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THUD Picks Week 9

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Week 9 -- It's Divine!

Week 9 — It’s Divine!

D.T.: The halfway mark. The point where each team in the NFL should have a fairly clear view of themselves and where they’re headed this year. Barring injuries or other extenuating circumstances, we’ve cut the chaff from the wheat, and we’re developing a picture of what the playoffs will look like. Right? Fuck no — this is football. Anything can happen, and anything will happen! Like Mark Ingram deciding to be a professional athlete on Sunday night, or Gronkowski breaking franchise records instead of his arms, or Ben Roethelisberger trying to punt!

This shit actually happened. Note the ball traveling 90 degrees from his foot.

This shit actually happened. Note the ball traveling 90 degrees from his foot.

 

And that punt wasn't even the weirdest thing a Steeler did that day.

And that punt wasn’t even the weirdest thing a Steeler did that day.

 

What I believed was going to be a dull, uneventful weekend of football ended up being a delightfully bizarre series of events that proved, aside from a few apparent lock-ins, we still have no clue how this season is going to play out. But we’re still going to make wholly uneducated guesses anyway, and have fun doing it!

BMK: Man you nailed it with the “wholly uneducated guesses” line.  What are we anyway? Below .500?  We have a worse record picking games than using a coin flip to make our picks. Maybe we should do that next week…

Part of that, I think, is due to this year being something of a transitional year for the NFL.  The traditional powerhouses of the last few years are fading away and new young teams are coming up.

Or are they?

A few weeks ago, people we leaving the Patriots for dead.  Now they’re going to play Denver in the AFC Championship.  Earlier this year, some prognosticators had the Saints winning the Super Bowl.  Then they were dead. Now they’re back.

Basically no one knows shit. Especially DT. Unlike me, he’s not doing any real homework and analyzing. He’s getting his picks from a bookie.  I just know it…

—–

SAINTS at PANTHERS

D.T.: What the hell is up with the Saints? Are they the team that narrowly beats the Buccaneers, or the team that stomps the Packers in stunning fashion? Their running game, nearly absent this season, was phenomenal, with Mark Ingram in full beast mode, and Drew Brees played like he was back in 2013. Is it a fluke? I think part of it might have been. The Panthers, on the other hand, are at least consistent. They’re a struggling team with small flashes of greatness, but put to the test against potentially superior teams, they lose their way. Last week against the Seahawks (who obviously, as I said last week, have more problems going on than Percy Harvin being a dick), both teams simply couldn’t put it together, and ended up with one touchdown between the two of them, and a handful of field goals. The highlight of the game came when Kelvin Benjamin stunned everyone by beating out both Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas for a 51 yard leaping catch.

 

That's a rookie beating out two Pro Pro Bowlers and Super Bowl Champion defenders.

That’s a rookie beating out two Pro Pro Bowlers and Super Bowl Champion defenders.

 

I’ve been unabashed in my appreciation for the kid, but holy shit. We’re looking at the makings of a real star and a possible candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year, here. He’s somewhat been the Panthers’ saving grace in this tumultuous season, and he’ll play a big role in the no-doubt-bonkers game against the Saints. As to which team will win, the Saints obviously have the higher amount of potential here. If they bring that same intensity, they could control this game. However, all logic and reason go out the window in divisional games, and they could come into Carolina as flat as they have been in previous weeks. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Sunday was their Packers-esque return to form.

SAINTS

BMK: I’m writing this on Saturday night, so I’m not picking this one and counting it as a loss. I would have picked the Saints, but hey, let’s be fair about it, right?

Why am I writing this on a Saturday night?  Well, I went to Disneyland on Thursday (one of the benefits of living in California is the possibility for spontaneous Disney trips; the other is getting fondled by Bears in San Francisco’s Mission District), and I came down with some kind of bug. It’s probably SARS.  Since I’m not cool enough to get Ebola. L

—–

BUCCANEERS at BROWNS

D.T.: Last week, the Buccaneers visited the Vikings, who played down to their level and the two rolled into overtime. Minnesota Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw for a fairly respectable 241 yards and a touchdown, but turnovers and frustrating mistakes on both sides made the game a difficult one to watch. Naturally, the game ended with a turnover touchdown in overtime, after the Buccaneers received the ball, then promptly had it stripped after their first pass. In a battle of the bad against the Raiders last week, the Browns found themselves held to just under 40 yards rushing, and squeezed out a win with a pair of touchdowns. We get to look forward to more of the same, as these two lunk-headed teams collide. The Browns will come ahead, by an inch or two. Oh, and there’s a chance Jordan Cameron won’t participate, but that’s par the course.

If I just sit here and refuse to play, will they trade me like Percy Harvin?

If I just sit here and refuse to play, will they trade me like Percy Harvin?

BROWNS

BMK: The Browns are sitting at 4-3, which is the same record as the San Francisco 49ers.  Raise your hand if you saw that coming. What’s even better is these two teams will have the same record after this week since the Browns are going to beat the Bucs and SPOILERS the 49ers will beat the Rams this week.

BROWNS

—–

CARDINALS at COWBOYS

GotW

 

D.T.: For those in the know, the Cardinals and Cowboys share an unusual rivalry, fueled mostly by fans. You see, dear readers, before there was a franchise in Arizona, the Cowboys were largely considered the favorite, and as the Cardinals have become more relevant, the two fanbases have grown to resent each other. Both sides get riled up when these two teams play, and this weekend should be no different, as both teams vie for superior records. Last week, the Cardinals hosted the Eagles in what ended up being a tough-as-nails grudge match made interesting by a freak storm of yellow flags that hindered players’ vision, movement and agility. Arizona weather is certainly not known for being unpredictable, and rarely do such atmospheric conditions effect sporting events.

 

There would have been less mess if they'd made it Penalty Flag Day for the fans.

There would have been less mess if they’d made it Penalty Flag Day for the fans.

 

It was possibly the worst display of officiating we’ve seen this season. The Eagles had a clear touchdown denied, for example, which would have been game-changing. The Cardinals ended up genuinely earning the win with some zero hour defense that would make the Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae nod their heads in approval.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, were locked into an old-timey shoot out with the Redskins last week, lead by third-string quarterback Colt McCoy, who rallied the team to a speedy win in overtime. This’ll be a strange match-up because the Cardinals offense and defense sit firmly in the bottom half of league rankings, and yet… they keep winning. The Cowboys seem to be doing everything right this season, and yet they’re still prone to fluke failures. The biggest question mark on this game is Romo’s status. He left the game against the ‘Skins after taking a knee to his injured back, but returned, albeit visibly shaken and slowed. He’ll have the week to rest and recover, but now he’s got a bullseye on his… well, back, and the Cardinals LOVE their blitzes.

Overall, the ‘Boys have shown they can be beaten by scrappy teams, and there are fewer words better suited to describe the Cardinals right now. I’ll give the win to them. What say you, Krol?

 

CARDINALS

BMK: The Spartans, DT?  Let’s not get out of control here, bro.  And lest we forget, the Spartans lost that battle.  They just held out longer than anyone thought they would. Really, why do we give them any credit at all? So they stymied a larger force for a few days. Big deal. F the Spartans and F Zach Snyder.  That’s what I say.

Oh yeah…Football…

The expert consensus pick here is the Cardinals.  As a Cardinals fan, that makes me nervous.  But I’m an old school Cardinals fan that expects everything to turn to shit at any moment. Ask DT.  Anytime anything remotely positive happens for the other team, I’m texting him that the Cardinals are going to lose.  It’s our special Sunday tradition.  That and him beating me on picks, the fucker…

On paper, there’s a lot to like in this match-up for the Cardinals.  The Cowboy’s strength – running the football – is going up against the 3rd best running defense in the Cardinals. The Cowboys don’t do so well against the blitz and the Cardinals like to blitz.  Yeah, they have Dez Bryant, but the Cardinals Secondary is shaping up pretty good this year. So yeah, if it were my job to make football picks I’d pick the Cardinals too.

But I’m going with the Cowboys.  Arizona’s offense fell completely apart last week against the Eagles (excepting two amazing plays). And at some point the magic pixie dust Arians has been using this season will run out.  It runs out this week,

COWBOYS

—–

Eagles at Texans

D.T.: Eagles Quarterback Nick Foles had a rough time in Arizona. He threw for 411 yards and connected with Jeremy Maclin for two touchdowns, but only completed 36 of his 62 attempts, and Philly maintained their reputation for having trouble in the red zone.

And dramatics.

And dramatics.

 

However, despite the presence of J.J. Watt, the Texans’ defense isn’t as scrappy or tenacious as Arizona’s. The Eagles will have an easier time moving the chains and converting in the red zone, as long as their offensive line can hold Watt long enough for Foles to take action. It feels like the Eagles have slowed down their offense to compensate for Foles’ comfort level, and Foles needs to rediscover the confidence he had in 2013. Their strongest asset (that hurry up offense) needs to get back up to speed, and this is as good a game as any to test those limits. Either way, I see the Eagles winning by a decent margin.

EAGLES

BMK: I like the Eagles in this one too.  Last week, the laundry was all over the field and that affected the Eagles play.  That won’t happen this week.  At least, I don’t think it can. Or maybe it will.  Maybe Chip Kelly’s Eagles will become the new Raiders.

EAGLES

—–

JETS at CHIEFS

D.T.: “I’m getting sick and tired of losing,” said Rex Ryan after their absolute spanking at the hands of the Bills. Well Rex, I’m pretty sure the sentiment is shared by the Jets’ GM and ownership, and you’re most definitely out of a job. Starting Quarterback Geno Smith may have lost his first, as he was yanked after throwing three interceptions in three possessions, in the first quarter. Veteran QB Michael Vick didn’t fare much better, throwing for only 153 yards in the next three quarters, and finishing as the team’s top rusher at a measly 69 yards. The Jets are in an absolutely free fall, and Chiefs, feeling confident after their trouncing of the Rams, are likely to pick them apart. Jamaal Charles marched into the end zone twice, and their defense held the Rams to a meager 7 points. Switching to Vick isn’t an upgrade for the Jets, it’s surrender. And they may as well come out of the tunnel in Kansas City waving white flags.

CHIEFS

BMK: Rex, you’re getting sick and tired of losing and I’m getting sick and tired about finding things to say about your crappy team.

CHIEFS

—–

JAGUARS at BENGALS

D.T.: The Bengals need a week of rest after a stressful victory against the Ravens, and a painful shut-out loss to the Colts before that. I hope they treat the Jags to dinner and drinks as thanks.

BENGALS

BMK: Did you guys hear they might have found out what happened to Amelia Earhart? Beyond the fact that she died, that is…

Anyway, that’s more interesting than any games the Jaguars play…

BENGALS

—–

CHARGERS at DOLPHINS

D.T.: Rivers had a rough week, last week. The Chargers and Broncos were neck and neck in the AFC West, giving that divisional match-up significant meaning. He had himself a great performance though, and matched Manning touchdown for touchdown. Against any other team, it probably would been a victorious effort. Still, the Bolts ride a two-loss wave into sunny Miami.

Rivers demonstrates how close they were to beating Denver.

Rivers demonstrates how close they were to beating Denver.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins surprised no one by defeating Jacksonville, for their second win in a row. Not much needs to be said about the game in detail: the Dolphins arrived, the Jaguars bent over, and what transpired was a display of one-sided, animal-on-animal action that would leave Jeff Corwin feeling uncomfortable.

...on second thought...

…on second thought…

 

Miami has a decent pass defense, which might be able to match the on-fire chemistry Rivers is sharing with Tight End Antonio Gates. The Chargers might, however, find some success in exploiting the Dolphins obvious, singular weakness against Jacksonville: their run defense. The Jaguars squeezed out over 170 yards against them, and the Chargers are no doubt watching game tape to figure out how to do the same thing, and then some. They can beat them on the ground — if they can beat them in the air too, they’ll take the win.

CHARGERS

BMK: The Chargers were paper champions when they went on their winning streak as most of their victories came from substandard teams. That’s not a problem per se.  Good teams beat the teams they should and steal a couple from the ones they shouldn’t.   The Chargers should handle the Dolphins easily, but don’t let that 6-3 record fool you.  This team aint getting past Denver should it make it to the playoffs as a wild card team.

CHARGERS

—–

REDSKINS at VIKINGS

D.T.: The Redskins are reportedly starting Quarterback Robert Griffin III against the Vikings, destroying any sort of morale the team built after a Colt McCoy-lead victory over the then-6-1 Cowboys. The ‘Skins front office continues to show their ineptitude, cutting the tires any time the team seems to build into a steady momentum.

 

He really should just save himself the trouble and take snaps from here.

He really should just save himself the trouble and take snaps from here.

The Vikings have a chance to steal a win, if the Redskins do indeed come onto the field without a developed rhythm and sense of timing. It was a chore for Minnesota, beating Tampa Bay, but I’m giving it to the Vikings this week anyway. Because seriously, who deliberately fucks with a set-up that beats one of the best teams in the league?

VIKINGS

BMK: I was hoping the Redskins would keep who was starting a mystery. Because then I could bust out my “Colt McCoy…more like Colt Decoy, amirite?” joke.

Hey DT, remember when people read this column?  Good times…

VIKINGS

—–

RAMS at 49ERS

D.T.: This should be fun. The last time the Rams and 49ers met, it was a Saint Louis-dominant first half, followed by a rally victory for San Francisco. This time around, they’ll be squaring off on Niners turf. San Francisco is likely to be without pass rusher Aldon Smith this week, as the chances of his suspension being reduced seem slim. That gives Quarterback Austin Davis some wiggle room — and he’ll need it, as the Rams’ Running Back-by-committee method of running the ball doesn’t seem to be very effective at this point. On the flip side, the Niners are coming off a needed bye week, with several injured players looking to return. We’re going to see a refreshed SF squad with something to prove after their last go-round with the Rams, and a Rams team fighting for every opportunity to add a mark to their W column. I think it’s going to be the Niners, though and I think we’ll see a sharper and more even game from them this time around.

49ERS

BMK: Before Jake Long went down again, I was thinking the Rams could be great spoilers all season.  That won’t happen now.  Especially not against the 49ers.  One can dream though…

49ers

—–

BRONCOS at PATRIOTS

D.T.: This game… could be a big deal, folks. While it’s looking incredibly likely that both teams will make it to the post-season, I’m firmly in the camp that Manning will retire at the end of this season. If the post-season doesn’t work out for one or both teams, this could be a possible final chapter in the Brady/Manning rivalry and a last opportunity to see the two best Quarterbacks of their generation go head to head. It’s football history in the making. It’s also going to be a Clash to the Tight Ends (hey, that was sort of clever), where we’ll see how Julius Thomas and Rob Gronkowski — both celebrating a monstrous season — measure up against each others’ respective defenses. Gronk and Brady have been electric, and it’s that combination that will play a key factor in how the Patriots offense performs. Double, sometimes triple coverage doesn’t seem to slow Gronkowski down, so it’ll be fun to see what Denver does to try and counter this threat.

The Patriots will have to contend with Peyton Manning, who’s meaner than ever. So mean, in fact, that his frustrations and outbursts have extended past receivers running incorrect routes, to fans being too enthusiastic, and scoreboard operators… scoreboard operating.

"Is this your first sporting event, people?! You're supposed to be fucking quiet!"

“Is this your first sporting event, people?! You’re supposed to be fucking quiet!”

The intensity of these Manning/Brady meetings might drive Peyton to straight up murder someone. Probably Broncos Center Manny Ramirez, who has already buckled under pressure a few times this season, and botched key snaps. So predictions for this game: Broncos will win by a narrow margin, but not before making a few key errors in an otherwise sharp game for both teams.

BRONCOS

BMK: This is the game I’m looking forward to the most this week. I’m not a fan of either team, but, like the incomparable DT points out, this has been a great rivalry.  I’m hoping we’ll see some serious football pyrotechnics. I’m also hoping we’ll see Peyton go apeshit on the stadium announcer guy, like Paul Newman does in Slap Shot.

BRONCOS

—–

RAIDERS at SEAHAWKS

D.T.: God damn, someone put the Raiders out of their fucking misery already. I swear, whoever structured this year’s season had it out for them. I know it’s not Satan, because Satan is clearly a Raiders’ fan. So, who is responsible?

This man. Howard Katz. Literally worse than Satan.

This man. Howard Katz. Literally worse than Satan.

SEAHAWKS

BMK: Satan is not a Raiders fan.  If he were, they’d win a lot more.  Just look at Bill Bellichick and Mike Ditka. Both of those cats worship Satan.

—–

RAVENS at STEELERS

D.T.: So yeah, Cheeseburger tried to punt. But you know what? The guy also threw for 522 yards and six touchdowns in an absolute stunner against Indianapolis. Big Ben was on fire, and against a team that did pretty damned well that day, too (Luck threw for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns). Coming up against a Ravens squad that just lost to a questionable Bengals team, it’s tough to see how this week’s outcome could be different. However, this is a rivalry game, and rematch from Baltimore’s victory over the Steelers at the beginning of the season. Expect both teams to be preoccupied, and to see a closer match than last week’s Steelers/Colts spectacle.

STEELERS

BMK:  When I lived in Pittsburgh, my neighbor told me a story about how these Raven fans were pulled out of their car and got the shit beaten out of them.  Pittsburgh’s a manly town.  It’s so manly the world’s largest Furry convention is held there every year.

I tend to view my time in Pittsburgh the same way Roy Batty views his life in Blade Runner: “I’ve seen things you people couldn’t imagine…”

RAVENS

—–

COLTS at GIANTS

D.T.: The football week wraps up with Monday Night Football, staring Andrew Luck and Eli Manning. I have to say, I don’t think it looks good for New York, and Peyton won’t be the only Manning Brother in need of an attitude adjustment.

Don't you give me that look, Eli. I will take off my belt.

Don’t you give me that look, Eli. I will take off my belt.

 

The Giants are coming off a bye week, but they don’t have much of a run game to speak of after injury, and expectations from RB2 Andre Williams are mixed. Eli’s passing game will probably rely heavily on rookie Odell Beckham, Jr., who promised he’d step up to fill the shoes of Victor Cruz, actually did a fairly admirable job. He could find himself Manning’s favorite weapon, if he keeps up that pace. Still, the Colts defense outweighs the positives of New York’s offense, and there’s little reason to believe the Giants’ defense can hold back the Colts who are averaging 450 combined yards per game.

That’s not to say Eli won’t put up numbers (and as someone taking a chance on ODB as my receiver this week in fantasy, I wouldn’t mind a touchdown pass or two), but the Colts should have an easy to moderate outing to end the week.

COLTS

BMK: The Giants cannot keep up with Luck and the Colts. This guy is going to pass all over the Giants and stomp them worse than Oliver Pratt looks.

COLTS

—–

D.T.: And that does it! Half the season in the can, and we’re ready to take on the second half. Next week, I’ll be trekking out to Seattle, with field-level tickets to the Seahawks and Giants game, so I get to see Eli lose for the fourth time in a row, in person.

Okay, you're right, Eli. That was just mean.

Okay, you’re right, Eli. That was just mean.

Next week holds the best team in the league versus the absolute worst, round two for the Falcons and Buccaneers, and divisional rival games aplenty. I can’t wait!

Imagine how this would be turning out if I wasn't superstitious about picking the Cardinals.

Imagine how this would be turning out if I wasn’t superstitious about picking the Cardinals.

 

BMK: Enjoy Seattle you magnificent bastard.  Maybe when you get back this column we’re doing for CHUD will actually be on CHUD.

 

This post was written/compiled while listening to the Jesus Lizard.

 

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Written by B. Michael Krol

November 1, 2014 at 11:23 pm

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