A number of folks in the past week have come up to me with incredulous looks on their faces. My first assumption is these poor souls have developed a case of the shanks, snipe hooks, worm-burners, or some other golfing calamity. The constant hunt for errant golf balls has grown tiresome and now their turning to me for help. That hasn’t been the case. Instead I’m greeted with, “You think the Jets are going to beat the Patriots in New England?! You’re and idiot!” or “Tennessee over the Texans? I hope the Clarion isn’t paying you to write this crap”.
I want everyone to read this next sentence slowly. I’m not picking which team is going to win the game, I’m picking who I think will cover the point spread. I cannot be clearer than that. Picking which team will win the game is easy. Picking which team will cover the point spread is not. If picking against the spread was simple I would be in sunny Las Vegas right now counting my riches while some gorgeous blond in a bikini typed this column for me as I sipped on a rum and cherry coke. Instead I’m typing alone with nothing to eat or drink and its freezing cold outside. Let’s move on.
Our record improved to 13-17-2 after an 8-7-1 performance last week. It was important to get back on the positive side of things after a disastrous opening week of the season. The NFL has proven to be as unpredictable as ever. Mysteriously the Oakland Raiders aren’t the worst team in the league. The Kansas City Chiefs, winners of two games all of last season, have already equaled that feat this year. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ vaunted Steel Curtain more closely resembles pink drapes and the New England Bradys can’t score any points. What in blue blazes is going on around here!
Despite all the dumbfounding results conference powers are starting to separate themselves from the field. It’s hard to imagine anyone beating the Denver Broncos in the AFC if Peyton Manning continues to put forty-burgers (that’s what the young kids say) on the scoreboard each week. In the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks have emerged as the top threat after dismantling Jim Harbaugh and the forty-whiners 29-3. How great would a Denver-Seattle Super Bowl match-up be for fans of the old AFC West era? Of course everything we know now could change over the weekend. That’s the beauty of the NFL.
While I’m almost certain the editors at the Clarion would prefer I stay on subject let’s stray from the script for a moment. I’ve never excelled at following directions anyways. I’m the kid that was scolded in second grade when my teacher at Tustumena Elementary caught me diagramming football plays to execute at recess instead of working on math problems. She didn’t understand that I had heard her playcall and was expertly using an audible to something more entertaining. This was advanced stuff for a second grader! Something she never gave me the proper credit for.
How dumb is Bud Selig and Major League Baseball? In a sport where it apparently requires 162 games to determine who’s good and who’s bad, baseball has a one game “Wild-Card round” in the playoffs. How can you possibly justify that? One game after playing 162 to qualify? The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t made the playoffs in decades and they could potentially be eliminated from the postseason without their fans getting to experience a single playoff game at PNC Park. This is high level stupidity folks and the MLB wonders why a regular season NFL game gets higher ratings than postseason baseball. Hopefully I prove to be far more competent than Bud and his cronies with my week three picks!
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS @ Philadelphia Eagles -3.5
Chiefs coach Andy Reid returns to stadium he was booed out of just a few short months ago when his 14 year run in Philadelphia came to an unceremonious ending. I’m buying all the win one for Andy talk coming from Chiefs players this week. As good as the Eagles offense has looked their defense has been equally brutal. The Midwest mojo continues. Chiefs win 30-27
San Diego Chargers @
TENNESSEE TITANS -3
How long can the Philip Rivers renascence continue? The old gun-slinger still throws like a girl but he’s been surprisingly effective to start the year. The Titans are off to a solid 2-0 start ATS having covered against Pittsburgh and Houston. With a classic Philip Rivers meltdown performance long overdue I’ll happily lay three and side with the home team. Titans win 24-14
GREEN BAY PACKERS @ Cincinnati Bengals +1
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense looks incredible. After putting 28 points on the board against a great San Francisco defense the Pack blew the feathers off the Redskins last weekend in Lambeau. The Bengals are a strong team, especially at home, but I how do you side against Aaron Rodgers and company right now? You don’t. Packers win 31-24
ST. LOUIS RAMS @
Dallas Cowboys -4
The Rams believe they are a good football team. Whether they are or not remains to be seen but believing is half the battle. The Cowboys have been Jekyll and Hyde for years. Coming off a narrow defeat in Kansas City should we expect the Cowboys to bounce back with a good performance in Jerry World? When in doubt go with the home team. Cowboys win 27-21
Cleveland Browns @
MINNESOTA VIKINGS -6
The illustrious Brian Hoyer is getting the start at QB for the Brown Baggers filling in for the injured starter Brandon Weeden. Only the Browns can stoop to this low. I don’t have a ton of faith in the 0-2 Vikings but both of their losses were decided in the final minutes. At home, with an angry Adrian Peterson toting the rock, I think the Vikings reach the win column in a big way. Vikings win 26-9
TAMPA BAY BUCS @
New England Patriots -8
The Bucs are a mess. The players don’t trust Coach Greg Schiano. Bucs QB Josh Freeman had his captaincy taken away and Revis Island suddenly has some angry inhabitants. The Patriots, unbelievably with Tom Brady still throwing passes, struggle to score points. Too many injuries and too many questionable roster decisions have led to the Patriots offense looking like a shell of itself. The Pats won’t lose at home but a touchdown plus is too many points to give. Patriots win 21-14
ARIZONA CARDINALS @ New Orleans Saints -9
I’m buying stock in both these teams. The Cardinals won’t win the Super Bowl but they’re a far better team with Carson Palmer at QB than the embarrassment they were a year ago. The Saints might win the Super Bowl. Beating Atlanta to open the year was impressive and the Bayou Boys backed that win up with a road victory in Tampa. This game has backdoor cover written all over it. Saints win 31-28
DETROIT LIONS @
Washington Redskins -1
I’m tempted to side with the Redskins in this spot despite playing utterly awful football the last two weeks. Expect the unexpected in the NFL. Detroit appears to have a very competitive team. We know the Lions can score points in bunches with Matthew Stafford spreading the ball around to players like Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. I just can’t trust a clearly hobbled Robert Griffin III to keep up. Lions win 35-23
NEW YORK GIANTS @ Carolina Panthers -1
Both the Giants and Panthers enter this critical match-up winless on the young season. Each entered the year with postseason aspirations. A 0-3 start would all but end those hopes. Giants QB Eli Manning has turned the ball over at an alarming rate, and New York has no running game to speak of, but I’m just not ready to start shoveling dirt on a Tom Coughlin coached team two weeks into the schedule. Giants win 23-20
Houston Texans @
BALTIMORE RAVENS +1
The Texans have narrowly squeaked out two wins to start the year against middling teams like the San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titans. The defending Super Bowl champion Ravens appear to have found their footing after getting destroyed in the NFL season opener in Denver. I think Houston is will be the far more popular consensus play, but I’ll take the home team. Ravens win 27-23
Atlanta Falcons @
MIAMI DOLPHINS -1
Another one point spread? Welcome to the NFL! If the Falcons weren’t so banged up on the offensive side of the ball I would lean in their direction, but no Steven Jackson, and a hobbled Roddy White? That could lead to struggles against an underrated Dolphins defense. A lot of folks are jumping on the Dolphins band wagon after a 2-0 start for the fish. Dolphins win 27-24
Buffalo Bills @
NEW YORK JETS -2
Bills rookie QB EJ Manuel has looked the part of a NFL signal caller the past two weeks but both of those games were in the friendly confines of Ralph Wilson Stadium. Facing a tough Jets defense on the road will present an entirely new set of circumstances. I have no faith in Geno Smith leading the Jets offense but gang green won’t need to score a lot of point to win this pillow fight. Jets win 17-14
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @ San Francisco 49ers -12
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this 49ers team, still steaming from their trip to the woodshed in Seattle, took their frustrations out on a young group of Colts. The Colts offensive line is a wreck and their defense will have their hands full corralling Colin Kaepernick, but I just can’t convince myself to hand 12 points to Colts QB Andrew Luck. Luck will find a way to keep his team in the game well into the 4th quarter. 49ers win 30-20
Jacksonville Jaguars @
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -20
Twenty points! Wow. I have only seen a number this large a handful of times. Which says something since I used to be employed by a Vegas Book. With a number this high you just grab the points and run but this Jaguar team is taking bad football to an entirely new level. I think the Seahawks cover. If you beat the 49ers by 26 at home you should be able to repeat that result against Jacksonville. Seahawks win 35-0
CHICAGO BEARS @
Pittsburgh Steelers +2
Pittsburgh looks terrible. The offensive line is a mess and Big Ben doesn’t have anyone to throw to. The Bears have pulled out two come-from-behind victories in two weeks. Bears QB Jay Cutler had one fourth quarter comeback during his entire career before this season! I still despise Cutler but I’m starting to believe in “Captain Canada” Marc Trestman. The man can coach. Bears win 27-23
Oakland Raiders @
DENVER BRONCOS -16
How do you side against the Broncos when they’re lighting the scoreboard on fire? Let’s take a moment to examine to QB matchup in this contest. The Raiders are led by Terrelle Pryor. Peyton Manning calls the shots for the Denver Broncos. Is any further analysis necessary? I hate the Broncos. Hate them. But Peyton Manning is on the top of his game right now and the Raiders won’t be the team that slows him down. Broncos win 42-17