A series of unrelated, one-paragraph thoughts about the Week 8 games, disguised as picks (home teams in caps) …
Broncos (+2) over Niners
The reason: Any time an AFC team gives up 59 points and then plays in London against a 1-6 NFC team starting Troy Smith, you have to pick them. It’s just the rule. Especially when the AFC is 17-12 against the NFC this season (and has eight of the 10 best teams).
Afterthought: You could call this game the “What Coulda Been Wouldn’t Have Been So Great Either” Bowl. Had the Broncos kept Jeff George 2.0, things wouldn’t have been any different for them. Had the Niners given up on Alex Smith and traded for Donovan McNabb last spring, same thing. Both teams were screwed either way. So … yeah.
Prediction: You will be flipping channels in 2015, stumble across some Division III playoff game on ESPNU and say to yourself, “Wait a second, isn’t that Josh McDaniels?”
Dolphins (+1.5) over BENGALS
The reason: A dream matchup for me. The Bengals are wildly overvalued; the Dolphins are wildly undervalued. You get five gambling gifts per year like this one. Crap, I hope I didn’t just jinx it.
Afterthought: Miami’s three losses came against the Steelers, Patriots and Jets … only the three best teams in the league. I’m just sayin’.
Prediction: The Dolphins cruise to a 27-10 lead, then Carson Palmer heats up in garbage time to pad his stats and throw everyone off his rancid scent for another week. I’m on to you, Palmer.
CHIEFS (-7.5) over Bills
The reason: A good home team that runs the ball exceptionally well (5.0 yards a carry) against a bottom-feeder that can’t stop the run (4.8 yards a carry)? Sounds like a fourth-quarter blowout. And yes, I know Gus Johnson is calling this game, and by the Law of Gus Johnson, something will happen in the second half that makes him flip out and makes us think the underdog has a chance to win. I know. You don’t have to tell me.
Afterthought: Big fall for Harvard! Ryan Fitzpatrick finds himself starting for fantasy teams, Jeremy Lin makes the Warriors (Harvard’s first NBA player in 57 years, once he gets into a game) and “The Social Network” becomes a hit movie … I’m starting to think that school might make it.
Prediction: In this year’s NFL preview, I created the word “creeper” for teams that jump at least five wins and earn themselves a first-round bye. It’s happened every year since the NFL went to four-team divisions in 2003. Well, I couldn’t figure out this year’s creeper before reluctantly settling on … (gulp) … San Francisco. Just because of its division. Did I have the right logic and the wrong team? The Chiefs have one of the creamiest-puff schedules in years. Maybe they don’t seem like a 12-4 or 13-3 team, but again, EVERY season since 2003 has had a creeper. And they’re the only candidate unless you think the Jets or Steelers can go 14-2.
RAMS (-3) over Panthers
The reason: I like this Rams team. Solid at home (3-1); solid defensively (Week 5 excepted); three of their losses (Arizona, Oakland and Tampa) were giveaways down the stretch. It’s a good bad team. If that makes sense.
Afterthought: I love looking at the schedule every Monday and predicting the “Charles Davis and Dick Stockton” game. I’m 8-0.
Prediction: Not one, but TWO Rams touchdowns that don’t come from their offense, followed by the obligatory shot of Steve Smith pacing the Panthers’ sideline like he might punch someone.