If you missed last night’s Goodell-Must-Go bag, click here. Before we make Week 2 picks, allow me to congratulate myself for writing a Week 1 picks column called “The Year of the Dog,” imploring everyone to ride the underdogs all season … then finishing 9-7 even though Week 1’s underdogs went 11-5 against the spread. Congratulations to me. And you thought I’d be running out of ways to be an idiot by now.
Let’s look at Week 2 (home teams in caps) …
RAVENS (-2.5) over Steelers
Winner! Or as we’ll remember that game from now on, the Goodell-Must-Go Bowl. We’re so happy to have prime-time football on CBS! But first … here’s Bill Cowher saying that the commish needs to go!1 My friend Stugotz from my frenemy Le Batard’s radio show in the now-defunct basketball capital of the world, Miami, Florida, raises an interesting suggestion: What if Goodell suspended himself before the owners had a chance to fire him? What if he announced on Monday, “I handled this abominably, I know it, and that’s why I am stepping away for six months and donating my salary for that time — $22 million — to help raise awareness for domestic violence”? Goodell could flip the narrative pretty quickly here, right? (Thinking.) You’re right, he’d never be smart enough to do that.
The Goodell stuff obscured an impressive performance by the Ravens, who threw everyone off their contending scent with last Sunday’s coulda-gone-either-way loss to a quality Bengals team, then found themselves giving less than three at home just four days later to the mediocre-yet-again Steelers. Bizarre. By the way, Baltimore is living proof that running backs DO matter. They need one.
BILLS (PK) over Dolphins
Two of Week 1’s three “Nobody Believes In Us!” teams (along with Carolina) battle in the season’s first “Nobody Believes In Us!” Bowl! I am making Buffalo’s case by semi-plagiarizing two emails from Steve in Buffalo and Michael in England, just because I didn’t want to waste space running similar emails. The Bills have an especially solid Week 2 case that includes the following variables:
1. From Steve: “After 20 years of worrying about the L.A. Bills or Toronto Bills, new owner Terry Pegula put an end to that on Tuesday of this week. You know what this means to us and what it could mean to our city in the future. This is one of, if not the best, Buffalo sports weeks in 20 years.” Adds Michael, “I’ve heard numerous grown men cry on the radio this week, expressing through tears and words their gratitude that this beloved civic institution will not move to California or Canada.” Well, then.
2. The “Nobody Believes In Us!” variable is still there; the Bills aren’t even favored AT HOME even though they’re getting one of the all-time bonkers Bills crowds on Sunday.
3. Last December, Buffalo shut out the Dolphins 19-0 and tripled their numbers across the board, even though Miami needed that game for the playoffs and Buffalo was already done. (Translation: inner confidence!)
4. We recently found out that Jim Kelly miraculously jettisoned all the cancer from his body. Oh, and he’s coming to Sunday’s game. I wonder if this will fire up Buffalo’s crowd.
5. Ryan Tannehill on the road? (Cringing.) Fred Jackson at home? (Nodding.) And you KNOW Sammy Watkins is making one big play on Sunday — my guess would be some catch in the corner of the end zone, in traffic, that ends with him continuing full speed and leaping into a crowd of adoring Bills fans. I wish there were a way to wager on this.
6. Since Cleveland owns Buffalo’s 2014 first-round pick, and since we can’t rule out God deciding to re-hate Cleveland, I mean, doesn’t this quintuple Buffalo’s chances for becoming 2014’s nobody-saw-it-coming playoff team? Why didn’t I think of this a week ago? Buffalo 27, Miami 23.
Falcons (+5) over BENGALS
Just a classic Falcons performance last week — Matt Ryan threw the crap out of the ball, they kept fighting back against the Saints, Mike Smith’s clock management was as hideous as ever, and it ended up being one of those anyone-could-have-won games. I think that’s their destiny; the Falcons are this year’s RedZone Channel Ending team. Grabbing the points only because of the overwhelming Garbage Time Touchdown Potential.
BROWNS (+6.5) over Saints
R.I.P., every conversation about New Orleans’s allegedly improved defense. Anyway, I screwed up last Sunday by going against all three home dogs in the Year of the Dog (and deservedly going 1-2). No more. From now on, I’m gravitating toward 2014’s home dogs unless it’s one of those “Austin Davis at home against Seattle’s D”–type situations. Cleveland is just frisky enough to hang with the Outdoor Saints.
All right, enough about real football for a few paragraphs. Let’s talk about Draft Day. It’s time.
I mentioned last week that Draft Day included three of the biggest logic mistakes in sports-movie history. Many of you asked what they were. Before I rattle them off, I want to say the following things: It’s a splendid airplane/hotel/PPV movie (keeps your interest the whole time); it’s well directed (Ivan Reitman uses the split screen in a genuinely inventive way); it features a throwback Costner performance (he’s as likable as ever); and every Goodell cameo was already funny, but now you get to watch those scenes while making peanut gallery jokes like, “Hold on one second, I just have to tell my secretary to throw an elevator video tape in the trash, I’ll be right back.”
Also — you get to watch Denis Leary pretend to be an NFL head coach (he’s actually good), you get to watch Jennifer Garner pretend to be a salary cap expert (she’s not as good), and you get to make fun of a ludicrous running subplot in which Costner and Garner are trying to hide their office romance by repeatedly hiding in closets to talk (because that always works). And you get to see Browns owner Frank Langella somehow get himself from the draft in downtown Manhattan to the Browns’ offices in Cleveland in less than 40 minutes. One disclaimer: You do NOT get to see Mike Lombardi get stabbed in the back; that was real life.
OK, here were the three indefensible logic mistakes. Just skip to the next pick if you haven’t seen Draft Day yet.
Indefensible Logic Mistake No. 1: On the morning of the draft, Seattle calls Costner and offers no. 1 overall (landing him the draft’s fictional Franchise QB) for Costner’s next three no. 1 picks. Costner immediately accepts without (a) checking with his owner, (b) checking with his staff, and (c) doing any background intel on a Franchise QB that he never expected to pick. I mean … you can’t even make a fantasy football trade with a drunk buddy at 2 a.m. in 30 seconds anymore. Seriously, that’s how the movie starts!?
Indefensible Logic Mistake No. 2: Costner becomes worried about the Franchise QB, does some background intel, investigates some possibly bogus story that nobody showed up at the QB’s birthday party, then calls him at the draft and asks him if winning is important to him. When he doesn’t like the answer, Costner decides NOT to take the QB — only he doesn’t tell his owner or his staff, he doesn’t try to trade down, and instead takes a linebacker who was expected to fall into the teens first overall. So basically, he traded three no. 1 picks to move up six spots to take someone who would have been there at no. 7.
IN ALL CAPS: THIS IS THE DUMBEST SPORTS MOVIE IN A LONG TIME. THIS MOVIE MAKES YOU DUMBER AS YOU WATCH IT. YOU ACTUALLY LOSE BRAIN CELLS.
Indefensible Logic Mistake No. 3: Now everyone’s mad at Costner — his owner, his coaches, his staff, everyone. Somehow, the Franchise QB starts miraculously dropping after Cleveland passes on him. What’s wrong with the Franchise QB??? (Imagine Indy passing on Andrew Luck at no. 1, then Luck inexplicably dropping out of the top five, and it gives you a sense of how idiotic this script idea was.) With the Jags on the clock at no. 6, Costner decides to trade for their pick … he ends up getting it for his next three second-rounders in about 40 seconds, thanks to Jacksonville’s young GM grabbing the offer without shopping it around or letting anyone else know the pick had become available. Because that would happen.
(Important: Even though that’s an absolutely moronic trade that would NEVER happen in real life, especially with a Franchise QB on the board, I decided not to include it as an Indefensible Logic Mistake because of Jacksonville’s track record over the past few years. Can we definitively say that the Jags wouldn’t do something that dumb? No.)
Anyway, Costner owns no. 6, and Seattle’s GM (picking no. 7) is taking major heat from Seahawks fans for passing up the Franchise QB even though (a) five other teams just passed on him, and (b) everyone watching this knows they already have Russell Wilson and is wondering why the Draft Day writers didn’t pick a different team. Costner calls him and offers no. 6 for Seattle’s three no. 1 picks.
“I want my picks back!”
Does Seattle’s GM immediately cave? Of course! He agrees after his boss tells him (I’m paraphrasing), “We still get the QB we wanted, only now we’re saving $7 million on the cap.” Totally! That would make perfect sense if I had a head injury. But wait! Costner just welched on the trade — now he’s asking for three first-rounders AND their punt returner. Does Seattle say yes? OF COURSE! Woo-hoo! Hugs galore in the war room! Costner did it! He grabs the hometown running back hero with Seattle’s pick, then asks Leary (who quit earlier), “Can you coach this team?”
Sorry, I have to swear here … THIS MOVIE WAS SO F---ING DUMB. GOD! HOW DOES THIS SCRIPT GO THROUGH A START-TO-FINISH REVISION PROCESS AND GET FILMED WITHOUT ANYONE ASKING, “HEY, SHOULD WE SHOW THIS TO SOMEONE WHO FOLLOWS FOOTBALL JUST TO MAKE SURE THESE TRADES AREN’T TOO RIDICULOUS???” What a waste of a throwback Costner performance. I am still upset. Although I guess you can’t expect too much out of a movie that has Diddy playing a high-powered sports agent, and also, Diddy playing ANYONE. Let’s move on before I trade this Friday picks column to Bill Barnwell for two weekly blog posts and a useful advanced-metric stat to be named later.
TITANS (-3.5) over Cowboys
Jags (+5.5) over WASHINGTON
When in doubt, go against the NFC East. Well, unless …
GIANTS (+1.5) over Cardinals
Last week, Tyler from Philly alerted me, “CBSSports has eight ‘experts’ picking every game against the spread. Whenever all eight experts were on the same side of a game in 2013, they went 0-9 in that game. For this Week 1, all eight have the Bears -7.5 over the Bills. CIRCLE THE WAGONS!” Of course, I ignored Tyler’s email and took Chicago because I am a stupid, stupid person. Well, I couldn’t resist checking out their Week 2 picks, and wouldn’t you know? All eight took Arizona. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
VIKINGS (+3) over Pats
You know the reasons: The Vikes looked great last week … you gotta love a good home dog getting points … the Pats are 2-6 in their last eight road games … the Pats might not be able to block … Brady was 10-for-27 in the second half against Miami for 62 yards … the Pats don’t have a single skill position guy who truly scares you, and by the way, they traded the Cordarrelle Patterson pick to Minnesota and there’s no way he isn’t scoring an 80-yard TD in this game … New England’s allegedly improved secondary didn’t look that improved last week … Vince Wilfork looks like luggage … and the Pats have a habit of playing like shit in back-to-back games in the Belichick-Brady era.
(Oh, wait, it’s the opposite! Lemme change this pick.)
Pats (-3) over VIKINGS
We’ve been here before. That’s all I am saying. And since that’s the most homerific moment of the column, allow me to temper it with a mean email about Tom Brady from Eric in New York City.
Hey Billy Boy, my friends and I were trying to figure out who has the highest douchebag rating in the NFL. We have all these sabermetrics for on-the-field performance, why not douchebaggery? One of us began googling “Player X fashion” and clicking on “images.” When we got to Tom Brady the contest was over. Honestly, there was no competition. In honor of our 2014 Douchebag Champion, we’re sending you a link to one unbelievably douchey picture of your quarterback every week. Ask yourself as you view these: If he wasn’t Tom Brady but just some guy walking around looking like this in Boston, how long would it take to get his ass kicked? Enjoy.
RAIDERS (+3) over Texans
And I’m supposed to lay points on the road with Ryan Fitzpatrick because … why?
PANTHERS (-2.5) over Lions
BUCS (-6) over Rams
America, I’d like to apologize for missing Carolina’s “Nobody Believes In Us!” potential last Sunday. Any doubt that it’s the NFL’s most important X factor was erased when it single-handedly transformed Derek Anderson into a semi-competent QB.2 The reality is this: Seattle is better than everyone, the Raiders-Rams-Cowboys are worse than everyone, and the other 27 teams could beat anyone else on any given week. Make your picks accordingly.
An actual announcer quote from Sunday: “Derek Anderson is carving this Tampa defense apart!”
Two enjoyable factors in play with that Panthers pick: First, you gotta love going against Matt Stafford (and the entire Lions fan base in general) in a classic “Feeling A Little Too Good After A Big Home Win Against A Bad Team” game. Second, it’s an insult to Luke Kuechly and Carolina’s terrific defense that they aren’t even favored by three at home. Reader Tyrone Kirk says it best: “We keep hearing how dominant J.J. Watt was in Week 1. Do you realize the reigning DPOY had nine tackles, two for a loss, a sack, a pass defense that caused an int, and forced the fumble that sealed the win over Tampa? Does Kuechly have to get ALL of the Carolina tackles to be held in the same conversation of dominance as Watt?”
Meanwhile, you might remember me picking Tampa to become the NFC South’s second playoff team (over Carolina). If they don’t annihilate that putrid Rams team on Sunday, I’m out on Tampa. Gambling 101 — settle on the teams you like and ride them in September, but if you’re wrong, bail as quickly as possible. And I might have been wrong on Tampa. Their front seven wasn’t as dominant as I thought; Lovie Smith’s missionary position offense couldn’t have been less effective (as I secretly feared); and Josh McCown looked like a 35-year-old journeyman QB who roped someone into a big contract because he had five good games throwing to Marshall and Jeffery (as I secretly feared). Tampa is on gambling probation for me. One more week.
PACKERS (-9) over Jets
One variable that I will keep forcing myself to remember this season: “Always grab the Good Team That Desperately Needs A Win over The Not-As-Good Team That Just Had A Win, no matter what the spread is.” Let’s rip through a few quick emails.
Q: Which it be more depressing for a Dallas fan to spend Sunday watching their team for three hours, or to watch three straight episodes of The Leftovers?
—Aaron, Garland, TX
BS: Couldn’t we combine both? What if Cowboys fans showed up for home games dressed in white like the Guilty Remnant, chain-smoking cigarettes and watching all four quarters in silence? Couldn’t they at least try this for the Thanksgiving game if they’re 0-11?
Q: We need a name for the Curse of the Celebrity Babe. After Verlander, McIlroy and Brady, shouldn’t we be worried about Aaron Rodgers this year? He won’t suck, but there’s no way he’s winning a Super Bowl either — not with Olivia Munn involved. So what’s the curse called?
—Richard S., Princeton, NJ
BS: Thanks for not calling it the Curse of Gisele. Seriously. I appreciate it. You could easily name the curse after Janet Jones (may have broken up Gretzky’s Oilers dynasty by brainwashing him to move to L.A.), Tatum O’Neal (submarined John McEnroe’s tennis prime) and Common (that’s right, I switched genders on you — check out Serena Williams’s free fall from 2008 to 2010!). But for me, it makes the most sense to name it after Memo Paris — Kim Basinger’s black widow character in The Natural who briefly derailed Roy Hobbs’s career. She was gorgeous, she dressed in black, his numbers dipped immediately, she nearly shot him after they broke up, she caused his insides to nearly melt … I mean, what else do you need? I vote for the Curse of Memo.
Q: At what point do the Patriots finally get tired of Tom Brady’s fumbles, overthrows, bounced throws, hand gestures to receivers, tantrums, and sideline mope sessions and turn to Jimmy G?
—Dr. Jeff, Narragansett, RI
BS: I don’t appreciate that, Doc.
Q: Do you think Brady’s slow morph into late-career Dan Marino (AKA Mummy-Pitbull Marino) was completed in Miami on Sunday?
—Dr. Jeff, Narragansett, RI
BS: Seriously, scale it back a notch, Doc.
Q: As horrible as watching the Pats/Dolphins this past weekend, at least we realized that we’re one step closer to Tom Brady receiving the Drew Bledsoe, Lawyer Milloy, Richard Seymour, Ty Law, Randy Moss, Mike Vrabel, and Logan Mankins treatment that he so richly deserves.
—Dr. Jeff, Narragansett, RI
BS: Hey, Doc? You’re revving my RPMs right now. Enough.
Q: Tom Brady was recently quoted as saying, “when I suck, I’ll retire.” Should we expect that announcement any day?
—Dr. Jeff, Narragansett, RI
SG: STOP IT! NOT FUNNY! I WILL QUIT THE WEEK 2 PICKS COLUMN IF YOU KEEP THIS UP!
(Back to the picks … )
CHARGERS (+6) over Seahawks
Chiefs (+12) over BRONCOS
Two inflated lines that disrespect two massive underdogs in Full-Fledged Kitchen Sink mode. I still like the 2014 Chargers to make the playoffs; I don’t like the 2014 Chiefs even a little. But the Kitchen Sink WILL be involved in these games. Three more reader emails …
Q: You know how the NFL is requiring performers to *pay the league* for the opportunity to perform during the Super Bowl halftime? Wouldn’t it be glorious if we end up with filthy-rich James Dolan as the highest bidder to showcase his own band (JD & The Straight Shot)?
—Paul, Austin, Texas
BS: I don’t know if “glorious” is a strong enough word. Can you think of a better finish for Goodell’s last NFL season than James Dolan playing halftime of the Super Bowl? Please, Lord, let this happen.
Q: You believe the quarterback position comes down to 50 percent charisma/personality/leadership/intelligence/coolness-under-pressure, 25 percent hard work and 25 percent talent. Why couldn’t a bad QB do a Walter White type transformation, change his personality and become at least serviceable? For instance what if Blaine Gabbert suddenly showed up bald, wearing a hat, with a goatee and a scowl?
—Joe Marshall, Boyers, PA
BS: Great idea. But wouldn’t the obvious candidate be Andy Dalton? What if Andy shaved his red hair, grew a goatee and dyed it black, insisted that everyone call him by his last name, started snapping at reporters and dating partying celebs like Rihanna, and ended up leading MediaTakeOut every other week with headlines like “DALTON FOUND HIMSELF A NEW SIDE PIECE … AND YOU’RE NOT GONNA BELIEVE WHO IT IS!” Think about it, Andy. You don’t have to give us an answer right now. Just think about it.
Q: Since Andrew Luck already has the Jame Gumb voice, would there be anything greater than if his TD celebration were the Tuck Dance? At games in Indy he could even have them play Goodbye Horses by Q Lazzarus when he scores over the loudspeaker.
—Greg V, Austin, TX
BS: Yup, these are my readers. Back to the picks.
Bears (+7) over NINERS
Your textbook Week 2 overreaction line: In Week 1, the Niners looked better than they are (mainly because Dallas sucks and Romo was abysmal), and the Bears looked worse than they are (mainly because Buffalo might be sneaky-good). As Rob in West Haven writes, “Any chance that Week 1 was one of Jay Cutler’s Moron Games? He’s good for two per year.” Exactly. Cutler usually doesn’t have back-to-back Moron Games. That’s why I am making the Bears my Week 2 Upset Special: Bears 34, Niners 30.
Meanwhile, here’s the meanest email of Week 2, courtesy of Vineeth in San Francisco: “Hey, how come the staff pictures for Grantland look like a compilation of mugshots from the 49er defense?” Not. Friendly. Words hurt.
COLTS (-3) over Eagles
I don’t see Andrew the Giant going 0-2. Sorry. Enjoy the weekend.
This Week: 1-0
Last Week: 9-7