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Week Fourteen…

So I know this is generally a football pick column…and it will be eventually…but we would be remiss if we didn’t give some comments on the Boston Red Sox re-signing of Nathan Eovaldi earlier this week.

For a quick refresher, this is what we wrote about a month ago:

“…The way Major League Baseball is trending, with “bullpen games”, the Sox technically don’t have to do anything here next year.  WHAAAAAAAT???!!  WHAT ABOUT EOVALDI??!!  Nate Eovaldi has a special place in my heart for the way he pitched in the postseason this year.  He always will.  Especially that relief appearance in Game 3 of the World Series…in a game they actually lost.  What an effort though.  A guy with past arm trouble and free agency looming could have easily begged out of that game at any point…even at the beginning, seeing he had pitched in relief the first two games.  He didn’t and became somewhat of a legend.

But give him 15-20 mil a year for 4-5 years?  I’m not so sure about that.  Seems like a risk.  Past arm problems.  But more importantly, past mediocrity.  44-53, 4.16 career heading into his age-29 season.  Love the guy to death.  But I think I am passing…”

Has my opinion changed?  Actually, no.  All around.  Still will love the guy, no question.  But not backing up the Brinks truck for him.  Above all, he just hasn’t taken the ball enough in his career.

Turns out ol’ Nate got right about in the middle of what we had mentioned, about 17 per.  A lot of dough seemingly just to reward someone for one postseason.

On the surface, this must slot Eovaldi into the 3rd or 4th slot in the rotation for 2019.  Chris Sale and David Price go 1-2, Eovaldi and Rick Porcello go 3-4 and Eduardo Rodriguez would be 5.  Steven Wright, Hector Velasquez and Brian Johnson give you 6-8 depth.  Can’t complain about that staff on paper certainly.

The salaries?  Listen, the Sox can spend whatever they want.  We know this.  John Henry ain’t hurting for funds.  BUT…Price 31, Porcello 21 plus, Nate 17, Sale 15…heavy.  E-Rod probably gets a nice bump in arbitration as well…because…everyone always does in that process.

Some have speculated that maybe Eovaldi may close this season, what with the likely departure of Craig Kimbrel.  Unlikely.  Good closers may approach the 17 mil per.  But we don’t even know if Nate can be a good closer…he’s never done it.  And with his injury history, not sure the Sox should even consider it.  Despite his bullpen efforts in the postseason last season.

One thing it does tell me?  Either Sale or Porcello will be allowed to walk after the 2019 season.  And you heard it here first:  The Blowhard believes that there is a greater likelihood that Porcello will be back in 2020 than Sale.  Sale is clearly the better pitcher.  By far.  But with his health history, will they shell out probably over 25 million per for that uncertainty?  Heading into his age-31 season?  Not so sure.  The team babied him more than ever last year.  And he threw a mere 158 innings.

As mediocre as Porcello can be, he takes the ball every turn.  He will also be heading into his age-31 season.  The Sox may be willing to give him another 20 plus for a few years than 25-30 plus for Sale over likely more seasons.

Sounds silly, but let’s see how it plays out.

In summary, we obviously don’t love the Eovaldi deal.  Just a little too much risk for me.  But it’s not my money.  And after dissecting things a little more, it may not be completely insane.

Again, let’s see how all this plays out in 2019.

And if they win another World Series, I guess who gives a rat’s ass?

As for football:

Carolina (-1.5) at Cleveland 

Carolina has lost 4 in a row and is 1-5 on the road.  I really want to pick the Browns here.  But…I can’t…

Carolina 23, Cleveland 20.

New York Jets at Buffalo (-3.5)

Brutal.

Buffalo 17, New York Jets 13.

New York Giants at Washington (-1.5)  

Mark Sanchez.  And Josh Johnson.

Nice!

I know, Odell Beckham Jr. is not playing.  But it shouldn’t matter.  Let’s also talk for a second about Colin Kaepernick.  Washington is taking a lot of heat for signing those aforementioned stiffs over Kaep.  Welp, I can see both sides.  First off, a team would really have to change a great deal of their offense to sign and play Colin.  And with a mere four games left, is it worth it?  Johnson may be the literal definition of “journeyman”.  But he has a history with Redskins coach Jay Gruden.  That does matter, unfortunately.

One thing people fail to consider is the fact that Kaepernick is actually not very good.  And now he hasn’t played since 2016, where he “led” the Niners to a 1-10 record in his appearances.  Sure, there are so many bad backup QB’s in the league, he probably deserves a job somewhere.  But we have also heard, and maybe inaccurately, that he has had opportunities to sign…and they weren’t for enough money to his liking so he passed.  Yeah, this last point could be bogus.  But I’m not ruling anything out with this guy.

Bottom line, Kaep still stinks and hasn’t played in two years.  He’s probably good enough to hold a clipboard on some team…if he wants to.  But would it really make a difference in Washington?  That’s for everyone else to decide, not me…

New York Giants 20, Washington 13.

Atlanta at Green Bay (-5.5) 

Let’s now see if it was Mike McCarthy or Aaron Rodgers.

Green Bay 38, Atlanta 24.

New Orleans (-8.5) at Tampa Bay

After that dud last Thursday against the Cowboys and the early season loss to the Bucs at home, this feels like some kind of hurtin’ is about to be put on.

New Orleans 45, Tampa Bay 20.

Baltimore at Kansas City (-6.5) 

Are the Ravens someone to worry about as we head toward the playoffs?

Baltimore 37, Kansas City 34.

New England (-8.5) at Miami 

The Pats…and Tom Brady, in particular, have been putrid down in Miami in recent years.  Even though the Dolphins ain’t very good, they will most assuredly keep it close.  I almost want to pick them to win.  But the Pats need this one.

New England 30, Miami 24.

Indianapolis at Houston (-4.5)

If you asked me last week, I would have picked the Colts here to end Houston’s 9 game winning streak.  But not after that putridness against the Jags a week ago.

Houston 34, Indianapolis 28

Denver (-5.5) at San Francisco

The Broncos are still in the mix…amazingly enough.  Losing Manny Sanders will hurt.  But not this week.

Denver 27, San Francisco 17.

Cincinnati at Los Angeles Chargers (-14.5)

The Bungles are cratering.  Seems like too many points here though, even for the Chargers at home.

Los Angeles Chargers 34, Cincinnati 20. 

Detroit (-2.5) at Arizona

I read something Saturday about Matt Patricia’s “father-son” relationship with Chandler Jones.  I was moved.  Really.  But maybe it’s because I read it right after I smoked some synthetic weed and ran shirtless to the local police station.  Oh wait…

Detroit 24, Arizona 14.

Philadelphia at Dallas (-4.5)  

Winner of this one takes the NFC East in my opinion.  Although…maybe not.  Before I looked at the remaining schedules, I had a feeling that the Eagles were ready to make a run.  Then I saw they play at LA Rams and then at home against the Texans after the Cowboys (finishing against the Redskins in Washington).  While the Cowboys play the Colts, Bucs and G-Men.  Advantage:  Dallas.

Dallas 27, Philadelphia 24.  

Pittsburgh (-11.5) at Oakland

The Steelers should win this game pretty handily.  But the way they are playing, who the hell knows?

Pittsburgh 38, Oakland 31. 

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Chicago 

Can’t say I’m completely on the Bears’ bandwagon.  Whatever.

Los Angeles Rams 34, Chicago 24.

Minnesota at Seattle (-3.5)  

The Seahawks will be rolling into the playoffs.  The Vikes aren’t impressing anyone.  ‘Hawks are at home.  We are all pumped and jacked!!

Seattle 31, Minnesota 20.  

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  1-0

Season (against the spread):  103-90

Season (straight up):  122-71

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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

Week Thirteen…

As we write this, the Kansas City Chiefs have just released Kareem Hunt after TMZ published a video of Hunt shoving a woman.  I suppose the initial thought is that we should give kudos to the Chiefs for acting decisively.  They could have just left him on the Commissioner’s Exempt List for however long they had to.  Then they could have waited out his likely suspension.  After all that, they could have welcomed him back with open arms and given us all some crap like “Kareem has learned from this experience” and “Kareem is a different man these days, that is all in the past”.  And a whole slew of similar nonsense.

But…this happened in February.  Almost a year ago.  And Hunt and the Chiefs apparently both (quietly?) commented on it in August, with no one expecting any suspensions.

Had no one, including the police, seen this video until Friday afternoon?  Hard for me to believe.  As usual, no one in this situation reacted until they got caught publicly, so to speak.  Unbelievable.  Well, kind of believable, since that is basically human nature.

The NFL certainly hasn’t learned, what with this being kinda similar to the Ray Rice fiasco.  Nothing then until the video surfaced.  So they are looking good…again.  What a surprise.

Probably a matter of time before Hunt finds a new team.  I mean, Reuben Foster got a job pretty quickly last week after being cut from the 49ers after yet another arrest related to domestic violence.

We all know that talent, especially young talent, will cause teams to overlook red flags in a player, no matter how serious those red flags actually are.  But maybe someone is finally made an example of.  Maybe.

I’m not counting on it.

Indianapolis (-3.5) at Jacksonville 

Cody Kessler replaces the embattled Blake Bortles.  Jalen Ramsey may not play.  This ship had already been sinking, but I always thought the Jags would start clawing back to respectability.  Now, it’s hard for me to believe that.  Indy and Andrew Luck are rolling and it’s likely to continue for the road team.  I mean, how could anyone possibly pick the Jags now (famous last words, of course)?

Indianapolis 31, Jacksonville 17.

Cleveland at Houston (-4.5)

The Browns are improving.  But they are not there yet.

Houston 27, Cleveland 20.

Buffalo at Miami (-5.5)  

Yuck.

Miami 23, Buffalo 18.

Arizona at Green Bay (-14.5) 

Huge spread, even if one is playing the Cardinals.  The Pack has been up and down, but that may be because they are 0-6 on the road.  They definitely need this one to stay in the mix.  I don’t expect the Cards to put up much of a fight on a December Sunday in Lambeau.

Green Bay 34, Arizona 13.

Carolina (-3.5) at Tampa Bay

Carolina has crept backwards to almost .500 with their 3 game losing streak.  They are 1-4 on the road, but I have to believe they will respond here in this divisional matchup.

Carolina 34, Tampa Bay 27.

Baltimore (-1.5) at Atlanta

Lamar Jackson has led the Browns to two wins in a row while Joe Flacco nurses whatever injury he has.  The Falcons aren’t really any good, so I think we can ride Lamar for one more week anyway.

Baltimore 24, Atlanta 20.

Chicago (-4.5) at New York Giants 

Who saw the Bears at 8-3?  I don’t think anyone.  Who saw the G-Men at 3-8?  Plenty.

Chicago 27, New York Giants 20.

Denver (-3.5) at Cincinnati

The Broncos are on a run where they have knocked off the Chargers and Steelers in consecutive weeks.  Ok, the Steelers beat themselves.  But still.  The Bengals are starting someone named Jeff Driskel at QB, after Andy Dalton has been shelved for the year.  Jeff Driskel?!  I suppose he can’t be any worse than the Red Rifle.  But he probably is.

Denver 23, Cincinnati 14.

Los Angeles Rams (-9.5) at Detroit

The Rams are all rested up from their bye after running up 54 and giving up 51 a couple of weeks ago.  Aqib Talib is back!  Detroit stinks.  Next.

Los Angeles Rams 38, Detroit 24.

New York Jets at Tennessee (-9.5)

I can’t believe the Titans are favored by almost double digits.  I know, the Jets.  But the Titans have been atrocious since winning their Super Bowl against the Patriots a few weeks ago.  But…the Jets.

Tennessee 24, New York Jets 10. 

Kansas City (-15.5) at Oakland 

The Chiefs don’t need Kareem Hunt…or half their team…to stomp the Raiders.  Even though divisional games can be sometimes unpredictable.  And even though they are on the road.

Kansas City 45, Oakland 17.

San Francisco at Seattle (-10.5)  

Seattle seems primed for a run now.  Winners of two in a row, they play 4 of their last 5 at home.  Against mostly weak competition.

Seattle 30, San Francisco 10.  

Minnesota at New England (-6.5)

Said it the other day, still not sure on what to make of the Pats, even at home.  Who is going to cover the Vikes’ WRs?  Think they pull out a close one, but I really have nothing but my gut feeling to back that one up.  We will see how that one goes.

New England 27, Minnesota 24. 

Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh (-3.5) 

How ’bout they both lose?  Damn, they can’t.  A tie would work.  Have a feeling here that the Steelers don’t make the same mistakes as last week, especially at home.

Pittsburgh 31, Los Angeles Chargers 27.

Washington at Philadelphia (-6.5)  

I said last week that the Eagles shouldn’t be favored by six and a half over anyone.  And it actually worked for their game against the Giants.  But this week?  I retract that prior statement…regrettably…

Philadelphia 27, Washington 20.  

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  0-1

Season (against the spread):  96-81

Season (straight up):  111-66

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