to get worried. I’m hoping we can see some old school Tom Brady this week, hence my pick.
Steve: New England -9.5
I actually don't think this game is scary at all. I've always thought that Fisher is overrated, similar to how Cowher was before he won a Super Bowl. Last year's finish screamed out, "Fluke!" to me, since Kerry Collins was practically out of the league before Vince Young's weird anxiety breakdown forced him into a starting role with a team that had a strong defense, one that wouldn't rely on him doing much of anything, like when he made it to the Super Bowl with the Giants. This year, he must have shit the horseshoe out of his ass at some point.
ATLANTA over Chicago (3)
Steve: Atlanta -3
I must begrudgingly admit that Atlanta has played a little bit better than I thought they would this year, even if they did lose to the Patriots. They laid out a whupping on the 49ers last week, which had been everyone's binky up until that point.
Meanwhile, the Bears have been kind of meh, which is a good summary of the outcome of the Cutler trade. There is apparently something about Soldier Field that just kills offense; it makes me wonder if there is some strange offensive park effect at play, like how balls travel higher and further at Mile High and Coors fields.
Bob: Atlanta -3
This is a tough game to pick. Chicago has no business being 4-1, but these two teams are roughly equivalent and Chicago had a bye to prepare for this game. I really want to take Chicago but I think da Bears just aren’t that good.
But let’s talk about the Cutler trade for a moment, shall we? Remember when Josh McDaniels was getting killed for trying to trade for Cassel, upsetting Cutler, and being forced to trade the upset quarterback? Remember how Denver was going to be awful? I never understood how people didn’t see this trade as one-sided—two first-rounders and a decent quarterback for an above average quarterback who just showed he’s a huge prima donna? Who doesn’t make that trade? Particularly considering that above average quarterback had failed to lead a really successful team yet.
SAN DIEGO over Denver (4)
Bob: Denver +4
I had to think all of three seconds before taking the Broncos. This is a team that has gone undefeated and just managed to knock off the still decent Patriots, against the team that barely beat the Raiders in week 1. The two teams are close together on offense, but miles apart on defense. Denver has been giving up 250 yards per game and a little more than a touchdown, compared to San Diego giving up 100 additional yards and two additional touchdowns per game. Considering Denver has the slight edge on offense, I don’t understand how Denver can be a four point underdog.
Steve: Denver +4
Maybe the Vegas book is still using team and player ratings from Madden 2009 to pick its games. San Diego hasn't looked good this year, so I don't see why they should be FAVORED to beat the undefeated Broncos. I could go along with this if the Broncos were slight favorites, since they haven't looked super impressive, but I'm not picking against them when they're somehow getting points.
OMG WTF kitty comes from this site. The Frasier Crane, a.k.a. Kelsey Grammar, picture comes from here. Da Bears image is here! And the Office Space photo is from this neat quiz here.