NFL Picks, Week 3:

There Will be Order in This Court
by Pete Tothero

Peyton Manning

Last week: 9-7
Season: 9-7

(Ed. note: Tothero refused to pick Week 1 games due to not following professional football in the offseason, but suggested that watching the opening weekend would be sufficient to bring him up to speed. We hoped he would be proven wrong via an abysmal record in his first week, but his 9-7 record seems neither here nor there.)


New York Giants (1-1) at Carolina (1-1)

If I were a clever professional sports writer (1-1), I would have a running thread in this week’s picks that had to do with a topical NFL issue—probably either the passing of NFL Films’ Steve Sabol, or the Keystone Kops comedy being provided by the replacement referees the NFL is using while it refuses to engage in collective bargaining with the league’s real referees (1-1). I almost put the word “real” in quotes there, on account of Nabokov supposedly said it was the one word that should always appear in quotes, but Nabokov chased butterflies (1-1) instead of manning up and secretly making weekly NFL picks in his cubicle with his screen darkened so no one walking past could see that he wasn’t doing his actual work (1-1), so I’ll just ignore the author of Lolita and Pale Fire (1-1).

The Giants like to suck in the regular season, barely make the playoffs, and then win the Super Bowl. If the strategy ain’t broke, why should I expect them to fix it? Pick: Carolina.


St. Louis (1-1) at Chicago (1-1)

Look, I hate Jay Cutler too, but I fail to be outraged by the fact that he yelled at and pushed one of his offensive lineman as they came off the field last week. Here is what was happening just before that moment: that lineman was pushing, shoving, and grabbing defensive players, who were slamming and smashing into him while grunting, yelling, cursing, and swinging their arms to try and break his hold on them, and then they grabbed and tackled Cutler, slamming him to the ground as forcefully as possible within the limits of the rules of the game and the physics of whatever hold and leverage they had on Cutler’s body at the moment. We call this professional football (as played by a hapless Bears offense). Then a frustrated Cutler kind of pushed a 300-pound man and yelled at him as they came off the field. So what? I dislike Cutler because he’s stupid and smug, not because his offensive line sucks. Neither smugness nor teammate-shoving will keep the Bears from beating the Rams. Pick: Chicago.

Buffalo (1-1) at Cleveland (0-2)

What a match up! I bet tickets for this game are going for as much as face value. Pick: Cleveland.

Tampa Bay (1-1) at Dallas (1-1)

Last week, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sent his plane filled with Cowboy bobblehead dolls to the game in Seattle, and the plane filled with his actual players to the bobblehead doll convention in Des Moines. What a zaaaaany screw up! The Seahawks gleefully trounced the bobbleheads, while the convention attendees didn’t even notice a difference.

Oh, snap! Bustin’-on-the-Cow-boys! I’m dancin’! I'm dancin’!

I’m not. I’m at work. Say nothing. And this is a home game for the Cowboys, so there probably won’t be any shipping errors. Pick: Dallas.

New York Jets (1-1) at Miami (1-1)

But Miami’s win is over Oakland, which proves nothing. Pick: NY Jets.

San Francisco (2-0) at Minnesota (1-1)

So when Minnesota and Indianapolis came back to the picnic table from the empty field where they’d played their game last week, Indianapolis said they totally won! Minnesota said, But hey, we had some pretty good plays, too! Grandma gave everyone their hamburgers, and then later we all played Frisbee for a while. It actually turned out to be kind of a fun picnic.

The San Francisco 49ers play in the National Football League. Pick: San Francisco.

Kansas City (0-2) at New Orleans (0-2)

My hands refuse to type “Pick: Kansas City.” They just flat refuse. Pick: New Orleans.

Cincinnati (1-1) at Washington (1-1)

Well, Cincinnati has two weeks of film on Robert Griffin to look at now, so they should be able to figure him out. Wait—every team has tons of film to look on every other team, every week, and this doesn’t appear to have given Cincinnati much of an edge in the past. Pick: Washington.

Detroit (1-1) at Tennessee (0-2)

Last week I admitted I couldn’t think of the name of a single Titan player. Someone on the staff of this artsy website thing I’m writing this for e-mailed me: “His name is Chris Johnson. He’s extremely good.” Oh, right—Chris Johnson! That makes a huge difference, remembering that Tennessee has Chris Johnson. Boy, do I have egg on my face. Pick: Detroit.

Jacksonville (0-2) at Indianapolis (1-1)

Replace “Jacksonville at Indianapolis” with the name of any golf tournament. Isn’t it weird how the effect is exactly the same? Pick: Indianapolis.

Philadelphia (2-0) at Arizona (2-0)

Philadelphia screwed me by beating Baltimore last week. I bet they’re going to screw me again by failing to beat Arizona.  And yet… Pick: Philadelphia.

Atlanta (2-0) at San Diego (2-0)

Atlanta is probably the better team, but the game is in San Diego, so I’m at a loss. It’s time for EAPS (Entirely Amateur Pyschological Speculation)! Atlanta beat the Broncos on Monday night, so they’re probably feeling pretty satisfied with themselves, like they made the statement they wanted to make to America. San Diego has gotten little attention this year, so (like all NFL teams and players, at all times, everywhere) they’re probably feeling disrespected. In the world of EAPS, this is (maybe) the really-popular undefeated team going to visit the not-very-popular undefeated team, and the not-very-popular team is probably pissed about the popularity differential. Pick: San Di—

Hold it. I just checked which teams San Diego has beaten. It’s Oakland and Tennessee. That’s like beating Glass Joe two weeks in a row in Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. Everybody beats Glass Joe, San Diego. Atlanta is at least Bald Bull, and though you can learn how to beat Bald Bull, you usually lose the first time. Thank God I did one second of research. Pick: Atlanta.

Houston (2-0) at Denver (1-1)

Easy: Denver.

Order! Order in the court! I will! Have! Order! In this! Court!

The evidence regarding the records of these teams is simply inadmissible. What we need is expert testimony regarding the relative strengths and weaknesses of these teams as operative in a Week 3 afternoon game in Denver. And do I see any expert NFL analysts in this column? I do not. Have I heard any expert analysis in this column? I have not. And I do not expect any. I thus find no compelling reason to find for the Texans, and I rule in favor of the Broncos winning a home game.

Order! I will have order! Bailiff! Remove these readers!

Pittsburgh (1-1) at Oakland (0-2)

Fifth-graders at third-graders. Pick: Pittsburgh.

New England (1-1) at Baltimore (1-1)

Last week I acted all tough and cool and wrote that Baltimore just beats the shit out of people and goes home. Which they did—it’s just that they went home with a loss, because Michael Vick made it through the whole game and the Eagles scored at the end. Afterward, Baltimore QB Joe Flacco complained about the referees, but other teams had it worse. I thought the referees in the Monday night game might flee the field at one point.

But is there any pretty-boy quarterback that defenses hate more than Tom Brady? (Trick question, there is: it’s Jay Cutler.) Is there any team Baltimore wants to beat more than the Patriots? (Trick question, there is: it’s the Steelers.)

Maybe I just don’t think New England is that great anymore. Pick: Baltimore.


Green Bay (1-1) at Seattle (1-1)

After I made some Kierkegaard jokes last week about playing (and living, really) in Seattle, boy, those Seahawks sure showed me, didn’t they? But Seahawks, listen: “God is not like a human being; it is not important for God to have visible evidence so that he can see if his cause has been victorious or not; he sees in secret just as well. Moreover, it is so far from being the case that you should help God to learn anew that it is rather he who will help you to learn anew, so that you are weaned from the worldly point of view that insists on visible evidence.” That’s right, Seattle: I just dropped Soren K on you two weeks in a row, and I refuse to pick you. And yes, I copied that from Wikipedia, and no, I don’t know what that has to do with football. But so what? Neither do you. Pick: Green Bay.

Pete Tothero is not a certified professional football analyst, and does not have access to any information unavailable to the average American. He is not contractually bound to watch all of the games.