It’s finally October, which is one of the best months in the sport’s year. The College Football season sis getting into full swing. The baseball playoffs are starting up in about a week, as I believe the NL Wild Card game is October 7th. The NHL starts on October 7th, with my Blackhawks set to raise their 2015 championship banner that day. The NBA preseason will start up soon, with the season starting at the end of the month. College basketball also starts to begin in October. Finally, the NFL season also is starting to heat up, or at least heat up as much as the uber popular NFL can. It may just be the best month for sports, and it has only just begun. So, let’s kick off the new month with a preview of this week’s NFL action.
October means that Bill Simmons is back with HBO, and I for one am ecstatic to have him back. In the true spirit of Simmons, let’s take a look at how the NFL has screwed something up. October also is breast cancer awareness month. That means that this is the month where you will see players wearing pink merchandise, in an attempt for the league to connect with more female fans. Of course like most things the NFL does, this is not as it seems.
I think the way Karuna Jaggar of The Guardian put it, saying “The NFL is exploiting breast cancer for its own gain and setting a pathetic example for big business.” This is a statement that just from an outsider’s perspective looks a bit over the top, but when you delve into the issue, it is not that unrealistic. The NFL makes nearly $10 billion a year, and they have been doing this breast cancer program since 2009. Since 2009, the NFL has given a whopping total of… $4.5 million, or 8% of all profits from the pink merchandising.
To put that in perspective, Roger Goodell has made around $105 million in the last five years. The total the NFL has donated less than 5% of what they have paid their incompetent commissioner to breast cancer research. It would be more beneficial to just directly donate your money to a cancer charity, or to a foundation than to give it to the NFL for some pink merchandising. It is just part of a long line of examples of how the league does not really care about women. Between this, the domestic violence, and that odd Buccaneers thing earlier this summer, it should be very clear the league does not care about half of the population. This is just a PSA, be wary when you go to buy that pink merchandise for a female in your life, just buy them regular merchandise and donate some more money to charity, you’ll be doing more good that way. Onto the picks!
Bye weeks start this week, with the Patriots and Titans off this week. It sucks for New England that they have off now, mostly because they have looked dominating the first three weeks. I nailed my Thursday night pick, with the Ravens beating the Steelers in OT on Thursday. I am hopeful for my picks this week, although I have picked a lot of favorites, something that concerns me. However, as I go through my picks, I can not find any that I believe I should change(although I did pick the Ravens, who were picked by less than 50% of pigskin pickem users, which I count as an underdog). But without further ado, let’s get to the pick.
Jets over Dolphins. Football across the pond! This game will be on at 9:30 in the morning on the east coast, 6;30 AM west coast, but they should be getting a better game than in year’s past. London has been getting the Jaguars a bit the last few years, so hopefully this will be a nice change in pace for English football(dare I say the real football? No, because our football isn’t played with our feet. And yet, I’ll still call it soccer, what a world). To the game, the Dolphins looked absolutely awful last week, and they are making my pick of them as a preseason playoff team. The Jets through the first two weeks looked like arguable the league’s best defense. They were getting takeaways at an astonishing pace. They should be able to get to Tannehill and cause turnovers. If Ryan Fitzpatrick can be just an average qb, the Jets should win this game.
Falcons over Texans. I would love to know for sure if Julio Jones and Arian Foster were going to play. If Foster is not playing, this pick is easy. If Julio is playing, this pick is also easy. I still feel confident in this pick if both play. But if Julio does not play, and Foster does, I might change my pick(latest: Julio Jones is reportedly good to go, so I am sticking with Atlanta). With Julio healthy, the Falcons have played really well this year. They had a huge come from behind victory last week against Dallas, showing the grit of this team. Dan Quinn has also made a big impact on their defense, improving the pass rush and they have only allowed 24 points per game, good for 16th in the league(it’s funny when I have to say only for that, but there has been improvement I swear!). This Falcons defense has made strides, but it is not great. But no one was really asking for it to be great. It just had to be good enough. But Julio is setting the world on fire so far this year. If he is playing, look for him to show up Sunday again. I just feel like the Falcons are the stronger team, so I will pick them.
Bills over Giants. Man, I wrote after week 1 that I needed to see it more from the Bills to believe that they were for real. And after three weeks, I am pretty sure they are for real this year. Tyrod Taylor has been the qb the Bills need him to be. he has made some throws down the field and they competed with the Patriots! The Patriots look like world-burners this year. Taylor could get even better if LeSean McCoy looks like peak McCoy, he could see a lot more stacked fronts, and less people back in the secondary(not to say Karlos Williams is bad, but McCoy probably has a higher ceiling if both are healthy). Their defense has room to improve, which could be scary for opponents. The Giants are good, but they have not really done anything to impress me this year, especially letting the Redskins hang around last week in a game they should have won handily. Give me the Bills!
Raiders over Bears. This is another pick that has an asterisk. If Cutler is playing, then I am picking the Bears. Partly because I am a homer, and partly because the Bears offense has looked good with Cutler in there and the defense looked good last week against Seattle. If Cutler is out, and Clausen is starting, and Clausen has been taking the first team reps over Fales this week, then I am taking Oakland in a heartbeat. Jimmy Clausen is so bad at football, I almost feel bad for him. If Cutler is out, the Raiders offense should slowly just wear the Bears defense. Carr, L.Murray, and Amari Cooper look like a trio that could carry this team in the future. If Clausen starts, and the Bears can’t get anything going on offense again(likely), then that trio should be able to put up some points on a Bears defense that is improving, but still not great. If Cutler is playing, give me Chicago. If not, then I want Oakland
Bengals over Chiefs. The Bengals have looked pretty dang good this year. Andy Dalton has looked good this year, and he has passed my eye test pretty well. The Chiefs are struggling so far this year, granted they could be 2-1 if they had been able to beat the Broncos. They are one of the worst teams in the league in defending the pass so far, and are in the middle of the league in defending the run. One interesting thing for this game will be whether or not Jeremy Hill can get going again this week. I, and many of my fantasy leagues, say this will be the week he plays well. Tyler Eifert is another player to watch, as much of the secondary attention will probably be directed at A.J. Green. The Bengals are the better team right now, give me them!
Colts over Jaguars. I am going to keep this one simple. This game will tell me a lot about this Colts team. If they can beat the Jaguars, people should take a deep breath, and remember the Colts play in the AFC South before writing them off. If they can’t beat the Jaguars, then that is it for this team. They would be 1-3, and could have a case to be 0-4. This game is key for the Colts, and it is a must-win.
Eagles over Washington. The Eagles, fresh off a win over the Jets, should be looking at this game, especially with romo out for Dallas, as a chance to gain some ground in the division. Don’t be fooled by this Washington team, they might have hung around with the Giants, but they should not have. Their front seven against this Eagles offensive line does give me some pause, but I just think the Eagles are that much better. Look for Jordan Matthews to have a good week, and for DeMarco Murray to at least double his rushing total for the season. I think the Eagles win by 10+.
Panthers over Buccaneers. The Panthers, 3-0, look to be a better team than they were last year. Having Cam Newton healthy since the start has to help. He has looked like 2013 Cam Newton, and it is helping the Panthers succeed. Getting Luke Kuechly back will be key, but it does not appear he will play this week. I think Mike Evans will have a second strong week, and my fantasy teams will really appreciate that. But I think these are two teams going different directions. The Panthers are the team potentially rise, so they are my pick to win this week.
Chargers over Browns. So, originally this whole analysis section was dedicated to why I hat the Browns because they are typically the only 1 o’clock game on TV in my dorm. I just can’t watch the Browns. But then I decided that’s not analysis, so here is quickly why I am picking the Chargers. As good as the Browns front seven can be, and as poor the Chargers’ O-line can be, Phillip Rivers is a better qb than whomever the Browns can trot out on the field. Despite some matchup concerns for San Diego, I just have a feeling that the Chargers will win this game.
Broncos over Vikings. Oh hey look at that! The Broncos actually looked good running more of the offense that Peyton Manning is comfortable in! Guess who said that? ME!, Granted, this is also coming from the guy who said the Ravens are going to the AFC title game, so what the hell do I know! The Vikings were a trendy preseason playoff team, and while they still could make it, the Broncos look like the better team right now. Their defense has been really good so far, and it really takes the pressure off the offense for once in Manning’s Broncos tenure. Bold prediction: The Broncos win by multiple touchdowns.
Packers over 49ers. Do I really need to explain this one? Did you watch Aaron Rodgers play football on Monday? Did you also get to see Colin Kaepernick play? If you did, then you know why I am picking the Packers.
Cardinals over Rams. This one should also be pretty obvious. In fact, I outlined earlier this week that I thought that the Caridnals were the best team in the NFC. Their defense should eat up Nick Foles and the Rams offense. Also, look for Carson Palmer to continue to be one of the best qbs in the league. Especially since they get an upgrade to their offensive line with the return of Mike Iupati. Give me the Cardinals easy.
Cowboys over Saints. Here is how I see it: The Saints are not good at stopping the run, and if I’m the Cowboys, I am running the ball 30+ times regardless. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have a good run defense through three games, if they can limit Mark Ingram they will force a hobbled Drew Brees to beat them. The Cowboys also have a better pass defense than the Saints, and I just think that even with their injury struggles, they can find a way to beat the Saints for a much needed win to stay afloat in the suddenly-competitive NFC East.
Seahawks over Lions. This is another easy one for me. Did you know that the Seahawks have not allowed a point since Kam Chancellor returned to the team. Granted, it was only one game, and they played a team that had Jimmy Clausen starting at qb. But the Lions offense did not look good against a Broncos defense which has been pretty good this year. The Seahawks defense is still very good, and should find a way to disrupt Matt Stafford and cause him to create turnovers. We might have seen the Seahawks begin a turn around, and if that’s true they will demolish the Lions.
For eliminator, a lot of people are using the Colts this week, but I don’t know if I would want to touch the Colts with the way they have been playing. The Chargers are also a good pick, and obviously teams like Green Bay and Arizona are always good choices. I think that I am going with the Chargesr this week, but I might take the Packers.
As always, follow me on twitter @TVG_5
Ted Van Green
Spark Sports NFL Analyst