Welcome to week 4! This weekend we get the return of two annual NFL traditions:
- Pink gear will be on many athletes and coaches throughout the league for the entirety of October. The pink is for Breast Cancer Awareness, and as the NFL has proven time and again, they really care about women.
- A short cameo for Michael Vick as a starting QB. In 2011 Vick started 13 games. In 2012 he started 10 games. In 2013 it dropped to six starts, and last year it was a mere three. If you set the over/under for Vick starts in 2015 at 2.5, I’m definitely taking the under. Fun times for the state of quarterbacking!
I’m glad I started pretty hot out of the gate this season because I’m currently out of town for a friend’s wedding and all my usual routines are completely thrown off. The routines I’m talking about basically revolve around consuming as much football content over the course of the week as possible.
So as I write this late at night on Wednesday, I’ve kind of heard that Andrew Luck is day-to-day with a shoulder injury; someone mentioned something about the Washington-Philadelphia game being in jeopardy because of a hurricane; I think New Orleans is still pretending that Drew Brees might start even though we all know that’s 100% not happening; and Colin Kaepernick just threw another interception.
I’m out of my element this week and I can’t promise the quality of the week 4 picks. But I’m 27-20-1 against the spread to this point, so one down week won’t kill me. Don’t get me wrong. I still have faith in myself. I always do. It’s just a notch below my normal level of (over)confidence.
Let’s dive right in.
Baltimore (-3) at Pittsburgh
The Pick: Pittsburgh
The Score: Pittsburgh 6, Baltimore 3
Even with the obvious downgrade from Ben Roethlisberger to Vick, I’m surprised Baltimore’s giving a full field goal on the road, as an 0-3 team. In fact, I thought there was a chance the Steelers would still be favored in this game because, again, the Ravens have looked like dogshit through three weeks. But I’m sure this Thursday nighter will be a spectacular display of why the Bengals have already locked up the division.
Side Note: Why is everyone wasting their time trying to figure out if Vick can be serviceable for the next four to six weeks? The real question is: Should the Steelers feel comfortable with Landry Jones starting a few games? Or should they be looking into a free agent / backup who can be had for cheap? Because anyone with half a brain knows Vick won’t last past one or two starts. Charlie Batch is a free agent, just saying.
NY Jets (-2) against Miami (In London)
The Pick: NY Jets
The Score: NY Jets 18, Miami 5
Two thumbs up for the 6:30am Pacific Time game back in our lives (the first of three London-based games this year that’ll kick off early in the morning). Seventy-five thumbs down for London once again getting a shitty-looking game featuring a team that may have already quit on its coach.
Look what the stress of playing for a hopeless team with a shitty head coach has done to Ndamukong Suh:
Jacksonville at Indianapolis (-9)
The Pick: Jacksonville
The Score: Indianapolis 33, Jacksonville 27
Now Andrew Luck is dealing with an injury? The plot thickens…
If the Colts had a halfway decent defense, you could count on them starting to blow out teams like the Jaguars as the Indy offense finds its footing. But this defense is crap, and it just gave up 74 plays and 433 yards of offense to the Titans. I’m pretty confident the Colts aren’t going to be great at putting teams away even if they start winning against the lesser competition.
Question for future former head coach Chuck Pagano: If you win this weekend in dramatic fashion, at home with Luck ailing, how will you possibly top that totally appropriate reaction to last week’s win?
NY Giants at Buffalo (-5.5)
The Pick: Buffalo
The Score: Buffalo 27, NY Giants 17
The injuries are starting to pile up for Buffalo (including LeSean McCoy “unlikely” to play). The Giants are on 10 days rest, have held leads in the fourth quarter of each of their games, and Victor Cruz is returning to reinforce the receiving corps. (Whoops. Wrote that last part earlier this week and it turns out Cruz already hurt himself again and won’t be playing this weekend. Fun times for the Giants.)
Counterpoints: The Bills just throttled a team on the road. They’ve demolished two teams in three weeks. The only other game they played was against a team that obviously cheated to beat Rex Ryan’s squad. So the Bills are still undefeated in the eyes of Mark Brunell, Marshall Faulk, Bill Polian, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Carolina Panthers, the entire Colts organization and many more.
It’s not just the Giants’ offense contending with the Buffalo defense. New York’s defense also has to show up because Tyrod Taylor has the 8th best QBR of all quarterbacks.
Carolina (-3) at Tampa Bay
The Pick: Carolina
The Score: Carolina 30, Tampa Bay 10
Here’s where I went wrong in picking the Bucs to cover +6.5 in Houston last week: I didn’t realize the Saints might be the worst team in the league, meaning the Bucs could potentially be the second worst team and still would have beaten New Orleans in week 2. Carolina being undefeated isn’t a total fluke. It’s just an ugly type of winning that leaves very little room for error. And I’m not even slightly worried about a letdown game because the Panthers are getting a bye in week 5. Looming after the bye is a game in Seattle, but Carolina isn’t thinking about a game that’s 14 days away.
This might be my favorite pick of the week.
Philadelphia (-3) at Washington
The Pick: Washington
The Score: Washington 24, Philadelphia 22
The jury’s still out on Washington. No, one of the jury’s choices is not “they’re a playoff contender.” But are they a frisky team at home because they hung with the Dolphins and easily handled the Rams? Or are they a terrible team because we expected it before the season began and maybe the Dolphins are horrible and that wasn’t a difficult opponent to hang with?
For now I’m going to lean towards the Skins being a frisky team at home.
On the other side, we know Sam Bradford’s garbage.
Oakland (-3) at Chicago
The Pick: Chicago
The Score: Chicago 23, Oakland 16
Sure, I’d love to see the Bears to go 0-16 this year. After all, I placed a bet in August on at least one team going winless all season. And they seem like the most likely candidate right now. But it’s so difficult to lose every game in the NFL. This might be their only chance for a win until they host Washington in week 14.
Here’s a huge red flag for this game: According to my Pick ‘Em league on CBSsports.com, 75% of all people on their site are picking the Raiders to cover this spread. The Raiders. On the road. Back-to-back road wins? There’s no way this game’s turning out the way it should.
Houston at Atlanta (-6.5)
The Pick: Houston
The Score: Houston 26, Atlanta 23
Welp, I spent about 15 times longer thinking through this pick than any other pick this week. But at the same time, I’m toying with the idea of using Atlanta for my Survivor/Eliminator pick. I’m having this love affair with the Falcons where I’m all in on the relationship but I have zero confidence in the Falcons’ feelings towards me, and I’m always looking over my shoulder expecting them to be cheating on me.
The Falcons are the polar opposite of the Giants.Whereas the Giants have held leads in the 4th quarter of every game (and blown two of those games), Atlanta has been trailing in the 4th quarter of their three games, only to come back and win all of them. The reason I’m taking Houston is because the Falcons have to be due for a letdown. They just have to. And if not now, when?
Look at the very comfortable road immediately in front of Atlanta after this game: vs Washington, @New Orleans, @Tennessee, vs Tampa, @San Francisco, bye.
Kansas City at Cincinnati (-4)
The Pick: Cincinnati
The Score: Cincinnati 31, Kansas City 21
Is it Andy Dalton in a Primetime game? No?
Is it one of the three or four best teams in the league heading into Cincy? No?
Got it. Bengals win. The media’s “Circle Jerk sponsored by Andy Dalton” keeps going for another week.
Cleveland at San Diego (-7.5)
The Pick: San Diego
The Score: San Diego 28, Cleveland 20
The worst case scenario if I pick the Chargers is they’re only winning by three late in the game and they just can’t seem to get that final touchdown to cover the spread. But I know it’ll be in play until the end.
The worst case if I pick the Browns is they’re losing by 27 after one quarter and both of their quarterbacks have thrown multiple pick sixes.
Josh McCown got dinged up again last week. There’s a decent chance Johnny Manziel plays parts of many games in 2015. I don’t know if this is a good thing or bad thing for the Browns. It’s just a typical Cleveland thing.
(By the way, how little confidence must I have in San Diego if I can’t even consider them for my Survivor/Eliminator pick this week?)
Green Bay (-9) at San Francisco
The Pick: San Francisco
The Score: Green Bay 28, San Francisco 24
Oh good. If I turn on the NFL Network or ESPN at all this week, I’m likely to see an old video of Aaron Rodgers saying on Draft Day 2005 that the 49ers are going to regret not drafting him. But I hope I’m wrong, because we’ve been down this road before. That video was all the rage in January 2013 when the Packers were preparing for a postseason game at San Francisco. They promptly got killed in that game and we should have buried the “Aaron Rodgers has an extra edge against San Francisco” narrative.
Regarding this game, I’m sure 95% of the public will be backing the Packers. But they’re definitely more beatable on the road. Last year they went 4-4 on the road, and they won two of those games by only three points. So they’re less juggernaut-y away from Lambeau. That fact combined with the overwhelming amount of money that’ll come in on Green Bay has me leaning towards the 49ers in this one. Plus, doesn’t Colin Kaepernick own the Packers?
St. Louis at Arizona (-7)
The Pick: St. Louis
The Score: Arizona 24, St. Louis 21
That Arizona-San Francisco game last week was unwatchable to many people, but I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Just an absolute undressing of the 49ers in every conceivable way. But if I can put my game film analyst hat on for just a sec…I’d tell you that it feels like Carson Palmer holds on to the ball for a looooooooooooong time more often than not. And the Arizona offense seems designed to have success only when he gets all that time. I have a feeling that the league’s handful of awesome pass rushing teams are the ones that will have success against the Cardinals.
St. Louis is in that handful. Can’t wait to see just how wrong I am about this.
Minnesota at Denver (-7)
The Pick: Denver
The Score: Denver 33, Minnesota 10
I’m not at all nervous that my preseason proclamation that the Vikings aren’t getting to eight wins is going to look bad by the end of the year. The Broncos are going to completely shut down this offense (an offense that is a lot worse than you think it is, by the way).
The Denver run defense has played two great games and one terrible game. That terrible one came in Kansas City to Jamaal Charles. I’m guessing Adrian Peterson, good as he is, won’t go crazy in Denver.
Dallas at New Orleans (-4)
The Pick: Dallas
The Score: Dallas 30, New Orleans 20
Just a brilliant matchup for the NBC Primetime spotlight, isn’t it? Brandon Weeden goes to winless New Orleans to take on Luke McCown. And remember that Thursday’s nationally televised game features an 0-3 Ravens team missing Terrell Suggs traveling to the Steelers, newly led by Michael Vick. The NFL’s injury problem is ruining these big games. I wish I could say Monday Night Football this week is going to be more competitive, but…
Detroit at Seattle (-10)
The Pick: Seattle
The Score: Seattle 28, Detroit 16
Yup, it’s likely another game that’ll be over by halftime. I don’t think the Lions punt 11 billion times like the Bears did in week 3, but it probably won’t be pretty for a Detroit team that couldn’t even put up two touchdowns at home in a must-win situation last Monday.
Here’s the weekly tally:
- 7 Favorites, 8 Underdogs
- 4 Road Dogs, 4 Home Dogs
- 9 Home Teams, 5 Road Teams (Neutral-site game in London not counted)
Enjoy week 4!