Jason Friedman’s NFL Picks, Week 15: Peter King is a Goober

Sometimes you have to wonder how guys like Sports Illustrated’s Peter King got their jobs. Was it just a matter of knowing the right person? Were they good at the time but got lazy once they climbed to the top of the mountain? Were they hired strictly to increase the numbers at the insane asylum (because if I keep reading him, that’s exactly where I’m headed)? I really want to know.

This week, King sent me one step closer to straitjacket land with his column discussing the fateful 2006 NFL draft. You know the deal: The Texans picked Mario Williams, Houstonians cried, and the rest of the country laughed.

Of course, something crazy happened on the way to the Texans fulfilling their manifest destiny as the NFL’s dumbest franchise: Mario actually started playing well. Not only that, but Vince and Reggie—the two players selected immediately after Williams—regressed somewhat in 2007. All of a sudden, the Texans don’t look so dumb after all (at least with regard to that decision).

So King decided to write a column about this interesting turn of events. Nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, he allowed bad content to spoil a good idea.

Let’s start from the top. The most egregious mistake King makes is lavishly praising former Texans GM Charley Casserly for the decision. Not only does King fail to mention all the rancid personnel moves made during Casserly’s tenure, his premise is wrong from the start. Anyone who’s followed the 2006 draft day drama knows Charley Casserly had NOTHING to do with the Williams pick. Are you kidding me? Casserly was in the process of being shoved out the door. Knowing that, do you really think the franchise was going to allow him to make the draft day decisions? The truth is, Gary Kubiak was the man responsible for making Mario the man. That was his pick. And if I know that, and everyone else in Houston knows that, how come Peter King doesn’t?

Also, twice in his column, King acknowledges that it’s still too early to judge the 2006 draft, only to continue by adding that Williams was clearly the right pick. Huh? I know the guy has a busy schedule and everything, but I don’t think a little fact-checking and a bit of common sense are too much to ask, especially since King is probably the most-read NFL writer on the planet (as much as that saddens me to say).

Anyway, enough about Mr. MMQB. There’s a football game tonight, and it even involves the Texans! So you know what that means…

On to part one of the week 15 picks (home team in caps):

Denver (-1) over HOUSTON

I want to take the Texans. I really do. But can a mediocre team beset by injuries really run its record to 7-7? I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. I know the Broncos are schizophrenic, too. And I know they often turn into bums away from the friendly confines of Invesco Field. But Denver does have weapons on offense. And while they’re underachievers on the other side of the ball, they’ve got a few defensive playmakers as well.

To me the key to this game—for both teams—is Andre Johnson. If he has a big game, the Texans have a shot. If he doesn’t, I can’t envision a scenario which includes a Houston win.

The mainstream media will play up the “master vs. apprentice” angle featuring Mike Shanahan and Kubiak. But does anyone besides the principals involved really care? This isn’t exactly Parcells-Belichick here. Of course, when the game features a pair of 6-7 teams, I guess you’ve got to latch on to something. So if the game is really that boring, here’s an idea: Why not use the pre-game, half-time and post-game shows to feature Peter King proofreading his columns, and then explaining the logic (or lack thereof) within them. Now that I would watch.

Broncos 27 – Texans 21

- Jason Friedman

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