by Eight Thirty Seven with assistance from J-Dub and Jason from Indiana
Last week around there was a lot of bizarre stuff that went down. It started on Thursday when the Jets lost at home to the Bills, a team with very limited ability and talent went into New Jersey dressed like a soccer squad and and kicked Ryan Fitzpatrick’s teeth in. Then on Sunday the Eagles found a way to lose to the Dolphins, the Broncos folded to a team that lost their first five games of the year, and the Cowboys lost to Tampa. Not to be outdone, Charlie Sheen announced on “The Today Show” that he was HIV positive on Tuesday because he’s been out of the news cycle for a couple of months and that seemed to be the only way he could get back in the good graces of the nation. Duh, winning.
But by now you’re tired of the tiger leukocyte jokes, and week eleven is heating up. We’re seeing the end of an era in Denver as Elway struggles to figure out what that team is going to look like without his golden boy, and the NFC East is still as wide open as ever. If last week taught us anything it’s that this is more of a week to week league as ever, and that’s why I’m going to take some chances with some of my picks here. So let’s fast forward through time and see what’s going to go down in week eleven of the 2015 NFL season.
Bye Weeks: Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers
I’m usually the kind of guy who never buys into the whole “moral victory” bullshit but the Giants played New England solid and only lost by a point. They’re not that much better than a .500 team, but they are still playing well and at points of that game they impressed the hell out of me and I’m a pretty cynical Giants fan. The Browns aren’t much to talk about, and although Big Ben looked good on Sunday he could probably use a week off to let that injury heal a little bit better. The Saints defense has surrendered 130 points over the course of the last 3 games against the Titans, Giants and Redskins so you can only imagine how much overhaul they are going to need to do on that side of the ball this offseason. At 4-6 and with Carolina pulling away with every passing moment, they might need to start worrying about that offseason sooner than later.
J-Dub: Would you like to know what gambling on the Roger Goodell NFL becomes? By that, I mean wagering your hard-earned dollars on a league where parity is rewarded and excellence is deflated. Despite what you might think, it has little to do with being right or wrong; it’s has even less to do with actually hanging on to those dollars. After all, a gambler makes a de facto agreement with the money gods to get separated from his cash on the same order as the proverbial fool.
Gambling on the Roger Goodell NFL is more like being a paramedic treating a car accident victim; it’s all about controlling the bleeding. You don’t know how many bones are broken, you don’t know which internal organs are now mashed potatoes; you just know there’s blood coming out everywhere and you have to stop it.
The problem is every single fucking team is this league is a severed artery. The Bengals turned into the Queen City Kitties by dicking the dog against the Texans. The Green Bay Packers packed it in against the Motor City Kitties. Then, there’s Peyton Manning’s refusal to accept his AARP card, which is turning the Denver Broncos into the nags getting fed into the glue factory.
That helps to explain why the J-Dub Gambling Challenge is becoming a exercise in bleeding. By that, I’m not talking about those two drops of blood you see in your bathroom sink after an aggressive flossing mishap. We’re talking about losing blood faster than Ronda Rousey’s brain lining.
The J-Dub Gambling Challenge hemorrhaged last week, even after taking the week to regroup. The overall season total stands at $2,269.00. Many casual gamblers wouldn’t consider that to be a terrible total; after all, that an average loss of less than $20 per week, which is actually a decent total for cheap entertainment.
But this isn’t the J-Dub Entertainment Challenge; it’s the J-Dub GAMBLING Challenge. That’s why you are going to see the bets get a bit more aggressive this week. It’s either time to get healthy, or become a Syrian refugee.
Tennessee Titans (2-7) +3 at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6) (43)
Jacksonville took out the Ravens last week in Maryland, and I’m proud to say that I called that one even though the refs gave it to them. But the Titans are much better than their record would indicate, and heading into an easily winnable matchup in a very familiar stadium I have a feeling Mariota will have a really good game here. He went 16-24 for 185 with an interception against one of the best teams in football, so I don’t see Jacksonville giving him fits even though his backfield is straight up laughable. Whoever loses ends up last place in the AFC South, or basically just a couple of games out of first place. I’d like to see Jacksonville take this one because they don’t really get the chance to engage in any winning streaks, even if it is just a couple of games. But I think in the end they just aren’t tough enough for Tennessee so I like this one to be close in a week where there will be a lot of close games. Titans is what my gut tells me but I just had Taco Bell so it might be that burrito. Could go either way, and total is too close to call.
837’s Prediction: Titans 21, Jaguars 20
J-Dub: $100 on the Over
Jason from Indiana: Jacksonville
St. Louis Rams (4-5) +1 at Baltimore Ravens (2-7) (41.5)
I bet the Rams can’t wait to see the Ravens. This is an East Coast flight that they are probably super stoked about which is weird because usually Baltimore is not in your top fifty of destinations to visit in the continental United States. But after getting blown out by Chicago at home and losing a tough game in the final seconds to the Vikings, it probably looks like paradise given all of the problems the Ravens have had this season. The only two wins they have so far this season are three-point field goals over the Steelers and Chargers, and those aren’t crowning achievements because they always play Pittsburgh well and the Chargers are terrible. That’s why it’s a little shocking to me that the Ravens are one point favorites – even at home – especially when the Rams are due for a win they have to have at 4-5. St. Louis’ offense really struggled in that Bears game, but at least now they’ll be able to spread that offense up and take advantage of a Baltimore secondary which is average at best. I don’t have nearly as much faith in the Rams as I did a month ago, but I like them to take this one. The Ravens shouldn’t be favored in any game the rest of the year unless something unthinkable happens. I like the under a lot here.
837’s Prediction: Rams 16, Ravens 12
J-Dub: $50 on St. Louis, $50 on the Under
Jason from Indiana: Baltimore
Washington Redskins (4-5) +8.5 at Carolina Panthers (9-0) (45)
Carolina’s defense is brutality…They are so tough right now that this has to be a lock. This game could serve a dual purpose: Not only would it propel the hopefully undefeated Panthers to double digit wins and essentially seal that division for them, it would get everybody to shut the fuck up about Kirk Cousins, who got all Ric Flair on everybody a couple of weeks back after beating a less than average Buccaneers defense. Last week the Redskins got raw on the Saints, which isn’t much to brag about either even though they won by 33 points. They’re in for a real reality check when they go to visit the Carolina Panthers, who are about to show them what a real defensive line looks and feels like. Still, I don’t feel safe taking Carolina because I think they’re in for their own reality check as well. I think they advance to 10-0 for sure, but I think this one is a little too close for comfort even though their defense plays well. Love the under here too…Washington’s defense is also better than people give them credit for.
837’s Prediction: Panthers 19, Redskins 16
J-Dub: $50 on Carolina
Jason from Indiana: Carolina
Denver Broncos (7-2) EVEN at Chicago Bears (4-5) (41.5)
Peyton Manning has apparently been battling Plantar Fasciitis, a very painful foot condition that may or may not have an effect on his accuracy which has been atrocious this season. He won’t be playing in this one, which means that Brock Osweiler will get the start against a Bears team coming off of a 24 point road victory against the Rams. Believe it or not, Manning riding the pine will be the worst thing that can happen to the Bears as Osweiler didn’t look all that bad in the Chiefs game save one poor throw that cost them a possession. Plus, they’re not going to force five turnovers like Kansas City did even though Cutler is due for another performance that is reminiscent of some of his earlier, much poorer work. Just because he carved up the Rams at home for 37 doesn’t mean taking the over on the point total is a smart move. I’m sure Denver feels very slighted after losing two games in a row to two teams who might not even make the postseason. Once again I love the under, but don’t look for a repeat highlight reel from Cutler by any means. This is one bullshit even line if I’ve ever seen one.
837’s Prediction: Broncos 20, Bears 10
J-Dub: $200 on Chicago
Jason from Indiana: Chicago
Dallas Cowboys (2-7) EVEN at Miami Dolphins (4-5) (47.5)
The Cowboys have lost seven in a row, a couple of them really close overtime games against the Saints and the Eagles. There seems to be this general discussion that seemingly won’t go away about how Tony Romo is the only reason they haven’t been able to pull it together, and I’m not buying that shit at all. With that roster and without Tony Romo, you should still be able to beat teams like the Buccaneers and the Saints as long as your quarterback isn’t Ryan Leaf. There’s more to it than just Romo, and that’s why I have to think that no matter when he returns Jason Garrett has to be on the hot seat for sure. Darren McFadden carried the ball 17 times and only picked up 32 yards, stats that just simply can’t be put up when your passing game is ineffective as it has been. The Dolphins toppled the Eagles last week, but they still have a laundry list of problems and appear to be quite disorganized. Tony Romo says that he is going to play in this game, and while the long-term effects of that decision could very well affect his career right now the Cowboys need all the help they can get so I say go for it. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s more than just the quarterback position at which Dallas is struggling, and even after they win this one they still have those aforementioned issues to consider. Cowboys in a pick ’em, but who knows what the Dolphins are going to do on Sunday so avoid the point total.
837’s Prediction: Cowboys 22, Dolphins 20
J-Dub: Disaster of the Week
Jason from Indiana: Dallas
Oakland Raiders (4-5) -1 at Detroit Lions (2-7) (48)
After a 4-3 start, the Raiders have lost three straight. Two in a row looks bad, but against the Steelers and Vikings it’s understandable. The Lions took out the Packers last week in Lambeau, but keep in mind that was really more about what isn’t getting done inside of the Packers locker room as opposed to what Detroit was doing right. I’ll get to that in a minute, but I would think that with the Chiefs somewhat surging and Denver struggling with their situation this is a must win for Oakland. Because if they lose this one and then alternate wins and losses the rest of the season, then they get a shitty draft pick and they don’t make the playoffs. The Lions are going to get a good draft pick no matter what, so they don’t have anything to lose by putting up a fight. I’ll take Oakland to cover here and hope they can do themselves a solid, get back to .500 and keep pressure on teams like the Jets, the Texans, and the Colts. Jack Del Rio’s defense did not look good last week, so don’t be shocked if Matthew Stafford essentially pace-challenges Carr to a shootout. That has to be the only reason the total is 48. I don’t think that will happen.
837’s Prediction: Raiders 24, Lions 21
J-Dub: $50 on Oakland
Jason from Indiana: Oakland
Green Bay Packers (6-3) EVEN at Minnesota Vikings (7-2) (44.5)
What on earth has happened to the Green Bay Packers? After blowing a considerable lead against the Seahawks in the NFC Championship game, the Pack seemed to be back with a vengeance starting the season 6-0. Since then they’ve lost three straight, and are now looking up at the Vikings which can’t be good news considering Adrian Peterson’s disciplinary tendencies. Minnesota has looked every bit as solid as everyone jocking them before the season started said they were going to be, and Bridgewater seemed to recover from that concussion quite well. It seems like an easy game to handicap, because even if the line moves to one in most situations whoever wins will end up making sure you bring home the bacon. I’m really hoping the Vikings win…it would be great for their fans who have continued to go to games after the team was humiliated in the 2000 NFC Championship against the Giants. They’ve had to suffer through their roof falling apart, their team falling apart, and Randy Moss pretty much saying he wished he would have played for New England his whole career. But I just know if I do that I’ll be wrong, so I can’t risk it. Packers all the way. Fuck me in a diaper.
837’s Prediction: Packers 23, Vikings 21
J-Dub: $500 on Minnesota
Jason from Indiana: Minnesota
New York Jets (5-4) EVEN at Houston Texans (4-5) (N/A)
The Jets shot themselves in the foot last Thursday Night when they lost a crucial home game against the Bills which would have allowed them to advance to 6-3, and been in control of one of the Wild Card slots that is truly up for grabs in the AFC. Now they’re fucked, and they are a full four games back of the Patriots whom they’ll never catch. One of the teams they need to watch out for is Houston, who has won three out of their last four and looked awfully damn good in that road win against Cincinnati. They seem like they are in perfect shape to stomp the Jets, especially knowing that Atlanta might very well do the same to the Colts. There’s this theory that the Texans are getting hot just at the right time, which I don’t really buy into at all but I do think it’s better late than never. Plus Ryan Fitzpatrick looked like shit last week, and if he had issues with the Bills he’s going to have a real problem unloading the ball before JJ Watt gets in there. Texans win, barely.
837’s Prediction: Texans 18, Jets 15
J-Dub: $50 on Houston
Jason from Indiana: Houston
Indianapolis Colts (4-5) +7 at Atlanta Falcons (6-3) (47.5)
Remember that scene in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” where Randy Quaid empties the septic tank? That’s the only image that pops into my head when I see this match-up because both of these teams are full of shit. They’re both steaming piles of it too, as they each have a team that is currently making what we thought were going to be two very easy roads to the playoff a living hell in the Panthers and the Texans. The Colts roll into town seven fucking point underdogs against the Falcons, which doesn’t seem that sinister but keep in mind they’re doing so with a quarterback that’s supposed to be the second coming of Christ against a team that has eaten shit for a month straight save a three point victory over Tennessee. Boy, I bet this one looked good before the season started didn’t it? Not so much anymore. In fact, it’s kind funny I began this paragraph with the RQ reference because at this point I’d rather watch the sex tape he made with his batshit crazy wife than sit through a single quarter of this toilet bomb. Long story short: The Falcons win, they don’t cover, nobody gives a shit about the point total, and Quaid finishes on her back.
837’s Prediction: Falcons 25, Colts 18
J-Dub: $50 on Atlanta
Jason from Indiana: Atlanta
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) +5.5 at Philadelphia Eagles (4-5) (45)
Tampa looked somewhat competent last week, but the real story here is Philadelphia. The Eagles really are the true representation of why this is a week-to-week league. Now they will have to play Mark Sanchez in this one and possibly the Detroit game, but with the way the Eagles have been playing that might actually be the best thing that could happen to them. At first glance it’s hard to believe that these two teams have the same record, but if you look a little closer it’s really not. The Bucs have exceeded expectations with a coach who probably puts dry ice in his martinis, but their cake ass schedule has probably aided in what little they’ve been able to accomplish. I’m taking the Eagles if for no other reason other than I have to think this is Mark Sanchez’s last shot to prove to the league that he’s worth being paid to play wherever he lands next year. I don’t think he’s going to light the place up like a Christmas tree, but I do think he’ll make enough plays for them to escape the game with a W. Eagles win but they won’t cover, and stay away from the total as it seems spot on.
837’s Prediction: Eagles 24, Bucs 21
J-Dub: Dog of the Week
Jason from Indiana: Tampa Bay
San Francisco 49ers (3-6) +13.5 at Seattle Seahawks (4-5) (40)
I realized something while watching the Seahawks got worked in the first half of the Arizona game. Not only is their offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell – who blew their chance at repeating as Super Bowl champions – but it looks as if ex-Raiders head coach Tom Cable has been their offensive line coach during the past four years which I was unaware of. I’m sure Tom knows what he’s doing to a certain extent, but I bet the combination of these two hard-headed assbags running an offense that can’t seem to find a rhythm with a Super Bowl winning quarterback has a lot to do with the Seahawks finding themselves three games behind Arizona and nowhere near the playoff conversation. A visit from the 49ers may seem like just the cure for what ails them, but thirteen and a half points? They just don’t have the offense to make that work. It still continues to plague that defense because it throws the overall pace of the whole game for a loop, and this spread seems kind of silly to me. Even for the 49ers, who are in much better shape with Gabbert at the helm than Kaepernick. Lowest point total of the week is spot on, but how could you not take the points out of what you’ve seen out of Seattle the first half of the year?
837’s Prediction: Seahawks 23, 49ers 17
J-Dub: Trap Game of the Week
Jason from Indiana: San Francisco
Kansas City Chiefs (4-5) -2.5 at San Diego Chargers (2-7) (44)
The only thing less of a spoiler alert than me telling you the Chargers aren’t fucking going anywhere this year would be the title of “Death of a Salesman”. Their crowd does nothing for them, and they literally have no home field advantage whatsoever. Heading into week eleven they have only won one game at home – against the Browns. They’re a total embarrassment to the league, and they certainly aren’t the same team we’ve seen in years past. The Chiefs on the other hand really gave it to the Broncos in Denver last week, and after a poor start at least they are trying to somewhat save face by making a playoff push in a very crowded AFC race. Look, none of us that are picking this week have any plans to watch this game, but taking the Chiefs to cover is a smart move. The Chargers are dead in the water, and while you might think they’d love to play spoiler I haven’t really seen any evidence that they’re motivated by anything. Chiefs cover, don’t go anywhere near this game for the point total because if Kansas City scored 56 points I wouldn’t even lean forward from my futon in minor shock.
837’s Prediction: Chiefs 26, Chargers 17
J-Dub: $50 on Kansas City
Jason from Indiana: Kansas City
Cincinnati Bengals (8-1) +3 at Arizona Cardinals (7-2) (47)
Fucking lovin’ the flex scheduling right here for sure. This is going to be the game to watch right here, hands down. The Bengals had their invincibility smashed at home by the Texans, and the Cardinals very nearly threw away the Seahawks game last week after leading that game 19-0. The bad news is that now we know both of these teams have readily exposable weaknesses, but the good news is that finally the non-cable subscribing football fans in America will get to meet these two teams head to head and really get to know them. The easy answer to the Bengals’ problems would be simply “They have to catch what’s thrown to them”, but I’m digging further into it than that. If you watched the last drive of that game, it seemed real obvious to me that there was some confusion between the plays he was looking for and the plays he was or wasn’t getting from the sideline. If you screenshot it with 1:47 left in the fourth quarter, it appeared as if he was looking to run some sort of a screen play but he had this look on his face like Marvin Lewis had just told him he was going to be castrated simply for the crowd’s entertainment. That whole drive was very bizarre, but with all that said Tyler Eifert’s got to do a better job hanging on to that ball as he has otherwise played fantastic this season. Another guy who might want to invest in some at-home ball-handling DVDs would be Carson Palmer, but then again his offensive line is going to have to do a much better job protecting a dude who is going to be 36 years old before the playoffs start. This game is really, really difficult to fucking pick but I have to lean towards Arizona to cover. My reasoning for that is that if the Texans can beat the Bengals by four, so can the Cardinals so that covers the spread. I love the shit out of the under here as well, and after Cincinnati didn’t score a touchdown last week I have no idea why the hell it’s set so high. Stay tuned this one might move.
(Editor’s note: Andy Dalton’s comments about JJ Watt disrespecting the NFL or whatever bullshit he said after that game was just about the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my life. If you can’t make a joke referencing A Christmas Story in a post-game interview, these guys might as well just take the field in chicken suits. Seriously…)
837’s Prediction: Cardinals 27, Bengals 21
J-Dub: $50 on Arizona
Jason from Indiana: Arizona
Buffalo Bills (5-4) +7.5 at New England Patriots (9-0) (48)
The Patriots will get an extra day to prepare for Buffalo in this week’s installment of Monday Night Football, something they shouldn’t need having scored forty points against Buffalo already this season. I did want to point out that the game last Sunday was probably one of the most entertaining and quality matchups I’ve seen in recent years even though my team lost. I bet the Bengals wish they had that X-factor the Patriots did – that ability to win games at the last minute. The Bills at seven and a half are about a perfect distance, but I like New England to cover this one. Brady didn’t sound to thrilled that the Giants game was as close as it was, and that anger is going to be projected on a Bills team that simply can’t lose this game by less than a touchdown on the road. This is usually the part of the article where I would try to justify the small home spread based on the fact that the favored team has a ton of injuries, but since it’s New England we’ve already learned that it doesn’t matter. Gronk will make up for the catches that Edelman won’t be there to snag, and the Patriots will get a warm homecoming and win by ten. Although those injuries are unlikely to have an impact on the spread, they could very well affect the total so that’s why I’m taking the under here.
837’s Prediction: Patriots 27, Bills 17
J-Dub: $50 on Buffalo and $100 on the Under
Jason from Indiana: New England
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Eight Thirty Seven