At what point does it become OK to root against your team?
For instance, last week I was watching the Eagles play the Giants. For a brief moment, it looked like the Giants were going to get their first win of the season. They were marching up and down the field.
As an Eagles fan, I started to feel conflicted. Why did I want the Eagles to win? What’s the point?
It was clear that the Eagles don’t have enough talent on defence when they gave up 52 points to the Broncos and when they got torched by the Chargers. But, against the woeful Giants, it was really clear.
On offence, the Eagles are equally troubled. Mike Vick is not a long-term solution. Arguably, he’s not even a short-term solution since he struggles to get the ball in the end zone.
The Eagles are currently 2-3, and they have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs because their division, the NFC East, is just terrible.
But, what’s the point of making the playoffs, exactly? This is not a Super Bowl calibre team. They’ll either lose in the first or second round of the playoffs if they get there. The game against the Giants made it clear that the Eagles don’t have it, even though they ultimately won after Eli Manning imploded.
Winning the division, and making the playoffs, only has downsides: Next year’s schedule gets harder, and the team’s draft pick gets worse.
Personally, I’d rather write off this season. Chip Kelly should experiment with all sorts of zany stuff to see what works and what doesn’t in the NFL. Winning, should it happen, is a bonus.
With that in mind, I think Kelly should try a two-QB rotation where Vick gets taken out of the game in the red zone.
Vick is great at driving down the field, but when he gets within 20 yards of the end zone, he struggles. He holds on to the ball too long, and can’t read defence, according to the experts. Foles, his back up, actually seems to be pretty good at releasing the ball, avoiding turnovers, and scoring in the red zone.
Why not make Foles the red zone specialist?
In baseball, the starting pitcher goes 7-8 innings and then gets relief. Why not try something like that in the NFL? Vick plays from the Eagles goal line to the opposing team’s 20-yard line, then Foles comes in for relief.
Kelly is supposed to be a world-class innovator on the football field. Why not try something truly disruptive?
Sal Paolantonio of ESPN (whom I consider to be one of the NFL’s smartest analysts/best reporters) shot down this idea on Tuesday’s “Mike Missanelli” radio show, saying, “It’s feasible, but it’s not going to get you a championship. It maybe gets you by, but I don’t know what the advantage would be long term, because they’re not signing Michael Vick next season, and Foles, he’s on thin ice, too. So, to me, it’s all about how can they build confidence with these two players?”
The long-term advantage is that Kelly gets to see if this works. If it works, then he’s a genius and the game is changed forever. There was a time when teams only had one running back. Now, for the most part, every team rotates in two or three different running backs.
Maybe the QB position is due for the same sort of rethinking?
I’m OK with the Eagles losing. I’m not rooting for them to lose, but I’m rooting for them to try something exciting and experimental. If the side effect is losing, then so be it.
NOW… ON TO THE PICKS!
I got last night’s game wrong. The Bears, it turns out, aren’t that good. That makes me 17-15-1 on the season, which is a winning record by the slimmest of margins. If you’re new here, I am not an NFL analyst, or even a sports writer. I cover Apple and Microsoft. I just happen to like sports. Mostly, I really like golf, but football is pretty great too. I don’t watch a ton of football, I mostly read about it, check out scores, and try to deduce winners that way.
That spiel is my way of saying buyer beware. I do not think you should gamble on these picks. I don’t gamble on these picks, though if I did, clearly I would be making money.
The lines all comes from the Las Vegas Hilton, via Vegas Insider, and are current as of Friday morning.
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Jacksonville is on the road against the Denver Broncos, who are 27.5 point favourites.
I hate this game. I have no desire to make a pick here, but I’m told I have to since it’s the biggest spread ever. The last time there was a spread this big was in 1972 when the Steelers were -27 against the Bucs. The Steelers won that game 42-0, according to CBS Sports. The only case one can make for the Jaguars is that it’s a lot of points, and maybe the Broncos rest their starters in the second half. It would not shock me if Broncos win 42-10.
For non-gamblers like my boss Henry Blodget, that means the Broncos win by 28 or more points.
The Pick: Broncos -27.5
Al Bello/Getty Images
Washington’s football team is on the road against the Dallas Cowboys, who are 5.5 point favourites.
On Twitter, BGR writer Brad Reed suggested the perfect name for Washington: The Washington Hogs. How great would that be? It isn’t offensive, it ties back to Washington’s nickname for the offensive line, and it would produce a fantastic hog logo. There’s literally no reason not to change the name. The colours stay the same, the team’s nickname changes slightly. Problem solved!
The toothpick: The Hogs +5.5
For non-gamblers like my boss Henry Blodget, that means the Hogs either win, or lose by 5 points or more.
Indianapolis is on the road against the San Diego Chargers, who are getting 1.5 points.
Andrew Luck is the new LeBron James. Luck’s not nearly as talented, but in terms of living up to expectations, he’s just like James. Coming into the NBA, James was hyped beyond belief as a can’t-miss stud. Those sorts of people often miss, or come up short of the hype. James managed to surpass even all the hype that surrounded him. Luck, similarly, was touted as a can’t-miss QB stud. He’s better than advertised. And while lots of people want to talk about Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, and RGIII, the truth is that Luck is the truth as they say. He’s great and he will not lose to a subpar Chargers team.
The stone cold lock: Colts -1.5
For non-gamblers like my boss Henry Blodget, that means the Colts win by 2 or more points.
I love Rex Ryan and hope he’s successful.
Pittsburgh is on the road against the New York Jets, who are 2 point favourites.
On the surface, this looks like a no-brainer: take the Jets and call it a day. Their defence is legit, and the Steelers are a mess. Reasons to think otherwise, however: Pittsburgh is coming off a bye, so they’ll be rested and ready to attack the Jets. The Jets aren’t that good, and they might get a little full of themselves after winning in Atlanta. Geno Smith isn’t consistent enough to deliver another big performance. The Steelers are due. None of those are all that compelling. I’m going with the Jets, the better team.
The Lock Ness Monster: Jets, -2
For non-gamblers like my boss Henry Blodget, that means the Jets win by 2 or more points.
Philadelphia is on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are getting 1.5 points.
The Bucs are probably the best of the winless teams. Their defence is good, and their offence has some pieces. It’s not unreasonable to think they will beat the Eagles, who are starting a backup quarterback, especially coming off a bye week. But, I am going to (perhaps idiotically) put my faith in Nick Foles and Chip Kelly to eek out a 3-point win. Which means I’ll be rooting for the Eagles to win, even though, it’s not really in the best interest of the team.
The toothpick: Eagles -1.5
For non-gamblers like my boss Henry Blodget, that means the Eagles win by 2 or more points.
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