Monthly Archives: December 2018

Week Seventeen…

Holiday week speed edition.  Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!!

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-13.5)

We were burned on the spread by the late garbage touchdown by the Bills against the Pats last week.  So why would we do it again, with an even higher spread?  The Pats need this one, as we know.  Though this year, that hasn’t necessarily meant much, I know.  But the J-E-T-S will be practicing their golf swings on the sideline.  Well, maybe not that.  But we do know no one will be listening to their head coach, Todd Bowles, since he will probably be fired right after the game.  Perhaps even at halftime.  Yes, the Jets played the Packers close last week and actually appeared to be in control of the game at one point.  Yes, the Jets would love to knock the Pats out of the second seed and therefore a bye week in the playoffs.  Yes, the Jets were competitive with the Pats in their earlier game in New York.  Yes, but…no…

New England 31, New York Jets 10.

Jacksonville at Houston (-7.5)

Blake Bortles is back!!

Houston 27, Jacksonville 13.

Miami at Buffalo (-3.5)  

Who cares?

Buffalo 17, Miami 13.

Atlanta at Tampa Bay (-1.5) 

Tampa’s coach said this week that their third-string quarterback may get some snaps in this game.  I don’t remember the guy’s name, even though where I read the quote said the QB had been in the league for like three years.  That’s enough for me to take the Falcons…I guess…

Atlanta 24, Tampa Bay 17.

Detroit at Green Bay (-7.5)

Not a great year for the Pack.  But an even worse one for our old friend Matty Patricia.

Green Bay 38, Detroit 20.

Carolina at New Orleans Saints (-7.5) 

The Saints have locked up the #1 seed.  Are they going to play their starters?  Sean Payton insists they are.  I say, yeah, enough to get Drew Brees the 8 yards he needs for another 4,000 yard season.  But I would assume they play for a quarter.  The Panthers should easily cover then, right?  Well, they are using their third string quarterback in this one.  And not to just “get snaps”, but to start.  Ssssooooo…my guess is a lot of running and both teams just try to get the hell out of there unscathed.

New Orleans 20, Carolina 13.

Dallas at New York Giants (-7.5) 

The Cowboys’ seeding will not change either way and they are 2-5 on the road.  So that explains the big spread in favor of the G-Men.  But still…

New York Giants 17, Dallas 13.

Philadelphia (-6.5) at Washington

Saint Nick!!

Philadelphia 27, Washington 17.

Cleveland at Baltimore (-5.5)

The Browns have been scrappy, no doubt.  With a win, they finish 8-7-1…whoda thunk that?!  But the Ravens have been hot, they need this one and I suspect that their defense shuts down Baker Mayfield and Co.

Baltimore 27, Cleveland 16. 

Arizona at Seattle (-8.5)

The Seahawks are the #5 or #6 seed, but do they care?  Pete Carroll says they are going to play their starters.  Maybe they do, maybe they don’t.  But the Cards are truly wretched either way.

Seattle 23, Arizona 6.

Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) at Denver

Disappointing loss for the Chargers last week at home to the Ravens after the huge win at Kansas City the week before.  But LA can still get the #1 seed in the AFC.  The Broncos had that dud on Monday night, are banged up and their season is over anyway.

Los Angeles Chargers 31, Denver 18.  

Chicago at Minnesota (-5.5)

The Bears still have a shot at a bye.  The Vikings are maddeningly inconsistent, though also in control of their playoff destiny.  Seems like a close one is in store here.

Minnesota 20, Chicago 17. 

Oakland at Kansas City (-14.5)

The Chiefs have come back to earth a bit, but still hold all the cards for the #1 seed in the AFC.  The Raiders left it all on the field Monday night when they likely played their last game in Oakland.  Should be a runaway for KC.

Kansas City 38, Oakland 20.

San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams (-9.5) 

Have to love the 49ers still being competitive down the stretch, despite their season being over weeks ago.  But the Rams still need this one to keep the playoff bye.  So even if Todd Gurley doesn’t suit up, we are still expecting them to win by double digits.

Los Angeles Rams 34, San Francisco 17.  

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (-14.5)

The Steelers have played their way out of the playoffs (so far) and almost nothing brings me more joy.  But a win still gives them a chance.  Jeff Driskel appears to be horrendous.  And we know what the Bengals are.  But to trust Pitt to cover this large of a spread after the way their season has gone seems to be a stretch.

Pittsburgh 28, Cincinnati 17.  

Indianapolis at Tennessee (-1.5)

Will Marcus Mariota play or will he not?  Seems to be the same question every week.  Do you trust Blaine Gabbert?  Do you even trust Mariota even if he plays?  I know, Derrick Henry has been lighting it up lately.  And the Titans have won 4 in a row…though against inferior competition.  Indy has won 8 of 9, and beaten a few good teams along the way.  The Colts hammered the Titans in Indy 38-10 in their earlier meeting this year.  Wouldn’t shock me if this one went the same way, despite being in Tennessee.  Side note:  It’s been awesome to see Dion Lewis throw up dogcrap numbers after he shot his mouth off following the win against the Pats.

Indianapolis 31, Tennessee 23.  

Week (against the spread):  8-8

Week (straight up):  13-3

Season (against the spread):  129-111

Season (straight up):  151-89

Week Sixteen…

…welp…we’ve heard it all about the New England Patriots this week.  2 bad losses in a row.  Uncharacteristic mistakes, stupid penalties…and a lot of them, drops, dumb interceptions, bad coaching/play calling, no offense, miscommunication, etc.

And then…Josh Gordon.

I’m not sure we need to rehash all of it.

We are just not used to seeing this kind of stuff in New England during the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era.  Not often anyway.  People point to 2009.  Sure, there was some dysfunction there, as we learned in later years.  But at least Brady was on board back then.

Wait, he’s not on board now?  Yeah, I suppose he probably is overall.  But we all have to acknowledge that this year’s Brady is a different Brady.  For a few reasons.  But mentally he appears to be a great deal different.  Thanks Gisele…and Alex.

On top of that?  Key players are old and most assuredly hurt.  Brady is 41.  We’ve said it here time and time again:  never know when the end comes when you are talking 40-year-old quarterbacks.  Actually, they are usually done before that age.  Now, Brady has had a decent year, make no mistake about it.  He has had subpar talent to throw to as well.  But he’s nowhere near the MVP form of last season.  And the dumb interception at the goal line against Pittsburgh, combined with taking the sack at the end of the first half against Miami, just defies logic.  Plus, I don’t think there is any question he is hurt.  That doesn’t help.

Rob Gronkowski is clearly not the same guy either.  Obviously.  That’s not necessarily age.  But he is most definitely battling something…or many things.  Plus maybe all the hits have taken their toll.

Julian Edelman has been ok as well.  But I believe he is hurt as well.  And the drops.  Wow.  Some bad ones.

Having those three dudes at (much?) less than what they normally give you, for whatever reason, can certainly impact an offense.

And now, no Gordon.  Surprised?  Shouldn’t be.  I’m not.  But he was becoming a good piece.  Now we have to look forward to more Phillip Dorsett.  Yippee!!  At least Brady may go back to throwing to Chris Hogan when he is wide open…which according to people who watch film has been quite often actually.

One thing that hasn’t been talked about (at least from what I have seen) is the run defense.  Yes, it has been talked about.  But not in the way I am going to talk about it.  My opinion is that, at least in the Pittsburgh game, Bill didn’t care if the Steelers ran all over us with their 3rd and 4th string running backs.  He wanted to minimize the damage done by Antonio Brown and Juju Smith Schuster.  By having a thin D-Line and dime defense all game.  And they did minimize damage.  They had a combined 8 catches for 89 yards.

What happened to pointing to Bill taking away the guy(s) that are going to hurt you and letting the other guys beat you?  He did EXACTLY that.  The Steelers scored 17 points.

With the Pats, that should be more than enough to win.  Unfortunately, as noted above, the offense is simply not the same.  THAT’S the problem.  NOT the fact that Danny Shelton was a healthy scratch.  He’s apparently sucked the whole year anyway.

So the Patriots now return home to face the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.  They should roll over those guys like a combined 75-10, go 11-5, win the AFC East and even sneak back into the #2 seed in the conference, once Houston loses to Philadelphia tomorrow.  The Pats yahoos will all be back on board and start proclaiming a Super Bowl run is now in the cards.

Will the Blowhard be on that same train?

Not really.

BUT…the NFL is WIDE open right now.  Kansas City, New Orleans and the Los Angeles Rams were juggernauts the first part of the season.  But the Chiefs have looked pedestrian in recent weeks and lost Kareem Hunt, a big part of their offense.  Their defense stinks.  The Rams have looked bad two weeks in a row and now Todd Gurley is hurt.  The Saints aren’t scaring anyone lately and Drew Brees has been average at best.

The Los Angeles Chargers and Chicago Bears are now everyone’s darlings.  But does anyone trust the Chargers in the playoffs?  And the Bears and Trubisky?  I don’t think so.

Houston?  Hahahahaha!!

Seattle was getting some nice momentum but threw up a stinker last week.  Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Dallas, Minnesota, Tennessee?  Meh.

Indianapolis may be the hottest team in the league right now.  But they are also not even IN the playoffs right now either.

Philadelphia?  Don’t rule it out.  Maybe the Eagles and Nick Foles ARE going to do it again.

It’ll be an interesting ride, that’s for sure.

Washington at Tennessee (-10.5)

This is a huge number for the Titans.  And I still don’t believe in that team.  So I don’t exactly feel that comfortable going this route.  But the ‘Skins are banged up all around.  And Josh Johnson is still their QB.  Being at Tennessee, I feel like I have no choice here.

Tennessee 27, Washington 13.

Baltimore at Los Angeles Chargers (-4.5)

Like three weeks ago, John Harbaugh was getting fired.  Now they are talking extension?

Los Angeles Chargers 30, Baltimore 20.

Jacksonville at Miami (-4.5)  

Speaking of getting fired, nice to know you Dougie Marrone.

Miami 24, Jacksonville 17.

New York Giants at Indianapolis (-9.5) 

Seven out of the last eight for the Colts.  G-Men got shut out last week and yet again without ODB.  Seems like a slam dunk here.

Indianapolis 38, New York Giants 10.

Atlanta at Carolina (-3.5)

A couple of underachievers here.  Let’s see what Taylor Heinicke can do.  Funny thing is, I am kind of interested in what he can (or can’t do).  Who remembers Heinicke’s 2-week stint on the New England Patriots practice squad last season?  I may be the only one, but I do remember.  I’m not saying he’s going to pan out.  It’s doubtful he will.  But if he does…nevermind…

Atlanta 24, Carolina 13.

Buffalo at New England Patriots (-12.5) 

See above.

New England Patriots 34, Buffalo 17.

Houston at Philadelphia (-0.5) 

See above, Part II.

Philadelphia 31, Houston 20.

Green Bay at New York Jets (-1.5)

I know the Packers haven’t played well this year.  Aaron Rodgers is banged up and is questionable.  The Pack would have every right to shut him down if they wanted to.  And they still may.  But even if they go with the backup, DeShone Kizer, can the Jets STILL be favored in this game?  When is the last time the Jets have been favored against ANYONE?

Green Bay 27, New York Jets 10.

Cincinnati at Cleveland (-7.5)

It’s a big line, no doubt.  But it’s all of a sudden hard to go against the Browns these days.  Imagine that.

Cleveland 24, Cincinnati 13. 

Tampa Bay at Dallas (-7.5)

The ‘Boys got whitewashed last week by the Colts after winning 5 in a row.  They are 6-1 at home, however.  The Bucs have played the Saints and Ravens tough the last two weeks but methinks that’s more a reflection of those two teams than the Bucs being any good.  Hate to say it, but Dallas bounces back in this one.

Dallas 27, Tampa Bay 17.

Minnesota (-5.5) at Detroit

I read somewhere that the Vikings are “revitalized”.  Why, because they smoked the Dolphins, who stink themselves?  We will see.  But they should beat a terrible Lions team anyway.

Minnesota 28, Detroit 9.  

Chicago (-3.5) at San Francisco

I ALMOST took the Niners here.  Because they are 4-3 at home.  And beat a decent Seahawks squad (who everyone had fallen in love with) there last week.  And because I think the Bears are completely overrated.

Chicago 20, San Francisco 14. 

Los Angeles Rams (-14.5) at Arizona

The Rams have not looked good for two straight weeks.  Todd Gurley is hurt and may not play.  Thank God for the Cardinals!

Los Angeles Rams 34, Arizona 3.

Pittsburgh at New Orleans (-6.5) 

Seems like every team that beats the Patriots gets crushed the next week.

New Orleans 38, Pittsburgh 24.  

Kansas City (-2.5) at Seattle

If the Seahawks didn’t lose to the 49ers last week, I probably would have taken them in this game.  Wait, I am going to take them anyway.  They are THAT unpredictable I guess.

Seattle 27, Kansas City 24.  

Denver (-2.5) at Oakland

They couldn’t have flexed another game into Christmas Eve??!!  Wait, this game actually may be entertaining.  So I’ll give it a chance.

Denver 30, Oakland 27.  

Week (against the spread):  9-7

Week (straight up):  9-7

Season (against the spread):  121-103

Season (straight up):  138-86

Random Nonsense…

…whatever comes to mind…

*Not much writing about the Boston Celtics thus far this season.  Tough to do when the Boston Red Sox had their World Series run.  Not to mention all of the New England Patriots drama, before and during the season.  Plus, you know, they are winning games per usual, despite the whole different feel of this season.

The Celts started off slow, to the tune of 10-10.  A number of reasons for that.  But I would say it was mainly because they had a full complement of players and they were all still feeling out their roles.  Gordon Hayward was back after missing the whole season.  Kyrie Irving missed the playoffs and now he was back.  Everyone else important returned.  Unless you count Greg Monroe, Shane Larkin or Abdel Nader as “important”.  That’s up to you.

So now the C’s are 18-11.  Are they hitting their stride?  Not entirely sure.

I’ve always thought this season that if everyone on the roster is healthy and playing, there are simply “too many mouths to feed”.  During this recent 8 game win streak, coach Brad Stevens hasn’t had all of the guys healthy.  Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Aron Baynes and Gordon Hayward have missed time with various maladies.

This has always made Brad’s job “easier”.  He has been able to juggle guys in and out when the rotation is smaller.  This has been one of his biggest strengths.  Also his ability to “coach up” players.

When all the established players are healthy?  Who knows?  My view is that it remains to be seen if now they are ready to roll.

Hayward and Brown have seemingly accepted coming off the bench…for now.  But it appears that guys like Terry Rozier and Brown have been chirping about playing time.  At least that’s what the rumors have been telling us.  Can’t believe every rumor.  But where there is smoke there is fire.  Those two (plus Jayson Tatum), in particular, led the charge in the playoffs last season with Kyrie and Gordo out.  So their egos were inflated in turn.

Many people do not like Marcus Smart…or his game really…or his offense to be more specific.  But since adding him and Marcus Morris to the starting lineup, things have worked out pretty well.  They are nice complements to the other starters.  Morris is a guy that I thought would be a problem…chirping about playing time and/or coming off the bench.  But he seems to have been a model citizen this year.

If all of these guys just suck it up and play together and accept their roles, the sky could be the limit.  I’m not sure I buy that they will all season though.  Long way to go.  Let’s see what happens.

*The Boston Bruins have also been neglected in this space.  We should probably give them some props for where they are in the standings despite all the injuries.

The team has used 12 defensemen in 32 games this year.  That’s…a lot.

Combine that with goalie Tuukka Rask’s poor start, that sounds like a recipe for disaster.  Actually, Tuuks has played better since he has been back from whatever his personal issues were.  Which is timely, since Jaroslav Halak has cooled off a bit from his hot start.  But combine all this with an offense that has just one line that works (when everyone is healthy) and a bunch of underachieving (not as talented as we thought?) kids…and how are they even in the playoff mix?

The fact of the matter is though that there needs to be more offense.  Hard to believe I am even saying this when coach Bruce Cassidy’s forwards threw up some pretty good numbers last season.

But players like Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork, JFK (I don’t feel like typing his full name) and even Jake DeBrusk just haven’t gotten it done this year.  Jake has 10 goals, but they seem like a quiet 10 goals.

These guys in particular really need to step it up.  The rest of the dudes (besides the one top line) are made up of 4th line types…Noel Acciari, Sean Kuraly, Joakim Nordstrom, Chris Wagner and yes, David Backes.  We’ve seen entirely too much of Colby Cave.

David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron make up an explosive line.  But they are going to need some help at some point.  And by “help”, I don’t just mean “David Krejci playing to the level of his contract” help.

*Joe Kelly 3 for $25??  Yikes!  He made himself 10-15 million for a few weeks in October.  Good for him.  But I bet he was looking at something like 2/10 or 2/12 without that great run.

Kelly was wildly inconsistent during his time in Boston.  I’ve said it a gazillion times:  He’s the only guy I know that throws 100 mph and never missed bats…until the playoffs, that is.

Thanks for the ride last fall Machine Gun.  But I won’t miss you.  We can find someone exactly like you for a lot less money.  Wait, we already have Heath Hembree!!

*Craig Kimbrel wants 6 years and 100 mil.  Good luck man!

Kimbrel had a fine career in Boston, do not get me wrong.  He was unhittable in 2017 and good enough in 2016 and 2018.  But he was not good in the 2018 playoffs.  And that’s kinda important.

So feel free to move on bud.

But make no mistake, no matter what Dave Dombrowski or Alex Cora say, the Sox will not enter Spring Training with Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier as the closer candidates.  Those guys ain’t closing.  There will be more arms added, including at the very least a Brad Boxberger or Fernando Rodney-type guy that has had success in the big leagues closing games.  For better or worse.

Add in an all of a sudden hyped up prospect Travis Lakins and there will be other options.

But thanks for the memories Craig…and more importantly, Machine Gun…

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