Fall is officially upon us, and as the leaves change colors and the nights grow colder and longer, the drudgery of office work becomes even more tedious than usual. Nothing damages the soul quite like leaving the building at 5 p.m. and walking into darkness.
But fret not, cubicle dwellers. Sunday is almost here, and a bevy of storylines are here to get you excited for the weekend of action.
So stop staring at the clock and feast your eyes on some of the most delicious items on Sunday’s NFL feast.
This is the Friday Clock-Watcher's Guide to NFL Week 4.
I feel for our friends over in London. Really, I do.
Sending the 0-3 Pittsburgh Steelers and 0-3 Minnesota Vikings to Wembley Stadium to represent the NFL brand would be like the English Premier League dispatching Aston Villa and Cardiff City to America. The teams just aren’t very good and won’t provide the best quality of game.
Pittsburgh has been awful this season. Are you aware that its once-renowned defense hasn’t forced one turnover yet this season? Don’t listen to anyone who still waxes poetic about the Steelers defense; they’re like the people who still thought The Office was still great once Steve Carell left.
As for the Vikings, they haven’t been able to sustain the momentum from last year’s surprise trip to the postseason. Christian Ponder is their quarterback, and he inspires the same level of confidence as the 10-year-old printer in your office. But now, he is hurt, and backup Matt Cassel will start on Sunday. He makes Ponder look like the lovechild of Tom Brady and Joe Montana.
What if your company wanted to expand internationally and sent two of the worst employees to do so? You wouldn’t feel good about the chances of success overseas.
I just hope that the beer is cold on Sunday in London, because the Brits will have to get their entertainment somewhere.
This Week in Gambling
Did you listen to me last week and take the Seattle Seahawks in your survivor pool? I hope so. They were the stone-cold lock of the millennium in their game against Jacksonville.
In addition, a bunch of dopes in your pool probably took either the Vikings (against the Cleveland Browns) or the San Francisco 49ers (against the Indianapolis Colts) and are now eliminated as a result.
Remember: The goal of survivor pools is inherent in the name—survive. You want to give yourself the best option to win every week. Let some other morons be “cute” with their selections; you can laugh at them as you wave your winnings in their faces.
This week, the best option is the Denver Broncos, who host the Philadelphia Eagles. Forget all the talk about Philadelphia’s offense under Chip Kelly. Forget all the talk about the altitude. There’s only one thing that matters in this game: Denver quarterback Peyton Manning obliterating the Eagles’ atrocious defense.
If you haven’t watched Manning this season, I feel for you. It would be like being a huge television fan and never having seen Breaking Bad. And on Sunday, this matchup would be akin to putting Breaking Bad up against Jersey Shore. There’s no comparison, and one outclasses the other in every way, shape and form.
Now, you might be thinking about taking the Colts, who are in Jacksonville to beat down on the hapless Jaguars. It’s not a bad thought, so I won’t criticize you for it. But remember: The main goal is to survive, and you want to give yourself the best opportunity to do so.
If at all possible, always take a team playing at home. If the game were in Indianapolis, it would be a fantastic pick. The fact that it’s away from home makes it less so.
So go with Denver, and I’ll see you back in this space next week to give you yet another winner, because I’m just that kind of guy.
Now, onto this week’s gambling lesson: If a spread feels too good to be true, it definitely is. Last week, the New York Giants were one-point underdogs against the Carolina Panthers. Everyone and their mother loved the Giants and said there was no way Big Blue would drop to 0-3, blah blah blah.
What happened? The Panthers won, 38-0.
Of course they did.
This weekend, the 0-3 Giants are four-and-a-half point underdogs at 3-0 Kansas City, and you might be tempted to roll with New York again.
But remember this central axiom: Losers bet against streaks, while winners roll with them.
Don’t get sucked in by past performance. This year’s Giants are awful and haven’t proved that they’re worth you wagering your hard-earned money. The spread might feel too high, but again, say it with me: The casinos in Vegas didn’t build themselves.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Turn to Mike Glennon
Imagine that the most important worker in your office, the person you were supposed to turn to for leadership, wasn’t getting the job done. And not only was he not getting the job done, but his attitude was causing you to lose confidence in him.
You would hope that he would be replaced by someone new that you could rely on.
That same situation has recently unfolded in Tampa, with the Buccaneers benching quarterback Josh Freeman in favor of rookie Mike Glennon.
It was an outstanding call by embattled Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, who is trying to save his team’s season. With the Bucs at 0-3 and Freeman performing less efficiently than the guy in your group who took his last tequila shot at 3 a.m., turning to Glennon was a logical decision.
On Sunday, the Bucs host the Arizona Cardinals, and the game will provide an interesting social experiment. Glennon will be asked to lead and salvage the season for Tampa Bay.
It will be fascinating to watch the drama unfold.
My Kingdom for a Quality Prime-Time Game
Let’s be real: The prime-time slate of NFL games thus far this season has stunk. There hasn’t been an entertaining affair since the first half of the Eagles/Redskins game on Monday Night Football in Week 1, and it seems like that was years ago.
Of course, this doesn’t include Carrie Underwood’s opening song on Sunday Night Football, which is always entertaining for a cornucopia of reasons. And by cornucopia, I mean her daisy dukes.
There’s nothing better than an awesome Sunday night game. It’s the flavorful cherry on top of a delicious sundae. It sends you into the workweek feeling good about life.
This weekend should finally feature an exciting contest, as the New England Patriots visit the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday Night Football.
The Patriots sit at 3-0 but haven’t played their best football. Atlanta is a disappointing 1-2 and is already two games behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South.
This is nothing short of a titanic matchup that should send you to bed on Sunday night energized and ready for another week at the office.