NFL Pick ‘Ems (Week Eight; 2015)

[Detroit vs. Kansas City] (London game)

Detroit put up a decent fight against Minnesota last week, but came up short when it mattered. Not to mention, they had held Adrian Peterson to just 16 rushing yards early in the third quarter. If it wasn’t for a rare good solo performance by Teddy Bridgewater, Detroit may have had a chance. Well, Detroit’s defense also gave up 82 rushing yards to end the game, so it seems the defense just kind of imploded. Much like they have all throughout the season.

Kansas City won for the first time since Week One against Pittsburgh last week. It was against a third-string quarterback, but that doesn’t stain Alex Smith’s decent performance against a fairly good defense. Not to mention, they had a great running game without Jamaal Charles! Well done, West.

In London, both teams are technically on the road. In this case, I like to think of it as playing on the pond. Who will float? Personally, I think Kansas City has the edge here. They have a better defense and a more, well, consistent offense. Though, I don’t expect this game to garner a lot of points (unless Detroit’s defense implodes late in the game again), seeing as both offensive lines are pretty putrid. Maybe some pick-sixes or fumble returns, but not a lot of offensive fireworks this game.

Winner: Kansas City

[San Diego @ Baltimore]

I saw this game on the schedule and initially I wanted to pick San Diego. However, seeing Baltimore’s performance against Arizona last week gave me a little confidence in them. Not to mention, San Diego’s performance last week against Oakland dulled my impression of them, especially their defense.

San Diego has won only 2 games out of 7 so far this season. Both of those wins came at home, with close games against mediocre teams. Baltimore has won only 1 game out of 7 so far this season. It came against Pittsburgh with Mike Vick starting. In overtime. All of their games have been decided by 8 points or fewer. Baltimore can’t seem to close out games when it matters, and it’s understandable. They have little weapons outside of Steve Smith. Their secondary doesn’t have any true playmakers. This is the result of a team who let too much go in free agency. It stripped the team of its tenacity and talent.

A lot of people believe Baltimore will win this game, though barely, but I think otherwise. When you stack it all up, even with San Diego’s awful defense, I think San Diego has a better chance of winning; bad offensive line and all. Not to mention, Baltimore has a tendency to lose when it counts. Philip Rivers, as error-prone as he’s been this season, will keep San Diego in the game.

Winner: San Diego

[Arizona @ Cleveland]

I’m actually kind of nervous about this game. I shouldn’t be, but I am. Cleveland isn’t a good team (it’s Cleveland, after all). Though, Arizona kept the game close, at home, against Baltimore. Y’know, a lot of people believe Atlanta is one of the more overrated teams in the NFC, and I agree with them, but I would also put Arizona in that place, too. Their two losses this season were against St. Louis (bottom 10 in passing offense) and Pittsburgh (let third-string quarterback throw 2 touchdown passes to take the game). They have one of the highest-scoring offenses… against Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Otherwise, they’re barely putting up 20 points. Their defense is good, but it’s the kind of defense that’s good for preventing touchdowns, not big plays. It’s not the kind of dominating defense that Seattle used to have.

Despite all of this, Cleveland is still Cleveland. It’s had some good offensive games this season, but their defense has been very sporadic as of late, especially their run defense. Chris Johnson should take full advantage of that. At least they’ll likely get Joe Haden back this week. Will it make a difference? Not likely, but it’ll probably prevent Fitzgerald from some receiving yards. I trust Arizona’s defense more than Cleveland’s. And their quarterback. And their running back. And their offensive line. Yeah.

Winner: Arizona

[Minnesota @ Chicago]

Chicago will be a little tougher to beat at home than Detroit. After all, they have competent coaches.

That’s not to say I think they’ll win, as I have full confidence in Minnesota’s defense, but I believe it will be closer than with Detroit. Jay Cutler, for as much shit that’s tossed his way, has played fairly well this season. He’s thrown some picks, but who hasn’t? He’s made a shitty offense into something to prepare for. They’re obviously not elite; they don’t have enough pieces for that. But for what it’s worth, he’s in a similar circumstance as Cam Newton: few weapons on offense. They rely on a powerful run game and one or two key receivers.

Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs is starting to become a trusted #1 receiver. It’s fortunate for Minnesota, as none of their wideouts this year has shown that kind of production in any game, even the incredible Mike Wallace! However, they still have Adrian Peterson, who doesn’t seem to be very rusty after taking a year off, ready to pound through Chicago’s flimsy front four. I’m more looking forward to seeing how Minnesota’s offensive line plays.

Defense will be key in this game. Minnesota clearly has the edge here, but don’t let Chicago’s performances against Arizona and Detroit fool you… they can be good when they want to be. Much like Detroit’s defense: usually good against the run, usually bad against the pass. I smell another good day from Bridgewater.

Winner: Minnesota

[Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh]

Oh, how I wish I could watch this game in real time! This is, by far, the most interesting match-up this week, as well as the most divided. Cincinnati has been on a tear so far this season. Pittsburgh is a good team that’s getting its star quarterback back from injury. It should be a game filled with points… at least from one offense, and that will be the key.

Can Andy Dalton prove to be the quarterback he’s been all throughout the season against a team he’s historically played badly against? And on the road? Oh, the suspense is so delicious. This is like Dalton’s coming out party. If he can beat Pittsburgh on the road without throwing 7 picks, people might finally start taking him seriously. And then the week after, he gets to play in primetime! If Dalton wants to prove himself, he needs to do it within these two games… and the playoffs, but we’ll worry about that later.

Pittsburgh is an all-around good team. However, their offensive line has lost some key pieces in the last few games. Carlos Dunlap has 6.5 sacks in 6 games. Geno Atkins has 4 sacks in 6 games as a defensive tackle. I think Cincinnati has an edge defensively from its stout defensive line. Their secondary will certainly be tested though.

It’ll be close, unless Cincinnati’s offense sputters, but I’m taking a chance here. I think Cincinnati will pull through.

Winner: Cincinnati

[Tennessee @ Houston]

What an ugly game.

This is like watching two deformed and diseased rodents squaring off. It will be gross.

Which of the 2 is the lesser evil? Personally, I think Tennessee has a better defense. Houston has a better offense, offensive line, quarterback, wide receivers, J.J. Watt, and running backs, even without Foster. This is an easy choice.

Winner: Houston

[New York (Giants) @ New Orleans]

Hrmm. Here’s another choice for overrated NFC team: the New York Giants. They played a great game offensively in the first few weeks, but they’ve slowed down since falling to Philadelphia, only scoring 20 offensive points in the last 8 quarters. Not to mention, their defense is worst in the league when it comes to passing defense. Who are they facing next? One of the more pass-happy teams in the league. They have the quarterback to do it, too.

All signs point to New Orleans winning this game. New York’s pass rush is abysmal, their offense off-key. They still won’t have Amukamara for this game, which will likely mean lots and lots and lots of points. Drew Brees isn’t Matt Cassel. He’ll score touchdowns.

In New York’s defense (no pun), New Orleans’ defense is, well, yeah. It’s probably not much better than New York’s. New York will likely score lots’a points against it, too. Still, in a likely offensive battle, New Orleans has the clear edge, if not for their offensive line.

Winner: New Orleans

[San Francisco @ St. Louis]

Winner: St. Louis

[Tampa Bay @ Atlanta]

This really shouldn’t be a close game, but it likely will. Atlanta’s been playing scared since is got essentially blown out by New Orleans. At least they still have a swell defense.

Matt Ryan needs to play better. He’s thrown 3 touchdowns (not including garbage time touchdown in late 4th quarter of New Orleans game) to 4 interceptions in the last 3 games. This isn’t the Pro Bowl Matt Ryan we expect to see. Is it a lack of weapons? A shitty offensive line? Maybe. Whatever it is, he’s not helping his team’s reputation.

Speaking of reputation, Tampa Bay’s is, well, awful. They gave up a huge lead last week against Washington and people (at least in football forums) are calling for Lovie Smith’s dismissal. To be fair, Lovie Smith has never been an offensive guy. Even in Chicago, his offenses were typically in the bottom 10 in the league. So, that leaves him with defense. And Tampa Bay’s defense, as shown last week, is really bad. Yeah, I can understand the frustration.

This is an easy pick. As “overrated” as Atlanta may be, it’s not Tampa Bay levels of bad. Should Tampa Bay find a way to score 30 points, Atlanta will score 31 in the closing seconds.

Winner: Atlanta

[New York (Jets) @ Oakland]

The second-most interesting match-up this week. New York has an undeniably good defense. Their offense actually seems competent, too. Almost as if it were, I don’t know, magic. They’re one of the better teams in the league, and their record shows that.

Oakland on the other hand is also a rising team. They’ve had tough losses against Denver and Chicago, but they easily handled Baltimore and San Diego, showing they aren’t bottom of the barrel. But their next opponent isn’t Baltimore or San Diego.

Being at home is a plus for Oakland, who typically performs better there. Though, against a strong defense, I’m not sure how this offense is going to play this out. They could try running the ball, but New York has Calvin Pace, Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams, and Sheldon Richardson. They could try throwing the ball, but they have Darelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Marcus Gilchrist. On all fronts, New York seems prepared. It should be a fun game. If only I could watch it.

Let’s not overlook Oakland’s defense, though. It’s performed well throughout the season. They have a good pass rush in Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith, along with secondary weapons like Charles Woodson and… well, Charles Woodson. They aren’t as many household names as there are on New York’s defense, but it should perform well enough. Still, I think New York has the edge in this game.

Winner: New York

[Seattle @ Dallas]

Is Tony Romo starting yet? No? Okay.

Winner: Seattle

[Green Bay @ Denver]

Third most interesting match-up this week. It’s a high-powered offense with a good defense against a high-powered defense that used to have a high-powered offense. Aaron Rodgers looked human against San Diego, perhaps in part to his lack of weapons on offense. Now, he’s against an elite defense and on the road. This should prove a valuable test for Green Bay’s offense.

Denver, on the other hand, shouldn’t fair much better against Green Bay’s defense, which has stepped up tremendously from last year. Peyton Manning has among the lowest quarterback rating in the whole league and has more interceptions than touchdowns. Not looking like a good send-off to retirement, huh? Denver’s offense just hasn’t clicked. Their offensive line is most likely to blame. Couple misses (or injuries) on offensive linemen in the draft plus an already depleted starting line-up equals broken Manning and whoever starts at running back.

Green Bay has the edge here. Not as good of a defense, but clearly better offense, starting with the quarterback. I don’t think it’ll be a blowout, simply for Denver’s defense, but I don’t see Denver scoring many points either.

Winner: Green Bay

[Indianapolis @ Carolina]

Ahem.

I believe this will be a complete repeat of last Sunday Night. Except Newton doesn’t throw as many picks. Luck will do that for him, assuming Carolina’s defense hasn’t sacked him nine times by the third quarter.

Carolina is head and shoulders better than Indianapolis. It shouldn’t even be close.

Winner: Carolina

Oh, and happy Halloween everyone!

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