Eric Walden's NFL Four Downs: Be a jerk or throw a pick and you get a demerit
First down: Baltimore at Kansas City
11 a.m., TV • Ch. 2
The skinny • It seems far longer than a mere two seasons ago that the Ravens and Chiefs were meeting in an AFC playoff battle. Since then, Baltimore has solidified its status as one the league's pre-eminent contenders, while K.C. has become a prime candidate for relegation should the NFL's suits take their London infatuation too far and decide the English Premier League is really onto something. So what the hell is going on out there in Missourah? Well, considering QB Matt Cassel has 10 turnovers by himself more than 27 of the league's 32 teams the problem could be that every time the Chiefs get the ball, they're re-gifting it faster than that book you got from your mother-in-law last Christmas.
The line • Ravens by 61/2.
The pick • Ravens. Hmmm, a team known for committing turnovers vs. a team known for forcing them â¦ wonder how that'll turn out.
Second down: Green Bay at Indianapolis
11 a.m., TV • Ch. 13
The skinny • By all accounts, Andrew Luck has been everything in Indy anyone could have hoped for. He's shown progress on the field (including handing the Vikes their only loss) and made no waves off it. All quiet on the Midwestern front. Maybe too quiet. Perhaps he's really got a dark side that should warrant Tebow-like levels of attention and engages in forms of debauchery wild enough to make Prince Harry blush. I can see it now: After Sunday's final whistle, the golden boy jogs toward King Cheesehead Aaron Rodgers on the Lucas Oil Field turf, leans in, and instead of wishing him well, gives him two middle fingers and, in his best "Gran Torino" Eastwood, tells him to "Get off my lawn." Just remember, I called it first.
The line • Packers by 7.
The pick • Packers. Even if he's a jerk, it's hard to taunt anyone when you've just lost by three touchdowns.
Third down: Denver at New England
2:25 p.m., TV • Ch. 2
The skinny • The easy storyline is this is roughly the 603rd installment of "Manning vs. Brady!!!" a bit of lazy thinking which fails to take into account is that the N.E. QB was rendered utterly irrelevant last week against Buffalo, and consequently will have zero impact on the Pats' fortunes going forward. In case you missed it, rookie Brandon Bolden rushed for 137 yards and a TD while second-yearer Stevan Ridley had 106 yards with two TDs, making them the first pair of Patriots RBs to surpass 100 yards on the ground in a single game since 1980. So enjoy your forthcoming retirement, Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. your quaint little forward-passing services will no longer be required.
The line • Patriots by 61/2.
The pick • Patriots. Peyton Manning is a future Hall of Famer, but can one of him out-rush the two of them? Didn't think so.
Fourth down: San Diego at New Orleans
6:20 p.m., TV • Ch. 5
The skinny • Roger Goodell's suspension policies lack, shall we say, consistency and common sense. Sean Payton gets a full season off for a bounty program that injured no one, but the Broncos' D.J. Williams gets nine games for driving drunk, using 'roids, and trying to pass a drug test by using animal urine? Makes as much sense as Dwight Schrute's proposed penalties for a misbehaving Jim Halpert: "Three demerits and you'll receive a citation. â¦ Five citations and you're looking at a violation. Four of those and you'll receive a verbal warning. Keep it up, and you're looking at a written warning."
The line • Saints by 31/2.
The pick • Saints. The whole suspended gang has received permission to be in-house for Drew Brees' special night. Except they're not allowed to have contact. Well, they can have contact, but can't speak. OK, they can speak, but only about the weather.
â¦ and eight to go
Atlanta at Washington, 11 a.m. • Matty Ice flourishing in Hotlanta is a testament to his mastery of both quarterbacking and thermodynamics.
Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, 11 a.m. • The returns of Polamalu, Harrison and Mendenhall would mean more if it were still 2008.
Cleveland at N.Y. Giants, 11 a.m. • Trent Richardson infuriates the G-Men by tweeting,"I think we can have success in the running game." Pretty inflammatory stuff. Especially since N.Y. is 22nd in rush defense.
Miami at Cincinnati, 11 a.m. • I'm sure someone somewhere is excited about this game. Perhaps they can even explain why.
Seattle at Carolina, 2:05 p.m. • Where's Wayne Elliott when you need him?
Chicago at Jacksonville, 2:05 p.m. • If only staying healthy were one of Matt Forte's fortes.
Buffalo at San Francisco, 2:25 p.m. • Good thing for the Bills that they spent all those millions in the offseason, or their defense would be pretty terri â¦ Oh.
Tennessee at Minnesota, 2:25 p.m. • Good thing for the Bills that the Titans' defense is on pace to give up the most points ever, thus making Buffalo merely mediocre by comparison.
Byes • Dallas, Detroit, Oakland, Tampa Bay