Football’s Almost Here So Let’s Jump Ahead To Super Bowl Predictions

super bowl

We’re down to the final 30 hours or so before football begins, but let’s fast forward and talk about how the season ends.

Guest blogger Neil and I have been pumping out predictions all week and the only thing left to do is identify the playoff teams and figure out the Super Bowl matchup.

For me, the starting point in this exercise is making sure four or five teams who did not make the playoffs last year are included in the postseason this year. It’s as certain as a 12-seed over a 5-seed in March. Let’s see if Neil followed that rule.

Neil’s Playoff Teams

NFC

  1. Philadelphia
  2. Green Bay
  3. Seattle
  4. Atlanta
  5. Dallas
  6. St. Louis

AFC

  1. Indianapolis
  2. New England
  3. Baltimore
  4. Kansas City
  5. Denver
  6. Miami

Neil’s Playoff Results

Wildcard Round

  • (3)Seattle over (6)St. Louis
  • (5)Dallas over (4)Atlanta
  • (3)Baltimore over (6)Miami*
  • (4)Kansas City over (5)Denver

Divisional Round

  • (3)Seattle over (2)Green Bay
  • (1)Philadelphia over (5)Dallas
  • (2)New England over (3)Baltimore
  • (4)Kansas City over (1)Indianapolis

Conference Championships

  • (3)Seattle over (1)Philadelphia
  • (2)New England over (4)Kansas City
Super Bowl Pick: Seattle 28, New England 24  
  • Last year’s game was close enough that I think this year’s goes the other way. Hopefully this is a reverse jinx though.
* = I could not for the life of me figure out who the 6th playoff team in the AFC is going to be. I was sick of trying to guess records and coming up with 9-7 or 8-8 for everyone. So I went with Miami because they seem to have the least issues out of anyone else I guess? Maybe? I almost wanted to just leave it empty and say “some team that will lose to Baltimore and is not as deserving as the 7th best NFC team.”

Ross’ Playoff Teams

NFC

  1. Dallas
  2. Green Bay
  3. Seattle
  4. Atlanta
  5. NY Giants
  6. St. Louis

AFC

  1. New England
  2. Indianapolis
  3. Kansas City
  4. Baltimore
  5. Denver
  6. San Diego

Ross’ Playoff Results

Wildcard Round

  • (3)Seattle over (6)St. Louis
  • (5)NY Giants over (4)Atlanta
  • (3)Kansas City over (6)San Diego
  • (4)Baltimore over (5)Denver

Divisional Round

  • (2)Green Bay over (3)Seattle
  • (1)Dallas over (5)NY Giants
  • (3)Kansas City over (2)Indianapolis
  • (1)New England over (4)Baltimore

Conference Championships

  • (1)Dallas over (2)Green Bay
  • (3)Kansas City over (1)New England

Super Bowl Pick: Kansas City 30, Dallas 20

What? You expected me to pick the Patriots? Since I pick them to win the Super Bowl every year in this blog, I figured I’d go a little outside the box this year and look forward to being wrong. I like the NFC setup where Green Bay will get its revenge on Seattle right before Dallas gets its revenge on Green Bay.

By accident or not, Neil & I both chose five teams that didn’t make the playoffs last year. For both of us, it was three in the NFC and two in the AFC. The thing that stood out to me most is that Neil’s #1 seed in the NFC, Philly, didn’t even make the playoffs in my alternate universe. That seems like the team we’re farthest apart on this year. But hey, if a Mark Sanchez-led team (you know Bradford’s not lasting a full season) claims the #1 seed in the NFC, I’ll gladly laugh at myself for being so stupid not picking them to make the playoffs. I’ll be the first in line to congratulate Neil.

But before that happens, we’ve got 17 weeks of football to watch! Let’s Do This! Let’s help Roger Goodell stay in power by setting records in 2015 for TV ratings, merchandise purchased and tweets about the season. Can’t wait.

Advertisements

Weekend Updating the NFL Offseason News

offseason

It’s been exactly 50 days since the confetti fell from the University of Phoenix Stadium roof during another New England Patriots Super Bowl Celebration. And it’ll be another 170 days or so until the first meaningful game of the 2015 NFL season takes place.

But, c’mon, it’s the NFL. They’re almost never out of the news entirely. True to form, football free agency dominated the sports headlines in early March. The buzz around big ticket free agents like Ndamukong Suh and Darrelle Revis we saw coming from a mile away. Some surprise trades around that same time we couldn’t foresee (Chip Kelly, I’m glaring specifically at you).

But what about all the other comings and goings of the league, its teams and its players over the past month? There are only so many hours in a day. We can’t keep up with everything, especially if we enjoy other sports besides football.

So what I’ve got for you today is my best attempt at digging up some of the less notable, but still impactful news that’s transpired since Tom Brady became the Greatest QB of All-Time less than two months ago (Please feel free to read the following headlines in your best Saturday Night Live ‘Weekend Update’ voice):

The Minnesota Vikings acquired former Packers tight end Brandon Bostick off waivers on February 18th. In the team’s subsequent press release they stated, “Hey, if we’re in position next year for Brandon Bostick to bungle an onsides kick recovery that costs us a HUGE January football game, that’s major progress for our organization. We’ll take it.”

Brandon Marshall and Percy Harvin seem to be having a heated competition, and they forgot to invite the rest of their marshall harvinwide receiver brethren. In the battle for which uber-talented receiver can be traded or released by his team the most often in the shortest amount of time, it’s not even close. Marshall has been traded three times in the past five years (the Jets will be his fourth NFL team since he came into the league in 2006). But Harvin has been traded or released three times in only the past two years (He’ll be working on team #4 with the Bills in 2015)! With Marshall in the quarterback dead zone of New York and having a noted volatile personality, could we see Marshall retake the lead during the 2015 season? All signs point to…who cares?

The Buffalo Bills not only traded for LeSean McCoy, but they also gave him an enormous contract extension. Because that’s definitely what you want to do with a running back coming off a down year who is already under your contractual control. But I get it, Bills. I’m the same way. In the first year of living in Los Angeles, my apartment got broken into, I discovered a bunch of things I didn’t like about my complex, and I realized the neighbors were kind of assholes. So obviously I called up my landlord and asked him to extend my lease for five more years even though I still had eight months remaining on my current agreement. Only two more years and I’m out of this place!

Jake Locker retired after a five-year stint in the NFL, saying that he no longer has the burning desire to play the game. The game of football responded by saying it no longer had the burning desire to be played by Jake Locker. The game of football, seemingly thin-skinned, also added, “Hey Jake, if that’s how you perform when you do have a burning desire, I’d hate to see the aspects of your life where you are just kinda sorta into something.” So harsh, football, so harsh.

Question: Why do seemingly mediocre quarterbacks like Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford get locked up with huge deals by their respective teams?

Answer: Because if you don’t have someone at least average playing your team’s most important position, you get into a game of offseason Quarterback Russian Roullette / Sad Musical Chairs like this flurry of transactions from early March:

  • Bills acquire Matt Cassel from the Vikings
  • Jets acquire Ryan Fitzpatrick from Texans
  • Texans signs Brian Hoyer to compete with Ryan Mallett
  • Rams acquire Case Keenum from Texans
  • Browns sign Thad Lewis
  • Bills sign Tyrod Taylor
  • Raiders sign Christian Ponder

Or, you could go the route of puzzling mastermind Chip Kelly and stockpile a ton of quarterback assets that no one wants. chip kellyThere’s a chance the Eagles go into training camp with the following QB’s on the roster: Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley, Tim Tebow and Terrelle Pryor. I know reports have just come out that Cleveland is the most likely candidate for this year’s HBO Hard Knocks, but wouldn’t the unintentional comedy be through the roof if we got to watch one hour every week of these five quarterbacks competing for a starting NFL job? Everyone loves a “open tryouts for a fan to win a roster spot” gimmick, and this doesn’t sound any different to me.

A Report came out that the Browns offered their 19th overall pick in the upcoming draft for Sam Bradford, which just goes to show you that NO ONE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO HAVE THE KEYS TO THE CAR IN CLEVELAND! In fact, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Josh Gordon is hands down the best decision maker within the Cleveland Browns organization at this time.

The Colts waived Trent Richardson and five days later, the Raiders picked him up. So the big splashes Oakland made with all bellcowits cap room were Richardson and Christian Ponder? Got it. After the trade, Richard said, “The Raiders say if I come in and work, I can be the bell cow.” In the Raiders’ defense, their “bell cow” the last seven years has been a guy who averaged 606 rushing yards per season. If Richardson has a career year, he could totally hit that number.

Jameis Winston decided he will stay home on Draft night. When Roger Goodell finished off the blowjob he had been giving Peter King earlier this week, he told the longtime football reporter that he’s OK with Winston’s decision. Fine, but you just know the main circuit board in Goodell’s chest was overheating upon hearing this news. If Goodell stays consistent with how he handles discipline, Winston will be suspended for the first year of his career for such insubordination.

San Francisco linebacker Chris Borland abruptly retired, and while this stunning move has been attributed to his knowledge and fear of potential head injuries, it might just be that Borland looked around the 49ers’ roster and thought retiring’s what everyone does when your team goes from having Jim Harbaugh as its head coach to the football equivalent of Stan Van Gundy:

San Francisco 49ers Introduce Jim Tomsula

Collusion in sports is most often associated with teams conspiring to keep a player off their rosters (for instance, when Barry Bonds couldn’t get a job in 2008). But what are we supposed to think of the fact that literally every free agent or every major player that was traded found their new homes in the AFC East? Perhaps 31 teams are jealous of a certain team’s continued dominance and came up with a brilliant new plan to end that reign (since framing that team for low ball pressure doesn’t seem to have worked)?

The Pouncey brothers, Mike and Maurkice, ripped Mike Wallace’s character after the wide receiver was traded from Miami to Minnesota, calling him a coward…and if anyone is worthwhile to judge character, it’s these two high-character guys:

pouncey

Yes, those are the Pounceys wearing “Free Hernandez” hats a couple years ago. As in, Aaron Hernandez, the most obviously guilty murderer in American History.

Bernard Pierce of the Baltimore Ravens was released after his DUI arrest last week, becoming the third player on the Ravens to be arrested and released this offseason. But I gotta assume this is just random coincidence and bad luck for the Ravens organization. There’s no way there’s a pattern of them having lots of criminals on their team year in and year out or anything. Wait, what’s that? Here’s a headline from the 2014 offseason: Ravens offseason arrests stick out like sore thumb on NFL’s improved hand. Hmm…Am I the type of person to go back through my Twitter account and find all the Ravens fans from January who were talking trash about the Patriots and how they once employed Aaron Hernandez? Depends on how many episodes of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt I have to get through today.

Philip Rivers doesn’t want to sign an extension until after the 2015 season when his contract expires. Part of the reason is the riversuncertainty around the Chargers possibly moving. He said it would be tough to move his wife and SEVEN children to a different city. Philip, I totally get it. I organize a reunion vacation with 10 of my college friends every year and it is HELL to find a house that big on VRBO or Airbnb. You’re preaching to the choir here.

NFL Owner Meetings are underway in Phoenix right now, and while there were a whopping 23 new rule proposals from different teams, this is really the only one worth talking about: The Colts are proposing that if a team successfully converts a two-point attempt following a touchdown, that team should be awarded a bonus point attempt in the form of a 50-yard field goal try. This would mean a team can potentially get nine points at the end of a touchdown drive! What this really means, and it’s probably why the Colts are wanting to implement it, is that instead of needing an additional five touchdowns plus a field goal to tie the Patriots in January’s AFC Championship Game, Indianapolis would have only needed four touchdowns plus four successful two-point conversions and four bonus point conversions plus a field goal to BEAT THE PATRIOTS BY ONE POINT IN THAT SAME GAME! If this rule was in place last year, oh man, the Colts would have been thisclose to finally beating New England.

The owners are making it sound like expanded playoffs are still happening, but it’s on the backburner for at least another year. Here’s my idea for expanded playoffs: Expand it to all 32 teams. Have each team play 16 games in the “playoffs” in a round-robin type format where they are broken out into eight separate “divisions.” Whichever teams have the best record after that, move on to the “Final 12” where those 12 teams play one-game playoffs against each other until there’s a lone Super Bowl Champion remaining. I know it’s a risky proposal, and I know it might take some getting used to, but I think it just might work.

The Bucs are stockpiling punters, adding a third one to their roster this weekend, which means they are finally embracing that role as the NFL’s version of your sad sack buddy in fantasy who always has a couple punters and defenses on his bench.

Matt Moore decided to stay with the Dolphins, noting that if any coach is going to randomly pull his starting QB who happens to be playing really well to insert the backup on a whim, it’s definitely Joe Philbin.

Darren Sharper, he of the rape charges in a handful of states, has apparently agreed to a global plea deal. This is the criminal’s equivalent to buying products at a wholesale price. By raping more women in more states, Sharper was able to package it all up into one neat little crime and could serve as few as nine years in prison instead of a life sentence. We should all be so lucky.

Adrian Peterson and his agent continue to try to get the Vikings to release the Pro Bowl running back, but the Vikings aren’t budging. It may come down to Vikings management telling Peterson he can either play for them this year, or he can retire. But it’s not quite checkmate yet because Peterson could respond by viciously beating one of his other children, which would almost definitely get him released. And who would be waiting with open arms to scoop him up?

jerry jones

The Steelers are mum on the status of veteran defensive back Troy Polamalu. Sources close to the team said Mike Tomlin “Harry and The Hendersons”-ed Polamalu last week but they’re concerned he’s going to make his way out of the forest and show up at Steelers training camp. And for those of you who don’t know that classic film reference, this is precisely what Tomlin did:

The NFL sent an investigator to the Jets’ facility earlier this month to investigate the charge that owner Woody Johnson was in revis woodyviolation of anti-tampering rules when he was on record earlier this year saying he’d love to bring Darrelle Revis back to the Jets. But in a shocking twist, the NFL has decided to punish the Patriots for reverse tampering. It’s a little known corollary in the NFL’s rulebook that states the following: “Any team that signs a player with the knowledge that the team’s biggest rival covets that player is in effect baiting that rival into tampering, which goes against the integrity of the game.” There’s another minor addendum to this rule that states, “This reverse tampering rule only pertains to teams located in the six states of New England.”

Quarterback Pat White, a former second round pick by the Dolphins, retired from football after spending one year with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL. In a press release, White said, “I’ll always cherish my time up in Edmonton with those guys. By the end of last season, it truly felt like we were a team of Eskimo Brothers, not just individual players.”

And finally, ESPN.com reported last night that Johnny Manziel is expected to check out of rehab and return to the Browns on April 20th to be part of their offseason workouts. Sounds like a plan to me. The worst thing that could have happened with Manziel’s reintroduction to the real world was for it to fall on a date famous for a dangerous substance, you know, like St. Patrick’s day on 3/17. What a disaster that would have been. But I’m certain there are no built-in temptations on the very innocuous date of 4/20. But just to be sure, let’s take a quick look at the google results when I search “4/20″…

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.50.15 PM

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Browns organization, when photos surface of Johnny Football hanging out with Josh Gordon, Michael Phelps, Woody Harrelson and myself after his workout on that date.

Thank you, all. You’ve been great. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.

NFL Week 2 Picks: Maybe We Can Squeeze in a Game Between Controversies?

goodell

As far as last week goes, no need to get too down on myself. Sure, I posted a 6-10 record, but in five of those games that I lost, my pick was actually covering at halftime. So with a little better conditioning by the players, I could have gone 11-5. It’s always the players’ fault.

Speaking of 11-5, did you know that’s the record that Underdogs posted in week 1? Even more incredible is that nine of those Dogs were on the road. Home teams were only 6-10 against the spread. And a final number for you: Underdogs won seven games outright. Don’t ignore the moneyline bets early on in the season.

Interestingly enough, 11 is also the number of underdogs I’m picking to cover in week 2. Favorites covered at an incredible rate in 2013. It doesn’t feel like that’s going to be the same in 2014. Come join me on the Underdog Train.

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore (-3)

  • The Pick: Pittsburgh
  • The Score: Pittsburgh 27, Baltimore 24

Ahh, the comedic timing of the football gods. The Ray Rice story goes from a barely lit match to a full-fledged forest fire on a short week where the Ravens are facing their biggest rival and trying to avoid an 0-2 start.

Is it truly bad luck that the video leaked this week, or was it the work of a man who will stop at nothing to get an edge in the AFC North?

Mike_Tomlin_Tripping_Jacoby_Jones_Ravens_Steelers

Every person—football fan or not—has the right to be pissed about the way the NFL handled this ongoing story, but Ravens players & fans should be particularly livid. Baltimore’s season could be over because of this. Maybe they’ll rally, maybe they won’t. But I’d be furious knowing an inept Commissioner and team owner caused this to go from a story that goes away in March, to a story that’s permeated the locker room for all of preseason and has now reached an “Aaron Hernandez is a serial killer? What?!?!” level distraction. Not fair to them.

**Final comment about the fallout from this video: There is a 0.00% chance Roger Goodell shows up to hand this year’s Super Bowl Winner the Lombardi Trophy in Arizona, right? So how can you continue to be the commissioner of a league when you know virtually all the players and all the fans despise you to the point that you’re scared to show your face at the greatest event of your sport’s season? I’m giving it 10 more days before someone important takes the fall (Goodell, the Ravens’s owner, someone).

By the way, I double dog dare any NFL team to play “Love In An Elevator” over their stadium’s audio system when the Ravens are visiting this year.

Miami (-1) @ Buffalo

  • The Pick: Miami
  • The Score: Miami 29, Buffalo 23

Miami gets a couple points of respect for beating New England but not enough. This is one of those games where I can’t let week 1 sway me too much. Buffalo over Chicago was a big win, but I still think the Bills are that five-win team that I predicted a few weeks ago.

Jacksonville @ Washington (-6)

  • The Pick: Jacksonville
  • The Score: Washington 24, Jacksonville 20

Can the Redskins lose their second straight game to a team that didn’t crack the five-win mark last season? I see six more losses on Washington’s schedule so this would be the right time to lock down a home win against the Jaguars. By the way, on account of RGIII playing decent enough in week 1 and the insane amount of Ray Rice coverage, we heard nothing this week of Kirk Cousins replacing Griffin. If this team somehow loses to the Jaguars at home? Move over, Commissioner Cover-Up stories.

Dallas @ Tennessee (-3.5)

  • The Pick: Dallas
  • The Score: Dallas 30, Tennessee 27

No thanks. It feels like a Tennessee three-point spread that got pushed up by how publicly awful Dallas was once again to open the season.

Arizona (-3) @ NY Giants

  • The Pick: NY Giants
  • The Score: Arizona 27, NY Giants 26

This year I’m trying not to ditch all my preseason projections just because the first games didn’t go how I expected. Before the season started, the Cardinals wouldn’t have been a three-point favorite. Just like Tennessee wouldn’t have been favored as much in the game above.

New England (-3) @ Minnesota

  • The Pick: New England
  • The Score: New England 28, Minnesota 21

Continuing with that theme, if no games had been played yet, the Patriots would be six-point favorites. It’s absolutely terrifying to know New England is 2-6 in its last eight road games, but I’m buying into this team slowly improving as everyone works their way back from injuries.

New Orleans (-7) @ Cleveland

  • The Pick: Cleveland
  • The Score: New Orleans 27, Cleveland 24

This game quickly moved from six points to seven points. I don’t get it. Is everyone dropping a year’s salary on the Saints or something? Even though they’ve gone 1-6 in their past seven road games? Even with the Browns possibly being downright decent? Until they prove capable of winning a road game, I’m betting against New Orleans whenever they’re away from the Superdome.

Atlanta @ Cincinnati (-5)

  • The Pick: Atlanta
  • The Score: Atlanta 33, Cincinnati 24

Road dogs, Road dogs, Road dogs! Especially when it’s the newly-annointed best offense in the league playing the road dog role.

Detroit @ Carolina (-3)

  • The Pick: Detroit
  • The Score: Detroit 28, Carolina 20

Remind me how this outrage over domestic violence thing goes again. If Carolina covers, I can call Bovada and demand my money back because Greg Hardy shouldn’t be allowed to play, right?

St. Louis @ Tampa Bay (-6)

  • The Pick: St. Louis
  • The Score:Tampa Bay 19, St. Louis 15

Here’s your “I’m going to get a little crazy and back a team that looked like shit just because their opponent in week 2 looks like an even bigger piece of shit” suicide pool pick. But let’s not go overboard and expect a Bucs team that could be missing Doug Martin and Logan Mankins to beat anyone by a touchdown. Any time I plan to back the Bucs this year, I’m just going to re-watch this:

Seattle (-6) @ San Diego

  • The Pick: San Diego
  • The Score: Seattle 24, San Diego 23

This line is a couple points too high on account of the public thinking Seattle might be on its way to a 16-0 season. I’m going to follow the formula of expecting easy Seattle wins in their home games, and difficult wins or close losses in their road games.

Side note on 16-0: I made a small bet each on “Will any team go 16-0” and “Will any team go 0-16.” Both bets were 33/1 odds for “Yes”. That might be low odds for how difficult either of those two feats actually are, but you can’t argue with the amount of fun it’s going to be to root for terrible teams to stay winless.

Houston (-3) @ Oakland

  • The Pick: Houston
  • The Score: 30, Oakland 24

Houston’s convincing win against Washington last week did nothing to change my initial prediction, which was that they’re an eight or nine win team with an average quarterback. With a less-than-average QB like ole’ Fitzy, they don’t win more than six. I just happen to think this is one of their six wins.

NY Jets @ Green Bay (-8)

  • The Pick: Green Bay
  • The Score: Green Bay 36, NY Jets 24

It appears as though Eddie Lacy is important enough to merit Bovada not setting a line on this game until his status is confirmed. Either way, here’s your safest Suicide Pool pick of the week. Green Bay may play the role of bumbling wannabe contender well, but they’re not dropping one at home to the Jets. Remember that Aaron Rodgers is great against bad teams.

Kansas City @ Denver (-13)

  • The Pick: Kansas City
  • The Score: Denver 31, Kansas City 24

If Chicago & New Orleans were the obvious “too many people are backing these teams, better go the other way” picks in week 1, the Broncos are that team in week 2. People were already sour on the Chiefs before they lost at home to Tennessee. They also lost two defensive linemen in that game. It would be so like the NFL for the Chiefs to somehow play this game close and only lose by seven (or even worse, the Chiefs win outright, crushing even more Suicide Pools than Chicago did last week). Maybe this will be the start of a mini-panic within the media because the Broncos are “only” beating teams by a touchdown.

Chicago @ San Francisco (-7)

  • The Pick: Chicago
  • The Score: San Francisco 29, Chicago 24

Last week Chicago was terrible at home and San Francisco was great on the road. So what? These two teams are not a touchdown apart in any situation. I honestly have no idea who wins this game, but if you take the 49ers at -7, you’re clearly just picking based on a single week’s results. Good luck with that.

Philadelphia @ Indianapolis (-3)

  • The Pick: Indianapolis
  • The Score: Indianapolis 35, Philadelphia 27

Impossible to feel good about this no matter which side you pick. On one side I believe that Philly is one of the eight best NFC teams, and that makes them better than the AFC’s third or fourth best team. But on the other side, Andrew Luck just seems to have that magic where he gets it done nearly every time but you have no idea how. I’ll tell you this much…If Luck tries a QB sneak on the goal line again, I’m done with this team. You don’t think everyone’s expecting that after the number of times you pulled that move last year?

Outside of delivering a winning week to you with my picks, I have another commitment I’m willing to make: Even if ESPN, the NFL Network, Twitter, Facebook and your Uncle’s random blog all continue to talk about Rice, Goodell and all the other things that are wrong with football, you can count on me to deliver picks & recap columns going forward that focus primarily on the actual games. I’m over this drama and would like to get around to watching some good football this season.

Enjoy week 2.

NFL Week 5 Picks Against The Spread

old-man-crystal-ball

Well that was quick. Just a week after many of us wondered what would take the place of Breaking Bad in our post-football Sunday night TV schedule, we have an answer. No, not Homeland or Eastbound & Down (though I will eventually catch up on both shows). And no, the answer is definitely not “turn the TV off and spend quality time with the family.”

The answer, it turns out, is more football. What a power move by Roger Goodell. He saw an opening in our collective schedules and attention spans, and he filled it.

Sure, it looks like the best he could come up with this week is San Diego at Oakland, which probably won’t be an aesthetically pleasing experience, but now we can legitimately watch 14 hours of non-stop football this Sunday. Man, that feels good to type. (In case this news flew under the radar for you, this game got moved from 4:25pm EST to 11:35pm EST because of a “scheduling conflict” with the Oakland A’s.)

And you know Goodell’s not done, either. Next week I fully expect a statement from the NFL saying they’re moving the Patriots/Saints game to a 10:30pm EST kickoff out of respect for the unfortunate New England fans who have tickets to both the Pats game and game 2 of the ALCS at Fenway on Sunday. And on and on it’ll go because Roger knows we will watch football whenever he decides to show it.

Did you know that exactly one football team shares its stadium with a baseball team? You’re telling me someone couldn’t have thought ahead to October and the one stadium that might cause a scheduling conflict? They couldn’t have planned for this? That’s ridiculous. And how long does it really take to get the field ready for football? Because they already would have had a minimum of 15 hours after the A’s game ended to get everything in order if they kept the football game at its original time.

But why am I complaining? Someone’s ineptitude is leading to more football. Fine by me.

Speaking of Bay Area football, did you know that Jim Harbaugh openly talked about jizz in a news conference last week? I’ll spare you the potential embarrassment of your wife, girlfriend or mom finding “Jim Harbaugh jizz” in your google search history and provide you the link HERE. I’ve got nothing more on that. I just thought it was a must-mention because how often does a person mention jizz in a non-jizzy context?

One more random Bay Area football tidbit you ask? Fine, here it is. Remember when we thought Matt Flynn’s life couldn’t get any worse after losing out on starting jobs that were catered to him in back-to-back years? Well he’s now officially the Raiders’ third string QB, behind Terrelle Pryor, and…..drum roll please, Matthew McGloin! Who? Matthew McGloin, an undrafted rookie out of Penn State who’s obviously never taken an NFL snap. In one sense Flynn’s life isn’t so bad because he’s getting paid a guaranteed $6.5 million over the next two years. But in another sense, the guy’s NFL career is effectively over, right? I guess being Aaron Rodgers’ understudy for four years doesn’t guarantee you a successful career like being Tom Brady’s understudy does.

Jesus Christ, why is there so much random news out of the two northern California teams this week. Last one for real. San Francisco defensive back Donte Whitner is apparently dropping the “W” in his last name so it reads “Hitner” because he’s so sick and tired of being fined for dangerous hits. Have you ever heard of two things less correlated with one another than him changing his name and the discipline he receives from the league? Personally I would have gone full heal and changed it to “Hitler”. Or maybe something completely dorky like swapping the “T” and the “N” so it would be Whinter, and then he could say he’s the guy who puts the game on ice or something. I don’t know, just spitballing here. Anyway, the guy sounds like a major douche.

If Sunday’s football schedule looks strangely amazing, that’s because it is. You can make the case that four of the worst teams in football are on byes (Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Washington…combined record = 2-14) while two other semi-uninteresting teams are playing on Thursday (Buffalo at Cleveland) and one more hideous team plays on Monday night (the Jets). Taking out seven of the least interesting teams from Sunday’s slate seems like goodness for us. I’m willing to say there are 8.5 very interesting games on Sunday.

Let’s get on to the money-making for the weekend. If you were waiting for me to have a good week before starting to back my bets, welcome to the start of your gambling season. I went 9-5-1 last week, bringing my season total to….24-35-4. Baby steps.

Buffalo @ Cleveland (-4)

If this wasn’t a Thursday night game, I’d be so confident in the Browns it would border on overconfidence. The Bills aren’t good, and we won’t know until game time whether or not their top handful of defensive backs will play (not to mention C.J. Spiller is a game-time decision). And of course it’s important not to get too high on the Browns just yet because, after all, they’re the Browns. And these Thursday games have a way of being ugly, low-scoring affairs. But I’m still taking Cleveland to cover, winning 23-14. I’m pinning my hopes on those DBs for the Bills not playing, in which case Josh Gordon and Cameron Jordan will have a field day.

Side Note: If this was a Sunday game, I’d be taking Cleveland as my suicide pick. I like this team that much.

Kansas City (-3) at Tennessee

Here’s how much confidence I have in Ryan Fitzpatrick: When I was guessing the lines of each game earlier in the week, I predicted the Chiefs would be 10-point favorites, even though they’re on the road and facing a 3-1 Titans team. I’ll admit 10 is probably aggressive and I’m much more comfortable picking the Chiefs by a field goal. Their pass rush seems legit, and I’ve seen how Fitzpatrick operates under pressure from his time with the Bills. It’s not going to be pretty. If you want to make the case for the Titans, I guess you pin your hopes to the Chiefs not yet proving much on the road? They beat Jacksonville by 26 on the road in week 1, which doesn’t count as a real game, and then they beat the Eagles in Philly by 10 in week 3, but that was with the assistance of 73 Eagles turnovers. So we still don’t know about Kansas City on the road against a competitive team. But I’m not falling for it. Give me the Chiefs to win, 20-13.

Baltimore @ Miami (-3)

Miami’s loss to the Saints on Monday night was a blowout, but it wasn’t in the same vein as the way Jacksonville got destroyed by Seattle a couple weeks ago, or the way Jacksonville got pummeled by Indy last week (or the way Jacksonville will probably lose by triple digits in Denver 10 days from now). It was competitive for the Dolphins for a while, and better execution on one or two plays probably would have kept it close. But the Saints had too many dynamic offensive options (Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham specifically), and a pretty vicious pass rush on Ryan Tannehill. That’s how you’re beating Miami this year. So do the Ravens have those components? Yes and no. Defensively they still get after the QB pretty consistently and their run defense is top 10. But where the Saints are dynamic and dangerous on offense, the Ravens are…whatever the opposite of those words are. Inflexible and safe? This is a tough call, but I’m thinking Baltimore’s one of those teams just like the Giants, when you think you’ve got ‘em figured out, you don’t. Going against my gut here and picking Baltimore to cover and win, 31-27.

Jacksonville @ St. Louis (-11.5)

Here come the back-to-back weeks where you’ll be picking the Jaguars to cover despite how terrible they are. But while the Jags are openly bad, the Rams are in-the-closet bad. They just lost their last two games by a combined 48 points, including a Thursday nighter where every team keeps it close. A big part of me wants to take Jacksonville to win outright, and if Chad Henne was starting, I would. But I don’t have the balls to think Blaine Gabbert can pull out a win on the road. Of course Jacksonville covers, but the Rams win, 30-24.

Side Note: Two weeks ago I planned ahead for the Suicide Pool and I marked down St. Louis as my pick for this week. But now, no fucking way. Don’t blow it on what could be Jacksonville’s only win of the year.

New England @ Cincinnati (-2)

The beauty of what was happening with the Patriots this season is that I actually stopped caring two weeks ago when Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola would return. I know they’d be a huge help on offense, of course, but the defense was playing so well that it really didn’t matter what was happening with the receivers. That all changed when Vince Wilfork went down with the season-ending injury. Now we should be concerned about the D over the long term. Eventually the offense might have to pick up the slack. Is Cincy the team that bursts this fun, unexpected 4-0 bubble?

I can tell you betting on the Pats for the rest of the year is going to go one of two ways. Either they really are that good of a team and we’re all going to profit off these spreads that have them as underdogs or slight favorites when facing decent teams, or they’re not that good and we’re going to struggle all year long trying to figure them out. For this week, I’m going with the more ideal (from a Pats fan standpoint) scenario and picking the Patriots to win, 27-23.

Seattle (-3) @ Indianapolis

The Seahawks’ offense has scored 28 total points in their two road wins this year. It’s no secret that they’re a very different team away from Seattle. But the Colts nearly lost to Oakland at home, then actually lost to Miami at home before winning big in back-to-back road games. Since one of those blowout wins was Jacksonville, I have no idea what to make of this team still. I can tell you that Indy’s run defense blows. So even if Russell Wilson and the pass game struggles, Marshawn Lynch might have a huge day. If this line was a half point higher, I’d definitely be taking the Colts. But it’s not so I’m not. Seattle covers and wins, 26-20.

Detroit @ Green Bay (-7)

I hate picking games early in the year when it involves a team that already had a bye. I feel like we know nothing about the Packers. They’re 1-2. They’ve played a good team, a decent team and a bad team. A fluky loss against that decent team, Cincinnati, is the difference between 2-1 and 1-2. But their pass defense seems to legitimately suck still. And very quietly, Detroit has turned into a possible contender. Their defense is finally playing well, their offense has more options than ever before under Matt Stafford, and the combination of Jim Schwartz and Ndamukong Suh surprisingly hasn’t cost the Lions any games yet. I fully expect Green Bay to win this game because it’s at home, they’ve had two weeks to prepare and they’re something like 15-1 against Detroit over the past eight years. But my very specific prediction for this game is that the Lions will hold a lead late in the 4th quarter, won’t be able to run out the clock, and the Packers will march down the field and win the game, 37-34…meaning Detroit covers.

New Orleans (-1) @ Chicago

I actually thought the Bears would be a slight favorite only because the Saints haven’t been tested on the road yet this year. Their one win away from the Superdome was against Tampa. Chicago, meanwhile, is 2-0 at home. What we’ve got in this game is a Saints offense that excels at passing and sucks at running going against a Bears defense that’s great against the run and bad against the pass. On the flip side, the Bears’ offensive running game is great and the Saints run defense is horrific. Hmm…

I’ve been resistant to jump on the Saints bandwagon, but if there’s one more seat available, I’ll gladly take it. I can’t get over the fact that Chicago squeaked out home wins against the Bengals and Vikings and now an offense that’s firing on all cylinders (can there be a “firing on more than all cylinders”?) is coming to town. I think Bears fans appropriately lower their expectations on this team after Sunday because the Saints win 31-24.

Philadelphia @ NY Giants (-3)

How in the hell is New York favored in this game, right? Well, because outside of beating up on the comatose Redskins in week 1, the Eagles have been nearly as bad as the Giants…or at least it appears that way. But to the Eagles’ credit, they have faced two of the better teams in the AFC (Kansas City and Denver) as well as a frisky AFC team (San Diego). As much as I’d like Eli Manning’s time as an effective QB to be over, I don’t think that’s the case. I’m always going to be slightly scared of the Giants’ ability to randomly put up a 450-yard passing game and 30+ points. But Chip Kelly will play to his team’s greatest strength in this game, running the ball over and over again. Or, I should say, he better play that way. Run all over the Giants and keep Manning’s time on the field to a minimum. Sounds like a foolproof game plan to me. Philadelphia wins a close one, 29-26.

Carolina (-2) @ Arizona

The 1-2 Panthers favored on the road? That’s weird. Listen, I’m won’t pretend to know a ton about these two teams, but if you’re into the advanced stats that Football Outsiders provides, Carolina is sneaky good this year. And they’re coming off a bye. While the Cardinals are 2-2, remember that last week’s win was against the Mike Glennon-era Buccaneers. The only thing the Cardinals have excelled at so far in 2013 is defending the run. So can the Panthers win if they have to throw a lot? I’ll let you decide for yourself how meaningful this stat is: The Panthers are 4-14 over the past three years when Cam Newton has thrown the ball more than 30 times in a game. And when you consider that Patrick Peterson might be able to neutralize Steve Smith, what else does Carolina have? I know how bad Arizona is. I really do. But Carolina on the road against a superb run D? Not happening. Arizona wins 19-15.

Denver (-9) @ Dallas

No, Dallas, you do not get to be the first team that stops Denver from covering this season. I don’t care that your aerial attack is competent and the Broncos’ weakness is in its pass defense. If you don’t execute flawlessly the entire game, you’re cooked.

Seriously, when’s the last time you watched a Cowboys game and thought “flawless execution”? Let’s say it’s a semi-close game into the 3rd quarter and then a Cowboys’ drive stalls out. Denver takes over and suddenly they’re up 10 or 14 points. Now the pressure’s on Tony Romo and the offense to score on every single drive the rest of the game. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Eventually the Broncos’ scoring pace will slow down—just like New England’s did in November of 2007—but not in this game. Denver rolls to 5-0 behind a 38-24 road win.

Houston @ San Francisco (-7)

This line is too high. I actually think these two teams are very similar. Both have strong offensive lines, above average defenses and one issue on offense that’s keeping them from being a true Super Bowl contender. For the 49ers it’s the lack of healthy wide receivers, which leads to defenses focusing on Anquan Boldin and not having to worry about much else. For the Texans, it’s Matt Schaub. Not a specific part of his game. Just him in general. So while I think San Francisco wins this game, it won’t be by a touchdown. Give me Houston to cover but the 49ers to win, 24-20.

Side Note: Remember when I cried like a little baby earlier this week about having to make picks on Thursday before we have all the info on key injuries? Patrick Willis’ status is of prime importance going into this game. If he plays at 90% of his normal level, the 9ers will be fine. If he’s out, I could absolutely see the Texans pulling off the upset. He’s that important to San Francisco’s defense.

San Diego (-4) @ Oakland

Hey, it’s the trial run of the late late game. What will the ratings for this game be on the East Coast? 0.00? -3.5? I don’t know how ratings work but I know the lower it is, the worse it is. And I can’t imagine a single person in the eastern time zone staying up for this one.

It feels like the line’s one point too high, right? I know the Chargers are playing pretty well and are only two plays away from being 4-0 instead of 2-2. But I see a divisional road game against a sneaky OK quarterback in Terrelle Pryor, not to mention the weird time this game starts. I think this will look a lot like your typical Thursday night game. San Diego wins, but doesn’t cover, 20-17.

NY Jets @ Atlanta (-10)

The Falcons have not been a good team so far this year. Normally I’d jump all over a team getting 10 points against them, but I think I’ve got the Jets pegged this year. They’ll look good against any team that has a below average offense (their two wins are against Tampa Bay and Buffalo). The Jets’ defense is solid, but they can’t keep up with an offense that can score in the high 20s or above. The Falcons’ offense isn’t exactly soaring these days, but it’s good enough at home to win by at least a touchdown. When you factor in a rookie QB for the Jets playing on the road in a loud dome, with his two best WRs out (Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill), I just don’t see good things happening for New York. I might be kicking myself for thinking Atlanta’s competent enough to win by double digits, but I’m counting on the Jets to do lots of Jetsy things in this one. Atlanta wins 33-20.

Side Note: And here is my suicide pick for the week. Atlanta. As much as I wanted to hold onto them for their week 7 home game against Tampa Bay, I just don’t see a better option this week. The name of the game is survival and this pick seems to be the best bet this week.

For those of you keeping score at home, in week 5 I’m taking:

  • 6 Favorites & 8 Underdogs
  • Of those 8 Underdogs, 2 of them are Home Dogs and 6 of them are Road Dogs

Enjoy week 5.

Week 8 NFL Picks: Pink Flag Priorities, the Browns Burst Through the Basement of Putridity, Andy Reid’s Anomaly and More

The first thing I do every Tuesday morning is guess the line on each of the coming week’s games. And then I compare my guesses to the actual lines of the games. I get no compensation of any kind for doing well, and it’s not for any fantasy-like league with my friends so bragging rights don’t even come into play. But it’s one of my favorite football-related activities for the week. Being a smart, successful gambler is one thing, but being the guy who sets the lines is on a whole other level of badass.

Usually I’m happy just to correctly pick which team is the favorite. That’s hard enough with some of these games (see “Atlanta @ Philadelphia”). But for week 8 I thought I’d give you the news well in advance of Sunday morning’s kickoffs: I’m locked in. This Tuesday I guessed nine of the 14 lines within 1.5 points of the actual line. I got four of them dead on. Maybe it’s not that incredible, but I’ve just never done that before. Anyway, do what you will with that information. By the end of Sunday, I’m expecting to be able to pay off the rest of my college loans and secure a down payment for a future house in Malibu. No, I’m not really setting my expectations that high…just assuming this is the week of 14-0.

So let’s get on with it (home team underlined):

Tampa Bay (+7) over Minnesota: [Editor’s Note: This entire paragraph was written before Thursday night’s game.] Uh oh, be careful with this game. The underdog is now 6-1 on Thursday nights. And we’ve all seen the rapid regression of Christian Ponder the last three weeks, meaning running is Minnesota’s only offense…problem is Tampa has one of the best run defenses in football. I’d be a little stunned if the Bucs win outright, but I certainly see this being a touchdown or less. Even though I have no evidence to back this up, I think Minnesota is slightly worse than they’ve played through seven weeks and Tampa is slightly better than they’ve played.

NY Jets (-1) over Miami: One of my favorite things about football season is how every TV and radio analyst picks each game as if there’s a 1-point spread on it. All the pregame shows have their personalities compete with one another for the best record picking the games all year. And they spend so much time thinking about and discussing their pick, like it’s a tough choice. Try doing it each week according to the actual handicapping the oddsmakers have settled on. Wait, where was I? Oh, yes, the NFL is using pink penalty flags in this game. So that’s happening. I love that a random 11-year-0ld boy can send a request to Roger Goodell for something like using pink flags, and the NFL acts on it immediately. Yet when the majority of NFL players and the entire football fan base is calling for an end to the replacement referees, the NFL just sits there for weeks doing nothing. Good to know the type of shit that gets to the top of the priority list. Oh, and the Jets will win this football game.

Cleveland (+3) over San Diego: I hate betting on or against the Chargers. Is there a team in the NFL with less of an identity than these guys? They’re not really good at anything, and they’re not really terrible at anything. I have no read on whether they’re an OK 8-8 team or a pretty bad 6-10 team. I’m taking the Browns because it feels like they’re knocking on the door of mediocrity. They’re about to burst out of the basement of putridity and into the ground level of averageness. And what better team to do it against than the Chargers? San Diego’s had two weeks to prepare for this game, but if I know Norv and Philip like I think I do, they’re just dying to come out disorganized and confused on Sunday.

Indianapolis (+3.5) over Tennessee: The Titans haven’t earned the right to be favored by more than a field goal yet. After this week, the Colts have six winnable games in their final nine. It seems like they have an outside shot at a playoff spot, and I’m thinking the dream scenario is a wildcard game between Andrew Luck’s Colts and Peyton Manning’s Broncos. But first they gotta start with a minor upset in Tennessee.

I can’t continue to blindly pick the Patriots, especially when they’re constantly a touchdown-or-greater favorite. So what I’ve decided to do is let Molly blindly pick between the Patriots (-7) and the St. Louis Rams. Big responsibility for Molly considering it’s the Patriots, it’s in London, and she’s putting her 4-3 record at stake. Let’s see what she decided:

Green Bay (-15) over Jacksonville: I’m so terrified of double-digit lines at this point that I’m tempted to pick Jacksonville. After all, they did just play an inspired overtime game in Oakland last week after losing both Maurice Jones-Drew and Blaine Gabbert. Except the Raiders might just be the worst team in football at season’s end. A quick look at Jacksonville’s stats shows that they’re last in the NFL in passing offense, 25th in rushing offense, 24th in passing defense and 29th in rushing defense. Why am I even dedicating a whole paragraph to this game? Only a jerk would pick the Jaguars. The Packers are my suicide pick for the week too.

Atlanta (+3) over Philadelphia: Here’s a game where you can feel good that a push is your worst case scenario. That’s because Philly doesn’t win games by more than three. It’s a rule. For me, this was the surprise of the week. The last undefeated team is an underdog against the extremely lucky 3-3 Eagles? Doesn’t make much sense, does it? The only semi-logical reason I can think of for why this line is favoring the Eagles is that it’s become very popular to reference Andy Reid’s record after a bye week. I bet almost everyone reading this has heard that Reid’s teams are 13-0 in the game following a bye. Does Vegas expect a lot of the public to take Philly simply because of that statistical anomaly? Honestly, I can’t come up with a better reason for this line. I’m picking Atlanta, but what I’m most excited for is to see the Philly fans react when the Eagles are down 17-3 in the 2nd quarter. It’s probably wise for Michael Vick to continue wearing his kevlar vest during home games.

Washington (+4.5) over Pittsburgh: Redskins fans are having so much fun right now. The team could lose the rest of their games this season, but as long as Black Jesus stays healthy and they continue to play in close, exciting games the fans would still be psyched. Can you blame them? I was talking to one of my buddies from D.C. today (by the way, he’s terrified of Roethlisberger throwing to Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown against the Skins’ secondary, but thinks they’ll still keep it close), and we agreed that the Redskins’ two biggest moments of the last 10 years were the 2006 wildcard playoff win over Tampa Bay and their 2003 regular season win over the Patriots. It’s been a rough 10-years for these guys. I’m picking the Skins to keep it close, but I have no clue whether they can win or not.

Detroit (-1) over Seattle: Love the Lions in this game and I don’t even know why (Oh, because the Seahawks are my nemesis. Now I remember). While researching this game (yes, I actually research the teams before I make up random shit about them), I was shocked to see that Detroit is 2nd in the NFL in passing yards. To the naked eye, doesn’t it seem like Matty Stafford and Calvy Johnson are having terrible years? Well, from a touchdown standpoint they sure are: Stafford has thrown only five in six games while Johnson has only one. But Megatron’s still on pace for nearly 1,600 yards this year. Long story short, they can’t put the ball in the end zone. Sure, there’s no logical reason why that would change the week they’re playing one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses, but I like them at home against an awful rookie quarterback.

Chicago (-9) over Carolina: It would be great for this game to be an ugly 3-3 tie where every unit for both teams is completely inept. It would be so much fun to watch Jay Cutler and Cam Newton one-upping each other for who can throw their teammates under the bus quicker and more often…both during the game and at the press conference. A battle for the ages. You can’t possibly pick the Panthers in this game unless you’re a complete psycho.

Kansas City (-1) over Oakland: Home or not, it’s amazing that the Chiefs are favored in any game for the rest of the year. What does it say about the Raiders that Jacksonville lost MoJo and Gabbert and it still took overtime before Oakland finally won? Its says the Raiders should be positioning themselves in the draft for a quarterback because this year is already over. Brady Quinn will get his first win in nearly 12 years if the Chiefs pull this off.

NY Giants (-2) over Dallas: What do we root for in this game? A tie? A bomb to explode in Cowboys Stadium? The Giants to be crushing the Cowboys so badly that Jerry Jones fires Jason Garrett at halftime? I guess we just hope for both teams to look terrible and for those of us smart enough to bet on the Redskins to win the NFC East, we root for a Cowboys win. But I’m taking the Giants. Can’t see this Dallas team beating New York for the second time this year.

Denver (-6) over New Orleans: My instincts are saying to take New Orleans with the points. After all, they’re not really scoring less than 28 against any opponent these days. So to take Denver, you’d have to think they’ll drop at least 35 on the Saints. And this is also another must-win game for the Saints. At 2-4, they can only afford to lose two more games and they still have Atlanta (twice), San Francisco and the Giants. But I’m taking Denver because I think they’ll finally put together a full 60 minutes, and winning by a touchdown isn’t that hard. If this line was 7 or 7.5, I’d probably be taking New Orleans.

San Francisco (-7 ) over Arizona: Insert joke here about Jim Harbaugh declining another safety this coming Monday that causes the 49ers to win by six instead of eight. HAHA, very funny, guys. What can I say about Arizona that I haven’t already said? They’re terrible. Anyone still lumping them in with Seattle in terms of their identity clearly hasn’t watched a minute of football this season. On a side note, do you think this game will be the least-watched 9ers game by their fans since the good old days of Mike Singletary? After all, it’s pretty likely the baseball Giants will be playing in game 5 of the World Series at the same time on Monday. I don’t know what the Bay Area did to deserve all of this good sports fortune. Considering most of the people there became baseball fans in September of 2010, it’s hard to say they were a long-suffering fan base. If the Red Sox could have just snuck into the playoffs, I’m certain they could have handled the Giants. Just barely missed it, too.

Here’s the breakdown of my picks this week:

Favorites: 9

Underdogs: 5

Home teams: 7

Road teams: 6

Neutral site: 1 (Patriots in London)

Home underdogs: 1

Road underdogs: 4

Week 4 NFL Picks: The Kolb/Skelton-led Arizona Bandwagon Causes Larry Fitzgerald to Set Himself on Fire

Now that the referee lockout is over, we can begin the healing process. For most fan bases, the healing process is simple. Just move on and forget the replacement referees ever existed. For Green Bay it’s a little different. The Packer fans will move on, but they’ll continue to think back to Monday’s game whenever they look at the standings in their division and in the greater NFC landscape. And god forbid the Packers miss the playoffs by one game…the entire officiating debacle will be rehashed and we may even get a government hearing. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. The WBFF blog is moving on, but first let’s make a few final predictions on this issue:

-Roger Goodell gets booed louder than Gary Bettman got booed in Vancouver after the 2011 Stanley Cup. Let’s face it…Goodell isn’t showing his face in public until he absolutely has to, which is February 3rd, 2013, when he presents the Lombardi Trophy to the Super Bowl winner. We all know he deserves—and will receive—an amazingly loud boo, but the question is which fan base is most motivated to not only throw the most hatred at him, but possibly rush the field and decapitate him as well? Before week 3 I would have said the Saints. They’re motivated by all the Bounty stuff that Goodell put the team through in the offseason, and the Super Bowl’s actually in New Orleans this year. If the Saints made it and won, that could be epic. But of course that train has sailed because the Saints are 0-3. After Monday night, can we all agree that having the Commissioner hand the Lombardi Trophy to the Packers would result in the most awkward moment and loudest chorus of boos in the history of sports? Even as a Patriots fan who desperately wants my team to win another Super Bowl, I’m almost rooting for this Packers/Goodell scenario. Of course if the Packers aren’t careful this week they could be 1-3 and staring at the same odds as the Saints of making the playoffs.

-The real referees will get a Reverse Goodell—a super loud ovation from the crowd—in their first games back this weekend. The tough decision if you’re part of the 70,000 fans at a stadium is when do you give the ovation? When they take the field for first time? When they review a play and make a call for the first time? Every time they speak to the crowd? (Note: I wrote all of this before Thursday’s game…very happy to see the fans came through with some loud cheers for referee Gene Steratore.)

-Golden Tate, Russell Wilson and anyone else directly involved in the play from Monday night will be remembered as the people who saved football. Right? They have to be remembered as the catalysts for the NFL and referees finally settling. So Green Bay’s loss is everyone else’s gain I guess? And should Tate and Wilson be locks for the Hall of Fame purely because they saved an entire season?

Let’s move on to my Week 4 picks (home team underlined):

Baltimore (-12.5) over Cleveland: Yeah, yeah, I already lost this one. But here’s what I wrote yesterday before the game: “Even though the Ravens are 2-1 and the Browns are 0-3, you can make the case that this will be a much more competitive game than the line suggests. The Browns should be 1-2 (if they didn’t fuck up the Philly game), and the Ravens could easily be 1-2 if the NFL would just extend the field goal posts 10 feet higher. This line should be closer to one touchdown. Doesn’t that mean we should be picking the underdog? We should, but we’re not. I dread that moment in the 4th quarter when the Ravens are up 14 and driving for another touchdown as the NFL Network announcers gush about how great Joe Flacco is. I don’t want to be the guy stuck with the Browns at that moment. I’ll pick the Ravens and be happy if they win big and happy if they somehow get upset.”

San Diego (-1) over Kansas City: If you’ve been reading me for the last few weeks, you know by now that early in the week I like to guess the lines of each game before I look at them on bovada.lv. I always like the surprise of any lines where I’m way off. This game was one of them. I had San Diego -6. The Chargers are going to get crushed by the cream of the NFL crop this year, as we saw when Atlanta visited San Diego last weekend. But the Chargers will make their living beating up on the basement teams of the NFL—Kansas City is the Chargers’ third basement team in the first four weeks. Easy win.

San Francisco (-4.5) over NY Jets: The 49ers got a reality check last week in the form of my preseason sleeper pick Christian Ponder. For 9ers fans who aren’t used to having a perennial juggernaut to root for, let me tell you how this works. Your team loses a gimme, realizes they can be beaten any Sunday by any team, and then they refocus and don’t lose another game the rest of the season. So when San Francisco rolls on the road this weekend, just be thankful that the loss came early and was pretty harmless overall. Yes, I’m picking the team with some weapons over the team with absolutely no weapons. (By the way, Ross jinx example #476: I picked Darrelle Revis for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.)

St. Louis (+3) over Seattle: There’s no justice in this world if Seattle’s allowed to win their week 4 game and move to 3-1. And before people go and pencil in Seattle to win just because the media is talking them up with the likes of Arizona as surprise teams who might be better than we think, keep in mind that the Seahawks are actually 1-2 and they actually only scored seven points in a home game on Monday night. I don’t have much faith in them on the road. St. Louis keeps their mini-resurgence going and moves to 2-2.

Atlanta (-7.5) over Carolina: Another game that I missed wildly on when it comes to guessing the line. I had Atlanta -13. I know it’s dangerous to base future results on past performance, but Carolina seriously played one of the worst games I’ve ever seen last Thursday night, and they were at home. Atlanta, on the other hand, went all the way across the country and cockslapped San Diego across the mouth. We’re talking about possibly the NFC’s best team vs possibly the NFC’s worst team. Don’t over think it.

Minnesota (+4.5) over Detroit: I believe in Christian Ponder so much that I staked my only chance to become a legitimate fantasy football writer to my belief in Ponder as a great sleeper choice in fantasy football this year (Seriously, I did. Read all about it HERE.) Detroit seems to be regressing before our eyes. After last week’s debacle in Tennessee, the Lions have now given up 98 total points to three teams absolutely no one would put in the top 15 of expected offenses this year (St. Louis, San Francisco and the aforementioned Titans). The regression continues and the media gets whipped into a Ponder frenzy as I sit back and smile at my own genius.

New England (-4.5) over Buffalo: As I’m watching NFL Network on Thursday afternoon, I see that five Super Bowl-winning QBs currently have losing records on the season, and all five lost last week. The men in question would be Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. With the way their teams are currently constructed, I believe exactly two of those QBs have the ability to go into Fuck You mode, put their team on their backs and get things back on track. Tom Brady is one of those QBs. Not only will the Pats not lose a third consecutive game, but it won’t even be close.

Houston (-12) over Tennessee: With so many of the expected juggernauts losing at least once if not twice already this season, it’s forgivable that the media hasn’t quite gotten the “which undefeated team has the best chance of going 16-0” conversation started yet. But it won’t be long before we’re all arguing whether it’s Atlanta or Houston that’s most likely to run the table. Most likely neither of them will, but with the way the Texans are playing on both sides of the ball, it’s hard to envision them losing anytime soon. They have back-to-back home games against Green Bay and Baltimore and then have a late-season road game at New England. Outside of those three games, the Texans shouldn’t lose, and you can expect them to be double-digit favorites in most of those contests. This is my suicide pick for the week.

Cincinnati (-3) over Jacksonville: If Cincinnati can just keep pace with Baltimore for most of the season, they’d be a lock for the playoffs. During this extended preseason—playing Jacksonville, Miami and Cleveland over the next three weeks—it shouldn’t be hard to keep pace, but starting with week 10 they face a mix of the NFC East’s best and their own divisional games. I think they continue to feast on the lowest of the low, but could see a huge drop off in the second half.

Miami (+6) over Arizona: I’m getting off the Arizona bandwagon now. Why so early, you ask? Because here’s what’s going to happen to that bandwagon over the next few weeks: Kevin Kolb is going to get behind the wheel of the bandwagon completely inebriated and start driving it down the wrong side of the freeway. Then John Skelton’s going to hop up front from the back seat and offer to help Kolb drive. A power struggle will ensue as the bandwagon zigzags its way through traffic, injuring everyone in its path. Then Kolb and Skelton will decide that they work best as a team, so Kolb will steer the bandwagon while Skelton mans the gas and brake. This will only make things worse. The result will be Larry Fitzgerald setting himself on fire and throwing his body on top of the bandwagon’s engine, causing a massive explosion and killing everyone who ever believed in this team. Basically I’m saying they’re due for a big fall back to earth soon.

For Molly’s week 4 pick, I’m letting her decide between Oakland and Denver. The Broncos are at home and favored by 6.5. I tried to tell Molly before she picked that if it was up to me, I’d be picking the Broncos because I think Manning’s gonna have a “I’m not dead yet” game. But Molly doesn’t necessarily acknowledge things like logic. Let’s see what she came up with:

You heard the dog…Oakland’s the pick.

Tampa Bay (-3) over Washington: Almost every Washington game this season is coming down to one score. That’s how it works when you have a terrible defense and a frisky-to-good offense. The question is whether the Redskins lose this game by just a couple points, or if it’ll be a full touchdown. I’m picking the full touchdown…taking Tampa and hoping for a push at worst.

Green Bay (-8) over New Orleans: The other Super Bowl-winning QB who has the ability to go into FU mode is Aaron Rodgers. I might be cheating a little by predicting a breakout game for Rodgers and the Packers offense since the Saints defense might be historically bad, but it’s gotta start somewhere. If the Packers can’t channel their anger from the Monday Night Screw Job and demolish a Saints team that’s legitimately on the ropes, then I think it’s time to seriously downgrade our expectations for the 2012 Green Bay Packers.

Philadelphia (-1) over NY Giants: Since the start of the 2008 season, the Eagles are 6-2 against the Giants in the regular season. That surprised me. So Philly kind of owns the Giants in meaningless games huh? I actually got multiple emails this week from people who were stunned that Philly would be favored in this game. I gotta admit, I assumed the Giants would be favored by 3 or so. Based on the way each team played last week (and really, it’s been a season-long thing for the Eagles), there may be no bet this weekend more obvious than Giants over Eagles. And that’s why I’m going with the Eagles. This game is just too obvious and everyone’s going to be backing New York. Something weird will happen in this game.

Chicago (+3.5) over Dallas: This one was painful to pick. Maybe this one should have been the Molly pick because I really can’t decide which team is better. I think Chicago’s slightly better, but they’re on the road. And anytime I convince myself that Chicago’s decent, I just think about how awful Jay Cutler and the offensive line has been this year. But Dallas just seems like a team that’s gonna go the entire year without winning consecutive games. The extra half point makes me feel like even if the Cowboys win the game, I can still cover because it’ll be a close one.

Just know that I feel awful about most of my picks this week.