Bill Simmons is back in podcast form and he’s slamming the NFL, ESPN, and anyone he wants. In other news Ben Roethlisberger is injured, there’s unrest in the Middle East, and a hurricane is heading for the East Coast. All of these seem like pretty obvious occurrences that anyone could’ve seen coming. Nothing Simmons has said on his podcast should really surprise anything. He’s always thought Mike & Mike were soft. He’s always wanted to take his shots at Goodell without risking suspension. Call me when he says something we weren’t expecting for him to say. In the meantime I’m going back to my regularly scheduled football programming.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
DENVER over Minnesota
Week 3 was a breeze for survivor pools compared to Week 2. There were no major upsets, so everyone gets to breathe easy for another week. Week 4 presents some good opportunities on paper, the best of which comes in Denver. It took a couple weeks to get the offense where it needed to be, but playing Peyton Manning out of the pistol formation seems to give both him and Greg Kubiak what each needed. Peyton doesn’t have to drop back much, but Kubiak can still run his play action stuff. The defense doesn’t need any assistance as its playing at levels the city of Denver has never witnessed before. The formula should continue to work for Denver until they see some better opposition.
Minnesota’s two victories have come against teams with a combined record of 1-5, so don’t let their 2-1 record fool you. Don’t forget both those games were at home and their road game was an unmitigated disaster. This will be a true test for Teddy Bridgewater who hasn’t looked good so far this season. He hasn’t had to do as much in the last two games with Adrian Peterson going off, but Denver’s front seven won’t allow that to happen this week. It’s sixth in rushing yards allowed per game and seventh in yards per carry allowed. That means it will be on Bridgewater to do something against a pass rush that has 11 sacks in three games and a secondary with some of the best corners in football. I don’t like his chances.
Elsewhere Atlanta should continue its strong start to the season by taking down Houston. It doesn’t look like Asian Foster will play and even if he does I don’t see him getting all the work. Houston’s defense has been surprisingly ineffective this year so points shouldn’t be an issue with the Falcons. Indianapolis finally got off the schneid last week and Jacksonville shouldn’t pose them too much trouble. I’d rather save the Colts, however, for when they’re playing better football. San Diego hosts Cleveland, but the Chargers have had big letdowns in large home favorite spots in the past and their defense isn’t good enough to rely on. We know how volatile the Giants can be, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them upset Buffalo as almost a touchdown underdog. Finally, Arizona has been tremendous this year, but they’ve only played bad teams. The Rams should pose a stiffer test and divisional games are always tough ones to consider.
Thursday Night Pick:
PITTSBURGH +3 over Baltimore
I’ll start off by saying I wouldn’t bet this game regardless of how bored or how much of a degenerate I was. There are just too many question marks. The obvious one is Michael Vick, who steps in for the injured Ben Roethlisberger. Vick looked terrible last week, but it’s hard to change the game plan on the fly when a new quarterback gets thrown into the mix. He should be more familiar with the offense this week, but he doesn’t have nearly the same accuracy Ben does in working the short routes Pittsburgh loves in their spread offense. Offensive coordinator Todd Halethorpe will change the offense to fit Vick’s mobility and arm strength, but Pittsburgh would be best served not trying to let Vick win the game even if Baltimore’s secondary is terrible.
On the flip side, we all want to know what happened to Baltimore’s running game. The departure of Greg Kubiak to Denver has brought in Marc Trestman to run the offense and run game productivity us disappeared. We all knew Justin Forsett wasn’t that talented, but we didn’t think things would be this bad. With Joe Flacco only having Steve Smith as a legitimate receiving option, it leaves Baltimore unlike to do much offensively despite last week’s success. The injury to Breshad Perriman has really hurt them. Flacco’s actually been alright in recent memory against Pittsburgh and the Steelers pass defense isn’t exactly scary.
The loss of Big Ben has moved Vegas to declare Pittsburgh as the underdog in this spot. I definitely get the premise with Vick starting. It’s not an enviable position to take, but Charlie Batch won a game against Joe Flacco as a Steelers’ quarterback in 2012. Batch is no better than Vick, so why can’t Vick do enough to get the job done today. I’ll take the Steelers with the points, but I don’t love it. After thinking about it, what I love for this game is the under. Ok, I cracked. I’m throwing down on the under tonight. This damn NFL always gets me.
J.Camm’s Pick: Baltimore
Last Week: 11-5
JCamm: 23-24-1 (Don’t look now — no, look, definitely look — but someone’s crawling out of the shitter after posting an 11-5 record in week 3. I’m back, baby! <— 100% going to regret saying that, likely after I go 1-13 this week.)