By: Shawn Davis
Now that my pants fit correctly after gorging myself on ribs (I’m not a huge fan of turkey), corn, macaroni and cheese, spinach, chocolate-chip cake, honey ham, rice, mashed potatoes, beef chili, and ice cream I can look at the third quarter of the NFL season without falling asleep. (I’m am about to eat more cake though!) When the NFL debuted the Thursday evening games – in 2006 – I wasn’t a big supporter because it made me choose over shows I watched at the time, but mostly because I didn’t have the channel as part of my cable package. As a football fan I do appreciate the games more, now, than I did in ’06 because they’re isn’t any programming worth choosing over the game on Thursday evenings.
Some notes on the Thanksgiving triple-header: Three great games when, in the past, if one was competitive – we all got lucky. The Packers remain unbeaten by outlasting the Lions 27-15; Dallas held off Miami in a tight contest with the final score being 20-19 and the Ravens defeated the 49ers 16-6.San Francisco should hold their heads high after taking a loss to a “good” Ravens team – I had to jab them because they cost me a few games this year as you are aware. I respect the Ravens defense but it’s the offense that sleeps in games they should dominate. One area of concern for the 49ers should be their offensive line; as great as the Ravens pass-rush is, there is no way any team can allow their quarterback to be under siege the way Alex Smith was. I’d be afraid.
Tony Romo overcame two interceptions to do enough to get the Cowboys a critical win the NFC East. The Green Bay Packers? They’re still unbeaten and do not have the look of a team that’s wearing down, which is good because the “perfect season” talk will begin to pick up a ton of steam. I said last week that I would post my record from my pick league and I will (later in this piece) but first I will focus on where the teams rank. Let’s go:
Playing For The Trophy
Green Bay (11-0), Pittsburgh (8-3), New England (8-3), Baltimore (8-3), New Orleans (8-3)
New Orleans is the only team that can stand face-to-face with the Packers in a shootout without blinking – and I HOPE they meet in the playoffs. If they do, only leave the television at commercial breaks because it’s going to be a show. Tom Brady has that look about him – which isn’t good for everyone else BUT they haven’t won a playoff game in a few years so that should temper expectations a bit.
I don’t care that the Steelers barely beat Kansas City on Sunday night…they won the game. That’s all that matters. The Chiefs defense came out possessed and if their offense met that level of passion – they win but they didn’t!
San Francisco (9-2), Houston (8-3), Detroit (7-4), NY Giants (6-5)
Although the Giants got obliterated by the Saints, I still trust them more than I do the others in this group; the G-Men have a track record where these other teams do not. Buyers beware as it relates to the Texans as they’re down to the third quarterback on their depth chart and making the playoffs should not be a foregone conclusion; if the Titans play like they did last week – especially the offensive line and Chris Johnson – the division can be had.
The 49ers are a good group but let’s just see how this plays out in the postseason as it’s obvious they’ll clinch their division, earn a second or third seed (at worst), and host a home playoff game. Detroit seems to be wilting under the weight of expectations and they don’t seem to be puffing put their chests with confidence – they’re doing it as a defense mechanism.
Cincinnati (7-4), Atlanta (7-4), Dallas (7-4), Oakland (7-4), Chicago (7-4), Tennessee (6-5)
The Bengals are a really solid team but I cannot figure out the Falcons, Cowboys, and the Raiders (and I like them). The Bears are a good team – with Jay Cutler, WITH Jay Cutler! I feel Chicago is a contender for the Super Bowl but if Cutler isn’t able to return then a dive could be in order. Atlanta is 7-4 and I doubt even their fans are sure what they have – and I’m just as confused.
What The Hell?
Special category for a team that has cost me five straight wins, in a row! I keep picking the opposing team to beat the Broncos because the defense ABSOLUTELY knows what’s coming. So why are they winning these games? They express a higher level of physical play and in the 4th quarter the defense is worn down so if the game is close DO NOT PICK AGAINST them! I wish I figured this out a few weeks ago.
I Have No Idea, Well…Now I Do
NY Jets (6-5), Buffalo (5-6), Kansas City (4-7), Washington (4-7), San Diego (4-7), Tampa Bay (4-7), Philadelphia (4-7), Cleveland (4-7), Carolina (3-8)
The Jets are an average club that gets coverage like they’re good – and that’s all I’ll say about the green team. Philly has cost me the most losses this season – by far. No scratch that, it’s actually Denver because I picked against them the last 4 out of 5 weeks.
Can you hear that? No? That’s the Bills coming down from the atmosphere and I had a feeling this portion of their schedule would trip them up but four losses in a row? Why didn’t Stevie Johnson celebrate after he dropped what could have been the winning touchdown as the Bills were driving (they were behind 28-24)? You’ve got to be better than that Buffalo; the season has five games left.
Playing (waiting) For The 2012 Draft
Seattle (4-7), Arizona (4-7), Jacksonville (3-8), Miami (3-8), Minnesota (2-9), St. Louis (2-9), Indianapolis (0-11)
Miami is a good team with a bad record, seriously! View them as a cake-walk if you wish and you’ll be whipped on the field; next up? Raiders visit South Florida in a dangerous game. The Jacksonville Jaguars front office fired head coach, Jack Del Rio, this morning. Am I surprised? I mentioned it here.
Here’s the crap-fest of weekly picks that I’ve been crying about for the life of this NFL season:
Week 1: 9-7
Week 2: 13-3
Week 3: 11-5
Week 4: 11-5
Week 5: 7-6
Week 6: 9-4
Week 7: 6-7
Week 8: 9-4
Week 9: 6-8
Week 10: 9-7
Week 11: 9-5
Week 12: 14-2
For the season I’m at 113-63 which is currently tied for 17th on the leader boards with gluttony of other terrible game scouts. Remember, this league isn’t about the point spread – all you do is pick the winner and loser of each game. Good news? Well there are thousands of people in the contest and I’m 17th. I want to scream at the Broncos (8 L’s), Ravens (3 L’s), Chargers (5 L’s), and Eagles (7 L’s). Bad news? I was in SIXTH place after week 6. Week 7 and 9 torpedoed my chances of making this thing a contest and regaining my place in the top ten.
The Colts have been great to me – and those beating me in the standings – as I picked nine of their 11 games correctly. Are you asking why I only hit a 9-2 record on my picks with them? Well contrary to what most people want to believe this is the EXACT same team that Peyton Manning played with last year and count me as someone who is shocked they have been this putrid. If Manning was healthy, I feel this team would have at least 8 wins at this point and not a single person ON THIS PLANET could convince me otherwise.
The season is winding down, the playoffs are on the horizon and I have to eat another cut of those tasty ribs I have left. I hope you enjoyed this piece and I’ll see you next week.