Ravens-Broncos Pick: Peyton vs. Wacka Wacka Flacco
Labor Day infuriates me. On the first weekend of September, summer is still going strong. And yet, we arbitrarily end it three weeks before the season even changes. It’s like being in the middle of a mind-blowing exotic threesome on a Thai beach, suddenly stopping and deciding, “I’m going back to Detroit!”
The only thing that quells my anger? The return of football. There’s perhaps no more magical feeling than watching that first Thursday Night kick return, knowing that you have 256 games in front of you. It feels like being Tyrone Biggins at a free crack giveaway, except instead of smoking crack, you’re gambling an irresponsible amount of money on Peyton Manning.
Or maybe you’re just stoned as shit and shoving nacho-drenched pizza in your mouth while mainlining high life. Everyone has their vice. I have several, and football is the perfect reason to indulge all of them.
Over the next five glorious months, I’m going to pick 256 regular season games against the spread, plus another 11 in the playoffs. Sometimes I’ll get serious and reference advanced stats and shark-driven line movements. Other times I’ll just imagine Andy Reid in a tutu eating fried chicken while discussing Michael Vick’s impact in American race relations. Lets get to it.
Ravens (+7.5) over BRONCOS
Pros: Not making the same mistake as last year, when I laid 8 points on the Broncos in the Divisional Round and they screwed me over. The fact that the Broncos have no pass rush after the team accidentally released Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller got himself suspended.
Cons: Betting against Peyton Manning at night. Betting on Wacka Wacka Flacco’s miraculous playoff performance carrying over, when—let’s be honest—he’s probably still the kind of average quarterback that stars in local Pizza Hut commercials. The idea that the Ravens can’t replace a third of their starters with the GRIT under John harbaugh ‘s fingernails.
On one hand, I think that the loss of fast-aging veterans like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin are overblown. Successful NFL owners treat their players like they treat their first wives, recycling them for a younger incarnation as soon as they start their inevitable decline. (Or, if you’re Dan Snyder, you keep them around and soak your sorrow with whiskey and hookers in your luxury box.)
But this is one game, in particular, where you could argue that Baltimore’s aging group of suspected murderers and open-field assassins would come in handy; as Al Michaels will tell you 15 times tonight, playing Peyton Manning is a chess match…against a douchey guys who says things like “Rook to Queen 7 HUT!” Ray Lewis always seemed like be smoked a shit ton of meth before games, but that dude knew how to handle his pre-snap foreplay. He probably couldn’t cover Louis C.K. the past two years, but he knew how to decode an audible.
Still, that’s an easy narrative to latch onto; the reality is that Ed Reed and Ray Lewis were oft-injured and slow, and Bernard Pollard wasn’t that useful outside of ruining opponent’s careers. The Ravens defense still sports savvy veterans like Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, and have impressive size on the outside in Corey Graham and Lardarius Webb. And the addition of Elvis Dumervil at outside linebacker in tandem with Terrell Suggs should put some serious pressure on Manning.
Plus, wouldn’t you be pissed off if you were the defending champs and somehow found yourself underdogs by more than a touchdown? Take the points. And a shot. Because it’s FOOTBALL season, baby, and time to act like a completely irrational fool.
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