It takes a lot of work to make these, so if you enjoy them please consider contributing to their continual existence. Also, we’ve now apparently reached the point in the season where it is quite lucrative to bet against me.
Last Week: 3-11
This Week (so far): 0-0-1
Last Week: 5-9
This Week (so far): 0-0-1
Atlanta (-1.5) @ Tampa Bay
Ryan: One of the things that has gotten burned in the Greg Schiano dumpster fire is the fact that the Buccaneers are not actually that atrocious of a football team. They’re 20th in DVOA, which isn’t great or anything, but it’s by no means 1-8 bad — they’ve been right in six of their eight losses, but found very new and excruciating ways to make those happen.
The Falcons are worse than people realize. They’ve lost their past three games by a combined score of 94-33, can’t rush the ball, and have a terrible run defense. Bucs cover.
Asif: This game is just a big bowl of yuck, so instead of talking about it, I’m going to talk about another piece of Atlanta sporting news. This week, the Braves announced plans to move out of Turner Field to a new stadium in suburban Cobb County in 2017. In the process, the team plans to bilk Cobb County tax payers out of $300 million. It’s been proven time and time again that public financing of stadiums is a losing proposition for municipalities and no one seems to like the practice, yet for some reason we keep doing it.
The Braves’ move is even more egregious because they only started playing in Turner Field in 1997. The team can justify the move by claiming that Turner needs a $150 million renovation – maybe they shouldn’t be handing out huge contracts to the likes of BJ Upton in that case. They can also say that the move will bring the team closer to their suburban fan base – god forbid those people ever have to interact with a black person in downtown Atlanta. Still, none of this makes paying for the stadium make any sense for Cobb County. It’s this kind of race to the bottom idiocy that’s ruining everything. Falcons cover.
NY Jets @ Buffalo (-1.5)
Ryan: I woke up on Tuesday with the beginning of a cold. Stuffy nose, mild headache, scratchy (but not yet sore) throat. It was the type of sickness that was certainly inconvenient, but not entirely life-halting. The real terror when that happens is hoping and praying that it doesn’t get worse — that the mild headache doesn’t turn into migraines and pleading the Dayquil gods not to let you develop a brutally sore throat — and so far it seems like my prayers were answered. Crisis averted.
The Jets’ defensive line is so good, and it’s masked a lot of the team’s other inadequacies. I have no way of guessing what happens in this game. Jets cover.
Asif: The Jets! Maybe they are good? Probably not, but whatevs. New York covers.
Detroit (-2) @ Pittsburgh
Ryan: The Steelers are wearing their gaudy bumblebee throwbacks this week, an ugly strategy that I really hope works on the field.
Alas, I doubt it will have any true effect. The Lions terrify me now, and it feels like they should be bigger favorites in this game. Detroit covers.
Asif: With Aaron Rodgers hurt, Detroit looks like the favorite in the NFC North to me. Lions cover.
Washington @ Philadelphia (-3.5)
Ryan: At 5-5, the Eagles have actually climbed back to a tie with the Cowboys atop the NFC East. There was a lot of luck involved in their beating the Packers last week. Two deep balls that should’ve been intercepted, or at least incomplete, went for touchdowns. Seneca Wallace went down on the first possession. An incompletion that it looked like Jordy Nelson had control of in the endzone withstood review.
It would’ve been fascinating to see how Nick Foles held up against a roaring Lambeau crowd if that Nelson touchdown had counted and Philly took the field up 7 with over nine minutes to play.
Luckiness notwithstanding, it does seem like they are a bit better than Washington. Eagles cover.
Asif: The Eagles have had more success with backup QBs than any team I can think of. AJ Feeley, Jeff Garcia, and now Nick Foles have come from nowhere and made the team competitive in recent memory. I’d say it’s not sustainable, but I’ve seen how this goes before. Eagles cover.
San Diego (-1.5) @ Miami
Ryan: The Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito story sure has died down recently. It’s so bizarre that something like that can jump unabated into our collective consciousness one week and almost entirely evaporate the next. If not because of the media impact, though, the loss of two starting offensive linemen will continue to sink this team — they rushed for two yards last week. Two!
Asif: The Dolphins might be the worst team in football. At least we’ll get to finally see noted scumbag Jeff Ireland get fired this season. Chargers cover.
Baltimore @ Chicago (-2.5)
Ryan: ”Enjoy” isn’t the right word for it, but Michael McKnight’s MMQB profile of Sam Hurd was endlessly fascinating. Facing a recommendation of life in prison from prosecutors for conspiring to distribute (very) large quantities of cocaine, Hurd wound up getting sentenced with 15 years, which seems much more reasonable, if still a little bit excessive for a non-violent drug offender. It’s the type of story that you should really carve out an hour to read the whole thing, if only for the scintillating details of a massive undercover drug bust and to be cognizant of the frightening possibility of facing overzealous prosecution.
In what is a pretty alarming trend this week, I have zero feel for this game. Bears cover.
Asif: I have no feel for this game either, although I suspect that the Ravens are better than they’ve shown. Ravens cover.
Cleveland @ Cincinnati (-6)
Ryan: Another bit that “enjoy” is not the proper word to describe was 12 Years a Slave. Without spoiling any specific plot points, it is a very important movie to go see. There was a long period of time when Americans could just get kidnapped, beaten, raped, and/or murdered for no reason other than the color of their skin. And many people felt very strongly about maintaining this institution.
A few times a year, it is necessary to be graphically reminded of human suffering, both as a mechanism to empathize with those — regardless of time and place — who are less fortunate than we are and to be reminded of how minor any of our daily gripes truly are in the grand scope of world history.
The non-Brandon Weeden Browns are frisky. Cleveland covers.
Asif: The Bengals have had some ugly losses this season, but they’re undefeated at home, and they’re objectively a better team than the Browns. Bengals cover.
Oakland @ Houston (-7)
Ryan: This entry didn’t end up making my Iowa Gameday Diary last week, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we stopped at Machine Shed on the way back. After splitting a MASSIVE cinnabon and pecan roll around the table, my friend Matt and I also ordered a hungry man’s platter, which came with ham, eggs, bacon, sausage, and biscuits and gravy. It was delightful:
Don’t know / don’t care / Oakland covers.
Asif: Doooooooooooooon’t Care. Oakland covers.
Arizona (-6.5) @ Jacksonville
Ryan: Kyle Wagner wrote a very poignant column at Deadspin yesterday about media-abetted reefer madness in sports and why Tyrann Mathieu’s success in Arizona is not a redemption story:
By all rights, Tyrann Mathieu should tell us all to go fuck ourselves. He can’t, though, because despite going through the media wringer with every right answer, and for Christ’s sake, going to rehab, twice, for smoking weed, he’s still on uneasy footing, because discipline and authority in football are unimpeachable, and playing savvily within the rules is somehow reckoned more virtuous and commendable than existing outside of them, no matter how senseless and destructive they might be.
I think we’re about 10 years away from these types of narratives’ shifting entirely, and that time can’t come soon enough.
Asif: I feel bad for whoever gets stuck with this pile of garbage as their broadcast game. Arizona covers.
Kansas City @ Denver (-8)
Ryan: This game’s getting flexed to Sunday night means that I get to watch the Packers and go see Alkaline Trio and New Found Glory that evening, which was a pretty stellar development except for the fact that I don’t really want to miss this game, either.
Hobbled Peyton Manning + Chiefs’ leading the League in sacks = potentially disastrous combination. Kansas City covers
Asif: The Broncos have been chugging along, but there’s suddenly some concern over how Peyton Manning is going to hold up over the course of this season. That’s a bit troubling heading into a huge game against the division leading Chiefs. Just a hunch, but I think the Chiefs are going to show that they’re the real AFC West top dogs. KC covers.
Minnesota @ Seattle (-13)
Ryan: This is one of those occurrences where I will allow my knowledge of the fact that it is statistically dumb to bet on huge favorites in NFL games to sway me against my instincts. Vikings cover.
Asif: Yeah, 13 points seems about right. Seattle covers.
San Francisco @ New Orleans (-3)
Ryan: This @LSUFreek GIF of 50 Cent and Andy Reid driving past Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick is fantastic. I don’t even really understand what 50 has to do with any of it, but that almost makes it even better:
I read that 88% of early public money backed the Saints in this one, and that’s never the side you want to be on. Therefore, against my better instincts, San Francisco covers.
Asif: Rumors of the 49ers’ demise have been greatly exaggerated. San Francisco covers.
Green Bay @ NY Giants (-6)
Ryan: In an Extra Mustard post yesterday, I laid out why I don’t necessarily think this is armageddon for the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers might be back as early as next week, Clay Matthews is shedding that massive club, and this game is actually winnable. More than any Wisconsin quarterback other than Russell Wilson, I enjoyed the Scott Tolzien era at Wisconsin. Not that it’s a huge honor to beat out John Stocco, Curt Philips, and so-far Joel Stave, but Tolzien was accurate, poised, and had a deceptively strong arm.
Asif: Now that three straight wins have completely dashed my dreams of Jadaveon Clowney in blue, I’ve become cautiously optimistic that the Giants might make the playoffs. The Packers’ offense looks abysmal sans Aaron Rodgers, and their defense was never a strong point to begin with. Giants cover.
New England @ Carolina (-2.5)
Ryan: Over at SB Nation, Lana Berry gives her first-person account of #GronkFest2013:
Upon arrival at #GronkFest2013, I am handed a beautiful baby pink “Rob Gronkowski Football 101 Women’s Clinic” t-shirt. We are instructed to wear it over any outerwear we have on. Picture 100 women wearing baby pink long-sleeve t-shirts over hoodies and actual coats, looking like lumpy, stale cotton candy. (It’s worse than whatever you’re picturing.) We enrollees had received an email earlier in the week telling us, in big bold letters, “GYM SHOES ARE REQUIRED, DO NOT WEAR HEELS,” so all of the women wore gym clothes. This is probably unfortunate for those ladies who spent the $99 just to see if they could get Gronk’s attention. It might have been difficult to stand out, anyway, as there is a huge array of women, ranging in age and personality, including one woman pregnant with twins and a middle-aged woman with Patriots temporary tattoos on her face.
The event information promised that “Gronk-tinis” would be served, and I made it my first mission to find out what’s in that drink. I am greatly disappointed to find out that it’s not just four ounces of warm tequila in a martini glass. Raspberry vodka and pomegranate juice? Excuse me bartender, there is no Gronk in my drink. And where is my Percocet-rimmed glass?
It is wonderful that Gronk, unlike the Honey Badger, has stuck completely to his roots and refuses to conform to the bland “Patriot Way” that he has almost certainly been lectured about dozens of times. It’s been made evident again this season that he is valuable enough that he does not need to.
This might be the best Monday night match-up of the year thus far, and my gut instinct is that Panthers cover.
Asif: The Panthers have passed every test so far, so this isn’t me writing them off, but I do think that something clicked for the Pats right before the bye and we’ll see a different team from here on out. Patriots cover.