Things aren’t so rosy this year. You could blame injuries to the offensive line, but Peyton Manning has overcome those. You could blame injuries to the receiving core, but Aaron Rodgers overcame those before he fractured his collarbone. If you wanted to look at someone a level down talent-wise, Eli Manning seemed to make receivers like Ramses Barden look good last year.
The reality is that this year has exposed Matt Ryan for what he is. He’s a good, not great quarterback with flaws. He needs a good line and good weapons in order to be productive, which doesn’t make him too dissimilar from a lot of other quarterbacks. It certainly doesn’t help that the Falcons haven’t had a great defense in the Ryan era. (Spare me with last year’s points against because Seattle and San Francisco had no problem scoring in the second half of both playoff games.) It hasn’t helped that the Falcons traded away a lot of draft picks to get Julio Jones, who’s missed games in two of his three NFL seasons.
Atlanta will probably never trade Matt Ryan, but maybe they should. This is the draft to get a young quarterback, a piece that will cost much less now than they did under the old CBA. They might be able to get a nice haul for Ryan, fill all their other holes, and rebuild quickly. That’s assuming they don’t think Matt Ryan is a franchise quarterback worth keeping. I don’t. Do you?
Survivor Pick of the Week:
DETROIT over Tampa Bay
Yikes. One week after Tennessee knocked out a majority of survivor contestants, Houston abandoned a bunch more. The options were limited to begin with, but Houston got a lot of looks because they were the biggest favorite by Vegas standards. It sure didn’t help that an early fumble gave Oakland a 7-0 lead, but Houston’s dismantling by Matt McGloin was completely unexpected. That’s why they play the games. So if you’re still alive at this point, I congratulate you on your luck or skill — or some combination of the two.
The Lions look like the best bet this week if you’re still surviving. Detroit will be motivated after losing a tight one to Pittsburgh last week. Tampa Bay doesn’t have the weapons to compete in a shootout with Detroit, nor do they have the quality of offensive line to control Detroit’s great defensive tackles. The Buccaneers are also missing starting safety Dashon Goldson due to a suspension. Lock and load on the Lions and pray they’re not looking ahead to the Packers next week.
Another option would be Carolina (on the road, yes) against Miami if the Panthers aren’t hungover after beating New England. If you didn’t use Houston, it’s up to you if you want to use them this week against Jacksonville. It is Jacksonville, but that same crappy team beat Tennessee recently. I hate relying on Joe Flacco, but the Ravens defense should cause the visiting Geno Smith many problems and the Jets should come up short.
Teams used: Indianapolis, New England, Denver, New Orleans, St. Louis, Seattle, Green Bay, San Francisco, and Dallas, Tennessee, Houston
Thursday Night Pick:
New Orleans -9 over ATLANTA
The Saints are built to win in a dome, so they always enjoy road games that don’t force them to play outside in natural conditions. Instead they’ll be indoors at their biggest rival’s house, looking to bury the Falcons even further into the ground. The Falcons seem resigned to their fate and maybe they’ll get behind a lively home crowd to fight hard against the team they hate. More likely, they’ll get dominated by one of the league’s best offenses. Atlanta has given up at least 30 points in their last three games and none of those teams had the offense New Orleans has. Given the hatred New Orleans has for Atlanta, don’t expect them to lighten up if they’re winning big.
Reggie: New Orleans
Last Week: 6-9
Reggie’s Picks: 80-81-2