Friday, October 19, 2018

The FGR's Week ? NFL Power Rankings Er Picks

My excuse for not producing the week 3 Power Rankings was that I became all-consumed with the Ryder Cup. Then the week 4 rankings got wiped-out by a two-day golf tournament and then week 5 fell victim to a three day Bud Light tasting trip in South Carolina. (I think I prefer the ice cold can out of the cooler in the back of the pick-up truck to the refrigerated bottle from the country club bar . . . but it's close). 

The mistake I made this year and that I seem to make every year was choosing power rankings over just picking games. Power rankings require you to come-up with something remotely interesting for all 32 damn teams as opposed to just 14-16 games which also have the benefit of their own built-in little story lines. You know what? Fuck power rankings. I'm picking games. 

Tampa Bay by 3.5 over Cleveland: The Pick - Bucs

"I really thought we
had them at 28-6."
Let's play the always fun game of "Browns by the Numbers." When the Browns kicked-off against the Bills on November 30, 2014, they were 7-4. Then they lost two in a row to drop to 7-6 before playing the Bengals on December 14, 2014 which was the last time they had a winning record. They lost that game 30-0 and then they lost two more. And then they lost 44 of their next 48 before seeming to right the ship this year and putting themselves in position to once again have a winning record if they could beat the Chargers last week. They responded by falling behind 35-6 on their way to a 38-14 loss. Hue Jackson makes $3M a year.

L.A. Chargers by 6.5 over Tennessee (in London): The Pick - Tennessee

The Chargers are clearly the better team which is the primary reason you can't pick them this week because the moment they convince you that they're going 11-5 is when they decide to lose three in a row to what was previously believed to be inferior competition. It's roughly the same moment that Phillip Rivers reminds us why he might end-up being the only Hall of Fame from the last forty years never to play in a Super Bowl (I have done no research to support this). The secondary reason you take Tennessee is that this game is in London where weird things happen because AMERICAN football games are supposed to be played in 
AMERICA. Duh.       

New England by 3 at Chicago: The Pick - Patriots 

Now that the Patriots have secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs with their win over the Chiefs, they can focus on accumulating the eight or nine guaranteed wins left on their schedule like they're an only child at an Easter egg hunt with four grandparents shouting hints from the sidelines . . . "DON'T FORGET TO CHECK UNDER THE PORCH!!!". Just a reminder that the second best quarterback in the AFC East during the Tom Brady era was Chad Pennington and it's not even close.   

Detroit by 3 at Miami: The Pick - Lions

Dan LeBatard has a solid gimmick where listeners email "looks like" ideas and the other day he read a bunch of them just to crack-up Tim Kurkjian which is never not funny. I'm going to fill some space by ripping off a few of those. For example, "Matt Patricia looks like a guy who really enjoys pushing people into the pool."

Philadelphia by 4.5 over Carolina: The Pick - Panthers

"Ever play Greenville Country Club?
Delightful. Positively delightful."
I'm sitting in the Charlotte airport after spending the night at the Wyndham Microtel curled-up in the fetal position hoping to survive the night like Tom Hanks in Big. I really need to revisit my hotel screening criteria. I know price was a factor on this one because I didn't plan to be in the room for more than seven hours (all of it sleeping) but good God man the lobby was like the waiting room in Beetlejuice.

On a related note, don't bet this game. No one has any idea how these two teams are going to play in a given week including you. 

Indianapolis by 7.5 over Buffalo: The Pick - Colts

The aggregate point differential for the four AFC South teams is -67. To put that in perspective, we're not even halfway through the season yet and they're already 153 points worse than the AFC North. Of those four AFC South teams, the Colts are the worst with a 1-5 record and a -28 point differential. And they're STILL more than a touchdown favorite over a Bills team that is going to start either Nathan "The" Peterman or Derek "No I Haven't Retired to Play Guitar in a Spin Doctors Cover Band Yet" Anderson. Your annual reminder that at this point every season a quarter of the games become unwatchable.    

Jacksonville by 5 over Houston: The Pick - Jacksonville

Three or four years ago a friend of mine predicted that Bill O'Brien would end-up as the head coach at the University of Maryland where he had once been the running backs coach. We all laughed at him at the time but that probably had more to do with the fact that he once stepped-out of a courtesy van in the complete wrong location at 2:00 a.m. and then tried to walk the twelve miles home before giving-up and passing-out under a boat (it was fortunately on a trailer). Turns-out that spiritual journey may have made him a visionary because the Terps need a coach and O'Brien might not make it to Thanksgiving in Houston. 

Baltimore by 2.5 over New Orleans: The Pick - Ravens

I think Drew Brees just finished his on-field celebration of breaking the passing yards record. No wait, he's now running to the other end zone to kiss his second cousin on his wife's side twice removed. Ok I think he's done. Let's move on.  

Trust me when I tell you that there is no bigger Ravens skeptic than me (oh we trust you) and even I am starting to believe. Of course I wrote that before the Browns game which is the one the Ravens go out of their way to lose every year to guarantee that they enter the last week of the season on the playoff bubble needing a win and some help. For some reason the Ravens suck in Ohio. It's almost like a karma thing. That loss to the Browns made their record in Ohio this year 0-2 and probably made it about 8-28 since they to Baltimore from . . . never mind.  

Anyway, ignore the Ohio games. All you need to know is that the Ravens are allowing less than 13 points per game and leading the league in sacks. That doesn't mean they're going to shutdown Drew Brees but they will contain him long enough to give Justin Tucker a shot at the game winning field goal which he will make. Because he always does. I love him.     

Washington by 1.5 over Dallas: The Pick - Cowboys

There's a great line in Billions uttered by Richard Thomas' smug condescending old money character Sanford Bensinger to Bobby Axelrod that "sports franchises are how we knight people in this country . . . and you're not royalty, you're a robber baron." The beauty of that line is that you know that's exactly how NFL owners think of each other and you can almost imagine them being introduced at their own meetings, "May I present Lord Truck Stop Sir Jimmy Haslam and the Earl of Pills Sir Jim Irsay." 

This game features two of the sleaziest and the barely mediocre teams they deserve to own battling it out in the NFL stadium equivalent of an above-ground pool. I'm going to assume that the Redskins are incapable of winning two games in a row until proven otherwise so take Lord Face Lift. 

Minnesota by 3.5 at the Jets: The Pick - The Jets

Then again, they don't exactly
help their own cause.
This is kind of a double-take game because your initial reaction is always going to be "the Jets suck" and that's not your fault because it's a reputation well-earned. However, they're currently averaging 27.5 points per game (35+ points for their last three games) and they've won two in a row at home. And let's not get carried away with the Vikings just yet. Their only signature win was over a currently suspect Eagles team and they got drubbed at home by the Bills because roughly every third or fourth game Kirk Cousins likes to dress-up as late model Jake Delhomme. I think we could get one of those this Sunday.

Rams by 9.5 at San Francisco: The Pick - 49ers

Hey if you want to give 9.5 points on the road in a divisional game against a team that just blew a sure thing against Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field because their coach wouldn't know how to protect a lead in Final Jeopardy with five times as much money in the bank as his opponents . . . be my guest. I'll take the home dog and a backdoor cover.  

Kansas City by 6 over Cincinnati: The Pick - Chiefs

Another gem from Le Batard's listeners: "Andy Reid looks like a Civil War reenactment soldier who just got reprimanded for wearing glasses that aren't historically accurate."    

Falcons by 4.5 over the Giants: The Pick - Falcons

It's 2018 and we've known for at least two weeks that this match-up was going to suck but there's still no way to swap it for Baltimore-New Orleans, Carolina-Philadelphia or even New England-Chicago? Shit we've known this game was going to involve at least one team essentially eliminated from the playoffs since the day the Giants passed on a quarterback in the draft. If it wasn't for fantasy football, they might not even show this game at a Long Island Applebee's.   

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