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Gamblin'NFL

SportsGrid’s NFL Picks, Week 5: Who We’re Putting Our Money On This Weekend


The SportsGrid Bacchanal is a weekly NFL picks column that will drain your bank account with a smile. Floyd Mayweather approves this message.

What if flopping became a thing in the NFL? It actually does happen all the time, with quarterbacks exaggerating late hits, punters propelling themselves into the air any time someone comes within five feet of their fragile legs and players flailing to the ground in after-the-whistle skirmishes. The NBA just instituted penalties for flopping, as you might’ve heard, and Roger Goodell would clearly suspend a flopper for life because of the game’s INTEGRITY, which is clearly of primary importance. Well, maybe not as much as player safety. By the way, let’s play 18 games.

Home team starred.

St. Louis Rams* (+1.5) over Arizona Cardinals

Last week Danny Amendola caught a touchdown pass on a fake field goal because he hugged the sideline and kept out of view of the Seattle defense after third down. Due to a rather subtle NFL rule, receivers don’t actually have to come back inside the hashmarks after plays, or something.

It was a cool play, and it’s always exciting when HOLY SHIT TRICKERY, but the Seattle special teams coach deserves to be horse-kicked in the face. Special teams, as a unit, has one goal – don’t ruin everything for everyone else. Don’t turn the ball over, don’t give up a big return, don’t give up a fake punt for a first down, etc. But players who are on special teams, they’re the ones trying to make plays the most, trying to play outside of themselves. They’re most likely backup defensive backs and linebackers and receivers, guys who just barely made the roster and are trying to earn some big boy playing time. So they try to block kicks and earn roughing the passer penalties, they try to pickup that extra one or two yards and fumble the ball, they unleash a highlight-reel block that earns a block-in-the-back penalty.

A special teams coordinator has to understand this. He has to keep his guys disciplined. And, at the very least, he should probably pay attention when his guys are on the field for .03% of the game. He has to own the sideline for that 40 seconds, stomping around and screaming and spitting as if he matters. Then he can just go back to tripping people.

New York Giants* (-9) over Cleveland Browns

For all the talk of Andy Reid’s idiotic icing of Lawrence Tynes, no one seems to be talking about Tom Coughlin’s equally idiotic decision to kick a field goal from 54 yards out. With 15 seconds left in the game, Coughlin decided to send out Tynes for the game-winner instead of running a play and risking the ball remaining inbounds (the Giants had no timeouts). Nevermind that the Giants have arguably the best 4th quarter quarterback in the game; Coughlin chose to forgo trusting his Pro Bowler and opt for the not-so-safe long field goal attempt. Tynes’ first attempt was wide and would have barely (if it even did) cleared the bottom bar of the uprights.

The trusty late-game mismanagement of Andy Reid came to the rescue, and Coughlin had a TIMEOUT’S WORTH of time – or three commercials, in Roger Goodell, squeeze dry everyone and everything talk – to reconsider the decision. But even after he saw Tynes essentially short it, HE CHOSE TO KICK IT AGAIN. With 15 full seconds on the clock. Eli could have thrown the ball out of bounds if nothing was there. Then you’re in the same scenario again. Holy shit. You can put any 13-year-old who’s played Madden for 30 minutes in there to make the right decision.

But you have to love that second attempt. Right down the middle. Giants players celebrating. From so many yards away, depth perception is obliterated. Maybe that would have been a better storyline, or at least a more typical one, Andy Reid blowing the game. But that look of glee turned despair is priceless. SUFFERING IS SO MUCH FUN.

Not gambling related, but still important: DEER ON THE ROAD!

Cincinnati Bengals* (-3.5) over Miami Dolphins

Your Joe Philbin on Miami update:

“The game went to overtime, which, you know, uh, means the game was close, both teams COMPETING, fighting, going at it, for sixty minutes, but then there’s more time, in the game, an extra session, where you have to duke it out some more, for LONGER, again. Ryan threw that interception, to the other team, the Cardinals, and that wasn’t his best, his most impressive moment, but they advanced the ball down the field, towards the end zone, into field goal range, where the kicker, could kick the ball, a field goal, in overtime, for the win. And he made it, the field goal, and you just have to move on, get better, improve, from week to week, one game at a time, on to the next team, next week, on Sunday.”

Seattle Seahawks (+3) over Carolina Panthers*

I highly recommend you read this article by Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders on Ron Rivera’s decision to punt the ball on 4th and 1. It sums up my contempt for conventional coaches quite nicely, and in particular uses fact and statistics to backup points instead of CAPS and angry posturing that I normally resort to.

That’s really all I have to say about this game, because each of these teams excites you with WOAH RUNNING QUARTERBACK only to disappoint you with FUCK RUNNING QUARTERBACK CAN’T ACTUALLY THROW the following week. Seattle is coming off the latter while Carolina is coming off the former, so Seattle’s the pick here.

Denver Broncos (+6.5) over New England Patriots*

Did Peyton Manning pick the Denver Broncos so he’d never have to face the Patriots with a better squad on his side? I think so. Despite Brady’s relative postseason domination in comparison to Manning’s, and Brady’s favorable overall record against Manning (7-4), Manning supporters have always been able to moan about the Pats having Bill Belichick and better players and cry cry cry.

Any time a matchup of this kind (two highly touted players who never actually face each other on the field) occurs, some obscure running back or punt returner has an outstanding game and ruins Ron Jaworski’s on-air fap session. (Note: he probably still faps off-air.)

San Diego Chargers (+3.5) over New Orleans Saints*

The San Diego Chargers were inching towards the end zone against the Chiefs when Philip Rivers threw a touchdown pass to Eddie Royal. I was watching Red Zone with some friends (who refused to watch the Jets game despite my strenuous objections, because I am a football elitist who must focus on one game at a time to absorb the game and understand the intricacies that no one else sees), all of whom had their phones or computers out following their fantasy teams. Basically everyone had guys on the Chargers – Philip Rivers, Ryan Matthews, Malcolm Floyd, Antonio Gates. Except Rivers threw the TD to Eddie Royal, to no one’s delight except mine. That’s probably the most disappointing thing in fantasy sports, when a non-fantasy viable player catches a touchdown or makes a big play or STEALS fantasy points from your guy. Jesus, doesn’t Norv Turner understand that I have Antonio Gates and Philip Rivers and they need to hook up for several touchdown passes each game? Not that everything revolves around fantasy, but everything revolves around fantasy.

Houston Texans (-8) over New York Jets*

Shutouts in the NFL are embarrassing. And not just because the other team dominates you, but because the other team dominates you with second unit guys or first unit guys who ask you to score. The San Francisco 49ers had a stranglehold on the game against the Jets last week by the earlier 4th quarter, and San Francisco, as any team trying to melt the clock would, went into a form of prevent defense. Mark Sanchez still managed to lead the team to three and outs, or one first down and out. I watched him throw the ball into the ground. I watched him literally stare down NaVorro Bowman and then proceed to throw him the ball. It was painful to watch, and this is coming from someone who gets particular enjoyment out of watching other people squirm in embarrassment.

One other note: I started Kendall Hunter in one of my fantasy leagues because I am god-awful at fantasy football, and he scored a touchdown. I AM A GENIUS.

Other Games:

Atlanta Falcons (-3) over Washington Redskins*

Pittsburgh Steelers* (-3) over Philadelphia Eagles

Indianapolis Colts* (+7) over Green Bay Packers

Tennessee Titans (+5.5) over Minnesota Vikings*

Baltimore Ravens (-6) over Kansas City Chiefs*

Jacksonville Jaguars* (+6) over Chicago Bears

San Francisco 49ers* (-10) over Buffalo Bills




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