AMOS: The Four Kings

I hate to be the bearer of bad news to the fans of the other 28 NFL teams, but by the end of week 11 it became apparent there are really only 4 teams that matter. Many will protest that not a single team has been mathematically eliminated from the post-season yet, that even the 0-10 Cleveland Browns stand a 1 in 19,649,922,085,969,900,000 chance of playing in January, but I’m not hearing that bullshit. On Sunday, January 21, 2018, the four teams you will watch on TV will be the Patriots, Steelers, Eagles, and Saints. So if you’re a fan of any of those teams, sit back and enjoy the next two months doing non-football related activities, and tune back in when it matters.

If he followed his own advice, there might be five teams that matter.

As for the rest of the league, there are four other teams that almost matter. It’s been a fun year for Jacksonville (who thought they’d make the playoffs?), and the Rams and Vikings have been pleasant surprises, and the Panthers have bounced back nicely from their 2016 Super Bowl loss hangover, but let’s face it, you guys are all window dressing. Better luck next year.

This guy could make things fun.

Is there anything compelling about the wild card races? Certainly not in the AFC, with the possible exception of the Chargers starting 0-4 and hopefully making the playoffs. The Ravens or Titans might back in via the sheer incompetence of the rest of the field. Speaking of which, how ‘bout them Chiefs?

…Happy Thanksgiving, Vikings fans!

In the NFC the Seahawks are crippled by injuries, the Cowboys are flailing their way to mediocrity, the Lions are making a charge on the arm of Matt Stafford and the leg of Matt Prater, and the Falcons just might turn it around in time to be the third post-season entrant from the NFC South. So if you’re a Chargers fan, keep watching until their next loss. If you’re a Seahawks fan, just watch the magic that is Russell Wilson, even though your season will be over on December 31. If you’re a Lions fan, have fun, you don’t get to the playoffs often, maybe you’ll get to lose on wild card weekend. If you’re a Falcons fan, do you really want to go there again? And if, like me, you’re a Cowboys fan, do you even want to watch the Thanksgiving game?

Keith Null had to be sitting on his sofa thinking, “…and they say it’s lonely at the top…”

Everyone else in the league flat out sucks. But there’s a special kind of suckage in Buffalo, where the major sports leagues’ longest playoff drought is going to continue, come hell or high water or Nathan Peterman. In a move no one saw coming, Bills head coach Sean McDermott woke up last Wednesday and decided to set his dick on fire announced Tyrod Taylor would be benched for future answer to a depressing sports trivia question, Nathan Peterman. At 5-4, the Bills had as good a shot at the playoffs as the Ravens, Titans, or just about anybody in the AFC West. Why McDermott would decide to bench Taylor for a road game against the Chargers is anybody’s guess. Did Taylor have a three-way with McDermott’s wife and mom? There is no other explanation. Whatever the reason, the decision backfired in the worst way imaginable, and Nathan Peterman almost broke Bret Favre’s career interceptions record in the first half of the 54-24 blow out loss. This is the dumbest thing anyone has done in the NFL all year. Even dumber than someone else’s idea to fake a field goal last Sunday.

They didn’t need those 3 points anyway…

The Seahawks lost a ridiculously heartbreaking home game to the Falcons Monday night, 34-31. Russell Wilson proved again he is the most valuable player in the league this year, even if he doesn’t manage to win the actual award. Wilson was responsible for 310 of the team’s 360 yards of offense, once again leading the team in rushing yards with 86 on 7 carries. He also accounted for the team’s only rushing TD. But none of that communicates the countless times Wilson extends plays that would result in a sack or turnover for any other QB. If Wilson had a decent offensive line, the Seahawks would still be leading Super Bowl contenders, but he runs for his life on almost every play, and turns most of them into positive yardage. But the most painful thing about this loss was Pete Carroll’s moronic decision to try a fake field goal at the end of the half on a 4th and 1 from the Falcons 17 yard line with :07 left on the clock, down 24-17. Punter/kick holder Jon Ryan shoveled a pass to back up tight end Luke Willson, and Willson was tackled behind the line of scrimmage. I wonder how Seahawks fans felt about that play as Blair Walsh’s 51 yard attempt at the end of the game fell a foot and a half short of the crossbar?

Last week I mentioned that some team was going to overlook the struggling Giants and lose to them, but that it wouldn’t be the Chiefs. As with many things football this year, I was dead wrong about that. Or maybe I was half right, which better than I’ve been picking games against the spread. The Chiefs managed to barely show up and lost in overtime, 12-9. I was wrong about this game, but I take solace in being one of the few observers who wasn’t buying the 5-0 Chiefs invincibility back in October. I said Andy Reid and Alex Smith would find a way to be who they are, and that’s what’s led them to now being 6-4 and in danger of losing a seemingly insurmountable lead in the AFC West.

AMOS OPOTW

Brown’s homage to the helmet catch.

Mark Ingram almost won this for the second consecutive week, as he rushed for 134 yards on only 11 carries and a TD in the Saints win, but Steelers WR Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 144 yards and 3 TDs in the Steelers victory over the Titans. Congratulations, Antonio Brown, you are the week 11 AMOS OPOTW!

AMOS DPOTW

Congratulations, Mr. Collins, you are the week 11 AMOS DPOTW!

How about some love for the Giants? Third year safety Landon Collins recorded 15 tackles, 11 solo, and an interception in the Giants upset win over the Chiefs.

AARB

The Raiders could’ve used more of this early on.

Marshawn Lynch had a pretty good day, carrying the ball 11 times for 67 yards, though he was curiously on the sideline early in the game in a 4th and 1 situation, watching a teammate who only had 5 carries on the season get tackled behind the line of scrimmage. No telling what kind of day he would’ve had with 25 touches, but it’s tough to run the ball when you’re down by 30 points.

Cardinals RB Adrian Peterson got 14 carries, which he parlayed into 26 yards. I wonder if he still feels he has “four or five good years left”?

Our elder statesman, Frank Gore, had a bye week, so his weekly 17-51-0 stat line also had the week off.

A Month Of Sundays A Moment of Schadenfreude

Who’s feeling the ‘Freude now?

The Cowboys did what they could to lock up this week’s AMOS AMOS, but they were outdone by Sean McDermott. I would ordinarily wonder if a move this stupid wasn’t motivated by something nefarious, like shaving points or throwing a game, but that would be too obvious, right? The Bills were wild card contenders, and Taylor has thrown only 5 INTs in his last 434 attempts. Peterman threw that many in a single half on only 14 attempts. Only one other QB since 1990 has thrown 5 INTs in his NFL debut, that being the immortal Keith Null of the Rams in 2009.

Week 12 picks

DETROIT (6-4) +3 vs Minnesota (8-2)

Although these are not among The Teams That Matter, this should be an interesting game. Minnesota can essentially lock up the NFC North with a win, and the Lions can turn it into a legit race by pulling off the upset. The Vikings have won six games in a row, while the Lions ride a three game victory streak. I keep waiting for Case Keenum to play like the career pine rider he is, but he’s operating behind one of the best offensive lines in the league and despite injuries at the so-called “skill positions,” he’s not short of weaponry. Logic would dictate the Vikings are the better overall team and ought to win, but I’m feeling the Lions in this one. Getting three points is nice, but I don’t think they’ll be necessary.

Los Angeles Chargers (4-6) -1 at DALLAS (5-5)

Laws of Parity favor the Chargers, as do the Cowboys recent extreme suckage. Add to that the fact that Dallas is coming off a Sunday night game (in which they got their asses handed to them), so they’ll be operating on about 7 hours less rest in an already short week, and I smell disaster. My only hesitation in picking the Chargers is that Tyron Smith will play, and the Chargers are dead last against the run. Maybe Alfred Morris will have a big game? Curiously, the team with the worse record has a much better chance of earning a playoff spot, as San Diego is only two games out of first place and compete for a wild card spot in a much weaker conference. After their 0-4 start, the Chargers are an easy team to root for. The tipping point for me is I don’t think the Cowboys defense can stop anybody right now.

New York Giants (2-8) +7.5 at WASHINGTON (4-6)

Washington is coming off a devastating defeat to one of the Teams That Matter, while the Giants are coming off a pride win. Being a divisional game, this could be a dog fight. I like Washington to prevail, but I think the Giants will keep it close. That last half point feels pretty good.

ATLANTA (6-4) -9.5 vs Tampa Bay (4-6)

Both teams have won two in a row, the difference being the Falcons have beaten the Cowboys and Seahawks, while the Bucs have beaten the Dolphins and the Jets. And Jameis Winston is not likely to be playing. Can Ryan Fitzpatrick keep the Bucs within 10 points? Probably not.

Cleveland (0-10) +8 at CINCINNATI (4-6)

Only because I want to see the Browns shave their playoff odds down to the 1:quadrillions. And this is one of two winnable games left on the Browns schedule.

Tennessee (6-4) -3 at INDIANAPOLIS (3-7)

One team has something the play for, the other team doesn’t. If the spread was 7 or more, I might be taking the Colts.

Buffalo (5-5) +10 at KANSAS CITY (6-4)

Bills head coach Sean McDermott on Wednesday named Tyrod Taylor his QB “for week 12,” but promised nothing beyond that. I’m not ruling out Tyrod Taylor going nuts, having a gigantic “FU!” game and, if not pulling off the upset, at least making it close. Then again, the Bills run defense has been atrocious in recent weeks, so Kareem Hunt could make me regret this. In any event, ten points are a lot.

NEW ENGLAND (8-2) -16.5 vs Miami (4-6)

newenglandpatriotsvoaklandraiderscqcg_dtx82ol

Finally, one of the Teams That Matter. Sixteen and a half is a lot of points, but it didn’t take much research to discover half of Miami’s losses this year have been by more than that.

NEW YORK JETS (4-6) +4.5 vs Carolina (7-3)

Initially, I thought I’d need 7 points to take the Jets, but they’ve kept most of their games close, and frankly, I don’t completely rule out an upset here.

PHILADELPHIA (9-1) -13.5 vs Chicago (3-7)

Another Team That Matters playing as a prohibitive favorite at home against a team that sucks. Seems risky to be giving all these points in two games, but the Eagles have covered this number in their last three games, so why not four, especially when facing a rookie QB?

SAN FRANCISCO (1-9) +6.5 vs Seattle (6-4)

I like the Seahawks to win, but they are banged up on defense and have no running game outside of Russell Wilson. Unfortunately for the 49ers, Russell Wilson’s feet will probably be enough, at least as long as Pete Carroll doesn’t do anything stupid.

Denver (3-7) +5 at OAKLAND (4-6)

The Broncos are in disarray, but I’ve got a hunch they will win their first road game of the year on pure anger. Or at least cover the spread.

New Orleans (8-2) +2.5 vs LOS ANGELESE RAMS (7-3)

The third Team That Matters this week has much taller order than their two predecessors, but at least they’re getting points on the road. The Rams didn’t look good last week when they faced one of the league’s better teams, so we’ll see how they respond this week. I’m of the opinion that the Saints are the most complete team in the league, so I favor them to pull the upset, even if they are due for a loss after 8 consecutive wins.

Jacksonville (7-3) -5 at ARIZONA (4-6)

Jacksonville’s defense is in range to have a historically great season. There are valid statistical comparisons to the ’85 Bears and ’00 Ravens. And they’ll be facing one of the worst offenses in the league. Giving five points seems easy, even on the road.

PITTSBURGH (8-2) -14 vs Green Bay (5-5)

The final Team That Matters will play Sunday night against a Team That Would Have Mattered, if not for a certain broken collarbone. So, will Brett Hundley settle down and get into a groove with his receiving corps? I don’t think so. If the over/under on Hundley INTs is 2.5, I’m taking the over. Fourteen points is a lot, and I’m definitely nervous about giving away all the big point spreads this week, but I haven’t been very good at this stuff in 2017, and I gotta be me.

Houston (4-6) +7 at BALTIMORE (5-5)

The Ravens should win, but I’m apparently convinced they won’t cover.

Last week: 8-5-1

Season: 68-85-6

 

 

 

 

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A Month Of Sundays: Is It January Yet?

Unless we get another injury of this magnitude, the NFC looks sewn up.

Ten weeks into the season, all six playoff spots in the NFC have essentially been settled (barring catastrophic injury), with Dallas, Detroit, Green Bay, and Atlanta all praying for said catastrophe. Assuming Seattle, Carolina, New Orleans, Minnesota, or the Rams suffers a key injury, the four aforementioned teams will have to finish 5-2 to take advantage.

Dak can’t high five this guy in a huddle soon enough.

As crappy as Dallas looked last week, their chances are as good as anybody’s for that sixth spot. They play their next three games at home, then will get Ezekiel Elliott back for the final two games of the season, against Seattle and at Philadelphia. I don’t think they can pull 5-2 off, especially if Tyron Smith remains on the sidelines, but it wouldn’t completely surprise me if they went 3-2 over their next five games, beat Seattle with a fresh Ezekiel Elliott, then beat Philadelphia in a game that might not mean anything to the Eagles.

The Sleepers?

The Lions only have two teams remaining on their schedule who currently have a winning record, and they’ve already beaten both of them this year (Packers, Vikings). Between now and December 31, 5-2 is totally possible.

Not happening.

The Packers ended a post-collarbone three game losing streak last week by beating the Bears, 23-16. However, even if Brett Hundley develops chemistry with his receiving corps down the home stretch, the Packers schedule is not favorable. They have road games in Pittsburgh, Carolina, and Detroit, and a home game against the Vikings. They’re pretty much toast.

This guy only has 1 TD this year, which is half as many as he should have.

The defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons were impressive last week versus a Dallas team missing their starting left tackle and starting RB (both among the very best in the league at their respective positions), but 5 of their remaining 7 games are against NFC teams who are prohibitive post-season favorites already. I just can’t see them pulling it off.

Did the NFC playoff picture just get more interesting?

Who might stumble? The Achilles injury to Seahawks CB Richard Sherman makes them a most likely suspect, especially combined with the fact that they are a team that relies on a strong defense, but lack the sturdy running game to compliment it. The Seahawks remaining schedule is no cakewalk, but a 4-3 finish will land them at 10-6, which will probably be all they need, though I can see the table being set for a do-or-die game against Dallas on Christmas Eve.

The Inevitables.

The AFC is a lot simpler. The Patriots, Steelers, and Chiefs have pretty much wrapped up their respective divisions, and the Titans and Jaguars are currently tied atop the AFC South. But the Jaguars look like a significantly better team, and they have a much easier remaining schedule. Assuming Jacksonville prevails, the Titans will join the Bills and Ravens as potential fodder for someone on wild card weekend. And there’s also a dark horse in this race.

Nathan “If You Say So” Peterman.

The Bills have a challenging three weeks ahead of them, with games at San Diego and Kansas City before they host the Patriots, and they aren’t making things any easier on themselves by benching Tyrod Taylor in favor of rookie QB Nathan Peterman. But if they can even win one of those games, their schedule heavily favors them winning 3 of their final 4 games of the season, which would land them at 9-7 and perhaps end their almost 20 year playoff drought. A lot depends on how they perform against the Patriots, whom they still play twice, but honestly, the move they made at QB this week makes it seem like they don’t even want to break their playoff drought.

Some old fashioned gang tackling.

The Ravens are only 4-5, and appear to be a long shot, but they only face two quality opponents the rest of the year, and have a very good defense. If they lose this Sunday in Green Bay, you can cross them off the list. If they win this Sunday, they still have the Lions and Steelers on their schedule, but everyone else is pretty crappy. So 9-7 is not out of the question, unless they lose this week.

“What about the Raiders,” you ask, “they’re 4-5, too.” The Raiders have an exceedingly difficult schedule the rest of the way, they will be lucky to finish 8-8.

“Pssst. See you in January…”

The Chargers are 3-6. How can they contend for the wild card?  They’ll host a Bills team that inexplicably replaced Tyrod Taylor at QB with Nathan Peterman, and if they win that, they’ll go to Dallas to play a Cowboys team that will be coming off a Sunday NIGHT game against the Eagles, which they will probably lose if Tyron Smith doesn’t play. A few years ago Dallas played a Sunday night before a Thanksgiving game, they played extremely poorly on turkey day, and afterward there were complaints about the scheduling. If the Chargers can win their next two games, then they play the Browns, which would leave them at 6-6 with their remaining four games being: Washington, at Kansas City, at Jets, Oakland. Could they finish 9-7 and gain a wild card? Totally possible.

The upshot of all this for the AFC is there will be a pair of really poor wild card teams who will pose zero threat to their opponents on wild card weekend.

AMOS OPOTW

There was plenty of this last Sunday.

The Saints racked up nearly 300 yards on the ground in Buffalo against a tough defense, with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara both gaining over 100 yards. Ingram racked up 131 yards on 21 carries, and scored 3 times to wrap up this award. This was a signature win for the most complete team in the league, and it was powered by Ingram’s punishing running style.

AMOS DPOTW

Chaz Green made this guy look like a prime Bruce Smith.

Atlanta Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn simply abused Tyron Smith’s replacement at left tackle, Chaz Green, and recorded 6 sacks and 8 QB hits in the Falcons 27-7 destruction of the Cowboys. Clayborn fell one sack short of the NFL record, set by Chiefs LB Derrick Thomas back in 1990.

AMOS AMOS

It would be easy to give this award to Chaz Green, as he certainly had the single worst performance of anyone in the NFL last Sunday, but Chargers CB Tre Boston nailed this down via his selfish actions late in the Chargers 20-17 OT loss in Jacksonville. Trailing 17-14 with less than two minutes remaining in the 4th quarter, Jaguars WR Marqise Lee was called for a taunting penalty against Boston. On the next play, Boston picked off Blake Bortles while covering Lee, and instead of advancing the ball up field, he chose to waive the ball at Lee for a little payback, or as the Germans call it, schadenfreude. As a result, he stepped out of bounds on his own 10 yard line, the Jaguars used all 3 of their time outs to force a punt, and got possession near midfield with about a minute left on the clock. The Jaguars marched deep into Chargers territory, and kicked a game-tying field goal with 00:03 on the clock. The Jaguars then went on to win the game in OT. The Chargers are now 3-6, when they could’ve wrapped this up if Boston had his head screwed on straight and they’d be 4-5. If we can’t take pleasure in the misfortune of Tre Boston last Sunday, whose misfortune can we take pleasure in?

AARB

With Marshawn Lynch enjoying the bye week, we are left to reflect on the performance of both Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore. Peterson had one of the toughest days of his career in a loss to Seattle, gaining only 29 yards on 21 carries. Colts RB Frank Gore followed his week 9 stat line of 17-51-0 with a much improved 17-54-0 performance. In other words, these two geezers combined for 75 yards on 46 carries. You do the math.

 Week 11 Picks

Tennesee (6-3) +7 at PITTSBURGH (7-2)

When I saw this game on the schedule, I thought, “I need more than 7 to take the Titans,” but I suppose 7 is enough. I don’t think they’ll win, but it should be competitive.

Detroit (5-4) -3 at CHICAGO (3-6)

If the spread was half a point more, I’d be taking the Bears. And as uneasy as I am about the Laws Of Parity implications, I think Detroit wins and begins to make their push for the post-season.

Kansas City (6-3) -10.5 at NEW YORK GIANTS (1-8)

At some point, a team is going to look past the Giants on the same week the Giants find enough personal pride to put forth a manly effort, but this isn’t that week. The Giants have a hard time keeping tight ends out of the end zone, and Travis Kelce’s nose for the end zone is as good as anybody’s. Plus the Chiefs have lost 3 of their last 4, they are due for a big win to make people believe they are as good as everyone thought they were a month ago. Look for them to run on all cylinders on offense, with Kareem Hunt having a big game.

Tampa Bay (3-6) +1 at MIAMI (4-5)

This is a prototype Laws Of Parity game; neither team is any good, but one of them has a record that doesn’t really indicate how bad they are. Plus the road team with the inferior record doesn’t need to travel far for the game. Both of these teams will be 4-6 by the end of the day Sunday.

Baltimore (4-5) -2 at GREEN BAY (5-4)

This is a tough one. Originally, I figured I’d just take the points no matter who got them, but the Ravens defense is one of the best in the league, and I like them facing a rookie QB, even on the road.

Los Angeles Rams (7-2) +2.5 at MINNESOTA (7-2)

Best game of the week, I’m just taking the points.

HOUSTON (3-6) -1  vs Arizona (4-5)

I haven’t picked a single home team yet. Is it any wonder I’m 20 games under .500?

Jacksonville (6-3) -7.5 at CLEVELAND (0-9)

I’d need 14 points to take the Browns.

Washington (4-5) +7.5 at NEW ORLEANS (7-2)

I’m all about that last half point.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (3-6) -4 vs Buffalo (5-4)

Nathan Peterson? Really?

Cincinnati (3-6) +2.5 at DENVER (3-6)

There should be a lot of really poor QB play in this game. Why am I taking he road team? I think the Broncos have given up.

OAKLAND (Mexico) (4-5) +7 vs New England (7-2)

I don’t think the Raiders can win this, but I do think they can make it close.

Philadelphia (8-1) -4 at DALLAS (5-4)

It doesn’t look like Tyron Smith is playing this weekend, so it doesn’t look like the Cowboys are winning. And the fact that this game is on Sunday night is awful scheduling for the Cowboys, who will play again less than 90 hour after this game ends.

SEATTLE (6-3) -3 vs Atlanta (5-4)

One of these teams is going to the playoffs, the other one isn’t.

Last week: 6-7-1

Season: 60-80-5

 

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AMOS: The Blair Walsh Project II

The Bills are doing everything they can to keep their playoff drought alive.

Week 9 was the most pivotal week of the 2017 season so far, as six of the eight division leaders took commanding leads. The Patriots and Steelers managed to put distance between their pursuers without even taking the field, as the Buffalo Bills lost a lopsided game to the surprising New York Jets, 34-21, and the Baltimore Ravens fell short by three points to the Tennessee Titans. In the AFC West, the Chiefs lost to Dallas, and the Raiders beat Miami, but Kansas City maintains what appears to be a commanding two game lead over the erratic Raiders. The AFC South is now a two team race between Tennessee and Jacksonville, now that Deshaun Watson is lost for the season.

Impressive? Sure, but get back to me at Christmas time.

In the NFC, the Eagles are the new Chiefs, as everyone is talking up the 8-1 division leaders. Their record and the impressive beatdown they put on the Broncos last week deserve praise, and on the surface their two and a half game lead over the Cowboys looks insurmountable, but they still need to reckon with Dallas twice before the season is over, and the Cowboys looked pretty good and handing the Chiefs their third loss in four weeks.

Alvin Kamara smells a bit like Marshall Faulk. Or at least Darren Sproles.

The Vikings are looking very good atop the NFC North at 6-2, especially with Aaron Rodgers lost for the season and the unreliable Lions two games back. The Saints have only a half game lead over the Panthers, but anyone who has seen these teams play knows the Saints are the better team. And over in the NFC West, the Rams look like the most complete team in the league, while the Seahawks suffered a rare home loss to the mediocre team from the other Washington. Seattle is only a game behind the Rams, but their lack of a running game is not indicative of a team that will accomplish great things this year. The Seahawks are built upon a great defense, and the game’s best playmaker at QB, but teams who rely on defense need a supporting running game to shorten the clock on the opposing offense, and to wear the opposing defenses down late in the game. Seattle has no running game, at least outside of Russell Wilson, who has led the team in rushing yards on too many Sundays this season.

AMOS AMOS

I don’t think Seattle fans enjoyed the sequel as much as the original.

Speaking of Seattle’s deficiencies, their decision to let go of ultra-reliable kicker Stephen Hauschka in the off season in order to save money landed them former Vikings kicker Blair Walsh, who missed three field goals Sunday in a game the Seahawks lost 17-14. The Seahawks played pretty poorly overall, and most certainly missed injured safety Earl Thomas on Washington’s game-winning drive, but often a team that relies on a tough defense can survive a poor overall outing (and a key injury or two) by getting a couple of clutch field goals to eek out a win. This didn’t happen Sunday, and these are the kinds of things that often distinguish good teams who fall short of their goals, and good teams who surpass them. As a team that has been dominant for the past 5 years or so, there are no shortage of people who are reveling in Sunday’s loss, and this has earned Blair Walsh and the Seahawks the AMOS A Moment Of Schadenfreude award. Below, enjoy the schadenfreude-iest video ever compiled…

And Walsh’s AMOS award comes with the ironic twist of him being the kicker who missed a very short field goal on the last snap of a playoff game a couple years ago that had the Vikings packing their bags while the Seahawks advanced to the NFC Championship game.

 

 

AARB

3 yards and a cloud of shredded tire chips.

Colts 34 year old RB Frank Gore put up a familiar stat line, carrying the ball 17 times for 51 yards and no TDs. Gore is averaging 3.6 yards per carry, has scored twice, and has only rushed for more than 50 yards in a game three times this year. On a team as bad as the Colts, there are only two explanations for Frank Gore’s continued presence on the field: he’s either padding his stats to get in the Hall Of Fame, or he loves football so much he doesn’t know what else to do with himself. Gore is currently 7th on the all-time leading rushing yards list with 13,520 yards, and will likely pass Jerome Bettis and Ladainian Tomlinson by season’s end to land in the #5 spot.

Raiders 31 year old Marshawn Lynch carried the ball 14 times for 57 yards and 2 TDs. Lynch isn’t quite what he used to be, at least not in terms of consistency, but he still has enough Beast Mode moments to make him a valuable addition to the Oakland backfield, especially in the red zone and late in games when the Raiders are looking to punish tiring defenses.

It’s undeniable, what AP is doing is special.

Thirty-two year old Cardinals RB Adrian Peterson continues to impress, as he gained well over 100 yards for the second time in his three starts as a Cardinal. He carried the ball 37 times for 159 yard Sunday, acting as the workhorse in the 20-10 victory over the winless 49ers. In his four games with the Saints earlier this year, Peterson’s stat line read 27-81-0. In his three games in a Cardinals uniform, he’s carried the ball 84 times for 314 yards and a pair of TDs. At 4-4 with only 2 games remaining against teams who currently have a losing record, it doesn’t appear the Cards are going anywhere special, but AP could be putting together a special season regardless.

AMOS OPOTW

Congratulations, Mr. Hilton, you are the week 9 AMOS OPOTW!

Colts WR TY Hilton caught only 5 passes in Sunday’s win over the Texans, but accrued 175 receiving yards and 2 TDs. For those of you at home who can do division, that’s 35 yards per catch. Nice.

AMOS DPOTW

I somehow overlooked Byard’s 3 INTs in week 8 vs the Browns, but the 2 he got last Sunday garnered the uncovered AMOS DPOTW award.

In a crucial win over Baltimore, Titans safety Kevin Byard picked off two Joe Flacco passes. I almost gave this award to the Jets front seven for their success in bringing misery to the Buffalo backfield all night long in their Thursday night stunner, but this is more of an individual award, so Byard gets it.

Week 10 Picks

Seattle (5-3) -6 at ARIZONA (4-4)

Last week I declared the Baltimore Ravens the 2017 bellwether team, but it actually looks like the Cardinals have a stronger case. With wins over the Colts, Buccaneers, and a pair over the 49ers offset by defeats at the hands of the Cowboys, Rams, Lions, and Eagles, the pattern isn’t difficult to detect. Despite their struggles last week, the Seahawks belong to the latter group, not the former. And because of their struggles last week, I expect the Seahawks to arrive in Phoenix ready to put a hurt on a .500 team whose -62 point differential says more about them than their 4-4 record.

WASHINGTON (4-4) +1 vs Minnesota (6-2)

The Vikings have won 4 in a row, and are coming off the bye. They would seem like a good pick on the road against a team that hasn’t established any real identity and is 4-4. And Washington is in the 4th game of a tough 5 game stretch that began with losses to the Eagles and Cowboys before their upset of the Seahawks last week. And then next week they go to New Orleans. The thing that separates these teams is the Minnesota defense, which is ranked 3rd in terms of points allowed. So why am I picking Washington? Well, half the games this week feature home underdogs, and I just decided if Washington was getting points here, I’d take them. Besides, there are the Laws Of Parity to consider, and at some point Case Keenum has to start playing like a career backup, right?

Green Bay (4-4) +5.5 at CHICAGO (3-5)

I like the Bears to win, but I think this is a close game, decided by a field goal or less.

Pittsburgh (6-2) -10 at INDIANAPOLIS (3-6)

Fuck, I hate the Steelers. Not just because I’m a Cowboys fan, but because as soon as you think they’re really good, they get their asses kicked by the Jaguars or lose to the Bears. But I looked at this game on the schedule before the line came out and thought, “I need more than 10 points to take the Colts.” I’d feel a lot better giving less than 10, but I’ll risk the Colts covering in garbage time and give those 10 points.

JACKSONVILLE (5-3) -3.5 vs Los Angeles Chargers (3-5)

I know the Laws Of Parity favor the Chargers, but a 10:00 a.m. game in Jacksonville does not, even if we’re talking about Phil Rivers vs Blake Bortles. I can see a close game, or even an upset, but then I look at each team’s point differential and see the Jags at +89 (third best in NFL) and the Chargers -2 and think, “I can give 4 points.”

New York Jets (4-5) -2.5 at TAMPA BAY (2-6)

I hate the Laws Of Parity implications of this game, but the Bucs are coming apart at the seams. If the line was three or more, I’m taking the Bucs, but it’s not.

Cincinnati (3-5) +4.5 at TENNESSEE (5-3)

Both of these teams kinda suck. I’m taking the points.

BUFFALO (5-3) +3 vs New Orleans (6-2)

This is almost a season-on-the-line type game for Buffalo, while the Saints are overdue to drop a game on the road. Not sure what the weather report is for Buffalo on Sunday, but cold and a bit of ice will go a long way toward helping the Bills. I like a close, low-scoring game here, decided by a Stephen Hauschka field goal.

DETROIT (4-4) -12 vs Cleveland (0-8)

That’s a lot of points, and the Lions have no running game, and the Browns have the 3rd ranked defense against the run, so what am I doing? Detroit doesn’t need to run the ball, and they won’t. Matt Stafford will be lighting up the scoreboard.

LOS ANGELES RAMS (6-2) -12 vs Houston (3-5)

The Texans are toast and the Rams are serious Super Bowl contenders. Without Deshaun Watson at QB, there’s no reason to think the Rams won’t destroy the Texans.

Dallas (5-3) +3 at ATLANTA (4-4)

This is a slam dunk. I’m frankly surprised Dallas is the underdog, they’re in the midst of a three game winning streak that could go on several more weeks. Atlanta is on that well-trod path of Super Bowl losers who couldn’t manage to make the playoffs the following year.

SAN FRANCISCO (0-9) +2.5 vs New York Giants (1-7)

Again, how are the Niners getting points here? Yes, they suck, but at least they’re trying. And they are super due for a win, with a very beatable opponent traveling across the nation to maybe show up on game day.

New England (6-2) -7.5 at DENVER (3-5)

The Broncos are another team that appears to have given up. And nobody smells blood in the water like the Patriots.

Miami (4-4) +9 at CAROLINA (6-3)

With their -63 point differential, it’s hard to believe the Dolphins are 4-4. And it’s equally difficult to believe the +9 Panthers are 6-3. I don’t think either of these teams are as good as their records indicate, so 9 points is much too large a spread. In fact, I think Miami might pull off the upset.

Last week: 6-6-1

Season: 54-73-4

 

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AMOS: Mid-Season Assessment

Sure, they’re scary in October…

With Halloween behind us, this crazy season is halfway over, so this week we’ll do a drive-by on all 32 teams, discuss the surprises, the disappointments, and speculate on what lies ahead. But before that, we’ve got some week 8 business to address…

The hit on Joe Flacco was not as bad as it looked in slow motion. In real time, he slid at the very last second, after Kiko Alonzo had already launched himself toward the spot where Flacco was going to arrive. Might Alonzo have been able to take a little off the shot delivered with his shoulder? Probably. But he was sending a message, one all QBs should heed: the rules are all in your favor, don’t push it. The Ravens response to the hit on Flacco was much worse.

It was cold enough when the officials took a TD catch away from Zach Miller, but to do it on the last play of his NFL career was just plain arctic. The knee injury he suffered is not for the squeamish, and it was alarming (but not completely surprising) to learn he’d almost lost his leg. Let’s hope Miller is able to get his full measure of function back in his leg and go on to have a normal life.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2017 NFL MVP.

In perhaps the most entertaining game of 2017 so far, the Seahawks and Texans squared off in a contest that began with pre-game intrigue via team response to Texans owner and tone-deaf billionaire Bob McNair referring to NFL players as “inmates” in a prison, and ended with Jimmie Graham catching a Russell Wilson pass in the end zone with :21 left on the clock to secure a 41-38 victory. In between, fans were treated to a contest chock full of big plays and exquisite QBing from both Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson. As the afternoon wore on, it began to feel like a Super Bowl LII preview. And when it was all over, Russell Wilson made a stronger case for himself as one of the three best QBs in the league, if not the best overall player. He certainly was the best player in the league on Sunday, and is playing at an MVP level.

The second most depressing injury in the past week was Deshaun Watson’s torn ACL. Obviously not as gruesome or severe as Zach Miller’s, Watson’s injury was nonetheless depressing for anyone who likes to watch great athletes do great things. As a delicious consolation prize to fans and Texans players, Watson’s season-ending injury raises the specter of Tom Savage QBing this team, which begs the question: would this team stand a chance of making the playoffs with Colin Kaepernick? He’d certainly be a significant upgrade at the position, and signing him would likely go a long way toward repairing Bob McNair’s rapport with many of his best players. This MUST happen. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

AMOS OPOTW

Nice, but not quite…


Lots of great candidates last week, with Ezekiel Elliott putting the Cowboys on his shoulders and carrying them to victory by pounding the ball 33 times for 150 yards and 2 TDs, and Pittsburgh WR JuJu Smith-Schuster catching 7 balls for 193 yards, including a 97 yard TD reception in their 20-15 victory over Detroit, but last Sunday belonged to Wilson.

Congratulations, Mr. Wilson, you are the Week 8 AMOS OPOTW!

Wilson accounted for all but 3 of Seattle’s 479 total yards, throwing 4 TD passes and leading the team in rushing (or panicked improvising on the ground) with 30 yards. Wilson continues to dazzle behind a very shaky offensive line, making plays that few, if any, other QBs in the league could make under similar circumstances. Words cannot do justice to his performance last week, so we’ll just hand him the award and move on.

AMOS DPOTW

Carlos Dunlap cradles the Bengals season in his left arm.

On the defensive side, Ravens LB CJ Mosley was a strong candidate with his 63 yard Pick 6 in a 40-0 victory over the Dolphins, as was Luke Kuechly who made 8 tackles, snagged an INT and recovered a fumble in the Panthers 17-3 victory at Tampa Bay. Richard Sherman grabbed 2 INTs in the aforementioned thriller in Seattle, but Bengals lineman Carlos Dunlap batted a Jacoby Brissett pass into the air, caught it, and ran it into the end zone for the decisive score in the Bengals must-win victory over the lowly Colts. Mosley, Kuechly, and Sherman all had great days, but if Dunlap doesn’t make that play, the Bengals are toast (though honestly, they’re toast anyway).

AMOS A Moment Of Schadenfreude

Where’s Waldo?

The Broncos played good defense and gained 177 yards on the ground, but turned the ball over five times and suffered from poor QB play by Trevor Seimian in a 29-19 loss to the division rival Chiefs. About a third of NFL teams began 2017 with a QB who was worse than Colin Kaepernick, and the Broncos were the ones with the best chance of elevating themselves to legitimate Super Bowl contender status by taking a chance on Captain Kneeldown, but instead they went with Seimian, then re-acquired the incredibly overpaid Brock Osweiler, all because they are so confident in last year’s 1st round draft pick, Paxton Lynch. Monday’s defeat set the Broncos back to 3-4 and advanced the first place Chiefs to 6-2. A win would’ve placed the Broncos a half game out of first place, with a crucial road victory over the Chiefs in their pocket. This loss has made their playoff chances pretty remote, especially with the Eagles and Patriots coming up the next two weeks. Congratulations, Denver, and particularly general manager John Elway; you acted in a cowardly fashion, and this is your reward.

Mid-Season Assessment

NE 6-2

He doesn’t even need to wear all of them.

The Patriots are right on target to win their division, as usual. Should they be worried about the Bills, half a game behind them? Not yet. They play Buffalo in four weeks, and as long as they keep focused on what’s right in front of them (don’t they always do that?), they can address the Bills when the time comes.

BUF 5-3

Are they for real? They’re a lot realer after acquiring former Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin for some draft picks. They have one of the best defenses in the league, and their second half schedule looks soft enough that 10-6 is a safe assumption. Congratulations, Buffalo, your major sports leading playoff drought appears about to end.

MIA 4-3

Cutler chose to receive his salary in a lump sum payment.

The Dolphins have the worst offense in the league, and just traded their best offensive player. I don’t know how they’re 4-3, they feel soooo 2-5 right now. But at least Jay Cutler is guaranteed $10 million this year.

NYJ 4-5

Everyone is surprised the Jets are 3-5. In the AMOS 2017 Season Preview, I put the Jets ceiling at 6-10. They’re on pace to do that.

PIT 6-2

It’s simply unfair to have JuJu Smith-Schuster on the other side of AB.

If the Chiefs aren’t worried about running into these guys in the post-season, they should be. And of course the Steelers have to be hoping the Chiefs will knock off the Patriots in the divisional round. Am I getting ahead of myself? A bit, but the Steelers have their division locked up and a good shot at the top seed.

BAL 4-4

“Bartender, can you call me a cab?”

The Ravens have a good defense, but honestly they feel like  a 2-6 team. Joe Flacco has no weapons on offense, and lacks the individual playmaking ability of a Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, or Dak Prescott. Too bad there isn’t anybody available to compensate for poor o-line play by making plays with his feet…

CIN 3-4

The Bengals will be on the road for the next 3 weeks, in Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Denver. They need to win all three of those games. Is that going to happen? Don’t be silly.

CLE 0-8

Jesus, just when you think the Browns can’t be any more inept, they fail to meet the deadline to pull off a trade for Bengals back up QB and former top prospect, AJ McCarron. You don’t even want to ask what else could go wrong for this team, because it could only involve someone dying, and who wants that on their head? Just for fun, I looked at their schedule to try to identify a team they have a chance of beating this year, and I actually came up with three possibilities; they face the Bengals at the end of November, the Ravens in mid-December, and the Steelers on the last day of the regular season. If Pittsburgh has locked up home field advantage before kickoff, pencil in a Browns victory.

TEN 4-3

The Titans were a popular pre-season pick to turn things around and win the AFC South, and there’s still a decent chance they do just that, but they’re looking pretty mediocre right now. They’ve won two in a row by virtue of playing the Colts and Browns, and they host the Ravens and Bengals the next two weeks, so they could easily be atop the division at 6-3 soon with a ton of confidence. But honestly they’re looking like the third best team in their division right now.

JAK 4-3

Are the Jags for real? Their +73 point differential says they are. That’s third best in the league behind Philly’s +76 and the Rams +74. But if you look a little closer, they beat a Tom Savage-led Texans team on opening day, and aside from their shocking upset in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, they’ve trounced the Colts and Ravens. So they only have one victory over a good team, and have beaten up on three teams that sucked at the time they played them. But there’s something to be said for beating bad teams decisively. Their second half schedule is pretty soft, and if Leonard Fournette can keep Blake Bortles from throwing the ball too often, they could easily find themselves in the playoffs. Yes, the playoffs.

HOU 3-4

While watching them lose last week in Seattle, I began to think this team could end up in the Super Bowl. Deshaun Watson is the most exciting player in the league right now, the kind of guy who can single-handedly win football games. But now he’s out for the season. And before that happened, the Texans traded their left tackle to Seattle for a couple of draft picks. One of the teams in that trade is going to the Super Bowl, and it’s not going to be the Texans.

IND 2-6

Indianapolis Colts, you’ve just been carded.

Almost as bad as the Browns. They’re 2-6 and totally feel like 1-7.

KC 6-2

I know I say this almost every week, but I’m not a believer in either Alex Smith or Andy Reid, so together I see them as a deadly combo. The Chiefs are clearly very talented, but I can easily see them losing to Pittsburgh, New England, or even Buffalo in the playoffs. Reid will find a way, he always does.

DEN 3-4

The look on Talib’s face says it all.

A great defense going to waste. But at least you haven’t pissed off the white fans or crossed the other owners.

LAC 3-5

Happy Halloween!

Seems like every year the Chargers are better than their record. This team feels like 5-3, not 3-5. I called them the best 0-4 team in NFL history four weeks ago, and now here we are. The 0-4 hole they dug will be too deep for a wild card, but they can delude themselves about that with a win in Jacksonville this week.

OAK 3-5

Raiders, your ass is carded as well.

These guys are a huge disappointment and have 6-10 written all over them.

PHI 7-1

I’m not a Star Wars fan, but this reminds me of Jar-Jar Binks.

While they’ve only won a single game over a team that currently has a winning record, 7-1 is hard to argue with. Add Jay Ajayi to that, and these guys have to be considered the favorites to win the NFC East, and to get home field advantage, which will be crucial if they don’t want to fly to Seattle and lose in January. But their schedule in the second half isn’t nearly as easy as the first half was. With road games against the Cowboys, Rams, and Seahawks, the Eagles have a chance to assert dominance or enter the post-season unsure of their ability to beat good teams on the road.

DAL 4-3

Pass it on.

This week is huge. Losing Ezekiel Elliott is a signifcant blow, but the sky is not falling. Dallas is averaging 7.5 yards per carry when the ball carrier isn’t Zeke. Sure, some of that can be attributed to Dak running the read option every now and then and Zeke drawing the defense’s attention, but still… Am I whistling in the dark, or is 11-5 still totally possible? Only if they win this week. Otherwise, they are in a world of trouble.

WAS 3-4

Is that a fan or a player?

These guys suck.

NYG 1-6

I did not own this football card.

These guys suck more.

MIN 6-2

No single player has exceeded expectations this year to the degree Case Keenum has.

The Vikings have done this with a good defense and some much better than expected play from Case Keenum. The Aaron Rodgers broken collarbone appears to have wrapped up the division for the Vikes.

GB 4-3

These guys are toast. They might scrape their way to a wild card, but I doubt it.

DET 3-4

The second half schedule is very soft. There is still hope in Detroit.

CHI 3-5

The Truth.

These guys aren’t going anywhere this year, but next year they’re going to the playoffs.

NO 5-2

The Saints are currently 2017’s biggest surprise. Widely predicted to finish in last place, they sit atop what appeared to be a stacked division at the start of the year, but now looks like the Saints and the Three Stooges. And frankly their second half schedule is very favorable, with road games in Buffalo and against the Rams looking like the only games they’re unlikely to win.

CAR 4-3

Unloading this guy is a peculiar move.

The Panthers are the most schizophrenic team in the league. One day they go to Foxborough and beat the defending champs, the next they almost get shut out by the Bears. At this point, anything between 11-5 and 7-9 wouldn’t surprise me. Trading Kelvin Benjamin was a peculiar move.

ATL 4-3

They have tough games for the next three weeks, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they lost all of them. This team has 8-8 written all over it.

TB 2-5

Their season is on the line Sunday in New Orleans, and with Jameis Winston hurting, it doesn’t look good. On the other hand, the the following two games are totally winnable, so if they can pull off the big upset this week, they’re back in the picture. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

SEA 5-2

Remember at the end of August I said these guys were going to win the Super Bowl? I’m still saying it.

LAR 5-2

At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t a believer. Now I kinda am.

These guys are really impressive, and they should make the playoffs, but they are a year away from hoisting the Lombardi.

AZ 3-4

Their -73 point differential makes them feel like 1-6.

SF 0-8

The 49ers have lost five of their eight games by 3 points or less, and yet still have a -86 point differential. This is another way of saying they suck, and Jimmy Garapollo isn’t going to change that. Let’s play the Browns game and glance at their schedule to see who they might beat… They host the Cardinals this week and the Giants next week. Then it’s all gloom and doom again.

Week 9 picks

Buffalo (5-2) -3 at NEW YORK JETS (3-4)

A herd of Buffalo about to run off a cliff.

This is what I wrote Wednesday night: “Some might smell Laws Of Parity here, but this looks more like a game where the men wave goodbye to the boys.” I guess that smell was real.

Baltimore (4-4) +4 at TENNESSEE (4-3)

We’ve found our 2017 bellwether team.

The unpredictability of this season has made it difficult to identify a true bellwether team, but the Ravens, who just feel shittier than a bellwether team, are tough to argue with. Their four victories are over the Bengals, Browns, Dolphins, and David Carr-less Raiders. And those victories were by an average margin of 22 points. Their four defeats have come at the hands of Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Minnesota. Three of those teams will be competing in January, while the Bears are officially an up-and-coming team. And those losses have come by an average margin of 16 points. So it appears what we have is the bellwether team playing against a team that has beaten Seattle and Jacksonville, but has also lost to the Dolphins, and is riding a two game winning streak by beating the Colts and Browns in succession. In other words, this game is a referendum on whether or not the Titans are a good football team. In other words, I’m taking the points.

NEW ORLEANS (5-2) -7 vs Tampa Bay (2-5)

The Bucs season is on the line, and I almost chose them as an upset special, but they’re just a bad football team. If the spread was even a half point higher, I’d be taking them, but it’s not.

NEW YORK GIANTS (1-6) +3.5 vs Los Angeles Rams (5-2)

Both teams are coming off their bye, which doesn’t mean as much as the Rams flying across the country for an early game. Or as much as the Rams having scored 100 more points than the Giants. I’m not crazy about this pick, but that last half point was too much for me.

PHILADELPHIA (6-1) -8.5 vs Denver (3-4)

Crucial game for the Broncos, who will continue to reap the benefits of looking past a free agent QB who could have helped them, instead forsaking a season full of potential so that they could welcome back Brock Osweiler. This might be the game where the Broncos defense comes to terms with what’s been done to the them, and they throw in the towel.

Atlanta (4-3) -1 at CAROLINA (5-3)

The Falcons could use this guy now.

The Falcons have spent the last 4 weeks playing the AFC East, and the only team they beat was the Jets. I’m not sure what that means, but I do know I have a harder time seeing the Panthers at 6-3 than 5-4.

 Cincinnati (3-4) +5.5 at JACKSONVILLE (4-3)

“What did I do?”

The Jags are the much better team, as the disparity in point differential indicates (Jags +73, Bengals -13), and while it’s not out of the question that Jacksonville blows them out, I suspect the Bengals, who will basically be playing for their season, will at least keep it close.

Indianapolis (2-6) +7 at HOUSTON (3-4)

The Colts could use this guy right about now.

Deshaun Watson tearing his ACL in a non-contact practice drill is the most depressing thing to happen in the NFL this year. Watson was having a great season, and was a lock for ROTY, and making a run at MVP. Now the Texans will be led by Tom Savage, who totally sucks. As do the Colts. Not sure the Colts can win this, but I think they can cover the spread.

SAN FRANCISCO (0-8) +2 vs Arizona (3-4)

This guy’s about to have a big game.

I’m calling the upset.

SEATTLE (5-2) -7 vs Washington (3-4)

I’m a little nervous about the Seahawks covering, I can see a garbage time spread cover, but I’m leaning toward a comprehensive blowout.

DALLAS (4-3) PK Kansas City (6-2)

Get this man the ball.

I was hoping to get points here, but F*ck it, Dallas is going to win anyway.

Oakland (3-5) -3 at MIAMI (4-3)

Lots of this in Miami Sunday.

I know the Raiders are flying across the country, and will be partying in South Beach Saturday night knowing they can sleep in because this is a night game, but I still can’t bring myself to take the Dolphins.

Detroit (3-4) -2.5 at GREEN BAY (4-3)

Despite sporting a slight cameltoe, Matt Prater is da man.

If the Lions can’t beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers, their season is over.

 

Last week: 7-6

Season: 48-67-3

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A Month Of Sundays: Just Football

 

This week I’m going to acknowledge how shabby my picks have been, and therefore dispense with any talk of protests, politics, or the presidency, and focus on this week’s games. I went 4-8-2 last week, bringing my season long total to an embarrassing 41-61-3. Even if we discount the record-breaking 1-15 week I had in Week 5, I don’t have anything to brag about. But before I put my nose to the grindstone and focus on getting my picks right, there are some brief weekly features to attend to, and we’ll start with the…

AMOS OPOTW

Congratulations, Amari Cooper, you are the AMOS OPOTW!

This week’s pick was easy, as Raiders WR Amari Cooper finally woke up and performed like a #1 receiver on a high powered offense after a month and a half of disappointing performances and unsatisfactory production. In one of the most exciting Thursday night games in recent memory, Cooper grabbed 11 passes for 210 yards and a pair of TDs. It was a great performance in a game where the Raiders season was basically on the line.

AMOS DPOTW

Nice victory dance, Eddie Jackson! You are the AMOS DPOTW!

For the second week in a row, a member of the Bears secondary has garnered this coveted accolade. Last week, Adrian Amos earned the AMOS DPOTW for his play in a victory over Baltimore, and this week rookie safety Eddie Jackson accounted for both Bears TDs in a 17-3 victory over Carolina when he took a fumble recovery 75 yards to the house, and ran back an INT 76 yards for a TD. This is how you win games with a rookie QB under center, as Mitchell Trubisky only had to throw 7 passes all afternoon.

 

AMOS AMOS

Did TY Hilton throw his o-line under the bus, or did he merely state the obvious?

A Moment Of Schadenfreude will be visited upon not a single player, but a unit. In a 27-0 shutout loss at home, the Colts offensive line surrendered 10 sacks. TEN. How often does that happen? Not very often. The NFL record for sacks in a game by a team is 12, which has happened 5 times, most recently in 2007 when the Eagles allowed Donovan McNabb to be pummeled by the Giants. The next most recent time a team gave up more than 10 sacks was September 1992. Anyway, you get the picture.

 

AARB

Colts 34 year old Frank Gore continued his quest to pad his resume by carrying the ball 9 times for 34 yards in the aforementioned shutout loss.

Raiders 31 year old RB Marshawn Lynch was ejected from the Thursday night game when he left the sideline and lightly shoved a referee while trying to break up a fight between his offensive linemen and his cousin, Chiefs CB Marcus Peters. Up to that point, Lynch had carried the ball twice for 9 yards.

And finally the Cardinals 32 year old RB, Adrian Peterson, followed up last week’s AMOS OPOTW award winning performance by carrying the ball 11 times for a total of 21 yards in the Cardinals demoralizing 33-0 loss to the Rams. Not a good week for the old guys.

 

Week 8 Picks

Miami (4-2) +3 at BALTIMORE (3-4)

The Ravens have lost 4 of their last 5 games, while Miami has won 3 in a row. That has to change, right? It’s hard to see this week ending with the Dolphins at 5-2 and Ravens at 3-5. Neither of these teams is very good, but Miami has more weapons, so has a bit more upside as the season progresses. I see Baltimore winning this, probably on a late Justin Tucker field goal from 50+ yards out, so I’m taking the points.

Minnesota (5-2) -9.5 “at” CLEVELAND (0-7)

Another of these stupid London games, this one featuring one of the better teams in the league versus the bottom of the NFL barrel. Giving away 9.5 points here is a no-brainer.

Oakland (3-4) +2.5 at BUFFALO (5-2)

Even though this is an early game on the east coast for a west coast underdog, I’m adhering to the Laws Of Parity here, especially considering Oakland had a long week to prepare after their thrilling Thursday night victory over Kansas City. I think they weather an early but manageable deficit, then explode in the second half to win.

CINCINNATI (2-4) -10 vs Indianapolis (2-5)

The Colts are so awful, and the Bengals have a chance to fool themselves about being playoff contenders with a win here.

Los Angeles Chargers (3-4) +7 at NEW ENGLAND (5-2)

Taking two west coast underdogs playing early games in the east versus teams with winning records is a bad idea. But here we are. Both of these teams are on 3 game winning streaks, and while I fear the Patriots finally hit their stride last week, I also think the Chargers have a shot at making a wild card run despite their 0-4 start. I don’t necessarily think they’ll win this game, but I’m not ruling it out and I think they’ll at least keep it close.

NEW ORLEANS (4-2) -9 vs Chicago (3-4)

Is this a Laws Of Parity game? It doesn’t look like one. The Bears can only hide the rookie-ness of Mitchell Trubisky for so many weeks in a row, and I think this is the week they fail to do so. The Saints have won 4 games in a row and sit atop a shockingly crappy NFC South. This looks like a case of a good team with a high powered offense hosting a team that’s due to be put in their place.

Atlanta (3-3) -4.5 at NEW YORK JETS (3-4)

The Falcons have lost 3 in a row, and haven’t looked particularly good doing it, but this still smells like a get-well game to me. Julio Jones scored his first TD of the season last week, in garbage time in New England; he’s due for a multi-TD game, isn’t he? The Falcons don’t have a great defense by any measure, but they’re still stacked on offense and are way overdue to light up the scoreboard. As for the Jets, they’ve been a huge surprise this year, but honestly, when I look at their schedule, I can totally see them running the table this year and finishing 3-13. I think this week we find out, in the words of the immortal Dennis Green, “They are we thought they were!” when it comes to the Jets.

PHILADELPHIA (6-1) -13 vs San Francisco (0-7)

So it took an 0-7 west coast road ‘dog playing an early game on the east coast for me to take the east coast home favorite. This might be why my picks have been so wrong this year. In any case, the Eagles are playing the best football in the league right now, and the 49ers got their asses handed to them last week after a string of close losses. It’s just hard for me to believe the 49ers even care anymore.

TAMPA BAY (2-4) -2 vs Carolina (4-3)

I made this pick with the Laws Of Parity in mind. Carolina has lost 2 in a row, Tampa Bay is nursing the 3 game losing streak. One of these teams is more due to win. And if the home team wins, it tightens up the division, and so far this year, statistically speaking, there appears to be a rush to the mean.

Houston (3-3) +5.5 at SEATTLE (4-2)

I like Seattle to win here, but the Texans QB Deshaun Watson is a similar guy to Russell Wilson, in that he can take the game into his own hands or feet when necessary and make magic happen. And the indelible image of the Texans’ loss to the Chiefs a few weeks ago was Watson celebrating a garbage TD as time expired, leading me to believe there’s a strong chance they’ll cover the spread here even when they no longer have a chance to win.

Dallas (3-3) -2.5 WASHINGTON (3-3)

Loser is toast. Dallas will show up in a big way.

Pittsburgh (5-2) -3 at DETROIT (3-3)

The Steelers are very hot right now, the Lions are not. And with their best WR, Golden Tate, sidelined this week, I like the Steelers.

Kansas City (5-2) -7.5 at DENVER (3-3)

Denver will suffer the Kaepernickless Curse, as the best team with a legitimate need for Mr. Kaepernick and a legitimate shot at winning the Super Bowl if they only had the balls to sign him. Denver’s defense is great, but their offense, particularly their QB play, is awful. They will keep this game close, but I think their defense will tire late in the game and Kareem Hunt or Tyreek Hill will score a long TD to cover the spread.

 

Last week: 4-8-2

Season: 41-61-3

AMOS: Just Sign Him, You Know You Need Him.

The coolest thing about sports is its unique ability to reflect our collective selves through a lens of artificial fairness. It is supposed to be an honest and unflinching form of competition the only point of which is to establish a dominance that is a step removed from the real (and mostly unfair) forms of competition we all contend with and engage in during our day-to-day lives. It represents everything that democracy and capitalism is supposed to be like, if only those games weren’t so horribly rigged.

Pick your poison, America.

One side effect of the purity of competition in sports is that we’re occasionally exposed for not meeting the ideals exemplified by the competition on the field of play. And this exposure of our collective hypocrisy can sometimes lead to changes in our society for the better. Take Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics, who forced America to wrestle with the notion that black people weren’t inferior, and that America needed to choose who they hated more, Hitler and fascism or black people. Then Joe Louis became heavyweight champion of the world, dominating the division for over a decade. If a black man can lick anybody else on Earth in a fair fight, where does that leave society’s notions of white supremacy? Black soldiers fighting in World War II certainly played some role in Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball in 1947, and served as an underpinning for the civil rights movement in the 1950s.

And of course the 1960s brought us Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, along with many other athlete/activists who forced America to continue to reckon with the central lie upon which our nation was built. All of these men were vilified to varying degrees in their time, and are now revered as heroes.

“Now that I’ve been retired for 15 years and am worth $1.3 billion, it’s time to speak out…”

Since the advent of free agency in sports, and the explosion of sports as a business, many athletes have made hitherto unimaginable amounts of money, and in some ways that money served to silence them, or (in the eyes of white America) delegitimize whatever complaints they may have had about issues of social justice in America. Athletes like Michael Jordan never said peep for fear of damaging their “brand.” And when others did speak up, they were told to they should be “grateful,” as if they hadn’t worked to get where they were, that all their fame, glory, and riches were just handed to them.

The charge of ingratitude has been leveled at the man who began the latest wave of athlete-activism by people who want to pretend history has no effect on the present, and that everything is America is hunky-dory, especially as it pertains to race. As discouraging as it is to hear this dusty defense of institutional racism in this day and age, it’s equally encouraging to see how many athletes, particularly NFL players, have effectively exercised their First Amendment rights to draw attention to not only racial injustice, but other social ills. Many players donate significant amounts of money, and spend significant amounts of time helping disadvantaged people in their communities. And now, perhaps most encouraging of all, the players are getting to sit down with owners to discuss how the even more unimaginably wealthy team owners can participate in addressing the players’ concerns.

Jerry Jones is about to get a li’l woke, whether he likes it or not.

This strikes me as a turning point, perhaps not as sharp a turn as many would like, but a turn nonetheless in a direction that hopefully has players and owners walking together to participate in the betterment of society. Naturally, the owners’ personal interests will come into conflict with player demands and suggestions about what type of collaborative/collective action both sides can take to address player concerns will be shaped by that conflict and how it’s resolved. The owners will bring a perspective to these discussions about the overall health of the league and how everyone needs to come to some sort of agreement or understanding about how their actions might affect everyone’s bottom line, but it’s inevitable at this point that some very wealthy, powerful, white men are going to come to terms (in some measure) with the everyday realities of racial injustice that many of their employees have faced their entire lives. This can only be a good thing. How good is yet to be seen, but the fact that it’s happening is heartening.

In a year chock full of surprises and upsets, week 6 was probably the craziest week yet. Did anyone see the winless and offensively beleaguered Giants going to Denver and plowing through the best defense in the league? And in Atlanta, the Falcons blew a seemingly insurmountable first half lead (sound familiar?) to a team that was averaging about 10 points per game. And the Steelers, a team in disarray just a few days earlier, went into Kansas City and beat the formerly undefeated Chiefs.

RomoCollarbone

Add to that the crazy 90 point game between the Saints and Lions, the Jets getting screwed out of another possible major upset, and Aaron Rodgers going out for the season with a broken collarbone a week too late for my tastes, and what’s left to talk about?

AMOS OPOTW Meets AARB

He told us.

Last week I joked that Adrian Peterson, who said he had “4 or 5 good years” left in him, might have 4 or 5 good weeks left. He responded by pounding the rock for 134 yards and 2 TDs, powering the Cardinals to a 38-33 victory in a must-win game against the Buccaneers. While the smart money is still on AP not performing like that 4 or 5 years from now, his re-emergence has put the 3-3 Cardinals back in the thick of the NFC West race.

AMOS DPOTW

A sweet homecoming for Adrian Amos, this week’s AMOS DPOTW!

Chicago Bears 3rd year safety (and Baltimore native) Adrian Amos returned a Joe Flacco pass 90 yards for a TD in the Bears 27-24 OT win in Baltimore. With the Bears leading 17-13 in the 3rd quarter and the Ravens driving toward a go-ahead TD, Amos snagged a Flacco pass and took it the other way, which didn’t win the game, but like all pick 6s, was a huge momentum shift. Speaking of Flacco…

AMOS A Moment Of Schadenfreude

Remember when Joe Flacco was considered an elite QB? That seems like an awfully long time ago, and last Sunday you could’ve measured that time in geological terms, as Flacco completed 24 of 41 passes for a grand total of 180 yards. For those scoring at home, that’s less than 5 yards per completion. I’m too lazy to research how many RBs last week averaged more per carry than that, so instead I’ll add that Flacco threw a pair of INTs in the loss to the Bears, and that last week’s performance is par for the course for Flacco in 2017. He’s averaging 5.4 yards per completion, and has thrown 4 TDs versus 8 INTs. But at least he has a gigantic pile of money to cry into, as he’s the 7th highest paid player in the NFL this year, making over $22 million.

Who Needs Waldo?

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Speaking of underperforming, overpaid QBs, how many teams would currently benefit from signing the league pariah? My count is at ten right now.

Despite the Dolphins victory last week, Jay Cutler still sucks.

In Baltimore, Ravens owners conducted a fan poll before the season began when they were considering signing Kaepernick and chose to bow to the whim of the fans and take a pass on CK. One has to wonder what would be the talk of the town right now if Kaepernick was sitting on the bench behind the flailing Flacco?

As always, the Browns are a disaster at the game’s most important position, so there’d be nothing but upside to starting Kaepernick, particularly in terms of having a guy to groom DeShone Kizer.

Is it even worth our time to argue whether Kaepernick is better than Blake Bortles?

How about Indianapolis? They’ve known Luck would be out for several weeks, if not the entire year, since preseason. Could CK be any worse than Scott Tolzien or Jacoby Brissett? And if the NFL is concerned about ratings, imagine what kind of numbers the 49ers at Colts would’ve done a couple weeks ago when Vice President Snowflake walked out of the stadium in choreographed indignation when players knelt for the national anthem?


Or how about the Broncos, whose combination of Tervor Siemian and Brock Osweiler (who’s making $18 million this year) combined to produce a loss last week to an 0-5 team? This squad has the best defense in the league, and no shortage of weapons on offense, and yet somehow they are only 3-2.
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How about the Raiders? Isn’t Colin Kaepernick better than EJ Manuel?

 

And speaking of teams with injured starting QBs, how much better are the Packers chances of maintaining their dominance of the NFC North with CK under center instead of Brett Hundley?

And what of the Buccaneers, who just lost Jameis Winston? Are you telling me Ryan Fitzpatrick gives them a better chance to win?

The 49ers get a pass here, as CK declined to resign with them at the end of last year, but what about the Bears? I love Mitchell Trubisky, he’s certainly better than Mike Glennon, but I also think the team would have a better chance to win and it would benefit Trubisky’s development if he had the chance to play behind a Super Bowl QB like Kaepernick.

“Roger, who’s gonna take the hit here? How about Green Bay? Those people don’t have anything better to do on Sunday…”

Anyway, we’ll see what comes of all this as Kaepernick’s grievance, filed by the NFLPA against the league charging all 32 teams colluded to keep him off the field and the sidelines, works its way through the courts. While it seems unlikely he’ll be able to prove collusion, perhaps this process, along with the growing desperation of a number of teams as their playoff hopes dwindle later in the season, will provide a chance for a team to sign him and put all this to rest.

Week 7 Picks

Kansas City (5-1) -3 at OAKLAND (2-4)

Obviously, this is a “must-win” game for the Raiders, but with David Carr on the sidelines and EJ Manuel under center it feels a lot more like a “can’t-win” game. How much more exciting (or at least intriguing) would this game be if Alex Smith was returning to the Bay Area to face the guy who replaced him in San Francisco?

Tennessee (3-3) -6 at CLEVELAND (0-6)

Honestly, I’m a bit wary of giving this many points on the road to the Browns, half of whose losses are by less than six points. But I think the Titans are about to win 4 of their next 5 and establish themselves as the favorites in the AFC South, and I can see them winning by 14 late in the game and running out the clock.

Jacksonville (3-3) -3 at INDIANAPOLIS (2-4)

Laws of Parity say otherwise, but I see one team that has some very powerful tools on offense (sans a QB), and another team that just looked terrible in a Monday night loss last week. This game should be called the “Kaepernick Bowl,” as both teams would be a lot better with CK under center.

Cincinnati (2-3) +5.5 at PITTSBURGH (4-2)

This game is basically the Bengals entire season. If they lose, the Steelers run off with the division, and the Bengals chances for even a wild card become very remote. The Steelers looked great last week, but the Bengals are coming off their bye and looked pretty good the previous three weeks.

MINNESOTA (4-2) -5.5 vs Baltimore (3-3)

The Ravens are so bad it’s hard to figure out how they won three games. This is easy.

New York Jets (3-3) +3 at MIAMI (3-2)

I know the Dolphins are coming off a big win last week, but they’re still averaging about 12 points per game, and the Jets, who were robbed last week, always give them hell, so I’m taking the points.

BUFFALO (3-2) -3 vs Tampa Bay (2-3)

Ryan Fitzpatrick returns to Buffalo! It’s actually not that special, as there are more than half a dozen stadiums Fitzpatrick could be “returning” to. The man has played everywhere, and with the exception of some flashes of brilliance and bravery here and there, he’s been a guy teams start when they have nowhere else to turn. The Bills defense is too good to let this guy beat them, and the Bucs don’t have a kicking game, so I’ll take the Bills and give the points, despite the obvious Laws Of Parity issue.

CHICAGO (2-4) +3 vs Carolina (4-2)

Honestly, I was hoping to get more than 3 points here. But I’ve already gone against three home dogs, so I’m riding with Mitchell Trubisky.

GREEEN BAY (4-2) +5.5 vs New Orleans (3-2)

Sure, the Saints scored 647 points last week, but they can’t do that in Lambeau, right? I do like the Saints to win, but I think the Packers will find a way to keep it close.

 

Arizona (3-3) +3.5 vs LOS ANGELES RAMS (at London) (4-2)

Why would you have two west coast teams traveling halfway around the world (ok, a third of the way, or maybe a quarter) to play in London? This is stupid. This game had the potential to be good, and staging it in London is just a way to to recklessly inflate the NFL’s biological footprint. So I’m taking the points in the Jetlag Bowl.

San Francisco (0-6) +6 vs Dallas (2-3)

I believe Dallas wins this game, but the 49ers have lost their last 5 games by 3 points or less, so they’re playing teams close. Dallas is coming off the bye, and they somehow managed to keep Ezekiel Elliott on the field every Sunday, despite a 6 game suspension looming over his head. I don’t like the way this game smells, I could see Dallas losing, but with my track record this year, that probably means Dallas wins by 28 points.

NEW YORK GIANTS (1-5) +5.5 vs Seattle (3-2)

Luckily for the Seahawks, this isn’t an early game, so jet lag should be less of an issue. But I still need to take the home team on the east coast versus a west coast team that’s giving almost six points. Seattle wins, but it’ll likely be close.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (2-4) -1 vs Denver (3-2)

Laws of Parity, I’m rolling with them here.

Atlanta (3-2) +3.5 at NEW ENGLAND (4-2)

Super Bowl LI replay! It seems like whenever they stage these Super Bowl rematches the next year, the losing team always wins.

Washington (3-2) +5 at PHILADELPHIA (5-1)

I’m not buying this whole “Eagles Super Bowl” thing. They’re the better team, but that doesn’t seem to mean anything this year.

Last week: 6-8

Season: 37-53-1

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A Month Of Sundays: Who Is The Biggest @sshole In America?

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Usually at this point in the season, fans are focused on whether their team is a real contender, is missing a piece of the puzzle, or if it’s time to admit to themselves their team sucks and stands no chance of making the playoffs, much less winning the Super Bowl. But that sort of self-reflection (for those of us who over-identify with our team) has been overshadowed by a contest to discover who is the biggest @sshole in America. And of course this contest is being presided over by the President, who will declare himself the winner no matter what happens.

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Last Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence spent a quarter of a million of our tax dollars to walk out of the 49ers-Colts game in protest when some players took a knee during the national anthem. This crass piece of political theater was crafted to inflame the rage of the 1/3 of Americans who think Donald Trump is God, and can’t live with the intellectual complexities of the First Amendment of The Constitution. On top of that, Pence’s stunt upstaged the ceremony to retire Peyton Manning’s number. Huge asshole move.

Ditka in the heyday of oppression-free America.

A couple days later, Hall Of Fame tight end and former Bears head coach Mike Ditka threw down a history lesson when he declared there hasn’t been any oppression in America “in the last 100 years.” Bear in mind Ditka is well old enough to remember what America was like before the Civil Rights Bill was passed in 1964, not to mention what it’s been like since then. Though in fairness to Ditka, he once traded his entire draft for Ricky Williams, has proven many times to be a garden variety meathead, and is not the Vice President of the United States.

No caption necessary.

Rounding out the field (at least for this week) is Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has threatened to bench any player who fails to stand for the national anthem. Jones’s @sshole bona fides are unassailable, as his tenure in the NFL is replete with acts of craven moral turpitude, and his love for Donald Trump is perhaps second only to his love for money. Unfortunately, the only way we’ll discover just how much of an @sshole Jones is, is if Ezekiel Elliot, Dak Prescott, or Dez Bryant chooses to take a knee during the anthem, and it’s hard to see that happening. Actually, Jones signed Greg Hardy to a contract, so we already know how much of an asshole he is.

He’s not drawing a paycheck, but has donated almost $1,000,000 to charity this year.

The funny thing about all of this is that the response to the players’ protest has only made it grow. And the longer it goes on, the more likely it is to achieve its main goal, which is to raise awareness of racial inequities in this country. And if the NFL is smart, they will find a way to navigate this time of discomfort for their brand by whole-heartedly supporting the many charities and social justice projects that players all over the league are involved in. But the league is stuck between wanting to maintain a positive image, and not pissing off the white majority that makes up its fan base.

Speaking of whom, when will all the fragile snowflakes who hate America and our most basic freedoms come to their senses and realize the sooner they accept this form of protest as a legitimate expression of legitimate grievances, the sooner it is likely to die? You can only spend so many of your Sundays doing yard work and home improvement projects; just realize the First Amendment is the single greatest thing about America, and that black people still have some legitimate grievances about how they are treated in this country, and then you can return to your easy chair and start yelling at your TV again for all the right reasons.

“Always”?

And don’t get me wrong, MAGA men, I feel your pain. As someone who has been a diehard Cowboys fan for 45 years, I’m not in a happy place. The NFL is getting harder to support with each passing year, for a variety of reasons I’ve outlined before. But for some reason, those issues and the possibility of turning my back on the game entirely has felt like a lesser conflict than the prospect of remaining a fan of the game, but giving up my favorite team.

Yes, I had this card.

Even as a child, I wasn’t impressed by the “America’s Team,” label, but I did worship Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly, and Bob Hayes. I was routinely thrilled on autumn Sundays by the ups and downs of one of the best and most exciting teams in NFL history. I gnashed my teeth through their Super Bowl losses and count their Super Bowl XII victory among the happier moments of my childhood. And when it would’ve been easy to switch allegiances to the local New York Giants in the ‘80s, I stuck by my Cowboys, even through the Gary Hogeboom years. I was disconsolate when Jerry Jones fired Tom Landry, but Tom Landry was the only coach I’d ever known, I couldn’t imagine the Cowboys without him, and I couldn’t recognize that it was time for him to go. And of course the ‘90s were great, but Jones took too much credit for the team’s success, drove Jimmy Johnson out of town, and after Barry Switzer won a Super Bowl on the fumes of Johnson’s team, it’s been hard times ever since.

Dak is an easy guy to root for.

The ascension of Dak Prescott has given Cowboys fans reason to hope, a kind of hope we were never able to fully muster during the heartbreak of the Romo years. So this is a pretty inconvenient time to have to think about shopping around for a new favorite team. I’ve tolerated all kinds of egregious player behavior, asinine statements from Jones, and the idiocy of Jason Garrett, but frankly when the team owner threatens to bench players for exercising their First Amendment rights, I have to consider my options. And it would be the easiest thing in the world for me to become a Seahawks fan, but being a martyr I’m just as likely to choose the Jets or Lions.

All of this was started by a guy taking a stand (or a seat) because his conscience compelled him to do so. And now there are rumors that he is more assertively seeking a position with an NFL team, and has allegedly stated he will stand for the anthem. If Kaepernick is able to find someone sensible enough to hire him, I will respect whatever his decision is regarding the anthem. He’s made his point, a movement has bloomed, and he’s put his money where his mouth is as far as donating to worthy causes. Kaepernick embodies everything that is great about America, and ought to be applauded for his bravery, moral rectitude, and dedication to living his beliefs.

One More Off Field Issue

One of the worst side effects of the protest controversy is I didn’t get to spend enough time discussing Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster and his hilarious viral video. All I know is that when you put South Florida, cocaine, and hookers together, you just get something that feels right.

How The Mighty Have Fallen

Injuries are a bitch, and two of the game’s best players bit the dust last Sunday when JJ Watt and Odell Beckham Jr were both carted off the field, not to be seen again this year. Watt’s team will continue to contend for a division title in his absence, while the Giants will have a hard time scraping together 3 or 4 wins this year sans Beckham. I’m a fan of Watt, not so much Beckham, but I can’t bring myself to make fun of a guy who cried after suffering an obviously very painful injury that might alter the trajectory of his career.

New Feature! The AMOS AMOS

Some players are easy to hate, and some I just love to hate. OBJ falls into the first category, Ben Roethlisberger falls into the second, so he’ll be the player we contemplate during the inaugural A Month Of Sundays A Moment Of Schadenfreude. Roethlisberger performed abysmally in the Steelers shocking 30-9 home loss to the Jaguars, completing 33 of 55 passes for 312 yards and no TDs. Wait, he completed 38 passes, if you count the 5 INTs he threw, and he threw for 2 TDs, if you count the pair of pick 6s he connected on to Barry Church and Telvin Smith. If all of that wasn’t enjoyable enough, he was outplayed by Blake Bortles, who pitched this Canton-esque stat line: 8/14, 95 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT. Congratulations, Big Ben, you made my Sunday!

Side Notes

Will it be poor clock management? Inopportune time outs? Or some new way we haven’t seen him lose yet?

How ‘bout them Chiefs? They are, by far, playing the best football on Earth right now. But I still don’t trust them. Andy Reid is going to find a way to screw this up. He might not find it till January, but trust me, he’ll find it.

Deshaun Watson the most exciting player in football. I’m glad he’s finally been handed the reins in Houston, and not just because I said in August he needed to start on Day 1 rather than learning how to lose by watching Tom Savage. Watson makes plays with his incredible arm and his fleet feet, and he has the aura of a winner. However, he was a little too excited about scoring that superfluous TD at the end of the game Sunday night. Sure, he made his fantasy owners happy, and he padded his stats a bit for the inevitable assault on an assortment of rookie scoring records, and I understand the never-give-up attitude, but you can’t be looking that happy to lose a game.

It’s simply not fair.

Aaron Rodgers is great. When your team is about to score a go ahead TD with a minute left and you’re screaming at the guy with the ball to “GO DOWN!” at the one yard line to run more time off the clock, you know you’re dealing with greatness. And considering my current relationship with the Cowboys, I’m feeling a little less pain about this than in the past.

 

This guy will be lucky if he’s still playing in 4 or 5 weeks.

The Adrian Peterson trade actually makes a lot of sense for both teams. Peterson was never a good fit in New Orleans, as he’s not much of a receiver and an awful pass blocker. The Saints almost never rush the ball, except to keep the defense honest. And the Cardinals are desperate for anyone who might be able to carry it more than two and a half yards at a time. This is a last chance for both Peterson and the Cardinals. That said, Peterson is delusional about what the balance of his career looks like: “I have so much left,” he said. “I look to play four to five more years, God willing,” he said. “I have a lot left in the tank. Stay tuned. Stay tuned and you guys will be able to see that firsthand.”

AMOS OPOTW

Some good candidates for this, but for the sake of brevity I’ll avoid the rundown and get to the point: Leonard Fournette was The Man in Heinz Field Sunday, carrying the ball 28 times for 181 yards and a pair of TDs. About half of those yards came on a single play, where he went 90 yards for a TD, untouched. That means he spent the rest of the day carrying the ball frequently for hard and meager gain. But that was enough (along with those aforementioned Big Ben pick 6s) to keep the ball out of Blake Bortles’s hands, which is what Fournette is paid to do. Congratulations, Leonard Fournette, you are this week’s AMOS OPOTW!

AMOS DPOTW

Another Jaguar, LB Telvin Smith, made 10 tackles, 6 of which were solo, and 2.5 of them occurred behind the line of scrimmage. He also had one of the pick 6s I can’t stop talking about. Congratulations, Telvin Smith! You are the AMOS DPOTW!

Week 6 Picks

Philadelphia (4-1) +3.5 at CAROLINA (4-1)

Thursday games are usually inferior pairings, but dumb luck plays an important role in every facet of our lives, and it has fortuitously provided us with an intriguing match up this Thursday. The fact that the Eagles only loss was in a close game against the Chiefs makes taking more than 3 points here an easy decision.

HOUSTON (2-3) -9.5 vs Cleveland (0-5)

The Texans have been lighting up the scoreboard since handing the reins to Deshaun Watson, scoring 124 points in their last 3 games. The Browns have only scored 77 points all season. Giving less than 10 points here is easy.

New England (3-2) -9.5 at NEW YORK JETS (3-2)

Division games can always be tricky, so I don’t count the Jets out entirely, but the Pats are coming off a big win last Thursday, so have had extra rest and preparation, and it should show on the field Sunday. With the spread staying under 10 points, I have to go with New England.

ATLANTA (3-1) -11.5 vs Miami (2-2)

The Dolphins are a really crappy team, it’s hard to believe they’ve won 2 games, especially since they’re averaging a fraction above 10 points per game on offense. The Falcons are coming off a bye and should be ready to blow out a weak opponent.

Detroit (3-2) +5 at NEW ORLEANS (2-2)

I believe the Lions are a playoff team, and the Saints are not. Operating under that assumption, taking more than 3 points here is easy.

Green Bay (4-1) -3 at MINNESOTA (3-2)

Case Keenum vs Aaron Rodgers? Yeah, I’ll give you 3 points.

BALTIMORE (3-2) -6.5 vs Chicago (1-4)

I’m a big fan of Mitchell Trubisky, but I think the Ravens secondary will feast on the rookie this week.

San Francisco (0-5) +10 at WASHINGTON (2-2)

I’d feel better taking these points if this was a late game, but it’s not. If the spread was less than 10, I’d be taking Washington.

Los Angeles Rams (3-2) +2.5 at JACKSONVILLE (3-2)

Kind of difficult to believe both teams are 3-2, but there you are. And this is a late game, so jet lag will be less of a factor, which is why I’m taking the Rams.

Tampa Bay (2-2) -2 at ARIZONA (2-3)

Unless Adrian Peterson has a big game (and I don’t discount the possibility entirely that he has a monster game left in him somewhere), I don’t see the Cardinals winning, though if Winston is sloppy, the Cardinals will get a lot of INTs. I’ve almost talked myself into the picking the upset, but not quite.

KANSAS CITY (5-0) -4.5 vs Pittsburgh (3-2)

The Chiefs are going to lose eventually, but I don’t think it will be at home, and I don’t think it will be to a Steelers team that played it’s worst game in years last week.

Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) +3 at OAKLAND (2-3)

I like the Chargers outright in this game, so taking 3 points is just icing on the sundae, or something like that.

DENVER (3-1) -12 vs New York Giants (0-5)

Replay of Super Bowl XX! John Elway took the first of his three Super Bowl poundings back in 1986 when his Broncos lost to the Giants, 39-20. This game might be more lopsided than that, but in the other direction. The Broncos defense is still the single best unit in football, and the Giants offense is quite likely the worst, especially with their best player sidelined. I’d need more than 14 points to take the Giants.

TENNESSEE (2-3) pk vs Indianapolis (2-3)

He probably wouldn’t be the only guy to leave this game before it’s over.

Too bad the NFL doesn’t run a flex schedule this early in the year, because this game has Thursday night football written all over it. Because no one knows if Mariota is starting or not, there is no line on this game, so AMOS is going to call it a pick ‘em and take the home team.

Last week: 7-7

Season: 31-45-1

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A Month Of Sundays: Where’s Waldo?

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Last week President Trump picked a fight with the entire NFL and lost, but because he has a fire-proof ass, he was able to simply walk away from his apoplectic base, who spent last Sunday assiduously NOT WATCHING FOOTBALL (doing home improvement or yard work with products bought from NFL sponsors?), and fly off to Puerto Rico to throw rolls of paper towels at hurricane victims. In Herr Trump’s wake, we can dispense with the carnival outrage about disrespecting the flag and refocus on why these demonstrations began in the first place, and who started them.

 Where’s Waldo?

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At the beginning of the year, there were six teams for whom Colin Kaepernick would’ve been an immediate upgrade at starting QB. And for almost every team in the league, CK would’ve been a huge upgrade at back up QB. But no one has signed him and it seems extremely unlikely anyone will. Granted there are a lot of reasons a team may or may not be a good mix for any QB, particularly a guy who insists on starting and has struggled at times in his career. We don’t know how much money CK has asked for, but nonetheless, the fact that he’s not on an NFL roster is more than a little suspicious.

You gotta love photoshop.

The New York Jets have shocked the world by winning two more games than many people thought they’d win all year, and they’ve done it with Josh McCown at QB. McCown can generously be called a competent game manager who has managed to throw only 3 TDs in 4 games, but also throwing only 3 INTs. He’s also added a rushing TD, but has fumbled 3 times, losing 1. While Kaepernick has had some erratic stretches in his career, last year he threw 16 TDs and 4 INTs in a full season on a very bad team; you don’t have to be a genius to see McCown is not on pace to improve on either of those measures. Critics will point to CK’s subpar completion percentage, which is 59.8%, but he also adds a dimension to the running game and a deep ball threat that McCown certainly does not. As long as the Jets keep winning and performing substantially above expectations, a legitimate argument can be made that the Jets didn’t need the “baggage,” Kaepernick would’ve brought, but right now the NFL is already carrying all that baggage anyway.

The Cleveland Browns are 0-4, and maybe deciding to go with rookie QB DeShone Kizer is legitimate reason for avoiding a guy like Kaep, but the fact of the matter is that Cleveland has a famously abysmal track record when it comes to choosing to start rookie QBs, and for the flashes of talent Kizer has shown, his completion percentage is barely above 50%, and he’s already thrown 8 INTs. If anybody could’ve benefited from being an apprentice to an experienced pro who came this close to clutching a Lombardi Trophy, it’s DeShone Kizer. Additionally, the Browns have enough talent on both sides of the ball that a competent QB could have them at 2-2 right now.

The Jacksonville Jaguars might be the league’s most schizophrenic team, as they destroyed the Texans in week 1, and embarrassed the Ravens in week 3, yet were annihilated by the Titans in week 2 and lost to the Jets in OT last Sunday. Who are these guys? Probably a team that was lucky enough to catch the Texans before they were smart enough to listen to me and start Deshaun Watson on opening day, and lucky enough to catch the Ravens sleeping in London.

Which guy would you rather have?

Fourth year QB Blake Bortles, who was picked 3rd overall in the 2014 draft, has been hot and cold his entire career, and most of it has been cold. This season is clearly his last chance in Jacksonville, and probably his last chance to hold a starting job anywhere. His 55% completion percentage is lower than Kaep’s, and his 7-3 TD:INT ratio is due entirely to the London game where he threw 4 TDs. Even if you want to pretend Bortles is a better QB than CK, Chad Henne is the back up, and there’s no denying CK would be a much stronger guy to stand behind Bortles, and perhaps goad him into approaching the vast potential he was perceived to have when he was drafted.

The Indianapolis Colts are 1-3 and already have a franchise QB, but no one seems to know when Andrew Luck will be back or if his shoulder injury will permanently affect his career. They began the season Scott Tolzien under center. Let’s be blunt, Scott Tolzien sucks. They’ve since moved on to 2nd year QB Jacoby Brissett, a poor man’s Kaepernick who shows a lot of athleticism, but no seasoning. One could argue they’re essentially mailing in the season, that they wouldn’t stand a chance to beat any decent team without Luck on the field, but no one can argue that CK isn’t better than anyone who has been under center for the Colts this year.

The Denver Broncos defense might still be the single best unit in all of football, and at 3-1 people might be reluctant to criticize them. Trevor Siemian has impressed at times, but he’s not better than Kaepernick in any significant way. His 62.7% completion percentage isn’t anything to brag about, and he offers virtually nothing in the way of a running threat. As a more experienced pro, Kaepernick is likely to make better decisions and garner more respect from teammates. Kaepernick is a guy who played on a team with a great defense and made big plays with his arm and his feet often enough to get them to the Super Bowl. It’s quite possible the Broncos go into their bye at 4-0 with CK under center.

The Miami Dolphins were the team that could’ve most benefited from signing Kaepernick, and instead chose to sign the retired Jay Cutler for a one year, $10 million contract. The result? A 1-2 record with only 25 points scored. Cutler has completed 2/3s of his passes, but for a guy with a cannon arm, he should have completed a pass for longer than 31 yards in 3 games. His 2 TDs and 2 INTs are not very impressive, considering the Dolphins have faced the Chargers, Jets, and Saints, none of whom boast a particularly great defense. And Cutler brings less than nothing to the running game. And with Cutler, you can’t even use the “baggage” excuse, because Cutler’s middle name is “baggage.”

Speaking of QB Play…

I’m not crazy about them giving him Bobby Douglas’s number either, but…

The Bears have finally woken up and seen the light, and have moved to rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky this Sunday after watching Mike Glennon completely suck for 4 weeks in a row. In 5 years of NFL play, Glennon has won 6 games and lost 16. Often there is wisdom in setting a rookie QB with potential on the bench so they can watch a seasoned pro win some games, and hopefully that pro will take the rookie under his wing and teach him whatever he knows. Watching Mike Glennon is not a recipe for making any young QB better. If anything, it’s likely to make him more nervous and gun-shy. Kaepernick would’ve been a much better choice for the Bears, not only as a mentor to Trubisky, but as someone whose philanthropy likely would’ve been a hugely positive influence in some of the struggling communities in Chicago. In any case, moving from Glennon to Trubisky can only improve the Bears.

Is it Halloween already?

Andy Dalton and Cam Newton appear to have woken up and realized the season has actually began. Rumors of Bengals teammates lobbying for the team to sign Kaepernick after week 2 might’ve been a coincidental prompt for Dalton, but here are his numbers from the first two weeks versus the next two weeks:

36 of 66 completed, 394 yards, 0 TD, 4 INT

46 of 57 completed, 498 yards, 6 TD, 0 INT

Just Sayin’.

Cam Newton fields a question from a female reporter.

Newton appeared to sleep walk through the first three weeks of the season, then exploded last Sunday in New England, throwing for 3 TDs and running for another. The 3-1 Panthers are now just another extremely unpredictable team. I thought they had a good chance to bounce back from their post-Super Bowl loss slump last year, and the fact that they played pretty poorly the first three weeks but still managed to emerge 2-1 before upsetting the Patriots is a good sign.

Kill The Guy With The Ball

This is what “Kill The Guy With The Ball,” looked like, but without uniforms or protection.

That was one of the more socially acceptable names for the most popular game played at recess when I was in elementary school. It was simple, fun, and effective in establishing the male pecking order. One ball, preferably a football, but in a pinch a tennis ball, handball, or kickball would do, was tossed in the air in a manner not unlike a jump ball in basketball, and whoever caught it would run and everyone else would try to tackle him and then take the ball away so they could become the runner. For kids, it’s not all that dangerous. Kids are a lot more durable than we give them credit for, and when there is a large disparity in size and athleticism, most kids have the good sense to avoid unnecessarily putting themselves at risk. It was a fun game, even though it did somewhat frequently lead to fist fights.

Howard Glenn died of a broken neck after walking off the field.

In the NFL, the game is more civilized, what with all the pads and rules and teamwork, but players rarely back down from a hit, unless it’s a QB or RB or WR who runs out of bounds when they’ve gained all the yards they’re likely to get. But NFL players are highly trained, very large, very fast adults, and therefore serious injuries are fairly frequent. What’s remarkable is that only one player has died on an NFL field, and that was by heart attack in 1971. Two AFL players died from injuries sustained in a game; New York Titans guard Howard Glenn, and Kansas City Chiefs RB Stone Johnson, both of whom died from broken necks. The threat of player death on the field (and on national TV) seems to loom around the game (and is quite likely part of its allure), or at least in the back of every fan’s mind.

 

Last Thursday night, I thought I witnessed the first player death on the field as a direct result of a hit in NFL history. Bears LB Danny Trevathan delivered an absolutely brutal hit on Packers WR Davante Adams, snapping his head back so violently that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see it roll across the field to the sideline. Packers teammates began frantically waving medical staff onto the field before Adams even hit the ground. He was removed on a stretcher, but was able to put up a thumb as he was carried away, and later in the game it was thankfully reported he had movement in all his limbs. For all the talk of how dangerous football is (and it obviously is very dangerous), it’s pretty amazing (and of course, wonderful) that no one has died during an NFL game.

AMOS OPOTW

That was a close one…

For a minute, I was worried Andy Dalton had earned this award, but then I remembered his 25/30-286-4-0 stat line came against a team that hasn’t won a game all year. Whew, that was a close one.

Considering recent developments, this would’ve been awkward.

The previously mentioned Cam Newton had a big game in a huge upset over the Patriots, throwing 3 TDs and running for another. A very strong candidate, but not quite.

Not a good look.

Todd Gurley crushed my Cowboys, gaining 215 total yards on 30 touches and a TD. Fuck that guy.

The Jaguars were seeing this guy’s ass all day.

Jets RB Bilal Powell rushed for 163 yards and a TD in an OT win over the Jags. Nice work, but it was the Jags. C’mon.

Not even a facemask was going to stop him.

Eagles RB LaGarrette Blount gained 136 yards on only 16 carries. Nice work, but not quite.

For some reason, it’s ok for a ball carrier to grab a facemask.

Le’Veon Bell ripped the Ravens a new one, carrying the ball 35 times for 144 yards to a pair of TDs. So close…

Congratulations, Deshaun Watson, you are the week 4 AMOS OPOTW!

The winner is Houston Texans rookie QB Deshaun Watson, threw 4 TDs and ran for another in a 57-14 destruction of highly touted division rival, the Tennessee Titans. Watson is this year’s Dak Prescott, but on a less talented team.

AMOS DPOTW

Keenum would’ve Zettelled for less of this guy in his face.

Three players made impressive runs at this award, two of them on the Detroit Lions, and one on the Buffalo Bills, both teams that pulled off impressive upsets on the road. These teams also stand a good chance of making the playoffs if they keep putting forth such stellar defensive efforts.

Whitehead recovers one of two fumbles Sunday, as Minnesota RB Dalvin Cook suffers an injury.

Detroit LB Tahir Whitehead had 5 solo tackles and 2 fumble recoveries, while teammate Anthony Zettel sacked Case Keenum twice, hit him four times, and recovered a fumble.

Congratulations, Micah Hyde! You are the week 4 AMOS DPOTW!

But the award goes to Bills DB Micah Hyde, who picked off two passes and recorded 7 tackles in a huge upset win over the Falcons in Atlanta.

AARB

Take it into the tunnel, pardner, it was a good career.

The first old RB to bite the dust this year was Eagles 34 year old Darren Sproles. A consummate 3rd down back and punt return threat, Sproles suffered two severe leg injuries on one play, and his career is likely over. Sproles won’t be in Canton anytime soon (or anytime ever, unless he buys a ticket), but he was a very good player for a very long time, for the Chargers, Saints, and Eagles. Adios, Mr. Sproles, you will be missed.

It’s on you, pal.

Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch began the year putting up respectable numbers the first two weeks, but in the last two games, Lynch has carried the ball 15 times for 30 yards. Granted, the Broncos have a very good run defense, and Washington outplayed the Raiders in every facet of the game the previous week, but if Lynch isn’t more productive in the next couple of weeks, the Raiders will need to shift Lynch to more of a situational role, which might not sit well with him, and might not be an effective use of his talents, as he tends to be better in short yardage situations when he’s had all afternoon to soften up a defense. It’s not over for him, but it’s not looking good right now. And with EJ Manuel now under center, Lynch is needed more than ever.

At least someone is giving you a thumbs up.

Saints RB Adrian Peterson was never much a receiver or pass blocker, he was always the pure runner, which is a harder road to hoe at 32. Peterson had 4 carries for 4 yards last week, and has gained 81 yards on 27 carries this year. He has already been demoted to situational work, though I believe the situations upon which he is called are generally characterized by the fatigue of teammate Mark Ingram. He’ll probably remain on the roster all year (unless it earns him a contractual bonus), which means we can count on Peterson adding about 200-300 yards to his lifetime total of 11,828 yards. He’s #16 on the all-time yardage list, and if can bust out 500 more, he’ll land ahead of Jim Brown at the #10 spot. Good luck.

There’s something to be said for longevity.

Lastly, Colts 34 year old RB Frank Gore has stuck around long enough to land at #8 on the list with 13,256 yards. He’s 3 yards behind Eric Dickerson, and a little over 400 yards behind Jerome Bettis and Ladainian Tomlinson. If he can manage another 900 yards this year, he’ll surpass Curtis Martin for the #4 spot. The Colts suck and aren’t going anywhere, and as great as Gore is, he’s already ahead of RBs on the aforementioned list who were a lot better than him, so it’s difficult to root for him climbing this list. However, it obviously means something to him, and it’s tough to root against a guy so old and stubborn. Good luck, Mr. Gore.

Week 5 Picks

TAMPA BAY (2-1) +5.5 vs New England (2-2)

This is actually a very intriguing Thursday night game. Laws Of Parity favor the Patriots here, as it’s easier to see them at 3-2 and the Bucs at 2-2 than the Bucs at 3-1 and the Pats at 2-3, but the Bucs are an up-and-coming team with plenty of talent, they should be able to compete with the Patriots, at least enough to cover this spread, if not win the game.

Los Angeles Chargers (0-4) +3.5 at NEW YORK GIANTS (0-4)

Much as I’d love to see the Giants slide to 0-5, this “someone has to win it” game will go to the east coast home team against a west coast team playing in the early game.

Buffalo (3-1) +3 at CINCINNATI (1-3)

This is a huge Laws Of Parity game, but Buffalo has such a good defense, I’m taking the points.

New York Jets (2-2) +1 at CLEVELAND (0-4)

Sorry, Cleveland, but you lose. Again.

PITTSBURGH (3-1) -8.5 vs Jacksonville (2-2)

The Jags aren’t as good as their record, and they are very banged up at WR. It’s a lot of points, but Pittsburgh is due to blow someone out at home.

Tennessee (2-2) -3 at MIAMI (1-2)

I wish I knew if Marcus Mariota is playing, because if he’s not, the Titans don’t have Colin Kaepernick coming off the bench, they have Matt Cassel, who seems like one of the few guys who I’d take Jay Cutler over. So I’m gambling Mariota will play, in which case giving 3 points to a team that has scored a total of 25 points in 3 games is easy.

San Francisco (0-4) +1.5 at INDIANAPOLIS (1-3)

Just taking the points here, and also have a hunch those pesky Laws Of Parity come into play.

PHILADELPHIA (3-1) -6.5 vs Arizona (2-2)

The Cardinals are an ugly 2-2, while the Eagles are a very impressive 3-1. If the line was over 7, I’d probably be taking the Cards, but I wouldn’t feel good about it.

Carolina (3-1) +2.5 at DETROIT (3-1)

I hate like hell to pick against the Lions, but they had nine guys in their injury report Wednesday.

LOS ANGELES RAMS (3-1) -1.5 vs Seahawks (2-2)

Seattle always struggles with the Rams, even when the Rams suck. But the Rams don’t suck, they are in 1st place.

OAKLAND (2-2) -2.5 vs Baltimore (2-2)

I don’t feel good about giving points with Derek Carr on the sideline, but the Ravens aren’t a very reliable team and they’re traveling across the country. I have a bad feeling the Ravens secondary could give EJ Manuel fits (Where’s Waldo?), but I’m betting the Raiders defense will keep it low-scoring and make things simple for Manuel.

Green Bay (3-1) +2 at DALLAS (2-2)

I love the on-field talent Dallas has, but I don’t trust Jason Garrett in a game like this.

HOUSTON (2-2) +1 vs Kansas City (4-0)

As the point spread indicates, this game could go either way, but I’m feeling Deshaun Watson in a big way here, and the Chiefs are so due for a loss.

Minnesota (2-2) -3 at CHICAGO (1-3)

Let the Mitchell Trubisky era begin! I like this kid, but he needs to take his lumps, it may as well begin on Monday night.

 Last Week: 10-6 (I guess the Laws Of Parity also apply to me…)

Season: 24-38-1

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A Month Of Sundays: POtuS vs the NFL

The President has even managed to make Dan Snyder momentarily look like a good person.

One of the most upset-laden weekends in NFL history (versus the spread) was overshadowed by politics when President Donald Trump stopped rattling Kim Jong Un’s cage long enough to call NFL players exercising their First Amendment rights “SOBs.” If that wasn’t bad enough, he then publicly dressed down NFL owners as if they were feeble-minded children for allowing the players to act in such an uppity manner. President Trump has been promising to act as a “unifier,” ever since he was elected, and it was refreshing to see him finally get around to unifying two parties who almost never agree on anything: NFL team owners and NFL players.

This was undoubtedly the most conflicted moment of Jerry Jones’ life.

Many teams (maybe even all of them?) performed some act of unity in response to the President’s decidedly unPresidential attack. And many fans totally lost their shit. Even the Dallas Cowboys, who are owned by right wing vampire Jerry Jones, chose to kneel and lock arms BEFORE the anthem (as did their opponent, the Arizona Cardinals), and yet the fans still booed. What were they booing? The flag hadn’t been displayed, and the anthem wasn’t playing. Like many of the people who are pissed off about these acts of peaceful protest, what they’re really pissed off about is that they don’t feel free to say n***** in public anymore, and yet these athletes are flagrantly enjoying their First Amendment rights to the fullest on national television.

WHiteyMcSportsfan

The punchline is all the pages are blank.

Ratings are down because many fans are offended by black men exercising their First Amendment rights, and other fans are boycotting the games because Colin Kaepernick is being blacklisted. I’m a staunch supporter of the First Amendment, and I think when so many African-Americans are saying racism is still a huge issue in this country, the rest of the country ought to hear them out rather than gripe about their method of communication.

Remember how upset all the same fans who decry the mixing of politics and football were when this guy was in the booth on MNF? Yeah, me neither.

There are those who will insist they just don’t want politics interfering with their football, and that NFL players are doing a job and they should focus on that and not make political statements in the workplace. And that sports are a diversion from all the troubles of the world, that there is no place for political activism in sports. To them I would say this…

NFLanthem

… and I would ask them about people like Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Arthur Ashe, and others. What would the world be like without these athletes who used their fame and their talents to open the minds of so many Americans about issues that were so crucial to improving the overall quality of life in this country for everybody?

About Those Games…

Only the Jets stood between me and perfection.

Holy smokes, what a week. And I’m not just saying that because I only picked one game correctly out of the entire 16 game slate (thank you, J-E-T-S!). Pretty much everyone who bet on NFL games this week took a long, deep bath. My 1-15 record this week is the worst in AMOS history. The Laws Of Parity were in heavy effect, as we entered week 3 with nine undefeated teams and left it with two. Week 3 also began with nine teams carrying an “0” in the win column, and now there are five such teams left.

Sometimes you suck so bad not even the Laws Of Parity can save you.

One of these teams is going to win a playoff game, but it’s not who you think.

Gambling aside, the biggest upsets were the Bears defeating the Steelers and the Bills beating the Broncos. And those upsets came very close to being overshadowed by the Houston Texans falling short in New England, and the Bengals losing to the Packers in overtime in Green Bay. And in the most meaningful game of the week, pitting the undefeated Lions against the undefeated Falcons, the Lions came up inches short of the goal line on the game’s final play, losing to the Falcons 30-26.

AMOS Offensive POTW

Again? Yeah, again.

There were a lot of good candidates for this week’s award, with Case Keenum and Blake Bortles having career-best days in upset victories; Kirk Cousins teaming up with RB Chris Thompson to lead Washington to a lopsided upset of the Raiders; Todd Gurley and Jordan Howard leading their teams to victory; and Kareem Hunt (our week 1 OPOTW) having another huge day; but the winner has to be, for the second week in a row, the guy everyone wrote off in week 1, Tom Brady. The Patriots had their hands full with the DeShaun Watson and the Houston Texans, and Brady had a scary moment when he fumbled into the air and Jadeveon Clowney caught it and returned it for a TD, but Brady was otherwise damn near perfect, completing 25 of 35 passes for 378 yards and 5 TDs, not to mention leading them on a game-winning drive in the waning minutes. Everyone hates you, but AMOS recognizes your greatness, Mr. Brady.

 

AMOS DPOTW

Terrance Mitchell: 9 solo tackles, 4 passes defended, and 2 INTs. Not too shabby.

Dallas DE DeMarcus Lawrence totally dominated the Arizona backfield in the Cowboys victory over the Cardinals Monday night, recording 4 solo tackles, 3 sacks, and 6 QB hits, none of which properly exemplify the huge impact he had on a game in which his team struggled early. But Lawrence was upstaged by Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney, who not only scored on the aforementioned fumble recovery, but recorded 6 solo tackles and 2 sacks. But Clowney was upstaged by the unlikely occurrence of 4 players each intercepting a pair of passes in their games last week (and two of them are named Terrance). Lions DB Darius Slay had a pair of INTs and 5 solo tackles. Colts DB Rashaan Melvin picked off a couple passes in a victory over the Browns. The Jets Terrance Brooks picked off two Jay Cutler passes, but the winner this week is the Chiefs Terrance Mitchell, who had 2 INTs and 9 solo tackles.

 

Week 4 Picks

GREEN BAY (2-1) -7 vs Chicago (1-2)

It’s hard to imagine the Packers struggling at home with a crappy team two weeks in a row, but in division games you never know. This seems like a textbook “get well” game, so I’ve got to go with the Packers, but if the spread were 7.5, I’d probably be taking the Bears.”
Well, luckily for me the spread wasn’t more than 7!

MIAMI (1-1) (London game) +3 vs New Orleans (1-2)

Tally, ho!

The Dolphins have yet to play an actual home game this year. Has anyone ever played their first home game of the season in October? With Miami coming off an upset loss and the Saints coming off an upset win, and the game being played in London, there are so many shaky factors in play that I’m just taking the points.

NEW ENGLAND (2-1) -9 vs Carolina (2-1) Super Bowl XXXVIII replay!

The Panthers are a mess, but have somehow managed to win two games. I’d have given 14 points here, so 9 is no problem.

Buffalo (2-1) +8 at ATLANTA (3-0)

0 TDs this year.

The Falcons are a pretty flawed 3-0 team, as their defense is not much better than last year, and that squad was nothing special, plus Julio Jones is a bit hobbled and has yet to produce as expected this year. Add to that the fact that Buffalo is playing good defense and managed to upset the Broncos last week. I can’t see both these teams coming out of this week at 3-1, but I won’t be at all surprised if Buffalo covers the spread.

CLEVELAND (0-3) +3 vs Cincinnati (0-3)

Another awful Buckeye Bowl, with zero wins between the combatants. Oddly, this could be a meaningful game for the winner in that 1-3 and third place doesn’t look so bad with the Steelers and Ravens playing each other after both suffered humiliating defeats last week. In other words, the winner of this game can continue to kid themselves about being relevant, while the loser is going to be 0-4. I’m taking the home team and the points.

Los Angeles Rams (2-1) +6.5 at DALLAS (2-1)

Dak demonstrates the importance of neck bridges.

Dallas looked like they were becoming, to quote Dennis Green, “who we thought they were,” midway through the second quarter Monday night against the Cardinals. Dak Prescott’s head-first dive in the end zone was a huge boost of confidence for himself and the team. Prescott had looked shaky throwing the ball the first two weeks and the first quarter of last week’s game, but after that TD run he was throwing lasers on the run to guys who were not exactly wide open, and got results. Conversely, the Rams are looking better than most people thought, so I’m not really comfortable giving more than 3 points here, so I’ll take 6.5.

Detroit (2-1) +1.5 at MINNESOTA (2-1)

This guy? Really?

No way Case Keenum beats one of the best teams in the league this week. I’m riding with the Lions.

Jacksonville (2-1) -3 at NEW YORK JETS (1-2)

Jags are the first team carded in 2017!

This could be a sneaky Laws Of Parity game, but the Jaguars are the more talented team and it’s hard to see the Jets winning two games in a row. I doubt the Jags have started a season at 3-1 since the days of Mark Brunell, but maybe they’re due?

Pittsburgh (2-1) -3 at BALTIMORE (2-1)

Can’t we respect both?

Both teams are coming off tough losses, but the Ravens were absolutely hammered. Plus the Steelers are simply more talented. If the Ravens were getting more than 3, I’d probably be taking them, but they aren’t.

Tennessee (2-1) -1.5 at HOUSTON (2-1)

2018’s Dak Prescott?

With such a small spread, I’ll take the more talented team, despite the fact that I love DeShaun Watson.

San Francisco (0-3) +7 at ARIZONA (1-2)

Carlos Hyde: this era’s Stephen Jackson?

This is a get well game for the Cards, and I expect them to win, but I also expect the 49ers to make it competitive. Both teams have surrendered 76 points, and the Cardinals have only scored 5 more points than the 49ers.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (0-3) -1.5 vs Philadelphia (2-1)

This has Laws Of Parity written all over it, especially with the Chargers being perhaps the best 0-3 team ever.

TAMPA BAY (1-1) -3 vs New York Giants (0-3)

Do we stick a fork in the Giants this week? I hope so. The Buccaneers had their asses handed to them by the immortal Case Keenum, and now are coming home after hurricane Irma to face an 0-3 Giants team. I think this is going to be a somewhat competitive game in the first half, then the Bucs will drill the Giants into irrelevance.

DENVER (2-1) -3 vs Oakland (2-1)

Uncle Fester is out for the season.

Every division game in the AFC West is going to be huge this year. All four teams are good, and three of them have solid playoff aspirations, if not legitimate Super Bowl hopes. Oakland is the more talented team overall, but the Broncos defense is the best unit in this game. Factor in home field advantage, and Sebastian Janikowski being on IR, and I’m giving those 3 points.

SEATTLE (1-2) -13 vs Indianapolis (1-2)

Chris Carson went from 3rd string to feature back in no time.

Thirteen is a lot of points for a team with an anemic offense to give, but the Seahawks are due for a breakout game, the Colts suck, and the game is in Seattle. Am I concerned they won’t bother to cover the spread? Yes. But I can’t take the Colts in Seattle. I just can’t.

KANSAS CITY (3-0) -7 vs Washington (2-1)

Take a good look, Chiefs fans. This is as close as you’re gonna get.

I kinda smell upset here, but maybe that’s just what three days without a shower smells like… I’m not buying the Chiefs as Super Bowl favorites, but it’s indisputable they’re playing the best football in the league right now. And that will last a few more weeks. So expect this MNF game to add a lot of seats on the bandwagon, but it’s a ride that will come up short.

TrumpShitSandwich

Last Week: 1-15

Season: 14-32-1

 

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A Month Of Sundays: The Reports of Tom Brady’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

Cheer up, even this guy lost in Week 1.

What a difference a week makes. If your team lost in week 1, sure, you’re disappointed, but maybe they put forth a good effort, or they were on the road against a tough opponent, or maybe they just weren’t in synch. It happens. Half the teams must lose on any given week, right? But if your team loses again in week 2…

The 12%ers

Hey, you, at 0-2! This could be you! (Just kidding!)

Teams that lose their first two games have only a 12% chance of making the post-season. So unless you’re the 1993 Dallas Cowboys, who were defending champions and lost their first two games due a contract holdout by their star running back, Emmitt Smith, maybe panic is in order.

Jerry owes that ring (and his life) to Charles Haley.

Those Cowboys went on to repeat as Super Bowl champions after Dallas DE Charles Haley almost decapitated team owner Jerry Jones by hurling a helmet at him in the locker room after their week 2 loss. But it would be the height of understatement to compare the current Jets, Browns, Bengals, Colts, Chargers, Giants, Bears, Saints, or 49ers to the 1993 Cowboys.

Why not?

There’s no need to analyze the 0-2 starts of the Jets, Browns, Bears, or 49ers, as all of them were expected to compete for the #1 pick in the 2018 NFL draft anyway. But of the other four teams…

The Bengals have a lot of talent on their roster, as they have for the last several years, but it appears to be time for coach Marvin Lewis to move on. They’ve scored 9 points in 8 quarters of play, and have yet to reach the end zone. And they play in Green Bay this Sunday. And a group of their players have openly appealed for the team to sign Colin Kaepernick. You don’t need to stick a fork in the Bengals, but you can reach down and twist the one they’ve already stuck in themselves.

The Colts

Somewhere in here is a joke on that old saying, “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” Andrew Luck’s injury is largely responsible for this team’s inability to overachieve in the way they have since Luck was drafted 1st overall in 2012. They are thin on talent at almost every other position, and without Luck, they can’t maximize the talents of guys like T.Y. Hilton. What would they have to lose by signing Colin Kaepernick? They play the Browns this Sunday, so maybe they can kid themselves for another week.

The Giants

There were so many great images to choose from…

No offensive line, no running game, and a defense that is bound to succumb to despair when they see their efforts going for naught week after week. This Sunday 0-3 is likely to stare them in the face in Philadelphia. And even if they win, they travel to Tampa Bay the following week, and then will host…

The Chargers

It’s not all his fault, but it would help a lot if he’d make one of those field goals.

To say this team is a decent kicker away from being 2-0 is a bit of an exaggeration, but there’s enough truth in there to say it. The team has been playing reasonably well in close losses at Denver and versus Miami, but their rookie kicker, Younghoe Koo, from South Korea, has come up short (or wide) at the end of both games. This will be a very frustrating year for Chargers fans, as they are a pretty good team in a division so stacked they might be the only team in it to not make the playoffs.

Speaking of not making the playoffs…

Dude, pull it together.

The Cowboys are bursting with talent, but if Dak Prescott doesn’t stop throwing like he’s afraid of getting picked off, they are going nowhere. Last week’s absolute demolition at the hands of the Broncos was inexcusable. Sure, the Broncos have a great defense, but Trevor Siemian threw 4 TDs on the Dallas D. Siemian may be a tad underrated, but no one will confuse him with Aaron Rodgers. Dallas is a run first team, and the fact that Denver held Ezekiel Elliott to 8 yards on 9 carries means Dak needed to step up and perform. The Cowboys have a couple softer touches coming up in Arizona and hosting the Rams, but they need to win both of those games and Prescott needs to show the same confidence he did last year, or people in Dallas are going to start missing this guy…

Candidates for the 75%ers

With this guy in the backfield, you can even win with Jay Cutler.

Nine teams are currently undefeated, which is about right for week 2 in a 32 team league. Teams that begin the season with three victories stand a 75% chance of making the post season, so all eyes should be on the 2-0 teams this week. Miami had a week 1 bye, so they aren’t in this club yet, but it was impressive that after Irma wracked their state, they were able to fly all the way across the country and beat the Chargers. They play the Jets in New Jersey this week, so they stand a good chance of going 2-0, then host the Saints in week 4 in what should be an emotional homecoming (or at least it will be portrayed that way on TV). They look to have a decent shot at 3-0, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Who will be 3-0 when the dust settles on Monday?

The Steelers

You gotta like their chances in Chicago.

The Ravens

He can even throw INTs underhanded.

Don’t count the Jaguars out this week, but Baltimore already has picked off 4 passes in each game this season, and Blake Bortles tends to be pretty generous in that regard.

The Broncos

Don’t expect anyone to mistake this guy for John Elway this week.

Expect a defensive battle in Buffalo this Sunday, and a win for Denver.

The Chiefs

Who doesn’t love the Andy Reid baby?

Kansas City is playing the best football of anybody so far, though two weeks is a small sample. I wouldn’t be that surprised if they lose to the Los Angeles Chargers this week.

The Raiders

I hope Dan Snyder gets some of this.

They were a popular preseason Super Bowl pick, and they lucked out a bit on the schedule this week as their east coast game is on Sunday night instead of Sunday morning, when many west coast teams tend to lose to jet lag, even against inferior opponents.

The Panthers

Carolina hosts the Saints, a team they should beat. In fact, it’s not out of the question all six of the above teams are 3-0 when the sun rises Monday morning, but there can be no more than eight undefeated teams next week (and there are likely to be less) because…

Someone’s “0” has got to go…

This is how you run out the clock against a team with an elite QB.

The Lions will be hosting The Falcons this week in what I see as an early, pivotal game for both teams. In the AMOS 2017 Preview, I picked the Lions as the only sane longshot choice for a Super Bowl victory, with the odds at 100:1. If they can beat the Falcons and go to 3-0, they will be well on their way to heightening the disappointment of their fans when they lose in the playoffs. The Falcons dismantled the Packers last week, 34-23, in a game that was not as close as the score indicates. If they win emphatically Sunday, it will certainly appear that they’re not suffering the annual Super Bowl loss hangover so many teams succumb to the following year. On a related note, how frustrating must it have been for Falcons fans to watch their team gain a big early lead on one of the best teams in the league and then run the clock out? It’s nice they learned their lesson, but…

Week 2 AMOS POTW

Congratulations, Tom Brady, you are the AMOS OPOTW!

After the week 1 blowout at the hands of the Chiefs, many people were murmuring about Tom Brady getting old. In a 36-20 victory over the Saints in week 2, Brady’s stat line was very Bradyesque: 30 for 39, 447 yards, and 3 TDs. He was a slam dunk choice for the AMOS OPOTW.

Imagine if he’d played more than 32 snaps.

On defense, Chiefs DE Chris Jones edged out the Falcons Desmond Truffant (who scored a TD on a fumble return, and intercepted a pass) by sacking Carson Wentz 3 times, intercepting a pass, and causing two fumbles, while only playing part of the game. Jones was a force in a closely contested game.

Bad News, Good News

There’s always plenty of bad news related to the NFL, and Aaron Hernandez’s autopsy revealing brain damage (CTE) is another dent in “the shield,” as the NFL logo is called. We don’t know if the brain damage related to football played any role in Hernandez’s behavior, but virtually every NFL player’s brain that has been examined post-mortem has revealed CTE. Perhaps it’s a coincidence…

They can blackball CK, but they can’t get rid of everyone who speaks their mind.

In good news, it was reported earlier this week that in August a group of players, including Eagles DB Malcolm Jenkins, his teammate Torrey Smith, Seahawks DL Michael Bennett, and retired WR Anquan Boldin had sent a letter to Roger Goodell trying to reach out and get the league involved in social issues players are trying to address in their NFL cities. The league isn’t happy about the national anthem protests, as they’re partly blamed for declining ratings, so the players have reached out to attempt to get the league to understand what the protests are about, and get the league on board in promoting players’ efforts to improve their communities. This is a great development, but forgive me if I assume the league will find a way to screw this up and shoot themselves in the ass.

Week 3 picks (10 home dogs!)

Rams -2.5 at 49ERS

So much for covering that spread.

The Niners have yet to score a TD this year. I don’t expect that drought to last, but I also don’t expect the Rams to have too much trouble beating them decisively.

Ravens (2-0) -3.5 at JAGUARS (1-1) (London).

Can we stop the Thursday night games (except for Thanksgiving) and the London games? I’m nervous about giving that last half point, as it wouldn’t surprise me if this game were close and won in the final seconds on a long, Justin Tucker field goal. But I can also see the Ravens manhandling the Jaguars after making Blake Bortles’ life hell.

Browns (0-2) -1 at COLTS (0-2)

Someone’s “0” has got to go! Condolences to those of you in the Indianapolis market who will be stuck watching this game.

Steelers (2-0) -7.5 at BEARS (0-2)

He’s got to be better than Mike Glennon.

Chicago is not a far commute for the Steelers, and the Bears are a terrible team. This shouldn’t be close.

JETS (0-2) +6 vs Dolphins (0-1)

Hurricane Irma, cross country travel to San Diego, then back to Miami, then up to New Jersey for a team that usually gives the Fins trouble, even when they suck, all adds up to me taking those six points.

Broncos (2-0) -3 at BILLS (1-1)

I’d feel a lot better about this pick if the guy on the right was under center.

This should be a pitched defensive battle. Not sure I’d be taking the Broncos if the spread was more than 3.

PATRIOTS (1-1) -13.5 vs Texans (1-1)

Just ‘cuz…

The only question is “will the Pats bother to cover this large spread?” I’m betting they will.

PANTHERS (2-0) -6 vs Saints (0-2)

Don’t be surprised if 2015 Cam Newton shows up for this game.

The Panthers are 2-0 without having played particularly well. The Saints have no defense. I’m a little wary of giving this many points in a division game, but I can’t take the Saints against a halfway decent team.

Buccaneers (1-0) +1 at VIKINGS (1-1)

These guys might be doing something special this year.

The Buccaneers might be a special team. The Vikings might be mediocre.

LIONS (2-0) +3 vs Falcons (2-0)

Someone’s “0” has got to go! I kinda like the Lions for the win. But that’s how I am about the Lions.

EAGLES (1-1) -6 vs Giants (0-2)

The body language says it all.

The Giants have really significant problems on the offensive line, and I don’t think they solve them this week.

Seahawks (1-1) +2.5 at TITANS (1-1)

An all-too-familiar site for Seahawks fans.

The Titans have lost to a good team at home, and beaten a bad team on the road. The Seahawks are a good team with a bad offensive line. I think the Seahawks find a way to win this. Though the longer I type this, the less sure I feel…

CHARGERS (0-2) +3 vs CHIEFS (2-0)

This guy knows how to have fun,

I’m taking these points, because I smell upset.

PACKERS (1-1) -9 vs Bengals (0-2)

Nine points doesn’t really seem like that much here. The Packers are coming off a bad loss, and play a home game against a team that doesn’t seem to care.

Raiders (2-0) -3 at WASHINGTON (1-1)

One of the Super Bowl’s most iconic moments.

Super Bowl XVIII replay! The Raiders won’t need Marcus Allen to trounce the Epithets.

CARDINALS (1-1) +3 vs Cowboys (1-1)

C’mon, dude, pull yourself together.

I need to see Dak Prescott throw with confidence before I’ll take the Cowboys on the road against a good defense again.

 

Last week: 8-8

Season: 13-17-1

 

 

 

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