This past summer, a substantial proportion of life was consumed by the NFL Lockout and there weren’t even any preseason games missed. The same can not be said about this NBA Lockout. I really, really don’t care about it. At all. I am in no hurry for it to end.
I will only care that the NBA is gone when we get to the point in the NFL season where the Super Bowl is set but there are two weeks without football. That is when there will start to be a void. Until then, the NFL is on three nights a week (we are almost at the point of Thursday night games!) and college football is on Saturdays. This leaves us Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday with nothing to watch…Friday night I can do any number of things other than watch TV. Tuesday and Wednesday isn’t an insurmountable void–I can meet friends for drinks or catch up on my Tivo.
Despite what many people are saying about the NBA’s risk of losing its casual fans, I really don’t think most of us will notice or truly care while it is still football season. If we are forced to endure February-June without the NBA, though, there will be heck to pay. Heck I tell you.
Semi-relatedly, the players are not anywhere close to unified enough to prevent themselves from getting railroaded by a crappy deal. They may just want to take the owners’ offer right now because they will never recover the income from lost games and I really don’t see the owners budging.
Enough of that nonsense. On to the comparatively much more important NFL Picks which, as always, are done with Asif of Uninformed Commentary.
Last Week: 7-5-1
Last Week: 7-5-1
St. Louis @ Green Bay (-15)
Ryan: It would be pretty difficult to make this line high enough for me to take the Rams. One thing that the Packers have shown over the last few seasons is that they absolutely demolish terrible teams and one thing that the Rams have shown thus far this season is that they are terrible.
In a year where the Rams were supposed to have progressed towards perhaps a divisional title, they have regressed. They have been outscored 113-46 this season and have looked dreadful on both sides of the ball. Steve Spagnuolo’s seat may be getting a little bit warm. Packers cover.
Asif: The Green Bay Packers seem like they might be pretty good at football. The Rams might be good at something, but it’s not passing, catching, defending, running, or special teams. Packers cover.
Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh (-12)
Ryan: After beating the Titans Week 1, the Jaguars have dropped four straight, losing to the Jets, Panthers, Saints, and Bengals. An interesting tidbit on Peter King’s podcast came when Bob McGinn, who is in the NFL Hall of Fame and is an outstanding Packers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, polled NFL scouts and found that they thought Blaine Gabbert would be a better pro quarterback than Cam Newton. Gabbert hasn’t been AWFUL but he hasn’t been very good either, completing 49.5% of his passes for three touchdowns and two interceptions thus far. He could end up as the starter for the foreseeable future in Jacksonville but likely won’t win many games this season.
At 3-2, the Steelers have been hot and cold. Their offensive line is porous and a liability that will prevent them from beating good teams with a viable pass rush. They are not bad enough, though, for me to consider taking Blaine Gabbert on the road. Steelers cover.
Asif: I stubbornly stuck by the Steelers as they failed to cover and then as soon as I jumped ship they beat the crap out of the Titans. In any case, even though the Jaguars suck something awful, I’m not going to let the Steelers fool me into changing my mind about them again. Jacksonville covers. I immediately regret this decision.
Philadelphia (-1.5) @ Washington
Ryan: This week, I met a bet with my buddy Dean–a die hard Eagle’s fan–that the Eagles will make the playoffs; I win $36 if they make it and pay $24 if they do not. While I’m aware that the team has a strange aversion to tackling and making sound game management decisions, I’m not ready to give up on them just yet; their schedule is manageable–the only truly elite team they play the rest of the way is the Patriots–and they always seem to pull it together late in the season. 9-7 also might be enough to steal a wild card spot in the NFC. It needs to start this week, though. Even though, based on the merits of the teams’ performances thus far this season, the Eagles should not be favored in this game, I am riding with Philly to cover.
Asif: I’m enjoying the Eagles’ free fall more than any other NFL storyline this season. What can I say, I’m a bitter little man. I’m riding with Washington to cover here, only because the howling that would come from Philadelphia after another Eagles’ loss could keep me smiling for about a month.
San Fransisco @ Detroit (-4)
Ryan: In the beginning of his podcast, Peter King wonders when the last time is that this would have been an elite match-up. If you disregard their having to have actually played each other, the answer would be 1997 when the Lions went 9-7 and made the playoffs and the 49ers won the NFC West at 11-5. So there.
While nobody was looking, the Lions have actually crafted quite the home field advantage. The Bears’ offensive line is historically awful but nine false starts don’t happen completely unforced. The 49ers destroyed the Buccaneers–who are at least decent–last week and are the far and away favorites to win the NFC West but I see them struggling a little bit this week. Lions cover.
Asif: This is the best match-up of the week. Had I told you that before the season you might have had an aneurysm laughing. It’s a bit scary to think that the 5-0 Lions still haven’t played a great game from start to finish. Although last Monday’s win over the Bears was marred by roughing penalties, a couple of which were completely uncalled for, the Lions simply beat the life out of the Chicago offense. Even if Jahvid Best turns back into a pumpkin, I don’t see the Niners shutting down the Stafford-Johnson tandem or blocking the Lions’ defensive front. Detroit covers.
Carolina @ Atlanta (-4)
Ryan: After the Falcons scored methodically on their first two drives against the Packers last Sunday night, they struggled to gain yards and first downs the rest of the game and failed to score any more points. I will give two dollars to whoever can adequately explain what defensive adjustments Dom Capers and the Packers defense made in order for this to be the case because I would love to know.
This week, Bill Barnwell wrote that picking the Panthers to cover on the basis that they are 4-1 against the spread so far this season is an example of gambler’s fallacy. That being said, I’ve learned my lesson the past few weeks and am picking the Panthers to cover until they don’t.
Asif: The single thing I miss most about living in Atlanta is a local restaurant called Tacqueria del Sol. If you’re heading to the A for whatever reason you should definitely check it out. The gist of the whole thing is that they do an American south twist on tacos. My personal favorite is the Memphis Taco, which features BBQ pulled pork and Jalapeno cole slaw. Tacos cost $2.99 and enchiladas cost $3.99. It’s awesome. Oh and the Falcons cover.
Indianapolis @ Cincinnati (-4)
Ryan: All I have to say about this game is that if someone wearing a Peter Warrick jersey–or any Bengals or Colts jersey for that matter–demands prime TV placement for this game at the expense of like Eagles-Redskins at the sports bar I’m at Sunday, I am going to silently wish for bodily harm. This line seems a little bit too low; the feisty Bengals cover.
Asif: This week’s Derp Bowl, although Cincinnati is a mildly interesting team. Was the least surprising revelation after Al Davis’ death the fact that Mike Brown admired him greatly? If you had to pick which two NFL owners were best friends, wouldn’t it be those two? Just sayin’…
The Colts are just so damn awful it’s hard to look at, not unlike the city of Indianapolis, so I guess it’s kinda appropriate. Bengals cover.
Buffalo @ NY Giants (-3.5)
Ryan: This line is just BEGGING for us to take Buffalo, right? Whatever home field advantage and goodwill the Giants had previously engendered amongst their fans had to evaporate last week when they lost to the Seahawks in debilitatingly crippling fashion. More on that in Asif’s segment.
Football Outsiders has the Bills ranked #1 in DVOA. A full explanation of what that actually means here, but in layman’s terms, the 4-1 Bills have been legitimately good as opposed to lucky. This week, they remain undervalued. Buffalo covers.
Asif: Last week’s Seahawks – Giants game was arguably the worst Giants game to watch in the past five years. At least in last year’s collapse against Philadelphia I was happy during the first half, and, had the Giants been getting blown out, I could have just done something else. Instead I had to watch as Eli threw wounded duck after wounded duck into double coverage with the game tied. Safe to say all my good feelings about the G-men from Weeks 3 and 4 are gone. Buffalo covers.
Houston @ Baltimore (-7.5)
Ryan: If you separate out the Ravens’ letdown debacle against the Titans in Week 2–which is extremely convenient for my subsequent point–they are outscoring their opponents (Steelers, @Rams, Jets) 106-31.
Each team in the NFL has four or five players that they absolutely cannot afford to lose and right now the Texans are playing without two of them in Andre Johnson and Mario Williams. I still think that they win the putrid AFC South after Johnson gets back and Wade Philips has time to adjust the Texans’ schemes to account for the loss of Williams but the only way they cover this week is through the back door. Ravens cover.
Asif: Awww Houston, it was supposed to be your year. I realize that Tennessee got blown out last week, but with Mario Williams out for the year and Andre Johnson down at least a couple more weeks the Titans have to be the NFC South favorites now, right? Especially after the Ravens beat the crap out of the Texans this week. Ravens cover.
Cleveland @ Oakland (-6.5)
Ryan: Without looking it up, I never would have realized that the Browns have two wins this year. Upon further research, though, those wins came against the Colts and Dolphins who are a robust 0-9. Somehow last week the Browns outgained the Titans in yardage 416-332, had 25 first downs versus 13, and tied the turnover battle but lost 31-13. There was a pick-six in there but still, that is the mark of a dreadful team.
The Browns’ defense has allowed more than 100 rushing yards in all four of its match-ups this season. With Darren McFadden staking his claim as the 2nd best running back in the NFL behind Adrian Peterson, this spells trouble for the Browns. McFadden runs wild as the Raiders cover.
Asif: There’s certainly letdown potential for the Raiders here after an emotional win last Sunday. But they’re playing the Browns, so they really only have to play at 50% to win. Oakland covers.
Dallas @ New England (-7)
Ryan: Due to the spectacular fourth quarter collapses from Tony Romo against the Jets and Lions and the national attention they have garnered, the Cowboys are a little bit undervalued; they could quite easily be 4-0. Coming off a bye, they are also getting healthier right now–Miles Austin will return and Dez Bryant and Tony Romo have had time to heal injuries that limited their effectiveness but did not cause them to miss games.
The Patriots’ pass defense, meanwhile, is awful–in five games it has given up 1,633 yards in the air. The Patriots can win shoot-outs but this is one I think they will struggle to cover in. Dallas covers.
Asif: The most annoying announcer phrase this season, which Ryan has fallen prey to above, has been, “If a few things had gone differently the Cowboys could be 4-0 or 0-4.” Yeah, if a few things had gone differently I could have a high paying job and be sleeping with Alison Brie or I could be a homeless crack addict sleeping on a bench. Is it that hard to believe that the Cowboys are just mediocre? That they’re not good enough to be undefeated and not bad enough to be winless?
The Patriots may have a bad defense, but they put up points at a rate that no other team can match. New England covers.
New Orleans (-4.5) @ Tampa Bay
Ryan: As if losing 48-3 last week in San Francisco was not insulting enough, the Buccaneers were dealt an injury blow, losing LeGarette “Chronic” Blount for a few weeks.
This line seems a little bit too low, especially since Tampa Bay has one of the worst home field advantages in the league–this game is subject to local blackout. That being said, I think my Granny is going to be watching over her beloved Bucs this weekend. Tampa Bay covers.
Asif: Tampa Bay is a riddle wrapped inside an enigma inside a turd. But mostly they’re just a turd. The Saints still struggle on defense, but I’m starting to wonder if defense even matters in the NFL anymore. In my mind, this line should be higher. Saints cover.
Minnesota @ Chicago (-3)
Ryan: There are few things that I have enjoyed more in my life than listening to Bears postgame on the radio on the way back from Milwaukee on Monday night. Every call perpetuated on the last as Bears fans were absolutely distraught over the team’s dreadful performance against the Lions. The sharp criticism was interesting for an organization that won the NFC North and made the NFC Championship game last season, but at 2-3 the team finds itself in dire circumstances with the Lions and Packers in the same division at 5-0. The Bears are built to win now and are not doing so.
Color me unimpressed that the Vikings blew out the Cardinals last week. Bears cover.
Asif: This, and the Monday Night game are just more evidence that the flex schedule needs to start in Week 2. Through the first five weeks of the season, we had to watch the Colts twice and now this is our football option for Sunday Night. Excuse me while I watch Boardwalk Empire instead.
Oh and Donovan McNabb sucks so the Bears cover.
Miami @ NY Jets (-7)
Ryan: Spoiler alert, Asif IS crazy to think that the Dolphins might win. The Jets aren’t necessarily going to right the ship but they aren’t sinking so fast that they are going to lose this game. Not Cover, maybe. Lose, no. To the extent that they have not already done so, the Dolphins would be wise to go into full-fledged Suck for Luck mode. J-e-t-s cover.
Asif: I realize this is crazy, but I think the Matt Moore led Dolphins might actually win this game. The Dolphins do have to win a game at some point and why not against a reeling Jets team with a weak running game, suddenly soft defense, and erratic QB? Is Matt Moore really that much worse than Mark Sanchez? Dolphins cover.