Michael Turner run, or this Darren Sproles run. Granted, those three guys aren't on the Chargers any more, but the spirit remains. If we can beat the Colts at home on Monday night (I'm betting we'll at least have the lead at halftime), beating the Jaguars should be a given, sweep the NFC East (they're terrible and we already beat two of them), take two from the Raiders, go 2-2 in our 4 games against the Broncos and Chiefs (that's probably the hard part of this projection, but maybe a home and home kind of thing) that's 10 wins without counting our games against the Bengals and Dolphins. What's that? We already lost to the Raiders around midnight last Sunday? Well shit. I have no idea what to expect of the Chargers this season.
This season I have been going with my gut almost entirely. I check Football Outsiders and may occasionally calculate teams Pythagorean winning percentage, but don't apply a rigorous statistical analysis comparing the quality of the teams to their spread.
CHICAGO (-7.5) over Nyg: Stupid backdoor cover AND Brandon Jacobs ruining David Wilson's fantasy value. The Bears are the better team, but only above average. They'll probably be fighting San Francisco, Detroit and Arizona (really?) for a wild card spot. The Giants are bad like the Chiefs were bad last year. The talent is there, but they're getting unlucky with injuries and historically unlucky with turnovers. I wouldn't be surprised if the Giants went 2-14, had a top 3 pick, then made the playoffs next year. I hate Eli.
BUFFALO (+7) over Cincinnati: I guess this is more of a home dog kind of pick, or maybe the line is a little too big, but I expect the Bengals to win. If Buffalo can get Mario Williams to play like Mario Williams and EJ Manuel to play like one of last year's rookie QBs and take two game from the Patriots, they have a chance at the AFC East...but probably not. As for the Bengals...this year is shaping up like a year where it will be harder to win a division than get a wild card. The NFC East will be super competitive, but not good enough to get a wild card spot. Same with the AFC East, AFC North, and AFC South. In fact, the Chiefs and 49ers have practically locked up a wild card spot, so everyone else is competing for the 6th seed.
CLEVELAND (+2.5) over Detroit: The Browns are actually the better team, at home and getting points. And the chance that Calvin Johnson doesn't play? I'll put $ on the Browns below, but I hope Megatron plays. Not only is he an important part of my fantasy team, but the Sunday in the NFL is just not as shiny and bright with him on the sideline.
OAKLAND (+9) over Kansas City: Obviously Denver is the best team in the NFL right now. But did you happen to click on the Pythagorean winning percentage link above? If you did, you would not see Denver at the top of that list. You would see Kansas City. That's right. Because Kansas City has allowed the fewest points in the NFL, all they need is an above average offense to have the best Pyth% even though Denver has the largest point differential (of course they do). So why take the Raiders? Because they are merely a below average team, not an epically bad team like the Raiders or the Giants. And being at home, this line feels a little too high. Also, we'll need to see if the Chiefs stats are buoyed by playing the Jaguars, Eagles and Giants.
Carolina (+2.5) over MINNESOTA: FO keeps telling me the Panthers are good and my own analysis says they should be good, but Bill Barnwell keeps reminding me that Ron Rivers is probably the worst strategic head coach in the NFL. If they lose to the Vikings and whoever start at QB for them, by a bad end game strategic decision, I don't know if I can feel comfortable picking them again. Unless Adrian Peterson breaks his own single game rushing record in memory of his son. (Don't click that link, it's too sad. I kind of wonder why sportsbooks didn't take this game off the board...)
NYJ (-2.5) over Pittsburgh: The Jets are below average (don't look at their record) and the Steelers are legitimately bad. I almost kind of miss Mark Sanchez from a comedy perspective. I don't really miss Big Ben doing Big Ben things.
Philadelphia (-1) over TAMPA BAY: The Eagles might have the worst defense in the NFL. And the Bucs might have one of the best (at least top five...I'll give you the list later, it will surprise you). But I don't trust Greg Schiano and I do trust Chip Kelly. I trust the Eagles backup QB over the Bucs rookie they shouldn't be playing because they should have kept Josh Freeman and actually tried to help make him better instead of making him a scapegoat.
Green Bay (-2.5) over BALTIMORE: Baltimore has been overrated since this. I made some good $ picking them over the 49ers in the Super Bowl, but that was more to be contrarian than actually believing in them. (I thought they would lose by three, but cover the spread.) As for the Packers, I just feel like they haven't played as I would have expected them. Maybe because they already had a bye and the only games I've seen them play were losses to the 49ers and Bengals. I still think they're a good team and take care of business on the road against a lesser team.
St. Louis (+7.5) over HOUSTON: The Texans just aren't that good. I don't know why, but every aspect of their game has gotten just a little worse. Schaub isn't horrible, but not as efficient as last year. A large part of that comes from the fact that the running game just isn't quite as good and the pass defense just isn't quite as good. I'll predict that they finish 8-8 on the season. And I don't think they should be laying a touchdown to a team with the same record and a better Pyth%. As for the Rams...um...I got nothing.
Jacksonville (+27) over DENVER: This is the game. I already locked in the Jaguars at +28, and I'm going to laugh if that one point makes a difference. This is the single biggest FIWK $ bet I have made. All the analysis is on the line. You already know Denver has one of the best offenses EVER and the Jaguars are flirting with 0-16. The Denver defense is actually below average (depressing their Pyth%) meaning the team overall isn't as strong as we think. But none of that matters. The spread is simply too high. It is being inflated because the Broncos are a public team, but no NFL game should have a spread this big. The 16-0 Patriots and the 0-16 Lions never had a line this big. I'm not saying it's a lock, but there is probably a 70% chance that any bad NFL team would cover +28 against any good NFL team. Remember, the Broncos could blow them out 35-10 and still not cover. The 16-0 Patriots only covered 28 points three times. Lots of 21 point victories that season.
You got this throwback picks blog post because Jessica took Violet to the driving range and Hazel slept unusually long. But she's awake and I'm ending it now. Maybe I update it later.
New Orleans +2.5
And I'm back. Both girls are napping and a failed autosave cost me two paragraphs, so I have 30 minutes.
Tennessee (+13.5) over SEATTLE: Don't get me wrong, Seattle is a good team. But their goodness comes from a really good defense and special teams and an above average offense. They are built to win games by 7-14 points. And the Titans aren't bad. I may be biased in saying they shouldn't have beaten the Chargers on a hail mary with 15 seconds left, but the fact that they held a good Chargers offense in check with only one turnover, a fumble recovery, not an interception, speaks pretty large about how close this game can be. I don't think the Titans will win, but they will be at a point where they will have to figure out how to get ten points in the last six minutes.
New Orleans (+2.5) over NEW ENGLAND: Remember the list of top five defenses I mentioned earlier? I gave you Kansas City, but I'm going to give you a few minutes to think of the other teams. Who did you guess? Ravens? Steelers? Bucs, since I mentioned the list in their paragraph? Jets? Oh! Surely the 49ers and Seahawks are on that list! And since you're mentioning it in this paragraph, probably the Patriots or Saints are sneaking into that fifth spot. Not quite. The top five teams in points allowed on a per game basis (stupid byes) are Kansas City, New England, Carolina, New Orleans, and Indianapolis. That's right, these two teams are allowing 14.0 and 14.6 points per game. This isn't going to be the offensive shootout you would expect from Drew Brees and Tom Brady, it's going to be a defensive slugfest. And a dominant tight end is just the weapon to help eke out a 20-17 victory. Too bad for the Patriots Gronk is injured and Jimmy Graham is not.
SAN FRANCISCO (-10.5) over Arizona: I don't think the Cardinals are that bad, but the 49ers are supposed to be good and I think they show it here. Carson Palmer will have at least one turnover and the 49ers will run for at least 100 yards. Could be a little high on the points, and I'd much rather lay 10 or 9.5 than 10.5, but thems the breaks.
DALLAS (-5.5) over Washington: This Cowboys team just put up 48 on the Broncos and are only laying 5.5 to the Redskins? Actually that feels about right. Not sure how good or bad either of these teams are, but I'm guessing the Cowboys win by a touchdown.
Indianapolis (-1.5) over SAN DIEGO: To quote me from earlier..."What?!?!?!?!?!!?" Is this a reverse jinx? Has he already given up on the season? It's that I actually think the Colts are the better team. They are good and the Chargers are just average. (Maybe we can improve to above average and sneak into the playoffs, and once we're there, anything can happen.) Now I'm watching on Monday hoping for the upset. But in San Diego it's a 55/45 game and we're going to need a break or two to go our way. Turnovers are obvious, but a key 3rd down conversion, maybe going for it on 4th down, getting a TD instead of a field goal, something needs to happen to help get the Chargers there.
And Hazel's waking up from a nap....time! Well folks, it's been fun. I'll be rooting hard for the Chargers and the Jacksonville MJDs.