Week 11

TITTLE

1-0 this week, 10-3 last week (yay!), 81-50-1 overall.

These are my Week 11 picks:

Carolina, Chicago, Houston, KC, NO, Giants, Denver, Washington, San Diego, Arizona, Philly, NE, Pittsburgh.

I’m shutting the blog down for a while. I have some things I have to work on, socially speaking. Honestly, were I ever any good at fitting in to begin with, I probably wouldn’t think typing my thoughts on the NFL into empty space to be a good idea. I should be grateful that I’m finally getting somewhere, not negotiating how I’m going to screw it up. I’ll be back in a while. I just simply cannot type as if I had insight on the NFL without insight on myself. Love each other. See you soon.

Week 10

70-47-1 on the year, 8-5 last week.

If you’re reading this on a weekly basis (first off, thank you; secondly, my condolences) you’ve noticed a severe drop-off in my writing. The practice has picked up, and I really haven’t had much time to think about much else. There’s a space that this blog used to fill, and now I’m overflowing.

Giants at Seahawks – The Giants have two things going for them: 1) Everyone has rightfully forgotten about them, and 2) Their stretch run has 5 ridiculously easy games that have actually become easier down the stretch. All they need to do is be 6-5 after 11 games an-oh wait they’re 3-5 now? This is a must-win? Seahawks 30, Giants 17. This game will be a mess in the first half.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints

Niners at Saints – If you think the 4-4 Niners are just going to lay down and call it a year, remember that this game last year had a very controversial finish with the Ahmad Brooks roughing the passer penalty that gave New Orleans life and the win at home they desperately needed. I just don’t think this Niners team is very good, and even if it was, I don’t think it’s together enough to use that motivation and overcome the Home Dome advantage. Saints 27, Niners 20. While I’ve been impressed with the Niners’ reinventing themselves as a passing team, it’s not going to immediately contend without some fine tuning this off-season.

Chiefs at Bills – For my money, the most interesting game of the day. Today is all about the Bills’ talent. You know Andy Reid is going to coach circles around Doug Marrone, the only question bore here is “Will it be enough?”. I think Buffalo would give KC a run were its backfield healthy, but without it I think the Chiefs are way too balanced to screw this up so bad that they’d blow it. Chiefs 26, Bills 20.

Dolphins at Lions – Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeveryone’s on that Miami bandwagon, huh? (Alright, so am I. I traded Percy Harvin for Ryan Tannehill after Rivers blessed me with a negative-point QB performance for my now 2-7 fantasy team.). A big part of the reason Miami’s offense is clicking now is that they’ve utilized Tannehill in the run game for big plays. People have forgotten he played WR in college, and when he catches defenses off-guard and takes off he looks like the fastest guy on the field. Take that away with some dominant defensive tackles to disrupt the misdirection and some speedy linebackers to set the edge, and I think you have the antidote. Lions 23, Dolphins 21.

Bears at Packers – For everyone who thinks Jay Cutler is the problem in Chicago…

cutler

…yeah, it’s the defense. The quarterback whispering of Marc Trestman has produced positive results, but just as Rex Ryan could never get the offensive mind to complement him in New York, I think Trestman’s obvious defensive defects could get him canned in Chi-town if not resolved by the end of next season. Aaron Rodgers tends to have his way with the Bears, but frankly he’s having his way with most defenses lately. Packers 38, Bears 34. I don’t expect Cutler to back down this time. Take the over.

Cowboys at Jaguars (UK) – This is going to look like a game for exactly 19 minutes. The first quarter will either have no score or the Jags up 3-0 or 7-3 when Romo hits that first big play to Bryant and sucks the air out of Jacksonville from overseas. The Jaguars have nothing to contain Bryant and can’t cover the other guys one-on-one if Bryant is doubled, which means they’re going to be doing alot of guessing. The only way the Jaguars are coming back with a W is if they send 9 and invite the personal fouls in trying to exacerbate Romo’s back and get him out of the game. Cowboys 27, Jaguars 10.

Rams at Cardinals – Has there ever been a 3-5 team that was more the toast of the town than this Rams team? Sure, they’re feisty, and their quarterback is a great story (and ABSOLUTELY belongs in the NFL after this year if he leaves) . Even when St. Louis was worse than this, they’d always given their superior divisional opponents a game. I expect the same here. Cardinals 19, Rams 16. 

Other winners – Baltimore, Denver, Pittsburgh, Atlanta

Tie Watch

Perhaps the most striking thing about Atlanta’s initial blowout of Tampa Bay on Thursday night some weeks ago is that if the Bucs exact revenge today, they’d have the same record. Sign Steve and I up.

Week 9

7-8 last week

64-42-1 this year

A Scheduling Epiphany

I’m just gonna ramble this thought out there and save it for later.

What if the NFL and NCAA came to an agreement that Thursday night NFL games were not good for the long-term health of players and that he college football playoff needed a national showcase of important games apart from the Saturday slate? I know the ratings wouldn’t be the same, but what if the NFL moved its Thursday night game to Saturday night, and the NCAA got a deal through ESPN to showcase national games on Thursday night?

It would fit a nice news cycle: College preview Thursday afternoon, then the game (Which would have the extra day of rest starting from Saturday instead of Sunday), then reactions to it all Friday w/ some NFL preview. NFL game Saturday, Recap of Saturday’s action on Sunday morning (it would actually give those networks reason to have hours of preview coverage and could easily suck up 30 minutes of analysis), then Sunday’s games. The ratings would suffer simply because you’re moving from Thursday to Saturday, but just about every other aspect of it would get better, right? Because it would fit an audience that would rather stay in and watch football than go out on date night, you could tailor the broadcast to advanced statistics and analysis. Call it Neckbeard Night Football, or something.

Even better, you can take an otherwise lost-in-the-shuffle game like Chargers-Dolphins and showcase it nationally. San Diego’s banged up right now, but everyone’s quietly forgotten that their #1 receiver is healthy, Antonio Gates is still around, and Ryan Mathews’ return from an MCL injury is just around the corner. The O-line could use some reinforcements, but I think they’ll hold up fine, especially against a Miami team that plays like shit at home. Chargers 28, Dolphins 24.

Blowing Copper

To me, there’s two kinds of underrated bands: 1) Underrated where the band never achieves the fame it should have achieved given how fresh they sounded, and 2) Legacy underrated, where the band peaked like it should have and blew up, but for some reason is forgotten long-term.

I’ll go toe to toe with anyone on this: after the first wave of alternative came and went, after the Gin Blossoms burst into flames, and while the Counting Crows were simmering as the foundation for what would be pop-punk and emo 10-15 years later, Live was the best band on the planet from 1995-1997. Live was as big as any band from that era while they were big, and furthermore actually went on to produce two more platinum albums in the 90s after they peaked, but for some reason their memory never carried on into the next decade. It’s not thoroughly inexplicable. They were four regular guys from York, Pennsylvania who had the same lineup from the age of 13 until a seemingly sudden and brutal breakup garnished with lawsuits tore them apart in 2009.

You kinda thought after 21 years of uneventful and steady success that Live seemed ready to hit cruise control and just ride the outdoor festival circuit until they put all their kids through college and called it a career, especially when they still had their chops enough to kick the shit out of a live record as they did here in 2008. Alas, I guess all bands pull this shit eventually. Ed Kowalczyk was no David Lee Roth, but you could tell over time that he slowly morphed from deep spiritual beliefs in Eastern religions to deep spiritual beliefs in himself. He was no angel towards the end. It just seems so atypical given their history. Live was signed when they were 17 years old, released their first record at age 20, and dropped an iconic 90s record at age 23, following it up with those two other platinum records by age 28. They survived an eight-figure album sales decade in the most vulnerable decat of their lives, but somehow broke up pushing 40 while comfortably living in the California suburbs? Were there no seats left at the Neighborhood Association meeting that you had to go and start your own problems?

Sticking to my point, compared to other rock stars of their ilk, Live were still a bunch of relatively young guys with no reason to completely hang it up when things fell apart. Kowalczyk went on his own and wrote an album with his brother that basically sounded like Live’s vanilla material (kinda hard to avoid when you’re the face of it, but still…), and Live’s other members decided to write a new record with a new singer…. oh, but they still call this band Live. Kowalczyk has been replaced with Chris Shinn, a journeyman singer who while passable is clearly, in garb and voice, so confused as to which 21st century stereotype he wants to rip off that he pieced together a look from each of them. Shinn has spent the last 15 years coasting through failed band after failed band, but seems all too content to become a professional karaoke singer and mooch someone else’s songs into a living. Worse, the band that spent 20+ years crafting a legacy is all too willing to let him. This song is awful, this album is awful, and they should be ashamed of themselves for attaching Live to this sound instead of simply forming a new band, and calling it Audioskeet or something. At least Guns N Roses and Soundgarden had the decency to declare they were doing something new.

Speaking of bands of men with an improper frontman, the Jets seem to have bottomed out on that subject at the worst possible time. Arrowhead isn’t easy under the BEST of circumstances, much less one where you’re asking Michael Vick to Chris Shinn his way through a set. Chiefs 31, Jets 10.

Halloween Again

While I was getting it in and seeing 22 patients on Friday, I didn’t realize it was Halloween until I saw one of my coworkers in costume. I followed it up on my lunch break by having to navigate spiderwebs to get to the counter at A&W to get a burger from a trailer trash bag dressed as a witch. If there’s one apology I had to make to the rest of human history on behalf of my generation, it’s the number of cultural things we’ve hijacked from children and dragged kicking and screaming into our thirties, most notably Halloween. Halloween is the second most revenue-generating holiday after Christmas now, and worse, Halloween costumes for pets are a THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY MILLION DOLLAR PER YEAR INDUSTRY. You fucking losers! As Romie said, I hate to be that guy, but I will always be that guy: Halloween is basically playing dress-up, and playing dress-up is for children ONLY. Halloween, cosplay, or otherwise, if you play dress-up in your thirties, you-are-a-lo-serrrrrr. Worse, if you get 53 guys together and dress-up as football players in Seattle, you’re a bigger loser. Seahawks 24, Raiders 0.

Steel Certain

balpit

Looking for a fantasy defense this weekend? Look no further than the low-scoring rivalry of the Steelers and Ravens. Chances are the Steelers D is available after giving up the farm against the Colts in garbage time. Buy low this week. They’ve given up 30+ to the Ravens only once since 2008, and meddle between 10-20 more often than not. Steelers 19, Ravens 17.

Line Play 

Eagles (-2) at Houston – Oof. Don’t think so. Lock of the year. How do you leave JJ Watt unblocked in the read-option offense? Is Philly going to run to one side of the field all game? Texans 24, Eagles 20.

Foreskins (E) at Vikings – Robert Griffin is back. You know what that means. Vikes 31, Skins 17.

Buccaneers (+7) at Browns – Why on Earth would you trust the Browns to win this game, much less cover it? I’m still amazed this heap of shit is going to be 5-3. Browns 20, Buccaneers 14. Also, Browns fans, if you’re wondering if the team should pay Brian Hoyer: see Fitzpatrick, Ryan.

Jaguars (+11) at Bengals – Giovani Bernard is out, AJ Green is out, and Cincy just puffed this spread up a few points with a season defining win over the Ravens, sweeping the season series. Time for a let down. Bengals 24, Jaguars 23.

Rams (+10) at Niners – Rams always play the Niners tough, and they have a mobile quarterback of their own that can make plays. What they don’t have is a secondary that can contain the four horsemen the Niners have at wideout. The deep dark secret of the NFL is how the Niners have reinvented themselves with four #1 receivers into a passing team. It might not go mainstream till January. Niners 37, Rams 17.

Broncos (-3.5) at Patriots – Barring a historic comeback and ballsy move in overtime that paid off, the Broncos dominated the Patriots with a worse team seven out of eight quarters last year. This year’s Broncos are even better, and this year’s Patriots are still a work in progress on defense. Broncos 40, Patriots 33.

Cardinals (no line) at Cowboys – No line because even with two fractured vertebrae that have been described by the Cowboys as “a problem separate from the back surgery he had in the offseason” so as to defuse the idea of a recurrent injury, Tony Romo might play Sunday. Well, Jerry, when you defuse the idea of a recurrent problem, you inherently created the idea of a second one. Now Romo has two back problems, AFTER you basically gave him an edict to get back in the game despite his being clearly shaken up. Now you have a locker room hazard in Joseph Randle, who is getting arrested, getting in fights with your oh-so-diplomatic #1 receiver, and is being deemed a locker room cancer…. but that’s okay. You’re bringing in veteran leadership like Josh Brent, so Randle will feel right at home. Cardinals 27, Cowboys 23. It’s already crumbling.

Tie Watch

6 teams on the bye, and 2 men on the tie.

Steve isn’t passing up Browns-Bucs the once in four years he gets it.
I’m going Foreskins-Vikings. A tie in Robert Griffin’s return would be poetic justice.

Week 8

9-6 last week. 1-0 this week. 57-34-1.

Extended Line Play

I positively LOVE alot of the lines this week, so let’s just dive in.

Seahawks (-7) at Panthers – So the Super Bowl winning team that couldn’t win this exact game by more than 5 last year is expected to win this year by more than seven. The Seahawks have fallen off more than the Panthers. The gap has narrowed. Just….why? Take the home dog points and thank me later. Also, if you have around 60 fantasy points you could donate to me that would be awesome. Seahawks 20, Panthers 16. Time to see if a locker room that is financially guaranteed not to stick together past this season has the maturity to hold down the fort and continue to win.

Lions (-3.5) at Falcons (London) – 9:30am? I’m sorry. Did you have something better to do? It is the Falcons, after all. You can simply not watch, but then you might miss the dominant defensive line eat through the porous Atlanta O-line and eat Matt Ryan alive. Bangers and mash, anyone? Lions 27, Falcons 13. If Detroit is any good, this shouldn’t be close.

Rams (+7) at Chiefs – Lauded deservedly for a big win in San Diego (which has absolutely no real home field advantage, but let’s move on), people tend to forget one thing about Andy Reid: When the NFL landscape blows smoke up Andy’s ass, he has a tendency to blow it back the following week. St. Louis’ defensive line can set the tone early by stuffing Charles and forcing Alex Smith to go toe to toe with their frisky offense. He might win, but he won’t dominate. Chiefs 23, Rams 20.

Ravens (-3) at Bengals – The Ravens are a top 5 team until further notice. Everything they did has worked out so far. Steve Smith is playing like a Pro-Bowler. Justin Forsett has single-handedly saved their running game and allowed them to hold leads, and what used to be a big name defense has been quietly rebuilt. They could be doing better at tight end, and if Smitty runs out of gas, they’re in trouble, but you can’t tell me you see the Bengals, who can’t do ANYTHING on offense if AJ Green isn’t stretching the field, are going to suddenly figure it out and get a win. Ravens 30, Bengals 17. Watch Giovani Bernard vs. an eight man box, and tell me why I didn’t trade him earlier.

Dolphins (-6) at Jaguars – I think it’s time for the Jaguars, who have everything to gain by trying as many things as possible with their new QB toy, to become the frisky underdog I had predicted them to be preseason. If you’re so down on the Jags and think even the Dolphins should be favored by 6 points on the road, tell me which Miami offensive player I should be fearing. Mike Wallace? Pffft ok, double him. Now, who?……… Hello?…… Jaguars 23, Dolphins 21.

Eagles (+3) at Cardinals – I think it’s been understated just how far ahead of the NFL Chip Kelly still is in year 2. His quarterback is not even playing well and they’re 5-1 with a divisional shutout. I would take them every time they’re getting points. Points aren’t hard to come by in Philly. Eagles 34, Cardinals 28. Maclin could have a huge day on Peterson, too. Watch how they move him around. Also, the over/under is only 48 in this game. How are either of these teams not scoring?

Bills (+3) at Jets – The Bills are 4-3 on one of the easiest schedules in the league, and the Jets are 1-6 after facing a murderer’s row of quarterbacks with their beleaguered secondary. With their defensive backfield no longer in jeopardy, expect the front seven to take this game over. Kyle Orton may be hospitalized in this one. Jets 20, Bills 13.

Colts (-3.5) at Steelers – Do yourself a favor and ride Indy until these likes get to the 7-8 points they should be. Indy is the 2nd best team in the league behind Denver, and the gap is closing by the week. People have forgotten how good of a defensive coach Chuck Pagano is, and now that he finally has the defense he wants, ignore the blue unis and see if you can see some old Ravens film in how hard they hit. Ahmad Bradshaw has looked great, their tight ends are a threat on every down, and Luck is…. well y’know… Colts 34, Steelers 20. The Colts should spank the Steelers if they’re as good as they’ve looked.

Packers (+1) at Saints – I know the Saints have a wonderful home dome advantage, but… I mean…. you’ve seen them, right? Graham half-assing on routes, different backfield injuries every week, lots of turnovers, horrible defense, Colston’s a step slower, and they’re favored? I think the Saints have lost their groove. They’re going to have to rebuild this offense. Cooks is part of the solution, as is Graham when healthy, but the rest of the guys can’t win matchups on their own. Aaron Rodgers is going to love playing indoors almost as much as Drew does. Packers 33, Saints 24.

Bears (+7) at Patriots – Sucker’s bet. Everyone wants you to believe that Jay Cutler will have the masterful performance he had in San Francisco. Even if he does, why does that mean he’s winning, or even coming close for that matter, to beating Brady and Belichick at home. I know they’ve had their flounders this season, but Chicago’s defense isn’t going to suddenly come together and take away checkdowns to the backs and tight ends. Brady operates within the cover 2 shell better than anyone. Patriots 29, Bears 20.

Other Winners – Buccaneers, Texans, Browns

Tie Watch – Steve is tempted to go Birdwatch for the second week in a row, but settled for Titans-Texans. I’m going with Bills-Jets.

 

 

Week 7

47-28 overall….. oh, and one

Kitty Bowl

panthers

Basically what a tie looks like…

Steve got his wish last weekend. Not just a tie, but a 74 POINT TIE, and the second in seven seasons for the Bengals. Ties are very often picked based on offensive ineptitude week to week, but this kinda made sense. The Bengals missing AJ Green showed up in overtime, but more impressively Cam Newton’s perseverance showed up, too. This Panthers team isn’t going to roll over and die, and it’s a credit more to Newton than anyone else. Their backfield is a mess, their receivers ain’t much (except for Kelvin Benjamin, who has impressed me more than any rookie this season), and their secondary could easily wane as the season wears on. My father, of ALL people, predicted this would be an MVP season for Newton, and I’m shocked how not wrong he’s been so far. I totally expect them to cover at Lambeau. Packers 30, Panthers 27. Colts 31, Bengals 24. 

Victor Spoiled

cruz

 

I was at a wedding in Virginia over the weekend when Victor Cruz shortened his career with a patellar tendon tear. For those of you don’t know what that means, straighten out your leg, put your thumb and index finger just below your kneecap, and feel how tight that tissue feels. Now imagine it being ripped off the front of your tibia, an area that’s especially sensitive, and you’ll see why Cruz was crying all the way to the hospital. In a way, it overshadows how poorly the Giants played. They led us to believe they had an offensive line scheme figured out, and instead found that the Giants have two tackles signed long-term that can’t sustain individual blocks. Welp, they’d better sustain them tomorrow, because Eli’s going to need to go to Donnell in the middle of the field a hell of a lot more now. They’ll get Jennings back after the bye and be competitive, but I have a hard time believing that they’ll suddenly not fold under injuries the way they have in the past. Cowboys 26, Giants 24. They need to be 6-5 after eleven games to have a shot at the playoffs, and that includes a three week stretch after the bye of IND-@SEA-SF. They gotta steal this one, steal one of those three, and beat Dallas at home like they’re supposed to.

And you might wonder, how am I buying the Cowboys so quickly? Look at that line, man. Huge, young, quiet, and built for straight ahead blocking. Dallas’ weakness is that their defense won’t keep up the suprisingly average pace for 16 games, and that Jason Witten is done. As soon as a team stuffs their run and takes Bryant away, Dallas is toast. Philly should figure this out the way they figured the Giants O-line out and get the job done.

Percy Principle

I'm outta here duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude.

I’m outta here duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude.

And just like that, 1-6 team is carrying two starting receivers from the previous Super Bowl. Pretty sure that’s never happened. The Jets fought their tails off in their Thursday loss, and Rex has shown each of the last two weeks that he’s still imaginative enough to get the job done in containing elite quarterbacks (which I hear is a nice commodity in case, you know, he gets fired). The Percy Harvin trade (Part Deux), part one of which I trashed to pieces, is a continuation of this disturbing trend to trade for and extend the contract of a player who does not stretch the field whatsoever. Worse, he’s not even that good of a pure slot receiver. You need an entire team blocking, and the other entire team falling for the misdirection, for him to break anything big. That’s worth high draft picks and guaranteed money? Forget it. The NFC West powerhouses now both seem to have some discord, as jettisoning Harvin has come with a wake of Smittyesque stories about how he’s attacked Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin in practice. Every NFL player can get up the anger to play hard in a game, but those who can’t control themselves, especially when they never possessed the one-on-one receiver ability Steve Smith had, ain’t gonna be tolerated for long. I wouldn’t be surprised if St. Louis makes a real game of the Seahawks at home tomorrow. Wouldn’t that be a trip? Seahawks 17, Rams 14, OT. 

The Niners, on the other hand, seem to be slowly figuring things out. They haven’t looked overwhelming, but their transition to a passing team under Kaepernick has gone better than I expected. Understated have been the receiver upgrades, as Brandon Lloyd, Stevie Johnson, and Michael Crabtree have all been #1s at points in their career (As I wrote that sentence I forgot about Q, which would make FOUR). That trio doesn’t go on the field scared of anyone, and if they can get their tight end situation healthy, we might forget about Frank Gore altogether. If any team can go into Denver and surprisingly spank the Broncos, it’s the Niners, who have already shown to disrupt the advanced offenses in the league. I have a feeling people won’t underestimate the Niner secondary past tomorrow. Niners 31, Broncos 30.

Kyle and Error

Kyle

 

If there’s any symbolic team for how little anyone in the NFL has distinguished themselves from the pack, it’s the Bills, who despite a QB-controversy that sinks most teams, can stay one game out of first place with a win over the meager Vikings, who are down to a third string running back, rookie quarterback, and a full-scale downscale of Cordarrelle Patterson. I think the Vikings DO have a bright future, but this year isn’t any part of it. A full camp with Bridgewater as the starter and the Patterson-Jarius combo at receiver with Rudolph at tight end, then we’ll talk. Bills 23, Vikings 17.

Also in Bills news are C. J. Spiller trade rumors, which are especially interesting because aside from his injury history, he’s a dynamic 3-down back that can also contribute in the return game as part of a platoon. He’s taken fewer than half the snaps on the field this season and his increasing disuse has been met with increasing suspicion.

Quiet Winners

joique

Lions (4-2) vs Saints – If there’s one reason the Packers can’t R.E.L.A.X., it’s because the Lions are 4-2 despite themselves, and sport the division’s best defense by a mile. Of course, their kicking woes are virtually unsustainable (right?), but their uncanny ability to deliver a clunker at home like they did against the Bills recently is right around the corner to haunt this team. I think the Saints throw a wrench into the guarded happy times in Detroit. Saints 29, Lions 23.

Ravens (4-2) vs Falcons – Thanks to the aforementioned tie, the Ravens sit quietly a half-game out of first place in the AFC North. With the Steelers putting up another dud last week, you gotta wonder if the Ravens aren’t actually the team to beat. You’d presume that Steve Smith will run out of gas in the second half of the season, but then why couldn’t Torrey Smith pick right back up where he left off (1,100+ yds last year) and explode to pick up the slack. They suddenly have depth in their backfield, enough going on defense, and the coaching/QB combo that’s been there before to win close games. Ravens 27, Falcons 17. Atlanta’s not going to look good in this game. You have to be good on your lines to beat Baltimore.

Cardinals (4-1) at Raiders – The 5-1 Cardinals? Really? Yep! Despite all the QB problems, Arizona has the personnel to hang with anyone. If John Brown continues to develop, they’ll have the 3 WR looks Arians loves to use. If their defense continues to stick together through injuries, no one will be able to run on them consistently. Oh, and that Carson Palmer guy everyone loves to trash? Well, he thanks you. Because nobody believes in Carson Palmer, he became the first guy to throw for 4,000 yards on 3 different teams. Keep dismissing them. Cardinals 28, Raiders 10.

Line Play

Browns (-6) at Jaguars – When will you EVER see the Browns as 6 point road favorites? And how do we know the Steelers are even a worthy opponent to begin with? Can’t you see the Jaguars winning this game after we’ve congratulated Cleveland all week? Me neither, but man I’m getting 6 points against a team with new prosperity on the road? Browns 21, Jags 20.

Dolphins (+3.5) at Bears – Positively Chicago’s game to lose. Miami is bad. No, don’t look at the numbers, and don’t look at the occasional fight they put up. They’re bad. Don’t let them burn you. Brent Grimes might get his, but I still don’t think it would tip the game. Lamar Miller isn’t going off against that run defense either. I don’t care how bad you’ve seen it look in other games. Bears 33, Dolphins 23.

Seahawks (-7) at Rams – This is not the week to be taking the Seahawks on the road giving 7. I know the Rams are no good, but all that discord in the locker room becoming public combined with the fact that they have to figure out what to do with Percy’s touches makes me think the next 2-3 weeks will be a transition period. They’ll be the better team in each of these games, but I wouldn’t take them by more than 3 until they show me what they want to do. Seahawks 21, Rams 17. By the way, what would be the fantasy implications if the Seahawks played Thursday and the Jets played Sunday? Would you get 8 quarters to rack up points?

Titans (+5.5) at Foreskins – Talk about something unnecessary that should be cut off to look better, that 5.5 point spread is way too high. The Foreskins are abominable. Did you see what Jay Gruden was wearing during his loss to the Cardinals last week?

Washington Redskins v Arizona CardinalsHe looks like a fan who won a pay-to-enter sweepstakes from Dan Snyder to coach the team for a year. This could be a devastating loss at home. I’ll love it. Titans 23, Redskins 20.

Chiefs (+4) at Chargers – Betting against Andy Reid after a bye is a scary proposition. While I have no doubt that the Chargers’ offense will show, I haven’t seen wondrous play from their defense to the point where I’d simply expect it to show up and help cover. I think this will be a high scoring game, and the Chiefs will eek it out. I think the Chargers are due for a letdown. Chiefs 37, Chargers 34. 

Tie Watch

Steve, in the wake of such joy, gets to settle in on one of his favorite traditions: BirdWatch. He takes ATL-BAL

I don’t see how you don’t take TEN-WAS. Just seems miles ahead of the other choices.

 

Week 6

1-0 in Week 6

Driving to DC tomorrow in a rental car and I still haven’t packed. Let’s not waste time. Andrew Luck is good, J.J. Watt is REALLY good, T. Y. Hilton has his moments (and his real initials aren’t T. Y., did you know that?)

Big Brown

Anyone billing tomorrow’s contest between the Steelers and Browns, especially those favoring the Browns by 1 point, is wildly overestimating the Browns’ feisty play as something to build on for the future. That includes the Browns themselves, whom after drafting Johnny Manziel in the first round have decided to heat up contract talks with the quarterback they drafted him to replace. That alone should tell you this is the same old Browns with a dash of overachievement, but if you factor in that Antonio Brown owns Joe Haden, you’ll come back to Earth. Remember, this Browns team has played one good quarter against the Titans, one good game on their grass against the Saints, and have essentially looked inadequate the rest of the time. In fact, they may have looked better in their two losses than their two wins. Pittsburgh won’t take them likely with a second crack at them. Steelers 30, Browns 21.

Ride That Horse

The Broncos couldn’t ask for a better opponent to have their letdown game against. Peyton throwing for a career high in yardage (Were you surprised that Peyton hasn’t thrown for 500 in a game in his career? I was.) against a demoralized Cardinals team usually comes with some exasperation, or at least a slow start, the following week. Enter the hapless Jets: ten point home underdogs, missing meetings the night before games, and as disorganized a team as there is in the NFL now. Bless you, Rex Ryan: Broncos 41, Jets 13. Forget if the Jets can stop Peyton. Tell me how they’re scoring two touchdowns in this game.

Lion’ Shame

If I copied and pasted a paragraph from 2012 about how enigmatic the Lions have been in this week’s column, would you notice? Jim Caldwell has done much more to curtail the undisciplined nature of the Lions’ play than I imagined he would, and he has certainly improved the defense, but getting spanked by Carolina and losing to Buffalo at home are glaring. That being said, I don’t see how they lose to a Vikings team that is so beat on and over-reliant on young talent that the slightest slip up tilts the game radically in Detroit’s favor. The Lions should have no problem sticking to the run game with Calvin Johnson gone and play enough mistake-free ball to eek this out. Lions 23, Vikings 20.

By the way, the Bengals get to take that Panther Toughness Test the Lions failed in Week 2, but at home. Even without A. J. Green, they should be able to eek it out. They shouldn’t be touchdown favorites, as they really have nothing else in their arsenal to blow a game open, but their defense is good enough and their running game is good enough to match theirs and ride the home field to a victory. Bengals 26, Panthers 23.

New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles

This Again…

Four weeks ago, you would never have said that the Giants were the best team in the NFC East, but with the best defense in the division by a mile and an offense that should only get better as Odell Beckham gets more reps, why shouldn’t we start saying it? The schedule, which as is wasn’t daunting, has set up for them quite nicely. There are two teams with four starting offensive linemen hurt, and the Giants get both of them back-to back. Who do they get after that? The Cowboys, who will likely be beat up from playing in Seattle the week before, and may even be starting Brandon Weeden if Romo doesn’t slip out of the way this time. Who do they get after that? A week off! Who said I was worried about the Giants? I mean… say Andre Williams decides this is the game where he has two rookie fumbles and causes a third in pass protection… Naaaaaaah, right? Giants 34, Eagles 30. Seahawks 24, Cowboys 17.

Line Play

Jaguars (+4/+170) at Titans – I think it’s time for the Jags to get off the proverbial schneid (is there a real schneid?). Anyway…The Titans probably haven’t regrouped from giving up a 25 point lead at home, and the carousel at the QB position could finally mean Bortles has an opponent he can beat. Jaguars 17, Titans 14.

Patriots (-3) at Bills – While I don’t think the Pats are all the way back, this Bills team will suffice for a live scrimmage. Brady will be able to work within the shell tremendously, making a ton of completions to the backs and Tim Wright. Being favored by only three is a joke. Patriots 34, Bills 20.

Ravens (-3.5) at Buccaneers – Juuuuuuust a bit high, right? Ravens shouldn’t be able to put up big numbers on the road against that secondary, and the lines still haven’t caught up to how much of an improvement Glennon has been over McCown. Ravens 17, Bucs 14. Juuuuuust a bit high.

Foreskins (+3.5) at Cardinals – Drew Stanton is cleared to play, Bruce Arians breathes a tremendous sigh of relief, and the ‘Slurs are in a whole heap of trouble. Cardinals 27, Foreskins 17. Peterson pick six upcoming.

Chargers (-7.5) at Raiders – You know when they tell you “When in doubt, take the points?”. Not one of those times. Chargers 31, Raiders 10.

Packers (-3.5) at Dolphins – I know what you’re thinking: “Hey, I get 3 and a HALF at home? I’ll take it! The Packers haven’t looked that great.”. You’re wrong. The Dolphins are awful at home, and soon to be plain awful. Disregard the return of Knowshon Moreno. He can’t cover anyone. Packers 30, Dolphins 24. 

Bears (+3) at Falcons – LOVE the Bears here. Yes, I love the Bears way more often than I should, but fuck you. The Falcons are a dream matchup for them, even in the Georgia Dome: small cornerbacks, bad offensive line, no dominant running game, questionable coaching tactics, and a total lack of pass rush that will give Cutler all day to hit these huge receivers on at least 40% of his passes. Bears 31, Falcons 28.

Tie Watch

Steve doesn’t like how I pick games, but you know that by now:

“If you think Jacksonville and Tennessee are so bad, why do you pick either of them to win?”. He goes JAC-TEN.

I’ll take CHI-ATL. Can totally see it as a high scoring regulation game that struggles to find a dagger in OT.

The Buddy System

10-5 last week. Ayyyy.

Look, it’s virtually asinine to fault Geno Smith entirely for what’s gone on since he got here, especially since it’s been going on long before he got here. His flipping off fans, missing important meetings, and other civil disobediences are setting him up to be the exemplar of how Rex Ryan has absolutely no clue what’s going on in his locker room, and it’s going to greatly impact his post-Jets career. He’s been an all too willing participant as the poster boy for how the Rex Ryan era comes to a tragic end, and for his own sake he needs to cut it the fuck out.

That’s not an if; the Rex Ryan era ends this year. It was decided in 2013 when, against all conventional wisdom in running a front office, the Jets decided to fire the GM that hired Rex Ryan and keep just about everyone he brought to the team. As a first-time GM, John Idzik must have been thrilled that he got the opportunity to ride out the incumbent head coach on the Peter Principle as a buffer to get 2-3 extra years on the job. While there’s a slim chance this season could go so bad that the house gets cleaned (or worse, the Jets think they have a 0.2% chance at Jim Harbaugh and fawn over him before firing the incumbents), John Idzik’s primary concern was not finding an offensive coordinator, developing a quarterback, or winning the division (something that Rex hasn’t done yet). Idzik came into this mess with a primary goal of getting to a second contract with the team: that the salary cap he would save ($20M this year, good job!) and the rebuilding moves he would make would not immediately bear fruit, and he needed to ensure that he will still be general manager of the team to receive credit (and the job security that goes with it) for the rebuilding effort. The easiest way to do that is to postpone the hiring of “your coach” by riding the current one into the ground. Well, land ho!

That’s not to say, however, that Idzik is exonerated for not having a plan this year, especially with the signing of a starting caliber guy in Michael Vick and an offensive coordinator that knew how to use him in Philadelphia. With the Patriots’ win total predicted to be 3.5 greater than any other team in the division, it’s perfectly reasonable to use this year to develop Geno as plan A, but Vick should have been developed and used as a plan B should the division appear winnable as it does now and strike while the proverbial iron was hot. I have a hard time believing Vick would look this unprepared and unmotivated if he was brought in with even a moderate prospect of winning the job. Unfortunately, the rudderless nature of this roster will do more to contribute to the poor end result than any comparison to another floundering AFC East team.

bears

As refreshingly open and honest as Rex is, so too is the one gaping flaw in his head coaching tenure: anachronistic infrastructure. Rex was a boy when his old man Buddy innovated the 46 defense in Chicago. Buddy Ryan was such an influence on the team, and needed so little input from Mike Ditka, that when they won the Super Bowl BOTH of them were hoisted in victory. They often clashed in their time together, as Buddy genuinely felt he could run the whole defense by himself without any input from above, and the players actually took sides. This lead to some of the defensive players using the lifting of Buddy Ryan at the Super Bowl to make a statement. Rex’s disconnect from his offense and the development of offensive players is just as glaring as that between Buddy Ryan and Mike Ditka. Rex thought he could run a team this way, and it just doesn’t work in today’s NFL. You have to have a genuine GM-Head Coach-QB central nervous system to regularly succeed in this league, and while this may favor offensive-minded head coaches, there are plenty of successful defensive guys like Pete Carroll, Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, Chuck Pagano, and even Tony Dungy and Bill Cowher if you want to go back a little, who get the job done. I don’t think any of those guys had a disconnect with their quarterback.

Colts (-3.5) at Texans – Jeez… 3.5 road favorites? In the division? On short rest? This line is based on the overachieving Indianapolis secondary, which has kept them from becoming an entirely one-dimensional team in a bad division, which they still may be. I don’t buy the Texans lying down here. I think you’re going to come out of this game with some real questions about Indy’s ability to contend, even if they win. Texans cover. Colts 27, Texans 24.

Week 5 Picks: New Rules Edition

1-0 in Week 5 with a bullet.

I’m formatting my picks this way because I’m hungover, but this might be a good idea anyway. Let’s roll.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Minnesota Vikings

New Rule: Christian Ponder never gets to start a game in the NFL again.

If anyone wants to complain about Thursday night blowouts, they have to show me how Kirk Cousins, Josh McCown, and Christian Ponder would have played better on Sunday, because that’s 3/4 of any one argument either way. How Ponder ever became a high draft pick in this league astonishes me. He has no arm, no brains, and no toughness, and he looks like Pete Yorn. Anyone you could substitute Pete Yorn in for at QB and not notice much of a difference doesn’t belong.

With the Packers having their early struggles, and the Bears seemingly appearing to have 4-5 games this year where their defense doesn’t show up, this division is kinda laid out for the Lions, isn’t it? I mean, when you’re given 4 shots at the division with the talent they have, winning it once isn’t too much to ask. This is a great matchup for Detroit, as their crummy secondary won’t be tested and the handful of big plays they get on offense will pull them away. Lions 34, Bills 16.

perry1

Oh, and new rule: If you’ve never been to a college football game before, and didn’t go to college, you DON’T get to be part of the on-campus rally-style college football coverage.

Katy Perry showing up at the Ole Miss game today to spread her attention-grubbing antics (these were followed up by a stage dive at a local bar when Ole Miss won) is an exemplar for how much attractive people who suck at the rest of life seem to be able to get away with. This nauseated me. ESPN shouldn’t do it again. Find another celebrity. There had to have been an actual graduate form Ole Miss that would have given you better television.

After a great first half in Lambeau 3 weeks ago that looked like it would stamp the Jets as something to be reckoned with, the fireworks have fizzled over the last ten quarters and desperation has set in as they go on the road in San Diego. I love Rex, and I love his philosophy, but they simply drafted the wrong guy. In today’s game, you have to understand how taking a guy that the entire QB-starved league passed on sets you up to look awful if he’s anything less than great. Vick has his flaws, but he’s better than Geno Smith, and his failing just sets you up to draft someone in a more structured way. Drafting Geno in the 2nd round with Mark Sanchez healing up was a resounding “Ehhh, maybe” in response to the question “Do you want to give up on this guy and get a new QB?”. Eh, maybes don’t work at the QB position. Chargers 30, Jets 20.

From the border to the bay, I love the Chiefs coming into San Francisco and getting a win, especially if Vernon Davis is out. San Fran has been outscored collectively in their 4 games so far, and somehow had their whole week scathed by the press despite the fact that they WON last week against the Eagles. I expect Andy Reid to develop the screen game here, and cool off the Justin Smiths and Patrick Willis aggression, and I expect the Chiefs to be able to leave Sean Smith 1 on 1 with Crabtree. People don’t take Smith’s size into account when he matches up, thusly he can handle 3rd down guys who don’t burn you like Crabtree. The Harbaugh talk heats up as Alex Smith gets some delicious revenge. Chiefs 27, Niners 24.

New Rule: If you’re facing a dome team in your building with forecasted 17mph winds, four of their five starting offensive linemen out, and a defense that has generated absolutely no pass rush while giving up over 550 yards to a rookie QB, backup RB and Jarius Wright, YOU BETTER F$%&$ING WIN BY 48, YOU BUMS

Ahem, seriously though, no excuses. The Giants are lucky that Arizona game hasn’t come back to haunt them yet, so they just have to keep rolling. I don’t care how good their receivers are. If you’re facing scrubs off the street and potentially a tight end playing right tackle (Levine Toilolo had to sub in with all the injuries last week vs. Minnesota) if the injuries pile up further, you HAVE to get in Matt Ryan’s grill. He caves under A-gap pressure, and New York’s secondary is designed to man up across the field and jam receivers (See: Eagles, Week 7). Even the strength of the Falcons defense, their good young corner tandem, won’t be able to do what they do against this offense that targets the middle of the field primarily. Julio might get 1-2 big ones, but I don’t see how the rest of the offense holds up. Giants 33, Falcons 24.

New Rule: If a team is 1-2 and has scored 56 points total, stop picking them to win IN Philadelphia

Even with their offense getting shut out last week in San Francisco, the Eagles were the 2nd highest scoring team through four games behind the Colts (who have been abusing bad teams to pad their number up). I can’t believe people are thinking the St. Louis D-line matters in this matchup. They’ll just bubble screen right around it, score the 20-odd points they need and move on to next week. Foolish to think Austin Davis putting up numbers against their bad defense will matter. Eagles 31, Rams 20.

New Rule: No more expired beer and food at Foreskins games

expiredbeer

This is real, by the way…

…when are we as a society going to wake up, take the sensitivity of the American people into account, and change the owner of the Washington Redskins? How is he not fined for this? How is he allowed to be an owner when all he does is hurt people? Changing the name won’t do anything if this shit is allowed to go on, and there’s an entire fucking catalog of it since Snyder’s bought the team. Being a Foreskins fan has got to be the most depressing state in the league. I don’t think any fan base, even the Browns, has the stark contrast of great history with current futility.

Oh, and let’s save ourselves the Monday column while we’re at it Seahawks 44, Redskins 6. Take note of how absolutely awful the field looks Monday night before the game starts as Snyder thinks it’s cool to level the playing field with his shitty team by making the turf injurious to both teams.

New Rule: If you’re playing the Jaguars, just came off of a bad loss, and I’m starting your backup running back in fantasy, I’d better be seeing alot of him in the second half

Yes, I will be rooting for a Steeler blowout in Jacksonville today, and hoping I get some points for starting LeGarbagetime Blount in a desperation move. If the Steelers don’t come out mad and throwing and ready to kill, you have to have serious questions about where they’re headed this year. Even the best Steeler teams had a habit of dropping a bad one at home occasionally, but they always fired back the following week. Steelers 44, Jaguars 10.

New Rule: If you’re starved for wide receivers, and you’re outscored by 10 across your first four games, stop making them healthy scratches. 

Seriously? What the fuck are you doing, New England? Oh, I know, you have Josh McBrat running your offense for you and someone said something meeeannn to himmm awwwwwwww. You’re right, it’s just what Tom Brady needs: the guy who ran Jay Cutler out of Denver, then failed miserably, then failed in St. Louis, and now is failing again in New England now that he doesn’t have Randy Moss stretching everything for him. God, is there any coordinator in the NFL besides Rob Ryan who’s living on reputation alone like Josh McDaniels is? Can you at least CREATE THE PERCEPTION that you have control of your team? Can you at least CREATE THE PERCEPTION that there will be some throws outside the numbers? I suppose as long as your feelings aren’t hurt and everyone respects your childish brat persona (which totally works in the grown man’s NFL, by the way, since y’know nobody yells or screams), then getting blown out by the Bengals is ok. Bengals 28, Patriots 17. That Cincy defense is no joke, Josh. Get your weapons ready.

New Rule: Someone tackle DeMarco Murray

This can’t be real. The guy who would trip over the furniture if he ran through my apartment is leading the league in rushing? Hey JJ. Fill the hole and make him move left or ri-oh-yeah he can’t. Behind the admittedly well-built offensive line, Murray has been allowed to have a “breakout” season, when this is really all he’s ever done: run in a straight line until he gets hurt. He’s not the force in the passing game people say he is, he possesses no lateral agility whatsoever (which is why he fell in the draft) and his horrific pad level has been disguised by good blocking. Hit this guy JJ. Texans 23, Cowboys 17. 

and finally, New Rule: If Darrin Reaves and Fozzy Whitaker run all over your defense, you can go ahead and stop calling yourself a contender right now

Ah, the Bears. One week, masters of the air. Next week, leaky run defense sinks the whole cause. Shouldn’t be the case here guys. While the rookie matchup of Kyle Fuller on Kelvin Benjamin should be a dandy, this is really a “how bad does Chicago’s lines want it?” game. There is nothing Carolina presents on offense that an average Chicago team shouldn’t be able to take away. I expect to see the contender side of the Bears, and a message to be sent. Bears 37, Panthers 13. If not, we have to seriously question the Bears.

Other Winners – Cleveland, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Denver

Tiewatch

Steve wants to say the Browns, but he just can’t resist a Texas-sized Tie Watch: HOU-DAL

I’m taking CLE-TEN, and not overthinking it. I have the whole column to do that.

Trouble Over Bridgewater

bridgewater5-8 in Week 4. 26-19 overall.

Let’s be real here. Bridgewater isn’t playing tonight. The Vikings took advantage of a short week and didn’t divulge any injury information through the missing of practices. If this is a deltoid ligament sprain, he’s out 4 weeks, and if it’s a high ankle sprain it’s probably more than that. Bridgewater assembled big numbers through simplistic offensive schemes devised by Norv Turner that did not demand full field vision and great touch from him. The few deep throws he launched were inadequate, and he still appears to be a Robert Griffin type of frail to me in his frame that was validated for me by his injury (a non-contact sprain on a scramble). He could work in the right scheme, but if his arm strength is a question out of the gate, it’ll only get worse as time goes on. Scouts focus way too much on a QB’s ability to read defenses and process information and not enough time projecting his starting arm talent with the understanding that it will crest and deteriorate over time. If you don’t have a great arm to begin with, you’re not getting one. If you can’t read defenses, at least that can be taught.

PonderArm

Which leads us tonight to the latest start for Christian Ponder. Besides looking like Pete Yorn, an abysmal 6.4 yards per attempt for his career and a QB rating of 77, Ponder begged out of his one and only playoff appearance because of the above boo-boo on his throwing arm. With no structural damage, and apparently no doctor willing to diagnose and aspirate a hematoma in sight, the Vikings let their season slip away at Lambeau against a fairly beatable Packers team in 2012 (and by fairly I mean they got steamrolled by the 49ers in the next round). Ponder can work short passes, but he’s no lock to stay out of turnover trouble, and there’s no way he can push the ball downfield. The Packers get a rightful reward after demolishing Soldier Field: an easy short week. Welcome back, Aaron. Packers 38, Vikings 17. 

Week 4 MNF

5-7 in Week 4 – 26-18 overall. Yeesh.

Hasn’t been a good week for the ol’ analyses.

“After three weeks, Pro Football Focus had Will Beatty as the highest-graded left tackle in the league and his grade was not hurt by a solid performance in the 45-14 rout of the Redskins, when he allowed only one quarterback hurry.”

Shows what I know.

Vicked Off

Geno

Hey, Geno!

Before you go screaming “Fuck you!” to Jets fans on your way off the field from another putrid, progression read-free, turnover-prone, growth-stunting performance that only you could take accountability for, isn’t being a homeless man’s Donovan McNabb a big screaming “Fuck you!” to Jets fans already? I can’t believe, after YEARS of watching Philly try to cram McNabb’s big arm, leadership, and scrambling ability into a West Coast scheme unsuccessfully that Mornhinweg is trying to do it again with Geno Smith who isn’t nearly as bright or mentally tough as McNabb was. I’m NOT a fan of McNabb at ALL, and I’m saying this.

By the way, if you’re wondering if Geno has benefited from Michael Vick’s tutelage, Vick did this exact same thing in 2006.

Oh, and then there’s his coach…

Look, it’s no secret Rex can’t coach or develop any offensive players or scheme whatsoever, and that his tenure has been marred by the fact that he’s been in a six-year search for the Buddy Ryan to his Mike Ditka. Had he found that person, Rex would look like a genius, and probably have a ring, but he hasn’t. Frankly, I’m not sure an NFL head coach can abdicate one side of the ball to a second banana the way Ditka did to Buddy Ryan in the 80s. If Rex doesn’t appear to be worried about losing his head coaching gig, it’s because he’s not. A team would snatch him up as a coordinator the minute he got fired, and frankly, his work day wouldn’t be all that different.

Chip Shot

maclinLast year, I was surprised that the Chip Kelly offense was going to be sustainable long-term. This year, I’m shocked they were shut out yesterday. While I do believe that many of the zone-read concepts and screens he’s helped innovate are here to stay, I saw a GAPING hole in the Chip Kelly scheme that may prevent it from being something you could run on its own. As fast as the team plays, and as many big plays as they generate, you would think they would have little difficulty driving down the field with a minute left to tie/take a game in crunch time. Au contraire, howev…ere, if Chip’s offense can’t bait you into misdirection off of run fakes and developing contralateral bubble screens, their vertical game is less than ordinary. This scheme is all about stretching you horizontally, and if that’s not a concern to the defense, there’s seemingly very little it can do at all. It’ll be interesting to see if teams try to take risks in order to jump out to a lead on Philly and get them playing from behind. If they’re this inefficient in the 2-minute drill every week, you can basically shorten the game by 4 minutes in putting them into it.

oh, and how could we forget…

Jackson Six

vjax

Hell, I’ll go 5-7 every week if it means the Steelers will drop a game at home like that. I had a gut feeling this game wouldn’t turn out the way we thought because of the quarterback change and the now-perennially poor safety play from Pittsburgh leaving matchups to be won on the outside. I think we all forgot that Mike Glennon ain’t all that bad, and when you give him the catch radius that his targets give him, maybe their season isn’t all for naught after all. Pittsburgh’s been in denial about having to rebuild their secondary for almost five years now. This upcoming draft needs an influx, especially since they’re unlikely to bring free agents in.

I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again. If you’re in the 2-minute drill, go deep middle and no huddle until you can’t anymore. Teams are so coached to protect the sideline when you really only need to get out of bounds at the very very end. If there’s 1:30 left, throw seam passes until there’s 25-30 seconds left, then micromanage from there.

Monday Night Football – Patriots at Chiefs

Much tougher game to call than it should appear on paper, and you can largely thank the Patriots’ big play ineptitude for that. The Chiefs have a considerable home-field advantage, very safe passing game, and a strong enough running game to make this interesting and keep the Pats from pulling away. My gut wants the Chiefs, but my head wants the Pats. Head wins for now. Pats 27, Chiefs 26.