Cook’s NFL Picks: Week 4 Thursday Edition!

 

Hi, hello & welcome to Week 4 of the National Football League! After another nine-win week we’re back again for some more picks. We’re on a really good run here of Thursday night picks, as the Patriots’ destruction of the Texans got us to 3-0 on the season. The only thing that could possibly get in our way: My favorite team making a Thursday night appearance, causing me to either view things with rose-colored glasses or doom & despair depending on how they’re doing at the moment. But I’m sure that won’t be happening anytime soon.

Thursday, September 29

Miami at Cincinnati (-7)

Well wouldn’t you know it. My favorite team shows up on Thursday night to ruin my pick streak before it really gets going. The Bengals have ruined so many things in my life that I stopped keeping track. This season they currently sit at 1-2 after losing two straight against the Steelers & Broncos. Granted, when the dust clears at the end of the season those teams will likely be on top of the AFC, but the Bengals will certainly not be for the simple reason that they can’t beat the best teams in the NFL.

Fortunately for the Bengals, the Miami Dolphins are not one of the best teams in the NFL, and haven’t been since the retirement of Dan Marino. They did win a playoff game in 2000 with Jay Fiedler, but other than that brief flirtation with relevance the Dolphins have been the embodiment of mediocre in the 21st century. At least they can say their franchise has won a playoff game more recently than the Bengals have, if that’s something worth bragging about. I wouldn’t think so, but Dolphins fans are still beating their chest over 1972, so who knows.

Sports fans are known for not letting things in the past remain in the past, but usually in my experience it’s the negative stuff they get really worked up about. Kentucky basketball fans are the worst about this. One time my best friend that happens to be a UK fan was going on about Christian Laettner and what a horrible human being he was…I responded with something along the lines of “Dude, it was over twenty years ago, let it go man!”, and he looked at me like I’d pooped in his corn flakes. But yeah, every Dolphins fan I know brags about 1972. None of them were alive in 1972. Doesn’t stop them.

So what’s going on in 2016? The Dolphins played the Seahawks closeish & made their game with the Patriots close thanks to garbage time, so we thought they’d play pretty well in Week 3 against the Browns. Yeah, about that…not so much. When you need overtime to finish off a team everybody is saying will be 0-16 (they won’t be, but they’re really ungood), it’s probably not a good sign. Miami’s running game is a confusing mess, which is fine because teams are having problems running on the Bengals anyway. The Bengals are getting beat by the passing game, which means that Jarvis Landry & DeVante Parker are going to need to have big games. Kenny Stills too, and maybe even some Jordan Cameron Jordan.

The Miami defense has been pretty bad, especially at stopping the run. They’re second-worst in the NFL against the run, which means that the Bengals need to figure out what the hell’s going on with their running game. Giovani Bernard, who was given a big contract extension during the off-season, has only run the ball five times each of the first three games & has only been targeted by Andy Dalton five times each of the first three games. That’s not nearly enough opportunities for Gio to get involved in the offense, assuming that’s something you want to do. Jeremy Hill had a nice 50 yard run and a couple of goal line plunges in Week 3, but other than that he’s been pretty irrelevant. Hopefully the offensive line can get on track & spring some runners this week.

On paper, this should be a win for the Bengals. You’d take Andy Dalton over Ryan Tannehill, the Bengals RBs over the Dolphins RBs, AJ Green over the Dolphins WRs, and the Bengals defense over the Dolphins defense. I take a look at that seven-point line though, and that’s a lot in today’s NFL. Most games aren’t going to be a blowout like we saw last Thursday. Also keep in mind that the Dolphins are 9-2 against the spread in their last 11 games against the Bengals, and I think the Dolphins should keep it close enough to be the smart bet here. Since it’s the Bengals and prime time, I wouldn’t be shocked if Miami won it somehow. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time the Bengals lost to an opponent they beat on paper.

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At least the uniforms will look cool.

Week 3 Results: 9-6-1

2016 Results: 27-20-1 (3-0 on Thursday)

 

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