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Dark…

…so the title was supposed to mean something different, what with the whole country (world?) seemingly shutting down due to the Coronavirus.

First the NBA

Then the NHL

PGA

NCAA

MLB

MLS

XFL

…and of course everything else right on down the list.  Including restaurants, bars, some stores, construction and all that kind of stuff locally.

People seem to be listening to the warnings to stay home.  Drove around a little last night in my town (gasp!) and it pretty much was a ghost town.

Damn Coronavirus!

So with absolutely no sports to talk about, what the hell is the Blowhard to do?

Do we shut down too?  Not sure what to talk about!  We all for damn sure know there is more than enough coverage about the virus itself, there needs to be nothing else said about it by me.  Not that I could even add anything intelligent about it anyway…we could help spread the news…or at least some misinformation about it.  But why bother?  Does anyone even know what to believe anymore?

I stopped reading coverage.  It’s all over the place.  So are the opinions…which I care even less about.

So I just stay home and stare at a blank TV screen.  Since there are no games…

But wait!

There is something left…NFL free agency.

Glad that was not delayed as well.  Folks were worried about “bad optics” with players getting gazillion dollar contracts during a worldwide health crisis.

Like those wouldn’t have happened anyway.

So why not just do it now?  Especially since sports fans need SOMETHING.  And maybe even non-sports fans need a little bit of this too…for a distraction.  Even if they hate the idea.

As for the local angle, which is really why we are here in the first place, things started off innocuously enough.

Devin McCourty re-signed.  As did Matthew Slater.  And Jason McCourty’s option was picked up.  Also, Adam Butler was tendered at a second round level, making him unlikely to go anywhere.

Although the money was kind of big for the first three, it’s not out of hand.  And it’s not long-term.  So I can live with that.

The Pats then franchised Joe Thuney.  SHOCKING.

Almost 15 mil for a guard.  When their other guard, Shaq Mason, makes like 10 mil.

That’s a LOT of dough for guards.  Thuney was supposedly good last year, according to those who actually grade offensive line play, and Mason has been good in the past (though not last year).  But the line sucked as a whole last season.  So this money is hard to justify.  I guess if they work out a long term deal with Thuney before the deadline in July (I think).  But Joe will still be 8 figures plus every year.

Besides, I thought Belichick only franchised kickers.  Both Adam Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski were both franchised by the team…and I think both more than once.  Don’t fact-check me on this, however.

Then yesterday, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins both departed…well, they can’t officially “depart” until Wednesday when free agency actually starts.  But you get the idea.

They were the first defections.  That mattered anyway.

We thought Van Noy would get paid and walk…and he sure did get paid by the Dolphins.  Thought there was a chance Collins would be cheaper and would stay.  He had a great first half against bum teams, then slowly faded in the second half against better teams.  But he still got 3/30 from old friend Matt Patricia.  Good luck to all that out there in Detroit.

I guess that means Elandon Roberts will re-up at some point.  And that warms my heart.  Ummmmm…no it doesn’t.  He is simply not any good.  At either linebacker or fullback.  Despite what the beat writers want you to think.

We here at the Blowhard do not care about the rest of the Patriot free agents…if you haven’t heard that a million times in this space already.

That means you, Danny Shelton.  And you, Nate Ebner.  And most certainly you, Phillip Dorsett.

Welp, that is a bit of a lie.

Because we cared a smidge about one other guy.

Tom Brady.

Whodya think we were going to say silly, Ted Karras??!!

Yes Brady.  Yes we cared.  No we didn’t necessarily care if he was coming back to the Patriots.  We’ve said time and time again that we are not going to get all worked up about a 43 year old QB.  Despite the legend that he is.  The six Super Bowl rings that he led the Pats to.  The desire to see anyone play their whole career with one team.  The sadness or at least weirdness to see him in a different uniform and finish his career with a different team.

And all that.

But again, we root for the laundry here, and the player that wears that laundry as long as they wear it.  When they go to a different team, we don’t necessarily root for the player to fail (well, depends on who it is I guess…and where they end up…hello Johnny Damon on the Yankees, for example?).

We will NOT root for Brady to fail.  No matter who he goes to.  Even if it is the Jets (unlikely), Bills (probably not) or Dolphins (a chance perhaps?).  Or Steelers.  Or Broncos.  Or Giants.  Or anyone.

I will absolutely have none of that nonsense.

But my rooting interest is still the Patriots.  Simple as that.

Oh wait…in case you missed it, and I don’t know how the hell you may have, Brady announced on Instagram this morning that he will not be returning to the Pats.  There has been no contract agreed to with anyone else, as far as I can tell or have heard.  But he won’t be coming back here.

So the Brady watch is (kind of) over.  For all intents and purposes here anyway.

It will be interesting to see where he lands, no two ways about it.  But the most important part to a lot of us has already been revealed.

My sense all along was that Bill Belichick did not want Brady to come back.  Hell, he wanted Jimmy Football over Tom a few years back, we know that much.  He’s probably glad he was forced to keep Tom though, with the latest Super Bowl wins adding to the trophy case.  But still, it doesn’t change the fact that he wanted to move on from Brady a mere few years ago.

Jimmy Garoppolo is not coming back, however, as some rumors swirling the past few weeks would have you believe.

So who is next?

GREAT question.

Based on the Patriots’ current salary cap situation, wouldn’t it suggest they are riding or dying with Jarrett Stidham this upcoming season?

I know, I know, cap space can be manipulated in many ways.  Trades and cuts and restructurings and all that can happen too.

But at this point, they have very little cap room.  And that has to be a factor for right this second.

Recent rumors have suggested the Pats may be interested in Teddy Bridgewater.  I have a hard time believing they will shell out a ton of dough there though, even if the cap space became available.  Plus, a whole lot of other teams are interested in Bridgewater.

Cam Newton?  Doubt that as well.

Andy Dalton as a stopgap?  Those were the earlier rumors.  But I’d rather just go with Stidham, to be honest.

Lesser “stopgaps” have already agreed to terms with other clubs:  Marcus Mariota, Chad Henne, Case Keenum, Chase Daniel…

Cody Kessler?  Please.

Outside the box QB?  Who no one is talking about?  That may be the best choice of all of the above?

At this point, unless a truly viable QB comes out of the woodwork, I say go with Stidham.

Right now.

But stay tuned…things should get a whole lot more interesting all around…

Week Four…

…got off to a great start with the Thursday Night Football game actually being pretty entertaining.  Welp, there’s a first for everything I suppose.

It’s too bad Green Bay wide receiver Davante Adams got hurt late.  Because if he didn’t, there probably should have been overtime.  Aaron Rodgers was seemingly throwing to guys just off the practice squad at the end of the game.  Not blaming that for him trying to force a ball into a receiver late in the game which resulted in an interception to seal the win for the Eagles, but…

Of course, Adams only looked like he hurt his foot.  There was one player from each team that got immobilized and carted off the field during the game with potentially serious head/neck injuries, so I suppose Adams should consider himself somewhat fortunate.

AND…there only may have been overtime if the Packers scored on their last drive because, somewhat inexplicably, up 27-20 after an Eagles TD, coach Doug Pederson decided to go for two.  Sure, being up nine would have made it a two score game at that point.  BUT, the game wasn’t even halfway through the third quarter at that point.  An eight point lead there should have been good enough.  One score game, but the Packers would have needed the two point conversion to tie.  And they couldn’t run the ball all night.  So if they had to go for two to tie, they probably would have become one-dimensional.  And obviously might be harder to convert.

But what do I know?

Not much, as you know.  But here goes yet another attempt to try:

Washington at New York Giants (-2.5) 

How does Jay Gruden even have a job?  2 winning seasons out of 5 thus far in Washington…but those were mere 9-7 and 8-7-1 seasons.  0-3 this year.  Inexplicably hanging on to Case Keenum as the starter now, with 2019 first rounder Dwayne Haskins waiting in the wings.  Not to mention that Colt McCoy apparently is back at practice.  So does Gruden turn to McCoy instead of Haskins when he needs to make a change?  Which rest assured will happen sooner rather than later.  I don’t get it.  Your team stinks.  Play the kid.  He can’t be any worse.  Take a cue from the Giants.  Daniel Jones, also a 2019 first rounder, got in last week.  No idea if either Jones or Haskins really can play.  But we know Eli is done.  And we also know Keenum and McCoy are no more than journeymen.  Enough already.

New York Giants 27, Washington 17.  

Cleveland at Baltimore (-6.5)

Lot of talk about the Browns not being ready for prime time this week.  You know, with Rex Ryan calling Baker Mayfield overrated and all.  And maybe they aren’t.  But they should be better than they have been.  The Ravens are off to a good start, but can we count the Dolphin thrashing?  I’m not.  Barely beating Arizona and putting up some points in the 4th quarter to make it respectable against the Chiefs is nice, but let’s not get carried away please.  Divisional game seems like it should at least be close, no?

Baltimore 24, Cleveland 20.

New England (-7.5) at Buffalo

For some reason, people think this game will be close.  The Bills are 3-0, their defense is really good, they are at home, the Pats are a little banged up at receiver, Josh Allen can run and QBs that can run give the Patriots trouble…please.  PLEASE!!  Tom Brady is something like 30-3 against the Bills in his career.  I’m not expecting this game to be loss #4.  Nor do I expect it to be close.

New England 34, Buffalo 10.

Oakland at Indianapolis (-6.5) 

Speaking of Gruden’s, Jon hasn’t been all that great in Oakland either.  And I don’t think we can blame Antonio Brown for their play this year.  You know, since he was never really there.  Indy has been a pleasant surprise so far.  Likely enjoying shutting up some people that thought they would crumble after the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck.  Yeah, I know, it’s early.  And it’s a fair amount of points they are laying.  But it’s the Raiders.

Indianapolis 31, Oakland 17.

Carolina at Houston (-4.5)

Kyle Allen made me look foolish last week, putting up the numbers he put up as he replaced the injured Cam Newton.  But it was Arizona after all.  Let’s not forget that.

Houston 28, Carolina 16.

Tennessee at Atlanta (-3.5)

The Titans looked so good Opening Week when they blasted the Browns.  Since then…not so much.  Marcus Mariota has looked brutal.  There have been whispers he may lose his job with another poor effort.  I’m not sure Ryan Tannehill is any kind of answer at all.  But having Mariota thinking he is playing for his job probably won’t hurt him.  Thankfully, they get the extremely average Falcon team this week.  Atlanta really should win at home.  But they won’t.

Tennessee 21, Atlanta 17.  

Kansas City (-6.5) at Detroit 

Detroit is undefeated??  2-0-1, yes.  Get ready for them to be exposed.

Kansas City 42, Detroit 24.  Lock of the week.

Los Angeles Chargers (-16.5) at Miami 

Little bit of a disappointing start for the Chargers this season at 1-2.  Good thing for them that the Dolphins are the opponent this week.  Even with another ridiculously high spread against them, it would appear the Dolphins should get smoked again.  Running back Melvin Gordon reported to the Chargers this week, ending his holdout.  It is doubtful he will play.  If it were me, I’d throw him in there.  He may gain 200 yards on 10 carries or so.  Wouldn’t be a bad way to get yourself back in the flow of things.

Los Angeles Chargers 31, Miami 7.

Tampa Bay at Los Angeles Rams (-9.5)

The Rams are 3-0 as they continue to bounce back from their Super Bowl loss.  They are at home in this one and Tampa generally isn’t good, so an almost double digit spread here.  Makes sense.  There is no conceivable reason for me to say that the Buccaneers will cover the spread, so I am not even going to try to explain it.  I’m not sure there is anything to explain actually, it’s just a hunch really.

Los Angeles Rams 34, Tampa Bay 27. 

Seattle (-4.5) at Arizona

I’m not sure how the Seahawks lost at home to the Drew Brees-less New Orleans Saints last week, but they did.  Cannot see how they will lose to the Cardinals this week, any way you slice it.  Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson is a nice story.  Though since they aren’t actually playing against each other on the field, I’m not sure that “matchup” really matters.

Seattle 24, Arizona 17.

Minnesota at Chicago (-2.5)

The NFC North is 9-3-1 combined.  Maybe this one will be another tie?  Or…actually it would be 2 ties.  Sorry.  I’m not enamored with either of these teams.  But the Bears were generating a lot of buzz as a true contender this offseason, so maybe they are rounding into form.  I guess we shouldn’t be so giddy about two road wins in a row when they came against the ‘Skins and Broncos and their combined 0-6 record.  But a loss would drop the Bears to 0-2 at home.  I can’t see that.

Chicago 24, Minnesota 21.  

Jacksonville at Denver (-2.5)

Gardner Flint Minshew II or no Gardner Flint Minshew II, this game couldn’t be more unexciting for me to even think about.  I am amused however on how Jalen Ramsey keeps avoiding practice with “back” and “illness” and stuff like that.  He wants to be traded and just came out and confirmed it.  So apparently he will miss all kinds of practices but probably play in games.  Nice gig.  I don’t blame the Jags for not trading him though.  Not if they can’t get what they want.  And I don’t blame the coaches for playing this game with him.  Because apparently, his issue is with the front office.  And the coaches certainly can use him on the field.  This is more than I expected to write here.

Denver 17, Jacksonville 13. 

Dallas (-3.5) at New Orleans

Just realized the Cowboys’ three wins are against the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins.  Not exactly the iron of the league, mind you.  Teddy Bridgewater led the Saints over the Seahawks last week, as mentioned above, and they are at home.  Based on these facts alone, I should be taking New Orleans in this prime time tilt on Sunday.  But I’m not.  And once again, I cannot really give you a good reason why I feel this way.

Dallas 30, New Orleans 24.

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (-4.5)

0-6 combined record for this Monday Night Football instant classic.  As much as I would LOVE to see the Steelers go to 0-4, I think the Bengals are just a horrible outfit all around.

Pittsburgh 20, Cincinnati 13.  

Week (against the spread):  1-0

Week (straight up):  1-0

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  2-1

Season (against the spread):  24-25

Season (straight up):  35-14

My Apologies?

I’ll be honest, I am not even sure an apology is necessary, but…I feel like I have to.

About what?  Welp, Antonio Brown of course!!

When he joined the team, I wrote something to the effect of “I’m all in on him being on the team, even if he is an arseclown…because I don’t consider any athlete a role model…stuff he has done thus far has been more due to the fact that he is immature and a tool…there are plenty of crazies in every locker room, what’s one more…etc., etc., etc.”

I also, of course, added that if the rape allegations were true, he should be in jail and certainly not playing football.  But we probably wouldn’t know about that until his civil case had run its course…and who knew how long that would take?

Then, of course, this week he gets caught doing another stupid thing.  Except for that THIS particular “stupid thing” is not harmless as was a lot of the stuff he had done in the past (videoing locker room stuff, whining about his helmet, frostbitten feet, etc.).  This time, he essentially threatened one of his accusers by including his buddies (enforcers?) on a text string where he posted a picture of the accusers’ children.  Kind of a tacit threat I would presume.  At least that’s how I understand the situation at this point.

Wow.

Just…unbelievable.

So the New England Patriots released him yesterday.  Perhaps they never should have signed him in the first place.  We can debate that all day.  Or all month.  Or forever.

The Pats were going to give him a chance with a clean slate.  So would have a handful of other teams as well.  Make no mistake about that.  And it took him a little over a week to mess that up.  It’s too bad because he is immensely talented and I was looking forward to seeing him perform on the field.

But he dug his own grave.  And I, in turn, feel a little dirty for wanting a guy like that on my team.  So if I owe an apology, then you got it.

As for the effect on the Pats on the field, well, no one can say, “well, they didn’t need him anyway”.  Who doesn’t NEED great talent??  But the Pats are pretty talented overall, so the hit may not be all that bad.

I’m also not going to go back and say “well, the team should have never traded Demaryius Thomas because now they need him…”  Thomas, although I wouldn’t mind still having him, may not even be any kind of difference maker anymore.  Remains to be seen.  And I doubt we will see any magic while he is on the Jets.  Especially with the third string QB now taking snaps for the foreseeable future.

I’d rather take my chances with a kid like Jakobi Meyers, to see if there is actually something there.  And to see if Phillip Dorsett can be as useful as many people think he can be with more playing time (I’m still skeptical of that).  If the Jets release Thomas eventually, sure, I’ll take him.  But not worried about that kind of thing…yet…

As long as they don’t start playing Matthew Slater or Gunner O-SHEF-SKI(!!) at receiver more.

Plus, I still expect the Pats to run the ball more this year anyway.  This move may get the third rounder, Damien Harris, into the mix a little bit now.  Would love to see what he can do as well.  And maybe that means more Rex Burkhead out of the slot.  Don’t mind that.

Above all, we really need to be concerned about the offensive line over anything else at this present moment.  A story for another day.

On to the Week Three picks.  After another dud of a Thursday Night Football game.  Marcus Mariota sure looks like a #2 overall pick these days, huh?  Wow, that guy doesn’t look like much anymore.  Not that he ever warranted that draft position, mind you.  I will allow that his offensive line didn’t do him any favors Thursday.  But when your alternative is Ryan Tannehill, you kind of have to stick with Mariota, no?

Anyway, moving on:

Atlanta at Indianapolis (-2.5)

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Indy’s performance thus far this season.  I was surprised by the Falcons’ win over the Eagles last week…but I wouldn’t say it was pleasant.  I don’t believe that Atlanta is that good of a team, despite Julio Jones and some other decent players.  Adam Vinatieri gets back on track here.  That’s all.

Indianapolis 23, Atlanta 20.  

Detroit at Philadelphia (-6.5)

The Lions surprised the Chargers last week.  The Eagles were surprised by the Falcons.  Things will be very different this week.

Philadelphia 31, Detroit 13.

Miami at Dallas (-21.5)

The first of two 20 point spreads this week.  Hard for me to believe I will be taking both favorites.  I don’t believe the Cowboys are truly as good as they have looked so far.  I mean, the two divisional teams they have played thus far are not really any good.  But the Dolphins are historically atrocious.  Doesn’t matter whether Josh Rosen or Fitzmagic is at the helm.

Dallas 42, Miami 10.

Oakland at Minnesota (-7.5) 

Hey, the Raiders only gave up points in one quarter last week against the Chiefs.  Of course, it was 28 of them, but who’s counting?

Minnesota 24, Oakland 17.

Cincinnati at Buffalo (-5.5)

I love how seemingly everyone is jumping on the Bills’ bandwagon so far since they have started 2-0.  They know their opponents have been the Jets and Giants, right?  Cincy probably stinks too, but they almost beat Seattle on their field in Week One.  Something to note.

Cincinnati 20, Buffalo 17.

New York Jets at New England (-22.5)

LUKE FALK!!!  Bill won’t hesitate to run it up on the J-E-T-S.  You think Brady in shotgun with 4 minutes left last week in Miami was in poor taste and also risking injury?  Picture Brady with a bad calf with 30 seconds left in this one throwing bombs and taking timeouts.  Up 50.  Wouldn’t shock me.

New England 52, New York Jets 3.  Lock of the week…yup, even at that number…  

Denver at Green Bay (-7.5) 

Maybe Joseph Flacco really doesn’t have much left.  Although realistically, the Broncos probably should have won last week.  I can’t believe that the Pack has only scored 31 points thus far.  But they have also only given up 19.  Defense wins this game for GB…wait, really?

Green Bay 24, Denver 10.

Baltimore at Kansas City (-6.5) 

Love how everyone is on the Lamar Jackson bandwagon after two games as well.  He may well become a good QB in this league.  But please remember he has played the Dolphins and Cardinals in his two games this year.  The Chiefs may not have the best defense.  But they have to be better than the two aforementioned teams.  And I don’t believe the Ravens’ current defense can be confused with their best ones over the Johnny Harbaugh (or Brian Billick?) era.

Kansas City 34, Baltimore 24.

Carolina (-2.5) at Arizona

This line may have changed once Carolina QB Cam Newton was ruled out, but hey, these are the ones I use.  Although Cam hasn’t looked all that great this season, this has to be considered a negative.  Maybe after dropping their first two games at home, a road game is what the doctor ordered for Riverboat Ron and his troops.  I doubt it though.

Arizona 17, Carolina 13. 

New York Giants at Tampa Bay (-6.5)

ELI HAS BEEN BENCHED!!  ELI HAS BEEN BENCHED!!  I don’t know if Danny Jones is the answer.  But I do know Eli is not.  And yes, I am still bitter about the two Super Bowl losses to him.

New York Giants 23, Tampa Bay 18.

New Orleans at Seattle (-5.5)

Drew Brees is out and Teddy Bridgewater looked brutal in his stead last week.  The Seahawks are generally unbeatable at home.  Good enough for me.

Seattle 24, New Orleans 16.  

Houston at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5)

I honestly don’t know what to make of either of these two teams as of yet.

Los Angeles Chargers 24, Houston 20. 

Pittsburgh at San Francisco (-6.5)

Just counting down the minutes until Jimmy Football gets hurt again.  In the meantime, this Steeler season could get even uglier soon.  Can Minkah Fitzpatrick play offense??  Hope that first rounder was worth it for him.

San Francisco 31, Pittsburgh 17.

Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) at Cleveland

The Browns smoked the Jets last Monday, but I can’t say it was all that impressive.  Have people jumped off the bandwagon here yet?  I was never on, despite expecting them to improve this year nonetheless.  People are poo-pooing the Rams this year for some reason.  Yeah, Jared Goff needs the earpiece.  But they have some talent all over the field.  I see Cooper Kupp play and thank our Lord Jesus H. Christ and the Baby Jesus for him being hurt for last years’ Super Bowl.

Los Angeles Rams 37, Cleveland 17.  

Chicago (-4.5) at Washington

Remind me not to put on Monday Night Football this week either.

Chicago 17, Washington 14.  

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  0-1

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  2-0

Season (against the spread):  17-16

Season (straight up):  24-9

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