…welp (Keo!!!), we cannot start talking about Week Eleven of the NFL season without referencing that ugly scene in Cleveland on Thursday Night.
Unless you live in a cave, by now you certainly have heard that Browns defensive lineman Myles Garrett wound up and smashed Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with Rudolph’s own helmet. This after Garrett was twisting Rudolph’s head by his face mask a bunch of different ways before tearing the helmet off completely.
Now, yeah, Rudolph “started it”, by trying to rip Garrett’s helmet off after Garrett took him down after a pass attempt. Apparently, Rudolph was also ummmmmm…making sure Garrett spoke in a high voice for at least a short period of time. when they both eventually got up from that particular part of the play.
That’s a lot of what I have been hearing anyway.
But wait…didn’t Garrett really “start it”, by hauling Rudolph down somewhat forcefully even though the Steelers QB had already long released the pass? That’s how I saw it. But not hearing a bunch of that since games end.
Either way, both of these guys were in the wrong. Just so happens that one of the guys was waaaaaaay more in the wrong than the other.
Now, I have no idea what was said during any of this. But does it matter?
The game was essentially over and Garrett was a little aggressive on the initial takedown. And if Rudolph took exception to that, can we blame him?
No…but he probably shouldn’t have “taken it to the next level”, so to speak. That being said, Garrett shouldn’t have taken it a million levels further right after that.
Football is a violent game. But what happened was a little over the top, for sure.
Garrett has already been suspended indefinitely by the league…for at least the rest of the season (including playoffs…as if the Browns are getting there. But I guess it has to be said…in case a miracle happens and they do make it). Kudos to the NFL for acting swiftly. And one doesn’t hear the words “kudos to the NFL…” quite often.
If it were me, I’d also take him out for half a season next year. Set some sort of huge precedent.
I know, some of the “real” criminals in the NFL have gotten lesser suspensions. “Real” meaning, “done some serious stuff in real life off the field”.
But this one could have been catastrophic if the helmet hit Rudolph in the right place. The NFL cannot control all of its players off of the field. But sending a message here could hopefully help them control some things better on the field.
Then again, I’d take some of the more egregious criminals out of the league for life. Like the domestic violence offenders for one. A handful of others as well…drug dealers, weapons distributors, etc…but not someone who likes to smoke a little weed, that is. But I digress…
Plus, though the popular narrative is that after the game, Garrett sounded contrite and all…I don’t know…not from what I saw. He SAID all the right things. But I wouldn’t say the way he carried himself during the interview showed a whole lot of contrition. That’s my feeling anyway.
And whither Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers center who was last seen kicking Garrett in the helmet while Garrett laid on the ground?
Pouncey got suspended for 3 games, but I don’t believe enough has been made of this. It’s ok to protect and support your quarterback. But when is it ok to start kicking people in the head…even if the helmet was still on Garretts’ head? I suppose we should also question what Pouncey was thinking when he initially tried to rain down haymakers…into a facemask…but we will leave that one alone.
In any event, I’d have tossed him for the season too.
Browns defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi got one game for pushing Rudolph down for no real reason…seems about right.
But maybe Rudolph deserves a game too?
Worth talking about anyway.
As for criminal charges, threatened by Rudolph’s agent yesterday? On one hand, if that happened on the street, there would absolutely be legal action.
But if they start doing that on the field of play? What kind of can of worms will that then open?
I mean, most of us laughed almost a decade ago, where in the NHL, Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara checked Montreal Canadien Max Pacioretty into a stanchion, resulting in a season ending injury for Pacioretty. Well, we didn’t laugh at that specific play. We laughed when there was a big uproar in Montreal, and Montreal law enforcement “took a look at it” and considered filing charges against Big Z. Even though Chara was never suspended by the NHL.
No charges were filed, but we all thought the talk about that was kind of ridiculous.
I suppose that since that was a check and not something like someone waving a hockey stick around looking for blood makes it a different story. And swinging a helmet around looking for blood may actually be that “different story”.
Just think about it though, the courts getting involved in stuff like that…stuff that happens on the field. If it has happened somewhere at some point in the past, I am not sure I know about it. So if it has, my bad.
But if it hasn’t, it’s not really something we all want. To bring the justice system inside the playing field. Speaking of “taking things to the next level”. Not necessarily a good thing. When boxers kill someone in the ring, they don’t go to jail, do they? Ok, maybe not apples and oranges here, because boxers are SUPPOSED to be fighting. But I think you get my point.
In any event, this situation was an eye-opener. And hopefully, it actually did open some eyes. Players past and present are saying the right things anyway. That doesn’t hurt.
Let’s just hope those feelings last.
As for the rest of the games, short and sweet after that elongated opening:
Dallas (-3.5) at Detroit
I still don’t love the Cowboys. But we are looking at Jeff Driskel instead of Matthew Stafford again this week.
Dallas 31, Detroit 13.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis (-2.5)
Jacoby Brissett will be back, but so will Nick Foles. Indy is still heading in the wrong direction.
Jacksonville 21, Indianapolis 17.
Atlanta at Carolina (-5.5)
I’m not buying into any Falcon resurgence, despite the big win against New Orleans last week.
Carolina 27, Atlanta 21.
Buffalo (-5.5) at Miami
Look out for the Dolphins!! Kind of…
Buffalo 23, Miami 20.
Denver at Minnesota (-10.5)
Let down for the Vikes this week? Broncos off a bye too. But I don’t think so.
Minnesota 31, Denver 17.
New York Jets at Washington (-1.5)
Washington 17, New York Jets 13.
Houston at Baltimore (-4.5)
Texans off a bye, can they slow this Raven train down a bit? Just a hunch.
Houston 34, Baltimore 31.
New Orleans (-5.5) at Tampa Bay
Two weeks in a row for the Saints? I doubt it.
New Orleans 38, Tampa Bay 31.
Arizona at San Francisco (-13.5)
The Niners’ schedule gets significantly tougher in the second half of the season. Maybe not yet, but this one could be close as well.
San Francisco 27, Arizona 24.
New England (-3.5) at Philadelphia
Super Bowl rematch? Seriously?? I love it when things are marketed like this. Actually, this time hasn’t been as bad as what usually happens. Either way, the Eagles will be missing some key guys. The Pats are off a bye and likely have been stewing about their first loss that happened right before it. The doubters have been starting to come out. The Pats usually respond to that.
New England 31, Philadelphia 17.
Cincinnati at Oakland (-10.5)
The Raiders are a double-digit favorite??! Ummmm, yup, against the Bengals they are. Isn’t every team a double-digit favorite against the Bengals?
Oakland 27, Cincinnati 13. Lock of the week. (Raiders the lock?? Scary!!)
Chicago at Los Angeles Rams (-6.5)
The Bears have been muddling along all season. But so haven’t the Rams. Your guess is as good as mine here.
Los Angeles Rams 24, Chicago 23.
Kansas City (-3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
Not looking at much defense here.
Kansas City 38, San Diego 34.
Week (against the spread): 1-0
Week (straight up): 1-0
Lock Of The Week (season, ATS): 5-5
Season (against the spread): 75-74
Season (straight up): 97-52
Ok, that title was a reach.
But the point is, the NFL just isn’t what it’s supposed to be this season:
*After the New England Patriots’ 8-0 start, the masses (especially locally) were all ready to hand them their 7th Lombardi Trophy. Despite getting all of those wins against horrendous competition. After getting smoked by the Baltimore Ravens a week and a half ago, the first legitimate team they have played, now the masses (especially locally) are fretting about the rest of the season. Like they are going to finish 11-5 or something.
*Kansas City has 4 losses. Sure, Patrick Mahomes was out for a stretch. But he came back and threw for almost 450 yards and the Chiefs still lost. Their defense is ghastly.
*Lots of backup QBs are in the mix now. The Saints had a nice stretch from Teddy Bridgewater. The Titans are getting some production out of Ryan Tannehill. The Jaguars got a little boost from Gardner Minshew II. Carolina and Pittsburgh are having some success with Kyle Allen and Mason Rudolph, respectively. Those are the good stories. Some kids such as Ryan Finley, Brandon Allen and Dwayne Haskins have recently taken over so who knows? But some of these backups have come in and been pretty good, surprisingly enough. I’m sure it has happened, but I am not sure I remember so many different QBs playing in one season. Even “long time consecutive start” guys like Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford have missed time this season. Interesting to me anyway.
*The Rams seem to have more than the proverbial “Super Bowl loser hangover”.
*Seattle is only 3-2 at home, but 5-0 on the road. The Chiefs are 2-3 at home and 4-1 on the road. Not typical.
*Kirk Cousins took a lot of heat in September. Now the Vikings are 7-3 and aren’t looking so bad after all.
*Lamar Jackson looked like he couldn’t play for a high school team in last years’ playoffs. Now he has a real shot at an MVP award.
*Buffalo is 6-3. This could change for sure. But still shocking.
*San Francisco is 8-1. Similar to the Pats, they haven’t faced very many powerhouses either. So we will see where they finish after their rough stretch the rest of the season. Still…8-1?
*The kickers are more abysmal than ever. Once they moved the extra point line back a few years ago, kickers started wetting themselves all over the place. But this year? Just truly awful. Led by Adam Vinatieri. Sure, Adam is like 127 years old. But he still kicks mostly indoors. And he has missed like 13 kicks this season. He is only the tip of the iceberg, however. The kicking is worse than ever.
*The Miami Dolphins are supposed to be tanking, right? Didn’t they trade and/or release a lot of veterans prior to and even during the season? And acquire a whole slew of draft picks? So what the hell are they doing winning two in a row?
*The Raiders are over .500 and competitive?? This could be the most surprising development of the 2019 NFL season.
I am sure there are more…and more specific examples of course. But that’s at least a capsule look at some of the crazy stuff going on in the league in the 2019 season.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland (-2.5)
The Steelers have won 5 of 6, though not against Murderer’s Row by anyone’s count. The Browns have lost 4 of 5 and have looked fairly pathetic all year. Thursday Night game, divisional matchup. You know what that means.
Cleveland 21, Pittsburgh 17.
Week (against the spread): 7-6
Week (straight up): 7-6
Lock Of The Week (season, ATS): 5-5
Season (against the spread): 74-74
Season (straight up): 96-52
…no comments necessary to start:
Jacksonville (-7.5) at Cleveland
The Jags have beaten up on bad teams this year for the most part. Cleveland is a bad team.
Jacksonville 27, Cleveland 13.
Tampa Bay at Miami (-2.5)
Tampa has certainly underachieved this year, but I am not sure how Miami can be favored against anyone.
Tampa Bay 23, Miami 17.
Arizona (-1.5) at Houston
Blaine Gabbert versus Tom Savage. Ugh…
Houston 17, Arizona 14.
Washington at New Orleans (-7.5)
Spread initially seemed a little high to me, but then again the ‘Skins gave up 38 to Case Keenum last week and now have to face the explosive Saints in their dome at home. Then the number made more sense.
New Orleans 42, Washington 24.
Kansas City (-10.5) at New York Giants
The G-Men got blasted by the previously winless 49ers last week. It’s over…
Kansas City 37, New York Giants 10.
Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota (-2.5)
The Rams are 7-2 and are putting up a ton of points. Great story. But the schedule hasn’t actually been loaded with quality opponents either. The Vikings are 7-2 as well…and are a quality opponent.
Minnesota 27, Los Angeles Rams 24.
Baltimore (-2.5) at Green Bay
A few years ago, this would have been a marquee matchup. Sunday? Not so much.
Baltimore 21, Green Bay 16.
Detroit (-2.5) at Chicago
Could be a better game than we think. Then again, could be a snoozer too.
Detroit 27, Chicago 20.
Buffalo at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5)
Sean McDermott didn’t come to Buffalo to be 5-4. What?!! 5-4 is AWESOME for Buffalo these days! Tyrod Taylor is no Hall of Famer, but the switch to some dude named Nathan Peterman at this point in the season appears to be a head scratcher.
Los Angeles Chargers 20, Buffalo 10.
Cincinnati at Denver (-2.5)
I normally would have no problem picking Denver here as I would be convinced that they would turn it around and get back on track. But 5 losses in a row and 92 points given up the last two weeks are hard to ignore. They may be quitting on their coach on top of everything else. But then I notice the Broncos are playing the Bengals. Such a dilemma.
Denver 27, Cincinnati 21.
New England (-6.5) “at” Oakland
In Mexico City. The Pats may be hitting their stride. I don’t know what Oakland is doing.
New England 38, Oakland 24.
Philadelphia (-3.5) at Dallas
Dallas got pasted by the Falcons last week. The Eagles are absolutely rolling right now. This pick won’t make any sense to anyone. I’m still trying to figure it out. Total gut feeling.
Dallas 31, Philadelphia 27.
Atlanta at Seattle (-2.5)
Seattle has some injuries in their secondary. But despite the Falcons big win at home against Dallas last week, still not buying in.
Seattle 30, Atlanta 24.
Week (against the spread): 1-0
Week (straight up): 1-0
Season (against the spread): 72-75
Season (straight up): 94-53