The Atlanta Falcons were the last undefeated team remaining in the NFL at 8-0 going into last week’s matchup with the New Orleans Saints. The Saints were struggling at 3-5 and their defense had apparently issued a mandate to play two-hand-touch all season after being demonized by “Bounty Gate” and the NFL. Of course, I’ve been leery of the Falcons all year, they’re just not as good as their record would indicate, but after siding against Atlanta all season and paying for it I decided to finally jump on the bandwagon. Surprisingly, as soon as made that leap the Falcons lost 27-31 in New Orleans. That’s the kind of power I possess.
I find myself rooting for the Saints because I believe they’ve been unfairly made an example by the NFL and its Commissioner, Darth Goodell. Goodell’s positive publicity crusade advocating for player safety is the most hypocritical line of, “insert favorite adjective here” in the history of sports. Lord Roger essentially suspends the entire Saints franchise for conduct detrimental to the league’s image (compromising player safety by issuing bounties on opposing players) while campaigning for an 18 game season and for Thursday Night football at the same time! There’s not a lawyer in this world, not even O.J. Simpson’s, that could convince me that A) playing two extra games on top of an already brutal 16 game schedule increases player safety and that B) having teams play two NFL games, with only three days of rest in between, minimizes injury risk. I love how the NFL always trumpets the horn of player safety, claiming that nothing is more important than the health of its players, when it campaigns for changes that will have an immediate negative effect on its own stated mission. Welcome to America, 2012, where as long as you say the right thing it doesn’t matter if you do the wrong thing. I’m so proud. Why aren’t influential members of the media continuing to hammer the NFL over this, calling out Commissioner Goodell and his leadership of hypocrisy? Has Darth Goodell used the Dark Side to claim lordship over their freedom of speech?
I realize this column is supposed to be about point spreads, and I promise I’ll get to that in a second, but I woke up cranky this morning, and I want to write about things that matter. I could go all political right now but I have to at least stick to football.
After ten weeks of being submerged in the vast expanses of the NFL, and having the quality of my relationship with my girlfriend hinge on the outcome of every Seattle Seahawks game, I’ve heard enough about player safety from the NFL, it’s owners, and the Commissioner. NFL, don’t talk to me like an adolescent incapable of understanding your thinly veiled lie. The truth is the NFL doesn’t care about player safety at all. The NFL only cares about money, and creating new ways to acquire it. Lord Roger deftly uses player safety to appease the populace, while seeking new ways to increase revenue, most of which leave players at increased risk. Thursday night National TV spots, lengthening the season, holding contests in Europe, marketing events in China, etc...these are all money grabs by billionaire owners that would increase local taxes, on you the fan, to raise money for a new JumboTron, in an instant if they could get away with it. It’s sickening.
The sad thing is I don’t have time to do a damn thing about it because I have to get ready to watch to watch the Dolphins-Bills game Thursday night and I don’t have drinks or food planned yet. I better get to the picks! Last week we were 7-7 ATS which leaves us at 72-70-4 for the year. Oh and if you want more on the Seahawks, which you should, since the Seahawks are wonderful, check out www.talkingsquawk.blogspot.com or follow me on twitter @Talking_Squawk. I just started tweeting a week ago, way better than Facebook. Facebook is the equivalent of still using a rotary phone to call your grandma.
Miami Dolphins @
BUFFALO BILLS -1
The Dolphins have lost three games in a row to fall to 4-5 on the year. Defenses have frustrated Miami’s rookie QB Ryan Tannehill in recent weeks. The Buffalo Bills circle the wagon at home against their AFC East rival. Bills win 27-21
ARIZONA CARDINALS @ Atlanta Falcons -10
Arizona started the year off with four consecutive victories including a win over the New England Patriots in Foxboro. Arizona is now 4-5 on the season. You do the math. Atlanta is no longer undefeated and the talk the NFL. Thank goodness. The Cardinals are good enough defensively to stay competitive in the Georgia Dome. Falcons win 28-20
CLEVELAND BROWNS @ Dallas Cowboys -8
The Browns are a team Dallas should blow out at home but is it possible to truly trust Tony Romo and this Cowboys team in any situation? Dallas will find creative ways to almost lose this game before finally pulling out the win in the 4th quarter. Cowboys win 23-17
Green Bay Packers @
DETROIT LIONS +4
Green Bay has won four straight but their offense isn’t clicking like it has in past seasons. What do you expect when half your receiving core is injured on the sidelines? Detroit has to have this game at home to realistically stay in the hunt for a playoff spot in the very competitive NFC. Lions win 31-30
CINCINNATI BENGALS @ Kansas City Chiefs +4
The Chiefs played inspired ball Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kansas City held a lead during regulation. A feat the Chiefs had yet to accomplish this season. That’s a sad but true fact. Could the Chiefs possibly hold a lead in two consecutive games? I’m skeptical. Bengals win 31-17
New York Jets @
ST. LOUIS RAMS -4
I would really like the direction of this Rams team if they weren’t NFC West division rivals with the Seattle Seahawks. The Jets have officially crashed. I would rather shovel snow off of Birch Ridge Golf Course, all nine holes, than suffer through watching another four quarters of Jets football. I’m the biggest Tim Tebow hater there is, but goodness gracious give the kid a chance. Try something! Rams win 24-6
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ Washington Redskins -4
The way Mike Vick’s season is going you just know rookie quarterback, Nick Foles, is going to light it up on Sunday. Philly fans have been clamoring for Foles all season and it looks like they’ll finally get their wish with Vick still suffering from a concussion. RG3 has been great for Washington this year but I want to be on Karma’s side. Eagles win 30-27
TAMPA BAY BUCS @
Carolina Panthers -1
The Bucs offense is rolling. Winners of three consecutive games, the Bucs have scored 28 or more points in five straight contests. When you have a Muscle Hamster you have to feed him. Feed the Hamster! Tampa Bay has been doing a much better job getting Doug Martin the ball of late. It appears as though Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers have officially thrown in the towel. Bucs win 37-21
JACKSONVILLE JAGS @ Houston Texans -16
There’s no logical reason to side with Jacksonville, easily one of the worst teams this century, but sixteen points is a huge spread to cover. Houston’s run offense, while still effective, hasn’t produced the explosive plays of a season ago. I could list 100 reasons why the Texans will run away with this game but I can’t turn down the points. Texans win 30-17
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS @ Oakland Raiders +5
The reason I’m siding with the Saints is simple. If you were forced to wager your house mortgage on the Raiders, wouldn’t just immediately start packing your stuff? How can you have any faith in this team? You definitely wouldn’t watch the game. Al Davis is rolling over in his grave right now. Saints win 41-27
San Diego Chargers @
DENVER BRONCOS -8
San Diego is a mess. Chargers quarterback, Philip Rivers, is good for one of the dumbest throws to the wrong team you’ve ever seen, just about every game. He’s the Tony Romo of the AFC. Denver’s QB, Peyton Manning has been incredible this season. I’m in awe of the guy. Broncos win 27-17
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @ New England Patriots -10
The Colts have won four straight and appear to be heading towards earning a berth in this year’s playoffs. An amazing accomplishment considering the depths of despair the franchise reached last season and the difficult circumstances facing their embattled Head Coach Chuck Pagano. The Brady Bunch is going to win this game but I think the Colts keep it closer than the experts think. Patriots win 31-24
BALTIMORE RAVENS @ Pittsburgh Steelers +4
I anticipate an inspired effort from the Pittsburgh Steelers without their star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who will miss the game due to injury. By the way, asking people to spell Roethlisberger is a great bar activity if you’re interested. Despite the effort I don’t think the Steelers will be able to keep up with Ravens offense. Ravens win 17-9
Chicago Bears @
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS -5
I don’t have a clue which players are actually healthy enough to play in what would be a great Monday Night matchup. Both starting quarterbacks, Jay Cutler and Alex Smith, may not play because of concussions. When in doubt, side with the home team. 49ers win 20-13