On this week’s Dan Patrick Show, Dan and his Danettes had an interesting conversation about the “talk about” cliche sports reporters are known to send out into the world during post-game press conferences. From Mr. Patrick’s perspective, it’s a lazy crutch that deserves a lazy response. Not that you asked, but I agree with the sports broadcasting legend on this front: it is lazy. Sure, post-game pressers less interesting than the Michigan State offense most Saturdays, but if you’re a reporter and you have the opportunity to mine for some interesting material from a world-famous athlete, you should seize.
Unless you’re talking to Jalen Ramsey.
The Jacksonville Jaguars star cornerback is going to give you gold whether or not you ask him a bullshit question. Ramsey is going to give you something to print even if you ask him to talk about what he had for breakfast that morning. Some people are just wired this way, where every single time they speak you can’t help but turn your attention to what it is that they’re saying, even if it’s ninety-three percent trolling. If you asked Ramsey whether he liked his eggs scrambled or over easy, he would probably find a way to sneak in a shot on Patrick Mahomes as a scrambling quarterback and not a *real* quarterback who spends most of his time standing the pocket like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.
We already know how Ramsey feels about basically every quarterback in the National Football League, but until this week the public was not aware of how Ramsey felt about Kansas City Chiefs’ do-it-all guy Tyreek Hill. The former All-Pro corner referred to Hill as a “return specialist”, which had he stopped there would have been enough for me. Instead, the delightful Ramsey made it a point to refer to him as a “return specialist” on multiple occasions, and wanted to ensure that the media present knew that Sunday’s contest against the undefeated Chiefs was not a wide receiver versus cornerback match-up.
Obviously, this is not true. Obviously, Ramsey knows that Hill still very much qualifies as a wide receiver, that Hill dips his toes in the return game but that his role in the slot for Kansas City is where he makes his money. Obviously, this is the kind of statement that will piss Hill off heading into Sunday. It is just Ramsey being a dick, yes, but it is Ramsey being a delightful dick, which can’t be ignored. Ramsey clearly respects Hill and knows the Jags face their biggest test of the season with Mahomes, Kareem Hunt, Hill, Travis Kelce, and more on the docket.
This kind of trolling would only get old if Jalen Ramsey stopped being at good at football. Jalen Ramsey is 23-years-old, hasn’t even entered his prime yet, and plays on one of the most stacked defensive units in the NFL. If Ramsey started to falter, if AJ Bouyei became the clear no. 1 cornerback in Jacksonville, if the Jaguars imploded from within, then this sort of thing becomes a problem. However, it is October 6, 2018, and Jalen Ramsey is one of the best cornerbacks in football who is just having fun being Jalen Ramsey. It’s not just the fact that Ramsey is saying hyperbolic things to invoke the kind of reaction he craves, it’s that he knows none of this really matters. If Ramsey is dominant on Sundays and quarterbacks continue to not look his way, what he says on random Tuesday morning pressers will continue to be irrelevant.
So talk about whatever you’d like, Jalen Ramsey. I’ll be listening and laughing and appreciating you for being Jalen Ramsey, Guy Who Doesn’t Give A Shit.
Point is, talk about more things, Jalen Ramsey. We’re all better off for it.
Alright, let’s get into this week’s picks. (Holy shit, Week 5, already?! Time flies. It feels like just yesterday Ryan Fitzpatrick was strolling up to post-game pressers in Desean Jackson’s wardrobe. Simpler times.)
Broncos vs. Jets (+1)
Case Keenum may not actually be very good. It hurts me to write this, but I can’t shake the feeling that Denver is heading stormier times. The Broncos sit at 2-2 now, but traveling to New York -- Jersey, excuse me -- to face a desperate Jets team just after suffering a back-breaking loss against the Chiefs seems like a recipe for disaster. The Jets get back on track here and beat the Broncos at home.
Packers vs. Lions (+1.5)
Maybe Aaron Rodgers is fine? Maybe Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are all together fine after shutting out a disastrous Buffalo Bills team? This secondary is for real, headlined by rookies Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson, and as pissed off as Aaron Rodgers may be about the state of the Green Bay offense, this is still a team trending in the right direction. Packers win and cover here.
Falcons vs. Steelers (-3)
You’re not going to believe this, but Jalen Richards may not have been a better option than Eric Reid for the Falcons next to Damontae Kazee. It’s funny, though, that the “Falcons really suck in the red zone” conversation feels like years ago now. Calvin Ridley is just a firecracker and the Atlanta offense is fine. Now, the defense lost Grady Jarrett, Duke Riley is not embarrassing himself in coverage, and Takk McKinley is Actually Good, but this secondary is a dumpster fire and the Pittsburgh Steelers have the best wideout group not including the Falcons. Damn it.
Ravens vs. Browns (+3)
Ravens are only favored by three points after beating the Steelers on the road in a huge game just a few days prior? Cleveland is back! (Well, they are not back, but they may be good? OK? Decent? I don’t know, but they are not the 2017 Cleveland Browns, that is for sure.) The Ravens are going to win this game and it is because Baker Mayfield is a rookie quarterback going up against the second-best secondary in the NFL with Jimmy Smith now back in the fold. Ravens win and cover.
Jaguars vs. Chiefs (-3)
Jacksonville is not favored in this game and when I first saw this line I was perplexed. If there was ever a team, outside of the Patriots, that should be expected to neutralize an Andy Reid Offensive Juggernaut, it is the Jaguars of Jacksonville. Mahomes should have surrendered his first turnover last week in Denver, are we sure he doesn’t surrender a pair to Ramsey and Bouye this week? Give me the Jags and the points here.
Dolphins vs. Bengals (-6)
Holy overreaction, Batman! The Fighting Adam Gases get trounced in New England and suddenly this team is giving six on the road to a Cincy team that just lost Tyler Eifert for the season. This smells fishy -- I will not apologize for that -- and I still believe this Miami team is playoff-bound. It’s important to remember this Cincinnati defense is not the defense of a few years ago, and the group of Devante Parker, Kenny Stills, Jakeem Grant, and Albert Wilson should be too much too handle for this Bengals’ secondary. Give me Dolphins and the points here.
Giants vs. Panthers (-6)
Are we sure the Panthers shouldn’t be favored by 23 here? The Giants may be the worst team in the NFL, or, at the very least, the most unwatchable when Saquon Barkley does not have the football. The Norv Turner Resurrection is for real, Christian McCaffrey is going to gash this defense and the Panthers are going to score too much to keep this close. Give me the Panthers and the points.
Titans vs. Bills (5.5)
What I am about to do here is not for the faint of heart: the Buffalo Bills are going to ruin somebody else’s Survivor Pool here. The Titans are not as good as their record and the Bills are every bit as Jekyll and Hide as advertised. Josh Allen just a few weeks ago shredded a once vaunted Minnesota defense, fell flat on his face in Green Bay, and will now shred a Currently Vaunted Tennessee Titans defense. Give me the Bills and the points.
Chargers vs. Raiders (+5.5)
This has all the makings of another inexcusable stink bomb for the Los Angeles Chargers. This franchise made their bones on losing games like this, and the Raiders needed “outside” help to beat the Browns last week to avoid an 0-4 hole, a black hole if you will. I am not selling my stock on the Chargers Are Going To Be Fine island, as the talent disparity between the two clubs should be the difference for the Chargers. Give me the Chargers, but the Raiders cover.
Cardinals vs. 49ers (-3.5)
The San Francisco 49ers are favored against the Arizona Cardinals without their starting quarterback, without their starting running back, without really any offensive weapons outside of their tight end, and Kyle Shanahan’s group is favored by 3.5 against the Cardinals. If this isn’t rock bottom for Arizona, I don’t know what is. Still, Josh Rosen posted the best rookie QB debut grade since PFF has been tracking players last week. The Niners win here but I like the Cardinals to cover and keep it close.
Vikings vs. Eagles (-3)
Who knows here? The Eagles choked away a win against the Tennessee Titans last week, and the Vikings are in desperation mode. This Philly offensive line isn’t the same as last year, but Carson Wentz should be able to out duel Kirk Cousins at home, right? The Vikings are 1-2-1, their secondary is getting lit up, and their offensive line is once again a mess. Point is, I’m really worried about my preseason Steelers vs. Vikings Super Bowl pick. Give me the Eagles and the points here.
Rams vs. Seahawks (+7.5)
Can I make this my Lock of the Week? The Seattle Seahawks are not winning a shootout with the Los Angeles Rams. Chris Carson is dinged up, Earl Thomas is out for the season, Brian Schottenheimer is their offensive coordinator, and really everything about this Seattle group stinks. It turns out Jared Goff may not be a system quarterback after all? (Author’s note: I’ve watched that bomb to Cooper Kupp in the back of the endzone at least fifteen times since Thursday Night Football. Going Goff, anyone?!
Cowboys vs. Texans (-3)
I will not be watching this game. The Cowboys defensive line should feast on the Texans’ offensive line, but they probably won’t. The Texans should score 35 on the Cowboys, but they probably won’t. The Cowboys should control the clock and win this game 17-13, but they probably won’t. These two teams are going to be frustrating to watch all year. Give me the Texans and the points.
Redskins vs. Saints (-6)
The Redskins are the best team that casual NFL fans all think suck. I have no data to back this assertion, but I think it’s true. The Redskins have Jim Tomsula coaching one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, Alex Smith just wins regular season games, and Washington is good not great from top to bottom. They’re not real Super Bowl contenders, but they’re also not the New York Giants. Drew Brees won’t have his best day here, and Josh Norman will likely get flustered in this game. Give me the Saints but the ‘Skins cover.