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Thursday Night…Yuck…

…so we alluded to this before, it appears the atrocious Thursday Night product is back.  A couple of duds thus far this year.  Another yawner on tap for tonight.

I thought maybe we turned a corner with some decent games on this night last year.  Once again, it appears that I thought wrong.

Anyway, no sense in recapping the New England Patriots’ game against the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, which is what we might normally do here as a lead-in to the Thursday pick.

Other than the fact that I am a little discouraged that Bill Belichick left Tom Brady in late with a gigantic lead.

Why?

To “play 60 minutes” as both Brady and Belichick stated after the game?  A message or something?

Stupid.

I mean, have they seen the state of the offensive line?  And how Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger went down that same day?

I know, I know, Brady could get hurt in the first quarter just as easily as in a 37-0 game.  Like 2008.

But still…why risk it?

And now he ends up on the injury report with a calf injury.

Sure, he was on the injury report for years previously with a shoulder injury or something like that.  So it may be nothing.  It actually probably IS nothing.  Besides 2008, he has always played anyway.

But what are we doing here with a 42 year old QB?  Just so Brady doesn’t give up any snaps to backup Jarrett Stidham?  Wouldn’t surprise me if that is part of it.  He most assuredly hasn’t forgotten how he got in the lineup initially, for an injured Drew Bledsoe.  And he doesn’t want to open the door even a crack.

But Bledsoe then is not Brady now.  Tom is not losing his job to Stidham if he gets hurt.  Even if Jarrett goes like 6-0 or something.  Not going to happen.  So Tom needs to be smart…and so does Bill.  And if Tom balks, Bill needs to force the issue.

We will see what happens when the Pats are up 52-3 over the Jets late on Sunday.  Sad to say, I still expect Brady to be behind center late.

One more thing I guess…are we worried about Stephen Gostkowski yet?

I think a little.

Like a lot of kickers, he has somehow struggled with the longer extra point once they moved the line back.  Not sure why kickers have had trouble with that.  It’s not like it’s 60 yards now or something.

But TWO missed extra points in one game??

Listen, the alternative may not be great.  One of the biggest mysteries in life is how the NFL cannot find 32 decent kickers IN THIS ENTIRE WORLD!  How is that possible?

But even legendary kickers have their moments, such as Adam Vinatieri…even though he is 145 years old.

Truth be told, maybe “the operation” (as Bill calls it) is part of the problem.  Punter Jake Bailey has never held for kicks to the best of my knowledge.  So maybe there is something to it.

But it does also mystify me how, especially in recent years, the Pats do not bring in any competition for Gostkowski…at least to keep him on his toes a little bit.

Two games in, I am not panicking…yet.  But something else to keep an eye on anyway.

As for the game:

Tennessee (-1.5) at Jacksonville

Speaking of injured quarterbacks, Titans QB Marcus Mariota is banged up…again…what a SHOCKER.  But I guess he is good to go for this one.  Not sure how the Titans lost at home to Indy after waxing the Browns in Cleveland on Opening Night…but I suppose that is their M.O.  Meaning, no one knows what to expect from them on a week to week basis.  On top of that, I am not sure how the Jags hung in there on the road against a Houston Texan team that lost a heartbreaker on Opening Night, though didn’t look all that bad in the loss.  I guess going for two at the end of the game instead of taking their chances in overtime.  And not making it of course.  I suppose that is how you lose a game.  In any event, I don’t know anything about Gardner Minshew II and haven’t seen him play a single snap thus far this season.  But the numbers say he is holding his own after big free agent acquisition Nick Foles went down.  I think the best (funniest?) story leading up to this game is that a report I heard yesterday said “Jags cornerback Jalen Ramsey will play Thursday night, but is expected to be traded Friday…”  WHAT??!  WHY WOULD YOU PLAY HIM??  Kind of hope he tears an ACL or breaks a leg in the game tonight to show Jax that this may not have been a smart decision.

Tennessee 20, Jacksonville 17.  

Week (against the spread):  8-8

Week (straight up):  10-6

Lock Of The Week (season):  2-0

Season (against the spread):  17-15

Season (straight up):  24-8

Week Seventeen…

Holiday week speed edition.  Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!!

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-13.5)

We were burned on the spread by the late garbage touchdown by the Bills against the Pats last week.  So why would we do it again, with an even higher spread?  The Pats need this one, as we know.  Though this year, that hasn’t necessarily meant much, I know.  But the J-E-T-S will be practicing their golf swings on the sideline.  Well, maybe not that.  But we do know no one will be listening to their head coach, Todd Bowles, since he will probably be fired right after the game.  Perhaps even at halftime.  Yes, the Jets played the Packers close last week and actually appeared to be in control of the game at one point.  Yes, the Jets would love to knock the Pats out of the second seed and therefore a bye week in the playoffs.  Yes, the Jets were competitive with the Pats in their earlier game in New York.  Yes, but…no…

New England 31, New York Jets 10.

Jacksonville at Houston (-7.5)

Blake Bortles is back!!

Houston 27, Jacksonville 13.

Miami at Buffalo (-3.5)  

Who cares?

Buffalo 17, Miami 13.

Atlanta at Tampa Bay (-1.5) 

Tampa’s coach said this week that their third-string quarterback may get some snaps in this game.  I don’t remember the guy’s name, even though where I read the quote said the QB had been in the league for like three years.  That’s enough for me to take the Falcons…I guess…

Atlanta 24, Tampa Bay 17.

Detroit at Green Bay (-7.5)

Not a great year for the Pack.  But an even worse one for our old friend Matty Patricia.

Green Bay 38, Detroit 20.

Carolina at New Orleans Saints (-7.5) 

The Saints have locked up the #1 seed.  Are they going to play their starters?  Sean Payton insists they are.  I say, yeah, enough to get Drew Brees the 8 yards he needs for another 4,000 yard season.  But I would assume they play for a quarter.  The Panthers should easily cover then, right?  Well, they are using their third string quarterback in this one.  And not to just “get snaps”, but to start.  Ssssooooo…my guess is a lot of running and both teams just try to get the hell out of there unscathed.

New Orleans 20, Carolina 13.

Dallas at New York Giants (-7.5) 

The Cowboys’ seeding will not change either way and they are 2-5 on the road.  So that explains the big spread in favor of the G-Men.  But still…

New York Giants 17, Dallas 13.

Philadelphia (-6.5) at Washington

Saint Nick!!

Philadelphia 27, Washington 17.

Cleveland at Baltimore (-5.5)

The Browns have been scrappy, no doubt.  With a win, they finish 8-7-1…whoda thunk that?!  But the Ravens have been hot, they need this one and I suspect that their defense shuts down Baker Mayfield and Co.

Baltimore 27, Cleveland 16. 

Arizona at Seattle (-8.5)

The Seahawks are the #5 or #6 seed, but do they care?  Pete Carroll says they are going to play their starters.  Maybe they do, maybe they don’t.  But the Cards are truly wretched either way.

Seattle 23, Arizona 6.

Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) at Denver

Disappointing loss for the Chargers last week at home to the Ravens after the huge win at Kansas City the week before.  But LA can still get the #1 seed in the AFC.  The Broncos had that dud on Monday night, are banged up and their season is over anyway.

Los Angeles Chargers 31, Denver 18.  

Chicago at Minnesota (-5.5)

The Bears still have a shot at a bye.  The Vikings are maddeningly inconsistent, though also in control of their playoff destiny.  Seems like a close one is in store here.

Minnesota 20, Chicago 17. 

Oakland at Kansas City (-14.5)

The Chiefs have come back to earth a bit, but still hold all the cards for the #1 seed in the AFC.  The Raiders left it all on the field Monday night when they likely played their last game in Oakland.  Should be a runaway for KC.

Kansas City 38, Oakland 20.

San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams (-9.5) 

Have to love the 49ers still being competitive down the stretch, despite their season being over weeks ago.  But the Rams still need this one to keep the playoff bye.  So even if Todd Gurley doesn’t suit up, we are still expecting them to win by double digits.

Los Angeles Rams 34, San Francisco 17.  

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (-14.5)

The Steelers have played their way out of the playoffs (so far) and almost nothing brings me more joy.  But a win still gives them a chance.  Jeff Driskel appears to be horrendous.  And we know what the Bengals are.  But to trust Pitt to cover this large of a spread after the way their season has gone seems to be a stretch.

Pittsburgh 28, Cincinnati 17.  

Indianapolis at Tennessee (-1.5)

Will Marcus Mariota play or will he not?  Seems to be the same question every week.  Do you trust Blaine Gabbert?  Do you even trust Mariota even if he plays?  I know, Derrick Henry has been lighting it up lately.  And the Titans have won 4 in a row…though against inferior competition.  Indy has won 8 of 9, and beaten a few good teams along the way.  The Colts hammered the Titans in Indy 38-10 in their earlier meeting this year.  Wouldn’t shock me if this one went the same way, despite being in Tennessee.  Side note:  It’s been awesome to see Dion Lewis throw up dogcrap numbers after he shot his mouth off following the win against the Pats.

Indianapolis 31, Tennessee 23.  

Week (against the spread):  8-8

Week (straight up):  13-3

Season (against the spread):  129-111

Season (straight up):  151-89

Week Two…

Let’s see if we can do a little better this week:

Houston (-4.5) at Tennessee

Marcus Mariota got hurt again…what a shocker!  Deshaun Watson looked kind of putrid at times in Week One against the Pats.  But you would think that he will get better as he gets more game reps…and maybe gets someone else like Will Fuller to throw to.  As of this very second, we don’t know if Mariota will play.  And the alternative is Blaine Gabbert.  So with that information…

Houston 24, Tennessee 16.

Kansas City at Pittsburgh (-5.5)

Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs looked pretty good last week.  Big Ben and the Steelers did not.  You know what that means.

Pittsburgh 34, Kansas City 30.

Philadelphia (-3.5) at Tampa Bay 

Nick Foles and the Eagles looked pretty pedestrian on Opening Night.  Actually, Foles was abysmal.  Tampa and Fitzy were otherworldly in Week One.  You know what that means.

Philadelphia 38, Tampa Bay 27.

Los Angeles Chargers (-7.5) at Buffalo

Nathan Peterman or Josh Allen.  Does it really matter?

Los Angeles Chargers 42, Buffalo 13.

Carolina at Atlanta (-5.5)

This spread seems a little high, since I don’t think I’m a fan of either of these teams.  The Falcons are at home though, and with an extra few days of rest.  So maybe that means something.

Atlanta 27, Carolina 20.

Indianapolis at Washington (-5.5)

Indy lost at home to the Bengals and the ‘Skins beat an apparently bad Cardinal team, though at least on the road.  Adrian Peterson looked like he turned back the clock a bit.  Seems impressive, seeing he signed like a week ago.  But then again, maybe it’s more of a statement on the Cards.

Washington 23, Indianapolis 17.

Cleveland at New Orleans (-8.5)

The Browns excited everyone with their tie last week.  TIE.  Think about that for a second.  The Saints coughed up a dud.  Once again, apparently the recurring theme of this week…you know what that means.

New Orleans 48, Cleveland 17.

Minnesota at Green Bay (-0.5) 

Hard to really pick this one without knowing if Aaron Rodgers is going to play or not.  Deshone Kizer may or may not be better than Brett Hundley, but neither are 10% of Rodgers.  Either way, Rodgers will not be at full strength, so it would be hard to see the Vikes not handling this.

Minnesota 31, Green Bay 21.

Miami at New York Jets (-2.5) 

Both had nice wins in Week One.  But I can also say, both still do stink, I am sorry.

Miami 20, New York Jets 13.

Detroit at San Francisco (-5.5) 

Matty Patricia!!  Already pissing players off in Detroit.  I have to tell you, I’ve never been much of a Patricia fan.  But these Lion vets that are complaining about running laps and having a “hard camp”.  Losers.  Unfortunately, in 2018, you have to baby these players…in every sport.  And Patricia is not Bill Belichick.  Remember when Josh McDaniels tried to be like Bill in Denver?  Yup, didn’t work.  Maybe Matt should have learned from that.  Jimmy Football had a rough opener and lost his first game as a starter in the NFL.  Even though he is throwing to guys from the local high school, it’s hard to envision him losing his second NFL game in this one.

San Francisco 34, Detroit 17.  

Arizona at Los Angeles Rams (-13.5) 

Sam Darnold started from Game One for the Jets.  We saw Josh Allen on the Bills last week and now he is starting in Game Two.  No #1 pick Baker Mayfield yet, but it’s a matter of time.  I have to believe that the other of the 2018 Top 10 QB’s, Josh Rosen, will see some action in this one.

Los Angeles Rams 45, Arizona 13.

Oakland at Denver (-5.5) 

Gruden’s boys kept it close for a half last week.  Derek Carr was awful though.  Case Keenum threw a bunch of picks last week but got it done in the end…with the help of two running backs no one has ever heard of.  Hard to go against the Broncos at home in this matchup.  Though can they both lose??

Denver 23, Oakland 14.  

New England (-2.5) at Jacksonville  

Everyone is picking the Jags.  Not me.  I don’t care to give my reasons.  You’ll just call me a homer anyway.

New England 24, Jacksonville 17.

New York Giants at Dallas (-2.5)

I hate both these teams.  And neither one of them is any good either.  According to me.

Dallas 20, New York Giants 17.

Seattle at Chicago (-3.5)

I’m not buying Trubisky or Nagy…yet.

Seattle 27, Chicago 24.

Week (against the spread):  1-0

Week (straight up):  1-0

Season (against the spread):  6-11

Season (straight up):  8-9

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