by Ryan Meehan
Week three gave us a little bit better idea who is for real and who isn’t. Week four will give us a pause in that process because it is the first week where teams have byes. This means you’re going to see a lot more guys like Nate Burleson appearing on ESPN’s afternoon programming and pretending they’re broadcasters. That network has a very interesting farm system. Anyway last week was a lot of fun and if you got to see the Seattle-Denver game, you’ll know why both of those teams ended up in the Super Bowl even though the score of that game wasn’t much of an indicator. The NFL is plowing through the off the field stuff with ease, and while it’s important to understand the severity of those situations it’s pretty obvious this league cannot be stopped. So let’s take a look at this recreational version of the illuminati and see what we think could happen in week four.
Thursday Night Football: New York Giants +3 at Washington Redskins (45)
Even though the Giants are on a short week and the Redskins seem like an easy Thursday target, Eli and the boys shouldn’t be too sure of themselves here. After all it’s still a road game, and Washington scored at Philadelphia which is nothing to sneer at regardless the Eagles can’t tackle a dustbunny. But I will say this: Kirk Cousins is playing quite well in the absence of that guy who’s going to end up being the next Andre Ware. I like the Redskins to take this one because the Giants will likely have no answer for Alfred Morris. Spread and point total is about where they need to be at the moment.
Redskins 24, Giants 21
Green Bay Packers -1.5 at Chicago Bears (49)
A lot of Bears fans will probably feel like their team being a home underdog is a slap in the face, especially when you consider that pathetic showing Green Bay had against the Lions last week. I think that Cutler and Marshall are now on the same page, and if you don’t trust the Bears give it a week or so. That being said, if you take that combination away that’s easily a 5-11 football team. But another team that’s looking a lot like they could be 5-11 is Green Bay, who probably should have put up more than 7 point against the Lions last week. I wouldn’t touch this game with a ten foot pole if dropping money on it was my thing, but I believe right now the Bears are the more complete team and I think they’ll take this one.
Bears 29, Packers 26
Buffalo Bills +3 at Houston Texans (41)
Hmmm. This is an awkward matchup for me to grade because this is between a team that didn’t impress me versus a team that doesn’t impress me. It’s easy to lose faith in the Texans when your last memory of seeing them play involved the New York Giants stuff their panties down their throats the entire first half. I want the Texans to succeed because the competition will make the AFC South watchable again, but I can’t trust their health and although Arian Foster will play in this game he won’t be 100% if he sat out last week. The Bills also started the season 2-0, but really showed their true colors when they had to play a real team in the Chargers. I never bought it to begin with, but I did hear their name get tossed around with some of the teams I’m going to mention at the end of this article. I like Houston to cover at home against a Bills offense that isn’t even averaging 195 yards a game in the air. Does that sound like a 2-1 team to you? Long story short, Texans cover.
Texans 24, Bills 16
Tennessee Titans +7.5 at Indianapolis Colts (45.5)
You have to take Indy to cover at home here…I mean, seriously…It’s a slice over a touchdown. And there’s no way that Indianapolis won’t be back on top in a month, especially with the bowling pin portion of their schedule starting last week in the swamp where they film “COPS”. The Titans’ only win came against a very suspect Kansas City team that was struggling really bad at the end of last season after an early season rampage. Jake Locker can play well, but there are a whole slew of circumstances that have to exist in order for him to do that. Their defense has to force turnovers (which they haven’t done in a couple of weeks) and they have to run the ball effectively. (Which for the record they aren’t doing either…)
Colts 31, Titans 10
Carolina Panthers +3 at Baltimore Ravens (40.5)
You guys should come over to my place for my football party. We’re going to watch this game and take video of us throwing projectiles at the television until it breaks. I’ve tried to like Carolina, but for some reason I never really bought them a the legit 2-0 team who got wiped on national television by Pittsburgh’s blunt squad of a ground game. The Ravens are likely the team I hate second most, basically because after seeing their jackass General Manager speak to us like he’s in the mob this week you know he’s in Goddell’s pocket. Carolina is well coached, but for some reason it hasn’t been translating to on the field success which is unfortunate for them when you consider the strength of their roster. That’s why regardless of the Ray Rice cloud that’s hanging over the Ravens, I’m taking them to win here because they’re used to the pressure of living hard – Baltimore is the only city in the world where you can ask a stranger where the nearest crack house is and they can point in any direction they want and still be right. Don’t touch the line on this one.
Ravens 23, Panthers 19
Detroit Lions EVEN at New York Jets (45)
It’s fitting this game has no spread, because these are two very difficult teams to get excited about. The Jets find themselves in a situation where their QB can throw for over three hundred yards and they can still lose by more than a touchdown. I like Detroit when they play like they did in the Green Bay game, and their defensive linemen aren’t hitting quarterbacks below the knees seven seconds after the goddamned play is over. Hopefully they will inject some life into a game that desperately need “Top Plays” material in order to get noticed on an otherwise jam-packed Sunday. I like Detroit here just because Rex Ryan is so stubborn it’s almost laughable at this point. The guy probably still believes in Mark Sanchez for crying out loud. Hell, they signed Michael Vick, didn’t they?
Lions 27, Jets 12
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +7 at Pittsburgh Steelers (44.5)
I will say this: As much as I’ve bagged on the Steelers for Ben being past his prime and essentially having no passing attack, they’ve stepped up this year. They’re one of the better teams in the league, and they went out and smoked Carolina at home Sunday Night. Roethlisberger has proven that even with a skeleton crew of receivers and a backfield that is so stoned you could probably catch a contact high from having them on your fantasy football team, he’s still capable of performing at a high level as long as it’s not for a full 60 minutes. And I can’t think that at home they’d blow it against Tampa, who is probably still toweling off after betting bukkaked by the Falcons last Thursday. I like the Steelers to cover here, but what’s even weirder is the fact that I might actually like the Steelers and their chances. Stranger things have happened, I’ve found pictures of Richard Simmons not wearing a leotard before. And as for why I was looking those pictures to begin with, that’s between me and all the other dudes at the bathhouse.
Steelers 25, Buccaneers 13
Miami Dolphins -4 at Oakland Raiders (41) at London, England
This is where I have to step up. As bad as the Raiders have played and when you consider the Dolphins have beat New England, I did think that they showed they can play defense by holding that same Patriots team to just 16 points last week. You can argue against the concept of moral victories all you want, but the fact of the matter is that Oakland held a first ballot Hall of Famer to one touchdown pass. That’s something to be proud of, and like I said I still like this Carr character. The Dolphins are hard for me to trust because they’ve already lost to the Bills and the Chiefs. Go ahead and add the Raiders to that list, it’s the Upset Special of the week.
Raiders 21, Dolphins 18
Jacksonville Jaguars +14 at San Diego Chargers (44.5)
This game should have yellow tape wrapped around it that simply says “Police Line Do Not Cross” because this has the potential to turn into a crime scene where something horrible has happened. And I’m not talking about a situation where autoerotic asphyxiation has taken place, I’m talking about a situation where autoerotic asphyxiation has taken place, a burglar broke in while it happened, and the couple beat the dude to death with an umbrella before going back to choke sex right on top of the guy. This is what I want to know: If you’re Jacksonville, how do you go into work every day having faith that you can turn this thing around when every single week you’re a double digit underdog? That’s a serious blow to the psyche, and if anybody can’t handle serious blows it would have to be the Jaguars. I like the Chargers to cover, and as you’ll notice I’m also added seventeen points in my prediction for Jacksonville because they seem to be so good as putting up two meaningless touchdowns in a game that has realistically been over for at least a half an hour.
Chargers 36, Jaguars 17
Atlanta Falcons -2.5 at Minnesota Vikings (46.5)
Why is the line for this only 2.5 points? The Falcons should shred a team like the Vikings right now. Was Julio Jones abducted by aliens? Did I miss the story about Matt Ryan getting his hands chopped off? Sometimes these lines can be very puzzling…Look, the Falcons are on the up and up because the only team they lost to so far has been the Bengals and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. They can’t stop the pass at all, but with a guy could easily hang 450 yards on just about every defense he faces they don’t really have to. I like Atlanta to cover easily here.
Falcons 38, Vikings 12
Philadelphia Eagles +5.5 at San Francisco 49ers (50.5)
This looks like one dangerous ass game to bet on. I will say this much: If San Francisco loses another home game, we need to have a serious conversation about whether or not they are a Super Bowl contender anymore. Because Seattle and Arizona are playing so well, the 49ers seem to forget that they don’t get that two slot in the NFC West by default. They have to earn it, and they don’t look like a team that knows that at the moment. On the other end of the field, I am very high on the Eagles right now. They have a nails quarterback and zero losses, and even though they can’t play defense at all they can still figure Kaepernick out. I’m taking Philadelphia here because I’m convinced they are the real deal.
Eagles 30, 49ers 28
New Orleans Saints -3 at Dallas Cowboys (53)
The Saints started off unexpectedly slow, and now they are faced with a Dallas team on Sunday Night Football who has kind of exceeded expectations. In their defense, they are 3rd in the league and rushing and have definitely found their backfield stud in DeMarco Murray. Dez Bryant is playing like he’s not an insane person, but I have to think that this is kind of a do or die for the Saints. It’s not far from where they live, and it’s against a team whose faults can be exploited exponentially. I predict that this will be the game where the Saints finally get into the groove, and Dallas is left hung up. Sometimes I think I’m funny because I make Madonna references. It doesn’t always work.
Saints 26, Cowboys 17
New England Patriots -3.5 at Kansas City Chiefs (45)
Boy, I bet this looked like fun on the schedule before the season started didn’t it? Now it looks like a Monday Night game I can skip. Kansas City finally proved last week that they can score points, but can their defense stop Tom Terrific and whoever he’s stuck with this year to help him score points this year? I will say this – that’s precisely the reason why the Patriots are so awesome. They can put whoever in there and Tom will make them great. All this talk about Derek Jeter’s retirement got me thinking – maybe the fact that the guy was such a good captain trumped why he was such a great shortstop in the first place. I feel the same way about Brady – I have this theory that when guys are around him they realize that shit is real even more than they do on draft day. I would have to think that if you bounce around the league, being on that guy’s team would have to stop you in your tracks and make you think for a second about how lucky you’ve just become. I think his presence in the locker room has that sort of effect, and when he finally retires we’ll get to hear about it more. Pats cover.
Patriots 22, Chiefs 8
This Week’s Theme: The Unusual Suspects
While I had expected a year full of the same teams at the top of the crop, something amazing ended up happening. We have three teams in the NFL who are not your standard annual Super Bowl contenders who have made the case that so far they are indeed just that.
Cincinnati Bengals – Say what you will about Andy Dalton and how ridiculous he looks, the Bengals are the truth. And in a weak AFC, it’s not too out of bounds to say they could knock off Denver or New England in January. They are on a bye week and have very few adjustments to make.
Arizona Cardinals – This is another team on a bye week, and think about what they’ve been able to do. They were able to put in a backup quarterback and win a road game against the Giants, then go home to find out Carson Palmer couldn’t start again and would rely on Drew Stanton again in order to beat San Francisco. Why aren’t more people talking about this? That’s a pretty tremendous feat when you consider the lack of experience Stanton has. I have this very weird feeling Arizona will not miss the playoffs this year.
Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles will play this weekend, but I’m not sure that they are even going to take a bye week when they have to. Those crazy bastards would probably join a pickup league on their off week to get in the end zone. If you hate that “Fly Eagle Fly” song they play every time they score a touchdown at the Linc, it could be a long year for you. And if the Eagles learn how to tackle properly, everybody else in the NFC had better watch out.
You know what all three of these teams have in common besides having zero losses? The fact that you can see them making a legitimate postseason run even though none of them had a postseason win in the 2013-2014 playoffs. It’s a very real possibility that in four months from now I could be sitting here talking about how one of these teams won the Super Bowl.
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