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Week One!

The 1st week of the NFL season is always the hardest to predict.  No one really knows how teams are coming out of the gate anymore.  Add in the fact that a lot of the top players are playing very little in the preseason, if they even play at all.  Especially the quarterbacks.  So that would seem to make even the best players rusty and not necessarily in sync with their units as a whole.

But, per usual, we will give it a shot!

Baltimore (-5.5) at Miami

This spread is only 5.5??  Miami is wretched.  Who do they even have left, as they are firmly entrenched in their tanking process?  Wait…they have FITZMAGIC!!!

Baltimore 24, Miami 10.  Lock Of The Week (new feature, thanks Mike B.!)

Atlanta at Minnesota (-4.5)

Mediocrity at its best.

Minnesota 28, Atlanta 23.

Kansas City (-4.5) at Jacksonville  

Seems as this spread is a little low also.  I’m not as excited about the “Nick Foles era” as many other people are either.

Kansas City 38, Jacksonville 17.

Washington at Philadelphia (-8.5) 

CASE KEENUM!!!  ‘Nuff said.

Philadelphia 31, Washington 13.

Tennessee at Cleveland (-5.5)

The Browns kind of loaded up in the offseason.  But I’m not totally on board with them quite yet.  They will need to show me something at the start of the year.  Now teams will come gunning for them a bit.  There is more tape available to study Baker Mayfield…and teams most assuredly did over the offseason.  Etc., etc., etc.  I’m not saying I love the Titans either.  But at this very moment, I feel better about them until Cleveland plays a few games.

Tennessee 23, Cleveland 20.

Buffalo at New York Jets (-3.5) 

This is a great Opening Day Game…sigh…

Buffalo 17, New York Jets 14.

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Carolina 

There had been questions about Jared Goff remaining with the Rams past this year.  Sure, he had a good year last year.  And helped take the team to the Super Bowl.  But it sounds like people around the league weren’t all that convinced.  Seemed to give Coach Sean McVay most of the credit for whatever reason.  But now, Jared Goff’s contract tells us otherwise.  Looks like they do think he is the franchise quarterback he is supposed to be, even if other people don’t believe it.  I can’t believe the size of that contract, regardless of what anyone thinks of him.  He’s still Jared Goff.

Los Angeles Rams 33, Carolina 24.

Cincinnati at Seattle (-9.5) 

I don’t even think I gave either of these teams a single thought during the preseason.

Seattle 31, Cincinnati 17.

Indianapolis at Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5)

As much as I am not into the “Nick Foles era” in Jacksonville, I would say that people are even less excited about the “Jacoby Brissett (or Brian Hoyer?) era” in Indy.

Los Angeles Chargers 27, Indianapolis 16. 

Detroit (-2.5) at Arizona

I guess the beginning of the “Kyler Murray era” will make me more interested in this game than the Jets/Bills.

Arizona 10, Detroit 9.

New York Giants at Dallas (-7.5) 

The end of the “Eli Manning era” can’t come soon enough for me…for a variety of reasons.  But I imagine plenty of Giants fans feel the same way.  Speaking of Goff’s new contract, Ezekiel Elliott got his money too.  Seems silly to pay that kind of dough to a running back.  I purposely did not mention Tyreek Hill’s new deal earlier.  Disgusting.  That dude shouldn’t even be in the league.

Dallas 23, New York Giants 13.  

San Francisco at Tampa Bay (-0.5)

Can Bruce Arians save the “Jameis Winston era” in Tampa?  Will the “Jimmy Garoppolo era” ever take off in San Fran?  Are you sick of all the “era” comments yet??

San Francisco 24, Tampa Bay 21. 

Pittsburgh at New England (-6.5)

I worry about the Patriots offensive line protecting Tom Brady.  But with the question marks at wide receiver, I think the Pats run the ball a ton.  I also think the Pats defense is better out of the gate this year.  Think the spread is a little too high, but it would be hard for me to believe that the Pats will lose on the “unfurling of the championship banner” night.  Though…it has happened before.

New England 27, Pittsburgh 24.

Houston at New Orleans (-7.5) 

New Orleans has kind of been the team that most seem to have penciled in to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl in February.  Houston just made some head-scratching moves, but I suppose should still be a good team in the AFC.  That’s really all I have to say on that.

New Orleans 30, Houston 20.  

Denver at Oakland (-1.5)

Antonio Brown…SMH.  I can’t even…

Denver 23, Oakland 16.  

Week (against the spread):  1-0

Week (straight up):  1-0

Lock Of The Week:  0-0

Season (against the spread):  1-0

Season (straight up):  1-0

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Summer Is Over…

…bummer.  But you know what that means?

THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE IS BACK!!

Ok, I’d kind of like a little more summer.  But I guess there is nothing I can do about it, sssssooooo…

The defending champion New England Patriots do not actually open the season on Thursday Night Football.  That honor belongs to the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.  Hey, they’ve been playing each other for almost 100 years, and the NFL is 100 years old this season, so I think we can all live with that.

We will get to that game in a smidge.  But let us follow up on the recent Patriot roster projection columns with some random comments on what the final roster actually looks like.  Not to mention other random NFL thoughts as the season gets set to begin.  Once again, in no particular order:

*3 years, 12 mil (9 mil guaranteed) for Brian Hoyer in Indy??  Yikes!!  Throw in the Colts jacking up Jacoby Brissett’s salary, that is…crazy.  Welp, guess they had to spend Andrew Luck’s salary on someone.

As mentioned in the last projection, I would’ve cut Hoyer too.  No way did I think the Pats would do it though.  And Tom Brady seems a little upset about it, judging by his comments in recent days.  When is Brady going to realize that he can’t play forever and that the Pats will need to get younger at QB someday?  And the sooner the better.  Sometimes he seems to just act like a big baby over stuff.  Once he retires and is running the whole TB12 nonsense he will have to manage people himself, no?  Then he may really understand what it is like to “run a business”.  Can’t wait for that.

In any event, the Pats wouldn’t be winning a Super Bowl with Hoyer if something happens to Brady.  They won’t with Jarrett Stidham either.  But wouldn’t you rather give the experience to the kid anyway?  Seems like a no-brainer to me.  Then you get someone of Hoyer’s ilk off the street to back Stidham up.  Guys like that are a dime a dozen out there.

Which makes Indy’s contract to Hoyer kind of silly, no?

Good for Brissett to cash in a little now that he is the starter.  But a jump that huge may be a little much.

Wait…if Brady gets hurt, they can always bring back Matty Cassel right?  Will that make Tommy happy??

*Speaking of Luck, kudos to him for leaving the sport if that’s what he wanted to do to help maintain his long term health.  Honestly, he could have just been placed on Injured Reserve and missed the whole year…thus collecting his entire salary for the year.  And then retired at the end of the season.  But he passed all that dough that up.  Gotta give him some credit for that.

But boy, the timing left a lot to be desired, no?

A part of me doesn’t blame the fans for being pissed that he retired a couple of weeks before the season.  They will get over it.  But it would have smacked me right in the face as well.

Wonder what his teammates think?  They probably have seen him suffering over the years.  And they also know what it’s like to play in the league.  The sacrifice it takes.  So even though the Colts’ chances decreased after Luck left, my guess is that the players are ok with it.

Maybe not the front office though…and perhaps the coaches.  But again, they will get over it too.

And maybe Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels saw the writing on the wall when he ended up declining the Colts gig a year and a half ago?  That may be a stretch.  But you never know…

*Speaking of retiring early, is anyone else sick of seeing Rob Gronkowski now?

Kudos also to Gronk if he retired thinking about his health and his future as well.  And if “football was bringing him down” as he said last week.

And now that he is outside of the strict hand of Bill Belichick, he can act however he wants.  Good for him.

But PLEASE stop with the whole “I could come back if I wanted to…” thing.  I hated when Roger Clemens would pull this crap every year.  Take the year off, do your CBD thing and if you want to come back next year, do it.  Already tired of the “will he or won’t he come back” talk.  Not to mention his pimping of the CBD stuff.  But I guess he needs something to do.

Though the Pats could use him, no doubt.  None of the 27 tight ends they brought to camp inspired anyone…

*Was anyone really surprised that Demaryius Thomas was cut and immediately brought back?  Shouldn’t have been.  That was a done deal all along.

It allowed the team to put receiver N’Keal Harry on the injured list in-season.  Meaning he can come back if the team deems him ready about halfway through the season.  And with the injury uncertainty with Julian Edelman, the suspension uncertainty with Josh Gordon, the “what does he have left in the tank” uncertainty with Thomas, along with the very average Phillip Dorsett and the two kids after that, it buys the team time to get Harry fully healthy, while evaluating all else above.

Thomas didn’t show much last year.  Then he hurt his Achilles.  Sure, he played well in the last preseason game against guys that aren’t playing anymore this week.  But there was zero chance of flight risk.

*Speaking of the two kids at receiver, I fully expect Jakobi Meyers to be a healthy scratch every week, despite his huge preseason.

Why?  Well, he didn’t really mesh with Brady in their short stint together in the third preseason game, for one.  He did return some kicks in the preseason, but I don’t think he is much of a special teamer overall.  He came out of college a little raw.  Probably needs some more time to develop.

It actually wouldn’t shock me to see the Pats try to quietly move him to the practice squad at some point when they need a body elsewhere.

You heard this here first.

*…and GUNNER!!  Great story.  Actually surprised he ended up making the team.  Looks like another team would have claimed him and he would not have snuck down to the practice squad.  Hard for me to believe even that.  But that has to be why he made the final 53.

I hope they use him as a returner.  Especially a punt returner.  No need to subject Edelman to that abuse (unless it is a “gotta have it” moment).  I will say this though:  If I see Gunner Olszewski doing anything on the football field other than returning kicks and other special teams tasks, I will be very, very, very, VERY nervous.

Maybe he turns into something in the future.  But as great a story as he is, he is not ready to be an NFL receiver yet.  Or certainly an NFL cornerback either.

Because, you know, I am an expert!!

*Melvin Gordon wants money and Ezekiel Elliott just got paid.  Good luck with that.  I know, I am a Patriots honk.  But I will never understand why teams spend money on running backs.  Elliott is AWESOME.  But doesn’t Dallas ALWAYS have a great offensive line?  Hmmmmm…Gordon?  He’s good?  But whatever.

I know.  The Pats spent a first round pick on Sony Michel last year.  And he was good last year.  Think he will be GREAT this year.  But still.  By the time his rookie contract is done, he will be discarded.  Make no bones about it.  Take that to the bank.  The Patriots will use him up and let someone else give him a fat second contract.  And let’s not forget about the bad knees going back to college…what will they look like in 3-4 years.

*Houston!!  Keep doing what YOU do!!  Is it this bad while you wait for Nick Caserio to take the reins next year??  Jadaveon Clowney for 20 cents on the dollar.  Then overspending on Laremy Tunsil?  AWESOME!!

By the way, where is that Dolphins “revolt” after the trade of Tunsil??  What a joke.  The ‘Phins are tanking and everyone knows it.  Including the players.  There will be no revolt.

Good luck Brian Flores.

*Antonio Brown.  Has this loser found a helmet yet?  Yes, loser.  One of the most dynamic receivers of this era, this guy is pretty much a laughingstock right now.

Sure, he can come out and make Derek Carr look a lot better than he is this year.

But would it surprise anyone if he went even more off the reservation?

Not me.

I really don’t have much else to say.  His actions speak louder than anything else.

*Final Patriot roster thoughts…in the secondary.  Surprised that Keion Crossen got dealt.  The team seemed to think of him highly.  Not only in the secondary, but as a potential “Matthew Slater replacement”.

Ok, a Slater replacement should not be hard, with all apologies to Bill and his special teams’ cronies across the world.

But still…

On the opposite spectrum, Duke Dawson.

Ouch.

Yet another failure for a second round defensive back in the Billy Belichick drafting queue.

Ras-I Dowling, Cyrus Jones, Patrick Chung (1st time), Eugene Wilson, Darius Butler, Terrance Wheatley, Jordan Richards, Tavon Wilson…and yes, I just looked some of them up.

Some of the other second rounders leave a lot to be desired as well.  But this focus is on defensive backs because this seems to be a real bugaboo for Bill.

Dawson didn’t even play a down for the team.

Yikes!

Let’s just hope Joejuan Williams breaks the mold this time.

I’m not counting on it though.

The chatter on local talk radio this week was that the Patriots swing for the fences in the second round.  Also meaning that they play it safe in Round One.  Then get value in Rounds Three through Seven.

Kind of makes some sense.

But there have some BIG misses in that round.

Gronk, Jamie Collins, Sebastian Vollmer, Matt Light, Deion Branch were hits.  But the aforementioned DBs and some offensive players like Chad Jackson and Adrian Klemm have been big strikeouts.  More K’s than hits.

So maybe there needs to be some change in philosophy?

Ok, I guess they have six rings, so what do I know??

Anyway, the actual Thursday Night game to open the season?

Green Bay at Chicago (-3.5) 

I have no idea, really.  Aaron Rodgers and his new coach, Matt LaFleur, already seem to be at odds on play calling.  But who knows how much of that is actually real?  We do know Chicago still has Mitchell (or is it Mitch?) Trubisky at QB…a good thing?  Don’t think so.  Chicago is at home.

Again, I don’t know.

But one thing I do know?  The Bears had some kicking problems last year with Cody Parkey.  And they replaced him with who?

No idea.  But my feeling on this night is that will actually matter.

Green Bay 24, Chicago 23.

2018 Season (against the spread):  147-120 

2018 Season (straight up):  171-96 

Career (because I love numbers!) (against the spread):  290-244 (54.3%)

Career (straight up):  351-183 (65.7%)

New England Patriots Roster Projection

It’s that time of year again…well, actually, I am a little late.  The first preseason game is tonight.  I guess I was just a little preoccupied with the Boston Red Sox’ collapse.  In any event, let’s dive right in:

Offense:

QB (3):

Locks:  Tom Brady, Jarrett Stidham

In:  Brian Hoyer

Out:  Danny Etling (WR??!)

Way Out:  None

Comments:  Some reports in camp have suggested Stidham is has outplayed Hoyer and that could make Hoyer expendable.  While outplaying Hoyer may not be that difficult, I am not ready to push him off the roster quite yet…despite the silly 3 mil cap hit.  Etling all of a sudden is a wide receiver I guess.  So much for him making much noise.  And please, no more about Brady’s contract…or him selling his house in MA.  As much as we all love him, he SHOULD be year to year.  Going into next season he will be 43 years old for Chrissakes.  Despite how he has seemed to defy Father Time, one never knows when the end will come.  He has said it himself, he is in uncharted territory.  I’d love to have him as long as he is…well…Tom Brady.  But how much longer will that be?

RB (5):

Locks:  Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris, James Develin (FB)

In:  Rex Burkhead

Out:  None

Way Out:  Nick Brossette, Jakob Johnson (FB)

Comments:  Have a funny feeling Rex is a little bit on the bubble here.  I like the guy when he is healthy.  A lot actually.  But sometimes that is a big “if”.  And 4 pure running backs sometimes can be a bit steep.  Especially when there are other question marks on the roster.  But, in the end, Michel can be a bit of a question mark with regard to injury as well.  And Harris is still unproven.  So I am not sure Rex is in any real danger.  Yet.  I don’t know who Brossette is.  And Johnson will end up on the practice squad as their one “international signing” or some crap like that.  In any event, he doesn’t count against any part of the roster I hear, so off to the practice squad you go.

WR (4):

Locks:  Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry

In:  Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris

Out:  Jakobi Meyers, Dontrelle Inman, Braxton Berrios, Damoun Patterson

Way Out:  Ryan Davis, Gunner Olszewski

PUP:  Demaryius Thomas, Cameron Meredith

Suspended:  Josh Gordon

Comments:  Your guess is as good as mine!!!  Edelman…yup.  And the first rounder Harry.  Then…I have no f’n idea!!  Dorsett would seem to have the inside track as someone that has been here for 2 years.  And seems to be liked by everyone, despite not doing much on the field.  Harris was an early camp favorite, so he would seem to be in the lead.  But now comes…Jakobi Meyers!!  An undrafted free agent (and you know the Pats need to keep one to four of those!), all of a sudden he is the receiver that “Brady is the most comfortable with”.  OK.  There have been no games yet.  So I am pumping the brakes on that.  Inman I don’t think has practiced, but I could be wrong.  Berrios seems to get some buzz all the time, but is it actually translating?  The club just signed Meredith (can anyone say “Malcolm Mitchell”?), but with his injury history, I am not giving him a spot yet either.  You can bet Gordon will have a spot if he gets cleared.  But that may be a ways away if it does actually happen.  There will be some moving parts around this position during the exhibition season, you can count on that much.

TE (2):

Locks:  None

In:  Matt LaCosse, Lance Kendricks

Out:  Ryan Izzo, Stephen Anderson, Andrew Beck

Way Out:  None

Suspended:  Benjamin Watson

Comments:  Speaking of moving parts…I have no idea here.  LaCosse would seem to be a lock because of the contract they gave him.  But you never know.  Kendricks is kind of here by default.  Izzo and Beck?  Who knows?  Anderson could make some noise too.  I.  Just.  Don’t.  Know.

OL (7):

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

In:  Hjalte Froholdt (G), Ted Karras (G/C),

Out:  James Ferentz (C),

Way Out:  Tyler Gauthier (C), Martez Ivey (T), Cedrick Lang (T), Dan Skipper (T), Tyree St. Louis (T)

NFI:  Yodny Cajuste (T)

Comments:  Thin.  There will be some moves here at the end of camp.  I’d bet my house on that.  Well, I won’t do that.  But I feel pretty good about it.  No one knows if Wynn can do the job.  But I don’t think they are rushing out to get Trent Williams from the Washington Redskins.  Too much dough.  AND…he wants more.  So I guess it’s Wynn or Thuney at left tackle.  We will see what happens.  Dan Skipper has gotten some run at first team left tackle I guess.  Apparently, the guy is a monster (physically folks!).  But also apparently, he has been on like 10 teams in his career and also has been turnstiled in camp as well.  How’s that for confidence?  A couple of veterans have signed and immediately retired.  Seems weird.  Either way, I think we will see some waiver claims here at the end of camp.  Don’t they have to??

Defense:

DE (5):

Locks:  Michael Bennett, Deatrich Wise, John Simon, Chase Winovich

In:  Derek Rivers

Out: Keionta Davis

Way Out:  Nick Thurman

Comments:  Fairly cut and dried here, though Davis was a favorite at times last year.  Think Rivers gets one more year after one year of being hurt and one year of being nondescript.  But with some of the linebackers rushing, never know if he gets phased out like Davis.

DT (4):

Locks:  Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Mike Pennel

In:  Byron Cowart

Out:  Ufomba Kamalu, David Parry, Danny Shelton

Way Out:  Trent Harris

Comments:  I made a joke about Shelton still being available when I did the roster projection in the spring.  I guess the joke is on us that they did actually sign him.  He’s been kind of useless.  The bigger joke will be when he makes the squad over Cowart, who they will inevitably attempt to get on the practice squad.  I can see this happening.

LB (5):

Locks:  Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts

In:  None

Out:  Christian Sam

Way Out:  Shilique Calhoun, Terez Hall, Calvin Munson

Comments:  Roberts won’t go away.  Pretty obvious the rest of them.  Well, I saw another dudes’ projection that had Calhoun making it.  So I guess I should watch his reps more closely during the preseason games.

CB (7):

Locks:  Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Duke Dawson, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams

In:  Keion Crossen

Out:  Ken Webster

Way Out:  D’Angelo Ross

Comments:  This is a lot to carry at corner.  Perhaps Jones plays some safety, as he did in the Super Bowl.  Or perhaps Crossen gets cut.  But hard to believe after the way they tried to integrate him at times last year.  Maybe one gets traded…but which one?  Have a feeling they go heavy here though.

S (3):

Locks:  Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon

In:  None

Out:  Obi Melifonwu

Way Out:  Malik Gant, A.J. Howard

Comments:  I don’t see any other options here.  Again, think some of the corners and perhaps special teamers provide depth here, for better or worse.

Specialists (8):

Locks:  Stephen Gostkowski (K), Jake Bailey (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Nate Ebner (ST), Brandon King (ST), Brandon Bolden (ST), Terrance Brooks (ST)

In:  None

Out:  Ryan Allen (P)

Way Out:  None

Comments:  Drafting a punter in the fifth round seemed to make that decision easy.  Bill loves his special teamers.  I don’t think there is anything else to discuss here.

Let the games begin!!

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