Perhaps labeling all of my pick’em columns “sure to go wrong” hasn’t been the best way to instill confidence in myself. Sure it’s nice being right about something, because God knows I haven’t been right when it’s come to actually picking the games, but one has to wonder if all these pessimistic titles haven’t become a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. So in an attempt to turn around this glorious train wreck of a season, from henceforth I shall start naming my pick’em posts “sure to do alright, maybe?”. It would be easy to employ the fake-it-till-you-make-it approach and call this posts, “totally baller picks that are sure to make it rain in this bitch,” but I don’t want to get sued for false advertising. Maybe when I get back to around .500 I’ll start dropping Kanye references in my subtitles.
So lets talk about some games that I’m excited to watch this weekend. I’m taking a flyer this week on the Vikings going into Detroit and beating the Lions straight up. Adrian Peterson has surprised a lot of people this year by playing as well as he has given the fact he’s less than a year removed from a torn ACL. Last week Peterson ran for 86 yards on the 49ers defense, which is like running for 150 yards against most teams in the league. When San Francisco played Detroit in week two Frank Gore averaged over five yards per carry against the Lions D, and I expect Peterson to have a breakout game of sorts this weekend. The Viking showed last week that they are able to play a conservative style well, the same kind of style that the 49ers used to beat Detroit in week two. If Minnesota can run the ball effectively and keep Megatron in check, there is no reason why they can’t pull off the upset.
The X-Factor in this game is Lions RB Mikel LeShure, who ran for 100 yards last week against the Titans. If LeShure can play well enough to draw extra defenders into the box to help against the run, all bets are off. It’s going to take more than an impressive performance against the Titans to get me on the LeShure bandwagon, but the Lions become a very interesting team if they can start getting consistent production out of their running back.
I don’t have much to say about Cardinals/Dolphins other than if Arizona can take care of business at home they will be 4-0 to start the season. Before the season started I would have guessed that the Cardinals would win somewhere between 4-6 games all year, when you add on the fact that Seattle could very well be 3-1 after this week, you have one very stumped 49ers fan. For God’s sake Seattle and Arizona have the two top scoring defenses in the league! For all of the hullabaloo about last weeks MNF game, everyone forgot to remember that the Seahawks sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times in the first half! The Cardinals look like they could have three or four pro bowlers on their defense in Daryl Washington, Darnell Docket, Calais Cambell, and Patrick Peterson. When was the last time you looked to the NFC West for dominant defensive ball clubs? I feel like at least one of these teams has to regress a little in the coming weeks, but until then it feels like –
Speaking of great defenses, did you know that Dallas has the best defense in football so far this year? Me neither! I found it out today when I was reading through Chad’s excellent post about this game for Gapers Block. For the Cowboys defense, everything starts with DeMarcus Ware, who has the ability to disrupt any offense on his own, either requiring opposing teams to double/triple team him or risk having their quarterback get destroyed. The Bears have one of the worst O-lines in football, and that’s as generous as I can be when talking about J’Marcus Webb and his merry band of matadors turned offensive lineman.Cutler has been sacked 11 times and has already thrown six interception in three games, now he is going to have to contend with one of the league’s best pass rushes and a greatly improved Cowboys secondary.
Brandon Marshall is going to spend most of this week being draped by Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, depending on whether the Cowboys want to alternate their man coverages. Cutler has targeted Marshall 31 times this year, when you compare that with 14 targets for rookie Alshon Jeffery and 14 for Earl Bennet you get a good idea of who Jay is looking for most of the time. The big question for the Bears is whether or not Matt Forte will play, and if he does, how effective will he be coming off of a high ankle sprain. As good as Michael Bush has been for Chicago, Forte is just a more versatile back who makes life a lot easier for Jay Cutler with his ability to make plays in the passing game.
I can’t wait to listen to people complain about how poor Cutlers attitude is next week after he was sacked three times, hit another five to ten times and at one point acted like he would rather be somewhere else, preferably where he wasn’t getting knocked into senility. We are a matter of days before the special kind of Bears fans start calling into Chicago sports talk radio stations to make the case for Jason Campbell starting. There are a lot of aggravating things about being an out of market fan, but not having to hear all of the sports stupid surrounding your favorite franchise on a weekly basis is truly a blessing.
Chicago has the fifth ranked scoring defense in football and have been holding opponents offenses to just 76 yards per game rushing. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when both teams are forced to throw the ball because I’m sure Tony Romo is not thrilled with playing a defense that has already racked up 11 sacks and six interceptions. This game could get very ugly, and if I was really a gambling man I’d stay far away from this one.
It’s going to be an interesting week of football. If the Patriots get upset by the Bills this week we are looking at a lot of people’s Super Bowl favorite starting the year 1-3.
Both the Falcons and Texans have a great shot at starting the season 4-0 and becoming the early favorites to win their conferences.
Can the Packers and my beloved 49ers get back on the right track after posting disappointing losses last week?
If Peyton Manning throws up a stink bomb at home against the Raiders I’m going to be officially worried about his prospects of ever being a great QB again. At what point do we have to stop lying to ourselves about Manning’s arm strength? Believe me, I don’t want to live in a world where Peyton has a 85.6 passer rating, fails to bring his team back in the final minutes two weeks in a row, and seems to be nothing more than the leagues mascot -but it appears we are living that nightmare right now.
Perhaps the most important question that will be answered this weekend is whether or not I will be able to troll my friends with this video after Chicago loses Monday night. Because the only thing better than listening to surly Bears fans is making surly Bears fans cry.
This weeks picks – home teams in caps.
Patriots -4 over BILLS
Vikings +6.5 over LIONS
FALCONS -7 over Panthers
49ers -4 over JETS
Chargers +1 over CHIEFS
TEXANS -12 over Titans
Seahawks +2.5 over RAMS
CARDINALS -6.5 over Dolphins
BRONCOS -6.5 over Raiders
Bengals -2.5 over JAGUARS
PACKERS -7.5 over Saints
BUCCANEERS -3 over Redskins
Giants +2.5 over EAGLES
COWBOYS -3.5 over Bears
Last Night: 0-Flacco pick in the redzone. Sigh.