This Week: 2-1
Last Week: 9-7
Every week Dylan Murphy from Pardon The Opinion gives us his NFL picks of the week against the spread. As always, these picks are brought to you for entertainment purposes only.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (-1) over Minnesota Vikings
Can Leslie Frazier pull a Jason Garrett and reinvigorate the corpse of Brett Favre and the Vikings defense? Not a chance. The only hope for Minnesota to salvage this season and compile a respectable record is to turn to Tavaris Jackson. But there’s no way Frazier, in his first head coaching position, becomes forever known as “the guy who ended Favre’s streak.”
Frazier also does not have the personality to immediately change team sentiment. Jason Garrett’s style contrasted that of Wade Phillips. The Cowboys needed a bit of Denzel Washington at T.C. Williams to revitalize their resolve, and so do the Vikings. But Frazier will be walked over by Brett and the Vikings’ ship will continue to sink.
This is not at all an endorsement of the Redskins. Until they enter full rebuilding mode, their franchise will be stuck in the 7-9 win range. It’s remarkable how Dan Snyder continues to ignore the whole “build through the draft” concept. Football is a team sport. You cannot have a Miami Heat/Boston Celtics free agency coup in football. Nor can you hire a big name, overrated coach whose only success came with the greatest QB of all time and expect a Super Bowl ring.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5) over BUFFALO BILLS
Is anyone else in love with the irony of Hines Ward complaining that Richard Seymour was not punished enough for his cheap shot on Big Ben? He’s lucky the NFL does not review past tape because his fines under the current rules would probably exceed $1 million.
The Bills have had their fun. They beat up on the Bengals and barely defeated Detroit. Now that thye have to face legitimate squad, don’t expect their success to continue. Part of me thinks that this game will be closer than it appears on paper simply because Ryan Fitzpatrick might be the greatest “chucker” QB in the NFL.
For those of you who do not know, “chuckers” are the QBs who have a penchant for randomly long completions. Ask Fitzpatrick to run a legitimate offense and he fails miserably. But ask him to run around and create one big play for every two terrible throws and you have the guy you want. Well, almost. Tony Romo has to be #1.
HOUSTON TEXANS (-6.5) over Tennessee Titans
The Houston Texans subscribe to a seasonal formula:
1) Start out hot with a few impressive wins – get the country believing that they have changed their losing/non-clutch ways
2) Begin to lose a few games but maintain the trust of the public
3) Lose some more and completely lose the trust of the public
4) Start to win towards the end of the season when they have already been essentially eliminated from the playoff picture. This winning regains some trust and provides unfulfilled hope for next season.
I think we have reached stage 4. That and the Titans are in complete disarray. Jeff Fisher should lose his job. Not solely because he has mishandled the Vince Young situation, but also because he has had middling success over his extended head coaching career. Outside of one close Super Bowl loss, his teams have done nothing worthy of his 17 year reign.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+7) over NEW YORK GIANTS
Too many injuries and too many “are the Giants collapsing midseason again” questions for the Giants to win comfortably. To compound the problem, Coughlin has benched Bradshaw for his fumbling problems. Although I have always been in favor of his disciplinary style, the situation changes when it pushes Brandon Jacobs into a starting role.
Did you know Jacksonville is tied for the division lead? Neither did I until I just looked it up. Jack Del Rio reminds me of Marvin Lewis. He was on the verge of losing his job until his team had a good season (last year). Don’t be surprised if Del Rio hangs on for one more year until he finally gets the hook, as Marvin will at the end of this season.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (-10) over Carolina Panthers
Any time you are thankful that your QB with a sub 50% completion percentage is healthy and ready to return to the starting lineup, your franchise is in disrepair. Unfortunately for Carolina, this will lead to the firing of John Fox. But let’s get one thing straight: This situation is not his fault.
Once he loses his job, how many teams will come calling to fill their head coaching vacancy? 5? 10? If multiple teams want to hire your recently fired coach, then you probably should not have let him go. I stress “multiple” because only one team sought after Herman Edwards and Eric Mangini (I know the Browns are mediocre this year, but Mangini is not the reason. Until McCoy entered the lineup, Mangini was scheduling a Burger King date with Wade Phillips.) And look how successful they have been.
I love the emergence of Peyton Hillis as a quality running back. I also love the racism built into the NFL. When you found out Hillis was succeeding as he was, was your reaction not (to some degree) “I can’t believe he’s good! He’s white!” You would think over the last 20 years there would be some other white running back who ran as successfully with a downhill style (Mike Alstott does not count, he was a fullback).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+7.5) over BALTIMORE RAVENS
It’s like Vegas has ignored the Josh Freeman factor. Any game he plays in will be close. For whatever reason, his sensors do not kick in until the 4th quarter. But with his team down and the opposing defense unwilling to give up the big play, he eats away at big leads week after week. So when Baltimore is up 17 in the 4th, do not lose faith.
Baltimore is officially the most frustrating Super Bowl contender. The Atlanta Falcons made a statement with their victory over Baltimore, but so did Joe Flacco. Despite his development into a quality NFL QB, he shrinks from big games. Think pre-Super Bowl Peyton Manning.
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) over Chicago Bears
Chicago’s defense has singlehandedly masked the problems of Jay Cutler and the Chicago offense. They have no running game. They have no WRs. They have a QB with a bad habit of throwing interceptions. If this team manages to sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard, they will receive quite the shock back to reality. They are, at best, an 8-8 talent with an inflated record.
To be perfectly honest, it’s hard to see any team beating the Eagles. Their defense, as always, is tough. Their offense, despite the mediocre game Vick had last week, is virtually unstoppable. Even though the point total was not extremely high, the Giants could barely slow down the offense. Every Eagles’ punt came after at least a few first downs. We always imagined what would happen if Vick became a quality pocket QB. Well, he has. And it’s scary.
ATLANTA FALCONS (-2) over Green Bay Packers
If Atlanta is truly the best team in the NFC, they win this game. Great teams take care of business at home, regardless of the opponent. Their 5-0 home record suggests that they will do just that.
OAKLAND RAIDERS (-3) over Miami Dolphins
The Bill Simmons-coined “Rule of Gus” applies here. Every game Gus Johnson has announced this season has undergone a dramatic ending or change of momentum. The spread is not big enough to account for this factor, so I’ll take the more talented home team.
Chad Henne’s fall from grace has somehow remained under the radar. Before the season, everyone praised him as the second coming of Dan Marino and penciled the Dolphins into the playoffs. Then the Dolphins started poorly, Henne got benched and the chatter disappeared. In a football crazy town, the chatter would not have died as it did in Miami.
Had the Henne situation happened to Mark Sanchez, it would have been one of the leading stories of the NFL season. But it’s not, because Miami is not a football town. Now that Jacksonville is giving the league every reason to support its continued existence in Florida, how about we just move the Dolphins to L.A. instead?
Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Three weeks ago I would have shuddered at the thought of picking against Seattle at home. Not anymore.
The NFL should institute a rule prohibiting teams with a sub .500 record from making the playoffs. I understand that it disrupts the integrity of division play, but do we really want to see Seattle lose by 30 in the wildcard round? I admire Pete Carroll’s ability to revive the Seahawks to respectability, but they are still a year or two (or a QB) away from legitimate contention.
I sincerely hope Kansas City manages to steal the AFC West away from San Diego. How intense would a home game at Arrowhead be? As talented as the Chargers are, their home fans do not compare to those of Kansas City. Let’s be honest: there’s not much else going on there. The Royals are in perpetual state of losing and they have not had a basketball team in 30 years. Give the city a break and get on Kansas City’s side.
St. Louis Rams (+4) over DENVER BRONCOS
It’s probably just my Giants’ bias bubbling to the surface, but Steve Spagnuolo is one of the most underrated coaches in the league. He correctly waited to draft a QB and turned the Rams previously horrific defense into a sack machine (#1 in the league) and generally tough unit (9th in points allowed per game). Had I told you before the season that the Rams would have a shot at the division title in Week 12, you would have told me that Jake Delhomme had a better chance of returning to the Pro Bowl.
It seems that the entire NFL has forgotten about Tim Tebow. After having the highest selling jersey in the league, he has disappeared behind the pass happy Kyle Orton. When McDaniels is eventually fired, does the new coach leave Tebow on the bench and stick with Orton? Or does he trade Tebow? Or trade Orton? Big decisions to be made by the next Broncos head coach. If my vote counted for anything, I’d vote for trading Orton.
The NFL has proven that it takes a great QB, not just a mediocre one (Orton) to take your team to the Super Bowl. Orton has no chance of attaining that status and is currently at his highest value. Tebow, on the other hand, will be either a huge bust or a huge success. It’s worth a shot (at least for one season).
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (-3) over San Diego Chargers
The Chargers resurgence takes a quick break as Peyton Manning plays at night and at home. A double whammy.
San Francisco 49ers (-1) over Arizona Cardinals
Hands down the most boring Monday Night Football game of the season. In fact, any NFC West game is unwatchable. It’s truly a shame that they always play at 4 P.M. because it ruins late afternoon football. 1 P.M. is great because there are multiple games to watch. At 4 P.M., the slate of games is cut in half. But with the NFC West taking up a portion of those late games, the games are cut in half once again. That leaves 1-3 watchable games at most. Not what I’m looking for on a Sunday afternoon.► Read more articles written by Pardon The Opinion.