Hurley’s Picks: Rampant Losing Running Its Course Through NFL’s First Five Weeks

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about losing lately. There seems to be a lot of it going around the NFL.

Of course, every game has a winner and a loser (except for the occasional tie, Donovan), but when you look up and down the standings through five weeks of NFL action, you see some very busy L columns.

The Chiefs are the only undefeated team at 5-0, while there are three defeated teams at 0-5. There’s not even a 4-1 team in the AFC; there are six 3-2 teams as well as a 3-1 team. All four teams in the AFC East have two losses apiece, and every team in the AFC North, AFC South and NFC West has at least two losses.

There’s certainly quite a bit of losing being spread out over the league. And as a result, the NFL’s middle class is currently a bit crowded.

That must make life very difficult for the power rankers out there when they’re sorting out teams 3 through 12 on their weekly little lists.

But to be honest, positive power rankings don’t interest me much at all. I’m much more entranced by some negative power rankings. In that spirit, let’s go ahead and POWER RANK the league’s 0-5 teams and explain why each situation is so pathetically hopeless for each franchise.

LET’S RANK WITH POWER!

3. Cleveland Browns
The Browns are the best 0-5 team, which is to say they’re the least embarrassing of the 0-5 teams. But that’s only because every year we just kind of expect this from the Browns. It’s only news if they’re not 0-5. An 0-5 Browns team is like wallpaper. Yeah, it’s there. But unless you really try to focus on it, you don’t even really see it.

2. San Francisco 49ers
Everybody keeps saying this about the 49ers: four of their losses have come by just three points! They could be 4-1! Anyone saying this deserves a brisk boot to the behind. Do you know what the difference is between winning and almost winning? It’s the winning part. And winning teams figure out a way to conquer that winning hurdle. Losing teams don’t.

So please stop saying that.

1. New York Giants
This is just a trainwreck all around, which is something we all saw coming as soon as Ben McAdoo gave his introductory press conference in a suit five sizes too big. Granted it took an extra year, but we finally got here. The Giants just have no excuse to be winless. Zero. And what’s rough now is that in losing Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall, the team has almost no chance to climb out of the hole and make this season even remotely interesting. And injuries like that make it so that it’s not even fun anymore. Then again, the Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie/Ben McAdoo fight? As the youths say online, I am “here for it.”

(It didn’t feel good typing that. Never again.)

So congrats to the Giants. At No. 1 in my special rankings, they have finally won something this year. Let’s make some picks.

(Thursday lines; home team in CAPS)

Philadelphia (+3.5) over CAROLINA
Two 4-1 teams … both playing well … with bankable quarterbacks … and good defenses … on a Thursday night? What sorcery is this?

The Eagles have the potential to score more points, and given the way they’ve been playing teams tight, I don’t love the Panthers’ chances of winning by more than a field goal.

NEW YORK JETS (+10) over New England
It’s tempting to sit here and say, “This is the week the Patriots look like the Patriots and blow doors and win by 100 and yada yada yada.” And I do feel that way.

But I can’t ignore the history of the Patriots at MetLife Stadium, Post-Butt Fumble division. Since 2013, the Patriots are 2-2 when visiting the Jets. Their two wins were by five points and one point. They lost twice in overtime.

The Jets overall in those four years went 27-37. The Patriots went 50-14 with two Super Bowl wins.

I don’t get it, either. But hey, the Patriots generally have trouble in New Jersey. That’s enough to take the 10 spot.

BALTIMORE (-6.5) over Chicago
Didn’t love the way Mitch(ell) Trubisky looked at home. Probably won’t love him on the road on a short week. Assuming John Fox has emptied out his bag of trick plays, Chicago might struggle to even compete. The extra half-point really helps with this one, though, to be honest, because the Ravens aren’t very good at football, in my opinion. (That’s right. You just saw four commas in one sentence.)

HOUSTON (-10) over Cleveland
It’s never easy for a team to move on from losing players like J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. It does, however, help when the next team on your schedule is the Browns.

ATLANTA (-12) over Miami
Hey, just a question here, but did anything happen with the Dolphins this week that might have distracted them from their jobs? Like, I know they’re pretty bad as it is, but … I feel like I heard something on the news about some off-field type of controversial story or something? I could’ve sworn there was a tweet about it. Maybe I just imagined it, I guess.

Hmm. Odd. Anyway. Falcons in a rout.

Green Bay (-3) over MINNESOTA
So, is anybody going to tell me what in the world Sam Bradford was doing out there last Monday? The man looked like a man who woke up from a four-year nap and somehow kept accidentally stumbling onto an NFL field and ducking for cover immediately upon realizing where he is. That was bizarre.

Teams don’t recover from that kind of stink for a while.

WASHINGTON (-10) over San Francisco
DID YOU KNOW THAT THE 49ERS HAVE LOST FOUR GAMES BY THREE POINTS? THEY COULD BE 4-1!!!

They could be. Four. And. One.

Detroit (+4.5) over NEW ORLEANS
Tampa Bay (-1.5) over ARIZONA

KANSAS CITY (-4.5) over Pittsburgh
DENVER (-12) over New York Giants
TENNESSEE (Mariota mystery) over Indianapolis
OAKLAND (Carr mystery) over Los Angeles Chargers

Not a particularly enticing four pack of football games here, if I’m being honest, which I rarely am.

Los Angeles Rams (+2.5) over JACKSONVILLE
Imagine if you could go back in time, long ago to maybe … July. Now imagine I told you that the Rams-Jaguars game would be the PICK OF THE WEEK in mid-October. The pick. Of the dang. Week.

I hope Leonard Fournette’s injury is nothing serious, because it’s fun watching that 22-year-old treat would-be tacklers like bowling pins. And that defense is electric. No ifs/ands/buts; the Jaguars defense is for real.

That being said … I … I’m sorry but I’m going to need some time before I magically start believing the Jacksonville Jaguars are capable of putting together solid performances in consecutive weeks. They’ve gone win-loss-win-loss-win since the season began, and frankly, I’m not ready to buy in to the concept of two straight wins for the Jacksonville Jaguars. That kind of trust takes time to develop, and while I’m open to the possibility, I’m just not ready to commit.

It’s not you, Jaguars. It’s me. (Just kidding, it’s totally you.)

Last week: 8-5-1
Season:
33-42-1

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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