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Are We Ready?

Ready for what?

New England Patriot football post-Tom Brady.  That’s what.

Yup.  It’s here.  Or it will officially be in a few months.  But…are we ready?

I am.

After 20 years of Brady at the helm, is it time for someone different?

Not necessarily.  But that’s what both sides ultimately decided.  So that’s what we are getting.

Gonna feel a whole lot different in New England, no question.  Gonna be weird seeing Brady in a Buc uni, no question.  Wish him all the success in the world.  Thank you Tom for EVERYTHING.  Cannot be stated enough.  But best of luck in your new locale.

Brady’s gone and we have to live with it.  Can the Pats win a Super Bowl under Bill and another QB?  Can Tom win the whole thing in Tampa?  Or WILL they?  No idea, but I’m at least interested to see.  Not necessarily to prove one can win without the other though.  Who cares?  I don’t.  Together they gave us 6 Super Bowls in 20 years.  They both had a great deal to do with it.  But you know who’s else did?  Malcolm Butler.  Adam Vinatieri.  James White.  Danny Amendola.  The defensive backs of 2001:  Ty Law, Otis Smith, Lawyer Milloy & Willie “Big Play” Clay.  J.R. Redmond.  An unconscious (literally) David Patten.  Jermaine Wiggins.  Romeo Crennel.  Charlie Weis.  Dante Scarnecchia.  Josh McDaniels.  Julian Edelman.  Deion Branch.  Dee Ford lining up offside.  Billy Cundiff missing that chip shot…oops, the Pats lost the Super Bowl the game after that miss…nevermind.  But you get the point.  We could go on and on.  It was a lot of Bill and Tom.  But let’s not forget all the others that helped along the way.  So let’s root them both on going forward ok?  Unless we get a NE/TB super bowl.  Then we can pick a side.  But what are the odds of that happening?

So what’s next?

Glad you asked!!

In typical Blowhard fashion, let’s do a roster projection!!  Way too early of course.  The draft is a month or so away.  Still some free agents out there.  The country is still basically in lockdown.  But we can take a look now.  No harm in that.

Why not?  What the hell else is there to write about these days??

There are 67 players on the roster as we speak.  That means there are 23 spots remaining.  12 draft picks upcoming in the aforementioned draft, with perhaps a few vets sprinkled in with some undrafted free agents to fill out the 90 man camp roster.  If camp actually happens, that is.

Bottom line:  Lot’s of bodies still to come.

But these bodies will be low cost guys, no doubt about it.

The Patriots have very little salary cap space remaining.  Yes, the salary cap can be manipulated for sure.  But in 2020, with about 23 million tied up in dead money between Brady, Antonio Brown, Stephen Gostkowski, Michael Bennett and Duron Harmon alone, THIS may be the actual year they cannot manipulate anything.  The chickens do come home to roost sometimes.  I suppose 2020 is that time for the Pats.

I also read somewhere recently where the Patriots view 2020 not as a “bridge year”, mind you.  There are still plenty of good players remaining on the roster.  But it’s a year where the Pats “want to get younger and reset their finances”.  Think it was Tom E. Curran who said/wrote that, but if it was someone else, my apologies.

There are a few huge cap charges on the roster for this year where that player could sign an extension, be traded or cut or whatever else needs to happen to lower that specific cap charge.  Three players in particular.  But we will go over those players when we get to their positions.  And the bottom line is that I think nothing will be done with any of the three.  Not during this season anyway.

Taking all 12 draft picks they have seems like a stretch to me as well, despite having the 23 open spots.  They have 1 first, 4 thirds, 1 fourth, 3 sixth and 3 seventh round picks.  Wouldn’t shock me in the least bit if that first rounder was the first to go.  For a second this year and a first in 2021 perhaps.  Then Bill will turn that second rounder into 2 fifths and sixth.  Then 2 third rounders into a 2nd next year.  Etc.  We know how he does business.

All I’m saying is don’t expect any big names coming through the door from now until the start of the season…whether through trade, free agency or the draft.

Enough of the rambling.  Let’s get into the actual players, just like we normally do it each August.  We are skipping the “way out” category for now.  Because, let’s face it, no one is “way out” at this time of year.

Offense:

QB (2):

Locks:  Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer

In:  None

Out:  Cody Kessler

Comments:  Welp, as I was in the midst of writing this, Kessler was released.  So he’s definitely out.  But let’s leave him in this analysis because we will talk about adding a third QB here.

Forget about that third QB being Cam Newton, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, etc.  I mean, if you actually wanted any of these guys.  The Pats are rolling with Stidham.  And Hoyer as the “veteran backup”.  I guess Hoyer is lucky he knows the system.  Because just about anyone else would be a better backup.  Well, except Kessler apparently.

Those aforementioned established veterans would cost money…potentially lots of it.  A couple of them would cost draft capital and/or players in a trade.  As we said, the Pats don’t have a lot of cap room.  But we also don’t see them spending money on a Newton or a Winston even if they did.  Would they fit the system?  Is Newton truly healthy?  Can Winston take his head out of his arse?  Would either take a short money, “prove-it” type one year deal?  Do the Pats even want someone on a one year deal to quarterback the team?

Not sure about any of that.

We wouldn’t be shocked if the Pats drafted a QB, however.  But then again, do they want Stidham to have “real” competition?  And possibly lose confidence?  I don’t know.

The way it stands now, Stidham HAS to be the guy.  Hoyer’s agent is apparently telling anyone who will listen that his client was told he would be given the opportunity to win the starters’ job.  But…does he actually believe it?  Agent or client?  Or…ANYONE else??!

Sure, Hoyer could start the first couple of games to “ease” Stidham in.  I don’t see it though.  I have to believe they are rolling with “Stiddy” (as Devin McCourty has called him, not me).

Maybe a late round pick for the practice squad.  That’s about it.  But as I believe Bill Parcells once said, “I reserve the right to change my mind”.

Next:  The rest of the offense.

Week Fifteen…

I didn’t get to see much of the Thursday NFL game between Baltimore and the New York Jets…we could probably say that was by design.  But of what I did see…I, of course, was not shocked.

The most surprising thing I noted was how long Lamar Jackson stayed in a lopsided game.  If he is truly nursing a quad injury, I would have yanked him much sooner.  Yeah, he has like 10 days to rest up now.  And may even get all of Week Seventeen off once they wrap up home field advantage in the AFC.  But no need to have him out there that late against the Jets.

On to the weekend:

Denver at Kansas City (-10.5)

The Houston Texans beat the New England Patriots in Week 13 and then got blasted at home by a bad Denver Bronco team in Week 14, with its rookie QB playing only his second career game.  The Chiefs beat the Pats in Week 14, so does a similar fate await them in their matchup against Denver?  I think not.  Unless Chief QB Patrick Mahomes’ hand is more hurt than they are letting on.  Drew Lock’s play has been good thus far, but let’s not get carried away.  The Chiefs are better than the Texans as well.  I don’t see KC falling into the same trap as many other teams have the week after beating the Patriots.

Kansas City 42, Denver 24.  

Philadelphia (-4.5) at Washington

Philadelphia came back from a big deficit and squeaked through with a win against the terrible New York Giants on Monday.  But I am not sure how many bodies they have left with all of their injuries.  The ‘Skins have all of a sudden become a plucky little team with their interim coach and their rookie quarterback.  I usually lean away from the Monday night winner.  Sounds like Washington here, right?  Probably.  But Philly needs it more, as they still have a shot at the division.  Maybe that comeback provides some juice.  Shot in the dark.

Philadelphia 24, Washington 17.  

Tampa Bay (-3.5) at Detroit

Looks like Tampa QB Jameis Winston is going to give it a go with his thumb injury.  That could be good news for the Bucs.  But it could also be bad news.  He is a turnover machine, after all.  Either way, the Lions still stink.

Tampa Bay 34, Detroit 13.

New England (-9.5) at Cincinnati

Hopefully, the league will allow the Pats to use the video they shot of the Bengals sideline last week.  They should need it against this pathetic franchise.  And yes, that was sarcasm.

New England Patriots 27, Cincinnati 10.  Lock of the week.  (Yup…and wouldn’t be shocked at a higher score either).

Seattle (-6.5) at Carolina

The Seahawks only scored 12 points in a loss to the Rams last week.  I cannot see that happening this week in Carolina.  The Panthers fired their coach and then got waxed by a bad Atlanta Falcon team.  It looks like they are ready for vacation.  So much for the Christian McCaffrey for MVP talk.  And are the Panthers really sure they want to unload Cam Newton now, with the recent play of Kyle Allen?

Seattle 38, Carolina 17.  

Buffalo at Pittsburgh (-2.5)

DUCK HODGES!!  I’m still going to ride this train.  Especially if JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner return.  The Bills surprisingly kept it close against the Ravens last week.  But I am still not buying in.  If they beat the Pats in Foxborough next weekend, then I may finally be on board.

Pittsburgh 20, Buffalo 17.  

Miami at New York Giants (-3.5)

FITZMAGIC VS ELI!!  MUST SEE TV!!  Actually, Fitzy apparently has been quite entertaining in recent games.  Eli proved he was washed up by the second half of the Eagle game Monday night.  That’s enough for me.

Miami 24, New York Giants 13.  

Houston at Tennessee (-3.5)

Everything is telling me to go Titans in this game.  Ryan Tannehill and the entire team is on fire.  They are at home.  But something tells me the Texans will rebound from that miserable performance of last week.  There really is no rhyme or reason for this pick, to be honest.

Houston 30, Tennessee 27.  

Chicago at Green Bay (-4.5)

The Pack beat the Bears a mere 10-3 in the NFL Opener way back when.  Seems like last season.  My guess is that more points will be scored this time around.  Most of them will be scored by the Pack I think though.  They should play like they are more interested in a football game, unlike last week against Washington.  Chicago has won three in a row…yaaaaay!  But they have been against the Giants, Lions and Cowboys.  No thanks.

Green Bay 31, Chicago 21.

Jacksonville at Oakland (-6.5)

That Raider playoff push was fun, eh?  6-4, then getting hammered 3 games in a row since then.  But the Jags have been pummeled for 5 games in a row themselves.  Therefore…

Oakland 37, Jacksonville 23.  

Cleveland (-2.5) at Arizona

Baker Mayfield vs. Kyler Murray!!  That may be the only intrigue in this game.

Cleveland 27, Arizona 24.  

Los Angeles Rams (-0.5) at Dallas

Have the Rams finally righted the ship?  Maybe.  Not sure you will be able to tell when they play this poorly coached and underachieving Cowboy team.  The ‘Boys have had a few extra days to prepare for this one.  Will it matter?  It should.  But I’m not counting on it.

Los Angeles Rams 31, Dallas 20.  

Atlanta at San Francisco (-10.5)

One may be able to forgive the Niners for taking this one lightly, what with their thrilling win over the Saints last week and tilts with the Rams and Seahawks on the horizon.  I can’t see it happening, however.

San Francisco 41, Atlanta 27.  

Minnesota (-2.5) at Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers’ smokeshow against the Jags last week doesn’t change anything…they are a colossal disappointment this season.  Adam Thielen apparently will be back and the Vikes need this one.

Minnesota 34, Los Angeles Chargers 23.  

Indianapolis at New Orleans (-9.5)

Indy’s season essentially ended with that horrid loss to Tampa last week.  The Saints lost that aforementioned thriller to the Niners, so they will be looking to get back on track in this one.  They are already in the playoffs but are still fighting for a bye.  One would think they should be pretty focused in this one at home.

New Orleans 45, Indianapolis 27.  

Week (against the spread):  1-0

Week (straight up):  1-0

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  7-7

Season (against the spread):  104-105

Season (straight up):  135-74

Week Two Already?

Where did the week go?  Oh yeah, I guess it has only been a couple days since the last games.

In any event, a short and sweet one here (the post, not necessarily the pick…or the game itself).  Especially after that extended piece from yesterday.

What is there really to talk about after that anyway?  The Boston Red Sox got 2-hit by a bunch of bums on the Toronto Blue Jays last night.  Did they quit already?  Perhaps.  I suppose we could confirm that if Clay Buchholz no-hits them today.

The head coach of the Boston Bruins got a contract extension.  That was nice.  It would be even nicer if they could get their 2 restricted free agent defensemen signed.

AB news?  Well, he practiced Wednesday.  So there’s that.  I guess he will play Sunday.  But who knows?

Ok, that’s enough…

Tampa Bay at Carolina (-6.5)

Thursday night divisional games are always tricky.  Especially ones between teams that were a combined 12-20 last season.  And both lost in Week One as well.  The feeling here though is that Carolina has the upper hand.  Tampa lost at home in their opener, against what appears to be an average San Francisco 49er team.  Carolina also lost at home, but against a much better Los Angeles Rams team.  Christian McCaffrey is absolutely the real deal.  I didn’t believe in him when he came out of college and was drafted in the Top Ten.  Looks like I was wrong.  Oh well, wasn’t the first time, won’t be the last.  And although he has his critics around the league, Cam Newton can play QB.  Can Jameis Winston?  Many people thought Bruce Arians could help Winston take the next step in his career.  Perhaps he will at some point.  It is early, after all.  Hard for me to see Carolina dropping two in a row at home to start the season either.  Even at 7-9 last year, they were 5-3 at home.  Riverboat Ron Rivera needs this win more than Arians as well.  He may be on a short leash this season.

Carolina 27, Tampa Bay 17.  

Week (against the spread):  9-7

Week (straight up):  14-2

Lock Of The Week:  1-0

Season (against the spread):  9-7

Season (straight up):  14-2

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