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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

NFL = No F’ng cLue??

Ok, that title was a reach.

But the point is, the NFL just isn’t what it’s supposed to be this season:

To wit:

*After the New England Patriots’ 8-0 start, the masses (especially locally) were all ready to hand them their 7th Lombardi Trophy.  Despite getting all of those wins against horrendous competition.  After getting smoked by the Baltimore Ravens a week and a half ago, the first legitimate team they have played, now the masses (especially locally) are fretting about the rest of the season.  Like they are going to finish 11-5 or something.

*Kansas City has 4 losses.  Sure, Patrick Mahomes was out for a stretch.  But he came back and threw for almost 450 yards and the Chiefs still lost.  Their defense is ghastly.

*Lots of backup QBs are in the mix now.  The Saints had a nice stretch from Teddy Bridgewater.  The Titans are getting some production out of Ryan Tannehill.  The Jaguars got a little boost from Gardner Minshew II.  Carolina and Pittsburgh are having some success with Kyle Allen and Mason Rudolph, respectively.  Those are the good stories.  Some kids such as Ryan Finley, Brandon Allen and Dwayne Haskins have recently taken over so who knows?  But some of these backups have come in and been pretty good, surprisingly enough.  I’m sure it has happened, but I am not sure I remember so many different QBs playing in one season.  Even “long time consecutive start” guys like Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford have missed time this season.  Interesting to me anyway.

*The Rams seem to have more than the proverbial “Super Bowl loser hangover”.

*Seattle is only 3-2 at home, but 5-0 on the road.  The Chiefs are 2-3 at home and 4-1 on the road.  Not typical.

*Kirk Cousins took a lot of heat in September.  Now the Vikings are 7-3 and aren’t looking so bad after all.

*Lamar Jackson looked like he couldn’t play for a high school team in last years’ playoffs.  Now he has a real shot at an MVP award.

*Buffalo is 6-3.  This could change for sure.  But still shocking.

*San Francisco is 8-1.  Similar to the Pats, they haven’t faced very many powerhouses either.  So we will see where they finish after their rough stretch the rest of the season.  Still…8-1?

*The kickers are more abysmal than ever.  Once they moved the extra point line back a few years ago, kickers started wetting themselves all over the place.  But this year?  Just truly awful.  Led by Adam Vinatieri.  Sure, Adam is like 127 years old.  But he still kicks mostly indoors.  And he has missed like 13 kicks this season.  He is only the tip of the iceberg, however.  The kicking is worse than ever.

*The Miami Dolphins are supposed to be tanking, right?  Didn’t they trade and/or release a lot of veterans prior to and even during the season?  And acquire a whole slew of draft picks?  So what the hell are they doing winning two in a row?

*The Raiders are over .500 and competitive??  This could be the most surprising development of the 2019 NFL season.

I am sure there are more…and more specific examples of course.  But that’s at least a capsule look at some of the crazy stuff going on in the league in the 2019 season.

Pittsburgh at Cleveland (-2.5)

The Steelers have won 5 of 6, though not against Murderer’s Row by anyone’s count.  The Browns have lost 4 of 5 and have looked fairly pathetic all year.  Thursday Night game, divisional matchup.  You know what that means.

Cleveland 21, Pittsburgh 17.  

Week (against the spread):  7-6

Week (straight up):  7-6

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  5-5

Season (against the spread):  74-74

Season (straight up):  96-52

Bye Bye…

…to that awful loss Sunday night.  Plus…it’s a bye week for the New England Patriots.  What can I say?  I have a tremendous way with words and titles and all that!!

Ok, all kidding aside, that loss was brutal.  I guess any loss is brutal when it doesn’t happen often for this outfit.

But this one stank in particular.

The Baltimore Ravens handed them a beating.  Only a pair of their own turnovers helped keep the Pats in the game.  So yeah, New England came back and then Julian Edelman fumbled to give the Ravens a nice 11 point cushion again.  But the Ravens turnovers allowed the Pats to even get back in the game.

Then the defense fell apart late to watch Baltimore win going away.

Ssssssoooo…what happened?

Still trying to figure that one out.

But it didn’t hurt that the Ravens had a bye week beforehand.  And were at home.

Was the New England defense reading their own press clippings?  That “Boogeymen” nonsense?  Perhaps.

I figured that the Pats would be able to stop Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.  At least make him throw to beat them.

I know, NO ONE has really stopped Jackson this season.  So I suppose that was wishful thinking.

But doesn’t Bill Belichick and the defensive staff usually figure this type of stuff out?  Stop the best player and make other lesser pieces beat them?

That obviously didn’t happen.

Jackson ran at will, the running backs ran at will and Jackson even made some throws.

Teams have been running on the Pats recently and that is a little bit of a concern.  Would Michael Bennett have made a difference?  I would have loved to keep Bennett around, as I have said before, but helping against the run in this game would have been doubtful.  His forte is rushing the passer of course.

I believe that the defense will take this dose of humble pie and fix the issues.  There is still plenty of talent on that side of the ball.  The bye week will help them there.  But we all know the defense will not look as good against the talented teams they play the next four games as it had looked when it played the cupcakes the first 8 weeks.  That is no secret.  But they will be better than last Sunday night.  I’d bet the house on that.

The offense hopefully will take this bye week and make some adjustments as well.  Because most of their success came while running the no huddle offense against the Ravens.  Doubtful that can be sustainable throughout the rest of the season.

Especially when the quarterback only throws to Edelman and Mohamed Sanu.

In addition to the offensive line shoring things up across the board (this is the crux of all the problems, how can it not be?), Tom Brady HAS to start acknowledging that he needs to spread the ball around more.  Sure, Edelman will remain the “go to” guy.  And it’s great that Brady has gained immediate trust in Sanu.  But there are other options.

Are you telling me that Phillip Dorsett, Ben Watson, Rex Burkhead, et al were never open last week?  That sounds ridiculous to me.  And…Brady barely threw to James White either.  That was weird.

I truly believe there are enough weapons in this offense to succeed.  But Brady seems to be as stubborn as ever these days.

N’Keal Harry needs to factor in going forward.  First round pick this year, was inactive his first game back.  I hope that he and Brady are spending some extra time together on the bye week.  Because I would think Harry could be an asset.  But not if Brady won’t even look his way.

My guess is that Harry takes Jakobi Meyers’ spot on the game day roster when they resume play.  That’s a little unfortunate as well.  Meyers seemed to be showing great progress and now has completely disappeared with the acquisition of Sanu.  That all being said, there is no guarantee Tom throws to N’Keal, even if he suits up.  That would be a little depressing.

They still need to make Sony Michel somewhat of a threat to catch the ball.  Running the wrong routes and dropping passes won’t help, as Michel can attest to.  But they need to still TRY.  Michel in the open field can be dangerous…or is supposed to be anyway.  Still haven’t seen a lot of that burst he supposedly had in college.  But the line hasn’t given him any holes to run through, so there’s that.

Some people have said that the Patriots held plays back or that Belichick “threw the game in the interest of the long haul…”  Seems like a bunch of garbage to me.  Yeah, the Pats didn’t necessarily run plays like Edelman throwing to Sanu (or vice versa?) or anything along those lines.  But holding stuff out of a game plan?  Isn’t the goal to win?  They may not even see the Ravens again this year, so what difference does it make?  Save it for later against the Chiefs or something?  Wouldn’t they just come up with another play that week?

And “throwing the game”?  Well, Bill didn’t want them focusing on 19-0 and wanted to lose a game and was a genius to do it before a bye week so he can ride them hard for two weeks and refocus on the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl…etc., etc., etc.  Sounds like a bunch of crap there to me as well.

19-0 would have been awesome.  Probably the last thing for Brady and Belichick to accomplish.  And they did have a shot.  But it’s not the end of the world.  The ultimate prize is a ring.  So it is much more important to go for that.

But losing on purpose to set the team straight?  Seems way far-fetched to me.  Especially when the Buffalo Bills keep winning and are still actually on their tail in the division, as amazing that even is for me to write this.  Now, I am not afraid of the Bills at all.  But they are still there.  So the Pats need to keep winning regardless.

The Patriots just seemed to catch the Ravens at a bad time for them and an advantageous one for Baltimore.  Plus…Baltimore is a good team.  And coach John Harbaugh has had some past success against the Pats.

Kind of a perfect storm, if you will.

My guess is that they lose one of the next four anyway and finish 14-2.

So I am not too worried about this loss.  And you shouldn’t be either.

We are on to Philadelphia…

Los Angeles Chargers (-1.5) at Oakland

This one can actually be sneaky good, another amazing thing for me to say.  The Chargers were dead and buried at 2-5 a couple of weeks ago.  Now they have won two straight, including a trouncing of previously 7-1 Green Bay last weekend.  On the strength of like 10 field goals, but whatever.  The Raiders are a kind of surprising 4-4 as we speak.  Surprising to me anyway.  Kansas City will still likely run away with the division, but these two teams are squarely in the wild card mix as we speak.  Anything can happen on Thursday Night Football, as we well know.  Especially with divisional games.  The Chargers SHOULD be the better team.  Oakland is at home, though it’s not like the Chargers have to fly cross country.  LA may be due for a regression after their big GB win.  But I’m still going with them in this one.  Nothing really scientific here.  Just another gut feeling…which, by the way, hasn’t gone all that great for the Blowhard this season.  But again…whatever…

Los Angeles Chargers 27, Oakland 24.

Week (against the spread):  7-7

Week (straight up):  8-6

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  4-5

Season (against the spread):  68-67

Season (straight up):  90-45

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