Thursday, September 25, 2008

NFL 2008 - Week 4

Week 3: 12-4

Overall: 26-20-1

The Smartest Thing I Said Last Week:

I don't think that the Jets are all that great, even with Saint Favre under center, and I think the Chargers will win a no-doubter.

The Dumbest Thing I Said Last Week:

I'm still not sold on the Pats with QB Matt Cassel at the helm. Their defense has looked impressive, but against the Chiefs and the Jets. And the Chiefs and the Jets are not exactly the 1999 Rams on offense.

But the Dolphins may be even worse, so it would be silly not to pick New England this week.

[considering that I first picked the Dolphins, then changed my mind, and then the Dolphins won by 25 points, that was indeed a dumb thing so say]

A very nice week, but I won't do too much crowing since, as I've said before, you can't really know anything until about Week 5.

So, one more week until this gets really easy!

Week 4 Byes: Lions, Colts, Dolphins, Patriots, Giants, Seahawks

Browns @ BENGALS -3.5

Nearly everyone remembers last season's crazy 51-45 Browns-Bengals shootout in Week 2 that kick-started the Browns' run to playoff contention. Nearly no one remembers the 19-14 Bengals win in Week 16 that effectively killed the Browns' playoff chances. We ought to remember that the Browns are 0-3, demoralized, and probably just plain bad, while the Bengals, though also 0-3, can't be demoralized because everyone assumed they would stink, still have some weapons on offense, and looked tough on the road against the defending champs last week.

Texans @ JAGUARS -7.5

The Texans have lost by 21 and 19 and haven't played a home game yet. The Jaguars have lost by seven, lost by four and won by two. Something's gotta give. I say Jacksonville's offense -- particularly quarterback David Garrard, whose four interceptions through three games eclipsed his entire 2007 interception total by one -- gets back on track. It's said that the Jags saved their season with their last-second win at Indianapolis on Sunday; if they handle the Texans they'll be fine going forward at 2-2.

Falcons @ PANTHERS -7

After the Michael Vick saga, and after their coach up and quit before last season even ended, the rebuilding Falcons are an admirable 2-1. That said, they could very well be the most underwhelming 2-1 team we've seen in quite a while. They've won two home games against the Lions and the Chiefs, who are not only two of the worst teams in the league but arguably two of the worst NFL teams in years.

When they had to go on the road against a playoff-caliber team they lost 24-9 to the Buccaneers, with rookie QB Matt Ryan posting no TDs, two picks and a less-than-robust 29.6 passer rating.

And lookie here: this week, the Falcons go on the road against a playoff-caliber team in the Carolina Panthers. Sure, the Panthers only managed ten points against the Vikings last week, but the Vikings defense is really good; I'm not sure the same is true for Atlanta's. Carolina gets an easy win.

BRONCOS @ Chiefs +9

With the Broncos defense going up against the Chiefs offense, you've got the proverbial moveable force meeting the resistible object. The Broncos are rolling, though, 3-0 even if they easily could have lost their last two; and it's hard to imagine a team in worse shape than the Chiefs. The poor, poor Chiefs.

Listen, I know that Seattle sports fans have gotten a lot of attention lately, what with the Mariners being terrible, the usually-strong Seahawks getting off to a bad start and the SuperSonics up and leaving town. And, as I noted last week, we all know that God hates Cleveland. But can you imagine being a Kansas City fan? It's a small city in the middle of nowhere, so we forget what Chiefs-slash-Royals fans have gone through. The Royals have had one winning season in the last 14, and the last time the Chiefs won a playoff game you -- and I mean you, specifically -- hadn't heard of Sandra Bullock or email.

Three times since they last won a playoff game, the Chiefs have entered the playoffs at 13-3, with a first-round bye and Super Bowl hopes, and have been upset at home in the AFC divisional playoffs. Three times!

Do you know who the last Chiefs quarterback to win a playoff game was? Go ahead, guess. You won't believe it. Seriously, guess.

Nope; it was Joe Montana. Joe Montana! Yes, that Joe Montana, who's so old you can barely remember when he was even playing! You know who the running back was in that last playoff game the Chiefs won? Marcus Allen! Marcus Freaking Allen! Whose earliest years in the league were juuuuust barely captured on color film!

Do you know who the Chiefs beat in that, their last playoff win, in 1993? The Houston Oilers! Who most people can barely even remember having been a team!

Okay, I'll stop.

[it's just that as a Vikings fan, you have little choice but to mock those few fans who are less fortunate in order to try to make yourself feel better]

[and, inevitably, you remember that the Chiefs, of course, beat the Vikings in Super Bowl IV]


49ers @ SAINTS -5.5

Faithful readers will remember that a 5 or 5 1/2 point spread is, I contend, the oddsmakers' way of letting you know that they don't think you have a clue about this game. Usually they're right; I don't. Last week, though, I made some pretty good guesses and went 4-0 in such games.

The Saints have lost tough games against decent teams, and no one's convinced about the 2-1 49ers yet, particularly since they started 2-1 last season on their way to a 5-11 campaign.

So to which of the following, time-tested game-picking maxim do we adhere?

- The 49ers stink, or

- Don't trust the Saints?

Since the Saints are playing at home, let's just go with them and move on, no?

CARDINALS @ Jets -1.5

"Hey, we went 4-12 last season; what do you think our problem was?"

"Um... I know! Our quarterback wasn't old enough! He was only in his early 30s!"

"Hey, you're right!"


PACKERS @ Buccaneers -1

Brian Griese of the Buccaneers threw 52 passes in the second half last week as Tampa Bay came back to beat Chicago in overtime. Seeing as how the NFL record for pass attempts in a game is 70, one can infer that 52 passes in a half is quite a few. Not sure what that means for this week's game, but, it bears mentioning.

Let's pretend for a minute that the Packers didn't just lose decisively at home to the Cowboys; the Cowboys are the best team in the NFL. Most everybody would lose decisively at home to them (until they choke again in the playoffs, at least). The Packers are still a strong team; they were one of the best teams in the league last season and, except for that loss to the Cowboys last week that I've already decided we're disregarding, have looked almost as good this season.

And I still contend that the Bucs are middle-of-the-pack outfit. For some reason I'm utterly convinced of that; they could go 15-1 this season and I'm pretty sure I'd still argue that they're a mediocre team.

Vikings @ TITANS -3

This had been noted elsewhere, but, could anyone have imagined two years ago -- let alone two weeks ago -- that a Gus Frerotte/Kerry Collins quarterback clash would be a marquee Week 4 matchup with the potential for major playoff implications before the season is out?

There's a decent chance that the defenses in this game could outscore the offenses. I'll just take the misery insurance and pick Tennessee.

Chargers @ RAIDERS +7.5

I counted on the Chargers to win big last week, and it paid off. Don't ask my why, but I'm counting on the Chargers to let the Raiders keep it close this week.

Ordinarily you'd assume that a team going through such mishegas as the Raiders would fold up shop (can you "fold up shop?" If you can, then that's what I'm suggesting such a team would ordinarily do) and just mail in the rest of the season, but the Raiders followed up a decisive road win in Week 2 with a close game against a tough Bills team in Buffalo last Sunday.

Now a division foe is coming to town, the fans are excited, that 41-14 travesty of a loss to the Broncos in Week 1 is ancient history... yeah, I'm talking myself into the Raiders again, to at least keep it close.

BILLS @ Rams +8

The struggling St. Louis Rams look to quarterback Trent Green, hoping he can help end the culture of losing that has befallen the team in recent years.

A nice thought, and one the Rams had -- word-for-word -- back in 1999! Remember? Green was the brand spanking new quarterback for a Rams team that had been the losingest NFL squad of the 1990s, and hopes were high. Then Green got hurt before the season started, unheralded backup Kurt Warner filled in, and the team won its first Super Bowl; it's pretty unlikely that this go-round of Trent Green To the Rescue will produce a Rams Super Bowl title.

I'd talk a bit about the Bills, too, but to be honest I know almost nothing about them other than the fact that they're 3-0.

Redskins @ COWBOYS -11

Last week, the Cowboys beat the Packers on the road by 11 points. This week, the Cowboys host the Redskins. I think the Packers are better than the Redskins. So, I'm picking the Cowboys, even with the 11-point spread. I know you usually depend on this site for trenchant, insightful analysis, but that's the best you're going to get.

I'd really love to pick the Redskins, since it's a tough divisional matchup and it's easy to imagine it being close, but, the Cowboys are too good; I've got to keep picking them until they fail the cover the spread.

(and yes, I know they failed to cover the spread two weeks ago at home against a divisional opponent, and now I'm saying I can't possibly pick them to fail to cover the spread at home against a divisional opponent. Be quiet)

EAGLES @ Bears +3

The shakier the Colts look, the less impressive the Bears' Week 1 win in Indianapolis appears. Based on that win, I'd assumed that Chicago was back to their 2006 Super Bowl form; now I'm not so sure.

The Eagles are banged up, but running back Brian Westbrook and quarterback Donovan McNabb say they'll play. Even if they can't, running back Correll Buckhalter should prove an adequate replacement for Westbrook, and if McNabb can't go maybe they can see if Marky Mark can fill in at quarterback.

You know, from that movie where he played for the Eagles?

[folks, some weeks your heart is completely into your NFL picks column, and some weeks it isn't]

[needless to say, this week it IS! Come on! Marky Mark? Since when is that not comedy gold, people?]

[don't worry, we're almost done...]

RAVENS @ Steelers -5

Good defenses, bad offenses (plus, Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger is banged up). Probably a low-scoring game; don't bet on a team winning by more than 5.

[... see?]

...and The Funky Bunch are still up in fookin' space.

(Never! It is never not comedy gold.)
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