This would be the WTH edition of the picks.
What the hell is with the New Orleans Saints? The defense seems bush-league at best, which is damned difficult to believe given two things: 1) Rob Ryan is not calling bad schemes. The players on the field just look confused and sloppy. They are over-persuing, missing tackles and blowing coverage assignments in an almost painfully embarrassing manner. I will take nothing away from that Dallas offense which was firing on all 12 cylanders, but it seemed even DeMarco Murray and Tony Romo were confused by how poor the NO defense played. 2) This is not a unit freshly minted. They know Ryan's schemes, and have veteran leadership. They were the fourth best defense in the NFL last year. The only thing I can think of is that they got so used to playing with a lead, they forgot the struggle of stopping the opponent. It's not just the D, though. The Saints are getting beaten on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
What the hell is with the 49ers? Yes, everybody is celebrating their return to the running game and that the defense held the Eagles without a first down in the second half until there were minutes left to play. Maybe I wasn't watching the same game as all y'all, but that was not a team with the confidence and swagger of the last two years. Kaepernick still seems uncertain and indecisive, and Vernon Davis was almost non-existent until well later in the game. The only two 'Niners who seem to be playing with championship urgency are Anquan Bolden and of course, Frank Gore.
In truth, they squeeked by the Eagles, handing them 21 points for next to nothing. On the plus side, maybe they have embraced a direction to go. I am not optimistic about their chances. This weekend, they face a Chiefs team incredably pumped up from their thrashing of a rather disliked in-Conference rival (no one likes a long-time bully.) 2 Weeks after that, the Niners go to Denver, and face a team, itself looking for an identity. The difference between these teams is that the Broncos, regardless of what identity they settle on that offense is always potentially lethal, the defense is stacked with talent, and up here in the Rockies, there is just a little less air. The 'Niners don't have that versatility of personel and location. Have I mentioned yet that much later this season, the 49ers get to play the Seahawks (twice), the Chargers and the Cardinals, all within a 5 week period? I'm not embracing the 'rejuvinated' 'Niners just yet.
What.the.Hell! Patriots. Kansas City absolutely embarrassed New England. This after 3 showings of the Patriots looking only slightly better than - mediocre. This was the preseason pick to take the AFC home field into the payoffs, due to 'strength of schedule', and they are 2-2 against opponents who have similar mediocre records. In their wins, they have looked ... adequate. (They only scored 16 points against the Raiders and won by 5, in Foxborough. The Awful Raiders. At Home. 16 points.) In New England's losses, they have been royally thumped. Both Miami and Kansas City battered the Pats with a brutal run game, and tore the offensive line to shreds on defense. I've thought for years that the Patriots would and must eventually fall, even while being convinced that Bill Belichick is the best NFL Coach ever. I simply didn't think it would happen so ... dramatically. They can still win the East (strength of schedule), but no one is going to pretend this is representative of a 'dynasty'.
Congratulations to both Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater for their first NFL Starts. They both played very well. However, questions remain. Bortles has NFL skill, a good to great arm and a particular caginess about him. Still, one has to wonder how much better he can get. Right now, I'm not convinced that it's much. Bridgewater is 21 years old. He hasn't even grown into his body yet. And this gawky looking kid comes out against the Atlanta Falcons, and crushes them. He outplayed Matt Ryan! With Asiata scoring touchdowns and looking for all the world like Terrelle Davis, Bridgewater's potential is 'unlimitless' as Ray Stantz would say. I understand why Zimmer would want to sit him, and he only came in because he had to. Still, mark this kid for good things, very good things in the future. He has the potential to be an Andrew Luck or better, Randall Cunningham. If they don't break him, Bridgewater could be great.
The final WTH is for me. When I did my divisional picks, I thought that the new offensive scheme would suit Eli Manning's talents as soon as it started to click with him. I should have listened to myself. What we saw against Washington was a click so loud it was a virtual BOOM of Eli shredding a defense. Consistency has not been one of the younger Manning's hallmarks, but if the Giants can maintain even 80% of that level, they should walk to the NFC East title.
Minnesota (2-2) at Green Bay (2-2) - Packers (10-42, Packers)
Chicago (2-2) at Carolina (2-2) - Bears (24-31, Panthers)
Cleveland (1-2) at Tennessee (1-3) - Browns (29-28, Brownies)
St Louis (1-2) at Philadelphia (3-1) - Eagles (28-34, Eagles)
Atlanta (2-2) at New York Giants (2-2) - Giants (20-30, G-men)
Tampa Bay (1-3) at New Orleans (1-3) - Saints (31-37, Saints)
Houston (3-1) at Dallas (3-1) - Cowboys (17-20, Cowboys)
Buffalo (2-2) at Detroit (3-1) - Lions (17-14, Bills)
Baltimore (3-1) at Indianapolis (2-2) - Colts (13-20, Colts)
Pittsburgh (2-2) at Jacksonville (0-4) - Steelers (17-9, Steelers)
Arizona (3-0) at Denver (2-1) - Broncos (20-41, Broncos)
Kansas City (1-2) at San Francisco (2-2) - 49ers (17-22, 'Niners)
New York Jets (1-3) at San Diego (3-1) - Chargers (0-31, Chargers)
Cincinnati (3-0) at New England (2-2) - Bengals (17-43, Patriots)
Seattle (2-1) at Washington (1-3) - Seahawks (27-17, Seahawks)
Byes: Miami, Oakland
Last Week's Score: 8 - 5, 62% Overall: 35 - 26, 57%