NFL Week 8 Picks

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Greetings, mortal. Welcome to a super spooky Halloween edition of the Brian’s Den NFL Picks. If you dare to enter, who knows what kind of horrors await around every turn. What’s that? You’re a big tough guy who’s not afraid of nuthin? Watching the Dolphins offense doesn’t give you nightmares? Ha Ha Ha Ha. Fool. There’s plenty more blood, guts, and horrible quarterback play in here waiting for you. We’ll see just how firm your resolve really is. You think you’ve got this whole NFL Betting thing all figured out? You think you’ve finally cracked the code? Well, once you gaze upon the forbidden knowledge I’ve acquired over the millennia, I think you’ll change your tune. Just remember- I warned you about the the dangers you’re about to face. Don’t blame me when you’re reduced to a crying puddle, begging for your mother to save you. Apologies in advance for all the bad puns and jokes you’re about to read.

Minnesota Vikings (-10) vs Cleveland Browns

It’s nighttime in old London Town and the fog is thick tonight. You just left your job at the textiles factory and are trying to get home as fast as possible. After all, as an attractive young lady, you know the dangers of being alone at night, particularly a night like tonight. You’re not sure how, but you can feel someone watching you. Maybe it’s just the fog playing tricks on you. Maybe it’s your overactive imagination. Papa was always saying women shouldn’t think too much, after all. But just to be safe, you turn around. No one in sight, but you swore you could hear footsteps. You pick up the pace a little bit. Wouldn’t hurt to get some exercise, regardless of what Papa says about how ladies shouldn’t exert themselves too much. You don’t get to move about too much at the factory. You’re positive you hear footsteps, now. You glance over your shoulder, still nothing. You start looking desperately for a taxi, but the fog is so thick it’s impossible to see. This is a small street, too, you realize. Very out of the way. And not in your normal route home, either. How did you wind up here? You start to panic. Your heart rate is through the roof. Then you feel it. Someone is right behind you. You turn and are greeted by a man in a brown trench coat and brown hat. He reaches into his coat and looks at you. You gasp. It’s Hue Jackson! “Please,” he says,” take my resume. I’m good with QBs.” He hands you the paper he took out of his coat. Against your better judgement, you look down on the cursed document. That’s where your memories end.

Pick: Vikings -10

Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots (-7.5)

Phil Rivers woke up in a cold sweat. The same dream again, he thought to himself. This time it felt too real. He got out of bed and walked to the bathroom quietly. Don’t want to wake the wife and kids. Looking in the mirror, he almost doesn’t recognize himself. He looks like a man who hasn’t slept in days. He’s got dark circles under his eyes, his skin is sallow, and his stubble is thicker than he likes. I can’t wait for this week to be over, he thinks. Maybe these damn nightmares will stop. He turns the faucet on and splashes some cold water on his face. When he looks up, he sees someone in the mirror that wasn’t there before. Turning slowly, the realization dawns on him as he sees the pile of Unreal Candy and Himalayan pink salt at the specter’s feet. “Hello, Phil,” Tom Brady says. “You ready for Sunday?” All Phil can do is scream.

Pick: Pats -7.5

San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles (-13)

Not many people know what happened that night at the Wentz Church in the heart of South Philly. Witnesses say a large group of men dressed in all red and gold entered just before midnight, only they never came out. Reports of screams and horrifying sounds until around 3 am. But, when a concerned citizen entered the church early in the morning, she found nothing wrong. No bodies, no weapons, not a pew out of place. The only noteworthy thing was a message on the wall, written in blood: “We should have won by a lot more,” it said, “but they dominated the coaching matchup so badly that we only won by 10.”

Pick: 49ers +13

Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints (-9)

You never know what you’ll find if you get lost in New Orleans. Just ask Mitch Trubisky. After an evening of enjoying everything the French Quarter has to offer, he tried to stumble his way back to his hotel room. He started hearing whispers. Though impaired, he could have sworn he heard someone call his name. Sobering rapidly, he foolishly decided to follow the voices. Down one street, up another. The buildings were getting older, darker. Finally, he found himself in front of an old shack at the end of an alley. Skulls hung above the door and bones lines the walkway. The rickety door opened slowly, seemingly on its own accord. Mitch decided he had come too far to walk away now. He entered, and saw shelves full of odd trinkets and body parts and books in languages he couldn’t read. “Welcome Mitch,” a voice said. An elderly Creole woman was eyeing him ravenously. “I hear you want to be completing more passes every Sunday. I think I can help with that. Just take this football and you’ll become a star!” She was holding an ancient looking football, maybe one of the first ever produced. “All I need to do is take this ball and I’ll be able to complete more than four passes a game?” “That’s right, child,” she said, chuckling. “Just take it and bring it with you everywhere.” He hesitated. Mom always told him not to trust strangers. But all he had to do was take this ball and he’d become an NFL-level quarterback? What does he have to lose? “Alright,” he said, reaching out and grabbing the smooth leather. He felt a small shock, but though nothing of it. “What do I owe you?” “Oh, child,” she said, “you’ve already given me all I want.” She started laughing hysterically and Mitch took it as his cue to leave. After a few steps down the alley, he thought he might want a picture of this place so he could return. Maybe this woman could give him good receivers, too. But when he turned around, it was gone. All that remained was an overflowing dumpster. Looking at the football in his hand, Mitch Trubisky wondered if he had just made a huge mistake.

Pick: Saints -9

Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals (-10.5)

Imagine the plot of Pet Sematary only instead of cats the undead animals are tigers and redheads. That’s the horror that awaits the Colts.

Pick: Colts +10.5

Atlanta Falcons (-6) at New York Jets

“Pull over, honey” Matt Ryan’s wife said. “We’re clearly lost. You need to ask someone for directions.” They had been driving aimlessly for hours, now, but Ryan was trying desperately to avoid stopping. It was true, they were lost, but he still had a decent idea of where they were. “Matt!” his wife said forcefully. He knew he had no choice. They were approaching a small gas station on the side of the road. Ryan pulled in. Wary of the fact that this was seemingly isolated from anything resembling a town, he walked inside. The man at the desk was wearing a dirty, green flannel shirt with the sleeves cutoff and a well-worn knit hat. “Hey, man” Ryan said, “we’re kind of lost. What’s the best way back to the highway?” “You just follow this road and take a right,” the man said, staring at him through horn-rimed glasses. His perfectly coiffed mustache moved with every word. “Just be careful, now. This here’s AFC East country.” “S-sure, thanks.” Matt was rattled. He was afraid of this. He scrambled out of the building, but saw a small child standing in front of his car. “Mr.Ryan, why did you lose at home to the Bills?” “I-I don’t know kid, it just kind of happen-” “Why did you blow a 17 point lead to the Dolphins?” a second boy asked, appearing out of nowhere. “I-I don’t….I don’t-” “Mr. Ryan,” another boy wearing a hooded sweatshirt said, “why did you blow a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl and then completely quit against the same team when you had the chance for revenge?” “I don’t…I-I-” He fell to his knees. More children kept appearing, asking him how his team could be so bad. He covered his ears with his hands, praying for it to stop. The door to the gas station opened, and the man came out, now holding a machete. “Like I said, this here’s AFC East country, and we don’t take kindly to your kind around here.”

Pick: Jets +6

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Bucs (-1.5)

Oakland Raiders at Buffalo Bills (-3)

I’m not sure I can really explain to anyone who wasn’t there how real the threat of ghost pirates were during the Summer of ’87. People along the coastline grew accustomed to them and knew how to avoid them. Whenever there was a heavy fog on the water and a chill in the air, everyone knew the ghost pirates were about to land. Tampa was hit hardest. The ghostly ship would appear on the horizon and dozens of phantom pirates would cross the water to come terrorize the town. They’d break windows, steal all the alcohol, and harass all the Hooters Girls. It was terrible. I’m not sure why, but one day they stopped coming. No one heard from them for decades. But then, out of nowhere, that same ship appeared on the banks of Lake Erie. They started raiding chicken wing joints and possessing Bills fans, compelling them to jump through tables and light things on fire. I’m not sure if anyone knows how to stop them. I’m not sure if anyone wants to stop them, to be honest.

Picks: Panther +1.5, Raiders +3

Houston Texans at Seattle Seahawks (-5.5)

Imagine, if you will, you’re a Seattle native. You’re holding on to the grunge phase all these years later just waiting for it to come back, all of your passions are ironic, you’ve loved the Seahawks since they first came into the league in 2012, the whole deal. You wake up one morning and find that, much to your surprise, your coffee cupboard, usually stocked to the brim with artisanal roasts and locally sourced small-batch grounds, is totally bare! You can’t start your day without coffee, so you go to your favorite coffee shop. “Can I have my usual,” you ask River, the barista you’ve known for years. “Sorry, man,” he says, “we’re fresh out of coffee. Huge rush this morning. We should get another delivery soon if you want to wait.” “No thanks,” you say. “I need my coffee now.” You go to the place next door. It’s not as good, but you can stomach it. “Sorry, bro,” the barista says, “we’re all out of coffee.” What is going on, you wonder. This is Seattle! Surely someone has coffee. But no one does. You try the place next door, then the place next door, then the place next door, then the place next door, then the place next door. Everyone is out of coffee. You’re fully awake, now, but it’s a matter of pride at this point. Where is all the coffee? You’ve seemingly tried every coffee shop in the city, and no one has any beans. Since you’re a Seattle hipster, you don’t consider Starbucks to be coffee, so that’s out of the question. Are you going to have to skip a day of work just to find some coffee? “Wow, you smell really nice,” a random person says as they walk by. “Thanks, I guess,” you say, confused. You didn’t put any cologne or anything on this morning. Must be my natural musk, you think. “Mmm, love that smell,” another person says. Then you notice it- the unmistakeable smell of coffee. Finally, you think. At least someone has coffee in this town. Only, you walked to the only place in Seattle that doesn’t have a coffee shop in sight. But where is the smell coming from? Then you remember people have been complimenting you on your smell. You look down and gasp. Your Seahawks number 12 jersey is now made of coffee grounds! High quality ones, too. The only way to get coffee and prove you’re from Seattle is by brewing your 12th Man jersey, which you own to show people you’re from Seattle! What a cruel twist of fate. What would you do in this impossible situation?

Pick: Seahawks -5.5

Dallas Cowboys (-2) at Washington Redskins

“You sure this is a good spot?” you ask. “Of course it is, partner,” Stinky Pete said. Stinky Pete, the most famous outlaw in the five-county area and your boss, had just broken ground on his new HQ, to be built with the wood from the forest they had spent the last few weeks cutting down. You weren’t so sure, though. Something about this place seemed off. When Stinky Pete dug his ceremonial golden shovel into the dirt, he exposed a pile of bones. Odd, erie totems were placed all over the edge of the clearing, each topped with the skull of a different animal. And, ever since they had decided to use this location, crazy things had been happening to their crew. A tree fell unexpectedly, killing three men. A freak lightning storm caused a forest fire, killing another five. Even though animals seemed to instinctively avoid this place, bears and cougars have attacked multiple times. It’s seemed to you like a cursed venture at this point, but you’re not in charge. Stinky Pete is, and he’s determined to see it through. “Uhh, hey boss,” Ralph says, crouched over. Ralph is Stinky Pete’s right hand man. “I think we might have an issue.” “What is it this time Ralph?” Stinky Pete asks. “I think this might be an Indian Burial Ground.” He held up a human skull he had pulled from the ground. Then he pulled up a battered Redskins helmet. “First of all, don’t call them injuns, Ralph,” Stink Pete said. “Have some respect. They’re called Redskins. And this ain’t no burial ground, no more, this is Stinky Pete’s future HQ!” There was a flash of lightning, and, suddenly, the ghost of Kirk Cousins materialized behind Ralph. He grabbed his head and yanked it back, breaking his neck. “You like that?” the ghostly voice asked. “You like that?” More and more ghosts were appearing. You could see Colt Brennan, Heath Shuler, Mark Brunnell, Jason Campbell, and Rex Grossman among others. “What do we do, boss?” you ask. But Stinky Pete is gone without a trace. As is everyone else in the crew. It’s just you against hundreds of Redskin ghosts. All of a sudden you’re starting to regret jumping on the Cowboys bandwagon in the ’90s.

Pick: Redskins +2

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) at Detroit Lions

You had thought it was strange when he told you to meet him at the abandoned car factory. It wasn’t the strangest place you had ever gone for a date, but you kept an open mind. You knew he was eccentric, maybe he was some artist that used the old car parts to make statues. That would have been cool, you thought. Too bad that’s not what happened. Almost as soon as you stepped foot in the old factory, you felt a needle go into your neck. Now, you were strapped to a cold, metal table surrounded by car parts and bits of metal. Who knows how much time had passed. “You know,” he said, noticing you were awake, “people like to say the Industrial Revolution is over. We have all this technology now, what’s the point of manual labor and metal work? Well, I like to think I’m keeping it alive.” He had a welding mask on and a torch in hand. Standing over you, he had a deranged look in his eye. “I’ve always wanted a metal girlfriend,” he said. “Hopefully you’re the one.” He flipped the mask down and held a steel beam against you arm. “Just warning you,” his muffled voice said, “this is going to hurt.”

Pick: Steelers -3

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5)

The thought of watching another Broncos primetime game is scary enough, honestly.

Pick: Chiefs -7.5

Bonus College Picks

  • Tulane at Memphis Over 63
  • Oklahoma State at West Virginia +7
  • Georgia -14 vs Florida
  • Penn State +6 at Ohio State
  • TCU at Iowa State -6.5
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Should General Sherman Have Just Burned Atlanta to the Ground and Saved Its People from Heartbreak?

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The Pats beat the Falcons last night. They didn’t just beat them, really. They totally dominated them physically and mentally. It was one of the most pathetic displays I’ve ever seen. Obviously, this was a big time matchup: Sunday Night Football, rematch of one of the most memorable Super Bowls ever, can the Falcons get revenge?, all that. I was really hoping the Falcons would go up big early just to see how they’d handle it. There was never a scenario where the Pats would ever lose to the Falcons, but still. I was curious to what they’d do if they found themselves in the same situation they were in in February. Instead, they completely folded at the first sign of adversity. The fog hadn’t even rolled in yet and they had already quit. It was sad, really. Here was a supposed juggernaut, a titan of offense last season, totally reduced to rubble. All because their offensive coordinator left? Really? The Pats killed them in the Super Bowl, and they just exorcised their ghost last night. Matt Ryan stinks now. Julio Jones is saying the Pats caused the fog in a desperate attempt to not take any responsibility for their horrible season. It’s one thing to blow a gigantic lead against the Patriots then be so scared when they saw those helmets again they completely shit themselves, but to lose at home to the Bills and Dolphins? Yikes. Some idiots out there will probably still take them seriously as a contender, but they could be up 77-0 and I’d still assume they were about to lose. I’d honestly rather be a Browns fan because at least I know what to expect.

Anyway, seeing the Falcons get murdered yet again had me wondering if the good people of Georgia would have been better off if General Sherman just level Atlanta during the Civil War. As you surely know, General Tecumseh Sherman captured Atlanta then drove to the sea, destroying Confederate supply lines, settlements, industry, and just generally causing chaos along the way. If he had just razed Atlanta right then and there, wouldn’t it have been better for everyone? Like what does Atlanta even have? They obviously have no spirit left thanks to the Pats. Coke and Chick-fil-a? Is that it? I’m pretty sure the visionaries behind those two institutions could have flourished anywhere. They literally have one (1) major championship, so not losing much there. Don’t know what I’d do without all those Hawks highlights. I’m willing to bet Hank Aaron, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Dominique Wilkins, and Julio Jones would be Hall of Famers in other cities, too. Not only are all their teams terrible, but they don’t even have a ton of memorable losses like other tortured cities. Sure, the Super Bowl is the worst loss of all time, but every other big loss is just kind of a loss. Read this. Did you recognize any of those? When you think of terrible, crushing losses, do any of those come to mind? Not really. Which means their teams are bad and forgettably so, which is the worst spot to be. The only real loss would be the Atlanta music scene, which, in all seriousness, would be a huge blow to The Culture (gonna be honest, I’m very white so I’m sure my thoughts on The Culture are really valued by everyone). But you’re telling me Outkast, T.I., Future, Young Thug, Gucci Mane, Ludacris, Migos, and countless others only are who they are because of Atlanta? Please. They’d be great regardless of where they were from.

I know it sounds harsh saying a major metropolitan area should have been destroyed in the 1800s, but I’m only looking out for the people. How much more can they take? How many more losses, how many more terrible performances? I know I would have tapped out a long time ago. Having one of the biggest cities in America be a den of losers is a bad look for everyone. It wouldn’t surprise me if the government stepped in and did something soon.

Week 7 NFL Picks

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Apologies to anyone riding Chiefs -3. The refs did all they could, but even they couldn’t stop the inexorable death march. It wasn’t exactly a crushing defeat, since I think everyone on earth saw it coming when the Chiefs didn’t score on their last two drives in the fourth quarter, but still. Maybe if the Chiefs caught some of the thousand deflected passes at the goal line and didn’t take timeouts to bail out the scrambling Raiders they could have hung on, but whatever. Maybe if Alex “Jeff George” Smith didn’t clam up at the end and kept going deep against the worst secondary ever things might have been different. No, I didn’t have the Chiefs, why do you ask. As I’ve said before, my picks are trash on Thursday, but they’re cash money on Sunday and Monday. Luckily for you, Thursday already happened. Lines from Bovada.

New Orleans Saints (-4.5) at Green Bay Packers

I find myself overthinking these scenarios almost every time. Aaron Rodgers is out. Brett Hundley looked something less than good in relief last week. Saints have been playing better defense lately, insofar as they’ve actually fielded eleven NFL defensive players, and their pass rush has been hot. Packers o-line is banged up. This is the most obvious game ever. But I just can’t shake this feeling in my gut. It’s in Lambeau. Saints were trying really hard to blow a 45 point lead against the Lions. The NFL is stupid. I fully expect the Packers to win. Which makes me want to go against my instincts because it’s so obviously wrong. But then I get so sure of the Saints that will cover that I flip flop again. It’s an inescapable vortex of indecision that will somehow spit out a correct pick. Or an incorrect one.

Pick: Packers +4.5

Carolina Panthers (-3) at Chicago Bears

Bears have covered every single home game. That’s a fact. No one switches from hot to cold to hot quite as quickly or extremely like the Panthers, and they got embarrassed by the Eagles last Thursday. You don’t come into Soldier Field on at noon on a Sunday (I can figure out timezones, NBD) and get an easy win if you’re struggling. Not with Trubisky under center.

Pick: Bears +3

Baltimore Ravens at Minnesota Vikings (-5.5)

Did you know the Vikings would have a bye if the playoffs started today? I bet you didn’t. That’s what happens when such a dynamic playmaker is leading the offense. Case Keenum refuses to be contained, putting up adequate numbers every week proving the h8trz wrong. Ravens are just terrible, which makes me very happy. The Color Purple is wasted on them.

Pick: Vikings -5.5

Jacksonville Jaguars (-3.5) at Indianapolis Colts

The fact that this the Jags are only a 3.5 point favorite smells like the biggest mousetrap in history. I flat out refuse to take the cheese.

Pick: Colts +3.5

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-3)

AFC East. Catch the fever!

Pick: *closes eyes and jumps* Jets +3

Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams (-3.5)

You know what they say, “never trust a West Coast team coming east for a 1 o’clock start.” But what if they’re playing another West Coast team going east for a 1 o’clock start? And what if they’re going so far east they left the country? And what if they’re not playing at 9:30 am or in Wembley? Will a rugby stadium add some toughness to both teams? Or make everyone play scared lest they get hurt and get shamed by the rugby crowd? Why does the NFL think anyone overseas cares? Is Adrian Peterson Back or was last week just a final stand, double barrel middle finger to the Saints? Will Carson Palmer survive this encounter with Aaron Donald? Is there any end to the questions, or is this Cardinals-Rams game the kind of provocative, interesting game that will keep the national discussion going nonstop? I’m going to assume no on that one.

Pick: Rams -3.5

Tennessee Titans (-6) at Cleveland Browns

Wednesday night I went to the Celtics home opener against the Bucks. When I got the tickets, I thought it’d be awesome to be there the first time the new-look Celtics took the Parquet Floor. It didn’t go according to plan. And they lost. Anyway, on the way home from Boston I have to (I don’t really have to, but it’s the fastest way) take the same highway I took at the back half of my drive from my home in Vermont to UConn back when I had some optimism in my future when I was a student. As I approached the exit, I figured what the hell why not go through campus again, maybe get some food from one of my old haunts. So I did. It was a mistake. The huge, multi-million dollar plaza they started building my senior year was done, and it not only looked amazing but also had a ton of stuff I would have liked to have when I was around. Coupled with the countless happy young people who would sniff my old ass out in a second if I ever tried to party with them and it made me pretty depressed. I was low, so I needed something I could rely on. I stopped at my favorite place on campus, Wally’s Chicken Coop. I not only got lunch, but I took some home for dinner, too. It was a short-lived moment of bliss, eating a chicken-nugget-based diet once again. But then this morning, my body reminded me I was no longer in college and probably shouldn’t eat like that anymore. I was on campus for at most 20 minutes and it made me more depressed and downtrodden than anything I’ve done since I graduated. Don’t know if it’s possible to be lower. Oh, wait, yes I do. I could be a Browns fan!

Pick: Titans -6

Tampa Bay Bucs at Buffalo Bills

Do they just not make lines for Bucs games anymore? Do they really think Jameis isn’t going to play? He literally said he’s playing. Whatever, I probably wouldn’t have taken them, anyway. I’m not standing in front of the pre-week 9 Bills train.

Pick: Bills -whatever

Dallas Cowboys (-6) at San Francisco 49ers

Niners are allergic to doing anything but lose in heartbreaking fashion. Ezekiel Elliot is allergic to getting suspended. Something has to give.

Pick: 49ers +6

Seattle Seahawks (-5) at New York Giants

Don’t let the Giants get hot! Seriously, though, please don’t let the Giants get hot.

Pick: Seahawks -5

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5)

It’s gotten lost in the monsoon of Dalton jokes, but the Bengals have won two straight and have allowed the second fewest points in the AFC. Bengals D is legit and is going to keep this game close. They won’t win. The Bengals have a mental block that prevents them from A) beating the Steelers and B) winning a game that starts after 1pm, but they won’t get blown out.

Pick: Bengals +5

Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots (-3.5)

The spread for this should really be Pats -1000. Falcons lost to the Bills. Falcons blew a 17 point lead and lost to the Dolphins. They can’t beat the AFC East. And now they’re facing the boogeyman that gave them their crippling fear of holding on to big leads? In the belly of the beast? Falcons could be up 56-0 at the half and I’d still be positive the Pats were covering. The Falcons are the softest team I’ve ever seen. Atlanta is the softest city I’ve ever seen. The Patriots own Atlanta. Tom Brady owns Atlanta. I own Atlanta. There’s a better chance of Boo 2! winning the Oscar for Best Picture than the Falcons doing anything other than puking and pooping all over themselves the second the Pats come out of the tunnel.

Pick: Pats -3.5

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5)

Been way too long since there’s been an NFC East division game on national TV, feels good. Eagles have the best point differential in the NFC, and third highest in the league (behind only the Chiefs and…..Jaguars???). Their offense has been smashing people left and right. But the Skins D has been better than a lot of people (me) thought coming into the season, and they have the offensive firepower to hang with the Birds if they go off. This might end up being a fight to the death, and the Eagles may have to forcibly rip every blade of grass they gain from the Redskins’ hands. Or the Eagles will just roll again, but we’re talking about Philly, here.

Pick Redskins +4.5

Bonus College Picks

  • Louisville at Florida State Over 59
  • Maryland at Wisconsin -24.5
  • Oklahoma State -7 at Texas
  • Purdue -9.5 at Rutgers
  • Oregon at UCLA Over 67

2017-18 NBA Western Conference Preview

Eastern Conference

Just gonna jump right into the West after using all of my preamble capacity introducing the East. This is going to be considerably less bleak, since the West has more than four good teams.

122px-golden_state_warriors_logo-svgGolden State Warriors– I know I’ve become known for coming with some strong, unpopular takes, but I think this one might take the cake: the Warriors are the best team in the league.

Over/Under 67.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Signing the legend Nick Young

Burning Question: Is my Twitter account real, or am I just another Kevin Durant burner account?

Bold Prediction: I think it’d be bolder to say they won’t win the title

 

280px-houston_rockets-svgHouston Rockets– What would happen if you took a clone of Steve Nash and put him on the 2005 Suns, giving them two Steve Nashes to run the Mike D’Antoni system? We’re about to find out! The Rockets made major waves in the offseason by trading the majority of their bench for Chris Paul, who plays the same role in an offense as James Harden, who just had his second second-place MVP finish in three years. Bold strategy, but it might pay off. Even though at this stage in their careers Harden is the better player, Paul certainly has more point guard bona fides, and will likely handle most of the ball handling duty, lest Harden wants to deal with a CP3 temper tantrum on a nightly basis. Moving off the ball might put Harden back in his OKC mindset, where he was just a heat-check scorer-playmaker that would take over games in the fourth. If Harden just becomes a catch-and-shoot, slashing, quick-decision-and-not-just-dribbling-the-ball-for-23-seconds-before-shooting scoring two guard, he might lead the league in scoring. Regardless, I give it 3 weeks before Chris Paul is screaming at Harden during games.

Over/Under 54.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Trading for Chris Paul

Burning Question: Will Chris Paul be invited to the club after they lose second round?

Bold Prediction: They’ll set a record for most 3s attempted in a season by the All Star break

 

385px-san_antonio_spurs-svgSan Antonio Spurs– At this point, I think people respect Popovich and the system more than the actual team. Yes, Kawhi Leonard is a basketball cyborg that seemingly doesn’t have any kind of built-in ceiling, but the rest of the roster is kind of meh. Manu and Tony Parker are on their last legs’ last legs. LaMarcus Aldridge became bad sometime last season, and Pau doesn’t offer much besides smart passing and a skilled shooting touch anymore. Then the role players are just that- a bunch of role players that aren’t particularly different from anyone else’s. Leonard is the only outlier on this roster, but the coaching is so good and the players have such great chemistry and continuity that they’ll still bludgeon weaker, unorganized teams and keep it close against the giants of the West. But I don’t know if there’s enough here to go over-the-top. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m assuming this Spurs team has a very post-Brady-but-not-post-Belichick Patriots feel to it.

Over/Under 53.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Signing Rudy Gay

Burning Question: Did Tim Duncan give all of his Old Navy chique wardrobe to Kawhi when he retired?

Bold Prediction: They’ll sit their starters in a TNT game at some point and get the player rest convo going again

 

247px-oklahoma_city_thunder-svgOklahoma City Thunder– I’m pretty sure these win totals might have come out before the Carmelo Anthony trade, because this feels low for them. In one of the greatest displays of general managing/blackmail in NBA history, the Thunder turned all of their bad bench players into Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Not sure if they were holding Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard’s family hostage or something, but picking on the inept Knicks like that should result in some kind of penalty. It’s just not fair for everyone else in the league.

The thought process behind all these moves and the hype surrounding them is pretty simple. Last year, Russell Westbrook was literally the only person on the team, and now he’s got two proven, explosive scorers flanking him. The organization and media will point to the huge extension Westbrook just signed and say “this is because the team showed him they were committed to winning,” but, in reality, Westbrook had no choice whatsoever after the display of pettiness and hatred he showed towards Kevin Durant after he left. The Thunder could have drafted me and said I was playing 40 minutes a game and Westbrook would have signed with a smile on his face (even if he’s dying inside). My biggest concern for this team is can they put the toothpaste back in the tube? They unleashed and unshackled Westbrook last season, allowing him to do anything he wanted on the court whenever he wanted. He shot at will and completely dominated the ball out of necessity, but can he turn it down a little? We all know Melo doesn’t like sharing the spotlight, so I can’t imagine he’ll be super happy if he becomes a higher paid version of Anthony Morrow. Paul George will likely be the de facto backup point guard, but giving him 8 minutes a game when Westbrook is on the bench to spread his wings doesn’t sound like the way to keep him from leaving after this year. I just think Westbrook is going to be Westbrook, shoot the ball a billion times a game including everything even resembling a “clutch” shot, alienate his fancy new teammates by being so intense and never giving them the ball, then play the same woe-is-me, I’m-so-tough-and-loyal-for-sticking-around-unlike-those-pussies-that-skipped-town card that he’s used non-stop since KD left. They also have no bench.

Over/Under 52.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Getting PG and Melo

Burning Question: If you really think about it, what’s the point of any of these West teams trying, anyway?

Bold Prediction: At some point in mid-March, Melo’s feet will fully fuse with the court as he stands in the corner all game

 

269px-minnesota_timberwolves_logo-svgMinnesota Timberwolves– The Wolves are kind of the West version of the Sixers, in that they’re a popular pick to take a big step forward and everyone desperately wants them to be good. And, like with the Sixers, I’m not really all the way in, but at the least the T’Wolves have at least one player who’s proven that he can both play 82 games and play actual defense in all of them in new addition Jimmy Butler. Everyone knows (I just kind of assume everyone remembers every take I’ve ever had) I didn’t want the Celtics to give up everything to get Butler, but that’s mostly because he would have been the Celtics primary option on offense. He won’t be, here. Karl-Anthony Towns could legitimately be the best offensive player in the NBA, and it’s going to seem awfully nonsensical in a couple years that he didn’t make an All-Star team or All NBA team his first two years after he reels of 10 straight. There’s literally nothing he can’t do on the court that the laws of physics and his own massive body prevent him from doing (except playing defense). I don’t even know how he can get better, but I know he can. Andrew Wiggins seemed like the perfect complimentary piece, but Jimmy Butler plays the same position and has the exact same game. And because they got Jimmy Butler, they felt like they had to trade Ricky Rubio, who has become a true unicorn in the era of unicorns: a legitimately underrated NBA player. Now they have Jeff Teague running the point, and I really hope they don’t sincerely think Teague’s leading them to the Promised Land. This team kind of feels like it was cooking along low and slow in the smoker, maturing and progressing at their own, natural pace, but then Tom Thibodeau took it out and threw it in the microwave for some instant results. I’m worried Towns is going to get stuck in the same vortex of mediocrity Kevin Garnett was in when he was in Minnesota. Being the five or six seed and losing first round every year isn’t helping anybody.

Over/Under 46.5 Wins: Under

Key Offseason Move: Trading for Jimmy Butler

Burning Question: How furious is Jimmy Butler that he couldn’t have been traded to Miami or somewhere where it isn’t terrible in winter?

Bold Prediction: They’ll have the number 20 pick in the draft for the next five years

 

268px-denver_nuggets-svgDenver Nuggets– Gotta say, I’m not a fan of the Nuggets going primarily navy blue in their updated jerseys. The light blue was prime time. No one tunes into some Nuggets action looking for some navy blue jerseys (unless it’s the Melo-era alternates, which were awesome) (Speaking of Melo-era Nuggets: the Nuggets from when Allen Iverson got there until Melo left were legitimately some of my favorite teams ever. Everything was fast paced but also 100% isolation-based. There wasn’t Al-Harrington-Don-Nelson era Warriors level of reckless jacking by anyone who touched the ball (another one of my favorite teams ever), but they got some shots up. My favorite thing about them that I think only I ever noticed was that every game they would switch the colors of their accessories. My favorite looks were when they went white jerseys with light blue headbands/sleeves and when they went light blue jerseys with yellow headbands/sleeves. Navy alternates with yellow headbands/sleeves was also a good look. Light blue jerseys with whit headbands/sleeves was an underrated look, but I’m glad they didn’t go to it too often. I also miss the hanging Pepsi globe they used to have). At least the yellow alternates look good.

Anyway, the Nuggets are going to be really fun to watch. Their games are pretty much just first to 150 wins, so don’t expect them to be playing that lockdown, championship level defense come the playoffs.

Over/Under 43.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Getting Paul Millsap

Burning Question: Has the Denver Airport recovered since I left?

Bold Prediction: They’ll lead the league in both scoring and points allowed

 

275px-los_angeles_clippers_28201529-svgLos Angeles Clippers– After years of hating the entire Lob City experience (Chris Paul, the flopping, the bitching, Chris Paul, the constant yelling at refs, Chris Paul, the playoff collapses, Chris Paul), I find myself kind of liking (at least the idea of) this new Chris Paul-less Clippers. Maybe it’s just because they now have Danilo Gallinari, may favorite NBA player (I don’t know why, either). Maybe it’s because they don’t have Chris Paul (my second least favorite NBA player). Either way, I’m kind of excited for this team. I’m ready for a huge Blake Griffin season and am fully invested in Milos Teodosic, who could easily supplant Gallo as my favorite player if he keeps firing no look passes for no reason other than the fact that he can. Unfortunately Doc Rivers is still the coach, which means Austin Rivers (who actually is kind of decent now) will play the whole game. If they can finally get Doc out of there, the Clippers might have something going.

Over/Under 42.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Getting rid of Chris Paul

Burning Question: How will DeAndre Jordan get any State Farm commercials without CP3?

Bold Prediction: Milos will average 15 assists per game in November until everyone just puts some freak athlete on him and ruins the fun

 

268px-portland_trail_blazers_logo-svgPortland Trail Blazers– The only potential playoff team in the West to pretty much come back with the same roster as last season (partly due to their brutal cap situation), the Trail Blazers are pretty much just going to be exactly what they were last year (difficult logic, I know). I have a soft spot for high scoring, high volume backcourt duos, so the Lillard-McCollum tag team is right up my alley. The only problem is they don’t have much else. Sure, Jusuf Nurkic plays an important role in the NBA’s underground crime syndicate, but he’s kind of just a big chunk of meat. There’s no real reliable third scoring option or second unit ballhandler, and they might have the worst backcourt defense in the league. If they make the playoffs, they won’t be there for long.

Over/Under 40.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Nothing

Burning Question: Did you know Portland was weird? You rarely hear about it

Bold Prediction: One game they’ll try to have Lillard or McCollum take every single shot

 

246px-new_orleans_pelicans_logo-svgNew Orleans Pelicans– Last season’s mad science experiment of acquiring DeMarcus Cousins to play next to Anthony Davis in a league obsessed with going small yielded pretty uneven results. The ‘Cans went 7-10 with Cousins in the lineup, but now they’ve had a full offseason to jell. They can learn each other’s tendencies, work out positioning, build up passing and (possible?) pick and roll chemistry, and get ready to dominate teams on the interior. A few issues: Anthony Davis is always nicked up. He misses games left and right every season and is dangerously close to “Mr. Glass” territory. DeMarcus doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to team chemistry and willingness to be coached, and is always liable to get suspended. They also don’t have anything besides those two. I may count Jordan Crawford isos as reliable offense, but I think I’m in the minority. If either one goes down or if it just doesn’t work this team is absolutely done. Cousins is a free agent after this year, too, so if things aren’t going to plan he might get traded once again.

Over/Under 40.5 Wins: Under

Key Offseason Move: Signing (gulp) Rajon Rondo

Burning Question: Can we get J.R. Smith back in the Big Easy?

Bold Prediction: Everyone’s getting traded

 

281px-utah_jazz_logo_28201629-svgUtah Jazz– Think the Jazz are the only West team to get this distinction, but Utah has been given the Official Brian’s Den Seal of Anti-Approval. Do not watch this team play basketball if you don’t share my unhealthy love of missed shots, shot clock violations, bad spacing, and turnovers. They’ll play stifling defense, sure, but that only adds to their inherent unwatchability. I just don’t know where the scoring is coming from since Gordon Hayward left Utah’s warm embrace (how could he?). The only saving grace will be Ricky Rubio (who I love) running some pick and roll with Rudy Gobert, who has a legitimate chance at Defensive Player of the Year. Barring a scoring explosion from Joe Ingles (can’t rule it out), Jazz will be sippin’ milk at home as the watch the playoffs.

Over/Under 38.5 Wins: Under

Key Offseason Move: Getting Rubio

Burning Question: Can Joseph Smith rise like a phoenix from the ashes of the burned Hayward jerseys?

Bold Prediction: Every big time free agent from now until forever will always choose to leave Utah

 

216px-memphis_grizzlies-svgMemphis Grizzlies– Sad times in Memphis. Sad times indeed. A true end of an era. Grit ‘N’ Grind, gone but never forgotten. Without Z-Bo and Tony Allen, the Grizzlies’ well forged identity is gone. Sure, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol remain, but they’re not necessarily Grit ‘N’ Grind, they’re just really good players. And now without their spiritual rudder, the Grizzlies’ ship may go adrift in the rough waters of the Western Conference. Everyone on the roster outside of Conley and Gasol is either always hurt, young and unproven, or old and proven to be bad. There’s really not a lot to like and there doesn’t seem to be much of an identity. I love Marc Gasol. He’s one of my absolute favorite players to watch in the league. But he’s not a guy who’s going to drag his teammates up to his level and force them to win games. Conley is a bit, but he won’t be enough to keep them out of the lottery. Possibly the high lottery.

Over/Under 38.5 Wins: Under

Key Offseason Move: Getting Tyreke Evans (yikes)

Burning Question: Can we please just get Tony Allen back on the team?

Bold Prediction: Marc Gasol will be sad all season, which will make me sad

 

248px-dallas_mavericks_logo-svgDallas Mavericks– There’s too much blue in the NBA. That’s my take. Too many teams with some shade of blue as their primary color. Time to switch it up a bit.

Anyway, Dirk is one of my favorite player ever (is it bad that I keep listing all these white guys as my favorite players? I think I’ll just avoid talking about who I like from now on), so seeing him finish out his career on bum teams is a real downer. Hopefully him and Dennis Smith, Jr. can roast some people offensively, because I’m not sure if this team is going to stop anybody all season. Rick Carlisle should help them win more games than they should, though.

Over/Under 35.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Finally resigning Nerlens Noel after a bizarre contract negotiation

Burning Question: If they fail to make the playoffs again, will that be the reason that Mark Cuban is out? (A little Shark Tank joke because I give the people what they ask for)

Bold Prediction: Dirk will win All Star game MVP in my dreams

 

291px-los_angeles_lakers_logo-svgLos Angeles Lakers– Did you guys know that Lonzo Ball has that special passing gene that infects the whole team? Did you know he brings a special energy that lifts the team and will likely be enough to win the title this year? Did you know Lonzo is not only the best point guard in the NBA, but is also the best coach, and, soon enough, will be the best GM? If you didn’t, you’ll find out soon! Get ready to get hit in the head with the Lonzo-is-God storyline every time the Lakers win (or come close to winning) a game. It’s going to completely siphon all the fun out of the Ball family, and somehow it isn’t Lavar’s doing. Just the side effect of being on the Lakers/Yankees/Cowboys/Knicks. If you show any sign of promise whatsoever you’re the second coming automatically. How do you think we would up as Lonzo and Kyle Kuzma as the two favorites for MVP?

If you couldn’t tell, I don’t like the Lakers, and now I’m doubly rooting against them now that the Celtics get their pick if it falls between 2 and 5. Everyone always wants them to be good, but I’m fine with them being shitty, and they’re going to be shitty again this year, #sorrynotsorry. If Lonzo is afraid to play against De’Aaron Fox, what’s he going to do when Russell Westbrook comes to town?

Over/Under 32.5 Wins: Please Under

Key Offseason Move: Drafting Lavar Ball

Burning Question: Did you know Lonzo has a rare passing skill?

Bold Prediction: Lonzo will post the worst defensive rating of all time

 

kings_primarySacramento Kings– Kings are going to be terrible, but they’re going to be fun and terrible. I was about to say I like that they committed to just going young until I remembered they signing Zach Randolph and Vince Carter, who was born in 1977! And is still in the NBA! Crazy. I hope they don’t play those guys and George Hill too much, because I just want as much De’Aaron Fox as possible. I’m still on the Buddy Hield bandwagon, and the Labissiere-Cauley-Stein duo is Jay Bilas’s wet dream.

Over/Under 29 Wins: Under

Key Offseason Move: Getting George Hill

Burning Question: Is Sleep Train Arena the worst stadium name in history?

Bold Prediction: They’ll make a blockbuster move for malcontent and free-agent-to-be DeMarcus Cousins

 

259px-phoenix_suns_logo-svgPhoenix Suns– Someone needs to tell the purple teams it’s okay to have good teams. Sick of such a noble color being dragged down by these crappy teams.

Suns are trash. Devin Booker is good, but he’s not especially enjoyable to watch. Eric Bledsoe is good but fragile. Tyson Chandler is ollllllllllllllllllld. Everyone else is like 16.

Over/Under 28.5 Wins: Under

Key Offseason Move: ???

Burning Question: Why do they keep forcing weird black jerseys on us?

Bold Prediction: They’ll somehow get screwed in the lottery again

Gonna be a great season. Can’t wait.

NFL Week 6 Picks

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Boy, it’s a good thing I don’t publish my Thursday Night picks, because Color Rush is really messing with me this season. Here I was, thinking a flaming-hot Cam Newton could turn a banged-up Eagles defense into smoldering rubble while the excellent Panthers D put the clamps on Carson Wentz and the boyz. Turns out Cam sucks and the Panthers can’t really stop anyone when Luke Kuechly dies on the field (maybe for real this time). That’s just the beauty of Color Rush, though. What’s fair is foul, what’s foul is fair, Philly is winning big games. The world turns upside down on Thursday Night. Luckily for all of you, I’m roughly 100-0 for non-Color Rush games this season. Lines from Bovada.

Green Bay Packers (-3) at Minnesota Vikings

Can’t wait to watch the number 4 quarterback in Total QBR toss the pigskin around, gonna be great. What’s that? No, not Aaron Rodgers. Case Keenum! Reason number 10982347 the NFL is stupid: Case Keenum, who had started 24 games before this year and was bad in pretty much all of them, is now playing well because…..why? Are teams not prepared for him? Is the coaching so bad that the injection of known wildcard Case Keenum really enough to ruin gameplans? I’m sure he’ll light up the Packers because the Packers defense is horrible, but we all know how this is gonna go. I’m already seeing the Jordy Nelson out route in the corner of the end zone with 7 seconds left.

Pick: Packers -3

New England Patriots (-10) at New York Jets

Pats defense stinks! The can’t protect Brady at all! Patriots are done! Jets are on fire! Who can stop McCown? Forget number one pick, can the Jets make the playoffs? (BTW, I totally called this)

Pick: Pats -10

San Fransisco 49ers at Washington Redskins (-11)

You know what they say, throw out the record books when Pierre Garçon comes back to his former stadiums. I’ll just say this- this game might be bad enough to get the name conversation going again: with the ever-increasing wage gap and the growing value of gold, is it time to change the 49ers name so people don’t feel bad about their current wealth status? Tough to say.

Pick: 49ers +11

Chicago Bears at Baltimore Ravens (-7)

Ohhhhhh my godddddddddddddd my eyes are already bleeding thinking about this game. You know what? I’m going to further the cause, here. I vow not to watch every second of this game to stand (kneel?) in solidarity with the various protests centered around NFL games.

Pick: Ravens -7

Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (-4)

Did you know the Saints have allowed the fewest points in the NFC? Crazy, right? Talk about an unexpected development! Wait, what’s that? Only the Bucs, Colts, and Pats have allowed more yards? So it’s probably fools gold propped up by playing the Dolphins? And that even a team as anemic as the Lions could light them up if they feel like showing up? Yeah, this is gonna be a track meet.

Pick: Lions +4

Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons (-13)

Pick: Falcons -13

Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans (-10)

Imagine an old whaling ship that’s filled to the brim with barrels and barrels of whale oil, but they got greedy and speared another huge sperm whale, then hauled the big carcass onboard in chunks, only during the process of turning the blubber into oil, something caught fire, then all of a sudden all the barrels explode as the ship and carcass catch fire, creating a giant tower of black smoke and a huge, corrosive smudge of oil and death on the ocean. Combine that smell with the garbage on New York City streets and you have the Browns.

Pick; Texans -10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2) at Arizona Cardinals

Hey, it’s Carson Palmer vs. Younger Carson Palmer! Or is it Jameis Winston vs. Older Jameis Winston? Either way, expect a lot of passing yards, a lot of bad sacks, a lot of turnovers, and some missed kicks. Since it’s not in Tampa, there’s no chance for the weather delay needed for Bucs Bingo. I’m anti-Cardinals because I think they’re secretly the worst team to watch in the league, so I’ll go Bucs.

Pick: Bucs -2

Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5)

God, I’m sick of these matchups. Every year, the NFL somehow rigs the scheduling so the absolute dregs of the league play against the worst division in the other conference, and we get stuck with the 3-2 Rams and the 3-2 Jags? They both actually look good? Jags defense is finally looking dominant after years of building up promise? The Rams have a coach that understands basic offensive strategy and it’s turned them into a somewhat viable contended overnight? Weird how smart decision making can make teams good. The rest of the NFL should try it sometime. For as good as both teams look on paper, this game is going to look just as bad. I can envision Leonard Fournette being assimilated into the cosmic entity known as Aaron Donald sometime during the third quarter, with Blake Bortles soon following. Jared Goff’s looked good, but outside Seattle they’ve pretty much exclusively played against bad defenses, so pardon me if I’m not expecting much out of him. This is gonna be ugly, physical, low scoring, and a game most people would soon like to forget (and, if they’re an actual player, they soon will!).

Pick: Rams +2.5

Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders

There’s no spread on this game because apparently Derek Carr is attempting to play with a broken spine, which is sure to end well. If he does play, he’ll be seriously hampered, and, don’t tell anyone, but he’s been really really stinky this season, and I don’t think Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram particularly care if the quarterback their demolishing is hurt or not. Raiders defense is ass, and the Chargers quietly have one the better offenses in the league (o-line notwithstanding). Plus, there’s some concern over the air quality with the wildfires in Northern California, and the mayor of San Diego said he’s willing to host the game, which would be amaaaaaaaaazing and so so awkward and I want it to happen so bad.

Pick: Chargers +whatever

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5)

Please, tell me again how the Steelers are the biggest competition to the Pats. Please tell me about how no one can dream of stopping their offense or scoring on them. I’ll wait. I’ve got all day. Go ahead, make the case. Tell me why I should pick a horrible Steelers team with the worst chemistry of all time going on the road, where they STINK, to the second toughest place to play in the league against the last undefeated team. You can’t.

Pick: Chiefs -4.5

New York Giants at Denver Broncos (-12)

Is this really the best we could get on Sunday night?

Pick: Giants +12

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans

Another game with no spread because of injuries, this game will either become a complete massacre or an unwatchable slog depending on whether or not Marcus Mariota plays. I’m praying he doesn’t, so we can get the highly coveted Former Brady Backup matchup in Jacoby Brissett vs. Matt Cassell.

Pick: Titans/nobody

Bonus College Picks

  • Washington State -17 at Cal
  • TCU at Kansas State Over 50
  • Oklahoma vs Texas +9
  • Auburn -7.5 at LSU
  • Ohio State -24.5 at Nebraska

Super Bonus MLB Championship Series Preview

I didn’t really feel like making a separate post for this, mostly because clearly everything I thought I knew was completely shattered by the events of the Division Series. On paper, these are two awesome matchups that should produce long, even series full of drama, twists, turns, and excitement. Or my nightmare will become reality. Who knows?

American League

New York Yankees vs Houston Astros

We get it, the Yankees are going to win the World Series. Cool. Someone put a bullet in my brain.

Pick: Yankees in 4

National League

Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

A rematch of last year’s NLCS, both teams are coming in to this in pretty opposite positions as last year. The Dodgers spent the majority of the season as prohibitive favorite, had a bad month or two, then blasted their first round opponent. Sound like any team you remember? Then the Cubs, somehow overlooked after the most heavily publicized championship ever, had a forgettably good regular season then grinded out a brutal Division Series against the Nats where they looked downright bad at times. Sounds like last year’s Dodgers. What I’m saying is I expect the Dodgers to win, much like the Cubs won last year.

Pick: Dodgers in 6

NFL Week 5 Picks

Tom Brady

I know what you’re all thinking. “Where were the picks yesterday? Even though they’ve only been going on for two weeks, they’ve become a vital part of my Friday afternoon, and I feel lost without them.” It’s true, I failed to post this yesterday. I would apologize, but I think once you see what I was doing yesterday, you’ll be thanking me. Still, I couldn’t just not put my rock-solid picks out there. However, since it’s Saturday morning and I don’t really feel like it, and because these games are all terrible, I’m skipping the write-ups and just giving the picks. Some of you may find this preferable, but please keep those opinions to yourself.

  • Bills +3 at Bengals
  • Chargers +3.5 at Giants
  • Titans if Mariota plays at Dolphins, no one if he doesn’t
  • 49ers +1.5 at Colts
  • Panthers +3 at Lions
  • Cardinals +6.5 at Eagles
  • Jaguars at Steelers -8
  • Jets -1 at Browns
  • Seahawks at Rams -1.5
  • Ravens +3 at Raiders
  • Packers +2 at Cowboys
  • Chiefs (pick) at Texans
  • Vikings at Bears +3

Bonus College Picks

  • Iowa State at Oklahoma Over 62
  • Miami (FL) -3.5 at Florida State
  • West Virginia at TCU Over 68
  • Minnesota +3.5 at Purdue
  • Washington State -3 at Oregon

NFL Week 4 Picks

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After a thrilling week 3 that featured countless crazy finishes and very unexpected results, we returned to normal with a predictable Packers blowout of the Bears in Lambeau, where I think the Bears are 0 for their last 1,000. Was that just typical Aaron Rodgers destruction or a sign of things to come for this week. Sure hope it’s the former, but now that the NFL has captured everyone’s imagination again, I’m thinking this week is gonna STINK. Either way, it’s my responsibility to give you the most reliable, accurate picks you can find anywhere on the Internet. I didn’t keep track of what my record was last week, because like any good quarterback or defensive back, I’ve got a short memory. All line from Bovada.

New Orleans Saints (-3) vs. Miami Dolphins

Just when you thought London’s NFL fever couldn’t burn any hotter, Jay Cutler comes riding into town to really whip everyone into a frenzy. Don’t tell me it’s impossible to grow the game internationally. All we have to do is show them as many bad QBs as possible, and all of a sudden Drew Brees shows up and looks like the second coming of George Best (a little footy reference for everyone. This game’s in England, where they prefer soccer to football, if you didn’t know). Brilliant strategy. This game actually might be kind of fun and high scoring, but that tantalizing potential alone ensures this will be a dud.

Pick: Saints -3

Buffalo Bills at Atlanta Falcons (-8)

Can the Falcons threaten to blow a late lead against a team that can’t pass? We’ll soon find out. I really can’t wrap my mind around how everyone has the Falcons as their number one team. They could have lost every game they played because they can’t not gag in the fourth quarter. The demons are still there from last year. This team stinks and is gonna lose in the first round of the playoffs. You heard it here, first.

Pick: Bills +8

Carolina Panthers at New England Patriots (-9)

Much like last week, this line feels a little too high for my beloved Patriots. In a matchup of stoppable force and moveable offense, the Panthers are hoping the Pats’ swiss cheese defense can help jumpstart the worst offense in the history of football, but don’t get your hopes up. Panthers D is good enough to frustrate and harass Brady enough to keep this within 9.

Pick: Panthers +9

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) vs. Baltimore Ravens

I was tempted to put the Ravens name in blue, because then it’d be black and blue, and we all know how physical these games are, am I right? No love lost here, I’m told. If you’re looking for 2010 NFL thrills, you’ve come to the right place. I have no intention of watching any more of this game than what shows up on RedZone, because this thing is going to be a snoozefest. Stay away from this game if you like things like offense, completed passes, gains of more than three yards, aesthetically pleasing television, and saving record books, because everyone knows you have to throw them out when these two get together.

Pick: Ravens +3

Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys (-6.5)

I know they’ve won two games, but the Rams still stink, I don’t care what anyone says. Cowboys look like they’re about to be Back, anyway.

Pick: Cowboys -6.5

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-2)

Until something changes, I fully expect every single Lions game to mirror last week’s game against the Falcons (and their last like 20 games)- the Lions will go down big early then come furiously storming back until the entire game comes down to one hectic, last second play that end controversially. With the Lions’ soft D, and the Vikings’ surprisingly strong offense (until the defense realizes Case Keenum is QB) and ferocious defense, it’s set up perfectly for a big first half lead that gets slowly eroded over the course of the second half.

Pick: Lions +2

Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Cleveland Browns

I just want everyone to know that I got a paper cut earlier today and that my laptop charger doesn’t really work anymore, so next time someone tells you Millennials never go through adversity set them straight.

Pick: Ideally no one, but I suppose Bengals -3.5

Tennessee Titans (-3) at Houston Texans

Titans showed they could handle elite defenses on the road last week they they kind of took it to Seattle, and I think the Texans offensive outburst last week was more a product of the Pats’ inability to stop a nose bleed than any real prowess from Houston. If the Titans really want to keep the hype train rolling, they need to win this game, and they need to win it solidly.

Pick: Titans -3

Jacksonville Jaguars (-3.5) at New York Jets

I know this is going to really dampen your expectations for this game, but I regret to report Matt Forte won’t play in this game. I know, I’m disappointed, too. Here I was, thinking I’d get the privilege to watch Matt Forte run into non-existent holes and get stuffed for no gain for three hours on Sunday, but now someone else is going to take his place. I think I understand the people who cry about NBA players resting, now.

Pick: Jags -3.5

Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Chargers (-2)

The Chargers are like the Lions, expect they never actually succeed and something always goes wrong at the worst time. Until that changes, I’m not sure how you could bet on such cosmically bad luck in good faith.

Pick: Eagles +2

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-7)

Maybe next week I’ll start with the late games, because I’m already running out of steam. Guess someone had to pick up the slack now that Rick Pitino’s gone. OOOOOOHHHHHHH! Anyway, this game is gonna stink. Don’t expect anyone’s interest to last longer than 15 seconds.

Pick: 49ers +7

New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)

Who’s ready for another weather delay? I am!!! Gotta love the logic. “September/early October the weather in Florida is terrible, so rather than not schedule games in Florida, let’s just put them on late so every game happens during a hurricane. That’ll fix everything!” Actually brilliant by the NFL, because since this game will be delayed by an hour or so, it’ll fill the gap between the 4 o’clock games and the Sunday Night game. It’ll also inch the NFL closer to their goal of having the Giants on National TV every single week.

Pick: Bucs -3

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-3)

In theory, this should be a good, close game, but the Raiders just got completely housed by the Redskins. I’m pretty sure the Broncos are a better team, regardless of how limited Siemian is, and Denver is the most impossible place to play in the league. By the Cosmic Law of NFL stupidiy this is going to be a Raiders rout.

Pick: Raiders +3

Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks (-13)

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Who the hell thought this was a good game? Even if Luck was playing, he always plays terribly against good teams. Someone put me in charge of NBC. Al Michaels would never have to look at games like this.

Washington Redskins at Kansas City Chiefs (-7)

People who dislike Native American team names, look away! People who like to root for bugs to beat windshields, also look away!

Pick: Chiefs -7

Bonus College Picks:

  • Washington State +5 vs USC
  • Vanderbilt +9 at Florida
  • UConn at SMU Under 76
  • Clemson -7.5 at Virginia Tech
  • Oklahoma State -10.5 at Texas Tech