The Desolation of Gronk, Honey Badger and RG3...
by Michael Stewart
In this week's edition, I re-organize the top-7, come up with a bunch of really stupid nicknames and wax poetically about a few random teams. So nothing's changed. This is still an article coming at your face out of left field, so enjoy it.
By the way, I know that I've been saying that the ATS records have mattered all season, but they're impacting my rankings less and less as we hit the end of the season. We need to know which teams are good Super Bowl futures investments at this point. Let's do this.1. Denver Broncos (11-2 SU and 8-4-1 ATS)
With Wes Welker, this team is an offensive nightmare. Without him, they're still a much better team than they were last year when they ran the table at the end of the year to finish atop the conference. They'll be fine.
Next Game: San Diego at Denver -10.52. Seattle Seahawks (11-2 SU and 9-4 ATS)
Everyone keeps talking about Seattle's crazy (and totally legit) home field advantage without mentioning the most important part: the Super Bowl is in freaking New York! So even if Seattle gets to the Big Apple, they have to play on the road, in the freezing cold against a cold weather team from the AFC.
Next Game: Seattle -7.0 at NYG3. Carolina Panthers (9-4 SU and 8-5 ATS)
At least Auburn made the national title game?
Next Game: St. Louis at Carolina -11.04. San Francisco 49ers (9-4 SU and ATS)
You can talk about how "badly" Kaepernick has been playing this year. I prefer to focus on Justin Smith and this brazen defence, which has allowed just 14.0 points per game in their last 10 outings. And nobody has dropped more than 20 on them. Everyone should be totally terrified of San Francisco.
Next Game: San Francisco -5.5 at Tampa Bay5. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3 SU and 7-6 ATS)
Damn right! I like the Chiefs far more than most do, and a big reason is because of how bad the AFC is. Cincinnati scores 17-less points on the road than they do at home, Indianapolis is a complete fraud of a playoff team and New England just lost their third best player after losing their second best player earlier this season. And they've won ten games this season! What more do they have to do to earn your good will?
Next Game: Kansas -4.0 at Oakland7. New England Patriots (10-3 SU and 6-7 ATS)
Aaron Hernandez went to jail for killing someone. Vince Wilfork and Jarod Mayo were both lost to injury. Danny Amendola is made of papier mache. Aaron Dobson didn't grow fingers until Week 12. Steven Ridley fumbled his career away. Now Gronk is done for the season after tearing everything in his knee. So you can admonish the Patriots all you want for that totally questionable pass interference call against Cleveland if you want to, but I'm willing to cut Tom Brady and Uncle Bill some slack.
Next Game: New England -2.0 at Miami6. New Orleans Saints (10-3 SU and 7-3 ATS)
Everyone is riding the Saints' jockstraps as if they're a dynasty or something. I'm not buying it, and neither are gamblers, which is why I love talking to them so much. You can't trust a Super Bowl team that is 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games this late in the season. I'm warning you now before you think of jumping on this bandwagon.
Next Game: New Orleans -6.0 at St. Louis8. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4 SU and 8-4-1 ATS)
I already took a shot at the Bengals when I discussed the Chiefs earlier so I'll just say "good for them" for being the likely winners of a crap infested AFC North division.
Next Game: Cincinnati -2.5 at Pittsburgh9. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5 SU and 7-6 ATS)
Two weeks ago I elected to roll with Shady as my NFL Space Jam running back. He leads the league in rushing and ran for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns on Sunday in a blizzard. Tell me you wouldn't want that guy fighting aliens. Say it to my face. I dare you.
Next Game: Philadelphia -4.5 at Minnesota10. Indianapolis Colts (8-5 SU and 7-6 ATS)
The Colts were skinned alive before our very eyes as they visited the Bengals on Sunday...and still managed to become the first and only team this season to secure a division championship. That's so pathetic I can't even make a joke about it.
Next Game: Houston at Indianapolis -5.511. Arizona Cardinals (8-5 SU and 9-4 ATS)
Tyrann Mathieu was apparently balling his eyes out when trainers told him he had torn his ACL and was done for the year after the Cardinals beat the Rams. Turns out the Honey Badger does care...
Next Game: Arizona -2.5 at Tennessee12. Detroit Lions (7-6 SU and 6-7 ATS)
Matthew Stafford is posting a god awful 30.2 quarterback rating in the fourth quarter of his last four games. They guy can't finish this year. That doesn't bode well for a team that needs to close out the season with authority to have a chance at the playoffs. If you think I'm betting on Detroit as home favourites this weekend, you've lost your mind.
Next Game: Baltimore at Detroit -6.013. San Diego Chargers (6-7 SU and 7-5-1 ATS)
Soap box preacher blurb alert! Philip Rivers spent his developmental years under the immortal Marty Schottenheimer (I only call him that because I can imagine him giving the finger to the grim reaper while wearing his aviators and smoking a cigar on his death bed) and then suffered for six years under Norv Turner. He's 32 years old and is having his best season ever...and is due to miss out on the playoffs for the fourth season in a row at the twilight of what should be his prime. What a waste of goddamn talent. If Chicago is going to trade for anyone, it should be Rivers. This guy flat out deserves better.
Next Game: San Diego at Denver -10.514. Baltimore Ravens (7-6 SU and 6-7 ATS)
Every now and then I come up with a weird nickname for an athlete and I stick to it will after the stick has beaten the dead horse in to mush. For example, when Stevie Johnson started in the league, his first name was on the back of his jersey in abbreviated form because there were other "Johnsons' on the team. But there was also another "S. Johnson" on the Bills so he had to go with "St. Johnson." That's why I refer to him as Saint Touchdown.
With that confounding logic in mind, I'm voting that we call Joe Flacco "The Inverse Hibernator". The guy is in a coma through spring, summer and fall and then BAM he emerges from his cave of boredom and starts playing like a Super Bowl MVP. The only problem is that "The Inverse Hibernator" sounds a bit too cool for someone who looks and acts like Joe Flacco. It also sounds like a marvel super villain.
Next Game: Baltimore at Detroit -6.015. Miami Dolphins (7-6 SU and 8-5 ATS)
Between the three likely teams to take the sixth seed in the AFC, who would you rather play between Baltimore, San Diego and Miami? I thought so.
Next Game: New England -2.0 at Miami16. Chicago Bears (7-6 SU and 3-9-1 ATS)
All of my ex-girlfriends were warned that they'd have to become sports fans because of my job. My fiancee is the only one who really embraced the idea instead of just going along with it. How ridiculous have things gotten? She became a Chicago Bears fan because she had a Bears hat when she was younger. When she made this decision some time last year, she wold spend commercial breaks reading me tidbits from the team's f---ing Wikipedia page. I was just glad she got in to the whole thing.
So when we were watching Monday Night Football, she became suddenly sad as she stared at her phone. I asked her what was wrong and she said, "I'm just reading about this Mike Ditka fellow...it makes me sad. It's too bad he died." When I told her that they were conducting a jersey retirement ceremony and not a funeral procession, while pointing to the TV and saying, "See? He's right there!" she replied, "Damn right he is! GO BEARS!"
And that's one of the many reasons she has a ring on her finger. I don't have the heart to tell her that the only reason I could afford the ring was by betting against the Bears all season. She'd consider it a blood diamond.
Next Game: Chicago at Cleveland17. Dallas Cowboys (7-6 SU and 8-5 ATS)Tony Romo is historically awful in December and even worse in January. If he could only make it to February!
Next Game: Green Bay at Dallas
18. Green Bay Packers (6-6-1 SU and 5-8 ATS)
There's no sense in entertaining the idea of an Aaron Rodgers return even with Dallas on the table this weekend, Chicago in Week 17 and the sixth seed still within reach. But their 70-to-1 odds to win the Super Bowl seem like a fun way to spend $10 don't they?
Next Game: Green Bay at Dallas19. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8 SU and 6-7 ATS)
Next Game: Cincinnati -2.5 at Pittsburgh20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9 SU and 6-7 ATS)
For the first ten weeks of the season, you couldn't have avoided reading headlines like "Schiano Losing Locker Room" or "Fire Schiano" or "Shciano Is A Big Fat Dickhead" if you tried. In the past six weeks, there have been zero national articles printed or published about how Schiano has turned this year around. I'm a blogger (and a degenerate gambler) so I don't have media access, but this kind of bull needs to stop. Call it down the line.
Next Game: San Francisco -5.5 at Tampa Bay21. St. Louis Rams (5-8 SU and ATS)
When you search for the St. Louis Rams in Google News, the first thing that comes up is the headline, "Ram's Closing Goal: Basic Improvement". Get excited, St. Louis!
Next Game: New Orleans -6.0 at St. Louis22. New York Giants (5-8 SU and ATS)
When Andre Brown fumbled as the Giants were trying to rally from 17 points down against the Chargers, every Giants fan was quickly reminded why they shouldn't have been that excited about him coming back.
Next Game: Seattle -7.5 at NYG23. Cleveland Browns (4-8 SU and 5-7-1 ATS)
Lost in all the rage of that pass interference call that cost Cleveland the game is the fact that Tom Brady still had two more downs, a minute left on the clock and was only thirty yards away from the end zone. You can't tell me with a straight face that Cleveland wouldn't have lost that game anyways. And if you're willing to fight this fight, your'e ignoring the entire history of the Cleveland Browns.
Next Game: Chicago at Cleveland24. New York Jets (6-7 SU and 7-6 ATS)
Geno Smith won a game! And Kellen Winslow was his leading receiver? What is going on here???
Next Game: NYJ at Carolina -11.025. Tennessee Titans (6-8 SU and 6-7-1 ATS)
26. Oakland Raiders (4-9 SU and 7-5-1 ATS)
The Titans and Raiders selected DMC and CJ2Fumbles in the 2008 NFL Draft. Here's a list of the backs taken in that draft: McFadden (4th), Jonathan Stewart (13th), Rashard Mendenhall (23rd), Chris Johnson (24th), Matt Forte (44th), Kevin Smith (64th) and Jamaal Charles (73rd). The rule? Don't spend your first round draft pick on a running-back (sorry Todd Gurley).
Next Games: Arizona -2.5 at Tennessee and Kansas -4.0 at Oakland
27. Buffalo Bills (4-9 SU and 6-7 ATS)
Fred Jackson is to Doug Flutie what C.J. Spiller is to Doug Johnson. Spiller was a consensus top-5 fantasy back at the beginning of the season. In standard PPR formats, he has less points than Jacquizz Rodgers and Shane Vareen, who has played in four games this whole year. Plus he has major injury concerns already. Do you really want to rebuild around this guy and E.J. Manuel? Really?
Next Game: Buffalo -2.0 at Jacksonville28. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9 SU and 5-8 ATS)
Fans in Jacksonville (they exist I swear) need to give Cecil Shorts a proper nickname. My vote is "Camo Shorts".
Next Game: Buffalo -2.0 at Jacksonville29. Minnesota Vikings (3-9-1 SU and 7-6 ATS)
Adrian Peterson took off his boot and started working out. There is no possible way this guy is human. Is it too late to change his name from "All Day" to "Wolverine"?
Next Game: Philadelphia -4.5 at Minnesota30. Atlanta Falcons (3-10 SU and 5-8 ATS)
You have to watch Atlanta fans assuming that they're trying to tank and lose every possible game they play in. It only makes it more fun. Two weeks ago, Buffalo refused to let them lose by coughing up fumble after fumble. Last weekend, they gave up a relatively strong lead against a fifth string quarterback and the Green Bay Packers. Keeping this in mind, I'd love to see how they come up with a creative way to lose against Washington. They didn't invent tanking...but they've mastered it.
Next Game: Washington at Atlanta -7.031. Houston Texans (2-11 SU and 3-10 ATS)
The best thing Matt Schaub could do for the Texans is play at his very best because that means they'll lose their last three games, get rid of Wade Phillips and draft Johnny Football. Ya know, because Houston has such a strong history of drafting quarterbacks from in-state programs that have won Heismans and all.
Next Game: Houston at Indianapolis -5.532. Washington Redskins (3-10 SU and ATS)
Kirk Cousins is saying all the right things as he becomes Washington's starter for the last three games. He's already said that this is "Robert's team" and that he's just keeping the seat warm for him until 2014. That's what you say as a backup no matter how good you think you are. Take notes, Josh Freeman. What? You thought I'd go a whole power rankings without taking a pot shot at Josh Freeman? You don't know me at all.
Next Game: Washington at Atlanta -7.0