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.
It feels like the start of the sixth inning of a no-hitter. The announcer hesitates to say the words. Superstition.
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Of course, this is a column about football and wagering, so I'm going to attempt some reverse psychology and just spit it out it: All-Purpose Playbook (APP) has been EN FUEGO the past four weeks (FLAME EMOJIS)!!!
The record is a near-flawless 11-0-2. It's a ride unlike any other I've ever had, dating back to circa 1995 when my brother and I used to mail paper sheets for some quasi-fantasy league to a random dude in Colorado, who would mail back results the next week. Ah, before the Internet!
Four straight weeks of dodging landmines?! This material should be locked behind a paywall!
Okay, point taken, Danny McBride. There's another specific reason APP used that GIF from the movie "This Is The End," starring Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel and McBride.
Because This Is The End.
Week 8 is the end. APP is going to whiff on at least one game this week. There will be no no-hitter or perfect game; after all, APP was a lowly 2-5 before this run started.
So this week's APP will be illustrated only with GIFs from that movie or with actors in it (from other settings). Before we get to the picks, let's briefly recap last week's selections, which were not exactly sweat-free.
Down 30-20 with 23 seconds left, New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles wisely attempted a 55-yard field goal on first down, knowing that the team needed two scores to bring the game to overtime (many other coaches would foolishly burned the entire clock going for the touchdown first). Nick Folk nailed a 55-yarder bringing the Jets +8 to Cover City.
In Washington, the Buccaneers +3.5 certainly made the cover interesting, blowing a 24-point lead in a crazy 31-30 loss.
Yes, we like that, Kirk. It was a cover, so it's all good.
We also had the Panthers -3 hosting the Eagles. The Panthers managed to overcome three Cam Newton interceptions by forcing Philly field-goal attempts in the red zone.
On to Week 8. Keep your head on a swivel.
WEEK 8 PICKS
Detroit Lions +4 "at" Kansas City Chiefs in London
Why go quietly when we can jump on a grenade? The Detroit Lions are 1-6 against the spread this season and painfully deficient on both sides of the ball. This line opened at +5.5 and came down a bit, but we're still going Lions because it just doesn't make sense for the Chiefs to be laying 4 points right now on a neutral field.
The Chiefs got a nice rushing performance out of Jamaal Charles replacement Charcandrick West against the Steelers last week (22 carries for 110 yards) and Jeremy Maclin (concussion) will return, but this offense sans-Charles just doesn't scare anyone.
Mainly APP is banking on some kind of a Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson-Golden Tate aerial resurgence under the tutelage of Jim Bob Cooter, the Lions' former QBs coach who was promoted to offensive coordinator after Joe Lombardi's recent dismissal. At 1-6 overall, the Lions have absolutely nothing to lose. Cooter is going to direct the ball to Megatron and Tate early, often and vertically against a Chiefs secondary that's allowed allowed the most receivers to reach 80 yards receiving in the league (11) and the most to reach 100 yards (five) on the season, per Rotoworld.com's Rich Hribar.
Better protection up front would help most (and a running game) but Cooter probably will make it his aim to keep Stafford comfortable and help restore his confidence. When in doubt just throw it deep to Megatron on third down. Sound good, Calvin Johnson fantasy football owners?
Cleveland Browns +6 vs. Arizona Cardinals
This is assuming Josh McCown will start. All indications are that he will despite getting his shoulder banged up against the Rams.
Tickets have poured in on the Cardinals thus far (about 85 percent), moving the line up from 4.5 to 6. Yet the Cardinals are coming off a short week (they played Monday night), heading East and have failed to cover the number in three of their last four, losing two games outright as a 6- and 7-points favorite.
Have bettors already forgotten that only two weeks ago the Cardinals came to Pittsburgh as 6-point favorites over a Steelers team led by Landry Jones making his first career NFL start . . . and lost 25-13? That wasn't rhetorical. It seems they have.
Jones attempted a mere 12 passes in that game, completing 8 with two touchdowns. But the Cardinals' offense just couldn't get it going and this week will probably be without speedy wideout John Brown, who's nursing a hamstring injury. Think maybe the Cards are looking ahead to healing up on their Week 9 bye?
APP loves that Cleveland will get back its best defensive player in Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden and another key player in the secondary, safety Tashaun Gipson. The defense should be pretty jacked up for this game. TIME FOR THE DAWG POUND TO EAT!!!!
That's just not enough. Let's get the full scene in here (some NSFW language):
Chicago Bears -1 vs. Minnesota Vikings
APP is trying to figure out why the Vikings are getting so much support (72 percent of wagers) for their road trip to Chicago, and the leading theory is anti-Jay Cutler sentiment combined with a sense that the Bears have quit on the season.
For sure the Bears (2-4) are not a playoff team but did win a pair of games against the Raiders and Chiefs before getting punked in overtime in Detroit. Now fresh off a bye week, Cutler's best wideout Alshon Jeffery had time to rest up (hamstring) after returning in Week 6, veteran safety Antrel Rolle returns to the defense and they sound pretty darn excited to tackle Vikes' top offensive weapon, Adrian Peterson.
"I get real excited [to play against Peterson]," linebacker Pernell McPhee said with a wide grin on Thursday, per ESPN. "That's it. I'm excited. I'm ready. I'm ready."
Wait, there's more: "He's the best back in the NFL," McPhee added. "I get to hit the best back in the NFL. That's why I'm excited. Because I'm coming."
Outside of Peterson, The Vikings' offense has been pretty poor, ranked only 28 overall according to Football Outsiders. Meanwhile Jay Cutler has been making it work for the Bears despite the loss of Jeffery and Eddie Royal.
"It's made Jay step up, be a bigger part, bigger voice," quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains observed on how the situation has compelled Cutler to become more of a leader.
"He's run meetings, been very vocal on what he expects from each individual and I think guys have responded well to him."
And now a reference to Bears tight end Martellus "The Black Unicorn" Bennett because that seems like the right way to shoehorn in this Seth Rogen moving image:
Broncos +3 vs. Green Bay Packers
The line for this marquee Sunday night showdown is more like 2.5 at a lot of shops right now so we're paying a little extra juice (-120) to get the 3 if necessary.
Usually a pretty public team themselves, the Broncos find themselves home underdogs in a prime-time game and bettors are pounding the Packers to the tune of 76 percent. There's greater than a small chance that a Peyton Manning pick-six sends this pick sideways, but that's built in to the line.
This should come down to the Broncos' top-ranked defense, returning DeMarcus Ware from injury this week, getting flat-out disrespected.
Aaron Rodgers has been making the offense work without his favorite target (Jordy Nelson) but he's got wideouts Davante Adams (ankle) and Ty Montgomery (ankle) and running back James Starks (hip) banged up, though Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy are returning to better health with injuries of their own. It's going to be really, really tough sledding at Mile High this week against what should be a voracious crowd and hungry defense. Manning just has to avoid turnovers. In what should be a real close game, APP will gladly take the points on the home team with the top-ranked D.
No doubt . . . THIS IS THE END . . . but if for some reason it isn't, APP is going on a sabbatical and having FOX Sports deposit the next paycheck directly at the MGM Grand Las Vegas sportsbook.
See you on the other side. (Season record 13-5-2)
SURVIVOR AND ADVANCE: LIGHTNING ROUND
Carolina Panthers vs. Indianapolis Colts -- APP has already declared its love for the Panthers. The Colts are terrible and they're going to get whacked on both the offensive and defensive lines. Chuck Pagano's travel agent should start putting together some packages.
St. Louis Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers -- Todd Gurley is a record-breaking FORCE. Colin Kaepernick has struggled badly against every team with a pass rush. The Rams, they have one of those.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Good luck to the Bucs bouncing back from last week but Falcons are overrated and there's probably better options for you (above!).
(Go here if you need an explanation on how teaser bets work.)
We hit once last week and needed almost every bit of the Saints-Colts total tease down. Let's stick with the spreads this week and pair to of the picks in a 7-point tease: Browns (+13) and Broncos (+10).
LUDICROUS MODE TEASER
Four legs and we need 'em all:
Take the ill-advised teaser and let's add the Broncos/Packers under 45.5 (decent bet straight-up; goes to 52.5) and the Lions which moves to +11.
Happy Week 8, everybody!!!!