NFL stories just get curiouser
There were some interesting goings-on in the NFL over the past week.
And it might make some teams work harder at getting win now that we’re in crunch time for the playoffs.
That’s even though a majority of the teams involved here are out, or pretty much out, of the playoff hunt.
Take Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay. He’s fighting to keep his job after a quite uneven season under supposed quarterback guru Bruce Arians. He got hot against the supposedly revitalized Atlanta defense, putting up five touchdowns in a 35-22 win.
If you don’t like him — I never did because of his college antics — then there’s his teammate, 347-pound Vita Vea, who looks like the second coming of “The Fridge,” the Chicago Bears’ William Perry of about the same size in the 1980s.
Vea, a second-year defensive tackle, couldn’t just repeat The Fridge’s signature bull-his-way-into-the-end-zone runs.
In the new pass-happy NFL, the 6-foot-4 behemoth had to run into the end zone and wait to catch a TD pass from Winston, which he did.
Then there’s Washington QB Dwayne Haskins, who couldn’t be bothered to show up for the kneel-down on the final play of the Redskins’ 19-16 win over Detroit.
He was off taking a selfie with a fan. Some were critical of his move — which he should definitely be embarrassed about — but it seems more like a rookie mistake than his shot at becoming the Deion Sanders of his generation.
Still, he’ll have to be apologetic at the least. Or maybe at best, he can start a charitable selfie trend on social media, raising thousands of dollars for the most inventive selfies — with bonuses for those who don’t endanger their lives while trying to get them.
Finally, there’s the entire Dallas Cowboys team, who I think would’ve lost far worse than 13-9 if the weather had been nice in New England on Sunday.
Still, it’s leaving owner Jerry Jones frustrated and grumbling and creating a hot seat under head coach Jason Garrett.
Just what the doctor ordered for a team to rally behind its leader.
Now onto the picks:
Thursday, 12:30 p.m.
Chicago at Detroit — I went back and forth on this one, remembering past struggling Lions teams who rallied on Turkey Day for stirring victories.
That was a different era. After watching Haskins bumble around late in Sunday’s game missing open receivers left and right only to get the win anyway, even a QB like Chicago’s Mitch Trubisky is going to gash Detroit’s defense with shallow, intermediate or deep throws — it’s up to him to decide how to do it. Bears, 38-27.
Thursday, 4:30 p.m.
Buffalo at Dallas — After the nation falls asleep watching the NFC North bumblers early in the afternoon, this game could be refreshing if Dallas’ offense leads the charge to save Garrett’s bacon. Cowboys, 35-20.
Thursday, 8:20 p.m.
New Orleans at Atlanta — The day only gets better as we move to night, if N’awlins’ Drew Brees hooks up with the Falcons featuring an actual NFL defense. 30-24.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
San Francisco at Baltimore — How good is this weekend? This might not even be the best game in Week 13, not if the Monday night combatants have anything to say about it.
Still, can the 49ers defense that picked apart Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers one weekend figure out how to contain Baltimore rising star Lamar Jackson? Here’s thinking not. Ravens, 31-23.
Washington at Carolina — The Redskins should be satisfied now that they have a crooked number in the win column. Panthers, 27-21.
New York Jets at Cincinnati — The Bengals made Pittsburgh work for a win last weekend. That’s Cincy hitting its peak. Jets, 24-17.
Tennessee at Indianapolis — Reverse momentum makes this call — the Titans dominated while Indy was edged by Houston, so pick last week’s loser. Colts, 29-19.
Tampa Bay at Jacksonville — Jameis the gunslinger makes one or two more good plays than bad, which will be just enough. Buccaneers, 26-19.
Oakland at Kansas City — The Raiders got exposed in New York on Sunday. But hey, what do you expect the partying Black Hole to do when faced with a 10 a.m. (Pacific time) game on a Sunday like last weekend — and for that matter, this weekend, too? Chiefs, 37-29.
Philadelphia at Miami — After a couple weeks’ success, the Dolphins have reverted to their expected minor-league form. (Insert Miami’s opponent’s name here), 33-20.
Green Bay at New York Giants — The Giants can’t enjoy playing a team that just got toyed around with by San Fran’s defense a week earlier. That especially goes for a Packers’ team that takes pride in its offensive prowess. Packers, 40-23.
Sunday, 4 p.m.
Los Angeles Rams at Arizona — Same goes for facing a team that the Ravens just got done smacking around. Rams, 27-17.
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver — I don’t like picking between teams that have perfected the art of losing, no matter the odds that they should win. Chargers, 20-19.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh — They’re saying it’s Duck season in the Three Rivers city, as in Devlin “Duck” Hodges will apparently start for the Steelers this weekend. Even though Mason Rudolph won’t be in there, Pittsburgh will remember what the Browns’ Myles Garrett did with his helmet to the side of Rudolph’s head barely two weeks earlier. Steelers, 19-13.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
New England at Houston — Facing New England coach Bill Belichick is like facing Ravens QB Lamar Jackson — how do you defend against either one of them? Houston didn’t very well against Jackson, so Patriots, 23-13.
Monday, 8:20 p.m.
Minnesota at Seattle — The game that may knock the 49ers-Ravens matchup off the front pages. I like Minnesota containing what Seattle tries better than the other way around. Vikings, 31-24.
Last week — 11-3, 79 percent. Season — 117-58-1, 67 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.