Week 9 picks: Blame

Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

How people respond when things don’t go their way is a fascinating topic to me. Some people blame others. Some people blame “the system”. Some people blame circumstances. Some people say something is lacking (frequently money) while others claim there is too much of something (like leaks to the press).

Just this week, the Lions fired their defensive coordinator Aubrey Pleasant and the Colts fired Marcus Brady, their offensive coordinator. Under no circumstances will I attempt to argue that either one of these squads is good. On the contrary, both squads stink. But, by firing their coordinators, will either the Lions’ defense or the Colts offense get any better?

Well, I think we need to look at several factors. First, cornerback Darius “Big Play” Slay was once a Detroit Lion, but was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles (where he is in consideration for All-Pro recognition) after the 2019 season in return for 3rd and 5th round draft choices. I don’t know, it seems like an All-Pro cornerback is worth more than that. The Lions also had current Seattle Seahawk safety Quandre Diggs, whom in 2019 the Lions traded along with a seventh round pick for a 5th round pick (??!!##) in the 2020 NFL Draft. Watching Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle run completely free in the Lions secondary while garnering over 300 yards receiving IN ONE GAME I ask you to consider that maybe the real blame for the demise of the Lions defense is really whoever made these…ahhh, stupid trades. Then there’s some bad moves in the draft, like passing on now Steelers’ All Pro and 2020 Defensive Player of the Year  pass rusher T.J. Watt. Those are just three of the many bad moves the Lions have made recently with their defensive personnel. Are the Lions implying that their bad defense is Pleasant’s fault? 


Similarly, the Colts have made several bad personnel moves with their offense, especially with their quarterbacks. Remember, the Colts once had a really good QB, but their Luck ran out when Andrew walked away from the game. Since then, the Colts have tried Jacoby Brissett, Philip (Interception!) Rivers, Carson Wentz, and Matt Ryan before turning to THE Sam Ehlinger. All of these QBs before Ehlinger had their faults (including age) but they were all at least ok (heck, Ryan was even MVP!) before playing in Indianapolis. If they were just not very good, shouldn’t the Colts have seen that BEFORE investing? Was Brady the one who decided that all these quarterbacks were good before deciding they weren’t?

So, heads are rolling, but are the right heads rolling? Who deserves the blame?

Is it the police’s fault if I am pulled over for DUI? Is it the student’s fault when he gets an “F”? Is it my boss’ fault that I am not qualified for a promotion? Is it the voting machines’ fault when a candidate loses an election? Is it the players’ fault when my fantasy team loses? I guess all of the above are possible…

Anyway, last week I was 3-3, and I’m not happy about it. In fact, I’m mad. I think it’s the scoreboard operator’s fault, because there is just NO WAY I lost my picks because I just couldn’t have. I have the proof, somewhere. I think it’s the referees’ fault because they are radically anti-me. The players all hate me and are working against me. The coaches you see talking are proof that they are talking about ways to beat me. Monday Night Football and ESPN are against me because I always lose on Monday night, and that’s just not possible. If I lose, it’s because of the rigged system against me, and if I win, it’s because I’m so smart. Let me tell you…

Ok, ok. I’m ok now. I just needed a minute. Here are this week’s (hopefully better) picks against the spread. Lines are from on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

New England Patriots (-5 ½) vs Indianapolis Colts: I don’t like the Patriots giving 5 ½ to anyone, but have you seen what the Patriots defense does to rookie quarterbacks?

New York Jets (+13) vs Buffalo Bills: Too many points to give a good team at home.

Detroit Lions (+3) vs Green Bay Packers: The Lions’ defense vs the Packers’ offense…someone HAS to win, right?

Las Vegas Raiders (+1 ½) at Jacksonville Jaguars: The Raiders are not that bad, I hope.

Arizona Cardinals (-2) vs Seattle Seahawks: If the Cardinals ever stop beating themselves, they might be pretty good.

Chicago Bears (+5) vs Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are going to have to beat a team on the road that can actually defend against the forward pass. And they’re giving 5.

Last week 3-3

Season 24-20

Robert’s picks

North Carolina (-7) at Virginia: Ever look at a line and think it looks too easy. That’s how this one looks. North Carolina is averaging 41.8 points per game, and freshman quarterback Drake Maye has 29 touchdown passes and three interceptions. Virginia averages 16.9 points per game and its quarterback Brennan Armstrong has floundered with six touchdowns and nine picks after throwing 31 touchdowns last year. But last year’s Virginia offensive coordinator, Robert Anae, is at Syracuse this year, where he’s worked magic with Garrett Shrader, who until this year was a runner who couldn’t throw. Anything less than a dominant North Carolina win would be an absolute surprise.

Wake Forest (-3 1/2) at North Carolina St.: That was some kind of performance by Wake Forest last week, turning the ball over six times in the third quarter and twice more in the fourth to turn a 14-13 halftime lead into a blowout loss. That’s the kind of game good teams bounce back from.

Marshall (-3) at Old Dominion: My biggest sin last week was not including Coastal Carolina over Marshall in my picks in this column last week. But even in defeat, Marshall’s defense was outstanding against the Chanticleers, as it has been all season. I like that defense to get them back in the win column this week.

Syracuse (+3) at Pittsburgh: I’m coming back on another of my losers from last week with the Orangemen. It might have been a lapse in judgment to lay points with them against Notre Dame, but now they’re coming off two consecutive losses, but their running game matches up exceptionally well against Pitt’s terrible run defense.

Bears (+4 ½) over Dolphins: The Bears finally showed they might have figured out how to run an offense that suits Justin Fields’ strengths. The Dolphins are going to be in a dogfight in this one, and I’m not sure they win the game, much less cover.

Packers (-3 ½) at Lions: Everything that has happened this season points against this one, but apologies to Jim. I think Aaron Rodgers does enough to get out this one with a win by a touchdown.

Raiders (-1 ½) at Jaguars: I guess I’m a sucker for punishment. This makes three bets this week on teams that I lost on last week. Given the circumstances, that performance last week by the Raiders was as bad as I’ve seen from an NFL in a long time. I’ll call that one a mulligan and expect better this week.

Last week

College 1-2

NFL 1-1


College 11-22-1

NFL 8-11

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