Every week I'll be giving you the rundown of all the things going on in the NFL for the week. Come here every Friday for the Throwdown.
About Last Night
So far this season, most Thursday Night Football games have held close, and this isn't neccessarily a good thing. Teams have come out looking sluggish and sloppy, with the underdogs often hanging in the entire game. Same thing happened last night, with the Tennessee Titans taking it another step, and beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-23.
The Steelers had numerous injuries throughout the game, and the Titans managed to not trip over their own feet enough times that they were able to hang around in the game.
The game was notable for a couple reasons: The Steelers might not be a good, veteran team at this point. They might just be old. Also, Mike Tomlin is going to have to be second guessed today after opting to throw the ball on third and long with just over a minute left in a tie game, instead of simply running the ball and forcing the Titans to use their last timeout.
Shaun Suisham would go on to miss a 54 yard field goal, turning the ball over to Tennessee near midfield. They would move quickly into field goal range and a Rod Bironas field goal as time expired would seal the game for the Titans, who are now 2-4 on the season.
Game Of The Week
New York Giants(3-2) vs. San Francisco 49ers(4-1)
The 49ers are coming into the game having destroyed their last two opponents by an average score of 73-3 (approx). The offense continues to hum along at an oppostion destroying pace, keeping up with the defense, featuring dualing all world linebackers Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman.
The Giants no showed early on last week versus the Browns before realizing they were playing the Browns and cruised at that point. New York is notorious for mailing it in at home against lesser opponents, but also tend to raise their game against upper echelon opponents.
This game will definitely be the highlight of the late afternoon games, and the entire week for that matter.
The Betting Line: The Giants are gettig 6.5 points on the road against arguably the best team in the NFC. This will be a huge matchup test for the Giants, as they will probably be going into the game without one of their top receivers, Hakeem Nicks, who is still recovering from a foot injury.
This has the feeling of a big Eli Manning game. They might not win, but it probably will not be a low-scoring game either.
My Pick: 49ers 34 Giants 31
The Rest Of The Games
Oakland Raiders(1-3) vs. Atlanta Falcons(5-0)
Not totally sure that the Falcons should be this overwelming of a favorite at home, where they only beat the Panthers due to coaching stupidity a couple of weeks ago.
The Raiders, on the other hand, are terrible. Darren McFadden is destroying his fair share of fantasy football teams, and Carson Palmer always feels like he is one game away from throwing 7 interceptions, then immediately retiring from the league. Also, Darius Heyward-Bey still hasn't quite recovered from his decapitation a few weeks ago.
The Betting Line: The Raiders are getting 9.5 points on the road. They might be bad. But the Falcons probably aren't 10 points better then the Raiders.
My Pick: Falcons 28 Raiders 20
Cincinnati Bengals(3-2) vs. Cleveland Browns(0-5)
Well, this is gonna be a battle to see who can play more shoddy defense for 60 minutes. The city that apparently reinvented chili some years ago vs. the city that was once able to set it's river on fire. The quest to see who can dominate the NFL RedZone network more meaninglessly.
Andy Dalton will probably throw a couple touchdowns. Brandon Wheeden will be bad but in a way that makes you almost second guess just how bad he is until he accidently throws the ball backwards or something.
The Betting Line: The Bengals are only -2 at home. That implies that Vegas betting lines actually tend to like the Browns in this game. The Browns have lost 11 straight games dating back to last year. That really, really isn't saying much for the Bengals.
My Pick: Bengals 30 Browns 12
St. Louis Rams(3-2) vs. Miami Dolphins(2-3)
Are either of these teams actually all that bad? That's become the popular question of the week. The Rams have been very tough to beat, and the Dolphins have played much harder than their comically inept season of Hard Knocks would lead you to believe.
Sam Bradford seems to be starting to live up to his high expectations coming out of college and being the number one pick in the draft. Ryan Tannehill might not be atrocious. Brian Hartline is apparently a thing!
The Betting Line: The Dolphins are -3.5 at home, meaning that people don't have a ton of faith in St. Louis in spite of their record. On the other hand, the Dolphins don't get the advantage of playing a team in the mid day sun that is wearing a black uniform, which has been their ultimate home field advantage.
My Pick: Rams 20 Dolphins 16
Indianapolis Colts(2-2) vs. New York Jets(2-3)
The Jets suck. They actually suck out loud. The Texans seemed to have zero interest in playing last Monday night, but the Jets were more than willing to wait them out and let them win, anyway.
The Colts, on the other hand, actually beat a good football team. Andrew Luck, their rookie quarterback/messiah, marched his team downfield against the Packers defense to win the game.
The Jets are inevitably going to try to get Tim Tebow involved occasionally in the offense again, which is something. They succeeded in running a direct snap fake punt with him to get a first down, and he actually threw a decent pass early in the game. But that pass was dropped because the Jets don't believe in Wide Receivers. Just quarterback controvery.
Also, weird side note. Tim Tebow was involved in the Monday Night Football game. That game was the 666th game in Monday Night history. After the game, Mark Sanchez, the STARTING quarterback of the Jets, had a QB rating on the season of 66.6. So yea. Religious stuff.
The Betting Line: The Jets are -3.5 on a short week. On the road. Even though they are awful. Their coach probably should be fired. Their best running back is Shonn Greene, who is from Iowa. No meaningful skill player comes from Iowa. They have no wide receivers, because again, screw 'em.
My Pick: Colts 42 Jets 16
Detroit Lions(1-3) vs. Philadelphia Eagles(3-2)
I'm not sure it's possible for two more unlikable teams to be squaring off against eachother.
The Eagles are terrible because they are actively trying to get Mike Vick, their quarterback, killed. They refuse to hand the ball off to LeSean McCoy, even though he is one of the 4 best running backs in football. I don't know what happened to Desean Jackson, besides making a cameo on the season premiere of the League last night.
The Lions are unlikable because an oddly large portion of their team are headcases and/or felons. Their coach is a complete jag. Their fans did a ton of talking before the season started about how their team was going to jump up another level and be so much better than the Bears and Packers. The only thing the Lions have jumped off so far this year is a cliff.
The Betting Line: The Lions are getting 3.5 points at home, which makes sense because one of their players very well might stab Vick, and will get away with it because the Eagles just don't care.
My Pick: Lions 28 Eagles 14
Kansas City Chiefs(1-4) vs. Tampa Bay Bucaneers(1-3)
Brady Quinn! Josh Freeman! None of this will be even an ounce of fun to watch!
The Betting Line: The Bucaneers are -4.5 because apparently nobody thinks these teams will just play to an atrocious 0-0 tie.
I, on the other hand...
My Pick: Chiefs 0 Bucaneers 0
Dallas Cowboys(2-2) vs. Baltimore Ravens(4-1)
Apparently nobody bothered to tell the Ravens that they had a game last Sunday, so at the last minute, the University of Eastern Kansas Something-Or-The-Others played instead. They still beat the Chiefs 9-6.
The Cowboys probably just aren't that good, because the Cowboys are one of the most hyped teams every season who proceed to do absolutely nothing time and time again. At some point, the theory of the Cowboys being good needs to stop being shoved down people's throats and they actually have to prove something on the field for a sustained period.
The Betting Line: The Ravens are only -3.5 at home, which is partly due to the fact that who knows who they might send in place of them this week. If they actually bother to show up, this might not be much of a game. The Cowboys are not equipped to stop a safety blitz. Ed Reed might break any number of records this week.
My Pick: Ravens 40 Cowboys 17
Buffalo Bills(2-3) vs. Arizona Cardinals(4-1)
People jumped off the Cardinals bandwagon faster than rich white men jumped off the Titanic after their loss last week. Luckily they get a good shot to get back in the win column this week, playing the turnove prone, running back ruining Bills.
The Cards don't have a very good offensive line. It's kind of a turnstile. Maybe Mario Williams will show up this week and get a few sacks. Then again, he probably won't. I reassert what I said last week that Mario Williams is a real life version of Scrooge McDuck, swimming around in his piles of money.
The Betting Line: The Cardinals are -4.5 at home, which doesn't say much about the Bills, but expresses betting concerns over whether Arizona can do much scoring.
My Pick: Cardinals 20 Bills 18
New England Patriots(3-2) vs. Seattle Seahawks(3-2)
Oh dear god, I hope the Patriots throw up 55 points and derail this Seattle team. I don't even hate them because of the whole Monday Night referee debacle a few weeks back. I hate them because a lack of humility or any semblance of reality they displayed after the game.
The Patriots will certainly try to run up the score, because, why not? But, Seattle does have a top ranked defense who has fast enough linebackers to be able to cover the two headed New England Tight End Monster of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez downfield.
On the other side of the ball, the Patriots defense will have to stop Russell Wilson's wait 1.5 seconds then bail out and run routine. This would be a high scoring affair if Wilson was able to throw the ball with any real accuracy more than 15 yards downfield.
The Betting Line: The Patriots are -3.5 on the road in a stadium that people take great pains to say is a tough place to play. That said, Tom Brady can sleepwalk his way to 24 points and that means the Seahawks will actually have to score some real, honest to god touchdowns.
My Pick: Patriots 34 Seahawks 12
Minnesota Vikings(4-1) vs. Washington Redskins(2-3)
Robert Griffin III has been practicing with Washington this week after suffering a concussion last weekend. The Vikings are probably going to do what it takes to knock him out of the game again. Jared Allen has no time for your mobility. He'll hit ya.
The Redskins defense, meanwhile, is a trauma ward at this point. They are losing guys on seemingly a week to week basis. Christian Ponder and Percy Harvin have been owning the game between the line of scrimmage and 10 yards downfield, and the Redskins really don't have anything that is going to stop that.
The Betting Line: There isn't a line on the game because Vegas wants to know that Griffin III is playing before they make the Vikings double digit favorites.
My Pick: Vikings 24 Redskins w/Griffin 23 Redskins w/o Griffin 10
Green Bay Packers(2-3) vs. Houston Texans(5-0)
Is it just me, or do these two teams feel like they are on national tv every week for games? The Texans, who most consider to be the best team in the NFL through 5 weeks even in spite of them sleeping through Monday Night Football last week, are home on Sunday Night Football against a Packers team that is desperate for a win after losing to the Colts last week.
The Texans haven't lost yet this year at home. The Packers haven't won yet this year on the road. So there's that. Also, the Packers will be playing a veritable who's that of running backs with James Starks and Alex Green getting carries, after Cedric Benson went down last week with an injury.
The Texans defense might be out to make an example out of Aaron Rodgers, who is publically taking the blame for the start of the Packers season.
The Betting Line: The Packers are +3.5 on the road in a must-win game. They have to be thinking about what has happened to them over the past few weeks and feel snake bitten. Plus, their offense has NOT been very good yet this year. And Texans defense, on the other hand, has been very, very good.
My Pick: Texans 31 Packers 17
Denver Broncos(2-3) vs. San Diego Chargers(3-2)
My god, I'm getting sick of seeing Peyton Manning on TV. He is turning into the Lindsay Lohan of the NFL. People still know him as who he was as opposed to who he is. They are both trainwrecks who often get too much respect for what they do. And they have both said that Dina Lohan is on cocaine! (citation needed)
The Chargers are unbelievably uninteresting to watch. The Broncos are unbelievably uninteresting to watch. So yea, this is the Monday Night Football Game america was clamoring for. Well done ESPN.
The Betting Line: The Chargers are -1 at home because nobody wants to bet on them. The Broncos will probably be able to put up points. The Chargers will put up points as well, even though you never actually see them score. Their score just kind of magically goes up as the game goes along.
My Pick: Broncos 24 Chargers 22
My Picks Last Week:8-5
Against the Spread: 5-8
Fantasy Football alert, going into week 5, here are my top three rising players, and my top 3 falling players:
1: Andrew Hawkins, WR, Bengals: He only had 5 receptions last week, but QB Andy Dalton did target him 13 times, which means that the defenses are focusing more on AJ Green. He should be getting secondary coverage and a lot of good opportunities.
2: William Powell, RB, Cardinals: There is basically no other healthy bodies left on the Arizona RB depth chart so the starting spot is his to lose.
3: Bilal Powell: RB, Jets: Just a hunch here, but eventually Rex Ryan has to lose interest in watching Shonn Greene meekly fall into the pile for 1.5 yards every play. Speaking of....
1: Shonn Greene, RB, Jets: I'm gonna keep putting him on this list until he finally is out of a starting job.
2: Greg Jennings, WR, Packers: His impending free agency and refusal to go back out there unless he is at 110 percent almost assures of him of standing behind James Jones on the depth chart, even when he is healthy.
3: Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers: I swear to god, if you don't learn to catch the ball...
Every week, I give the top 5 teams, and the 5 worst teams in the league, heading into the week's action.
1: Houston Texans. JJ Watts is the best player in the NFL you aren't currently talking about. He's too good, too young, too fast. He is making life a nightmare for opposing offensive linemen.
2: San Francisco 49ers. Recovered from their loss to the Vikings by absolutely obliterating their last two opponents. It feels like they are playing Junior College teams sometimes out there.
3: Atlanta Falcons. They are still undefeated, but they aren't really impressing anyone or beating teams like a true contender should.
4: Minnesota Vikings. If they can beat the Redskins more handily than the Falcons did last week, they are jumping them in next week's rankings.
5: Chicago Bears. First team in NFL history to have the same two defensive players score touchdowns in back to back weeks. At one point, late in the third quarter Sunday, the game was 6-3. Then they went ahead and scored 35 points.
falling out of the rankings this week: Baltimore Ravens. Maybe actually show up to your games and you will jump back up.
The Bottom Five
28: Detroit Lions. Hopefully figured out why they have a historically bad special teams. Then again, probably just celebrating that no teammates fist fought this week.
29: Carolina Panthers. Should have beaten the Seahawks. I'm waiting for a helmetless Cam Newton pull off his mask and reveal he is actually Henry Burris or Spurgeon Wynn or something.
30: Kansas City Chiefs. Cheered their starting quarterback Matt Cassel getting a concussion. Brady Quinn is their starter this week. I predicted all of this. Romeo Crennel is getting fired after this season. Again.
31: Jacksonville Jaguars. Holy crap, you are bad. Like really, really bad. I'm actually embarassed the Jags weren't in the bottom five last week.
32: Cleveland Browns. Remember the movie Major League, when the owner of the Cleveland Indians tried to build as bad of a team as possible so that they could move the team? I'm not saying that will happen. I'm also not saying that won't happen.
Enjoy the games everyone.