The term “peak” has been a common pop culture reference to describe a lot of things in 2016. “Peak television” has been thrown around many times this year to describe its sole place as the needle mover of America’s media gossip. If not television itself, then the content it has aired that has moved the Twittersphere in every which direction with “peak Trump” or “peak Hillary”. I mean honestly, is there anything from either candidate that would surprise you at this point? But I’m not here to bang the drum of politics, I want to make a point. Regardless of everything that goes on around us, there is one thing that is not even close to “peak” anything right now, and that is the one-time insurmountable king of all sports and related content, the NFL.
With these last two primetime disasters for the NFL; Seattle and Arizona with the “Sunday Night Snoozer” or the blowout in Jacksonville before it was even halftime, I think the NFL is at an all-time low. And when you consider the last decade, it does not look good. To borrow Bill Simmon’s famous line, “are we sure anybody is really good”?
You would have to turn the clock back a little over 10 years to where the league felt as watered down as this. In 2005-2006; Brady and the Pats where on a break (3 SBs in 4yrs), Favre was toiling away in Green Bay (led the NFL in INTs in ’05), Jake Plummer was leading the quasi-resurgence in Denver(I repeat, Jake Plummer), Big Ben and the Steelers had not been born quite yet and Dallas was still pretty terrible. I mean we had Rex Grossman start a Super Bowl against the Colts in 2007!! Rex Grossman! Let that sink in for a moment. I mean can you imagine someone so inept at quarterbacking that he actually led his team to the Super Bowl?!…………..Well……. we did have Peyton Manning’s corpse this past February, so maybe this thing is cyclical, like Clemenza’s theory about mob wars in Godfather Part I (calm down Denver fans, just throwing a little shade, still SB champs).
Anyways, this massive uncertainty week to week has left us borderline degenerate gamblers grasping at the proverbial straws for anything to hang our hat on. Other than Belicheck and Brady (keep in mind they have a shaky defense that can’t generate pressure like they use to), is there anybody you can really trust? Big Ben and his Steelers can’t stay healthy for more than 4 games at a time and cannot be trusted on the road (see Miami). Seattle can’t protect Russell Wilson to generate more than 20 points, much less a touchdown (I had to pick Russell freaking Wilson in fantasy this year)! The young Raiders just might be the AFC’s second best team. We’re only one game away from “what’s wrong with Aaron Rodgers this week” for the 6th time in a calendar year. And Carolina has shown us that the league giveth and the league can taketh away before you can bat an eye.
If the NFL is anything as of late, it’s “peak uncertainty”. It feels like this might be the start of a multi-year slump where no one can be trusted and a lot of these picks hinge less on quarterback play (the gold standard of betting from 2004-2014), to matchup based analytics. And no, I don’t pretend to be a founding member of Football Outsiders, but just keep in that in mind when you throw down junior’s college fund on Andrew Luck over Alex Smith.
On to the picks, I went 10-6 last week to extend my streak of plus .500 to three weeks in a row. I will be keeping the same picks format, and I will get back to giving thoughts on each game, just been a little busy with life at the moment, which is why I went a little longer on the intro.
(Home team in caps, pick in bold)
Last Week: 10-6 / To Date: 56-65
BENGALS -3 over Redskins
Chiefs -2.5 over COLTS
Raiders -1 over BUCCANERS
SAINTS + 1.5 over Seahawks
Lions +1.5 over TEXANS
Jets -2.5 over BROWNS
Patriots -6.5 over BILLS
PANTHERS +3 over Cardinals
Chargers +4 over BRONCOS
FALCONS -3 over Packers
COWBOYS -4.5 over Eagles
Vikings -4.5 over BEARS