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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.