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Off To A Good Start…

…well, not for Week Two.  Not only was that game horrific to watch, but the Carolina Panthers really blew that game at the end.  What kind of crappy play call was that?  Still would have lost here, but not in my two entries for them as a part of two different knockout pools.  I suppose that’s what you get for trying to be cute…and for playing and putting in too many separate entries into waaaaaay too many of those pools…but I digress…

Two timeouts in a row called by Tampa Bay during that last stand?  Yikes!  Even an elementary school kid knows you can’t do that.  And the officials…yuck.  Just the whole thing.

Last year there were some entertaining Thursday Night Football games…for pretty much the first time.  Looks like we are reverting to what was the norm before that.  And that’s not a good thing.

I knew picking a Thursday Night division game is not a smart thing to do.  But I did it anyway…shame on me.  But maybe now I will learn?

In any event, the title refers to us not having a bad first week.  The picks against the spread could have been a smidge better.  But not too bad considering the first week is always tough to figure…I think anyway…

And no, I have nothing more to say on Antonio Brown.  I don’t think.

On to it…

Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) at Detroit

Matty Patricia can’t be too happy about his Lions blowing an 18 point 4th quarter lead last week.  But the Chargers may not be too happy needing overtime to beat an Indianapolis Colts team, who probably should be taking a step back this year after the sudden retirement of QB Andrew Luck.  Not to mention that the Chargers should have lost the game.  The normally reliable Adam Vinatieri missed a few kicks or else the Colts would have taken the game.  I expect Adam to bounce back ok, even though he is 127 years old.  He can’t be any worse than some of these stiff kickers floating around the league.  And I guarantee if he got cut, some other team would sign him if he still wanted to play.  But this isn’t the Indy game to pick here.  So back to the Chargers, who should be a pretty good team this season.  Detroit should not.

Los Angeles Chargers 27, Detroit 18.  

Indianapolis at Tennessee (-3.5)

We’ve covered Vinatieri already above.  And the Colts kind of.  This is the Titans’ first home game of the year.  No one expected Tennessee to blast Cleveland last week.  On the road.  Sure, I picked the Titans to win, but not by that landslide.  Cleveland is in for a dose of reality this year, I think.  But again, this isn’t the Browns pick.  The Titans may not be a Super Bowl contender, but they appear to be a solid team from top to bottom.  Especially if they get anything at all from quarterback Marcus Mariota.  Mariota hasn’t been anything special since he entered the league as a #2 overall pick.  Though he has been hurt…or at least banged up…a lot.  Even so, one would expect more from someone drafted that high.  Is the 5th year the charm?  Won’t know for sure for a while.  But it looks like he has some support.  As for more on Indy, quarterback Jacoby Brissett hasn’t embarrassed himself as a starting QB in the league when he’s been out there thus far in his career.  But it remains to be seen if he can take them to the next level like Luck was supposed to this year.  There is still some talent on this team, however.

Tennessee 24, Indianapolis 17.

Jacksonville at Houston (-8.5)

Nick Foles, we hardly knew ye!  Yeah, he will be back, but not for a while.  So that’s reason enough to take the Texans here.  Maybe Gardner Minshew (who??!) can get it done.  His numbers were actually pretty good when he came on in relief of Foles last week.  But who is going to count on that for a second week?  Not me.  Though some bad coaching decisions by the Texans play callers down the stretch against the Saints left a lot to be desired.  The Texans are the more talented team all around, division game be damned.

Houston 31, Jacksonville 13.

San Francisco at Cincinnati (-0.5) 

The Bungles actually played Seattle close last week, much to everyone’s surprise.  Maybe this new Zac Taylor cat is a vast improvement over the dearly departed Marvin Lewis.  That wouldn’t take much though.  We will see what happens in Week Two.  I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon yet.  I have more faith in the Niners at this point, for really no good reason at all honestly.

San Francisco 27, Cincinnati 24.

Buffalo (-2.5) at New York Giants

The Giants were putrid last week.  The Bills won, but they played the Jets.  I’m not sure anyone in New York state even cares about this game.  That’s all I have on this one Pete, sorry…

New York Giants 20, Buffalo 17.

New England (-18.5) at Miami 

Normally I get a little nervous about the Pats going to Miami, especially in the September heat.  This is not one of those years though.  Miami has just about gutted its team and is in full blown tank mode…as everyone knows.  The Patriots could score 60 in this game…Antonio Brown or no Antonio Brown…but they won’t.  They will pile on points early but will let up on former Bill Belichick assistant Brian Flores.  Start running the ball a ton.  Then again, the ‘Phins gave up a lot of yards on the ground last week as well.

New England 38, Miami 7.  Lock of the week…how can it not be??

Dallas (-4.5) at Washington 

Another game last week that was closer than expected…the ‘Skins losing to the Eagles only by five.  After leading 20-7 at the half, to boot.  The ‘Boys were stout…albeit against the G-Men.  Adrian Peterson should be back in the saddle for Washington.  But I don’t know if that should be considered a good thing.  I’m feeling more of the same for Dallas this week.  And Zeke will be a little more up to speed.  That can’t hurt.

Dallas 41, Washington 20.

Minnesota at Green Bay (-2.5) 

The Vikes threw 10 passes last week in their easy win over Atlanta.  TEN?!  The Packers scored 10 points in their opener against the Bears.  Minny will have to throw more than 10 passes in this game.  But I also expect the Pack to score more than 10 points as well.  They will have had a week and a half to prepare for this one.  That alone may give them the edge.

Green Bay 27, Minnesota 24.

Seattle at Pittsburgh (-3.5)

The Steelers looked wretched last week against the Patriots.  Seattle barely beat what is usually a very average Bengal squad…at home  So what the hell to do here?  Welp, the Seahawks going cross country doesn’t help them here.  And Pittsburgh cannot be THAT bad, can they?  As average as Mike Tomlin is as a coach, one thing he is supposedly good at is firing up the troops.  Hard for me to believe Pitt. falls to 0-2 to start the year.  Especially with this being their home opener.

Pittsburgh 34, Seattle 27. 

Arizona at Baltimore (-13.5)

Helluva comeback by the Cards last week, albeit against the Lions.  Baltimore isn’t going to score 59 points every week either.  Lamar Jackson sure as hell ain’t gonna throw for 5 TD’s every week either.  But the Ravens can run the ball as well.  In the Ravens home opener, I expect another blowout is at hand.  Even if they run the ball 80% of the time.

Baltimore 34, Arizona 14.

Kansas City (-8.5) at Oakland 

THE RAIDERS!!  Nice win for them in their opener on the baseball field.  Maybe they don’t need Antonio Brown?  Well, let’s not get carried away.  They still need a lot of help.  And their opponent was the Denver Broncos last week.  No powerhouse for sure.  Now they get an actual powerhouse in the Chiefs.  The Chiefs D gave up 22-25, 275 yards and 2 TD’s to the aforementioned Minshaw, so I guess the defense is still less than impressive.  But the offense, even without Tyreek Hill, should be still pretty tough to stop.

Kansas City 38, Oakland 27.  

Chicago (-1.5) at Denver

Yaaaaaaaawn.  Mitchell Trubisky and Joseph Flacco.  No thanks.  The Bears have had a week and a half to improve upon the three points they scored in that scintillating NFL opener.  And their D is legit.  That’s enough right there.

Chicago 24, Denver 10. 

New Orleans at Los Angeles Rams (-2.5)

Looking forward to this one.  Both teams squeaked out wins in their opening games.  The Saints undoubtedly want some revenge on that abhorrent noncall in the NFC Championship game that may very well have cost them the game…although they did have the ball to start overtime, so realistically could have overcome that call with a TD drive there.  Just sayin’.  But still, it was a bad no call.  “Revenge” is also said here very loosely.  I mean Week Two vs a trip to the Super Bowl last year?  Far different circumstances of course.  That all being said, this tilt should be a pretty good one.  Per usual, I am going against the previous Monday Night Football winner and also with the home team here.  The game should pretty close, so these two things are kind of enough to tip the scales for me.

Los Angeles Rams 37, New Orleans 34.

Philadelphia (-0.5) at Atlanta 

The Falcons laid an egg in their opener.  As mentioned earlier, Philly had to come back against the ‘Skins.  The Falcons should be better, despite their coach, Dan Quinn, being on many “first NFL coaches to be fired” lists.  Still, even with Atlanta at home, I’m taking the Eagles.  Think Philly is the better overall squad.  And D-Jax hasn’t seemed to miss a beat in his return to Philadelphia.

Philadelphia 31, Atlanta 21.  

Cleveland (-2.5) at New York Jets

The Browns are up against huge expectations across the league this year…and fell flat on their face in Week One.  I am not on board with those expectations, as you well know.  But they still should be competitive.  Two words for you on this one:  Trevor Siemian.  That’s all.

Cleveland 34, New York Jets 14.  

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  0-1

Lock Of The Week (season):  1-0

Season (against the spread):  9-8

Season (straight up):  14-3

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Week Two Already?

Where did the week go?  Oh yeah, I guess it has only been a couple days since the last games.

In any event, a short and sweet one here (the post, not necessarily the pick…or the game itself).  Especially after that extended piece from yesterday.

What is there really to talk about after that anyway?  The Boston Red Sox got 2-hit by a bunch of bums on the Toronto Blue Jays last night.  Did they quit already?  Perhaps.  I suppose we could confirm that if Clay Buchholz no-hits them today.

The head coach of the Boston Bruins got a contract extension.  That was nice.  It would be even nicer if they could get their 2 restricted free agent defensemen signed.

AB news?  Well, he practiced Wednesday.  So there’s that.  I guess he will play Sunday.  But who knows?

Ok, that’s enough…

Tampa Bay at Carolina (-6.5)

Thursday night divisional games are always tricky.  Especially ones between teams that were a combined 12-20 last season.  And both lost in Week One as well.  The feeling here though is that Carolina has the upper hand.  Tampa lost at home in their opener, against what appears to be an average San Francisco 49er team.  Carolina also lost at home, but against a much better Los Angeles Rams team.  Christian McCaffrey is absolutely the real deal.  I didn’t believe in him when he came out of college and was drafted in the Top Ten.  Looks like I was wrong.  Oh well, wasn’t the first time, won’t be the last.  And although he has his critics around the league, Cam Newton can play QB.  Can Jameis Winston?  Many people thought Bruce Arians could help Winston take the next step in his career.  Perhaps he will at some point.  It is early, after all.  Hard for me to see Carolina dropping two in a row at home to start the season either.  Even at 7-9 last year, they were 5-3 at home.  Riverboat Ron Rivera needs this win more than Arians as well.  He may be on a short leash this season.

Carolina 27, Tampa Bay 17.  

Week (against the spread):  9-7

Week (straight up):  14-2

Lock Of The Week:  1-0

Season (against the spread):  9-7

Season (straight up):  14-2

Leftover Weekend Nuggets…

…some random thoughts on recent events, once again, in no particular order:

*Do we even need to talk about the actual New England Patriot win over the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday night?

Not really.  But I will say a few things.

A little surprising on how easy the win was.  Isn’t Pittsburgh supposed to be a prime contender in the AFC this season?

The defense looked pretty damn good, and that was even playing without linebacker Kyle Van Noy.  There seems to be a lot of bodies out there that can contribute, that’s for sure.

The offense could have been crisper.  I mean, four field goals from Stephen Gostkowski is probably at least two too many.  Though I will take the fact that he made all of them.  He has been shaky at times recently.  And the new holder, punter Jake Bailey, hasn’t always inspired confidence thus far.

Sony Michel supposedly looked very good in training camp.  He did look very good in the very little he played in the preseason.  He did not look so hot in this game, however.  Let’s hope this changes.

But all of a sudden I am not worried about this receiving corps.  And that’s not because of the guy we will talk more about later.  I feel pretty good about Julian Edelman, of course.  I have this gut feeling that Josh Gordon will stay out of trouble this season.  If the team keeps Phillip Dorsett active, I actually feel ok about him.  I mean, I don’t think Dorsett is going for almost 100 yards and 2 TDs every game…let’s not be ridiculous.  But I think if the team doesn’t bury him now, he is trusted by Tom Brady and can be useful.  And Antoni…ok, let’s get back to him in a bit.

I think the team will miss Rob Gronkowski, don’t get me wrong.  But I am not as concerned about the tight end position as most.  There will just be a whole lot more blocking out of that group.  But I think Ben Watson and Matt LaCosse can make at least a few grabs in the passing game.

I would worry more about the offensive line.  But in reality, the Pats have such a soft schedule the first half of the season, I think by Game 7 or 8, Dante Scarnecchia and the boys will have something decent figured out.  Even if that means bringing in more bodies still.

Ok, that was more than a few things.  In the end, it was a good win.  But I am actually not going too crazy about it.  Pittsburgh may not actually be as good as we think.  Plus, I think we all thought that the Pats would be like 7-1 or 8-1 to start out the season…certainly no worse than 6-2.

It may not even be worth commenting more until we actually get some real games…especially the 19-0 talk.  It’s waaaaaaay too early for that nonsense.

*Boston Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski got fired late Sunday night.

Questionable timing?  Perhaps.

But I think that is something else we all saw coming.  There has been some talk that maybe Dombrowski “asked for it” because he knew it too and wanted to get a jump on other opportunities that may be available in a few weeks.

I’m guessing the Sox just wanted to bury it, especially after ownership subsequently has refused to talk about it.  That last part is kind of bizarre.

Either way, is it the right move?  Most likely.  There are some moves to be made this offseason and Dombrowski may not be the right dude to be in charge of those.  Primarily because one of the moves COULD be trading Mookie Betts.  And a move of that nature will involve most likely getting a package of prospects…not exactly DD’s strong suit.  He’s better known for stripping down a farm system for major league talent.

And, by the way, I am not advocating trading Mookie.  So pipe down.  But the reality is that if he doesn’t want to sign an extension this upcoming offseason, you can’t lose a guy like that for nothing the following offseason.  So you HAVE to investigate trading him.  I’ve been pretty clear about this for quite some time now.  I’m not looking to run the guy out of town.  I hope he re-signs…even if it is for a gazillion dollars.  John Henry has the dough, after all.

In any event, how much blame does Dombrowski get for this year?  A piece for sure.  But I don’t think it is as much as people want to lay on him.

Not getting a closer has been beaten to death when pointing fingers at DD.  And that’s valid, for sure.  He didn’t have to re-sign Craig Kimbrel for a jillion dollars.  But getting SOMEONE that had ninth inning experience would have been nice.

But what else?

People like to point to re-signing Nathan Eovaldi to 17 mil per (4 years) and Steve Pearce for 6 mil this year.  And that hurt them acquiring more bullpen help.

I say that’s bogus.  Pearce was short money and he SHOULD have formed a nice platoon at first base with Mitch Moreland for this year.  Then they both go elsewhere next season.  It is a lot of money for Nate, who never stays healthy and doesn’t have a tremendous track record (other than the playoffs last year).  But someone was going to give him some dough.  And having some starting rotation depth is never a bad thing.

To top it all off, you hear more about those contracts now that both of those guys barely played this year.  Only a few naysayers on them when they were handed out.

The Chris Sale extension?  Stupid.  But I think most of us would have given him good money over 3 years (instead of the 5 he got) though, no?  And that extension starts next year, so it has nothing to do with his performance this season.  Plus…I think ownership may have had quite a bit of say in handing that one out.  My opinion.

The bullpen?  Kind of in shambles.  But doesn’t that describe the bullpen for many major league teams?  And isn’t that why these guys are in the bullpen in the first place?  They can’t start, they can’t close and they are inconsistent from year to year.

Matt Barnes is no closer, but he should be a capable bullpen arm.  So should be guys like Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree and maybe even Steven Wright.  But Wright got hurt again and Hembree missed a chunk of time as well.  Relying on Ryan Brasier was probably foolish, but then you had guys like Marcus Walden, Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez pitch pretty well instead.  Typical of the year to year inconsistencies of most bullpen arms.

The point is, Dombrowski could have gotten more bullpen arms for sure.  But would they have even worked?

I suppose the fact that he did nothing at the trade deadline may have been one final straw.  I think he should have sold.  Others think he should have bought.  But in the end, he sat on his hands.  The consensus is probably that he should have picked one way or the other and made something happen.

But I don’t believe he should have the lions share of the blame.  Manager Alex Cora then?  Some to him as well.  He hasn’t been as good as last year, but how could he top that?  We need to realize that he is just a second year manager and will make some mistakes.  I think he has acknowledged a great deal of the mistakes he has made.  He will presumably get better the more experience he gets.  I’m not blaming him a ton either.

This all lies on the players.  Some of them are putting up gaudy numbers.  But SOMETHING has been missing all year.  There is plenty of talent on this team and it should have made the playoffs.  Injuries to Sale, Eovaldi and David Price, of course, did not help.  But this roster should still be a lot better.

And Dombrowski put together that roster.  So I guess it’s all his fault…

*So the Red Sox are 9 games out of the wild card with 17 games to go.

It’s over.  We know that.  We have known that for a while.

But you still have to compete until you are officially eliminated.  Use all your best players…even if you have to use 8-10 bullpen arms because that’s all you have.

Not sure why Xander Bogaerts wasn’t in the lineup last night, but whatever…

That being said, once the team is officially eliminated from the playoff race, since the team dumped Dombrowski early, maybe they can dump a few more dudes early too?

I mean, why are we bothering with guys like Gorkys Hernandez, Chris Owings and Josh A. Smith for?  They can also let Moreland and Rick Porcello walk soon for all I care.

Let guys like Darwinzon and Marco Hernandez, Travis Lakins, Sam Travis, Trevor Kelley, Mike Shawaryn and Bobby Poyner play more.  Call up some dudes that they have to add to the 40-man roster this offseason and give them a taste.  They may not even be overwhelmed since there are plenty of minor leaguers in the majors at this time of year.

And why no Rusney Castillo?  Gorkys, Rusney, what’s the difference?  Rusney’s salary won’t hurt the luxury tax at this time of year.  May as well see if you can get SOMETHING in return for that investment.

Even if it’s a couple of late September hits.

And…I’m fairly certain I am the only one thinking about this…

*Last, but certainly not least?  Antonio Brown!!

If I still have you after 1,500 plus words, thanks for being here!  If not, well then I guess I successfully “buried the lead”.  Or is it “buried the lede”?  Either way, I’m not sure “successfully” is the proper word either.  Let’s move on…

I’m actually not going to talk much about him here.  I mean, everyone else has been talking about him non-stop.  How much more can I really add?

In a football sense, I have decided that I am ALL IN with this dude.

Make no mistake, the guy is an arseclown.  The stuff he was pulling this summer up to and including this past weekend has certainly been juvenile.  You know the list of stuff he pulled in Oakland, so we don’t need to rehash it here.  He apparently has been doing that kind of stuff his whole career.  Including the videotaping stuff in the locker room.  And how last year ended in Pittsburgh…etc., etc., etc.

I don’t THINK  he will get away with that stuff here.  I mean, one never knows, but I would think before any kind of nonsense would get to Bill Belichick, guys like Brady, Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater, Dont’a Hightower, etc. would squash most things.

The Pats paid Brown a lot of money, so he will get more than one chance.  It’s not a risk free move, as some have been saying, but for one year it is worth the gamble.  As fans, we just have to hope he keeps in line for this one year.

Listen, I’m never going to hold any athlete as a role model.  Most of these guys are total jackwagons.  Even Brady can act bizarre at times…you know, the concussion water, avocado ice cream, etc.

I make no apologies for adding great players.  None.  Just like I make no apologies for the Patriots winning ways the past couple of decades.  People forget (or don’t even know) the doormats they were their entire existence before then.

People also compare Brown to past Patriot “headaches” such as Randy Moss, Corey Dillion, Adalius Thomas, et al.  They forget that there is one dude on the roster right now that has the potential to be a loose cannon…Michael Bennett.  There’s probably more in that locker room as well.  They just aren’t a superstar like Brown.  And as good a player as Bennett is, he’s not at Brown’s level either…I don’t think anyway.

You’re gonna have some crazies in any locker room, no matter what team you are.

What’s one more?

UNLESS…the story that broke last night about Brown being accused of rape is true.

Sadly and unfortunately, I am skeptical of a lot of those stories, especially when they come out of the blue like this one did.  And I am hoping that the story is not true of course.

But what if it is?

Now we are talking Tyreek Hill territory.  And that’s not somewhere you want to be.

As I said above, Brown has done some juvenile things over the years that kind of makes him look like a jackass.  So he’s kind of an idiot.  But is any of the stuff that has gone public really all that harmful?  Probably not.  He’s just kind of immature and pretty much a tool.

But if these new allegations are true, that changes EVERYTHING.  And Brown should be in jail, not ever on the field at Gillette Stadium.

Also, unfortunately, we may not know the truth until Brown has already played his year in New England.  So at this point maybe the only thing we can do is accept him as a player on the field.  Or at least try to.  Until that truth comes out.

Won’t be the first time this is the case for an athlete.  Which is another sad state of affairs…

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