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?
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)
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
Since the Thursday Night Football loss put the Blowhard under .500 for the year against the spread, we are a little sour.
So here comes a speed round:
Denver at Indianapolis (-6.5)
Not sure the extra 3 days off helped Joe Flacco’s speed or mobility.
Indianapolis 27, Denver 13.
Los Angeles Chargers at Chicago (-4.5)
I thought the Chargers were supposed to be good. Now they are looking at 2-6?
Chicago 23, Los Angeles Chargers 17.
Seattle (-3.5) at Atlanta
I hear Matt Ryan is trying to play. Does it matter?
Seattle 41, Atlanta 14.
New York Jets at Jacksonville (-5.5)
I actually think the Jets and Sam Darnold will bounce back a little bit this week.
Jacksonville 24, New York Jets 20.
Arizona at New Orleans (-9.5)
Drew Brees may play this week. Looks like Alvin Kamara possibly too. David Johnson also for the Cards perhaps. Maybe Kyler Murray keeps it close this week anyway?
New Orleans 31, Arizona 27.
Philadelphia at Buffalo (-1.5)
Philadelphia 24, Buffalo 16.
Cincinnati at Los Angeles Rams (-12.5)
Maybe the Bengals should have kept Marvin Lewis?
Los Angeles Rams 44, Cincinnati 10. Lock of the week.
Tampa Bay at Tennessee (-2.5)
Don’t have any idea.
Tennessee 23, Tampa Bay 20.
New York Giants at Detroit (-7.5)
When is the last time the Lions were favored by seven and a half?
Detroit 27, New York Giants 13.
Carolina at San Francisco (-5.5)
Panthers have won four in a row, Niners six. Something’s gotta give.
San Francisco 30, Carolina 17.
Cleveland at New England (-12.5)
I keep waiting for a team to score some points against the Pats. The Browns are the best offense…by FAR…that the Patriots have faced this season, even at 2-4 as an overall team. Cleveland is coming off a bye week. Is this the week the Pats D cracks a little?
New England 31, Cleveland 17.
Oakland at Houston (-6.5)
The Raiders still stink.
Houston 31, Oakland 20.
Green Bay (-4.5) at Kansas City
Patrick Mahomes has been ruled out. That’s enough for me, despite being at home.
Green Bay 34, Kansas City 24.
Miami at Pittsburgh (-14.5)
Spread seems a little high but that doesn’t mean the Steelers will lose. Mason Rudolph or Devin Hodges.
Pittsburgh 27, Miami 20.
Week (against the spread): 0-1
Week (straight up): 1-0
Lock Of The Week (season, ATS): 3-4
Season (against the spread): 53-54
Season (straight up): 69-38
…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.
To “play 60 minutes” as both Brady and Belichick stated after the game? A message or something?
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