Impressions from Week Ten of the 2015 NFL Season

Oh, my God! I have so many more options to play with now that I updated my blog! I should’ve done this years ago! I look forward to the future.

My ramblings aside, allow me to ramble a bit about Week Ten. I won’t say much, as I pushed this off far too long to give a detailed review without killing my sleep schedule, but allow me to get in a few key points from the week. One such example is this picture:

nfl upsets 2

This is a screenshot from NFLPickWatch.com. It shows the favorites to win each game in a given week as deduced by “NFL experts'” picks. You see all of those underlined teams? Those are the teams that were favored to win, some more than others, but lost. All but 3 teams favored to win lost. And teams favored to win by an overwhelming margin (90% or more) were 3-5. To say this was the most bizarre week of upsets so far would be an understatement. It also shows with how bad of a week everyone had with picks.

The best record this week with picks came from 2 people: Merill Hoge and Bart Scott. They finished 8-6. Everyone else was 7-7 or worse. Just a weird, weird week.

But I’ll get to the heart of the matter by highlighting key games.

[Jacksonville @ Baltimore]

An officiating error allowed Jacksonville to run a final play, which led to Elvis Dumervil’s facemask penalty, which led to the game-winning field goal. Now, while this in itself is bad, also note that Baltimore had plenty of chances to put Jacksonville out of reach. Joe Flacco was having a great game up until the second half when he started churning turnovers like RG3 in 2013.

Should’a, would’a, could’a.

[Chicago @ St. Louis]

This is the first time I’ve actually seen St. Louis play a game on TV. One thing became very apparent to me: Nick Foles is awful (at least in this game). Many times he overthrew his receivers or simply wasn’t in the same timezone. Perhaps it’s the play-calling or the receivers not getting open—wait, that’s not it because he missed a lot of open ones! The way he performed this game, I questioned whether St. Louis could win another game.

Jeff Fisher must’ve felt the same way, because he benched him for Case Keenum following the game. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Also relevant: Chicago is a fairly good team. They’d have a winning record right now had they closed the game against Detroit at Ford Field.

[Detroit @ Green Bay]

Dear Lord. What is happening to Green Bay?

Aaron Rodgers is playing scared. The offensive line is crumbling. The running game is fragile. The receivers can’t step up. Where is Randall Cobb?! Wasn’t he a Pro Bowl player last year? Shouldn’t he be more, I don’t know, something? Things are just not right in that organization. They need to fix it, and soon.

After all, they lost to a very bad Detroit team. At home. Who played almost as badly as Green Bay did. Yuck.

[Miami @ Philadelphia]

Aaaaand cue the media thinking Philadelphia’s shit again. I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t go as far as to call them “shit,” just horribly inconsistent. The team scored 16 points in the first quarter and a half, I believe, and then did nothing on offense until near the end of the game. Then Bradford got hurt and Mark Sanchez did what he did best and helped no one win anything. A good game defensively for Philadelphia, as that is consistent, but the offense just isn’t clicking this year.

Miami? Good moral victory. Not much more to it than that. They aren’t going anywhere this season. Not that I can tell, anyway.

[Minnesota @ Oakland]

Thinking people may have underestimated Minnesota’s defense a bit, huh? They certainly aren’t now. Minnesota’s consistently been one of the better teams in the NFC. Ever since getting their ass kicked in PRIMETIME in Week One to San Francisco, Minnesota has been 7-1, with their only loss coming from a close bout with Denver on their turf. To say their season has been impressive so far is an understatement. They aren’t being looked down upon now.

A bad loss for Oakland, but they’re still an up and coming team. It seems like the hype surrounding this team prevents them from any discouragement, as they know they’ll be better with time. Who knows, though?

[Kansas City @ Denver]

Well. Don’t I look stupid for being so overconfident in Denver? Peyton Manning, once again, seems to be conveniently “injured” and playing anyway. This only furthers the argument of whether or not a starter should be playing hurt as opposed to a healthy back-up. Either way, Osweiller didn’t look all that great, either. Give him some slack, though. Not many people would’ve expected Manning to be benched on a record-setting day.

But man, what a win for Kansas City. Their defense is s-t-o-u-t. I’m really impressed. This’ll be quite a test for any offense to go up against. Now if only their offense could do a little more….

[Arizona @ Seattle]

It didn’t happen the way I thought it would, but Seattle imploded after a second sack strip from Carson Palmer gave them their first lead of the night. This defense, man. Seattle really misses Dan Quinn right now. And if I may, Carson Palmer = best quarterback in the NFC West. Then again, he doesn’t have much competition.

Lots of good vibes with this Arizona team. Their defense can be shaky at times, especially with the pass rush, but are overall solid with a very capable offense. This is a very dangerous team that can go places, granted everyone can stay healthy. Could this be another magical 2008 run? Time will tell.

[Houston @ Cincinnati]

Perhaps the biggest upset of the week (or even the season). Cincinnati’s offense played like complete shit. Andy Dalton had a poor night. Tyler Eifert had a poor night. Jeremy Hill had (another) poor night. Hue Jackson had a poor night. The offense was frustrated with the lack of efficiency and it festered over into a self-implosion. I don’t blame them; it was ugly to watch. Their defense however? Thumbs up, guys. Great game. You kept your offense in there until the very end.

What can I say? A good moral victory for Houston. Maybe they can boost their confidence heading into the coming weeks, but I don’t see them taking the division. Their defense looked good last night, but Dalton and his receivers were playing like piss, so I’m not sure if I can take their performance all too kindly. How about T.J. Yates, though? He did enough to win. He’s now 2 1/2-0 (didn’t start this game) against Cincinnati in his career. He’s a kitty killer.

All in all, a bad week for picks, but a hilariously confusing number of outcomes decided by bad calls and inefficiency by teams’ offenses. No one knows how the NFL works. Not even the NFL knows how the NFL works. The number of upsets this week is a testament to that. Almost like the games were fixed, but no one believes that, right?

  • Week Ten Pick ‘Em record: 5-9
  • Overall Pick ‘Em record: 89-57

NFL Pick ‘Ems (Week Ten; 2015)

(I am really pushing it off this week.)

[Jacksonville @ Baltimore]

Part of me, the part that likes Jacksonville as lovable losers, wants to pick Jacksonville to upset Baltimore on the road. When considering it, Jacksonville actually has the offensive pieces to get it done, too. Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson are both on pace for 1,000 yard seasons and double digit touchdown receptions. Blake Bortles has also thrown more touchdowns this season than most others. However, a lot of those were in garbage time, unfortunately.

Baltimore, on the other hand, is bad. They aren’t as bad as Jacksonville, but they’re bad enough to let them hang around. Seeing as this is being played at home, Baltimore has more of an advantage, as they typically play better at home. Not much indecision here.

Winner: Baltimore

[Cleveland @ Pittsburgh]

Interesting match-up. Both teams are starting their back-up quarterbacks, as their regular starters have fallen to injury (Pittsburgh is technically playing its 3rd stringer). Both teams have been sporadic this season, but the one factor to consider is that one team is 5-4 and the other is 2-7. Guess which record belongs to Cleveland.

Cleveland’s defense has been, well, fairly non-existent for a while. Joe Haden and Donte Whitner have been gone for what seems like the whole season and receivers are taking advantage of a thin Cleveland secondary. Speaking of receivers, Pittsburgh has a lot of them; good ones. Antonio Brown, Heath Miller, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton. Cleveland has… Gary Barnidge. Pittsburgh has the advantage on both sides of the ball. Quarterback edge? It’s up in the air.

Winner: Pittsburgh

[Carolina @ Tennessee]

Carolina just beat Green Bay last week. I don’t think facing Tennessee, despite their impressive win over New Orleans last week, will be anything of a struggle.

Winner: Carolina

[Chicago @ St. Louis]

Chicago may be underrated, but St. Louis isn’t exactly San Diego. This will certainly be a test of Chicago’s will.

With all the pass rushers on St. Louis’s defensive line (excluding the injured Chris Long), I don’t think Chicago’s going to have a lot of success protecting Jay Cutler. I expect sacks galore for St. Louis, unless Chicago tries to beat the defense with quick passes and gain a lead early on. Eddie Royal’s still out, leaving only Jeffery and Forte (who are both questionable) as Chicago’s only viable receiving threats. I feel confident that their defense can stop a futile St. Louis passing offense. I can’t say the same for Todd Gurley.

St. Louis, I feel, is better on both sides of the ball. Todd Gurley is a bulldozer and will likely ease through Chicago’s inexperienced defense. If that doesn’t work, St. Louis’s defense will simply have Cutler sit on the ball, leaving their pass rush to do its job. I don’t like Chicago’s chances, but it’s not completely one-sided.

Winner: St. Louis

[Dallas @ Tampa Bay]

Very intriguing match-up here.

Dallas hasn’t won since Tony Romo got hurt. They came close against Philadelphia last week. Tampa Bay’s defense isn’t Philadelphia’s. Dallas’s defense isn’t bad, either. Tampa Bay has had issues on the offense lately, though Jameis Winston has been good about not turning the ball over. They look like a better team than they were at the beginning of the year. Who do you root for? A team with question marks everywhere or a team with Matt Cassel under center?

To be fair, Cassel played near great against Philadelphia, whose defense is fairly stout (normally). Dez Bryant seems to be getting healthier every game. It’s starting to become enough of a factor to rely on with Dallas’s once snail-pace offense. Not to mention, their offensive line is still among the best in the league.

Initially, I wanted to pick Tampa Bay, because I think they may be close to getting over the hump, combined with the fact that Dallas is completely lost without Romo. However, I think this is the week that Dallas finally wins. It’s against Tampa Bay; Tampa Bay on the road, but nevertheless.

Winner: Dallas

[Detroit @ Green Bay]

Detroit is primed for an upset because they fired their general manager and Green Bay lost to two of the best teams in the NFL!

Winner: Green Bay

[Miami @ Philadelphia]

This would’ve been interesting immediately following Miami’s dismantling of Houston, but ever since then, they’ve looked lost against Buffalo and New England. This is their third straight road game against a better (Buffalo?) defense. Two straight weeks of putting up less than 20 points and giving up 30? Yeah. Things aren’t looking as good for Miami since Dan Campbell’s Duke Nukem type of entrance. Philadelphia shouldn’t have much trouble here.

Winner: Philadelphia

[New Orleans @ Washington]

Mrmm. Mrmmmmm. Washington’s kinda bad, but they aren’t that bad. New Orleans lost to Tennessee last week. On their own turf. And they’re on the road this week. New Orleans isn’t the same on the road. I… I almost smell an upset here. Do I take it?

Well, let’s think about it. Kirk Cousins came up with a 100 point comeback against Tampa Bay at home. New Orleans’ defense is awful. Washington’s defense is meh, but certainly something that Brees can handle. Mrmm. New Orleans’ offensive line is shoddy. Washington’s is good against pass rushers, but blows against the run. Mrmmm. Is… Is Washington really the better team here? The better choice?

Fuck it, I’m going with it. Washington will win. I hope.

Winner: Washington

[Minnesota @ Oakland]

I really, really wish I could watch this game. I’m too poor for Sunday Ticket. Ho-hum.

This is by far my favorite match-up this week. Oakland is a rising offensive powerhouse and Minnesota is an established defensive fort. I relish the thought of these two teams going at it. It should provide for great entertainment.

Despite the Minnesota defense, I expect this to be a high-scoring game. Oakland (especially at home) is near dominant on offense. They have so many weapons and Derek Carr is playing like he sucked up all of Peyton Manning’s talent. Latavius Murray (when not hurt) is also a good both running and catching the ball. Like a poor man’s Matt Forte, except more explosive.

The only thing that worries me is Oakland’s defense. Minnesota doesn’t have too much on offense to throw it to, but they do have debatably the best running back in the league, who is currently leading the league in rushing yards. I expect Peterson to have a great game, so long as Bridgewater looks stout throwing the ball.

Am I expecting too much from Oakland’s offense? Maybe. Am I expecting too little from Minnesota’s defense? Maybe. All I know is that Oakland’s defense won’t likely save their offense from any blunders, so they need to play perfect.

Winner: Oakland

[Kansas City @ Denver]

Yeah.

Winner: Denver

[New England @ New York]

Another match-up I’d like to see. New York has won the last 3 games against New England, including two Super Bowl match-ups (how many times have you heard that this week?) Eli Manning has been playing well as of late, but Tom Brady’s been playing better. New York’s defense has been good, but New England’s has been better. Odell Beckham Jr’s still the best receiver in the history of ever (according to media hype), but Julian Edelman’s debatably had a more consistent season.

Yeah. In all fairness, I’m sure New York will make the game close, seeing as this rivalry seems to have some weird mojo for New York having the advantage, but New England’s 8-0. They’re playing like they expect another championship. I don’t expect that to show any less against New York.

Plus, you never bet against New England. They showed me that in Week One.

Winner: New England

[Arizona @ Seattle]

Another interesting match-up. An NFC West battle that has gone either way in years past. When Carson Palmer’s starting, Arizona has a chance. They were the only team to beat Seattle at home in 2013. They could do it again here.

The only thing that worries me is Arizona’s losing record. They’ve lost twice thus far. To who? St. Louis and Pittsburgh. Two teams with moderate defenses. Seattle’s defense at home? Well, it’s fairly good. It’s the only thing that stands in the way of a comfortable pick of Arizona winning here. I feel if Arizona wins here, they can show that they’re legitimate. If Seattle wins here, they can show that they’re still in the playoff race. The only thing for Seattle is, can they win consistently with that atrocious offensive line?

Not to mention, Jimmy Graham, as inconsistent as he’s been this season, is Seattle’s only big threat. They have other contributors like Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, but that’s pretty much it. Marshawn Lynch’s been hurt and struggling (offensive line) and Russell Wilson is having a lukewarm year statistically (offensive line). They need a lot of help if they want to block Calais Campbell and co.

It’s hard to pick either team, but I feel more comfortable with Arizona here. Seattle has been inconsistent and I just can’t get past their offensive line inefficiencies. It’s hard to swallow how bad of a condition they’ve let it get to.

Winner: Arizona

[Houston @ Cincinnati]

I would post a gif showing how overconfident I am in Cincinnati, but PRIMETIME. Regardless….

Winner: Cincinnati

Quick Pick: Buffalo at New York (Jets) (Week Ten; 2015)

Buffalo had a huge victory over Miami last week. However, I feel that Miami is starting to lose the thunder they once had against AFC South teams after they got trampled by New England. Not to say it wasn’t an impressive victory, but most predicted it (I didn’t).

Both of these teams are interesting defensively. They used to be powerhouses. Buffalo had an elite defensive unit last year, while New York had an elite defensive unit up until the Oakland game a few weeks ago. Now, these two defenses look a little straddled; like they aren’t tapping into their full potential. I feel these two defenses are almost at equal standings in this match-up, with the edge leaning slightly to New York, as they’ve given up less points than Buffalo.

Thus, I’d have to go by the offensive side of the ball, where New York has more talent on their side of the ball. Willie Colon was put on Injured Reserve, which is a huge blow to their offensive line, but they haven’t given up many sacks this year. If only they could allow Chris Ivory some room to run, though. He hasn’t played well the last few weeks. They got FitzMagic. They got Brandon Marshall. They got Eric Decker. Hell, if Ivory doesn’t run well, FitzMagic could run himself. He just needs to not kill himself doing so.

I’m sure Rex Ryan’s plan of action will be to run the ball, run the ball, and then run the ball some more. He’s got the firepower to do it. Tyrod Taylor’s a great athlete. LeSean McCoy is a great athlete. Karlos Williams has shown to be a reliable back. New York’s front four needs to play stout against Buffalo’s running game. Sammy Watkins also plans to test the waters of Revis Island. Not much aside from him, though. Robert Woods, maybe?

New York is also playing at home. I gotta say, they’re looking like the better choice here. And who am I to bet against FitzMagic? He just needs to stay in the game. Stay in the game and win it. I expect about 10 sacks tonight.

And the Color Rush uniforms look bad. That is all.

Winner: New York