All-Purpose Playbook: NFL Week 13 picks, analysis and more
Welcome to the All-Purpose Playbook, a Buzzer column that is either (a) a guide to many things NFL related, or (b) a road map to hell. Check back here on Friday afternoons for survivor pool analysis, football picks, a smattering of GIFs and some nonsense. Follow me @brettsmiley and email me with any questions or comments at basmiley [at] gmail [dot] com.
My oh my, what a way to start the week. Just a simple game of pitch and catch between Rodgers and Rodgers on a ball the QB heaved toward the Ford Field ceiling, over 60 yards down the field.
The Lions led from wire to wire and stymied the Packers' running game (24 carries for 67 yards, 27 of them on Rodgers scrambles). But Detroit couldn't muster much of any offense in the second half, paving the way for Green Bay's miracle comeback. As far as that controversial facemask penalty that gave the Packers a second chance -- it's hard to quibble with the refs on that one. APP can certainly see why it got called in real time, which begs the question, should replay be allowed on penalties? A debate for another day.
Friday morning quarterbacking is easy but alas it is Friday: Why isn't Megatron out there on that play waiting at the goal line? The Lions rushed three men on the Hail Mary attempt and none of the 6-7 defenders waiting to exhale in the end zone stand 6 feet 5 inches like Calvin Johnson, nor are they nicknamed for a Transformer.
"I will just say this: At least our guy really caught the ball in this one," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said with a smirk, referring to the infamous 'Fail Mary' in Seattle in 2012 during the referee lockout. "You can quote that."
Done and done, Mike. Richard Rodgers shoved that football into his belly and rocked it to sleep. No denying that.
So how'd we do last week? Well, some Thanksgiving traveling hiccups sidelined APP for Week 12. The good news is I managed to commandeer the pecan pie, claiming over half of its mass and turning it into my own. But pies and leftovers won't improve the 20-12-3 season record, so let's get back to work.
WEEK 13 PICKS
This is normally a very pet friendly establishment but APP just isn't feeling the dogs this week. The notepad is filled with a bunch of chicken scratch and it's looking a lot like we're laying some points this week.
Kansas City Chiefs -3 at Oakland Raiders
Call Alex Smith a game manager, noodle-armed, a poor man's Aaron Rodgers, call him Al, whatever, the guy just doesn't turn the ball over. There's value in that. Smith hasn't thrown an interception since Sept. 28 at Green Bay and sprinkles in some rushing for what he lacks in deep-play ability.
Meanwhile the KC defense has been wreaking havoc during its five-game win streak, giving the unit 20 total takeaways for a give/take differential of +12 that trails only the Carolina Panthers at +16 -- and we know how that's working out for them as well as that poor, horrified mother in Tennessee.
It looks like Chiefs Pro Bowl linebacker Justin Houston won't dress for this game as he recovers from a hyperextended knee so it'll be "next man up" with a competent second-year LB Dee Ford who will relish the opportunity for some more action. On the offensive side of the ball, at least it looks like KC will have the services of both Jamaal Charles replacements and to-be-RB-by-committee mates Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware.
As for the Raiders, they've fallen flat after a nice start and will have to do it through the air if they're going to keep pace with KC. The Chiefs have been stingy with rushing yards allowed and Latavius Murray has tallied just 128 on the ground on 47 carries the past three weeks (2.8 average). So there's a heavy dose of Derek Carr/Amari Cooper/Michael Crabtree coming for you daily fantasy monsters.
APP is counting on some opportunistic Chiefs defense and another couple takeaways as KC charges toward a wild card berth.
Denver Broncos -3.5 at San Diego Chargers
More chalk on the road within the division? That'll go over about as well as Coldplay headlining the Super Bowl 50 Halftime performance.
Wait, that's really happening?! Very well then. More to come.
APP is diving all aboard on the Brockwagon. Denver ought to nurse Peyton Manning back as a Plan B if Osweiler faceplants but you can see already how well the offense works with Osweiler under center, handing off to Ronnie Hillman and everyone's least-favorite fantasy football first round pick, C.J. Anderson. The Broncos have ripped off over 170 rushing yards in Osweiler's two starts.
Osweiler has also excelled at not throwing an alarming number of interceptions even as Gary Kubiak took the reins off and let him fire 42 passes (for 270 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT) against a solid Patriots defense. Brock's job is to just move the offense, score 21-24 points and let the league's No. 1 defense feast on opposing offenses. He can do that as he continues to gain experience.
So were you impressed by the San Diego Chargers' 31-25 victory over the Jaguars last week? If you were, there's a nice new 1988 Buick I'd like to sell you. The Chargers remain a MASH unit with a league-worst rushing defense and a meager pass rush. Put another way, the defense stinks.
Demaryius Thomas will have to fend with solid cover corner Jason Verrett and his own case of the dropsies but Emmanuel Sanders can do some damage underneath. But this will come down to Denver gashing San Diego and squashing the Chargers' efforts to dink-and-dunk like the Patriots tried to do.
There's also the matter of the Chargers' terrible special teams play, which included getting a punt blocked for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against Jacksonville. Head coach Mike McCoy, who's on the hot seat himself, fired special teams coordinator Kevin Spencer on Wednesday. The Chargers have managed a mind-bogglingly low 34 yards on punt returns so far this season -- 33 of which they just collected against the Jaguars.
TIME TO TAP THE BROCKIES!!!!
Carolina Panthers -7 at New Orleans Saints
APP has made the mistake of betting against the Panthers three of the past four weeks.
That regrettable streak, unlike the Panthers' (11-0 SU, 9-2 ATS), has come to an end as it's time to join 'em because we're tired of getting beaten by them.
It's hard to climb aboard the Camwagon as we've got one foot on the Brockwagon, but let's try to manage.
The Saints have traditionally excelled in the passing game but Drew Brees has reached the decline stage and so have his passing weapons. Incidentally, Brees' 34-year-old backup Luke McCown went 31-38 passing for 310 yards at Carolina in Week 3, but we'll chalk that up to a one-time novelty. Speaking of Lukes, Panthers stud linebacker Luke Keuchly, allowing a mere 44.1 passer rating when targeted this season, missed that game. Elsewhere on the defense, shutdown corner and contract re-negotiator Josh Norman (who said "Hey, Dallas need to get Dez's 70 mil back") is brimming with confidence and as the Dallas game proved, the stadium won't change that.
Meanwhile, New Orleans' sacrificial Rob Ryan offering didn't exactly sate the defensive gods, because the personnel just isn't very good.
The Panthers have found a myriad of ways to move the ball this season, whether it be Cam rushing himself or via Jonathan Stewart, Ted Ginn Jr., Devin Funchess, Greg Olsen, Jerricho Cotchery, Fozzy Whitaker, Corey Brown and so on.
APP believes and can no longer deny this destiny: to finally pick the Panthers one week too late.
(Season record: 20-12-3)
Let's make a three-team, 7-pointer: Chiefs +4, Broncos +3.5, Panthers PK
Happy Week 13, everyone!