Last Week: 10-5
Denver Broncos (2-4) at Arizona Cardinals (1-5)
Friday 1.20pm NZT
Riiiiight, not sure if I’ll bother with this one. Chuck in some scrappiness from the Bills and Derek Carr for the Raiders, perhaps a little Andrew Luck on the Colts too… and the Cardinals are probably the worst team in the NFL. They’re awful. It’s not a surprise when their head coach and starting quarterback retire all at once but that’s just where they are, the Cardinals are the worst team in the league.
That said, there’s a lot to like about Josh Rosen. The completion percentage is terrible and he’s thrown two touchdowns in three starts with barely 150 yards per game. The numbers are actually quite ugly, to be honest. But we’re talking about a rookie QB so you’ve gotta trust your instinct. There are guys that look like they belong and guys that don’t. Rosen has the potential to be a leader – but he’s been drafted onto a team short on talent around him like so many other hot prospect QBs.
Put it into context though, here are the combined offensive numbers for the three games that Sam Bradford started versus the three that Rosen started – not the QB numbers but the whole offence:
Weeks 1-3: 20 PTS | 32 1stD | 571 TotYd | 0-3 W-L
Weeks 4-6: 62 PTS | 44 1stD | 752 TotYd | 1-2 W-L
Still bad but better. I almost wrote that their schedule has been rough too but then when they’re the worst team in the NFL of course their schedule is rough because they’re the underdogs in every game.
And now a word of acknowledgment for John Elway. From the moment that Peyton Manning retired after winning that Super Bowl (so ignoring the half season when Brock Osweiler was doing things – my God, imagine if Osweiler had started that Super Bowl, that was an actual thing back then and now… well, to be fair he did some things last week too) here are all the QB stats for the Denver Broncos (excluding one throw by a punter on a trick play):
Trevor Siemian: 59.3% COMP | 218.7 Y/G | 6.2 AY/A | 30 TD | 24 INT | 79.8 RATE
Paxton Lynch: 61.7% COMP | 158.4 Y/G | 5.4 AY/A | 4 TD | 4 INT | 76.7 RATE
Brock Osweiler: 55.8% COMP | 181.3 Y/G | 5.6 AY/A | 5 TD | 5 INT | 72.5 RATE
Case Keenum: 63.1% COMP | 281.2 Y/G | 6.3 AY/A | 7 TD | 8 INT | 80.5 RATE
I mean, how is a legendary quarterback so utterly bad at identifying talented quarterbacks? Has the game moved this fast… I guess it probably has. But still. Case Keenum’s not been awful but he’s also not been particularly good and it’s becoming pretty clear that giving him good money because he had one excellent season on a team with way more supporting quality than this one was a mistake. They bet that last year wasn’t an anomaly and right now it looks like they might as well get up and leave the table because it’s been bad.
But they’ll win this one because the Cardinals are the worst team in the NFL.
Wildcard’s Pick: Broncos by 8
Tennessee Titans (3-3) at Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)
Monday 2.30am NZT
I’m not even going to talk about the Titans, I don’t care. Not falling into that trap. They’re like the naughty kid in the classroom, they can sit outside for the rest of the lesson and think about how they’re going to make it up to the rest of the class because I cannot deal with that right now. The Ravens are very good on defence but… nope, said I wasn’t gonna talk about them and I meant it.
Now, the LA Chargers on the other hand… yes please. I’ll repeat that the two game they’ve lost have been to the Rams and Chiefs. I love this Chargers team. I love the way Philip Rivers is playing. I love the playmakers on offence. I love the coaching. I love the defensive pressure. I love that they still have Joey Bosa to come back. I’ve got them and the Saints as the tied-third best team in football.
I also notice that they have a new stadium on the way, to be opened for the 2020 season, which is not actually a new stadium at all but the one that the Rams are building which they’ll sort of lease out themselves for home games. THAT PICTURE (SOURCED FROM THEIR OWN WEBSITE) IS NOT EVEN THEIR STADIUM.
They already don’t have a fanbase and they’re looking at sharing a stadium with another team. I guess it’s cheaper. Pretty well on topic then to point out that this particular game is being played in London as a Chargers home game and I realise a few other teams have deeper connections with the London crowed but LAC are no doubt going to keep on going to this well again and again as they try to find quick solutions for all the money they’re losing.
The bottom line is that they cannot stay in LA. It was stupid, there was no team in the city and then all of a sudden there’s two moving there at once and all the fans, fickle ones that they are being from LA where the entertainment opportunities are almost literally endless (and super expensive), went and chose to support the better team with the younger and more durable superstars. Like, the Chargers think they’re in a rough space now but wait until they’re trying to sell the team in a new city with a rookie quarterback after Rivers retires. They can’t stay in LA and the best solution would be to snap up the option that Oakland are looking at with the move to Las Vegas. Put the Chargers in Las Vegas and leave Oakland in Oakland where there’s at least an existing and dedicated fanbase. Makes sense, right? Yeah, true, that means it’ll never happen. Too logical.
Wildcard’s Pick: Chargers by 6
Carolina Panthers (3-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)
Monday 6.00am NZT
Okay so the Eagles have beaten the Falcons, Colts and Giants. They’ve lost to the Buccs, Titans and Vikings. Meanwhile the Panthers have beaten the Cowboys, Bengals and Giants and lost to the Falcons and R*dskins. I’m not sure I’ve got a line on either of these teams which makes a head to head a real bitch to predict, let me tell ya.
Maybe a better way to look at it is that the Panthers are 3-0 at home and 0-2 on the road. Philly have gone a bit of both ways but the Panthers are coming off a shocking performance against Washington and that’s a solid enough bit of evidence to lean me towards the Eagles which means that I fully anticipate a humiliating defeat on the pick.
An outstanding and comfortable effort from Carson Wentz on the TNF game (another reason to lean Philly is the extra few days off) saw him pop 280-odd yards with three scores and his season stats are now looking remarkable. 68.4% completion with 1192 yards in four starts, 8 touchdowns and a mere 1 interception. Only Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have more passing scores with one (or in DB’s case 0) picks. Even Tom Brady, bro, he’s thrown six picks this season. The two missed games are gonna cost him as long as a few of these superstars maintain their incredible starts but he’s sneakily back in that MVP form again.
Wildcard’s Pick: Eagles by 4
Minnesota Vikings (3-2-1) at New York Jets (3-3)
Monday 6.00am NZT
Shout out to Bunny Colvin himself, Todd Bowles. The Jets are looking pretty decent these days, mate, they’re battling hard and playing to the best of their abilities. And when they go hard at the run game, they let Sam Darnold chill in the pocket and get it done like he wants to. You can have success with rookie quarterbacks but the trick seems to be limiting their roles, giving them specific outlines so they don’t have to overcomplicate it all.
Isaiah Crowell followed up his record breaking 219 yards against Denver with 40 from 13 runs against the Colts but Bilal Powell helped him out a little and they kept on pounding away, letting Darnold cash in against a pretty poor Colts secondary for 24/30 and 280 yards, 2 TDs and one pick. He’s inconsistent, he’s inexperienced… he’s bloody fun to watch. And Todd Bowles is helping him get it done.
The Vikings clearly aren’t as good as they were a year ago but I still get the nagging feeling that they’re a team just waiting to explode. The overall depth isn’t quite there, a lot of guys played above themselves in 2017, but the top-end talent is arguably even better. Certainly at the QB position, which is most of the battle. They’ve won two in a row now but have done so without much flair. I kinda think this might be the opportunity to really dominate a game, despite all the nice things I just said about the Jets.
Hey and you know that Adam Thielen lad? Here are his game logs so far…
vs 49ers: 6 catches for 102 yards
at Packers: 12 catches for 131 yards and 1 touchdown
vs Bills: 14 catches for 105 yards
at Rams: 8 catches for 135 yards and 1 touchdown
at Eagles: 7 catches for 116 yards and 1 touchdown
vs Cardinals: 11 catches for 123 yards and 1 touchdown
Yeah, he’s pretty bloody good.
Wildcard’s Pick: Vikings by 15
Buffalo Bills (2-4) at Indianapolis Colts (1-5)
Monday 6.00am NZT
Do you know who that man is?
That’s Nathan Peterman. Remember his name, his is a sad tale. A sad tale indeed. Somebody hand me down that there guitar, thankee kindly young squire.
The Ballad of Nathan Peterman
‘Twas back in twenty and seventeen
That Nathan made his bow
The Nathan-est Nathan we’ve ever seen
Drafted in the fifth round.
To Buffalo, he was asked to go
Seeking pastures fair
And glory and fame with ev’ry throw
Riches beyond compare.
A dream it was, a dream since youth
To play in the NFL
Little did he know, the bitter truth
That all would turn to hell.
‘Twas back in twenty and seventeen
With Tyrod feeling ill
The Chargers of Los Angeles
Hosted the Buffalo Bills
Our poor young hero Nathan Pete
Was asked if he would start
Our poor young hero Nathan Pete
Said yes, yes with all his heart.
Oh if he only knew, the tragic fact
Of what did lay in store
He’d pack his bags and ne’er look back
To be heard of nevermore.
Alas no chance he had to run
No chance to pick up sticks
He played for half a game and was done
After throwing all five picks.
A blip, you say, an anomaly
It was just one awful game
But Nathan survived into twenty-eighteen
To do much more of the same.
So spare a prayer for Nathan the Pete
The intercept machine
Whose life was never meant to see
Suff’ring such as he’s seen.
And if you ever happen to hear them say
The worst that e’er walked the turf
Is that Nathan Pete from Buffalo way
Tell them ‘twas not what he deserv’d.
For if you’ve never thrown a pass through the air
To a defensive back all alone
Then you’ve never earned the right to jeer
Or to throw the first sharpen’d stone
No you’ve never earned the right to jeer
Or to throw the first sharpen’d stone.
Nathan Peterman isn’t gonna start anyway, they just couldn’t do that to him again, so Derek Anderson’s gonna get a go after being signed a little over a week ago… good luck with that. Even the ever-disappointing Indianapolis Colts I find hard to look past here. By the way, Nathan Peterman also threw a pick in the playoffs last season. Including that game that’s 82 career attempts and 10 interceptions… which is just incredible persistence. Might I remind you that he won the Bills’ QB battle in preseason? Only to be dropped midway through week one. See, it’s reasons like that which lead me against the Bills each week – although Houston took a lot of collateral damage in nearly losing to them last week (until Peterman came up with the clutch pick-six, naturally).
Wildcard’s Pick: Colts by 10
New England Patriots (4-2) at Chicago Bears (3-2)
Monday 6.00am NZT
KHALIL MACK HAS AN ANKLE INJURY
I REPEAT: KHALIL MACK HAS AN ANKLE INJURY
KHALIL MACK HAS NOT BEEN PRACTICING
KHALIL MACK IS IN DOUBT FOR THIS GAME
KHALIL MACK WILL BE PLAYING HURT EVEN IF HE DOES PLAY
THE BEARS HAD ZERO SACKS LAST WEEK WHEN KHALIL MACK GOT HURT
THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS ARE UTTER BASTARDS
THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS PREY ON YOUR WEAKNESS
Wildcard’s Pick: Patriots by 9
Cleveland Browns (2-3-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3)
Monday 6.00am NZT
Wildcard’s Pick: Buccs by 3
Houston Texans (3-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3)
Monday 6.00am NZT
Here we are then, a head to head between quite possibly the two most disappointing teams in the league. I mean, the Texans nearly lost to the Bills. Deshaun Watson’s just getting smashed at every opportunity and when he isn’t able to move around like he did at the start of last season then he’s not the dude he was at the start of last season. That’s an issue, their offensive line needs to improve and protect the dude – he’s coming off a bloody season ending injury after all. But their defence has surprised me too. Flashes from JJ Watt, for sure, it’s just not the dominant factor it should be.
However, keep it quiet now but the Texans have won three straight. None were comprehensive victories but a W still tastes like a W no matter what sauce you cover it in. They could be leading the division with a win here. Still, heading to Florida to meet Calais Campbell when your quarterback has been hit 66 times and sacked 25 times already this season is not really a recipe or success. It’s genuinely scary watching him extend plays now when it once was thrilling.
Then we have the Jaguars who might have the best defence in the NFL… might have if it wasn’t also capable of letting the inept Cowboys offence put 40 past them. Riddle that one, mate. There have been injuries and Blake Bortles is still their quarterback but even Tom Brady’s going to struggle to win that game last week when the Cowboys were crushing them up front and running wherever they wanted to go. One thing’s under no doubt: they need a fully fit Leonard Fournette very soon.
Like, the defence has been underperforming. But so will any defence when they’re on the field all day, getting ground down because your offence doesn’t make a single red zone trip in the entire game and keeps turning the ball over. The offensive line is also banged up which never helps. Somebody’s gotta win this game though and at times like these I’m tempted to lean on the home team.
Wildcard’s Pick: Jaguars by 3
Detroit Lions (2-3) at Miami Dolphins (4-2)
Monday 6.00am NZT
Everyone adored the Patriots vs Chiefs game and sure the fourth quarter there was an absolute belter… but the best game of week six was Miami vs Chicago, don’t @ me. Two quarterbacks each had excellent performances, from the emerging Mitch Trubisky to backup battler Brock Osweiler. The home team with an 11-point comeback. Yardage all over. A brilliant emergence from Albert Wilson… and best of all there was a goal-line fumble for each team. Had to question a couple decent defences here, particularly the Bears who were held without a sack, but you need a bit of that in every quality contest.
Also had to feel for Kenyan Drake, who fumbled that ball at the end of regulation which cost Miami a victory that the ended up taking in overtime instead. Poor Drakey buried his head under a towel on the bench and stayed buried every time the cameras picked him out… which was concerningly often. Dunno why we need to bathe in his pain, you know. But fair play to him for starting to force his way into the running game and also the passing game (he’s had 17 catches the last two weeks), that he got that ball at all ahead of Frank Gore was something.
The lack of Ryan Tannehill is an issue. Shots to Brock for a goodie but they could easily have lost that thing twice over but for Chicago’s own issues. A couple chunk yardage plays were huge in his 380 yards and 3 TDs, specifically Wilson’s 75-yd TD. That was all Wilson and some lazy defence. Take it out and Brock’s looking very different. Love what their offensive line did however the Lions are coming off a bye and you already know they were plotting while watching that one. Miami are perfect at home so far. I don’t think that continues.
Wildcard’s Pick: Lions by 6
New Orleans Saints (4-1) at Baltimore Ravens (4-2)
Monday 9.05am NZT
Here’s where the Ravens finally meet their match – an offence that they’re incapable of stopping.
Wildcard’s Pick: Saints by 9
Dallas Cowboys (3-3) at Washington R*dskins (3-2)
Monday 9.25am NZT
Could this be the dawn of a new bright and shining day, the beginning of a fresh era of success where the Cowboys are back to controlling the game up front and stomping all over teams but also with a functioning and aggressive pass attack, with competent coaching and clever ideas? Probably not. But good on Jason Garrett for reading the picks last week and going for it on fourth and one multiple times last week. The Cowboys should never not go for it on fourth and one. Even inside their own ten yard line they should still go for it, when you have a running game as fundamentally important to your identity as this one is, not going for the shorties is about as pathetic as it gets.
Still don’t believe in the R*dskins but this is a dangerous game considering the Cowboys have looked like different teams home and away. But, like, they’ve still got a wicked defence either way. And they’re coming off easily their best performance of the season. Gonna ride that momentum a little longer.
Hey, by the way, why don’t the Cowboys trade for Amari Cooper? They need a gun wideout and here’s one that you know you can get for a second round pick – he’s available and the Raiders are stupid so you can fleece them. Dallas already missed out on Earl Thomas and that one looks okay now considering the price on offer. Cooper’s gonna be cheaper though. It’s work picking up the phone.
Wildcard’s Pick: Cowboys by 6
Los Angeles Rams (6-0) at San Francisco 49ers (1-5)
Monday 9.25am NZT
Let’s play a little game, shall we?
QB - Jared Goff vs CJ Beathard
RB - Todd Gurley vs Matt Breida
WR - Brandin Cooks vs Marquise Goodwin
WR - Robert Woods vs Pierre Garcon
WR – Cooper Kupp vs Kendrick Bourne
DT – Aaron Donald vs Earl Mitchell
DT – Ndamukong Suh vs DeForest Buckner
CB – Marcus Peters vs Richard Sherman
The Rams just dominate in all the major skill positions and they do so every single flippin’ week. And the Niners played really well last week too. They were a defensive holding call away from taking that baby to overtime. But nobody can match up with the talent that the Rams have at the moment. They’re undefeated through six games and it’s almost impossible to imagine a future in which they lose more than two regular season games. Playoffs are a different beast, anything can and will happen there. But not in the regulars against teams like the Niners.
Still counting on Todd Gurley to crack 3000 all-purpose yards and 30 TDs. The touchdowns are a lot easier since say he has to average about 200 yards per game and 2 TDs per game to get there, he could conceivably score five times in this game and then he’s ahead of the curve but not even Todd can bag 500 yards in one contest. Here’s the latest standings…
Last Week: 225 yards & 2 touchdowns
Overall: 870 yards & 11 touchdowns
Required: 2130 yards & 19 touchdowns in 10 games
Average Needed: 213 yards & 1.9 touchdowns per game
Wildcard’s Pick: Rams by 20
Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-1)
Monday 1.20pm NZT
Wildcard’s Pick: Chiefs by 7
New York Giants (1-5) at Atlanta Falcons (2-4)
Tuesday 1.15pm NZT
Wow, mate, the Giants are just in all sorts, aren’t they? It’s funny how the narrative had become that it was all Eli Manning’s fault and I wrote a bit last time about how he was checking down and dodging his best WR weapons, leaving Odell frustrated, but statistically he was kinda having a very good start (even though the eye test disagreed). But then he strung together his worst game of the season so far against the Eagles (55.8% comp for 281 yards, 0 TDs and 1 pick) and now there’s really no doubt about it. If he can’t put up scores against this Falcons defence then he really is toasted.
But what I really want to stress again is that the Giants only got that lone number two pick to work with. If you think they should’ve drafted Sam Darnold then that means not drafting Saquon Barkley and then you’d have Darnold struggling in an offence that, for the millionth time in a row, didn’t have a decent running back. They needed Barkley more. Eli was more likely to be serviceable in his position than Jerry Backup RB in theirs. The fact of the matter is that the G-Men were incapable of getting the rebuild done all at once. Now, there is an argument that QBs take longer to develop than running backs do so it’d have been a quicker fix to get a quarterback this year and running back next but then who’s to say there’d be a better prospect than Barkley. Have you been watching this dude? He’s awesome.
Saquon Barkley: “People that believe that, that’s their belief, each his own, everyone has their own opinion. My job is to make the people in this locker room and the people upstairs, on this team, don’t think it was a mistake to draft me No. 2. My honest answer, and not in any arrogant or cocky way, I think just the way I’ve worked, I think I’ve gained a lot of my teammates’ trust and belief that it was a smart decision to draft me.”
Ultimately the Giants are going nowhere this season regardless so just enjoy the running back busting a big play once a game and try telling the owner not to criticise his best players, there’s a start. As to whether the Falcons go anywhere this season it all depends on whether they can win their divisional game but with a nice couple games coming up in the meantime they could be 6-4 by the time they play the Saints in late-November so I’m leaving that door open for now.
Wildcard’s Pick: Falcons by 9
BYE: Green Bay Packers (3-2-1), Oakland Raiders (1-5), Seattle Seahawks (3-3) & Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2-1)
The Wildcard is a staff writer for The Niche Cache. You might not rate the picks but he’s six weeks into a ten year contract so don’t start arguing now, gotta live with it.
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