|THERE HE GOES AGAIN.|
This part of the season, when the league goes all topsy-turvy and loosey-goosey, is the only time I can make any sense of Professional Football. It must be because my judgement is so incredibly deformed that it’s the only peg that will fit into the warped hole of NFL chaos.
The underdogs were 10-4 against the spread and 8-6 straight up last week, throwing America into a tailspin so steep and swift that we’re looking to cling to anything, anyone — even a slithering boob like Mitt “Magic Underwear” Romney — if it will, or might, give us a better chance of landing softly.
Nothing this season has been as schizophrenic as the narrative surrounding Peyton Manning. ESPN has been on an endless up-and-down bender like a junkie with a day job. In Week 1, Manning reclaimed his status as one of the best quarterbacks of all time and the Broncos were Super Bowl contenders. By Week 3, he was a washed-up chump hanging onto his career solely on name recognition. Week 4? He was a wizard again, slicing through the Raiders’ secondary like a surgeon. In Week 5, he was a noodle-armed fogey who can’t throw the ball more than ten yards downfield. Now, through six games, Manning is once again a Football God amongst mere men by virtue of an historic comeback.
This is getting tiresome. Why can’t we all just agree that he’s a good quarterback that is now less good because of old age? I suppose that would be asking a lot, especially of in-game commentators who are too busy jizzing all over the broadcast booth every time Manning does a hard count, or points to the left or right before a snap.
No less than once on Monday night, Jon Gruden claimed Manning has “willed” Willis McGahee into being a productive running back. Certainly, no quarterback in NFL history gets more credit for his team’s running game than Manning. Part of this is fostered by the myth — perpetuated for nearly two decades — that he stands alone in the dominion of Football in changing the play at the line of scrimmage. It’s preposterous, of course. Nearly every quarterback above the junior high level has checked into a run out of a pass play, or vice versa, but somehow we’re supposed to assume that Manning has a much deeper understanding of the intricacies of pass-vs.-run because he makes a show of it.
Enough already. Peyton is not only not the best quarterback of his generation, he’s no better than the second-best quarterback in his family, and I write that having never seen Archie play.
LAST WEEK: 8-6-0 | SEASON: 29-28-1, 50.9%
Seahawks v. 49ers (-7)
I finally figured out what the Seahawks are: 49ers 2.0. A badass defense and a passable quarterback. I’m curious what Russell Wilson’s glove size is compared to Alex Smith’s. Let’s take the points and hope the Niners continue to slide. Pick: SEAHAWKS (+7)
Titans v. Bills (-3)
This is when the Bills start their run to the 2012 AFC East title. Pick: BILLS (-3)
Cowboys (-2) v. Panthers
Should be the ugliest game of the day, maybe the year. If not ugly, at least very sad. PANTHERS (+2)
Ravens v. Texans (-6.5)
I don’t care who’s hurt for the Ravens, this is way, way too many points. RAVENS (+6.5)
Redskins v. Giants (-5.5)
The Giants are the best team in football right now, so I suggest betting on them now, before they turn into the worst team in football for a couple of weeks... After which they will once again be the best team in football. Pick: GIANTS (-5.5)
Saints (-3) v. Buccaneers
The theme of the season: if I’m having trouble making a decision, I just pick the underdog every time. Pick: BUCCANEERS (+3)
Packers (-5.5) v. Rams
Aaron Rodgers is rolling now. Game over. Pick: PACKERS (-5.5)
Cardinals v. Vikings (-6)
Is it John Skelton, or Josh Skelton? Who cares? The Cardinals are falling back to earth faster than Felix Baumgartner. Pick: VIKINGS (-6)
Browns v. Colts (-3)
By my calculations, there is a 90% chance this game comes down to a last-minute field goal attempt. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a three-point head start when that happens? Pick: BROWNS (+3)
Jaguars v. Raiders (-4)
Literally nobody cares who wins this game. Pick: JAGUARS (+4)
Jets v. Patriots (-10.5)
This spread seems really high, but I just can’t — CAN’T — pick the Jets against what appears to be an above-average team. Pick: PATRIOTS (-10.5)
Steelers (-2.5) v. Bengals
How are the Steelers favored against anybody? Pick: BENGALS (+2.5)
Lions v. Bears (-6)
The Bears are getting a little big for their britches, while the Lions are just now finding their pants. Pick: LIONS (+6)
Robb Witmer Full (@robbwitmer) is just happy we haven't had Tim Tebow to kick around this season, regardless of the concerted efforts of the fine folks at ESPN.