…jumping right in and feeling confident…let’s see how long that lasts:
New Orleans (-2.5) at Buffalo
Actually, starting off on one that I have no confidence in at all. Buffalo at home, where they are 4-0. New Orleans outside a dome, where they historically don’t play as well. Probably a cold weather game. Buffalo with 10 days to prepare after getting blasted by the Jets. Seems like a Buffalo pick, no? Well, no…and this is purely a gut feeling with no rhyme or reason behind it.
New Orleans 27, Buffalo 23.
Pittsburgh (-10.5) at Indianapolis
Indy has been a fairly competitive 3-6 team. But not this week.
Pittsburgh 31, Indianapolis 17.
Cleveland at Detroit (-11.5)
There’s usually no way in hell I’d ever lay 11.5 with Matty Stafford and the Lions. But I just have no more words to describe how bad the Browns really are.
Detroit 38, Cleveland 13.
Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville (-4.5)
Kind of another gut feeling here as well. Jax at 5-3 just doesn’t feel right to me. The Jags at 6-3 just seems even sillier. I think that’s all it comes down to for me actually.
Los Angeles Chargers 24, Jacksonville 21.
Green Bay at Chicago (-4.5)
Hard to believe that the Packers lose one guy and they completely fall apart. I know, Aaron Rodgers as that one guy is obviously huge. But Tom Brady missed a year and the Pats rode Matty Cassel to a more than respectable 11-5. Though when the Colts lost Peyton Manning for his year, they went 2-14. So I guess it shouldn’t be too hard to believe for the Packers. Whatever…
Chicago 20, Green Bay 13.
New York Jets (-2.5) at Tampa Bay
Tampa is reeling, no doubt. Lost 5 in a row. Jameis Winston is out. The J-E-T-S are a (very) surprising 4-5. But can this be a Ryan Fitzpatrick revenge game? FITZY!!!!
Tampa Bay 31, New York Jets 27.
Minnesota (-1.5) at Washington
This one I think could be a good one. Really? Yup. Big win for the ‘Skins last week at Seattle, coming back late…not one of Kirk Cousins’ strengths. Got them back to .500. The Vikes have cruised to 4 in a row, but against inferior competition. Should be a close battle, but going with the home team here.
Washington 24, Minnesota 23.
Cincinnati at Tennessee (-5.5)
How did A.J. Green not get suspended? Guess it really doesn’t matter for the Bungles.
Tennessee 27, Cincinnati 14.
Houston at Los Angeles Rams (-11.5)
Doesn’t appear that anyone can stop the Rams this year. Certainly not the injury-ravaged Texans, I would think.
Los Angeles Rams 34, Houston 13.
New York Giants (-0.5) at San Francisco
Hopefully no one is subjected to this game being televised in their market. Teams are a combined 1-16, so I suppose the half a point spread is about right. I don’t know if the Niners plan on starting (or even playing) Jimmy Garoppolo. But I say they should. The Colts threw Jacoby Brissett right into the mix and he has been serviceable. Isn’t Jimmy G supposed to be better? Plus, what better team to start him out at than the pathetic G-Men? OK, maybe the Browns, but you get my point. Just do it!
New York Giants 14, San Francisco 13.
Dallas at Atlanta (-2.5)
So I guess the Ezekiel Elliott suspension is back in force. I still believe the ‘Boys have enough to win without him. I said last week that I thought the Falcons look like they are done and I’m sticking to it. Especially after that brutal drop by Julio Jones last week on that 4th down play where he was 10 yards behind the defense. There’s really no explanation for that. Other than that the team is done.
Dallas 27, Atlanta 20.
New England (-7.5) at Denver
Speaking of things I said last week, I said that Denver’s D was still legit. Then they went out and gave up 51 to the Eagles. Nice call. But still, I am not ready to give up on the Bronco D at this point. I’ll give up on their QB’s, but not the D. The Pats are coming off a bye, but believe it or not, they’ve struggled some in that situation over the years…from what I recall anyway. Denver is always a tough place to play. It appears that Phillip Dorsett will log heavy snaps at receiver Sunday night, obviously not ideal. Game will be closer than most think. I wouldn’t even be shocked if the Broncos won.
New England 27, Denver 23.
Miami at Carolina (-9.5)
I still think Miami stinks, despite their 4-4 record. But the 9.5 seems a little high to me. The Panthers don’t exactly blow teams out.
Carolina 24, Miami 17.
Week (against the spread): 1-0
Week (straight up): 1-0
Season (against the spread): 66-67
Season (straight up): 85-48
…this week’s Thursday Night Football game, that is. But we pick every game here, so there’s that. I’m still getting over the excitement of Brian Hoyer signing a three-year deal with the Pats on Wednesday. Ok, everyone knew that. And absolutely no one was actually excited. But three years? Were other teams lining up to sign him?
Yeah, I know a “three-year NFL contract” isn’t really a “three-year NFL contract”. But still. Seems a little steep. But I guess Hoyer may have finally realized that his remaining NFL future is as a backup, at best. And he may as well spend that in what should be a sweet situation behind Tom Brady in New England. For as long as he can.
What it also tells me that the Patriots probably are comfortable with this QB situation for those 3 years. And perhaps they use San Fran’s 2nd rounder on a third QB to develop into the starter after Brady finally shows his age and hangs it up? Supposed to be a deep quarterback draft…at least I think that’s what I have heard.
One thing is for sure: I’m still not digging the Jimmy G trade. But I will probably eventually come around. The Patriots pretty much make me do that almost every time.
As for the Thursday game…
Buffalo (-3.5) at New York Jets
Is it time to start taking the Bills seriously? I don’t know. Besides beating the Jets already, the Bills have beaten the Broncos, Falcons, Buccaneers and Raiders. Looks great on paper, right? But in reality, those four teams have all underachieved to some degree this year. The Bills have also lost to the Panthers and Bengals. Couple of middle of the road teams as well. So it’s hard to say if we all should be buying in on them yet.
That all being said, I feel comfortable taking them against the J-E-T-S…even on the road this time…
Buffalo 23, New York Jets 17.
Week (against the spread): 5-8
Week (straight up): 10-3
Season (against the spread): 55-64
Season (straight up): 74-45
…the one where we here in this space insisted for quite some time that the New England Patriots’ plan for the quarterback position was to have Jimmy Garoppolo take over the starting job by the start of the 2019 season. Tom Brady will turn 42 in the 2019 preseason and really, how much further can he go? I know, he talks about playing into his mid-40s and takes care of himself and blah, blah, blah. But there simply isn’t any kind of track record of QB’s performing at a high level after age 40. What makes Brady (and anyone else) think he will be different?
I say this often about players, but it’s certainly valid: I don’t know if Garoppolo can actually play QB in the NFL at a high level. Or even at an average level. Sure, he looked pretty good for 6 quarters at the beginning of 2016. He also didn’t play the other 2 games of Brady’s suspension due to injury and many people believed that he could have sucked it up and played…at least the last one after missing one week. So that could be viewed as a little bit of a red flag. But who really knows if he was the real deal?
You know who did think he was a sure thing though? Bill Belichick.
Now, Bill has obviously never said that publicly. But you can tell by his actions. He hung on to him all of this time. He apparently tried to re-sign him to some sort of “bridge” deal covering the time until (ideally) Brady retired. Hell, he originally drafted him higher than most people thought Jimmy G would go. And also drafted him when Brady theoretically had plenty of “life” left. Add in the comments Bill made in his press conference earlier Tuesday, seemingly not happy to have traded Garoppolo. And the fact that Belichick most likely would have loved to try to win a Super Bowl post-Brady. I think all of this and then some means Bill thought he was the next guy.
Because of all of that, I believed that Jimmy Football was the next guy. Again, who knows, since he really hasn’t played many meaningful snaps? But from the above with Belichick and also trusting Bill knows what he has seen in practice for the past three and a half years, I had to go with that theory, right?
So that all being said, the Blowhard does not like the deal. Other reasons? You got it, in no particular order:
*Only a second rounder in return? Seems light. IS light. People are now saying that Cleveland did not offer a first and some other compensation over the spring/summer as has been reported widely all along. Who knows what reports are accurate? But you’d have to believe they would have gotten more than just a second rounder if they shopped Jimmy G this past offseason. I see at the deadline that Cincinnati almost dealt their backup QB, AJ McCarron, to Cleveland for a 2nd and 3rd rounder. McCarron has played a few more games in the NFL than Garoppolo. But not since 2015. Probably puts them in the same ballpark as to what to expect for compensation. Side note: Glad to see that the Browns screwed things up again by filing late paperwork and not getting the McCarron deal done. Great work.
*Why now? Sure, they get a pick in the low 30’s in 2018. Instead of perhaps a pick in the high 90’s in 2019 (as a result of the compensatory pick process if they consummated a trade after this season). Yeah, that’s a 60ish spot difference and a year earlier. But who cares? Bill is going to turn that 2nd rounder into a third and two fourths at some point anyway. It’s not like they got a top-10 pick. What happens if something happens to Brady this year? After all, he is getting crushed every week. It could be a matter of time before he goes down.
*Speaking of something happening to Brady, what happens if his play falls off a cliff next year? Not unheard of at that age. And the Pats then will have traded the “future” a year or so too early.
*Why now, Part II? The Patriots could have franchise tagged Jimmy after this year and then dealt him off of that tag if they so desired. Once again, you would think that he would demand more compensation than a second rounder in the offseason. When you could market him more. One year at huge dollars would not scare teams off. Including the 49ers, whom reports indicate have a ton of cap space available. Plus, the team that acquires him could work out a long-term deal which would work better for that franchise. And probably Jimmy himself.
*I believe Patriot owner Robert Kraft called the shot on this one. Why? Because in a situation like the QB one, Belichick ALWAYS opts for the younger player eventually. Because, you know, that makes too much sense. I know, as an owner, I suppose Kraft should have final say in everything. Since he is footing the bill overall. And I know, Brady is clearly a special case here. It’s one thing to trade guys like Mike Vrabel, Logan Mankins or Richard Seymour…or release a guy like Lawyer Milloy. It’s completely different when you are talking about one of the best to ever play the game. Delicate situation, no question.
But one also has to think about the football team on the field. And you can bet that keeping Brady for the short-term over Garoppolo for the long-term has to do with business…something that is the owner’s right…but something that as a fan I hate.
When an owner gets too involved in any teams’ on the field decisions, it makes me think of Jerry Jones. Not positive. But it also brings me back to the days when Kraft was using a stopwatch to time Tebucky Jones. I’m all set with owners meddling too much with the on the field product. Even if Kraft doesn’t really do that any more. And even if it is only this one case. Let the football people make the football decisions.
*Why now, Part III. Wouldn’t it have made some sense to keep Jacoby Brissett if they had an idea that maybe Jimmy would have to be traded at some point? Brissett has looked competent, at the very least, for the Colts after getting traded there right before the season. Maybe he looks even better if he had a whole preseason and offseason with the team and not getting thrown into the fire there right from the start…on a bad team, no less. Maybe long-term Brissett can’t play either. But he sure would be nice to have right this second.
*It amazes me that the Patriots obviously banked a little bit on Jimmy signing that “bridge” deal mentioned above. Something like a 2 or 3 year deal for good money, but not starters money for sure. But why would Garoppolo do that? He’s in his 4th year here. He has 2 Super Bowl rings already. He hasn’t made a ton of money. And of course hasn’t played much. Why would he want to wait another 1-5 years to take over this team? I would think he wants to play…and of course get a fat second contract. We all wanted Jimmy G to take a contract that benefited the team. But if you were in his shoes, would you? Ultimately, he wants to play. And if I had a backup QB on my team that DIDN’T want to play, I wouldn’t want him on my team. I don’t blame him one bit. I just can’t believe that the Pats thought they could pull that kind of contract off with him.
So we will see what happens from here. San Francisco is 0-8. Maybe Jimmy G goes there and is putrid and then has an average career after his stock drops. Maybe Brian Hoyer comes here as a backup to Brady, Brady gets hurt and then the Patriots ride Hoyer to another Super Bowl win. Maybe Jimmy Football is like every other highly touted Patriot backup QB that never makes it…Ryan Mallett, Rohan Davey, Kevin O’Connell, Matt Cassel et al…including Hoyer himself. Maybe the Pats use that SF pick on a QB from next year’s supposedly deep draft at the position, Brady plays 2 more years at a high level and then that pick takes over and wins games and Super Bowls. Or maybe Brady plays at a high level until his Social Security kicks in.
We just don’t know. But on the surface, there doesn’t seem to be a lot to like about this deal.