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Disgusting…And Then…The Picks…

…trying to find the right words to write while also wondering why Jason Garrett still has a job several days after the end of the NFL season…guess that is not something I need to worry about.  But still curious…anyway…bottom line is that Jerry Jones is probably weaseling out of the whole thing and letting Garrett’s contract expire on the 14th I think.  Maybe force the new coach after that to add Garrett to his staff.  But otherwise keep him “in the building”, without actually firing him as head coach.

Just find the whole thing in Dallas comical.  As opposed to Miami coach (and long time Patriot assistant) Brian Flores firing his offensive coordinator (and long time Patriot assistant) Chad O’Shea the day after the season ended…and after only one year…and after Flores brought O’Shea to Miami…and considering those guys were supposedly tight.  I find that story interesting, but nothing more.

What is NOT comical is the New England Patriots’ loss to the Miami Dolphins last Sunday.  I think all Patriot fans feel the same way.

Even though it has likely been a lot of substitutes for the main hosts on the local sports radio stations this week, we have not been able to bring ourselves to listen to the noise.  Because we fear the noise is accurate.  And I will make my own noise here.  Don’t you worry.

But even the subs have probably been saying the same things on the radio (and TV and newspapers and the internet and etc. of course) this week.  Stuff like:

*If they can’t beat Miami with a bye on the line, how do you think they will do in the actual playoffs?

*So much for that vaunted defense.  Letting the immortal Ryan Fitzpatrick march the offense downfield to win the game in the end.

*By the same token, so much for that Defensive Player of the Year award for Stephon Gilmore this season after being torched by Devante Parker all day.

*Tom Brady sure looked terrible today, eh?  Is he hiding an injury?

*Why did they give up ANYTHING for Mohamed Sanu?  He is brutal!

*Boy, Julian Edelman really needs some time off.  Could’ve used that bye!

*Brady is gone.  Josh McDaniels is gone.  Devin McCourty is gone.  Kyle Van Noy is gone.  Joe Thuney is gone.  Jamie Collins is gone.  (Insert other free agent player or coach here).

*Feels like the 2009 team all over again, right?!

And so on…

I can’t argue with ANY of that.  This space loved the 8-0 start.  But we weren’t completely sold on the team since they were playing teams that were barely better than some local colleges.  Well, maybe not local colleges, as Boston College still stinks.  But you get the point.

And yeah, the Dolphins sure turned things around from that 43-0 blasting by the Pats in Week Two, eh?

The FEEL of things out there regarding the team just doesn’t seem right.  And that is without getting into Brady’s future with the organization (or football as a whole).  We may get to that someday.  That topic has already been covered ad nauseam locally.  I’m not sure I have completely formed my opinion on that as of yet.  It feels like he is gone, to retirement or another team.  But this postseason could prepare a different script.  We can chat more about that later.

But back to the “feel”, meaning…the offense…and Brady himself… has never seemed right.  The offensive line has been bad, helping contribute to running back Sony Michel not running for many yards.  Though Michel has looked slow and indecisive in his own right.  Brady’s attitude and demeanor in interviews.  McDaniels’ play calling.  Does Brady ever trust the kid wide receivers?  Or do they just stink?  The defense not looking so great against good teams.  Why did they opt for Sanu over Emmanuel Sanders, who is playing well in San Fran?  The Antonio Brown fiasco.  The Gronk “will he or won’t he garbage”.  Edelman being banged up.  Is Brady too?  Giving Michael Bennett away instead of say, ditching Deatrich Wise Jr., who plays very little, but always seems to have a key penalty every game.  The Josh Gordon Experience.  Blah, blah, blah.

In any event, based on the history of this organization, it would not shock me at all to see them make another Super Bowl run.  Far-fetched, especially since they needlessly forced themselves to play an extra game?  Sure.  But the Pats have looked bad before.  And turned it around when no one thought they could.  See:  Last season.

Is a Super Bowl run likely?  Doubt it.  There are just too many strong teams out there.  Baltimore and Kansas City in the AFC.  (Side note:  I am not sure how everyone is handing the conference to the Ravens.  And have been for quite some time.  We know what the Chiefs can do, right?).  San Francisco, Green Bay, New Orleans, even Seattle in the NFC (though those teams do have flaws that can be exposed, especially with two weeks of preparation time).  The overall competition just seems a little stiffer all around.

It’s just hard for me to rule anything out with these Patriots.  Despite what we all feel.  Yup, that the dynasty may indeed be over.

As for this weekends’ slate:

Buffalo at Houston (-2.5)

I love some of the latest chatter I’ve heard:  The Bills are going to go into Houston and win.  Then shock the Ravens in Baltimore.  Then when New England beats Tennessee at home and upsets the Chiefs in KC (well, they did that last year!), the Pats will be hosting the Bills in Foxborough for the AFC Championship game!!!!!  And guess what?  THEN the Bills will all of a sudden suck and it will be an easy win for the Pats to cruise into the Super Bowl!!  Please.  The Bills are a nice story.  I said it last week, Sean McDermott seems like a good coach and has the team headed in the right direction.  QB Josh Allen has his moments.  The Texans do have some trouble in the playoffs historically.  Resting some key guys last week will help them.  Maybe the return of J.J. Watt will as well.  The Bills ride ends here.  Sorry wishful thinkers.

Houston 27, Buffalo 17.  

Tennessee at New England (-5.5)

You know who else’s ride ends here?  You’ll have to wait a second.  As well as the Patriots defense has played at times this year, they have had some problems stopping the run.  Titans RB Derrick Henry led the NFL in rushing yardage.  Also would not be surprised if the Titans resurrected old friend Dion Lewis from the depths of their bench.  The Pats D historically don’t do well against QB’s who can run, or at least move around a little.  Titans QB Ryan Tannehill can at least do the latter.  And upped his game for sure once he took over the Titans job.  It’s unlikely Bill Belichick will stack eight men in the box against the running game since the Titans all of a sudden have a receiver tearing it up in A.J. Brown.  The Titans can give up some points, but the Pats have trouble scoring them.  Not a lot of confidence from this usual homer.  And therefore you get this:

Tennessee 27, New England 20.  

Minnesota at New Orleans (-7.5)

Verizon FIOS is trying to make me feel bad.  They have removed the FOX channel from our cable offerings because apparently, FOX is trying to squeeze more money out of Verizon.  How’s that feel Verizon?  Look in the f’ng mirror.  Like you haven’t been screwing John Q. Public for years with your plans?  This message is on a loop on the channel now:  “This station is asking for a 70% increase in order to carry them.  That’s like the price of gas going from $2.99 to over $5.00 a gallon overnight”.  Comparing a huge corporation with Joe Average Person?  Please.  Enough with that nonsense already.  I digress, but I mention it because I will have to find an alternative way to watch this game.  Plus, I think it is as funny as sh&t that VZ is trying to do this.  Plus, I don’t really have much of anything to say about the actual game.  Looks like Dalvin Cook is ready to roll for the Vikes.  But how healthy is Adam Thielen?  Kirk Cousins had a nice run for a while, but I can’t say I’ve ever bought in.  The Saints should handle this one at home fairly easily I imagine.  Maybe I won’t even have to watch.

New Orleans 34, Minnesota 24.  

Seattle (-1.5) at Philadelphia 

The Seahawks lost 3 of 4 down the stretch and have emergency guys playing running back.  Yet, they were an inch (and a horrific delay of game penalty previously?) away from not even being in this game.  Maybe they should have fans call in goal line plays instead of whoever is coaching.  Might end up with better results than last week and…well, you know the other major time.  Philly won their last four, but 2 against the Giants and one each against Dallas and Washington.  I’m not sold.  Miles Sanders is supposedly giving it a go, but will Zach Ertz be able to?  The Iggles are banged up all around.  I just don’t see how they can win one against a good team here.  Being home and having the ‘Hawks go cross country should help.  But Seattle was surprisingly 7-1 on the road this season.  Even if Sanders, Ertz and their slew of injured players can suit up, it seems like a tall task.

Seattle 31, Philadelphia 23.  

Week (against the spread):  9-7

Week (straight up):  9-7

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  10-7

Season (against the spread):  130-126

Season (straight up):  164-92

I Take It Back?

In recent weeks I have been saying that I feel like the New England Patriots have enough pieces on offense to make the whole thing work.  That they were still trying to integrate guys like Mohamed Sanu, Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry into the mix.  That they still had Julian Edelman and James White.  That the running backs have enough talent to be better.  That the tight ends are decent enough.  Etc.

But…I may have been wrong.  And I could be finally ready to admit it.

Now, I don’t have access to the coach’s film like some people that cover the team.  And some of them saw progress against the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday.

I didn’t see it from my angle.

The Pats should have pummeled these pathetic Bengals, similar to how they pummeled all those bad teams at the beginning of the year.  Especially with the 5 turnovers.  Especially when they had some tape of the Bengals’ sideline to work with…oops…sorry, was that out loud?!

But they found themselves down by the end of the first quarter and barely up at the half.  And looked fairly brutal for most of the game.

Tom Brady missed open guys.  Receivers were dropping passes.  A bunch of punts.  All that.

Never really looked good to me.

Of course, it appears that Edelman is extremely banged up.  And Brady may have a bum elbow to boot.  Factors that have to be considered for sure.

To that I say, if Jules can’t go, that’s a wrap.  Even if Brady ends up being completely healthy.

It would be hard for me to believe the offense could move the ball at all without a somewhat healthy Edelman.  Since James White apparently has been defended more by someone in the defensive secondary instead of a plodding linebacker and isn’t as open as he used to be, Jules has been really been Brady’s only reliable target.  Even if, with all the drops this year, he hasn’t been as reliable as he usually is.

I just don’t think we can really count on the rest of the corps right now.  For a variety of reasons that we have been through before.  I just wasn’t ready to face those facts.  I am kind of ready to now.

UNLESS they get the running game going.  But I’m not counting on that with this offensive line.  Sure, Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead looked pretty good Sunday.  But…the Bengals.

Big test this week against a top defense in the Buffalo Bills.  Being at Foxborough should definitely help.  And I do expect the Pats to win the game.  But I am also not counting on any offensive fireworks, that’s for sure.  Hope I am wrong.

Speaking of Edelman, despite the drops, we were really hoping he would make the Pro Bowl this year.

PRO BOWL?!!  WHO CARES??!

True.  Normally I don’t care.  Especially since we know it’s a popularity contest.  Same guys go every year it seems.  Not to mention we hope that no Patriots CAN even go, meaning they would be in the Super Bowl again.  Not to mention that like a quarter of the team usually backs out, so Jules may still get there if the Pats lose early in the playoffs.

My only thing with Edelman is that somehow he has never made one.  People actually put him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame conversation.  And he hasn’t even made one single Pro Bowl?

Just would have been nice to see, that’s all.

But we know the Pats don’t care, so why should we?

Moving on…

So the Thursday Night Football slate is done for the season.  The feeling here was that the picks were brutal on this night over the course of the season.  But they weren’t as bad as I thought.  9-8 against the spread and 11-6 straight up.  Not too bad!!

We will separate the Saturday games out from the rest in this case.  Actually, let’s just do them all…

Houston (-3.5) at Tampa Bay

Big win at Tennessee last week put the Texans in the driver’s seat for the AFC South.  Another matchup with the Titans next week to end the regular season and that is sure to be a big one too.  Let down for Houston this week?  Well, we saw it against the Broncos the previous Sunday.  But I’m betting it doesn’t happen again.

Houston 30, Tampa Bay 24.  

Buffalo at New England (-6.5)

The Bills are trying to prove they are ready for Prime Time.  But…Josh Allen still stinks.  There is just no way to sugarcoat this.

New England 20, Buffalo 17.  

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco (-6.5)

What a bad loss for the Niners last week.  The Falcons.  The way it went down.  They would have been better off getting smoked like the Rams did.  Guess LA was not back on track.

San Francisco 38, Los Angeles Rams 23.  

Carolina at Indianapolis (-6.5)

The Colts were brutal on Monday Night Football.  But the Panthers are down to their third string QB.

Indianapolis 27, Carolina 16.  

New York Giants at Washington (-2.5)

Wake me up when this one is over.

Washington 17, New York Giants 13.  

New Orleans (-3.5) at Tennessee

Good for Drew Brees last week.  But have a gut feeling the Titans show up this week.

Tennessee 31, New Orleans 27.

Baltimore (-10.5) at Cleveland

The Browns beat the Ravens in Week 4, Baltimore’s last loss.  Can’t see that happening again.  Lamar Jackson and company can wrap up home field advantage with a win.  Give some players Week 17 off in the process.  Even though some of the Browns players are denying they want out, where there is smoke, there is fire.

Baltimore 35, Cleveland 17.  

Pittsburgh (-2.5) at New York Jets

Duck Hodges, Mason Rudolph, Paxton Lynch, Landry Jones, Joshua Dobbs, Dennis Dixon, Mike Tomczak, Mark Malone, Cliff Stoudt, Bubby Brister…does it matter?  And yes…I am saying this when they are playing the J-E-T-S!

New York Jets 24, Pittsburgh 20.  

Cincinnati at Miami (-1.5)

Wake me up when this is over, part II

Miami 17, Cincinnati 14.  

Jacksonville at Atlanta (-7.5)

Tom Coughlin just got fired.  Imagine that.

Atlanta 31, Jacksonville 17.  

Oakland at Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5)

Horrid loss for the Raiders last week.  Same for the Chargers.  When am I getting to a game that matters on this list?

Oakland 27, Los Angeles Chargers 24.  

Detroit at Denver (-6.5)

Nope, this one doesn’t matter either.  Glad to see Matty Patricia getting another shot next year.  Not sold on Patricia.  But I can’t imagine you can win many games with Jeff Driskel and David Blough.

Denver 34, Detroit 23.  Lock of the week (yup!).

Dallas (-2.5) at Philadelphia

Here’s one that matters!!  I imagine the winner of this one will win the NFC East.  Though it wouldn’t shock me if either lost their Week 17 game against the Redskins or the Giants, respectively.  Dak Prescott has been limited in practice, but I would doubt he sits this one out.  The ‘Boys have a more talented team.  The Eagles have been hammered by injury.  But your guess is as good as mine on this one either way.

Dallas 34, Philadelphia 31.  

Arizona at Seattle (-9.5)

The Seahawks should roll.  But they always seem to play close games.  9.5 is a lot of points.  Sorry to hear about Josh Gordon.  Looks like his last chance in the NFL.  Maybe he cares, maybe he doesn’t.  But still a sad story.

Seattle 33, Arizona 24.  

Kansas City (-4.5) at Chicago

Here’s hoping the Pats beat the Bills and the Bears win here so the Pats that are banged up can take Week 17 off after wrapping up the second seed and therefore a first round bye.  Wishful thinking on the second half of that though.

Kansas City 34, Chicago 17.  

Green Bay at Minnesota (-4.5)

The final Monday Night Football game of the year should be a doozy.  The Vikings may have clinched a playoff spot by this time and they still may not win the tiebreaker for the division in the end, even with a win here.  And the Pack have seemed to sleepwalk through their last couple of games so maybe they awaken as well.  Sticking with the home team regardless.

Minnesota 30, Green Bay 24.

Week (against the spread):  9-7

Week (straight up):  10-6

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  8-7

Season (against the spread):  112-112

Season (straight up):  144-80

Week Thirteen…

…in full swing right now with the three Turkey Day games.

Do I still not believe in the Buffalo Bills?  Ummmmm…kind of?  Wasn’t their win in Dallas Thursday more of a reflection of the Cowboys being run by a band of idiots?

Maybe so…but I suppose 9-3 is 9-3.  As Bill Parcells used to say, “you are what your record says you are”.

So I guess the Bills are good.

I think the only other thing I have to say before this weeks’ horrible picks is that it’s really hard for me to believe how bad kickers are in the NFL this season.  Watching the likes of Brett Maher and Younghoe Koo butcher kicks on Thanksgiving just added to that atrociousness.  Even though Koo somehow redeemed himself by executing a couple of onside kicks late in the game.  Actually had another too that was called back due to penalty.  Yes, his team helped in the recovery of the kicks.  But when the league as a whole has only converted two onside kicks the entire season, this has to be considered pretty impressive.  And the way the kicker starts the process, well, he deserves a great deal of the credit.

In any event, now we are going to look at a FOURTH kicker for the New England Patriots this season on Sunday.

Extremely hard to fathom.

The Pats employed a total of three placekickers from 1996-2018.  THREE!!

And now with Kai Forbath set to take the role against Houston, that makes him the fourth this year.

Ok, two of them, Stephen Gostkowski and Nick Folk, had physical maladies that affected their roster status.  Mike Nugent just sucked.

But still…people have been talking about how the offense needs to get better or the Pats won’t make a long playoff run.

I still do believe the offense will be fine by the end of the season, barring any other major injuries.

Shouldn’t we worry about the kicking game even more?

Folk may be back after he recovers from his appendectomy.  But will any of us trust him or Forbath to make kicks when it counts?

Kind of important in close games, no?

I hope everyone that has wanted to cut Gostkowski over the last couple of years is happy.  That’s really all I can say about that.

Tampa Bay at Jacksonville (-1.5)

Maybe we do the opposite here?  I mean, two 4-7 teams, so who knows?  Anyway, the Jags gave up 42 to the mediocre Titans offense last week.  The Bucs are more explosive.  Seems like Tampa would be the pick here, but…

Jacksonville 30, Tampa Bay 27.  

San Francisco at Baltimore (-4.5)

Both teams are rolling.  The Niners playing on the East Coast in a 1:00 pm EST start is not ideal.  Statistically, SF has the NFL’s second best defense.  But the Ravens carved up the leagues’ number one defense a few weeks back.  The opposite here?  Nah.

Baltimore 34, San Francisco 27.  

New York Jets (-3.5) at Cincinnati

ANDY DALTON IS BACK!!!  Sadly, despite the Jets three game winning streak, I actually think Dalton’s return will matter.  Call me crazy, I guess.

Cincinnati 20, New York Jets 17.

Cleveland (-1.5) at Pittsburgh

Speaking of three game winning streaks, here come the Browns!  Maybe “Duck” Hodges can get it done though?  I’m betting no.

Cleveland 24, Pittsburgh 13.  

Washington at Carolina (-9.5)

I don’t think the Panthers got a new kicker this week.  Theirs cost them the game last week against the Saints.  Once again, a common theme.  But they should be able to have a lineman kick this week if they want to.  Wouldn’t that be something?

Carolina 23, Washington 10.  

Green Bay (-6.5) at New York Giants 

Have to believe the Packers bounce back from that embarrassment of last week in a big way.  The fact that their opponent is the G-Men likely makes that an easier task.

Green Bay 37, New York Giants 20.  Lock of the week.

Philadelphia (-9.5) at Miami

Not sure I can really justify taking the favorite here, other than that the Dolphins aren’t very good.  So I am not even going to try.

Philadelphia 24, Miami 14.  

Tennessee at Indianapolis (-2.5)

The Colts won the first meeting 19-17 in Tennessee way back in Week Two.  Should be another tight one here, but apparently Ryan Tannehill is now Jesus.

Tennessee 23, Indianapolis 20.  

Los Angeles Rams (-4.5) at Arizona

It’s really hard for me to take the Rams seriously now.  Arizona is off a bye and at home.  Sounds like a Cardinal win, right?  Nothing this year in the NFL has been what it should be.

Los Angeles Rams 33, Arizona 30.

Oakland at Kansas City (-9.5)

I guess an almost double digit spread is what you deserve when you are supposedly in the playoff chase and then get smoked by the Jets.  KC is off a bye and will be looking to put the division away.  Seems like an easy one here…but of course it probably won’t be.

Kansas City 45, Oakland 27.  

Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) at Denver

The Chargers should probably win.  But one never knows how many picks Philip Rivers will throw this weekend.  Perhaps Drew Lock gets some run this week?  Why wouldn’t he?

Los Angeles Chargers 17, Denver 10.  

New England (-3.5) at Houston

I have no idea why, but the Texans just don’t concern me.  I know I should definitely have concerns, specifically when considering Houston QB’s Deshaun Watson’s skill set.  But…not feeling it.

New England 27, Houston 17.  

Minnesota at Seattle (-3.5)

The Vikes are coming off a bye and the ‘Hawks are surprisingly only 3-2 at home.  Here’s the opposite again though.

Seattle 24, Minnesota 20.  

Week (against the spread):  2-1

Week (straight up):  2-1

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  5-7

Season (against the spread):  89-90

Season (straight up):  116-63

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