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Competition? Anyone??!

So the New England Patriots play their sixth consecutive tomato can in less than a couple of hours.  Exciting!

And yeah, people are jumping all over the Buffalo Bills and calling them a REAL threat.

Please.

Their 4 wins are over the Jets. Giants, Bengals and Titans…with a combined record of 4-15 thus far.  And they beat the Titans because Tennessee’s kicker missed FOUR field goals.  As a result, Cairo Santos found himself on the streets the next day.

(Is he better than Mike Nugent though?  Just thinking out loud!)

In any event, sure, the Bills played the Patriots tough in their one loss.  But let’s not forget that Tom Brady gave them life by firing that PUTRID interception in the end zone, costing the Pats a potential 20-0 lead right before the half.  Where that game would have been…over.

And then we wouldn’t even be talking about the Bills being “a contender”.

So let’s hold off on that nonsense for now.  Ok?

When will the Patriots play anyone?  I think we can move past the Cleveland Browns’ trip to Foxborough in Week 8.  That situation is a lot uglier than people thought.  Perhaps they turn it around, but not anticipating that it will be anytime soon.

Maybe the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9?  The only reason I even suggest that is because the game is in Baltimore.

It just seems as if the NFL has more bad teams than usual this season.  For a league that prides itself on parity, not a great situation.

Although yeah, parity.  Maybe you can’t even say that when the Pats are at least in the AFC Championship game every year.

The Pats are putting up some serious points against this swill.  But could it be more?

Tom Brady thinks so for sure.  And local talk radio is having a lot of fun dissecting his statements all the time now.

But you know what?  I think they have at least somewhat of a point.

I mean, the offense has not been smooth any way you slice it.  So it probably should be better.  But don’t they always figure these things out?

Several of the pass catchers, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett, in particular, are banged up.  That can’t help.  Rex Burkhead helps out there and he is hurt too.  Maybe we can even include tight end Matty LaCosse too.

I don’t know.  I think some of the things Brady has said myself have been a little over the top.  Well, “over the top” for him anyway.  From how he normally speaks anyway.

Sure, Ben Watson would help.  But really, how much?  The guy is 422 years old.  I’d rather take my chances with LaCosse and Ryan Izzo to see if, you know, they may be more than a short term fix.  Would Ben be that much better this year?  I think not.

And say what you want, talk radio said at least one fact this week.  And often.  Brady ignores young wide receivers.  Historically always has.  This point is irrefutable.  So Jakobi Meyers will presumably take a ton of snaps tonight as the #3 wide receiver.  How many targets do you think he will get?  I set the over/under at 2.5.

Yes, the offense has some holes.  They certainly can use a veteran wide receiver and some help along the offensive line.  Tight end?  You think Watson will be there in a few weeks?  Could very well be.

The Pats will make a move by the trading deadline.  Maybe two or three.  My guess is that they will shoot for the moon (and I bet they already are), but end up with players we may not even know.  They will be able to find the salary cap room if they need it.  Some people are acting like the team is in “cap jail” and actually freaking out about it.  But they always figure that out.  Along with Dante Scarnecchia and Bill Belichick figuring out the offensive line.  Which I think they need depth at more than receiver.

Usually, the fans are panicking after a slow start by the Pats after 4-6 weeks.  Brady and the team always tell us to relax.  Then the team goes on and does great things.

If Brady is truly whining about the offense and lack of weapons at this point in the season, I would say the same thing to him:

Relax.

New York Giants at New England (-16.5)

Wow, guess I was wrong about that Giant pick last week.  Last time I listen to that guy who threw out the stat I was basing the pick on.  Regardless, the G-Men are coming into Foxborough with like 12 of their best players out with injury.  Ok, it may be 3 or 4 players, but does that matter?  Daniel Jones may end up making everyone regret they mocked him for being taken at #6 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.  But he’s not doing anything tonight.  Another stat I heard recently was something like rookie QBs being 0-11 or something the first time they play a Belichick team.  No, not from that same dude I used last week.  I don’t think anyway.  But this seems like a more legit stat anyway.

The weather may play a role as well.  Rain is in the forecast.  I guess a lot…with some wind.  But it was supposed to be doing that all day and hasn’t, so…I don’t know what to tell you.

Either way, the weather may hold the score down.  But the Patriot defense should hold the score of the Giants down anyway.  The defense has been unbelievable.  Yes, the competition has been brutal as outlined above.  But you absolutely cannot disregard what they have done regardless.  They have been THAT good.

But some food for thought here:  has anyone considered that a lot of the individuals on defense have expiring contracts this season?  Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Devin McCourty, for starters.  Even Danny Shelton and Adam Butler, who have both played very well.  Elandon Roberts too…oh wait, he hasn’t played much and still stinks anyway.  How did he get voted a captain??  Anyway, you can throw in the names of Michael Bennett and Dont’a Hightower, whose high cap numbers in the final year of their deals in 2020 will always lead to speculation that they could be cut.  I don’t know…the defense certainly has to work together to be successful, so how much does each individual situation really affect things overall?

But impending free agency always seems to motivate players in any sport, no?

Once again, just thinking out loud…

New England 27, New York Giants 3.  (Nugent misses two field goals and an extra point).

Week (against the spread):  8-7

Week (straight up):  8-7

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  3-2

Season (against the spread):  40-38

Season (straight up):  51-27

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My Apologies?

I’ll be honest, I am not even sure an apology is necessary, but…I feel like I have to.

About what?  Welp, Antonio Brown of course!!

When he joined the team, I wrote something to the effect of “I’m all in on him being on the team, even if he is an arseclown…because I don’t consider any athlete a role model…stuff he has done thus far has been more due to the fact that he is immature and a tool…there are plenty of crazies in every locker room, what’s one more…etc., etc., etc.”

I also, of course, added that if the rape allegations were true, he should be in jail and certainly not playing football.  But we probably wouldn’t know about that until his civil case had run its course…and who knew how long that would take?

Then, of course, this week he gets caught doing another stupid thing.  Except for that THIS particular “stupid thing” is not harmless as was a lot of the stuff he had done in the past (videoing locker room stuff, whining about his helmet, frostbitten feet, etc.).  This time, he essentially threatened one of his accusers by including his buddies (enforcers?) on a text string where he posted a picture of the accusers’ children.  Kind of a tacit threat I would presume.  At least that’s how I understand the situation at this point.

Wow.

Just…unbelievable.

So the New England Patriots released him yesterday.  Perhaps they never should have signed him in the first place.  We can debate that all day.  Or all month.  Or forever.

The Pats were going to give him a chance with a clean slate.  So would have a handful of other teams as well.  Make no mistake about that.  And it took him a little over a week to mess that up.  It’s too bad because he is immensely talented and I was looking forward to seeing him perform on the field.

But he dug his own grave.  And I, in turn, feel a little dirty for wanting a guy like that on my team.  So if I owe an apology, then you got it.

As for the effect on the Pats on the field, well, no one can say, “well, they didn’t need him anyway”.  Who doesn’t NEED great talent??  But the Pats are pretty talented overall, so the hit may not be all that bad.

I’m also not going to go back and say “well, the team should have never traded Demaryius Thomas because now they need him…”  Thomas, although I wouldn’t mind still having him, may not even be any kind of difference maker anymore.  Remains to be seen.  And I doubt we will see any magic while he is on the Jets.  Especially with the third string QB now taking snaps for the foreseeable future.

I’d rather take my chances with a kid like Jakobi Meyers, to see if there is actually something there.  And to see if Phillip Dorsett can be as useful as many people think he can be with more playing time (I’m still skeptical of that).  If the Jets release Thomas eventually, sure, I’ll take him.  But not worried about that kind of thing…yet…

As long as they don’t start playing Matthew Slater or Gunner O-SHEF-SKI(!!) at receiver more.

Plus, I still expect the Pats to run the ball more this year anyway.  This move may get the third rounder, Damien Harris, into the mix a little bit now.  Would love to see what he can do as well.  And maybe that means more Rex Burkhead out of the slot.  Don’t mind that.

Above all, we really need to be concerned about the offensive line over anything else at this present moment.  A story for another day.

On to the Week Three picks.  After another dud of a Thursday Night Football game.  Marcus Mariota sure looks like a #2 overall pick these days, huh?  Wow, that guy doesn’t look like much anymore.  Not that he ever warranted that draft position, mind you.  I will allow that his offensive line didn’t do him any favors Thursday.  But when your alternative is Ryan Tannehill, you kind of have to stick with Mariota, no?

Anyway, moving on:

Atlanta at Indianapolis (-2.5)

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Indy’s performance thus far this season.  I was surprised by the Falcons’ win over the Eagles last week…but I wouldn’t say it was pleasant.  I don’t believe that Atlanta is that good of a team, despite Julio Jones and some other decent players.  Adam Vinatieri gets back on track here.  That’s all.

Indianapolis 23, Atlanta 20.  

Detroit at Philadelphia (-6.5)

The Lions surprised the Chargers last week.  The Eagles were surprised by the Falcons.  Things will be very different this week.

Philadelphia 31, Detroit 13.

Miami at Dallas (-21.5)

The first of two 20 point spreads this week.  Hard for me to believe I will be taking both favorites.  I don’t believe the Cowboys are truly as good as they have looked so far.  I mean, the two divisional teams they have played thus far are not really any good.  But the Dolphins are historically atrocious.  Doesn’t matter whether Josh Rosen or Fitzmagic is at the helm.

Dallas 42, Miami 10.

Oakland at Minnesota (-7.5) 

Hey, the Raiders only gave up points in one quarter last week against the Chiefs.  Of course, it was 28 of them, but who’s counting?

Minnesota 24, Oakland 17.

Cincinnati at Buffalo (-5.5)

I love how seemingly everyone is jumping on the Bills’ bandwagon so far since they have started 2-0.  They know their opponents have been the Jets and Giants, right?  Cincy probably stinks too, but they almost beat Seattle on their field in Week One.  Something to note.

Cincinnati 20, Buffalo 17.

New York Jets at New England (-22.5)

LUKE FALK!!!  Bill won’t hesitate to run it up on the J-E-T-S.  You think Brady in shotgun with 4 minutes left last week in Miami was in poor taste and also risking injury?  Picture Brady with a bad calf with 30 seconds left in this one throwing bombs and taking timeouts.  Up 50.  Wouldn’t shock me.

New England 52, New York Jets 3.  Lock of the week…yup, even at that number…  

Denver at Green Bay (-7.5) 

Maybe Joseph Flacco really doesn’t have much left.  Although realistically, the Broncos probably should have won last week.  I can’t believe that the Pack has only scored 31 points thus far.  But they have also only given up 19.  Defense wins this game for GB…wait, really?

Green Bay 24, Denver 10.

Baltimore at Kansas City (-6.5) 

Love how everyone is on the Lamar Jackson bandwagon after two games as well.  He may well become a good QB in this league.  But please remember he has played the Dolphins and Cardinals in his two games this year.  The Chiefs may not have the best defense.  But they have to be better than the two aforementioned teams.  And I don’t believe the Ravens’ current defense can be confused with their best ones over the Johnny Harbaugh (or Brian Billick?) era.

Kansas City 34, Baltimore 24.

Carolina (-2.5) at Arizona

This line may have changed once Carolina QB Cam Newton was ruled out, but hey, these are the ones I use.  Although Cam hasn’t looked all that great this season, this has to be considered a negative.  Maybe after dropping their first two games at home, a road game is what the doctor ordered for Riverboat Ron and his troops.  I doubt it though.

Arizona 17, Carolina 13. 

New York Giants at Tampa Bay (-6.5)

ELI HAS BEEN BENCHED!!  ELI HAS BEEN BENCHED!!  I don’t know if Danny Jones is the answer.  But I do know Eli is not.  And yes, I am still bitter about the two Super Bowl losses to him.

New York Giants 23, Tampa Bay 18.

New Orleans at Seattle (-5.5)

Drew Brees is out and Teddy Bridgewater looked brutal in his stead last week.  The Seahawks are generally unbeatable at home.  Good enough for me.

Seattle 24, New Orleans 16.  

Houston at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5)

I honestly don’t know what to make of either of these two teams as of yet.

Los Angeles Chargers 24, Houston 20. 

Pittsburgh at San Francisco (-6.5)

Just counting down the minutes until Jimmy Football gets hurt again.  In the meantime, this Steeler season could get even uglier soon.  Can Minkah Fitzpatrick play offense??  Hope that first rounder was worth it for him.

San Francisco 31, Pittsburgh 17.

Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) at Cleveland

The Browns smoked the Jets last Monday, but I can’t say it was all that impressive.  Have people jumped off the bandwagon here yet?  I was never on, despite expecting them to improve this year nonetheless.  People are poo-pooing the Rams this year for some reason.  Yeah, Jared Goff needs the earpiece.  But they have some talent all over the field.  I see Cooper Kupp play and thank our Lord Jesus H. Christ and the Baby Jesus for him being hurt for last years’ Super Bowl.

Los Angeles Rams 37, Cleveland 17.  

Chicago (-4.5) at Washington

Remind me not to put on Monday Night Football this week either.

Chicago 17, Washington 14.  

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  0-1

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  2-0

Season (against the spread):  17-16

Season (straight up):  24-9

Thursday Night…Yuck…

…so we alluded to this before, it appears the atrocious Thursday Night product is back.  A couple of duds thus far this year.  Another yawner on tap for tonight.

I thought maybe we turned a corner with some decent games on this night last year.  Once again, it appears that I thought wrong.

Anyway, no sense in recapping the New England Patriots’ game against the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, which is what we might normally do here as a lead-in to the Thursday pick.

Other than the fact that I am a little discouraged that Bill Belichick left Tom Brady in late with a gigantic lead.

Why?

To “play 60 minutes” as both Brady and Belichick stated after the game?  A message or something?

Stupid.

I mean, have they seen the state of the offensive line?  And how Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger went down that same day?

I know, I know, Brady could get hurt in the first quarter just as easily as in a 37-0 game.  Like 2008.

But still…why risk it?

And now he ends up on the injury report with a calf injury.

Sure, he was on the injury report for years previously with a shoulder injury or something like that.  So it may be nothing.  It actually probably IS nothing.  Besides 2008, he has always played anyway.

But what are we doing here with a 42 year old QB?  Just so Brady doesn’t give up any snaps to backup Jarrett Stidham?  Wouldn’t surprise me if that is part of it.  He most assuredly hasn’t forgotten how he got in the lineup initially, for an injured Drew Bledsoe.  And he doesn’t want to open the door even a crack.

But Bledsoe then is not Brady now.  Tom is not losing his job to Stidham if he gets hurt.  Even if Jarrett goes like 6-0 or something.  Not going to happen.  So Tom needs to be smart…and so does Bill.  And if Tom balks, Bill needs to force the issue.

We will see what happens when the Pats are up 52-3 over the Jets late on Sunday.  Sad to say, I still expect Brady to be behind center late.

One more thing I guess…are we worried about Stephen Gostkowski yet?

I think a little.

Like a lot of kickers, he has somehow struggled with the longer extra point once they moved the line back.  Not sure why kickers have had trouble with that.  It’s not like it’s 60 yards now or something.

But TWO missed extra points in one game??

Listen, the alternative may not be great.  One of the biggest mysteries in life is how the NFL cannot find 32 decent kickers IN THIS ENTIRE WORLD!  How is that possible?

But even legendary kickers have their moments, such as Adam Vinatieri…even though he is 145 years old.

Truth be told, maybe “the operation” (as Bill calls it) is part of the problem.  Punter Jake Bailey has never held for kicks to the best of my knowledge.  So maybe there is something to it.

But it does also mystify me how, especially in recent years, the Pats do not bring in any competition for Gostkowski…at least to keep him on his toes a little bit.

Two games in, I am not panicking…yet.  But something else to keep an eye on anyway.

As for the game:

Tennessee (-1.5) at Jacksonville

Speaking of injured quarterbacks, Titans QB Marcus Mariota is banged up…again…what a SHOCKER.  But I guess he is good to go for this one.  Not sure how the Titans lost at home to Indy after waxing the Browns in Cleveland on Opening Night…but I suppose that is their M.O.  Meaning, no one knows what to expect from them on a week to week basis.  On top of that, I am not sure how the Jags hung in there on the road against a Houston Texan team that lost a heartbreaker on Opening Night, though didn’t look all that bad in the loss.  I guess going for two at the end of the game instead of taking their chances in overtime.  And not making it of course.  I suppose that is how you lose a game.  In any event, I don’t know anything about Gardner Minshew II and haven’t seen him play a single snap thus far this season.  But the numbers say he is holding his own after big free agent acquisition Nick Foles went down.  I think the best (funniest?) story leading up to this game is that a report I heard yesterday said “Jags cornerback Jalen Ramsey will play Thursday night, but is expected to be traded Friday…”  WHAT??!  WHY WOULD YOU PLAY HIM??  Kind of hope he tears an ACL or breaks a leg in the game tonight to show Jax that this may not have been a smart decision.

Tennessee 20, Jacksonville 17.  

Week (against the spread):  8-8

Week (straight up):  10-6

Lock Of The Week (season):  2-0

Season (against the spread):  17-15

Season (straight up):  24-8

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