Monthly Archives: September 2017

“D” Is For “Disastrous”…

…or “disgraceful”?  Or “disgusting”?  I don’t know, maybe all of them.  Atrocious is another one, but that obviously doesn’t start with “D”.  And I am not talking about the Blowhard’s NFL picks last week.  Those weren’t so great either.  But we are talking about the Patriots’ defense here.  If you can even call it that.

Three weeks in and the Pats are at the bottom of a lot of defensive rankings.  I mean, the bottom.  Last.  I know…it’s only three games.  And Dont’a Hightower hasn’t played a ton.  And Eric Rowe missed the last game.  And a lot of new players are being integrated in, like Stephon Gilmore, Deatrich Wise Jr., Lawrence Guy, Cassius Marsh, Adam Butler, David Harr…well, nevermind on him since he doesn’t actually play.  And the Patriots figure it out every year.  And on and on and on…

Sure, those are all valid points.  But a lot of these guys were here last year.  The safeties particularly have not played well.  That shouldn’t happen with guys like Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and even Duron Harmon.  Guys like Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts were here last year.  Harris can’t play over those two guys?  He has to be done if that’s the case.  And if he is done, why is he on the roster?  Van Noy just got himself a nice extension and I don’t think I’m the only one that has wondered why.  Moving on to Alan Branch…he got extended in the offseason too.  Is this where he reverts back to the problem that he has been in past organizations?  Got a ring, got a new contract and then…stop caring?

Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of Matt Patricia.  I HATE the way the defensive backs never seem to turn their heads around to look for the ball when it’s thrown downfield.  I don’t love it that they seem to give a ton of space to receivers off the line.  Among other things.  Yes, Patricia is obviously an extension of Bill Belichick, but still, he is the main man on defense.  And his troops have been abysmal thus far.

That being said, they usually figure it out over the course of the season.  I will of course allow for that.  But I don’t believe they have ever started in this deep a hole.  Not to mention guys like Jonathan Jones and Jordan Richards are playing entirely too much right out of the gate.  Probably Roberts, Van Noy, Marsh and Adam Butler too.  I think I saw that Van Noy has played EVERY defensive snap this year.  Really?!  And if they are truly trying to phase Malcolm Butler out this year, seeing that he won’t be here next year, then that doesn’t help.

So am I panicking?  A little.  I mean, how can you not?  Giving up a boatload of yards to Drew Brees isn’t something to be ashamed of.  But doing the same to mediocre quarterbacks like Alex Smith and rookie QB’s like Deshaun Watson is something that just shouldn’t happen.  Cam Newton this week too.  Well, he has played poorly this year thus far, so maybe it’s not as daunting a challenge as it seems on paper.  But it’s still not encouraging.

I think they will figure some of it out as the year goes along, like they always do.  As they always say about the team, “September is an extension of the preseason”.  But I’m not getting giddy about the defense’s long-term prospects.  I don’t think we are looking at a Top Ten defense at all, as currently constructed.

You know what will happen next though, right?  Pats will give up only like 10 points on Sunday and their defense will all of a sudden click and start to take off for the year.  Seems about right…

Chicago at Green Bay (-7.5)

Chicago is coming off a somewhat shocking win against Pittsburgh.  Even though they were home.  And even though that jackass on the Bears tried to showboat his way to the end zone after the blocked field goal before the half…only to never make it.  Hate the Steelers myself personally.  But loved the play.  Sometimes players are just boneheads.  And that’s being kind.

Green Bay is coming off a surprisingly tough win at home against the Bengals.  It’s a Thursday night game, sometimes a crapshoot with the short week and all.  Not to mention a divisional battle.  Last week’s Thursday night divisional matchup between the 49ers and Rams was an exciting game…and close.

All adds up to a close game…a probably Green Bay win, but a Chicago cover, no?

Well…no.  Thursday night games are usually putrid.  Last week may have been the one exception.  Divisional games can be hard to predict.  But I’m feeling a Packer rout.

Green Bay 38, Chicago 24.

Week (against the spread):  6-10

Week (straight up):  9-7

Season (against the spread): 22-25

Season (straight up): 31-16

Interesting Start To Week Three…

…because we all know Thursday Night Football games are usually atrocious.  Especially the ones early in the season.  But not this one.  And it was Rams/Niners??!  For real?

There was a near pick-six on the first play of the game.  Fumbles.  Great catches (Pierre Garcon with a couple of sweet ones in particular).  Five touchdowns for Todd Gurley…er, I mean three.  But he should have had 5, as he was stuffed at the half yard line on 2 different drives.  Can you tell Gurley is on my fantasy team?  I know…you don’t care.  Sorry.  Anyway, the 49ers also made a nice comeback.  Key onside kick recovery at the end.  Then a late crucial two point conversion that failed.  Speaking of failure, another missed extra point was the reason San Fran had to go for that two in the first place.  Oh, and for good measure, you had a few people go into concussion protocol.  That phrase is now part of everyone’s everyday vocabulary now.

As for the combatants, I said it last week, I’ll say it again:  The Rams scored 224 points all of last year.  They’ve scored 107 points in 3 games this year.  Seems pretty inexplicable.  And the Niners had scored a mere 12 points in 2 games before Thursday night.  Then they put up 39 in Game 3?  Also inexplicable.

Maybe it was a pretty good game because both teams really aren’t that good.  Who knows?  But I think the fact that it was a good game is a step in the right direction, regardless of the squads involved.

Of course, that will all probably come crashing down on the Thursday night game in Week 4.  When the Packers hammer the Bears in Green Bay…

Baltimore (-4.5) at Jacksonville

Well, in London, not Jacksonville.  But that probably doesn’t even matter.  Surprised that the Ravens have come out of the gate at 2-0…though the disclaimer is that they have played the Bengals and Browns.  Surprised that the Jags are 1-1…only cuz I figured they’d be 0-2.  Anyway, I would expect the Ravens to shut down Blake Bortles and the rotating running backs…even in London.

Baltimore 27, Jacksonville 17.

Atlanta (-3.5) at Detroit 

People are getting all giddy about the Lions.  I am not one of them, however.  Sure, they should be a decent team.  But as good as people are talking like right now?  Not so sure.  Matty Stafford as the highest paid player in the league?  Yikes!  Anyway, the Lions have beaten two teams (Cards and G-Men) that people thought may be good this year, but very well may not be.  We know all about Atlanta.  Feel like they still get it done on the road and maybe push those expectations down a bit for Detroit.

Atlanta 31, Detroit 27.

Cleveland (-1.5) at Indianapolis

Ugh.  Someone has to win.  Ummm…I guess they don’t.  But someone has to cover.  Go Jacoby!!

Indianapolis 17, Cleveland 13.

New York Giants at Philadelphia (-4.5)

Philly’s home opener against what has been a wretched Giant team thus far.  By picking the Eagles in this game, I am probably going against my better judgement when I think about it.  Division games are always tough.  Benny McAdoo may be fired up for this game…ok, maybe Eli being fired up may be more appropriate.  ODB has a game under his belt now…and all that.  But I think I’m sticking with the Eagles here.

Philadelphia 27, New York Giants 20.

Tampa Bay at Minnesota (-2.5)

Tampa is another team in which people have been jumping on the bandwagon.  They should be pretty good this season too.  And Minny is going with Case Keenum again.  Seems like an easy TB pick, right?  I’m feeling that the Vikings being at home will matter.  I guess just another hunch.

Minnesota 23, Tampa Bay 20.

Pittsburgh (-7.5) at Chicago 

Breakout for Le’Veon?  I’m sure he rounds into form at some point after taking August off.  I just hope JuJu Smith-Schuster keeps getting involved.

Pittsburgh 31, Chicago 10.

Miami (-6.5) at New York Jets

Some people have called Miami a sleeper team this year.  Yeah.  I’m going to say that they still stink.  But the Jets stink far, far worse.

Miami 27, New York Jets 13.

New Orleans at Carolina (-5.5)

Carolina has given up only 6 total points in 2 games this year.  Yeah, against San Fran and Buffalo, I know.  And a 9-3 win over the Bills at home can’t inspire much confidence in Panther-land.  I’m still buying into the rebound year though.  Plus…New Orleans on the road and out of the dome.  ‘Nuff said.

Carolina 34, New Orleans 24.

Denver (-2.5) at Buffalo 

Not sure how this spread is so low.  Denver has looked pretty good.  Buffalo?  Meh.  Seems like an easy one here.

Denver 31, Buffalo 13.

Houston at New England (-13.5)

Not sure how this spread is so high.  Sure the Pats shut them out last year with Jacoby Brissett at QB.  But the Texans D will most assuredly cause the Pats offensive line some problems.  The NE OL hasn’t exactly been stout this year and may be missing one starter.  Three pass rushers on the Texans are absolutely stout.  Add to the fact that Deshaun Watson will probably make some plays with his legs…cuz, you know, the Texans have no receivers besides DeAndre Hopkins…I’m guessing this one is a little closer than the Pats want it to be…but not close enough to make anyone nervous.

New England 31, Houston 20.  

Seattle at Tennessee (-2.5)

Seattle is off to a slow start offensively…maybe the understatement of the year thus far.  I’m a little on the Titans bandwagon myself.  Kind of another hunch here, because I can see this going either way.  I can especially see the Seahawks breaking out at some point.  Home cooking here though.

Tennessee 24, Seattle 21.

Cincinnati at Green Bay (-9.5)

Marvin Lewis.  It’s time.  Well, it was time long ago.  Like a broken record here.  I’m sure firing the offensive coordinator will make a world of difference.

Green Bay 45, Cincinnati 17.

Kansas City (-3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers 

The Chargers are 0-2 because they apparently chose the wrong kicker in training camp.  The Chiefs are a good team at 2-0.  But these divisional matchups…you never know.  The Chiefs are the better team.  Just not today.  As long as LA has the lead late and doesn’t need to try another game winning field goal.

Los Angeles Chargers 27, Kansas City 24.

Oakland (-3.5) at Washington 

I’m all in on Oakland still, home or away…and even on the East Coast.  The ‘Skins?  Yeah, ok.  But I’m not overwhelmed by them.  Not this week anyway.

Oakland 34, Washington 24.

Dallas (-3.5) at Arizona 

Looking for a nice bounceback game from the ‘Boys this week.  The taste in their mouth from that shellacking last week in Denver couldn’t have been pleasurable this past week.  And the bashing that some of the players have taken as well.  The Cards are at home, but haven’t exactly looked good thus far.  Looks like they are going back to the 85-year-old Chris Johnson to go with the 97-year-old Carson Palmer in the offensive backfield this week.  Doesn’t sound promising.

Dallas 35, Arizona 17.

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  1-0

Season (against the spread): 16-16

Season (straight up): 23-9

Much better…

…we’re talking about both the New England Patriots’ performance last Sunday against New Orleans, as well as the Blowhard’s Week Two pick performance (did anyone notice we predicted the exact score & winner of the KC/Philly game?  No?  Not surprised…but it happened!).

Now, we don’t necessarily have to go back and entirely analyze the Pats game from four days ago.  But it was good to see the team get back to doing things that we know they are capable of doing.

However, I wouldn’t say all their problems are solved.  And that’s ok, because it is still September.  Plenty of time still to figure things out.  But it was disappointing to see the offense kind of sputter a bit in the second half against a historically bad Saints defense.  That’s one that stands out to me.  They should have put up 50 against that putrid outfit.

Of course, the injuries didn’t help.  Looked like Rex Burkhead was going to be a big part of the game plan.  He left early.  Phillip Dorsett was getting himself involved, then he left a little later.  No need to even talk about Gronk…we know he is an injury waiting to happen.  Every team has injuries and we will see what happens with these guys…including Danny Amendola and Dont’a Hightower, who of course did not play.  As well as Eric Rowe, who also left the game early.  But they seem to be hitting the Pats early this year.

More importantly, what is up with the playing time of Malcolm Butler and Alan Branch?  Is Butler already starting to be “phased out”, seeing that he won’t be here next year?  Is Branch causing problems somehow, as he has been wont to do in the past with other teams?  Curious dip in PT for these two.  And why did the team even sign David Harris when he has only played three snaps in the first two games…and the linebacking corps is suspect to begin with?

And where is Brandin Cooks?  The team dressed only 3 wide receivers and Dorsett eventually went down.  Plus, Burkhead apparently was going to play some receiver and he went down early.  And Cooks only had 2 catches (4 targets).  Seemed to me this was a game to get him involved more.

I won’t even start on Stephen Gostkowski.  3-3 on chip shot field goals, yes, but were any of them straight?  Another missed PAT and I’m not sure the other three made PAT’s were straight either.  And please recall that the game was played indoors.

Perhaps that is a little nitpicking for the second week of the season.  But they are all relevant talking points.  In any event, we are happy with the win, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

As for Week Three, here’s where we begin:

Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) at San Francisco

Another banner Thursday night game.  This could possibly be a worse matchup than Texans/Bengals last Thursday night.  Sure, the Rams have shown improvement from last year in their first two games of this season, but is anyone buying into them yet?  Sure, the Niners played the Seahawks close last week, but they have scored TWELVE points thus far this season.  Brian Hoyer is locking down that quarterbacking job at this point, I suppose that explains some things.

It’s a divisional battle, so maybe that’s something to grasp hold onto.  The color rush thing is kind of stupid, but if you like it then you can cling to that too.  But this sure smells like another Thursday night stinker.  Will I watch it though?  You bet!!

Los Angeles Rams 17, San Francisco 9.

Week (against the spread):  10-6

Week (straight up):  13-3

Season (against the spread):  16-15

Season (straight up): 22-9

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