0-1 in week 7. Still pissed about the Arizona pick. What was I thinking? Only 2 games between teams with winning records this week.
Things can’t get too much worse for the Texans, can they? They get to bench Matt Schaub without really benching him, and get the additional gift of T. J. Yates throwing a pick six, leaving the door open to check out Case Keenum for real. Keenum was more than productive in his preseason work, and the fact that he wowed the Houston fans as a college player is great PR. Nothing will lubricate a 7-9 season than a lovable loser like Keenum. Smooth move, Kubiak. Oh, and thank you for another pick six for the Chiefs defense. Fantasyyyyy. Chiefs 24, Texans 13.
The New Dogs Playing Poker
After five years of living in this apartment. I finally decided to start making it look like someone lives here. I bought an authentic 1968 Giants poster, some sick original fan art on Secret of Evermore and Xenogears, and I canvased a sepia tone horse racing picture I took. Watch me move out next summer.
By the way, NO I did not purchase the majestic above-depicted Running of the Bald Bulls. I’m waiting until I have a fireplace.
Black and Blue
Big funky interconference matchup between the Bengals and Lions. Both of these teams like to chuck it, and both teams have a pass rush that can change the game when they’re ahead. It’s tempting to take the Bengals on the road here because of their better secondary, but I’m taking the home team here. The Lions are great at creating space inside for Reggie Bush, and if they can do that, their secondary won’t be as much of a factor as when Detroit is spread out. Lions 34, Bengals 26.
The Packers could not have a better stage to figure out what the bleep they’re going to do without Randall Cobb and James Jones if in fact both of their injuries are long-term. Cobb is out 8 weeks with a high fibular fracture (which is actually WAY better than a low fibular fracture. Cleveland comes in to Lambeau with an uncoordinated offense and a front office that literally has done almost everything possible to oust its current starting quarterback. Even worse, Cleveland will have to take to the air to do ANYTHING in this game, so the pass rush can tee off early on Weeden, get their turnovers, and let Rodgers figure out what to do with Finley, Boykin, and Lacy. Don’t be surprised if Lacy gets 30 carries today if he gets going early. Packers 30, Browns 17.
The Bears get a very favorable road matchup in Washington this week. Chicago’s become one of my favorite teams to watch this season. Marc Trestman is a true player’s coach, and it shows in how Jay Cutler has made the slight changes in his game to clean up his gaffes. His footwork has dramatically improved: he stays on his spot, and lets the rocket fly from a good position instead of flinging around off-balance like he has in the past. They make sure to run the ball enough that you have to respect it, and when they line up to pass, the size they can bring with Marshall, Jeffery and Bennett is unparalleled in the league. DeAngelo Hall can’t cover everyone, right? Bears 28, Redskins 20. Also, yes, the defense isn’t as good this year, but they still create takeaways at the same rate they did in years past, and if the offense is cleaned up, the takeaways might actually contribute more to winning by giving Cutler more possessions to work than stuffing the opposition cold.
League of Denial
I’m not going to pretend I read the book in four days like everyone else; not when you can watch the documentary for free online, as well as each of the individual interviews in full for a good 7 hours of material on the subject. You can also continue to follow this story with the concussion tracker built into the website. Was what the NFL did absolutely despicable? Yeah. Shocking? With billions of revenue to protect, absolutely not. Meddling in the academic process was really the worst thing they did. Society really counts on the objectivity of these scientists for doctors to make their decisions with patients. Putting a rheumatologist at the head of a neurological action committee was absurd, but perhaps not as absurd as the rest of the scientific community tolerating it without action. The Fainaru brothers did a great job in conveying the information available, but I thought that for a case that essentially defends itself, they threw their faces into it a little too much. I don’t need to hear Steve Fainaru’s vocal fry when the two neuropathologists get the point across. K, guys?
Here’s what I think we’re going to learn about this whole concussion thing long-term:
1) Football won’t die, but pee-wee football will: Antonio Gates, Jason Pierre-Paul, Jimmy Graham, and Ryan Tannehill are the best examples. You don’t have to play this game from a young age to be great at it. There’s really no reason for anyone to play football until their junior year of high school. College scouts are primarily looking for bodies they can coach anyway, and the pros are starting to do the same. I think this will go a long way in taking the parenting umbrage out of it. The child can essentially make the decision to play and be educated with the risks. It’s really just unecessary to teach proper technique at the age of 9 to avoid injury. Who knows if they’ll even use it or understand it enough to use it on every down?
2) The players are not a homogenous pool of tragedy: Harry Carson played middle linebacker for a decade, took as many hits as anyone else, and despite a very guy-with-a-high-stress-job pattern of depression he described, looked like he could resolve international disputes at the U.N.. It’s going to be shown that a lot of these guys needed football to simply be anyone. Their families can’t enjoy the spoils a long NFL career brings to the household, and then cry and complain once that career is over and the player isn’t doing anything with his life after football. NFL players need to be educated from day 1 to prepare themselves for life after football. Not only will this make their lives more financially viable after their careers have ended, but I’m pretty sure it could be shown that people who actively engage their brains after their careers have ended will stave off degenerative changes. Mike Webster superglued his teeth back into his mouth, and used duct tape as gauze for fissures in his feet as his family watched. I’m pretty sure he hadn’t been going to doctors with regularity. I’m also pretty sure alot of these players were prediabetic or mild type II diabetics based on their body types, which can destroy you from the inside out just as bad as an end-stage arthritic condition
3) Pinning the whole thing on Goodell is silly: This is obviously something that started under Paul Tagliabue, likely behind alot of closed doors, perhaps closed even to Goodell, and continued into Goodell’s tenure. Goodell, with all the awful things the league did in mind, committed nine figures of damages, eight figures of donations to research, and changed how the brains of these players were handled so that the truth can really come out. With all the information and this documentary out there, the scientific community has no excuse to let anything less than the most objective evidence and highest level of research design point to the answers, and thusly tell us what changes we need to make. I thought the scientists and the families got off way to easy in the movie, which is understandable given that it was rightfully a missile aimed at the league. They’re paid well enough to not only avoid letting corporate America dabble in their reputation, but to kick and scream when they see malfeasance in their own field. I certainly won’t be putting up with it.
Bucs (+7) at Falcons – The winless Buccaneers are just what the doctor ordered for the Julioless, Roddyless, Jacksonless Atlanta Falcons. Whew. That’s alot. You can look at how shaky the Falcons are all day long: that’s still the 0-6 team with a rookie QB on the road coached by a bum. Falcons 27, Buccaneers 20.
Chargers (-9) at Jaguars – Ooh, boy. The Chargers just seem like a team that goes on a tear for a couple of weeks and just falls apart periodically right as you think they’re going to take the next step into contention, no? The Jaguars need to show you something on offense before you can even think about taking them. Chargers 29, Jaguars 17.
Rams (-7) at Panthers – The line is this big because the Panthers have played very well at home, and the Rams have played awful on the road with the exceptions of last week’s thrashing of the Texans. Can’t you see Cortland Finnegan getting under Steve Smith’s skin and Ron Rivera getting outcoached by Jeff Fisher here? I’ll take this as my upset. Rams 23, Panthers 20. SPTKF best bet: +250
Niners (-4) at Titans – Jake Locker returns to the lineup at the worst possible time. Hip injuries are funny, especially for quarterbacks who have to plant off of them to generate power without ever being contacted. If I were Tennessee, I would half-resign this game and let Locker come back in a less dangerous situation. Niners 31, Titans 10.
Bills (-9) at Dolphins – Don’t take Thad Lewis on the road. Dolphins 30, Bills 13.
Patriots at Jets – Rob Gronkowksi returns from his life-altering arm injury/reinjury/osteomyelitis to haunt the inside of the Jets defense. Can’t you see this being the game where the Jets D worries too much about stuffing the run and stopping Gronk in the middle that their receivers on the outside get open down the sidelines and have their first truly big games? Patriots 41, Jets 20.
Ravens at Steelers – Jeez. Remember when these games mattered? I think the Steelers fooled alot of people last week with their win at the Jets. The Jets played a classic “OMG, It’s the STEELURZZ!” game without actually seeing how beatable the team in front of them was. The Ravens won’t do that. Ravens 23, Steelers 21.
Cowboys at Eagles – Love the Cowboys here. They should be able to take DeSean out of the game with their corners, and even if that doesn’t work the Monte Kiffin Cover 2 doesn’t allow big plays. That means the Eagles will have to gain spacing in the shell to make things happen. Philly isn’t good enough on offense to not make big plays and rely on their defense to keep it close. Cowboys 38, Eagles 34.
The Main Event
Oh, yes he did! You can talk about how unflappable Andrew Luck is all you like. This is a good time to play the Colts. Catching them off a short week and an embarrassing road loss brings a smidge of shaken confidence into the first quarter of this one, and that’s all Peyton will need. The team that takes Denver out will have to start fast, and I don’t see how Indy starts fast given their circumstances. All it’s going to take is another dropped 3rd down pass on the opening drive, and this one will be over. Indy’s receivers have really yet to all get it together in a significant game this year, and Luck is going to learn the hard way that the way to the top involves a little help from your friends. Broncos 41, Colts 24.
With only two games between teams with winning records this week, Tiewatch is loaded.
I’m going TB-ATL. That could really get ugly if they get Gonzalez covered.
Steve is going with BAL-PIT because “they deserve each other”