Impressions from Week Four of the 2016 AFL Season

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I’ll be frank: I voluntarily chose not to watch anything AFL-related this week. I just wasn’t up for it this week, as I had a lot of things in my real life to prepare for, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to miss one game. The only televised game available to me was Philadelphia against Cleveland. Clearly Philadelphia would crush them, right?

As it turns out, this was the best week of games thus far this season. How ironic that when the two worst teams in Portland and Tampa Bay both have a bye week that the level of competition between teams during games suddenly becomes a lot more even and interesting. I was constantly checking Twitter to see the outcomes to these games, because for one, I had already opted out of watching the first game and by the time I realized the game was actually good, it was halfway through the fourth quarter, and the two other matches came down to the wire. I didn’t know who would win! This is what I watch the sport for! And the week that I choose not to partake in it is the week that it suddenly becomes magical again! Such is life.

CLE @ PHI (AFL)

Cleveland at Philadelphia

  • (Voluntarily) Did not watch.

The game I decided to miss turned out to be an unexpectedly competitive one. At one point, Cleveland was up 28-13 over Philadelphia, which is amazing considering Cleveland is one of the lesser teams in the league. At that point, it seemed the scripts had flipped, but alas, Cleveland couldn’t hold their breath, as Philadelphia started bombing their way ahead by the fourth quarter.

Dan Raudabaugh’s stats by the end of this game: 26 of 31 for 315 yards, eight touchdowns, and one interception. That’s the performance one should expect from an MVP quarterback.

Dennis Havrilla, and later Arvell Nelson’s combined stats by the end of this game: 13 of 30 for 196 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. It’s amazing Cleveland put up as much of a fight as they did with those kinds of numbers. I think that seems to be the running theme for Cleveland: they have the potential to be good, they just can’t seem to find it within themselves. After all, just two years ago they were in the ArenaBowl… getting slaughtered by Arizona, but nonetheless!

ARI @ JAX (AFL)

Arizona at Jacksonville

  • Did not watch.

What a nail-biter this game was!

This is the sport that I love to watch! Two good teams going at it! Score after score after score! Big numbers! Back and forth lead changes! Offensive powerhouses! Defensive turnovers! Man, I really wish I watched this game!

Nick Davila threw eight touchdowns. Tommy Grady threw eight touchdowns. Arizona had three rushing touchdowns; Jacksonville had two. The game went into Overtime. The game had drama. The game had feelings! Gah! This game!

A great performance by Jacksonville for almost beating the best team in the league. If not for some miscues by both teams, I’m not sure the game would’ve been as exciting as it was. However, this has become a running theme for the Sharks: they have all the talent, all the potential to be on-par with the Rattlers, but they struggle in the clutch and have a tendency to implode in the worst moments. This was a small example in a large sample of times this has happened. But damn was this implosion fun.

LA @ ORL

Los Angeles at Orlando

  • Did not watch.

Nathan Stanley is turning into a turnover machine. Through four games, he’s thrown seven interceptions. That’s tops in the league.

Randy Hippeard, on the other hand, has thrown three, which may factor in to why the Predators are 4-0 this season. Although, the Predators are a curious case. Much like the Sharks have a tendency to stutter in the clutch, the Predators bask in it, which is lucky because they always seem to be in it. The Predators rarely put a game out of reach. It’s not uncommon to have them win a game by one score or less, much like this game, which they won 43-40. 4-0 is 4-0, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of where they’re at talent-wise. I guess they’ll have to face the Rattlers to test that.

The KISS had a lot of potential coming into this season, but it seems they can only bully the weakling teams in the league. Perhaps if Stanley would stop throwing so many picks and stop taking so many sacks, the KISS would be better off, but for right now, they’re a talented team that don’t know how to handle themselves. Kind of like Jacksonville.

Impressions from Week Four of the 2015 NFL Season

I’m 0-4 when it comes to predicting Thursday Night games. I’m 4-0 when predicting Sunday Night games. That has nothing to do with anything, but I find it interesting.

It really does seem like teams are making really bad decisions in regards to their starting kickers. Josh Scobee and Kyle Brindza have both been released due to their inefficiency. Zach Hocker missed a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation against Dallas last night, which was only a 30 yard kick. It didn’t effect the end-result, but really? 30 yards? That’s hard to look past. Those who are secure with their kickers show why, but everyone else is on a very thin tightrope.

Joe Philbin’s been fired. Will someone be next? Chip Kelly? Jim Caldwell? It’s been a season of wasted potential thus far. A lot of former elite teams are no longer getting it done consistently. New Orleans, Baltimore, San Francisco, Indianapolis, to name a few thus far. It’s been an upside-down season. And according to some, it’s been a really ugly season. How many teams in the NFL could actually be considered “good”? Some would argue that the total could be counted on a single hand. Of course, we’re only four weeks in, so all of this is basically pessimistic fortune-telling. It’s still intriguing to see things go so haywire so fast.

[Baltimore @ Pittsburgh]

  • (Watched, incorrect)

Scobee doobie doo, where are you? We need some help from you, now.

He missed two field goals that could’ve won the game. Then, in overtime, head coach Mike Tomlin became too scared to try him again. Twice. Yeah, he missed two field goals earlier, but what are the chances of him missing two more? Instead, he opts for a quarterback run with Mike Vick, then a stick route for Antonio Brown, who he overthrew. Where’s Le’Veon Bell? Where’s DeAngelo Williams? Where’s Will Johnson? Why don’t you run with that thick offensive line you have? Once? Just once? Le’Veon Bell had 100 and somethin’ yards on the night. Use him! C’mon!

Baltimore, on the other hand, looked pretty ugly in the passing game. Pittsburgh’s secondary looked good all night. Their running game came to life, however, as Pittsburgh’s defensive line didn’t pull their weight much. Once Steve Smith left the game, Baltimore basically only had the run to live off of. What does Flacco have on offense? Aiken? Williams? May as well run it forty times a game.

Pittsburgh gave this game away. Lots of very poor play-calls. The worst part is, Mike Vick didn’t even play badly! Not one turnover. The defense ended up being the star of the night, much like I should’ve expected. Both teams’ defense played pretty well. I’d be a tad optimistic about that if I were Baltimore. But, uh, their offense has zero weapons. Pittsburgh just has a choking habit.

[New York (Jets) vs. Miami] (London game)

  • (Watched, correct)

FitzMagic struggled a little this game. Thankfully, Chris Ivory is a good running back who plays like a bull. It was Miami’s offense who truly struggled in this game. Their first touchdown drive came with the help of two pass interference calls, which gave them fifty-somethin’ yards. Kudos to you, Tannehill.

Miami all-around just looked really bad. I had heard rumbles around comment sections that Miami looked absolutely putrid, but hey, I can’t take everyone’s word to heart. But upon looking at them play… yeah, they were right. They had some good plays on defense, but their offense looked so pitiful, it was almost like watching their opponent’s offense in 2014. When it mattered most, Tannehill threw two interceptions to keep Miami from coming back. Miami’s offensive struggles? New York’s defensive superiority? Both? Probably.

Miami fired head coach Joe Philbin after the loss. Immediately afterwards, interim head coach Dan Campbell, who used to be the tight ends coach, stated that Miami needed a culture change. Not to speculate, but Philbin’s firing may have been desired by many within the organization if they’re going to come out and say things like that an hour after his release. I can only wonder how Miami will play going forward.

Also, FitzMagic’s interception was bullshit. Bowman clearly pushed Smith down. Damn refs. Smearing FitzMagic’s quarterback rating like that.

[New York (Giants) @ Buffalo]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

If anyone can make me look like a complete idiot, it’s Eli Manning. A two-score blowout of Buffalo on the road? W-what? How does that even happen?

I’ll tell you how that happens: penalties. Buffalo committed 17 penalties during the game. 17. You can give 17 penalties to Jacksonville and even they’ll find a way to beat Buffalo. Not only that, but Buffalo’s offense just went kaput. Taylor couldn’t get anything going. The running game was putrid. New York’s defense has really stepped up their game… against inconsistent offenses. Nevertheless, they’ll take the win.

I originally put Karlos Williams on a pedestal for his performance against Miami. But, uh, as I mentioned above, Miami is Miami. Albert Haynesworth could’ve gotten at least 80 yards against them. He was awful against New York. It seems I was too taken by a one-game performance, much like I was with Matt Jones of Washington (more on him later).

One of two games that hit me like a ton of bricks. I was not expecting New York to be any hassle for Buffalo. But hey, Buffalo could bounce back, right? Right?

[Carolina @ Tampa Bay]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Carolina must feel really good about their current record. 4-0 against teams that are currently 1-3, 1-3, 1-3, and, hey, 1-3. I’d like to see them go toe to toe against a more balanced team, like Arizona or Atlanta. Unfortunately for me, they have a bye next week, but their opponent after that is Seattle at Century Link Field. That should prove very interesting.

What’s even more interesting is seeing Jameis Winston’s up-and-down season unfold in front of me (or his stats, anyway). Four interceptions were thrown in the game against Carolina. His first pass was a pick-six, much like his first ever pass in the NFL. He’s been inconsistent, but he’s a rookie. And has a crummy offensive line.

Carolina’s defense played very well, as expected, generating a lot of good field position and a few points for the offense. I heard the game was super rainy, too, so I’m willing to forgive a relatively lackluster outing by both quarterbacks in this game. I’m kinda wondering why Carolina didn’t give more to Jon Stewart, though, who only had ten carries on the day. I would think with the weather, you’d want to run the ball more. Nothing new really came up this game. Tampa Bay’s still bad. Carolina’s defense is still dangerous.

[Oakland @ Chicago]

  • (Watched the first quarter and a half, incorrect)

See? Didn’t I say that if Jay Cutler played they had a chance? They took that chance and won it. A great win by an ailing Chicago team.

Now, not to make excuses, but I honestly thought Jimmy Clausen was going to start in this game. Even if I knew Cutler would start, though, I still would’ve picked Oakland. I just would’ve felt less secure with my pick. Chicago, like I said before, had the disadvantage of starting the season against Green Bay, Arizona, and Seattle on the road. I even commented how good they looked against both Green Bay and Arizona. They kept the game close in both cases. Chicago deserved this win over Oakland. They really aren’t as bad as their record may indicate.

Oakland just got outplayed. It was a really close match-up, but they couldn’t clinch it when it mattered. Amari Cooper was a non-factor after his touchdown catch, leaving the slack to Michael Crabtree. Latavius Murray played badly against a Chicago defense that is actually pretty okay against the run. He also lost a fumble, which hurt their chances quite a bit. They had to play perfectly, and they just couldn’t get it done.

At the end of the day, though, I see this as a victory for both teams. Neither looked particularly bad. I’d be optimistic for the future of both franchises. Especially Oakland. If they stay consistent, they can be a real force. And to think, Chicago didn’t even have Alshon Jeffery!

[Kansas City @ Cincinnati]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

7 fucking field goals! Kansas City scored 0 touchdowns and 7 field goals! I have never seen so many god damn field goals in one game in my entire life! Is that a record? Let me check if that’s a record. It’s tied for second! The record is 8, set by the late Rob Bironas back in 2007.

Exciting as 7 field goals are, it also goes to show the efficiency of Cincinnati’s defense. They’re giving up points, sure, but they can do that when Cincinnati’s already up by a touchdown or two. Kansas City just can’t seem to find the endzone, despite Jamaal Charles’ YPA being about 7 yards a carry. He only ran it eleven times, by the way. Andy Reid and his god damn fetish for passing the ball. He’s killing Alex Smith’s already weakish arm.

Speaking of arms, Andy Dalton didn’t throw it much. But boy, did he throw it. He finished the day throwing 24 passes, with 17 completions and 321 yards. That’s a 13.4 yard average per completion, which is mind-blowing. Y’know what else is mind-blowing? His average yards per completion on the season is 10.2. He’s completing 67.2 percent of his passes. He’s thrown 9 touchdowns to 1 interception. He’s been sacked twice on the season. His current quarterback rating is 123.0. Only Aaron Rodgers is above him in that category.

BUT HEY, HE HASN’T PLAYED IN PRIMETIME, YET!!!

[Houston @ Atlanta]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

uh wow

Houston kinda sucks. That tends to happen when you don’t have a starter-quality quarterback.

[Jacksonville @ Indianapolis]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Hahaha! I wasn’t worried about this pick when I heard Hasselbeck was starting! N-no siree! I wasn’t worried when I saw Jacksonville go up by a touchdown early in the second quarter, either! N-nope! I had confidence that Hasselbeck w-w-would get it done! Total faith!

In all seriousness, though, this game is another example of how NFL teams seem to be bad at choosing kickers. Jason Myers missed two field goals against Indianapolis out of four attempts. Both of the field goals he missed would’ve won Jacksonville the game. Starting to get a sense of deja vu, Pittsburgh? He’s 7-10 on field goals on the season, with 4 of those completed field goals coming between 20-29 yards. He’s 2-5 when kicking between 40-60 yards. Impressive.

If this is how Indianapolis is going to play without Andrew Luck, I can only be optimistic about how they play with Andrew Luck. If this is how Jacksonville is going to play against Indianapolis’s defense, I can only be optimistic that they won’t win another game this season. Maybe at home, but certainly not on the road. Both of these teams were ugly. It doesn’t make me look forward to this Thursday Night’s game.

[Philadelphia @ Washington]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

And Philadelphia’s offensive line continues to be a problem. Sam Bradford’s been sacked seven times and continues to face a great amount of pressure. DeMarco Murray had one run for 30 yards, but then had 7 carries for 6 yards. Ryan Mathews was a non-factor. Everyone else was almost a non-factor. At least Bradford had a good fantasy day.

Washington’s pass rush came alive and sacked Bradford five times during the game. Their offense, while sporadic, got it done in the final thirty seconds of the game. Kirk Cousins played alright, but also more conservatively, and it payed off in an aggressive outing to finish off the final drive. Alfred Morris helped a little, but was essentially swallowed up by Philadelphia’s defense. Matt Jones, after a great performance against St. Louis (more on them later), has gone 49 yards on 18 carries. So much for being a one-two punch.

I was pleasantly surprised, but at the same time not surprised at all. Philadelphia is not going to win many games with their offensive line. All they can rely on now is their defense to keep their opponent to as few points as possible. Washington? They seem to be good at home, I guess.

[Cleveland @ San Diego]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Philip Rivers and Josh McCown both did exactly what I told them to do. Unfortunately, Cleveland’s special team squad didn’t remember that they aren’t supposed to move beyond the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped for a field goal try. Whoops.

I was genuinely shocked at how close this game was. Either San Diego’s defense is worse than I thought it was, or Cleveland’s offense is better than I th—no, it’s probably the former.

One thing I didn’t know: Joe Haden was ruled out for this game about an hour before the game started, when he was initially ruled as probable.  That’s a little odd. Did he just not want to play with Josh McCown starting? I know I wouldn’t. They almost won, though! If Joe Haden would’ve played, they may have actually won it! He’s a good corner, probably!

San Diego, though, doesn’t exactly look like an elite team. I expected them to do very well this year now that Philip Rivers is 100% healthy. Then again, he’s without Antonio Gates and a hunk of his starting offensive line-up. Maybe when they return, they’ll be a potent offensive powerhouse. That doesn’t answer my questions about the defense, however. I’d be more optimistic about Cleveland than San Diego coming out of this game.

[Minnesota @ Denver]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Another close game! If not for Denver’s punishing defense, this game may have gone the other way. Minnesota, if not for their Week One pummeling, looks to be a really solid team. They aren’t the best offensively, but they have a top five defense with a ton of solid players. Enough to make Peyton Manning struggle, too.

Ronnie Hillman had a great touchdown run to boost Denver into the lead in the first half. Besides that, 10 carries, 31 yards. Peyton Manning threw 1 touchdown to 2 interceptions. C.J. Anderson had 11 carries for 43 yards. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders did most of the work in the pass game (which isn’t surprising), but neither had a touchdown reception. That went to Owen Daniels.

Lots of sacks in this game. 9 combined between both teams. 7 went to Denver, in a game that made Minnesota’s offensive line look really thin. That would be the biggest issue going forward with Minnesota, but they have such a shiny defense! The same could be said about Denver, along with a declining Peyton Manning. But they, too, have a shiny defense!

[Green Bay @ San Francisco]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

And people thought San Francisco could upset Green Bay. Please.

Colin Kaepernick improved upon last week’s trainwreck of a performance, but he still couldn’t get much going on offense. I don’t blame him. He was sacked 6 times. Carlos Hyde had 20 yards on 8 carries. No one could get open, probably. Not on him. He basically had to transform into Cam Newton and do it all himself.

This Green Bay defense looks really good. Then again, they went up against Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle (road team), and Kansas City (road team). None of these teams have particularly potent offenses. Still, one has to respect holding an opponent to just 3 points. Even if your starter is Jimmy Clausen.

Again, I’m at a loss for words, as nothing new was really shown this game. Aaron Rodgers is still a god. San Francisco is still mediocre, with bits of talent on both sides of the ball. Nothing more.

[St. Louis @ Arizona]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

St. Fuckin’. Louis.

I can’t figure it out, man. Are you a good team or a bad team? Is your defense elite or jelly? Is your offense a tornado or a fat guy’s moist spit? It drives me absolutely insane trying to figure this team out. Inconsistent as all hell. They lose to Washington on the road, but then beat Arizona on the road??? What?!?! St. Louis fans have got to be one of the most tortured fans in all of the NFL. If not, the world. God damn.

Arizona just had an off-day. Maybe.

[Dallas @ New Orleans]

  • (Watched final quarter, correct)

It’s a beautiful thing when you correctly pick a game you know could go either way. I decided to follow my heart instead of my brain and look where it got me: a correct pick. I’m so glad I’m focusing on this instead of college homework.

From what I saw of the final quarter, Dallas was being ultra-conservative with Brandon Weeden as the starter. And then when they needed to win, they drove down the field like it was nothing. Gee, maybe you should’ve been more aggressive from the start, huh?

Drew Brees played a near flawless night, which is starting to become a rarity now a days, even with a still-injured shoulder. I don’t remember a lot of deep passes, though. Probably because his shoulder was injured. At least they got some good runs in there.

The defense played as well as it could’ve, seeing as they lost about 400 players during the game. Sean Lee got injured (no surprise), Lance Dunbar got injured (and is out for the year), Randy Gregory got injured. Oprah’s handing out health insurance packages like she’s rich or something. Dallas is sinking slowly into mediocrity with all of these damn injuries. It’s unfortunate, too, because they’re a great team when they aren’t broken.

More of a moral victory for New Orleans, I don’t really see them becoming a threat to any degree. Atlanta and Carolina are clearly better than New Orleans, and the NFC has plenty of other good to okay teams that would cook New Orleans for dinner. As much as I’d like to see Drew Brees win twelve more games straight, it’s not likely with the lack of weapons on offense and inconsistent defense. Oh well. At least they beat Dallas.

[Detroit @ Seattle]

  • (Watched, correct)

Two things became incredibly apparent to me upon watching this game:

1. Matt Stafford is struggling with the deep pass. Twice Calvin Johnson was open deep down the field and twice Stafford either overthrew him or put it where he couldn’t reach it. Calvin Johnson’s stats are very ugly for someone of his caliber, but his quarterback isn’t giving him any help at all.

2. Seattle’s offensive line is made of fucking paper. I can’t remember a single play where Russell Wilson wasn’t running around like Ben Roethlisberger in his early days as Pittsburgh’s starter. They really, really, need to do something about that.

This game was just ugly all around. The weaknesses of both teams were made apparent during the game. By now, if you know football at all, you know that Seattle’s offensive line is really bad and Detroit’s offensive flexibility is really bad. Neither team can really run the ball, as Detroit’s offensive line isn’t great, either. Seattle has the benefit of Russell Wilson, who can scramble and make plays when he needs them. Stafford dumps the ball off two yards downfield and lets five defenders tackle the outlet receiver. Both teams’ offenses looked gross, with a few magical plays for Seattle.

Detroit’s defense kept the game close, though. After the second forced fumble and its return for a touchdown, I thought Detroit may have had a chance. Detroit may have put the game away had Calvin Johnson not lost the ball after Chancellor punched it out at the goal line. It was a sick end to what looks to be a sick season for Detroit. The worst part, they have the initials “WCF” embroidered in their uniforms, in honor of their late owner, William Clay Ford, Sr. A pity they’re playing so poorly.

A few shocking results, but nothing as bad as weeks prior. Week Four proved to be one of high drama and interesting new variables, with back-up quarterbacks starting, kickers performing badly, and winners continuing to show they deserve their undefeated status. With Week Five on the horizon, it should prove just as interesting, now that two new kickers will be entrenched in the starting role, and the Dolphins will be taking calls from a new head coach.

I can’t wait. Can you?

  • Week Four Pick ‘Em record: 10-5
  • Overall Pick ‘Em record: 39-24

NFL Pick ‘Ems (Week Four; 2015)

[New York (Jets) vs. Miami] (London game)

The first of a few London games means no team is necessarily “at home.” Both will probably face crowd noise. Both will probably go through the motions of having momentum from the audience. This will be a match-up of skill.

With the amount of talent Miami has on their team, there’s no reason they should be 1-2. New York had a bad outing against a better defense in Philadelphia. I would think that Miami’s defense would be just as good, but they haven’t shown it thus far this season, especially after last week, giving up over 40 points to Buffalo. At home.

Reports are speculating that head coach Joe Philbin may be fired if he gets blown out in London. If that’s the case, his players may be playing for Philbin’s job tomorrow. The question is, do they want him there? Juicy, juicy gossip, indeed. I like the stability of New York in this match-up, even if their team isn’t exactly as well-balanced as Miami should be.

Winner: New York

[New York (Giants) @ Buffalo]

New York beat a visiting Washington team last week, so they have reason to be optimistic against Buffalo, who went toe-to-toe with New England.

In all seriousness, I don’t think this game will even be close. Eli Manning has too few weapons and Buffalo’s defense has too many playmakers. I’d be surprised if New York scored more than 17 points. Tyrod Taylor may be new to starting, but he’s proved better than Kirk Cousins so far this season. LeSean McCoy is out this week, but Karlos Williams had a great game against Miami last week. I doubt New York’s defensive line is better than Miami’s. Logically, this isn’t even close. And Buffalo’s at home, too.

Winner: Buffalo

[Carolina @ Tampa Bay]

Carolina struggled a little last week against an awful New Orleans defense last week. Now they’re going up against an awful (but sometimes okay) Tampa Bay defense. Despite the close game with New Orleans, Cam Newton had debatably his best game of the season, and so did Greg Olsen. If they can keep up that chemistry, I think they’ll go through Tampa Bay just fine. Carolina’s defense should prove a problem for Tampa Bay’s offense.

Mike Evans will definitely help Jameis Winston, who used him effectively last week against Houston. What worries me is the offensive line, who has let Winston get sacked 7 times this season, which isn’t too bad, but Carolina’s defensive line now has Jared Allen in the place of Charles Johnson. Yeesh. Let’s just hope for their sake that Brindza can make some field goals this week.

Winner: Carolina

[Oakland @ Chicago]

If Jay Cutler plays this game, Chicago has a chance. If not, I don’t see Chicago winning. They’ve had the displeasure of facing three elite-ish teams in the first three weeks of the season. Now, they’re facing a team that seems to be emerging in quality, but still needs to prove it down the stretch. If Chicago plans to get the winning started, they need to start it with Oakland.

Trading Jared Allen and Jon Bostic, along with releasing Brock Vereen last week may be a sign of trouble with Chicago’s current situation. They’re planning for the future, knowing their current team can hardly be salvaged. This is just speculation, but can you blame them? In the meantime, Oakland is rolling and looks to improve to 3-1 for the first time in, man, I don’t even know. 1998? Oh, according to Reddit, it was 2001.

Derek Carr and Amari Cooper are looking to be the next Andy Dalton/A.J. Green. Not to mention Latavius Murray running well behind Oakland’s revamped offensive line. Oakland’s offense looks to be headed for a bright future. Their defense, however, still needs some improvement. But hey, they have time to fix it up. And Charles Woodson is the best 38 year-old defensive back in the NFL today. Fun fact: he’s the only one. You’ll get there next year, Terence Newman.

Winner: Oakland

[Kansas City @ Cincinnati]

I have a confession to make: I think Kansas City is in the same boat as Pittsburgh and Miami. It has a great team with a lot of good players, but bad coaching decisions prevent them from being any better than their current records (2-2, 1-2, 1-2). Andy Reid has shown me something I noticed in their Week Two game against Denver: he thinks he’s smarter than the opposing team’s defense. All sorts of trick plays and illusions of screens and fakes and blah blah blah. He’s a cute coach, or should I say, finesse. I think that’s his biggest drawback.

Kansas City’s defense is good. I know it’s good. Last week at Green Bay was an exception, because Aaron Rodgers is a god. However, it’s given up a lot of points due to miscues by the offense. Kansas City’s offensive line is a huge negative for Kansas City, which leads to misguided throws or fumbles, which leads to shorter fields for the opposing offense, which usually leads to points. It’s a deadly cycle, and it’s unfair on a really strong defense.

Cincinnati’s defensive line has come alive this season and they should find no problem getting to Alex Smith tomorrow. More of those pressures are going to lead to mistakes, mistakes Kansas City can’t afford to make. In the meantime, Cincinnati looks to be a near-elite team. But hey, Andy Dalton hasn’t played a primetime game yet!

Winner: Cincinnati

[Houston @ Atlanta]

Atlanta, while not as strong as most other 3-0 teams, has fought their way through some tough games and have earned their wins. Julio Jones isn’t a guaranteed active, but he’s likely to play regardless. If he does, hopefully his injury doesn’t slow him down, because he’s been the best wide receiver so far this season. Leonard Hankerson will not carry this offense on his back.

Their defense looked really bad in the first two quarters against Dallas last week, but didn’t allow a single point during the second half. Chalk it up as another “bend, but don’t break” performance for them, much like against New York and Philadelphia before. They’re looking like a good, solid team, but not great.

Houston, on the other hand, is slowly adjusting to starting Ryan Mallett. He got his first win as a starter this season last week against a self-imploding Tampa Bay team. Even so, he played very meh. I think Atlanta’s defense will give him more trouble in the secondary than their defensive line, but it should be a close game, as Houston’s defense is better than I think it is. Though, I trust Matty Ice more than Mallett Rice.

Winner: Atlanta

[Jacksonville @ Indianapolis]

Y’know, Jacksonville beat Miami a couple weeks ago…. Maybe they can beat Indianapolis?

Y’know what, I’m tired of shitting on Jacksonville. They’re a good team, damn it! And I believe in them! They’re gonna kick Indianapolis and their overrated ass! Suck with Luck! Posluszny can have my children!

Winner: Indianapolis

[Philadelphia @ Washington]

Washington is at home tomorrow against a Philadelphia team that seems to do better on the road for some reason. Philadelphia’s defense is also really, really good. It just has a disgustingly inconsistent offense with Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray. Ryan Mathews had a much improved performance last week than DeMarco did… any week. How many rushing yards does DeMarco Murray have on the season? 11? Right, got’cha.

Washington didn’t have a pass rush last week. That doesn’t fare well when Philadelphia’s offensive line is very weak, especially in the middle. If they can’t get any pressure on Bradford, they aren’t gonna win the game. DeAngelo Hall, debatably Washington’s best cornerback, also won’t be in this game, so that leaves little corner help for Washington. Ryan Kerrigan and company has to step up the pass rush if they want to throw Philadelphia off-balance. Oh, and Kirk Cousins has to flat-out play better. Philadelphia’s defense won’t be an easy ticket.

Winner: Philadelphia

[Cleveland @ San Diego]

Okay, Philip Rivers. You got this. You’re elite. Cleveland’s defense has been inconsistent this season AND you’re at home. You can’t fuck up this game. It’s Cleveland. And Josh McCown. Just stay calm and throw touchdowns. Keenan Allen has grown to be a reliable target. Use him. If not Woodcock.

Okay, Josh McCown. You got this. You had a good season once for Chicago some years ago. San Diego’s defense has been inconsistent this season AND you have cool hair. You can’t fuck up this game. Johnny Football is right behind you whispering voodoo curses upon your throwing arm so that he can play. Just stay calm and don’t throw interceptions. Your defense should do the rest. Rely on it. If not Travis Gabriel.

This should be a stupid game. I can smell it.

Winner: San Diego

[Minnesota @ Denver]

One of, if not the most interesting match-up this week. Ever since getting destroyed by San Francisco in Week One, Minnesota has been on fire. Teddy Bridgewater has done less and Adrian Peterson has done much, much more. Coincidence? Peyton Manning has effectively re-taken control of his team because that bully Gary Kubiak tried to make him take snaps from under center! He isn’t as good as he was last year (before St. Louis), but he’s still better than half the starters in the league.

Denver’s defense and Minnesota’s defense are both bruisers. They get a lot of sacks and hold the run. Their secondaries are pretty spiffy, too. The reason this game is so interesting is because they’re pretty evenly matched on paper. It’s hard to choose a team in this case. Though, you should never count out Peyton Manning in the regular season. Wait until the postseason to do that.

Then again, Adrian Peterson is still a monster, too. But will the offensive line be able to hold up Denver’s punishing defensive line? That may be the key to this game. I’m sticking with the home team in this case.

Winner: Denver

[Green Bay @ San Francisco]

Colin Kaepernick played really, really badly last week against a good defense. Now, he’s going up against a slightly worse defense in Green Bay. I’m not ready to give up on Kaepernick yet, but a bad game tomorrow may further his descent into back-up territory. Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers, whether he’s at home or on the road.

It’s funny, a lot of people are saying that San Francisco has a great chance at upsetting Green Bay, because they’ve done it a few times before. Uhhh. That was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. This is not the same San Francisco team that ran for 500 yards against Green Bay’s defense in the playoffs. I don’t think they have any chance, frankly. I don’t think it’ll even be close.

Winner: Green Bay

[St. Louis @ Arizona]

Uhhhhh.

Winner: Arizona

[Dallas @ New Orleans]

See now, if it wasn’t for Brandon Weeden and Joseph Randle putting on a no-show for the second half of last week’s game against Atlanta, I would’ve picked Dallas immediately, Drew Brees or no Drew Brees. That offensive line is way too good. It devours any defensive line and makes room for many, many rushes. But again, that was the first half of the game. Second half: nothing. Just stop after stop after stop.

But again, this was Atlanta’s defense. New Orleans’ defense is a little worse. And by that, I mean it’s a lot worse. It’s near shit. It’s pathetic. But its offense is okay… sometimes. It actually looked better with Luke McCown in at quarterback than Drew Brees! But hey, what do we know? One performance isn’t entirely telling.

This is hard, it really is. I don’t trust Brandon Weeden. I don’t trust New Orleans’ defense. My trust in Dallas’s offensive line is strong. My trust in Drew Brees is fading. There are so many variables in this match-up that virtually anything could happen. It’s tough. Do I go with my brain and pick Dallas? Or do I pick with my heart and choose New Orleans? Mrmm. Mrmmmmm. Mrmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Winner: New Orleans

[Detroit @ Seattle]

Seattle is a little fishy this season. They were beat by St. Louis in overtime in Week One. Then they were beat by Green Bay in Week Two. In Week Three, they destroyed Chicago. The difference? They were at home against Chicago. They were on the road against Green Bay and St. Louis. This only leads me to believe that Seattle is shit on the road and amazing at home. Like that’s a surprise to anyone who’s followed Seattle the last few years.

Detroit is even fishier. They’re 0-3, and were beaten by teams with records of 1-2, 2-1, and 3-0. They were at home last week against said 3-0 team: Denver. They have given up a good amount of points in each game and all games have similar qualities: Matt Stafford throws at least one interception, the running game was atrocious, and the offensive line allowed at least one sack per game, along with a few more QB pressures. This only leads me to believe that Detroit’s 2014 run was a fluke. But hey, it’s early. They have time to turn it around. They just won’t against Seattle at home.

To any fantasy football fans: I’d sit Matthew Stafford for this game.

Winner: Seattle

Quick Pick: Baltimore at Pittsburgh (Week Four; 2015)

I really like this match-up, because it has a lot of variables to it. More so than many match-ups this week. Pittsburgh is without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Baltimore is without a win this season. And Terrell Suggs. Baltimore and Pittsburgh games are usually defensive battles, but neither team’s defense looks quite as good as its offense. However, Pittsburgh’s offense is going to rely on Michael Vick at quarterback. Remember Michael Vick? I’m sure you do. If not for his sports accolades, then certainly for his off-the-field accolades. Everyone likes to remind me of it on every article concerning him. Over and over and over and over and over and—

I initially wanted to pick Baltimore for this game. They’re typically good at stealing wins from Pittsburgh and they aren’t starting Michael Vick at quarterback. Not to mention, Pittsburgh’s without Ryan Shazier, one of their best defensive players. However, with all the weapons that Michael Vick has to his arsenal, with the likes of Antonio Brown, Heath Miller, and Le’Veon Bell, on top of a solid offensive line, it’s hard to think they won’t score many points in this game. Michael Vick himself is a bit of a weapon with his speed. That could also be his weakness, too, as he tends to run it a little too much sometimes. Oh, and he fumbles quite often, too. I just don’t trust Michael Vick.

Baltimore would be the safe pick here, as they have a proven starter at quarterback who has a history of overcoming expectations, as Pittsburgh does not. In terms of defense, though, I feel Pittsburgh is the stronger case, even without Shazier. They’re toughest challenge will be quelling Steve Smith, who’s been hot lately. And Baltimore? I don’t even know what to make of their defense. It held up strong against Denver in Week One. Since then, 28 points or more each game.

Peyton proved me wrong two weeks ago. Let’s see if Mike can do the same.

Winner: Pittsburgh