This Week sees another 13-game schedule, so I’m hopeful that our experts can kick on after last week’s strong showing across the board. If not, there’ll be tears before bedtime at the half-way point of the season, as they realise that only being good at their jobs can save them now…
This week’s picks can be found here, sorted by overall standings for the more discerning gentleman-slash-lady.
Needless to say, Bleacher Report’s Ty Schalter and USA Today’s Jarrett Bell claim the top spot for their 100% effort, but honorable mentions go to some unsung pickers such as Sportingnews.com’s Vinnie Iyer, who had been on an atrocious run of form since readers asked for his inclusion. Indeed, this marks the first time Vinnie had posted more than 9 wins since week 3.
Also at the top were B/R’s Zach Kruse and Tyson Langland, along with their colleague Andrea Hangst. Hangst and Kruse now reside in the top 15 pickers along with long-time top 5 picker Matt Miller. A special shout out too to ProFootballFocus.com’s Rick Drummond, posting his 5th 10+ score of the season.
Pick of the week:
Worst pick of the week:
With the exception of anyone who seriously picked the Bucs to win (Sapp gets a a freebie as he was never going to pick anyone but Tampa Bay on prime time national TV) there is one pick that – with 20/20 hindsight – plenty of people would have back. yes readers, a shocking 10 analysts went with the Jets on the road in Cinci. The Jets remain one of the harder teams to fathom in the NFL, but against a hot Bengals team this always looked like a bridge too far for a rookie like Geno Smith and a defence that isn’t yet able to compensate for the frailties of their offence. D- for that pick boys…
Network of the week:
Would it be boring to say ESPN? They averaged a staggering 11.2 picks correct each in a 13 game week. That is pound-for-pound the best average score of the year so far, even when compared with CBS’s average of 12.2 out of 15 games back in week 2.
Also getting special mentions are Accuscore with 11 – although they pick only once – and USA Today with 10.9 games picked right on average. What is perhaps most notable about this week, however, is that for once, there is no terrible network. Even the NFL guys – encumbered by some former players with questionable loyalties – managed to average over 70% correct as a whole.
Clutch picker of the week:
There are two things of note here: Ace clutch picker Joell Beall of FOXsports.com (who also featured 3 members of week 8’s top 20) retained – nay strengthened – his grip on the clutch crown with a strong 67% in a difficult week. That’s great Joel, it really is, but as much as you deserve plaudits, I feel the need to highlight the bottom of our clutch pickers table…
Yes, that’s right – Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News is worse than the Coin Toss when it comes to discerning tight matchups – and let me tell you something, Pickwatchers, something that will shock you to your very core…
The Coin Toss doesn’t even watch Football at all.
Non-Picking News story of the week:
You know what I feel like saying to Brandon Meriweather? ‘Violence is never the answer‘ – unless the question is ‘What is never the answer?‘ – in which case the answer is always ‘violence’.
I’m guilty of pre-judging Meriweather on this one. I read the Twitter comments, I believed the hyperbole and based on his actions against the Bears, I thought he must genuinely mean it. In my mind, Meriweather was one of the last breed of head-hunters who present a danger to other players.
But I was wrong.
What is perhaps most troubling is that Meriweather is not stupid, he is not the caricature that people are making out of an uneducated guy simply expressing basic emotions out of frustration. Although he is not too eloquent in the point he is making, it stems from a legitimate concern on the part of defensive players that their careers are relatively expendable when compared with those of offensive players.
Look at the broader point Meriweather makes – that it is better for him to end a guy’s career and not be penalised, than for him to be suspended for a helmet-to-helmet hit. Can you really disagree with it? This is what the NFL is creating, a paradox in which defensive players no longer are able to trust their instincts or know from one week to the next which plays will be legal or not. Whether you believe that is right or wrong, I think the way the league administers retrospective fines in an inconsistent way and changes rules every year – even mid-season sometimes – cheapens and confuses the real issues at stake and gives the league a look of desperately trying to put out a fire that can never be extinguished – using only a broken water pistol and a cup of petrol.
Meriweather is a terrible spokesperson for the defensive players of the league, with a troubling reputation for being unable to stop spearing guys in the temple, but he is dead on the money on this. Nobody wants to see Jermichael Finley in hospital, but equally at some point the choice to play football must be made by players with the knowledge that sometimes, tragedy happens in sports.
Dan Wheldon, the Indy Car champion who died in Las Vegas two years ago knew the risks of travelling at high speed, as did Formula One’s Ayrton Senna. They both paid the ultimate price for their bravery, and while it would be unwise to suggest football players are subject to quite the same risks as racing drivers, they know that football is a violent sport that involves constant body trauma. Just as boxers know their body is being sacrificed for money and fame, NFL players understand fully that every play has the capacity for serious injury, and it would be disingenuous of players in the current era to suggest that they didn’t know the dangers of concussions before they took the field.
Meriweather has rather astutely concluded that his livelihood is actually worth less to the NFL than that of a Wide Receiver. While he has made some questionable decisions on the field in the past, there are hundreds of defensive players who will likely share the same fears about their ability to compete in the NFL as the league constantly changes the rules to avoid any liability in the natural dangers that come with playing pro football.
That was all a bit serious for my liking, but week 9 is upon us now so we can instead get back to the less serious proposition of Pacman Jones threatening to track down AFC East Wideouts after games. Check out our official Twitter page for all things Pickwatch related, or send us an email if you have anything you’d like to see on these pages.