…this week’s Thursday Night Football game, that is. But we pick every game here, so there’s that. I’m still getting over the excitement of Brian Hoyer signing a three-year deal with the Pats on Wednesday. Ok, everyone knew that. And absolutely no one was actually excited. But three years? Were other teams lining up to sign him?
Yeah, I know a “three-year NFL contract” isn’t really a “three-year NFL contract”. But still. Seems a little steep. But I guess Hoyer may have finally realized that his remaining NFL future is as a backup, at best. And he may as well spend that in what should be a sweet situation behind Tom Brady in New England. For as long as he can.
What it also tells me that the Patriots probably are comfortable with this QB situation for those 3 years. And perhaps they use San Fran’s 2nd rounder on a third QB to develop into the starter after Brady finally shows his age and hangs it up? Supposed to be a deep quarterback draft…at least I think that’s what I have heard.
One thing is for sure: I’m still not digging the Jimmy G trade. But I will probably eventually come around. The Patriots pretty much make me do that almost every time.
As for the Thursday game…
Buffalo (-3.5) at New York Jets
Is it time to start taking the Bills seriously? I don’t know. Besides beating the Jets already, the Bills have beaten the Broncos, Falcons, Buccaneers and Raiders. Looks great on paper, right? But in reality, those four teams have all underachieved to some degree this year. The Bills have also lost to the Panthers and Bengals. Couple of middle of the road teams as well. So it’s hard to say if we all should be buying in on them yet.
That all being said, I feel comfortable taking them against the J-E-T-S…even on the road this time…
Buffalo 23, New York Jets 17.
Week (against the spread): 5-8
Week (straight up): 10-3
Season (against the spread): 55-64
Season (straight up): 74-45
…no, I am not really going to talk much about Zeke here. But I will say, now I know how the rest of the world felt about the Deflategate circus. Well, I knew how they felt anyway on that, since I felt the same way. Dragged on for far too long, with all the appeals and all the lawyers and all that nonsense. Serve the suspension already. That’s how I felt about Tom Brady at the time, even though I thought the offense was ridiculous and that every team likely does something similar, just that the Patriots were dumb enough to get caught. In a nutshell anyway. But I just wanted him to serve the suspension so that the whole thing went away.
Now, Elliott is supposed to start serving his six game suspension after the latest court ruling this week. But does anyone think it is really “over”? Zeke’s men are “considering all options” and, though I am far from an attorney, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the field during the Cowboys next game in Week 7.
The reality is, he has (allegedly) a brutal history of domestic violence. Again, serve the suspension already. You know you deserve it. Not to mention some jail time too. Zeke gets six games for “allegedly” beating women on a regular basis. Brady got four for taking the air out of footballs. Sigh…
That’s enough of that…from me anyway.
As for the picks, almost picked the correct score for Thursday Night this week (picked 27-24 and ended up 28-23). Solid. Better game than I thought it would be as well. We shall see if this is a good sign for the rest of them…
Green Bay (-3.5) at Minnesota
Minnesota is always a tough place to play. Divisional matchup to boot. But Case Keenum under center again. No Dalvin Cook. No Stefon Diggs. Tough for me to take the Vikes here.
Green Bay 27, Minnesota 17.
Cleveland at Houston (-9.5)
All aboard the Kevin Hogan bandwagon!! Hell, I don’t know if Hogan can actually play. But with the Texans injury issues, I feel like taking the points with the Browns here. I know, Houston put up 57 on the Titans at home 2 weeks ago and even 34 at home against the Chiefs in a loss a week ago. How does anyone think the Browns are going to stop these guys? I don’t know. I just feel like the spread is too big. I’ve been wrong plenty though.
Houston 24, Cleveland 17.
Miami at Atlanta (-10.5)
On the flip side, this spread may not be big enough. In Atlanta, who is off a bye and off a terrible loss at home to Buffalo before the bye. This could be over by halftime.
Atlanta 44, Miami 10.
San Francisco at Washington (-9.5)
Yup, I’m taking the points with another awful team on the road. The Niners have lost all five games they have played. But did you realize that 3 out of the last 4 have been on the road and they have lost all 4 by a field goal or less? Sure, some of the competition has stunk too (Colts, Cardinals). But the other 2 (Rams, Seahawks) were decent foes. Similar to Cleveland, they may not win. But I’m looking for them to keep it close.
Washington 31, San Francisco 24.
Chicago at Baltimore (-6.5)
Mitchell Trubisky looks like he has some skills. But he looked nowhere near ready to play in the NFL when I saw him last Monday night. I don’t expect that to change against the Ravens.
Baltimore 23, Chicago 13.
Detroit at New Orleans (-4.5)
I put my faith in the Lions last week, while acknowledging it could be a mistake. Surprise! It was. Not this week. The Saints at home off a bye. Stafford banged up. Feeling good about N.O. I’m sure I’ll be wrong on this one though.
New Orleans 27, Detroit 20.
New England (-9.5) at New York Jets
Battle for first place!!! Who saw that line ever being printed in 2017, regarding the AFC East? No one. But this is where the Pats kick it into high gear and take off. So says me. Brady hurt? Pffffffft. This one won’t be close.
New England 38, New York Jets 17.
Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville (-2.5)
Goes without saying that these two teams, both sitting at 3-2, are the biggest surprises (on the positive side) in the league this year. Unless you count the Bills and the Jets with the same record…which I don’t. Although maybe I should count the Jets, since they did beat Jax. Anyway…the Jags have been kind of inconsistent this year, alternating dominant efforts with mediocre to poor ones. So I haven’t bought in on them at all. But last week’s demolition of the Steelers in Pittsburgh finally got me to take notice. So I guess it’s time for me to actually pick them to win for once.
Jacksonville 28, Los Angeles Rams 24.
Tampa Bay (-2.5) at Arizona
The Bucs stunk a week and a half ago and still almost came up roses at the end. Arizona simply stinks. Don’t try to convince me that AP is going to save the day here either. Certainly not this week.
Tampa Bay 31, Arizona 13.
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland (-3.5)
I don’t believe that the Chargers have been as bad as their record. Oakland probably has played as bad as their record. Derek Carr is back after missing the last game. Maybe Amari Cooper will finally show up too. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking that I think Oakland takes this game. They were supposed to be battling for one of the top seeds in the conference after all. Maybe this is the springboard.
Oakland 31, Los Angeles Chargers 24.
Pittsburgh at Kansas City (-3.5)
Is Big Ben done? I hope so! KC seems like a juggernaut. Typically, this is where the underdog wins and makes everyone look foolish. Sticking with the Chiefs at home this time though.
Kansas City 27, Pittsburgh 23.
New York Giants at Denver (-11.5)
The Giants lost 14 wide receivers for the year last week. Zero running game. Plus their coach seems to be a buffoon. And they plain suck this year. Denver coming off a bye should be ready to roll in this one.
Denver 34, New York Giants 17.
Indianapolis at Tennessee (-1.5)
Could go either way on this one. Mariota or Cassel, does it matter? Indy has surprised to go 2-3 in the absence of Andrew Luck. The Titans have underachieved for sure. Divisional matchup. I have no idea.
Tennessee 20, Indianapolis 17.
Week (against the spread): 1-0
Week (straight up): 1-0
Season (against the spread): 38-40
Season (straight up): 49-29
Thursday night, that is.
Kansas City is a good team for sure. #2 seed in the East last year. A lot of talented players. And many thought the game would be close, including myself. But to smoke the Patriots in the end? Not sure a lot of people saw that coming.
Am I worried?
Well, maybe a little.
Disappointing performance, but ultimately I think it is a little bump in the road. Unless the injuries pile up. But every team has to worry about that. I mean, the Chiefs themselves lost Eric Berry for the year in that same game.
Tom Brady did not look like Tom Brady. Part of it was of course the Chiefs’ game plan. Maybe he was rusty, since he didn’t play much this preseason. Maybe it was partly because in the second half he was throwing to the likes of Phillip Dorsett. Probably a combination of those things and more. But I’m not blaming his age. That was a terrible opening throw to Dwayne Allen though. Maybe we should have taken that as a sign for that particular night.
Hopefully the coaches were in preseason mode still. Seemed as if the game plan on both sides of the ball left a lot to be desired. I know the Patriots are thin at wide receiver. Julian Edelman out and now Malcolm Mitchell as well. But didn’t they know that playing Danny Amendola every snap was bound to backfire? Love DA, but he is extremely brittle. Add in him returning punts and it was asking for trouble. Of course, then the concussion…Dorsett then had to play apparently. And he has been here less than a week.
Why can’t one of the 15 running backs they carry line up at receiver? Specifically, James White, Dion Lewis and/or Rex Burkhead? White and Lewis have been here, so they should know the “route tree” and all that. Seemed like a better idea playing them over Dorsett, especially since Rex only played 10 snaps and Dion 6. Then they may not have resorted to just throwing the ball up for grabs the last quarter.
And the defense? Ugh. Starts with the game plan again. Jordan Richards for half the game? Yikes! The guy seems to be a special teamer at best…and they are trying to make him a linebacker? Not good. I know the Chiefs have a lot of speed. But they gave real money to David Harris. And he plays 2 snaps? I’m not saying he would be better than Richards or Kyle Van Noy or anyone else. I’m just saying that if he’s playing only 2 snaps on Opening Night, perhaps that money was better spent elsewhere?
Is Dont’a Hightower really ready as well? Was it necessary to rush him out there for Opening Day? I know, Bill will say “football players play” and “if the doctor clears them, they are ready to go” and stuff like that. But even with a seemingly weak front seven, perhaps maybe they should have given him some more time to recover from what ailed him this offseason? Maybe even left him on PUP? He doesn’t exactly play every game every year either. Then, predictably, he goes down too.
I was actually OK with them going with the 2 4th and shorts they had. I just didn’t love the play calls. Mike Gillislee got stuffed on both. But he had nowhere to go. Where was the QB sneak, which seems to work 99.8% of the time? Where was…any other play call? Especially with all of KC up on the line?
Also of note, the Pats may have less depth all around this year…more than in recent years. Is the decision to carry a slew of “special teams only” players going to come back to bite them…finally? They always do it and it always seems to work. But there seem to be more of them this year. Bademosi, Bolden, Ebner, M. Flowers, J. Jones, King, Slater…and I would say Richards too (first names not necessary). These guys are (or should be) special teams players only. To carry 8 of them seems like a lot.
Ultimately, although this game did indeed finish ugly, I expect that the Pats will roll next week and be on their way to something like 13-3, a division championship and a likely appearance in the AFC Championship Game at least.
But…one last point to note: Brady and other veteran players said after the game that the team has to have a better attitude and compete more and all that. And to me, seemed like they borderline “gave up” on that last KC TD. Uh oh. Made me think of 2009 and that dysfunctional locker room. If this is a problem, let’s get this taken care of…like, NOW. Or all the talk will have quickly gone from “16-0” to “10-6, thanks to this team of underachievers”…and possibly worse…oh, 10-6 will likely still will win the division. But it would also mean a quick exit in the playoffs.
On to the picks…short and sweet this week. Not a whole lot of ammo in Week 1. First week is always kind of a crapshoot. Plus, I really didn’t pay close attention to the league this preseason. For whatever the preseason is worth.
Pittsburgh (-9.5) at Cleveland
Cleveland definitely has improved and will be undoubtedly better this year. Just not yet.
Pittsburgh 31, Cleveland 13.
Arizona (-1.5) at Detroit
Going with the Lions at home. Good enough for me.
Detroit 24, Arizona 20.
Jacksonville at Houston (-5.5)
The Jaguars still stink. I don’t care how many running backs they want to use.
Houston 20, Jacksonville 10.
Baltimore at Cincinnati (-2.5)
Could go either way on this division game. But is Joey Flacco ready to go?
Cincinnati 21, Baltimore 17.
Oakland at Tennessee (-1.5)
Lots of people on the Tennessee bandwagon this year. Oakland coming to the East Coast for a 1:00 game. Seems like a Tennessee pick, right? Not today.
Oakland 34, Tennessee 30.
Atlanta (-6.5) at Chicago
Mike Glennon or Mitch Trubisky? Who cares? Atlanta on the road? No matter. I don’t believe Atlanta was as good as they ended up last year, when they got to the Super Bowl and chok…er, lost. But they are probably going to still be in the mix this season. And the Bears should still be putrid.
Atlanta 38, Chicago 17.
Philadelphia at Washington (-0.5)
No idea on this divisional battle. The spread suggests no one else has an idea either. Or “they” like Philly since “they” presumably gave the ‘Skins three points for being at home. Either way, when in doubt, go with the home team…I guess.
Washington 28, Philadelphia 27.
New York Jets at Buffalo (-7.5)
Wretched. Who’s watching this one? Probably not even many Jets or Bills fans. Jets are going to make a serious run at 0-16 this year. That’s high on the list of things that make me happy.
Buffalo 27, New York Jets 6.
Indianapolis at Los Angeles Rams (-3.5)
Another “must-watch” game. Scott Tolzien vs. Jared Goff. I’m sure the only person who predicted New England would actually trade Jacoby Brissett instead of releasing (or just keeping him) may want to see some Jacoby action in this game (there you go Batts!!). But not sure that is going to happen. I would have to think the St. Louis offense will be better this year, even out of the gates. So I am going with Todd Gurley over the 150 year old Frank Gore in this one.
Los Angeles Rams 17, Indianapolis 13.
Seattle at Green Bay (-3.5)
Looks like a good one. Normally I would go with the home team both to win and against the spread in what should be a fantastic game between two top contenders. But Week 1, you just never know.
Green Bay 34, Seattle 31.
Carolina (-5.5) at San Francisco
Feel like Carolina rebounds this year. Not the same feeling about the Niners.
Carolina 34, San Francisco 10.
New York Giants at Dallas (-3.5)
Ezekiel Elliott is ready to go. Dak is back. ‘Boys at home. As much as it pains me though, going with G-Men. Purely a hunch.
New York Giants 28, Dallas 24.
New Orleans at Minnesota (-3.5)
I have absolutely no insight here. Just another hunch.
New Orleans 35, Minnesota 27.
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver (-3.5)
The Broncos at home. Even though Trevor Siemian is still the QB, they presumably still have the stout defense and nice running game. “Los Angeles” in front of Chargers instead of “San Diego” just sounds stupid and wrong.
Denver 27, San Diego 17.
Week (against the spread): 1-0
Week (straight up): 0-1
Season (against the spread): 1-0
Season (straight up): 0-1