The SportsGrid Bacchanal is a weekly NFL picks column that will drain your bank account with a smile. Floyd Mayweather approves this message.
A lot of backlash concerning those pesky replacement refs has whipped around the internet over the past few days, in large part due to their atrocious performance in Week 2. And though that hardly differs from our preseason expectations, their inability to control the game has come to the forefront. We’ve heard RGIII and others players and coaches complain, and we’ve heard Steve Young pinpoint the real issue: the NFL doesn’t give two shits. Or one shit, for that matter.
Here’s what it boils down to: players and coaches alike bully replacement refs, replacement refs cave, players and coaches bully some more. It’s devolved into a battle of subversion, who can intimidate the refs more to swing calls in their favor. THIS IS NOT FOOTBALL, we scream in outrage. Except players are screaming that same thing, and no one’s acknowledged the players’ role in this giant kerfluffle. Now, don’t get me wrong: Roger Goodell is a giant turd stain and deserves to have his eyes gauged out with a pitchfork. The real refs need to come back, end of story. Still, can we absolve the players of sin completely?
Sure, football’s an aggressive game and complaining fruitlessly to referees in sports is a time-honored tradition. Except it’s not so fruitless anymore, and that forbidden fruit TASTES SO GOOD. But the chaos can resolve itself if the bullying dissipates, or at least is tempered in non-controversial situations. Players now argue EVERY call, obvious or not, hoping just the right amount of “I outweight you by 150 pounds” can do the trick. Of course there’s the unfeasibility of asking Jim Harbaugh not to blow a gasket once every six minutes, but only a cooperative effort by players and coaches on all sides can alleviate this situation. I guess the bigger issue here is not so much the complaining, but the delusion that enough complaining and corruption and chaos will drive the NFL into corner. It won’t, because Roger Goodell is the bane of every human’s existence, so there has to be some sort of battle truce. Of course there won’t be, and the replacement refs should probably just grow some balls, but LET ME DREAM.
And now, off we go. Home team in bold.
Chicago Bears (-7.5) over St. Louis Rams
If you haven’t seen it by now, check out the Smokin’ Jay Cutler tumblr. It’s just perfection in every way. And if you haven’t read that Jay Cutler anecdote from Kissing Suzy Kolber, we highly recommend you do.
There’s a part of us that loves this Jay-Cutler-doesn’t-give-two-fucks routine, a man consumed by football and anonymity more than anything else. Though the nagging perception that he’s just a giant dick won’t ever seem to go away, at least until he wins a Super Bowl. It happened to Eli Manning, when that aw-shucks doofiness morphed into unflinching ASSASSIN, and even Philip Rivers has wiggled out of that giant douche perception, even if he’s probably still a giant douche. Winning and/or excellence prejudice behavior in a good way. Arrogance is uplifting bravado, silence is unwavering confidence, skittishness is pocket presence. We pine for familiarity in narrative, that presumptive snap judgments about what’s right and wrong will be proven right and wrong. Only a few years ago you couldn’t win without a great running back. Now it’s a revolving door of sixth round hired mercenaries, a cheap plugin to appease a fading need for play-calling deception. In a few years it might just reverse itself once more, and we’ll appropriately adapt the formula for Super Bowls.
Dallas Cowboys (-7) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
God, Greg Schiano is a dick. He just looks like one too. Maybe one day he’ll be good enough to parlay that dickishness into TOUGH MINDED WINNER LOOK AT HIM CARE ABOUT FOOTBALL, or maybe not. Either way, he will still be a dick.
San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) over Minnesota Vikings
That’s two passing offenses the 49ers have dominated in two consecutive weeks. Winning with running and defense still works, apparently.
/Mark Schlereth faps in the corner
Even though Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz’s on-field meeting was rather chummy, don’t count on Harbaugh to keep a lid on that aggression all season. We’ve already seen the Jim Harbaugh Insanity Index once, and let me tell you: Glenn is just waiting, JUST WAITING, to bust another one out. Hopefully a replacement ref flags some 49ers special teamer for a phantom block in the back on the opening kickoff.
One other note: Remember that “look at me, I took Toby Gerhart LATE ROUND STEAL” fantasy pick? Adrian Peterson put a stop to that.
Miami Dolphins (+3) over New York Jets
Your Joe Philbin on Miami update:
“Well jeez, guys, uh, Ryan just, well, he, kinda, just, you know, threw the ball well out there, on the field, with the defense guarding the receivers, and the receivers trying to get open, and Ryan just threw them in there just like we told him to, uh, asked him to, studied on tape. And that Reggie, we just knew, we KNEW, he had that in him, INSIDE of him, just waiting to come out, to unleash, and it’s just kinda, you know, uh, a great FIT for us when he’s you know, running the ball, across the field, towards the end zone, north-south, scoring TOUCHDOWNS, helping the team, you know, uh win games, with RYAN.”
Buffalo Bills (-3) over Cleveland Browns
Jim Brown was a giant douchebag to Trent Richardson before he even stepped on the field, so at least now he’s an idiot douchebag. Remember this?
“I think the kid is a good working back, and if you’ve got everything else around him he can play his role. But when it comes to outstanding, I don’t see anything outstanding about him. It’s not said in a cruel manner. He’s very efficient, and that’s what you want.”
Okay fine, he was horrible in Week 1. But Brandon Weeden’s four picks probably didn’t help. Then in Week 2 he scored two highlight reel touchdowns on top of 145 yards rushing and receiving. I wasn’t particularly rooting for Richardson before, but now I hope he truck sticks Jim Brown on his way to a TD.
Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) over Arizona Cardinals
How Arizona (and how New England, for that matter) would it have been had Stephen Gostkowski nailed that field goal. Ryan Williams nearly fumbled the game away with 1:10 left on the clock, except Gostkowski came to the rescue. Answer: VERY ARIZONA AND NEW ENGLAND. But the worst thing to come out of all this was Kevin Kolb’s halfway decent performance, which now merely constitutes him not completely shitting the bed, instead only letting out a few dribbles here and there. We’ll now have to hear more of the Skelton-Kolb debate, which is the most depressing thing of all time for me, so I can’t imagine how Arizona fans feel.
Important question: what is going on with Wes Welker? He’s not playing every snap, and even Julian Edleman is getting work ahead of him. The Aaron Hernandez injury should force him back into action, but a friend of mine surmises that it’s a ploy to familiarize Edleman with Welker’s role when they don’t re-sign him this offseason. Though I concede that that’s very Belichick-ian, I would have loved it if that was announced, say, before I drafted him in the third round of my PPR fantasy league.
Denver Broncos (+2) over Houston Texans
GAH! Peyton Manning is NOT the same QB! Three interceptions! They were going to take him out for the hail mary! Denver won’t win the division! Tebow! TEBOW! TEBOW TEBOW TEBOW!!!!
Seattle Seahawks (+3) over Green Bay Packers
You just don’t bet against Seattle at home. They pump up the volume inside that stadium to insane decibles, which could harm Aaron Rodgers and his SUPER SUCKY leadership abilities. Gotta love JerMichael Finley’s agent for that one, undermining the entire team and then backtracking into the “JerMichael Finley didn’t say this” and “I have a right to my opinion!” spiel. Note: you also have an obligation not to spill your client’s secrets to the media and make him a locker room outcast.
Carolina Panthers (+2.5) over New York Giants
Detroit Lions (-3) over Tennessee Titans
Washington Redskins (-3) over Cincinnati Bengals
Kansas City Chiefs (+9) over New Orleans Saints
Indianapolis Colts (-3) OVER Jacksonville Jaguars
Pittsburgh Steelers (-4) over Oakland Raiders
Baltimore Ravens (-3) over New England Patriots
Atlanta Falcons (+3) over San Diego Chargers