Okay, so these conversations are usually stupid but I swear there's a point here. Imagine if basketball didn't exist and LeBron James played football instead. He's 6'8, 260 pounds, and fast--and that's without training for football--so it's fair to say that he could've play wide receiver, tight end, linebacker, safety, or even offensive tackle.
Even now, you can't convince me that LeBron wouldn't be the best tight end in the NFL if he left the NBA and trained for an entire summer. But if he'd played his whole life? LeBron could have been a Hall of Famer at five different positions. Unlike anybody the NFL's ever seen. And it would SUCK.
I realized this last weekend watching the Lions-Vikings game. On one side you had Calvin Johnson, who might be the most outrageously athletic wide receiver we've ever seen, and then on the other side, Adrian Peterson, an absolute monster of a human being. And even though everyone knows they're great--and they're two of the highest paid players in the league--it's not like NFL fans watch these guys and realize they're watching two of the most incredible athletes sports have ever seen.
For instance, what Adrian Peterson's doing this year is completely out of control. As Kevin Seiffert explains at ESPN:
Less than 10 months after his injury, Peterson leads the NFL in both yardage (775) and yards per game (96.9) while ranking second in offensive touches (174). He has run with power, leading the league with 479 yards after first contact while forcing a league-high 28 missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. And he has been explosive, ripping off a league-high eight runs of at least 20 yards and breaking away for a 64-yard touchdown scamper last Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But even if everyone acknowledges how incredible he's been, it's not like it matters. He's still playing on a mediocre team, the constant beating that he takes every week will force him into retirement sometime in his early 30s, and he's going to spend the rest of his career playing with Christian Ponder.
Ditto for Calvin Johnson, who's been battling nagging injuries all year and finds himself stuck with Matt Stafford and a lifetime of triple coverage in Detroit. Both of these guys are every bit as mind-blowing as LeBron, but instead of worshiping guys like AD and Megatron, the average NFL fan is more likely to talk about how much the Vikings suck and bitch about Megatron letting his fantasy team down. And if LeBron played football, he'd be the greatest tight end in the history of the world, but he'd probably be stuck on the Bengals for 10 years while injuries slowly turned him into a shell of his former self and forced him into early retirement. Just because, that's how the NFL works.
Instead, LeBron blows our mind three times a week for seven months a year, he'll probably play 20 years in the NBA and win four or five titles, three gold medals, and he'll go down in history as one of the greatest athletes we've seen. This while Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson are stars for another three or four years, retire too early, and mostly get lost to history except for the weekend they get inducted into the Hall of Fame.
So yeah, football is the ultimate TEAM GAME where NEXT MAN UP is all that matters, but all that means is that it probably deserves to be played by 22 random Under Armour models. If any eighth grader reading this happens to be one the most amazing athletes of this generation, do everyone a favor: Play basketball. Or soccer, if you're not tall enough. Either one will lead to lifetime of adulation and fortune and ultimately, immortality. For the greatest NFL stars of this generation, thanks to franchise tags and parity, football will just lead to a lifetime of sore joints and bitching about Matt Stafford and Christian Ponder.
Anyway, to this week's games... All picks in BOLD.
Eagles at Redskins (-3.5) ... One counterpoint to the argument above: Allen Iverson. Now that he's burned all his NBA bridges, it would be AWESOME to see him in the NFL.
And the Eagles do need a quarterback for the rest of the season.
(HT: @Marcel_Mutoni for reminding us of that video)
Packers (-3.5) at Lions ... The Petraeus scandal has been amazing for 600 different reasons, but this New York Times teaser will live forever with me.
That's like some local news shit right there. In the New York Times! Please, tell us more about what the editor of Military.com thinks! This scandal has been the best. You can read the full "General groupies" story here, but for the record: It is SHAMEFUL that nobody at the New York Times contacted the editors of BallerStatus.com to tell us more about groupie psychology, in general. And you wonder why journalism's on life support...
Cardinals (+9.5) at Falcons ... Also: The internet is just the best.
Bucs at Panthers (+1.5) ... The Bucs offense has been pretty incredible lately, and everyone's young enough so that there's really no limit to what they could do over the next few years. Alas, they are coached by Greg Schiano, and I refuse to admit that Greg Schiano will have any real success. He has to be a complete disaster, right? Please? Fingers crossed.
Browns at Cowboys (-8) ... Speaking of coaches doomed to failure, Jason Garrett! Gameplanning for Jason Garrett and Tony Romo must be so much fun. Did you know that the Cowboys have a formation where they pass 100 percent of the time? Of course they do (HT Ray Gustini):
... the Cowboys have lined up in Gun Trips Left/Right 52 times this year, and they’ve dropped back to pass the ball from the formation 52 times—as in every play. Looking back on previous analysis, this has been a trend of Jason Garrett’s for years. Actually, the Cowboys have run 232 plays from Gun Trips since 2009, and 231 of them (99.6 percent) have been passes. The run came on a 3rd and 18 in 2009.
No, I don't actually know what this means, but it can't be good!
Jets (+3.5) at Rams ... This is one of those weeks where everyone's laughing at the Jets for being the worst team in the NFL, and then they remind everyone that they aren't THAT bad. And then next week they'll look like the worst team in the NFL. Again.
Jaguars at Texans (-15) ... From Rembert Browne at Grantland, here's a great look inside the Red Zone Channel. Read it, but just know that Scott Hanson appears no less human in person than on television. The man is an absolute machine.
Saints (-4.5) at Raiders ... From Gizmodo: "New photos have appeared in Google Maps showing unidentified titanic structures in the middle of the Chinese desert. The first one is an intricate network of what appears to be huge metallic stripes. Is this a military experiment?" There's your semi-regular reminder that China's going to take over the world within the next 20 years or so. Enjoy the Red Zone Channel while it lasts!
Bengals at Chiefs (+3.5) ... The Chiefs are due, right? They're not quite bad enough to win one game all year, even though that's what Scott Pioli deserves.
Colts (+9) at Patriots ... This weekend seems like as good a time as any for the entire world to find out that Andrew Luck is terrifying and even without any real weapons on the Colts, he's good enough to make them competitive in every game.
Chargers at Broncos (-7.5) ...
Unfortunately this play isn't on YouTube so we can't embed it here, but let me assure you, it was magical. You can see the slow motion replay at the 1:50 mark of these highlights. Needless to say, we are not picking the Philip Rivers-led Chargers ever again this season, and maybe beyond. I'd rather be wrong every week than dumb enough to believe in Philip Rivers.
Ravens (-3.5) at Steelers ... This line swung a full seven points when the Ben Roethlisberger injury news broke, and that's probably giving Byron Leftwich a little too much credit. By the way, you just know the Big Ben "POSSIBLE DEATH" injury is setting us up for the GUTTIEST Big Ben performance yet. Not this week, but soon. There will be sideline reports about the three flak jackets he's wearing and the eight pregame shots of cortisone he takes, and it will be the GUTTIEST 8-22 140-yard performance we've seen in years. Big Ben is just a football player. It's what the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE is all about.
Bears at 49ers (-5) ... Meanwhile, I kinda hope Jay Cutler sits out the next month to nurse his concussion just to piss Mike Florio off. With that offensive line, why not?
Also: The Bears are currently 7-2, but look at Chicago's next five games:
- at 49ers
- at Vikings
For a team that looked like a shoo-in for first round bye as recently as last Friday, things could get pretty interesting if they lose this week and then fumble away that first Vikings game. So I guess this means Cutler should come back, after all. Or maybe it means Cutler resting for a month would be even better than we imagine?
Should we be worried about the Chicago Bears?
LAST WEEK: 6-7