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Week Eight…

Good to see the Dolphins get smoked on Thursday Night Football.  That’s all…

Philadelphia (-2.5) at Jacksonville 

What the hell do we make of this one?  The Super Bowl champion Eagles have lost one more game already this year than they did all of last year.  The almost Super Bowl contestant Jaguars have dropped three ugly ones in a row and Blake Bortles continues to prove that he is no good.  I’m picking the home team here.  Oh wait, the game is in London.  Another variable.  Actually, since Jacksonville is the “leader in the clubhouse” if a team ever eventually moves across the pond, maybe they truly are the home team.  Anyway, I unfortunately have no further insight.  Anything intelligent anyway.

Jacksonville 27, Philadelphia 23.

Seattle at Detroit (-3.5)

This is the Seahawks 5th road game out of their first 7.  I just thought that was interesting.

Seattle 24, Detroit 20.

Tampa Bay at Cincinnati (-4.5)  

The Bengals got embarrassed by the Chiefs last Sunday night.  Good thing the Bucs come to town this week.  Though I cannot say either team is any good in the end.

Cincinnati 37, Tampa Bay 31.

Washington (-1.5) at New York Giants 

The Skins aren’t exactly lighting it up but are 4-2 anyway.  Normally I’d give some thought to a divisional game being close, but the G-Men appear to be mailing it in already.

Washington 27, New York Giants 16.

New York Jets at Chicago (-7.5)

The Bears came up a yard short last week against the Patriots.  I’m still wondering if they go for two if they scored on that last Hail Mary play.  That seems to be a little bit of a trend in the NFL this season.  And if they did, the Pats probably would have lost with that pathetic defense.  In any event, the Bears are probably happy the Jets are coming to town this week.

Chicago 31, New York Jets 20.

Baltimore (-1.5) at Carolina

Seems like this one is kind of a toss-up.  Of course, that is not a very bold statement, since the spread is small.  But one thing I’d bet the house on here:  that Justin Tucker hits all his extra points.

Baltimore 24, Carolina 21.

Cleveland at Pittsburgh (-8.5) 

I bet the Steelers are still pissed about that tie against the Browns in Week One.

Pittsburgh 41, Cleveland 24.

Denver at Kansas City (-10.5)

Another divisional game that in the past I would have given some consideration to being a close one.  Not today.

Kansas City 48, Denver 24.

Indianapolis (-3.5) at Oakland 

Indy still stinks, but Oakland is in the middle of tanking.

Indianapolis 31, Oakland 13.

Green Bay at Los Angeles Rams (-9.5)

If this game was in Green Bay, I’d consider taking the points.  But since it isn’t, I won’t.

Los Angeles Rams 41, Green Bay 31.  

San Francisco at Arizona (-1.5) 

Both teams are 1-6.  Should be a classic.  Arizona’s only win was at San Francisco a few weeks ago.  Will the Niners return the favor in the desert?  Who cares?

Arizona 20, San Francisco 17.

New Orleans at Minnesota (-1.5)  

On the flip side, these two teams are a combined 9-3-1.  It honestly doesn’t seem like either of these two teams have even hit their stride yet either.  Guess you can’t argue with wins and losses.

Minnesota 34, New Orleans 31.

New England Patriots (-13.5) at Buffalo

Derek Anderson started for the Bills last week after just signing with them a couple of weeks ago.  Predictably, he wasn’t very good.  And got dinged up a bit in the process.  Josh Allen is “the future”.  But he is hurt.  And I’m not sure how Nathan Peterman is still in the NFL.  He may be the worst QB if all time.  Nice lot of quarterbacks.  In addition, LeSean McCoy apparently has a concussion and his game status as we write this is unclear.  Tom Brady is something like 28-3 in his career against Buffalo.  Even with the Pats putrid defense, the game being in Buffalo, the possibility of no Gronk and obviously no Sony Michel, I don’t see how this game is anywhere near close.

New England 38, Buffalo 20.

Week (against the spread):  1-0

Week (straight up):  1-0

Season (against the spread):  55-53

Season (straight up):  67-41

Gross…

…and it is still leaving a bad taste in my mouth two days later.  The New England Patriots’ performance on Sunday was just atrocious.  I guess it was worse since I saw it live.  And it wasn’t exactly a gorgeous autumn day to boot.  All in all, not a whole lot to be excited about.

The Buffalo Bills essentially had one player to stop, LeSean McCoy, and the Pats couldn’t do it.  Yeah, McCoy’s final numbers weren’t otherworldly (19 rushes for 70 yards plus 6 catches for 38 yards and a TD), he seemed to always get the job done when it needed to be done.  As did Tyrod Taylor.  A decidedly average quarterback, he seemed to accomplish what he wanted to as well.

You can say whatever you want about the offense.  And they seemed bad.  But…were they really that bad?  I’d call it moreso just conservative.  How much can you really accomplish when you play extremely conservative?

Granted, the Patriots had a third string QB at the helm.  One with a bum thumb on his throwing hand.  And the team once again played with only one legitimate QB active.  They still were clearly babying Rob Gronkowski.  Danny Amendola seems to be working his way back as well and he is not playing much at this time.  Etc.

But I thought Jacoby Brissett looked…competent…out there.  I thought he showed well for someone with his experience, not to mention with the limitations the coaching staff placed on him.  Sure, the fumble inside the 20 was inexcusable.  And he missed a wide-open Amendola on one third down.  But he also dropped one right into Brandon Bolden’s hands for a potential TD, only to have Bolden drop it.  He probably held onto the ball too long most of the time and did other things that rookies are prone to do.   But to me, he didn’t look out-of-place like a lot of rookies do.

They let him throw 3 passes in the first half.  THREE!!  Not counting the 90 yarder to Edelman on the first play of the game due to penalties.  Ok, it was a screen pass that Edelman turned into 90 yards, but a pass nonetheless.  Once the coaches saw what direction the game was going in, couldn’t they have opened it up more earlier?  Yeah, they did a bit in the second half, but still…not quite enough in my eyes.

I thought the game plan and the adjustments from the coaching staff left a lot to be desired.  Especially with 10 days to prepare.  But I have to say, I kind of don’t blame them for at least the offensive plans.  Guys are banged up, as I said, including your only real QB.  The Bills are terrible.  LeGarrette Blount had been running well and was just named the AFC Player of the Month for September.  And all that.  With the game at home, they probably thought they could sneak out of there with like a 20-10 win or something.  Even 14-10 or 14-7.  Something along those lines.

The other units just didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.  Special teams…returns in particular…not good.  Cyrus Jones is supposed to be a dynamic returner.  That quality supposedly separated him from other players in the 2nd round the Patriots thought were about equal where they drafted Jones.  But since the lights have come on in the regular season, Jones has been dropping the ball a lot and has been indecisive when he holds onto it.  Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal as well.  Ryan Allen punted well, but, not a banner day overall.

My ire is mostly with the defense.  16 points against looks good in the box score.  Making the Bills attempt 5 field goals and allowing only 1 touchdown may look like a positive as well.  But not really.  No pass rush, terrible coverage, couldn’t get off the field on third down.  Ugly.

I know Billy B. has his way of playing mobile QBs…not a ton of pass rush, contain the QB, some sort of zone D, etc.  I know Jabal Sheard and Dont’a Hightower are not 100%.  I know Vincent Valentine left the game somewhere in the middle of it, leaving the Pats essentially with only two defensive tackles in Malcolm Brown and Alan Branch, at a position where they like to rotate a bunch of guys to keep those big fellas fresh.  I know all that and more.  But a hugely disappointing effort all around on the defensive side.  Countless missed tackles.  A cornerback with an amazing 17 tackles (Logan Ryan…which is not actually a good stat for a CB, by the way).  Guys running around TOO wide open, even for zone defense.  As noted above, too many third down conversions against.  And on and on.

With all that negativity being said and as angry as I have been since the game, I am really here to tell you…it doesn’t matter!!  yes, the Pats really should be 4-0.  Sure, everyone figured they’d be 3-1, with the loss actually coming against Arizona.  Once they got to 3-0 and had a bad team at home, 4-0 really should have happened.

Now that it didn’t, it’s probably a good time to look at the big picture.  With their 3rd string QB playing two and a half games out of the four Tom Brady was suspended, the team went 3-1.  They still lead the putrid division by a game.  And now Brady comes back.  Rob Ninkovich is back as well.  Presumably, Gronk, Amendola, Sheard, Hightower et al will get healthier.  The offensive line will continue to gel (helped by quicker decisions and releases by Brady).  The defense should play better and round into some sort of form.  Gostkowski should return to his reliable self.  Even Jones may learn from his return mistakes.  Maybe we see more of Barkevious Mingo chasing the QB around as well.

The goal here is the end of the season, not September.  We know Belichick always treats the first month or so as an extended training camp.  Gets an idea of what they have.  How things can be adjusted.  The team should win the division going away still.  And be in the mix for home field advantage in the AFC for sure…let’s just hope they don’t blow it like last year.

Maybe an early loss is good for them?  No undefeated record to chase.  Early wakeup call.  Stuff like that.

That’s what I’m going with now anyway…

 

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