Sunday, September 14, 2014

NFL Picks: Week 2

Photo courtesy of NBC News
Week 1 was by far the worst week in my two years of making picks. So many horrible losses due to backdoor covers, flaws in logic, and just being plain wrong. Most of my losses were very infuriating after following the games throughout the day.

I nearly cried when only 11 seconds into overtime, Marques Colston fumbled away my chance at getting another win in what was already a brutal week for me. I understand that had the fumble not occurred, I would have lost the game anyway. Why? Because it's the NFL and this always happens; the Saints would have gotten into the red zone, stalled, kicked a field goal, then stopped the Falcons on the ensuing drive, winning the game but finding a way to anger me by failing to cover the line by half a point.

Still! There was a nonzero chance that Mark Ingram scored his third 3-yard touchdown of the game (because that's the only reason why he's still in the NFL) to put the game away, cover the spread, and give me some semblance of hope after beginning the week at 2-8. But Colston fumbled.

So yes, that means that in two straight games, Colston has screwed the Saints out of a chance to win. Remember the Divisional Playoffs last season? After scoring with 26 seconds left, and recovering an onside kick, Colston and the Saints actually had a chance to tie the game in Seattle.

In fact, all of that was captured in the article that I wrote the next week:
Despite Marques Colston literally throwing away any chance the Saints had to tie last week's game in Seattle, I must thank him for sealing a backdoor cover with his onside kick recovery. Had the Seahawks recovered that kick, the most likely would have at least kicked a field goal to ice the game, and win by a margin of 11 points, rather than 8. So thanks Colston, the entire state of Louisiana may have shunned you, but everyone who jumped on the Saints when the line shot up to 9.5 will love you forever.
Here's an amazing video that I just found, documenting Colston's horrible play in one of the most hilarious ways possible.

For whatever reason, the song fits perfectly. And I credit the creator of the video for not choosing to go with the old, played out, Yakety Sax route. 

The play in January didn't matter to me, but now that a bad Colston play has totally screwed me out of a win, I'm done with you Marques. 

You thought I was done ranting about my Week 1 losses? Think again, son (or daughter).

The Jacksonville Jaguars jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead in Philadelphia, led by two touchdowns by one of the better receivers in the history of The U, and Nick Foles looking completely worthless.

Just when I was beginning to pat myself on the back for taking the points, the Jags remembered that they are in fact, the Jags. They failed to the score in the second half, and the Eagles were up 24-17 with two minutes left. 

And that's when the backdoor cover insanity occurred. The Eagles kicked up field goal to go up by 10 points, which was okay with me because they were 10.5 point favorites, so I was getting giddy as the clock winded down. 

So, naturally, Fletcher Cox returned a Chad Henne strip sack for a 17-yard touchdown two plays into Jacksonville's ensuing possession. 

Yep, Derek Carr did in fact pull off a 1 point backdoor cover with 1:21 remaining, in an Eastern Time Zone, against Rex Ryan, in his NFL debut. Because, why not? Why the hell not? 

I was wrong for backing the Ravens. All signs pointed to a Bengals victory, so that was a bad pick by me. I'm okay with that loss, only because it meant that I was able to cheer when Steve Smith, Sr. stiff armed Pacman Jones into oblivion

Taking the Pats in Miami freaked me out, and I was proven wrong.

The title of this week's column probably should be "because, why not?" As in, why did Derek Anderson win in Tampa Bay while starting for the first time since he was completing 51.7% of his passes in Arizona in 2010? Because, why not? Why did Bobby Rainey fumble on Tampa's final possession while down 3 points with a chance to win the game and cover? Because, WHY NOT?

Why did Andrew Luck lead a senseless comeback, leading the Colts to a cover after being down 31-10 in the fourth quarter? Because, why not? Andrew Luck is a certified troll. His whole career to this point has been based off of leading a very mediocre Colts team to the playoffs each year, growing a great beard, randomly becoming a mixture of Peyton Manning and Joe Montana against the best teams in the league, randomly becoming a mixture of Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf against the worst teams in the league, and pulling off annoying backdoor covers. 

Following a terrible performance last week, I got Week 2 off to a rip-roaring start with...a loss.

As always, I made my Thursday night pick on Twitter, (@WilliamBotchway). I cannot be blamed for that pick, as the Ravens were without Lardarius Webb again, and still stuck in my head is the fact that the favorite failed to cover the spread in both Ravens-Steelers games last year by a combined 1 point. (Of course I took the favorite in both games...because, why not?)

I'm now 0-2 in Thursday games, and 4-13 overall. I feel alright about my choices for this week, so let's get on with the show!

UPSET ALERT next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.
Dolphins (Pick'Em) over BILLS. The Dolphins are the better team in this game, so I have to back them despite the fact that they are playing on the road.

I also happen to think that Buffalo's win last week was most indicative of their level of play for the rest of the season. But perhaps I was a bit harsh on them.

WASHINGTON PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM (-5.5) over Jaguars. Washington really needs to show me something this week. I believed in them before the season, and while I'm not wavering just yet, if the offense looks bad again in this game, uh-oh.

TITANS (-3.5) over Cowboys. We already knew how bad the Cowboys' defense was, but I was shocked to see their offense look abysmal as well. I'm a long-standing Romo defender, so I must say that his back is still probably bothering him, because I've never seen him play so poorly.

Still, the Cowboys looked like one of the worst teams in the NFL last week.

On the flipside, I think I was wrong about the Titans. Even if Jake Locker gets hurt, they'll be good enough with him available to win at least 6 games.

GIANTS (+2) over Cardinals. Here comes the Giants' obligatory senseless win over a better team just because they are the Giants and they feel like it. They looked putrid on both sides of the ball, but they're going to win this game, lose the next four, and remain in the playoff hunt until December because this is what the Giants do. UPSET ALERT.

VIKINGS (+6) over Patriots. Even without Adrian Peterson (don't worry, we'll get to that later), the Vikings are a good enough team that they will keep it close at home against the Pats, who looked lousy in their loss to the Dolphins.

BROWNS (+6.5) over Saints. Another home dog that I like better than most against a playoff lock and receiving too many points.

Cleveland's defense is pretty good, and should slow down the high-powered Saints just enough. In fact, do I dare?


I can't wait to see how Marques Colston gives away any chance that the Saints have at winning.

BENGALS (-5.5) over Falcons. I refuse to believe that Atlanta's win last week was indicative of their talent level. Matt Ryan had one of the best games of his career, which will not be the case against Cincy's stingy defense.

Lions (+2.5) over PANTHERS. Even with Cam Newton back, I'm sticking to my guns about the Panthers. I may have underrated their defense, but I think last week's game was more about Josh McCown and the Bucs being bad than it was about Carolina's defense being the same dominant force that it was last year.

Also, I still think that the Lions are a better team.

BUCCANEERS (-6) over Rams. Much like Washington, it's time for Tampa to step it up. Their offense looked brutal last week, and I expect that to change.

It had better, or else.

The Rams looked dreadful, and got even worse when it was announced this week that Chris Long would be placed of IR-designated to return, meaning that he will be out for at least the next two months.

The Shaun Hill/Austin Davis/Case Keenum??? Era in St. Louis hasn't started off so well.

CHARGERS (+6) over Seahawks. I'm simply guarding against the insane backdoor cover with less than two minutes left which involves Philip Rivers throwing a 34 yard lob to the endzone to Keenan Allen, who comes down with it over Byron Maxwell and Earl Thomas because he can.

Of course, this would follow a very anxious Rivers looking somewhat angry as he hurries everyone to the line to continue their ill-fated comback.

J.J. Watt (-3) over RAIDERS. 

Photo courtesy of the Washington Times
I'm sorry, Derek Carr.

Texans fans are going to love doing to Derek Carr what other teams did to Derek's brother, David all of the time. Of course, it's also the fault of the Texans more being unable to put together a decent offensive line for many years, but that's not something fans think about.

Jets (+8) over PACKERS. Geno Smith was impressive last week, putting together the best game of his career. He was never really let loose, but he was about as good as a checkdown machine could be, going 23 for 28 with 221 yards.

I expect the Jets to be even better this week, as they cut down the penalties. They were flagged 11 times for 105 yards, which is probably not happening again.

Still, there is absolutely no chance that they win this game in Green Bay. But it'll be closer than Vegas believes, which is a victory, I guess.

BRONCOS (-12.5) over Chiefs. The already pretty bad Chiefs lost Mike DeVito and Derrick Johnson for the season with ruptured Achilles tendons. Yikes.

Jake Locker looked great against KC last week, and while I love me some Locker, he ain't no Peyton Manning.

49ERS (-7) over Bears. There's a distinct possibility that both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery miss tonight's game, which would result in a comical 38-7 victory for the Niners.

Even if they both suit up, it will be tough for Chicago, a team which I think will be a serious playoff contender, to keep this game close in San Francisco.

COLTS (-3) over Eagles. And this week's "I'm going with the home team because I don't know what else to do" winner: the Indianapolis Colts.

After one week, it's time to start overreacting to many of the things we've seen so far this season. Based on the first full slate of games, here is a list of teams for which my opinions may have changed since writing my preseason predictions,
Teams I Was Wrong About
Tennesee Titans

Teams I Was Right About
New York Giants
Cleveland Browns
Kansas City Chiefs
Minnesota Vikings
St. Louis Rams

Teams I Might Be Wrong About
Washington Professional Football Team
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Arizona Cardinals
Carolina Panthers

It's impossible to end a football article on the week of September 7, 2014, without addressing the fact that we've just witnessed the worst week in the history of the National Football League. And it had absolutely nothing to do with football.

The footage of Ray Rice punching his soon-to-be-wife was absolutely sickening, but I'm confused as to how the NFL reacted to it. What did they think happened in that elevator for the past five months? That's the first thing that my friend Theo said to me on Tuesday morning, and that's exactly what I thought when the indefinite suspension was handed out.

There was footage of the couple arguing on their way into the elevator, and there was footage of an unconscious Janay Parker being dragged out of the elevator by her now-husband. So what happened in between?

Even if the NFL didn't see the video until this week, which I believe to be impossible, suspending Rice two games was weak.

The NFL realized that fact, as evidenced by their swift reaction to the new video involving Rice, as long as their new drug policy, which lessened the suspensions for drug violations. It only took Goodell two months to realize that suspending Josh Gordon for an entire season, while only suspending Rice for two games was totally incongruous.

Rice was never charged with domestic violence because Janay Rice decided against it. But of course, we saw the video, so the NFL had to get rid of him.

Meanwhile, there's another player who is going to play today who was convicted of domestic violence this offseason. Greg Hardy, of the Carolina Panthers, was found guilty on June 15, for an incident described in this Time Magazine article.

So, why is it that Rice is suspended indefinitely, but this convicted scumbag gets to play without penalty? What is Roger Goodell trying to prove? That not everyone in his league is a criminal?

Face it, Roger, you need to deal with the hand that you were dealt. You are Commissioner of the NFL (not for long), which means that you are in charge of policing and overseeing a sport that thrives on violence. Don't you think some of that carries over when they step off of the field?

Just because there's no video of Hardy's incident, doesn't mean it didn't happen. In fact, I strongly believe that if there was no video of Ray Rice at all, we wouldn't be talking about this at all. It's also a problem with us as consumers, because we've come to accept the fact that a lot of athletes do horrible things in their personal lives. And we've become numb to that.

And on Friday, news broke about Adrian Peterson. We all know the story by now, and he too needs to be suspended. Anyone who thinks we are overreacting to Peterson beating a four year old child repeatedly with a tree branch is an idiot and needs to go to another country, or planet, as far away from normal people as possible.

Goodell's tenure as commissioner has already been cemented as probably the worst in the history of sports. It seems that within the next couple of weeks, he will be forced to step down, as the owners realize that he is only hurting the image of the NFL.

But, as arrogant as he is, Gooddell needs to go out with a bang. That's why Rice, Peterson, and Hardy all need to be suspended for at least the rest of this season, and their cases will be re-evaluated only during the offseason.

There is no reason to accept such unacceptable behavior from the players.

Still, we all love football, which is why we'll all be watching the games over the next couple of days. Hopefully, soon, we can all do that with a clear conscience.

Last Week: 4-12

This Week: 0-1

Season: 4-12

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