…bummer. But you know what that means?
THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE IS BACK!!
Ok, I’d kind of like a little more summer. But I guess there is nothing I can do about it, sssssooooo…
The defending champion New England Patriots do not actually open the season on Thursday Night Football. That honor belongs to the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. Hey, they’ve been playing each other for almost 100 years, and the NFL is 100 years old this season, so I think we can all live with that.
We will get to that game in a smidge. But let us follow up on the recent Patriot roster projection columns with some random comments on what the final roster actually looks like. Not to mention other random NFL thoughts as the season gets set to begin. Once again, in no particular order:
*3 years, 12 mil (9 mil guaranteed) for Brian Hoyer in Indy?? Yikes!! Throw in the Colts jacking up Jacoby Brissett’s salary, that is…crazy. Welp, guess they had to spend Andrew Luck’s salary on someone.
As mentioned in the last projection, I would’ve cut Hoyer too. No way did I think the Pats would do it though. And Tom Brady seems a little upset about it, judging by his comments in recent days. When is Brady going to realize that he can’t play forever and that the Pats will need to get younger at QB someday? And the sooner the better. Sometimes he seems to just act like a big baby over stuff. Once he retires and is running the whole TB12 nonsense he will have to manage people himself, no? Then he may really understand what it is like to “run a business”. Can’t wait for that.
In any event, the Pats wouldn’t be winning a Super Bowl with Hoyer if something happens to Brady. They won’t with Jarrett Stidham either. But wouldn’t you rather give the experience to the kid anyway? Seems like a no-brainer to me. Then you get someone of Hoyer’s ilk off the street to back Stidham up. Guys like that are a dime a dozen out there.
Which makes Indy’s contract to Hoyer kind of silly, no?
Good for Brissett to cash in a little now that he is the starter. But a jump that huge may be a little much.
Wait…if Brady gets hurt, they can always bring back Matty Cassel right? Will that make Tommy happy??
*Speaking of Luck, kudos to him for leaving the sport if that’s what he wanted to do to help maintain his long term health. Honestly, he could have just been placed on Injured Reserve and missed the whole year…thus collecting his entire salary for the year. And then retired at the end of the season. But he passed all that dough that up. Gotta give him some credit for that.
But boy, the timing left a lot to be desired, no?
A part of me doesn’t blame the fans for being pissed that he retired a couple of weeks before the season. They will get over it. But it would have smacked me right in the face as well.
Wonder what his teammates think? They probably have seen him suffering over the years. And they also know what it’s like to play in the league. The sacrifice it takes. So even though the Colts’ chances decreased after Luck left, my guess is that the players are ok with it.
Maybe not the front office though…and perhaps the coaches. But again, they will get over it too.
And maybe Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels saw the writing on the wall when he ended up declining the Colts gig a year and a half ago? That may be a stretch. But you never know…
*Speaking of retiring early, is anyone else sick of seeing Rob Gronkowski now?
Kudos also to Gronk if he retired thinking about his health and his future as well. And if “football was bringing him down” as he said last week.
And now that he is outside of the strict hand of Bill Belichick, he can act however he wants. Good for him.
But PLEASE stop with the whole “I could come back if I wanted to…” thing. I hated when Roger Clemens would pull this crap every year. Take the year off, do your CBD thing and if you want to come back next year, do it. Already tired of the “will he or won’t he come back” talk. Not to mention his pimping of the CBD stuff. But I guess he needs something to do.
Though the Pats could use him, no doubt. None of the 27 tight ends they brought to camp inspired anyone…
*Was anyone really surprised that Demaryius Thomas was cut and immediately brought back? Shouldn’t have been. That was a done deal all along.
It allowed the team to put receiver N’Keal Harry on the injured list in-season. Meaning he can come back if the team deems him ready about halfway through the season. And with the injury uncertainty with Julian Edelman, the suspension uncertainty with Josh Gordon, the “what does he have left in the tank” uncertainty with Thomas, along with the very average Phillip Dorsett and the two kids after that, it buys the team time to get Harry fully healthy, while evaluating all else above.
Thomas didn’t show much last year. Then he hurt his Achilles. Sure, he played well in the last preseason game against guys that aren’t playing anymore this week. But there was zero chance of flight risk.
*Speaking of the two kids at receiver, I fully expect Jakobi Meyers to be a healthy scratch every week, despite his huge preseason.
Why? Well, he didn’t really mesh with Brady in their short stint together in the third preseason game, for one. He did return some kicks in the preseason, but I don’t think he is much of a special teamer overall. He came out of college a little raw. Probably needs some more time to develop.
It actually wouldn’t shock me to see the Pats try to quietly move him to the practice squad at some point when they need a body elsewhere.
You heard this here first.
*…and GUNNER!! Great story. Actually surprised he ended up making the team. Looks like another team would have claimed him and he would not have snuck down to the practice squad. Hard for me to believe even that. But that has to be why he made the final 53.
I hope they use him as a returner. Especially a punt returner. No need to subject Edelman to that abuse (unless it is a “gotta have it” moment). I will say this though: If I see Gunner Olszewski doing anything on the football field other than returning kicks and other special teams tasks, I will be very, very, very, VERY nervous.
Maybe he turns into something in the future. But as great a story as he is, he is not ready to be an NFL receiver yet. Or certainly an NFL cornerback either.
Because, you know, I am an expert!!
*Melvin Gordon wants money and Ezekiel Elliott just got paid. Good luck with that. I know, I am a Patriots honk. But I will never understand why teams spend money on running backs. Elliott is AWESOME. But doesn’t Dallas ALWAYS have a great offensive line? Hmmmmm…Gordon? He’s good? But whatever.
I know. The Pats spent a first round pick on Sony Michel last year. And he was good last year. Think he will be GREAT this year. But still. By the time his rookie contract is done, he will be discarded. Make no bones about it. Take that to the bank. The Patriots will use him up and let someone else give him a fat second contract. And let’s not forget about the bad knees going back to college…what will they look like in 3-4 years.
*Houston!! Keep doing what YOU do!! Is it this bad while you wait for Nick Caserio to take the reins next year?? Jadaveon Clowney for 20 cents on the dollar. Then overspending on Laremy Tunsil? AWESOME!!
By the way, where is that Dolphins “revolt” after the trade of Tunsil?? What a joke. The ‘Phins are tanking and everyone knows it. Including the players. There will be no revolt.
Good luck Brian Flores.
*Antonio Brown. Has this loser found a helmet yet? Yes, loser. One of the most dynamic receivers of this era, this guy is pretty much a laughingstock right now.
Sure, he can come out and make Derek Carr look a lot better than he is this year.
But would it surprise anyone if he went even more off the reservation?
I really don’t have much else to say. His actions speak louder than anything else.
*Final Patriot roster thoughts…in the secondary. Surprised that Keion Crossen got dealt. The team seemed to think of him highly. Not only in the secondary, but as a potential “Matthew Slater replacement”.
Ok, a Slater replacement should not be hard, with all apologies to Bill and his special teams’ cronies across the world.
On the opposite spectrum, Duke Dawson.
Yet another failure for a second round defensive back in the Billy Belichick drafting queue.
Ras-I Dowling, Cyrus Jones, Patrick Chung (1st time), Eugene Wilson, Darius Butler, Terrance Wheatley, Jordan Richards, Tavon Wilson…and yes, I just looked some of them up.
Some of the other second rounders leave a lot to be desired as well. But this focus is on defensive backs because this seems to be a real bugaboo for Bill.
Dawson didn’t even play a down for the team.
Let’s just hope Joejuan Williams breaks the mold this time.
I’m not counting on it though.
The chatter on local talk radio this week was that the Patriots swing for the fences in the second round. Also meaning that they play it safe in Round One. Then get value in Rounds Three through Seven.
Kind of makes some sense.
But there have some BIG misses in that round.
Gronk, Jamie Collins, Sebastian Vollmer, Matt Light, Deion Branch were hits. But the aforementioned DBs and some offensive players like Chad Jackson and Adrian Klemm have been big strikeouts. More K’s than hits.
So maybe there needs to be some change in philosophy?
Ok, I guess they have six rings, so what do I know??
Anyway, the actual Thursday Night game to open the season?
Green Bay at Chicago (-3.5)
I have no idea, really. Aaron Rodgers and his new coach, Matt LaFleur, already seem to be at odds on play calling. But who knows how much of that is actually real? We do know Chicago still has Mitchell (or is it Mitch?) Trubisky at QB…a good thing? Don’t think so. Chicago is at home.
Again, I don’t know.
But one thing I do know? The Bears had some kicking problems last year with Cody Parkey. And they replaced him with who?
No idea. But my feeling on this night is that will actually matter.
Green Bay 24, Chicago 23.
2018 Season (against the spread): 147-120
2018 Season (straight up): 171-96
Career (because I love numbers!) (against the spread): 290-244 (54.3%)
Career (straight up): 351-183 (65.7%)
What a game Thursday Night. There have been some good ones on Thursday this year. Remember when those games sucked EVERY week?
But I’m sure it pissed off New England Patriot fans. If the Pats didn’t lose last weekend, it would have put them in a pretty good position for the #1 seed with the Kansas City Chiefs losing. Sure, the Los Angeles Chargers would still be in the way as well. But still, things would have looked up no doubt. Only one of the teams out West could have been the prime competition. Regardless of records, the other would be the top wild card team. Unfair? Maybe. But thems the breaks…
In any event, there has been some crazy NFL action lately. Wouldn’t mind seeing it again, even if it costs us wins. Well, as long as the Pats win in Pittsburgh. But…
Houston (-6.5) at New York Jets
Houston’s 9 game win streak ended last week. Methinks they get right back on the horse this weekend. Yeah, going out on a limb here, I know.
Houston 33, New York Jets 17.
Cleveland at Denver (-3.5)
The Browns are still somehow (barely) in the mix for a playoff spot with a mere three games left in the season? Is this some sort of miracle?
Cleveland 27, Denver 20.
Washington at Jacksonville (-7.5)
Hard to even fathom laying this many points with the Jags, but the ‘Skins may be throwing high school players out there this weekend with all their injuries.
Jacksonville 30, Washington 7.
Oakland at Cincinnati (-3.5)
I know the Bengals have lost five in a row and are playing with some dude named Jeff Driskel at QB. And the Raiders had a big win against the Steelers last week. But…
Cincinnati 24, Oakland 20.
Arizona at Atlanta (-8.5)
Kind of a big number here too for a Falcons team that has lost 5 in a row and hasn’t scored more than 20 points in any of them. But they CAN score. And the Cardinals simply can’t.
Atlanta 27, Arizona 9.
Tennessee at New York Giants (-2.5)
I don’t think much of the Titans, that much has probably been pretty clear. The G-Men have won 4 of 5 (too little, too late, however) and have put up some points in the process. No ODB? Believe it or not, I’m not sure it will matter.
New York Giants 30, Tennessee 20.
Miami at Minnesota (-8.5)
Minnesota 28, Miami 17.
Dallas at Indianapolis (-3.5)
Gut feeling here, nothing more. The Cowboys D has been much ballyhooed in recent weeks. Have a feeling Andrew Luck gets it done here.
Indianapolis 31, Dallas 23
Green Bay at Chicago (-5.5)
The Bears have had a nice year. 9-4 is nothing to sneeze at. It was a helluva win against the Rams last Sunday night. But is there a more overrated team in the NFL? Every time I see Mitchell Trubisky play, he looks average at best. Yet everyone is fawning over him for whatever reason. And their schedule? These are the other 8 teams they have beaten besides the Rams: Seattle (Week Two, when the Seahawks were scuffling, but I’ll give you that if you want), Arizona (by TWO), Tampa, Jets, Buffalo, Detroit, Minnesota, and Detroit again. Not exactly Murderer’s Row. Maybe the Rams loss has more to do with a fast, warm weather team not adjusting to the cold very well. Just a thought.
Green Bay 34, Chicago 24.
Tampa Bay at Baltimore (-8.5)
This is another high number that we should go with the favorite here. Especially after the Ravens played the Chiefs so tough in Kansas City last week…and probably should have won. Have a feeling there could be a little letdown here though.
Baltimore 23, Tampa Bay 20.
Detroit at Buffalo (-2.5)
I hope to see zero “highlights” from this one.
Detroit 13, Buffalo 10.
Seattle (-5.5) at San Francisco
The ‘Hawks should continue rolling. Not much more to say.
Seattle 31, San Francisco 17.
New England (-2.5) at Pittsburgh
I know the Steelers just lost to Oakland. I know they have lost 3 in a row. I know Big Ben and their top RB are banged up. I know the Pats usually handle Pitt…or seem to anyway. I’m just not feeling it. I’m sure the Pats will once again prove me wrong. But maybe this year is different.
Pittsburgh 34, New England 31.
Philadelphia at Los Angeles Rams (-9.5)
Are we really expecting another Nick Foles miracle run? Just because he is apparently playing Sunday and facing the Rams in the same spot of the schedule as last year? Please. The Rams were embarrassed on the road last week, as noted above. They are back in their friendly confines where they are undefeated. I expect this one to be ugly.
Los Angeles Rams 41, Philadelphia 17.
New Orleans (-6.5) at Carolina
People start anointing the Saints as the next champs and then they throw in a couple of mediocre games in a row? Sure. Carolina is 5-1 at home, though they have lost 5 in a row. These two teams are in the same division but haven’t played each other yet this year. Two times in the last three weeks Seems like a bizarre scheduling quirk. I’m rambling because I still don’t know what I am going to pick for this game.
New Orleans 34, Carolina 24.
Week (against the spread): 0-1
Week (straight up): 0-1
Season (against the spread): 112-97
Season (straight up): 129-80