I need to begin this week's picks piece with a disclaimer: I've been having bad Qi
this week and there's just been something off
between me and The Everything. For instance, when I was making my picks on Wednesday night as I do each week, I couldn't for the life of me find an upset in this week's slate of games worthy of being a Dandy. When that happens it raises a major red flag for me, because I know there's always one out there, and if I can't find it... it means my whole slate of picks are off.
(I've since found it, but because it was the game that my resource for football research didn't publish the game preview of until it was after my bedtime, I didn't make the upset pick in my picks pool, which I'm highly sour about!)
Furthermore, I'd been so high on the hog this week with unadulterated Vikings excitement that I actually had the audacity to pick the Vikes to go into Lambeau and beat the Packers, even with the possibility that Teddy B wasn't going to play!
He didn't, by the way. And Christian Ponder isn't so much a bridge over troubled waters, as he is a riddle as to why the waters became troubled in the first place.
Anyhoo, here's my Best-of-5 picks for the week. Be warned, though – I haven't been myself this week.
(I've been the ghost of Bing Crosby, surfing on an elongated, aerodynamically-slim toaster oven through ladies' department stores while feverishly sketching abstract drawings from the images of the dreams that Abraham Lincoln had before he went to the play.)
Chicago @ Carolina
The Carolina Panthers were my darlings of the NFL in this weekly column last year and by Week 10 or so, I was boldly predicting a trip to the Super Bowl for them. They came close, but finally ran out of mojo in the Divisional round of the playoffs with a 23–10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, who were then the defending NFC champions.
But something has been off
with the Panthers this year. Their mighty defense that ranked second against the run last year is 27th against it this year. They're even worse at rushing the ball, themselves, at 29th in the league.
so far this season, Chicago has won a game in San Francisco for the first time since 1985, lost their home opener for the first time since the cows came home, and while they haven't won a home game to date (0-2), they are undefeated on the road (2-0).
It's been a Bizarro World year for the Bears, and for now I'm just going to roll with it. Seeing as though they are on the road this week...
Cincinnati @ New England
New England isn't any good anymore. Cincinnati is the new hotness; they're one of the last two undefeated teams in the NFL; and they are coming off their bye week.
While I worry that there's something off
in my reasoning about this game, the pick remains the same.
Cleveland @ Tennessee
Every game that the Cleveland Browns have played this year has been decided by a time-expiring field goal. What a thrilling football team!
But the last-second, 50/50 nature of their games makes them a virtually impossible team to predict. As such, this game was my hardest and last game to pick of the week. Further as such, as I have done every week so far this season with my hardest and last game to pick of the week... I consulted my newfound Magic Almanac of Football Answers
And what the book told me was this:
The FBJ Upset Dandy of the Week: Rams OVER Eagles
In Week 1, the Eagles gave up 266 passing
yards and a pair of touchdowns to the freakishly hapless Jaguars. In Week 2, they gave up a buck-69 rushing
yards to the Colts, while keeping Andrew Luck in check through the air. In Week 3, they gave up 427 passing
yards to the Redskins. And then in Week 4, they gave up 218 rushing
yards to the 49ers.
The trend would suggest that this week is their turn to suffer on pass defense.
the Rams are ranked 9th in total offense (which is shocking to me) and their 3rd string quarterback, Austin Davis (who this week was named as their starter for the rest of the season), dialed up 327 passing yards and a trifecta of touchdowns against the Cowboys two weeks ago in the most recent game the Rams have played. Which is to say, they had their bye last week and have had two weeks to prepare for this game.
And if you're like me, you've never heard of Austin Davis before in your life until just now. Ergo, the Eagles probably don't know all that much about him, either.
I'm telling you people – this is a red-hot smoking Upset Dandy, right here.
The FBJ Absolute Slam-dunk, 10-Out-of-10-Times, Pig’s-in-The-Poke Guarantee: Saints OVER Buccaneers
First of all, the Pittsburgh Steelers are dead to me.
In last week's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they (Pitt) forced the ball over on downs from the Bucs with 1:53 left in the game (UNDER TWO MINUTES TO GO) and they were holding a 4-point lead. What ensued is that not only could they not muster one measly first down, but in the process of failing to do that, they couldn't even run the clock down even though the “2-minute warning” stoppage of time had already come to pass! And then their punter goes out there and he shanks that bad boy for a pathetic 29-yard punt.
The rest is history; the previously winless Bucs won with a touchdown as time ran out; etc., etc.
And with that Pittsburgh loss, I lost my last entry in a Survivor pool in which the pot for the winner was $18,000 human earth cash dollars. Heading into the week, there were only 300 people left out of the 900 that began in the pool.
My last Survivor shot at cash now resides in my picks pool, and the pot for that is a paltry $100 (which I desperately want on account of my desperate poverty, mind you).
I'm pinning my last Survivor hopes on the Saints this week.
There is NO WAY that:
A) The desperate, pre-season Super Bowl favorite (1-3) New Orleans Saints lose at home (where they never lose) to the (1-3) Tampa Bay Bucs, who unlike the Saints, feel happy to have just gotten a win (that they had no business of getting).
B) The Tampa Bay Buccaneers win two games in a row, both on the road against heavily-favored opponents, and in the process of doing so, eliminate me from both of my two Survivor pools in two consecutive weeks.
Photos via: Joe Bielawa
-- Mike Morbeck
-- Nathan Rupert
-- Erik Drost -- Mr. Schultz -- Football Schedule