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Week Six…

…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.

Yet.

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) 

I actually expect the Browns to bounce back from that debacle last Monday against San Francisco.  I mean, they play well and win every other week and look silly and lose on the weeks in between.  So that kind of inconsistent performance would lead some to believe that this week they will win this tilt.  Especially at home.  But they actually are 0-2 at home and Seattle is pretty good.  Nothing would shock me with this Brown team at this point.

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

Competition? Anyone??!

So the New England Patriots play their sixth consecutive tomato can in less than a couple of hours.  Exciting!

And yeah, people are jumping all over the Buffalo Bills and calling them a REAL threat.

Please.

Their 4 wins are over the Jets. Giants, Bengals and Titans…with a combined record of 4-15 thus far.  And they beat the Titans because Tennessee’s kicker missed FOUR field goals.  As a result, Cairo Santos found himself on the streets the next day.

(Is he better than Mike Nugent though?  Just thinking out loud!)

In any event, sure, the Bills played the Patriots tough in their one loss.  But let’s not forget that Tom Brady gave them life by firing that PUTRID interception in the end zone, costing the Pats a potential 20-0 lead right before the half.  Where that game would have been…over.

And then we wouldn’t even be talking about the Bills being “a contender”.

So let’s hold off on that nonsense for now.  Ok?

When will the Patriots play anyone?  I think we can move past the Cleveland Browns’ trip to Foxborough in Week 8.  That situation is a lot uglier than people thought.  Perhaps they turn it around, but not anticipating that it will be anytime soon.

Maybe the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9?  The only reason I even suggest that is because the game is in Baltimore.

It just seems as if the NFL has more bad teams than usual this season.  For a league that prides itself on parity, not a great situation.

Although yeah, parity.  Maybe you can’t even say that when the Pats are at least in the AFC Championship game every year.

The Pats are putting up some serious points against this swill.  But could it be more?

Tom Brady thinks so for sure.  And local talk radio is having a lot of fun dissecting his statements all the time now.

But you know what?  I think they have at least somewhat of a point.

I mean, the offense has not been smooth any way you slice it.  So it probably should be better.  But don’t they always figure these things out?

Several of the pass catchers, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett, in particular, are banged up.  That can’t help.  Rex Burkhead helps out there and he is hurt too.  Maybe we can even include tight end Matty LaCosse too.

I don’t know.  I think some of the things Brady has said myself have been a little over the top.  Well, “over the top” for him anyway.  From how he normally speaks anyway.

Sure, Ben Watson would help.  But really, how much?  The guy is 422 years old.  I’d rather take my chances with LaCosse and Ryan Izzo to see if, you know, they may be more than a short term fix.  Would Ben be that much better this year?  I think not.

And say what you want, talk radio said at least one fact this week.  And often.  Brady ignores young wide receivers.  Historically always has.  This point is irrefutable.  So Jakobi Meyers will presumably take a ton of snaps tonight as the #3 wide receiver.  How many targets do you think he will get?  I set the over/under at 2.5.

Yes, the offense has some holes.  They certainly can use a veteran wide receiver and some help along the offensive line.  Tight end?  You think Watson will be there in a few weeks?  Could very well be.

The Pats will make a move by the trading deadline.  Maybe two or three.  My guess is that they will shoot for the moon (and I bet they already are), but end up with players we may not even know.  They will be able to find the salary cap room if they need it.  Some people are acting like the team is in “cap jail” and actually freaking out about it.  But they always figure that out.  Along with Dante Scarnecchia and Bill Belichick figuring out the offensive line.  Which I think they need depth at more than receiver.

Usually, the fans are panicking after a slow start by the Pats after 4-6 weeks.  Brady and the team always tell us to relax.  Then the team goes on and does great things.

If Brady is truly whining about the offense and lack of weapons at this point in the season, I would say the same thing to him:

Relax.

New York Giants at New England (-16.5)

Wow, guess I was wrong about that Giant pick last week.  Last time I listen to that guy who threw out the stat I was basing the pick on.  Regardless, the G-Men are coming into Foxborough with like 12 of their best players out with injury.  Ok, it may be 3 or 4 players, but does that matter?  Daniel Jones may end up making everyone regret they mocked him for being taken at #6 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.  But he’s not doing anything tonight.  Another stat I heard recently was something like rookie QBs being 0-11 or something the first time they play a Belichick team.  No, not from that same dude I used last week.  I don’t think anyway.  But this seems like a more legit stat anyway.

The weather may play a role as well.  Rain is in the forecast.  I guess a lot…with some wind.  But it was supposed to be doing that all day and hasn’t, so…I don’t know what to tell you.

Either way, the weather may hold the score down.  But the Patriot defense should hold the score of the Giants down anyway.  The defense has been unbelievable.  Yes, the competition has been brutal as outlined above.  But you absolutely cannot disregard what they have done regardless.  They have been THAT good.

But some food for thought here:  has anyone considered that a lot of the individuals on defense have expiring contracts this season?  Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Devin McCourty, for starters.  Even Danny Shelton and Adam Butler, who have both played very well.  Elandon Roberts too…oh wait, he hasn’t played much and still stinks anyway.  How did he get voted a captain??  Anyway, you can throw in the names of Michael Bennett and Dont’a Hightower, whose high cap numbers in the final year of their deals in 2020 will always lead to speculation that they could be cut.  I don’t know…the defense certainly has to work together to be successful, so how much does each individual situation really affect things overall?

But impending free agency always seems to motivate players in any sport, no?

Once again, just thinking out loud…

New England 27, New York Giants 3.  (Nugent misses two field goals and an extra point).

Week (against the spread):  8-7

Week (straight up):  8-7

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  3-2

Season (against the spread):  40-38

Season (straight up):  51-27

Super Bowl Hangover…

…for the Philadelphia Eagles, that is.  2-3 record to start 2018.  Pretty underwhelming, but still only a half game out of first.  The 2018 NFC East everyone!  I know, I know…Carson Wentz is coming back from a major injury.  But he has been back for 3 games and the numbers are good anyway.  So it can’t be all that bad.

Speaking of bad, the schedule thus far hasn’t been filled with heavyweights.  Atlanta, Tampa, Indy, Tennessee and an underachieving thus far Minnesota team.

So what’s the problem?  Looks like they have had some injuries.  And you know…maybe they weren’t all that good last year in the first place?  Sour grapes?  Absolutely!!  But backup quarterback Nick Foles played out of his mind in the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl and Coach Doug Pederson pushed all the right buttons.  Good for them and give them a ton of credit.

But I hope they go 2-14 this year.

So the New England Patriots lost to the Eagles in the Super Bowl and their 3-2 record isn’t much better.  Seems like they are up to their usual early season tricks however.  We will see what it looks like Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.  We’ll talk more about that in the next piece.  We sure as hell do not need to recap last weeks game against the Indianapolis Colts.  Per usual, the Pats handled the Colts easily.  But it was a little concerning how the defense played down the stretch of that game though.

Anyway, for now:

Philadelphia (-3.5) at New York Giants

Ah, so THAT’S why we started off the column with Eagle talk!  Yup.  So what more do we have to say here?  The Giants still stink.  And it was awesome to see them lose to the Carolina Panthers on a 63 yard field goal as time expired.  Gave me great joy.  That’s all.

Philadelphia 28, New York Giants 20.

Week (against the spread):  7-8

Week (straight up):  8-7

Season (against the spread):  37-41

Season (straight up):  45-33

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