So the New England Patriots didn’t do anything significant prior to this past Tuesday’s trade deadline.
Well, other than unloading Michael Bennett about a week ago. Said last week he would likely be traded for a bag of footballs and…he was. It’s too bad he never bought into the program. Because my sense is that the team could use him at some point down the road. But it appeared he was going to continue to be a distraction, so addition by subtraction seemed to be the only answer. Oh well.
As for the period right before the deadline? We were a little disappointed that no more offensive line help was brought in. I can live with what the team has at tight end and wide receiver, despite everyone clamoring for more help there.
But the offensive line is a mess. This has been absolutely no secret.
Marshall Newhouse is a disaster, Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon have not played well this year, and Mason missed the last game with an injury. Ted Karras seems to be a capable backup, but because of David Andrews’ health situation, he now is the starting center. And hasn’t been great. James Ferentz started for Mason last week and this is not a positive thing. He’s been in the league for like six years, this was his first start, and he was actually cut in camp and not picked up by anyone for a little bit until the Pats came calling back. I think he’s been cut plenty of times by the Pats and never wanted elsewhere.
You want more? The team traded picks for Jermaine Eluemunor and Korey Cunningham late in camp. Cunningham can’t even sniff the field. Eluemunor has barely played. How can they not be better than Newhouse and Ferentz??
Isaiah Wynn is on track to return in a few weeks. But are people overrating this? He has missed the better part of the last season and a half. Does he have talent? Sure. But how do we know he is truly any good?
He can’t hurt I suppose.
But it would have been nice to see a major move along the line. And I’m not even talking about Trent Williams from Washington specifically. But…SOMEONE.
Usually, offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and the Pats figure it out by the end of the season.
But this feels different.
In other news:
*The weather was bad Sunday, but thankfully the Cleveland Browns puked on themselves a little bit as well.
The game was closer than it should have been. And once again the Pats jumped out to a big lead but never really put the game away.
Don’t get me wrong, I was at the game and never felt like the Pats would lose. But they should have scored over 40 in this one.
Part of that goes back to the offensive line. The running backs simply have no holes.
The Pats would prefer (as most teams would) that once they get a nice lead, start leaning on the running game to eat clock and get out of there.
But they haven’t been able to do that.
Also, make no mistake that Sony Michel is part of the problem. As a first round pick, you would think that he could make something out of nothing more often. But he simply never does that.
I mean, most running backs just take what is given them. But the great ones get more.
The expectations are kind of high, but you would think a first round running back would be on track to be “great”.
But maybe that’s just me.
*Mike Nugent gets released and Nick Folk replaces him.
You Gostkowski haters happy now?
I’ve been saying it forever (or at least since Gostkowski started a bit of a decline). “Be careful what you wish for”.
Gostkowski may not have been as accurate in recent years. And he was bad this year before he landed on injured reserve.
But Nugent stunk. Folk does stink…and he will prove that to us again.
Folk will not be the last kicker for New England this year. Take that to the bank.
Let’s just hope this doesn’t cost the team when it matters.
Who would have thought that the kicker would possibly be more of a concern than the offensive line or any other position?
As for tonight’s game:
San Francisco (-9.5) at Arizona
I’ll say it again: divisional games on Thursday can be hard to predict. Cop out when we lose the pick again? Perhaps. But the short week has an effect, no doubt. The Vikings should have hammered the Redskins last Thursday night. But they won by only 10. And Minnesota was at home. That being said, it’s going to be hard to take the Cards here. The Niners have given up 77 points in 7 games. AZ has given up 223, third most in the league. The Cards will likely be without star running back David Johnson and his backup, Chase Edmonds, will also be out. Kenyan Drake to the rescue? Doubtful. San Fran looks like a wagon right now. So the short week may not actually mean a thing this week.
San Francisco 34, Arizona 13.
Week (against the spread): 8-7
Week (straight up): 14-1
Lock Of The Week (season, ATS): 4-4
Season (against the spread): 61-60
Season (straight up): 82-39
…Ok, let’s start out with an apology. Thursday I wrote that the Patriots would not need tight end Ben Watson.
Looks like I was wrong.
Sure, I’d love to see if the younger guys like Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo can be something in the future. But man, Izzo doesn’t look like he can block anyone. And LaCosse keeps getting hurt…or at least keeps on reinjuring what he had previously hurt. No difference to me in the end. That being said, it doesn’t look like he can block anyone either.
And when your offensive line is, well, offensive, that’s not what you need from a tight end.
There’s probably a way you can have all three on the roster…or put LaCosse out of his misery already and stash him on injured reserve for the rest of the year.
But now they may need MORE than one body there. There have been calls to get free agent TE Dwayne Allen back. Yikes! Whoda thunk it would come to that?
But it may have.
It is still relatively early in the season. These games against garbage teams may have allowed for some experimentation. Also, we know they will make a move or three before the trade deadline.
So I am not going to get all crazy about the state of the offense.
I will say it was encouraging to see Jakobi Meyers get into the mix. He made four mostly difficult catches (and had a fifth wiped away on a penalty elsewhere on the field). Hope Tom Brady took notice.
It was nice to see Gunner O-SHEF-SKIIIII make a couple of grabs as well. But I’d honestly prefer to keep him on punt returns only. Just use him at receiver in “break glass in case of emergency” cases…like Thursday night.
Either way, we will put that one in the books and await another tomato can in Week 7…the New York J-E-T-S! Sammy Darnold will be back. But I’m guessing that won’t really matter much.
As for the rest of the slate:
Carolina (-2.5) at Tampa Bay
Just when the masses thought Bruce Arians was on his way to successfully rehabbing Jameis Winston, the QB threw up on himself last week against the Saints. Kyle Allen has helped breathe new life into the Panthers, along with Christian McCaffrey. Tough to pick the road team in a divisional game for two about average teams. But…
Carolina 34, Tampa Bay 27.
New Orleans at Jacksonville (-1.5)
Not sure I understand the spread on this one. Sure, it’s Teddy Bridgewater and not Drew Brees. And Gardner Minshew has played well. And the Saints are on the road. But New Orleans is the underdog? Vegas usually calls these things pretty well overall. But this one…I don’t see it.
New Orleans 27, Jacksonville 17.
Philadelphia at Minnesota (-2.5)
Kirk Cousins keeps taking shots from people, off the field I mean. He may not be the best QB in the league. And he probably doesn’t deserve that huge contract (really, who does though?!). But if someone offered that dough to you, would you say “no”? Nope. And he is far from the worst quarterback in the league. This should be an entertaining matchup between two 3-2 teams that are pretty good. Seems like a good time to just go with the home team.
Minnesota 24, Philadelphia 21.
Houston at Kansas City (-5.5)
The Texans put up 53 last week in a win against the Falcons. The Chiefs only 13 in a loss to the Colts. That broke a fairly long streak of scoring over 25 points in a game for the Chiefs. I’m wondering if those above scenarios will be flipped this week?
Kansas City 41, Houston 27.
Cincinnati at Baltimore (-11.5)
Some of the double digit spreads haven’t seemed to work out this season across the NFL. Seems like a high number for a divisional game. But the Ravens being at home tilt the scale over to the favorite for me here. Plus, the Bengals stink. That doesn’t hurt.
Baltimore 31, Cincinnati 16.
Seattle at Cleveland (-2.5)
Seattle 34, Cleveland 31.
Washington (-3.5) at Miami
Will anyone attend the game? Will anyone watch…if it is even on any TV station?
Washington 13, Miami 7.
Atlanta at Arizona (-1.5)
Another yawner. Except perhaps for the occasional Kyler Murray play.
Atlanta 23, Arizona 17.
San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams (-4.5)
Todd Gurley is out? Who cares? Did you all see what C.J. Anderson did in relief of Gurley last year? Despite being cut by a few teams and mostly being out of the league for the season? The Niners seem to be a pretty good team. But this one takes Jimmy Football and crew back to Earth at least temporarily.
Los Angeles Rams 34, San Francisco 24.
Dallas (-8.5) at New York Jets
The Luke Falk era is mercifully over. He couldn’t even stick on the roster as he was waived today. As mentioned above, Sam Darnold is back. Not sure that means much. The Cowboys have lost two in a row to good teams, after winning their first three against three dregs of the league. Here comes another dreg.
Dallas 37, New York Jets 17. Lock of the week.
Tennessee at Denver (-2.5)
Can’t figure out these Titans. But they are better than the Broncos. Aren’t they? Denver shocked most with a win at the Chargers last week. But that might be their high water mark of the season, to be brutally honest.
Tennessee 17, Denver 10.
Pittsburgh at Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5)
Devlin Hodges. ‘Nuff said.
Los Angeles Chargers 27, Pittsburgh 12.
Detroit at Green Bay (-4.5)
Welp, maybe we find out if the Lions are for real here. Any team coming off a bye usually gets extra credit from me. But…I simply cannot do it. The bye is nice. And I’m happy Matty Patricia and his team are off to a nice start. The Lions have tied a bad Cardinal team, barely beat a (now we realize) a subpar Charger team, had a good win against the Eagles and a close loss against the Chiefs (though KC’s D is below average). Encouraging, especially the last two weeks. But we are still talking about the Lions.
Green Bay 34, Detroit 21.
Week (against the spread): 1-0
Week (straight up): 1-0
Lock Of The Week (season, ATS): 3-2
Season (against the spread): 41-38
Season (straight up): 52-27
…after another yawner Monday Night. Now, don’t get me wrong, the New England Patriots didn’t play their best game that night. But they didn’t have to. And they knew it.
Why else would you go into the game with 2 running backs, one (James White) who is really just a receiver and the other (Kenjon Barner) someone who has bounced on and off the team a few times and is clearly someone the team doesn’t trust all that much. More importantly, then give a stiff wide receiver 10 CARRIES? That’s right, Cordarrelle Patterson lined up in the backfield plenty and also ran the ball plenty. And besides breaking the one long run, not very well otherwise.
Dont’a Hightower was a late scratch as well. Sure, he gets hurt a lot. But no one really talked about him being in danger of missing the game…and then he did. Cuz they played the Bills. Good time for a rest.
With Derek Anderson behind center for the Bills, apparently a couple of weeks after he was trying to make some sort of professional golf tour, and perhaps their only true weapon, LeSean McCoy, possibly being limited from a previous concussion, the Pats were comfortable going into the game. That’s the way we see it anyway.
Even though the Pats were pretty much limited to kicking field goals early on, did any of us think the game was in danger at any point at all? Nope.
So once again, thank God for the ineptness of the division. We’ve been through the whole thing with the Pats, how the year feels different, how the team usually has things a little more together at this point in the season, the question marks all over the place on the team…and all that.
But it doesn’t matter. Now.
The Patriots will cruise to another division title with ease. What happens this year in the playoffs may be a different story. But we will cross that bridge when we get there.
Every year the “experts” think that either the Bills, Miami Dolphins or New York Jets are ready to pose a challenge for the top spot in the AFC East.
And every year, it just doesn’t happen.
This year will be no different.
I just hope the result of this game and the knowledge that the division is in the bag did not influence the trade deadline for the Pats. That things are all good and there was no need to add reinforcements. The team seemingly always does something at the deadline. Something that doesn’t seem that major, but the players they get end up being key contributors down the stretch.
Why nothing this year?
Could have been the cost was too high. But if that was the case, they should still have done it. Especially at linebacker. They are thin at running back, as noted. But Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead will apparently be back at some point. Good enough. Receiver was an issue early on. I’m ok with what they have their now. The defensive backfield is a little muddled. But they should be ok. Both sides of the line, not horrible. Linebacker is a glaring need. Perhaps no one was available that fit what they do. Would have been nice to see one move there at least.
Not much I can do about it myself. So I guess I won’t lose any sleep over it…for now…
Oakland at San Francisco (-3.5)
…and if I was going to ever lose any sleep, perhaps the answer will be to just put this game on. 2-13 combined. Ugh. Not what the NFL had in mind when they scheduled this one. Jon Gruden vs. Jimmy Garoppolo battling it out in Cali. Nope. Instead, with the backup (C.J. Beathard) to Jimmy Football now questionable, we may see an undrafted free agent starting for the Niners in Nick Mullens. Riveting. Enjoy!!
Oakland 24, San Francisco 13.
Week (against the spread): 8-6
Week (straight up): 11-3
Season (against the spread): 62-59
Season (straight up): 77-44