San Francisco 49ers (12-4-1) - Previously: #5 - Wow, Colin Kaepernick. And Justin Smith looked pretty decent in his return from injury. The 49ers are the team to beat with Rob Gronkowski out for New England.
I was pretty frustrated by the Saturday night game for two reasons. The first, I'll discuss in the Green Bay capsule. The second was the fact that kickoff occurred prior to the conclusion of the Baltimore-Denver contest. I didn't even know 49ers-Packers started. In fact, I missed the pick-six, and when I heard about it, I tweeted (@walterfootball):
Would it kill the NFL to wait? Or at least to space the games out in the future? Why not start the first one at 4:15 instead of 4:30? I don't think anyone outside of Wisconsin and northern California was even aware that the second Saturday matchup had already begun until James Brown gave us a live update.
New England Patriots (13-4) - Previously: #2 - People will yell at me for picking the Texans +9, but if I would have gone with Patriots -9, Houston would have covered. That's how things are going right now.
My brain feels like it's turned to mush after that 0-4 weekend. I could have done better flipping a coin. I actually did, really. I was so frustrated in the late afternoon game that I grabbed a quarter and flipped it four times. I went heads for home team; tails for road team. The coin landed tails (Ravens), heads (49ers), tails (Seahawks) and tails (Texans). So, I would have went 3-1 flipping a coin. How sad is that?
I'm also disgruntled because of the dreaded Punt Pass and Kick winners' announcement. It's the worst moment of the year. Click here to see my reaction to it.
Other forum members hated it as well...
Clovdyx: PPK winners? Let's boo some middle school kids! Eagles1990: Aww come on Fox... You couldn't do this **** at halftime? Betelgeuse: not one texans jersey? ****ing brats Speedel: what the ****ed is this ****? MaybeOaklandWontSuck1Day: Nooooo!!!!! Not this!!!!
Baltimore Ravens (12-6) - Previously: #9 - I understand that Raven fans were upset that I didn't give their team much of a chance against the Broncos. One such person posted the following in my forum after the game:
Baltimore had a great victory. The difference was the pass protection. I don't know how the hell it happened, but Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher shut down Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. I can't explain that at all. That's why picking NFL games is impossible. Well, at least for me it is.
Seattle Seahawks (12-6) - Previously: #4 - The Seahawks have a bright future with Russell Wilson. They should have a bright present, but were screwed over by the NFL's schedule-maker. More on that later.
Two funny things related to the Seahawks: The first is something e-mailer A.J. B. sent to me. It's some troller who sounds an awful lot like Mario Migelini:
The second was a comment I found about Pete Carroll on NFL.com. I think I laughed for a good five minutes after reading it:
Denver Broncos (13-4) - Previously: #1 - So many questions for the Broncos:
Why did Champ Bailey look like he belonged in the Saints' secondary?
Why was John Fox so conservative with Peyton Manning?
What the hell was Rahim Moore doing?
Did another running back really have to get injured?
How did Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher shut down Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil?
Why did Manning pull a Jake Locker in overtime?
Why did the officials make sure that Baltimore at least covered?
Unfortunately, there are no answers.
Speaking of the crooked refs, it was amusing to read all of the complaints about them on Twitter and Facebook. Here's a small sample from NFL.com:
Green Bay Packers (12-6) - Previously: #3 - Here's something I wrote last week:
I think what the NFL did in terms of scheduling next weekend's games was completely irresponsible. I know there's some sort of TV deal that says FOX gets the late Saturday and early Sunday contests, but f*** that. What the NFL did was give an enormous advantage to the 49ers and a huge disadvantage to the Seahawks.
It's all about circadian rhythms. NPR did a report on this back in September, where it found that West Coast teams struggle in 1 p.m. games (10 a.m. local time) but thrive in night affairs. That's because the human body typically shuts down around 8-10 p.m. The 49ers, however, play these night games at 5 p.m. local time, so it gives them a big edge. That might be why San Francisco is 32-15 [edit: now 33-15] against the spread as a favorite in night contests dating back to 1989.
If you noticed, the Packers started playing poorly in the middle of the third quarter, which was about 8 p.m. their time. Circadian rhythms capsized their chances. That's not to say they would have won, but the game would have been much tighter.
Atlanta Falcons (14-3) - Previously: #6 - The Falcons couldn't cover during their win? Really? Really...?
FOX color analyst Brian Billick said some strange things during the Seattle-Atlanta telecast. When the Falcons won, he commented, "This win legitimizes the Seattle Seahawks as the No. 1 seed and as the team to beat." He also suggested that the Seahawks should kick a field goal and then attempt an onside kick down six with 44 seconds remaining.
Why does Billick say such stupid things? I flew to his office to find out.
Me: Hey Brian, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. I know you're incredibly busy with broadcasting games and conducting head-coaching interviews with teams.
Brian Billick: I can always find time for you, Walt. I was just looking in my magic mirror and asking it who the fairest NFL analyst of them all is.
Me: Oh, OK. What did the mirror say?
Brian Billick: It said, "You, Brian, you are the fairest analyst of them all."
Me: That's cool. You must be happy you got to broadcast such an amazing game.
Brian Billick: Absolutely. What an amazing game. There's no question that the Seattle Seahawks are the team to beat in the NFC.
Me: The Seahawks? Didn't they lose?
Brian Billick: Walt, I have a suggestion for you. When you do these interviews, you should let your guests ask the questions and then you answer them.
Me: What? Why would I bring someone in for interview only to have them ask me questions?
Brian Billick: I'm just listing all of your options. Let's try it, Walt.
Me: Umm... OK.
Brian Billick: First question: What's your favorite color?
Me: I don't really have...
Brian Billick: My favorite color is red, the same color as the lemon, my favorite vegetable. Second question: What's your favorite food?
Me: I have lots of fav...
Brian Billick: Third question: What's your favorite movie?
Brian Billick: This interview is incredibly boring. Reminds me of that awful Seahawks-Falcons game I called where Russell Wilson threw tons of interceptions. Pete Carroll should have thought about benching him in favor of Tarvaris Jackson.
Me: Jackson's not even on the team. And didn't you just say it was an amazing game?
Brian Billick: I was just listing all of my options, Walt. For instance, I might call it a mediocre game. Or I might say that the Falcons are so bad that they're drafting No. 1 overall. Or I might say that the Seahawks and 49ers will play in the Super Bowl.
Me: Why don't you just say, I don't know, actual facts?
Brian Billick: That's it, Walt. I'm fed up with this stupid interview. I'm going to ask questions to someone more important, like my magic mirror.
Houston Texans (13-5) - Previously: #7 - I'm sure Baltimore fans will be happy that their team isn't in last place this week. Since I'm bound to get more hate mail from them anyway, I might as well post the hate mail I received last week:
How are the Redskins higher than the Ravens after they were eliminated from the playoffs? That is ridiculous
I'd make fun of this guy because Washington's Kirk Cousins beat his Ravens, but I guess I should be sympathetic toward people who might have been in a coma during certain points of the regular season.
And ray Lewis played a very strong game and you discredit his whole performance because he dropped an interception. LOL
Not sure what you're watching. He's actually been pretty terrible in coverage in both games. But if ESPN says he's great, I guess he's great. LOL
Hey Walt- Where is this in your power rankings? NFL Picks (2012): 128-141-7 (-$5,360)
Probably somewhere near the Raiders or Eagles. I'm sure there are worse handicappers out there, so they might be ranked with the Chiefs and Jaguars. Either way, I would be fired if I weren't my own boss. Well, I technically can fire myself because I'm on my own payroll, so perhaps I should look into this.
You're really questioning an NFL players toughness?
You're really questioning a football writer's trolling?
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Run Defenses, Pass Defense, Pass Protection:
Something new this year - I'm keeping track of precise run defense, pass defense and pass protection rankings in Excel. The benefit to this is that it'll be broken down by week. Here are the download links: