Aldon Smith and the 49ers have annihilated their last two opponents. Sunday’s foe won’t go down so easily. Elsewhere, the Vikings need wins now, Jermichael Finley needs to stop talking, and Mike Tomlin needs to stop being stupid. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Last Week: 9 – 5 – 0
Season: 49 – 28 – 0
Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)
Steelers 23 at Titans 26
Darn it. I abandoned my 2012 under-the-radar team a week early. I knew the Titans were due to find themselves at some point. I just assumed it was last week. I guess I got impatient. Shame on me.
With that said, this loss should be hung solely around the neck of Mike Tomlin. Boy oh boy is he a dumb coach sometimes. Attempting a 54 yard field goal – outdoors – on the road – with 49 seconds left on the clock – when your opponent has all three timeouts – is one of the dumbest things I’ve seen since Andy Reid tried to ice a kicker on a 50+ yard potential game-winning field goal. Actually, this was dumber. Way dumber. Like, dumberererer.
I understand Shaun Suisham nailed a 52 yarder earlier in the half, but there’s a reason fantasy football awards extra points for 50+ yard field goals; they’re difficult. I could justify rolling the dice there if your team has a 4-1 or even 3-2 record, but the Steelers didn’t. They were an unimpressive 2-2 and now sit at 2-3, likely 2.5 games behind the division leading Ravens after the weekend.
Because the Titans had all three timeouts, a miss all but guaranteed the Titans the win. I simply don’t understand why Tomlin thought kicking the field goal there was a good idea. Did he really have that much respect for Matt Hasselbeck and the Titan offense? Was he certain they’d march down the field in those 49 seconds? Where’s the trust in the Steelers “vaunted” defense? I’m off the Mike Tomlin bandwagon until further notice. The Steelers stink right now. I’m embarrassed (and saddened) the Eagles lost to them a week ago.
In Awe of Justin Verlander (Bye Week)
If someone could show me where I sign up and pay for my Justin Verlander Fan Club membership I’d greatly appreciate it. 16 innings pitched (including a complete game shutout in what was essentially a Game 7), 7 hits, 1 earned run, 22 strikeouts, 0.75 WHIP, and 0.56 ERA? Is this real life? (Now back to the Bears…) I’m almost ready to declare the Bears the 2nd or 3rd best team in the NFC. I just need that one signature win to push me over the top. With Detroit, Carolina, and Tennessee on tap after the break, I’ll have to wait until Weeks 10, 11, and 12, when the Bears battle Houston, San Fran, and Minnesota, respectively.
Drew Brees broke the consecutive games with a passing touchdown record. Roger Goodell continues his Bounty Gate nonsense. Sean Payton remains banished. Is anyone else bored to death by the drama already? If Jimmy Graham weren’t a critical component to my fantasy team, I’d beg the Saints to just forfeit the season and rest up for 2013.
I love my dad, probably more than most sons love their dads. But if my dad spoke publicly to reporters about how I’m failing at whatever it is my job is (Seriously. Even I don’t know what my job is most days), I’d be unhappy. I’d also kindly request he kept his thoughts about my performance between the two of us. Whenever a parent gets behind a mic to weigh in on his son’s athletic career, only bad things happen.
I’ll miss the Jaguars this week. It was easy picking against them thus far in 2012.
Early Games (1:00PM ET)
Lions at Eagles
Prior to their bye in Week 5, the Lions had allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown AND a punt return for a touchdown in their previous two outings. If Damaris Johnson can’t register a few impact returns Sunday, I’m officially moving him below Reno Mahe on the “worst Eagle punt returners of my lifetime,” rankings. Also, I don’t want to type his name for jinxing purposes, but a certain Eagles safety who is finally healthy after a knee injury in 2010 has me excited about the future. Also, also, if Nnamdi Asomugha couln’t contain Domenik Hixon or Antonio Brown, what kind of day should I expect from Calvin Johnson? 150 yards, 2 TDs? While it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Eagles look ahead to the bye week and get clobbered, last week’s loss should (hopefully) keep the Eagles focused. And you know what? Who cares if Michael Vick has a dog? He did time for his crimes, so back off. As I tweeted earlier in the week, how is Vick owning a dog any different from a mother with an abortion in her past having a kid? EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles -3.5
Raiders at Falcons
The Falcons keep trying to lose and no one wants to let them. First, Cam Newton and the Panthers self-destructed in the final 90 seconds. Then, Robert Griffin III gets concussed and the Redskins collapsed. The Raiders aren’t a good team, but they are coming off a bye. The Falcons are also heading towards a bye. Sometimes, that’s a dangerous combination. RAIDERS If I were Charles Barkley; Raiders +9.5
Bengals at Browns
Four weeks ago the Browns gave the Bengals fits. This is one of the Browns five best chances to avoid a defeated season. After this, road games in Indianapolis (remember they lost to Jacksonville?) and Oakland and home games against the Redskins and Chiefs are potential wins as well. I enjoyed confidently picking the Bengals against lesser teams until Andy Dalton stunk last week at home against the Dolphins. Now I’m unsure. Flipping a coin. Heads it’s the Bengals, tails the Browns. …. Heads it is. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley; Bengals -2
Rams at Dolphins
A great game between two identical teams. Young quarterbacks. Solid defenses. Offenses making fantasy studs out of white guys. What’s not to like? Although I like the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill, I’m going with the better defense and Jeff Fisher. RAMS If I were Charles Barkley; Rams +4
Colts at Jets
Mark Sanchez isn’t very good right now and everyone loves to throw dirt on him. I can’t do it anymore. Not after what I saw Monday night. Yes, Sanchez still stunk, but look at what he’s working with. His offensive line leaks like a sieve, the Jets have no running game, and the receiving corps would make Donovan McNabb appreciate James Thrash and Todd Pinkston. Everyone is high on the Colts this week, and rightfully so. Just not me. The Jets just finished losing to perhaps the two best teams in the NFL and the Colts comeback win in Week 5 had as much to do with the Packers falling asleep at the wheel with a 21-3 2nd half lead. JETS If I were Charles Barkley; Jets -3.5
Chiefs at Buccaneers
All you Brady Quinn fans, this is your moment. Enjoy it. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Buccaneers -4.5
Cowboys at Ravens
The Cowboys desperately need this win. The goodwill deposited into Dallas’ account after their surprising and impressive domination of the Giants in Week 1 has been completely depleted. Since that victory, the Cowboys have looked downright awful on offense. If it weren’t for the defense, the Cowboys would easily be 1-3 right now. Baltimore lives to play against “darling” teams. This could get ugly. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -3.5
Late Games (4:25PM ET)
Patriots at Seahawks
A great, great test for Tom Brady and the Patriots. We’ll get to see just how good the New England offense really is against the NFL’s premier defense. The Seahawks limited Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to just 12 points. Rodgers averaged only 5.7 yards against Seattle, a full yard lower than his 2nd worst outing. He was also sacked 8 times. Obviously, the Patriots offense is superior to the Packers. More importantly, the Patriots have a potent run game, something the Packers severely lack. I wish I could say it’s going to be a close game but it won’t be. Russell Wilson can’t hang in these games. Though the Patriots may struggle at times offensively, they’ll get short fields off Wilson’s turnovers and still manage to score 20-28 points as the Seattle defense tires late in the 2nd half. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -3.5
Bills at Cardinals
Kevin Kolb can’t carry a team to the playoffs. He just can’t. Without a running game (ranked 31st), the Arizona offense is a sitting duck begging teams to tee off on Kolb and the Cardinals patchwork offensive line. Even the putrid Bills defense isn’t enough to make Kolb and the Cardinals O look potent. The Bills stayed out west all week in preparation for this game. After giving up 90+ points over their last two games, there’s no way the Bills get steamrolled again. BILLS If I were Charles Barkley; Bills +4.5
Giants at 49ers
The Giants are on the road. They’re still dealing with injuries on both sides of the ball. Everyone is talking about the 49ers being the best team in football. Vegas has San Francisco favored by nearly seven points. Is there any doubt the Giants win Sunday? This game is tailor made for a New York upset. Tom Coughlin is leaning back in his office right now laughing at how good it feels to be 4-2. I’m pretty sure he didn’t even game plan this week. He simply walked into the team meeting on Wednesday, put Vegas’ line up on the screen, took it down, and walked out. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Giants +6.5
Vikings at Redskins
NFL teams should allow fans to Skype with players recovering from concussions. I know Washington tells me Robert Griffin III is healthy and ready to go, but I need to see for myself. It’ll only take a few minutes. I just need to ask him a question or two to make sure he’s actually well enough to pull the upset, because if he’s not, the Washington RobertGriffinSkins don’t stand a chance. Though it’s still early October, the Vikings desperately need a win Sunday. In fact, Minnesota must get three wins from their next five games (@WASH, AZ, TB, @SEA, DET) to head into their bye week at 7-3 or better. Why? The last six weeks of Minnesota’s season look like this: @CHI, @GB, CHI, @STL, @HOU, GB. Ouch. VIKINGS If I were Charles Barkley; No Line Yet
Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)
Packers at Texans
Jermichael Finley just keeps yapping. In Finley’s latest episode, he blames his struggles on a lack of chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. Right. Because bad chemistry leads to drop passes. Rodgers should say enough is enough and publicly call out Finley for being a bum. Every year we hear about the limitless potential Finley has and every year he comes up short because he can’t catch. That’s not the quarterback’s fault, and it certainly isn’t due to chemistry. The chemistry is good enough to get the ball to Finley’s hands. He simply can’t hold on. To state the obvious, the Packers need this win. This could be their season. I know it’s early, but a loss drops them to 2-4 in a tough division and a competitive conference. A win Sunday night catapults the Packers to a four game win streak and a 6-3 record heading into the bye. I like the Packers Sunday but the Texans are still winning the Super Bowl. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers +4
Monday Night (8:30PM ET)
Broncos at Chargers
I haven’t made up my mind on the Chargers yet. There was no way destiny (nor the NFL) was letting the Chargers beat the Saints last week, so I need another game to finally determine whether or not Philip Rivers and the boys are a playoff team. The Broncos, on the other hand, are a playoff team. As I previously stated, the Broncos are departing the toughest part of their schedule and headed for greener pastures. They went head to head with three of the NFL’s top five teams and fell short. That doesn’t make Denver a bad team, though. I’m actually higher on the Broncos now than I was after they beat Pittsburgh in Week 1. Monday’s winner gets temporary ownership of the division crown. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos +1.5
If I were Charles Barkley
Last Week: 6 – 8 – 0
Season: 36 – 40 – 1