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NFL Week 3: I Call It, Crap-A-Palooza
September 20, 2008 - John Whittaker
Our thanks to Finn for designing the grid - it's much easier on the eyes!
If this week's slate of football games was an outdoor rock concert, it would be Crap-a-Palooza.
These games are horrible. Between teams not playing up to the levels we all thought they should be or teams that have won and looked terrible while doing it, this week is one of the tougher weeks I can remember trying to decipher.
When you can make a serious case for Detroit and Kansas City to win their games, after what we've seen out of them in the first two weeks of the season, you know it's a tough week to pick.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who was having trouble.
This is one of the ugliest slates of games I've ever seen (for handicapping purposes). There is almost nothing I like this weekend, pro or college, but here's what I've got .... E-mail from Sir Cumference.
Simon Teska, meanwhile, has abandoned trying to pick games based on the players. This week, he's picking based on a city's ranking as a vacation spot. Trailing in the Fat Guy Trophy standings, the Vacation Guide corrolary will probably help Simon rip off a 30-win week.
On to the picks (our panel's favorite is in bold):
Kansas City at Atlanta: "I'll tell you what he's thinking …. I don't know what the hell he's thinking.' For some reason, Bob Uecker's line from Major League II is ringing in my ears as I think about my pick in this game. I'm taking Kansas City, but I can't tell you why. Atlanta has the better quarterback and defense. Larry Johnson has proven to be a bust, but I somehow see him putting together 125 yards and a couple of touchdowns. Google "Deer in headlights' and Tyler Thigpen's picture comes up, but I'm still picking him to beat Matt Ryan, who's quickly worked his way into the vice president's position on the Aaron Rodgers For President fan club.
Sir Cumference's Take: Atlanta: The Falcons look a bit schizophrenic, which isn't really a surprise for a team with a rookie QB. I'm not sure what to say about the Chiefs, because I don't get ESPNU so I haven't seen them play yet.
Oakland at Buffalo: Apparently, there's still room on the Buffalo bandwagon - they're the popular pick for our panel. I'm picking the Bills, but to be completely honest with you, it wouldn't surprise me if the Bills aren't able to stop the run, Darren McFadden runs for 125 yards, catches another 80 yards in swing passes, scores two touchdowns and the Bills a squeaker, either. How's that for playing both sides of the fence?
In all seriousness, though, the Bills should win this game and move to 3-0. Who saw that coming before the season? This is starting to smell like 1988 - when the Bills came out of nowhere to win 12 games before flaming out in the AFC Championship game against the Bengals. That season, they won the games they should have won and lost to teams that they either were even on the talent scale with or that they should have lost to. I'm not saying print playoff tickets yet, but something funny's happening in Buffalo this year.
Only Teska takes the Raiders.
Teska's Take: In the paraphrased words of Willis McGahee, "Buffalo is boring. What is in Buffalo anyway?' Actually I have no idea what he said. but he was making fun of the city. I realize Oakland is predominantly gang territroy...but it is in California...where I have never been. Therefore they get my vacation edge.
Tampa Bay at Chicago: Two teams built the same way, but Chicago seems to be built a little better -- play defense really well, win the field position game with good kickers and kick returners and hope your offense doesn't screw it up for you. Teddy's a Tampa Bay fan -- and has been since they wore the pink uniforms in Tecmo Bowl. He built the bandwagon -- but you can't seriously tell me this game's going to be on Sunday in Teddy's house. Is it? On the plus side, everybody will be catching up on their sleep.
Sir Cumference's Take: Chicago: Griese at the Bears brings back memories of Montana leading KC against the 49ers. Seriously, what can you say about this game, other than that if you have Sunday Ticket you won't be watching it? I'll take the home side, since I think both teams are mediocre at best. Speaking of, two bets I'm seriously expecting to cash this year are Minny +225/+300 to finish 2nd or 3rd in the NFC North and Oakland +185 to finish 3rd in the AFC West.
Carolina at Minnesota: Minnesota's pre-season press clippings are what's giving me trouble here. I can understand benching Tavares Jackson, but who in the heck does Gus Frerotte have naked pictures of to still be in the league? And, what the heck was the Vikes GM doing not having a better second option behind Jackson than Frerotte? Nobody's been that drunk behind the wheel since the Exxon Valdez spill. Hope the Metrodome has padded walls.
On the other hand, Carolina hasn't looked that good yet this season. This might be one of the weakest 2-0 starts I've ever seen. But, as the immortal Herm Edwards has said, YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME, and I see Jake Delhomme hooking up with Steve Smith at least twice for long touchdowns in a 21-14 win. Jake wants to keep Steve happy, before he channels his inner Clubber Lang again.
Miami at New England: Only Teska takes Miami. I actually feel pretty safe with this game, if only because the noodle-armed Chaz Pennington is taking snaps for the Dolphins. Byron Leftwich really wasn't a better option for Miami, at least as a stopgap until they realize John Beck will never be a starting quarterback and they draft someone better? Wow. Way to be, Bill Parcells. To think, this is the same guy who drafted Phil Simms, Tony Romo and Drew Bledsoe. I foresee workmanlike performance for Matt Cassel, more screen passes and short throws, and the Pats winning ugly. My only request - would it kill you to throw it to Randy Moss? I spent a first-round pick on Moss in my fantasy football draft, and I wouldn't mind getting something out of him before I trade him. Come on Matty - I'm not asking that much, am I?
Cincinnati at New York Giants: What happened to Cincinnati? We knew they wouldn't be able to stop anybody, but since when did they hire Greg Robinson to coach their offense? They're putrid. Apparently, our distinguished panel agrees with me, since we all picked the G-Men to win. It didn't take long for Eli Manning to become a sure thing at quarterback, did it?
Houston at Tennessee: Our panel overwhelmingly likes Tennessee, except for me. I know I had to apologize to Vince Young's Momma last week for my disparaging remarks about the Titans and her son, but I still can't pull the trigger on Kerry Collins. I just can't. It means that either I'm apologizing to Kerry Collins' momma next week, or I picked this game right - Houston gets off the schnide behind a big game from Matt Schaub and a couple of sacks from Mario Williams (in hindsight, a great pick by Charley Casserly).
Sir Cumference's Take: Tennessee: How quickly we forget. In week 1 the Texans were absolutely shelled, admittedly by a good Steelers side, but the Titans have beaten Jax & Cincy so far without too much difficulty and look a legitimate threat to the Colts this season IF they keep the immoral (I meant immortal) Kerry Collins at QB.
Arizona at Washington: I was this close to picking Washington in this game only because we all know the Kurt Warner roller-coaster ride -- this guy's pretty good, this guy's pretty good, another good game for Warner, then BAM, he hits you with four fumbles and two interceptions that kill his team. I'm betting it doesn't happen this weekend. How the heck are the Cardinals in position to go 3-0. This is fricking freaky.
Sir Cumference's Take: Washington: This game epitomizes the week. I can't reasonably think either that the 'Skins will start the season 2-1 or that Arizona--ARIZONA--could be 3-0 after this game. The line is Washington -3 at home, which means Vegas also doesn't have a clue as to who will win. I would only bet this game at gunpoint, but the Skins have a rookie coach and improved a lot from week 1 to week 2, so I suppose they're slightly the better bet to take this one.
New Orleans at Denver: Another tough one. Is this one of those overmatched Madden games where there are two combined punts? Does Ed Hochuli show up and take away a turnover late in the game? Can Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal keep it up? Does Reggie Bush make one of those plays that swing a game? I think Denver shreds the Saints defense, as does the rest of our panel, but it took me a long time to arrive at that conclusion.
St. Louis at Seattle: At some point, the Rams have to win a game, which I'm guessing is what Teddy was thinking when he picked the Rams this weekend. Personally, I think Mike Holmgren can trot out Steve Largent and Bennie Blades at wide receiver and beat the Rams. Big day for Matt Hasselback and his bad back. I'm thinking this feels like a 28-17-type game.
Teska's Take: The gateway arch is much more impressive when driving next to it than it is on tv...but Seattle is somewhere I've always wanted to live/visit. The weather is fine with me, the music is trendy and the coffee is legendary.
Cleveland at Baltimore: If you go by the pre-season predictions, Cleveland wins in a walk. I think Cleveland wins in a close game, but only because I'm still not sold on Joe Flacco. His name sounds like he should be an insurance broker, and don't forget, he went to DELAWARE! Romeo Crennel dials up something from his Patriots days defensively, and Derek Anderson comes up big for the Brownies. On Monday, Ray Lewis makes headlines in the Baltimore papers for going on a three-state killing spree.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis: Something feels off about the Colts right now. Even though they're 1-1, Peyton's wearing the Peyton Manning Face for about three quarters of every game. I don't see The Face going away Sunday - say 21-17 Jags. And, let me say here that I'm amazed Peyton's doing as well as he has. The offensive line is stuck in cement, Marvin Harrison looks like he's running routes in one of those Rascal personal scooters, and now Bob Sanders is out for four weeks. Welcome to Tom Brady's world circa 2004, Peyton.
Sir Cumference's Take: Indianapolis: Another game I'd prefer to stay away from, because I'm still not ready to believe Jax is bad. However, with the O-Line issues of both teamse I'll definitely take the one playing at home.
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia: This should be a great game. It's sure a pain to pick. I think Pittsburgh is a better team, but I don't like the Steelers' chances if they can't run the ball. And, running the ball was tough for Dallas against these same Eagles on Monday night. If Mike Tomlin can figure out how to get the ball to Willie Parker in space, Steelers win. That's what I'm betting on. And, for the sake of my fantasy team, it had better happen.
Teska's Take: I don't consider Pittsburgh a vacation. it's a couple hours away and I got there enough to be not excited about it. Philly however...technically I've never been there. And I want to lick the liberty bell. that's what it comes down to -- me wanting to lick the crack of freedom.
Dallas at Green Bay: Aaron Rodgers' candidacy for president is hot, according to the latest CNN polls. In Wisconsin, he's now more beloved than Dan Majkowski, and he's soon to overtake Brett Favre. Of course, he hasn't lost a game yet. Look at the faith in Rodgers from our panel - only Simon Teska picks Dallas. I don't know if what we're seeing here is faith in the Packers or a lack of faith in Tony Romo. We have no idea if Jessica Simpson will be in the stands Sunday night, and that's the only reason I can see for this kind of faith in a quarterback making his third start against the consensus favorite to win the NFC. I'm going with Green Bay, but I can't tell you why, other than Dallas has to lose sometime.
Sir Cumference's Take: Green Bay: It's going to be a fun one either way but I think Dallas has played two nearly-perfect games in a row on offense and I just don't think they can maintain that level. I still think there's a good chance that they're the best team in the NFC, but I think the Pack are a good bet to steal this one.
New York Jets at San Diego: No love for the Jets from our panel. I just can't rationalize San Diego falling to 0-3 on the season. Favre hasn't looked THAT good this season, and the supporting cast around him isn't as good as everyone thought. The Jets feel like an 8-8 or 7-9 team to me. That's not winning the AFC East, regardless of Tom Brady's status. For San Diego, I'm still worried about LaDanian Tomlinson -- he's getting outplayed by Darren Sproles. It's like Dave Meggett outplaying Ottis Anderson or Joe Morrris on those old Giants teams. It just didn't' happen. Regardless of LDT's status, Philip Rivers makes a few plays and the Chargers win, 21-10.
Sir Cumference's Take: San Diego: I just can't see any way SD loses at home on a Monday night to fall to 0-3. If they do, I may never back them again, but for the time being I believe there's enough heart left in that team (as well as the fact that they have more talent) for them to pull this one out.
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