I'm thinking about retiring from this whole thing - blogging, making picks, fantasy football, the whole deal. There is almost no enjoyment so far this season. My fantasy teams are an abomination -- I went 2-2 in my 4 leagues this week, but left hundreds of points on the benches and played pretty much the worst possible team in every instance, and my "play the matchup" philosophy with defenses and kickers was a complete disaster.
Favorites were just 7-9 straight up this week, including losses by the Saints (favored by 9), 49ers (7.5), Redskins, Steelers and Eagles (4 each), the Chargers and Packers (3 each), and of course the Lions, who set a new mark for futility in a single-game. (More on that later).
The Titans scored on a trick-play punt return. Fine. Then they scored on a kickoff return. Ok. Then, we made Jared Cook look like Calvin's twin, and then Nate Washington turned into a young Randy Moss, and then good old Brandon Pettigrew continued his ongoing impersonation of a 90 year old man in an NFL player's body, and a Titans defender ripped the ball out of his hands like I would if I were playing against a bunch of 8 year-olds, and ran back for a score. The Lions became the only team in NFL HISTORY to allow 5 scores of at least 60 yards in a single game. WOW. Absolutely incredible.
Then, with the game basically over, I put on Bob the Builder, and while Scrambler was coping with his fear of the scary car wash, ESPN told me that the Lions scored a TD, recovered an onside kick, and completed a hailmary to Titus Young of all people. All with Shaun Hill at quarterback, of course.
What the heck.
So I turned the game back on, Jack cried, and the Lions played the stupidest, sloppiest, ugliest overtime I've ever seen. Well, actually, they looked pretty sharp, except on the plays that mattered. I've never seen a defense celebrate so much on an incomplete pass on 1st and 10, and then utterly disappear on 3rd and 10. Our third-down pass defense is way beyond horrible.
Last week, I wrote about the Lions' dismal, patchwork secondary, fostered by years of neglect, and how it will keep the team from being truly competitive this year. A few days after that, Anwar Richardson (the Lions' idiotic beat writer who has completely failed to fill the large shoes of Tom Kowalski) wrote on Mlive that the Lions have one of the league's best secondaries. ... This was a stunning piece to read. I was in total shock. It would be like writing "Since Obama is white, he won't get any votes from black people, so the election will be really close." It was the exact opposite of reality. I still can't figure out what possessed him to write that drivel or how it was published on Mlive without him being fired immediately and sent back to Florida. From here forward, I refuse to read anything that Anwar writes.
As for the Lions offensive possession in overtime ... it was great. I don't know what else to say. Leshoure looked good, all game actually, and Calvin looked amazing, and Shaun Hill can move the chains as always. I wanted them to go for it on 4th, because a field goal gives the Titans the ball first in a sudden death game, where all they needed was a field goal, and you know they would have moved the ball 40 yards and got the field goal. Plus, we literally needed 3 inches for a first down. It was the right decision. But the play call was iffy. It should have either been Leshoure, or a play-action pass. Heck, even the QB sneak would have worked, if the snap had been there. I don't have a clue what happened with Raiola ... but it was a painful, unimaginable way to lose a game. If Hill gets the snap clean, he gains the 3 inches, and we have 1st down, and we probably get a TD, and we're 2-1, and we end up in the playoffs ... so everybody shut up. The Lions will be fine. They're really good. At the same time, the Lions are abominable and atrocious. I really don't know what the Lions are, other than schizophrenic.
So anyway ... I'm down to 19-27-2 after a 5-10-1 week .... and 23-25 straight up after going 5-11. Granted, I was screwed (just like everyone else) by the replacement refs, who probably cost me at least 3 games, and by Blaine Gabbert's 80 yard TD with 40 seconds left, and by the Lions' inexplicable performance. Turns out I was pretty close with them going up 14-0 early, except they settled for field goals due to some lousy play calling and poor execution from Mr. Stafford.
By the way, Calvin had 1 reception at halftime if I remember correctly ... and finishes the game with 10 catches, 164 yards, and now leads the NFL in receiving yards. Are we watching the chains of the Madden Curse shatter in front of our eyes? Or are the Lions one devastating injury away from going 3-13? If Calvin doesn't play all 16 games, we truly have no chance at even being .500.
Fortunately, we're getting some help in the NFC. The Packers are 1-2 (thanks, refs), the Bears are 2-1 but they suck (Cutler - 6 INTs, 11 sacks, 1 terrible attitude), and the Saints (a wildcard threat) are 0-3. There are some surprising NFC teams -- Atlanta is probably winning at least 12, Arizona will use this 3-0 start to be frisky in the playoff picture, and the entire NFC East will win between 7 and 10 ... but Detroit is still in decent shape. We need to win next Sunday, obviously, and then we need to win some tough road games after the bye. Losing to Tennessee doesn't obliterate our playoff hopes, but it really, really hurts. Now the Lions basically need to win 3 of 4 from the Packers and Bears and hope for the NFC North title.
Here are the week 4 picks ... I will wait until Sunday morning and then take the exact opposite of all these picks.
Browns (0-3) @ Ravens (2-1)
Predicted Line: BAL by 14
Actual Line: BAL by 14
Hey! I nailed a line exactly. I don't know if I've done that yet this year. Awesome. (I swear that was legit, you'll have to take my word for it.)
I'll take the Ravens in a blowout. Flacco looks pretty dialed in and Cleveland looks amess.
Panthers (1-2) @ Falcons (3-0)
Predicted Line: ATL by 9.5
Actual Line: ATL by 9
I'm going to say Backdoor Cam keeps it close. Falcons by 4.
Vikings (2-1) @ Lions (1-2)
Predicted Line: DET by ?? (Stafford)
Actual Line: DET by ??
Let's say if Stafford plays the line is 6, and if Hill plays it's 3. That seems fair.
I'll take Detroit either way. We need this one and the home crowd will come up big.
Patriots (1-2) @ Bills (2-1)
Predicted Line: NE by 3
Actual Line: NE by 4
Spiller and Fred Jackson are questionable ... it'll probably be Tashard Choice running for Buffalo. And it sure doesn't seem like Tom Brady will lose 3 games in a row. Guess I'll go with conventional wisdom and take the Pats +4.
Chargers (2-1) @ Chiefs (1-2)
Predicted Line: SD by 2
Actual Line: SD by 1
Homedogs were unstoppable last week and the Chiefs may have some momentum. Plus, Norv Turner in September is something like 3-40. ... I'll take the Chiefs by a field goal.
Seahawks (2-1) @ Rams (1-2)
Predicted Line: SEA by 3
Actual Line: SEA by 3
I'll take another homedog. Seattle has some bad karma after that MNF "win" against Green Bay. Rams by 6 in OT.
By the way, I don't have much to say about the replacement refs. I know it's the biggest topic of the NFL season so far, but I'm not that interested in it, to be honest. First off, I don't want to hear about the refs striking, or any of the business side of football. We had enough of that during the lockout, and it's just annoying. Plus we just had an NBA lockout, and now an NFL lockout ... the whole lockout/strike thing is just annoying and I prefer to ignore it.
Secondly, the replacement refs haven't been overly terrible during games I've watched, with the exception of a few plays. Sure, they don't always know what they're doing, but did the real refs get everything right? I contend that no play this season, including the infamous Golden Tate catch, was as poorly officiated as Calvin Johnson's "complete the process' bullcrap call.
49ers (2-1) @ Jets (2-1)
Predicted Line: SF by 5.5
Actual Line: SF by 4.5
Losing Darrelle Revis, the 2nd best player in the NFL according to me, will be detrimental for the Jets and obliterates their playoff chances. However, Rex Ryan's brashness and confidence makes them a solid contender for "Ewing Theory" status - when a star player is lost, the team is written off, and then the team responds by playing better than anybody expected. I have my doubts because Revis is so ridiculously dominant and able to shut down any receiver in man-to-man, but the new tandem of corners (Cromartie and former 1st round pick Kyle Wilson from Boise State) are still pretty good. The safeties, on the other hand, are lousy, and now the Jets will be forced to play a lot more zone coverage.
I did get a good laugh out of this headline on 'The Onion' -- "Rex Ryan Announces Darrelle Revis Has Best Torn ACL in NFL."
I'll take the Niners by 13.
Titans (1-2) @ Texans (3-0)
Predicted Line: HOU by 13
Actual Line: HOU by 12
With the stupidity of the NFL so far, the Titans will probably win straight up. Might as well take the points. I'll say Texans by 6.
Raiders (1-2) @ Broncos (1-2)
Predicted Line: DEN by 5.5
Actual Line: DEN by 6.5
By all normal logic, the Broncos will win big. They went out in the offseason and got Peyton Manning, and there's no way they should fall to 1-3. Meanwhile, the Raiders are the worst team in the NFL, according to me back in May. They are abysmal all over the place. So naturally, the Raiders will win straight up, probably in a blowout. Just to be safe, I'll take the points, but Denver by 3. Taking the idiotic upset is almost a safer proposition than taking solid logic this year.
Dolphins (1-2) @ Cardinals (3-0)
Predicted Line: ARZ by 6.5
Actual Line: ARZ by 6
Still no love from Vegas for the undefeated Cardinals, even after they've taken down the 2-1 Seahawks, the almighty Patriots, and the "dynasty" Eagles. Not surprising I guess. The question is, do I really feel good covering 6 points with Kevin Kolb and the nonexistent running game? I mean, Miami has been good on defense all year. This will probably be low scoring. I'll take the Cards by 3. No, scratch that. I'll take Miami straight up, 17-16.
Bengals (2-1) @ Jaguars (1-2)
Predicted Line: CIN by 1
Actual Line: CIN by 3
I hate Blaine Gabbert, but I'll take the homedog and the points. Jacksonville by 3.
Saints (0-3) @ Packers (1-2)
Predicted Line: GB by 8.5
Actual Line: GB by 8
I'm still trying to fathom how these teams are a combined 1-5. This has to be a must-win for both teams. I have no clue who will win, but the over/under point spread is 53.5, and I would put a billion dollars on the over. Both teams might score 50 points apiece. I'll take the points, and say Packers win 49-45.
Redskins (1-2) @ Bucs (1-2)
Predicted Line: TB by 1.5
Actual Line: TB by 3
After taking the Redskins twice in a row and getting burned by the dumbass that is Mike Shanahan, I am jumping ship on RG3. He's great, but his coach is too retarded for them to win games. Plus they just lost their 2 starting pass rushers and looked pretty miserable against Cincy as a result. I don't like Tampa at all, but I'll give them this one, because I'm sick of taking Washington. 27-21, Bucs.
Giants (2-1) @ Eagles (2-1)
Predicted Line: PHI by 1
Actual Line: PHI by 1
Again, I have no clue. I'm not even going to waste my time thinking about what might happen. The most likely scenario is: something stupid happens that makes no sense. So I'll take the Giants by 4ish.
Bears (2-1) @ Cowboys (2-1)
Predicted Line: DAL by 3
Actual Line: DAL by 3.5
Most of the Primetime games have started slow and been boring and low-scoring. With that in mind, I'll take the points and say Cowboys by 3.
Sorry these picks sucked, but I'm kinda bummed after making horrible picks so far. Hopefully my strategy of not overthinking it will work.