Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Week 5 NFL Picks - Part 2

This edition of the FGR's weekly NFL picks is dedicated to Mike Preston. Who is Mike Preston you ask? Well I'll tell you. Mike Preston is a sportswriter for the Baltimore Sun and he is one of the inspirations for the creation of the FGR. But he's not an inspiration in the same sense that Bill Simmons is an inspiration or David Sedaris is an inspiration. Mike Preston is an inspiration for the FGR in the same way that third degree burn was the inspiration for the oven mitt and jock itch was the inspiration for Tenactin.

Little known fact: Gene's nickname
in college was "Jelly Bean" due to his
love of chocolate covered raisins.
Instead of critiquing Mr. Preston's work, I'm just going to quote it and let you decide for yourself (and then I'll probably critique it). Here is what he wrote last Friday after the Ravens played the first game of the season after the return of the regular referees. You tell me if this is a guy with his finger on the pulse. He wrote, "the NFL Network made too big of a deal about the regular officials returning Thursday night." OK I can't help myself, I have to cut-in there. Too big a deal? The NFL referee debacle may ultimately be the biggest sports story of 2012. Unless the NFL Network completely preempted the game for A Day in the Life of Gene Steratore, I'm not sure they could have made too big a deal about the return of the regular refs. Did Preston completely miss the Packers-Seahawks controversy? (Actually, as a Baltimore Sun sportswriter, he may have).

Let's continue with the quote. "Did we really need to see them in street clothes coming into the stadium? Did we really need to see [Ray] Lewis, who never met a camera he didn't like, hugging them?" Um . . . yes we did. Like it or not, in the moments leading-up to the kickoff of that game, the refs were the story. And if you're the NFL Network telling that story and you get the opportunity to display an image of a first ballot hall of famer hugging one of the officials, you do it. (Unless you're the Baltimore Sun in which case you would be scanning the bleachers for a shot of a guy who played special teams for the '56 Colts).

And in closing, "[o]fficials should never be bigger than the game or the players. On Thursday night, they were bigger than life, thanks to the NFL Network." Hey Mike, I think the whole point of the NFL Network's focus on the return of the regular officials was that the replacement refs were the dominant story of the first three weeks of the season and were therefore bigger than the game and the players. So while your conclusion is 100% accurate, your whole point is 100% asinine but thanks for reminding me why I only get home delivery on the weekends so I can read my kids The Peanuts and Garfield (I love that smarmy cat).

"I've counted to infinity . . . twice."
Atlanta by 3 over Washington: The Pick - Falcons

With RG, III, we may be verging on a player about whom we can start saying things like, "his right hand is the only hand that beats a Royal Flush" and "the quickest way to a man's heart is with RG, III's fist" and "when RG, III falls out of a boat, he doesn't get wet, the water gets RG, III." Unfortunately for the Redskins, he only plays offense (for now).

Pittsburgh by 3.5 over Philadelphia: The Pick - Steelers

I initially had the Eagles in this spot based on the theory that their win over the Giants means that they're good and the Steelers loss to the Raiders means that they're bad but I don't actually believe either of those to be true. The Steelers have the one characteristic that every fan of every sport wishes their favorite team had. You can't count them out until the DNA tests AND the dental records come back with an identical match. (God I hate those guys).

Green Bay by 7 over Indy: The Pick - Packers

Bill Simmons made a good point when he noted that many were quick to knock Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense after weak outings against the defenses of the Giants (on a Super Bowl run), the 49ers (maybe the best in the league), the Bears (no slouch themselves) and the Seahawks on the road (in the game where the ineptitude of the replacement refs crescendoed). Then again, I'm not sure we can use the Saints' Big 12 Conference defensive scheme as much of a barometer either but the Colts aren't much better.

N.Y. Giants by 10 over Cleveland: The Pick - Browns

No you're right, you do deserve
more respect than that.
I think we all know how this one is going to play out. The Giants build a big lead going into the 4th, Eli throws a loose pick and Brandon "Backdoor Cover" Weeden swoops in for the kill. I may ultimately owe Weeden an apology. Of all of the quarterbacks drafted in the first round over the past three years who are destined to be second-rate (Ponder, Locker, Gabbert and Bradford), he may ultimately prove to be the best (I think I just invented something called the "Cleveland compliment").

Minnesota by 5.5 over Tennessee: The Pick - Vikings

How's that for a segue? We almost had a Ponder-Locker match-up this weekend but it looks like Locker will be too banged-up to go which means it's time to wheel Matt Hassleback's corpse back onto the field and watch him try to overcome the 37+ point hole the Titans defense is digging every week. At least Chris Johnson finally stepped-up last week . . . right after I traded him for seventy-five cents on the dollar.

Cincinnati by 4.5 over Miami: The Pick - Bengals

A match-up of two big variable teams. The Bengals appear to be developing into an offensive machine with absolutely no defense and who knows what in the hell the Dolphins are? I'm not going to give them any credit for their effort against the Cardinals after what happened on Thursday night. Keeping it close against the Cardinals on the road was cancelled out by allowing Kevin Kolb to come back and beat them. When you let Kolb throw a 15 yard touchdown pass to tie on 4th and 10 with 22 seconds left, you need to go back and reevaluate everything, right down to the brand of toilet paper in the locker room.

Judging from the background, this
picture was taken in the 4th quarter
of that 2011 playoff game.
Baltimore by 5.5 over Kansas City: The Pick - Ravens

We saw this game in the 2011 playoffs and learned that, if Matt Cassell is a deer in the headlights, the Ravens' defense is an 18-wheeler with faulty breaks. The only reason you go the other way on this one is if you have this pegged as one of Joe Flacco's three road game clunkers which it certainly could be.

Carolina by 3 over Seattle: The Pick - Panthers

In 1939, Winston Churchill* conveyed the difficulty of forecasting the actions of Russia by describing it as "a riddle, wrapped inside a mystery, inside an enigma." By the end of the 2012 season, we're going to be saying the same thing about trying to pick Panthers' games. When in doubt, pick against the Seahawks on the road.

Chicago by 5.5 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Bears

The winner of the "Line I Don't Get" of the week award. I know Jay Cutler is about as reliable as a meth chef but he's only going to need to put up 17 points to cover this number.

Needed something to balance
out the Dawg Pound picture.
New England by 6.5 over Denver: The Pick - Patriots

It's been a few years but I seem to recall Peyton Manning never being able to win in New England when he was surrounded by good Colts teams. His current cast is very suspect and the Pas are still playing pissed-off from getting jobbed in Baltimore (yes I admit it and I don't care . . . suck it Belichick . . . suck it!).

San Francisco by 9 over Buffalo: The Pick - 49ers

This is a big number for a team with offensive limitations (which could be Alex Smith's nickname) against a team that can at least be described as competent. And I'm sure "competent" is exactly what the Bills were gunning for when they went out and spent a zillion dollars rebuilding their defense in the offseason only to watch Tom Brady mock it last Sunday.

New Orleans by 3.5 over San Diego: The Pick - Saints

The formula of picking against the Cardinals until they lost because they were so overdue worked so well this week that I'm going to apply it in reverse to the Saints who actually showed some signs of life in Green Bay last Sunday. In an unrelated story, this game features the starting quarterback from each of my fantasy football teams, one of whom is absolutely killing me. I probably should have taken notice that the room would always go silent when I was saying crazy shit like, "Phillip Rivers is going to be a steal in the 5th round" which he actually would have been . . . as a back-up.

Houston by 7.5 over N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Texans
"And these wristbands and
my Super Bowl ring . . .
and that's all I need."

So the fall of Santonio Holmes appears to have been completed on a play where he collapsed to the ground untouched and, in the process, tossed the ball to the opposing cornerback who took it the other way for a touchdown. But that's life sometimes. One day you're making catches to win the Super Bowl before complaining about no bamboo umbrellas in your drink and snails on your wife's plate, and the next you're getting carted-off the field after handing the other team a touchdown in a 34-0 loss. I guess it could be worse. He could be Mark Sanchez getting ready to play at home on Monday night where the whole country will get to hear the chants . . . "TEEEEEEBOW . . . . TEEEEEEBOW!"

Last Week: 7-8 . . . . Season: 27-34-2

And now, I'm off to Disney World. (Seriously . . . pray for me).


* I must admit that I'm feeling pretty good about a column where I quote Winston Churchill, Chuck Norris and Mike Preston.

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