We're back and it's Week 6, and now that the Giants have successfully ended half of America's suicide pools before Halloween and the Eagles have destroyed any remaining shred of confidence bettors may have had in Michael Vick and Andy Reid, we can begin to focus on teams like the Redskins, who somehow make even less sense than the Giants or Eagles.
So, "It's still early"--that's a cliche we hear on football shows from the first week of September until like, Thanksgiving, but if you look at the history, it's true in a completely tangible way. For instance, last year in Week 6, the Green Bay Packers were coming off a loss to the Redskins on the road, and then in Week 6, they lost at home to the Dolphins. And we know how their season turned out.
Or go back to 2009, when the Jets had lost two straight games, then got their hearts broken at home by a Bills team that came into the Meadowlands at 1-4. That same Jets team went on to win the wild card and made it to the AFC Championship game.
Likewise, the Patriots literally murdered the Titans in cold blood (59-0) that same week and looked like one of the most dominant teams in football. They wound up getting bounced from the playoffs in the first round.
In 2008, the Redskins were 4-1 and looking like a playoff team, playing an 0-4 Rams team at home in Week 6. The Rams won that game 19-17, and the Redskins only won four more games over the next two-and-a-half months. You get the point, though. When people say "It's still early", it's not just an empty cliche meant to keep you interested in losing teams.
There are teams that are good now who will look pretty average by year's end, there are teams that look terrible now that will look a lot better eight weeks from now. Think of it like seventh grade.
Remember seventh grade? A lot of seventh graders who seemed like coolest kids in school turned out to have, say, a drug problem. Or debilitating acne. Or they got real weird and super into the punk scene, and by 10th grade they were covered in tattoos that said things like "Death Army Police". I'm just sayin, sometimes people peak too early. With that in mind, let's highlight a few teams that could be misleading.
Better than they've looked...
- Carolina. They may be 1-4, but they've been within striking distance in every loss, and at some point, close losses are going to turn into close wins. So... YES THEY CAM (eventually).
- New York Jets. They've lost three straight games to fall to 2-3, but those were three straight games (Raiders, Ravens, Patriots) against good teams on the road. Are they a bad team, or just not quite good enough to dominate teams on the road? I'm leaning toward the latter. And the Jets schedule finishes with @DEN, BUF, @WSH, KC, @PHI, NYG, @MIA. Could they win 5 out of 6 and sneak into the playoffs? I say yes.
Oakland. 3-2 isn't exactly going to set the world on fire, but their only two losses were on the road at Buffalo and at home to the Patriots. Meanwhile, they've beaten two playoff-caliber teams (Jets, Texans), and have an offense with more firepower than anyone in the AFC West.
Not as good as they've looked...
San Francisco. 4-1, and they could've been 5-0 if not for some heroics from Tony Romo in Week 2. However... Their Week 1 win at home vs. the Seahawks was a lot closer than the score, the Eagles could not have self-destructed more dramatically in Week 4 (24-23), and let's not forget their suckfest with the Bengals in Week 3 (13-8). Mainly, do we really think Alex Smith has a 11-5 or 10-6 season in him?
New York Giants. You know how the Jets finish with a pretty easy slate? Well the Giants finish with PHI, @NO, GB, @DAL, WSH, @NYJ, and then Dallas at home. It won't end well. (This is almost unfair, really, because the Giants have looked pretty terrible to anyone that's actually watched their games this year.)
- San Diego. The Chargers four wins have come against the Vikings, Chiefs, Broncos, and Dolphins. Combined record: 4-15. San Diego's not bad, but they're not necessarily better than a team like Oakland.
Anyway, enough pretending to know what I'm talking about here. To the picks!
We went 7-6 last week. Whatever. That's like a 40-degree day. Ain't nobody got nothin to say about a 40-degree day, so let's just move on and hit some quick picks. As usual, all picks in BOLD.
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh (-13.5) ... James Harrison is the meanest player in the NFL according to a poll Sports Illustrated gave to 287 NFL players. Rest assured, whatever he's saying to Tavares Jackson up there, it's some of the most horrible, inhumane trash talk in NFL history.
Related: Football is so awesome.
St. Louis at Green Bay (-15.5) ... Poor St. Louis. They had two weeks to lick their wounds and get ready for a comeback, and they run right into a motherf***ing freight train.
San Francisco at Detroit (-4) ... But yes, I still stand by my prediction that Ndamukong Suh will break Aaron Rodgers' clavicle on Thanksgiving Day, sending the NFC hierarchy into pure anarchy.
Buffalo at New York Giants (-3) ... This game's perfect! I've gotten burned betting against the Bills all year long, and after last week's Seahawks game, I'm never betting on the Giants again!
(Note: This all but guarantees the Giants win in a blowout.)
Philadelphia at Washington (PK) ... It's been almost a year since Michael Vick came into Washington and went all video game mode on everyone. Watch the highlights here, but really, the most incredible part is how shameless the announcers are about worshiping Vick.
"Never seen anything like this... Ever!"
"It's like a man with boys when he gets outside that pocket."
"I don't know how you stop this guy."
"What else you wanna see Vick do tonight?"
"I gotta get me his autograph... This guy is on fire."
If you throw out the records of these two teams, has anything really changed?
Indianapolis at Cincinnati (-8) ... Okay so Jim Caldwell and Marvin Lewis walk into a bar... Marvin Lewis accidentally sets the bar on fire while playing with a matchbook. Jim Caldwell stands frozen in the corner, mesmerized by the video poker machine. Marvin Lewis tries to put out the fire with vodka, the fire spreads across the room. Jim Caldwell stands frozen in the corner. Marvin Lewis bolts the doors shut, thinking that a lack of oxygen will extinguish the flames. Nobody in the bar can leave. Everyone is burning alive. Jim Caldwell is frozen in the corner, still entranced by the demo hands of video poker. Marvin Lewis finds a fire extinguisher, but breaks the nozzle before he can use it. Everyone dies, but somehow, Marvin Lewis and Jim Caldwell show up on the sidelines the following week.
Carolina at Atlanta (-3.5) ... In a Matt Ryan-Cam Newton trade, who says no first?
Atlanta has to pause for a second, right?
Cleveland at Oakland (-7.5) ... This would be a classic game for the Raiders to blow, so here's to hoping they don't make me look like an idiot. AL'S WATCHING, YOU GUYS.
Houston at Baltimore (-8.5) ... Baltimore's my early favorite to win the AFC, but the Texans are too good to be getting 8.5 points on the road. Right? It just... It's really scary to bet on Kubiak-coached team.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay (+4.5) ... RULE OF THUMB: Any time the Saints, Packers, or Patriots are favored by less than a touchdown, just bet them and don't think twice. You'll win more than you lose.
Dallas at New England (-7) ... It's probably a bad sign that the word "Romocoaster" has become a thing people say without irony on ESPN this year. And yet... I've got a good feeling.
Minnesota at Chicago (-2.5) ... Eh. Let's just talk about Boardwalk Empire. Because it's getting pretty out of control, you guys. For one thing, Nucky's new Irish enforcer has all kinds of potential. Especially given the brewing coup in the first few episodes, I kept wondering why Nucky hadn't started cracking some heads. Now? Time to start cracking some heads.
Also: really, really like the way Margaret's playing things lately. She's got some serious swagger these days, and watching her take command and save Nucky's ass made her about five times as attractive. And hey, CHALKY WHITE gets outta jail this week. Gonna be great.
Miami at New York Jets (-8) ... Monday Night Football is dead. But Bocephus isn't!