BALTIMORE (3-2) -7.5 vs Chicago (1-4)
Week 2 of the Mitchell Trubisky Experience is coming to town. He looked like, well, a rookie on Monday night against Minnesota. Made a few plays, looked quizzically at the sideline for guidance about every third play, got surprised by the defensive speed on an important strip sack fumble and the game ending INT. So yeah, a rookie. But he can make plays on the run. It may be the most exciting 4 pick game of the year if the Bears fall behind.
Ravens have had their troubles on the offensive line, and it’s hurt the offense. Want a list of QBs with a lower passer rating than Joe Flacco?
End of list.
But you gotta hand it to Flacco. In a year where QB play is getting roundly criticized, he’s somehow escaping the brunt of it. You can't even blame the small market. Cam Newton got roasted for a couple of weeks in the quaint hamlet of Charlotte NC before he (1) played better and (2) took the focus off his play by rolling out a full Mad Men attitude towards women this week (oh, sorry Cam, I forgot you prefer the term “female”).
Baltimore’s offense isn't good enough to pull away.
Pick: Bears +7.5
NEW ORLEANS (2-2) -4.5 vs Detroit (3-2)
The tremendous revitalization occurring in Detroit has reached and passed the Lions offense. It went from explosive and unreliable to gentrified in one offseason. Real headline on espn.com: “Trying to figure out the Detroit Lions' relative lack of explosive plays”. It says a lot, including that there soon will be an opening for a headline editor at espn.com. They’re scoring just under 25 per game, but Stafford has been sacked 12 times and is hurting.
They come to the Mercedes Benz Superdome to meet a team that’s had a week off after drubbing the Dolphins 20-0 in London. No, not Mercedes-Benz Stadium. That’s the one in Atlanta with the wonky roof. The defense has played well the last two weeks, the offense won't be slowed by a Lions defense that’s OK but missing Ngata this week, and they traded AP to clear up a logjam at RB. Give the points.
Pick: Saints -4.5
Green Bay (4-1) -3.5 at MINNESOTA (3-2)
We’ve been wondering if you can pick these games just by looking at the QB matchup. This one would be open and shut. Aaron Rodgers did Aaron Rodgers things to the Cowboys. Case Keenum relieved Sam Bradford at halftime and squeaked out a win over the Bears with 2 short fields after turnovers. Things could be tough for the Vikings. But here are some other things to think about since you've grown accustomed to our hard-hitting, in-depth analysis:
Short home dog getting the hook. 3.5
Minnesota defense is 8th in the league in points allowed
Jordy Nelson sat out the game winning drive with an unspecified injury. The Packers are playing this one NHL-style. Next detail could be “unspecified lower/upper body injury”. Thanks, Packers. Helpful.
How come you never see a baby pigeon?
Pick: Packers -3.5
WASHINGTON (2-2) -9.5 vs San Francisco (0-5)
We feel bad for Colin Kaepernick. His anthem protest created the following progression:
In the last 12 months:
He polarized the NFL audience
He lost his job
Whatever his cause, it was embraced by a meaningful number of professional athletes
In the last 2 weeks:
The NFL made a circus out of it to protect its revenue (oops, I mean protect “The Shield”. That’s going to be a HBO show one day about how F-ed up the NFL is).
The President tweeted about it (never good).
NFL owners flopped all over the place trying to appear sensitive while not having the president tweet at them too.
Teams planned and staged formations and timing more elaborate than a LeBron handshake.
The President cited the NFL Game Operations Manual, which means that he spent some of his Presidential time and resources reviewing that 200+ page treatise. The NFL’s rules about How to Play A Football Game will be Seasons 3-4 of “The Shield”. By then only the diehards will be watching.
The NFL put the issue on an upcoming agenda, calling it “front and center”. Not how to approach the social issues, just whether or not players must stand for the Anthem.
Everyone forgot about it.
A lot more players got concussions.
One thing we can all agree on. Kaepernick has Oscar Gamble-level Afro game. Gamble played 17 MLB seasons in the 70s and 80s, walked more times than he struck out, plus this:
Pick: Redskins -9.5
ATLANTA (3-1) -11.5 vs Miami (2-2)
The Falcons announced that the roof will stay closed for the rest of the games in 2017 until they get it fixed. The press release said they need time to “fully automate the roof”. What they didn't say was “In the meantime, if anyone has any really long broomsticks, can you bring them over to help push this thing open? We’ll provide the Chick-fil-A. But not on Sunday. And don't tell Zaxby’s”
Gratuitous roof shot.
It’s a cool engineering feat, but let's focus more on the stadium's obvious nickname, The Sphincter? So we can say things like “Once the Falcons relaxed everything came out OK”, and “Arthur Blank’s Sphincter is an monument to his business success”? But first fix the real problem: having to open and close the Sphincter manually.
Miami’s not as bad as they started. We’re not going to ruin Jay Cutler’s day and say they're good, but it’s too many points. We expect a tight one.
Pick: Miami +11.5
Bonus Pick: Falcons Roof (pick ‘em) vs Tesla Model X Doors
Bonus Bonus Pick: Sphincter jokes (-14) vs fart jokes
New England (3-2) -9.5 at NY JETS (3-2)
The Jets are 2-6 vs the Pats since 2013 …. but only 1 game decided by more than a TD
The Jets are 2-2 at home vs Pats since 2013, with losses by 5 and 1.
First place in the AFC East is at stake, and let’s face it, opening 4-2 with potentially a game lead in the division means you have real playoff hopes. We’re talking to you, JETS. No betting market recognizes this, which is to say that they’re gleefully writing Pats tickets and raking in the dough while the public disbelieves that this team isn't very good this year. This isn't Anchorman, where Baxter returns at the end. Sometimes, when Jack Black kicks your dog off a bridge, it stays kicked off.
In related news, I saw Bill Simmons yesterday. He looked bad.
Pick: J-E-T-S! jets! Jets! JETS! +9.5
HOUSTON (2-3) -10.5 vs Cleveland (0-5)
6 games with over 7-point spreads this week. Granted, there are at least that many bad matchups, but this is crazy. The books are trolling the public with these lines. It’s like they all got together and said “let’s see if we can get them to take ridiculous favorites”, and “Let’s see how much of the public has concussions by making these lines all 3 points too high.”
JJ Watt is gone for the year, with a tibial plateau fracture, such an obscure injury that we had to go online and read about it. So after an hour on WebMD, we learned that JJ Watt cracked the top of his leg bone like a log being split. Ouch. Also, I self-diagnosed at least 4 terminal diseases and haven't slept since Monday. Thanks, Internet.
On the plus side, DeShaun Watson is for real. Cam Newton says he has “swag, just like me"! Cam is trying to put himself in the running for Voice of the Nation (Please Look at Me!), after everyone forgot that Colin guy who did whatever he did. We forever ride for Oscar Gamble. The slogan for 2020 Presidential campaign writes itself: “This Gamble gotta be better than the last one.”
Last week we said Cleveland has to win a game before we’d take them. As much as we hate getting punked by the sportsbooks, we can't break a promise. Ask Oscar Gamble.
Pick: Houston -10.5