NFL Pick ‘Ems (Week Three; 2015)

[Cincinnati @ Baltimore]

There’s talk among football fans and analysts alike that Cincinnati has a good chance to lose this game. Despite Baltimore being 0-2 and its now fragile defense, many people have cited Andy Dalton’s inadequate record against division opponents (11-13) as his Achilles’ heel.

Though, I would argue that Andy Dalton also sweeped Baltimore last year.

I believe Cincinnati has a good chance at this game. Cincinnati’s offense and defense both have been playing rather well the last two games. The only thing I could think of to put against them is that Baltimore might play in a “do or die” situation. Sometimes those underdogs really thrive on added pressure. Just ask Oakland last week. Baltimore doesn’t look like an elite team to me, but we’ll see.

Winner: Cincinnati

[Oakland @ Cleveland]

Now this is an interesting match-up. There are a lot of uncertainties with this game that makes the outcome even harder to predict. Josh McCown is starting over Johnny Manziel, despite winning last week against Tennessee. Oakland beat Baltimore by a last minute offensive touchdown and are reeling. These are both perennial losers who have some upside to their talent.

Cleveland won against Tennessee, who I would argue isn’t that great of a team. Oakland won against Baltimore, who I would argue is better than Tennessee. Both teams won at home. Both teams scored 28 points or more in those wins. Oakland gave up more than 30 points. Cleveland only gave up 14. Oakland has Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and Latavius Murray. Cleveland has Joe Haden, Karlos Dansby, Donte Whitner, and Tashaun Gipson.

Logically speaking, Cleveland has a better chance to win this game. They have a much better defense, they’re playing at home, and Oakland’s defense isn’t great. If this game becomes a game at all, it would be high-scoring. Something about Oakland, though. Like the feeling I had between Washington and New York two nights ago, I feel Oakland has a better shot at victory. Call it a hunch.

I only hope my choice won’t backfire like it did two nights ago.

Winner: Oakland

[New Orleans @ Carolina]

Wouldn’t it be ironic if Luke McCown won this game? Wouldn’t it be ironic if Drew Brees was announced out for the rest of the season and Luke McCown led New Orleans to a Super Bowl win? Wouldn’t it be ironic if Verizon paid New Orleans to get Brees out of the starting line-up so that McCown could back up his claims on the commercial he was in?

Yes. This whole situation was Verizon’s doing. New Orleans should fear no more. They have a million-dollar phone company pulling the strings from the booth.

Carolina is 2-0. New Orleans is 0-2. They are now without Drew Brees and still have Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator. Carolina may not have the firepower they used to with Kelvin Benjamin, but Cam Newton alone is enough to score 35 points. Hell, Cam Newton will probably have two or three rushing touchdowns by game’s end. I don’t trust New Orleans defense whatsoever. Carolina’s defense, however, is a proven elite.

Winner: Carolina

[Atlanta @ Dallas]

Here’s another interesting match-up due to contextual pretenses. Tony Romo is out. Dez Bryant is out. Dallas’s defense is still pretty okay, but is it enough to keep Dallas’s now completely flaccid offense in the game?

I don’t have a lot of confidence in Dallas now that Romo’s out, frankly. I probably wouldn’t feel as bad if it wasn’t Brandon Weeden starting. Brandon Weeden is… yeah. He’s no Matt Ryan. He could definitely win against low-tier teams, but that’s pretty much it.

Atlanta is now facing the third NFC East team in as many weeks. Can they sweep this division?! It’s looking to be so, granted they can easily take this game to the cleaner’s. Then again, Atlanta has kept it close with teams that aren’t exactly top-tier. Atlanta should be able to win this game easily, but history shows that I tend to show overconfidence in one team due to how they fare against others. By the end of the day, though, Brandon Weeden is still starting and Julio Jones is still playing.

Winner: Atlanta

[Tampa Bay @ Houston]

Tampa Bay’s defense played really well last week against Drew Brees’s injured shoulder. Houston will also be without left tackle Duane Brown, so that should be another point in favor of Tampa Bay. They’re coming off a win, while Houston still hasn’t seemed to settle on a starting quarterback.

If Ryan Mallett throws the ball sixty times again, I think he might tear his arm off mid-throw. Their offense has been lackluster these past couple of weeks, perhaps due in part to no running game. Tampa Bay’s defense (probably) isn’t as good as Kansas City or Carolina’s defenses are, but it may be enough to cause some issues. I’ll be keeping an eye on Jacquies Smith in this game. He’s an emerging talent who currently leads the league in sacks with 4.

I really don’t want to pick Tampa Bay in this game, but I don’t feel Houston is well-rounded enough as a team to get it done. Sure, they’re playing at home, but Tampa Bay feels like a much better team at this point. Maybe Jameis Winston is brainwashing me with his rookie savvy? He’ll probably be putrid in this game.

Winner: Tampa Bay

[Indianapolis @ Tennessee]

Mrmm. This is actually tough. Hell, most of these picks have been tough. Indianapolis looks like a complete mess right now. Tennessee looks okay. Andrew Luck is carrying the franchise on his back and it doesn’t seem like it’s healthy for him. A shame. Marcus Mariota, on the other side, has exceeded my expectations greatly. He’s yet to throw a pick and has been a drastic improvement to Tennessee quarterbacks in the past. I wasn’t too enamored with his Week One game, but Week Two showed he can still play well in garbage time games with good defenses.

Speaking of good defenses, both of these teams have sporadically okay defenses. I feel Tennessee’s defense is an emerging force, as they’re ranked 3rd in total defense right now (though they weren’t facing offensive powerhouses). Indianapolis’s defense has been okay thus far; it’s their offense that worries me. They’ve been facing elite defenses, so it’s excusable to a fault, but Tennessee’s defense isn’t bottom-tier. If Tennessee can get pressure on Luck, their offensive struggles will likely continue.

I’m making a lot of daring picks this week. It won’t end here.

Winner: Tennessee

[Jacksonville @ New England]

Winner: New England

[San Diego @ Minnesota]

San Diego came off a tragic, last-minute interception to lose the game against Cincinnati last week. Minnesota got on the Adrian Peterson train and steamrolled over Detroit last week. This game will probably be close, but it will also probably be high-scoring. I don’t trust Minnesota’s defense to hold San Diego to under twenty points like Cincinnati’s did.

I think Adrian Peterson will have another good game, though perhaps not as much in the passing game. When Peterson gets going, Bridgewater gets going, too. Minnesota’s defense is good, but has a tendency to be inconsistent. The same can be said about San Diego’s.

I trust Philip Rivers. I trust his offense. I trust Danny Woodcock. I trust they’ll win.

Winner: San Diego

[Philadelphia @ New York (Jets)]

Philadelphia is just… yeah. I won’t waste the word count talking about how much they’ll lose by or how few rushing yards they’ll put up. I think New York’s got a monumental advantage. This should be easy pickings, unless Philadelphia’s defense gives Fitzmagic and company a hard time.

Winner: New York

[Pittsburgh @ St. Louis]

Uh oh. St. Louis is playing at home against a good(?) team. Should I root for them, as they have a good track record with beating good teams at home? Or are they gonna play like shit like they do every so often? It’s really like tossing a coin with them. Sometimes they look elite, sometimes they look like Jacksonville going up against New England.

Trying to look at this logically, I think Pittsburgh will destroy them. Their offense is too good and Antonio Brown is like a mini-Megatron. Their defense, while inconsistent in the secondary, has a strong group of linebackers that can blitz and blitz and blitz. Ryan Shazier won’t play in this game, which is a blow, but I don’t think they should be too concerned with St. Louis’s offense.

St. Louis should have a good defense. They have great talent on the defensive line and linebacking core. They just never seem to stop teams from scoring is the issue. It’s rather frustrating to watch, honestly. I don’t trust their offense, either. Tavon Austin and Kenny Brit are not going to give your quarterback great weapons. I’d rather trust Jared Cook, who isn’t that great, either. It should be close, but it probably won’t be.

Winner: Pittsburgh

[San Francisco @ Arizona]

I’ll be honest: I think Arizona is the best team in the NFC West right now, and among the top teams in the NFC itself. As long as Carson Palmer can stay healthy, I think Arizona can give any team a run for its money. It doesn’t have the best running game, but like Baltimore in the AFC, Arizona tends to do more with less.

San Francisco’s defense looked great against a run-first team in Minnesota in Week One. Their defense looked not-so-great against a pass-first team in Pittsburgh. Arizona is a pass-first team. I can only conclude that they’ll struggle again. But Arizona doesn’t have Antonio Brown, so it may not be as bad as a blowout.

Colin Kaepernick looked okay against Pittsburgh. He just didn’t have the firepower to keep up with their rapid scoring machine. Arizona’s defense is better than Pittsburgh’s, so it’s a tougher challenge all around. San Francisco could have a chance to win if it were 2012. But it’s 2015.

Winner: Arizona

[Buffalo @ Miami]

Holy fuck. There are a lot of division games going on this week.

I gotta say, with the way Miami’s offense has been playing against alright defenses this season, I can only root against them in this match-up. Buffalo’s defense isn’t alright. It’s alright, we’re fucked (unless we’re facing New England).

Buffalo’s offense is a tad inconsistent. Tyrod Taylor is good… kinda. He throws picks, but throws touchdowns, too. He almost came back to tie the game against New England last week. I guess one shouldn’t doubt Buffalo’s firepower. The only thing I doubt is Miami’s offense against Buffalo’s defense, which is the key factor to this game.

If it’s gonna be close, it’s gonna be low-scoring. I can’t see Buffalo and Miami re-enacting Buffalo’s battle with New England last week. Probably 17-10 or something. Either way, I trust Buffalo’s defense.

Winner: Buffalo

[Chicago @ Seattle]

Seattle? At home? With Jimmy Clausen as your starting quarterback and Chicago’s defense? It’s not gonna be pretty.

Winner: Seattle

[Denver @ Detroit]

I would think this game would be close, seeing as Detroit is supposed to be a defensive powerhouse. But Denver is the #1 defense in the league right now, and Peyton Manning is starting to get his groove-thing back. I think if this game were played last year, it would be a better match-up, but Detroit is slacking this year, so it’s kind of a letdown.

Detroit’s defense doesn’t look nearly as good as it did last year. This may be due to Deandre Levy’s absence, but nevertheless, it’s given up quite a few points this season. Seeing as this is Sunday Night Football, the game will probably be an alright one until a certain point. I think Detroit’s offense will stall until late in the game, while Denver’s does all the dirty work in the meantime.

It shouldn’t be close, but it will probably end up that way. I just don’t see Detroit winning, though. Denver’s defense is too good and their offense still has quite a few weapons. The only key factor is Peyton Manning. If he starts to struggle, the whole offense will. Detroit needs to take advantage if this does happen.

Winner: Denver

[Kansas City @ Green Bay]

Kansas City’s defense is good, but Aaron Rodgers is even better. Though, interesting note: Kansas City was the only team to beat Green Bay back in 2011, when they went 15-1 in the regular season. Can they do it again?!

No.

Winner: Green Bay

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