Football is Making Me Pick Early!

If you follow me on Twitter then thank you!  You also read one of my tweets yesterday that came right after I read the following headline on the ESPNews ticker “Bills contact Bill Cowher and he declines.”   The Tweet said something like “The Bills are so far beneath Bill Cowher that the 9th level of hell does not adequately describe their lowliness in comparison to him.”  Yeah, I did it, I used the “9th level of hell” reference in an athletic context, but it’s true.  The Bills are beneath Bill Cowher…they just are.  Now, if I had heard something like “Bills reach out to Mike Shanahan I can see that working.  “But, Mike Shanahan won two Super Bowls!”  Yes, that’s true, but Bill Cowher seems a little too “wine and cheese” for the Bills whereas Mike Shanahan seems like just the kind of run-oriented offensive mind that could keep the Bills in Buffalo.  I can’t quite explain it, but I know it works for me.  Something about Zone Blocking just seems to fit in Buffalo…I don’t know, it just does.
I also tweeted about waiting for the MNF game and talking about how I was wondering if Vince Young truly is a changed person.  Listen, if he is, more power to him…nobody wants to see anybody be messed up (even though I make fun of Al Davis all the time I don’t WANT him to have dementia…I just know that he does.)  So, in considering that I just laid off and waited for the game.  Then, I saw an incomprehensibly unbeatable Titans team beat what I thought was a pretty good Houston team.  Well, am I true-believer in the Titans again?  Yes.

Now, I have to go back and apologize to Jeff Fisher for insinuating something.  The fact is correct…he’s only had 6 winning season in 16 years, but I insinuated that he’s a bad coach and that simply is not the case.  I did say that I thought he looked like he was completely over it and maybe it was time for him to step aside and get a change of scenery if he thought he didn’t want to be in Tennessee anymore.  Clearly, I was wrong about all of this.  He was still in the “Steve McNair dies” funk that most of the Titans were in and he simply couldn’t get out of it.  I can’t blame him for that.  I mean, I can blame him for 6 straight losses, but I won’t blame him for being depressed over a former player’s sudden death.

Apparently, Jeff Fisher is NOT over it and Vince Young IS a new person because the Titans looked great.  I can’t explain it.  I don’t have a formula to calculate how they did it.  I can’t quantify this happening other than to say “Vince Young is back to his 2007 playoff form.”  That’s all I got.  He’s a changed man and that’s enough for me.

As for the whole “my picks got screwed this week by a lot of inferior teams beating teams they shouldn’t beat” thing…  I’ve got a solution.  I’m going to pick on raw emotion today and really work out some of my emotional baggage from this past weekend now I don’t carry all the way to this upcoming weekend.  With that said let’s get to the picks (not all picking…maybe some nose picking, but I’ve got some things I need to talk through and if I don’t do it now my head might pop off and float away like a balloon.  If you have kids and they watch “Phineas and Ferb” you know what I’m talking about.)

Thanksgiving Football is a right of passage in America.  You put Dad and Son (and even Grandpa and sometimes Great-Grandpa) in front of the TV and watch some Football.  We’re all used to having Detroit and Dallas play on Thanksgiving Thursday, but the NFL has seen the cache that is associated with the games and so they’ve added a third game to Thanksgiving (which would be fine except that’s a lot of football to fit into a day that is devoted entirely to you engorging yourself more than once.  So, we’ll start with the Cornucopia of NFL football on Thanksgiving.

For the record I’m 105-52…

Green Bay @ Detroit:  Green Bay has been up and down all year, and I’m thinking that the only thing that is still really true from my “Hourglass Theory” is the fact that Green Bay is right in the middle.  Everything else is up for grabs, but there we have the Packers right in the middle of the whole league at 6-4.  They have little chance of catching Brett Favre and the Vikings but they could stay in the race for a wildcard if they stay on course (and on course means going like 9-7.)

Detroit took a game from Cleveland on Sunday that they didn’t deserve and they completely went against my “Gunther Cunningham” rule to get that win.  However, it shows a lot about the Lions that Matthew Stafford can stand in there and deliver the pass that he did.  Granted, he’s pretty hurt but he put up a great pass.  Can he continue that run of “pretty-goodness”?  I don’t know, but he does have Calvin Johnson to throw to (a.k.a. Superman) and he’s got a nice running game so he might be able to stay in lock-step with his current progress.

With that said, I am not repealing the “Gunther Cunningham Rule” because I think that the Packers can easily beat a team like the Lions.  Why you ask?  Well, they came back on the Browns…not really a feat.  Plus, they’re the Lions.  They aren’t a sleeping giant like the Bengals turned out to be, nope, they’re just a bad franchise.  They can get better (and I think they will) but I’m not holding my breath for this season.  If the Packers go to 7-5 and they will probably lose their next game to hit 7-6 and stay on target to go 9-7 (right where I think they’ll be at the end of the season) and they’ll be in the wildcard hunt (along with Atlanta, Philly, New York, and San Francisco [if they can get it together.])

GB – 24   DET – 9
Oakland @ Dallas: Listen, I know I gushed over BruGrad and his game-tying drive and then the subsequent fumble and Oakland overtaking Cincinnati, but I don’t know if Oakland can beat Dallas.  However, since Dallas is Mathis and at any point they’ll turn around and stab me in the back I have no inclination at all to just pick them and move on.  Yes, the Cowboys are 7-3, yes Tony Romo looked great last week, yes they have the upper-hand on some teams, but I just don’t trust them.  There’s something about the Cowboys that’s just henky(I know it’s not a word and I know Tommy Lee Jones doesn’t think it’s a word, but henky is all I got.)

Maybe it’s the whole “Wade Phillips isn’t an interim Head Coach so he’s bound to suck” thing, or it could be that I don’t trust Tony Romo (even though he killed my “Starsky and Hutch” reference, or it could be that I think they’re a house of cards.

Marion Barber is an angry Running Back.  He runs like he’s about to kill someone, but he gets hurt a lot.  Miles Austin is emerging as a powerful Receiver in the NFL, but on some level he’s already been “figured out”.  Demarcus Ware is an incredible pass-rusher, but he has no help up there and he’s doing a ton of work on his own.  I just get this eerie feeling that any minute something’s going to happen and the Cowboy’s house is going to come crashing down.

We already know that Oakland’s house is busted to begin with.  Just imagine what the Raiders’ house looks like…imagine “Fight Club” and that nasty dump that Tyler lives in.  The leaky roof, mold and mildew everywhere, the disgusting grime and grit on everything, the ceiling crumbling when Tyler does his business, and the dark and ominous feel of it all.  That’s the Raiders’ house right now.  BUT, we forget one crucial element in this whole analogy…Tyler’s house never crumbled.  There was never any mention of a weak foundation or any mention of rotting floorboards.  They lived in that dump just fine.  Maybe the Raiders have learned to live in their dump just fine and they’re going to make due until they can blow up every building in the city (every team in the League) and grab a nicer house in the ensuing mayhem.

That would be kinda cool actually.  As much as I hate on Al Davis I really do want the Raiders to be good.  I grew with them being a strong and tradition-laden franchise and to see them like this is a little depressing for me.

As you can probably imagine I’ve talked myself into my pick, but I do believe in this theory.  We’ll call it the “Fight Club Dump Theory” and we’ll attribute it first to the Oakland Raiders who won’t blow down the Cowboys’ house of cards, but they will jump up and down right next to it to see how many cards fall off.

OAK – 24   DAL – 21

Giants @ Denver: The Giants are finally trending up again and the Broncos are trending down.  I think this calls for a “Back to Life, Back to Reality”.  The Broncos are back to life and back to reality because they have a hurt Kyle Orton and they cannot sustain the 6-0 start they had this season.  They’re still in the hunt (even though they just gave up the lead in their division to the Chargers [who I’m not buying anyways]) so I’m not giving up on them, but they are definitely NOT the Saints or Colts (teams we thought they might have been the way they started this season.)

Eli Manning has a great new weapon in Mario Manningham and that back-shoulder pass he threw to Manningham in overtime was absolutely classic.  I didn’t predict that turn of events, but that’s why I picked the Giants in the first place.  Manning’s got a ring…Matt Ryan doesn’t.  The Giants defense is a sleeping “giant”.  The Falcons defense is just asleep.

The same is true here.  The Broncos defense is just asleep.  I could go on and on about how Kyle Orton will come back in and wow us, but will he be able to score enough to fend off a clearly resurgent Giants offense AND defense?  I don’t think so.

NYG – 35   DEN –  21

With Thanksgiving in the bag join me after the jump to finish off the week (and let me get some things off my chest.)

Tampa Bay @ Atlanta: Tampa isn’t getting any better, but Atlanta in on a serous slide.  They need to get something together and soon before heads start rolling in Flowery Branch (because Mike Smith can only take so much.)  (Can you imagine what he’s like when he’s angry?)  I say the Falcons are afraid (not of losing, of Mike Smith after they lose) and they won’t do it again.  I mean, really, could this game come at a better time for the Falcons?  I think not!

ATL – 35   TB – 16

Miami @ Buffalo: We get more football revved up on Sunday with a set of games that most surely cannot go worse for me than last week.  (SURELY!)  We’ll start with Buffalo and Miami.  New coach didn’t help in Buffalo and they desperately need one.  New QB ain’t helpin’.  T.O. aint’ helpin’.  Nobody’s really doing anything in Buffalo.  Like I said a few paragraphs ago:  I think Mike Shanahan should go to Buffalo and he might be able to keep the team out of Toronto.

Miami is trending up after hitting 5-5 with a nice win last week and seemingly more to come.  Tony Sparano seems to have his team on an even keel and I don’t think he’ll let Chad Henne try to do too much.  As they step back from the Wildcat and just let Ricky Williams run I bet they’ll find more success than they ever did with the gimmicky crap that everyone’s figured out by now.  (Yes, I’ll tell you how I feel.)

MIA – 24   BUF – 3

Seattle @ St. Louis: Two bad teams in a game no one wants to watch.  I mean, no one.  When I see games like this on the schedule I sigh REALLY loud and someone always looks at me funny or asks me if everything’s ok.  That’s now bad this is.  For the sake of my original “St. Louis must go defeated in order to rebuild their franchise” theory I’ll pick the Seahawks (but I’ll complain to anyone who will listen!)

SEA – 13   STL – 9

Carolina @ Jets: If you had told me that the Panthers would be within a game of the Falcons in the NFC South a few weeks ago I would have laughed in your face.  Now, not so much.  The Panthers have somehow pulled it together with a crappy QB, a decent running game, and some nice defensive stops.  I don’t know if they can keep it up but they look better than the…

Jets.  The Jets are pissing me off.  There’s no way on Earth that I thought they’d start like they did and then right after I feel in love with them they started sucking.  These teams have identical records (4-6) but are in completely opposite places.  The Jets are on a skid that they need to stop immediately before it gets irrevocable and the Panthers are on a run that could vault them ahead of the Falcons if the Falcons aren’t careful.  Barring a disaster in Foxboro I don’t see how the Jets would even have a prayer of catching up to the Patriots (and they’re already behind the Dolphins.)  They can still have a nice, respectable season, but I’m not holding my breath for a playoff berth anymore.

CAR – 24   NYJ – 21

Cleveland @ Cincinnati: I remember when this was one of those “huge sigh” games where I could just write them both off, call it a tie and move on with my life.  No longer General.

Cincinnati came off a bad loss to the Raiders in which Senor Caldwell fumbled a kickoff that he should have never taken out of the endzone to begin with.  The Bengals were going to be able to squeak out that win in overtime I bet, but they never got that far.  Nonetheless, the Bengals are a really strong team who basically owns the AFC North this season (I know I called it the Central a couple weeks back, but what did you expect?  I called Candlestick Park Candlestick Park all the way up until they finally changed the name back) and since they’ve already swept the Steelers and Ravens there’s nothing left to do really except win out in their division (which is a MAJOR accomplishment considering how good the Ravens were last year and how good the Steelers still are.)

In Cleveland they showed you how hapless they STILL are after handing that game to Detroit last week.  There is no excuse for letting anyone (especially the Lions) come back on you like that.  There’s just no reason.  I can’t explain how upsetting it was to watch them just throw that game away.  They have Quarterback issues, and running back issues, and receiver issues, and defensive issues and none of that is being helped by anybody.  Now, I’m never going to call for anyone’s job, but if they are going to keep Doofgini through the season then he needs to show them something.  Anything.  Right now, he’s got nothing.  He has lost this team in my estimation and I don’t think he’s going to get it back.  If he coaches them next year it will be a lame-duck season like the one Jack Del Rio is currently in down in Jacksonville.  (I know 6-4 isn’t a lame-duck season, but that team quit on him last year and the season isn’t over yet.)  How long will the Browns accept mediocrity before they begin to move in the right direction?  It took the Falcons about 40 years.  At this rate I hope the fans in Cleveland can wait until 2049…

CIN – 35   CLE – 12

Indianapolis @ Houston: Did I mention that I’m not down the with the Texans anymore?  There’s something about that franchise that allows them to only go so far before they just fold.  They’re 5-5 (which is nice for them) but I think they were hoping for more and they aren’t getting it right now.

Indy is 9-0 and looking to go 10-0 again and I can’t say that I would want to stand in their way.  Granted, they’ve only won one Super Bowl since they started this whole “we’re gonna start the season highly undefeated” thing, but they consistently make the playoffs and we know now that they are proven winners so why argue with them?  They’ve improved since the season began and they nearly lost their first game.  We can’t say so much for another undefeated team in the NFL…

IND – 38   HOU – 20

New England @ New Orleans: This one is on Monday Night and I have to mention it right after the Colts because the Saints are looking to hit 11-0 against an improving (albeit not perfect) Patriots team.  Like I said in the Colts pick…the Saints have declined since Week 1 and the Colts have improved since Week 1.  Add to that the fact that Reggie Bush opened his yap and said they could go undefeated and I think they’ve got too much pressure on them and I don’t think they’re good enough to go undefeated given their schedule.  They’ve still got to play Atlanta, Carolina and Dallas and though I’ve crapped on all 3 of these teams they are NOT trying to go undefeated and can probably trip up a team that is.

With that said we have the 7-3 Patriots sitting atop the AFC East, but still stinging from that horrid 4th Down call from Belichick.  It was unlike him to make that call and I cannot imagine the profanity-laced argument that ensued between him and Tom Brady after that play went down.  You can’t tell me that Tom Brady actually believes that that call was their best chance to win, can you?  He was towing the company like when he had that stupid pretty-boy smirk on his face explaining that that was their best chance to win and blah, blah, blah.  He knew better and I bet he was PISSED.

Now, we can’t change that, but we have to acknowledge that Bill and Tom are having issues.  Anyone can work on a relationship, but at the end of the day Bill is still Tom’s boss and that’s going to make things hard when he’s already so cold to begin with.  They don’t have a house of cards in New England, but if you watch “Dexter” you’ll see that they are the Mitchell family.  {In the show John Lithgow plays this serial killer dubbed “Trinity” and Dexter discovers that this guy has a family.  Well, Dexter is shocked that his family is so loving and affectionate and so “middle America”.  Well, it all came out on the Thanksgiving episode that Trinity is a lunatic at home (John Lithgow needs to get an Emmy for this because he is so convincing) and his family is afraid of him.  They tow the “company line” in public, but behind closed doors they are shivering in fear.  That, my friends, is how I view the Patriots.

However bad I just made the Patriots sound Trinity’s cover is still working because the season isn’t over yet so it will work in New England too.  (Even though the game will be in New Orleans.)

NE –  27   NE – 24

Kansas City @ San Diego: I know I said I don’t buy the Chargers at all (the Norv Turner thing again) but I most certainly do not buy the Chefs and their miracle win last week.

SD – 28  KC – 6

Jacksonville @ San Francisco: I know I’m a 49ers fan and this will seem biased and all that, but I really think the 49ers are going to begin a turnaround this weekend at Jacksonville.  I’m still clinging to the whole notion that this IS a lame-duck season for Jack Del Rio and that means that he is going to eventually lose this team (unless he already has and they’re winning in spite of him like they do at LSU, but that’s a whole other story.)  So, since I think that we have to turn our attention to what the 49ers really are.

When the 49ers got off to their 3-1 start I was so pleased that I was blinded to the fact that we have MAJOR QB issues and even more major offensive issues because Frank Gore is hurt and we can’t rely on a rookie/holdout/idiot/athletic phenom/who-probably-rubs-Mike-Singletary-the-wrong-way in Michael Crabtree.  That’s the state of the 49ers offense.  However, all it would take is a couple miracles from Alex Smith and Michael Crabtree (like they were in the process of getting last weekend) and they’re home free.  That’s what I’m banking on.

SF – 24  JAC – 23

Chicago @ Minnesota: I already said that Brett Favre is getting more open looks than ever has in his career and now he’s getting them against a team that can’t run down the field and score because they’re QB is a crybaby who doesn’t care.  Yeah, that’s not going to work for the Bears.  Jay Cutler would be better off sitting on the sideline and taking notes while his backup plays the whole game.

MIN – 45   CHI – 13

Arizona @ Tennessee: I’m conflicted.  Vince Young (who I am trusting again) and Kurt Warner (who I think is a Hall of Famer.)  When Chris Johnson said (after an 0-6 start) that the Titans were going to go 10-6 and make the playoffs everyone laughed (including me, because I crapped all OVER him for that.)  Not me, not anybody else, and not anymore.  He can do this.  Chris Johnson is the best player on that team and if he says so then I’ll take him at his word the way a lot of people should’ve taken Broadway Joe at his work before Super Bowl III.

TEN – 28   ARI – 27

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore: It’s like this.  The Steelers are the Champs and they will be until they get knocked off.  They’re only 1 game behind the Bengals in the AFC North (almost called it the Central again) and the Bengals have swept them.  That says a lot about how tough the Steelers are.  The Ravens are trending the other way and I’m not sure that they can stop themselves this week (but they can win 4 of their last 5 games including another one against Pittsburgh.)  So, I think they’ll finish 9-7(and possibly
Behind the Titans) and not because I don’t like them, but because I think it’s not their year.  (And it’s a shame because I LOVE Ray Rice right now, but he can’t do it all by himself.)

PIT – 28   BAL – 17

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