Monthly Archives: September 2018

Week Four…

Looking for a big week here…

Cincinnati at Atlanta (-5.5)

I hate both of these teams.  Matty Ice.  Marvin Lewis.  Andy Dalton.  Whatever.

Atlanta 31, Cincinnati 23.

New York Jets at Jacksonville (-7.5)

I hate both of these teams too.  Is this going to be the theme of this week’s games?  The J-E-T-S have lost two straight since pummeling the Lions in Week One.  The Jags laid an egg last week against the Titans after apparently winning their Super Bowl against the Patriots in Week Two.  I think the Jags find some more offense this week while stifling Sammy Darnold on the defensive side of the ball.

Jacksonville 27, New York Jets 9.

Detroit at Dallas (-3.5) 

Oh boy, don’t like either of these guys either.  Actually, I’ve been pretty indifferent about the Lions for…forever.  But that changed a little last week after their mugging of the Pats.  Both teams actually kind of stink this year, so in that case, let’s go with the home team.  Really just comes down to that.

Dallas 20, Detroit 14.

Philadelphia (-3.5) at Tennessee

Nice win for the Titans over the Jags last week, as we mentioned before.  I’m not sure I see that happening again this week.

Philadelphia 24, Tennessee 16.

Buffalo at Green Bay (-10.5)

I can’t figure this league out sometimes.  It’s always hard to predict the games early in the season.  Teams are still trying to figure out who they are and all that.  But I think this year has been even worse.  The Bills were wretched the first two weeks.  Then they come out of the gates flying in Week Three and knock out the Vikings in Minnesota.  Unfathomable.  Can it happen two weeks in a row away in Green Bay?  Unfathomable.

Green Bay 34, Buffalo 17.

Houston at Indianapolis (-1.5)

1-5 between them.  Exciting?  This has to be the week the Texans win, right?  Right?!

Houston 30, Indianapolis 23.

Miami at New England (-7.5)

The whole world wants to bury the Patriots.  I get it.  Unfortunately, I really do get it.  And, as noted in the last piece, this year does have a different feel.  But losing to the Dolphins in Foxborough?  I can’t see it.  If they do, sh&t then gets real, I can say that much.  I don’t know if Josh Gordon plays.  Julian Edelman has one more week of suspension.  Gronk seems to have an ankle thing and has been subpar the past two weeks…though it’s tough to catch passes with five guys on you each play.  Rex Burkhead just went on injured reserve.  Sony Michel hasn’t done much.  Etc.  How are the Pats going to score points?  Especially when you think they may have to since the defense hasn’t stopped much this year (we don’t need to list any players there, I would say).  Call me a homer.  Just a gut feeling…

New England 27, Miami 24.

Tampa Bay at Chicago (-2.5) 

Fitzmagic gets to keep his job.  400 yards in three straight games to start the year can help you there.  But we’ve seen this movie before.  It never lasts.  Three picks last week.  I’m thinking some more regression this week.

Chicago 24, Tampa Bay 23.

Cleveland at Oakland (-2.5) 

Yuck.  Even though the Browns have moved forward with Baker Mayfield.  I suppose that would be one reason to watch though.

Oakland 20, Cleveland 17.

Seattle (-2.5) at Arizona 

The Seahawks are 0-2 on the road.  But it won’t matter this week.  The Cards have scored 20 points in three weeks.  I can’t say Josh Rosen is going to make much of a difference.  Maybe they pull a Bills last week in Buffalo when they started Josh Allen for the first time.  I’m not counting on it.

Seattle 20, Arizona 10.  

San Francisco at Los Angeles Chargers (-10.5) 

Feel bad for Jimmy Football for sure.  But he needs to know when to call it a day on particular plays.  Holding the ball too long has caused both of his major NFL injuries.  I think the world was waiting to see how Garoppolo did over a full NFL season.  I know I was.  So that is too bad.  But as we welcome the C.J. Beathard era, we also likely welcome the end of the 49er season.

Los Angeles Chargers 34, San Francisco 17.

New Orleans (-3.5) at New York Giants 

The Saints still score a lot of points and give up a lot of points.  The G-Men still aren’t very good.

New Orleans 34, New York Giants 24.  

Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-3.5)  

Don’t really know what to make of both of these teams as of yet.  The Steelers seem to be having defensive issues, similar to the hometown team.  But at least they are putting up points, even without Le’Veon Bell.  The Ravens?  Meh.  Divisional matchup in primetime makes it even tougher to handicap.  Oh yeah, did I mention that I hate both of these teams too?

Pittsburgh 34, Baltimore 31.

Kansas City (-4.5) at Denver

The Chiefs are 3-0 and seemingly unstoppable on offense.  Another of the NFL’s early season darlings.  Led by Patrick Mahomes, whose bandwagon everyone is jumping on after a mere 4 NFL starts.  We’ll see.  Did you know the Chiefs are giving up over 30 points a game though?  The Broncos are 2-1, but aren’t exactly lighting it up.  They are at home.  Another divisional matchup in primetime.  And another gut feeling on this one.

Denver 30, Kansas City 27.

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  0-1

Season (against the spread):  22-27

Season (straight up):  27-22

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Red Sox Initial Playoff Thoughts…

…yaaaaaaaawn…starting to wake up.  The Boston Red Sox have been in cruise control for several weeks now.  The playoffs have been locked up for quite some time.  Alex Cora has been throwing out Spring Training lineups and all half the time.  Why pay attention?

Well, it’s about time to take notice.  No, it’s not because the team just broke the club record for wins.  It’s not because we were all rooting for Mookie Betts to go 30/30 (homers/steals, duh!).  And no, J.D. Martinez is not going to win the Triple Crown…but we knew that, right?

It’s because the playoffs will finally be starting next week.  We can talk more about specific opponents next week.  Let’s chat about their own team for now.

Despite the fact that the team has won all those games, I have to say I can’t be that excited about their prospects in the postseason.  On one hand, maybe it is their year when they win games like the one they won against Atlanta in early September.  You know, the one where they were getting smoked with a AAA lineup and parade of awful relievers…then won the game with a late rally, capped off by 37-year-old minor league callup (?!) Brandon Phillips’ dinger.  On the other hand…THAT BULLPEN.  Ugh.  Atrocious.

I’m still pissed that Dave Dombrowski didn’t get ANYBODY at the waiver trade deadline at the end of August.  Not even a AAAA guy like Hector Velasquez or Brian Johnson or…Joe Kelly.  Sometimes those guys catch fire.  You never know.  But please Dave…anyone?

Bottom line…this bullpen will kill this team.  I don’t think that is any secret.  But it seems like there should have been a better effort to get more arms for the stretch run and October.  What they have now will not cut it.  We will get into that more a little later.

But everyone knows this about the bullpen, as I said.  I have other concerns besides that.

The first is the starting rotation.  Chris Sale has barely pitched the last few months.  David Price has a poor playoff track record.  Rick Porcello’s doesn’t inspire any confidence really either.  Eduardo Rodriguez has battled inconsistency.  And who knows what Nathan Eovaldi will do?

Also…the lineup.  You should be all set with the top four guys in Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Martinez and Xander Bogaerts.  But Benny has cooled off a bit himself.  And the way Cora has been resting guys down the stretch, is it too much?

The rest of the lineup?  Question marks.  You’re probably ok with the first base platoon of Mitch “All-Star, but hasn’t done a thing since then” Moreland and Steve Pearce.  Rafael Devers has promise, but will he even play?  The catchers can’t hit.  The second basemen?  And Jackie Bradley Jr. has hit a little recently.  But it doesn’t mean he will in October.

Let’s take a closer look at what the roster will probably look like next week.  We will give you what we think they will go with.  But I will also tell you that I won’t necessarily agree.

Starting pitchers:

In:  Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi

Out:  None, see relief pitchers because all of those guys are already there.

Comments:  I think the Sox go Eovaldi for the fourth spot.  The Blowhard would go with Eduardo Rodriguez.  Because…he’s better, simple as that.  But I think the team has liked how Eovaldi has pitched against the Yanks this year, in particular.  Plus…the Sox have E-Rod in the bullpen this final week, so that’s pretty telling.

But we also have to consider the fact that Sale has barely pitched in the second half of the season.  Not to mention that his September has been a slow-go…and also not necessarily effective.  Price is, of course, a colossal wild card.  Could probably say the same of Porcello.

I can’t say that I am overly optimistic.  But we shall see…

Relief pitchers:

In:  Craig Kimbrel (closer), Matt Barnes (8th), Ryan Brasier, Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman

Out:  Joe Kelly, Tyler Thornburg, Drew Pomeranz, Hector Velasquez, Brian Johnson, Bobby Poyner, William Cuevas, Robby Scott

Comments:  Scary.  Simply frightening.  The above selections are more of an indictment of the guys who are out than who are in.  Kelly is a mess.  Pomeranz the same.  No one is talking about Thornburg, but he has pitched 3 times in September and not once in the last two weeks.  But then again, he hasn’t been great anyway.  But you know Travis Shaw has 30 homers in each of the last two seasons, right?  Ugh.  Velasquez has been here 99% of the year and Johnson 100%, but you know Cora doesn’t trust them.  Scott and Cuevas were never real considerations.  Poyner?  Was my last cut.  Him being lefty helps.  But the fact that the AL Division Series is only 5 games makes me go with 11 pitchers and 14 positional players.  But if the Sox take 12, Poyner is my guy.

So that’s how Workman gets on.  Because he has at least been serviceable, despite bouncing up and down from Pawtucket all year.  Hembree has been terrible lately, but not as bad as Kelly and the rest.

So the key guys in the ‘pen are Kimbrel, good enough, Barnes, who may be the worst “8th inning guy” in the majors, Brasier, a 31-year-old career minor leaguer and 2 starters in Wright and E-Rod.  Wright has been fantastic when healthy the last two years.  But…a knuckleballer in October??  No.  And E-Rod doesn’t have any kind of track record in relief.

Pitching…lot’s of question marks for a 100+win team.

Catchers:

In:  Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart

Out:  None

Comments:  Sandy and his .180 average seems to be the guy that will play the most.  Pitchers love throwing to him.  Sigh.  Vasky may well be in the mix, but we know Blake won’t.  He only makes it because they may have to hit for both catchers in the same game at some point in the playoffs.

Infield:

In:  Mitch Moreland/Steve Pearce (1b), Ian Kinsler/Brock Holt (2b), Xander Bogaerts (ss), Rafael Devers/Eduardo Nunez (3b)

Out:  Tzu-Wei Lin, Brandon Phillips, Sam Travis

Comments:  I’m ok with the 1b platoon.  I’m thinking though that Holt maybe should be the 2b going in.  Really?  Yeah.  If that ends up being a platoon, that would be fine though.  Devers is the future at third, but I feel like Nunez will get the playoff nod based on his…defense?  Yup.

Outfield:

In:  Andrew Benintendi (LF), Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF), Mookie Betts (RF), J.D. Martinez (DH)

Out:  None

Comments:  Not much to see here.  Kinda obvious.

So that’s where we are at this point.  We will dig in a little deeper when the ALDS opponent is actually known…

We Lost To Matty Patricia?

Yup.

Do we even need to talk about it?

I suppose we should at least a little.

Yeah, yeah, yeah…Patricia had “intimate knowledge” of the guys on the Pats defense and knew how to expose their weaknesses.  Sure, there may be something to that.

But the reality is that the Patriots simply don’t have enough talent on defense.  And/or have some injuries to boot (Trey Flowers, Patrick Chung).  And/or played some young guys in spots that they may not be ready for (Cyrus Jones actually played some cornerback, so did Keion Crossen.  Plus Jonathan Jones, Keionta Davis, etc.).

Not to mention that their linebacking crew sucks eggs (that was the “clean” version).

So did Patricia’s “knowledge” mean a rat’s ass?

Unlikely.

But that doesn’t even explain how poorly the offense played.  The receivers (predictably) were putrid.  Why were the Pats trying to re-up Chris Hogan?  Oh yeah, cuz he’s a solid 4th option.  NOT a first option.  Or technically second, behind Gronk.  The other WR’s?  Ugh.  The running game.  The play calling.  Again…ugh.

Now they just lost Rex Burkhead and Ja’Whaun Bentley…perhaps for the season.  Rex can be a very good player.  Love what I see when he’s out there.  Unfortunately, he is never out there.  As for Bentley…whoever would have thought a few weeks ago that he would be considered a big loss?

In any event, the Patriots are now 1-2.  Seems like a while since they have been here.  Is it time to panic?  Funny thing is, I don’t think so.

Yes, this year feels a little different.  The whole “infighting” thing seems very real.  But there have been Patriot teams in the past with less talent that have gone far.  It remains to be seen.  I’m not ready to give up yet.  But I can say I am at least a little bit concerned.

Big game against the ‘Phins this week.  More on that in another piece.  But let’s get this slate started:

Minnesota at Los Angeles Rams (-6.5)

The Vikes were embarrassed by the heretofore hapless Buffalo Bills in Week Three.  And they were supposed to be a Super Bowl contender.  Of course, that still could happen.  Every team in the NFL lays an egg once or twice a year.  The LA Rams have been a juggernaut out of the gate.  But…Thursday Night Football is always unpredictable.  Short week and all that.  One thing I can say for sure is that Baker Mayfield will not be coming off the bench to lead anyone to victory.  Ssssssooooo…

Minnesota 27, Los Angeles Rams 24.

Week (against the spread):  9-7

Week (straight up):  11-5

Season (against the spread):  22-26

Season (straight up):  27-21

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