Rob’s NFL Week 3 Confidence Pool

Well, that wasn’t so terrible, was it?

I didn’t realize I had only whiffed on two games until it was time to start tallying last week’s results (more on that in a second). Granted, one those whiffs was on my 11-point game, but on the other hand, I doubt too many people picked the Raiders last week in any context. But on the other, other hand, missing on any pick worth more than 6 points (give or take, depending on how many games are happening in a given week) always stings, and what’s worse, the best way to succeed in confidence pools is to hit on picks other people didn’t make. Anybody who did pick the Raiders, and had the audacity to put a decent amount of points on it, is probably feeling themselves this week, and doing well in the standings, to boot.

While there isn’t much housekeeping for this column, I am going to start tracking my stats this week. I will be keeping track of the amount of picks I get right (both for the previous week and for the whole season starting week 2), as well as the amount of points I earn for those correct picks (again, both for the previous week and the season starting week 2). All of these stats will be expressed as:

(Amount of correct picks or points earned)/(Total possible)

My picks are in descending value order; my pick for each game will be the team listed in all caps. As always, I will write up a game if and only if I have an opinion on said game, or if it inspires me to go on some sort of tangent. You may find this rule unprincipled and obtuse; I can assure you, you are correct to point this out. But don’t you worry, I’m not bothered by this one bit, and if you are, I regret to inform you that’s your problem. Gee, I’m such a fun, chill, reasonable guy, aren’t I?

Week 2 Correct Picks: 14/16

Season Total Correct Picks (Starting Week 2): 14/16

Week 2 Points: 120/136

Season Total Points (Starting Week 2): 120/136

16 Points: PATRIOTS over Raiders

This week, I’m organizing this blog around two themes. The first theme is that this is an extremely difficult week for assigning high point values. The highest point values are best assigned to non-division games where one clearly superior team is playing a clearly inferior one. In normal times, it’s best that the superior team be playing at home, but that’s a secondary concern. Even though this week doesn’t have any division games, all of the obviously bad teams are facing teams I’m not sold on (with one exception, which I’ll get to).

I was quite impressed with the Raiders’ offense on Monday. Yes, Carr made a lot of short throws and checkdowns, and yes, they got bailed out by Saints penalties on 3rd down at least once. But they showed some nifty play designs and seem to have some decent guys at every position, and if they had even a decent defense I would consider penciling them in for a Wild Card. But they don’t have a decent defense, and they’re gonna get mushed this week.

Since I’m already going long on this game, I’m going to keep my Cam takes in my back pocket for the moment; suffice to say I’m pleased to report that 31 of 32 teams in this league are run by complete fucking idiots, and I don’t care if saying so means I’m praising the fucking Patriots.

15 Points: PACKERS over Saints

The second theme is how underwhelming the NFC appears so far. The only teams in the entire conference I’m convinced are legitimately good are the Packers, Seahawks, and Rams; the other 13 teams are varying degrees of disappointing, fraudulent, or simply crap. I sure hope the 49ers don’t slide too far while half the team is on the shelf, otherwise there’s a very real chance we’re gonna be stuck watching Mitch Trubisky start a playoff game.

The disappointment begins with the Saints, a presumed Super Bowl contender that isn’t going to lead the league in anything this year except for lowered expectations. Even so, their updated forecast is not all doom and gloom. Brees has clearly lost a step or twelve, but he’s not (yet) a complete disaster in the mold of Peyton Manning’s last season. The defense looks pretty good. Most importantly though, their division stinks to high heaven, with only the Bucs providing a halfway credible challenge to the throne (and note how studiously I avoided calling the Bucs actual challengers).

None of this will matter on Sunday when Aaron Rodgers throws 4 TDs, Aaron Jones runs for a couple more, and Brees’ poor, overmatched arm tries to will the Saints back into the game with a series of 3rd down screens.

14 Points: COLTS over Jets

Back to this being a tough week to pick. The Jets are such a tire fire that it’s extremely tempting to put 16 points on any halfway competent opponent. The Colts fit that bill, but Rivers has looked dicey enough in the first two weeks that I’m compelled to hedge a bit.

13 Points: SEAHAWKS over Cowboys

Lost in all the ballyhoo over the Cowboys admittedly improbably comeback last week was Mike McCarthy’s decision to settle for the field goal as soon as they crossed the Atlanta 30 on their final drive. They had time enough left for at least one shot at the end zone, and if you’re cool and hip to modern football strategy like me, this is precisely the sort of cowardice that you want to see punished. Alas, in this instance, it was not.

In a sane world, one where Dan Quinn is no longer a head coach in the pros, the Cowboys are 0-2 and the subject of mass hand-wringing on the part of mainstream media types, who are compelled by virtue of their profession to serve as hype persons for this inexplicably popular team. One watching this team gets the ineffable but inescapable impression of a squadron that is waiting for any and every opportunity it can find to shoot itself in the foot. As the second-most disappointing team in the conference, they can take solace only in Dak Prescott’s nascent greatness and the depraved awfulness of their own division.

Good on Pete Carroll for realizing that Russell Wilson is really good, and that Jamal Adams is at his best when given free reign to prowl the field as he sees fit. A Conference Championship appearance (and perhaps more than that) is easily attainable for his crew as long as he keeps these things in mind, and even if he doesn’t, his team can at least beat Dallas.

12 Points: TITANS over Vikings

Like the Colts/Jets tilt, I am probably not putting enough points on this game, as it’s among the weekend’s most lopsided. Unlike that game however, my reasons for doing so are purely sentimental, as I was told many years ago that it is unwise to bet against one’s own team.

The Vikings are not good in any phase of the game, and in all likelihood face a hard season, with an equally fraught offseason of difficult decisions afterward, even with the Top 10 pick they seemed destined for. I’m still not ready to call the Titans true contenders, but for the way the Vikings are playing they might as well be the 1989 San Francisco 49ers. If you are wise enough to have attached your sports emotions elsewhere, by all means put a few extra points on this one.

11 Points: BILLS over Rams

I’ve heard from several people, most of whom are not sports fans, that fans of a team love only a team and not the players who make up that team. While this take is insightful, instructive, and largely correct, I defy anyone reading this who holds that opinion to the fullest to obtain a time machine, travel back to last Sunday around 5 PM Eastern, and say that to my face. You will be rewarded with no less than 45 minutes of me sobbing uncontrollably at the loss of Stefon Diggs, who I love with all my heart. He’s just the damn best, and I’m happy he’s happy. Excuse me, it’s alittle dusty in here.

10 Points: CARDINALS over Lions

9 Points: BUCCANEERS over Broncos

Here I am, clammy-handed, sweating, and about to vomit from terror as I scramble to make some sort of fresh Blake Bortles joke, as if there were still fresh Blake Bortles jokes to be made. Dude’s a legend.

8 Points: TEXANS over Steelers

While there are definitely reasons for the Texans (and all 14 of their fans) to panic after dropping their first two, it’s worth keeping in mind that those two losses came against the two very absolute best teams in the league. By contrast, the Steelers’ two wins may not have come against the two very absolute worst teams in the league, but their opposition so far has been underwhelming. I must confess I am growing concerned for Deshaun Watson when he has no Nuk to throw to, but I still believe he’s the truth, and that he’ll find a way to drag his team to respectability. There’s no reason that shouldn’t start this week, as these Steelers are eminently beatable.

7 Points: RAVENS over Chiefs

This was an impossible decision; going by the “If these teams played 10 times” standard, I would almost certainly predict a 5-5 split. I’m going with the Ravens here, because they have looked completely invincible so far, whereas the Chiefs have merely looked extremely tough to beat, even under ideal circumstances. In putting a mere seven points on this game, in a year where no less than 72% of the teams in the league look terrible, I am acknowledging the self-evident limits to this type of reasoning.

6 Points: FALCONS over Bears

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Please do me the courtesy of sparing me all of your Falcons jokes for just a minute, I have a point I’m trying to make here. The Bears may be 2-0, but holy shit on a shingle, they’re the least convincing 2-0 team I can recall since that one time the Cardinals started 4-0 before completely collapsing. When it comes to inspiring confidence, victories of less than a touchdown over two terrible teams may as well not be victories at all.

From a rhetorical perspective, the temptation is to build up the Falcons now that I am done sufficiently denigrating their opposition. I can’t bring myself to do that, however, and since this is my blog and I can do what I want I’m not gonna, except to say that the Falcons’ offense remains decent enough that, like the Texans the Falcons are gonna win a game, eventually. Also I’m only putting 6 on this so [shrug].

5 Points: CHARGERS over Panthers

4 Points: JAGUARS over Dolphins

3 Points: EAGLES over Bengals

The flip side of the NFC’s holistic descent into fiasco is that any of the conference’s several underwhelming teams could make a run simply by stringing a few wins together (although the fact that the West has a wildly disproportionate amount of quality teams complicates things somewhat). I’m not saying this now as a way of picking the Eagles to do so; their offensive line is a disaster and now it looks like Carson Wentz is a disaster, too. I’m just saying that their Super Bowl isn’t far enough in the rear-view mirror for me to write them off entirely, even though I know I probably should.

2 Points: 49ERS over Giants

Yes, I know that the half of the 9ers’ starters are on the shelf, but the Giants are the sort of flaming sewage leak that could only be overshadowed by the explosively flaming sewage leak that is the Jets. Kyle Shanahan could say fuck it and straight up start the second team in this game and it wouldn’t change my pick.

1 Point: FOOTBALL TEAM over Browns

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