…with bated breath for the first game of Week 3 in the NFL season, the New York Jets versus the Cleveland Browns, we can address a few additional football topics. Specific to the hometown New England Patriots, I mean.
Wait, is anyone really anxious to see Jets v. Browns? I guess…J-E-T-S fans could be excited about Sammy Darnold. Browns fans can be excited by almost getting a couple of wins against alleged Super Bowl contenders in the Steelers and Saints. Perhaps the nation is fired up to see this new Cleveland kicker that no one’s ever heard of…someone who only made 69.5 percent of his kicks in college too…that should work out nicely.
Anyway, as for the Pats, we could talk about the Jacksonville beating. But why bother? The offense couldn’t do anything and the defense stunk. Some think that because it was Week Two, the Pats didn’t overextend themselves, knowing that beating a fired up Jags team in their home opener in 90 plus degree weather was unlikely to happen. The offense didn’t exactly take a lot of risks, after all.
That doesn’t explain how poorly the D played though. Sure, when you lose 2 of your better players in Trey Flowers and Patrick Chung fairly early in the game, that certainly doesn’t help. But that doesn’t explain Eric Rowe and all the linebackers looking putrid. And Adrian Clayborn running past Blake Bortles numerous times, leaving Bortles plenty of room to run for yet another first down.
I don’t have any answers. All I am thinking is that the Pats sometimes look very average in September and then fix problems as the season goes along. Though I was pretty pissed during the game, I have started to trend in that direction throughout the week. Maybe this year is different though, who knows?
Perhaps the Patriots have fixed one of their issues already…a punt returner. Because CYRUS JONES IS BACK! He is? Really? Didn’t see this one coming. And I’m sure he’s not really going to make much of a difference. I’m not sure I understand…even if it is just to return punts for two games until Julian Edelman comes back. But they gave Jones a two-year contract. Not that that necessarily means a whole bunch. But still…does that mean they have bigger plans for Cyrus? They didn’t sign Corey Coleman or Bennie Fowler to two-year contracts, to the best of my knowledge. We’ll see…
You wanna talk about Josh Gordon? I don’t. Why? That’s all people are talking about locally now and I’ve had my fill. He supposedly has great talent. I say “supposedly”, because he really hasn’t played in 5 years. So how do we know he still has “it”? Wide receivers coming into this system often take forever to figure things out, if they ever even do. Can’t afford that kind of time here, but it may happen. I have no problem with the trade, as who really cares about the 5th round pick? It’s worth the gamble, even if he goes and gets loaded tonight and gets banned from the NFL yet again. Because of the potential for that and all the other uncertainty revolving around Gordon, I am not getting my hopes up. But I certainly will be paying attention.
You wanna talk about Ian O’Connor’s book? I suppose we can chat a little. I mean, it’s kind of old news now a rift has formed between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady over time. Some of the excerpts from the book are gold though. Bill and at least some of the coaches think they could have taken an average quarterback and made him do the same things Brady has done in his career? Laughable. Brady is shocked that he was getting old and Bill was looking to the future to replace him at some point, just like what has happened to EVERY OTHER PATRIOT, INCLUDING ALL THE LONG TIME GREATS. Laughable.
Listen, this was bound to happen. Anyone that has a head on their shoulders should know that this wasn’t going to end well. “This” being Brady’s career in New England. And…it will get worse, I think I would bet the house on that. Unfortunate, of course, but who really didn’t see this coming?
This topic is going to be beaten to death over the next few weeks, so I’ll stop here now. Once the book officially comes out, maybe I’ll read it and share some thoughts. In any event, hopefully, Bill and Tom can put their differences aside and just win games together. Because they needed each other for this long run of success. We should be all able to agree on that. Thank God Brady has Matty Patricia’s defense coming up on Sunday Night. That should be a recipe for success. Then again, Eric Rowe will be out there again trying to stop Matty Stafford…
As for the beginning of Week Three’s slate:
New York Jets at Cleveland (-3.5)
When do you think the Browns were last favored in a game by three and a half points? I don’t know the answer, but I can’t imagine it’s in the decade of the 2010’s. Maybe it was, but they still shouldn’t be favored by that here either, even against the Jets.
I know, Cleveland is a little bit of a darling these days. 1-31 the last two years, somehow Hue Jackson keeps his job and the GM is fired. Then the tie in Week One and a close loss in Week Two…largely again, because their kicker was brutal. But these guys are still the Browns. And Tyrod Taylor is still their QB. But their new kicker has a strong leg, did you hear?
You know what? This is the NFL. EVERY kicker has a strong leg. Maybe teams should be more concerned with getting a kicker who is ACCURATE, even if his leg is a little weaker. There’s a thought, eh?
Anyway, Cleveland may yet win this game. But Darnold looks like the real deal. And Thursday Night games usually stink. So I am “betting” this one is close.
New York Jets 20, Cleveland 16 (one missed extra point and at least one missed field goal).
Week (against the spread): 8-8
Week (straight up): 9-7
Season (against the spread): 13-19
Season (straight up): 16-16
Another (somewhat) abridged (but not so last-minute) holiday edition. Tough sledding here, as plenty of teams will be resting guys for the playoffs, shutting guys down period, playing some young kids to see if they are worth hanging on to for next year and any other scenario in-between. We will see what happens. If we go 1-15, we finish the year over .500 still. So that’s good enough for me anyway. Happy New Year!!
Cleveland at Pittsburgh (-13.5)
Cleveland is shooting for 0-16. I think they can do it, even though the Steelers are apparently not playing any of their key guys…well, Big Ben and Le’Veon Bell anyway…with Antonio Brown still out too. Landry Jones and Stevan Ridley anyone? Sure. They could (and should) probably still beat the Brownies.
Pittsburgh 17, Cleveland 13.
Green Bay at Detroit (-7.5)
The Lions actually should win this one going away…but of course they won’t.
Detroit 20, Green Bay 17.
Chicago at Minnesota (-12.5)
I believe Minnesota still has to play its way into the second seed and the bye over in the NFC. Therefore…
Minnesota 30, Chicago 10.
Dallas (-2.5) at Philadelphia
Philly is apparently going to play their starters for a bit. Which Nick Foles will show up? Who cares?
Dallas 27, Philadelphia 17.
Houston at Indianapolis (-3.5)
Speaking of “Who cares?”, 7-23 between these two squads. The only intrigue will be after the game to see if either of the two coaches keep their jobs. They both honestly probably should, based on their respective teams’ injury concerns this season. But I’d keep O’Brien and fire Pagano. Then again, Billy O’B and the Houston GM apparently despise each other. Kind of thinking both are going, right or wrong. Oh, I have to make a pick?
Houston 13, Indianapolis 10.
New York Jets at New England (-15.5)
It’s apparently going to be 50 below in Foxborough Sunday. The Jets are likely ready to hit the offseason, despite their competitiveness this season. Because the Pats still need to win (or have the Steelers lose) to sew up the #1 seed, I’d say that they will probably just try to do enough to get the W and get the hell outta there unscathed. But they may only have Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden at running back…and I’d prefer not to give Lewis 30 carries on the eve of the playoffs. Maybe Pro Bowler (?!) James Develin gets some carries too. I’m starting to think the Patriots come out throwing and take a little bit of a lead and then ride Bolden to victory in the second half!
New England 27, New York Jets 16.
Washington (-3.5) at New York Giants
The brand new Giants GM said he is leaning towards keeping Eli as the starting QB next year. Yeah, until he finds someone better this offseason…likely with the #2 overall draft pick. The Giants owner also seemingly wants to bring cornerback Eli Apple back too, because you “don’t give up on talent…” or some nonsense like that. That should go over well in the locker room. Not to mention the Giants interim coach is playing Eli Sunday “start to finish”. Why? He says they already know what they have in third rounder Davis Webb…despite Webb getting zero game experience this year. All of the above is kind of irrelevant for Sunday…even Eli playing the whole game…but it does make me laugh.
Washington 14, New York Giants 13.
Cincinnati at Baltimore (-9.5)
The Bengals winning on Marvin Lewis’ way out? Nah. The Ravens need this one. Though the spread is probably too high. I’m still doing it.
Baltimore 27, Cincinnati 17.
Carolina at Atlanta (-3.5)
This may be the one game worth watching. The Falcons need this one more. That of course makes me nervous…but I’m still gonna do it here too.
Atlanta 27, Carolina 20.
New Orleans (-7.5) at Tampa Bay
The Bucs are bringing back Dirk Koetter next year? Yaaaay! Wait, what happened to all those Jon Gruden rumors? Anyway, the Saints should roll here either way.
New Orleans 37, Tampa Bay 23.
Kansas City at Denver (-3.5)
The Chiefs are resting everyone and the Broncos are starting Paxton Lynch (I think). I should be taking the Broncos defense here, but I’m not.
Kansas City 17, Denver 13.
Jacksonville at Tennessee (-3.5)
This may be the second best game of the week…if the Jags play their regulars…which their coach said they were going to. But we will see, since the game doesn’t mean anything to Jacksonville. Other than to get revenge on a Week Two beating the Titans handed to them. Since that point was mentioned specifically by Dougie Marrone, I’ll take my chances with the Jags this week. The Titans have continuously underwhelmed and I really don’t expect anything different here…even with a playoff berth staring them in the face.
Jacksonville 31, Tennessee 20.
Arizona at Seattle (-8.5)
The Cards are 7-8? Hard to believe. The Seahawks have been inconsistent, but still have a chance. Based on their inconsistency, laying 8.5 seems aggressive, but the feeling here is that they come out ready to go.
Seattle 34, Arizona 23.
Buffalo (-2.5) at Miami
Two times in three weeks for this marquee matchup, with the Bills winning by eight in the first one in Buffalo. The Bills are still remarkably in the playoff mix and therefore need it more. Despite the Bills not actually being very good. Throw in the fact that Miami isn’t good either, I am not expecting the ‘Phins to go all out to knock the Bills from the playoff chase. I don’t know…
Buffalo 27, Miami 17.
Oakland at Los Angeles Chargers (-7.5)
The Raiders actually gave the Eagles a game last Monday. Both teams were kind of inept though. Chargers have a chance. Raiders do not. That’s all I can say really.
Los Angeles Chargers 24, Oakland 13.
San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams (-2.5)
The oddsmakers apparently have not been watching the Jimmy G show. Of course the Rams are the better team, but when your coach has already said your best players aren’t playing and the rest of the starters aren’t playing much, one wonders how the Rams could still be favored in this game.
San Francisco 27, Los Angeles Rams 16.
Week (against the spread): 6-10
Week (straight up): 13-3
Season (against the spread): 128-112
Season (straight up): 163-77
…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