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Taking One On The Chin…

…yikes…brutal week picking games last week for the Blowhard.  Well, not exactly brutal, but not coming up roses either.  Tough week to take a step back, what with year-long pools winding down and progress needing to be made to win some “points”.

In any event, we move on…

Not much to say about the New England Patriots either.  Not because there isn’t anything to talk about with Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.  But because the Blowhard was at the game live and can’t say he studied the game film since then to note the finer points of the game.

We will say that it was a nice win…but wait, was it?  The Vikings were supposed to be a pretty good team this year.  They were last year.  Then they signed a gazillion dollar quarterback.  Their young stud running back came back healthy.  Two filthy receivers.  And a stout defense.  To name a few.

So why are they only 6-5-1?  No idea.  We can’t say we watch a ton of Viking football or even read the stories by their beat writers.

But we can say here that we will take the win, nice or not.  The Pats D did seem to step up.  Are they finally on the right track?  Who knows?  Any step forward here in December is welcome, however.

But with the next two games on the road, which hasn’t exactly been kind to them this year, we will see if Sunday was actually a “step up”.  Miami stinks, but the Pats have had their share of problems down there over the years.  Not one of Tom Brady’s favorite places to play, regardless of how bad the ‘Phins have been in the 2000s.  At least this tilt is in December and not September.  Methinks the Pats win, but more on that in the next column.

Then…at Pittsburgh.  We know how explosive the Steelers can be.  Despite their being in a little tailspin as we speak.  The Patriots always seem to do well against Pitt., home or away.  But again, this year has been different in so many ways.  So we shall see.

The Blowhard still has some confidence in this team, despite the many holes that haven’t existed in recent years.  But sending a message the next couple of weeks would go a long way to justifying that confidence.

Jacksonville at Tennessee (-4.5)  

Tennessee won a riveting 9-6 matchup back in Week Three on the Jaguars’ home field.  What can we expect this time in Tennessee?  Welp, the Jags are 2-7 since, including a scintillating 6-0 win over Indianapolis Sunday.  The Titans are mediocre at best and needed a huge comeback from 16 down at home to top the wretched New York Jets this past week.  I’m looking forward to this atrocity…er, I mean, huge Thursday Night Football divisional battle!!  Watch, it probably will end up being a good game, because it isn’t supposed to be…but I’m not gonna bet on it.  For real anyway.

Tennessee 13, Jacksonville 10.  

Week (against the spread):  7-9

Week (straight up):  10-6

Season (against the spread):  103-89

Season (straight up):  121-71

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Cordarrelle Patterson…

…why do we need to talk about him?  I don’t know.  I guess I just feel like I have something to say.  I have no idea why I actually care.

For the past couple weeks, this dude has taken a beating on local talk radio.  Why?  I’m trying to figure it out.

I mean, the guy only plays a handful of snaps every game.  Why are people so focused on him?

The reason is that because the New England Patriots have been shorthanded at running back in recent weeks, they have been handing Patterson the ball.  Seems a little odd, since he has had no experience running the ball in his career…other than like jet sweeps or something of the like.  Never, to most people’s knowledge, just taking a handoff and trying to run through the line.

Most of the time, he looks like someone who is a receiver playing running back.  But he had a long run one week.  And five carries on one great drive the other week.  Not horrible.

As long as he holds onto the ball, which he has thus far, why does anyone even care if he does this?

It’s a short-term fix until regular the running backs that are injured come back…Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead, in particular.  They don’t have to risk losing a player they like by releasing them and picking up a real running back (although they could have released someone like Geneo Grissom a couple of weeks ago and not have been affected at all, I will allow for that).  But it’s not like the Pats are giving Patterson 25 carries.  They are kind of spotting him in at times.  What’s wrong with that?

One retort has been that they have a real running back on the roster, Kenjon Barner, and aren’t giving him the carries instead.  Barner, Patterson…what’s the difference really?  Just because Barner has played running back in his career, does that mean he is actually any good at it?  I would say not particularly.  He has been on and off this roster like 3 times this year.  Not to mention is a journeyman in the first place.

Listen, Patterson is kind of a gimmick player.  His reputation throughout his NFL career is that he has no idea how to run routes.  Kind of a bad thing in this system, you know, with Tom Brady wanting perfection and all.

But he can add something to the team for sure.  Picking spots for him when the time is ideal.  Running a (very) few routes.  Returning kicks.  Jet sweeps.  And now giving him the ball out of the backfield a bit.  Why not?  How many times is he actually going to touch the ball in any given game?  And how many plays is he really going to be in for the game as well?

Some would argue that he is a waste of 3 plus mil.  Maybe.  But he’s only signed for the rest of this year.  And I will tell you the team is wasting 3 plus mil on players like Dwayne Allen, Chris Hogan and Duron Harmon, to name a few.  Not to mention 12 mil on Devin McCourty, who has played very poorly this year in my eyes.

What kills me is that whenever the Patriots experiment with other guys playing different positions, they are often lauded.  Troy Brown and Julian Edelman at cornerback to name the biggest ones.

But has everyone forgotten that they stuck Aaron Hernandez in the backfield at one point too?  That seemed to be an unusual choice too.  And didn’t look natural.  But he had a few good runs when he did it.

Why is it different for Patterson?

Again, I can’t believe I care.  But I feel a lot better now that I got it off my chest…

Carolina at Pittsburgh (-4.5)  

I’m so tired of hearing about Le’Veon Bell.  Aren’t you?  Now there are reports that he has been spotted working out in a Pittsburgh gym.  Who cares at this point?  The Steelers have won four in a row and have a running back named James Conner tearing it up.  Over 700 rushing yards and 1,000 combined rushing and receiving yards in 8 games.  Shouldn’t this make Bell look worse?  That some dude no one had really heard of came right in and is piling up yards.  Bell is a great player.  But it looks like he doesn’t really matter to Pittsburgh’s success…yet anyway.  I can’t wait until his reporting deadline passes.  Hopefully, he doesn’t show and loses a ton of money.  So what if he takes a year off and is fresh next year.  Will he really be?  I’m just thinking he threw a year of earnings away.  And a year of his career.  But I hope he’s happy.

That’s waaaaay too many words for one day about Bell and Patterson.  As for the game, did you realize that the Steelers are only 2-2 at home (3-0-1 on the road)?  Me neither.  Carolina is 5-0 at home.  But tonight they are not at home.  I’m not really buying into the Panthers anyway.  Everyone seems to rave about this Christian McCaffrey guy.  But every time I see him he is being stuffed at the line or is catching a 4-yard pass.  The guy apparently has talent, but I’m not sure I would have taken him eighth overall last year.  But the Panthers are 6-2 this year, so what the hell do I know?

Pittsburgh 34, Carolina 27.

Week (against the spread):  9-4

Week (straight up):  10-3

Season (against the spread):  71-63

Season (straight up):  87-47

Week Three…

…making this weeks’ picks during the Thursday Night Jets/Browns game while wondering:  1) How Tyrod Taylor could start any game over Baker Mayfield…or any QB for that matter.  2)  Can Mayfield keep this up?  3)  The Jets were the opposition so it could be unlikely Mayfield’s performance actually means squat.  4) even though when Mayfield starts next week against the likely 0-3 Raiders, I can’t help but see one of those 11-35, 134 yards, 1 TD, 4 INT games coming…and even 5) I didn’t hear Jamie Collins’ name much all night.  So did he get his money and make himself invisible like many predicted?  Hmmmmm… Oh yeah, and for the postgame 6)  Future Hall of Fame left tackle Joe Thomas certainly looks just a hair smaller, no?  Funny how that happens…

San Francisco at Kansas City (-6.5)

Is Patrick Mahomes for real?  Is Jimmy Football grossly overpaid and overrated?  Too early to tell for either.  But the Chiefs are tough to beat at home.  They also have some serious weapons.  The Niners appear to have no weapons whatsoever.  Tough schedule for the Niners to start with to boot.  Spread may seem kind of high on the surface.  But it’s probably legit.  Vegas knows…

Kansas City 30, San Francisco 20.

Denver at Baltimore (-5.5)

Speaking of high spreads, Denver is actually 2-0 and Baltimore is 1-1, but their one win was against a pathetic Buffalo Bill team.  So does that really count as a win?  But you know what?  I’m feeling the Ravens.  I have no idea why.

Baltimore 27, Denver 21.

New York Giants at Houston (-5.5) 

The Texans are 0-2.  They are supposed to be in the playoff mix.  Deshaun Watson may not yet be back to full strength.  But maybe this is the week?  G-Men?  Please.

Houston 24, New York Giants 13.

Oakland at Miami (-3.5)

Miami is 2-0.  How fraudulent is that?  Extremely.  But you know what?  It’s going to take time for Jon Gruden to make something of this Raider team, if he even ever does.  So it appears the Dolphins will be 3-0, much to my chagrin.

Miami 20, Oakland 14.

Green Bay (-2.5) at Washington

I have no idea why I am doing what I am doing here.  Let’s leave it at that.

Washington 27, Green Bay 24.

Indianapolis at Philadelphia (-6.5)

I also have no idea why I am doing what I am doing on this one.  Other than the fact that I expect Carson Wentz to be rusty.  That’s all I have.

Philadelphia 24, Indianapolis 23.

Cincinnati at Carolina (-3.5)

Is anyone buying the Bengals’ 2-0 start?  I’m not sure I can.  Despite the fact they are playing the abundantly average Panthers.

Carolina 20, Cincinnati 16.

Tennessee at Jacksonville (-6.5) 

Marcus Mariota may play, he may not.  Will it matter?  Well, it should be worse with Blaine Gabbert at the helm.  Will Jax have a letdown after their apparent Super Bowl win over the Patriots in Week Two?  Perhaps.  But again…Gabbert…

Jacksonville 38, Tennessee 17.

New Orleans at Atlanta (-3.5) 

There are “experts” that picked the Saints to go to the Super Bowl.  That may well still happen.  But a pretty uninspiring start to the season.  Speaking of uninspiring starts to the season, you can very well say the Falcons fall into that group as well.  That all being said, I feel like this is where New Orleans start ramping it up.  I don’t know why I feel that way.  It’s Week Three for the Blowhard after all.  We don’t have all the answers yet either.

New Orleans 31, Atlanta 24.

Buffalo at Minnesota (-16.5) 

The Bills are REALLY bad.  The Vikes are mad after their stupid tie last week and they went out and got a new kicker.  But he won’t matter this week.

Minnesota 52, Buffalo 10.  

Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams (-7.5) 

The Chargers seem to have a pretty good team.  The Rams have been absolutely otherworldly so far this season.  One thing is for sure…is there really going to be any “home field advantage”?

Los Angeles Rams 31, Los Angeles Chargers 27.

Dallas at Seattle (-2.5) 

No way the Seahawks go 0-3.  Being at home after two road games to start the year should take care of that.

Seattle 30, Dallas 17.  

Chicago (-5.5) at Arizona  

The Cardinals have scored 6 points in 2 games.  SIX.  And given up 58.  ‘Nuff said.

Chicago 27, Arizona 13.

New England (-6.5) at Detroit

The Patriots, per usual, are finding their way the first month of the season.  Will the rest of the season be different based on all the crap going on down in Foxborough these days?  Maybe.  But not this week.  Matty Patricia is having his own issues in Detroit.  That being said, the Pats defense apparently still is putrid.  Two of their better players in Trey Flowers and Patrick Chung are unlikely to play this week.  Eric Rowe is likely to play, which is bad enough, but he also apparently has a tender groin.  So the Lions should put up some points I would imagine.  Whether Josh Gordon plays or not, I think this is the week the Pats offense makes some real noise as well.

New England 41, Detroit 31.

Pittsburgh (-1.5) at Tampa Bay

Fitzmagic has had a nice run.  The Bucs are 2-0 and are at home.  The Steelers have been scuffling to start the season.  Le’Veon Bell is still not in the building.  You know what that means.

Pittsburgh 38, Tampa Bay 27.

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  0-1

Season (against the spread):  13-20

Season (straight up):  16-17

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