It's Week 5 in the NFL, and after a month of pro football in 2011, there's plenty left to be answered, starting Sunday. For now, though, we hold the following truths to be self-evident.
- The Green Bay Packers are the most explosive team in football.
- Peyton Manning deserved way more MVPs than we ever gave him.
- Ed Reed's the most ball hawkish ball hawk in the history of ball hawking.
- Tony Romo is just screwin' with everyone at this point.
- Nobody on earth can stop Calvin Johnson.
Oh, and Wes Welker. We have to say something about Wes Welker. Just look at him compared to Calvin Johnson, who just finished putting together the most impressive month we've seen from a receiver in years. The New York Times had a quick piece comparing the two:
Welker has 40 catches and 616 receiving yards. Not only does he lead the league in both categories, but they’re also the highest marks after any team’s first four games in N.F.L. history. Johnson has scored two touchdowns in every game. His eight receiving touchdowns are the most by any player after four games, and he just became the second player to record four consecutive games with multiple touchdown grabs (tying Cris Carter, 1995).
So... Yep, Welker's stats are every bit as ridiculous as Megatron's.
But see, everything Calvin Johnson's doing makes perfect sense. He's 6'5, 240 pounds, and runs a 4.35 in the 40. He should be setting records and giving us outrageous highlights. He's a linebacker playing receiver that runs like a cornerback and jumps like a shooting guard.
Meanwhile, Wes Welker is basically Dustin Pedroia playing wide receiver. And week after week, he's out there putting up 200 yards, catching 3 TDs, making a mockery of the NFL. It makes no sense. Basically, I just wanna know if anyone else is this disturbed by what Welker's doing on a weekly basis. He shouldn't be good, but we're getting close to where we all have to admit he's one of the most dominant offensive players in football.
Is this all part of a massive conspiracy to promote gritty white athletes in Boston?
AMERICA NEEDS ANSWERS.
The Sports Shouting Story Of The Week
Ah, yes... For a refresher on the Sports Shouting Story of the Week, please see last week's picks. This week? Our runaway winner is Hank Williams Jr! Not only did he get himself kicked off ESPN for comparing Barack Obama to Hitler, but his launched a week-long referendum on the fate of a 30-second music video, and literally, in this segment on Outside The Lines Thursday, there was about 8 minutes of uninterrupted shouting. God Bless America, and God Bless Bomani Jones.
Onto the picks for this week... We went 9-7 last week--after a reader e-mailed to ask whether I was on crack, 9-7 felt like a victory--and still hovering safely above our stated goal of .500 for the season.
All picks in BOLD.
Tennessee at Pittsburgh (-3) ... Ben Roethlisberger left Sunday's game on crutches AND in a walking boot, and apparently he's all set to start on Sunday. Cortisone is a hell of a drug, man.
Seattle at New York Giants (-11) ... Tavaris Jackson playing well for two weeks in a row and Seattle showing up in an east coast road game? Or Eli Manning and the Giants covering a double-digit spread? Picking this game is like choosing which drunk driver you want taking you home.
Arizona at Minnesota (-1.5) ... Larry Fitzgerald and Adrian Peterson should start a support group for battered superstars. Stay strong, guys. Learn to love yourself. It's not your fault!
Cincinnati at Jacksonville (-1) ... The Bengals are better than people realize, but since that's really all that can be said about this game, here are two quick, interesting reads from this week. The first is on the kickoff rule, and how it's actually made kick returns more exciting. And the second is on the NFL's breast cancer month. Is it one big marketing gimmick?
Kansas City at Indianapolis (-1) ... A book of Peyton Manning's Texts From Last Night would be the saddest thing in the history of Urban Outfitters. Via ESPN Magazine:
while in the past he typically responded to text messages quickly, his replies lately have been tardy and terse. ...If friends ask him how he's doing: "Good." If they wish him well: "Thanks." Some of his friends' messages remain unanswered; others don't bother texting at all, presuming that a mere note at such a touchy time might add to the four-time MVP's stress.
Oakland at Houston (-5.5) ... No idea what this means, but it sounds profound.
#Indeed. And bonus points for making fun of Drake a few hours later.
Even when Drake's trying to sound tough, he somehow comes out a loser.
New Orleans at Carolina (+7) ... Going with the Panthers because this year, especially given the continued lack of respect they get from Vegas, you'll probably make more money betting on Carolina every week than trying to guess which game they'll self-destruct.
We talked on Tuesday about Cam Newton's nickname, and here are a few suggestions:
- Panthro (via Ethan Rothstein)
- Black Jesus (via @chrisbruyere)
- Killa Cam
- Big Fig (via @RoochNation)
- Black Panther
- The World's Most Expensive Fig Newton
- or, forever his nickname in SEC circles, $CAM (via 50 different people on Facebook).
Personally, I'm not sure. Reader Greg Wissinger pointed out that "Cam" is itself a great nickname, and he's right. That's probably too perfect to be ever be topped.
But "Panthro" is pretty fantastic as a Superhero-type name, and it'd also be pretty great to have an athlete we could call "Moneybags". Unfortunately "Black Panther" probably sends the wrong message. This isn't over, though. For now, it's too early to make a definitive call except to agree that whenever Cam Newton does something incredible, it's "Camtastic."
(And what did we learn? Coming up with nicknames is harder than it sounds.)
Tampa Bay at San Francisco (-1.5) ... GET READY FOR GAME MANAGEMENT.
Philadelphia at Buffalo (+1.5) ... Even at 1-3, playing the Eagles is still kinda terrifying. And even at 3-1, it's still hard to be that terrified of the Bills. The Bills are good, but especially after a week of America pointing and laughing at them, the Eagles are due to snap on somebody.
New York Jets at New England (-10.5) ... Welker didn't have 100 yards in any of his three games against the Jets last year, so I'm sure a lot of analysts will say the Jets have him figured. 'Course, the one game he played against New York in 2009, he had 15 catches for 192 yards, and since we all know Wes Welker's the devil, he's due for like, 250 yards this week.
Also: The Jets looked awful Sunday, but 10.5 points seems like A LOT here.
San Diego at Denver (+3.5) ... Just sayin, the Chargers looked very beatable against Miami and Kansas City the past two weeks, and Miami and Kansas City are two of the worst five teams in football. Plus, Norv Turner's due to blow a game he has no business losing.
Green Bay at Atlanta (+7) ... This week I went back and added up the stats from Aaron Rodgers' last 8 games, going back to last year's playoffs. The numbers: 193-273, 70.7% completion rate, 2,419, 21 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. Either Aaron Rodgers is riding one of the greatest hot streaks in NFL history, or he's just really this good, and we should get used to this for the next 5-7 years. God help the Falcons secondary that made Tavaris Jackson look good this past weekend.
Chicago at Detroit (-4.5) ... Ah, the jinx. Why, Sports Illustrated. WHY???? If Calvin Johnson gets hurt this week, I'm going to murder someone.
OVERALL RECORD: 34-28-1