Speaking of turkeys, one non-football note (about time?) before we dive into the New England Patriots and then the three Thanksgiving Day games.
Kyrie Irving is coming back to Boston tonight. Oh wait, nevermind. He’s out with a shoulder injury. BIG surprise.
Kidding, of course. Kyrie has actually missed several games, so it’s not like he is ducking Boston. That would be hard to do over the course of a long NBA season.
When healthy, Kyrie is lighting up Brooklyn. But who else do they have? Kevin Durant? Sure, but not this season. Spencer Dinwiddie can apparently play. But what else? Joe Harris?
So, of course, he is going to have monster numbers. I mean, he is truly a great player for sure, there has never been any debate on that.
But I think most people have noticed the turnaround (thus far) in Boston this season. The Celtics are 12-4. Yup, it’s early and there is a loooooong way to go. It’s also worth noting that the Nets are 9-8…but something like 5-1 without Irving. Nice.
Sure, Kyrie wasn’t the only player leaving Boston after last season. But I find it hard to believe that Al Horford or Aron Baynes caused any locker room turmoil. Marcus Morris? Perhaps…he is kind of a hothead. Terry Rozier too, but as a part-time player, we can’t really say he led the charge or anything.
It’s all about Kyrie.
The players seem different on the floor as well. The whole thing is obvious. Of course, it hasn’t hurt that Gordon Hayward seemed to get back to his previous self before missing some games with a different, and lesser, malady. And the younger guys have taken a step up as well.
But the general feeling cannot be mistaken.
It’s just awesome to see the Nets winning without Kyrie, while the Celtics come off a West Coast trip, don’t have Kemba Walker, Hayward (and Daniel Theis, if you will), have to play dudes like Semi Ojeleye and Tremont Waters 20 minutes plus and still win their game.
We said it here at the time: Good riddance.
And…the most laughable thing I have heard in recent days is “will Kyrie get a tribute video?”
SERIOUSLY??! FOR WHAT??! Two years of a bad attitude and “leading” an underachieving team?
Listen, Isaiah Thomas wasn’t here all that long either. But he absolutely deserved a tribute video upon his return. 100 percent.
Ok, back to football and the Patriots.
Though I am not sure I have anything to add on them.
I mean, it was certainly a nice win against Dallas on Sunday. But what did we learn?
The game was played in a monsoon. It was raining sideways. Wind. All that.
The defense sure played well. The offense still needs some work. But if this game is played in better conditions, do the Cowboys score many more points? Wouldn’t surprise me. That’s why I am not sure I can put much stock into this game.
What did we learn about the kid wide receivers? Not sure there either. Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry had their moments…both good and bad. Isn’t that to be expected though?
I am glad that they played basically the whole game, however. How can the experience hurt?
Nice win at home against a fairly decent team in less than ideal conditions.
But that’s all I’m taking from it.
Chicago (-2.5) at Detroit
The Bears probably think they have a shot at the playoffs still, while the Lions lost to Washington last week. ‘Nuff said.
Chicago 20, Detroit 10.
Buffalo at Dallas (-6.5)
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is pissed off. About time! He should have fired coach Jason Garrett years ago. Not sure he picked the right time to sound off a little here, after those conditions last week, but better late than never I suppose. That being said, I expect the ‘Boys to bounce back at home on Turkey Day. The Bills are 8-3, but I am still not buying into any of that nonsense.
Dallas 27, Buffalo 13.
New Orleans (-6.5) at Atlanta
The Saints should have lost to Carolina last week. They amazingly got smoked by these same Falcons three weeks ago…at home. New Orleans is 3-1 since Drew Brees’ return, but things have been seemingly a little uneven. The Falcons seemed to be a little resurgent after that win at the Superdome, but then got hammered last week by an extremely average Tampa Bay team. Combine that with my track record this season, well, who the hell knows? But I am thinking that the Saints return the favor in Atlanta.
New Orleans 38, Atlanta 24.
Week (against the spread): 7-7
Week (straight up): 8-6
Lock Of The Week (season, ATS): 5-7
Season (against the spread): 87-89
Season (straight up): 114-62
…bummer. But you know what that means?
THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE IS BACK!!
Ok, I’d kind of like a little more summer. But I guess there is nothing I can do about it, sssssooooo…
The defending champion New England Patriots do not actually open the season on Thursday Night Football. That honor belongs to the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. Hey, they’ve been playing each other for almost 100 years, and the NFL is 100 years old this season, so I think we can all live with that.
We will get to that game in a smidge. But let us follow up on the recent Patriot roster projection columns with some random comments on what the final roster actually looks like. Not to mention other random NFL thoughts as the season gets set to begin. Once again, in no particular order:
*3 years, 12 mil (9 mil guaranteed) for Brian Hoyer in Indy?? Yikes!! Throw in the Colts jacking up Jacoby Brissett’s salary, that is…crazy. Welp, guess they had to spend Andrew Luck’s salary on someone.
As mentioned in the last projection, I would’ve cut Hoyer too. No way did I think the Pats would do it though. And Tom Brady seems a little upset about it, judging by his comments in recent days. When is Brady going to realize that he can’t play forever and that the Pats will need to get younger at QB someday? And the sooner the better. Sometimes he seems to just act like a big baby over stuff. Once he retires and is running the whole TB12 nonsense he will have to manage people himself, no? Then he may really understand what it is like to “run a business”. Can’t wait for that.
In any event, the Pats wouldn’t be winning a Super Bowl with Hoyer if something happens to Brady. They won’t with Jarrett Stidham either. But wouldn’t you rather give the experience to the kid anyway? Seems like a no-brainer to me. Then you get someone of Hoyer’s ilk off the street to back Stidham up. Guys like that are a dime a dozen out there.
Which makes Indy’s contract to Hoyer kind of silly, no?
Good for Brissett to cash in a little now that he is the starter. But a jump that huge may be a little much.
Wait…if Brady gets hurt, they can always bring back Matty Cassel right? Will that make Tommy happy??
*Speaking of Luck, kudos to him for leaving the sport if that’s what he wanted to do to help maintain his long term health. Honestly, he could have just been placed on Injured Reserve and missed the whole year…thus collecting his entire salary for the year. And then retired at the end of the season. But he passed all that dough that up. Gotta give him some credit for that.
But boy, the timing left a lot to be desired, no?
A part of me doesn’t blame the fans for being pissed that he retired a couple of weeks before the season. They will get over it. But it would have smacked me right in the face as well.
Wonder what his teammates think? They probably have seen him suffering over the years. And they also know what it’s like to play in the league. The sacrifice it takes. So even though the Colts’ chances decreased after Luck left, my guess is that the players are ok with it.
Maybe not the front office though…and perhaps the coaches. But again, they will get over it too.
And maybe Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels saw the writing on the wall when he ended up declining the Colts gig a year and a half ago? That may be a stretch. But you never know…
*Speaking of retiring early, is anyone else sick of seeing Rob Gronkowski now?
Kudos also to Gronk if he retired thinking about his health and his future as well. And if “football was bringing him down” as he said last week.
And now that he is outside of the strict hand of Bill Belichick, he can act however he wants. Good for him.
But PLEASE stop with the whole “I could come back if I wanted to…” thing. I hated when Roger Clemens would pull this crap every year. Take the year off, do your CBD thing and if you want to come back next year, do it. Already tired of the “will he or won’t he come back” talk. Not to mention his pimping of the CBD stuff. But I guess he needs something to do.
Though the Pats could use him, no doubt. None of the 27 tight ends they brought to camp inspired anyone…
*Was anyone really surprised that Demaryius Thomas was cut and immediately brought back? Shouldn’t have been. That was a done deal all along.
It allowed the team to put receiver N’Keal Harry on the injured list in-season. Meaning he can come back if the team deems him ready about halfway through the season. And with the injury uncertainty with Julian Edelman, the suspension uncertainty with Josh Gordon, the “what does he have left in the tank” uncertainty with Thomas, along with the very average Phillip Dorsett and the two kids after that, it buys the team time to get Harry fully healthy, while evaluating all else above.
Thomas didn’t show much last year. Then he hurt his Achilles. Sure, he played well in the last preseason game against guys that aren’t playing anymore this week. But there was zero chance of flight risk.
*Speaking of the two kids at receiver, I fully expect Jakobi Meyers to be a healthy scratch every week, despite his huge preseason.
Why? Well, he didn’t really mesh with Brady in their short stint together in the third preseason game, for one. He did return some kicks in the preseason, but I don’t think he is much of a special teamer overall. He came out of college a little raw. Probably needs some more time to develop.
It actually wouldn’t shock me to see the Pats try to quietly move him to the practice squad at some point when they need a body elsewhere.
You heard this here first.
*…and GUNNER!! Great story. Actually surprised he ended up making the team. Looks like another team would have claimed him and he would not have snuck down to the practice squad. Hard for me to believe even that. But that has to be why he made the final 53.
I hope they use him as a returner. Especially a punt returner. No need to subject Edelman to that abuse (unless it is a “gotta have it” moment). I will say this though: If I see Gunner Olszewski doing anything on the football field other than returning kicks and other special teams tasks, I will be very, very, very, VERY nervous.
Maybe he turns into something in the future. But as great a story as he is, he is not ready to be an NFL receiver yet. Or certainly an NFL cornerback either.
Because, you know, I am an expert!!
*Melvin Gordon wants money and Ezekiel Elliott just got paid. Good luck with that. I know, I am a Patriots honk. But I will never understand why teams spend money on running backs. Elliott is AWESOME. But doesn’t Dallas ALWAYS have a great offensive line? Hmmmmm…Gordon? He’s good? But whatever.
I know. The Pats spent a first round pick on Sony Michel last year. And he was good last year. Think he will be GREAT this year. But still. By the time his rookie contract is done, he will be discarded. Make no bones about it. Take that to the bank. The Patriots will use him up and let someone else give him a fat second contract. And let’s not forget about the bad knees going back to college…what will they look like in 3-4 years.
*Houston!! Keep doing what YOU do!! Is it this bad while you wait for Nick Caserio to take the reins next year?? Jadaveon Clowney for 20 cents on the dollar. Then overspending on Laremy Tunsil? AWESOME!!
By the way, where is that Dolphins “revolt” after the trade of Tunsil?? What a joke. The ‘Phins are tanking and everyone knows it. Including the players. There will be no revolt.
Good luck Brian Flores.
*Antonio Brown. Has this loser found a helmet yet? Yes, loser. One of the most dynamic receivers of this era, this guy is pretty much a laughingstock right now.
Sure, he can come out and make Derek Carr look a lot better than he is this year.
But would it surprise anyone if he went even more off the reservation?
I really don’t have much else to say. His actions speak louder than anything else.
*Final Patriot roster thoughts…in the secondary. Surprised that Keion Crossen got dealt. The team seemed to think of him highly. Not only in the secondary, but as a potential “Matthew Slater replacement”.
Ok, a Slater replacement should not be hard, with all apologies to Bill and his special teams’ cronies across the world.
On the opposite spectrum, Duke Dawson.
Yet another failure for a second round defensive back in the Billy Belichick drafting queue.
Ras-I Dowling, Cyrus Jones, Patrick Chung (1st time), Eugene Wilson, Darius Butler, Terrance Wheatley, Jordan Richards, Tavon Wilson…and yes, I just looked some of them up.
Some of the other second rounders leave a lot to be desired as well. But this focus is on defensive backs because this seems to be a real bugaboo for Bill.
Dawson didn’t even play a down for the team.
Let’s just hope Joejuan Williams breaks the mold this time.
I’m not counting on it though.
The chatter on local talk radio this week was that the Patriots swing for the fences in the second round. Also meaning that they play it safe in Round One. Then get value in Rounds Three through Seven.
Kind of makes some sense.
But there have some BIG misses in that round.
Gronk, Jamie Collins, Sebastian Vollmer, Matt Light, Deion Branch were hits. But the aforementioned DBs and some offensive players like Chad Jackson and Adrian Klemm have been big strikeouts. More K’s than hits.
So maybe there needs to be some change in philosophy?
Ok, I guess they have six rings, so what do I know??
Anyway, the actual Thursday Night game to open the season?
Green Bay at Chicago (-3.5)
I have no idea, really. Aaron Rodgers and his new coach, Matt LaFleur, already seem to be at odds on play calling. But who knows how much of that is actually real? We do know Chicago still has Mitchell (or is it Mitch?) Trubisky at QB…a good thing? Don’t think so. Chicago is at home.
Again, I don’t know.
But one thing I do know? The Bears had some kicking problems last year with Cody Parkey. And they replaced him with who?
No idea. But my feeling on this night is that will actually matter.
Green Bay 24, Chicago 23.
2018 Season (against the spread): 147-120
2018 Season (straight up): 171-96
Career (because I love numbers!) (against the spread): 290-244 (54.3%)
Career (straight up): 351-183 (65.7%)
Sweet week for the Blowhard last week as the NFL wrapped up its regular season. But we will save the comparisons to last years picks until we are all said and done, however. We will also save any analysis of the New England Patriot/New York Jets “barnburner” as well. Because, quite frankly, the J-E-T-S were pathetic per usual this year and no one cares to even revisit that blowout win as good as it may have made some people feel.
We will also not waste any time figuring who the Patriots may play next week. Cross that bridge when we get to it. Instead, let’s focus on this weeks’ slate, which looks like to be a good one:
Indianapolis at Houston (-1.5)
Third battle of the year between these divisional foes. Pair of close ones were the first two, both teams winning on the road each by a margin of three points. Indy has been red hot, winning 9 out of its last 10, including basically a playoff game in the last NFL regular season game of the year against the Tennessee Titans.
But let us not forget the Texans started 0-3, so they went 11-2 the rest of the way. Their only 2 losses in that span was a three-pointer to the Colts and a two-pointer to the Eagles at Philadelphia the second last week of the season. Not too shabby.
Houston looks to be in at least a slightly better position health-wise, especially with the Blowhard seeing Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton hobbling around on the field against the Titans. Lamar Miller returned last week and DeAndre Hopkins is a beast. Andrew Luck is on some kind of roll along with his team, but Deshaun Watson has been no chump himself. We also think (know?) that the Texans have the better defense.
Could (should?) be another exciting game to open the weekend, but this time the home team wins.
Houston 31, Indianapolis 27.
Seattle at Dallas (-2.5)
I’m honestly not sure I can take either of these teams seriously. The ‘Boys have won 7 of their last 8. But their last three games include getting whitewashed by the Colts, barely beating Tampa Bay, then also barely beating the New York Giants with several of their starters playing the entire game, despite it meaning absolutely nothing to them. Ok, Ezekial Elliott did not play, but still.
The Seahawks last three games include losing to the 49ers, then beating the “mighty” Kansas City Chiefs. Then closing out the season by barely beating a wretched Arizona Cardinal team.
So who wins? Your guess is as good as mine. Seattle is not the same dominant defensive team as they have been over the last decade or so. The Cowboys appear to have some young studs on D so they may have a little bit of an edge there, for whatever that is worth.
My best guess is that we see a lot of running plays and kind of a boring tilt, to be honest. But I am also guessing that at least it will be another close one. So this alone should be worth the watch. Dallas is 7-1 at home. That may be the deciding factor for me, believe it or not.
Dallas 24, Seattle 20.
Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore (-2.5)
The Chargers won 5 of their last 6 to close out the regular season. The one loss? At home two weeks ago…to the Baltimore Ravens! Coming a mere 10 days after LA’s thrilling win against the Chiefs in Kansas City that gave them a shot at the division win…and #1 seed. KInd of a letdown, wouldn’t you say?
I don’t have a problem with Philip Rivers. I used to hate the guy, but now I am just kind of indifferent toward him. He’s a good player. But one thing I can say is that I have never really trusted the guy in the postseason. Or the Chargers in general actually. San Diego or Los Angeles.
The Chargers seem to be a little more banged up than the Ravens. But you know what I have found funny? People have been getting overly excited about the possibility of Hunter Henry returning this week. First off, the guy has missed all season after blowing out his knee in May. May? And all of a sudden in early January he is going to make a significant difference? How many plays is he going to get in? Against arguably the best defense in the league? Please stop it.
The Ravens are 6-1 since Lamar Jackson took over at QB. And the one loss was a game they kind of choked away at Kansas City. Sure, Jackson can’t really throw worth a lick at this point in his career. But can Joe Flacco throw a lick at THIS point in HIS career? Ok, that may be kind of harsh towards Flacco. But Joey is about as average as you can get as a QB. He did the Ravens a favor by getting hurt and getting Jackson in the flow. John Harbaugh probably thinks so. He was getting fired 6 weeks ago and now he appears to be back in good graces with the team and the fans.
The Ravens won by 12 in LA two weeks ago. I’m thinking this may be about right this time around too.
Baltimore 27, Los Angeles Chargers 17.
Philadelphia at Chicago (-6.5)
The Bears won 9 of their last 10 to finish 12-4. Their defense gave up the fewest points in the NFL, 4 less than the Ravens. Therefore, their defense has gotten some accolades and perhaps deservedly so.
Their offense actually scored the ninth most points and they were only a handful of points out of the top five. Really? Wait, their defense may have had some part of that point total, but I am not going to go too far into those numbers. Regardless, the team scored more points that I would have thought they would have.
Especially considering who they have. Mitchell Trubisky seems to have gained a lot of fans this year. I am not sure why. Well, admittedly, I have not watched a ton of Bear football. But the amount I have seen, I can’t say I have been thoroughly impressed with ol’ Mitch. Running game? Jordan Howard has been pedestrian, at best. Tarik Cohen is explosive, but how many touches can you give a guy of his stature? Their receivers are nondescript.
I don’t see it. I haven’t seen the infatuation all year. Look at the 9-1 finish too. Not exactly a Murderers Row. A nice Sunday Night win against the Los Angeles Rams for sure. But maybe the warm weather Rams didn’t enjoy playing a mid-December night game in Chicago. Hmmmm…
In the meantime, an underachieving Eagle team finished strong under the guidance of last year’s playoff hero Nick Foles. Deja vu anyone? Hate to say it, but it is entirely possible. I may even have to put some money on it. Does anyone else in the NFC scare you? None of this weekend’s combatants do, I can tell you that much. The Los Angeles Rams? Kind of coming back to earth down the stretch and how healthy is Todd Gurley? The New Orleans Saints? Drew Brees has looked human recently.
I’m guessing this is where the Bears get exposed. Saint Nick!!
Philadelphia 27, Chicago 20.
Week (against the spread): 13-3
Week (straight up): 12-4
Season (against the spread): 142-114
Season (straight up): 163-93