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
…why do we need to talk about him? I don’t know. I guess I just feel like I have something to say. I have no idea why I actually care.
For the past couple weeks, this dude has taken a beating on local talk radio. Why? I’m trying to figure it out.
I mean, the guy only plays a handful of snaps every game. Why are people so focused on him?
The reason is that because the New England Patriots have been shorthanded at running back in recent weeks, they have been handing Patterson the ball. Seems a little odd, since he has had no experience running the ball in his career…other than like jet sweeps or something of the like. Never, to most people’s knowledge, just taking a handoff and trying to run through the line.
Most of the time, he looks like someone who is a receiver playing running back. But he had a long run one week. And five carries on one great drive the other week. Not horrible.
As long as he holds onto the ball, which he has thus far, why does anyone even care if he does this?
It’s a short-term fix until regular the running backs that are injured come back…Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead, in particular. They don’t have to risk losing a player they like by releasing them and picking up a real running back (although they could have released someone like Geneo Grissom a couple of weeks ago and not have been affected at all, I will allow for that). But it’s not like the Pats are giving Patterson 25 carries. They are kind of spotting him in at times. What’s wrong with that?
One retort has been that they have a real running back on the roster, Kenjon Barner, and aren’t giving him the carries instead. Barner, Patterson…what’s the difference really? Just because Barner has played running back in his career, does that mean he is actually any good at it? I would say not particularly. He has been on and off this roster like 3 times this year. Not to mention is a journeyman in the first place.
Listen, Patterson is kind of a gimmick player. His reputation throughout his NFL career is that he has no idea how to run routes. Kind of a bad thing in this system, you know, with Tom Brady wanting perfection and all.
But he can add something to the team for sure. Picking spots for him when the time is ideal. Running a (very) few routes. Returning kicks. Jet sweeps. And now giving him the ball out of the backfield a bit. Why not? How many times is he actually going to touch the ball in any given game? And how many plays is he really going to be in for the game as well?
Some would argue that he is a waste of 3 plus mil. Maybe. But he’s only signed for the rest of this year. And I will tell you the team is wasting 3 plus mil on players like Dwayne Allen, Chris Hogan and Duron Harmon, to name a few. Not to mention 12 mil on Devin McCourty, who has played very poorly this year in my eyes.
What kills me is that whenever the Patriots experiment with other guys playing different positions, they are often lauded. Troy Brown and Julian Edelman at cornerback to name the biggest ones.
But has everyone forgotten that they stuck Aaron Hernandez in the backfield at one point too? That seemed to be an unusual choice too. And didn’t look natural. But he had a few good runs when he did it.
Why is it different for Patterson?
Again, I can’t believe I care. But I feel a lot better now that I got it off my chest…
Carolina at Pittsburgh (-4.5)
I’m so tired of hearing about Le’Veon Bell. Aren’t you? Now there are reports that he has been spotted working out in a Pittsburgh gym. Who cares at this point? The Steelers have won four in a row and have a running back named James Conner tearing it up. Over 700 rushing yards and 1,000 combined rushing and receiving yards in 8 games. Shouldn’t this make Bell look worse? That some dude no one had really heard of came right in and is piling up yards. Bell is a great player. But it looks like he doesn’t really matter to Pittsburgh’s success…yet anyway. I can’t wait until his reporting deadline passes. Hopefully, he doesn’t show and loses a ton of money. So what if he takes a year off and is fresh next year. Will he really be? I’m just thinking he threw a year of earnings away. And a year of his career. But I hope he’s happy.
That’s waaaaay too many words for one day about Bell and Patterson. As for the game, did you realize that the Steelers are only 2-2 at home (3-0-1 on the road)? Me neither. Carolina is 5-0 at home. But tonight they are not at home. I’m not really buying into the Panthers anyway. Everyone seems to rave about this Christian McCaffrey guy. But every time I see him he is being stuffed at the line or is catching a 4-yard pass. The guy apparently has talent, but I’m not sure I would have taken him eighth overall last year. But the Panthers are 6-2 this year, so what the hell do I know?
Pittsburgh 34, Carolina 27.
Week (against the spread): 9-4
Week (straight up): 10-3
Season (against the spread): 71-63
Season (straight up): 87-47
Slacking in this space lately, but at least we are still pushing out the picks!
Tennessee at Kansas City (-8.5)
The Chiefs seemed to have regained their early season mojo down the stretch. The Titans stink and shouldn’t even be here. Seems like an easy one.
Kansas City 34, Tennessee 17.
Atlanta at Los Angeles Rams (-5.5)
All the home teams are favored by pretty healthy amounts this weekend, as they should be. This tilt features the smallest spread. And I think also the greatest potential for an upset. The Rams have been a great story this year, no doubt about it. But did the success come too fast?
Listen, I am no Falcon fan. But after their collapse in the Super Bowl last year, they did in fact make it back to the playoffs this season. Many thought that wouldn’t happen. They have the experience. The Rams do not. The Rams rested their key guys last week…hard to say if that is a good thing or not. It works for some teams, but not necessarily for others. (Avoiding injuries is of course a good thing, but you know what I mean…did their rhythm get stunted? Etc.).
Did you know that LA is only 4-4 at home? Atlanta is 5-3 on the road. The Falcons were also in arguably the toughest division this year, with three teams making the playoffs out of the NFC South.
Now I am not saying Atlanta will return to the Super Bowl, but…
Atlanta 27, Los Angeles Rams 24.
Buffalo at Jacksonville (-8.5)
The Bills return to the playoffs after 18 years. Yay. These guys stink too. Nice choke job by the Ravens to get the Bills in there. The Jags played their starters last week when they didn’t even have to and put in a clunker against the Titans. A week after giving up 44 to the 49ers. Yeah, I know, Jimmy G, blah, blah, blah. But people have been jumping on Jacksonville’s bandwagon all year long…great defense and all that. Has anyone looked at their division? Woeful. And their schedule overall? Weak. Nice win at Pittsburgh in Week 5, but other than that? Not much.
Sssssssoooo…the Jags aren’t really any good either. And…Blake Bortles. ‘Nuff said. Should be enough for this week, since it’s Buffalo. And if Buffalo doesn’t have LeSean McCoy then it could get pretty ugly out there. Then moving forward I expect the Steelers to return the favor to the Jags next week in the Divisional Round. We will cross that bridge if we get there however.
Jacksonville 27, Buffalo 13.
Carolina at New Orleans (-6.5)
This one has the makings to be a good one, even though the Saints handled the Panthers pretty well in both matchups this season. But you know how the saying goes…”tough to beat a team 3 times in one season”. Both teams played poorly last week with the division on the line, so that really doesn’t inspire much confidence. Maybe I just have high hopes for this one as it’s the final game of the weekend. I will say that this Alvin Kamara kid is exciting to watch. That’s all.
New Orleans 30, Carolina 24.
Week (against the spread): 10-6
Week (straight up): 10-6
Season (against the spread): 138-118
Season (straight up): 173-83