Every senior QB this season looks like trash. Let’s just say what it is. Brady is putting up the worst numbers of his career and under .500, Aaron Rodgers looks like he forgot how to make pinpoint passes and scramble out of trouble and he is under .500 losing to bad teams, Matt Ryan is benched for the remainder of the year, Matt Stafford is horrible and Russell Wilson has vanished into the thin air of Mile High stadium. The NFL has lost its honor guard in a wave of geriatric incompetence and mediocrity, seemingly all at once. It is unsettling to fans of the game. We watched an ineffectual Peyton Manning do just enough to win a second Super Bowl with a world-class defense, but there aren’t any reserved seats on the playoff bus for signal callers with tenure THIS year. Maybe the worst realization is that there doesn’t seem to be any clear path to turn things around for these graying greats, as they ‘rage against the dying of the light’. I was hoping for an 11-3 week, until my Patriots cratered at home against a cheesy Bears team on MNF. I’ll take 10-4, but oh, what could have been…..Here’s the picks.
Ravens at Buccaneers – I like Todd Bowles, I thought he was a terrific defensive coordinator, but he is clearly a man without a clue right now. From his own mouth, he has no idea what to do to turn his flailing team around. Their defense should be dominating the league, carrying along that low-horsepower offense. Not happening. The Ravens are coming to town, and while they have struggles of their own, they are beginning to figure them out. That trend continues this week, as the Black Birds commence sinking the Black Flags. Gurgle…..
Broncos at Jaguars – London calling…again. Those poor Brits not only watched their Queen expire and their month-old government implode after the torture that was Boris Johnson, but now they have to watch THIS imported rubbish from ‘the colonies’. Almost as appalling as watching Clark Griswold & family deplaning at Heathrow. I know we won the Revolution, but do we have to keep rubbing it in? Gimme the Jags in this one, just because they’re due and Denver has no QB. ‘Big Ben kids……Parliament….’
Panthers at Falcons – Who lit a fire under the rapidly disassembling yard sale called Carolina? They lose a head coach, two quarterbacks, and the league’s most versatile running back…and then go out and stomp the Tompa Bay Bucs to death on the road? Crazy stuff, man! Atlanta got torched badly by resurgent Cincinnati, so they are ripe for revenge. The Panthers play better defense, and right now they have the better QB in 3rd stringer Walker than Mariota, who is averaging less than 15 tosses per game. The horror that is the NFC South is wide open for someone to emerge from the stink. Aren’t Black Cats popular at Halloween? As James Taylor sang, ‘In my mind, I’m goin’ with Carolina…’
Bears at Cowboys – Chicago awakens from their lovely dream in New England to….weet weet weet!! The Dallas Cowboys Halloween Horror! Just when Justin Fields finally found the field tilting in his favor for once, it tips up and becomes a death slide into Freddy Krueger’s nightmare on Elm Street. Does a Bear (edited) in the woods? Yeah, and in their pants too at AT&T Stadium this week. It’s not Trick or Treat, it’s Dak or Zeke. Charmin Ultra, Bears?
Dolphins at Lions – Miami doesn’t look as good as their record, and last week Tua nearly threw four INT’s against Pittsburgh in an ugly win. Meanwhile, the Dolphin D-backs have been working hard to keep the other team in the game, encouraging opposing QBs to take shots into that leaky Secondary. That said, Detroit is still a dumpster fire burning out of control, and I think Campbell becomes ‘Cannedbell’ in time for the holidays. Cryin’s are dyin’ while Tua keeps flyin’.
Cardinals at Vikings – Tough call, as both teams don’t play great defense against run or pass. The New Purple People Eaters DO get after QBs pretty good, tho, and Murray in a Hurry takes a lot of sacks. Both teams boast historic receivers, as D-Hop and Justin Jefferson continue to establish ridiculous numbers. Patrick Peterson will likely draw Hopkins, who appeared to be the only receiver Murray focused on last week. Dalvin Cooks again this season, while Eno Benjamin dashed 95 yards last week in Conner’s absence. The Vikes are a soft 5-1, but firm enough to hold off King Cliffsbury’s vermillion visitors.
Raiders at Saints – The Saints defense has issued an invitation to Josh Jacobs to carve them up like a Halloween pumpkin this week, as Black & Gold hosts Black & Silver. They coughed up 7.7 YPC to Eno Benjamin last week, and Jacobs has averaged 147 per game in the last three outings. Add to that Carr now resembling Stephen King’s Christine rather than Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and it looks like the Raiders of the Lost Art are getting their mojo back. The Red Relic threw 6 TD passes last week….4 of them to his team, even. Only Duelin’ Dalton could make loyal Whodats miss ‘Lame-is’ Winston’s INT stats. With Latts and Robey wounded, the Raiders steal the Saints’ candy.
Patriots at Jets – Still shocked. Bill Belichick is legendary for taking away the one thing the other team does best on offense, forcing you to beat him some other way. This Monday night, the Pats couldn’t take away the ONLY thing Chicago does, as Justin ‘Mrs’ Fields converted more ‘3rd and forevers’ into first downs with his legs, wasting several Patriot sacks. Forget the quarterback controversy – the invisible defense was the real story. I would have been less horrified if I was sandwiched between Michael Meyers and Pennywise on my couch than watching that massacre. Saleh’s Jets have a real defense, so points are going to be scarce. Tell you what – with ‘Call Me The Breece’ out, this game is a pick ‘em. Jets don’t fret while the Pats go flat.
Steelers at Eagles – The Battle of Pennsylvania is going to be over quick. Eagles soar while the home crowd roars and Jalen scores while Pittsburgh snores. Want anymore?
Titans at Texans – Vrabel’s Fightin’ Titans have shown depth and determination this season, and there’s no reason to think that train derails this week in Houston. The Texans are also a team with some fight in them, but not enough sluggers yet to pull off wins. Their scrappy new D-backs will give Tennessee Tannehill reason to be careful throwing downfield, but with Derek Henry steamrolling a path forward, Houston will have all it can handle. Tennessee whiskey is smoother than Texas crude.
Commanders at Colts – Boy, this is a tough one. The Colts benched their savior for the season, so they look ridiculous again. After Wentz and Ryan, maybe they’ll expend draft capital to go and get….Baker Mayfield? Anyhoo, the Reprimanders are now Taylor Heinicke’s team to lose, and he is feisty and a gamer who is likely to try and make the most of this latest opportunity. That may compel him to try too hard to make things happen, which leads to turnovers. In an either/or game, I think the headless Colts hold serve at home with good defense. Horseshoes hamper Heinicke’s heroics at home.
49ers at Rams – Speaking of Halloween frights, the Niners added the league’s best pass-catching running back (CMC) to their league’s best ball-carrying receiver (Samuel), jacking some major horsepower into their offense. This gives opposing teams TWO nightmare option players to cover, which will help pull some pressure off of delicate Jimmy Garoppolo. The Rams are still locked in the throes of a post-championship slump, with no escape in sight. Kupp is double-covered all the time now, which shows up in his stats. Staffie has reverted to Detroit form, suggesting that he is a one-time-only champ QB. Expect Bosa to haunt Stafford early and often, as Shanahan’s gold panners seek to establish themselves atop the NFC West. Niners are finer in LaLa Land.
Giants at Seahawks – This is a very interesting matchup, which nobody would have anticipated last season. Geno is among the top passers this season and owns the best overall rating. Kenny Walker does anything BUT walk when he’s handed the pig, tearing up defenses with breathtaking breakaway speed, and though they aren’t having their best year, Metcalf and Lockett are always dangerous downfield. The Giants come in riding their own hard-earned success and motivated by a need to keep pace with Philly and ahead of Dallas. There is no question either team can win this, and the NFL network pundits are split down the middle on this one. I have faith in Seattle’s ability….but I am going with Daboll’s luck this week. The Big Blue Bus keeps rolling for another week.
Packers at Bills – Many thought this would be last year’s Super Bowl matchup, but this year it’s just a football game and not even that interesting. Buffalo is a team of destiny, and Green Bay appears to be a team destiny has passed over. I just don’t see any scenario where the lackluster, disheveled Packers find what they need to hold off Josh Allen’s team. The Bills get paid, in spades.
Bengals at Browns – The Battle for Ohio ensues, and while both teams sport orange colors, that’s where the similarities end. Cleveland is STILL Cleveland, perennially snakebit. Cincy on the other hand is reverting to their contender form of last season, as they appear to have shaken off the Super Bowl funk and gotten back to being the Bengals. Cleveland’s culture of losing runs generations deep, and no matter what they do it never seems to change. They ought to be renamed the Charlie Browns. Cincinnati may or may not get back to the big game this year….but they will certainly put the Browns far in their rearview mirror. Burrow buries the Brownies.
Enjoy the games!
-Pigskin Pundit (Nathan Clark)