The Week 5 NFL Field Guide



Hello again everyone, it’s that annoying new guy who opens football columns with “Life as a Loser” style digressions and then makes recommendations as to what you should watch. I am already feeling all sorts of love. I expect that to continue.

For the first time in my life, I feel like Tom Brady. No, I don’t feel particularly handsome or have Uggs or a supermodel wife or have every eye in the room trained on me whenever I enter it. It isn’t because I ever have or ever will experience any of those things–though once or twice at frat parties I had those moments when my better looking friends were late–but I know what it’s like to be Tom Brady after his Monday night and my Tuesday night.

One year ago I was found off the scrap heap by a brilliant manager and coach by the name of Evan Grossman. Within four months of having me under his tutelage, I was a star, the MVP of and doing the writer equivalent of Tom Brady grabbing the Lombardi Trophy in 2001. This week, as is restructuring after Evan moved here, I looked like Tom Brady sitting on the sidelines on Monday night.

I was being asked to do something I previously did well, which was write and be entertaining, but do it very differently than I did it in my prime, in a way that was almost reinventing the wheel. And none of my attempts were very good.

That’s insanely frustrating.

Tom Brady is very easy to gameplan against, but he’s hard to beat because he’s very good: get pressure on him, make him do things he’s not comfortable with, make him doubt himself and you win.

It’s hard to do, because for years Brady had a fierce amount of protectors and a solid structure of weapons to utilize so that you couldn’t hit him. But it’s possible this year. Which means all his weaknesses, which always existed, lay naked before us, for our judgment.

The same is true for me as a writer. I like writing original things, but the idea fairy doesn’t visit me as often as the ability to design a solid structure which I can work for all its worth. Taking away my ability to structure things is like taking away Brady’s offensive line; it magnifies my occasional lack of deep threat and reliable slot guy. It makes me expendable. Just like Brady feels.

Mortality at a place you love working is startling. Both Brady and I are feeling it.

So I decided to do something about it. Something Tom Brady cannot do. I started writing here instead.

I had a blast writing at for a year and did pretty well for myself. I was probably most renowned and renounced for this column and for the Homer’s Guide to start the season. But sometimes a writer and a site can love each other very much and know that their Field Guide’s don’t belong together anymore. That is the case here. I’ll still be writing there, but in a different way. Which means you’re stuck with me. Suckers.



Vikings at Packers (TV: CBS 8:25 PM EST Thursday)



Well, well, well it looks like Minnesota has a quarterback. Been a while since we could say that with any degree of confidence. No seriously, we’re talking about Randall Cunningham from 1998. Teddy Bridgewater, or “The Gloves” as I call him with affection, looked like a live one out there against a team that allegedly has a good defense. Imagine if he gets Adrian Peterson back at some point this season? This division is amazing. Evidence of that is on the other side of the ball as Aaron Rodgers, also known as the best NFL quarterback not named Peyton Manning, who told us all to chill and then backed it up by knocking the Chicago Bears around last week. Every game in this division is worth your attention, even if it’s a Thursday game and those are often terrible.


Bengals at Patriots (TV: NBC 8:30 PM EST Sunday)



Are the Patriots really terrible? Because four games into the season, boy do they look it. Meanwhile the Bengals have looked every bit the pyrotechnic offense that could make some actual noise this season and maybe even do something in the post season. Maybe. Don’t trust it. It’s still the Bengals. Anyway, between the Cincinnati teases and the Empire, there is plenty to hate about this game, regardless of the result. Bring your best snark, Twitter, because this game requires it.


Cardinals at Broncos (TV: Fox 4:05 PM EST Sunday)



The Cardinals missed the playoffs last year because they were in the best division in football. But they were certainly worthy of them and have shown that this year under head coach Bruce Arians who’s doing this with Drew Stanton. That would be the same Drew Stanton you remember for trolling Tom Brady in college, going to play baseball with the Yankees, and flaming out with the Dallas Cowboys. Bruce Arians is a wizard. Oh, the quarterback on the Broncos is pretty good too.

Ravens at Colts (TV: CBS 1:00 PM EST Sunday)



AFC Playoff contenders featuring a nice little backstory of the Colts leaving Baltimore in the middle of the night like the dirtbags they were then leading to Baltimore stealing the Cleveland Browns, changing their names and winning two titles. Really good corporate synergies everyone! Seriously though, Andrew Luck is an amazing quarterback and Joe Flacco deserves a golf clap for giving writers the ability to repeatedly debate his value.

Chiefs at 49ers (TV: CBS 4:25 PM EST Sunday)



Had an interesting debate with my buddy Casino Joe Scumaci on our “Two People Arguing” podcast: Is San Fran the only team that, when they get discussed, your first thought is their coach? I could come up with Rex Ryan with the Jets, but that’s because their quarterback situation is such a dumpster fire. Anyone else? Andy Reid with KC maybe? Hit the comments below with suggestions. Oh and it just so happens that the Kool-Aid Man is in this game too. If you were to utilize cutaway shots to the two coaches as some sort of game involving adult beverages, it’d probably work pretty well for ya. Just don’t have to drive anywhere, for the love of god. Your other rule should include something about the quarterback stories. You may have heard about that this week too.

Random Aaron Sorkinism Of The Moment

Bartlet: Affirmative action and quotas are about two different things. Affirmative action is about providing people an opportunity they might not otherwise get.

Sam: I don’t know how you can talk about providing opportunity, while at the same time supporting racial profiling.

Bartlet: What that hell is – I don’t support racial profiling.

Sam: Your nominee for Attorney General did. Can you tell us why you nominated him?

Bartlet: Why?

Sam: Yes.

Bartlet: Cause bite me, that’s why.

CJ: It’s a legitimate question.

Bartlet: It’s been almost four years, Sam. How long do you want to say “I told you so?”

Josh: He wasn’t saying “I told you so,” sir. We need an answer on Rooker.

Bartlet: What’s wrong with “bite me?”

Josh: I think we’d lose.

Toby: Not in New Jersey.

Enjoy your weekend and the games people.

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