NFL Week 5 Confidence Pool

Here I was, several weeks into this column, thinking that I was going to be all done with housekeeping and rules clarification. And then, the Titans outbreak of the ‘rona necessitated postponing their game with the Steelers. Since I had already published my picks when the announcement to postpone the game was made, and since the way I see it, there are probably more game postponements in the future, that means it’s time for me to clarify how I’m gonna handle postponed games.

First things first, please note that this is only my procedure for my column, and is in no way binding procedure for any existing confidence pool. If you are an active participant in a confidence pool, please check with your pool’s organizer(s) to determine how they are handling late postponements. This column does not and can not determine their rules and procedure in the event of a postponement. In other words, this is my confidence pool-equivalent way of saying I am not a lawyer, and I am not giving you legal advice. If you make decisions based on my procedure, but you pool’s organizer handles things differently, that is 100% on you.

With that addressed, it’s time to get to brass tacks:

  • This column is written on Tuesday and published Wednesday. Any postponements or cancellations made after 8 AM Eastern on Wednesday will not be reflected in that week’s column.
  • If a game is postponed/canceled after publication, this will be noted in a time-stamped update, which is to be posted at the top of the column. The pick itself, along with any write-up, will remain in the column, because I can’t be bothered.
  • If a game is postponed/canceled after publication, scoring procedure is as follows:
    • The postponed/canceled game shall be removed from that week’s total games.
    • The highest point value for the week shall be removed. For example, Week 4 originally had 16 games scheduled, meaning the highest point value for that week was 16. Since only 15 games were played, the highest point value is being bumped down to 15 to reflect this.
    • All picks I assign higher point values to than the postponed/canceled game will be retroactively bumped down by one, to reflect the above. Keeping last week as the example, I assigned 9 points to Steelers/Titans; therefore, I am retroactively reducing the value of all games with point assignments of 9 or higher by 1.
  • As sole proprietor of this column, I reserve the right to modify any of the above rules at any time, for any reason.

Alright, enough business. Let’s get to uhm…business.

Week 4 Correct Picks: 12/15

Season Total Correct Picks (Starting Week 2): 34/47

Week 4 Points: 104/120

Season Total Points (Starting Week 2): 316/392

15 Points: RAVENS over Bengals

I try to avoid putting big points, let alone the maximum points for the week, on divisional games. Both teams are familiar with each other, and upsets are relatively frequent. In this case, I am compelled to make an exception, in part because there’s a slight dearth of non-divisional games I feel all that great about, and in part because the Bengals stink.

Division game or no, Baltimore rebounded from their pantsing at the hands of the Kansas City quite admirably, beating Washington handily despite not necessarily playing all that well. The Bengals have only played not-great-to-bad teams so far this year, so I cannot determine how they’ll fare against a good team, let alone a top one. This team struggled to beat the Jaguars; even if divisional matchup weirdness proves to be on the Bengals’ side, it’s still just about impossible to see how they can win this one.

14 Points: RAMS over Football Team

In better times, this would be exactly the sort of game I would put maximum points on. The Rams are good, the FT is bad, and it’s not a divisional matchup, so I wish I could leave it at that. But alas, the Rams gave me a real scare last week. No team has any business letting the Giants hang around for an entire game. But the Rams did, and as a result, I cannot trust in them fully.

As for the FT, I was actually kind of impressed with their Week 1 win over the Eagles. However, common sense has caused me to disregard this phenomena, as it is now evident that the Eagles are also trash. Furthermore, it’s becoming less and less likely that Dwayne Haskins is the truth. It wasn’t all that likely to begin the year, to begin with. They still have as good of a shot to win the NFC East as any, but that’s not a compliment.

Right, the game. Caveat emptor to anyone putting big points on the Rams this week; in my quiet moments, as I struggle to drift off to sleep, I sometimes worry about this game, and the possibility that the FT’s formidable pass rush harasses Jared Goff all day, and keeps him out of rhythm. Dude needs his rhythm. Then, I stop worrying, because it’s an altogether silly thing to do, and the Rams got this.

13 Points: CHIEFS over Raiders

See my comments on the Ravens/Bengals tilt, except change the names and put slightly more respect on the Raiders who, while possibly frisky, are definitely not good enough to hang. The Chiefs are becoming a real Death Star – impossible to beat on their worst day.

I know I went on about this for a while last week, but the state of the Raiders over the past 15+ years truly depresses me. They used to be scary! Sometimes, they were both scary and good! Their uniforms are cool! Their fans (at least, back in Oakland, and when having fans in the stands wasn’t an awful idea) were the most appealing kind of lunatics; I’ll never forget the first time I saw that one guy in the Black Hole who had a Darth Vader helmet. I thought it was cool! The Raiders are cool.

That was probably around 2000 or so; I needn’t remind everyone here of what a shambles the franchise has become in the time since. The Gruden/Carr pairing seems destined for several years of 7-9 finishes, which I suppose may be preferable to the endless cycle of complete futility the team is more familiar with. When you win 7 games, there are sometimes stretches of the season where it looks like you might grab a playoff spot! That’s always better than 5 wins and a Top 10 pick, if you ask me.

12 Points: SAINTS over Chargers

11 Points: SEAHAWKS over Vikings

As it does every week, my rooting interest in the Vikings forces me to behave sub-optimally. Last week it worked out to the tune of 2 entire points, but this week I anticipate a few days of crying into my beer over leaving extra points on the table. Russell Wilson has achieved his final form, the Vikings do not have any pass defense to speak of, and even when they were kinda good they couldn’t beat the Seahawks. Please, be smarter than me. Cheer for a good team, and put more than 11 points on this one.

10 Points: STEELERS over Eagles

Man, why do the Steelers have to be good this year. You’ll notice that I ended that sentence with a period, because I wasn’t asking a question. It was a lamentation. Before the season started, I was wary of those soothsayers who proclaimed that the return of Roethlisberger, when paired with last year’s ludicrously good defense, would propel the Steelers back into the playoffs. Being a contrarian, I spent a good deal of mental energy (far too much, really) poking holes in this theory. Superstars can’t always carry a team, Roethlisberger is old as fuck, defenses tend to regress from year to year, etc.

After 3 games, they’re undefeated, and look like a team with a lights out defense and a superstar quarterback. 2020 sucks, and so does football.

9 Points: BILLS over Titans

Part of me is still waiting for Josh Allen to turn back into a pumpkin, and for the Bills as a whole to follow suit. They’ve looked every bit the promised usurper to the Patriots’ stranglehold on the AFC East, and with a few more wins against quality opposition (like the Titans, who I don’t view as contenders but who are clearly doing something right), they could wedge their way into the conference contender conversation.

We all saw this coming before the season started, although we all thought that the rest of the team would be bailing Allen out. Now that it’s happening, and in almost contrary fashion to what was predicted, I’m not sure what to think. My instinct is to panic and get out ahead of whatever collapse may befall them. They are the Bills, after all (with apologies to Brandon). But I don’t think this fragile republic can take another year of Patriots dominance, so I’m going to choose to be an optimist, even I don’t know what to do with my hands as a result.

8 Points: CARDINALS over Jets

Can’t the Jets play a good team this week? I got so excited about the prospect of a team I can pick big against week in and week out. Alas, the Cardinals have burned me twice now, and I am forced to abandon my assumption that they might be good this year. This is not to say a team has to be good to beat the Jets, mind you, but they have to be good to get big points out of me, even if their opposition offers less resistance than a wet paper bag.

7 Points: COLTS over Browns

6 Points: BUCCANEERS over Bears

5 Points: PATRIOTS over Broncos

Since I can only assume Cam Newton is out this week, this is as high as I can go for a team that’s starting Brian Hoyer. I’m surprised that dude still has a job. A job playing pro football, that is. I’m sure when that when Hoyer’s time is up, he’ll do a bang up job selling used Kia’s, or whatever it is the top clipboard holders go on to do.

4 Points: COWBOYS over Giants

This year’s Cowboys are last year’s Browns. They possess all the on-paper talent you could ask for, but they pay no attention to detail as a team, hence the fumbles and special teams gaffes. Also, their once-mighty offensive line seems to be collapsing into a shambles. I anticipate another few weeks of the punditry waiting for them to live up to their potential; I also anticipate this potential will go wholly unrealized. Curse the NFC East for being such trash that the Cowboys still have a very viable path to the playoffs, and curse the Cowboys for being such dogshit that I can’t put big points on them, even when they play the fucking Giants.

3 Points: PANTHERS over Falcons

2 Points: 49ERS over Dolphins

1 Point: JAGUARS over Texans

Just when I thought Adam Gase had First Coach Fired all sealed up, Bill O’Brien swoops in to claim the uh…grand prize. His tenure will be fondly remembered by absolutely no one, especially Texans fans.

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