Week 5 NFL Picks

By now, we’ve all heard about and were unsurprised by Brett Favre’s comments about Aaron Rodgers. Sports Radio Interviews transcribed the segment, in which Favre was asked if he was surprised by the Packers’ Super Bowl Championship:

I’m going to be honest, I was not surprised. The biggest surprise to me would be that he didn’t do it sooner. It’s funny how people can get over time, my last year in Green Bay prior to the first game, I made the remark that this was probably the most talented team that I’ve ever played on. And of course everyone looked up and was like ‘this guy’s off his rocker.’ We were very, very young; take me out of the mix and we were by far the youngest team in the league. But I could see the talent pool across the board was outstanding. Now our season kind of ended up being a reflection of that. We came close, and I think we took a lot of people by surprise, but guys emerged rather quickly. Aaron had a chance…even though the last couple years it’s seemed like he’s almost a rookie, he’s been around awhile. And I’d like to think that he watched, he learned, and then when he got a chance to play, he brought in his ability which is obviously very good or they wouldn’t have drafted him in the first round. He’s got tremendous talent, he’s very bright and he got a chance to watch and see successful teams do it right. And so he just kind of fell into a good situation. On top of that, he’s a good player. I don’t think anyone would question now the talent around him is even better than when I was there. So I’m really kind of surprised it took him so long. Really, the early part of last year season, it hadn’t quite clicked yet and I didn’t know if it would. I just kind of figured when they hit their stride, they’re going to be hard to beat. And that’s what happened.

Favre didn’t say anything TOO terrible in this statement but it was a very clear and calculated backhanded compliment to Rodgers. The thing about Favre that I have trying to figure out for the last few years is to what extent he is delusional versus cynical. These comments lead me to believe he is more delusional, that he believes himself to be a character in some sort of biblical narrative and really doesn’t have a firm bearing on reality. It would be SO EASY for him to feign an apology and go back to being deified in Green Bay–believe me, these people are very forgiving–but instead of being gracious he is distancing himself from the fan base even further.

Packers fans, meanwhile, need to realize that they, along with fawning announcers and analysts, had a strong hand in turning Favre into the delusional narcissist that he is. When I went to Panthers-Packers at Lambeau in 2008, there were more fans wearing a Favre Jets jersey than any current player on the Packers and what is normally a majestically friendly and happy place was a sea of deep-seated resentment and loathing towards the current regime. A stunning amount of Packers fans took Favre’s side in his feud with Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy and spoke about them like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh speak about Obama. In supporting the direction of the franchise, my dad, brother, and I were in a clear minority. Even after fans turned on Favre when he joined the Vikings, Thompson and McCarthy were whipping boys. This extended deep into last season. For some reason or another*, it’s stopped.

*SUPER BOWL!!!!!!!!!!!

One interesting implication of the Favre quote that my dad pointed out was that it inadvertently compliments Thompson and McCarthy, who were responsible in building and developing the great talent base that surrounds Aaron Rodgers, proving that not all those who are calculating are intelligent. Even though Favre clearly still harbors deep, bitter resentment towards all involved in the Packers organization, he is acting self disinterest by being passive aggressive. He must not know any better.

On to the picks, which as always, are done with my friend Asif from Uninformed Commentary.

Previous Records:
Ryan: Last Week: 10 – 6
Season: 31 – 30 – 3
Asif: Last Week: 10 – 6
Season: 35 – 26 – 3

Kansas City @ Indianapolis (-2.5)

Ryan: The Colts have been surprisingly resilient the past two weeks as their defense has been playing its absolute heart out. In Kansas City, meanwhile, a victory over the Vikings last week was not enough to stop Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli from planting negative stories about head coach/noted jerk Todd Haley. Allegedly. Colts cover.

Asif: If this week’s match-ups prove anything, it’s that we need to invent a bigger fart noise. Anyways, in Luck Bowl I, I’ll go with Indy to cover. There’s no way the Chiefs are winning twice in a row.

Arizona @ Minnesota (-2.5)

Ryan: I might go the rest of the year without picking an NFC West team, with the exception of the maybe good 49ers, to cover on the road. Donovan McNabb’s career as a starter is on life support and this seems like one of those weeks where he will pull out a victory at the end despite not playing very well for most of the game like he did against the Packers last year. As a Packers fan, I hope that the Vikings put a lot of tread on Purple Jesus’s tires this season while they are bad so he is past his useful life at the end of his contract when they are still paying him as an elite running back. Vikings cover.

Asif: The Cardinals probably would have beaten the Giants last week if the Victor Cruz call had gone their way. Alas, it didn’t and now San Fransisco looks like the favorite in the NFC West. Still, even though home teams have been winning a lot this year, the Vikings lost to the Chiefs so there’s no way I’m picking them as a favorite, so the Cards cover. As an aside, the whole KSK – Bernard Berrian kerfuffle should provide fans with extra reasons to hate on Minnesota all year long. Cheers!

Philadelphia (-2.5) @ Buffalo

Ryan: This game will tell us a lot about both teams. The Eagles have given up 88 points to the Falcons, Giants, and 49ers this season and I don’t think any of those teams have as good of an offense as the Bills do. With a few more bad weeks, the 2011 Eagles could end up being a case study in precisely why it is a bad idea to follow the Daniel Snyder formula for team building. I’m not ready to count the Eagles out just yet–even if they lose this week–because they always seem to go on a tear in November and December. This week, though, Bills cover.

Asif: Philadelphia is a deeply flawed team, as I covered in my intro to last week’s picks. I would like to report that I’m enjoying the fall of the “Dream Team” tremendously. Nothing tickles the pit where my soul should be more than the suffering of Philadelphia sports fans. If the Eagles lose this game, they’ll sit at 1-4 and may be in danger of getting buried considering the weak schedules that their NFC East rivals face in the coming weeks.

Ryan and I both acknowledged the let down potential that the Bills were facing going into last week’s game against the Bengals, then ignored it completely in our picks. Still, the Bills’ offense is legit and the Eagles’ defense is hugely overrated so that and home field leads me to believe that the Bills cover.

Oakland @ Houston (-6)

Ryan: This line seems about two points too high. The Texans still haven’t shown me that they can beat a good team; the Colts and Dolphins are 0-8 combined and the 2-2 Steelers are deeply flawed with an unsustainably poor offensive line. The Raiders are better than all three of those teams, control the clock with their strong running game, and have a tough defense. I would be very impressed if the Texans are able to win this game without Andre Johnson but think that even if they do pull it out, Raiders cover.

Asif: Houston is good, but Andre Johnson is out. Oakland is pretty good and Darren McFadden is a beast at running back. I don’t have anything else to say about this game. I’ll take Oakland and the points.

New Orleans (-6.5) @ Carolina

Ryan: The 51 over/under in this game seems about 25 points* too low, although my dad’s friend who lives in Las Vegas ONLY bets whenever an NFL o/u line is at 50+ and always picks the under. Apparently this has proven to be quite lucrative. Either way, this game is going to feature a lot of passing yards.

You might be forgiven if, amongst all the Cam Newton hype, you did not realize that he has thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns. As I wrote two weeks ago, he will likely one day be a great quarterback but is not ready to win games in this league just yet. The Saints are kind of under the radar as an elite team this season. They lost Week 1 to the Packers 42-34 after falling behind early and have won their last three games against the Texans, Bears, and Jaguars, covering in each victory. Saints cover.

*slight exaggeration

Asif: Coming into the season, I thought that Carolina would have a good running game but Cam Newton would struggle to adjust to the NFL. It’s actually turned out the other way as Newton has been excellent and DeAngelo Williams has decided to stop trying. I just don’t see Carolina keeping up with the Saints in this one. New Orleans covers.

Cincinnati @ Jacksonville (-2.5)

Ryan: I actively hate the process of writing and mailing checks. It requires finding my checkbook, a pen, a stamp, and an envelope as well as having to leave my house and walk to a mailbox. Screw that. Before having to do so for my September rent, I texted my landlord asking if there was ANY way that I could pay electronically to which I was greeted with no response. I even offered to pay the $3.00 fee myself in the event that she used a different bank than Bank of America. She cashed the check on September 28th, two days before my October rent was due. How is it a better system for her to have to go to the bank and cash the check–clearly an annoyance for her since it took her four weeks to do so–as opposed to having the money magically appear in her account THE DAY IT’S DUE without her having to do anything? It isn’t like my landlord is 70 or older; she should know how to use computers for banking and should embrace the convenience. All payees who were born after 1940 should be mandated BY LAW to accept payment electronically, especially if their customers are willing to pay the fee.

Oh yeah, and the feisty Bengals cover.

Asif: I’m going to start calling the worst game of every week the Derp Bowl, which is really the most appropriate way to describe this football abortion. It will definitely be blacked out in Jacksonville which should be considered a blessing, because honestly, don’t the people of Jacksonville suffer enough just living there?

One of my ongoing frustrations in writing this column is my inability to properly spell Cincinnati. I have literally typed out every possible spelling of the word over the last four weeks and have never gotten it right on the first try. But anyway, I digress, and I’ll take the Bengals and the points.

Tennessee @ Pittsburgh (-2.5)

Ryan: One of my prevailing ideas coming into the season was that teams with new quarterbacks and coaches would struggle out of the gate after the Lockout-shortened offseason (Remember how terrifying the NFL Lockout was? Thank Gd adults are in charge of the NFL). With the Titans (both) and 49ers (coach and crappy holdover quarterback) both at 3-1, this has been shown to be a comparatively false assumption. The Titans have been shockingly good and the Steelers have a mountain of obstacles to overcome. Because the inevitable Matt Hasselbeck injury has yet to happen, I’m riding with the Titans to cover.

Asif: I’m done trusting the Steelers; they’re unbelievably mediocre. Their offensive line is terrible and they are dealing with injuries to  their best players on both sides of the ball in James Harrison (out), Ben Roethlisberger (will probably play), and Bin Laden sympathizer Rashard Mendenhall (questionable, karma sure is a b*tch huh?*). All this points to a pretty decent Titans team covering.

*Ryan’s note: well, either karma or the curse of 370

Seattle @ NY Giants (-10.5)

Ryan: After looking horrible in a 28-14 loss to the Redskins in Week 1, the Giants have quietly won three in a row, albeit against the Rams, Eagles, and Cardinals of which only the Eagles might be good. The Giants are the opposite of the Eagles and Chargers; they always seem to play great at the beginning of the year and fade down the stretch. Since 2007, the Giants are 25-8 in September and October but 8-10 in December.

We are still in the part of the year where the Giants are good and, once again, I refuse to take NFC West teams besides the 49ers on the road. Giants cover and so help me Gd if T-Jack leads the Seahawks to a touchdown to cut the Giants’ lead from 17 to 10 with less than two minutes to play.

Asif: The Giants’ next three opponents? Seattle, Buffalo, and Miami–all at home. Those are all games that New York will likely win, getting me excited just before they get blown out by the Patriots in Foxboro in Week 9, beginning their inevitable slide and leading me to break a bunch of stuff and swear off the NFL forever, only to come back just in time for the draft.

Seattle is extra awful outside Qwest Field. I’ll take NY to cover.

Tampa Bay @ San Fransisco (-3)

Ryan: You wouldn’t have realized it during preseason prognostication but this game is actually important in the overall NFC landscape; there is actually a decent chance that this game is a first round playoff preview. Both of these teams stand at 3-1. I am more impressed with the 49ers’ wins (Seahawks, @Bengals, @Eagles) than the Bucs’ (@Vikings, Falcons, Colts). San Francisco covers.

Asif: After watching the Bucs struggle with the Colts on Monday night, I’m convinced that they’re not good. Of course, the entire Tampa sports scene is trying to ruin my life right now so I’m probably wrong about this.

On the other hand, I am officially sold on the Niners. Last week’s win over Philadelphia showed a team that’s well coached, has a strong defense, and isn’t afraid of anyone. I’m more than comfortable taking the Niners to cover at home, especially since Tampa is overrated. I realize that I will probably regret this decision.

NY Jets @ New England (-9)

Ryan: After starting 2-0, the Jets did not look very good against the Raiders and Ravens. Something about them just looks off; I think that Rex Ryan will ultimately get the ship righted but that may or may not happen right away. The Patriots spread the ball around so well–especially with the likely return of Aaron Hernandez–that it really doesn’t matter who gets stranded on Revis Island. New England covers.

Asif: The Jets’ running attack has cratered, leaving the offense squarely on Mark Sanchez’s shoulders; too bad he’s incapable of completing 60% of his passes. Teams with good passing attacks can exploit the Pats’ weak seconday;, too bad the Jets’ passing attack sucks. Sorry I’m not sorry.

The Patriots usually win big in these “revenge” games, so I’ll take New England to cover.

San Diego (-4) @ Denver

Ryan: The shower in my apartment has reasonable pressure but wildly inconsistent temperature control. There is no sweet spot you can hit to have a shower at the optimal level of heat because it does not exist; there is not necessarily rhyme or reason as to how the water comes out based on where the knobs are (and it’s always annoying when you have to manage two knobs on a shower, juggling hot and cold to find the right combination of pressure and temperature) and it often changes in the middle of my shower. I am not sure whether it is better to have the temperature go from comfortable to scalding hot or cringe-inducing cold without warning but both happen and neither is ideal. This is sort of a metaphor for the Chargers of the last however many years, who now find themselves at 3-1 but have had close calls with the dreadful Vikings and Chiefs (combined 1-7 with the Chiefs’ only win coming against the Vikings).

The Broncos were one of two teams I actually got to watch last Sunday and they are verifiably dismal. Chargers cover.

Asif: Have to love John Fox putting in Tebow for one play and then yanking him–well played my man, excellent trolling. Now just start Brady Quinn and you will have my undying respect. Chargers good + Broncos bad + this line is probably not high enough = San Diego covers.

Green Bay (-5.5) @ Atlanta

Ryan: I would have probably taken the Falcons to cover in this game but that was before Brett Favre had to go and give a calculated backhanded compliment to Aaron Rodgers earlier in the week. NOBODY is better at taking any sort of perceived criticism and using it for personal motivation than ARodg. I am setting the over/under for his performance 30-32 for 750 yards and 12 touchdowns this week and taking the over. Also, the two incompletions will obviously be throwaways. If there was any doubt that the Packers would come into this contest content and lackadaisical, Favre erased it. Also, I distinctly remember the Packers’ not punting in Atlanta the last time these two played. Packers cover.

Asif: This is a tough one to pick. On one hand the Falcons have destroyed the lives of a record number of gamblers this season. On the other hand, they’re impossible to beat at home.

Green Bay is still the best team in the NFL in my mind. I’ll take the Packers to cover.

Monday Night:

Chicago @ Detroit (-5.5)

Ryan: My initial thought on this game was that I would pick the Bears to win outright because, at 2-2, they desperately need it to keep pace in the NFC North (of which they already have their work cut out in passing the 4-0 Lions and Packers) and Wild Card races. The Bears’ porous offensive line and great Lions pass rush notwithstanding, this line is a little bit too high.

In this game, the Bears would be wise to figure out how to heavily work screen passes to Matt Forte and quick receiver routes into the game plan if they want to keep Cutler alive. When Cutler has time to throw and sets his feet, he is truly an elite quarterback. When he has to get rid of the ball before routes develop, though, he is hasty and erratic. I think the Lions win this game but Bears cover.

Asif: Statement game for the Lions. Matt Forte has been playing out of his mind lately, but the Detroit defense is really good. Also, Mike Martz has gotten the “too many passing plays” monkey off his back for a week so now he can revert to calling five-step drop after five-step drop in a blatant attempt to get Jay Cutler murdered. It’s not going to be pretty when Ndamukong Suh rips off Cutler’s right leg on the 50-yard line halfway through the second quarter. Lions Cover.

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One Response to Week 5 NFL Picks

  1. Bryan says:

    Ryan,

    I don’t think the segment of Favre’s statement you posted was cynical, illogical, or delusional. If you strip away all the baggage that comes from the name Brett Favre and just read the statement, it makes perfect sense. I agree with everything he says there, and don’t think it’s a back-handed compliment for him to say, in only a couple sentences of the paragraph, that he was surprised it didn’t click earlier for Rodgers last season. Although I didn’t hear or read the whole interview, I think you’re overreacting to this one.

    Bryan

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