I know there are people out there, people who read columns like this, who look for reasons to consign the writers of columns like these as Homers. Every time a writer like me writes something bad about a casual fan’s team, that fan insists it’s because we only want to write about our team, and screw all the other teams.
Fuck that noise.
I don’t want to write about my favorite team this season because they’re truly awful. Seriously. When the Jets play, I keep thinking I hear the Baby Jesus crying. This is going to go down in the history of my team as a legendarily bad season–sort of like The Year Of Bollinger, where both Chad Pennington and back up Jay Fiedler went down within three minutes of a game versus the Buccaneers, and we had to suffer through the rest of the season with incompetent third-string quarterback Brooks Bollinger. And it may very well result in the firing of Coach Ryan, a man who two years before gave us back-to-back AFC Championship appearances.
And the worst thing about this season is how I have to hear casual fans nattering on about how This Would Be Different If Tebow Was Our Starter. They’re blaming everything on Sanchez, because it’s the easy thing to say (and don’t get me started on the announce teams winging about Football Jebus last week).
I’m going to lay this out for you very clearly: Football Jebus isn’t the solution. He’s part of the problem. If Woody Johnson wasn’t obsessed with stealing headlines from the Giants, we could have taken the money we sank into him and signed a veteran receiver or running back, maybe even an ace guard for our o-line. Instead, we’ve had to make do with one of the worst sets of skill players in this league. When you’re featured back is only giving you 2.8 yards a carry, you’re forced to become one dimensional. And when your receivers are incapable of catching a ball even when accurately thrown save for a prima donna who just got injured, you don’t even have that dimension. And the injuries just add, well, injury to insult. Sanchez may be a mediocre QB, but he’s shown potential; he can’t show that potential when he has nothing to work with.
I’m sure by now that you’ve noticed my tendency to rename certain franchises. Well I’m so disgusted by my beloved Jets that they’re getting a renaming this week, and every week until they get better. I’m taking away their engines, so until they correct this slide into oblivion, they’re the Biplanes.
So let’s get into the games.
Bye, Bye, Bye
Cowboys, Lions, Raiders, Buccaneers
Thursday Game 8:20 p.m.
Cardinals (4-0, won v. Dolphins) vs. Rams (2-2, won v. Seahawks)
The Cardinals are Not Who We Thought They Were–they’re actually threatening to be one of The Kings of Creation this season and a fair threat to be a Wild Card, if not the division winner (I still think the 49ers might be too big a bear to defeat…but then, keep in mind the slaughter I witnessed at The Stadium I Refuse To Call MetLife this past Sunday). A decidedly stingy defense, one of the most gifted receivers on the planet, a surprisingly effective one-two quarterback punch, all contribute to making Arizona a truly formidable opponent. Those two games these guys play against San Fran will end up being the most important games in the NFC, and while I don’t think their undefeated streak will last as long as the Texans, they will easily slide past the vaunted 10-6 or better record.
The Rams, however…even with that .500 record, I still think They Are Who We Thought They Are. They are the bottom feeder in a weak division that’s suddenly showing sparks of life. While there’s a really good chance their ultimate record will be better than we expected, they’ll still have a losing schedule. Hell, that Cardinals defense will eat Sam Bradford alive. Expect Arizona to extend their win streak another week in an easy, two and a half possession victory.
Sunday Games 1 p.m.
Eagles (3-1, won v. Giants) vs. Steelers (1-2, Bye Week)
Okay, maybe I’ve been a bit harsh on the Eagles. This may be because I am of the ‘You Will Never Win A Championship With A Running Quarterback’ school of thought. Maybe it’s because the less-than-half a possession wins make me nervous. Or it may be because I can’t believe that Michael Vick will remain healthy all the season. But regardless of why I’m still waiting for the collapse, Philadelphia (a city I have grown to love) is performing very, very well. And if Vick extends his healthy streak for a few more weeks, the Eagles might find themselves with a comfortable enough cushion that they can afford to lose a couple of games.
The Steelers have had a really bad quarter season. The only win they’ve had is against my own beloved…grumblemutter…Biplanes, and that’s not exactly a honor as much as a gimme these days. But this Bye week may have been just what they needed–Pittsburgh will be refreshed, relaxed and renewed, and they may give the Iggles a really strong fight. Not that they’ll win, as I think they’ll lose by one possession. But don’t worry, my Black and Gold friends…there are some really good, ridiculously winnable games on your horizon, and you will be in the playoff hunts by mid-season!
Packers (2-2, won v. Saints) vs. Colts (1-2, Bye Week)
And over in Wisconsin, here’s another team that’s been underperforming. Green Bay has been losing games they should have won, and now they’re a .500 team. They’re going to need some games to rebuild their confidence and get on track for their playoff run–and there will be a playoff run, as I can’t believe that a top notch quarterback and his weapons have degraded that badly. And, well, the Colts are the perfect aperitif. Expect the Packers to get their groove back by a possession.
Browns (0-4, lost v. Ravens) vs. Giants (2-2, lost v. Eagles)
On paper, the Browns aren’t as bad a team as my original choice for the worst team of this season. But they have yet to win a game, and they are just painful to watch. What people seem to forget, especially after seasons where Cleveland shows signs of life, is that the Browns have a hopelessly deeply ingrained Culture of Losing that has stretched back to when they re-entered the league. They just seem to just not be able to get things together for any substantial period of time.
Now to be fair, I can imagine Cleveland licking their chops at the idea of seeing the Giants…after all, one of their most memorable wins was the Derek Anderson-led squad’s shellacking of Big Blue sometime back. But they’re not going to get a reprise of that scenario this week. The Browns have no weapons and a rookie quarterback, and the Giants have some great weapons and a quarterback that may be regressing but still might be one of the better field generals out there. This is going to prove to be a really good confidence builder for Coughlin’s squad, and will result in a bloodbath. Expect the Giants to dominate the Browns by three scores….and those three scores will come very, very early.
Falcons (4-0, won v. Panthers) vs. Native Americans (2-2, won v. Buccaneers)
Mattie Ice, Julio Jones and all the Birds, are really solid. Granted, we’ve known this team is The Real Deal for some time, but they seem to be coming into focus as one of the elite contenders this season. There’s no way I can see them going less than 11-5, and there’s no way I can see them not going deep in the playoffs….but then, that single elimination format for the playoffs does lead to shocking upsets, so let’s keep that in mind.
And in RG3, Mike Shanahan may have found the guy that will save his job. He seems awfully poised for a rookie QB (but then, he’s not the only one, as we’ll see when we move to the next game), and does seem to be leading the Native Americans well….but the Dirty Birds are just too good, too skilled and too relentless for the NAs to persevere. The Falcons will fall, but not this week…so expect Atlanta to go 5-0 by roughly a possession to a possession and a half.
Dolphins (1-3, lost v. Cardinals) vs. Bengals (3-1, won v. Jaguars)
Let me give some credit where credit is due. Ryan Tannehill has the potential to be a good quarterback. I can almost see Ryan having a season reminiscent of Cam Newton’s last year…namely he’ll rack up unbelievably large ratings in passing, perform much better than anyone expected, and still have a 4-12, 5-11 record. And that because he has a thoroughly awful offensive team who, no matter how good Tannehill is playing, can’t score worth a damn. But they’re in the games to the end, and they’ve had a game they should have won with the Biplanes.
Oddly enough, I think the Bengals might be one of those bizarre games where the underdog comes out on top. While I do have faith in Football Spock, this team has been underperforming overall, and it might be to Miami’s advantage. Expect this to be a last minute win, or an overtime scuffle, but in the end I suspect the ‘Phins will pull it out by a possession or less.
Ravens (3-1, won v. Browns) vs. Chiefs (1-3, lost v. Chargers)
This is a one-sided game. We may be witnessing the final weeks of the Matt Cassel Era in Kansas City, and I have to wonder if the decision to bring him over to the Chiefs was an ill-starred decision from moment one. They are a disjointed bunch, and there’s no upside I can see to these guys. And the Ravens are just loaded to the gills with formidable talent, from the Marlboro Man to the wall of defense superstars to Ray Rice. I cannot see a way for there to be an upset, which means the Ravens get another win by maybe two possessions.
Sunday Games 4:30 p.m.
Seahawks (2-2, lost v. Rams) vs. Panthers (1-3, lost v. Falcons)
And here we have two teams that are pretty much on the same plain–both problematic, both with a lopsided offense, both with some talented weapons. Yes, Seattle has Pete Carroll, who is an exceptional college coach who has the uncanny ability to pull of miracles like, oh, pushing a 7-9 team into the playoffs….but the Panthers have Cam Newton, who knows how to throw the football. I think having Cam against a soft defense might be just the thing to net Carolina a second win, so I’m calling it for the Panthers by a possession and change.
Bears (3-1, won v. Cowboys) vs. Jaguars (1-3, lost vs. Bengals)
Jay Cutler is a dick. His coach doesn’t like him. I bet many of his teammates talk smack about him behind his back. But the man knows how to win games, and that’s showing in a winning record.
I’m sure Blaine Gabbert is a nice guy. But he doesn’t know how to win games. He doesn’t have a squad capable of winning games. And I can’t see them upsetting Chicago. Bears for the win by two to three possessions.
Broncos (2-2, won v. Raiders) vs. The Sucking Black Hole of Evil (2-2, won v. Our Bitch)
I have spent a week hearing customers in the store I work in natter on about how much better The Sucking Black Hole Of Evil is, and how they’re still The Best Team Eeeeevah. You can imagine how much all this naive jabbering from people who are maybe casual fans at best have hurt me. They don’t want to consider that The Crybaby Quarterback’s play has been regressing ever since that horrific injury several years back, or how they’ve suffered from a lack of effective skill players, or how their road to the Super Bowl last year was liberally paved with luck.
(These, incidentally, are the same naive fans who keep telling me that Mark Sanchez is the sole reason the Biplanes are so bad….shows what they know).
And this season that downward spiral continues. They’re losing to good teams that they would have beaten badly three season ago. They’re making bad mistakes on the field. Even Rob Gronkowski, the only New England player who I respect enough to name, is screwing up. And while I still feel they’ll make the playoffs solely by dint of being the least bad of a bad division, they’re going to get kicked around a lot.
And the Broncos might be the next in line to kick them. Denver’s been off to a shaky start, but John Fox is a great coach, and as long as the d-line protects Peyton, he should be able to outplay The Crybaby Quarterback. And I can’t help but think that both Peyton and Fox will have a rather largish chip on their shoulder looking to gain more satisfaction over their struggles with The Sucking Black Hole. It’ll be close, the lead will go back and forth, but Denver will win it by a possession.
Our Bitch (2-2, lost v. The Sucking Black Hole of Evil) vs. 49ers (3-1, won vs. Biplanes)
Oh, Lord. On paper this looks like an even bigger massacre than the last one. The Bills stink like week old fish rotting in the sun, and there’s no way they match up with the 49ers’ extremely balanced, extremely aggressive crew.
I will say this much, though…Our Bitch, kinda like the Browns at times, has this uncanny ability to pull wins out of its butt against much better opponents. That’s why they had an artificially impressive 5-0 start last season. There will be a victory that seems impossible somewhere down the line.
Not here,though. Expect Buffalo to actually score, but lose by a massive amount of possessions.
Titans (1-3, lost v. Texans) vs. Vikings (3-1, won v. Lions)
The Titans are going nowhere. The Vikings are not going nowhere, and they’re benefiting from having a lot of bottom feeders on their schedule…you know, like the Titans. Of course, the big upside for Minnesota is that with each of these games, Christian Ponder gets a little better. And this will improve Christian’s game playing muscles better….expect the Vikes to get a decisive win by about two possessions or less.
Sunday Game 8:30 p.m.
Chargers (3-1, won v. Chiefs) vs. Saints (0-4, lost v. Packers)
And the pain continues for New Orleans. There’s little more I can say about this sad remnant of one of the elite teams in the league except…it’ll soon be over. The interim coach will get to coach you soon, and you might win some games and end the Aaron Brooks flashbacks before the end of this season. But the Chargers–to the relief of Norv Turner, who I was positive would have been fired at the end of this season if San Diego behaved like it always did–have finally decided to win games at the beginning of the season instead of just at the end, and the suffering is going to continue for the Saints, as they lose by a possession and a half.
Monday Game 8:30 p.m.
Texans (4-0, won v. Titans) vs. Biplanes (2-2, thoroughly and utterly decimated by the 49ers)
Do I really have to write about this game? Really?
Remember last week? Remember how futile that game felt for us Jets fans? Just prepare to repeat that feeling again. It’s going to be ugly, it’s going to be demoralizing, and it’s going to hurt. There is no area where the Biplanes match up favorably with the Texans, and Houston’s outstanding defense will collapse New York’s iffy o-line like they’re a crumbling pre-war building. My biggest fear is that it will result in Woody Johnson forcing Coach Ryan to start Football Jebus next week instead of week seven or eight. Expect Mark Sanchez to be looking up at J.J. Watt giving a salute to the crowd several times, and the Biplanes losing by three or four possessions.
See you next week.