Friday, October 28, 2016

NFL Week 8 Primer (With Picks): Kiss Your Sister

We know guys, we hate ties too.

By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Is everybody satisfied with the NFL's overtime rules? Doesn't the current system just encourage teams to play conservative and settle for a field goal as soon as they're in field goal range? And doesn't it give a strangely huge advantage to the team that wins the overtime coin toss? Are those things we want to endorse? Conservative play and random chance?

The NCAA system is better - it puts teams in scoring range quickly, and it out-and-out forces teams to play aggressively (they're forced to go for two starting in the third overtime). And, most importantly, there are no ties - the game goes until one team is ahead at the end of an overtime period.

Here's our proposal for NFL overtime- Let's have it be pretty much identical to the NCAA overtime model, except for two slight changes: First, let's have the possession start at midfield, instead of at the 25-yard line. NFL kickers are way better than college kickers, and we'd prefer a team to get a first down or two before they're in reasonable field goal range. One first down would put the offense at the 40, which equates to a 57-yard field goal if they didn't gain a single yard on their second set of downs.

Makeable, but far from easy.

Second, teams should not be allowed to kick extra points after touchdowns. Let's make them go for two right away.

We think our tweaks would make the NFL system different enough from college that the NFL could maintain some of it's own identity. We also think it makes it more difficult to score, as is appropriate for a superior league. And, obviously, we're getting rid of ties. Sure, ties are few and far between in the NFL, but a tie in the NFL inevitably means an overtime period with a lot of punts and/or missed kicks, and that's no fun.

Let's make overtime fun again.

Game(s) of The Week

Washington at Cincinnati (9:30 a.m. Sunday, FOX)

I guess this is a decent London game. Both of these teams were in the playoffs last year, at least. Neither of them will make the playoffs this year, but that's not the point. When they scheduled the game, these teams were at the top of their respective divisions. Way to go, NFL!

Arizona at Carolina (1:00 p.m. Sunday, FOX)

A rematch of last season's NFC Championship game, except both teams kinda suck this season, so...

Green Bay at Atlanta (4:25 p.m. Sunday, FOX)

The Packers' offense has picked up in recent weeks, while Atlanta's has sputtered a bit at times. But this game projects to be a high-scoring contest, with two great quarterbacks and a bunch of fun skill position players.

Philadelphia at Dallas (8:30 p.m. Sunday, NBC)

There will be an estimated 750,000 shots of Tony Romo on the sidelines in this game. Who else is excited?

Here Are The Picks We Agree On (Home Teams In CAPS)

[Editor's Note: We forgot to make picks on the New Orleans-Kansas City game last week. For whatever reason, there wasn't a line listed on the site we use for reference, and we just somehow missed it. The line closed at Kansas City -6.5 (New Orleans ended up covering), and Jeremy is really mad we missed it because he definitely would have picked New Orleans, and Joe is really happy because he definitely would have picked Kansas City. Jeremy, being selfish, is counting it as a win for himself. But also, being magnanimous, is counting it as a win for Joe as well.]

TENNESSEE (-3) over Jacksonville

Jeremy is sticking with his theory that Tennessee is the best team in the AFC South and will make the playoffs from that division. Joe is sticking with his theory that Jeremy is an idiot. But he took Tennessee too, so who's the real idiot?

Washington (+3) over CINCINNATI (London)

JC: It's a neutral site game, so Vegas seems to think Cincinnati is a field goal better than Washington. I'm not buying it. Washington's offense is actually pretty good, and Cincinnati still hasn't picked up a win against anyone even reasonably good.

JP: The Bengals are below .500 in, suddenly, the NFL's worst division (seriously, what's worse than the AFC North with Ben out in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincy down, and the Browns a flaming garbage heap?). Should be a relatively exciting game, because A.J. Greene is still the man, and Josh Norman is banged up (not that they use him properly anyway), but I'll go with Washington and the points. 

Detroit (+2.5) over HOUSTON

JC: The Texans are frauds and I'll continue to bet against them until the lines start to make sense. Sure, they're giving less than a field goal at home against a team with the same record as them (which seems reasonable), but Detroit is just straight-up better than Houston. The Lions should be favored in this game.

JP: Brock Osweiler, mane.

New England (-6.5) over BUFFALO

JC: Anyone else think Bill Belichick is going to be pissed off and ready to put up 50 against this Buffalo defense? With how the Patriots' offense has been playing, I'm not sure I'd bet against that.

JP: This should be a Patriots "F-you" game, and New England usually does pretty well in those.

Kansas City (-3) over INDIANAPOLIS

JC: The Chiefs have the type of precise, efficient offense that Indianapolis has absolutely no hope against. As weird as it sounds, the Colts can actually deal with an explosive offense, because those teams are usually inconsistent. But the Chiefs just find your biggest weakness and bludgeon you to death.

JP: To be fair, the Colts have many weaknesses on defense, but yeah, I expect KC to have this thing wrapped up in the fourth quarter.

San Diego (+4.5) over DENVER

JC: The Chargers play close games. They haven't been blown out this season. They win close games, they lose close games, and they have one blowout win (over the Jaguars). I think they're actually pretty good. And I'm not sure Denver is that good. In retrospect, they've played a very easy schedule. I think San Diego can win this game - they already beat Denver once.

JP: The Chargers could be this year's "bad good team," who can play with anyone, but loses enough close games to miss the playoffs. Still, with over a field goal spread, I like San Diego against Denver, mostly because their quarterback isn't Brock Osweiler.

ATLANTA (-3) over Green Bay

JC: The Packers got away with a smoke-and-mirrors running game and Rodgers throwing the ball 75 times because they were playing the Bears. I don't think they can get away with it two weeks in a row, and I think Atlanta's offense can pick apart a banged-up Green Bay secondary.

JP: I'm still not sold on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers being "back." Yes, they've put together a few good quarters, but I'm still of the belief that the weapons simply aren't there for Rodgers to dominate week in and week out like he used to. Matt Ryan is no Aaron Rodgers, but the skill position talent around him is far superior.

Plus, the refs may actually call one of the dozen pass interferences against Julio Jones after taking a ton of flack about it the last few weeks.

Philadelphia (+4.5) over DALLAS

JC: What if Dallas is overrated and just hasn't played a good defense yet? Because - spoiler alert - they haven't. If Philadelphia can slow down the Zeke Elliot engine, I'm not sure Dallas has a Plan B.

JP: Philly's defense is good, and I have enough faith in Carson Wentz not pooping the bed to take the points.

Minnesota (-5) over CHICAGO

JC: Would two field goals cover this spread? You realize the Bears are going back to Jay Cutler, right? How many interceptions do you think Cutler will throw against this defense?

JP: I actually think these past two years have made Chicago fans appreciate Cutler, but also realize that they're never going to win big with him. Going against one of the best defenses in the NFL, I would expect this one to get ugly. 

Here Are The Picks We Disagree On (Home Teams Still In CAPS)

JC: Seattle (-2.5) over NEW ORLEANS

Seattle has had some serious struggles on offense. They're (gulp) 28th in scoring and (big, exaggerated gulp) 31st in yards per rush. If they can't move the ball against this New Orleans defense, it might be panic time.

JP: NEW ORLEANS (+2.5) over Seattle

The Seahawks are still great on defense, but you're right: it's time to panic on offense.

JC: CLEVELAND (+3) over New York Jets

If you actually gamble on this game, you should probably seek professional help.

JP: New York Jets (-3) over CLEVELAND

I'm somewhat convinced that the universe is going to force the Browns to lose every game for the next decade to make up for the Cavaliers and Indians (potentially) winning championships.

JC: TAMPA BAY (+1) over Oakland

The Raiders are 4-0 on the road, all four of those coming on the East coast. I don't know about you guys, but I'm betting against that lasting all season. Plus, can we talk about how Tampa Bay put 513 yards of total offense on the 49ers last week? Tampa's offense can move the ball.

JP: Oakland (-1) over TAMPA BAY

Don't get me wrong, I think Tampa is better than its 3-3 record indicates, and I don't quite think the Raiders are as good as their 5-2 mark shows, but I'll take the better and, crazily enough, more consistent team.

JC: CAROLINA (-3) over Arizona

Sure, this will be that hill I die on.

JP: Arizona (+3) over CAROLINA

The Panthers just aren't good this year, but the Cardinals still might be. I'll take that chance, and the three points.

Jeremy's Record:
Last Week: 9-6
Season: 54-50-3
Last Week's Disagreements: 1-2
Season's Disagreements: 15-17

Joe's Record:
Last Week: 10-5
Season: 56-48-3
Last Week's Disagreements: 2-1
Season's Disagreements: 17-15

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