Existing in a World of Flux

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It was another week of unpredictable results that saw the New York Giants win their first game of the season on the road and the injury of another of the NFL’s marketable stars with Aaron Rodgers going down with a broken collar bone.

There has been some contention that it was a late hit on Rodgers by Vikinings linebacker Anthony Barr and that he drove Rodgers into the ground. To me it looks like he took a step and made a form tackle. It is a big blow to the Packers and the league to lose a player of Rodger’s standing, but in this instance I think it was a football play.

The continuing narrative surrounding the league is a worry about marketing and viewing figures as well as playing standards. Yes we are seeing a generation of quarterbacks who we are very familiar with come towards the end of their career or retire, but with players like Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott and emerging rookie Deshaun Watson I would not give up on the young group of quarterbacks just yet. And that’s ignoring the future years of Russell Wilson and the aforementioned Aaron Rodgers who should have some very good seasons ahead of them.

I am also not so worried about viewing figures given that no one seems to be able to take into account for more fractured way people watch television and sport. The American ratings don’t take into account those watching digitally, so a decline should be taken with a pinch of salt.

The participation levels in youth football however, must be monitored, but given all that we are learning about head injuries it would be a good thing to delay the playing of tackle football until children are big enough. The big change will be when a test for CTE that can be performed on players whilst they are still alive is available, and this is when the seismic changes could take place.

The NFL is heading into a period of flux, and yes I do think the NBA can challenge them with their marketable stars who are not hidden behind a helmet. However, the intricacies and skill of football are still as interesting as ever.

There are things that are affecting the quality of play in the collective bargaining agreement. Maybe coaches do need more practice time, but the days of two a days and endless hitting are behind us. It will require innovation and insight, something that has repeatedly occurred in the league but usually though the vision of a single coach or owner and then picked up across the league.

There will be much to discuss when the next CBA is drawn up, but it would help if the process was less adversarial. I really don’t think it is good for the sport that the relationship between the players union and the league is so fractious. However, it is interesting that at the league meeting this week that despite the comments on the anthem in Roger Goodell’s memo, the focus in the meeting was on what the league could do to further the players who are protesting agenda. This strikes me as a more productive route than demanding players stand for the anthem, although I’m sure as the discussions progresses that they will circle back to tackle that topic.

Still, it useful to remember that even for a sport as conservative as American Football, the world is a place of constant flux and for the league to survive it will have to find a way of existing in that flux.

Not so very different to the rest of us.

Gee:      Week 6   7-7                       Overall   53-39
Dan:      Week 6   7-7                       Overall   42-50

Chiefs @ Raiders (+2.5)

The Oakland Raiders’ offence has just not come together this season, and whilst I like the signing of NaVorro Bowman to bolster the Raiders’ linebacker group, I’m not sure it is enough to help them hang with Kansas City Chiefs’ offence. The Raiders will be desperate for a win to rescue their season but even as a home underdog I can’t pick them in tonight’s game, although it would not exactly surprise me if they were to win.

Gee’s Pick:          Chiefs
Dan’s Pick:          Chiefs

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The Wrong Football Podcast – Episode 56

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Oh the injuries… so many injuries! This week on The Wrong Football pod, we take a look at the best of Week 6 – the week in which some of the leagues biggest names ended up on the sidelines – and also make our picks for Week 7, when the NFL returns to London for the first of two Twickenham games. We also talk about Ezekiel Elliott’s pending suspension, and pay tribute to Kevin Cadle, who sadly passed away on Monday. All that and more, this week on The Wrong Football podcast!

Source: The Wrong Football Podcast – The Wrong Football Podcast – Episode 56

Week Six Picks

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So thanks to me being away this weekend, I’m suffering from a bit of a time crunch so I’m trying something for this week only, and will be writing a sentence for each game and giving you our picks, and if you’re seeing this the plan worked.

Dolphins @ Falcons (-11.5)

The Miami Dolphins take their okay defence and misfiring offence on the road to face the Falcons in Atlanta and it feels like the only question is whether this is too many points.

Gee’s Pick:          Falcons
Dan’s Pick:          Dolphins

Bears @ Ravens (-7.5)

I’m not convinced that the Baltimore Ravens can cover these points just because they put up points against a bad Raiders defence last week and so I’m backing the Chicago Bears to cover.

Gee’s Pick:          Bears
Dan’s Pick:          Bears

Browns @ Texans (-9.5)

The Houston Texans have lost two key players on defence whilst finding a quarterback so it feels like they will be in a lot of shoot outs for the rest of the season and this is a lot of points to cover, but it is against the Cleveland Browns at home.

Gee’s Pick:          Texans
Dan’s Pick:          Texans

Lions @ Saints (-4.5)

This looks to be a cracking game as the Detroit Lions take their top ten ranked defence to face Drew Brees in the Super Dome and I’m really not sure who is going to win so I’ll grab the points in what feels like a close game.

Gee’s Pick:          Lions
Dan’s Pick:          Lions

Packers @ Vikings (+3.5)

The Green Bay Packers will always have a chance with Aaron Rodger as their quarterback despite their injuries, but Minnesota Vikings are a tough team even if they don’t have their starting quarterback so this is a pick that is all about getting a chance to pick a home underdog.

Gee’s Pick:          Vikings
Dan’s Pick:          Packers

Patriots @ Jets (+9.5)

The New England Patriots travel with their high flying offence and a defence that is ranked last in the NFL by DVOA to face the New York Jets who have earned more respect than this line is giving them.

Gee’s Pick:          Jets
Dan’s Pick:          Jets

49ers @ Washington (-9.5)

After their opening week loss to the Panthers the San Francisco 49ers have not lost by more than three points and so this line feels a little high even if Washington have been playing well in recent weeks.

Gee’s Pick:          49ers
Dan’s Pick:          49ers

Rams @ Jaguars (-2.5)

This game sees two teams with winning records that you might not have predicted before the season face each other with the LA Rams improved offence taking on a Jacksonville Jaguars defence that is ranked first in the league by DVOA and so despite my worries over their offence I’m backing the Jags.

Gee’s Pick:          Jaguars
Dan’s Pick:          Rams

Buccaneers @ Cardinals (+2.5)

I’m really not convinced that the addition of Adrian Peterson to the Arizona Cardinals will help solve their offensive problem s and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers really need to get themselves back on track.

Gee’s Pick:          Buccaneers
Dan’s Pick:          Buccaneers

Steelers @ Chiefs (-3.5)

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offence has not flowed properly this season, and I’m just not sure that a trip to Arrowhead stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs is the game for them to turn things around.

Gee’s Pick:          Chiefs
Dan’s Pick:          Chiefs

Chargers @ Raiders (-6.5)

There’s talk that the Oakland Raiders will have Derek Carr back despite only being a week removed from fracturing the transverse process in his back, but the LA Chargers have got their first win of the season and have kept nearly all of their games closer than this.

Gee’s Pick:          Chargers
Dan’s Pick:          Chargers

Giants @ Broncos (-12.5)

The New York Giants are falling apart and travelling to Denver to face the Broncos defence with mass injuries in your receiver group does not look like a formula for success.

Gee’s Pick:          Broncos
Dan’s Pick:          Broncos

Colts @ Titans (-3.5)

This is a game that the Tennessee Titans have to win to get things back on track having lost badly to the Texans and then followed that up by losing a winnable game against the Dolphins, but the Indianapolis Colts are the second worst team in the NFL by DVOA so they stand a good chance.

Gee’s Pick:          Titans
Dan’s Pick:           Colts

A Strange Season

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It feels like a strange season so far for the NFL.

Some of that is the usual unpredictability of team performance, and so whilst it is a surprise to see the New York Jets with a 3-2 record given what almost everyone but the most ardent of Jets fans were expecting for the season, but it is also not unusual for it to happen in the NFL.

It is unusual is for the league to be having a feud with the executive branch of the US government, but when you have Vice President Mike Pence staging his own walk out protest in response to the kneeling of some San Francisco 49ers’ players for the national anthem then you know this is not something that is going quieten down soon. In fact, Roger Goodell has sent out a memo and is hoping to come up with a solution that will persuade all players to stand for the anthem in return for certain commitments to address the issues players are concerned with.

I suspect much of this is to do with the league’s bottom line and the response of a large section of fans, but I don’t entirely disagree when Goodell writes, ‘The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues.”

A protest doesn’t’ gain traction if it is comfortable, but there is now that a conversation is being started it needs to be focussed on the issues at hand and the point of the protest was never about the flag. It’s just hard not to see this as the league backing its African American players until the their money was threatened.

It does at least look like the NFLPA will be involved in next week’s meetings, but at this stage it just feels like no one knows what is going to happen.

I know the feeling. I am hoping to get back to something like a routine in a couple of weeks as I work on finishing the edits on my second book that is coming out next year, but whilst the coaching tape still escapes me, at least my picks are holding up so far.

Gee:      Week 5   10-4                     Overall   46-32
Dan:       Week 5   5-9                       Overall   35-43

Eagles @ Panthers (-2.5)

This looks like it could be a really good Thursday night game as long as the short week doesn’t hurt the travelling team as it so often does, but the Philadelphia Eagles have had a strong start to the season with their running game being surprisingly effective. They travel to face a Carolina Panthers team whose defence carried them for the first couple of weeks, but now it looks like Cam Newton is hitting his stride after an offseason spent recovering from surgery and a slow start to the season.

This line feels about right, so I’m going to take the home team on a Thursday night, but I don’t feel super confident about it.

Gee’s Pick:          Panthers
Dan’s Pick:          Panthers

The Wrong Football Podcast – Episode 55

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After our Bye week last week, The Wrong Football pod is back to talk all things NFL! As we head into Week 6, we take an updated look at the Kneeling controversy, and also Payton Manning’s famous number 18 Jersey being retired in Indianapolis. And how far ahead is Gee in the Pick’em competition? There’s only one way to find out!!
Oh, and as a little bonus this week, I’ve left a bit of an out-take at the end – enjoy!

 

Source: The Wrong Football Podcast – The Wrong Football Podcast – Episode 55

Week 5 Picks

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Bills @ Bengals (-2.5)

The Buffalo Bills have got off to a good start to the season, with impressive wins against the Broncos and Falcons in their last two weeks they stand atop the AFC East. However, they are travelling to face an improving Cincinnati Bengals team whose offence is showing signs of finding its way.

I am looking forward to seeing the Bills play, and their defence has looked good so far this season, but so has the Bengals defence and I think the men in stripes can edge this one out. I hope this isn’t a case of my heart ruling over my head.

Gee’s Pick:          Bengals
Dan’s Pick:          Bills

Jets @ Browns (-1.5)

The New York Jets are defying everyone’s expectations having won two home games to currently stand 2-2 and travel to face the Cleveland Browns. The Browns will be hoping that rookie pass rusher Myles Garrett can give them a spark as he seeks to make his professional debut in the regular season as he comes back from an ankle problem. However, the Brows have been really struggling and I find it hard to pick them to win against a Jets team who may not be great, but are finding ways to compete.

Gee’s Pick:          Jets
Dan’s Pick:          Jets

Panthers @ Lions (-2.5)

Up until  the press conference where Cam Newton started making misogynist comments about a reporter things had been looking up for the Carolina Panthers on offence. The Panthers’ quarterback had driven the ball better and there looked to be more run options worked into the game as Newton continues works back from offseason shoulder surgery. How much Cam will have been distracted by various meetings, and shooting a video apology, I don’t know, but it can’t have helped.

Nor will the defence Newton faces this week, as the Detroit Lions are currently ranked fifth by defensive DVOA as opposed to the struggling Patriots defence that the Panthers faced last week. The Detroit Lions got back to winning ways last week on the road against the Vikings and I fancy them to continue that this week.

Gee’s Pick:          Lions
Dan’s Pick:          Lions

Titans @ Dolphins (+2.5)

The Tennessee Titans travel to face the Miami Dolphins this week, facing a game time decision to on whether to play quarterback Marcus Mariota thanks to a hamstring injury. The Titans are coming off a horrible loss last week, and whilst I don’t think that will be repeated this week, I find it hard to believe this is the trip they need to sort things out. I’m slightly worried about making this pick as the Dolphins have not inspired confidence this year, but with them getting points at their first true home game of the season, I’m picking them to keep to within three.

Gee’s Pick:          Dolphins
Dan’s Pick:          Dolphins

49ers @ Colts (-1.5)

This is a really tricky game for me to pick as neither teams gives me a lot to work with. The Indianapolis Colts are celebrating the career of Peyton Manning, but his replacement Andrew Luck has barely practised this season thanks to injury and whilst Jacoby Brissett has demonstrated a lot more that Scott Tolzien, this was not exactly setting a high point in quarterback play. There’s not a lot for the Colts to hang their hat on at the moment, with their only win coming against the winless Browns, but they are facing an equally winless 49ers team.

The San Francisco 49ers have run two teams close in the last two weeks, including an overtime loss to the struggling Cardinals, but it is clear it is going to take time to turn things round. I am not particularly inspired by either team for this game, and so I’m reluctantly backing the Colts to beat the road team coming of an overtime time loss.

Gee’s Pick:          Colts
Dan’s Pick:          49ers

Chargers @ Giants (-3.5)

Something has to give with them winless LA Chargers traveling to face the equally winless New York Giants, unless these teams manage to engineer a draw. Still, given that the Chargers seem to specialise in close heart breaking losses, I’m going to reluctantly back them to keep this game closer than four points.

Gee’s Pick:          Chargers
Dan’s Pick:          Giants

Cardinals @ Eagles (-6.5)

The Arizona Cardinals follow up their overtime win against the 49ers with a trip to Philadelphia to face an Eagles team who despite the injuries in their defence are currently 3-1. This game pits the Eagles top five by DVOA rushing game against the Cardinals top five rush defence. I would expect the Eagles to win this game, but given that they have only beaten the Chargers and Giants by a combined five points in the last two weeks, this line against the Cardinals is too rich for me.

Gee’s Pick:          Cardinals
Dan’s Pick:          Cardinals

Jaguars @ Steelers (-8.5)

The Pittsburgh Steelers keep finding ways to win despite disruption on and off the field for their offence. This week they face a Jacksonville Jaguars team who seem to be a week on week off proposition so far this season, and by that logic are due a good week. I don’t believe in that kind of pattern, but what I do believe is that the Jaguars’ defence will be a sterner test than the beaten up Ravens defence the Steelers faced last week. I’m not sure if the Jaguars will give themselves a genuine chance to win the game, but I fancy their defence to keep it closer than nine.

Gee’s Pick:          Jaguars
Dan’s Pick:          Jaguars

Ravens @ Raiders (-3.5)

This game pits a Baltimore Ravens team who is struggling with both offensive and defensive line play thanks to injury, against an Oakland Raiders team who lost their quarterback to a transvers process fracture last week. Whilst Derek Carr is trying to get into the game this weekend, I find it hard to believe that the team will risk him with even a relatively minor fracture in his back.

This is a game where both teams have struggled over the last two weeks, and I’m finding it hard to make a pick as neither side inspires confidence, but with the Ravens struggling against the run since Brandon Williams went down injured I’m going to reluctantly back the Raiders and Marshawn Lynch at home. I have no confidence in this pick at all.

Gee’s Pick:          Raiders
Dan’s Pick:          Ravens

Seahawks @ Rams (-2.5)

This should be a really interesting game. I don’t believe that the LA Rams are the third best team in the NFL as their current overall DVOA ranking would suggest, but they are definitely improved under Sean McVay and perhaps the surprising thing is that their offence is ranked better than their defence. The Seattle Seahawks travel to LA having got a big win against the Colts, but the game was competitive until late in the third quarter. The Seahawk’s defence has not looked quite as solid as their front seven might have suggested, whilst their offensive line has been truly horrible. This could be a game where Aaron Donald runs amok given the offensive line he is going against, but the question is whether I can pick the Rams to beat a good team, but having beaten the Cowboys on the road, I will nervously back them against a Seahawks team who don’t look quite right yet.

Gee’s Pick:          Rams
Dan’s Pick:          Rams

Packers @ Cowboys (-1.5)

The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Rams last week, and this week welcome a Green Bay team that are struggling with injury, but have a quarterback in Aaron Rodgers who can keep his team in pretty much any game. The Cowboys rearranged offensive line might have taken a slight step back from their recent excellence, which combined with the lack of explosive passing options has made the Cowboys struggle more than some might have expected. However, the real problem for the Cowboys has been defence, and even with the number of tackle injuries the Packers have had this season, I am backing Rodgers to find a way and so I’m taking the Packers.

Gee’s Pick:          Packers
Dan’s Pick:          Packers

Chiefs @ Texans (+1.5)

This looks to be a fascinating game with the Houston Texans seemingly having found their quarterback of the future in Deshaun Watson and who are coming off a 57-14 win face the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs. If the Texans can find a consistent offence to match with their strong defence then they will be fearsome, but this week they face a Chiefs team who keep finding a way to win, even if the score line last week flattered them a little. I do like the Chiefs a lot, and whilst I don’t think they will go unbeaten, I do fancy them to run out eventual winners in this one despite the short week, although it would not surprise me the Texans win either.

Gee’s Pick:          Chiefs
Dan’s Pick:          Texans

Vikings @ Bears (+3.5)

The Chicago Bears will be starting Mitch Trubisky after a bad loss to the Packers that saw Mike Glennon throw two horrible interceptions as well as lose two fumbles, although one bad snap bounced of his knee and back to the Packers. However, he will be facing a Minnesota Vikings team with a strong defence and their own problems at quarterback. The status of Sam Bradford seems to be up in the air and couple this with the injury to Dalvin Cook that means the promising rooking running back has been lost for the season, and I’m really not sure what to do in this game. The Bears could have beaten the Falcons and did beat the Steelers, so with them getting three and a half points at home and the Vikings seeming to be somewhat Jekyll and Hyde on offence, I’m really tempted to pick them, I hate making picks with this much in the air so I’m grabbing the points and hoping for the best.

Gee’s Pick:          Bears
Dan’s Pick:          Vikingssa

A Quick Thursday Night Pick

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So we have reading the NFL quarter pole, barring the two teams who are behind a game, and what we have mostly learned is that there are no obviously great teams this year. The Kansas City Chiefs are looking very good and are the only unbeaten team left in the league, but they have looked vulnerable at times.

In fact, that sort of sums up the league at the moment. The short term troubles surround the league trying to find a balance with the players on activism and how to allow players a voice without them upsetting a large section of their fans.

More disturbing to me is the report regarding Aaron Hernandez’s brain, which showed that he had severe case of CTE. In fact his brain looked more like a player in their sixties, and whilst it would be unwise to extrapolate too much regarding his behaviour and the injury, the degree of injury is very worrying.

So hits like that which happened to Devantae Adams last week on Thursday night football become tricky to deal with. The player has been suspended for a game, but whilst some are saying Danny Trevathan should be suspended for longer. The players seem to feel it was an unfortunate football play and that there was not intent. The problem is, they well could be right, and the players do know the risks to an extent, but that concussion is going to have an effect on Adams’ life and the truth is we don’t know how bad. There is talk that there may be a protein that can be used as a test on living players to see if they have CTE, and while the more we know the better in the long run, no one knows where the league will go with this information if it does become available.

It is a strange time to be a football fan and it doesn’t look if that is going to stop any time soon.

Gee:      Week 4   11-5                     Overall   36-28
Dan:       Week 4   10-6                     Overall   30-34

Patriots @ Buccaneers (+5.5)

This looks like a winnable game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but their record concerns me. The New England Patriots are currently ranked bottom in the league by defensive DVOA and managed to make a moribund Panthers’ offence look good last week. If your offence can score thirty points on the Panthers then you should win the game, but the Patriots defence could do nothing to stop Cam Newton marching his team down the field to get in range for a game winning field goal.

On a short week there is not a lot of time to sort the communication issues that appear to be part of the problems. The Buccaneers’ defence has been pretty banged up, but I would hope that at home the Bucs can keep this game closer than six points, and so whilst I don’t feel good about it, having lost twice backing the Patriots to cover, with them being on the road on a Thursday night I’m taking the home underdog.

Gee’s Pick:          Buccaneers
Dan’s Pick:          Patriots

Week 4 Picks

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Saints @ Dolphins (+2.5)

The week four games kick off with another London game as the Miami Dolphins host the New Orleans Saints. This feels like a hard game to pick with only two games played by the Dolphins where we have seen good Jay Culter and bad Jay Cutler as the Dolphins narrowly beat the Chargers and then lost to the Jets. The Jets… Meanwhile the Saints got off to an 0-2 start before turning things around against the Panthers last week, but their two losses were against the Vikings and a wounded Patriots team.

I’m not hugely confident, but there is a big gap in overall DVOA ranking between these two teams, and with neither of the defences playing well I’m going to back the future Hall of Fame quarterback to get enough points.

Gee’s Pick:            Saints
Dan’s Pick:            Dolphins

Bills @ Falcons (-8.5)

There are a lot lines that Dan and I found very tricky this week, but this was not one of them. That doesn’t necessarily mean that this game will turn out how we suspect, but whilst the Atlanta Falcons have got off to a 3-0 start, the Buffalo Bills have played everyone tough with their defence ranked second by DVOA in the league and so I fancy them to keep this game closer than nine points.

Gee’s Pick:            Bills
Dan’s Pick:            Bills

Bengals @ Browns (+2.5)

The Cleveland Browns started the season with hope of demonstrating progress, and they still might, but with both Myles Garrett and Corey Coleman being limited by injuries, it seems the Browns still can’t have nice things. The Cincinnati Bengals meanwhile have got off to a miserable start, but did show some progress against the Packers despite a conservative second half costing them the game. I can see this going wrong, but I think the Bengals get their first win this week as hopefully Bill Lazor continues to improve the offence.

Gee’s Pick:            Bengals
Dan’s Pick:            Bengals

Rams @ Cowboys (-8.5)

The Dallas Cowboys have had a somewhat rocky start to the season, not helped by the fact that they don’t seem to have anything that poses a deep threat in the passing game at the moment. The welcome a LA Rams team who have definitely improved under first year head coach Sean McVay and actually sit atop the NFC West division. I am not sure they have enough to beat the Cowboys on the road, particularly as they are taking on Ezekiel Elliott with the nineteenth ranked rush defence by DVOA, but I do think their offence has enough to keep this game closer than nine points.

Gee’s Pick:            Rams
Dan’s Pick:            Rams

Lions @ Vikings (-2.5)

The Detroit Lions lost a close game, which although it felt horrible with the clock run off deciding the game, the Lions may well have not got another play off in eleven seconds anyway. The Minnesota Vikings got their offensive game plan right last week so Case Keenum could lead them to a big win over the Buccaneers. I like the Vikings’ home advantage in what could be a close game, and the Vikings will be looking to avenge two close losses to the Lions last season.

Gee’s Pick:            Vikings
Dan’s Pick:            Vikings

Titans @ Texans (+1.5)

This is a tricky game for me as the Houston Texans are home underdogs by this line, and yet they have played well on defence, and Deshaun Watson looked to have taken something of a step last week against the Patriots. However, the Tennessee Titans offence played very well against the Seattle Seahawks last week, which gives me hope that they can do it again this week and so with a fair degree of trepidation I’m backing the Titans to win this one for me.

Gee’s Pick:            Titans
Dan’s Pick:            Texans

Panthers @ Patriots (-9.5)

In my experience, I never do well when picking against the New England Patriots, but with their defence really struggling the Patriots never got close to covering the line they were given against the Texans. However, they are facing a Carolina team whose offence has not looked right all year, and who just gave up over thirty points on defence. I shouldn’t be too focused on last week, but I think there is more going wrong with Cam Newton at the moment than facing a bad defence can fix, and so I’m going to double down on the Patriots and see if they reward my faith. I would apologise to fans of the Patriots for my jinx, but I think you’ve probably won enough recently.

Gee’s Pick:            Patriots
Dan’s Pick:            Patriots

Jaguars @ Jets (+3.5)

This has all the appearance of a trap game. The Jacksonville Jaguars just got a huge win against the Baltimore Ravens in London, but they now have to travel to New York to face a Jets team who are 1-0 at home this season and showed us something at last against the Dolphins. However, I don’t think I trust the Jets offence to get anything going against the Jaguars’ defence. I hate this line, and would run a mile if I could but as I have to pick this game I am going to reluctantly pick the Jets. Mainly because I can’t bring myself to back Blake Bortles on the road for two weeks in a row, and just because of the travel the Jaguars have put in over the last week.

Gee’s Pick:            Jets
Dan’s Pick:            Jaguars

Steelers @ Ravens (+2.5)

This is likely going to be a tight game, because these teams so often seem to play close games. The Baltimore Ravens will be desperate to put in a performance after a horrible display in London, and their defence knows what they will be facing in the Pitsburgh Steelers. I think that the Steelers will likely get their offence back on track at some point, and with Ravens’ defensive tackle Brandon Williams missing this week’s game, they may well get running back Le’Veon Bell going. I kind of like the Ravens as home underdogs, and it would not surprise me if they win or cover this line, but they have too many injuries at the moment and I feel like despite their problems, the Steelers are the better team.

Gee’s Pick:            Steelers
Dan’s Pick:            Steelers

Giants @ Buccaneers (-3.5)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are beat up on defence, lost to the Vikings last week, and their offence hasn’t found its feet yet this season. The New York Giants lost to a sixty-one yard field goal last week, but found something against the Eagles in the fourth quarter of last week. We are guaranteed one 0-4 team thanks to the Browns and Bengals playing each other, yet it seems unlikely we will have three of them. The Giants are getting healthier at receiver and with that extra half point I’m picking a mini recovery thanks to the banged up defence they are facing.

Gee’s Pick:            Giants
Dan’s Pick:            Giants

Eagles @ Chargers (-0.5)

The LA Chargers have got a real chance to finally get a win, but you can’t have a lot of faith in them as a team at this point. I could regret this as the Philadelphia Eagles were pretty beat up on defence last week, but the Chargers can’t even fill their small temporary stadium and in what amounts to a straight who will win pick, I am going with the team who seems more likely to find a way in a close game.

Gee’s Pick:            Eagles
Dan’s Pick:            Eagles

49ers @ Cardinals (-7.5)

This line seems off to me. The San Francisco 49ers are not a good team, but with David Johnson injured and an offensive line that just isn’t working very well, I have to face up to the fact that Bruce Arians and his coaching team are going to struggle this year. The 49ers got their offence working better against the Rams last week, and whilst that is no guarantee that they will be competitive against the Cardinals, an eight point win is too much for me to pick for this version of the Cardinals.

Gee’s Pick:            49ers
Dan’s Pick:            49ers

Raiders @ Broncos (-2.5)

The Oakland Raiders got off to a strong start, and I was very impressed with them through two weeks, but they lost heavily to Washington and now travel again to Denver to face the Broncos. The Broncos lost themselves last week, but their defence is formidable at home, and this feels like a bad spot for the Raiders. As long as Trevor Siemian gets back to looking after the ball I think they will be okay, and I have a feeling that the Raiders will fall back to 2-2, although with three road games in the opening four games that is not a bad start.

Gee’s Pick:            Broncos
Dan’s Pick:            Broncos

Colts @ Seahawks (-13.5)

I said on the podcast that I needed a very good reason to pick a team to cover when they are giving a double digit line and the Seattle Seahawks were not that team. The problem with that is as much as I don’t like their offensive line, they did put up twenty-seven points on the Titans last week. I expect the defence to look more like themselves against the Indianapolis Colts, particularly at home, but is this enough for them to cover this line? If Jacoby Brissett can move the ball then the Colts might stand a chance, but as much as I want to pick the Colts to do it, I just can’t bring myself to make the pick on the road.

Gee’s Pick:            Seahawks
Dan’s Pick:            Colts

Washington @ Chiefs (-6.5)

The Monday night game is another trial in difficult picking. The Kansas City Chiefs have played really well this season, and pit their explosive offence up against a Washington team who travelled to Oakland and got a good win. However, Arrowhead Stadium is one of the loudest in the league and the Chiefs’ explosive offence is a different prospect to the Raiders as they have enough speed that they are a threat to take any play for a big gain or a touchdown. The question is can Washington keep it close enough with an improving defence and an offence that is beginning to find its feet at last. I’m going to go with my first instinct and back Washington to stay within seven points on this one, but I could easily be wrong.

Gee’s Pick:            Washington
Dan’s Pick:            Chiefs

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

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The weekend saw a number of statements and responses to Donald Trump’s rhetoric about disrespecting the flag across the weekend’s NFL games, and several tight finishes. I will pick up the actual football in a minute, but I feel I have to take a moment to broaden a little on what I wrote at the weekend given what happened before kick offs of the week three games.

The kneeling of Colin Kaepernick, and the other players was to protest social injustice and police brutality. This has been reframed as protesting the flag and anthem by those that object to these actions, and by Trump himself. The response from the NFL over the weekend sought to project unity against the criticism of Trump and to say we stand with these players using their first amendment rights, even if they don’t agree with the action themselves.

This does not look to be a problem that is going away any time soon as the actions of the players and owners still upset people, and we shall have to see how things proceed. However, I do think it is important to keep stating the players are not protesting the flag or the anthem, they are making a statement on society.

And so on to the football, which saw multiple close game and signs that teams are finding their way a bit on offence. It was also a topsy-turvy weekend that saw several unexpected results including the Pittsburgh Steelers losing to the Chicago Bears and the Miami Dolphins losing to the New York Jets. The Baltimore Ravens travelled to London and were totally outplayed by the Jacksonville Jaguars, losing 44-7.

What does this tell us? The honest answer is that we don’t know what we don’t know – i.e. we only have a small sample size and until we get well into October we should treat our general feelings about a team with a pinch of salt. The Cincinnati Bengals have a better defence than their 0-3 record might indicate, but they have a huge amount of work to do if they want to finish with a respectable record, yet alone think about playoffs, which must surely be out of reach. There are plenty more teams like this and I am excited to take a closer look now that coaching tape has hit the European Gamepass site.

Schedule allowing I shall be taking a look at the coaching tape of the Tennessee Titans’ offence taking on the Seattle Seahawks’ defence to see how the managed to be effective against the scary Seahawks’ front seven.

And so onto tonights game, but before that here are the results of our picks last week.

Gee:      Week 3   7-9                       Overall   25-23
Dan:      Week 3   5-11                     Overall   20-28

Bears @ Packers (-7.5)

This is an interesting line given that the Green Bay Packers needed overtime to get a win against the winless Bengals on Sunday, and the Chicago Bears just beat the Steelers at home. The Bears are on the road, and I would expect the Packers to find a way to win. However, given their continued injury problems I can’t quite bring myself to back the Packers to win by eight. I may well suffer from the stupidity of picking against Aaron Rodgers at home for a second week in a row, but that’s what I’m going to do.

Gee’s Pick:          Bears
Dan’s Pick:          Bears

Taking a Knee

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I was planning to write about the news that the brain of Aaron Hernandez showed he had CTE at age twenty-seven, and when the time is right I will cover concussions again, but things have been somewhat overtaken by events in the United States and in particular the comment by Donald Trump at a rally on Friday night.

The patriotism of your average American often looks strange, at least to my eyes, not having grown up pledging allegiance to a flag, or having the national anthem played before every sports game. There are cultural and historical reasons for these differences and I don’t have time to go through them all here.

However, the argument surrounding players kneeling to protest social injustice escalated when Donald Trump called for players to be fired if they knelt for the anthem, and that people should leave games if one player knelt. Sadly, Trump knows what he is doing, and is playing to his supporters, whilst disregarding a powerful part of America’s history.

The players that knelt are exercising their constitutional right to peaceful protest, and yes for some this is troublesome because of the importance of the flag and anthem. Yet no one can deny that this has sparked conversation in a country that appears to be increasingly divided. The use of peaceful protest is what drove the civil rights movement in the sixties, and it is saddening to see Trump denounce these actions in a way designed to increase division.

There are those that will decry the entry of politics into their sport, and will complain that they come to football to escape the world. To an extent I understand why you might say this, but given the reaction and what is happening in America these conversations are too important not to have and if anything, I can see more players kneeling this weekend in reaction to the President’s comments.

It is all too often that the players of a sport have their humanity overlooked, with us focusing on their actions on the field, and their failures off it. However, NFL players have a long history of charitable work, and you only have to look at the actions of JJ Watt in reaction to the flooding in Houston to see what a powerful force that can be.

Sadly Colin Kaepernick is already paying the price for being the spark last season, and whilst I don’t believe there is official collusion by the owners to shut him out of the league, the idea that Kaepernick is not worthy of a roster spot in the league is simply not true. The movement he started though has continued, with engagement on the issues by many players running alongside continuing protests.

The eyes were already going to be on the NFL this weekend, but it will be more than football that occupies our minds, and frankly under the circumstances, that is at it should be.