Thursday, September 19, 2013

NFL Picks, Week 3 - Thursday Night Edition

Before we get to the pick, let's take a look at the first big in-season NFL trade in forever:

Cleveland trades running back Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for a 2014 1st round pick. 

From the Colts' perspective: The Colts' move is consistent with their entire offseason plan: swap out as many of the crappy pieces of Andrew Luck's surrounding cast as possible and replace them with players who range from mediocre to good. This is how you end up paying Gosder Cherilus to $35 million to be your right tackle, paying Matt Hasselbeck $4 million a year to be the backup quarterback, and bringing in the less-good half of San Francisco's defensive line. Adding a running back who was once the 3rd overall draft pick but has a career YPC of less than 3.6 fits this plan like a glove.

To be fair, the Colts have already hit on the most important position: quarterback. And the fact that he's still in his rookie deal (read: CHEAP!) means they have extra money to spend on the rest of their roster. Some teams prefer to spend their money on elite players only, and then use cheap draft picks to fill out the roster. That's a good process, but it takes years to replenish a talent-poor team with draft picks. Indy's surprise 11-5 playoff season last year raised expectations, and meant waiting 2-3 years to replenish the team's talent base wasn't an option.

Bottom-line? The Colts added a good player. I'm just not sure he's good enough to warrant giving up a first-round pick that could be in the high teens/low 20's.

From the Browns' perspective: Many people are decrying this move because the Browns spent a 1st, a 4th, a 5th, and a 7th to move up from pick 4 overall to pick 3 overall to draft Richardson, and now they've let him go for a mid-to-late first round pick. This thinking is wrong. Whatever it cost to get Richardson is a sunk cost. It's not what he was worth in April, 2012, it's what he's worth now. If he's worth less than the first rounder, its a good deal for the Browns. If he isn't, it's a bad deal.

For those who say this is part of Cleveland tanking the season, you're absolutely right. Just look at who they're starting at quarterback this week: Brian Hoyer. It absolutely stinks for the Cleveland fans, who have been subject to plenty of sports-related misery in recent times, but it's the right move.

Don't believe me? Look at Indianapolis. They tanked the 2011 season and ended up with Andrew Luck. Are Colts fans happy with the deal? You bet. If tanking gets the Browns in a position to draft Teddy Bridgewater, it will be worth it. And if their tanking doesn't quite get the job done on its own? Well Cleveland now adds another first round pick to its stable to use to try and move up to secure their guy.

Because let's face it, if you don't get the quarterback position right, you have no chance in today's NFL. Oh, you might make the playoffs (see Vikings, Minnesota), but if your goal is merely to make the playoffs, you won't last very long running an NFL team. Success is ultimately measured in rings.

Bottom line? Cleveland needs a quarterback, and the extra first rounder gets them closer to that goal than having Trent Richardson on the roster does. Oh, and weakening their 2013 team is an added bonus.

Let's move on to tonight's game.

Last week I stumbled a bit in picking the Chargers-Eagles game. I convinced myself that the Chargers would cover the larger than necessary spread (7 points). I had even written up my paragraph for the blog post. Just one problem, I had fooled myself into believing the game was being played in San Diego. Once I double-checked, I saw my error, and completely changed course, and in the end, got the game wrong (of course I did).

That bundle of words is a very roundabout way of coming to my point: Philadelphia isn't protecting their home field advantage, so don't be conned into picking them, even on a short week, when home field advantage is at least twice as important. The points in favor of Philadelphia are

1. They're the home team on a short week.
2. Their offense has shown it will score a lot of points in each game, and Kansas City's offense may not be able to keep up.
3. Andy Reid looks uber-ridiculous in his all-red jumpsuit.

The home field advanatge argument doesn't sway me, for the reasons above. To point #2 I counter with, that was against Washington and San Diego. Those defenses are terrible. Kansas City, on the other hand, has a legitimate defense, and an offense that wants to control the ball, work its way down the field, and play keep away from the opponent's offense. Since Philadelphia's defense is also awful, they'll probably allow Kansas City to do just that. The time of possession advantage could easily approach 2-1 by the end of this game. That will help the Chiefs not only cover, but win outright.

Kansas City (+3) over Philadelphia

As for point #3, well, I have no counter to that one.

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