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Disgusting…And Then…The Picks…

…trying to find the right words to write while also wondering why Jason Garrett still has a job several days after the end of the NFL season…guess that is not something I need to worry about.  But still curious…anyway…bottom line is that Jerry Jones is probably weaseling out of the whole thing and letting Garrett’s contract expire on the 14th I think.  Maybe force the new coach after that to add Garrett to his staff.  But otherwise keep him “in the building”, without actually firing him as head coach.

Just find the whole thing in Dallas comical.  As opposed to Miami coach (and long time Patriot assistant) Brian Flores firing his offensive coordinator (and long time Patriot assistant) Chad O’Shea the day after the season ended…and after only one year…and after Flores brought O’Shea to Miami…and considering those guys were supposedly tight.  I find that story interesting, but nothing more.

What is NOT comical is the New England Patriots’ loss to the Miami Dolphins last Sunday.  I think all Patriot fans feel the same way.

Even though it has likely been a lot of substitutes for the main hosts on the local sports radio stations this week, we have not been able to bring ourselves to listen to the noise.  Because we fear the noise is accurate.  And I will make my own noise here.  Don’t you worry.

But even the subs have probably been saying the same things on the radio (and TV and newspapers and the internet and etc. of course) this week.  Stuff like:

*If they can’t beat Miami with a bye on the line, how do you think they will do in the actual playoffs?

*So much for that vaunted defense.  Letting the immortal Ryan Fitzpatrick march the offense downfield to win the game in the end.

*By the same token, so much for that Defensive Player of the Year award for Stephon Gilmore this season after being torched by Devante Parker all day.

*Tom Brady sure looked terrible today, eh?  Is he hiding an injury?

*Why did they give up ANYTHING for Mohamed Sanu?  He is brutal!

*Boy, Julian Edelman really needs some time off.  Could’ve used that bye!

*Brady is gone.  Josh McDaniels is gone.  Devin McCourty is gone.  Kyle Van Noy is gone.  Joe Thuney is gone.  Jamie Collins is gone.  (Insert other free agent player or coach here).

*Feels like the 2009 team all over again, right?!

And so on…

I can’t argue with ANY of that.  This space loved the 8-0 start.  But we weren’t completely sold on the team since they were playing teams that were barely better than some local colleges.  Well, maybe not local colleges, as Boston College still stinks.  But you get the point.

And yeah, the Dolphins sure turned things around from that 43-0 blasting by the Pats in Week Two, eh?

The FEEL of things out there regarding the team just doesn’t seem right.  And that is without getting into Brady’s future with the organization (or football as a whole).  We may get to that someday.  That topic has already been covered ad nauseam locally.  I’m not sure I have completely formed my opinion on that as of yet.  It feels like he is gone, to retirement or another team.  But this postseason could prepare a different script.  We can chat more about that later.

But back to the “feel”, meaning…the offense…and Brady himself… has never seemed right.  The offensive line has been bad, helping contribute to running back Sony Michel not running for many yards.  Though Michel has looked slow and indecisive in his own right.  Brady’s attitude and demeanor in interviews.  McDaniels’ play calling.  Does Brady ever trust the kid wide receivers?  Or do they just stink?  The defense not looking so great against good teams.  Why did they opt for Sanu over Emmanuel Sanders, who is playing well in San Fran?  The Antonio Brown fiasco.  The Gronk “will he or won’t he garbage”.  Edelman being banged up.  Is Brady too?  Giving Michael Bennett away instead of say, ditching Deatrich Wise Jr., who plays very little, but always seems to have a key penalty every game.  The Josh Gordon Experience.  Blah, blah, blah.

In any event, based on the history of this organization, it would not shock me at all to see them make another Super Bowl run.  Far-fetched, especially since they needlessly forced themselves to play an extra game?  Sure.  But the Pats have looked bad before.  And turned it around when no one thought they could.  See:  Last season.

Is a Super Bowl run likely?  Doubt it.  There are just too many strong teams out there.  Baltimore and Kansas City in the AFC.  (Side note:  I am not sure how everyone is handing the conference to the Ravens.  And have been for quite some time.  We know what the Chiefs can do, right?).  San Francisco, Green Bay, New Orleans, even Seattle in the NFC (though those teams do have flaws that can be exposed, especially with two weeks of preparation time).  The overall competition just seems a little stiffer all around.

It’s just hard for me to rule anything out with these Patriots.  Despite what we all feel.  Yup, that the dynasty may indeed be over.

As for this weekends’ slate:

Buffalo at Houston (-2.5)

I love some of the latest chatter I’ve heard:  The Bills are going to go into Houston and win.  Then shock the Ravens in Baltimore.  Then when New England beats Tennessee at home and upsets the Chiefs in KC (well, they did that last year!), the Pats will be hosting the Bills in Foxborough for the AFC Championship game!!!!!  And guess what?  THEN the Bills will all of a sudden suck and it will be an easy win for the Pats to cruise into the Super Bowl!!  Please.  The Bills are a nice story.  I said it last week, Sean McDermott seems like a good coach and has the team headed in the right direction.  QB Josh Allen has his moments.  The Texans do have some trouble in the playoffs historically.  Resting some key guys last week will help them.  Maybe the return of J.J. Watt will as well.  The Bills ride ends here.  Sorry wishful thinkers.

Houston 27, Buffalo 17.  

Tennessee at New England (-5.5)

You know who else’s ride ends here?  You’ll have to wait a second.  As well as the Patriots defense has played at times this year, they have had some problems stopping the run.  Titans RB Derrick Henry led the NFL in rushing yardage.  Also would not be surprised if the Titans resurrected old friend Dion Lewis from the depths of their bench.  The Pats D historically don’t do well against QB’s who can run, or at least move around a little.  Titans QB Ryan Tannehill can at least do the latter.  And upped his game for sure once he took over the Titans job.  It’s unlikely Bill Belichick will stack eight men in the box against the running game since the Titans all of a sudden have a receiver tearing it up in A.J. Brown.  The Titans can give up some points, but the Pats have trouble scoring them.  Not a lot of confidence from this usual homer.  And therefore you get this:

Tennessee 27, New England 20.  

Minnesota at New Orleans (-7.5)

Verizon FIOS is trying to make me feel bad.  They have removed the FOX channel from our cable offerings because apparently, FOX is trying to squeeze more money out of Verizon.  How’s that feel Verizon?  Look in the f’ng mirror.  Like you haven’t been screwing John Q. Public for years with your plans?  This message is on a loop on the channel now:  “This station is asking for a 70% increase in order to carry them.  That’s like the price of gas going from $2.99 to over $5.00 a gallon overnight”.  Comparing a huge corporation with Joe Average Person?  Please.  Enough with that nonsense already.  I digress, but I mention it because I will have to find an alternative way to watch this game.  Plus, I think it is as funny as sh&t that VZ is trying to do this.  Plus, I don’t really have much of anything to say about the actual game.  Looks like Dalvin Cook is ready to roll for the Vikes.  But how healthy is Adam Thielen?  Kirk Cousins had a nice run for a while, but I can’t say I’ve ever bought in.  The Saints should handle this one at home fairly easily I imagine.  Maybe I won’t even have to watch.

New Orleans 34, Minnesota 24.  

Seattle (-1.5) at Philadelphia 

The Seahawks lost 3 of 4 down the stretch and have emergency guys playing running back.  Yet, they were an inch (and a horrific delay of game penalty previously?) away from not even being in this game.  Maybe they should have fans call in goal line plays instead of whoever is coaching.  Might end up with better results than last week and…well, you know the other major time.  Philly won their last four, but 2 against the Giants and one each against Dallas and Washington.  I’m not sold.  Miles Sanders is supposedly giving it a go, but will Zach Ertz be able to?  The Iggles are banged up all around.  I just don’t see how they can win one against a good team here.  Being home and having the ‘Hawks go cross country should help.  But Seattle was surprisingly 7-1 on the road this season.  Even if Sanders, Ertz and their slew of injured players can suit up, it seems like a tall task.

Seattle 31, Philadelphia 23.  

Week (against the spread):  9-7

Week (straight up):  9-7

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  10-7

Season (against the spread):  130-126

Season (straight up):  164-92

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Speaking of turkeys, one non-football note (about time?) before we dive into the New England Patriots and then the three Thanksgiving Day games.

Kyrie Irving is coming back to Boston tonight.  Oh wait, nevermind.  He’s out with a shoulder injury.  BIG surprise.

Kidding, of course.  Kyrie has actually missed several games, so it’s not like he is ducking Boston.  That would be hard to do over the course of a long NBA season.

When healthy, Kyrie is lighting up Brooklyn.  But who else do they have?  Kevin Durant?  Sure, but not this season.  Spencer Dinwiddie can apparently play.  But what else?  Joe Harris?

So, of course, he is going to have monster numbers.  I mean, he is truly a great player for sure, there has never been any debate on that.

But I think most people have noticed the turnaround (thus far) in Boston this season.  The Celtics are 12-4.  Yup, it’s early and there is a loooooong way to go.  It’s also worth noting that the Nets are 9-8…but something like 5-1 without Irving.  Nice.

Sure, Kyrie wasn’t the only player leaving Boston after last season.  But I find it hard to believe that Al Horford or Aron Baynes caused any locker room turmoil.  Marcus Morris?  Perhaps…he is kind of a hothead.  Terry Rozier too, but as a part-time player, we can’t really say he led the charge or anything.

It’s all about Kyrie.

The players seem different on the floor as well.  The whole thing is obvious.  Of course, it hasn’t hurt that Gordon Hayward seemed to get back to his previous self before missing some games with a different, and lesser, malady.  And the younger guys have taken a step up as well.

But the general feeling cannot be mistaken.

It’s just awesome to see the Nets winning without Kyrie, while the Celtics come off a West Coast trip, don’t have Kemba Walker, Hayward (and Daniel Theis, if you will), have to play dudes like Semi Ojeleye and Tremont Waters 20 minutes plus and still win their game.

We said it here at the time:  Good riddance.

And…the most laughable thing I have heard in recent days is “will Kyrie get a tribute video?”

SERIOUSLY??!  FOR WHAT??!  Two years of a bad attitude and “leading” an underachieving team?

Listen, Isaiah Thomas wasn’t here all that long either.  But he absolutely deserved a tribute video upon his return.  100 percent.

Kyrie?  Please.

Ok, back to football and the Patriots.

Though I am not sure I have anything to add on them.

I mean, it was certainly a nice win against Dallas on Sunday.  But what did we learn?

The game was played in a monsoon.  It was raining sideways.  Wind.  All that.

The defense sure played well.  The offense still needs some work.  But if this game is played in better conditions, do the Cowboys score many more points?  Wouldn’t surprise me.  That’s why I am not sure I can put much stock into this game.

What did we learn about the kid wide receivers?  Not sure there either.  Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry had their moments…both good and bad.  Isn’t that to be expected though?

I am glad that they played basically the whole game, however.  How can the experience hurt?

Nice win at home against a fairly decent team in less than ideal conditions.

But that’s all I’m taking from it.

Chicago (-2.5) at Detroit

The Bears probably think they have a shot at the playoffs still, while the Lions lost to Washington last week.  ‘Nuff said.

Chicago 20, Detroit 10.  

Buffalo at Dallas (-6.5)

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is pissed off.  About time!  He should have fired coach Jason Garrett years ago.  Not sure he picked the right time to sound off a little here, after those conditions last week, but better late than never I suppose.  That being said, I expect the ‘Boys to bounce back at home on Turkey Day.  The Bills are 8-3, but I am still not buying into any of that nonsense.

Dallas 27, Buffalo 13.  

New Orleans (-6.5) at Atlanta

The Saints should have lost to Carolina last week.  They amazingly got smoked by these same Falcons three weeks ago…at home.  New Orleans is 3-1 since Drew Brees’ return, but things have been seemingly a little uneven.  The Falcons seemed to be a little resurgent after that win at the Superdome, but then got hammered last week by an extremely average Tampa Bay team.  Combine that with my track record this season, well, who the hell knows?  But I am thinking that the Saints return the favor in Atlanta.

New Orleans 38, Atlanta 24.  

Week (against the spread):  7-7

Week (straight up):  8-6

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  5-7 

Season (against the spread):  87-89

Season (straight up):  114-62

Conference Championships…

…so the top two seeds in each conference will be playing in their respective championship games.  What a novel idea!  Let’s dive right in…

Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans (-3.5)

Both teams spent the better part of the 2018 season scoring a ton of points, but also giving up their fair share of points to boot.  Both had a few hiccups toward the end of the regular season.  Both are currently 14-3.  Seems to be a lot of similarities, no?

Both QB’s, Drew Brees of the Saints and Jared Goff of the Rams, didn’t exactly light it up down the stretch either.  Brees had good numbers last week, but if Alshon Jeffery didn’t let that pass go through his hands, there was a very real possibility that we aren’t even talking about New Orleans today.  Goff didn’t seem to do much last week against the Dallas Cowboys, but he really didn’t need to, since the team ran for like 600 yards.

The Saints handed the Rams their first loss back in Week 9, 45-35.  So what happens this week?  Welp, the point totals seem about right for one thing.

I’m not sure C.J. Anderson is going to continue to run as wild as he has been since he surfaced with the Rams.  But he might since he hasn’t played much this year overall.  Todd Gurley is Todd Gurley.  And of course, the Rams are plenty explosive in the passing game.  I know, so are the Saints.

Does having Aqib Talib in this game turn the tide for the Rams?  Well, he’s only one guy.  And LA spent a ton on top defensive players the last offseason yet still gave up plenty of scores all year long.  But having Talib available shouldn’t hurt them, I guess I can say that much.

I really don’t have any riveting analysis of this game, to be quite truthful.  It should be fun to watch.  Indoors, plenty of big plays.  And all that.  My gut is telling me the road team wins this though.

Los Angeles Rams 34, New Orleans 31.  

New England at Kansas City (-3.5)

Another rematch in this one, as the Patriots beat the Chiefs 43-40 in Foxborough back in Week 6.  And KC had Kareem Hunt back then.  But the Pats also had Kenjon Barner too.  So that evens it out.

All kidding aside, the Chiefs still have plenty of weapons without Hunt.  And more importantly, will be playing at home.  Thanks to the Patriots not being able to tackle on a final kickoff against Miami.  But we don’t need to revisit that now.  As Bill would say, “it is what it is”.

That “minor” detail though?  HUGE.  Arrowhead is a tough place to play.  For anyone, but also historically for the Patriots, no matter what kind of season it was for them.

I was surprised to see that Travis Kelce only had 61 yards in that Week 6 game.  The Pats have a lot of trouble covering tight ends.  That number could (should?) spike this week.  Hunt had over 100 yards receiving in that game, so there will probably be more targets for Kelce anyway.

Wouldn’t shock me if the Pats blanketed (or tried to) Kelce and Tyreek Hill and maybe even force them to run the ball with Spencer Ware and Damien Williams more, while also maybe sprinkling in a few Patrick Mahomes scrambles.  I really don’t know what the hell NE is going to do…that KC offense scares the bejesus out of me…especially against a very average Patriot defense.

KC’s D?  Not so great really.  But getting Eric Berry back and having Justin Houston available in this one when he didn’t play in the first game won’t hurt them.  They have some dudes that can get to the quarterback.  Sure, Tom Brady can get the ball out quick.  But still…

The weather?  Pffffft.  Don’t see much effect.  If original forecasts of single digits held true, I may have given the Pats a little bit of an edge there.  But the mid-20s and no wind?  Business as usual.

Wildcards?  Two that I can see.  One, how will Mahomes play in a game that means something?  He cruised through the regular season.  Then the Indianapolis Colts were so bad last week, that game pretty much didn’t count.  Now?  We will see.  I’m guessing he is fine.  But you never know.

Second wild card?  Andy Reid.  Yup.  There is a track record.  Inevitably, he will exhibit poor clock management.  That is a given.  But what else will happen?  Maybe this is the year he overcomes that though.

I suppose there is a third wild card:  the Patriots doing the whole “no one believes in us” nonsense.  All of that is completely silly.  But they’ve been known to use lesser things as motivation.

End result?  I hope I’m wrong.  But that stupid Miami kickoff return basically will play a big part in ending the Patriot season.  Arrowhead will be too much to overcome.  But the fact is, the Chiefs simply have the better team, as much as it pains me to say it.

Kansas City 31, New England 27.  

Week (against the spread):  2-2

Week (straight up):  4-0

Season (against the spread):  145-119

Season (straight up):  169-95

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