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/or email me with any questions or comments at basmiley [at] gmail [dot] com.
So Week 2 marked the Survivor Pool Mass Extinction. That would make Week 3 of this column the disoriented hangover in its aftermath.
It survived (barely), sustaining heavy losses, a headache and a queasy feeling of "Wow, still here!"
More from FoxSports
Remember how we changed course from a survivor focus to more traditional game picking? Well, that didn't go so well (1-3).
The saving grace came courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons' fourth-quarter comeback at Jerry World, thanks largely to NFC Offensive Player of the Month Julio Jones, who reeled in 12 catches for 164 yards and two scores.
What went wrong with 49ers, Rams and Chiefs? Well, first let's look to Jones' "Madden Season: The Movie" co-star Colin Kaepernick (as Al Pacino from "Scent of a Woman"). First, there was the pick-six he threw with his first pass of the game.
And then there was the second pick-six he threw with his fourth pass of the game.
Hoo-huh. So much for suspense. And the other afternoon games were equally miserable, so APP got stuck watching a lot more of the 49ers \ football deprivement.
Earlier in the day the Rams poured some cold water on Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell's season debut but St. Louis' offense could only muster a field goal in the second and fourth innings and ended in a 12-6 loss.
Fingers were crossed for the Chiefs (getting 6.5 points) to break even the slate, but they got smashed by Green Bay in a more-lopsided-than-the-final-score-reveals 38-28 defeat.
But why dwell on past mistakes when you can make brand new ones? Let's move on to Week 4!
WEEK 4 PICKS: A RACE TO THE BOTTOM
New York Jets -1.5 "at" Miami Dolphins in London
Let's hop across the pond and size up these AFC East foes.
This was supposed to be the season fourth-year QB Ryan Tannehill took another step forward and perhaps lead the Fins to a non 8-8 record, but so far it's looking a like another snowman season in Miami, maybe worse.
The good news is those cheeky London folk probably don't give two farthings that the Dolphins stink. The bad news is that the offensive line, outside of center Mike Pouncey, hasn't allowed Tannehill much time or room to space to operate and this is technically a "home" game for the Fins.
Pouncey, for his part, said this prior to Week 2: "We're tired of being just an average football team. We know that it's going to be very important to win games late in the season, but these games early in the season really count a lot. Our focus right now is just Week 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars and going out there and playing to the best of our abilities."
So if we give them credit for having a sense of urgency in that case, what happened in Week 3 when they got smoked at home by Buffalo 41-14?! So much for bouncing back.
Alright, screw it boys, we're pretty damn good at average so let's just stick to the script.
I don't see it happening against the Jets, either, who share DNA with the Buffalo Bills with a real strong front seven and better cornerbacks (Revis, Cromartie).
REX RYAN, YOU *ARE* THE FATHER!!!
The Joe Philbin-led Dolphins seem to be suffering from a lack of leadership and discipline and poor coaching. That bodes well for nothing and nobody except those of you holding futures for Philbin as the first head coach to get fired; he's surged so far in front of that race that he may even get left behind in London.
Just for fun, let's take the temperature of a Dolphins fan, via the ProFootballTalk comments section (always a healthy place to meander).
Under the post "Bills cruise to 41-14 win in Miami:""I can no longer support a mediocre team, I am officially quitting on the Dolphins. I am 36 years old, and this had literally done NOTHING for me as a fan. I'm out, I'm done. Being a Miami fan is like a being in a bad marriage, it's time for a divorce."
I also feel good about the Jets because they're coming off a dud performance and should get back RB Chris Ivory and maybe also wideout Eric Decker, who both missed last week's contest.
Before we move on, let's just savor again for a second that Prince Harry shouting "Laces out, Dan!" at Dan Marino actually happened this week:
New York Giants +5.5 at Buffalo Bills
If you're into the parallel universe game, remember the Giants were only about 3.5 minutes and two epic brain farts from a 3-0 record. After finally righting the spaceship against Washington last Thursday, they've had extra time to rest and prepare for the Bills who will be missing two key offensive players in LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins.
In a great X's and O's breakdown of this game, Matt Chatham says that the Giants ought to take a page from the Patriots to beat the Bills, which seems reasonable because technically the Giants own the Patriots (only in Super Bowls, I know, I know; I'm a Giants fan. #sorrynotsorry).
Creepy comedian Eli Manning and I will be here all week.
Anyhow, the Giants conveniently have backfield pass-catching specialist Shane Vereen, formerly of New England, to follow the Patriots' mold for beating the Bills. And while Victor Cruz suffered a setback, last week Rueben Randle (finally) proved a viable second banana to Odell Beckham Jr. Plus, the Giants will probably get left tackle Ereck Flowers and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie back for a defense that's been surprisingly deft at defending the run so far this season.
Big Blue's offensive line will have its toughest challenge to date with Buffalo's pass rush, but offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's quick-hitting scheme can neutralize that to some extent.
Washington Fightin' Snyders +3 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
I don't have a problem with folks still sipping (not chugging) the Chip Kelly Sports Science Kool-Aid, but to make them three point favorites on the road against a divisional opponent is ludicrous.
(But it's too early for the Ludicrous Mode Teaser.)
Brandon Marshall's ill-advised lateral, Ryan Fitzpatrick's 58 (58!!!?) passes attempted with three interceptions last week and Darren Sproles' punt return for touchdown collectively obscured the Eagles' continued offensive deficiencies. Last week, Sam Bradford completed only 14 of 28 passes for 118 yards -- and he's hardly throwing the ball anywhere. Bradford is averaging only 5.8 yards per attempt, ranked 31 of 32, more than only Houston's Ryan Mallet (5.18).
The Eagles' run blocking has been dreadful as well. DeMarco Murray will likely return to action after missing the Jets game, and the good news for him is that he can't do much to worsen his per-carry average of 0.5 yards on 21 rushes so far this season.
Washington's offense still leaves a bit to be desired -- like, say, a shark with laser beams on its head and/or better quarterback play in the face of pressure. In any event, Philly's offensive problems persist so let's take the points.
(Season record: 2-5)
SURVIVOR AND ADVANCE
It seemed fitting after the Week 2 Survivor-pocalypse that almost every survivor poolster (ongoing and revivals) coasted in Week 3, mostly thanks the heavy home favorites Seahawks and Patriots. The defending NFC and AFC Champions both also managed to cover double-digit spreads.
If you have yet to take Seattle, APP believes this is the week to do so.
The Seahawks offense remains a work in progress and may be without running back/pest control pitchman Marshawn Lynch come Sunday (he's "50-50" with a hamstring injury), but the sputtering 0-3 Lions face a very tall task against a defense that suplexed the Bears' "Welcome back, Kam!" Bowl in last week's 26-0 shutout.
One of the Lions' main problems could be that opposing defenses are reading Detroit's offense like a (play)book. Said wideout Golden Tate after falling to the Broncos:
"I've had a couple occasions in literally each game, where they called out our play for one, then afterwards been like, 'Hey, we knew what you guys were doing.'"
That's ... a problem.
Oh, but you want to take the Indianapolis Colts hosting Jacksonville Jaguars this week? APP is telling you that's a problem, too. Currently 26% of FOX entries are riding the Colts and 29% of Yahoo!.
The Colts offensive line has been mediocre again this season -- something head coach Chuck Pagano said struggling QB Andrew Luck should be accustomed to managing. Luck is currently pacing the entire NFL in interceptions with seven and has completed only 56% of his passes and oh by the way, is maybe "legitimately questionable" to play with soreness in his throwing shoulder. As opposed to just questionable or probably probable.
Luck will probably play, but how effective will he be, even against a bruised and battered Jaguars secondary?
The Jaguars have capably defended the run this season, so I guess this comes down to how well you think Luck can carve up the Jags' secondary with his gimpy shoulder.
Your call, but APP would rather bank on his predecessor Peyton Manning's "noodle arm" in Denver, which host the Vikings, or against Matthew Stafford in Seattle. The Lions QB remains a conscious-shocking 0-18 on the road (including playoffs) against teams that finish the season with a winning record.
(Go here if you need an explanation on how teaser bets work.)
It's an NFC East Special!!!
Let's make it a two-game, seven-point teaser and take the Giants to +12.5 and Washington to +10.
Ludicrous Mode Teaser
We're skipping Saucy Mode (three legs) and going straight Ludicrous with the Giants at +11.5, Washington +10, Falcons +0.5 and Chicago Bears (lord help us) +10. The public is piled high on the Oakland Raiders on the road (and against the Bears who sold off a couple non-integral assets) and that feels like a bit too much too soon.
Ludicrous Mode Teaser is not designed to be pleasant, just mildly sensible (and ideally profitable).
Happy Week 4!!!!