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On To Week 2…

…mercifully.  Everyone knows Week 1 of any NFL season can be unpredictable.  No one knows anything about the teams yet, sometimes not even the coaches of the teams themselves.  I know, sounded kind of silly.  But the point is, coaches are still tinkering around with things even after the preseason is over.  New players are being integrated into systems.  Starters are finally playing real snaps.  Rookies are getting their first real action.  And all that.

And of course the injuries.  Happens to every team every year.  Some are bigger than others.  For instance, not only did David Johnson’s wrist kill a ton of fantasy football seasons, it seriously put a dent into the Arizona Cardinals prospects for the season.  One player can do that?  In this case, yes, quite possibly.  I think we’d have to say it had some effect on their game on Sunday for sure.  Johnson was exactly lighting the Lions up, as he is certainly capable of doing.  But the Cards collapsed after he left the game.

Going back to not knowing who a team actually is in Week 1, you saw all the results.  We’ve been through the Chiefs beating the Patriots.  But the Steelers and Falcons barely beating the Browns and Bears, respectively?  The Giants not even showing up at Dallas?  The Colts we knew would not be great, but getting hammered by the Rams, a team that had an anemic offense last year?  Jared Goff looked like…er, Tom Brady out there or something.

There were two other somewhat alarming results from last weekend.  We will get to those in a second.

So, the Blowhard took it on the chin in Week 1, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!  There was one genuinely stupid pick (Saints on the road, what was I thinking??).  There was some bad luck (Denver missing a cover by a point when they allowed the Chargers to get back into the game in the fourth quarter).  A couple of road team gambles that didn’t pan out (Giants, Seahawks and I guess we can say the Falcons here too).  But overall about .500 was what I expected out of the gate.  I guess we will have to live with .400 though.  Cuz…that’s what happened.

Let’s hope for some better results in Week Two.  But we of course have this beauty to lead us off:

Houston at Cincinnati (-4.5)

I said above that there were two other somewhat alarming results from last weekend.  After further review, I am taking away the word “somewhat”.  The losses by the Bengals and Texans were borderline shocking.  The Bengals were shut out at home by the average Baltimore Ravens.  The Texans were embarrassed at home by the still putrid (we think) Jacksonville Jaguars.  I am not changing my mind on the Jags…yet, anyway.

Listen, I am no Marvin Lewis fan.  This is probably at least the 5th consecutive year I have uttered at some point during the season, “why is this guy still coaching the Bengals?”  Well, we know why he is, because the owner is cheap.  But you know what I am saying.  But even though they were 6-9-1 last year, they usually are fairly competitive under Lewis.  They do have some talented players on offense.  I believe they have some skilled guys on D too…though admittedly they were missing 2 guys due to suspension…Pac-Man Jones and that certifiably insane Vontaze Burfict.

Anyway, they should have had enough on the field, at home, to at least be competitive with the Ravens.  Maybe it was all Andy Dalton’s fault.  Could be.  4 interceptions and 5 sacks taken can kind of present that image.

The Texans?  Wow.  Their defense is supposed to be what wins games for them this year.  And they got torched by the Jags.  Jacksonville allegedly improved their roster this offseason.  They canned a historically bad coach in Gus Bradley…though one can only wonder if Doug Marrone is an upgrade.  But their QB is still named “Blake Bortles” and they lost top wideout Allen Robinson during the game.  That the Texans gave up 29 points to this offense is laughable.  OK, 22 points, as there was one defensive TD.  But my point still stands.

Let’s not even talk about their QB fiasco.  Nah, let’s talk about it.  You think Blake Bortles is bad, I present you…Tommy Savage!  Yeah, I have no idea if Savage can play or not.  But he was atrocious in the first half.  Sssssoooo…that is why he got yanked.  But from the parts of the game I saw, he wasn’t exactly getting a ton of time to throw.  I am actually kind of on board with Savage’s agent ripping the team for their handling of him (“31 snaps…31 snaps!!  How can you tell anything from that…”  or something like that).

I can see why Billy O’Brien benched Savage though.  Team was lackluster and needed a spark.  QB is where to start.  Especially when you have a first round draft pick ready to go.  But since Deshaun Watson didn’t really light it up either, you may as well go back to Savage.  Since, you know, you went all offseason and preseason saying the job was his.  Then Savage loses it halfway through the first game?  I know, Watson was going to get the job at some point in the season anyway.  But to panic like this right away seems like a bad sign.

I can’t believe I talked this much about both of these teams.  Gotta fill space I guess.  Anyway, this week?  Pac-Man is back.  I think the Texans are sticking with Watson.  Dalton can’t be that bad…he’s better than Bortles anyway.  Houston lost its top THREE tight ends to concussions last week.  Cincy is at home.  Someone has to win.

Cincinnati 23, Houston 13.

Week (against the spread):  6-9

Week (straight up):  9-6

Season (against the spread):  6-9

Season (straight up):  9-6

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Patriots Roster Projection, v3

4th preseason game means zero.  For the most part.  Actually, for the full part.  In fact, not even waiting for the end of the game to get this thing going…

Offense:

QB (3):

Locks:  Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett

In:  None

Out:  None

Way Out:  None

Comments:  Still don’t see Brissett losing his spot.  Regardless of how many yards he threw for yesterday.

RB (6):

Locks:  Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, James White, Dion Lewis, James Develin, Brandon Bolden

In:  None

Out:  D.J. Foster, Glenn Gronkowski

Way Out:  LeShun Daniels

Comments:  None of the top six played in the last game.  That tells me everyone is in…including, yes, Bolden.  Foster has some skill, but there is no room.

WR (4):

Locks:  Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell

In:  None

Out:  Austin Carr, Devin Lucien

Way Out:  Cody Hollister, K.J. Maye, Tony Washington

Injured Reserve:  Julian Edelman (out for the season)

Comments:  Thought maybe Mitchell would end up on IR, but he came back to practice this week.  So let’s put him back on the squad.  Carr is a sleeper, but still see him ending up on the practice squad…or another team.

TE (2):

Locks:  Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen

In:  None

Out:  James O’Shaughnessy, Jacob Hollister

Way Out:  Sam Cotton

Comments:  No reason to think a third TE breaks camp with the team…still…especially seeing O’Shaughnessy playing in the fourth quarter of the final preseason game.

OL (9):

Locks:  Nate Solder (LT), Joe Thuney (LG), David Andrews (C), Shaq Mason (RG), Marcus Cannon (RT)

In:  Ted Karras (G/C), Conor McDermott (T), Cameron Fleming (T), LaAdrian Waddle (T)

Out:  Jamil Douglas (G), James Ferentz (C)

Way Out:  Cole Croston (T), Andrew Jelks (T), Jason King (G), Max Rich (T)

Injured Reserve:  Antonio Garcia (T) (out for the season)

Comments:  No changes.  I can’t say I have a ton of insight into the offensive line anyway.  Though I am guessing Garcia may have run out of time now.

DE (3):

Locks:  Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise

In: Geneo Grissom

Out:  None

Way Out:  Michael Bart

Injured Reserve:  Derek Rivers (out for the season)

Comments:  Grissom goes back a spot, but still think he makes it.  He did play a ton in the last preseason game…not usually a good sign.  But…another guy whose main contribution is on special teams.  And we know how Bill feels about special teams guys.

DT (5):

Locks:  Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine, Adam Butler

In:  None

Out: Woodrow Hamilton, Darius Kilgo

Way Out:  Josh Augusta

Comments:  Butler apparently didn’t play in this last game.  He’s also apparently on the squad because of that.  Hamilton got a little banged up.  Maybe that gets him on IR.

LB (6):

Locks:  Dont’a Hightower, David Harris, Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy

In:  Harvey Langhi, Marquis Flowers

Out:  Jonathan Freeny, Trevor Bates

Way Out:  Brooks Ellis, Nick Usher

Injured Reserve:  Shea McClellin (designated to return)

Released:  Christian Kuntz

Comments:  Top 4 did not play from what I could see in the last game.  Seem like locks.  Langhi was hurt they say.  I say he’s in.  I can’t even say if Flowers played, but they just traded for him, so he’s gotta be in, right?  Freeny played a ton last night…and right until the final whistle…not a good sign.  Kuntz lasted a day, but good for him.  McClellin?  Who knows?  Another guess.

CB (6):

Locks:  Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones

In:  Justin Coleman, Cyrus Jones

Out:  D.J. Killings

Way Out:  William Likely, Dwayne Thomas

Comments:  I don’t remember seeing Coleman playing at all last night.  Kind of tells me he made it.  But maybe not.  If Cyrus’ injury is serious, maybe Coleman makes it regardless.

S (4):

Locks:  Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards

In:  None

Out: Kenny Moore

Way Out:  Jason Thompson, Damarius Travis, David Jones

Comments:  I don’t think Richards played either.  So looks like he gets his third year here after all.

Specialists (5):

Locks:  Stephen Gostkowski (K), Ryan Allen (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Nate Ebner (ST)

In:  None

Out:  None

Way Out:  None

Injured Reserve:  Brandon King (ST) (designated to return)

Comments:  King hasn’t been around a while.  I’ll just give him the 2nd IR-return spot.  For the hell of it.

Practice squad?  Sticking with the same 10 as last time:  Foster, Carr, Lucien, Jacob Hollister, Douglas, Ferentz, Hamilton, Augusta, Killings, Moore.  No reason to change.  Because it won’t be these 10 anyway…

Patriots Roster Projection, v2

The “all-important” third preseason game has been played.  Great time to make another projection, since no regulars will really play in the fourth preseason game.  No regulars that count anyway.  A new wrinkle this year though is that there is no cut down to 75 players.  The entire 90 man roster of each NFL team will be able to play in those teams’ final preseason game on Thursday night.  Then a day and a half later, the rosters will be slashed to the regular season limit of 53.  It’ll be a crowded waiver wire on Saturday afternoon.  Good thing I don’t have to sift through all those names.  Anyway, here goes:

Offense:

QB (3):

Locks:  Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett

In:  None

Out:  None

Way Out:  None

Comments:  Haven’t heard much lately about Brissett’s roster spot being in jeopardy.  I still don’t see that being the case anyway.  I suppose if he stinks Thursday night…

RB (6):

Locks:  Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, James White, Dion Lewis

In:  James Develin, Brandon Bolden

Out:  D.J. Foster, Glenn Gronkowski

Way Out:  LeShun Daniels

Comments:  Six running backs is pretty steep.  But I think they will find room for Bolden, as much as that pains me.  They love him too much on special teams.  And in a pinch they think he can play a little RB.  People seem to be throwing Lewis’ name out there for trade consideration, and although that wouldn’t surprise me, I don’t know if that’s realistic.  I mean, he has talent, but is injury-prone.  So who’s going to give the Pats anything for him?  And he can fill a nice role here anyway.  Side note:  it was great seeing White get tripped up by the yard lines in the last game again.  I know, he was awesome in the Super Bowl.  All the props in the world to him for that.  But has anyone seen the rest of the games in his career?

WR (3):

Locks:  Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola

In:  None

Out:  Austin Carr, Devin Lucien

Way Out:  Cody Hollister, K.J. Maye, Tony Washington

Injured Reserve:  Malcolm Mitchell (designated to return), Julian Edelman (out for the season)

Comments:  In the original projection I said this position was pretty much set in stone.  Oops.  Tough deal with Edelman.  He was flying out of the gate in that last game.  Looked primed for another big year, even with the addition of Cooks.  He is Brady’s main man, after all.  Going to be a tough loss on third downs especially.  But…every team has key injuries, so what can ya do?  Hope that opens the door for Cooks to really light it up.  But it’s a good thing that Amendola is back.  Makes him a lock now.  Mitchell was brought along slowly in camp because of a knee injury.  Then it looked to me that he aggravated it in the second preseason game.  No one is really talking about it, but he didn’t play in the last game.  I feel like he is a candidate for one of the two IR-designated to return spots that NFL teams have this year.  Get that thing fully healthy for the stretch drive.

That leave three guys there…obviously kind of lean.  People may say that guarantees a spot for Carr or Lucien, but I’m not there yet.  These guys seem to be perfect practice squad guys…if they clear waivers at cut downs that is.  The Pats dressed only 3 receivers in several games last year.  I think they may do it again early on if Mitchell ends up on IR.  Matthew Slater can play WR in a pinch, though I don’t really want to see him there.  But more importantly, one of the extra backs could always line up there too.  Then it allows the team to carry a third TE or extra lineman or someone at another spot.

TE (2):

Locks:  Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen

In:  None

Out:  James O’Shaughnessy, Jacob Hollister

Way Out:  Sam Cotton

Released:  Matt Lengel

Comments:  Still feel like the Pats start with 2 tight ends.  Develin could play there in a pinch as well as an offensive lineman, likely Cameron Fleming, who they have put there repeatedly…though not necessarily with positive results.  They are probably hoping Hollister gets to the practice squad.  But when Lengel heals (out for several more weeks with injury they are saying), they could always pick him back up.  Possibly O’Shaughnessy as well.  Not really worth talking about the third TE much more.

OL (9):

Locks:  Nate Solder (LT), Joe Thuney (LG), David Andrews (C), Shaq Mason (RG), Marcus Cannon (RT)

In:  Ted Karras (G/C), Conor McDermott (T), Cameron Fleming (T), LaAdrian Waddle (T)

Out:  Jamil Douglas (G), James Ferentz (C)

Way Out:  Cole Croston (T), Andrew Jelks (T), Jason King (G), Max Rich (T)

Injured Reserve:  Antonio Garcia (T) (designated to return?)

Comments:  The starters are set in stone, though Solder has been managing an injury.  Which forces me to put both Fleming and Waddle back on at the start of the season, for insurance.  As well as Fleming’s experience at TE.  Again, feel like they want to hang on to McDermott, so the thinking is they need to keep him initially before trying to waive him to the practice squad after teams have their rosters set the first week.  I have no idea if he can play, but I feel like Dante Scarnecchia will want to try to take those physical tools and try to develop him into something.  Douglas was the last guy I cut and I really know nothing about him…other than that they could use an extra guard probably.  I suppose it’s not life or death…especially if he lands on the practice squad.  Garcia has been a ghost…but as a third round pick, I believe he may be the other candidate for the “IR-return” spot.  Dante may want to work on developing him as well…and not lose practice time by having him go on long-term IR.  But maybe they save the IR-return spot for someone who gets a long-term injury early in the year…and will actually be a factor at some point THIS year…and put Garcia on ice for the year.  He won’t be able to practice, but at least he can study the playbook.

DE (3):

Locks:  Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, Geneo Grissom

In:  None

Out:  None

Way Out:  Michael Bart

Injured Reserve:  Derek Rivers (out for the season)

Released:  Kony Ealy, Caleb Kidder

Comments:  Welp, I suppose those early in camp rumors about Ealy were spot on.  Guess I should listen more.  But just…wow.  The guy can’t get his act together to play for the Patriots?  In a contract year?  Inexplicable.  I suppose he got what he “asked” for.  Getting claimed by the New York Jets after he was waived.  I wonder how he feels now?  Probably still doesn’t care.

Losing Rivers is a blow.  No idea how good he is or can be.  But now the team is down to three defensive ends…and one is essentially a special teamer in Grissom.  Some people are clamoring for a Rob Ninkovich return.  Not me.  With all due respect, he is probably close to done.  Even though some of the linebackers here can pretty much cover some of the depth issues here, I expect the team to look hard through the cuts this upcoming weekend and nab a guy or two.  I would think they have to.  And I’m not counting on big things from Michael Bart, who was just signed yesterday.

DT (5):

Locks:  Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine

In: Adam Butler

Out: Woodrow Hamilton, Darius Kilgo

Way Out:  Josh Augusta

Comments:  Elevated Butler from “way out” in version #1 to “In” now.  Why?  Seemed like a good idea at the time.  He’s gotten some buzz and Belichick does love his fat guys.  Maybe he’s a guy they keep on the initial 53 and then try to slide to the practice squad after teams set their rosters.  Either way, there’s no need to talk about it more.  The rest is still cut and dried here, as noted in the first projection.

LB (7):

Locks:  Dont’a Hightower

In:  David Harris, Shea McClellin, Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy, Harvey Langhi, Jonathan Freeny

Out:  Trevor Bates

Way Out:  Brooks Ellis, Christian Kuntz, Nick Usher

Comments:  Dropped Harris to where I initially was going to put him.  Some people have not been enamored with his play thus far.  Freeny gets back on cuz, yup, Bill loves his special teamers too.  Langhi has shown some skills, but just like all six in the “In” section he has been up and down.  Kuntz and Usher were just signed yesterday, hope they enjoy playing Thursday night.  Not sure we can expect much else from them.

CB (5):

Locks:  Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones

In:  Cyrus Jones

Out:  Justin Coleman, D.J. Killings

Way Out:  William Likely, Dwayne Thomas

Comments:  Cyrus has not “flashed” in any way, shape or form.  But I have to believe he still gets that second year here, at a minimum.  The rest is kind of obvious and the whole lot hasn’t changed from the first projection.

S (4):

Locks:  Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon

In:  Jordan Richards

Out:  None

Way Out:  Jason Thompson, Damarius Travis, David Jones, Kenny Moore

Comments:  I said the last time that Richards probably gets one more chance and seemed to squeak on my roster here.  Got a lot of run in the last preseason game with mixed results.  Hey, another questionable second round pick at safety in Tavon Wilson got four years here, why can’t Richards get three?

Specialists (6):

Locks:  Stephen Gostkowski (K), Ryan Allen (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Nate Ebner (ST), Brandon King (ST)

In:  None

Out:  None

Way Out:  None

Comments:  Same ol’, same ol’.

Bonus?  Practice squad shot in the dark:  Foster, Carr, Lucien, Jacob Hollister, Douglas, Ferentz, Hamilton, Augusta, Killings, Moore.  Though half those dudes may get claimed and Bill will want to bring in five other young guys he sees on the wire anyway…

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