Thursday, October 17, 2013

The FGR Week 7 NFL Picks

I just had to go and touch the money last week. That, along with a couple of ridiculous covers by the Patriots and the 49ers crushed my momentum. Let's see if we can get it back and, in the process, throw a couple of new wrinkles into this week's feature: (1) My four favorite picks of the week will be denoted by a "+" and (2) the preamble will be jammed into the first pick (thereby removing one game for which I have to figure-out something to say). It's an end to the shutdown celebration. Let's all climb onto the tour bus together, spontaneously break into a Tiny Dancer singalong and make some picks.

Seattle by 6 at Arizona: The Pick - Cardinals

Last week Bill Simmons suggested that the NFL should do away with the sloppy Thursday night game and replace it with a regular version of the late night Sunday game like the one the Raiders and Chargers recently played. I think we should go one step further. Let's keep the Thursday night game, add the late Sunday night game AND have the first game on Sunday start at 10:00 a.m. with another game starting every hour. The early Sunday games would feature the home games of the Bucs, Jags, Dolphins, Bills and Panthers and then as we progressed through the day we would move west with the Browns, Rams and Titans. Then around 3:00 p.m., it would be like when Ivan Drago's corner man yelled whatever he yelled in the Apollo Creed fight and BOOM, here come the marquee games. (I've used this week's schedule and put the games in one possible order while leaving the Thursday night, Sunday night and Monday night games where they were). Imagine it . . . almost fourteen straight hours of football on Sunday. It works for all of the following reasons and more:

1. On the east coast, we're ready to start watching football at 10:00 a.m. The west coast has had this on us for years and we want in. Not to mention, no one wants to watch games involving the Panthers, Bucs and Jags anyway but if you made them the only games that were available . . . well . . .

"You guys want to go to the bar
downstairs and sing with Vonda
Shepherd after we find the mole?"
2. Those of us in east coast football cities that matter would have something to watch while we tailgate.

3. West coast fans would actually get to see their teams play in prime time thereby relieving them of the obligation they feel to continue watching Homeland in the hope that it finds it way back from being the first ever terrorism themed comedy/drama. I keep expecting Peter MacNicol to emerge from a bathroom stall at Langley and announce that he "likes a fresh bowl."

4. We would get more of the Redzone Channel's Scott Hanson and less of clowns like Dan Marino, Terry Bradshaw and Shannon Sharpe because halftime shows would go the way of the single-bar facemask.

5. Except under random circumstances, you would never miss the end of any game. That means that the poor bastards in Orlando who were forced to watch the Jags go for a moral victory by covering the spread in Denver would have had the chance to see the end of the Saints-Patriots game. (Oh, so that's what it's supposed to look like).

6. Did I mention that there would be football on for almost fourteen straight hours?

I'm sure there are hundreds more reasons why this a good idea and a handful why it's not (kind of like getting rid of two preseason games and adopting the college replay system) so it will never happen but we can always dream.

(10:00 a.m.) At Atlanta by 7.5 over Tampa Bay: The Pick - Falcons

We're about to find out whether or not Matt Ryan is truly big time as it looks like he will play the rest of the season without two of his top three receivers which still makes his receiving corp. twice as good as Tom Brady's. Somewhere there is a guy who built his whole fantasy team around the Falcons' passing attack curled-up in the fetal position on his bathroom floor repeating "why, why, why, why?"

(11:00 a.m.) San Diego by 7.5 at Jacksonville: The Pick - Jaguars

I don't believe the Chargers are ready to deal with success. Not to mention, they've got a 3,000+ mile road trip on the heels of a Monday night game and the Jags are coming off the high of their first cover of the season. It should be noted that this is probably the Jags' third best chance to win a game this year behind their December 15th home game against the Bills and their Thursday night duel with the freefalling Texans on December 5th. (The rationale behind scheduling that as a primetime game had to be "well at least the Texans will be battling for the division title right?" Oops).

(Noon) At Miami by 8.5 over Buffalo: The Pick - Bills

With the exception of their wacky Thursday night game in Cleveland, the Bills have kept every game this year to within one score including an overtime game against the Bengals last week. Not to mention, despite his slightly improved play, we're not ready to trust Ryan Tannehill with a big boy spread like that.

(1:00 p.m.) At Carolina by 5.5 over St. Louis: The Pick - Panthers

We will, however, trust Mrs. Tannehill
to run the juicer . . . if you know what
I mean . . . and I think you do.
If you remove JaMarcus Russell from the equation, this is a match-up of the two shakiest number one picks since the Texans set the tone for their quarterbacking future by taking David Carr in 2002.* The Panthers' decision to take Cam Newton over the likes of Von Miller, A.J. Green and Patrick Peterson doesn't seem like such a no-brainer anymore and the Rams' decision to (a) take Sam Bradford instead of the five Pro Bowlers who went nos. 2-6 and then (b) keep him instead of drafting RG, III seems even worse. Bradford appears to be that quarterback who is just good enough to keep you in the vicinity of 8-8 making you think that next year is the year until you look-up and realize that it has been "next year" for five straight years and you still haven't played a game in January.

(2:00 p.m.) At Kansas City by 6.5 over Houston: The Pick - Chiefs+

I have been in a stadium when the home crowd cheered an injury to the inept starting quarterback (believe it or not, I was not one of them . . . I do have some scruples) and I am in no way defending that kind of behavior but I will say that if you ever saw Kyle Boller try to throw a pass while his feet were moving . . . well let's just say that that is more than some fans can take. So while I cannot justify the cheering by the Houston fans last Sunday, I can certainly see what motivated it. On the other side, we have the Chiefs who only had four tough games left on their schedule anyway and now you can drop that to three as the Case Keenum show comes to town. Andy Reid and Alex Smith have clearly made a deal with someone and I don't think it's a coincidence that they're wearing red this year.

(3:00 p.m.) At Detroit by 3 over Cincinnati: The Pick - Lions
I'm not sure but I can tell you
which one was more fun.

These two teams have a lot in common. Dominating defensive lines, top flight wide receivers, histories of misery and an unjustifiably high percentage of their fans who actually think they have the coaches and quarterbacks to bring home a Super Bowl. Close your eyes and try to imagine Andy Dalton or Matthew Stafford warming-up before a Super Bowl. Now close your eyes and try to imagine Carmen Electra holding an Oscar. Which one was easier?

(4:00 p.m.) At Green Bay by 10 over Cleveland: The Pick - Packers

This game should give us a pretty good read on the Packers. They've kind of muddled their way to 3-2 but now they get Brandon Weeden in Green Bay thereby avoiding a trip to Cleveland's factory of sadness.** If the Pack comes-out of this with a convincing 27-10 win, then we can start counting them as a team that might be able to win a January game in Seattle. If, however, they screw around and let the Browns keep it close for four quarters because their defense can't get the job done against Weeden, then this thing is probably ending with another Aaron Rodgers/Mike McCarthy grumpfest.

(5:00 p.m.) At Washington by 1.5 over Chicago: The Pick - Bears+

The Redskins have taken the position that their name is meant to celebrate Native Americans, not to offend them which explains why the movement by Native Americans to change the name has intensified. I mean if you were a psychiatrist named Hannibal Lecter or a surgeon named Frank Burns, you would probably spend your life wishing those weren't two of the symbols of your profession.

(6:00 p.m.) New England by 4 at N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Patriots

Kind of coin-flip between this and the next game for the 7:00 p.m. slot because they are both solid intra-division match-ups but we need to get this thing going before Boston and New York fans pass-out in a puddle of spilled Irish Car Bombs. We could also base it on Super Bowl wins since the turn of the century: Steelers (2) + Ravens (2) = 4 . . . Patriots (3) + Jets (0) = 3.

(7:00 p.m.) At Pittsburgh by 2 over Baltimore: The Pick - Ravens

"Oh my God . . . we're the 2012 Chiefs."
A Ravens' loss to the Steelers would mean losing records for both teams and a combined 5-8 with only two wins outside of the division. The AFC North appears well on its way to a classic Costanza/Benes roll reversal situation with the suddenly thriving AFC West. How did such a proud division fall so far so fast? Well, Ray quit and Ed became a Texan . . . we should've known we'd never get far. (Sorry).

(8:00 p.m.) At Philadelphia by 2.5 over Dallas: The Pick - Eagles 

Like it or not, with the exception of Denver at Indy, this is the game of the week from a ratings standpoint. In addition to the sizeable TV markets, we've got all kinds of built-in drama from Jerry to Chip to Romo and the Eagles' burgeoning quarterback controversy. It feels so Shakespearean. I hope nobody dies at the end.

(9:00 p.m.) Denver by 6 at Indianapolis: The Pick - Broncos+

I was initially waffling on this game until Jim Irsay decided to make it Peyton Manning's mission to humiliate him on national television. There are certain athletes who's names you just don't mention before you play them . . . not even to wish them a happy birthday or to tell them that you like their tie because no matter what you say, their warped hyper-competitive brains will twist it into a dis for which you must pay. At the top of the list are Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. Then there is a secondary group that includes Peyton Manning, Ray Lewis*** and Seabiscuit. At the bottom of the list is the aforementioned JaMarcus Russell.

(10:00 p.m.) San Francisco by 4.5 at Tennessee: The Pick - 49ers+

The Niners don't play a legitimate playoff contender until November 17th when they travel to New Orleans which is basically the NFL scheduling department's version of shutting the power-off (no I am not letting it go!!!).

At N.Y. Giants by 3 over Minnesota: The Pick - Giants

Is this the worst Monday Night Football match-up of all time? Is there another one that's even close? On a semi-related topic, have you noticed how Jon Gruden likes to connect completely unrelated revelations with the word "but"? Last Monday night he said something along the lines of "those Paganos are some kind of football family but I'll tell you what, you don't know pain until you've been through a botched vasectomy" (ok, I made that up but it was something like that). I think Gruden is the new Phil Rizzuto but the Giants find a way to beat a team quarterbacked by Christian Ponder, Matt Cassell or Josh Freeman (I'm sure that's not what Giant fans were expecting to hear before week 7).

Last Week's Record: 6-9 . . . Season Record: 50-40-1

The FGR Fictional Fantasy Team

It was a low-scoring week across the league so this was another win for Team FGR (hey, we have a name now). We'll go with the same starting line-up this week as the only potential sub, Chris Johnson, will be dancing his way to one yard gains against the 49ers on Sunday. We're also going to drop Randall Cobb and Shonn Greene for the widely available Dallas Clark and Aaron Dobson under the theory that Dobson made it this far as a person who catches footballs for a living by occasionally catching one that hits him in the hands.

Starters

Can someone please do something to light  a fire
under Jason Witten? . . . well thank you Ashton.
Matthew Stafford - 23
LeSean McCoy - 17
Knowshon Moreno - 28
Alshon Jeffery - 3
T.Y. Hilton - 4
Jason Witten - 2
Jay Feely - 2
Ravens - 13

Total - 92

Bench

Eli Manning - 7
Chris Johnson - 5
Bernard Pierce - 2
Shonn Greene - 0
Randall Cobb - 5
Marques Colston - 1
Julian Edelman - 5

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.

Endnotes

* 2002 was not the best year for quarterbacks as the Lions took Joey Harrington third, the Redskins took Patrick Ramsey 32nd and the Cardinals took Josh McCown 81st. You know is was a down year when your runaway winner for best quarterback drafted was David Garrard. In case you were wondering, the 2002 answer to the always fun question of "who did Ozzie Newsome settle for at the end of the first round?" is some guy named Ed Reed with the 24th pick. So for the record, Ozzie's first round track record includes three first ballot Hall of Famers (Reed, Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis), two potential Hall of Famers (Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata), two Super Bowl MVP's (Lewis and Joe Flacco) and Kyle Boller (hey, even Aldous Snow had African Child).

"What you did was very spiteful but it
was also very brave but the content of
what you said has made me hate you." 
** If there is a better line over the last few years than "factory of sadness," I haven't heard it. To see its origin, check out this one minute rant from Browns fan Mike Polk. Fans of the other thirty-one teams need to watch it and then spend a quiet moment being thankful.

*** Prior to his first match-up against the Ravens in 2008, Steelers rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall texted Ray Rice that he expected to have a big game so Ray Lewis did this to him and broke his collarbone proving that no good comes from texting, ever.