The Joy of Bye Weeks: Week 7 NFL Picks
The Giants are on a bye week and I couldn’t be happier about it. As much as I enjoy football season, it is an immensely stressful time. The joy of a key victory, like the G-Men’s Week 3 win over Philadelphia is palpable but fleeting, but the disappointment of a bad loss, like the Giants’ Week 5 stinker against Seattle lingers for a couple of days. The Monday and Tuesday following a loss like that, I find myself on edge, snapping at others. Not even beer can dull the pain. (I realize that this is not healthy).
That’s why I love bye weeks. As much as I love the Giants, I love watching stress free football even more. What’s even better about this week is that the Patriots are on a bye, meaning that the only local game being broadcast where I live is the Jets-Chargers game, on CBS. The Fox games? Lions-Falcons and Packers-Vikings, two of the better matchups of the week (this week’s matchups suck) and if I get tired of football, I can just play video games without worrying about what’s going to happen with my team. Bye weeks are awesome.
Picks follow after the jump, as always they are done with my friend Ryan
Last week: 10-3
Last Week: 8-5
Chicago (-1) vs. Tampa Bay (In London)
Ryan: This game is incredibly difficult to pick as both teams looked great last week. It could very well have NFC Wild Card implications depending on how the rest of the season plays out. I am guessing that Wembley Stadium’s field ends up being sloshy which would give the Bears and their strong rushing attack a slight advantage. Bears cover.
Asif: Last week’s victory over the Saints has done nothing to convince me that Tampa doesn’t suck. The same goes for Chicago’s win over Minnesota. Speaking of that Bears’ victory, while the game was atrocious to watch, it did provide us with one of the greatest moments of the season so far when NBC’s field mics accidentally picked up Jay Cutler telling Mike Martz to go f*ck himself. I’ve watched this video about 20 times since Monday, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Washington @ Carolina (-2.5)
Ryan: Sometime around Rex Grossman’s second or third interception last week, I bet my buddy Brad a dollar that we would see some hot John Beck action (Asif: mmmmmm Mormony). I re-invested this dollar in a Powerball ticket last night (picking all Packers numbers of course) and unfortunately didn’t win the $124 million jackpot. Oh well, there’s always Saturday and since nobody else won either I now stand to win $148 million. It is extraordinarily convenient for Kim Jong Shanahan to insert John Beck, who has four career starts and zero wins, into an eminently winnable game this week for the Redskins. I still maintain that, to the extent it’s possible with Rex Grossman and John Beck as the team’s quarterbacks, Redskins fans are going to endure a season where they are built up to be KNOCKED down. Redskins cover.
Asif: Mike Shanahan’s evil plan to make John Beck his starting quarterback has come to fruition. Still, John Beck has to be an improvement over Rex Grossman, doesn’t he? Huh?
Even with home field and the Redskins sucking, I don’t see why Carolina should be favored in this game especially after getting stomped in the Georgia Dome last Sunday. In news that you don’t hear the ESPN talking heads babbling about, Cam Newton now has more interceptions than passing TDs (he does have a bunch of rushing TDs) and is completing passes at a Sanchezian 58%. In my mind, Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton has passed Newton as the ROY front-runner. Washington covers.
San Diego (-2) @ NY Jets
Ryan: This is a very interesting game in the overall AFC landscape. The Chargers are 4-1 but have somewhat struggled in beating the Vikings, Chiefs, Dolphins, and Broncos who are a combined 4-17.
In giving a backhanded criticism to Norv Turner this week, Rex Ryan did what his players like him for best – he took the pressure and attention off of his players and put it on himself. For all of his bravado and bluster, Rex knows what he’s doing. The Jets desperately need to win this game at home so they can head into their bye at 4-3. It is not nearly as must-win for the Chargers. Jets cover in an ugly game.
Asif: Speaking of mediocre teams with sh*tty quarterbacks, the Jets earned themselves a week’s respite from getting savaged by the jackals in the New York press by winning at home against a team that started Matt Moore at quarterback. Color me unimpressed. Now they get to face a very good Chargers team which will be well rested coming off a bye. Even though this is exactly the type of game that Norv Turner-led teams lose, I’ll go with the Chargers to cover.
Seattle @ Cleveland (-3)
Ryan: At the end of the third quarter of Raiders-Browns last week, the Raiders were up 17-7, faced 4th-and-20 on the Browns 35, and lined up to kick a 52-yard field goal. It ended up being a fake, which the Browns were woefully unprepared for, as punter/holder Shane Lechler threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Boss. Adjacent to our table at Schoolyard Tavern was a man wearing a Cleveland Indians hat. He was sitting by himself, watching–focusing on–ONLY Raiders-Browns and up until this point we had not noticed his presence. After not making a sound the whole game, though, he smacked the table and shouted, “YOU’VE GOT TO BE F*CKING KIDDING ME!” The moral of this story is that it is not awful to be a Packers fan as opposed to a Browns fan in this lifetime or any other. Seahawks cover.
Asif: When Cleveland is favored, take the points. Maybe Seattle isn’t as bad as we thought they were? Charlie Whitehurst is probably an improvement over Tarvaris Jackson. Life as a Browns fan must be really depressing. Seahawks cover.
Houston @ Tennessee (-3)
Ryan: Houston looked feisty last week against the Ravens until the Ravens defense just sort of decided that there was no way that the Texans were going to be allowed to move the ball anymore. If the transitive property were true in the NFL, which it assuredly is not, Tennessee would be lining up to deliver a #BeatEmDown on the Texans. Despite what we have seen from Houston over the last few weeks–not very good football–I’m going to ride with my sleeper pick. Texans cover.
Asif: Speaking of teams it would be depressing to root for, I don’t think the Texans are going to make the playoffs. And this was supposed to be their year too…what with Pey Pey getting neck AIDS and all. Now that Mario Williams is out for the season and Andre Johnson is out for as many as six weeks, I predict that the Titans will be running away with the gigantic pile of crap that is the AFC South crown. Don’t worry Texans, the people of Houston are too busy stuffing their faces with barbeque and having heart attacks to notice your disappointing them yet again. Titans cover.
Denver @ Miami (-1.5)
Ryan: I would love to see whether this game would beat the World Series in the ratings if they went head-to-head on Sunday or Monday night. At the very least, the ratings would be MUCH closer than die hard baseball fans would be comfortable with. Also, I’d probably watch this game over the World Series for a number of reasons, not least of which being that Tony La Russa is loathsome. Luckily, I will only have to give this game my VERY divided attention because six other football games will be on at the same time.
Has an 0-5 team EVER been favored? Broncos cover.
Asif: Someone has to win this week’s Derp Bowl (Extra Special Suck For Luck Edition) and unfortunately I think that it’s going to be the Broncos. Be prepared for Tim Tebow to complete only 40% of his passes and have everyone ignore that fact to focus on his fist pumping technique instead. Tebow fist pumps are the most uplifting. Broncos cover.
Atlanta @ Detroit (-3.5)
Ryan: Because the Bears’ offensive line is so dreadful and it is so funny to see Jay Cutler get sacked, the dismal Falcons offensive line, which has given up 14 sacks so far this season, has gotten sort of a free pass. We saw two weeks ago what happens when an awful offensive line plays in Detroit–a debilitating combination of false starts and sacks given up. Lions cover.
Asif: I think that on some level, the Lions had to lose last week to maintain the likability of their run to the postseason. ESPN was already starting to co-opt the Detroit bandwagon, and when a long-downtrodden franchise finally starts to win you don’t want them to be too cocky about it (see: Red Sox fans). Now, all that pressure is off. I still think that the Lions are good, and while I like Atlanta as well, this just doesn’t look like their year. Detroit covers.
Kansas City @ Oakland (-4.5)
Ryan: Last week, up 24-10 with less than five minutes to play, the Raiders faced 4th-and-1 from the Cleveland five-yard line. Instead of kicking the field goal to go up three scores in a game where the Browns had only scored twice in the first 55 minutes, Hue Jackson opted to go for it. This decision was monumentally stupid but because the Raiders ended up hanging on to win (the Browns scored one touchdown, recovered the onside kick, and got into Raiders territory before turning it over on downs), I didn’t see anything made of it nationally. Still, though, it may not be the best thing for the long-term sustainability of the Raiders franchise that Hue Jackson has a monopoly on organizational control. I really don’t like the idea of Carson Palmer coming in off the street and starting in this game, even if his primary role is going to be handing the ball off to Darren McFadden. Chiefs cover.
Asif: The Carson Palmer column Ryan and I wrote earlier this week was one of the most enjoyable blog posts I’ve ever written. Apparently, Palmer is going to start this week. This wouldn’t be happening if Kyle Boller was good at anything other than throwing footballs really long distances from his knees (sadly, not a skill that translates into being an effective NFL QB). Even though trading for Palmer was a terrible idea, I’m going with the Raiders to cover because the Chiefs suck something awful.
Pittsburgh (-3.5) @ Arizona
Ryan: Something is off with this Steelers team but they keep playing crappy teams and prevent themselves from being fully exposed. This won’t be the week of their reckoning, though–next week versus the Patriots will be. We are at the point in the column where I’ve run out of funny ways to say about teams that are bad but if this game was listed earlier there would have been a witty joke here about the Cardinals. Steelers cover.
Asif: The Steelers have been the most frustrating team for me to pick this year. Every time I decide they’re good, they put up a stinker. When I decide they suck, they score a ton of points.
This is do or die for the Cardinals if they have any aspirations of catching the 49ers in the NFC West. Unfortunately for the three people out there who care, I’m pretty sure that the Cardinals gave up trying about three weeks ago. Steelers cover.
St. Louis @ Dallas (-12)
Ryan: Sam Bradford suffered a high ankle sprain in last week’s loss to the Packers, which, according to Bill Barnwell, means he is virtually certain to miss this week’s game. *Looks up Rams back-up quarterback.* AJ Feeley. Could be much worse, although I could be giving too much credence to his 4-1 run in 2002 as Eagles starter that for some reason feels much more recent than nine years ago. Anyways, I think that Dallas is a little bit underrated–my Jerry Jones criticism notwithstanding–but I don’t think that they have shown themselves capable of covering a spread this high. Cowboys win but Rams cover.
Asif: St. Louis is likely to end up with one of the top five picks in the draft. If I were them I’d consider using it to trade down with a QB-desperate team looking for Landry Jones or Matt Barkley. Having a high pick is nice, but the Rams have a ton of needs including linebacker, defensive back, and all along the offensive line–all positions where teams can find excellent players later in the first round.
The Cowboys are just mediocre, but I’d be really surprised if they can’t put up points against the Rams. This game is pretty much Romo-proof. Dallas covers.
Green Bay (-9) @ Minnesota
Ryan: Asif took the low-lying fruit that was going to be my Donovan McNabb joke below, which is more than fair because he a) did a better job on it than I would have, and b) consistently finishes his picks before me. To the victor go the spoils.
I would have a hard time taking the Vikings at +20 in this game. I just hope that my least favorite player in NFL history, Jared Allen (two DUIs + stupid haircut + hunting video + Viking = HATRED)*, doesn’t take advantage of his match-up with left tackle Marshall Newhouse–who has performed very well so far replacing the injured Chad Clifton–and get to Aaron Rodgers. Packers cover.
Asif: Donovan McNabb says he was surprised at being benched. Really, Donovan? You spent 5.5 weeks plodding around trying to set a new record for passes thrown at receivers’ feet and you were surprised that the team decided to make a change and start their first round pick? Christian Ponder looked pretty awful in the preseason, but the future is now in Minnesota and just about anyone would be better than McNabb. As for Green Bay, they’re pretty good. This line is also about six points too low. Packers cover.
*Asif: Jared Allen hunting videos are one of my favorite things on the internet. Check this one out.
Indianapolis @ New Orleans (-14)
Was Sean Payton’s injury the long-awaited karmic payback for the vicodin story which, again, for some reason just completely went away? MAYBE. Saints cover.
Asif: New Orleans looked flat last week against Tampa and Sean Payton is now a cripple. Luckily, playing the Colts is the easiest way for any team to get their mojo back. The Colts suck. Saints cover.
Baltimore (-7.5) @ Jacksonville
Ryan: I am completely out of ways to denigrate bad teams; this line is at least three points too low. Ravens cover.
Asif: Remember when Monday Night Football had good games?… Yeah that was nice… Anyway, Ravens cover.