In case you missed it this week, there's likely going to be a mild dip (some might say "shortage," but Footballic Ramblings?, we're optimists) in pork availability as ripples from the severe drought this summer, that left American grain and corn stocks in shambles, continue across the globe. Aside: Planet Money has a pretty great breakdown of obscure strategic reserves, Go China! Now, I know what you're thinking, "OH NO! Not my precious bacon," and that's an alright, if not hysteric, concern you've got there, same for you, Jon Q. Gladisavedallthishelium, but a far more immediate threat to our nation's strategic pigskin reserves comes in the form of an entire weekend's worth of "meh" NFL games. The cloud of dread and mediocrity rolled in last night with the old Cleveland Browns muddling their way to victory against the new Cleveland Browns and it won't stop until Sunday night --NY Giants-Philly Eagles, can you say "NBC-directed and overhyped NFC East slobberfest" a Peter King production, natch-- at the earliest, or, more likely, Monday night when the Bears dance with the Cowboys in Dallas. In any case, terrible games have likely never stopped any of us from watching NFL games (we're craven and masochistic like that) so let's consider a few potential smooth spots of road in this potholed segment of the NFL's seasonal highway.
Potentially, Sneakily, Possibly Good Games:
Vikings @ Detroit: The VIkings, before clubbing the Niners like so many baby seals last week, were coming on like some sort of "Cardiac Kids Meets the Bad News Bears" 2K12 outfit. Will the good mojo and good vibes continue in the Motor City? Probably not. But, damn, if the Lions didn't leave the charred remnants of their defense on the side of Highway 65 outside of Nashville after last weekend. Or maybe, the Lions defense never even showed up against the Titans and some toothless, still grinning, ol' timer muttered about how "that defense burnt down 25 years ago, on a night just like tonight..." Megatron devours galaxies whole, Mikel LeShoure is a "SHOURE" bet, and All Day manages to humiliate the Lions D. Prediction: Lions 34, Minnesota 24
San Diego @ Kansas City: I smell shootout. Or, actually, no, I smell Chargers taking the Chiefs to the woodshed for a half and then the Chiefs making some kind of a run, before winning late in the fourth to put the fear of Christ on a cross into Phil Rivers, and thus starting the gears of the "Fire Norv Turner" media machine. "But, teacher, the Chiefs needed overtime to beat the Saints," Pish-posh, youngster, the Chargers are still the Chargers and, y'know, Arrowhead is a death metal concert of a venue. Kansas City 27, Chargers 24
Oakland @ Denver: I'm really ambivalent about the AFC West, so apologies for all this AFC West love. Consider it less an endorsement of *GOOD* football and more an endorsement of entertaining buffoonery with touchdowns.
Can't get enough of this Raiders team and their "This one's for Al" victory against the Steelers last week. This is, in my opinion, the last chance to buy low on the Peyton Manning bandwagon in Denver, so take that for what it's worth. Broncos 24, Raiders 17
Watchable, but by no means AMAZING:
Washington @ Tampa Bay: Any game with RGIII is going to give you some thrill, granted, it's cheaper than normal against a squad like the Buccaneers, but still a thrill. Tampa's secondary, for the abuse it's taken to the tune of over 350 passing ypg., does get its interceptions (six, through three games). So you have fun Robert Griffin, but y'know, within reason.
Aside: The District of Columbia has John Wall, RGIII, Bryce Harper, and Alex Ovechkin on their four major teams right now. Quite a time to be a DC fan and quite a time to remember how wack draft lotteries can be, re: rewarding inadequacy.
New Orleans @ Green Bay: Aaron mad. AARON SMASH! Entirely expecting a Championship Belt-Fest this weekend. Brees, may god be with you, because your defense surely is not. And I am serious, and stop calling me surely.
You're Missing Your Thumbs and Can't Use The Clicker:
San Francisco @ NY Jets: I have no fondness whatsoever for Jim Harbaugh. I consider him a brazen, braying, jackass of a coach who, in my opinion, coaches to within a razor's edge of dirty and questionable tacking/hitting tactics. But the man does get results, which is more than can be said for a lot of NFL coaches. On paper, I love Rex Ryan vs Jim Harbaugh. An eating competition, an Indian-wrasslin' match, arm wrestling, sprints? I'd watch them go head-to-head in any one of those contests. Football-wise? I don't find either squad to be much for entertainment. Brutal, hammer-meet-nail defenses and very uninspiring offenses. SIGH.
Monday Nighter: Bears @ Dallas Cowboys:
Both squads have intimidating pass rushers, DeMarcus Ware for Dallas and, of course, Julius Peppers for the Bears, both also feature surprisingly nasty secondaries, with the Bears in particular gelling and coming together even better than the biggest Chicago homer could've foreseen.
The offenses? That's another story, for both squads. Both feature troublesome and frequent lapses in pass blocking. Both have had more, but still limited, success running the ball and both teams seem to be, even at 2-1 and with a share of the divisional lead, a bad break or two away from having the season going down the drain. Insane? Hyperbolic? Perhaps. But consider the fact that Dallas is dead-last in total offense and is only averaging 15.7 points a game, and the Bears, while averaging a bit more per game, are still not world-beaters and this game could be the key W or L at the end of the year that determines who is going to the playoffs and who is staying home. For Chicago, with the teeth of the schedule still to come --the back half of the Bears schedule comes on like, well, a bear: HOU, @SF, MIN, SEA, @MIN, GB, @ARI, @DET-- this game, though only in Week 4, and on the first of October, is gonna be a big one.
Cowboys 28, Bears 24
Enjoy the games, folks.