Last week’s Record: Jesse 9-6, Tom 8-7
Overall Record: Tom 38-25, Jesse 38-25
NFL 2013 WEEK FIVE: THE BROWN NOISE
Buffalo at Cleveland
Tom: The Cleveland Browns are tied for the top of the AFC North 4 weeks into this season. Let me repeat: Tied for first in the division. And they are not just pulling games out, they are going out and winning them with a very good defense and a capable offense. Apparently instead of folding up the tents by trading away what we all thought was their best player, it appears more that they were jettisoning the unneeded weight from the team (including keeping Weeden on the bench). The Bills share the Browns’ 2-2 record, but they seem to be more surviving games, although they did take care of the Ravens last week without much nail-biting after 2-3 quarters. Now they meet on TNF, and this suddenly becomes (a bit) of a more interesting match-up. I’ll go with the defense of the Browns at home (what in the world am I saying?).
Jesse: ALL HAIL HOYER THE DESTROYER!
(photo found on Imgur; author unknown)
The Browns are 2-2 heading into its game against the Bills on Thursday, which promises to resemble a four-hour NFL Follies marathon. Brian Hoyer has been a huge upgrade over Brandon Weeden, simply by being reasonably competent, and the Browns defense is very, very good. Throw in a boisterous home crowd, and I predict the Browns will end up with their 3rd win in a row, which will then be followed by cats marrying dogs and the seas filling up with blood.
New Orleans at Chicago
Jesse: New Orleans is on a roll, but Chicago happens to be pretty darn good as well. However, after seeing the Lions score 40 against the Bears’ D, I’m guessing the Saints aren’t too nervous about facing them. I think the Saints win in a shootout.
Tom: Chicago has had a habit the past few years of looking like the team to beat in the NFC, and then they inexplicably lose a game like they did last week to Detroit. I still have faith in the Bears defense (especially after seeing that the Lions offense may have gotten tipped off with the Chicago defensive calls by former Bear and newest Lion, Israel Idonije), and even with the 40 points, the Bears still almost came back. This game also re-visits the NFC Championship game from a few years ago where we saw Sexy Rexy Grossman (hey, whatever happened to that guy?) and his sex cannon taking the Bears to the Super Bowl (slang). The Saints turned the ball over a lot that day and mainly relied on Rex not to screw things up. I’ll hang with the Bears again, Anya help me.
New England at Cincinnati
Tom: I was there in person to watch the Pats hold off Atlanta last week, but their offense still does not scare me. They also lost a rock in the middle of the defensive line, Vince Wilfork, to a season-ending injury. Cincy is smarting after they had the opportunity to take complete control of their division, but bungled (heh) it by losing to the Browns. I think this might be a low-scoring game unless one of the offenses can get back on track. I’m counting on the Pats either losing one of these close ones, or suddenly get their offense back on and not make it close. I’ll hang with the Pats once more until the Bengals can show they’re ready for the pressure of being a good team.
Jesse: The Browns beat the Bengals, in part, because of a very good defensive line that pressured Andy Dalton. With Wilfork out, I think Dalton will have an easier time of it this week. Bengals win in a semi-upset.
Jacksonville at St. Louis
Jesse: I really, really want to pick Jacksonville for this game, because Sam Bradford is lousy. People still talk about Ryan Leaf and Jamarcus Russell and Akili Smith (okay, maybe not Akili Smith), but shouldn’t Bradford be in the “All-Time QB Bust” conversation? He’s also being coached by Brian Schottenheimer, who somehow landed work as an offensive coordinator after taking in the Tebacle with the Jets. At least his dad failed after getting a few wins. (Love you, Marty). But still, Jacksonville. I cannot in good conscience pick the Jags to win anything ever. Sorry, tcjsavannah. I’ll probably regret this, but . . .
Tom: I have decided that one game each week shall be dubbed “He Hate Me”. This is that game. At least you can play the Rams’ defense this week in your fantasy football leagues.
Baltimore at Miami
Tom: The Dolphins are here to chew bubblegum, and beat AFC North teams. And they’re all out of bubblegum after last Monday Night. The Flacco INT chart continues to flip like K’s at a Yu Darvish-pitched Rangers game (that was for you, Nunz).
Jesse: Who are the Ravens? Are they the team that walloped Houston two weeks ago, or the team that bungled (that word again!) at Buffalo and lost by a field goal? I think it’s the latter, and we’ll see that against Miami, as the Dolphins begin their slow descent to 7-9.
Philadelphia at NY Giants
Jesse: After the first 30 minutes of their season caused Rick Reilly to cream his jeans, the rest of the Eagles’ season has been a mess, culminating in a Deliverance re-enactment last Sunday against the Broncos. Apparently, it doesn’t matter if you’re an offensive mastermind when your defense is garbage. That’s why, against all reason, I’m picking the awful, awful Giants to win their first game this weekend. The Eagles are getting worse, the Giants can’t get any worse. Something’s got to give.
Tom: Two NFC East teams that had very different views of how 2013 would be going for them. The Eagles have Chip Kelly and his new fast offense, and the Giants were ready to compete for a Super Bowl again. Four weeks in, and these two teams have 1 win between them. If there is one team I can say that looks worse than the Steelers, it’s the New York football Giants. At least you can point out where Pittsburgh is flawed. Where do you start with New York? They’ve got to eventually break through and win a game, but honestly…I don’t think it’s here. Even at home.
Detroit at Green Bay
Tom: Detroit finally decided to play a complete game and unfortunately for the Bears, it was against them. The Packers have had a week off to think about the bad play-calling that cost them a win against the Bengals. Fun fact: Green Bay is 7-1 at home after a bye week. Oh, and the Lions still have Jim Schwartz as their coach.
Jesse: The Detroit Lions are one of those mediocre teams that will occasionally put on a performance so dominating, that you think they’re better than they are. Last week was that performance. I will not be fooled.
Kansas City at Tennessee
Jesse: Tennessee was the home of two of the emerging stories of this NFL season: the rise of their formerly putrid defense, and the improvement of Jake Locker, who finally seemed to be putting it all together. This excitement helped Titans fans to forget that Locker is frequently injured, at least until last week, when he took a scary hit that thankfully wasn’t season-ending. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a decent backup, but I don’t think that will matter against KC’s defense. I think the Chiefs squeak by in a low-scoring, painful-to-watch game.
Tom: This could have very well been two 4-0 teams facing each other, had the Titans not blown the Texans game. But now Jake Locker (who’s been looking better week by week) is out for 4-8 weeks with an injury, and everyone’s favorite Ivy League QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick, steps in. He’s no slouch, but if he can’t get protection, he throws a lot of picks. KC’s defense is no joke, and I foresee at least one pick-6 in this game by the Chiefs. Chris Johnson has to get on track in this game (he’s one of the leading rushers in the AFC along with Jamaal Charles and…Bilal Powell?!?!?) for the Titans to have a shot.
Seattle at Indianapolis
Tom: The Colts shocked everyone by whipping the 49ers and now they get the team that whipped the 49ers the week prior. Seattle went to Houston and almost lost, and now they travel to Indy. It just seems like they have to catch up to the West Coast time before they start playing. Luck has to get hot early and the defense has to frustrate Wilson in the process. Strictly because it is an away game and I almost got burned last week, I’ll see if I can get “Luck-y” this week…and I promise to quit using that term. Eventually.
Jesse: I really want to pick the Colts, but after last week, I’m skeptical of betting against the Seahawks anymore. I think the Seahawks squeak by in a war, with Richard Sherman shutting down Reggie Wayne and Trent Richardson contributing nothing.
Carolina at Arizona
Jesse: It feels really weird picking a team coached by Ron Rivera, but Carson Palmer, for the 10th straight season, is slowly being revealed to be a mediocre quarterback. The guy has constantly commanded huge gobs of money, yet he’s rarely provided any positive results. He’s the Ryan Reynolds of the NFL.
Tom: The Cardinals could barely beat the Bucs and their first-game starting rookie last week, so what chance do they have against the surging Panthers? Carolina does have to travel West to Arizona, but I think their defense will more than handle the not-so-ageless Carson Palmer, who threw some really bad passes last week against Tampa.
San Diego at Oakland
Tom: With the Broncos streaking and showing no signs of slowing, the Chargers have got to win and win now, especially in-division games like this one. The Raiders showed some life with Matt Flynn last week, but eventually ran out of gas and fell to the Redskins. The Chargers shouldn’t have much trouble here, but as mentioned, it is a divisional game, and sometimes funny things happen in those.
Jesse: Terrelle Pryor will return after being pulled from the lineup the night before last week’s game, which screwed my prediction last week. With the NFL delaying the game until 11:30pm Eastern due to the baseball playoffs, I predict strange things afoot at the Circle K, with the Raiders winning in an upset.
Denver at Dallas
Jesse: Dallas wears the crown of “8-8” better than anyone in the league, showing up as a completely different team from week to week. Some weeks, they’re dominating. Other weeks, they appear to be made up of 53 fans who won a “Be a Dallas Cowboy For a Day” contest. With Peyton Manning coming to town and DT Anthony Spencer out for the rest of the season, I think this is going to be one of those other weeks.
Tom: Hoo boy. After the Cowboys get upended by the aforementioned Chargers, now they get to welcome Peyton Manning and his own personal Red Zone to JJ’s Magic Dome. Will Kiffin’s (the employed one) defense be able to handle this offense? Nah, I don’t think so. This team reminds me of the Patriot teams from some years back–you really worried about their offense, but the defense handled their business pretty well too.
Houston at San Francisco
Tom: This game looked huge at the start of the season–now it’s two underperforming teams trying to find themselves again. The Texans seem to be determined to play in the most OT games in a season, and the 49ers can’t seem to decide who they are on offense. Being they are at home, and have the more dominant defense, I’ll stick with San Fran. And fully expect to be wrong.
Jesse: Andre Johnson’s not the same, and Matt Schaub isn’t the answer. The Niners have issues on both sides of the ball, but I have more faith in Jim Harbaugh in fixing his team’s issues than Gary Kubiak. Niners, and it won’t be close.
NY Jets at Atlanta
Jesse: My initial thought was that there was no way that Atlanta could lose this game. Then I remembered that the Jets currently have a better record! Then I remembered that the Falcons are loaded with talent, at home and facing a rookie quarterback. Then I remembered to make my pick.
Tom: The Jets come a callin’ at just the right time for the Falcons, who can’t seem to win a close game. Sanchez has opted to have surgery now, so Geno Smith is the man for the team this season. And boy, is he still learning. He’ll drop a beautiful pass over the shoulder over a receiver on one play, then throw into triple coverage the next play. Watching the Falcons last week, I still don’t understand why they wouldn’t run the ball when they got inside the 20, and I think that’s probably what has led to their issues with scoring this year. The Jets defense is no slouch, but Smith puts them in bad situations with turnovers and if Atlanta can capitalize, we might see Rex Ryan offering to kiss Suzy Kolber this time.