Importance of each NFL game colors my perception of NBA
I got thinking about something a couple weeks ago during the first or second week of the NBA season.
By the time we get to March or April, pro basketball games played in October and November are pretty much forgotten, which I expect will still happen even with this new in-season “tournament” they’re holding right now.
Forget about that, though, I’m thinking about how I was getting concerned — heck, maybe even worked up a bit — about the Pistons going on something like a four- or five-game losing streak.
That’s where the NFL comes in.
In an 82-game season, losing four, five, heck, even nine or 10 games in a row is a sure downer, but it’s not a season killer.
In the NFL, four or five games is close to a third of the season and nine or 10 is more than half.
And it’s that difference in their kind of seasons that I think skews my attitude toward early-season NBA streaks, and I suppose the NHL season, too.
We’re so used to a winning or losing streak of a couple games in football making a huge difference, whether it’s the NFL, college or even high school seasons. Then it creeps into our — OK, more accurately, my — thinking about the NBA and NHL this time of the year.
We lost four in a row? Egad, the Pistons’ or Bucks’ season is over, isn’t it? Well, not actually. It might seem that way if you see the Lions or Packers losing that many in a row.
I continued my line of thinking that this must also affect when other sports hit their “bridge” time when one season is ending and another beginning.
The NBA’s and NHL’s 82-game regular seasons are more similar to Major League Baseball’s 162-game marathon than to 17-game NFL or even shorter college and high school football seasons.
Even with later Super Bowl dates than ever, baseball is just getting started with spring training when pro football ends.
And when baseball gets toward its end in September, three- or four- or five-game winning and losing streaks become important when you only have a couple of weeks or just a few days to improve your standing.
Sounds a lot more like football that way.
So this phase should pass soon, mostly because NFL races are really going to heat up and I’ll barely remember the NBA and NHL are even playing. Well, at least until the Packers are eliminated from playoff contention and the Lions are just plain eliminated from of the playoffs.
Onto this week’s picks:
Today, 8:15 p.m.
Cincinnati at Baltimore — Geez, actually a good Thursday night game that I won’t be able to watch as I refuse to pay more for games that I can’t even see when I’m at work and can’t watch anyway.
Sorry for the ranting, let’s look at this game. Both teams are coming off losses to upstarts — Baltimore by two points to a Cleveland team that finally had Deshaun Watson producing and Cincinnati by three points to a Houston team with C.J. Stroud leading them to respectability.
Since I’m hearing that Cincy has a couple defensive linemen joining its list of key players who are out, I’ll take the Ravens, 30-24.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Dallas at Carolina — What, no game in Europe at 9:30 on Sunday morning? Apparently those are done now, but they could move this game over to England or Germany and no one would probably notice. Dallas seems to be good at taking advantage of the weak and innocent, or at least the weak and only slightly corrupt. Cowboys, 38-10.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland — The other two AFC North combatants in the league’s most competitive division top to bottom. Yes, the Steelers have been outgained in every game this season, but they haven’t won them all even with a solid 6-3 record. I was ready to take the Browns until I heard about the end of quarterback Deshaun Watson’s season due to shoulder surgery, plus I always remember how Pittsburgh has dominated division foes Cleveland and Cincinnati over the years. Steelers, 23-20.
Chicago at Detroit — The Lions have every reason to be fat and happy after going out west and surviving the Chargers, but I don’t see the Bears able to take advantage even if Detroit’s caught off guard by the return of Chicago QB Justin Fields. Lions, 31-26.
Los Angeles Chargers at Green Bay — Kinda hoping Jordan Love throws three or four interceptions. Nothing against him or the Packers, but I just want Green Bay fans to see how bad the Chargers are at bumbling away sure wins. So even with four Love picks, I’ll take the Packers, 27-25.
Arizona at Houston — Up-and-coming teams, the Cardinals only because Kyler Murray came back at QB last week and led them to an upset win. Doesn’t matter who the win was against, any Arizona win is an upset win. Houston’s too good to let this feel-good story continue at its expense. Texans, 33-27.
Tennessee at Jacksonville — The Titans as a team have become light tan, off-white or gray, whatever color is really good at just blending in with the background, while Jacksonville is trying to prove it belongs with the AFC’s elite, especially after last week’s humbling by the 49ers. Jaguars, 34-28.
Las Vegas at Miami — The Dolphins can take advantage of certain loose defenses, which I think the Raiders qualify as, especially when Vegas is on the road. Dolphins, 39-30.
New York Giants at Washington — Both teams have had brief glimpses of respectability, Washington about twice as often as it has twice as many wins, four to two. And without the Giants having a serviceable QB, give me the Commanders, 30-24.
Sunday, 4 p.m.
Tampa Bay at San Francisco — As long as San Fran can keep its stars healthy, who’s going to stop them? Certainly not the Bucs. 49ers, 31-19.
New York Jets at Buffalo — Just the memories of Week 1, when the Bills blew their opener in New York despite Aaron Rodgers going down on the fourth play of the season, should burn in their memories to get them right again. Bills, 27-16.
Seattle at Los Angeles Rams — The Seahawks have been reeling, but the Rams are REALLY reeling, especially if Matthew Stafford isn’t available at QB. He might be back, but how good will he be? Just to be safe, let’s take the Seahawks, 26-20.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
Minnesota at Denver — Two more up-and-comers, with the Vikes having won five in a row and Denver three. Who would’ve thought that around Week 3 or 4? As the Broncos are coming off a Monday night game and were basically given their win against Buffalo, I’ll go against the greatest home field advantage in the NFL and take the Vikings, 23-19.
Monday, 8:15 p.m.
Philadelphia at Kansas City — With Sunday night the premier prime-time game in the NFL now, when was the last time the previous Super Bowl combatants met on a Monday night? Should be a doozy. With Philly QB Jalen Hurts hobbling — but still being effective — and the Eagles pulling a number of victories out of the fire at the last second, I’ll take KC’s ability to get over the hump. Chiefs, 34-31.
Last week — 10-4, 71 percent. Season — 93-57, 62 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 552. His email address is email@example.com.