Monthly Archives: October 2018

Still Experimenting?

The New England Patriots escaped with a 38-31 win over the Chicago Bears last Sunday.  That much we know.  And when we consider the circumstances (the week after a big win against conference leader Kansas City, road game, no Gronk, unfamiliar team from the other conference, with that team having played fairly well thus far this year, Sony Michel going down early, etc.), maybe no one should get worked up over how close the game was, how sloppy the Pats were or how bad the Pats defense looked (again)?

Maybe.

But one thing is hard to overlook.  As the schedule heads into November, the Patriots have historically “turned on the jets”, so to speak.  We all know how Bill Belichick & Company treat September as the proverbial “extended preseason”.  Then in October, they ramp things up and by the time November rolls around, they generally have become a well-oiled machine.  They look like a completely different team than the one that showed up in September.

Does anyone feel that way with this team?  The defense in particular?  The offense has been pretty damn good the last month or so, despite more interceptions than usual from Tom Brady.  And some fumbles.  And now heading into next week’s game against Buffalo with just James White and Kenjon Barner (who?) at running back.

But that defense…sigh…once again, there were opposing players running wide open all over the field.  As bad as Mitchell Trubisky was, he still threw for 333 yards to go along with his 81 rushing yards…including that ridiculous touchdown run where he ran like 60 yards on the field but like 8 yards on “paper”.  Ridiculous meaning the Pats should have dropped him for like a 20-yard loss.

The linebackers are slow and the big guys up front don’t seem to be getting to the quarterback and if they do, they can’t bring him down.  The secondary?  Yikes!  If they are trying to bring back Devin McCourty to his rookie year when he was a Pro Bowl cornerback and have him cover people now…welp, THAT ain’t workin’.  J.C. Jackson is getting some snaps…is that a good thing?  Not sure.  But he can’t be worse than Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones and Jason McCourty though, right?  I guess we shouldn’t worry, Duke Dawson has started practicing and is coming back soon!!

All kidding aside, this defense has given up a boatload of points this year and looks…bad.  So my question, are the Pats still experimenting and it’s taking longer than anyone would have hoped and thought?  Maybe we get a decent defense in December now and we just have to wait a little bit?

My guess?  Nope.  Maybe these players are not any good.  Maybe guys like Dont’a Hightower, Devin McCourty and perhaps Patrick Chung are past their prime,  Adrian Clayborn sure is.  Maybe the young kids can play at some point.  But the ones that actually play do not seem ready (Jackson, Derek Rivers, Jones, Keionta Davis…and perhaps Deatrich Wise, though he appears to be injured).  I don’t know what happened to Malcom Brown.

What usually happens is that all of these guys fill a role.  Most of the defense is comprised of actual role players.  But they usually mesh better…and quicker.  I don’t get the feeling that things will continue to get better the rest of the year.  Not even to the recent years’ standards of “bend but don’t break”.   I’ve been wrong before, but they are running out of time…

Miami at Houston (-7.5)

The Texans have rebounded from their 0-3 start to win 4 straight and take over first place in the AFC North standings.  That may be more a reflection on how bad Jacksonville has been.  And how mediocre the division appears to be overall.  So seven weeks into the season, we still really don’t know how Houston is as a team.  Deshaun Watson does not appear to be all the way back.  But maybe the defense and running game can carry this squad until he is.  Then, they may actually become…dangerous.

I can tell you that the Miami Dolphins aren’t any good.  I know, they have the same record as the Texans.  I just have zero faith in Brock Osweiler…and Ryan Tannehill, if and when he comes back.  It also seems mystifying that the team is giving a young Kenyan Drake fewer carries than 153-year-old Frank Gore.  It should also be troubling to ‘Phins fans that Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola have the top two receiving yard totals on the team.  I know, Wilson is hurt now too.  Those guys may be decent receivers and good to have as part of the overall unit.  But they shouldn’t be leading ANY team in yards.

Houston 27, Miami 17.

Week (against the spread):  8-6

Week (straight up):  10-4

Season (against the spread):  54-53

Season (straight up):  66-41

Drew Pomeranz…

…since we are on the theme of making a Boston Red Sox pitcher the title of our blog posts before each postseason series…but more on him later…reluctantly…

So the 2018 World Series begins in a mere few hours and the Sox are of course in it…can you believe it?!  I know, hard to fathom that anyone can say that they don’t believe a 108 win team made the World Series.  But it’s true.  After all, the Blowhard picked them to lose both rounds in their American League run.

And that alone makes me kind of afraid.  We feel like the Sox can beat the Los Angeles Dodgers.  But do we go against the grain and pick them here after predicting losses in the first two rounds?  I don’t know, sounds like a jinx.

In any event, the Red Sox should indeed win this series.  The feeling here is that the Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians all had real legit chances to beat the Sox leading up to the World Series.  But we never thought anyone from the National League had a real chance.  Even if the Chicago Cubs made it out of the NL, which we thought would be the one to make it.

And, as you well know, this Sox team has never inspired championship confidence in the Blowhard, that much has been pretty obvious.  Despite the stellar record, we just never had that feeling.  Sure, sometimes the Sox really do feel like the proverbial “team of destiny”, or that “this is their year”.  But we always thought the other shoe would fall and they would leave the playoffs with a whimper.

Now?  Hmmmmmm…perhaps the Dodgers are that “team of destiny” too?  Maybe “this is their year” too?  They have been in the playoffs six straight years.  Last year was the closest they have come to winning it all during that stretch, losing in seven games to the Astros.  This year is the 30th anniversary of their last World Series win.  Kind of a long gap for a storied franchise, no?  And doesn’t the underdog sometimes win the Series?

Look, although we have long felt the National League is the inferior league, they are 9-9 against the American League in the World Series since 2000.  (Yup, I just figured that out).  Sure, sometimes they do actually have the better team.  But it almost always feels like they don’t.  To me anyway.

The Dodgers appear to have a pretty good team.  A lot of pop in their lineup.  Adding another bat as the DH for the four potential games at Fenway won’t help the Sox there.  Some flexibility in the field with guys playing all over the place and all their lefty/righty platooning.  And their pitching is solid.  Clayton Kershaw is one of the best ever.  Hyun-Jin Ryu had a great half-year.  Walker Buehler?  I don’t know.  But he’s a kid with good numbers.  Rich Hill has been pretty good too…as long as he doesn’t have any blisters.  And we know what Kenley Jansen can do.  Who really knows about their bullpen, though they have pitched well in the postseason.  The staff’s ERA is a mere 2.79 overall.  And, I don’t know why, but I have a funny feeling that 22-year-old Julio Urias will have a say in this Series.  Despite only pitching 7 1/3 major league innings this season (11 2/3 more in the minors, due to recovery from injury).  Just a hunch.

The Dodgers bats have not been good in the postseason though.  Hitting .218 as a team with a .691 OPS.  And that’s helped slightly by Ryu going 2-5.  Cody Bellinger is a putrid 5-36.  And 35 home run surprise Max Muncy hasn’t been much better at 6-33.  Can’t even talk about their catchers at 5-44, since look at the Sox’.  But Yasmani Grandal, in particular, apparently has been a disaster behind the plate as well.

We are not going to do a full-blown analysis as we did last round since we can’t say we’ve actually watched a ton of Dodger baseball this season.  But the Blowhard’s take is that the Dodgers have the edge in pitching.  Because again, which Chris Sale and David Price will show up?  Rick Porcello too, for that matter?  And can Nathan Eovaldi do it again?  And what the hell are we going to get from Craig Kimbrel?  Not sure.  Adding Pomeranz to the bullpen adds actually…nothing.  But I guess he can’t be as bad as Brandon Workman was in the playoffs.

The feeling is the Sox have the edge in the lineup.  Again, the Dodgers have some pretty good hitters so they could prove us wrong.  But the Sox have some good ones too.  And I’m not counting Jackie Bradley Jr., who hopefully spends the majority of the games in LA firmly stapled to the bench.  Side note:  Mookie at second base sounds really cute, but I can’t say I love it.  If they were keeping a better bat in the lineup besides JBJ by making that move…maybe.  But I’d rather stick with Brock Holt and even Ian Kinsler at second and leaving Betts in the outfield with Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez.  Then bringing JBJ in for defense late.  Speaking of Mookie, he is 8-39 in the playoffs for a .205 average.  You think that will stay like that?  I don’t think so.  I hope not anyway.

One last variable:  Does the weather make any difference to the road team?  Meaning, in particular, 40-degree night games in Boston for a warm weather team from California?  Perhaps.  Can’t rule it out for sure.

Oh, and one other thing we can’t rule out?  Manny Machado intentionally trying to injure someone.  But I digress…

Adding it all up?  Despite the 16 wins regular season gap in wins between the two teams, this series on paper seems a little closer than we would like to think.  The initial thought is Red Sox in seven.  Hesitant, as mentioned earlier because we picked the Sox to lose in each of the first two rounds.  Let’s hope we are not wrong again…

 

Week Seven…

Getting right to it.

Tennessee at Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5) 

London game.  Can’t be a great trip for the Chargers.  They are the better team.  But all bets are off across the pond.

Tennessee 23, Los Angeles Chargers 20.

Carolina at Philadelphia (-4.5)

The Panthers just seem mediocre.  The Eagles also may well be, but not this week.

Philadelphia 30, Carolina 24.

Minnesota (-3.5) at New York Jets 

Do we need to start taking the Jets seriously?  I don’t think so.

Minnesota 34, New York Jets 17.

Houston at Jacksonville (-4.5)

Both these teams currently have the same record.  Whoda thunk it?!  The Jags have been outscored 70-21 the last two weeks and Blake Bortles has looked like, well…Blake Bortles.  Both games were on the road and we can allow them the Chiefs loss.  But being embarrassed by the putrid Cowboys has to light a fire under this team now, right?

Jacksonville 31, Houston 20.

Detroit (-1.5) at Miami

“Brocktober”?!  Seriously?!

Detroit 21, Miami 17.

New England (-3.5) at Chicago

Speaking of…the Bears are only one of two teams in the league to have given up under 100 points thus far this season.  But they gave up 31 last week to “Brocktober”.  And the Pats have scored 119 in the last 3 weeks alone.

New England 37, Chicago 24.

Cleveland at Tampa Bay (-3.5) 

The Bucs may not be that good, but the Browns ain’t there yet.

Tampa Bay 38, Cleveland 34.

Buffalo at Indianapolis (-7.5)

Derek Anderson everyone!!  But he has to be infinitely better than Nathan Peterman, no?

Indianapolis 27, Buffalo 20.

New Orleans at Baltimore (-2.5) 

Classic “offense vs. defense” game.  Going with the home team.

Baltimore 27, New Orleans 24.

Los Angeles Rams (-10.5) at San Francisco

The Niners should have beaten the Packers last Monday night.  Surprising, since most didn’t think they would even be in the game.  Including the Blowhard.  Felt like a surprisingly tough game for the Rams against the Broncos last week as well.  Think order will be restored here.

Los Angeles Rams 41, San Francisco 20.  

Dallas at Washington (-1.5) 

Not sure where that Cowboy beating of the Jags last week came from.  Not expecting a repeat performance any time soon.  Especially for a divisional tilt.

Washington 24, Dallas 21.

Cincinnati at Kansas City (-6.5)  

I’m hearing that the Bengals are banged up on defense.  That’s not ideal against the Chiefs coming off a loss.

Kansas City 48, Cincinnati 27.

New York Giants at Atlanta (-6.5)

OBJ may be supremely talented.  But what a clown.

Atlanta 34, New York Giants 20.

Week (against the spread):  1-0

Week (straight up):  1-0

Season (against the spread):  47-47

Season (straight up):  57-37

%d bloggers like this: