2012 NFL Week 4 Preview

Before we get into our Week 4 preview, let’s post a quick recap on last night’s Browns-Ravens game…

Baltimore 23, Cleveland 16
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.62 – Baltimore, 4.03 – Cleveland
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Baltimore 30.91, Cleveland 20.15

Quick Thought: HOLY MOTHER OF PEARL IS IT GREAT TO SEE YOU AGAIN, GENE STERATORE! You’ve always kept games running at a brisk clip and delivered penalty announcements with dignity and class. Plus, the line judge on your crew is named Jeff Seeman! Hilarious. It just goes to show that unintentional comedy can still comfortably coincide with officiating competence.

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Below are SSLYAR’s Week 4 NFL Projections, ranked by the author’s subjective interest in watching each game. Home teams are italicized; projected winners against the spread are underlined. To see which games are being shown in your area, check out the506′s TV distribution maps. Our guest analyst this week is a television news anchor from Springfield, Oregon: Kent Brockman.

Philadelphia Eagles 28, New York Giants 27: “Scott, things aren’t as happy as they used to be down here at the unemployment office. Joblessness is no longer just for Philosophy majors – useful people are starting to feel the pinch.”

Buffalo Bills 27, New England Patriots 24: “Dozens of people are gunned down each day, but until now, none of them was important. I’m Kent Brockman. At 3:00 PM Friday, local autocrat C. Montgomery Burns was shot, following a tense confrontation at town hall. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was then taken to a better hospital where his condition was upgraded to ‘alive.'”

Dallas Cowboys 14, Chicago Bears 13: “Ladies and gentlemen, what you are seeing is a total disregard for the things St. Patrick’s Day stand for. All this drinking, violence, destruction of property. Are these the things we think of when we think of the Irish?”

San Francisco 49ers 17, New York Jets 16: “Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it’s time for our viewers to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside?”

Green Bay Packers 38, New Orleans Saints 24: “Thanks, Mayor Simpson! From now on, we’ll all be taking golden showers.”

Detroit Lions 23, Minnesota Vikings 21: “Of course, there’s no way to see into the Simpson home without some kind of infrared heat-sensitive camera. So let’s turn it on! Now, this technology is new to me, but I’m pretty sure that’s Homer Simpson in the oven, rotating slowly. His body temperature has risen to over 400 degrees – he’s literally stewing in his own juices.”

Denver Broncos 34, Oakland Raiders 24: “How can I prove to you we’re live? Penis!”

Atlanta Falcons 34, Carolina Panthers 17: “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: democracy simply doesn’t work.”

Seattle Seahawks 16, St. Louis Rams 10: “Now, over the years, a newsman learns a number of things that for one reason or another, he just cannot report. Doesn’t seem to matter now, so… the following people are gay.”

San Diego Chargers 27, Kansas City Chiefs 21: “Just miles from your doorstep, hundreds of men are given weapons and trained to kill. The government calls it the Army, but a more alarmist name would be… The Killbot Factory.”

Houston Texans 35, Tennessee Titans 10: “A philanthropist. A humanitarian. A man of peace. These are just a few of the men who have come to spit on Montgomery Burns’ grave.”

Arizona Cardinals 20, Miami Dolphins 14: “Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been to Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and I can say without hyperbole that this is a million times worse than all of them put together.”

Cincinnati Bengals 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 23: “At the risk of editorializing, these women are guilty, and must be dealt with in a harsh and brutal fashion. Otherwise, their behavior could incite other women leading to anarchy of biblical proportions. It’s in ‘Revelations,’ people!”

Washington Redskins 21, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20: “I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.”

2012 Record Thus Far: 27-22 (5-11 last week)

2012 Record Against the Spread Thus Far: 18-31 (4-12 last week)

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Game of the Week: Giants vs. Eagles

Over the past six or seven years, Giants-Eagles has been the most consistently entertaining rivalry in the NFC. Eli Manning started building his Comeback King reputation against Philadelphia in 2006 when he led the Giants back from a 17-point deficit to win on the road in overtime, but the Eagles answered back with playoff wins over Big Blue in both 2006 and 2008. Just in the past two years alone, we’ve seen DeSean Jackson cap the Miracle at the New Meadowlands and Victor Cruz frustrate the high-profile Eagles secondary. Suffice it to say, this Game of the Week promises to be entertaining…

Who: New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA

When: 7:30 P.M., Sunday, September 30th

Network: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)

Key Storylines:

  1. Will Philadelphia entertain the thought of not putting the ball on the ground? In case you’re wondering, the record for most turnovers in a season is 68, set by the 1961 Denver Broncos back in the old AFL. Currently, the Eagles are only on pace for 64, so they’ll have to get busy larding up their fingers if they want to break some records this season. It would probably be best for their physical well-being if they started to cut down on turnovers, however. Fans have been (somewhat illogically) calling for Nick Foles to take over the starting quarterback job from Michael Vick and I’m almost positive that if the Eagles end up with anywhere near 60 turnovers, Andy Reid won’t be coaching the team next year. Playing an archrival and last year’s division champion is an ideal time to start taking care of the ball – if that’s what the Eagles really want to do, of course…
  2. Will the Giants continue their torrid offensive pace from the last five quarters? Since the fourth quarter of their game against Tampa Bay began, the Giants have scored 61 points and racked up an absolutely evil amount of yards — 666, to be exact. Against Carolina, unsung players such as running back Andre Brown and receiver Ramses Barden were making the most of their opportunities and producing big games. And, of course, Eli Manning probably deserves some credit himself. The Giants’ offensive explosion has masked a pretty porous start to the season by their defense; currently, New York is giving up an average of 6.5 yards per play, a figure that ranks only ahead of Washington. If the Giants offense comes back down to Earth a bit – and eventually it has to – will the Giants’ defense respond in kind?
  3. What’s the crazy thing that’s going to happen in this edition of the Giants-Eagles rivalry? Let’s be honest, weird stuff goes on in these games (I blame Andy Reid, personally). Even setting aside DeSean Jackson’s punt return for a touchdown from 2010 and the Giants’ comeback from 2006, these games are usually wide open and rife with strange plays. Like in the first Eagles-Giants game from 2010, when Eli seemed to be orchestrating a late-game comeback but fumbled sliding to the ground when no one was touching him. Or the 2009 game in the Meadowlands where it seemed like every other play was taken back to the house. Let’s just thank God that the regular officials are back for this game because if something along the lines of the Packers-Seahawks Hail Mary went against the Eagles, people would be dead. We want crazy stuff happening in the game, not homicides occurring in the stands.

Steve Stone’s Said in Stone Cold Lock of the Game: “As my former partner Harry Caray would say, ‘That’s baseball.'”

Projected Final Score: Eagles 28, Giants 27

Team to Bet On If Gambling Were Legal: Giants (+2.5)

COAS / SSLYAR Pigskin Pick ‘Em: Week 4

Let’s start off this morning with a hearty HALLELUJAH that the regular refs are back, starting with tonight’s game between Cleveland and Baltimore. It’s safe for you to come out into the light, Alberto! Our long national nightmare is over! Unfortunately, for the Confessions of a Sportscaster/Someone Still Loves You Alberto Riveron blog coalition, our long national nightmare may just be beginning. Week 3 brought untold shame down upon our picks; I needed one of the worst officiating mistakes in sports history just to get to 4-12. 4-12! Lucas could only muster a 5-11 record himself, thus making this week one full of soul-searching for the both of us. We stand united, however, in the face of adversity and improbable Vikings victories; we shall never give, we shall never surrender (clearly, Winston Churchill was talking about picking football games when he originally came up with that phrase, right?) This week, Lucas and I disagree on seven of the fifteen games – but which ones? Read on to find out…

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-12.5)

Lucas: Browns. Glad the real officials are finally back, but even with them this line is too rich for my blood.

NathanielRavens. 1. Joe Flacco’s put up garish numbers in his first two home starts this year 2. I wouldn’t trust Pat Shurmur to adequately prepare his team with a bye week’s preparation, let alone three days. 3. Brandon Weeden playing in Baltimore. Yikes.

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-7.5)

Lucas: Falcons. Atlanta is a tough out at home and Carolina has been struggling. Atlanta is clearly one of the best teams in the league this year… well, at least until the playoffs.

Nathaniel: Falcons. The outstanding turnover luck Atlanta’s enjoyed so far this season will turn at some point, but a game against a quarterback with inconsistent accuracy probably isn’t that point.

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (+3.5)

LucasPatriots. Bill Belichick gets revenge for his $50,000 fine and for me trying to put a Darth Hoodie joke in my brother’s history notes the other day.

Nathaniel: Bill(s). It’s the no-lose pick! If Buffalo wins, I can claim that I had great wisdom and foresight in seeing them hand the Patriots their first three-game losing streak in roughly 75 years. And if the Patriots win, I can just say I meant BILL was going to win…as in, Belichick! Looking forward to this automatic victory Sunday afternoon!*

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-6.5)

LucasVikings. Matthew Stafford If He Stays Healthy (copyright: Bill Simmons) is questionable heading into this weekend, and Christian Ponder is having a very good sophomore year. While Detroit’s pass defense is 20th this year, it’s amazing what a below average at best secondary can do for your offensive confidence. Who would have thought Minnesota would be in first place a quarter of the way through the season?

NathanielVikings. I once lost a particularly close game of Madden when Shaun Hill came off the bench to throw a game-winning Hail Mary, so seeing him approximate that play in real life last week gave me ‘Nam-like flashbacks. How dare you make me question the effect video games have on reality, Shaun! Purely out of spite, I’m going Minnesota on this one.

San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (+0.5)

Lucas: Chargers. Basically, can San Diego win this game? I say yes. I would like to think their run defense is good enough not to let Jamaal Charles break free down the sideline for a 91 yard touchdown again. Also, playing New Orleans seems to be the cure-all for teams, even the bad ones.

Nathaniel: Chargers. Norv Turner vs. Romeo Crennel is the Bizarro Clash of the Head Coaching Titans; this could end up being the first game in NFL history in which a team down by four at the end of the game plays for a field goal. Even Andy Reid will be screaming “WHAT ARE THEY DOING???” by the end of the first quarter.

Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams (+2.5)

Lucas: Rams. I’ll take the points at home. And the football gods.

Nathaniel: Seahawks. Wayne Hunter is starting at left tackle for the Rams. Let that sink in for a second: the guy who was undoubtedly the worst right tackle in the league when he was with the Jets is now not only starting but also protecting Sam Bradford’s blindside? The Seahawks won’t need Lance Easley to win this one.

San Francisco 49ers at New York Jets (+3.5)

Lucas: 49ers. I don’t think the Jets have the physicality to do to the Niners what Minnesota did… unless Rex Ryan suits up.

Nathaniel: Jets. Losing Darrelle Revis will eventually become an insurmountable hurdle for Fireman Ed and company, but the 49ers don’t usually throw downfield to their wide receivers for it to be a huge problem this week. Really, what I’m most excited about in this game is the possibility (however faint) of a Rex Ryan-Jim Harbaugh fisticuff after one of them gives a slightly too pumped-up post-game handshake to the other. Rex is the heavyweight, but Jim’s in better fighting trim; I’d set him as the 3-to-1 favorite, personally.

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (-12.5)

Lucas: Texans. Home against a relatively weak-looking Tennessee team. Sure, they beat Detroit, but is it that hard to put up 44 points on a not very good secondary? Maybe the better question, what is up with these huge lines this week?

Nathaniel: Texans. All signs seem to be pointing toward a blowout Texans win. Which, of course, means Tennessee is going to end up winning by ten.

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-6.5)

Lucas: Broncos. This might be Steven Hawking’s kind of Black Hole this year, since Oakland has been a slightly cleaner team than normal. But in Denver, I think Peyton and company rebound against a team nowhere near as good as Houston.

Nathaniel: Broncos. As long as Peyton remembers that you’re allowed to score at any point in the game, not just if you’re down by twenty points in the fourth quarter…

Miami Dolphins at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5)

Lucas: Cardinals. Miami’s one win came at home in a game where they forced Oakland to wear black in the Miami heat. LeBron isn’t here to save them, though.

Nathaniel: Dolphins. I’ve picked against the Cardinals every game this year so far; why should I stop now? Sometimes, even with all available evidence pointing to the contrary, you’ve got to stick to your guns. As the great philosopher Nelson Muntz once explained regarding his deadbeat dad: “He didn’t leave! He went to the store! And when he comes back, I’ll wave those Pop Tarts right in your face!”

Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars (+1.5)

Lucas: Bengals. This offense is starting to look pretty good, and at 1.5 points, I’m taking the favorite.

Nathaniel: Jaguars. I have no trust in Cincinnati’s defense and, shockingly enough, Blaine Gabbert has looked like an actual quarterback against teams other than Houston. Reason #736 this season has been EXCEPTIONALLY strange so far.

New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers (-7.5)

Lucas: Packers. The game starts off on a weird note as Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are ejected before the game for warming up together by throwing lasers at a burning effigy of Roger Goodell. At this point I’d take Chase Daniel over Graham Harrell, but Green Bay’s defense has improved over last year, and New Orleans’ defense…

Nathaniel: Packers. My guess is the miscarriage of justice that occurred in Monday night’s game lights a fuse under a Packers offense that has been slow-starting so far. It’s legitimately shocking how bad the Saints have been so far; if they don’t significantly raise their level of play Sunday afternoon, this could be a real embarassment.

Washington Redskins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5)

Lucas: Buccaneers. Washington misses a game-tying field goal after Greg Schiano forgets his team is on offense and blitzes Josh Freeman in victory formation, forcing a fumble. See, he told you it’s worked before!
Nathaniel: Redskins. I don’t care if the Bucs have (barely) covered the past two weeks, just look at this face and tell me this is the coach of a team I should be picking…

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5)

Lucas: Giants.  I’m 0-3 on picks involving the Giants so far this year [Nathaniel note: actuallyno], so Philly will probably win this one. But I just distrust Vick and his health more than I distrust the Giants as a whole, and I think having Ahmad Bradshaw back helps.

Nathaniel: Giants. I’m looking forward to your four interception stinkbomb, Eli.

Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5)

Lucas: Bears. “We just did a great job in the 4th quarter of the 1st quarter of our season. We were able to force some big turnovers in this game today and got off the bus running. We like our team, Jay is our quarterback, and we have a lot of football left to play.”

Nathaniel: Bears. I’m setting the number of combined sacks in this game at 15.5 and taking the over; much like the Bears-Giants Sunday night game in 2010, this may be a contest that sets offensive football back thirty years. When in doubt, take the points.

Lucas’ 2012 Record So Far: 24-24 (5-11 last week)

Nathaniel’s 2012 Record So Far: 18-30 (4-12 last week)

*In all seriousness, though, I am picking Buffalo.

Position Rankings: A Very Particular Set of Skills

I watched Taken for the second time in a week last night and it was an illuminating experience on par with viewing Citizen Kane or Casablanca or another such classic film for a second or third time. There are so many hidden intricacies and nuances hidden in Liam Neeson’s different killings and strange pronunciations that can only be discerned through multiple viewings. Highly recommended for fans of real cinema/seeing a bunch of people get beat up by a middled-aged Irishman/seeing the phrase “Now’s not the time for dick-MEASURING, Stuart” delivered with a straight face. Obviously, no single person in real life could replicate the complete perfection that Bryan Mills encompasses in Taken – he can disable you with two expertly-placed karate chops AND wrap birthday presents for his beloved daughter! But are there any players in the NFL who could come close? After seconds of careful thought, I have decided that there are. Here, then, are the players currently in the NFL who could conceivably take over the starring role in Taken without missing a beat…followed by a few players who probably couldn’t.

1. Charles Woodson. The Swiss Army Knife of the Packers defense, Woodson has obviously amassed a wide array of skills that few, if any, other players can match. The only possible issue is that every black guy who appears in Taken gets killed by Liam Neeson. Is Taken a closeted white supremacist propaganda film? OPEN FOR DEBATE.
2. Calvin Johnson. Obviously better suited for Transformers, but this is the most likely NFL player to become a successful action star later on in life, right? Possible sticking point, however: can he develop a thick Irish brogue?
3. Ed Reed. No one wants to f— with Liam Neeson. No one – and I mean, NO ONE – wants to f— with Ed Reed. I’d put Ray Lewis on here, but he’s fifteen years older than Neeson at this point.
4. Peyton Manning. Would have ranked higher pre-neck injury; every time he’d try to roundhouse-kick some human trafficker in the nuts, I’d be afraid his neck would snap off. Only player in the NFL, though, who would have the presence of mind to store IVs and medical supplies in his rectum in case he needed to nurse a drugged-up prostitute back to health.

5. Drew Brees. Is there a better family man in the NFL right now? You watch that Chase commercial where his kid is kicking footballs through all his neighbors’ windows and tell me he wouldn’t turn over Heaven and Earth trying to save his kid from the Middle Eastern Jabba the Hut! Only issue: any knives he throws may be intercepted by Charles Godfrey.

1694. Eli Manning. I’m sorry, Eli just doesn’t inspire any terror or fear in me. If I was one of the bad guys and he was telling me, “I’ll have thirty agents here quicker than you can scratch your worthless balls,” I’d just laugh at him and walk away.
1695. Rob Gronkowski. Gronk has many talents, but I’m not sure I would trust him with a grocery list, let alone figuring out where to find an abducted daughter. “If bad guys in Paris and time running out to find lady, why Gronk boarding flight to Hong Kong? GRONK HEAD HURT.”

1696. Wayne Hunter. He not only would fail to find the daughter, he’d also somehow let the ex-wife and stepfather get kidnapped, too.  

Week 3 Power Rankings: Simultaneous Confusion

Welcome to the Week 3 edition of Someone Still Loves You Alberto Riveron’s weekly NFL power rankings. To help us make sense of what happened during this last batch of NFL action, we’ve asked the ball that was used during the crazy final play of last night’s Packers-Seahawks game to share its thoughts with us below. Please enjoy.

Oh, man. What a finish last night, am I right folks?! My golly, I’m still out of breath from all the interviews and press junkets I’ve had to run through in the past twelve hours. I tell ya, when you hear that you’ve been selected as one of the 36 (or 24, if we’re playing indoors) game balls that are going to be used during actual NFL action, that’s a huge honor in and of itself. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I wind up being used during what I’m hearing now is one of the most controversial plays in recent history? I don’t know. I’m more of a lacrosse fan myself. All I can tell you is…it felt so good to be wanted last night.

See, we Wilson WTF1100s are used to being disrespected and abused by mediocre players who show no proper regard for our well-being. Rex Grossman sent thirty of our finest balls to a mental institution in 2006 alone. You can’t grip us with your female hands, Rex! Just admit this and move into a real estate gig. Ugh. And most of you out there probably think the biggest dream out there for all of us to be involved in a touchdown play. Not true. You know what happens after someone scores a touchdown? We get spiked. We get fired into the wall out the back of the end zone at terrifying speeds. We get dunked over the goalposts by Tony Gonzalez and wedged into the crossbar by Vernon Davis. We get autographed by Terrell Owens (why, oh why couldn’t it have been Jerry Rice?! His signature would have at least made my pal Jerry worth something!). And God help us if an offensive lineman somehow winds up scoring. The stories we could tell about the body parts we’ve visited would make your toes curl. You’d think the people who took such care to get us over the goal line would make sure to respect us after they’ve scored, too. But nobody does. Except for Ray Rice. That man has beautiful, supple hands.

But last night? Last night, I was being lovingly caressed by both M.D. Jennings and Golden Tate. At the beginning of the play, I had no illusions any of that was going to take place. That pretty boy Clay Matthews was saying vile things to me about what he was going to do to me after he took me out of Russell Wilson’s hands and ran the other way for a touchdown. No thanks. Russell himself was telling me, “Look, you’re gonna have to be my eyes out there, since I can’t see over my linemen’s thighs and everything. When I toss you blindly into this Pacific Northwest night, you’ll have to be the one doing the heavy lifting here.” That gave me a lot of confidence.

But somehow the lilliputian got the pass off and I was enjoying a beautiful flight over the top of whatever they call the Seahawks’ field these days. And then…magic happened. Now, if I’m being honest, I’m pretty sure Jennings had a good hold on me. He grabbed me with both hands and brought me to his chest like I was a precious newborn baby. Real nice guy. Very respectful. Golden (man, what a weird name for a ballplayer!) definitely got his arm in there, too, and was making a very good play for me as well. To be honest, I was flattered by all the attention. It’s so wonderful to have two fine, upstanding gentlemen who both desperately want you in their hands. Ultimately, though, I was relatively convinced that it was just an interception and the Packers would win and I would be just another failed Hail Mary ball. But, luckily for me, the replacement refs had other ideas! Thanks to their, uh, interesting call, suddenly I’m an instant celebrity! Twitter briefly lost its mind over me right after the game – take that, Bieber!

And all because high school shop teachers and used car salesmen are, for some reason, being used to officiate the most popular sport in the country. In between interviews with Matt Lauer, I’ve read some articles this morning that are suggesting that the play I was involved in last night will finally shame the NFL into striking a deal with the NFL Referees Association. Now I’m only made out of leather and polyurethane and, as such, do not actually have a brain; it’s a wonder I’m typing this out at all, to be honest. But even I can see that there are only two things the NFL cares about: themselves and the exorbitant sums of money they’re making for themselves. If they can screw over part-time employees like the regular refs for relative peanuts, then they’re going to screw them over. Are any of you out there actually going to stop watching the NFL because the scabs are terrible and decisively changing the outcome of games? Of course you’re not. If anything, this week’s Packers-Saints game will be watched by even more people than usual because of all the buzz last night’s game stirred. This lockout is going to end only when the regular refs admit resounding defeat and go back to work after making massive concessions to the NFL. Billionaires hate it when you try to get an extra 960,000 dollars out of their collective wallets.

Until then, though, these are truly glory days for game balls such as myself. Sure, I’m the one in the spotlight this week. But I have a feeling my fellow brethren will all get their 15 minutes of fame before all is said and done. And let me just be the first to say that it’s about time! You don’t spend years lodged in Tiki Barber’s armpit without getting some positive karma thrown your way…

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A quick (mostly non-referee-related) thought on Monday night’s game…

Seattle 14, Green Bay 12
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.45 – Seattle, 4.24 – Green Bay
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Seattle 19.85, Green Bay 20.59

Quick Thought: Things I didn’t expect to see happen in the 2012 NFL Season, Vol. 113: Aaron Rodgers taking his eyes off his downfield receivers to look at the pass rush MULTIPLE times in the first half. Did Blaine Gabbert mysteriously possess Rodgers’ body in the first half last night? The Seahawks’ defense is outstanding – I’m hard-pressed to think of another team that can combine that level of pass rush with such big, athletic players in the secondary – but I can’t take them seriously as a playoff contender until they try someone else at quarterback. Russell Wilson isn’t ready. By the way, if the final play of the game had been correctly called, Seattle’s AY/P figure and projected point total would have been 3.71 and 13.52, respectively.

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For the 2012 NFL season, the SSLYAR Power Rankings will rank all 32 teams each based on Adjusted Yards per Play Differential, which is a descriptive metric that is designed to give an accurate representation of how each team has played thus far and will eventually take into account strength of schedule. Starting in October, we will also run a metric called Predictive Yards per Play Differential which doesn’t give as large a penalty or bonus to turnovers or touchdowns, will also take into account strength of schedule and will better able to predict future performance. As you might expect, Atlanta and Houston have a healthy separation from the rest of the field after the first three weeks; the lone other unbeaten, Arizona, ranks “only” 10th because of their 28th place ranking offensively. The Giants’ dominant Thursday night win over the Panthers makes them the biggest riser of the week, going all the way up to #4 from #21. Carolina joins San Diego in falling thirteen slots this week; the Chargers and Panthers are #20 and #22, respectively.  Kansas City is still lagging behind everyone else even after their come-from-behind win in New Orleans on Sunday. And how weird is it to see Baltimore on top of the offensive rankings and the Eagles on the bottom?

Adjusted Yards per Play Differential (league average: 0.00)

  1. Atlanta: +3.24 (last week: 2, Week 1: 3)
  2. Houston: +2.82 (last week: 1, Week 1: 2)
  3. Baltimore+2.22 (last week: 4, Week 1: 1)
  4. NY Giants: +1.33 (last week: 21, Week 1: 26)
  5. Buffalo: +1.23 (last week: 10, Week 1: 21)
  6. Chicago: +1.15 (last week: 14, Week 1: 4)
  7. Minnesota: +0.86 (last week: 12, Week 1: 10)
  8. New England: +0.73 (last week: 3, Week 1: 6)
  9. San Francisco: +0.71 (last week: 6, Week 1: 11)
  10. Arizona: +0.68 (last week: 19, Week 1: 14)
  11. Dallas: +0.57 (last week: 13, Week 1: 7)
  12. Seattle: +0.52 (last week: 15, Week 1: 19)
  13. Washington: +0.39 (last week: 5, Week 1: 5)
  14. Green Bay: +0.23 (last week: 11, Week 1: 22)
  15. Philadelphia: +0.03 (last week: 8, Week 1: 8)
  16. Detroit: -0.03 (last week: 22, Week 1: 15)
  17. NY Jets: -0.24 (last week: 18, Week 1: 12)
  18. Pittsburgh: -0.27 (last week: 17, Week 1: 24)
  19. Denver: -0.50 (last week: 16, Week 1: 9)
  20. San Diego: -0.53 (last week: 7, Week 1: 13)
  21. Miami: -0.61 (last week: 24, Week 1: 31)
  22. Carolina: -0.75 (last week: 9, Week 1: 16)
  23. Oakland: -0.84 (last week: 26, Week 1: 20)
  24. Cleveland: -0.89 (last week: 20, Week 1: 25)
  25. Cincinnati: -1.03 (last week: 31, Week 1: 32)
  26. New Orleans: -1.11 (last week: 29, Week 1: 28)
  27. Jacksonville: -1.12 (last week: 28, Week 1: 23)
  28. St. Louis: -1.15 (last week: 23, Week 1: 18)
  29. Tampa Bay: -1.16 (last week: 25, Week 1: 17)
  30. Indianapolis: -1.68 (last week: 27, Week 1: 29)
  31. Tennessee: -1.79 (last week: 30, Week 1: 27)
  32. Kansas City: -2.83 (last week: 32, Week 1: 30)

Offensive Adjusted Yards per Play (league average: 4.77)

  1. Baltimore7.01 (last week: 6, Week 1: 1)
  2. Washington: 6.46 (last week: 1, Week 1: 4)
  3. Atlanta: 6.44 (last week: 2, Week 1: 2)
  4. NY Giants: 6.43 (last week: 7, Week 1: 17)
  5. Buffalo: 6.00 (last week: 3, Week 1: 16)
  6. Houston: 5.97 (last week: 10, Week 1: 11)
  7. Cincinnati: 5.93 (last week: 20, Week 1: 25)
  8. New England: 5.71 (last week: 12, Week 1: 7)
  9. Detroit: 5.65 (last week: 18, Week 1: 12)
  10. Oakland: 5.44 (last week: 16, Week 1: 23)
  11. Pittsburgh: 5.34 (last week: 17, Week 1: 24)
  12. San Francisco: 5.25 (last week: 5, Week 1: 5)
  13. New Orleans: 5.19 (last week: 15, Week 1: 22)
  14. Carolina: 5.04 (last week: 4, Week 1: 18)
  15. Minnesota: 5.03 (last week: 11, Week 1: 9)
  16. Jacksonville: 4.82 (last week: 29, Week 1: 19)
  17. NY Jets: 4.80 (last week: 14, Week 1: 8)
  18. Tennessee: 4.77 (last week: 27, Week 1: 27)
  19. Dallas: 4.67 (last week: 8, Week 1: 3)
  20. Denver: 4.65 (last week: 23, Week 1: 10)
  21. Miami: 4.59 (last week: 21, Week 1: 31)
  22. San Diego: 4.54 (last week: 9, Week 1: 14)
  23. Indianapolis: 4.53 (last week: 31, Week 1: 28)
  24. Green Bay: 4.48 (last week: 22, Week 1: 13)
  25. Seattle: 4.41 (last week: 25, Week 1: 30)
  26. Kansas City: 4.38 (last week: 24, Week 1: 20)
  27. St. Louis: 3.99 (last week: 13, Week 1: 15)
  28. Arizona: 3.99 (last week: 32, Week 1: 26)
  29. Tampa Bay: 3.82 (last week: 19, Week 1: 21)
  30. Chicago: 3.81 (last week: 28, Week 1: 6)
  31. Cleveland: 3.70 (last week: 26, Week 1: 32)
  32. Philadelphia: 3.45 (last week: 30, Week 1: 29)

Defensive Adjusted Yards per Play (league average: 4.77)

  1. Chicago: 2.66 (last week: 4, Week 1: 5)
  2. Houston: 3.15 (last week: 1, Week 1: 2)
  3. Atlanta: 3.20 (last week: 8, Week 1: 13)
  4. Arizona: 3.31 (last week: 5, Week 1: 3)
  5. Philadelphia: 3.42 (last week: 2, Week 1: 1)
  6. Seattle: 3.89 (last week: 6, Week 1: 7)
  7. Dallas: 4.10 (last week: 17, Week 1: 16)
  8. Minnesota: 4.17 (last week: 13, Week 1: 14)
  9. Green Bay: 4.25 (last week: 7, Week 1: 28)
  10. San Francisco: 4.54 (last week: 14, Week 1: 20)
  11. Cleveland: 4.59 (last week: 10, Week 1: 4)
  12. Buffalo: 4.77 (last week: 20, Week 1: 25)
  13. Baltimore4.79 (last week: 9, Week 1: 8)
  14. New England: 4.98 (last week: 3, Week 1: 6)
  15. Tampa Bay: 4.98 (last week: 26, Week 1: 15)
  16. NY Jets: 5.04 (last week: 21, Week 1: 17)
  17. San Diego: 5.07 (last week: 11, Week 1: 10)
  18. NY Giants: 5.10 (last week: 29, Week 1: 30)
  19. St. Louis: 5.14 (last week: 22, Week 1: 21)
  20. Denver: 5.15 (last week: 12, Week 1: 9)
  21. Miami: 5.20 (last week: 23, Week 1: 22)
  22. Pittsburgh: 5.61 (last week: 15, Week 1: 23)
  23. Detroit: 5.68 (last week: 19, Week 1: 18)
  24. Carolina5.79 (last week: 18, Week 1: 12)
  25. Jacksonville: 5.94 (last week: 25, Week 1: 24)
  26. Washington: 6.07 (last week: 16, Week 1: 11)
  27. Indianapolis: 6.21 (last week: 24, Week 1: 27)
  28. Oakland: 6.28 (last week: 27, Week 1: 19)
  29. New Orleans: 6.30 (last week: 30, Week 1: 29)
  30. Tennessee: 6.56 (last week: 28, Week 1: 26)
  31. Cincinnati: 6.96 (last week: 31, Week 1: 32)
  32. Kansas City: 7.21 (last week: 32, Week 1: 31)

Week 3 Quick Thoughts

Scattered stats and thoughts regarding Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season…

Baltimore 31, New England 30
Adjusted Yards per Play: 8.28 – Baltimore, 5.92 – New England
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Baltimore 38.44, New England 32.56
Quick Thoughts:
1. I’d like to start off by saying that Baltimore should be playing a marquee team on Sunday nights every week; when I eventually oust Roger Goodell, that will be the first change I make to the schedule. The following statement is one made with no research and may not actually be true, but I’ll say it anyway: no other franchise over the past five years has played more consistently entertaining games than the Edgar Allan Poes. They’re the perfect foil for any great team: they’re always ready to play, always prepared, always give max effort, and they’re good enough on both sides of the ball to hang around against any style of team but not dominant to the point where they can actually pull away. The result the past couple of weeks has been a couple of highly entertaining games involving the Ravens: a one-point loss to the Eagles and last night’s one-point win over the Patriots. Here’s betting that this Thursday night’s matchup with the Browns will be another instant classic! Okay, maybe not, but at the very least, consider this a heartfelt thank-you, Baltimore, for always delivering in big games.
2. If I may delve into strategery-related material for a moment: New England lost this game mainly because of their stubborn insistence on running the ball against a Ravens defense you might have heard has been pretty good against the run the past fifteen years. Seemingly every first down was a handoff to Danny Woodhead or Stevan Ridley, who would then plow into a wave of purple shirts and sometimes get two yards if everything went right. Never mind that Tom Brady was getting eleven yards AT WILL whenever he threw a curl route to Brandon Lloyd outside. Before you get all up in replacement refs’ grills, Darth Hoodie, you may want to get up into the grill of Josh McDaniels and tell him to HAVE TOM BRADY THROW THE DADGUM BALL. (If you actually want to win, that is. I myself am more than happy to watch the Pats lose heartbreaking game after heartbreaking game. It’s so beautiful, I tear up just thinking about it).

3. Finally, let’s give a nice round of applause to the Baltimore fans for coming up with the loudest “BULLS—” chant in the history of the universe. It was so deafening, it got an old pro like Al Michaels to giggle like a schoolgirl and acknowledge it TWICE in a minute’s span (“No seven-second delay here!”). Let’s see how Philadelphia fans respond next Sunday night to another city stealing their Most Profane Fans mantle; I have a feeling they’re going to come out with renewed vigor, if you know what I mean…

Houston 31, Denver 25
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.48 – Houston, 4.80 – Denver.
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Houston 30.09, Denver 26.06

Quick Thought: If he didn’t already learn his lesson Monday night against the Falcons, Peyton Manning finally got it through that big forehead of his yesterday that it’s not a good idea to fall behind by 20 going into the fourth quarter and then try to start running some offense. The first three quarters count too, big guy! Houston’s really good, by the way.

Atlanta 27, San Diego 3
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.16 – Atlanta, 1.61 – San Diego
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Atlanta 29.92, San Diego 6.44

Quick Thought: Today in Completely Unsustainable Statistical Trends: the Falcons are a ridiculous +10 in turnover differential so far. Thanks, AFC West! Obviously, they’re not going to win the turnover battle by at least 3 every week (unless they’re the spiritual successor to the ’83 Redskins) but regardless this defense is for real. Why exactly does Mike Nolan get tossed around from team to team as the proverbial Hot Potato Defensive Coordinator? Everywhere he goes, he turns his defenses into strong units. Perhaps he is a closet nudist who walks around the team facility during odd hours of the day in his birthday suit and his co-workers can’t stand to be around him for an extended period of time as a result? POSSIBLY.

Arizona 27, Philadelphia 6
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.44 – Arizona, 2.51 – Philadelphia
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Arizona 23.70, Philadelphia 11.30

Quick Thought: Recovering all three fumbles in the game was a little lucky for the Cardinals, but hey, it was the Eagles! Kevin Kolb isn’t going to average over seven Net Yards per Attempt every week, but it looks like just hitting Larry Fitzgerald deep a couple of times a game will be good enough to win a lot of weeks; their defense has just held two of the best offenses in the league to ONE combined touchdown between them. Pretty good.

Cincinnati 38, Washington 31
Adjusted Yards per Play: 8.33 – Cincinnati, 5.28 – Washington
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Cincinnati 34.51, Washington 27.91

Quick Thought: I’m aware Andy Dalton played pretty lights-out himself, but consider me the president of the Mohamed Sanu for Bengals Starting Quarterback 2012 campaign. Did you see this throw?!?! You probably did because it was awesome and on all the highlight shows, but still! In more under-the radar news…LAW FIRM FUMBLED!!! I don’t know what to believe in anymore…

Dallas 16, Tampa Bay 10
Adjusted Yards per Play: 2.61 – Dallas, 2.56 – Tampa Bay
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Dallas 12.30, Tampa Bay 10.06

Quick Thought: Another hearty SCREW YOU to Dallas for completely dominating Tampa Bay’s offense all game and then letting the Bucs march down the field on their last possession so they could get a field goal to cover the spread. Well done! Of course, such a result was fitting for my picks yesterday, as I’ve gone 3-12 so far in Week 3. No, seriously, look it up. Next week, I’m just going to try to pick every game incorrectly and see what happens; I can only assume I’ll go 11-5 that way. I don’t get football.

Chicago 23, St. Louis 6
Adjusted Yards per Play: 3.72 – Chicago, 1.21 – St. Louis
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Chicago 17.80, St. Louis 5.01

Quick Thought: Through three games, this looks like the best Bears defense since the 2005-06 crew that carried a rookie Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman to the playoffs. Will they have to do the same for a 29-year-old Jay Cutler? Special hat tip to referee Jerry Hughes for referring to the Rams’ home city at one point as “St. Louie.” You made a powerful friend in Dick Stockton, Jerry! Use that connection wisely.

Buffalo 24, Cleveland 14
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.06 – Buffalo, 3.17 – Cleveland
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Buffalo 25.30, Cleveland 13.59

Quick Thought: Some over-enthusiastic Buffalo media outlets were dubbing this tilt “The Battle of Lake Erie.” Never mind that Bills-Browns should probably only be described loosely as a “skirmish” or “disagreement” at best. Such a headline does a great disservice to the original Battle of Lake Erie – only one of the most important naval battles of the War of 1812, my friends. Those who cannot remember the past and all that. Also, calling an event in 2012 “The Battle of Lake Erie” makes it seem like Lake Erie is something someone would actually want. I’m pretty sure if I walked through downtown Cleveland and shouted “Hey guys, I’m taking over the lake, it’s mine now,” the response would be, “Thank you!”

Kansas City 27, New Orleans 24 (OT)
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.19 – Kansas City, 5.14 – New Orleans
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Kansas City 27.53, New Orleans 21.66

Quick Thought: Let the record show that Romeo Crennel did his very best to try and lose this game even though his kicker sucked it up and bailed him out. With two minutes left, down by three, with the ball inside the Saints’ 35, the Chiefs…played for the tie? WHAT? Then on the game-clinching drive in overtime, Romeo was actually going to punt on 4th and 1 from the Saints’ 44 and had to be talked out of it. “Oh, Jamaal Charles has only rushed for 225 yards today, there’s no way we could pick up ONE YARD AGAINST THE WORST FREAKING DEFENSE IN THE LEAGUE.” I’m sorry, the Chiefs are still screwed, probably even moreso than the Saints.

NY Jets 23, Miami 20 (OT)
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.03 – NY Jets, 4.13 – Miami
AY/P Projected Point Totals: NY Jets 22.74, Miami 23.31

Quick Thought: The definition of a Pyhrric victory for the Jets, who look like they’ve lost Darrelle Revis to a torn ACL and had Mark Sanchez turn things around enough in the 4th quarter and overtime to ensure that people didn’t focus on how he played like dog crap in the first three quarters. THE PEOPLE DEMAND TEBOW AND THEY DEMAND HIM NOW. Also, let’s give a round of applause to Joe Philbin for joining Jason Garrett as the two worst coaches in the league at icing kickers. At least you didn’t ice your own kicker, Joe; he just missed two of them on his own!

Oakland 34, Pittsburgh 31
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.36 – Oakland, 5.90 – Pittsburgh
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Oakland 25.44, Pittsburgh 29.50

Quick Thought: Thank God Darrius Heyward-Bey seems like he’s avoided serious injury after that vicious helmet-to-helmet hit he got from Ryan Mundy yesterday. Said Mundy: “We don’t play like that. We don’t try to injure people or anything like that.” Of course not! Why would anyone think differently?

Minnesota 24, San Francisco 13
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.00 – Minnesota, 2.67 – San Francisco
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Minnesota 21.71, San Francisco 11.06

Quick Thought: Naturally, the one week I cave in and pick the Niners against the spread, they finally decide to throw some turnover regression to the mean into their gameplan and turn Christian Ponder into Fran Tarkenton. I KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT FOOTBALL.

Tennessee 44, Detroit 41 (OT)
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.18 – Tennessee, 6.66 – Detroit
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Tennessee 26.93, Detroit 43.77

Quick Thought: If someone can come up with a counterpoint to this, I’d love to hear about it, but I can’t remember a crazier game just off the top of my head. Just to start off, did you see the Nate Washington touchdown catch in the fourth quarter? It looked like he was going to be the meat in a Lions secondary sandwich…until the Lions secondary stopped playing for reasons that only make sense to them. You also had a kickoff return and fumble return just in the last half of the fourth quarter and 1020 total yards of offense. Just with that alone, you’ve got a wild one. Then mix in the Music City Miracle, add two touchdowns in the last twenty seconds (one of them a Hail Mary) a la the Bears-Browns game in 2001, then have the loser ultimately fail in overtime on a 4th-and-1 quarterback sneak that nobody on the offense thought was actually going to be run. To top it all off, the Lions ended up averaging 6.66 Adjusted Yards per Play. Of course they did. For sheer entertainment purposes, I’m calling this the Game of the Year early.

Jacksonville 22, Indianapolis 17
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.91 – Jacksonville, 5.76 – Indianapolis
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Jacksonville 26.65, Indianapolis 30.86
Quick Thought: Cecil Shorts III is currently the man with the most British-sounding name in the NFL; the only person who could have beaten him out would have been Terriun Crump if he had stuck with the Bears this preseason. Also, both of these teams are really bad.

2012 NFL Week 3 Preview

Before we get into our Week 3 preview, let’s post a quick recap of last night Giants-Panthers game…

NY Giants 36, Carolina 7
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.84 – NY Giants, 3.86 – Carolina
AY/P Projected Point Totals: NY Giants 33.22, Carolina 15.16

Quick Thought: The Bill Simmons Skunk of the Week strikes again, as the Giants’ front four dominated Carolina’s offensive line to the point that it didn’t matter that Kelly Ripa was playing in Big Blue’s secondary by the end of the night and the Giants’ offense stretched their lights-out fourth quarter performance against the Buccaneers over a whole game. Obviously, we should have known going in that Andre Brown (pre-2012 career totals: 4 carries for -2 yards) and Ramses Barden (16 career catches before last night) would have career games. But what’s going on with Martellus Bennett? That guy sucked when he was in Dallas. The only thing he was ever good for was phenomenonal quotes. Like this one about Tashard Choice: “It’s kind of like having a girl on the side, you know? When you need her, she’s there. You know she’s always going to be there no matter what you put her through. That’s what Tashard Choice is like.” And now this is the guy that’s on pace to flirt with a 1,000 yard receiving year and get double-digit receiving touchdowns? I don’t get football.

***********************************************************************

Below are SSLYAR’s Week 3 NFL Projections, ranked by the author’s subjective interest in watching each game. Home teams are italicized; projected winners against the spread are underlined. To see which games are being shown in your area, check out the506′s TV distribution maps. Our guest analyst this week is a former psychiatrist now pursuing a career in acting in Los Angeles, California: Tobias Fünke.

  1. New England Patriots 27, Baltimore Ravens 24 (in-depth preview here): “Hello, my name is Dr. Tobias Funke. I graduated with honors from Boston College and I did my post-graduate in psycho-linguistics at MIT. And this is ‘You’re A Bad, Bad, Man’ from ‘Annie Get Your Gun.'”
  2. Denver Broncos 21, Houston Texans 17: “You’re forgetting, Lindsay, that as a psychiatrist, I was a professional twice over – an analyst and a therapist. The world’s first ‘analrapist.'”
  3. Atlanta Falcons 24, San Diego Chargers 21: “You know, first of all, we are doing this for her, because neither one of us wants to get divorced. And second-of-ly, I know you’re the big marriage expert – oh, I’m sorry, I forgot, your wife is dead!”
  4. Philadelphia Eagles 19, Arizona Cardinals 10: “Time for me to take off my receptionist skirt and put on my Barbara Streisand in the Prince Of Tides ass-masking therapist pantsuit.”
  5. Seattle Seahawks 24, Green Bay Packers 14: “I’ll never understand? That you can never be nude? I’ll understand more than you’ll… never know.”
  6. Washington Redskins 34, Cincinnati Bengals 28: “My schedule however, is as open as my relationship with my wife. So why don’t we pair up? And hit the town together! I’ll be your wingman. Even if it means me taking a chubby, I will suck it up!”
  7. Dallas Cowboys 31, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13: “It’s important not to tie your self-esteem to how you look or what people think of you. I mean, look at me— I’m an actor. An actor, for crying out loud! You know how much rejection I face every day? But in this business of show, you have to have the heart of an angel and the hide… of an elephant.”
  8. Chicago Bears 28, St. Louis Rams 17: “Don’t leave your Uncle T-bag hanging!”
  9. Cleveland Browns 28, Buffalo Bills 27: “I’m afraid I prematurely shot my wad on what was supposed to be a dry run if you will, so I’m afraid I have something of a mess on my hands.”
  10. New Orleans Saints 42, Kansas City Chiefs 24: “Gob, I would like to be in your trick and there’s someone I’d like to put in a plug for. Or… should I say 4,000 plugs?”
  11. New York Jets 20, Miami Dolphins 10: “Yes, okay, uh… well, have a seat. Uh… um… when a man… needs to prove to a woman that he’s actua- when a man loves a woman, and he actually wants to make love, uh, to her, something very, very special happens. And with deep, deep concentration and, and great focus, he’s often able to achieve an erec…”
  12. Pittsburgh Steelers 34, Oakland Raiders 16: “I didn’t get into this business to please sophomore Tracy Schwartzman, so… onward and upward.”
  13. San Francisco 49ers 23, Minnesota Vikings 7: “Here he comes. Here comes John Wayne. ‘I’m not gonna cry about my pa. I’m gonna build me an airport, put my name on it.’ Why, Michael? So you can fly away from your feelings? You can keep them bottled up, Michael, but they will come out. Sometimes in the most unexpected…Hey, where the [bleep] are my hard-boiled eggs?”
  14. Detroit Lions 35, Tennessee Titans 13: “Ooh, I can taste those meaty, leading man parts in my mouth!”
  15. Indianapolis Colts 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 20: “I’m afraid that I just blue myself.”

2012 Record Thus Far: 21-12 (12-4 last week)

2012 Record Against the Spread Thus Far: 14-19 (8-8 last week)

Game of the Week: Patriots vs. Ravens

Last year’s AFC Championship Game was a classic, back-and-forth battle between two of the finest franchises of the past decade; in the end, Billy Cundiff’s last field goal attempt as a Raven boomeranged far, far away from anything approaching the goalposts and the Patriots won the right to lose another heartbreaking Super Bowl to the Giants. So far in 2012, both New England and Baltimore have one blowout win and one very close loss on their records and a 1-2 start wouldn’t exactly be what the fanbases of these two Super Bowl contenders had in mind when the season began. Time for Game of the Week to break it all down in a loving but forceful manner…

Who: New England Patriots vs. Baltimore Ravens

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD

When: 7:30 P.M., Sunday, September 23rd

Network: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)

Key Storylines:

  1. Why is WELKAHHHHH being phased out of the Patriots’ offense? You would think a guy who’s averaged 110.8 catches for 1221 yards the past five years might be able to hang on to a starting slot ahead of Julian Edelman. But for reasons that are only clear to Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels, Welker started the game against the Cardinals on the bench, with Edelman – who has 62 fewer catches on his career than Welker caught LAST SEASON – in the lineup ahead of him. Bill Barnwell noted in his Grantland column that the Patriots did the same thing with Randy Moss in 2010 before they eventually traded him to the Vikings. It’s only one game, but it bears repeating: starting Edelman ahead of Welker makes NO sense and Darth Hoodie would be getting killed for this if he hadn’t built up all that good will a decade ago. A major plot of the game Sunday night will revolve around the amount of playing time Welker gets on an offense that is already missing one of its best receivers (Aaron Hernandez).
  2. Will Joe Flacco finally snap and attempt to behead the replacement officials with his howitzer? …of an arm, that is. The normally mild-mannered Flacco had some scathing remarks for the officials following the Ravens’ 24-23 loss to the Eagles. In particular, Joe took issue with the iffy Offensive Pass Interference call on Jacoby Jones in the fourth quarter that took a Ravens touchdown off the board. So if another bad call goes against the Ravens Sunday night, will Flacco try picking off the replacements one-by-one with his cannon? I was about to toss out the question of which quarterback in the NFL would be the best at murdering mass amounts of people simply by throwing a football at them. But, as it is with most quarterback discussions these days, the correct answer to that question is Aaron Rodgers and there’s not really any debate about it. Still, here’s hoping that Joe gets even slightly unhinged Sunday night!
  3. How will Zoltan Mesko respond to the worst game of his career? This, undoubtedly, has been the major story in the NFL the past week, as America’s never-ending fascination with punters continues. Mesko suffered the first punt block of his career against the Cardinals and later botched the hold on the game-winning field goal attempt, so obviously all the people calling in to sports talk radio have just one thing on their minds: WHAT’S WRONG WITH ZOLTAN? Relax, everyone: Zoltan has proven himself to be a very capable punter in his first two years in the league, averaging a solid 44.2 yards per punt for his career. If anyone’s capable of having strong bounce-back performance, it’s the Zoltan. And if/when that bounce-back occurs, finally this massive controversy that’s sweeping the nation can finally be put to rest.

Steve Stone’s Said in Stone Cold Lock of the Game: “I take a look at the Cincinnati Reds, the Big Red Machine, with Johnny Bench behind the plate, Davey Concepcion and Joe Morgan in the middle, and Cesar Geronimo in center field. That was a very strong team up the middle, as well as at the corners.”

Projected Final Score: Patriots 27, Ravens 24

Team To Bet On If Gambling Were Legal: Patriots (+2.5)

COAS / SSLYAR Pigskin Pick ‘Em: Week 3

The Week 3 picks in the Confessions of a Sportscaster / Someone Still Loves You Alberto Riveron Pigskin Pick ‘Em challenge are up now over at COAS. I partially redeemed myself for my atrocious Week 1 showing with an 8-8 record last week, but I’d still like to offer up a hearty SCREW YOU to the Eagles and Giants for both winning but failing to cover by a combined three points. Lucas’ lead is now five games after two weeks, but we disagree on a whopping NINE games in Week 3, so there will probably be major movement in one direction or another as the week progresses. One of the games we don’t disagree on is tonight’s Giants-Panthers game, which we’re both picking as Carolina at +1.5. Mainly, this revolves around the fact that the Giants’ back seven is terribad and that seemingly half the team died in the past few days, so the Panthers seem like a good choice. We’ll find out tonight.

Lucas’ 2012 Record So Far: 19-13 (10-6 last week)

Nathaniel’s 2012 Record So Far: 14-18 (8-8 last week)

And Now We Present Phil Simms Narrating His Trip to the Grocery Store

Well, Chrees, that was certeenly a harroweeng adveenture we had back een the parkeeng lot. I never knew tire reems could geet so bent out of shape seemply by runneeng over some Siamese Tweens. But now that we’ve feexed up that reem and expressed our utmost chagreen of our mortal seen to those Siamese Tweens, we can accompleesh what we set out to do. And that ees buyeeng grocerees for our beloveed family. Thank you ageen for taggeeng along, Chrees; it means a lot to your old man that you are steell weelling to be seen een publeec with heem. Let’s do our beest to attack this leest, shall we?

Ooh, thees looks like a good deal! Leetle baby carreets for just $1.99! Let’s feell our cart up with thirtEEN, no fourtEEN, no fiftEEN bags of them, Chrees. I just can’t geet enough of the Vitameen A these leetle carreets breeng. Now you’ll have to remind ME to head over to the deLI later on for some fine cuts of meat. I’ll have to have a word with that butcher because the last time he cut our meat, hees slices were much too theen and I had a very deeficult time just tryeeng to eat theem. Oh look, Chrees! Een the potato cheep aisle! It’s a Vietnam War vetereen who’s lost all his leembs! Wow. Doesn’t that just make you want to stand up and be proud to be an Americeen? That’s a man who has really takeen it on the cheen but has steell found the strength witheen to become an eenspiration to all around heem. God bless heem.

Alright, we’re makeeng great progress on thees leest, Chrees. We’re a leettle more than halfway through eet, I’d say. Or maybe even a leettle more than feefty percent through eet! Wheechever one ees a greater amount. Have you seen the Metamuceel anywhere, Chrees? I’ve been haveeng some awfully consteepated sheets lately and my patieence is weareeng theen. Seence we’re by the milk aisle here, let’s peeck some up and set eet een our cart. No more of the whole milk, Chrees; we’ve all beeen getteeng a leetle tubby lately at Seemms Manor, so we’re going to have steeck to some skeem for a while. Attaboy, Chrees; you make your papa very proud. I know thees will embareess you, but I steell geet flashbacks to wheen you were a keed all the time. I remember weeth pride the day of your circumceesion, when that nice doctor treemed off all the foreskeen on your leetle peener. Wheen you have a boy someday, Chrees, you’ll find that you treasure leetle momeents like that all the time.

But enough treeps down memory lane; we’re neareeng the home stretch of our grocery leest! Before we leave, we definitely have to peeck up some Been and Jeery’s Ice Cream for your mother; she always loves eating those ice cream cones that are feelled to the breem. But which flavor do we choose, Chrees? ChunKY MonKEY? ChuBBY HuBBY? Chocoleete Fudge BrowNIE? HEE HEE HEE. How do they posseebly come up with these names? Choose any one that sounds good, Chrees. Eet weell be my treat. Well, eet looks like we’ve almost feeneeshed the leest. But what’s thees? A leetle book sectieen for anyone who’s lookeeng for a good read? Let’s see eef they have my favoreete book here. They do! Huckleberry Feenn! By Mark Twain. Deed you know hees real name was Samuel Clemeens, Chrees? Oh, thees was my favorite thing to read een the summer time back een Kentucky. I always loved the friendsheep between Huckleberry and Jeem, even though I got een trouble wheen I first came to the Gieents for referreeng to heem by the full name he’s addressed by een the book. I deed not know that word was so offenseeve! Beelieve me, though, after Lawreence Taylor heet me in the leever and leet my pubeec hair on fire, I got the heent!

We’ve finally made eet! Eet’s time for checkout! Let’s SEE what THE damage will BE. *listens to cashier announce the total* One hundreed and sixTEEN dollars and feefty-seveen cents?! I guess I maybe deedn’t need all those bags of leetle carreets een retrospect, right? Oh well. You leeve and you learn from your meestakes. That ees what Beell Parcells always told me, anyway. Thank you very much. Alright, Chrees, let’s heet the road and get these groceries een the freedge before they spoil. By the way, have I told you the vacatieen plans your mother and I settled on? We’re going to fly overseas to watch some professieenal musicieens play the violeen in West Berleen! I can’t wait to tell Jeem…