…after another yawner Monday Night. Now, don’t get me wrong, the New England Patriots didn’t play their best game that night. But they didn’t have to. And they knew it.
Why else would you go into the game with 2 running backs, one (James White) who is really just a receiver and the other (Kenjon Barner) someone who has bounced on and off the team a few times and is clearly someone the team doesn’t trust all that much. More importantly, then give a stiff wide receiver 10 CARRIES? That’s right, Cordarrelle Patterson lined up in the backfield plenty and also ran the ball plenty. And besides breaking the one long run, not very well otherwise.
Dont’a Hightower was a late scratch as well. Sure, he gets hurt a lot. But no one really talked about him being in danger of missing the game…and then he did. Cuz they played the Bills. Good time for a rest.
With Derek Anderson behind center for the Bills, apparently a couple of weeks after he was trying to make some sort of professional golf tour, and perhaps their only true weapon, LeSean McCoy, possibly being limited from a previous concussion, the Pats were comfortable going into the game. That’s the way we see it anyway.
Even though the Pats were pretty much limited to kicking field goals early on, did any of us think the game was in danger at any point at all? Nope.
So once again, thank God for the ineptness of the division. We’ve been through the whole thing with the Pats, how the year feels different, how the team usually has things a little more together at this point in the season, the question marks all over the place on the team…and all that.
But it doesn’t matter. Now.
The Patriots will cruise to another division title with ease. What happens this year in the playoffs may be a different story. But we will cross that bridge when we get there.
Every year the “experts” think that either the Bills, Miami Dolphins or New York Jets are ready to pose a challenge for the top spot in the AFC East.
And every year, it just doesn’t happen.
This year will be no different.
I just hope the result of this game and the knowledge that the division is in the bag did not influence the trade deadline for the Pats. That things are all good and there was no need to add reinforcements. The team seemingly always does something at the deadline. Something that doesn’t seem that major, but the players they get end up being key contributors down the stretch.
Why nothing this year?
Could have been the cost was too high. But if that was the case, they should still have done it. Especially at linebacker. They are thin at running back, as noted. But Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead will apparently be back at some point. Good enough. Receiver was an issue early on. I’m ok with what they have their now. The defensive backfield is a little muddled. But they should be ok. Both sides of the line, not horrible. Linebacker is a glaring need. Perhaps no one was available that fit what they do. Would have been nice to see one move there at least.
Not much I can do about it myself. So I guess I won’t lose any sleep over it…for now…
Oakland at San Francisco (-3.5)
…and if I was going to ever lose any sleep, perhaps the answer will be to just put this game on. 2-13 combined. Ugh. Not what the NFL had in mind when they scheduled this one. Jon Gruden vs. Jimmy Garoppolo battling it out in Cali. Nope. Instead, with the backup (C.J. Beathard) to Jimmy Football now questionable, we may see an undrafted free agent starting for the Niners in Nick Mullens. Riveting. Enjoy!!
Oakland 24, San Francisco 13.
Week (against the spread): 8-6
Week (straight up): 11-3
Season (against the spread): 62-59
Season (straight up): 77-44
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
…off to yet another bad start, what with the ‘Skins getting their arse handed to them on the most recent edition of Thursday Night Football. But Sunday is another day…
San Francisco at Chicago (-3.5)
JIMMY FOOTBALL!! Finally!! Not sure what the Niners were waiting for. Playbook? Please. Seattle? Please. Get him in there. Get it done. And?
San Francisco 24, Chicago 13.
Minnesota at Atlanta (-2.5)
This is a tough one. Atlanta is rejuvenated. The Vikings seem to be waiting for Case Keenum to crumble. This may be the week. Let’s face it…it’s Case F’ng Keenum!!
Atlanta 31, Minnesota 21.
Houston at Tennessee (-7.5)
I’m honestly not sure the Titans should be favored by this much over anyone…well, except Cleveland. But Tom Savage really is terrible.
Tennesse 27, Houston 17.
Tampa Bay (-1.5) at Green Bay
Tampa is really favored AT Green Bay? Seriously? Brett Hundley notwithstanding, seems like a stupid idea.
Green Bay 23, Tampa Bay 21.
Denver at Miami (-0.5)
Brutal. How does anyone pick this game? Shot in the dark here.
Denver 20, Miami 14.
New England (-8.5) at Buffalo
I shouldn’t do it, but I’m going to. Pats on the road. Divisional foe. Bills hanging on to playoff hopes. Pats banged up. Blah, Blah, Blah. But I am doing it…
New England 38, Buffalo 17.
Detroit at Baltimore (-2.5)
The Ravens seem rejuvenated as well. Yes, I already used this word to describe the Falcons. So be it. Either way, can’t trust the Lions.
Baltimore 24, Detroit 21.
Indianapolis at Jacksonville (-9.5)
Jacksonville lost to the Arizona Cardinals last week. Let that sink in for a while. And yet, I’m doing it against my better judgement this week with the Jags.
Jacksonville 31, Indianapolis 17.
Kansas City (-3.5) at New York Jets
KC has plummeted since their Opening Day win over the Pats. Good for them. Then they lost at home to a mediocre Bills team last week. This week? At least the Jets won’t be the New York team starting Geno Smith this weekend.
Kansas City 23, New York Jets 13.
Cleveland at Los Angeles Chargers (-13.5)
Josh Gordon is back! I guess you can still make it back to the NFL after ingesting all kinds of drugs for several years. If Aaron Hernandez was still alive, maybe he would have a chance to get back. Wait, he (allegedly) murdered several people as well, so maybe not…
Los Angeles Chargers 34, Cleveland 20.
New York Giants at Oakland (-6.5)
Oakland is miraculously only a game out now in the AFC West. The G-Men just turned to…Geno Smith. I hate Eli Manning of course. But Smith simply cannot play in the NFL. And the way the team handled the whole benching was absolutely atrocious. Realistically, I could have just said “GEEEEEEEENNNNNNN-OOOOOOOOOOO” here and that would have been all that needed to be said.
Oakland 23, New York Giants 7.
Los Angeles Rams (-6.5) at Arizona
Still not in on the Rams? Not sure I am either. BUT…I think I am this week.
Los Angeles Rams 38, Arizona 20.
Carolina at New Orleans (-3.5)
Matchup between a pair of 8-3 teams. Who saw this one coming? No one. Yup. No one.
New Orleans 30, Carolina 23.
Philadelphia (-5.5) at Seattle
I say it every week, Philly is on a roll. The Seahawks are believe it or not a pedestrian 3-2 at home. Plus they are ravaged by injuries. But you know what? Seattle is getting it done this week. Another hunch. But a legit one this time, I will promise you.
Seattle 33, Philadelphia 30.
Pittsburgh (-5.5) at Cincinnati
Speaking of hunches, I am going against myself this time. The Steelers play down to their competition. Seems like 5.5 is too high, especially on the road. Even against the Bungles. So, we shall see…
Pittsburgh 27, Cincinnati 20.
Week (against the spread): 0-1
Week (straight up): 0-1
Season (against the spread): 92-85
Season (straight up): 116-61