Organized Sports is a recurring sports column named for a seminal DC avant-hardcore song by the equally stupid and brilliant (to me, “equally stupid and brilliant” pretty much just means “brilliant”) band Void. Take from that what you will.
If you follow football in the slightest, you already know what happened to conclude Week 3, with the replacement officials handing a win to the Seattle Seahawks on the final Hail Mary play of the game, when Green Bay Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings (which sounds like the name of a British author my former library coworkers would read religiously) obviously came down with the game ending interception, but it was ruled a simultaneous catch and thus Seattle WR Golden Tate (no relation to the NBA’s Golden Tate Warriors) was awarded the game-winning TD. The internet has exploded, as did ESPN, with the analysts finally nutting up and condemning the disgraceful scab ref situation.
Will this ruin football? Probably not. People will still watch, eventually the real refs will be brought back, and then in a few weeks people will bitch just as much about the regular refs as they ever did about the replacements. But right now, everything is completely unpredictable, which makes it nearly impossible to gamble on football. So what are we gonna do? We’re gonna gamble on some football. Woo!
(Note: All point spreads listed here are the lines at the time picks were made. Be sure to consult your very legitimate and legal sports book [cough] before making a bet of your own; lines move constantly due to the action on particular games. Also, gambling is illegal in many states. And watch out for those offshore betting sites, lest you end up like an online poker professional. Okay? Okay. Onward and upward.)
Last Week: 6-9-1
My Record So Far: 18-28-2
Thursday Night Game (9/27 8:20PM ET)
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-13)
The Ravens are 2-1, thanks in part to what, until Monday night’s debacle, seemed like it’d be the replacement ref fiasco game of the week. The Browns are 0-3 and are, for all intents and purposes, terrible. The Ravens look pretty darn good, with even their lone loss coming down to the wire (and possibly having to do with the scab refs as well). The problem is, I have no idea whether or not the scab refs will have an effect on this game such that the obvious outcome, a blowout win for Flacco and Co., really is that obvious. They call it gambling for a reason, as my record indicates.
My Pick: Ravens (-13)
Sunday Early Games (9/30 1PM ET)
New England Patriots (-3.5) at Buffalo Bills
The Bills are at home, have a better record than the Patriots (2-1 vs. 1-2), and are still the underdog. This season makes sense so far! Still, this spread sounds about right, and the Patriots can’t go to 1-3.
My Pick: Patriots (-3.5)
San Francisco 49ers (-4) at New York Jets
Before this past week, the 49ers had basically already been crowned NFC champs, with their mix of smart possession offense and rough and tumble defense hailed as remarkably old-school in 2012’s pass-happy NFL. Then, they lost to the Vikings, who play like a poor man’s version of the 49ers. The Jets barely managed to squeak past the lowly Dolphins. Still, this is an early game on the road, and I’ll take the home team playing a West Coast team in the 1pm slot.
My Pick: Jets (+4)
Seattle Seahawks (-3) at St. Louis Rams
Last week I picked the Rams to at least cover against the Bears, figuring they’d get to Jay Cutler enough to throw him off of his game. Instead, the Bears’ front four did that to Sam Bradford, making the Rams look like they have for the past six years or so: completely hopeless. The Seahawks benefited from a horrid call to beat the Packers, sure, but they also held the high-flying pack to only 12 points. If they can hold the Pack to 12, imagine what they can do to the low-flying Rams.
My Pick: Seahawks (-3)
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-7.5)
The Falcons are one of three undefeated teams remaining, along with the Texans and the Cardinals. The Panthers seem to have regressed, and Cam Newton has been pretty unimpressive this year as the “dude who dudes drafted way too high in their fantasy leagues.” The Falcons, playing at home, should remain undefeated.
My Pick: Falcons (-7.5)
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-4)
The Lions were one of the better stories last year, making the playoffs for the first time in forever behind a high-flying offense and a risk vs. reward defense that was good more than it was bad. This year, they look like the franchise history of the Lions, especially when they’re losing in overtime because the center snapped the ball when he wasn’t supposed to. Their only win has been against the only franchise just as futile as them the past few years, the Rams. I have no faith in these Lions.
My Pick: Vikings (+4)
San Diego Chargers (-1) at Kansas City Chiefs
Coach Romeo’s team got their first win this year against the Saints, who apparently are terrible. The Chargers are much better than the Chiefs, and are only favored by one point, probably because they were blown out by the Falcons in Week 3. Everyone seems to be losing to the Falcons, though.
My Pick: Chargers (-1)
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (-12.5)
Under the replacement refs, home teams are covering far more often than in previous years. Normally, a big spread like that would scare me away, but when in doubt when the scab refs are present, go for the home team.
My Pick: Texans (-12.5)
Sunday Late Games (9/30 4:05PM ET)
Cincinnati Bengals (-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Blaine Gabbert actually did some good stuff in the Jags’ win over the Colts, but that doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that can happen two weeks in a row. Also, why is this a late game? Who was clamoring for this game to get a big spotlight?
My Pick: Bengals (-2)
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-6.5)
After his solid performance in the opening week, Peyton Manning has looked like, well, a guy who missed a whole year with a neck injury. He’s throwing wounded duck picks, looking angry at his offensive line after sacks, and generally being unimpressive. The Raiders are also unimpressive, though they did get their first win of the season against the Steelers last week. This feels like a coin toss, so I’ll go with the home team and hope the replacement refs deliver Pey-Pey and me a win.
My Pick: Broncos (-6.5)
Miami Dolphins at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5)
Hey! The Cardinals are actually good, in the way the 49ers were last year, winning close games by virtue of tough defense and not screwing up too much on offense. The Dolphins aren’t as bad as they seemed like they’d be at the beginning of the season, but I’ll still take the Cardinals by more than a touchdown in this matchup of warm weather franchises.
My Pick: Cardinals (-6.5)
Washington Redskins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) (4:25 start)
I’m just going to assume that Greg Schiano will have to have his team try and get the ball loose as the other team kneels down at the end of the game once again this week, which would mean that the Redskins will win.
My Pick: Buccaneers (-3)
New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers (-7.5) (4:25 start)
The Packers will come out at home angry after getting jobbed in their loss to Seattle, and the Saints, still without even their interim head coach, will be the unfortunate (and 0-4tunate) victims.
My Pick: Packers (-7.5)
Sunday Night Game (9/30 8:20PM ET)
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5)
Despite having identical records, these teams appear to be going in opposite directions, with the Giants coming off of a blowout win against the Panthers and the Eagles coming off a blowout loss to the Cardinals. Andy Reid is going to lose his job this year.
My Pick: Giants (+2.5)
Monday Night Football (10/1 8:30PM ET)
Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5)
In a battle of teams hoping their quarterbacks don’t herp and derp the game away, I’ll go with the Cowboys, purely because they’re playing at home in Jerryworld, and because it’s early in the year, Cutler is more likely to blow the game with terrible turnovers than Romo, who is more likely to do so after Thanksgiving.
My Pick: Cowboys (-3.5)
Like the replacement refs, I’ve thus far underperformed and made some laughable decisions. If I don’t do better this week, next week I will be replaced by my non-union equivalent. Stay tuned.