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Thursday Night Classic…

…at least that’s what the schedule makers must have thought when they put this Denver/Indianapolis tilt on the late season Prime Time slate.  I suppose I can see the thinking on the Broncos.  But Indy?  At the very least they must have thought Andrew Luck would be back by now.  I bet the Indy fans did too.  But of course we now know the Colts ownership lied to their fans.  Looks like they tried to further the notion Luck would be back by keeping him on the roster at the start of the season, instead of putting him on one of the reserve lists.  Helped the team sell more tickets I would imagine, in anticipation that the fans may see him at some point.  Luck then never suited up, allegedly suffered a setback, then was shelved for the year in the middle of the season.  I don’t know…and I’m not sure why I really care actually.  The team overall isn’t that good with or without him.  Was Luck going to make this team a contender?  I think not.  But maybe Indy fans did?

And no, I am not rehashing the Patriots’ brutal Monday Night Football loss to the Dolphins here.  Ugliest game I have (WE have) seen from them in quite some time.  Were they looking ahead to the Steelers?  Perhaps.  Wouldn’t put it past them.  Bill was disgusted when a reporter asked him that after the game…but he shouldn’t have been.  The coaches may have been looking ahead too.  That game plan was stupid all around.  But it’s done.  We are on to Pittsburgh…

Denver (-2.5) at Indianapolis

4-9 Broncos against the 3-10 Colts.  The Broncos really should be better than their record and the possibility does exist that the Colts should be even worse than their record.  At least Indy won’t have to play in the snow at the dome this week.  The Broncos lost 8 in a row, many of them blowouts, before blanking the Jets last week.  Jacoby Brissett seems to have done an admirable job filling in for Luck, but is taking a beating doing it.  Frank Gore is 126 years old, but lit it up in the snow last week.  The Chuck Pagano love affair had to have ended a couple of years ago, no?  But then again, Vance Joseph is in over his head, wouldn’t you say?  Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch…round and round we go.

None of the gibberish above really means anything.  Just a bunch of facts there and me rambling on and on…basically trying to decide who to pick here on the fly.  I still don’t know, but I have to write something.

Oh, one thing from the snow game did bother me a little.  Adam Vinatieri was lining up for the tying extra point from 43 yards away and the commentator, Steve Tasker, said something like “Adam has never had to kick in these conditions, with the stakes being what they are…”  Yes, Tasker, a former player, actually said that.  About a Bills/Colts game having high stakes with each team likely going nowhere.  More importantly, Tasker must have forgotten who made those kicks in the “Tuck Rule” playoff game in the snow.  Whatever…

Denver 17, Indianapolis 14.

Week (against the spread):  10-6

Week (straight up):  8-8

Season (against the spread):  112-96

Season (straight up):  136-72

So Much For That Theory…

…the one where we here in this space insisted for quite some time that the New England Patriots’ plan for the quarterback position was to have Jimmy Garoppolo take over the starting job by the start of the 2019 season.  Tom Brady will turn 42 in the 2019 preseason and really, how much further can he go?  I know, he talks about playing into his mid-40s and takes care of himself and blah, blah, blah.  But there simply isn’t any kind of track record of QB’s performing at a high level after age 40.  What makes Brady (and anyone else) think he will be different?

I say this often about players, but it’s certainly valid:  I don’t know if Garoppolo can actually play QB in the NFL at a high level.  Or even at an average level.  Sure, he looked pretty good for 6 quarters at the beginning of 2016.  He also didn’t play the other 2 games of Brady’s suspension due to injury and many people believed that he could have sucked it up and played…at least the last one after missing one week.  So that could be viewed as a little bit of a red flag.  But who really knows if he was the real deal?

You know who did think he was a sure thing though?  Bill Belichick.

Now, Bill has obviously never said that publicly.  But you can tell by his actions.  He hung on to him all of this time.  He apparently tried to re-sign him to some sort of “bridge” deal covering the time until (ideally) Brady retired.  Hell, he originally drafted him higher than most people thought Jimmy G would go.  And also drafted him when Brady theoretically had plenty of “life” left.  Add in the comments Bill made in his press conference earlier Tuesday, seemingly not happy to have traded Garoppolo.  And the fact that Belichick most likely would have loved to try to win a Super Bowl post-Brady.  I think all of this and then some means Bill thought he was the next guy.

Because of all of that, I believed that Jimmy Football was the next guy.  Again, who knows, since he really hasn’t played many meaningful snaps?  But from the above with Belichick and also trusting Bill knows what he has seen in practice for the past three and a half years, I had to go with that theory, right?

So that all being said, the Blowhard does not like the deal.  Other reasons?  You got it, in no particular order:

*Only a second rounder in return?  Seems light.  IS light.  People are now saying that Cleveland did not offer a first and some other compensation over the spring/summer as has been reported widely all along.  Who knows what reports are accurate?  But you’d have to believe they would have gotten more than just a second rounder if they shopped Jimmy G this past offseason.  I see at the deadline that Cincinnati almost dealt their backup QB, AJ McCarron, to Cleveland for a 2nd and 3rd rounder.  McCarron has played a few more games in the NFL than Garoppolo.  But not since 2015.  Probably puts them in the same ballpark as to what to expect for compensation.  Side note:  Glad to see that the Browns screwed things up again by filing late paperwork and not getting the McCarron deal done.  Great work.

*Why now?  Sure, they get a pick in the low 30’s in 2018.  Instead of perhaps a pick in the high 90’s in 2019 (as a result of the compensatory pick process if they consummated a trade after this season).  Yeah, that’s a 60ish spot difference and a year earlier.  But who cares?  Bill is going to turn that 2nd rounder into a third and two fourths at some point anyway.  It’s not like they got a top-10 pick.  What happens if something happens to Brady this year?  After all, he is getting crushed every week.  It could be a matter of time before he goes down.

*Speaking of something happening to Brady, what happens if his play falls off a cliff next year?  Not unheard of at that age.  And the Pats then will have traded the “future” a year or so too early.

*Why now, Part II?  The Patriots could have franchise tagged Jimmy after this year and then dealt him off of that tag if they so desired.  Once again, you would think that he would demand more compensation than a second rounder in the offseason.  When you could market him more.  One year at huge dollars would not scare teams off.  Including the 49ers, whom reports indicate have a ton of cap space available.  Plus, the team that acquires him could work out a long-term deal which would work better for that franchise.  And probably Jimmy himself.

*I believe Patriot owner Robert Kraft called the shot on this one.  Why?  Because in a situation like the QB one, Belichick ALWAYS opts for the younger player eventually.  Because, you know, that makes too much sense.  I know, as an owner, I suppose Kraft should have final say in everything.  Since he is footing the bill overall.  And I know, Brady is clearly a special case here.  It’s one thing to trade guys like Mike Vrabel, Logan Mankins or Richard Seymour…or release a guy like Lawyer Milloy.  It’s completely different when you are talking about one of the best to ever play the game.  Delicate situation, no question.

But one also has to think about the football team on the field.  And you can bet that keeping Brady for the short-term over Garoppolo for the long-term has to do with business…something that is the owner’s right…but something that as a fan I hate.

When an owner gets too involved in any teams’ on the field decisions, it makes me think of Jerry Jones.  Not positive.  But it also brings me back to the days when Kraft was using a stopwatch to time Tebucky Jones.  I’m all set with owners meddling too much with the on the field product.  Even if Kraft doesn’t really do that any more.  And even if it is only this one case.  Let the football people make the football decisions.

*Why now, Part III.  Wouldn’t it have made some sense to keep Jacoby Brissett if they had an idea that maybe Jimmy would have to be traded at some point?  Brissett has looked competent, at the very least, for the Colts after getting traded there right before the season.  Maybe he looks even better if he had a whole preseason and offseason with the team and not getting thrown into the fire there right from the start…on a bad team, no less.  Maybe long-term Brissett can’t play either.  But he sure would be nice to have right this second.

*It amazes me that the Patriots obviously banked a little bit on Jimmy signing that “bridge” deal mentioned above.  Something like a 2 or 3 year deal for good money, but not starters money for sure.  But why would Garoppolo do that?  He’s in his 4th year here.  He has 2 Super Bowl rings already.  He hasn’t made a ton of money.  And of course hasn’t played much.  Why would he want to wait another 1-5 years to take over this team?  I would think he wants to play…and of course get a fat second contract.  We all wanted Jimmy G to take a contract that benefited the team.  But if you were in his shoes, would you?  Ultimately, he wants to play.  And if I had a backup QB on my team that DIDN’T want to play, I wouldn’t want him on my team.  I don’t blame him one bit.  I just can’t believe that the Pats thought they could pull that kind of contract off with him.

So we will see what happens from here.  San Francisco is 0-8.  Maybe Jimmy G goes there and is putrid and then has an average career after his stock drops.  Maybe Brian Hoyer comes here as a backup to Brady, Brady gets hurt and then the Patriots ride Hoyer to another Super Bowl win.  Maybe Jimmy Football is like every other highly touted Patriot backup QB that never makes it…Ryan Mallett, Rohan Davey, Kevin O’Connell, Matt Cassel et al…including Hoyer himself.  Maybe the Pats use that SF pick on a QB from next year’s supposedly deep draft at the position, Brady plays 2 more years at a high level and then that pick takes over and wins games and Super Bowls.  Or maybe Brady plays at a high level until his Social Security kicks in.

We just don’t know.  But on the surface, there doesn’t seem to be a lot to like about this deal.

Week Four…

Looks like I got the Thursday Night game right finally…fantastic…now, the rest:

New Orleans (-2.5) at Miami

Next one up in London.  Are we still considering putting a franchise there?  God, I hope not.  Never been for the idea.  Doesn’t make sense to me.  I suppose for the simple reason of what happens when a team like Seattle has to travel to London when it’s the NFC West divisions turn to play the AFC East/South team that ends up there?  Just doesn’t seem like logistically a good idea.  I know, I know, built-in bye weeks, teams travel all the time it shouldn’t be a problem, etc.  But the London team will have a steep travel schedule for its 8 road games a year.  I don’t know.  I haven’t thought about it too much, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.  Seems like the NFL getting greedy (again) but labeling it “expanding the reach of the sport” or something like that so they can pretend money isn’t the real reason.  Whatever…

As for the game, New Orleans actually won big on the road last week.  That tells me more about how the Carolina offense performed in that game, instead of how good the Saints actually were.  Miami was embarrassed by the Jets in New York.  Crazy week last week in the NFL and I don’t think many people predicted those results.  I expect things to get back to some sort of normal this week.  Not that Miami is any kind of great team, but…and of course it is their “home” opener!

Miami 27, New Orleans 24.

Tennessee (-1.5) at Houston 

These two teams seem like they are still the teams in the very mediocre AFC South.  No, I’m not in on the Jags yet.  Houston is home.  Deshaun Watson is getting more comfortable.  Maybe Will Fuller makes a difference.  I guess I just don’t feel like the Texans will start 1-3.

Houston 24, Tennessee 23.

Cincinnati (-3.5) at Cleveland

I wrote this last week for Cleveland/Indianapolis, “Ugh.  Someone has to win.  Ummm…I guess they don’t.  But someone has to cover…”.  Seems about right here as well.  Both teams are 0-3.  Close losses last week.  Since Cincy played a better team and almost pulled off a road upset (actually, they really should have), I’m going with them here too…yaaaaaaaaawn…

Cincinnati 21, Cleveland 17.

Detroit at Minnesota (-2.5)

Should be a good divisional battle, even if the immortal Case Keenum is still at the helm for the Vikes.  The Lions were inches away from 3-0.  Now I’m thinking they drop back to 2-2.  Going with the home team for the win here, but if everyone else goes with Detroit I wouldn’t be offended.

Minnesota 28, Detroit 27.

Buffalo at Atlanta (-8.5)

Who saw the Bills beating Denver?  Even in Buffalo?  Thought that was an easy Bronco win last week.  So did most I would bet.  Anyway, it would seem highly unlikely they go to Atlanta and do the same.  Buffalo has given up 37 points in three weeks…albeit in two of those were the Jets and Panthers.  Wouldn’t surprise me to see the Falcons come close to that in this game alone.

Atlanta 35, Buffalo 17.

Pittsburgh (-2.5) at Baltimore 

Both teams most assuredly want to forget last week.  Pittsburgh is probably the better overall team.  And Joe Flacco is no Hall of Famer.  But can he put up a stinkbomb like that two weeks in a row?  Doesn’t seem likely.  My gut is telling me the Ravens here.

Baltimore 21, Pittsburgh 20.

Los Angeles Rams at Dallas (-8.5)

The Rams have been nice story.  And they’ve had a week and a half to get ready for this one.  But remember, they gave up 39 points to the 49ers last Thursday.

Dallas 45, Los Angeles Rams 24.

Jacksonville (-3.5) at New York Jets

Told you above I wasn’t sold on the Jags.  But I also thought the Jets were going 0-16.  I’m going to buy in on the Jags for at least this one week.

Jacksonville 34, New York Jets 13.

Carolina at New England (-8.5)

Another high spread for the Pats.  And again I think pretty undeserving.  The Pats offense is trucking along.  But the defense, as noted in the last Blowhard piece, has been absolutely abysmal.  Houston does not have a great offense, but they put up 33 last week.  Carolina’s offense has been embarrassing.  And they seem to have better offensive players than the Texans, even without Greg Olsen.  Would it shock anyone if Carolina scored 30 plus as well?  Not me.

New England 38, Carolina 31.

Philadelphia at Los Angeles Chargers (-0.5)

Chargers can’t go 0-4, can they?  If it’s close, they very well could.  LA’s kicker is questionable, while Philly’s kicker hit a 61-yarder to beat the G-Men last week.  Not sure that will happen again though.

Los Angeles Chargers 24, Philadelphia 23.  

San Francisco at Arizona (-7.5)

I don’t necessarily love the Cardinals…and the spread is probably too high.  But although the Niners have had a week and a half to prepare, I’m not buying into that offensive outburst against the Rams.

Arizona 31, San Francisco 19.

New York Giants at Tampa Bay (-3.5)

Can the Giants go 0-4?  If there is a God, they will.

Tampa Bay 24, New York Giants 17.

Oakland at Denver (-2.5) 

Hopefully both teams bounce back from their atrocities last week, since this should be a good one.  Well, Denver wasn’t all that horrible, but they weren’t good either.  Losing to Buffalo, even if it was at Buffalo?  Shouldn’t happen to a team the caliber of the Broncos.  The Raiders?  Simply didn’t show up last week.  I don’t know what the hell happened there.  Gonna stick with the home team here.  But hopefully a great game to watch.

Denver 34, Oakland 31.

Indianapolis at Seattle (-13.5)

Part of me thinks this spread is waaaaaay too large, since the Seahawks offense has played fairly awful this year thus far.  But the rest of me tells me this is where they start lighting it up again.  Plus, although Jacoby Brissett has performed admirably so far this season, this seems to be the type of game he comes crashing back to reality.

Seattle 42, Indianapolis 13.

Washington at Kansas City (-6.5) 

That Kareem Hunt sure is the real deal, eh?  And think, KC was going to go into the season with Spencer Ware before he tore his PCL.  Ware is a solid back for sure.  But could he possibly be as explosive as Hunt?

Kansas City at home is tough to beat.  But the ‘Skins are a solid bunch that I feel can keep the game close.

Kansas City 23, Washington 20.

Week (against the spread):  1-0

Week (straight up):  1-0

Season (against the spread): 23-25

Season (straight up): 32-16

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