Culture of Hoops

Sonny’s NFL Picks: Week 3

I can’t deny it guys: through two weeks of the NFL season, I’ve sucked at the simple art of picking winners in football games. I couldn’t tell you what exactly is the cause of this early season two-week funk, but it’s a vicious cocktail that I assume has been concocted by a general lack of pre-season research done on my part, some downright wacky results and finishes, and some lingering bad juju from a Super Bowl loss that left me one pick away from a perfect postseason.

Regardless of what caused it, I don’t really know how I can ensure that this early slump doesn’t turn into a season-long shit-show. I’ve contemplated whether I’m overthinking each game, underthinking each game or maybe my degree of thinking doesn’t really matter all. Ultimately I decided that for a week I should look at the basics and just pick the games based on what team I’d feel more comfortable backing if my life was on the line picking said game correctly.

And that’s exactly what I’ll be doing today … sort of. In the spirit of making the stakes real and tangible, if I don’t manage to bring my season record up over .500 this week then I’ll be killing this column. That’s right. I’m a putrid 15-17 picking football games this year, and if I’m any worse than 24-24 at the end of next week there won’t be any more of Sonny’s NFL Picks here at Baller Mind Frame.

Home Teams in all CAPS

NEW YORK GIANTS over Washington 

There’s just no way that this game goes well for me. The last time I had a good grasp on either of these two was in 2011 when I picked the Giants to win the Super Bowl halfway through the season and they actually won the Super Bowl. Ever since then, it’s been a maddening process of incorrectly picking just about every game either of these teams have played in. Just know that I’ve gifted this game to Washington by picking the Giants. You’re welcome!

My rationale for the pick: the Giants are at home, playing in primetime, and they absolutely positively need this one more; they’re 0-2 and they’ve blown winnable games in the first two weeks of the season, the first of which was totally reprehensible and offensive. Even still, with the injury list growing in size in Dallas and Philadelphia looking like an absolute dumpster fire, the winner of this game is very much still alive in the NFC East.

Atlanta over DALLAS 



Oakland over CLEVELAND

It’s not a good sign for Josh McCown that A) I feel a whole lot more comfortable picking a Derek Carr led team over a Josh McCown led team, and B) I tentatively had the Browns penciled in as my pick when I thought that Johnny Manziel was starting at quarterback. By the way, a win for the Raiders would bring them to 2-1 in the first three weeks of the season. They’ve been 2-1 or better after three weeks only one time in the last decade. You can’t even say the Raiders are in a Playoff drought. It’s more like a full-blown famine.

BALTIMORE over Cincinnati 

If Baltimore can’t get this one then it’s going to be a long season for Ravens fans. There shouldn’t be a more desperate team in the league this week than Baltimore; playing in their home opener, already in an 0-2 hole for the season, against a division rival that is 2-0 and stacked with talent on both sides of the ball. If Cincinnati had a top 10 quarterback they’d probably be the favorite in the AFC along with New England, but instead they have Andy Dalton. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

The Ravens are going to need Andy Dalton to have one of those trademark Andy Dalton games, and they’re also going to need Joe Flacco to resemble Playoff Joe Flacco rather than whatever subpar quarterback he’s been over the first two games. By the way, shout out to Sports Illustrated for going way off the grid and picking Baltimore to win the Super Bowl this year. That’s as bold of a prediction as it was for me to say that Marvin Lewis wouldn’t be the Bengals coach next year. How are those forecasts looking?

CAROLINA over New Orleans

This is just like the Baltimore/Cincinnati matchup, only Carolina isn’t as good as Cincinnati is and New Orleans doesn’t have a glimmer of hope like Baltimore does. I guess we can call it the poor man’s version of the Baltimore/Cincinnati matchup, which is appropriate because Drew Brees is now, without any possible argument from anybody, the poor man’s Drew Brees. It’s sad to see him go out this way, and I don’t even feel like I’m overstepping my boundaries by assuming that Brees won’t the guy in New Orleans for too much longer. My biggest fear: New Orleans ends up sucking slightly worse than Chicago does this year and steals Connor Cook in the Draft, just as payback for the 2007 NFC Championship Game.

NEW ENGLAND over Jacksonville 

The Patriots are officially a sure thing until further notice. They’re like one of those players in fantasy football that you aren’t allowed to drop from your roster. At least I know I won’t go winless this week. Speaking of going winless, I’ve been doing a weekly picks pool at work and last week one of my co-workers went 1-15 with his picks. Shout out to Billy. You’re the real MVP. It’s hard to be that bad at predicting anything in life.

NEW YORK JETS over Philadelphia 

I’m going to use some offensive language right now, alright? Just take a deep breath and prepare yourself for it. Ready?

How the fuck are the Philadelphia Eagles favored in this game?

Yup, I went with italicized underlined bold font, because this makes such little sense that I am truly baffled. Let me rephrase: I understand why the Eagles are favored, but I don’t understand why the Eagles are favored. Like, it makes sense because there were high expectations, Chip Kelly is a well-known figure, DeMarco Murray tore up the league last year and Ryan Fitzpatrick is the quarterback of the New York Jets.

However, this line operates under the assumption that the Jets defense has been fluky good over the first two weeks (five forced turnovers per game is a tough pace to keep up, but I would be surprised if they didn’t end up a top five defense on the season), the Eagles offense has been fluky bad this year (I doubt that Philadelphia will continue to rush for just 35 yards per game, but let me ask you, have you seen anything over the first two weeks that suggests that the Eagles will turn into a juggernaut offense), and God will eventually forgive Chip Kelly for cutting his son from the team (the jury is still out on this one, but there’s still time to right this wrong, Chip). I’m not willing to give up on any of those points right now, and therefore, I’m not picking the favored Eagles this week.

HOUSTON over Tampa Bay
MINNESOTA over San Diego
Pittsburgh over ST. LOUIS 

These tricky AFC/NFC intra-conference matchups will get ya! I’m just hoping to get two out of these three right. I played it safe by deciding to go with A) Two of the three teams that got a win last week and might have momentum (Tampa Bay excluded), B) Two of the three home teams (St. Louis excluded) and C) Two of the three AFC teams since the AFC as a whole might be a little bit better than the NFC (San Diego excluded). I’m also putting my money on the best defensive player (J.J. Watt), the best offensive player (Adrian Peterson) and the best offensive unit (Pittsburgh) featured in these three games.

Indianapolis over TENNESSEE 

Really, if Indy drops to 0-3 I need to just call it quits because that would remove any doubts about whether or not I have any sort of grasp on this season. Oddly enough, I’m not overly concerned about this pick, and that’s not any indication of how I feel about Tennessee, because even after a blowout loss at Cleveland I still feel like the Marcus Mariota-led Titans are frisky. This is a vote of confidence for Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. In case you forgot, Indy started 0-2 last year and then went on to win 13 of their next 16 games before the Patriots cheated and beat them in the AFC Championship Game. I kid! I had to make sure all the New England fans were still paying attention.

ARIZONA over San Francisco 

Three Carson Palmer related stats that intrigue me:

The Cardinals have won 75 percent of the games that Carson Palmer has started since 2013

Since November of 2013 they’re 15-2 with Palmer under center

In the 13 homes games Palmer has started as a Cardinal, he’s 11-2.

That’s a big enough sample size for me to put my faith in the Cardinals this year, and frankly, outside of the Green Bay Packers I don’t think there is an NFC team I trust more than Arizona. And I don’t mean to brag, but how about my man David Johnson!? That’s right, just because I met him one time and sold him $120 worth of Cardinals gear, he is now “my man.” Deal with it, and get on the bandwagon before there’s no room left.

Buffalo over MIAMI

This feels like one of those games that we’ll end up looking at as if it was an early season loser leaves town game. The Jets are better than anyone expected they would be, the Patriots are Ivan Drago before the fight in Russia against Rocky, and the loser of this one drops to 1-2, while the other three teams in the AFC East could theoretically be 3-0, 3-0 and 2-1 after Week 3. That’s a nearly impossible hole to dig out of, especially since it’s not like either of these two teams have cupcake schedules moving forward.

So why Buffalo over Miami? It’s pretty simple … it’s too early in the year for Bills fans to lose hope for the season, and even the most irrationally confident Bills fan will start to get cautious if Buffalo drops to 1-2 with two losses in the division. That’s just not going to happen. I’ve seen this movie too many times before.

SEATTLE over Chicago 

The Seattle Seahawks, now armed with Kam Chancellor in their secondary, couldn’t have handpicked an opponent better suited to help them get their season on track than my lousy Chicago Bears. Chicago’s once mighty defense is probably the worst unit in the league and Jimmy Clausen is at the helm for the offense for the time being while Jay Cutler nurses an injured hammy. That wasn’t a joke. Jimmy Clausen is actually going to start at quarterback in the NFL for the next two weeks. Please stop laughing at my favorite football team. It’s bad enough that they have to travel all the way to Seattle just to get an ass-beating that will resemble one of those week one games when an SEC school beats the intestines out of an FCS opponent. You don’t have to add insult to injury by mocking us.

For what it’s worth, I’m content with sucking this season and maybe even the season afterwards. I’d rather subscribe to the Sam Hinkie Plan of Team Building than suffer through an endless number of seasons that end with the Bears finishing 6-10, 7-9 or 8-8. Think about the Seahawks: they didn’t turn into a powerhouse overnight. It was a slowish build. It took time to craft the best defense in football. They needed to get lucky in the draft in order to secure Russell Wilson in Round 3. They needed a fantastic coaching staff that could bring out the best in their players. Right now the Bears are missing the defense, the quarterback and possibly the right coach. But that can all change with time.

Denver over DETROIT 

Last week I learned the hard way that it’s still a bad idea to pick against Peyton Manning in primetime. I also learned that it’s foolish to pick any possibly shaky offensive team to beat the Broncos and that defense.

GREEN BAY over Kansas City 

As much as I hate to admit it, the next closest thing to a sure thing in the NFL alongside the Patriots, any team playing Brandon Weeden or Jimmy Clausen, or Peyton Manning in a primetime game is Aaron Rodgers, period. With my football picking life hanging in the balance, I can feel confident knowing that if it comes down to the Monday Night Football game this week, I’m staying alive for Week 4 because Aaron Rodgers is amazing at football. Now excuse me while I cope with the fact that Jimmy Clausen is my favorite football team’s starting quarterback.

Last Week: 6-10
Season: 15-17 


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