After a catastrophic week two, it’s time to focus and orchestrate a comeback more remarkable than Kim Clijsters’ US Open performance. Picking the week three matchups is a daunting task, but so is watching Brad Lidge blow another game, and yet I watch. Here’s my attempt to pull myself off the mat… Oh, in case you haven’t heard, Michael Vick is back.
Last Week: 8 – 8 – 0
Season: 21 – 11 – 0
Before I get started, please allow me a few closing comments on the past week…
• I can’t understand the hoopla surrounding the Eagles quarterback situation. The fact that fans are clamoring for Michael Vick to start keeps me up at night. There is no doubting his athletic talent. He’s probably the most gifted athlete to ever play the position. Unfortunately for Vick, the best NFL quarterbacks are mentally and emotionally superior to their peers, not physically. If Vick wasn’t a media superstar, would fans be as enamored with him as a starting quarterback? Nope. Not at all. Let’s look at his career stats: 53.8 Completion Percentage for a 6.7 YD AVG, 71 TDs, 52 INTs, and a Passer Rating of 75.7. For the record, of the 32 teams in the NFL, only two quarterbacks who have started 2+ seasons have worse career numbers. They would be Kerry Collins of the Titans and Kyle Orton of the Broncos. (The starting QBs for SF, DET, NYJ, BAL, CLE, OAK, & KC each have less than two years of experience as a starter.) Today, Vick said he expected to come back and start right away. When 23 of 32 starters are more qualified to start, that is unlikely, even for a media superstar. Sorry dog. (Oops poor choice of words, my fault.)
• On consecutive Monday nights, Tom Brady and Payton Manning proved why they are the class of NFL quarterbacks. Brady erased an 11 point deficit in less than five minutes, and Manning won a game when his offense had possession for 15 minutes. 15 minutes! I know fans will argue for Drew Brees’ inclusion here, but not until he performs better when it matters (1-2 career record in the playoffs).
• As reader and outdoor extraordinaire, Dave, commented, I left out Mario Manningham and his sidekick Steve Smith from my Monday post. Here is my tardy attempt to right that wrong. While Eli Manning won that game, I was certainly impressed (and scared as an Eagles fan) to see those two young receivers perform as they did (10 REC, 130+YDS, and a TD each). Eli might not miss Plaxico Burress as much as we all thought.
To the games…
Early Games (1PM ET)
Redskins at Lions
Again, too many people picking the Lions to “sneak away” with a victory. If you really believe it will happen, keep it to yourself and it just may. Once you bring it before the public, your “brilliant” pick is doomed and you look like an idiot. On the other hand, it’s no secret that McDonalds employees will not be rooting for the Redskins. How much more can the ‘Skins fans take before they petition Obama to abandon his healthcare reform and impeach Jim Zorn? Two more weeks? Three? REDSKINS.
Packers at Rams
There’s no remedy after a loss quite like the NFL schedule delivering the St. Louis Rams. Side effects may include: boredom, excessive penalties, lopsided score, inflated self-worth, and worst of all, thoughts of Brett Favre in Vikings purple. PACKERS.
49ers at Vikings
Speak of the devil. We’re two weeks in and Mr. Favre has yet to throw for 300 yards OR an interception. Sooner or later the Vikings will need Favre to win some games. If he can’t, Adrian Peterson will resemble “Tiny Tim” come week 14. Favre and the Vikings will air it out this week, but the 49ers claim their first signature victory since, “Owens! Owens! Owens! Owens! Owens! Owens! He caught it! He caught it! He caught it!” 49ERS.
Falcons at Patriots
Do you hear that? That’s not the sound of tea being thrown into Boston Hahbah. No sir. That’s the sound of Patriots fans jumping ship. Too early my friends, too early. Brady and the boys rebound with a solid victory over the Falcons and spoil Matt Ryan’s homecoming. Casey Affleck said it best in Gone Baby Gone, “life is hahd.” Suck it up, New England, you’ll be fine. PATRIOTS.
Titans at Jets
That Jets bandwagon is getting waaayy too crowded. I’m almost ready to board, but I’ll wait until after this week’s defeat so I have more room. Yes, they embarrassed the Texans and the Patriots, but let’s see how the Jets lackluster offense does against an angry defense that was humiliated last week. TITANS.
Chiefs at Eagles
I don’t want to see Donovan McNabb until after the bye week. While I’m excited to welcome Michael Vick and his athleticism to the offense, I still can’t shake the nightmares of him being our starting quarterback. Please, can someone make sure the defense knows we have a game this week? Note to Sheldon Brown: if you choose to wear the mask of a horror film character in pre-game rituals, please make sure your play inspires fear in the opponent. A mask of Elmo would have been more appropriate for last week’s performance. I’m only harsh because I care. By the way, Kansas City could use a hug. Chiefs? Royals? Ouch. At least they have Jason Whitlock. EAGLES.
Giants at Buccaneers
The loss of safety Kenny Phillips is a huge blow to the Giants defense. They’ll plug Aaron Rouse in his spot and be fine, but Phillips is a monster. I can’t see the Giants losing here. However, the, coming off two division games and a Monday nighter, hangover will make them stink this week. They just won’t stink as much as the Buccaneers. GIANTS.
Browns at Ravens
Let’s all pray Brady Quinn makes it out of this game in one piece. Does Eric Mangini even have a plan anymore? Why can’t the Browns find a running back? Why does their defense stink for the hundred and eleventieth year in a row? Why do I care so much? Ravens look scary good thus far. RAVENS.
Jaguars at Houston
My Texans rebounded nicely last week against a division opponent while on the road. I’m confident this week because I think the Jaguars’ players would be more inclined to listen to a 12-year-old shouting commands via a XBOX or PS3 headset than listening to Head Coach, Jack Del Rio. Good news for all you Jaguars fans (yes, you four in the corner), you’ll get to watch your team this week! Wait, maybe that’s not a good thing. TEXANS.
Game I’ll Watch: Chiefs at Eagles/49ers at Vikings
Game I’ll DVR: Falcons at Patriots
Afternoon Games (4PM ET)
Saints at Bills
How many love letters do you think Drew Brees received from Troy Aikman this past week? My guess would be at least seven. Was Aikman calling a football game or presenting Brees for the Mr. America pageant? I honestly couldn’t tell. I would thoroughly enjoy it if the Bills were to wipe that smirk off Sean Peyton’s face though. I just don’t see it happening (unless it rains, heavily). Saints.
Bears at Seahawks
Attention NFL Quarterbacks: Challenging defensive players to a goal line collision often results in rib injuries. Please press firmly on the R3 button to throw the ball away and live another down (press right analog stick for XBOX Live). And yes, you’re darn right I just spent 12 minutes googling that information. Anyway, without a healthy Hasselbeck the ‘Hawks are toast. Matt Forte, please do something worthy of the 4th overall fantasy pick. Anything. Bears.
Dolphins at Chargers
I’m convinced that if Ted Ginn Jr. didn’t wear a punter’s helmet, he would have caught that game-winning touchdown on Monday night. Number 17 on my list of, “things I hope to see in the NBA this year,” is, Eddie Jordan incorporating Dolphins Head Coach, Tony Sparano’s wild arm pump as his in-game celebration. This would make the Sixers watchable. Does anyone even notice the Chargers are falling apart, especially on defense? Philip Rivers will have some sore shoulders come January. Chargers.
Steelers at Bengals *Game of the Week
Are the Cincinnati “Hard Knocks” for real? I have to give them another shot. The Steelers have no running game (when did you ever think you’d say that?), and the Bengals defense is an underrated and aggressive unit. If Carson Palmer and Ochorico can put up points against the Steelers defense, they’ll have a legitimate shot at winning this game. If the Steelers would have won last week, I would be completely confident in this pick. Instead, I’m only 51:49. Bengals.
Broncos at Raiders
Raise your hand if you wait all Sunday for an AFC West battle? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? When you can’t sell out your home stadium for a division game you know you need Howie Long back (I don’t care how bad he was in Broken Arrow). Oakland is spared from watching this disaster, it’s a shame we can’t be as well. Broncos.
Game I’ll Watch: Steelers at Bengals
Game I’ll DVR: Saints at Bills
Sunday Night (8PM ET)
Colts at Cardinals
Last time the Colts had a miserable defense, they won the Super Bowl. This week, that miserable defense will make for an exhilarating shoot-out. Warner to Fitzgerald/Boldin and Manning to Wayne should produce some fireworks. It’s such a same we won’t have Larry Fitz’s brother around for in depth analysis. Isn’t Twitter great? Colts.
Monday Night (8:30PM ET)
Panthers at Cowboys
Prime time games have produced some of the more exciting contests of the season thus far. Let’s hope the trend continues. The Panthers can win this game if they follow three simple rules on offense. 1. Run 1/3 of their offensive plays to WR Steve Smith. 2. Run 1/3 of their offensive plays to RB DeAngelo Williams. 3. Run 1/3 of their offensive plays to RB Jonathan Stewart. Complicated, yes, but it will prove effective. As for the pick, I can’t get a read on either of these teams. Both have loads of talent on offense, underachieving defenses, and schizophrenic quarterbacks. I’m lost. When all else fails, pick the cooler colors. Panthers.
If I were Charles Barkley…
Weekly Reminder: I pick every game so I don’t look like a pansy and only pick the easy ones. My goal is to be around 60% at season’s end (unlikely). As is the weekly custom, there is one over/under as well (because they’re too much fun not to have at least one).
Tennessee Titans (+3) at New York Jets
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-4)
Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles (no line)
Cleveland Browns (+13.5) at Baltimore Ravens
New York Giants (-7) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Washington Redskins (-7) at Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers (-7) at St. Louis Rams
San Francisco 49ers (+7) at Minnesota Vikings
Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots (-4)
Chicago Bears (-2.5) at Seattle Seahawks
New Orleans Saints at Buffalo Bills (+6)
Miami Dolphins (+6) at San Diego Chargers
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (+4.5)
Denver Broncos (-2) at Oakland Raiders
Indianapolis Colts (+2.5) at Arizona Cardinals
Carolina Panthers (+9) at Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 6 – 9 – 0 (No Line on Saints/Eagles)
Season: 9 – 10 – 0
Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals Over 48
Last Week: 1 – 0 – 0
Season: 1 – 1 – 0
(Lines as of 9/25, 3:40AM ET, from bodog)