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.
Out of disgust, All-Purpose Playbook (APP) changed the channel from the Bengals-Seahawks game this past Sunday after Seattle mounted a 24-7 lead into the fourth quarter. That was in light of the high probability of indigestion and the subatomic-sized chance that Cincy might actually come back and sniff a cover as a 3-point favorite.
The Bengals' fourth-quarter touchdown cutting the lead to 24-14 flashed on the Red Zone channel, inducing a shrug. Then another one.
The Bengals defense clamped down and Mike Nugent booted a 31-yarder sending the game to overtime where Nugent bank-shot a 42-yarder off the upright for a game winning score -- and a push, but hey, money saved is money not lost!
Just how improbable was that Cincinnati Bengals comeback?!
That was some serious **** we all witnessed, folks. Against the defending NFC champions no less, and the Legion of Boom, or rather the Army of What Just Happened!?!
So we pushed there, but APP will happily take it and live to fight another day. The Patriots took care of business in Dallas and the Washington Flyin' Snyders nearly won outright in Atlanta, blew it, but still covered so APP doesn't care. That made it a 2-0-1 week and 5-0-1 over the past two.
It's pretty much this right now, folks:
Start making plans for an exotic trip, a new kitchen remodeling, maybe a steak dinner.
I was hanging out with my 24-year-old brother-in-law and his friends recently, sharing my excitement over a Dyson vacuum, forgetting that twentysomething males rarely ponder vacuum efficacy. Three sentences into lauding the maneuverability of the Dyson, their eyes widened with bewilderment and, of course, judgment. But they'll reach the age soon enough.
So wherever you are in your journey, make designs for another big wave of cheddar coming. (Important note: APP's newfound NFL confidence is about to get bludgeoned. Do NOT make plans for anything except watching the games.)
WEEK 6 PICKS
We're going with a theme this week. My favorite band is Pearl Jam and like every Friday I'm sitting here listening a massive playlist, so that's the theme for this week's four-pack of picks.
Jets -6 vs. Washington Flyin' Snyders: "Force of Nature"
The New York Jets defense is a force to be reckoned with and it's getting stronger this week with the return of Pro Bowl defensive end Sheldon Richardson, who said he's "coming to eat."
Fitting since he's returning from a four-game suspension for marijuana use. Well Mr. Richardson, would you like to sate your munchies with the Kirk Cousins platter or perhaps the Alfred Morris appetizer? Richardson, along with Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate DT Leonard Williams, NT Damon "Snacks" Harrison and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson are going to devour the Washington offensive line.
This matchup is coming at a sub-optimal time for Washington, too: Both left tackle Trent Williams (neck) and center Kory Lichtensteiger (shoulder, finger, neck) did not practice on Thursday and are questionable to play on Sunday. The absence of one is problematic, but being without both would be pretty brutal.
The Jets defense was ranked No. 2 overall according to Football Outsiders' metrics even before the whole gang got back together and a full week off for Darrelle Revis to rest his hamstring.
APP backed Washington in each of the past two weeks, but it's time to jump ship. The Jets offense has done a nice job of avoiding sacks this year, will get WR Eric Decker back at full strength and together with Brandon Marshall and bell-cow rusher Chris Ivory, all rested, should be able to put up points. If Cousins is forced to heave a few from under heavy pressure and the Jets get a defensive score, ever better. APP will go ahead and lay the six as there's a chance the line could fatten to 7.
It's too bad Rex Ryan isn't around to enjoy this week.
Detroit Lions -3 vs. Chicago Bears: "F*ckin' Up"
This song is actually a Neil Young cover but there was no better tune to capture the Lions' 0-5 season so far. Eddie Vedder asks the question repeatedly, "Why do I keep f***in' up?"
Do Lions head coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi have any answers? Because opposing defenses are still reading their plays, the offensive line has faltered and fallen to dead last in the NFL per ProFootballFocus rankings. RB Joique Bell is a shell of himself, Megatron has lust some of his luster (or perhaps he just needs a good oiling) and ever well-compensated QB Matthew Stafford appears lost.
So why the heck are we backing the Lions? Well, the Bears aren't very good either and if the Lions don't empty the tank for this divisional game at home, they're in danger of a 2-14 season or worse with two Packers dates left, trips to St. Louis and New Orleans and so on. And if they lose this game, APP is afraid the disgruntled fan petition to have the Lions' passports revoked upon their visit to London to play the Chiefs may gain some serious steam.
The Falcons drew a ton of action visiting the Saints on Thursday night but smart money was on New Orleans in a similar spot to the Lions here. Home, absolutely desperate, against a division foe. They have to show up on Sunday and if the Lions don't, APP promises to never utter the name again.
Carolina Panthers +7 at Seattle Seahawks: "Given to Fly"
Cam Newton (aka "Superman") and the Carolina Panthers (4-0, by the way) won't be afraid of the 12th Man or the Army of What Just Happened come Sunday. They've been there and done better than anyone expected as 11-point underdogs during their divisional round matchup in January. The Panthers trailed only 14-10 entering the fourth quarter before things got away with a late 90-yard, pick-six by Kam Chancellor.
Carolina also saw the Seahawks in September last season at home and nearly won a Field Goal Bowl (9-6) when Russell Wilson led a 9-play, 80 yard drive for the game's only touchdown and a 13-9 win.
Anyhow, Seattle has gotten worse since those meetings and Carolina probably better, although they sorely miss injured wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Seattle's offensive-line woes persist and the Panthers will get a huge jolt with the return of All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly. The Panthers lack weapons as always, but through a combination of a dual-threat Newton, rusher Jonathan Stewart, tight end Greg Olsen and some spare parts, they've mustered offense. APP will gladly take the touchdown in a game that the Panthers are capable of winning outright.
San Francisco 49ers +2 vs. Baltimore Ravens: "Alive"
Is something wrong
Of course there is
You're still alive
Oh do I deserve to be?
Both teams don't have a prayer in their divisions, but they're alive, fighting for a few wins and self-respect.
The New York Giants sure have a way of making bad teams look good. At the same time, give credit to the 49ers for showing up in New York last Sunday night.
From a CSN Bay Area report on the 49ers' Week 5 game plan in which they didn't ask struggling QB Colin Kaepernick to make any coverage reads:
According to Pro Football Focus, when Kaepernick's dropbacks in the pocket were 2.5 seconds or less, he completed 21 of 24 passes and was not sacked. His rating was 138.9, fourth best in the league. When he dropped back and released the ball in 2.6 seconds or more, he completed just 2 of 11 passes and was sacked twice. His rating was 39.6, fifth worst in the league.
The 49ers have a guy who's great at grilling hamburgers so they've learned to stop asking him to make chili con carne.
Expect more short, quick throws with predetermined targets, more Kaepernick scrambles and a heavy dose of Carlos Hyde against a Ravens defense that yielded 33 points to the Browns last week and 37 to the Raiders in Week 2.
This is a Super Bowl XLVII revenge game for the 49ers who, like the Ravens, have fallen on hard times. APP likes the home team coming off a confidence-builder.
(Season record: 7-5-1)
SURVIVOR AND ADVANCE: LIGHTNING EDITION
Packers vs. Chargers -- If you still them as an option in season or revival pools, take them and don't think twice.
Jets vs. Washington Flyin' Snyders -- IT'S FEEDING TIME, BOYS!!! HOOOOO-AHHH!!!!
Broncos at Browns -- Denver has statistically the worst offense in the NFL right now and they're on the road. The defense can't continue winning games on its own. Avoid.
Cardinals at Steelers -- This will be another popular pick and APP can't blame you, but the Steelers are a live opponent with weapons and played reasonably well last week on defense despite a duct-tape secondary.
Bengals at Bills -- Not a great spot for the undefeated Bengals, yes, even though they're likely facing E.J. (Can't Find a) "Better Man" Manuel. They're coming off a full overtime session against a really physical squad and heading on the road.
(Go here if you need an explanation on how teaser bets work.)
APP hasn't kept track of IAT successes but it's hit at least two weeks in a row now. Let's keep the gravy train humming with a seven-point teaser take Panthers to +14 and the Browns to +11. In both cases we're taking the dogs against pretty public teams.
LUDICROUS MODE TEASER
Just barely thanks to the Bengals comeback, the four-leg LMT hit last week too! Another seven-point teaser with Panther +14, Jets +1 and the UNDER in both games; that becomes 47.5 for Panthers-Seahawks and 47.5 for Jets-Washington. GIDDY UP!
Happy Week 6, everybody!!!