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Week Fourteen…

So I know this is generally a football pick column…and it will be eventually…but we would be remiss if we didn’t give some comments on the Boston Red Sox re-signing of Nathan Eovaldi earlier this week.

For a quick refresher, this is what we wrote about a month ago:

“…The way Major League Baseball is trending, with “bullpen games”, the Sox technically don’t have to do anything here next year.  WHAAAAAAAT???!!  WHAT ABOUT EOVALDI??!!  Nate Eovaldi has a special place in my heart for the way he pitched in the postseason this year.  He always will.  Especially that relief appearance in Game 3 of the World Series…in a game they actually lost.  What an effort though.  A guy with past arm trouble and free agency looming could have easily begged out of that game at any point…even at the beginning, seeing he had pitched in relief the first two games.  He didn’t and became somewhat of a legend.

But give him 15-20 mil a year for 4-5 years?  I’m not so sure about that.  Seems like a risk.  Past arm problems.  But more importantly, past mediocrity.  44-53, 4.16 career heading into his age-29 season.  Love the guy to death.  But I think I am passing…”

Has my opinion changed?  Actually, no.  All around.  Still will love the guy, no question.  But not backing up the Brinks truck for him.  Above all, he just hasn’t taken the ball enough in his career.

Turns out ol’ Nate got right about in the middle of what we had mentioned, about 17 per.  A lot of dough seemingly just to reward someone for one postseason.

On the surface, this must slot Eovaldi into the 3rd or 4th slot in the rotation for 2019.  Chris Sale and David Price go 1-2, Eovaldi and Rick Porcello go 3-4 and Eduardo Rodriguez would be 5.  Steven Wright, Hector Velasquez and Brian Johnson give you 6-8 depth.  Can’t complain about that staff on paper certainly.

The salaries?  Listen, the Sox can spend whatever they want.  We know this.  John Henry ain’t hurting for funds.  BUT…Price 31, Porcello 21 plus, Nate 17, Sale 15…heavy.  E-Rod probably gets a nice bump in arbitration as well…because…everyone always does in that process.

Some have speculated that maybe Eovaldi may close this season, what with the likely departure of Craig Kimbrel.  Unlikely.  Good closers may approach the 17 mil per.  But we don’t even know if Nate can be a good closer…he’s never done it.  And with his injury history, not sure the Sox should even consider it.  Despite his bullpen efforts in the postseason last season.

One thing it does tell me?  Either Sale or Porcello will be allowed to walk after the 2019 season.  And you heard it here first:  The Blowhard believes that there is a greater likelihood that Porcello will be back in 2020 than Sale.  Sale is clearly the better pitcher.  By far.  But with his health history, will they shell out probably over 25 million per for that uncertainty?  Heading into his age-31 season?  Not so sure.  The team babied him more than ever last year.  And he threw a mere 158 innings.

As mediocre as Porcello can be, he takes the ball every turn.  He will also be heading into his age-31 season.  The Sox may be willing to give him another 20 plus for a few years than 25-30 plus for Sale over likely more seasons.

Sounds silly, but let’s see how it plays out.

In summary, we obviously don’t love the Eovaldi deal.  Just a little too much risk for me.  But it’s not my money.  And after dissecting things a little more, it may not be completely insane.

Again, let’s see how all this plays out in 2019.

And if they win another World Series, I guess who gives a rat’s ass?

As for football:

Carolina (-1.5) at Cleveland 

Carolina has lost 4 in a row and is 1-5 on the road.  I really want to pick the Browns here.  But…I can’t…

Carolina 23, Cleveland 20.

New York Jets at Buffalo (-3.5)


Buffalo 17, New York Jets 13.

New York Giants at Washington (-1.5)  

Mark Sanchez.  And Josh Johnson.


I know, Odell Beckham Jr. is not playing.  But it shouldn’t matter.  Let’s also talk for a second about Colin Kaepernick.  Washington is taking a lot of heat for signing those aforementioned stiffs over Kaep.  Welp, I can see both sides.  First off, a team would really have to change a great deal of their offense to sign and play Colin.  And with a mere four games left, is it worth it?  Johnson may be the literal definition of “journeyman”.  But he has a history with Redskins coach Jay Gruden.  That does matter, unfortunately.

One thing people fail to consider is the fact that Kaepernick is actually not very good.  And now he hasn’t played since 2016, where he “led” the Niners to a 1-10 record in his appearances.  Sure, there are so many bad backup QB’s in the league, he probably deserves a job somewhere.  But we have also heard, and maybe inaccurately, that he has had opportunities to sign…and they weren’t for enough money to his liking so he passed.  Yeah, this last point could be bogus.  But I’m not ruling anything out with this guy.

Bottom line, Kaep still stinks and hasn’t played in two years.  He’s probably good enough to hold a clipboard on some team…if he wants to.  But would it really make a difference in Washington?  That’s for everyone else to decide, not me…

New York Giants 20, Washington 13.

Atlanta at Green Bay (-5.5) 

Let’s now see if it was Mike McCarthy or Aaron Rodgers.

Green Bay 38, Atlanta 24.

New Orleans (-8.5) at Tampa Bay

After that dud last Thursday against the Cowboys and the early season loss to the Bucs at home, this feels like some kind of hurtin’ is about to be put on.

New Orleans 45, Tampa Bay 20.

Baltimore at Kansas City (-6.5) 

Are the Ravens someone to worry about as we head toward the playoffs?

Baltimore 37, Kansas City 34.

New England (-8.5) at Miami 

The Pats…and Tom Brady, in particular, have been putrid down in Miami in recent years.  Even though the Dolphins ain’t very good, they will most assuredly keep it close.  I almost want to pick them to win.  But the Pats need this one.

New England 30, Miami 24.

Indianapolis at Houston (-4.5)

If you asked me last week, I would have picked the Colts here to end Houston’s 9 game winning streak.  But not after that putridness against the Jags a week ago.

Houston 34, Indianapolis 28

Denver (-5.5) at San Francisco

The Broncos are still in the mix…amazingly enough.  Losing Manny Sanders will hurt.  But not this week.

Denver 27, San Francisco 17.

Cincinnati at Los Angeles Chargers (-14.5)

The Bungles are cratering.  Seems like too many points here though, even for the Chargers at home.

Los Angeles Chargers 34, Cincinnati 20. 

Detroit (-2.5) at Arizona

I read something Saturday about Matt Patricia’s “father-son” relationship with Chandler Jones.  I was moved.  Really.  But maybe it’s because I read it right after I smoked some synthetic weed and ran shirtless to the local police station.  Oh wait…

Detroit 24, Arizona 14.

Philadelphia at Dallas (-4.5)  

Winner of this one takes the NFC East in my opinion.  Although…maybe not.  Before I looked at the remaining schedules, I had a feeling that the Eagles were ready to make a run.  Then I saw they play at LA Rams and then at home against the Texans after the Cowboys (finishing against the Redskins in Washington).  While the Cowboys play the Colts, Bucs and G-Men.  Advantage:  Dallas.

Dallas 27, Philadelphia 24.  

Pittsburgh (-11.5) at Oakland

The Steelers should win this game pretty handily.  But the way they are playing, who the hell knows?

Pittsburgh 38, Oakland 31. 

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Chicago 

Can’t say I’m completely on the Bears’ bandwagon.  Whatever.

Los Angeles Rams 34, Chicago 24.

Minnesota at Seattle (-3.5)  

The Seahawks will be rolling into the playoffs.  The Vikes aren’t impressing anyone.  ‘Hawks are at home.  We are all pumped and jacked!!

Seattle 31, Minnesota 20.  

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  1-0

Season (against the spread):  103-90

Season (straight up):  122-71

In Bill We Trust??

Jamie Collins is gone.

Chandler Jones has been gone for a while.

Jabaal Sheard, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan have regressed from last year.  To the point of Sheard now getting benched for some reason.  Perhaps regression can describe Malcom Brown and Patrick Chung as well?

Chris Long has been pretty invisible.

As has Rob Ninkovich.  But I guess that’s what happens when you can’t juice anymore.

Throw in the fact they gave away Dominique Easley for nothing if you wish.  I’m ok with even saying they let Akiem Hicks get away over short money.  Hicks played pretty well after being acquired from the Saints last year.


And that’s just the defense.

Should we be worried?  In the whole scheme of things, probably not.  There are a bunch of cream puffs on the schedule going forward and the offense alone should beat all of them.  But in reality, the whole thing is concerning.

Throw all the departures and regression from above and add in the high draft picks in recent years that have contributed very little on defense (Cyrus Jones, Jordan Richards, Geneo Grissom, Vincent Valentine, and probably still including Trey Flowers).  Not to mention in-season acquisitions that have added zero (Barkevious Mingo, Kyle Van Noy and Eric Rowe…contributing negatively in Rowe’s case actually).  So where is the talent now…and the depth?

Good question.

The positive I suppose is that the Pats are actually 6th in NFL in points allowed with 163, only 11 behind league leading Minnesota’s 152.  But this is kind of a bogus positive.  The schedule has had plenty of cream puffs on it already.

The Patriots should once again cruise to the division title and still actually host the AFC Championship Game.  But that is more of an indictment on the rest of the AFC really.  The East is putrid and the South ain’t much better.  The West has some teams with good records, but is anyone really afraid of Oakland or Kansas City?  Denver, maybe.  But their offense has taken several steps back.  And I don’t know what is wrong with Pittsburgh at this point.

But it just doesn’t feel right.  I don’t know what the game plan was against Seattle.  That game was all lined up for a win.  Seattle was on a short week.  Travelling across the country.  Their defense had spent a ton of time on the field in recent weeks and were missing Michael Bennett.  Russell Wilson is a little banged up and doesn’t run as much now.  The Seahawks running game was lacking.  The Patriots were coming off a bye and were at home.  And on and on.  Seattle will always play everyone tough despite whatever odds.  But it still should have been a win.

For years a lot of us have questioned the Patriots’ defensive methods.  Defensive backs never turn their heads in coverage.  They don’t blitz often.  Years of “bend, but don’t break” mentality.  Par for the course this year, but seemingly worse.  How ’bout for once we try something different?  Unleash Mingo or something…tell him to just make a beeline for the QB on every snap?  Maybe play a little more man and not have opponents’ wide receivers running free all through the secondary?  Stop carrying 85 special teamers and have some of those guys actually play a position capably.  Stop giving away talent.  Yeah, not likely.  I’m not a defensive coordinator.  But there has to be a better way.  Very rarely should anyone question Belichick.  But again, things just don’t feel right.  Even if they are 7-2.

Sadly, I am a little worried about Colin Kaepernick looking like Joe Montana later today…

We’ve focused on the defense, but the offense isn’t necessarily as stout as it can be either.  Sure, the first 4 games were helmed by backup quarterbacks.  But that side of the ball doesn’t feel right now either.

Julian Edelman isn’t the same.  They don’t seem to play Danny Amendola a whole lot for reasons unknown.  Maybe they are managing an injury there too.  Now Chris Hogan is banged up.  Malcolm Mitchell has been hurt some as well.

Now Gronk is out…and who knows for how long?  Martellus Bennett has been pretty good.  But he isn’t 100%.  I don’t know if AJ Derby can play in the NFL.  But Denver thinks he can.  And they gave him away to the Broncos.

The running game?  LeGarrette Blount has been better than expected.  But he is still…LeGarrette Blount.  Dion Lewis is back.  But let’s hold up on going crazy on that for now.  Still not a fan of James White.  And the offensive line doesn’t exactly open up a lot of holes…or give Brady a ton of time for that matter.

Tons of negativity here, I know.  But 7-2 never felt so bad.  This season was supposed to be a cakewalk to at least a Super Bowl appearance.  And it may very well be still.  After all, the NFL as a whole kinda stinks this year.  But the decisions of the team and the head coach appear to be making it hard to see that now.  It’s hard for me to see how the team gets better down the stretch, even if guys get healthy.  The competition should be weak, so what kind of test will any of the games be for the team?  Actually, with all of the above, maybe the games WILL be tests.  And that is pretty scary.  Because they shouldn’t be.

So watch Kaepernick be…Kaepernick later today and the Pats win something like 45-7.  After posting this, I’m pretty much counting on it now.  This is pretty much the first time in the Belichick era that I have had some doubts.  Prove me wrong Bill…as always…

Random thoughts from Week 1…

…on the New England Patriots of course.  But maybe I’ll sprinkle some other tidbits in from around the league.  I know…exciting!!  Let’s do this:

*Nice game from Jimmy G Sunday night.  I’m not going to get carried away about it though.  Jimmy made a few bad decisions still.  Though admittedly the offensive line left him a little harried more than once.  Great to see him use his legs a little bit.  Completed 73% of his passes as well, though also was helped out by some spectacular catches.  Even got himself a three yard reception on a tipped ball.

But the coaches kept things conservative at times.  In other words, waaaaaay too much LeGarrette Blount.  Didn’t trust Garoppolo fully it seemed.  I suppose with good reason, seeing it was his first NFL start and basically his first significant action in a real game.  So I really shouldn’t complain about that.  But the fumbles.  Gross.  Maybe one was Brandon Bolden’s fault, but they gave it to Jimmy.  Still…they can’t happen.  All in all though, very happy with the effort.

*I was never bothered by all the nonsense about Tom Brady “not helping Jimmy during the preseason” talk.  Maybe he wasn’t.  I’m not sure I would want to “train” my replacement either.  What mattered to me was that the coaches were most assuredly helping Garoppolo.  And they were the ones that were going to draw up the game plans in Weeks 1-4 that would help the team win and presumably play to Jimmy’s strengths.  Isn’t that all that matters?

*Chris Hogan was wide open.  But it was cool to see Garoppolo hit him in stride on the opening touchdown.  As legendary as Brady is, that is not something you have seen a ton of from him on the deep stuff.  Sorry if that offends anyone.  But true.

*After watching football all day Sunday and then Jimmy Football’s performance at night, it appears Jimmy could be a rich man next year.  Assuming he plays at least half-decent the next three games.  I don’t think I need to say it, but there are some less than mediocre QBs in the NFL this year.  Case in point:  I am watching Case Keenum vs. Blaine Gabbert right now.  Keenum is…brutal.  What does that say about #1 overall pick Jared Goff…who looks fantastic in street clothes, complete with the earpiece, clipboard and all that on the sideline.  Jeesh, not only couldn’t he beat out that stiff Keenum, he apparently couldn’t beat out backup Sean Mannion.  I know he’s a kid and all, but…

*Going back to Blount and fumbles…his fumble almost cost them the game.  Up 17-7 with the ball in the 3rd quarter, that was about the worst time to drop the ball.  Once Arizona marched down and scored, I thought that was it.  Credit the Pats of course for not folding the tents up.

But…can’t they do better than Blount at RB?  And I’m not talking about James White, though he did play well, as much as it pains me to admit.  Not as a runner though.  I will never buy into White for that.  And I am certainly not talking about Bolden.  As I said earlier, the official scorer gave that fumble to Garropolo.  But seeing that Bolden didn’t play (from what I could tell) in the backfield after that…maybe the coaches actually gave him the fumble.

Blount did have a nice run on the TD.  I thought his 13 yard run on the 3rd and 11 late was a little overrated, since absolutely no one expected them to run, especially with him.  At least that’s the way I saw it based on the type of defense being played.  On the other runs, there seemed to be too many runs straight into the line.  Yes, the line was makeshift.  But even if it wasn’t, do you think Blount would’ve made something of many of the handoffs?  Me neither.  There has to be better options out there, even on the waiver wire.  Bishop Sankey from the practice squad perhaps?.  But we know Bill loves his Blount.  So things are unlikely to change.

*Malcolm Mitchell dropped the first pass thrown to him.  It was high, but it seemed like he should’ve had it.  Then he made some pretty good plays the rest of the game.  I will say, it took me only about one half of a football game to like him more than Aaron Dobson.  Well, Dobson had a fairly decent rookie year.  Let’s hope Mitchell doesn’t go down the same path.  I’m just so happy Dobson isn’t here.

*Miami’s defense of course concerns me next week, especially if the Pats roll out that same offensive line.  But the game overall doesn’t concern me that much because they have guys like Kenny Stills that get behind the defense and drop like 80 yard TD bombs.  And…the QB is still Ryan Tannehill.  Sure he had a late 4th quarter drive to almost beat the Seahawks.  But then he took a sack to end the game.  OK, there was little hope of the Dolphins driving 82 yards in like 30 seconds.  But until Tannehill proves he is better, I’m not buying in on him either.

*Oooh, Colin Kaepernick is in the game now.  Listen, he can do what he wants during the National Anthem.  I just hope he is actually doing something to impact change OFF the field, if those are his true intentions.  He may well be doing so.  I’ve just never heard anything about it.  That’s about as political as I will ever get.  I just have always despised him ON the field.  Quite simply because he always has been kind of a jackass.  He had a nice run the first year he played.  But has been terrible since then.  And now he cannot beat out the immortal Blaine Gabbert.  Talk to me if you ever get good again.

*I didn’t much like Danny Amendola when he first got to New England.  But he grew on me after the initial year and last night was just another reason to stay on the bandwagon.  Seems like he didn’t play much early.  He was returning punts, which was a surprise to me.  I am hoping to keep him and Julian Edelman off those returns this year so they don’t get hurt.  Let Cyrus Jones and others do it…and use Danny and Julian only in emergencies.  Amendola had of course spent the whole preseason on the PUP list.  So it wasn’t ideal to see him back there Sunday.  Anyway, after apparently seeing limited action at receiver early on, he then came out and made some big catches in the 4th quarter.  Gotta tip your cap to him.  I am anyway…

*I didn’t much like Jim Gray as a reporter/announcer/interviewer/etc…ever.  I wish Brady would stop using him as his personal interviewer.  Talk about a clown.

*MY head still hurts from all those headshots Cam Newton was taking last Thursday against the Broncos.

*Terrance Williams…really?  Cutting inside with little time left and no timeouts?  Even Dez Bryant was smart enough to know you should’ve easily stepped out-of-bounds there.

*Another banner week for kickers.  How can there not be 32 good kickers in this entire world?  Just 32 is all we need.  A lot of people don’t like the money the Patriots are paying Stephen Gostkowski.  Comparatively speaking, it’s not a lot.  But I’d do it for him or Justin Tucker or any reliable one.  Because there just aren’t that many.

*The Pats D better work on their tackling this week in practice.  A couple of atrocious plays there.

I think this may be all I have at this point.  Oh wait, glad to see the Colts did nothing to improve their defense this past offseason.  Glad to see the Chargers are still the Chargers.  The Browns still stink.  And seeing that the Saints still don’t have any defense either, didn’t Jack del Rio kind of HAVE to go for two there?  Ok, I wouldn’t have…and…now I’m done…

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