1. There appears to be a funny joke going around NFL circles, as multiple outlets are reporting that St. Louis is eager to do a contract extension with quarterback Sam Bradford. Yes, Bradford was the #1 overall pick in the last draft before rookie salaries were brough under control and he's due over $16 million in each of the next 2 seasons, but have they been watching Bradford's career? Granted, his weapons have not been any better than medicore (if we're being charitable) and the Rams are running a season-long experiment on playing football without any semblance of a running game, but if Bradford were going to show he was worthy of the #1 overall pick...wouldn't we have seen it by now?
2. This game said much more about the Rams than it did about the 49ers. The one positive you can take away if you're a 49ers fan is your coaching staff isn't completely stubborn. After a game in which they criminally underused the running game and Frank Gore when it was the only part of their offense that was working, they learned from their mistakes.
3. I'll let this tweet say it because I can't say it better:
Not a good sign that every quarterback under Brian Schottenheimer is Mark Sanchez, or becomes him.
— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) September 27, 2013
Brian Schottenheimer is currently the Rams offensive coordinator. In a related story, the Rams offense looks completely unimaginative and inept.
On to the games (home team in CAPS)
byes: Green Bay, Carolina
Baltimore (-3.5) over BUFFALO
On the one hand, Baltimore's defense and special teams are showing they can again carry more than their share of the load while the offense continues to find its footing. On the same hand, Buffalo has the same defense that let the Jets offense torch them in the passing game. As bad as Baltimore's offense has looked, they're better than the Jets.
Cincinnati (-4.5) over CLEVELAND
The Brian Hoyer is a starting quarterback wagon will veer off the road, crash into a ditch, and once everyone has gotten out and brushed themselves off, spontaneously catch fire. Cincinnati's defense is a few steps above the Vikings' unit.
KANSAS CITY (-4.5) over New York Giants
I'm not sure why, but I still haven't given up on the Giants righting the ship in time to make a run at the NFC East title. But I'm not buying that this offensive revival will come against what's looking like a top-5 defense n 2013.
Pittsburgh (-1.5) over "MINNESOTA"
Hey, look, it's another game in London as the NFL attempts to grow their fanbase and take over the world. And it's yet another game that pits two lackluster and/or terrible teams against each other, in what is either the worst campaign a $9 billion company has ever launched, or the most brilliant passive-aggressive attempt to shut down expansion talk that I've ever seen. As for the game itself, Pittsburgh's defense may not be the Pittsburgh defense we all remember, but Matt Cassel (starting for the injured Christian Ponder) is exactly the Matt Cassel we all remember.
Chicago (+2.5) over DETROIT
The day may come when Jay Cutler reverts to blindly throwing interceptions all over the field...but it will not be this day. The day may come when the courage of Brandon Marshall to carry the Bears passing offense on his shoulders fails...but it is not this day. Not against this Lions secondary.
Arizona (+3) over TAMPA BAY
Given that Tampa Bay is a) in turmoil, b) just changed quarterbacks to a rookie 3rd round draft pick, c) has had their offense called bland and uninspiring, and d) quit on their previous coach 2 years ago, leading to Greg Schiano getting the job, I'm going with the other team in this one, if that's okay.
Indianapolis (-7) over JACKSONVILLE
I could make the argument that the Colts defense can be run on, and Jacksonville still has Maurice Jones-Drew. I could point out that Jacksonville moved the ball well in the second half against Seattle (mostly their backups, but still), and that the Jaguars are getting their starting quarterback back (who's Blaine Gabbert...you know what, forget the quarterback thing). And I could point out that this is a classic letdown game for the Colts coming off their big road upset in San Francisco. In all, I can make a case for Jacksonville covering this game, but I'd be ignoring one very important point. One of these teams is the Jacksonville Jaguars, and one isn't. Give me the one that isn't.
HOUSTON (+2.5) over Seattle
Coming into this season I had this game pegged as a Seahawks loss, and perhaps the toughest game on Seattle's schedule. A 10 AM Pacific time start against a very balanced team. Then the first three games of 2013 happened, and Houston looked entirely out-of-sync. It's like the Texans still haven't recovered from that Monday night smack-down in Foxborough late last season. So why am I picking the Texans? The 10 AM start is still an issue for Seattle until they prove it's not. But more importantly, 3/5 of the Seahawks offensive line is missing this game, including their all-pro left tackle and center.
TENNESSEE (-3.5) over New York Jets
Tennessee has taken care of the bad teams on their schedule so far. The Jets (despite the shiny 2-1 record) are a bad team.
DENVER (-11) over Philadelphia
We have established that the Eagles defense can't stop anybody. We have also established that nobody has shown the potential to stop the Denver offense. Irresistible force, meet very movable object.
Dallas (-1) over SAN DIEGO
San Diego's pass defense is really, really bad. Tony Romo should be able to exploit it and throw all over the field easily.
Washington (-3) over OAKLAND
The reports are Terrelle Pryor's concussion will keep him out of this game, which means Matt Flynn finally gets his first chance to start since his 6 touchdown performance in the last game of Green Bay's 2011 season. Unfortunately, Matt Flynn is not the quarterback for a talent-poor team like the Raiders. Even against a defense as dismal as Washington's, the Raiders stand a much better chance with Pryor using his dynamic athleticism. With Pryor out, Washington's defense will be able to contain the Raider offense.
New England (+1.5) over ATLANTA
While Atlanta is a better team than anyone the Patriots have faced this season, their defense is worse than either the Jets or Buccaneers units. Add in an offense with merely a hobbled Roddy White and a missing Steven Jackson, and I don't see them able to keep up with Tom Brady, even with his C- receiver corps.
NEW ORLEANS (-6) over Miami
Miami's defense is dealing with a series of injuries going into the Superdome. Add in the Brees revenge factor (Miami's team doctors refused to sign off on the team signing him in the 2006 offseason), and I don't like Miami's chances in this one.
This week: 1-0 (whoo-hooo!!!)
Last week: 7-8-1 (.469)
2013 season: 17-28-3 (.385)