I came away from last Sunday’s slate of NFL games with the realization that no matter how much we think we know, we actually know nothing. Then the Patriots traded Randy Moss on Wednesday for essentially nothing in return.
I’m now wondering if it’s possible to know less than nothing.
While the Moss trade might make little to no sense, it pales in comparison’s to last week’s games. In short:
- The 49ers, who had averaged 12.7 points per game in their first three games, opened up a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
- The 0-3 Lions nearly upset the Green Bay Packers — the team considered by many to be the best team in the NFC.
- The defending Super Bowl champions needed a last-second field goal from a 46-year-old who was unemployed a week earlier to beat the 0-3 Panthers.
- The explosively bad Giants had 649 sacks in the first half yet only won 17-3 in a game that saw Todd Collins play quarterback for several consecutive minutes.
Looking back through last week’s picks (I went 5-9), I used some fairly sound reasoning throughout (Seattle-St. Louis excluded, of course). Clearly, that didn’t work out, and clearly, it’s time for a new strategy.
Oh, and clearly there will be no shortage of Ridiculous Quotes From Last Week’s Picks to point out this time around.
(Home team in caps.)
Denver (+7.5 over BALTIMORE)
I haven’t seen anything out of the Ravens that make me think they’re a big-win kind of team. The Broncos have shown me enough (fourth in the NFL with 394.5 yards per game) to make me believe they’ll stay close.
Oh wait, I’m not supposed to make logical choices … so I guess I really like those snazzy Broncos jerseys.
Jacksonville (pick ’em) over BUFFALO
The Buffalo Bills are very bad. They’re dead last in offense (237.3 yards per game) by a long shot (Cardinals gain 249 yards per game in 31st place), and they’re dead last in points allowed per game.
Here’s some simple math: Worst in offense + worst in defense = Worst team in the league.
RQFLWP: “It should be noted that the Jaguars have scored 16 points in the last two weeks. They’ve also turned the ball over seven times. Try that against Indy. See what happens.”
Note: The Jaguars may not have been the best team on the field last week, but Josh Scobee‘s robotic leg and Jim Caldwell‘s robotic stare allowed them to steal a win.
INDIANAPOLIS (-8.5) over Kansas City
Hands down, this is the hardest pick of the week. I’m essentially wrestling with two major influences here:
1. Peyton Manning, playing at home, coming off a loss
2. Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, coming off a bye week
It’s not in my DNA to bet against either one of those two things. I suppose given that Weis and Crennel don’t have the finest collections of talent at their disposal, and given that Manning was an absolute killer both in his last home game (he killed his brother) and his final drive last week, I’ll expect a big week out of Indy.
St. Louis (+3) over DETROIT
Sam Bradford looked really good in the third game of the preseason against the Patriots, but it was wise to wait to see what he could do in real games before saying he’s anything special. It’s only been four games, but it’s clear the kid can play.
His 1-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio isn’t all that pretty, but he provides the Rams with a weapon they’ve been sorely lacking for the past few years with Marc Bulger. He also is part of the reason that the Rams feel they can win a division crown in a wide-open NFC West.
RQFLWP: “Everyone keeps saying that the Packers need a running back. That’s not the case. They just need to play the Lions. They’ll be fine.”
Note: Notice I was dead wrong about the Lions last week, but I still can’t bring myself to believe what I saw. With the Lions, this is going to take more than one strong effort against Green Bay to convince me.
Atlanta (-3) over CLEVELAND
The Falcons are sixth in the NFL in offense and sixth in defense, yet they may be the least convincing 3-1 team in the league.
And yet, you just can’t pick Cleveland if they’re getting anything less than a touchdown. Just not a good business move.
RQFLWP: “[The Bengals] should have a little easier time against the Browns, who, in case you forgot, are the Browns. … News flash: [The Browns will] probably lose pretty badly. ”
Note: The Browns won 23-20, and it wasn’t even that close.
CINCINNATI (-6.5) over Tampa Bay
Logic says it’s time to sell on the Bengals and buy the Bucs. Logic be damned — these are my week 5 picks!
CAROLINA (+2.5) over Chicago*
This pick is entirely dependent on Jay Cutler‘s status, but if he doesn’t play, there’s no justifiable way to pick the Bears. Granted, we all watched Julius Peppers beat the Packers almost singlehandedly two weeks ago, but Chicago must have the worst backup quarterback situation in the history of football. Todd Collins? Is he even ready to play?
Apparently, he is, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. For a 45-year veteran, he looks more nervous than a rookie in the pocket.
If Cutler ends up playing, I might swing back to Chicago, but for now, bet against Todd Collins.
RQFLWP: “OK. Who’s playing the joke on me [with the Bears being four-point underdogs to the Giants]? Come on. Come out and tell me this isn’t right. Nobody? Seriously?”
Note: Nine first-half sacks later, the joke was on me.
Green Bay (-2.5) over WASHINGTON
I’m looking forward to seeing what the Packers have in store after taking an unofficial bye last week (and still beating the Lions).
The Redskins don’t inspire any sort of confidence in me, and I’m still invested enough in the potential of the Packers to give them another shot.
RQFLWP: “The same Redskins who lost to the Rams!”
Note: What was I supposed to do? Pick the Redskins?
HOUSTON (-3) over New York Giants
This one is entirely dependent on what time Tom Coughlin makes his players show up at Reliant Stadium. If it’s any earlier than 11 a.m., then you can’t expect Antrel Rolle to play his best.
New Orleans (-6.5) over ARIZONA
The Cardinals have two wins? That’s a typo right?
Now, it’s not terribly easy to go with the Saints here, because watching them play last week it was clear that they’re simply not the same without Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. If Thomas is a go this weekend, I feel a little better.
I also feel a little better with the fact that the Cardinals don’t have a quarterback. It’s always tough to win in the NFL when you don’t have one of those.
Tennessee (+6.5) over DALLAS
I think Dallas is a little better than Tennessee at this point, but I don’t see a huge discrepanacy between these two teams, so I like the points.
San Diego (-6) over OAKLAND
Granted, it hasn’t turned out so well for me this year when I start questioning spreads with rhetorical questions … but really?
Philadelphia (+3) over SAN FRANCISCO
The 49ers have to win at some point, right? You’d at least think so. But after Nate Clements boldly displayed his complete lack of understanding of how to win games, I cannot pick that team. Nope.
MINNESOTA (+4) over New York Jets
This is a gamble that the Brett Favre-Randy Moss connection disrupts the Jets’ game plan enough to cause some problems. It’s also assuming that the Jets — a team full of guys who may sometimes have some inflated egos — let a big win over a bad team affect their focus.
Last week: 5-9