Week 4 picks: Concentrate on the positive


Watching the catch that Steelers’ wideout George Pickens made Thursday night got me thinking again how I could never have been a wide receiver in the NFL because I’m not now, and never was, good enough. 

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be a part of the NFL, I just have to find my place. When I played, I was too small to play inside, and not fast enough to play outside. I have a decent arm, but my hands are too small to grip an NFL football. I tried to be a long snapper, but the rushing linemen got to the holder or punter before my snap did. I tried being a holder for field goals, but the snap from a real long snapper comes a LOT faster than I anticipated. Luckily, our straight on place kicker had a cup on.

So, I have decided to concentrate on a role in the NFL I can play instead of the many roles I can’t. Here are the possible roles I have come up with so far:

  1. A backup quarterback. Last Monday night, Troy Aikman said, “Being a backup quarterback in the NFL is a good job, until you have to play.”

I agree with Troy. It doesn’t seem ability is the main criteria for 


securing a backup QB spot in the NFL. Based on my totally anecdotal observations, it seems that being white, remaining standing during the National Anthem, and looking good in a baseball cap are what NFL teams look for in a backup QB. I can do all those things, although not many say that I look good in a baseball cap except for my wife; 

  1. The guy who runs out and picks up the kicking tee 

after kickoffs. Actually, I think I look more like that guy than the backup QB in a baseball cap;

  1. The guy with the long orange gloves who signals the ref that TV is 

back from commercials. How hard can that be?

  1. The guy who stands on the sidelines with the clear sound thingy. 

This job, although it looks easy, seems dangerous. I have seen that poor guy have his legs taken out from under him many times when the play comes his way. Maybe I should think more about this one; 

  1. The people who squeeze the water bottles’ water into the players’ 

mouths. This would be cool because not only do these people get a lot of TV time, this job would also give me the opportunity to “accidentally” squirt the players I don’t like. Maybe that’s why many of the people I see doing this job are female. My wife says she would never squirt anyone;

  1. The “get back” coach. Every team has a “coach” whose main job is 

to keep players and real coaches from creeping too close to the playing field. These guys are always annoying, and my family says that describes me. Surprisingly to me, anyway, I have never seen anyone challenge the get back coach;

  1. The player who tries to get the crowd to cheer louder. Come to 

think of it, you don’t see many players in the NFL who only do this. I guess this is more of a high school thing; 

  1. The guy who keeps track of Tom Brady’s helmet and tablets. 

Obviously, the GOAT has to look good on the sidelines, and no one looks better than Brady without a helmet. But, as important as it is to look good, a helmet is necessary to play so as not to pull a Thurman Thomas. Hence, the need for this job. Since only keeping a helmet at the ready is so easy, you also have to dodge flying tablets to earn your pay.

See? There are still things I can do, even at my age. I chose to see my NFL beer glass as half full instead of half empty.

It’s still up in the air if one of the roles I can play is that of an NFL predictor. Sometimes I’m right on, but sometimes a set of darts and a dart board would be just as good. I’ll try again this week to pick NFL games against the spread. Lines are from on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

New Orleans Saints (+2 ½) vs. Minnesota Vikings (London) This is a safe pick because how many people around here are going to get up at 6:30 AM to watch it? So, no one will remember this pick.

New York Jets (+3 ½) at Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh can not stop the run, the biggest of their many problems.

Baltimore Ravens (+3 ½) vs Buffalo Bills This should be a wild one. 

Green Bay Packers (-10 ½) vs. New England Patriots Wow, how far has New England fallen? I don’t know if the Pats, with a career backup QB, will score at all against the Packers’ defense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+2 ½) vs Kansas City Chiefs Mike Evans is back, other receivers might be, and Cole Beasley has more than 1 day of practice under his belt. But, the best thing going for the Bucs is their defense.

LA Rams (+2 ½) at SF 49ers The wrong team is favored. The 49ers seem to be more affected by injuries than any team in the NFL, and they’ve got plenty now.

Last week: 5-2

Season: 12-8

Robert’s picks

Northwestern +25 ½ at Penn St.: Northwestern has been a very good underdog through the years because they find ways to keep games close. Penn St. faces Michigan next week and will probably play a pretty vanilla game plan here, looking to win and move on. If they do pull away, I expect them to keep things close to the vest .

UCLA (+2 ½) over Washington: Washington has been impressive so far, probably more so than UCLA, but this is by far their biggest test to date, and I look for the Bruins to pull this one out at home.

Kentucky (+7) at Mississippi: Ole Miss has been running the ball down the throats of overmatched foes so far this year, but run defense is the strength of the Kentucky team, and Kentucky quarterback Will Levis is a better player than Ole Miss triggerman Jaxson Dart. Better defense and better QB, getting a touchdown. I’ll sign up for that every time.

East Carolina (-9) at South Florida: This game has been moved to Boca Raton because of Hurricane Ian. East Carolina stumbled last week against Navy, and quarterback Holton Ahlers struggled in particular. Ahlers has typically responded well from poor outings in his career, but they’re a very well coached team with big play threats and a diverse offense. South Florida is just plain bad.

Steelers (-3) over Jets: Zach Wilson is likely to make his return this week for the Jets after spraining a knee ligament in the preseason. I like Wilson as a prospect, but injuries have hampered his development so far. The Steelers have lost two straight after opening the season with a win at the Bengals, so they’ll be focused and determined here, and I don’t expect Wilson to be particularly sharp after missing several weeks.

Broncos (+2 ½) at Raiders: The Raiders, and particularly quarterback Derek Carr, have taken a clear step backward this season under new coach Josh McDaniel. Considering he was a flop as Broncos coach, I’m not sure it’s something he has the chops to turn around. With the game on the line Sunday night, the Broncos finally turned Russell Wilson loose. I think they’ll do that much more here.

Last week

College: 0-2-1

NFL: 2-1


College: 3-9-1

NFL: 5-3

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