Resentment toward the NFL seems to be the norm these days. The season isn’t even three weeks old yet, and so far we’re all collectively up in arms about a variety of subjects. That is, until we’re sitting on the couch and watching football, with a remote control in one hand and a beverage in the other.
- Replacement refs — They make bad calls! And what about player safety?
- Concussions — The NFL will be extinct in 20 years! And how will the ex-players even remember that it once existed after it goes away?
- Thursday Night Football — Short weeks destroy competitive balance! And how are the BASG writers supposed to get our picks in on time?
- Roger Goodell, Evil Dictator — The punisher shouldn’t be hearing bountygate appeals! And why was he so huggy during the Draft?
- Uniform restrictions and punishments — Free Alex! And who cares what color a guy’s sleeves are?
Yep, the NFL is a big, bad, militaristic corporation that is ripe for a major fall. Just remember, if that’s your prediction you might not want to look at the TV ratings.
Onto the picks, where I hope to improve on my 6-9-1 record from last week. Currently I’m in third, with Bay Area Stats Guy and East Bay Sports Guy in a tie for the lead. Maybe I should study the numbers a little more this week. Naahhhhh…
New York Giants @ Carolina Panthers (-2.5)
**Giants won 36-7**
Bay Area Sports Guy: Giants
East Bay Sports Guy:
Bay Area Stats Guy:
Ruthless Sports Guy: Giants
Bay Area Duck Guy:
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5) @ Oakland Raiders
Bay Area Sports Guy: If the Raiders are going to look like a halfway decent NFL team, it probably won’t happen until the second half of the season. As EBSG pointed out, their zone blocking scheme is going to take a while to figure out. The Steelers’ offense is pretty stagnant, mostly because they can’t run much without Rashard Mendenhall (out again this week), but I don’t see how the Raiders manage more than 14 points in this game. Pick: Steelers
East Bay Sports Guy: One question: Who is going to cover Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown? The Raiders will be without Ronald Bartell and Shawntae Spencer, leaving Joselio Hansen, Pat Lee, and Michael Huff to pick up the slack. We saw what a lesser tandem of Ryan Tannehill and Brian Hartline could do against a depleted Raiders defense last week. I shudder to think of what Big Ben will do. Pick: Steelers
Bay Area Stats Guy: I don’t like road favorites very much, it is just plain hard to win on the road and then to have to beat the spread too, that is often enough to make me take the home team. This is no different. I like the Steelers to win but the projection model says that it is likely to be 3 points or less. Pick: Raiders
Ruthless Sports Guy: This line isn’t giving enough respect to the Steelers. The Raiders are BAD. Like dredges of the league, 2013 number one overall bad. Sorry Raiders fans – Steelers roll Oakland to an 0-3 start. Pick: Steelers
Bay Area Duck Guy: The Raiders burned me last week when I put faith in them at home against Miami. After that, how can I put faith in them against a better Steelers team? I can’t. But watch, with my luck, Oakland will put together a great game against Pittsburgh and win the game. So, for the sake of Oakland fans, I’m picking the Steelers. Pick: Steelers
San Francisco 49ers (-7) @ Minnesota Vikings
Bay Area Sports Guy: Watch the line play in this game, as the 49ers should dominate on both sides. Adrian Peterson has averaged 2.67 yards per carry in two career games against San Francisco, his lowest against any team. I don’t see that average improving much — if at all — this Sunday. The one worry for the 49ers is Christian Ponder, who is quietly playing pretty well through two games (75.8 completion percentage, no INTs). As long as the Niners keep Ponder from delivering the ball to Percy Harvin in space, this one should be a no-doubter by the start of the fourth quarter. Pick: 49ers
East Bay Sports Guy: While the 49ers haven’t won in Minnesota since 1992, there is no way I am picking against them. They had no problem beating the Packers in Wisconsin. And so, I can’t imagine Minnesota posing any real threat. Pick: 49ers
Bay Area Stats Guy: 8 points on the road just seems like too much and my projection system seems to agree with me on this one. The 49ers are the better team but you can’t and shouldn’t expect blowouts on the road every week. The model says that the 49ers win this about 55 percent of the time and that the will win by an average score of 23 to 20. Pick: Vikings
Ruthless Sports Guy: The 49ers will probably win this in typical fashion: get a lead early, run the hell out of the ball and keep it a lot closer than it should be. Even then, a lot closer than it should be looks like a 10-point victory to me. Pick: 49ers
Bay Area Duck Guy: After two convincing wins against top-level competition, the 49ers are the best team in the NFL. The defense looks as strong as last year, and the offense is clicking. Willis and co. will have no problem stopping the Minnesota offense, even if it does feature Adrian Peterson. Assuming Alex Smith can get protection from the Vikings pass rush, San Francisco will have no problem beating a 7-point spread. Pick: 49ers
GAME OF THE WEEK:
New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens (-2.5)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Both teams are coming off close losses, so the bounceback factor really means nothing. The Patriots’ defense has been much better than the Ravens’ so far this season, so I’ll go with New England even though Baltimore probably should’ve beaten them in the AFC Championship Game. Pick: Patriots
East Bay Sports Guy: Last week, I waxed poetic about never choosing the Ravens. Given that I’m prone to stubbornness, I’m picking the Patriots. Also, I might be the only sentient being on earth who doesn’t believe in Flacco. I mean, he’s nothing more than a Cavallari-less Jay Cutler. Pick: Patriots
Bay Area Stats Guy: I like the Ravens in this game. The projection model has them winning about 55 percent of the time with a margin of victory of 3. Throw in that the replacement refs have seemed to amplify the home field advantage so far this season I think they might win by a touchdown or more. Pick: Ravens
Ruthless Sports Guy: Both the Ravens and the Pats came back to earth a little bit last week with losses to the Eagles and Cardinals. The Patriots may have overlooked the feathered ones from Arizona, but the Ravens outright lost to the birds of brotherly love. The question is how prepared the respective coaches will have their teams for a bounce back week. Bill Belichick is 32-18 ATS after a loss; John Harbaugh is 10-9-1. Give me the Patriots and the better bounce back win percentage. Pick: Patriots
Bay Area Duck Guy: The smart money is on the Ravens because of their defense and ability to run the ball. But something tells me Tom Brady and the Patriots will have a little extra motivation in this rivalry game after embarrassing themselves against Arizona. Even though the the Ravens should be able to score on the Pats, I expect a better-than-usual run defense from New England, and that will allow them to pull out a win on the road. Pick: Patriots
Season to Date