The midway point of the 2013 NFL season arrives with Week 9, as all teams will have at least half the schedule complete at the close of business Monday night.
With that in mind, I anoint Employees of the Month for each NFL team. As a reward, they get the corner office for November, get to choose the Friday catering service of their choice, and get to park right next to the head coach. Keep in mind, these are biased picks nominated by the Employee of the Month selection committee, consisting of a blue-ribbon panel that includes myself.
Bye Week Teams
Denver Broncos – Julius Thomas, catches Peyton Manning’s touchdown passes, seemingly every last one of them.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Justin Blackmon, 14 catches, 190 yards in a game will do the trick. Now if he can get through the bye week without making the police blotter.
New York Giants – Peyton Hillis, his career has gone full circle. From out of nowhere, to the Madden cover, to oblivion, and back to being somewhat relevant again.
Detroit Lions – Calvin Johnson, skipped a game, but made up for it with ridiculous 329-yard effort.
Arizona Cardinals – Andre Ellington, breakout game with 154 yards rushing. As one employee gets the spoils, another gets a pink slip. Rashard Mendenhall, your services are no longer needed.
San Francisco 49ers – Aldon Smith. Hey, it worked in a Sopranos episode.
Now for the picks.
WEEK 8: 6-7
WEEK 8: 1-2
Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) -3 at Miami Dolphins (3-4)
Can You Feel it? CAN YOU FEEL IT?? When in doubt, go with Nebraska Cornhuskers. Rex Burkhead and Richie Incognito come on down! Incognito also takes on all security guards at South Beach clubs. ATS PICK: Bengals
Kansas City Chiefs (8-0) -3 at Buffalo Bills (3-5)
Tight End Sean McGrath, whose beard qualifies for a postseason roster spot on the Boston Red Sox, is my Kansas City EOM. For the Bills I nominate Jim Leonhard, a good old-fashioned company man. ATS PICK: Chiefs
Minnesota Vikings (1-6) +10 at Dallas Cowboys (4-4)
Greg Jennings is the Vikes EOM because he never would get that kind of love in Green Bay. The Cowboys do not get a Monday Night game until December, so annoying Gruden Grinder awards will have to wait. Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher and his career high seven sacks will have to settle for this for now. ATS PICK: Cowboys
Tennessee Titans (3-4) -3 at St. Louis Rams (3-5)
I will leave Employee of the Month for the Titans blank as the franchise honors the memories of legendary coach Bum Phillips and owner Bud Adams, who both passed away at age 90 within days of each other. Bills owner Ralph Wilson stands as the last surviving original AFL owner. For the Rams, I nominate rookie running bacl Zac Stacy, who is coming off a 134-yard rushing game on Monday night but is a probable game-time decision this week with an ankle sprain. ATS PICK: Titans
New Orleans Saints (6-1) -6 at New York Jets (4-4)
Kenny Stills is my Saints Employee of the Month, and you might want to pick him up in fantasy football. Antonio Cromartie is my Jets nominee, the other reason you want Stills in fantasy because he is going to light the veteran corner up. ATS PICK: Saints
San Diego Chargers (4-3) -1 at Washington (2-5)
The pride of North Platte, Neb., Danny Woodhead is my Chargers representative. He is a Swiss Army knife. My Washington nominee is Robert Griffin III. ATS PICK: Chargers
Atlanta Falcons (2-5) +7.5 at Carolina Panthers (4-3)
My A-T-L rep is Harry Douglas, from Louisville. He’s also gone over 100 yards receiving last two weeks. For the Panthers I have to go with Jordan Gross, a top-draft pick who is now in his 11th year in the league. Offensive lineman have to get some love sometime. ATS PICK: Panthers
Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) +2.5 at Oakland Raiders (3-4)
LeSean McCoy has been worth his first-round fantasy draft status this year, accounting for 1,017 yards from scrimmage. Charles Woodson is getting ready for a retirement party, a gold watch, and a gold jacket in Canton. Great career Charles. ATS PICK: Eagles (LOCK)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7) +16.5 at Seattle Seahawks (7-1)
Employee of the Month in Tampa? Anyone actually still kissing Greg Schiano’s behind is a strong candidate. Only his inevitable firing can put the brakes on a potential 0-16 season. Richard Sherman nominates himself as Seattle’s top employee. And with good reason. ATS PICK: Seahawks
Baltimore Ravens (3-4) -2.5 at Cleveland Browns (3-5)
With eight sacks in his pocket, Terrell Suggs is well on his way to his fifth double-digit sack season. Anyone still questioning his 40 time? Then there is Joe Thomas, who is everything he was billed to be on draft day back in 2007, which he spent fishing on Lake Michigan instead of the Green Room with 98 of his closest friends and relatives. He deserves much better than being stuck on perennially bad teams. ATS PICK: Ravens
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) +6.5 at New England Patriots (6-2)
I will make Troy Polamalu my default pick with the Steelers. For New England I am going to go off the board and select Austin Collie, who has battled through a lot to get back on an active roster. ATS PICK: Steelers (LOCK)
Indianapolis Colts (5-2) -2.5 at Houston Texans (2-5)
I’ll go with J.J. Watt from the Texans. For Indy I am going to select Reggie Wayne. If two weeks ago was the end of his career, it’s been a great ride. ATS PICK: Colts (LOCK)
Chicago Bears (4-3) +10.5 at Green Bay Packers (5-2)
Devin Hester tied an NFL record two weeks ago with his 19th career return touchdown. My random Packer nominations are Eddie Lacy, David Bakhtiari and Mason Crosby, who has been named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month. Don’t worry, Aaron will crash the picture somehow.
Meanwhile, I have to finish business with my Chicago contacts. They will be nowhere to be seen Tuesday morning. ATS PICK: Packers