Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: September 2012

A good week overall, but that 8-6-1 record was completely ruined by a 0-3-1 in the Best Bets. In the three resounding defeats, it was a classic case of underestimating the Vikings and Jaguars, while the Lions should have covered but shot themselves in the foot repeatedly.

Since I went over the lead story, the return of the real referees, yesterday in the process of detailing my incorrect pick. Let’s just get to, for entertainment purposes only, the picks. Home teams in caps.

Patriots (-4) at BILLS: If you think the Patriots are going to be just fine this season despite the 1-2 start it’s a pretty easy 4 points to give.

LIONS (-4) over Vikings: after the 49ers upset last week, “Hey, how ’bout that Christian Ponder?” was one of the weekend’s big stories. In other news, nobody seems too concerned about Matthew Stafford’s leg injury, a bit surprising considering his history. That said Shaun Hill can run the ship just fine if Stafford doesn’t play, 4th and 1 attempts to draw teams offside notwithstanding.

Falcons (-7) at PANTHERS: Cam Newton’s ability to a lightning rod knows no bounds. The defense gives up scores on their first four drives, and all we are talking about is Cam Newton’s leadership and losing record. Not saying those criticisms aren’t valid, but can we get some perspective here? The rest of this team sucks. If Ramses Barden can break out against this secondary, Julio Jones and Roddy White should be ready to embarrass them Sunday.

JETS (+4) at 49ers: Strictly a contrarian pick since it’s seems a 49ers cover, especially coming off a surprise loss to Minnesota, is so obvious. And that’s how Vegas gets rich. If the expected does happen, of course there will be the usual hype about the inevitability of Tebow Time. My thing is, Tebow Time’s already been here! In the less charismatic and appealing form of Mark Sanchez. Look at last week’s game. Sanchez stunk it up for the first 50 munutes or so, missed throws, rallied when it mattered, and got the missed field calls and bonehead moves from the Dolphins he needed to be gifted a win. If Tebow played the same game with the same stats, all we would be hearing about is miracles and moxie and determination and other hosannas about a garbage win in September over the Dolphins.

CHIEFS (+1) over Chargers: The Chargers may not be good. They’re definitely not good enough to be declared road favorites.

Titans (+12) over TEXANS: My long-documented apprehension about Gary Kubiak has not quite dissipated. Plus, the Texans have could fall asleep after taking a big lead.

Seahawks (-3) over RAMS: Seattle’s defense is no joke, people. It might be good enough to where all Russell Wilson has to do is make one or two big TD throws a game to lead Seattle to victory.

CARDINALS (-5) over Dolphins: the Cardinals defense should be enough here as unlike some other much-ballyhooed defenses, they will actually generate a pass rush and knock Ryan Tannehill down. Yes, Jets, I meant you.

Raiders (+7) at BRONCOS: yes, you should be concerned about Peyton Manning’s reduced arm talent. But right now you should really be concerned about Denver’s defense, which is not good right now.

Bengals (-1.5) over JAGUARS: the Jags haven’t been completely stinktastic, but the Bengals are resembling a solid team. It shouldn’t be a shocker considering they made the playoffs last year, but let’s face it. We have different expectations for the Bengals. And not in a good way.

Saints (+7.5) at PACKERS: Another contrarian pick here, mostly because the Saints smack of a little more desperation to me. Not enough to win outright, but enough desperation.

BUCCANEERS (-2.5) over Redskins: if Josh Freeman can’t light up this now-sorry Redskins defense, then it really is time to worry. And it’s nice that Greg Schiano is sticking by his guns on the victory formation thing, but isn’t he tired of lining up against victory formations?

EAGLES (-2) over Giants: Last Thursday’s impressive display totally sets them up to disappoint Sunday. Because that’s how the Giants roll.

Bears (+3.5) over COWBOYS: I think the writing off of the Bears as contenders is a bit soon. And while the Dallas defense is living up to the hype, the offense has been underwhelming. Also underwhelming, of course, will be Jay Cutler’s demeanor and body language.

Best Bets: Patriots, Cardinals, Bengals

Season: 28-20-1, 5-5-1 Best Bets

RAVENS (-12) over Browns: Woot! The real referees are back and there will be no mistakes of officiating ever again! (Not true.) The end of lame Foot Locker jokes emanating from the stands! (Nope.) Finally, a rousing victory for labor standing on principle in the face of arrogant greedy capitalists! (Sure, if you have a high-paying job as your primary income.) What a job by Roger Goodell, finally listening to the people and putting an end to this! (Breaking down to your bosses that this was not a battle worth fighting against a group that had the financial wherewithal to wait until the leverage swung in their favor would have taken some foresight and a willingness to take on your bosses in their own interest. Of course, who wants to fight their boss? It’s a pain.)

Anyway, now that America has a renewed appreciation for the rare and unique set of skills necessary to officiate NFL games, at least until the first time someone in the Ravens’ secondary bitches about a pass interference call, time to get to the matter at hand: the Ravens D is not what it once was, but as the immortal Steven Jackson once said to Robert Griffin III: this ain’t the Big 12, son.

First and foremost, because last night’s post disappeared into the AT&T network ether, I have to accept my loss like a man. Again. I thought I had picked Carolina (-2.5) over the Giants. Or, more accurately, I thought I had posted it. I was thinking that a banged-up team, on a short week, on the road would be asking too much. I suppose if you’re Andre Brown and Ramses Barden, you haven’t been playing that much on lately, so you aren’t affected.

Despite that setback, the record so far is 20-13 for the season, with a cool 5-2 in the Best Bets. A great overall week at 13-2 last week was mostly driven by not overreacting to Week 1 results. Unfortunately, I can’t use that method this week. With two weeks of results, we now have a lot of teams outside of Houston and San Francisco that turned in two different games.

Now that I’ve lowered expectations, let’s get to the picks—after we discuss Roger Goodell. I understand that he gets his paychecks from the owners, as all commissioners do. And if the guy’s job is to simply execute the prerogatives of the owners then he’s doing his job just fine. However, I do think one your jobs as commissioner is to try and rein in the worst instincts of your owners. That’s how you help your constituents, by sometimes telling them no.

Clearly I’m referring to the replacement referee fiasco, as the owners try to break the referees union because, well, they can. Fair enough, but the big problem isn’t that the replacements are making bad calls. The real refs made bad calls. The replacements’ problem is that they’re taking forever to administer their bad calls and cover their butts on replays, not to mention get control of very large men who have no respect for them. And that affects the TV product. Always remember that the massive strength of the NFL is mainly to its excellence as a TV product. You simply can’t take a chance on messing with that. If the NFL is to soldier on with the replacements, they better get them to make their incorrect calls at a brisker pace, or bring back to real refs. If Goodell were really doing his job, I think he would be emphasizing the danger towards ruining the TV product and working towards settling this.

The second thing Goodell has totally screwed up is Bountygate. He had this on lockdown by suspending Sean Payton, Gregg Williams, Mickey Loomis, and Joe Vitt. Let’s be honest, the purpose of this was to send a message that player safety was paramount to the league, and that pay-for-injury schemes outside of the salary cap would not be tolerated. By possibly killing Williams’ career, costing the Saints’ their coach and general manager, and making the Saints go through the indignity of having an interim interim coach, that job was done.

So why on earth did Goodell feel the need to suspend players? It was all good until they selected four players for suspension and setting the NFL on the road to this mess. They didn’t have to, or need to do this. Now more and more, Goodell and the league office are under question about their methods and fairness, when they’re not in court. Just silly.

Anyway, despite the commissioner’s general incompetence, we are looking forward to a fun Week 3. Let’s have fun for entertainment purposes only, with the home team in caps.

BEARS (-7.5) over Rams: It’s a good thing that Jay Cutler is one indifferent bastard, because who knows how he might have dealt with all the criticism over the past ten days. It’s a bad thing that the Bears have had no answers for their offensive line problems for years now. The prime-time game where Cutler gets sacked seemingly between twenty and twenty-five times is pretty much an annual NFL staple.

Buccaneers (+7.5) over COWBOYS: Greg Schiano needs to thank Tom Coughlin for sparking that kneel-down controversy, because that obscured the fact that they dominated that game before allowing Eli Manning to do whatever then hell he wanted and blowing the game.

49ers (-7) over VIKINGS: I can’t believe this line is only seven points, but I can’t talk myself out of it.

Lions (-3.5) over TITANS: Not sure what to make of Jake Locker. It sure would help if Chris Johnson was alive to help out with the assessment.

Bengals (+3.5) over REDSKINS: Both of these defenses aren’t as good as people think, but the Bengals didn’t just lose two valuable members of their front seven for the season (Brian Orakpo, Adam Carriker.)

Jets (-3) over DOLPHINS: If there’s anything I know about the Jets, it’s that Rex Ryan’s defenses know how to take advantage of a bad QB.

Chiefs (+9) over SAINTS: Smell that? That would be two desperate teams trying not to go 0-3. The Saints haven’t shown anything resembling a defense able to cover this spread.

Bills (-3) over BROWNS: Sure, Brandon Weeden showed signs of life last week. Well, he’s going to have to show me again.

COLTS (-3) over Jaguars: We know these teams are bad, but we really don’t know how bad. I think the Jaguars have more potential for a “Damn, this is ugly”-type season.

CARDINALS (+3.5) over Arizona: I don’t love Kevin Kolb, but I do like him getting short fields thanks to the turnover-happy Eagles.

CHARGERS (-3) over Falcons: Yeah, I just don’t know if I’m ready to trust the Falcons on grass outside.

BRONCOS (+2) over Texans: No, I will not join the Peyton Manning Panic Parade, thank you very much. The Texans are quite good, but they’re not going undefeated.

Steelers (-4) over RAIDERS: The Raiders have shown you no reason to believe they can beat Pittsburgh. None. I think their crappiness has been somewhat underrated.

Patriots (+3) over RAVENS: I would not watch NBC Sunday night, Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff. Just sayin’.

SEAHAWKS (+3.5) over Packers: It was nice to see the Packers play defense for a week. I need another week of prime-time defense before I’m ready to buy in.

Best Bets: 49ers, Jets, Lions, Colts

Last week: (13-3, 2-0 Best Bets)

Season: (20-13, 5-2 Best Bets)

The one thing that no one seems to discuss when about the NFL referee lockout is that they are part-timers. When people talk about this, they can’t believe that the referees aren’t willing to take whatever deal the NFL gives out. After all, it is a part-time job, right?

But that is the underrated portion of what’s going on here. Most of the regular NFL officials are actually pretty successful people in their day-to-day endeavors.

Clearly, not enough of them are hurting for that NFL paycheck to the point where they are going to take any deal, like the players. If any labor union can take a principled stand, (if this really is about preserving the pension program), it’s this one! The money at their second job is, for most of them, nice, but not totally necessary.

This has to be affecting the negotiations more than is being discussed. The owners may have underestimated the resolve of the regular officials if they did not foresee this as a factor, or maybe it’s part of their impetus to break the union and possibly re-organize the officials in some sort of more dependent structure.

Either way, I hadn’t seen any analysis that mentioned this, so I was just putting that out there for consideration.

So, what have we learned after week 1? If you’re smart, nothing, really. I’m not going to say it’s as useless as the preseason (thanks, New York Jets), but what you see Week 1 can often be more mirage than harbinger. Unless, of course, what you saw in Week 1 confirms what you already knew.

For example, nobody in their right mind is buying the fact that the aforementioned Jets scored 48 points last week and resembled a modern NFL offense. (Well, except for the rotating quarterbacks thing, so it what it really resembled was more like one of those University of Texas teams where Mack Brown can’t figure out who his QB is.) After all, they beat the hell out of those horrible Buffalo Bills, who suck and are no good, as predicted by everyone. Oh, wait.

What we already knew is that the San Francisco 49ers had one hell of a defense, and they opened the season with a sound defeat of the Green Bay Packers. Despite having a game manager QB, they seem to have announced that they may be the favorites to be Super Bowl champs. In the current era where an “elite” QB who can paper over team weaknesses is supposedly required in order to win it all, can Alex Smith strike a mighty blow in the mold of Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, and Jeff Hostetler? It might be the philosophical question that drives this season, and all the television banter. You’ll hear it more as the 49ers pile up regular-season wins.

All home teams in caps, lines from ESPN.

BILLS (-3.5) over Chiefs: I’m somewhat count on the Bills to have some pride, and show why they were such a chic preseason pick. Unless of course, Ryan Fitzpatrick is as horrible as he was last week, which he just can’t be.

BENGALS (-6.5) over Browns: Brandon Weeden did not debut to rave reviews, but what do you expect for a young, er, middle-aged rookie QB? Cincinnati was competitive with the Ravens for a little over a half when things sort of got out of control. The Browns arrive at a much-needed time.

COLTS (+1.5) over Vikings: Adrian Peterson’s healing abilities hopefully have been recorded for and studied by science. But Andrew Luck has probably heard enough of the “RGIII might be better” talk already.

DOLPHINS (+2.5) over Raiders: Stop laughing! The Raiders are flying to the East Cost for a 10 am game their time off a short week. Joe Philbin will keep the wraps on Ryan Tannehill just enough for them not to lost this one to a sleepwalking Raiders team that, quite frankly, put me to sleep late Monday night.

Cardinals (+13.5) over PATRIOTS: Sunday, Kevin Kolb finally steps up and takes what is rightfully his with a late backdoor cover that relegates John Skelton to the bench.

Buccaneers (+7.5) over GIANTS: I just traded Doug Martin in my fantasy league for much-needed QB help. Just in time for me to watch him follow in DeMarco Murray’s footsteps and break off a few big runs during this one.

Ravens (+2.5) over EAGLES: Michael Vick looks like he’s regressed a bit from his comeback season of two years ago. Ed Reed and friends will keep it looking that way.

PANTHERS (+2.5) over SAINTS: It’s going to take a couple of weeks for the Saints to figure out their new Steve Spagnuolo defense, so expect Cam Newton to follow is Robert Griffin’s footsteps as well as passing routes and take full advantage.

JAGUARS (+7.5) over Texans: I still don’t totally trust Gary Kubiak, and I don’t want to jinx it yet, but, maybe, possibly, Blaine Gabbert doesn’t suck.

RAMS (+3.5) over Redskins: Congratulations on the new era, Redskin fans, I think you have your franchise quarterback. But these are still the Redskins, and they have to win a game like this before I start believing that things done changed in DC.

SEAHAWKS (-3.5) over Cowboys: Russell Wilson wasn’t bad, he should have led a comeback over the Cardinals (then again, considering the fourth time out fiasco, make the Cardinals should have won,) except for the dropped passes and fade-happy play-calling. It’s not like Russell Wilson is unathletic and has to stay in the pocket. Why go offensive coordinators hate rollout and bootleg plays around the goal line and love difficult-to-precisely-execute fade patterns so much?

STEELERS (-6.5) over Jets: I was going to pick the Jets, but Revis not playing has become a very real possibility. The only upside of that might be that the Jets would know going in they have to score points and stay on the offensive. Alas, I think Ryan and Sparano will go back to playing close to the vest against the Steelers and playing totally into their hands. Besides Mike Tomlin can’t allow 0-2 to happen, can he?

Titans (+6.5) over CHARGERS: Also from the Not Totally Sucking Department, Jake Locker! Before he got hurt, he wasn’t great against a rejuvenated Pats defense, but he sure didn’t embarrass himself. Sometimes, there’s inherent satisfaction in the relief of lowered expectations.

49ERS (-6.5) over Lions: The Lions can’t run the ball, but you can bet your life NBC will be running video of the Harbaugh-Schwartz throwdown ad nauseaum Sunday night.

FALCONS (-3.5) over Broncos. Julio Jones and Roddy White are poised to dominate this season. The only question will be if they, with Matt Ryan pulling the trigger, can dominate a playoff game for once.

Best Bets: Colts, 49ers, Falcons

It’s amazing what can happen when older people are not afraid to look stupid. I suppose this happens for a variety of reasons, most of which come down to not caring anymore.

There appear to be two kinds of not caring anymore, though. The more common kind involves wearing comfortable, non-stylish and plain things like untucked baggy shirts or sweat pants. This is the kind of not caring anymore that comes from, for lack of a better word, a wisdom about appearances to outsiders and how that no longer matters, as if it ever did. Comfort and cost are pretty much what carries the day.

And then there are the older people who also don’t care, but it’s more like, “I don’t care what you think, I am not giving up my inimitable, unique style. Wear muu-muus and slacks you ordered from the pages of Parade magazine if you want, I’m still wearing bright colors and my rope chains. I’ve still got style, dammit.”

My curiosity lies pretty much in that fork in the road. I have some idea which of my friends will be still be clinging to the latest styles as they get old and I pretty much have some idea who will be in need of a dollar-store sweat pants intervention.

I know that I probably can’t see my 70-year old self wearing a tight multicolored t-shirt, not unless HGH is as common for old folks in the future as it is currently for desperate major leaguers looking to hang on to their careers. So, the only question now: can I stay away from buying mail-order slacks? Not pants, slacks.

Bears (+6) over PACKERS: Just a feeling this is going to be a close one. The Bears will make their best effort at putting the reeling Pack in an early hole, but I think the Packers can pull this one out and stave off a major panic in Cheeseville for the week. Tomorrow, I’ll outline in detail the reasons for my mediocre 7-9 week. Other than, you know the fact that I am completely not qualified and I do little in the way of careful research.

I actually am not doing this to show off my NFL prognostication skills, I’m doing this to get back into the habit of writing regularly. After all, these things are scheduled once a week every week. When you’ve hit a rut like I have, it’s actually quite a foolproof way to get back into the habit of writing. Whether or not anyone reads this is another matter entirely. As long as I can get back into the habit of typing in long-form format, this will have succeeded wildly.

As far as the authorities know.

Some of you might remember that I have the misfortune of being a fan of the New York Jets. This was probably caused by the fact that when I was a young lad, the bedroom TV my parents gave us only had a couple of channels that worked. One of them was Channel 4, WNBC. Now, some of our younger readers may not believe this, but NBC was once a mighty network with many popular television shows. It was also home of the AFC, before NBC, amongst many mistakes, decided that football was too expensive to pay for, only to discover the network in the toilet without it and eventually overpay to bring it back (despite the fact that CBS had learned this painful lesson only a few years earlier.) This is why Roger Goodell and his cohorts are currently not afraid of any potential replacement-refs catastrophes.

Anyway, the Jets were NBC, the channel that worked on my bedroom TV, and that was that. I feel like I’ve given some pretty solid reasons for a bad decision. In any case, you are right, reader, they are grossly over-covered, so I’m not going to continue talking about them. As a matter of fact, not paying attention to them as they commence their sure-to-be 6-10 disaster is another pretty good reason the internet needs yet another NFL picks column. And by the internet, I mean me.

All home teams are in caps. I am using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick’Em spread game, because let’s face it, we all know who really runs things when it comes to football. Oh, wait, this isn’t a college football post.

Home teams in cap, and as always, this is strictly for entertainment purposes. I need it.

GIANTS (-4) over Cowboys: Because we keep it real around here, I just have to take my loss like a man. I’ll still take Eli Manning over Tony Romo in a huge spot. Now maybe last night was a sign that Tony is ready to take the next step and become not just an excellent stats quarterback, but a guy you can trust can to come up big when it matters most. With Eli, it’s not always pretty, but the guy finds a way to get it done. And he probably would have last night had Romo not made that great throw on third down to run out the clock.

Colts (+10.5) over BEARS: The Bears will win this game, but in today’s pass-happy NFL, how can you not expect Andrew Luck to come out with a huge game that’ll have less-restrained media types talking Canton? I remember hanging at the bar last year for Week 1, and going, “So why was it such a bad idea to take Cam Newton again?”

Eagles (-8.5) over BROWNS: I am definitely in the “Michael Vick can’t stay healthy and therefore the Eagles are going nowhere” camp. That will be temporarily forgotten in this beatdown of the still-hapless Browns.

Rams (+8.5) over LIONS: Ah, let the media redemption of Brian Schottenheimer and Jeff Fisher begin.

Patriots (-6.5) over TITANS: Almost by default, the Patriots are the favorites to win the AFC, owing to a friendly schedule and the widespread belief that Bill Belichick has finally built a respectable defense through shrewd drafting. I generally tend to believe that as well. It’s not like last year, where they were bringing in the likes of Albert Haynesworth and Chad Johnsoncinco and fawning media types were all like, “Bill Belichick must know something” in the absence of genuine analysis. (Oh yeah, don’t think I’m above using straw men in lieu of links to examples of this. I have a full-time other job, you know.)

Falcons (-0.5) over CHIEFS: I am not among those who thought that Romeo Crennel did a bad job in Cleveland. It was Cleveland. He won 10 games with Derek Anderson. It was Cleveland. Where he won 10 GAMES. Who else has won 10 games with the Browns? Pat Shurmur and Eric Mangini haven’t, that’s for sure. I am not saying Romeo shouldn’t have been canned, I’m just saying I don’t think he’s going to be the problem with the Chiefs. That would be Matt Cassel, I’m afraid.

VIKINGS (-4.5) over Jaguars: You know what group of I don’t think is held accountable enough? People who said Cam Newton had too many questions, and therefore, Blaine Gabbert was the way to go. (I know what you’re saying, another straw man, wellwhiskey? Not this time, my friend!) That said, it’ll be interesting to see if Gabbert improves from his first to second year.

SAINTS (-9.5) over Redskins: A pissed-off Saints team with something to prove is not going to welcome in Robert Griffin III with open arms.

JETS (-3.5) over Bills: Only picking this because the public seems to be on the Bills’ bandwagon and everybody and their mom seem to think the Jets are headed for a disaster of a season starting with this game. While I don’t think they’re as bad as they’ve shown, they’re certainly not good. Angry Fan Proclamation Time: If Tebow becomes the starter, they are going 6-10, and the next two seasons will be a disaster. However, if Mark Sanchez has the stones to stare down Tebowmania, his coach who’s all bravado on defense but all scared pussycat on offense, Santonio Holmes, and the right side of his offensive line and starts all 16 games, they’ll be an 11-5 or 12-4 team, because their defense is excellent. I don’t think Sanchez has it in him, I’m afraid, so I am leaning towards disaster. As for the Bills, I still think they’ll have a pretty good season; I’m just going against the public here.

TEXANS (-7.5) over Dolphins: Can Matt Schaub also make the leap from statistically excellent QB to champion? Some people think so, as the Texans, based on their TJ Yates-led playoff run, are a popular Super Bowl pick. I am not one of them. Not because of Schaub, though. I’ll be damned if I trust Gary Kubiak, I’m sorry. As for Ryan Tannehill, for his sake, I hope the Dolphins don’t try too hard to protect him. I think QB’s develop better when they are allowed to fling the ball around the yard and get 25-interception seasons out of their systems, as compared to the “game manager” who slowly develops, only to be unable to step it up when he has to actually fling the ball around the yard (Joe Flacco may finally be there, Mark Sanchez, not so much.) Just a theory of mine.

PACKERS (-6.5) over 49ers: Speaking of game managers, how come there isn’t more buzz about Colin Kaepernick taking Alex Smith’s job? Unlike the more-hyped East Cost version of this (disappointing high draft pick pocket QB is challenged by intriguing athletic QB), this has not been mentioned at all. Is Kaepernick not developing as they’d hoped? Because I am not buying the alternative, that Alex Smith has this thing on lockdown. In other news, Aaron Rodgers now has a Super Bowl ring and no longer harbors any resentment towards the 49ers for passing him over to take Smith in the 2005 draft. Right.

Seahawks (+1.5) over CARDINALS: Russell Wilson clearly cannot be stopped. Well, this week, when he’s going to get a ton of help from John Skelton.

BUCCANEERS (-2.5) over Panthers: I can’t trust a team that inexplicably keeps giving scads of money to running backs, It’s like GM Marty Hurney and Rex Ryan haven’t gotten the memo that it’s 2012.

BRONCOS (-1.5) over Steelers: Old defense + poor offensive line play. This formula is only being accepted because they are the Pittsburgh Steelers. I would be worried. Not four-neck-surgeries worried, or anything. (I kid! Peyton will be fine. He wouldn’t be back out there if he was in serious danger. I think.)

Bengals (+6.5) over RAVENS: Marvin Lewis attempts to have two good years in a row. I think he might have them. I don’t get analysts who like to get on his case. It’s the Bengals, who are still light-years behind the rest of the league when it comes to scouting and facilities. Considering that Lewis has been bringing a machete to a gunfight the last nine years, that he’s inflicted a few wounds here or there is pretty decent. As for the Ravens, they should have been in the Super Bowl, but Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff came up a bit short at the worst possible time. They also have the old defense problem, and Cam Cameron is still running the offense. But as long as Ray Lewis is doing that absurd introduction dance, you gotta think they have a chance.

RAIDERS (-1.5) over Chargers: I don’t know what to expect from Oakland, they might be two-wins bad or seven-wins bad, but I do know this: Norv Turner is sure to give America a reminder that, somehow, Norv Turner is still the coach of the San Diego Chargers.

Best Bets: Patriots, Texans, Saints, Seahawks

GIANTS (-4) over Cowboys

Look, I need practice. I’m rusty.

(Applies to both faux-gambling and writing)