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NFL Picks, Week 2: Listen To Us And Beat The Spread
The SportsGrid Bacchanal is a weekly NFL picks column that will drain your bank account with a smile. Floyd Mayweather approves this message.
There was a moment in Sunday’s 49ers-Packers game when Green Bay was storming back, and the Fox cameras cut to Jim Harbaugh biting his nails (not, surprisingly, going batshit crazy) and Mike McCarthy looking stoically unconcerned. That’s what happens when you have Aaron Rodgers on your side, it seems. Of course things didn’t work out for the Packers, and Jim Harbaugh continues to successfully (in the public eye, at least) straddle the line between psychotic rage and constructive intensity.
That’s the fluidity of emotion in the NFL, week to week ups and downs, altering third party perspective more than internal team reality. An NFL team is as good as it is, and sometimes it plays well and other times it doesn’t. Maybe that’s the inherent genius of football scheduling, that the seven days between football (five, now, thanks to the NFL shoving primetime football in our faces at least three times per week this season) embraces narratives and storylines and drama, all of which is amplified by the existence of non-conclusions, or really just no football to settle these non-arguments.
Even if there aren’t any numbers attached, the NFL has its own AP Top 25. Power rankings, we call them, a smug alternative to an identical construction. It’s not official in any repercussive sense, as with college football, but it brings a slapped on smattering of order to an otherwise chaotic way of things. And it mostly doesn’t give any power to anyone except whoever arbitrarily pieced the whole thing together, as most great teams honestly believe that they’re the best anyway.
Okay, enough serious talk. Time to lose some money (Home team in bold).
Chicago Bears (+6) over Green Bay Packers
Jay Cutler may have rolled against the Indianapolis Colts, but not before scaring the living shit out of every Chicago fan with that pick six to start the game. In other news, Michael Bush is this year’s fantasy thief, Marion Barber reincarnated.
/checks fantasy waiver wire, sees he’s already on someone’s team, gouges out eye with pencil
Can we really call it the Frozen Tundra when it’s warm outside? Announcers should refrain from labeling it that until, say November, when, you know, the tundra is somewhat frozen. Otherwise it’s just any other football game when it’s blistering hot outside and overgrown men in giants pieces of plastic are expected to cut their life expectancies in half by running into each other at full speed. Football!
(Note: I still like Green Bay to win this game, but the six point cushion is nice.)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+7.5) over New York Giants
Eli Manning gave us a classic shit-the-bed-in-primetime performance, if only to lower expectations to the point of complete abandonment. And don’t let that 21/31, 213 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 94.9 QB rating fool you. A large portion of that was amassed with the Cowboys up 14 and a prevent defense asking the Giants to march down the field. It was classic Eli bed-shitting to throw us off his scent. And since we’re still in that shit-the-bed phase, it seems prudent to bet against the New York for now.
Plus the Bucs played well against the Panthers, as Cam Newton submitted another one of his 300-yard passing performances in route to, you guessed it, a loss. Josh Freeman, though unspectacular with 138 yards passing, didn’t mess things up. And in Greg Schiano’s run-happy, slow-the-game-down-to-bore-the-other-team-into-submission offense, things worked out pretty well. I foresee them playing a lot of close games this year (even if they’re on the losing end), so I’ll take the points and watch the Giants win 45-10.
New England Patriots (-13.5) over Arizona Cardinals
The Bill Belichick chef’s special is to run up the score on inferior opponents because why not, and Kevin Kolb will be the starting quarterback for Arizona. Kevin Kolb is awful. Watching his happy feet in the pocket is mildly entertaining, if only because that skittishness causes him to drop back and flee for his life before the pressure even reaches the pocket. But don’t let last week’s miraculous comeback fool your wallet. For every glimpse of promise there are seven glimpses of terrible.
New Orleans Saints (-2.5) over Carolina Panthers
I was trying to look up Drew Brees’ stat line on ESPN, and was promptly confronted with his putrid QB Rating of 38.4. It’s like no one was calling the right plays, or something. Though it seemed a bit low, especially since Brees threw for 339 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs. Then I looked a little more closely, and realized that QBR wasn’t QB Rating, as any normal human being would surmise, but his total QBR, that “innovative” stat ESPN spoonfed us for months last season to show up the anitquated QB Rating. Sure, the whole QB Rating thing is way off and doesn’t account for situational statistics, but it’s a solid barometer of whether a QB played okay or not. And it’s a barometer I’ve grown up with, so I understand it. I know what a great rating is, I know what not a great rating is. Although ESPN scaled theirs from 0-100, I still have no idea what 60 means. Is that exceptional? Is 38.4 dogshit? I have no idea.
This is why I partially hate advanced sports statistics – not that I don’t appreciate their value, because batting average and such allows 60+ sportswriters to hail THE WAY THINGS ONCE WERE, but no friend is impressed by pulling out Terry Bradshaw’s QBR in 1970. Subtly mention Joe Montana’s passer rating in 1991 to win an inane argument and you might get a “Woah, dude, smart!” And any such ego boost is worth at least three minutes of self-congratulation.
Oakland Raiders (-2.5) over Miami Dolphins
The Raiders may have lost, but Dennis Allen definitely exhaled when Carson Palmer threw a two-yard TD pass to Rod Streater. Say the Raiders don’t score a TD. Wouldn’t you be terrified in the back of your mind that your team would NEVER score a TD? Of course you’d exude confidence on the outside, trust in The System and all that. On the inside though, PANIC. Al Davis definitely would have fired a coach before TD No. 1 just because he could.
And, as per tradition (that is being established today), your Joe Philbin on Miami update:
“Well, you know, Ryan had a few hiccups, some not-so-great plays, but then, of course, we had those good ones, the ones where he did well, where things turned out okay. And that’s encouraging, GOOD for the team, good for his confidence, and we’re, well, you know, most likely going to keep working, you know, keep working, with that confidence into next week, the next game, as we move forward, into Week 2, where we have another game, some more work to do, to improve, to get better.”
Cincinnati Bengals (-7) over Cleveland Browns
As Evan Silva of Rotoworld and PFT points out, Andy Dalton is 3-7 in his last 10 games with 8 TDs, 13 turnovers (10 INTs) and a 56.5 completion percentage. The Baltimore Ravens also blew the Bengals out of the water in Week 1. Vegas still favors Cincinnati by seven points. 80 percent of bettors are taking Cincinnati. That’s how terrible Brandon Weeden is. He had a QB Rating of 5.1 (and a 1.2 total QBR!) in his first career start: 12/35, 118 yards, 4 INTs. He’s almost 29 years old. Browns fans are nostalgically dreaming of Colt McCoy right now.
Washington Redskins (-3) over St. Louis Rams
This is one of those “Vegas knows something you don’t” spreads. Maybe it’s a classic letdown game, with everyone riding the RG3 high until reality promptly smacks us in the face. (95 percent of bets are on Washington covering right now.) They could’ve jacked this line up to six or even seven points, and 90 percent of the bet STILL would have favored Washington. If this were a 10-point spread, I’d probably still bet on the Skins because LOOK AT HIM RUN AND THROW SO INNOVATIVE.
It’s amazing how all that “can Andrew Luck live up to Peyton Manning’s legacy?” talk has largely disappeared, if only because Luck is stable and consistent and boring. RGIII is probably the best thing to ever happen to his career, as we’re infatuated with a mobile QB while possibly the greatest pocket passer of the next 15 years lies in wait to destroy everyone while playing the nobody’s-talking-about-me card.
New York Jets (+6) over Pittsburgh Steelers
It seems foolish to pick Mark Sanchez, let alone Mark Sanchez on the road, let alone Mark Sanchez on the road against Pittsburgh. But this isn’t a Mark Sanchez pick so much as it’s a Jets defense pick, coupled with a non-Steelers offensive line pick. Though he looked good against Denver, the Jets defense will swallow the Pittsburgh offensive line alive. And, as long as Sanchez doesn’t go mucking things up everywhere, the Jets should at the very least find themselves in a close game.
On Sunday night, they replayed Tracy Porter’s pick six off Ben Roethlisberger on numerous occasions (to the dismay of some), with Cris Collinsworth noting that Big Ben stared down his receiver. At first I assumed this was just Collinsworth prattling on about parts of the game the viewer can’t see in order to espouse his INSIDER KNOWLEDGE, but then I actually watched the replay. And Big Ben really did eye-bang his receiver’s soul, noticed Porter draped all over him, and threw it anyway. (Note: if that pass is completed, look at Big Ben’s GUMPTION). It was a dumb pass among dumb passes, but one Ben typically gets away with due to his insane arm strength. Porter, though, plucked the ball out of the air with surprisingly non-cornerbackish hands, and that was the game. I’m not really sure what this means in the grand scheme of things, if only to point out that the difference between greatness and Brandon Weeden is sometimes, well, very little.
Indianapolis Colts (+1.5) over Minnesota Vikings
Kansas City Chiefs (+3) over Buffalo Bills
Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5) over Baltimore Ravens
Jacksonville Jaguars (+7.5) over Houston Texans
Dallas Cowboys (-3) over Seattle Seahawks
San Diego Chargers (-6) over Tennessee Titans
Detroit Lions (+7) over San Francisco 49ers
Atlanta Falcons (-3) over Denver Broncos
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