When I decided to start writing a blog about the NFL and making predictions each week, I didn’t really know how it was going to go. I mean, I know my writing style and I knew how I was going to go about making the predictions each week, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to find a niche.
Well, three weeks in it’s pretty clear that my theme is going to become ranting about one thing or another. Last week, it was my porous luck in betting on college football. This week, it’s about the Packers-Bears game. Now, I know a lot of Bears fans that will read this are immediately going to dismiss anything that I say as me being incredible biased (which I am), but hear me out for a second, then I welcome your counter-argument.
I’m sure you’re all getting tired of the “(insert team here) beat themselves” argument by now, and I am too. But sometimes it’s just too blatantly obvious to be ignored.
Now, that’s not to discredit the Bears. Good teams take advantage of other team’s mistakes. Believe me, I know this better than anyone as a fan of perhaps the luckiest team to ever win a championship (the 2005 White Sox). But the thing is, if a bitter fan calls your team lucky, why should you feel the need to defend it? Say “damn right we’re lucky. And we’re going to ride this lucky streak all the way to a title.” Because in the end, it doesn’t matter how you got there. It only matters THAT you got there.
Everyone remembers A.J. Pierzynski’s phantom strikeout in 2005. Everyone remembers the team lucking out and missing Curt Schilling in the ALDS, Bartolo Colon in the ALCS, and getting an injured Roger Clemens in the World Series. That team was as lucky as can be in 2005. But should that matter to White Sox fans? Absolutely not. All that matters is that they are, and will forever be known as the 2005 World Series Champions.
So once 2011 rolls around, say the Bears are 11-5 and the Packers are 10-6, and the Bears win the NFC North. Some bitter Packers fans will look back at week three and how, if the Bears hadn’t gotten so damn lucky, the division title may have been different. You know how Bears fans should respond? “WHO CARES?! We’re division champions. We’ll always be known as division champions. We have a chance to win the Super Bowl. You don’t. That’s all that matters. The end.”
Hopefully that’s how most will react. Some won’t. Some will react as many did after the victory and feel the need to defend their team for its performance. You’re always going to have bitter fans of losing teams in a game like that. ALWAYS. And if the scripts were flipped, Bears fans would react similarly. You can’t blame a fan of a team to react bitterly. It’s in our nature as fans.
As a Packers fan, am I bitter as hell? You’re damn right I am. I was late Monday night and I still am Friday. I’ll be bitter until the Packers beat the Bears in week 17. The Bears got lucky. They got lucky that the coaching staff was too stupid to give Mark Tauscher any help on Julius Peppers. They got lucky the Packers had two rookies in their secondary who committed penalty after penalty. They’re lucky that some of those penalties came on dumb Jay Cutler throws. They got lucky that Charles Woodson inexplicably dropped a sure-bet interception during a critical moment. They got lucky that Mike McCarthy & Co. refused to let the Bears prance in the end zone with over minute left, instead letting them run the clock down and ending any chance of a final minute drive by a quarterback who had been lighting up the Bears’ secondary when he was given time to do so. They were lucky in many ways, took advantage of the breaks they were given and won the game. End of story. Bears fans don’t need to defend this performance. It is what it is and the Bears won. That’s all that matters.
Anyway, here are my week four picks:
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.5)
Can the Steelers really go 4-0 without Ben Roethlisberger? I think the point everyone missed about Roethlisberger’s suspension is that, as good of a quarterback as he may be, that team’s defense has and always will win them games. I’m completely sold on that unit as the best in the league, and think they are going to tear Joe Flacco a new one. But if the Ravens defense can do similarly to the Charlie Batch, it could make for a very ugly affair. The over/under for this game is 34.5. Bet the under. I’m taking the Steelers to win and cover.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-13.5)
I’m sold on the Falcons enough that I’m not downgrading the Saints much for that loss. Besides, if their kicker wasn’t horrible, nobody would be worried about them right now. Also, a rookie quarterback who looked awful last week is playing on the road in the Superdome. I’m taking the Saints to win and cover.
Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Cleveland Browns
I think this has upset written all over it. These games are historically close, regardless of how good or bad the teams are, and I just don’t like the Bengals as road favorites. I’m taking the Bengals to win and the Browns to beat the spread.
Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans (-6.5)
I honestly don’t know what to think of either of these teams. Kyle Orton is throwing the ball all over the field, but this is a potentially really bad matchup as Denver’s run defense is bad and Chris Johnson could break records Sunday. I’m taking the Titans to win and cover.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-14.5)
I truthfully, honestly think the Lions are going to win this game. How badly the Packers played last week exposed a lot about them. And aside from that, I just think the Lions are due. And if you think I’m doing this as a reverse jinx, you also know that I read way too much of Bill Simmons. I’m taking the Lions to win outright.
New York Jets (-6) at Buffalo Bills
Another game that I think will be closer than expected. I like the Bills to be fired up at home against a division rival. I don’t like the Jets against the pass without Darrelle Revis. But the Bills are still really bad. I’m taking the Jets to win and the Bills to beat the spread.
San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons (-7)
Did I mention how totally and completely sold I am on the Falcons? Did I also mention how quickly I have jumped off the 49ers bandwagon? I’m taking the Falcons to win and cover.
Seattle Seahawks (-1) at St. Louis Rams
This line is strange in that you have to bet that the Rams are going to win or they’re not. Unless there’s a tie, of course. I’m being stubborn about the Seahawks. They’ve won a few games, but I’m still not sold on them. I like the Rams at home. I’m taking the Rams to win outright.
Houston Texans (-3.5) at Oakland Raiders
Are the Raiders really that bad again? Were the Texans exposed in any way last week against the Cowboys? My answers are yes and not really. I’m taking the Texans to win and cover.
Indianapolis Colts (-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Another game that could be closer than expected. I just hate when road teams are getting a lot of points in divisional games. I’m taking the Colts to win and the Jaguars to cover.
Arizona Cardinals at San Diego Chargers (-8)
The Cardinals are really, really bad. But so is Norv Turner. I’m taking the Chargers to win and the Cardinals to beat the spread.
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (-6)
I’m not giving up on the Redskins yet. Mike Shanahan is too smart. I also think Donovan McNabb unleashes an ultimate “eff you” game. I’m taking the Redskins to win outright.
Chicago Bears at New York Giants (-4)
The strangest line of the week. The Bears are 3-0 and the Giants have looked really, really bad all season. Sure, they’re at home, but can’t you see the Bears defense eating Eli Manning alive and Jay Cutler throwing for something like 500 yards? I can. I’m taking the Bears to win outright.
New England Patriots (-1) at Miami Dolphins
If there’s one coach in the league who seems to have Bill Belichick figured out, it’s Tony Sparano for some strange reason. Even with last week’s loss, I still am pretty high on the Dolphins. I’m taking the Dolphins to win outright.
Week 3: 9-7 (5-11 against spread)
Overall: 26-21 (18-28-1 against spread)