By F. Stupidity, Jr.

We’re still four weeks from the home stretch of the NFL season – it’s too early in the season to talk about crucial matchups related to playoff seeding, too late in the season to pretend certain teams can contend for a playoff spot. Objectively speaking, it’s been kind a down year for the NFL. Even if you overlook off-field stuff (Zeke Elliott) or pre-game stuff (anthem protests), there’s been a paucity of exciting, competitive play this year. Injuries to superstar players such as Aaron RodgersOdell Beckham, and JJ Watt (just to name a few) have hurt the product on the field. But what are we to do with our Sundays otherwise? Spend them with family? Oh, come on now.

BTW, since we’re in the dog days of the NFL season, this would be a good time to pick my brain. Share any questions you have for me in the comments. Since my W/L percentage on picks is a God-like 53.3%, my expertise in all things NFL is obviously beyond all reproach.

AFC WEST

LA Chargers @ Jacksonville – This week’s upset special

New England @ Denver – The Broncos are crumbling

Rule change proposal time: because the passing game has gotten easier over the years, let’s make it a little more difficult, a little more risky. The new rule proposal is that if a thrown pass hits the ground behind the line ofscrimmage, even if the pass travels forward, the ball is live like a fumble. The short passing game has played a major role in improving passing efficiency over the years, and in particular the WR screen is almost risk-free. Rule changes nearly always favor the offense, and I think it’s past time to fine-tune the game in favor of the defense for once.

AFC NORTH

Pittsburgh @ Indianapolis – Expect a tough game from the Colts in defeat

Cincinnati @ Tennessee – Titans win the close one at home

Cleveland @ Detroit – Lions win two straight

Ace beer reviewer mexican sharpshooter made this comment in a nearly dead thread on Tuesday:

The Ravens’ girls don’t care. And their hair is still fabulous.

This may be sarcasm, but for the sake of discussion let’s play it straight.

One old proverb in sports says that “You play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on back”. Granted, many NFL jerseys don’t actually have a name on the front of the jersey, but the point of that old saying is that you don’t put yourself ahead of the team. Piggybacking off of that idea, if we are rooting for a team because they represent the name on the front of the jersey – and a majority of fans do – then why would fan sympathies remain with a team that left the home city? it’s understandable to keep rooting for the old team when the players held over through the move remain with the moved team, but in the case of the Ravens, they left Cleveland over 20 years ago. There are no original Cleveland Browns on the Baltimore Ravens’ roster any longer.

I’m amused by the Golden State Warriors claiming five NBA championships. Swallowing such BS requires us to believe that basketball fans in the Bay Area were on the edge of their seats, cheering their hearts out, in 1947 and 1956 when the Philadelphia Warriors won those titles. If you are playing for the name on the front of the jersey, you’re not playing for the cities that used to adorn the front of the jersey, nor those that will. If you’re rooting for the name on front and a Browns fan, why root for the Baltimore team over the Cleveland team? Why root for the Nashville team over the Houston team if you’re a Houston fan?

AFC SOUTH

Cincinnati @ Tennessee

LA Chargers @ Jacksonville

Pittsburgh @ Indianapolis

Houston @ LA Rams – The Rams offense is seriously clicking

Tying into our previous subject, the Houston Texans have been a mostly mediocre franchise in their fifteen years of existence. This is an improvement over Houston’s old NFL franchise, the Houston Oilers. Now the Oilers did have bigger years than the Texans’ best, and Oiler legends like Warren Moon, Earl Campbell, and Bruce Matthews were superior to their Texans counterparts. (Granted, Texans receivers Andre Johnson and Deandre Hopkins are better than any of the Oilers WRs)

But the Texans lose playoff games in totally expected ways, to teams that are clearly better, and they lose with dignity. The Texans organization is a professional big-league group. The Texans would never hire a clown like Jerry Glanville to coach their team. I’ll guarantee that once the Texans become a threat to win the Super Bowl. they’re not going to lose three straight playoff games after leading all three by double digits. The Texans’ coordinators will not throw punches at one another on the sidelines while losing those games. No organization squandered more big-time talent or embarrassed itself more, and there’s a reason the expansion Houston team passed on resurrecting the old Oilers identity.

AFC EAST

New England @ Denver

New Orleans @ Buffalo – Saints remain red hot

NY Jets @ Tampa Bay – The Bucs are in free-fall

Miami @ Carolina – Miami’s anemic offense is especially bad on the road

Given no other information, would you rather play in Miami Dolphins colors or those of the Oakland Raiders? I know I’d feel goofy playing football in teal blue with coral-orange trim.

NFC WEST

Seattle 22 @ Arizona 16 (F – 11/9)

Houston @ LA Rams

NY Giants @ San Francisco – Okay, THIS is the week the Niners get their win

1) I called the Rams “an impressive 6-10 team” going into week five. Oops!

2) There’s still plenty of time for the Rams to come back to Earth, but pro-football-reference.com‘s SRS (Simple Rating System) rates the Rams #1 in the league. I can’t really explain the system beyond (Margin of Victory * Strength of Schedule), and in the last 30 years, the team to earn the #1 rating has won the Super Bowl 11 times in the last 30 seasons.

3) After eight weeks, the 1999 St. Louis Rams scored 263 points; same is true of the 2017 Los Angeles Rams. Just sayin’.

NFC NORTH

Minnesota @ Washington – Minny’s not as good as their record

Green Bay @ Chicago – Rodgers-less Pack exposed again

Cleveland @ Detroit

Meh. Teddy Bridgewater’s coming back this week.

NFC SOUTH

New Orleans @ Buffalo

Miami @ Carolina

NY Jets @ Tampa Bay

Dallas @ Atlanta – IF Zeke is suspended, his backups are perfectly good

The only true domed stadium left in American pro sports is in New Orleans. No one plays on Astroturf anymore. Domed stadiums were the wave of the future once upon a time; nowadays the roof opens when the weather’s good. Heck, in recent years, in some harsh weather markets, they built new stadiums without roofs. Our own OMWC has said that when he’s king of the world, all NFL stadiums will be open-air. While I’m disturbed at how he might use his prima nocta rights, he’s onto something. There’s a certain magic to football being played in the elements, and fortunately that possibility still exists today.

The Baltimore Ravens will visit Lambeau Field in eight more days, and the Glibertarians power couple will be in attendance. As much as I sympathize with the football-in-weather crowd, I’m glad I’ll be watching from my folks’ house in San Antonio rather than freezing my can off in Wisconsin. But I’m happy for (((them))).

NFC EAST

Dallas @ Atlanta

Minnesota @ Washington

NY Giants @ San Francisco

I grew up a Cowboys fan, and after a couple of years under the ownership of Jerry Jones I couldn’t stand them. In the years under Tom Landry, the Cowboys were a model of professionalism and consistency. Other than the big years under Jimmie Johnson (and to be fair, the last four or five seasons), the Jerryboys were far more about sizzle than steak. Of course the Cowboys fired their two-time Super Bowl winning coach; Jerry doesn’t care for him. Of course the Cowboys signed Terrell Owens; he was the brashest character in the game. Of course the Cowboys wanted to draft Johnny Manziel; he’s got that swag.

Having said that, one of my favorite players of all time was a Cowboy by the name of Marion Barber. The guy was built like a cornerback but ran like Earl Campbell. And playing with that style cost him a longer career; he only played seven seasons, but they were fun to watch. Here, watch him run for two yards.

PICKS

Week 9: 7-5

TOTAL: 52-42