By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Any time you let your guard down regarding COVID these days, it tends to find a way to wallop you upside your unsuspecting head. Aaron Rodgers' case did exactly that on Wednesday.
The football world was pretty geared up for the Chiefs-Packers game scheduled for Sunday, and there was never any thought that Rodgers wouldn't be playing. Now he won't. And he'll miss most of next week, too. And his midsummer proclamation that he was "immunized" is certainly coming under some serious scrutiny.
It is all, obviously, quite a mess. But isn't it kind of perfect?
In the era of COVID, the unexpected seems to have happened every single step of the way. Occasionally, the unthinkable happened. In this instance, even though we're in something like the 6,000th month of this mess (I'm now getting word that it's only been 21 months ... working to confirm), we still didn't see it coming. We should have, but we didn't. We never do.
Fortunately, we're seemingly past the point of having to be concerned for players' health. While exceptions can happen, the positive tests in the NFL have amounted more to inconveniences than full-blown health crises. So, if we can assume that Rodgers is currently fine or will be fine in a few days ... then we can comfortably say that the man has some explaining to do.
His "immunized" line followed directly by his magnanimous statement that he wouldn't judge unvaccinated teammates? That clip can go right into the Weasel Hall of Fame.
(Rodgers received "homeopathic treatment," which ... did not "immunize" him.)
Considering he did whatever he wanted from February through the start of August, it's not particularly surprising that he kept on doing that right through the season. It's likewise on brand for Rodgers to act so slyly while presenting what was at best a disingenuous statement and what was at worst a bald-faced lie.
You're not that slick, Aaron.
Football-wise, the life just got harder for the 7-1 Packers. They'll travel to KC, then they'll host the Seahawks one day after Rodgers should be allowed to return to work. In a world where only one team gets a bye, and in a conference where six teams have either one or two losses thus far, this absence could be a season killer. It also could have been avoided if Rodgers fell in line with 94 percent of his NFLPA colleagues.
But Aaron is different. His unforced, midseason absence is a result of that unshakable reality.
A weird guy, in a weird situation, in a weird time in everybody's life. Seems about right.
Now, we pick.
(Thursday lines; home team in CAPS)
New York Jets (+10.5) over INDIANAPOLIS
I'm not on drugs. I swear. I just think what the Jets did last week wasn't entirely fluky. Perhaps the removal of the pressure of having the No. 2 overall pick succeed has lightened the stress for everybody.
I fully accept that the Jets might lose by 100. But 10.5 points is a big ask for a mediocre Colts team. (Also I'm 2-6 on Thursday nights this year and am now subconsciously trying to make that record worse and worse, I think.)
Atlanta (+6) over NEW ORLEANS
The Saints get to spend the week basking in the glow of beating the champs. But the Trevor Siemian thing may work in a surprise pinch. It will not go well after a team prepares for him. Trust me. I SEEN IT!
BALTIMORE (-6) over Minnesota
Buffalo (-14.5) over JACKSONVILLE
New England (-3.5) over CAROLINA
NEW YORK GIANTS (+3) over Las Vegas Raiders
DALLAS (-10) over Denver
CINCINNATI (-2.5) over Cleveland
The Raiders ... have a lot to deal with. The Cowboys could win even with Cooper Rush's dad at QB. The Vikings are one week into what will be a month-long spiral. The Panthers' offense is too ugly to take, even at home. The Browns are butchering the Odell Beckham situation and are succumbing to their inescapable Brownsness. And the only concern with the Bills is the Manningcast curse, because the Jaguars are a joke.
Thank you for coming to my lightning round.
MIAMI (-6.5) over Houston
Shame that this won't be the Deshaun Watson Bowl. Such as it would be. Maybe it's not such a shame, come to think of it.
The Dolphins are 1-6 and doo-doo will be hitting the fan if they don't convincingly beat the worst team in the NFL. I personally wouldn't mind seeing that -- it sounds entertaining -- but I'm not sure the Texans have anything left in them at this point.
Los Angeles Charger (-1.5) over PHILADELPHIA
I feel like sometimes we underestimate the whiplash effect in the NFL. The Eagles are going from playing the Lions to playing the Chargers. That's like walking on the treadmill at 0.2 mph before it jumps to 10 mph. That's got to be tough.
SAN FRANCISCO (+1) over Arizona
I've never enjoyed watching the Arizona Cardinals play football. That's a me thing, sure. But I'm also correct in my feeling. Who wants to sit down and watch the Arizona Cardinals play football? Nobody, that's who. (Boom roasted.)
Last week, I obviously had no choice, with the mighty and vaunted Cardinals on Thursday Night Football against a severely shorthanded Packers team. Lo and behold, the Cardinals lost. On an embarrassing final play. And their quarterback got hurt.
Let's just say my feelings haven't changed.
Green Bay (+7) over KANSAS CITY
People are running away from the Packers, obviously, because Aaron Rodgers was only immunized by his own estimation. And I get that. Maybe this will be a disaster for the Packers, who patched things together with glue and tape last week in Arizona.
But, you know, maybe it won't be that much of an issue. Because the Chiefs might ... be actually bad. Dumb penalties. Stagnant offense. Careless turnovers. Horrific defense.
Last week I said I trust the program. But if a Monday nighter vs. a bad Giants team with a bad QB and a bad head coach can't be a get right game, what can be?
It's a bit baffling, because they still look the same on the surface. But the 2021 Chiefs are ... bad.
So much for the dynasty, eh?
(Isn't there a little something to the idea that Matt LaFleur can finally coach the way he wants with Jordan Love at the helm? Maybe that's not a good thing, I don't know, but it's at least an interesting wrinkle to consider that LaFleur has been waiting for a moment like this to execute his ideal game plan.)
LOS ANGELES RAMS (-7.5) over Tennessee
The loss of Derrick Henry can't be overstated. He has more than twice as many yards from scrimmage as anybody on the Titans. (Henry has 1,091 yards from scrimmage, and A.J. Brown ranks second with 512.) The Titans have played without him twice since his rookie year in 2016; they lost both games. He's now at the height of his powers, relied on more than ever.
Maybe the Titans find a way to eventually figure things out. But not this week.
Chicago (+6.5) over PITTSBURGH
The Bears are just good enough to lose this game by six. That's exactly what the Bears are.
Last week: 9-6
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