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Useless…

…no, not the Dallas Cowboys.  But they are close.

My picks are what’s useless.

But like every “also-ran” in every sport, we have to finish out the season.

For better or for worse.

Indianapolis at Tampa Bay (-2.5)

The Buc rush defense is tops in the league?  Learn something new every day.  No matter how unbelievable it sounds when you say it out loud.

Indianapolis 34, Tampa Bay 30.  

Baltimore (-5.5) at Buffalo

God, wouldn’t it be great if the Bills could win this one.  But alas…

Baltimore 34, Buffalo 17.  Lock of the week (“reverse psychology”??).

San Francisco at New Orleans (-2.5)

I think the Saints are a good team.  I just don’t think they are as good as people think they are.

San Francisco 31, New Orleans 24.

Miami at New York Jets (-5.5)

Just as everyone jumped on the J-E-T-S bandwagon with three straight wins, they lose to the previously winless Bengals.  The Dolphins are all of a sudden a feisty team.  Not sure any of the above means anything, however.

New York Jets 31, Miami 27.  

Cincinnati at Cleveland (-8.5)

Freddie Kitchens is another dude that should be out of a job soon.

Cleveland 24, Cincinnati 17.  

Washington at Green Bay (-12.5)

The ‘Skins have won two in a row.  I’d be surprised if it became three.

Green Bay 34, Washington 16.  

Detroit at Minnesota (-14.5)

This is a huge spread for a divisional matchup.  With the Vikes coming off a Monday Night loss and needing this win to keep pace for the division title and at least a playoff berth, combined with the Lions on to their third quarterback, losing 5 in a row and generally being pathetic, well, the spread fits.

Minnesota 38, Detroit 17.  

Denver at Houston (-9.5)

Just a gut feeling about a slight Texan letdown this week.

Houston 24, Denver 20.  

Carolina at Atlanta (-2.5)

These teams both stink.  But the Panthers just fired their coach.  RIVERBOAT RON!!  We will miss you…ummmm, not really.  It was more than time for that.  Like with Jason Garrett.  In any event, maybe the Panthers respond.  Maybe they don’t.

Carolina 24, Atlanta 20.

Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) at Jacksonville

This one should be scintillating.  At least Uncle Rico is back!

Jacksonville 17, Los Angeles Chargers 13.  

Tennessee (-2.5) at Oakland

An addendum to last week’s piece…Ryan Tannehill IS Jesus!!!

Tennessee 31, Oakland 17.  

Kansas City at New England (-3.5) 

This is the type of game the Pats of the Belichick era win.  You know, where everyone counting them out for a variety of reasons.  It’s hard to pick them in this one though.

Kansas City 27, New England 23.  

Pittsburgh (-2.5) at Arizona

People are actually lauding Steeler coach Mike Tomlin for his…coaching?!  Hard to fathom.  But, amazingly enough, maybe there is something there.  This year anyway.

Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 17.  

Seattle (-1.5) at Los Angeles Rams

Where did that Rams performance come from last week?  Two words:  Arizona Cardinals.  But you know what?  Maybe it’s more?

Los Angeles Rams 27, Seattle 24.  

New York Giants at Philadelphia (-8.5)

Last week, we saw the return of the Bengals’ Andy Dalton from a brief benching.  This week, we get to see the return of…ELI!  Dalton helped Cincy win its first game of the year.  Does Eli provide a spark for his team or does he show rust from his quite a bit longer layoff against a Philly team that can remarkably still win the division?  My guess is the latter.

Philadelphia 31, New York Giants 20.  

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  0-1

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  6-7

Season (against the spread):  94-99

Season (straight up):  123-70

Week Eleven…

…welp (Keo!!!), we cannot start talking about Week Eleven of the NFL season without referencing that ugly scene in Cleveland on Thursday Night.

Unless you live in a cave, by now you certainly have heard that Browns defensive lineman Myles Garrett wound up and smashed Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with Rudolph’s own helmet.  This after Garrett was twisting Rudolph’s head by his face mask a bunch of different ways before tearing the helmet off completely.

Now, yeah, Rudolph “started it”, by trying to rip Garrett’s helmet off after Garrett took him down after a pass attempt.  Apparently, Rudolph was also ummmmmm…making sure Garrett spoke in a high voice for at least a short period of time. when they both eventually got up from that particular part of the play.

That’s a lot of what I have been hearing anyway.

But wait…didn’t Garrett really “start it”, by hauling Rudolph down somewhat forcefully even though the Steelers QB had already long released the pass?  That’s how I saw it.  But not hearing a bunch of that since games end.

Either way, both of these guys were in the wrong.  Just so happens that one of the guys was waaaaaaay more in the wrong than the other.

Now, I have no idea what was said during any of this.  But does it matter?

The game was essentially over and Garrett was a little aggressive on the initial takedown.  And if Rudolph took exception to that, can we blame him?

No…but he probably shouldn’t have “taken it to the next level”, so to speak.  That being said, Garrett shouldn’t have taken it a million levels further right after that.

Football is a violent game.  But what happened was a little over the top, for sure.

Garrett has already been suspended indefinitely by the league…for at least the rest of the season (including playoffs…as if the Browns are getting there.  But I guess it has to be said…in case a miracle happens and they do make it).  Kudos to the NFL for acting swiftly.  And one doesn’t hear the words “kudos to the NFL…” quite often.

If it were me, I’d also take him out for half a season next year.  Set some sort of huge precedent.

I know, some of the “real” criminals in the NFL have gotten lesser suspensions.  “Real” meaning, “done some serious stuff in real life off the field”.

But this one could have been catastrophic if the helmet hit Rudolph in the right place.  The NFL cannot control all of its players off of the field.  But sending a message here could hopefully help them control some things better on the field.

Then again, I’d take some of the more egregious criminals out of the league for life.  Like the domestic violence offenders for one.  A handful of others as well…drug dealers, weapons distributors, etc…but not someone who likes to smoke a little weed, that is.  But I digress…

Plus, though the popular narrative is that after the game, Garrett sounded contrite and all…I don’t know…not from what I saw.  He SAID all the right things.  But I wouldn’t say the way he carried himself during the interview showed a whole lot of contrition.  That’s my feeling anyway.

And whither Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers center who was last seen kicking Garrett in the helmet while Garrett laid on the ground?

Pouncey got suspended for 3 games, but I don’t believe enough has been made of this.  It’s ok to protect and support your quarterback.  But when is it ok to start kicking people in the head…even if the helmet was still on Garretts’ head?  I suppose we should also question what Pouncey was thinking when he initially tried to rain down haymakers…into a facemask…but we will leave that one alone.

In any event, I’d have tossed him for the season too.

Browns defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi got one game for pushing Rudolph down for no real reason…seems about right.

But maybe Rudolph deserves a game too?

Worth talking about anyway.

As for criminal charges, threatened by Rudolph’s agent yesterday?  On one hand, if that happened on the street, there would absolutely be legal action.

But if they start doing that on the field of play?  What kind of can of worms will that then open?

I mean, most of us laughed almost a decade ago, where in the NHL, Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara checked Montreal Canadien Max Pacioretty into a stanchion, resulting in a season ending injury for Pacioretty.  Well, we didn’t laugh at that specific play.  We laughed when there was a big uproar in Montreal, and Montreal law enforcement “took a look at it” and considered filing charges against Big Z.  Even though Chara was never suspended by the NHL.

No charges were filed, but we all thought the talk about that was kind of ridiculous.

I suppose that since that was a check and not something like someone waving a hockey stick around looking for blood makes it a different story.  And swinging a helmet around looking for blood may actually be that “different story”.

Just think about it though, the courts getting involved in stuff like that…stuff that happens on the field.  If it has happened somewhere at some point in the past, I am not sure I know about it.  So if it has, my bad.

But if it hasn’t, it’s not really something we all want.  To bring the justice system inside the playing field.  Speaking of “taking things to the next level”.  Not necessarily a good thing.  When boxers kill someone in the ring, they don’t go to jail, do they?  Ok, maybe not apples and oranges here, because boxers are SUPPOSED to be fighting.  But I think you get my point.

In any event, this situation was an eye-opener.  And hopefully, it actually did open some eyes.  Players past and present are saying the right things anyway.  That doesn’t hurt.

Let’s just hope those feelings last.

As for the rest of the games, short and sweet after that elongated opening:

Dallas (-3.5) at Detroit

I still don’t love the Cowboys.  But we are looking at Jeff Driskel instead of Matthew Stafford again this week.

Dallas 31, Detroit 13.  

Jacksonville at Indianapolis (-2.5)

Jacoby Brissett will be back, but so will Nick Foles.  Indy is still heading in the wrong direction.

Jacksonville 21, Indianapolis 17.  

Atlanta at Carolina (-5.5)

I’m not buying into any Falcon resurgence, despite the big win against New Orleans last week.

Carolina 27, Atlanta 21.

Buffalo (-5.5) at Miami

Look out for the Dolphins!!  Kind of…

Buffalo 23, Miami 20.  

Denver at Minnesota (-10.5)

Let down for the Vikes this week?  Broncos off a bye too.  But I don’t think so.

Minnesota 31, Denver 17.  

New York Jets at Washington (-1.5) 

Snooze.

Washington 17, New York Jets 13.  

Houston at Baltimore (-4.5) 

Texans off a bye, can they slow this Raven train down a bit?  Just a hunch.

Houston 34, Baltimore 31.  

New Orleans (-5.5) at Tampa Bay

Two weeks in a row for the Saints?  I doubt it.

New Orleans 38, Tampa Bay 31.  

Arizona at San Francisco (-13.5)

The Niners’ schedule gets significantly tougher in the second half of the season.  Maybe not yet, but this one could be close as well.

San Francisco 27, Arizona 24.

New England (-3.5) at Philadelphia

Super Bowl rematch?  Seriously??  I love it when things are marketed like this.  Actually, this time hasn’t been as bad as what usually happens.  Either way, the Eagles will be missing some key guys.  The Pats are off a bye and likely have been stewing about their first loss that happened right before it.  The doubters have been starting to come out.  The Pats usually respond to that.

New England 31, Philadelphia 17.  

Cincinnati at Oakland (-10.5)

The Raiders are a double-digit favorite??!  Ummmm, yup, against the Bengals they are.  Isn’t every team a double-digit favorite against the Bengals?

Oakland 27, Cincinnati 13.  Lock of the week.  (Raiders the lock??  Scary!!)

Chicago at Los Angeles Rams (-6.5)

The Bears have been muddling along all season.  But so haven’t the Rams.  Your guess is as good as mine here.

Los Angeles Rams 24, Chicago 23.  

Kansas City (-3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers

Not looking at much defense here.

Kansas City 38, San Diego 34.  

Week (against the spread):  1-0

Week (straight up):  1-0

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  5-5  

Season (against the spread):  75-74

Season (straight up):  97-52

Off To A Good Start…

…well, not for Week Two.  Not only was that game horrific to watch, but the Carolina Panthers really blew that game at the end.  What kind of crappy play call was that?  Still would have lost here, but not in my two entries for them as a part of two different knockout pools.  I suppose that’s what you get for trying to be cute…and for playing and putting in too many separate entries into waaaaaay too many of those pools…but I digress…

Two timeouts in a row called by Tampa Bay during that last stand?  Yikes!  Even an elementary school kid knows you can’t do that.  And the officials…yuck.  Just the whole thing.

Last year there were some entertaining Thursday Night Football games…for pretty much the first time.  Looks like we are reverting to what was the norm before that.  And that’s not a good thing.

I knew picking a Thursday Night division game is not a smart thing to do.  But I did it anyway…shame on me.  But maybe now I will learn?

In any event, the title refers to us not having a bad first week.  The picks against the spread could have been a smidge better.  But not too bad considering the first week is always tough to figure…I think anyway…

And no, I have nothing more to say on Antonio Brown.  I don’t think.

On to it…

Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) at Detroit

Matty Patricia can’t be too happy about his Lions blowing an 18 point 4th quarter lead last week.  But the Chargers may not be too happy needing overtime to beat an Indianapolis Colts team, who probably should be taking a step back this year after the sudden retirement of QB Andrew Luck.  Not to mention that the Chargers should have lost the game.  The normally reliable Adam Vinatieri missed a few kicks or else the Colts would have taken the game.  I expect Adam to bounce back ok, even though he is 127 years old.  He can’t be any worse than some of these stiff kickers floating around the league.  And I guarantee if he got cut, some other team would sign him if he still wanted to play.  But this isn’t the Indy game to pick here.  So back to the Chargers, who should be a pretty good team this season.  Detroit should not.

Los Angeles Chargers 27, Detroit 18.  

Indianapolis at Tennessee (-3.5)

We’ve covered Vinatieri already above.  And the Colts kind of.  This is the Titans’ first home game of the year.  No one expected Tennessee to blast Cleveland last week.  On the road.  Sure, I picked the Titans to win, but not by that landslide.  Cleveland is in for a dose of reality this year, I think.  But again, this isn’t the Browns pick.  The Titans may not be a Super Bowl contender, but they appear to be a solid team from top to bottom.  Especially if they get anything at all from quarterback Marcus Mariota.  Mariota hasn’t been anything special since he entered the league as a #2 overall pick.  Though he has been hurt…or at least banged up…a lot.  Even so, one would expect more from someone drafted that high.  Is the 5th year the charm?  Won’t know for sure for a while.  But it looks like he has some support.  As for more on Indy, quarterback Jacoby Brissett hasn’t embarrassed himself as a starting QB in the league when he’s been out there thus far in his career.  But it remains to be seen if he can take them to the next level like Luck was supposed to this year.  There is still some talent on this team, however.

Tennessee 24, Indianapolis 17.

Jacksonville at Houston (-8.5)

Nick Foles, we hardly knew ye!  Yeah, he will be back, but not for a while.  So that’s reason enough to take the Texans here.  Maybe Gardner Minshew (who??!) can get it done.  His numbers were actually pretty good when he came on in relief of Foles last week.  But who is going to count on that for a second week?  Not me.  Though some bad coaching decisions by the Texans play callers down the stretch against the Saints left a lot to be desired.  The Texans are the more talented team all around, division game be damned.

Houston 31, Jacksonville 13.

San Francisco at Cincinnati (-0.5) 

The Bungles actually played Seattle close last week, much to everyone’s surprise.  Maybe this new Zac Taylor cat is a vast improvement over the dearly departed Marvin Lewis.  That wouldn’t take much though.  We will see what happens in Week Two.  I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon yet.  I have more faith in the Niners at this point, for really no good reason at all honestly.

San Francisco 27, Cincinnati 24.

Buffalo (-2.5) at New York Giants

The Giants were putrid last week.  The Bills won, but they played the Jets.  I’m not sure anyone in New York state even cares about this game.  That’s all I have on this one Pete, sorry…

New York Giants 20, Buffalo 17.

New England (-18.5) at Miami 

Normally I get a little nervous about the Pats going to Miami, especially in the September heat.  This is not one of those years though.  Miami has just about gutted its team and is in full blown tank mode…as everyone knows.  The Patriots could score 60 in this game…Antonio Brown or no Antonio Brown…but they won’t.  They will pile on points early but will let up on former Bill Belichick assistant Brian Flores.  Start running the ball a ton.  Then again, the ‘Phins gave up a lot of yards on the ground last week as well.

New England 38, Miami 7.  Lock of the week…how can it not be??

Dallas (-4.5) at Washington 

Another game last week that was closer than expected…the ‘Skins losing to the Eagles only by five.  After leading 20-7 at the half, to boot.  The ‘Boys were stout…albeit against the G-Men.  Adrian Peterson should be back in the saddle for Washington.  But I don’t know if that should be considered a good thing.  I’m feeling more of the same for Dallas this week.  And Zeke will be a little more up to speed.  That can’t hurt.

Dallas 41, Washington 20.

Minnesota at Green Bay (-2.5) 

The Vikes threw 10 passes last week in their easy win over Atlanta.  TEN?!  The Packers scored 10 points in their opener against the Bears.  Minny will have to throw more than 10 passes in this game.  But I also expect the Pack to score more than 10 points as well.  They will have had a week and a half to prepare for this one.  That alone may give them the edge.

Green Bay 27, Minnesota 24.

Seattle at Pittsburgh (-3.5)

The Steelers looked wretched last week against the Patriots.  Seattle barely beat what is usually a very average Bengal squad…at home  So what the hell to do here?  Welp, the Seahawks going cross country doesn’t help them here.  And Pittsburgh cannot be THAT bad, can they?  As average as Mike Tomlin is as a coach, one thing he is supposedly good at is firing up the troops.  Hard for me to believe Pitt. falls to 0-2 to start the year.  Especially with this being their home opener.

Pittsburgh 34, Seattle 27. 

Arizona at Baltimore (-13.5)

Helluva comeback by the Cards last week, albeit against the Lions.  Baltimore isn’t going to score 59 points every week either.  Lamar Jackson sure as hell ain’t gonna throw for 5 TD’s every week either.  But the Ravens can run the ball as well.  In the Ravens home opener, I expect another blowout is at hand.  Even if they run the ball 80% of the time.

Baltimore 34, Arizona 14.

Kansas City (-8.5) at Oakland 

THE RAIDERS!!  Nice win for them in their opener on the baseball field.  Maybe they don’t need Antonio Brown?  Well, let’s not get carried away.  They still need a lot of help.  And their opponent was the Denver Broncos last week.  No powerhouse for sure.  Now they get an actual powerhouse in the Chiefs.  The Chiefs D gave up 22-25, 275 yards and 2 TD’s to the aforementioned Minshaw, so I guess the defense is still less than impressive.  But the offense, even without Tyreek Hill, should be still pretty tough to stop.

Kansas City 38, Oakland 27.  

Chicago (-1.5) at Denver

Yaaaaaaaawn.  Mitchell Trubisky and Joseph Flacco.  No thanks.  The Bears have had a week and a half to improve upon the three points they scored in that scintillating NFL opener.  And their D is legit.  That’s enough right there.

Chicago 24, Denver 10. 

New Orleans at Los Angeles Rams (-2.5)

Looking forward to this one.  Both teams squeaked out wins in their opening games.  The Saints undoubtedly want some revenge on that abhorrent noncall in the NFC Championship game that may very well have cost them the game…although they did have the ball to start overtime, so realistically could have overcome that call with a TD drive there.  Just sayin’.  But still, it was a bad no call.  “Revenge” is also said here very loosely.  I mean Week Two vs a trip to the Super Bowl last year?  Far different circumstances of course.  That all being said, this tilt should be a pretty good one.  Per usual, I am going against the previous Monday Night Football winner and also with the home team here.  The game should pretty close, so these two things are kind of enough to tip the scales for me.

Los Angeles Rams 37, New Orleans 34.

Philadelphia (-0.5) at Atlanta 

The Falcons laid an egg in their opener.  As mentioned earlier, Philly had to come back against the ‘Skins.  The Falcons should be better, despite their coach, Dan Quinn, being on many “first NFL coaches to be fired” lists.  Still, even with Atlanta at home, I’m taking the Eagles.  Think Philly is the better overall squad.  And D-Jax hasn’t seemed to miss a beat in his return to Philadelphia.

Philadelphia 31, Atlanta 21.  

Cleveland (-2.5) at New York Jets

The Browns are up against huge expectations across the league this year…and fell flat on their face in Week One.  I am not on board with those expectations, as you well know.  But they still should be competitive.  Two words for you on this one:  Trevor Siemian.  That’s all.

Cleveland 34, New York Jets 14.  

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  0-1

Lock Of The Week (season):  1-0

Season (against the spread):  9-8

Season (straight up):  14-3

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