(Home teams in caps)
BEARS (-7.5) over Giants
Yep, it's Friday, which means I lost another Skunk of the Week Pick! Quick question: Let's say the Giants thought about offering Eli Manning right now — this very moment — for Cleveland's no. 1 pick and a second-rounder in 2015. Which team says no to that trade? Why wouldn't the Giants blow everything up and usher in a full rebuild? Would the Browns give up that much for a QB who turns 33 in January? Can you imagine living in a world where THE CLEVELAND BROWNS started a good quarterback every week? Wouldn't they win the AFC North with him? Could Eli lead them to a no. 3 seed? Can't everyone just say "yes" because the 2013 season would be more fun? More importantly …
BROWNS (+3) over Lions
If that trade happened tonight, would Eli be allowed to play in Sunday's Browns-Lions game? Why not? How would that work from a fantasy standpoint? Could you keep Eli's fantasy points for both Week 6 games? Would this be the greatest moment in fantasy football history? Would this cause a riot on the Internet? I love everything about Eli-to-the-Browns-right-now.
As for the Lions, Michigan reader Matt Cook wonders, "Can we come up with a title for the opposite of the Ewing Theory? When a team loses their 'best' player and becomes so incompetent that you'd think they never played that sport before — like the Lions last weekend — I think we should call it the 'Calvin Johnson Theory.'" Sorry, Matt, you're too late — that's actually the (Peyton) Manning Theory, created after the 2011 Colts had a free fall from the playoffs to 2-14. Good luck topping a namesake who inadvertently yielded the Luck/ChuckStrong era, ended Tebowmania and spawned Evil Manning.
Bengals (-8) over BILLS
I'm enjoying Cincy's "Please, Don't Let Andy Hurt Us" offense, which was ripped off from old Trent Dilfer tapes during his Super Bowl season in Baltimore. Maybe it won't take them far in the playoffs, but it's definitely taking them past Chad Lewis this week. Er, Thad Lewis.6 Meanwhile, Matt from Cincy writes, "Every week I wait for your picks, and EVERY week you use the Bengals games to randomly talk about something other than the Bengals. Hope you enjoyed last Sunday, dick. Now I hope you waste 1,000 words on Brady's touchdown streak and the fact you didn't score an offensive touchdown for the first time in years. Again, Ha Ha, dick." The Internet is the greatest.
Miami's Bye Week (-6.5) over Atlanta's Bye Week
How tough was this week for Atlanta sports fans? A glassy-eyed Rembert Browne asked me after three drinks this week, "Do you think I should own the Atlanta sports corner for Grantland, or is that corner just too depressing?" The answers: yes and yes. (By the way, EVERYONE is depressed about Julio Jones going down. Who wants to live in a world with a RedZone channel that doesn't have Julio Jones? I certainly don't.) Here's the best Atlanta e-mail I received this week, courtesy of Harrison in Atlanta:
"In my 26 years of living in Atlanta, tonight is without a doubt the worst night ever. Tonight was worse than Game 7 of the 1988 EC Semis vs. Bird, Game 6 & 7 of the 1991 World Series vs. the Twins, the 1996 World Series vs. the Yankees (took first two games at Yankee Stadium and promptly lost the next 4), our only Super Bowl appearance (damn you Eugene), the 2005 18 inning NLDS walk-off loss to the Astros and Chris Burke (Yes, Chris Burke), the 2012 Infield Fly Wild Card Game and even the 2013 NFC Championship. Being an Atlanta sports fan is like being in love with a knockout stripper who keeps breaking your heart by stealing all of your money, only you can't help going back time and time again."
VIKINGS (-2.5) over Panthers
[We posted this column right as the horrible news about Adrian Peterson's son was breaking. Best wishes to Peterson and his family. Everyone at Grantland is praying for them.]
In one corner, you have the Vikings trying to resurrect Josh Freeman's career while somehow not starting him this week AND telling Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder that it's nothing personal and they like them too. I'm sure that's going to work out great. (Just make Freeman the starter already.) In the other corner, you have the Panthers, who blew out the Giants in Week 3, used the bye week to make everyone forget that Cam Newton is hopeless against the blitz, roped gamblers into backing them at Arizona last week (the line swung three points), then fell apart like they always do. The Panthers are 1-3 and bringing back not-so-fond memories of their starts in 2012 (1-6), 2011 (1-5), 2010 (1-12) and 2009 (1-3). I can't pick Ron Rivera again. I just can't.
Hey, you know what might cheer up Panthers fans? Johnny Lawrence's "screen-used" karate outfit from the 1984 All-Valley Championships, on sale for a staggering $100,000. A reader named Jason in Austin wanted to know if the price is overvalued, undervalued or properly valued. Um … what? I'm gonna say overvalued! You could probably buy Billy Zabka for less than $100,000 right now, much less his 29-year-old karate uniform. Maybe they're banking on some wacky billionaire trying to buy up all the classic sports movie props out there: Rocky's trunks from the first Balboa-Creed fight, Hustler's game-worn pool cue from Fast Break, Hanrahan's game-worn Long Island Ducks goalie jersey, Jake Shuttlesworth's game-worn tracking bracelet, and so on. And if that billionaire is out there, I'd like to befriend him.
JETS7 (-2) over Steelers
One of my goals on Sunday: To not watch a single play of this game. Here's a much more intriguing line, courtesy of Mark in Gaithersburg:
Marlo Prequel (-6.5) vs Todd Prequel.
"MY NAME IS MY NAME!!!!"
(Hmmmmmmm … I'm taking the points. That line is three points too high.)
Eagles (-2) over BUCS
Packers (-3) over RAVENS
This feels like the week when Chip Kelly and Aaron Rodgers start making their runs at … something. Meanwhile, here's this week's Really Mean E-mail About Roger Goodell, courtesy of Vydas in Commack, New York: "Instead of dressing up the players in pink for breast cancer awareness, shouldn't the NFL be heading a concussion awareness campaign? Or are their former players finally doing a good enough job of that for them?"
Rams (+7.5) over TEXANS
A Houston reader named Spencer derisively nicknamed Schaub and Kubiak "Schaubiak," adding, "Schaubiak has gotten so bad, I now wake up at 6 am to watch the Rockets live from the Philippines in the NBA Global Games." I love it. They're the "Bennifer" of this decade. No way I'm laying seven and a half points with Schaubiak right now, not even against this super-shaky Rams team. You can't make me.
Speaking of shaky, here's our Shakey's Pizza Watch for Week 6: Tavon Austin (yeesh) … Cam Newton during any blitz … Eli Manning's Hall of Fame chances … Mike Vick's everything … Seattle's receivers against good defenses … Jay Cutler's Jay Cutlerness … Miami's offensive line … Homeland's decision to become a CW teen drama (h/t Mark Lisanti) … New England's run-stuffing ability … the Bob Kraft era … the Bucs' janitorial staff … pitching to Evan Longoria with first base open (I've finally recovered) … San Francisco's passing game … any Packers game without Clay Matthews in it … any scumbag who leaks a fake "report" to a sports blog … all "How funny would a Pirates-A's World Series be?" jokes … Chicago's defense … Denver's defense … everyone who thought they were getting a steal when they spent $15 on Rob Gronkowski in a fantasy auction … the no. 2 seed in the AFC (whoever it is) … the Chargers in any game that ends at 3 a.m. on the East Coast … Matt Stafford anytime Calvin Johnson is wearing street clothes … any fantasy owner who listened to my suggestion to pick up Kenny Stills … all fantasy advice from Bill Simmons.
SEAHAWKS (-13.5) over Titans
Ryan Fitzpatrick playing in Seattle against the 12th Man? Come on. Stop it.
CHIEFS (-8) over Raiders
I have a few thoughts here …
• I've had at least 17 different "Wait, is Terrelle Pryor actually good?" moments and just wanted to make sure I'm not alone. I don't love him against KC's defense in Arrowhead this week, but for the long haul, he might be a keeper. I think I'm in on Terrelle.
• Tony Gonzalez to the Chiefs for a third-round pick … um … why can't we just call this trade in to the League of Denial offices right now? What are we waiting for?
• PJ in Lincoln pays tribute to Matt Flynn: "He played one football game of note in the past six years and somehow parlayed that ONE start into being the de facto franchise quarterback for two separate organizations. He also cashed in a healthy eight figure contract along the way. All while not earning the starting job for either team and not so much as logging one single quality start in his career outside of that single game that spawned his journey. I'm struggling to find a question in there, but I know in my heart there's a good one somewhere in the nonsensical gumbo. Please help find it … and then answer it." I can't come up with a question either — just know that the price of "FLYNN KNOWS" T-shirts continues to drop. Would you rather buy Johnny Lawrence's game-worn karate outfit or 6,254 "FLYNN KNOWS" T-shirts? Tough call.
• I absolutely loved last Sunday's ridiculously late Raiders-Chargers game — or as it should have been marketed to husbands whose wives couldn't believe that the Sunday football TV schedule had inexplicably increased by three hours, "The Don't Get Divorced Bowl." I'm fully on board with this e-mail from Max in L.A.: "I'm watching the Raiders/Chargers game right now and this is the greatest start time ever for an NFL game. Wife and kids are asleep and out of my hair. Just a man and his 12th to 14th hour of NFL consciousness. I admit its not great for the guy in Hoboken who's betting the over and holding out hope at 3:30 am. But for a West Coaster this is kinda nice. Late Night Raider Network. Let's make it happen."
One additional tweak: Couldn't the League of Denial just dump the consistently sloppy Thursday Night Football (if only for player safety reasons) and give the NFL Network the Don't Get Divorced Super-Late Sunday Night package, hosted by Oakland and San Diego? Just make all their home games start at 8 p.m. on the West Coast. Done. Let's do this.
BRONCOS (-27) over Jaguars
Denver's defense gave up 48 points last week without a kick return or defensive TD being involved. Let's not forget this when they're up by 40 this week — at some point, the day of reckoning for Denver's defense is coming. Anyway, Cousin Sal and I have been playing "Guess the Lines" for seven seasons now on the B.S. Report. Since the Broncos-Jags line was destined to be the highest NFL spread ever, it became the Super Bowl of "Guess the Lines" for us … and we both nailed it. Twenty-eight on Monday. Since then, it dropped a point — great news for me since I already wrote that I was taking Denver as long as the line fell under 35 (and that was before Luke Joeckel broke his ankle). The good news: Blaine Gabbert's QBR rating has climbed to 1.8 — now he's 1.8 points better than Dead Blaine Gabbert. Poor Jacksonville. Joe in Seattle derisively called them a "tricycle wreck" this week. Perfect.
Last note: Even if Denver might not cover this spread because of the garbage-time TD potential (again, the Broncos gave up 48 last week), I'd bet anything that they will be winning by 28 or more at some point in this game. My buddy Gus came up with a fun idea: "Guess the Exact Point of the Game When Denver First Covers This Spread." He guessed with 3:12 remaining in the second quarter. I'm saying with 12:48 remaining in the third quarter. But that could be a fun office pool if you're still at work and not getting drunk at a happy hour right now.
PATRIOTS (-1.5) over Saints
One of those "Nobody Believes In Us" weeks for the Patriots, especially after Cincy's front seven beat them up and Brady brought back not-so-fond memories of Y2K Drew Bledsoe. I'm not panicking. We've been here before. (Fine, I'm panicking.) By the way, readers have been asking me why I haven't written about the 2013 Red Sox once this season. Um … doesn't that question answer itself? You think I'm breaking the streak now? You crazy?
Here's a phenomenal mailbag question from Henry in Boston: "Tom Brady, David Ortiz and Larry Bird arrive at the same Boston restaurant, and they've all come separately. Who gets seated first? Who gets the best table?"
My answer after somewhere between 25 and 350 minutes of thought: The Legend gets seated first but doesn't get the best table because he doesn't care where he sits. Why does the Legend get seated first? Because he's the Legend. Earlier this week during a press conference for Indiana's preseason game in the Philippines, a reporter addressed the Legend as Mr. Legend. Again, this happened in the Philippines. The Legend gets seated first. Big Papi goes next because he's hungry and because the Red Sox are in the playoffs — they want to feed him and keep him happy. And Brady gets the best table because he's the only one savvy enough to (a) let the other two sit before him so he seems like a good guy, and (b) slip the maître d' a hunny so he gets the best table. Everyone wins. Thank you and please drive through.
Cards (+10.5) over 49ERS
Way too many points for a banged-up Niners defense and a Niners offense that has quietly shifted into ground-and-pound mode. Why didn't Arizona sign Josh Freeman when it's 3-2 and trotting out a sneaky-good defense every week but also trotting out Carson Palmer? It's a great question. It's a really, really great question. Anyway, here's our Sneaky-Good Watch for Week 6: Arizona's D … anyone named "Terrelle" … Alshon Jeffery's stock … Daryl Washington's All-Pro chances … the Andre Ellington era (about to heat up) … Brandon Jacobs (?!?!?!) … Matt Borcas's fantasy columns … every Patriots fan's appreciation for Vince Wilfork … Indy's Super Bowl odds (still 20-1!) … mailbag questions from Henry in Boston.
COWBOYS (-6) over D.C. Daceys
Can a 6-10 Cowboys team win the NFC East by two games? I sure hope so. Meanwhile, here's Tony Romo's season so far: 1,523 yards, 71.8 completion percentage, 13 TDs, 2 picks, 114.3 QB rating, 69.4 QBR, 7-8 unofficial "WOW!" plays, one cruelly unfair game-ending interception that made everyone feel bad for Tony Romo again. It's officially impossible to root against Romo unless you root for the Giants/D.C. Daceys/Eagles — he's like the pre-2004 Red Sox, the Cubs/Browns/Suns/Bills right now, or every Daniel Bryan WWE title match. It's weird to think that a football player's mojo has reached the point that, even as he's having the game of his life and one of the best games in quarterback history, you're sitting there thinking, I wonder what's gonna go wrong? But that's where we are. I can't figure out how much of this is Romo's fault and how much of it comes down to overwhelmingly bad luck. Just know that I always find myself rooting for him now.
CHARGERS (+2.5) over Colts
Yes, I'm riding the "Everyone who plays the super-physical Seahawks is bruised and battered the following week" theory8 and picking against the Colts, a team that I've actually come to respect as a legitimate Super Bowl contender, if only because of Andrew Luck (as covered earlier). But I'm leaving you with this thought: Peyton Manning is a 1-to-10 favorite to win the MVP. In other words, you'd have to wager $1,000 on him just to win $100 back.
Meanwhile, Andrew Luck has 30-to-1 odds to win the MVP right now. It can't be forgotten that Manning (a) is 37 years old, (b) has already had four neck surgeries, (c) doesn't have his All-Pro left tackle anymore and (d) hasn't played a good defense yet. You're telling me there isn't a 1-in-30 chance that either he gets dinged up and misses a few games or the Broncos tail off a little in November and December when their schedule gets tougher? And you're telling me that if Luck carries the Colts to 11-5 or 12-4 and a no. 2 seed, he's not waiting in the wings for an MVP if ANYTHING happens to Manning? As your unofficial gambling adviser, I strongly suggest that you sprinkle a little MVP money on Mr. Luck if you live in a world where gambling is legal. You never know.
This Week: 0-1
Last Week: 9-5