A Very Smart Man (/sarcasm) once told me that anyone can pick 67% of NFL games. See, half of all games played are 'gimmes', games in which there is an obvious dominant victor. If one just randomly chooses, with minimal knowledge of the sport, among the remaining half then one has a statistical probability of coming out at 50% for half and 67% overall. Fair enough, but only if one accepts the idea of the Gimme game. Games like Carolina at home, on a 14 game home win streak, against a team who has lost one of the greatest running backs of all time and their starting quarterback. Instead, those obvious losers fielded a guy under center who had been with the team for less than 4 weeks. Carolina gimme. Another gimme was the talented Pittsburgh Steelers, arguably the league's most talented offense, going against a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach early in the season. Steelers SMASH, you'd think. How about the Arizona Cardinals with likely the deepest roster in the league going against a Bills team that bares the hallmark of Rex Ryan - inconsistency. Or the Houston Texans smash mouth defense facing another rookie QB, whose only backup is a wide receiver that has to be protected in case he's called on to fill the role? Houston has one of the only QBs to ever come back from a 14 point deficit against the Brady/Belichick Hatriots, and DeAndre Hopkins, while New England is missing it's best weapon in Gronk and it's first and second string QBs. Totally Gimme games.
Not so much.
I don't believe in the Gimme Game. I believe in the three truths of football. 1) No matter how good you look on paper, you still have to play the game. 2) The Game ain't over til it's over, and 3) A win is a Win, and a loss is a Loss. If you had asked just about anybody to name 5 teams that would be undefeated after 3 games, they likely would have said Arizona, Carolina, Pittsburgh, Green Bay and some mix of Kansas City, Seattle, Oakland, Cincinnati or some other outlier. A few, a very few, (myself included) would have picked Denver, at the expense of Carolina. Here is what we have for reality. The undefeated teams after 3 weeks are Minnesota, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New England and Denver. Denver, Philadelphia and New England have been operating with Quarterbacks who haven't thrown a regular season NFL pass before this year. Wentz and Bissett are rookies, and Seimian was a 7th round draft pick from last year's practice squad, so essentially a rookie. Bradford didn't even meet his offensive fellows until 5 days before season kickoff. Flacco is coming off an ACL tear and had his running back cut and then resigned. These are not the signatures of teams that win "Gimme" games. What does establish these five teams as the undefeated is defense, unrelenting, aggressive, brutal defense. Of the five, New England is undoubtedly the best coached. The most talented and poised to win it all are the Denver Broncos. That these teams are 3-0 should not be all that surprising. Still, none of the 5 have succumbed to the notion that they should lose "Gimme" games.
In sarcastic defense of the Very Smart Man (/sarcasm) who told me that statistics leads to a 67% pick rate, he later informed me derisively that the NFL is rigged and games are pre-decided, presumably by the sports Illuminati. This is one case where I simply cannot disregard the obvious contradiction. Either statistical chance controls the events or the Lizard People backing Roger Goodell do. It isn't both. If it's the Lizard Folk, then the Gimme games would actually be Gimme games. At least some 'insider' with forked tongue would stand out as a champion of picks. Hmm, no such critter seems to appear. But maybe, just maybe, that's what the Illuminati WANTS me to see ...
(Just for the record, I am currently 1 pick or more better than all of ESPN's resident experts. I can only assume that it is because I knew the Broncos would beat both the Panthers and the Bengals.)
Still, here are my picks:
Miami (1-2) at Cincinnati (1-2) - Bengals (7-22, Bengals)
They bounce back in a big way.
Great win that everyone is raving about. I must not think like everyone because I have a problem here. It doesn't say great things about your team if you have a wide receiver at 173 yards, 1 TD, and still only win on the virtue of 5 field goals. Cincinnati should be worried.
Indianapolis (1-2) at Jacksonville (0-3) in London - Colts (27-30, Jags)
Jacksonville has talent but just can't seem to put a 'TEAM' together.
A good win for the Jaguars. It remains to be seen if they an build on it.
Tennessee (1-2) at Houston (2-1) - Texans (20-27, Texans)
Houston's defense can pull together without everyone else relying on Watt, or can they?
I'd say they can. And Houston actually generated offense against a decent Titans defense.
Cleveland (0-3) at Washington (1-2) - Taterskins (20-31, Washington)
The Browns have been scrappy, but if they are going to win a game this year they have to take what opportunities they have. This is one.
Cousins played well. Again the Browns show promise, but not yet.
Seattle (2-1) at New York Jets (1-2) - Seahawks (27-17, Seahawks)
It's all on the LOB for turnovers with Wilson hobbled.
And Pickspatrick delivers.
Buffalo (1-2) at New England (3-0) - Patriots (16-0, Bills)
It doesn't matter who plays QB for New England. It could be Betty White. Rex wakes in cold sweats every night fever-dreaming of being whipped by a sneering Belichick while Ryan wears assless chaps.
I take back some, only some, of the bad things I've said about Rex and Rob Ryan. The last time the Patriots got blanked at home, Bill Clinton was President, Drew Bledsoe was a rookie, and Gronk wasn't even in kindergarten.
Carolina (1-2) at Atlanta (2-1) - Panthers (33-48, Falcons)
On top of the NFC South and then not. Sorry, Georgia.
Holy Sh!t!. Ryan, 500+ yards passing; Jones, 300 yards receiving. Who needs defense when your offense plays like that? Oh, yeah, Carolina does. The Panthers find themselves in some serious trouble.
Oakland (2-1) at Baltimore (3-0) - Ravens (28-27, Raiders)
Only because of home field. I hate having to pick games this evenly matched. Still no sightings of Kahlil Mack.
Carr over Flacco, Crabtree over Smith the Whatever. So much for home field.
Detroit (1-2) at Chicago (0-3) - Lions (14-17, Bears)
Anyone who has the Bears above Cleveland at the bottom of their power poll is just WRONG! Chicago is the hot mess of the league.
Ever notice how much better Chicago plays, on both sides of the ball, when Cutler isn't in the game?
Denver (3-0) at Tampa Bay (1-2) - Broncos (27-7, Broncos)
Denver has not done well in the steamy heat of Florida. But the Buc's secondary can't stop the Seimian to Sanders connection. Winston is impressive but so is Newton. The Buccaneers will be out hustled and out-coached.
A complete game from Denver, even with the rookie Lynch in relief of Siemian. Considering how many pundits picked the Bucs (I'm looking at you, Skip Bayless) I'm beginning to think that the "experts" are waiting for Denver to lose so they can say "SEE! We told you they weren't that good." Wait another week, smart guys.
Los Angeles (2-1) at Arizona (1-2) - Cardinals (17-13, Rams)
If they lose this game in the desert, I give up on them completely.
I think the Cardinals can officially be labeled a disaster. And the Rams are showing, dare I say it, consistency?
New Orleans (0-3) at San Diego (1-2) - Chargers (35-34, Saints)
McCoy knows his job is uncertain, and will not let his elite quarterback disappoint.
Rivers didn't disappoint. Neither did Brees.
Dallas (2-1) at San Francisco (1-2) - Cowboys (24-17, Cowboys)
Prescott and Elliot are the real deal. Blaine Gabbert is not.
As I said.
Kansas City (2-1) at Pittsburgh (2-1) - Steelers (14-43, Steelers)
Le'Veon Bell is back. And Roeslithberger rarely shits the bed twice in a row.
Somebody somewhere said that KC had a defense?
New York Giants (2-1) at Minnesota (3-0) - Vikings (10-24, Vikings)
No Vereen and a Minnesota defense coming into its own.
I think it might be time to drop Eli from my fantasy team. And I'm still on the Bradford bandwagon.
Byes: Philadelphia, Green Bay
Dog! I hate bye weeks.
Last Week: 9 - 7, 56%, Overall: 30 - 18, 53%