Fantastic game Thursday night believe it or not. Raiders/Chargers…couple of mediocre teams. Of course it was a good game, right?
The Chargers really should have won the game. But they let the Raiders march right down the field in the final minutes. Plus, Philip Rivers threw three picks…and had two others negated by penalties. Can’t win much that way.
That’s all I really have to say about that. On to Sunday’s games:
Detroit at Chicago (-2.5)
Your guess is as good as mine with this pile of mediocrity.
Chicago 20, Detroit 17.
Baltimore (-9.5) at Cincinnati
Welcome to the NFL Ryan Finley!!
Baltimore 41, Cincinnati 10. Lock of the week.
Arizona at Tampa Bay (-4.5)
The combined record is 5-11-1, but this could be a fun game to watch.
Tampa Bay 38, Arizona 33.
Kansas City (-3.5) at Tennessee
Did you know that KC is under .500 at home and 4-0 on the road? Me neither. I’d feel better about this pick if Patrick Mahomes is definitely back. But I feel pretty good about it even if Matt Moore is still at the helm.
Kansas City 31, Tennessee 20.
Buffalo at Cleveland (-2.5)
The Browns have to start winning games with all that talent, don’t they?? And the Bills aren’t really a .750 team, are they??
Cleveland 24, Buffalo 17.
New York Giants (-2.5) “at” New York Jets
New York Giants 3, New York Jets 0.
Atlanta at New Orleans (-12.5)
I cannot believe Arthur Blank has kept Dan Quinn this long. At this point, I guess Quinn just gets gassed after the season. Matt Ryan is supposed to be back, but does that even matter?
New Orleans 34, Atlanta 13.
Miami at Indianapolis (-10.5)
Nice win for the Dolphins last week. But…the Jets. Jacoby Brissett, Brian Hoyer, the ghost of Andrew Luck…doesn’t matter. Though Fitzmagic is just spunky enough that the ‘Phins may actually cover. It won’t hurt if 86 year old Adam Vinatieri keeps missing kicks.
Indianapolis 20, Miami 13.
Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Pittsburgh
Is Mason Rudolph the new “Captain Checkdown”? Alex Smith better get healthy for the 2020 season to try and regain that title. The Rams are coming off a bye. That pretty much seals it for me.
Los Angeles Rams 34, Pittsburgh 17.
Carolina at Green Bay (-4.5)
Thinking that embarrassment against the Chargers last Sunday wakes up the Pack a bit. The Panthers have played surprisingly well under the stewardship of Kyle Allen. But let’s not forget that they got pasted at San Fran two weeks ago.
Green Bay 30, Carolina 23.
Minnesota at Dallas (-2.5)
I’m not sure how I feel about either of these teams. I mean, they are 11-6 combined. But my sense is they could be even better if that makes any sense. I could say that this pick is a hunch, but I like Mike Zimmer as a coach over Jason Garrett and that is the difference here in the end.
Minnesota 30, Dallas 27.
Seattle at San Francisco (-6.5)
The ‘hawks are actually only 3-2 at home and 4-0 on the road. That’s unusual for them. In any event, the Niners are the last undefeated team and will have 10 days to prepare for this one. Seattle barely beat the Bucs last Sunday. You know what that means.
Seattle 27, San Francisco 24.
Week (against the spread): 0-1
Week (straight up): 0-1
Lock Of The Week (season, ATS): 4-5
Season (against the spread): 68-68
Season (straight up): 90-46
…to that awful loss Sunday night. Plus…it’s a bye week for the New England Patriots. What can I say? I have a tremendous way with words and titles and all that!!
Ok, all kidding aside, that loss was brutal. I guess any loss is brutal when it doesn’t happen often for this outfit.
But this one stank in particular.
The Baltimore Ravens handed them a beating. Only a pair of their own turnovers helped keep the Pats in the game. So yeah, New England came back and then Julian Edelman fumbled to give the Ravens a nice 11 point cushion again. But the Ravens turnovers allowed the Pats to even get back in the game.
Then the defense fell apart late to watch Baltimore win going away.
Still trying to figure that one out.
But it didn’t hurt that the Ravens had a bye week beforehand. And were at home.
Was the New England defense reading their own press clippings? That “Boogeymen” nonsense? Perhaps.
I figured that the Pats would be able to stop Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. At least make him throw to beat them.
I know, NO ONE has really stopped Jackson this season. So I suppose that was wishful thinking.
But doesn’t Bill Belichick and the defensive staff usually figure this type of stuff out? Stop the best player and make other lesser pieces beat them?
That obviously didn’t happen.
Jackson ran at will, the running backs ran at will and Jackson even made some throws.
Teams have been running on the Pats recently and that is a little bit of a concern. Would Michael Bennett have made a difference? I would have loved to keep Bennett around, as I have said before, but helping against the run in this game would have been doubtful. His forte is rushing the passer of course.
I believe that the defense will take this dose of humble pie and fix the issues. There is still plenty of talent on that side of the ball. The bye week will help them there. But we all know the defense will not look as good against the talented teams they play the next four games as it had looked when it played the cupcakes the first 8 weeks. That is no secret. But they will be better than last Sunday night. I’d bet the house on that.
The offense hopefully will take this bye week and make some adjustments as well. Because most of their success came while running the no huddle offense against the Ravens. Doubtful that can be sustainable throughout the rest of the season.
Especially when the quarterback only throws to Edelman and Mohamed Sanu.
In addition to the offensive line shoring things up across the board (this is the crux of all the problems, how can it not be?), Tom Brady HAS to start acknowledging that he needs to spread the ball around more. Sure, Edelman will remain the “go to” guy. And it’s great that Brady has gained immediate trust in Sanu. But there are other options.
Are you telling me that Phillip Dorsett, Ben Watson, Rex Burkhead, et al were never open last week? That sounds ridiculous to me. And…Brady barely threw to James White either. That was weird.
I truly believe there are enough weapons in this offense to succeed. But Brady seems to be as stubborn as ever these days.
N’Keal Harry needs to factor in going forward. First round pick this year, was inactive his first game back. I hope that he and Brady are spending some extra time together on the bye week. Because I would think Harry could be an asset. But not if Brady won’t even look his way.
My guess is that Harry takes Jakobi Meyers’ spot on the game day roster when they resume play. That’s a little unfortunate as well. Meyers seemed to be showing great progress and now has completely disappeared with the acquisition of Sanu. That all being said, there is no guarantee Tom throws to N’Keal, even if he suits up. That would be a little depressing.
They still need to make Sony Michel somewhat of a threat to catch the ball. Running the wrong routes and dropping passes won’t help, as Michel can attest to. But they need to still TRY. Michel in the open field can be dangerous…or is supposed to be anyway. Still haven’t seen a lot of that burst he supposedly had in college. But the line hasn’t given him any holes to run through, so there’s that.
Some people have said that the Patriots held plays back or that Belichick “threw the game in the interest of the long haul…” Seems like a bunch of garbage to me. Yeah, the Pats didn’t necessarily run plays like Edelman throwing to Sanu (or vice versa?) or anything along those lines. But holding stuff out of a game plan? Isn’t the goal to win? They may not even see the Ravens again this year, so what difference does it make? Save it for later against the Chiefs or something? Wouldn’t they just come up with another play that week?
And “throwing the game”? Well, Bill didn’t want them focusing on 19-0 and wanted to lose a game and was a genius to do it before a bye week so he can ride them hard for two weeks and refocus on the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl…etc., etc., etc. Sounds like a bunch of crap there to me as well.
19-0 would have been awesome. Probably the last thing for Brady and Belichick to accomplish. And they did have a shot. But it’s not the end of the world. The ultimate prize is a ring. So it is much more important to go for that.
But losing on purpose to set the team straight? Seems way far-fetched to me. Especially when the Buffalo Bills keep winning and are still actually on their tail in the division, as amazing that even is for me to write this. Now, I am not afraid of the Bills at all. But they are still there. So the Pats need to keep winning regardless.
The Patriots just seemed to catch the Ravens at a bad time for them and an advantageous one for Baltimore. Plus…Baltimore is a good team. And coach John Harbaugh has had some past success against the Pats.
Kind of a perfect storm, if you will.
My guess is that they lose one of the next four anyway and finish 14-2.
So I am not too worried about this loss. And you shouldn’t be either.
We are on to Philadelphia…
Los Angeles Chargers (-1.5) at Oakland
This one can actually be sneaky good, another amazing thing for me to say. The Chargers were dead and buried at 2-5 a couple of weeks ago. Now they have won two straight, including a trouncing of previously 7-1 Green Bay last weekend. On the strength of like 10 field goals, but whatever. The Raiders are a kind of surprising 4-4 as we speak. Surprising to me anyway. Kansas City will still likely run away with the division, but these two teams are squarely in the wild card mix as we speak. Anything can happen on Thursday Night Football, as we well know. Especially with divisional games. The Chargers SHOULD be the better team. Oakland is at home, though it’s not like the Chargers have to fly cross country. LA may be due for a regression after their big GB win. But I’m still going with them in this one. Nothing really scientific here. Just another gut feeling…which, by the way, hasn’t gone all that great for the Blowhard this season. But again…whatever…
Los Angeles Chargers 27, Oakland 24.
Week (against the spread): 7-7
Week (straight up): 8-6
Lock Of The Week (season, ATS): 4-5
Season (against the spread): 68-67
Season (straight up): 90-45
…so if anyone actually reads this blog, my sense is that the lengthy Red Sox piece posted yesterday forces me to keep this column to a bare minimum:
Houston (-2.5) at Jacksonville
The Jags have been better than I thought, especially since Gardner Minshew II was forced to take over after the injury to expensive free agent Nick Foles. And only lost to the Texans in Houston by a mere point in Week Two. But the reality is that their 4 wins have come against the Titans, Broncos, Bengals and Jets. I don’t know if the Texans feel the J.J. Watt loss this week.
Houston 24, Jacksonville 13.
Minnesota at Kansas City (-2.5)
We still don’t know at this point whether Patrick Mahomes is playing or not. And the Vikings will have had about ten days to prepare for this one. Either way, the Chiefs can’t fall to 1-4 at Arrowhead, can they?
Kansas City 27, Minnesota 24.
New York Jets (-5.5) at Miami
Who is looking forward to this one?!
New York Jets 17, Miami 14.
Indianapolis (-0.5) at Pittsburgh
The Colts were unimpressive last week against the Broncos. The Steelers had a nice comeback Monday…but…Miami. The Steelers could really use this one. But I cannot say they will get it.
Indianapolis 24, Pittsburgh 20.
Chicago at Philadelphia (-4.5)
Two underachievers here. But Mitch Trubisky isn’t underachieving. He just appears to be awful. And yes I am mad that the Bears cost me an undefeated week on the “straight up” picks last week.
Philadelphia 31, Chicago 17.
Tennessee at Carolina (-3.5)
Carolina 20, Tennessee 16.
Washington at Buffalo (-9.5)
Another huge spread in the Bills; favor? This time, they can do it!!
Buffalo 21, Washington 10.
Tampa Bay at Seattle (-6.5)
I just read that Tampa coach Bruce Arians has the best record of any visiting coach in Seattle during the Pete Carroll era. I’m not changing my mind on my initial thought, however.
Seattle 34, Tampa Bay 23. Lock of the week.
Detroit at Oakland (-2.5)
I’m not interested in either of these teams.
Detroit 27, Oakland 24.
Cleveland (-2.5) at Denver
As mediocre (bad?) the Browns have been, the Broncos have been worse. And Denver is starting something called Brandon Allen at quarterback this week.
Cleveland 34, Denver 16.
Green Bay (-3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
The Pack is rolling and LA should be 2-6. Good enough for me.
Green Bay 38, Los Angeles Chargers 24.
New England (-3.5) at Baltimore
The first real test for the Patriots this season. 5-2 Ravens on the road. Pats have historically had trouble with running QBs, of which Lamar Jackson is. The Ravens don’t appear to have as good a defense as they historically have had. But this promises to be a close one. Let’s hope the Pats don’t have to turn to Nick Folk. At all actually.
New England 21, Baltimore 20.
Dallas (-7.5) at New York Giants
The Cowboys are coming off a bye and the G-Men have lost four in a row. But something still tells me this will be closer than we think.
Dallas 31, New York Giants 27.
Week (against the spread): 0-1
Week (straight up): 1-0
Lock Of The Week (season, ATS): 4-4
Season (against the spread): 61-61
Season (straight up): 83-39