By Shaun Morash
Colin Kaepernick’s rise and fall appears to be complete in San Francisco following his benching. One thing to keep in mind as we watch him follow RG3 to the bench, and quarterback’s like Andrew Luck now struggling: It is truly amazing in this offensive league, where rules cater to the passing game, just how few legitimate stud quarterbacks exist.
Tanking for a top pick isn’t even a guarantee anymore. Blake Bortles has improved, Johnny Manziel hasn’t, and instead the two quarterbacks taken after them in Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater seem to have to brightest futures currently out of the 2014 Draft Class. Which shows you, if you are one of the rare few teams with a legitimate player at the position; you better strike on building a Super Bowl contender while the iron is hot. These windows don’t stay open too long.
Unless of course you are Tom Brady.
Ten Yard Gain
1- The Titans were extremely unfair to Ken Whisenhunt. Yes, I am aware at Whisenhunts awful record as a Head Coach, however, he was given just five games with a rookie franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota. I hope for the Titans sake that Whisenhunt was against the drafting of Mariota, because if he was all in it, you may have hurt Mariota’s career rather than help it by doing this mid-season.
2- Joseph Randle’s release from Dallas Cowboys came as a minor shock this week. Dallas really has no answer at running back despite their tremendous offensive line. I guess Randle needed to do something worse than steal a pair of underwear to be considered a “true leader,” by Jerry Jones.
3-Derek Carr is becoming one of the real “fun,” players to watch in this league. He makes plays with his arm and has the instincts of a 10 year veteran under center. It has been entertaining to mock the Raiders and Browns for the last decade plus of futility, but it appears Oakland is really in the process of breaking away from that sad bottom feeding pack of franchises. They can thank Derek Carr for that.
4- Eli manning became the 1st quarterback to throw 6 touchdown passes, 0 interceptions, and still lose a football game. The Giants defense was without 5 key pieces including their best cover guy, however, the idea that Giants general manager Jerry Reese left them that thin of professionals as far as depth goes is alarming. 52 points can never be accepted as ok to give up. Unless you play in the BIG 12.
5- Le’Veon Bell’s injury may have been the most grueling on a sadly “body bag,” type weekend in the NFL. The Steelers were my pick to win Super Bowl 50 preseason. I hereby declare that prediction wrong and dead.
6- A 3-5 The Houston Texans somehow find themselves tied for 1st place in the AFC South. I don’t think they can ultimately win this thing. However, imagine they had done the right thing in trading up with Seattle to get Teddy Bridgewater instead of the Vikings doing so? They might be coasting to a division title. Instead, they will fail in mediocrity and have no answer under center anytime soon.
7- I am still a believer the Broncos season will end like all of their seasons with Peyton manning have ended, with disappointment. That being said, what Denver is doing defensively is eye opening. They made Aaron Rodgers look like Brandon Weeden. If Denver does make a magical run to a Super Bowl title, it will be because of defense. The Peyton manning haters will always remind us of that as well.
8- In a very winnable NFC East, the next 9 games out of this BYE Week may determine whether Chip Kelly stays in the NFL or moves back to College. There will be more premium College Football jobs open for him to get than ever before in January. However, a division title and dare I say it a run for the Eagles would likely leave those schools moving on in their hiring process.
9- The Carolina Panthers are for real. I am guilty of not taking them seriously. Their resiliency was on full display Monday Night in overtime vs the Colts. That defense can travel. Another rbig measuring stick game awaits vs the Packers.
10- The Rams deserve credit for gambling and seemingly winning on Todd Gurley. To take a running back off a major knee injury in the 1st round, where running backs are already devalued, was a close your eyes and hope it works moment. Well it has, and the Rams are playoff contenders because of it.
Five Games to Chew On
5 Fried Cheese Curd’s Game of the Week: Broncos @ Colts: This may be Peyton’s final stand vs his former team. The Broncos defense can absolutely punish Andrew Luck in this game. However, the Colts are home and may have found motivation, even in a loss, in the way they came back in Carolina. Though not likely, the Broncos 1st loss wouldn’t shock me here.
4 Juicy Lucy’s Game of the Week: Rams @ Vikings: Wild Card Tie breakers at stake as the Rams head to Minnesota. Both of these teams are eerily similar. Both have very underrated defense, good run games, and Quarterback’s that may not be elite, but can make plays. This game may actually be the tightest score of the weekend when all is said and done.
3 Pierogi’s Game of the Week: Raiders @ Steelers: The Steelers have been bit by the injury bug once again in losing their all world running back in Le’Veon Bell. The Raiders on the other hand are showing serious young life. If Bell’s injury takes the Steelers ultimately out of the playoff picture, a win by the Raiders here may ultimately be the one that tips the scales to get them in.
2 Diablo Burger’s Game of the Week: Eagles @ Cowboys: This game may not be as juicy as it looked in the last week in August. However, there is still plenty on the line. The NFC East’s 1st place Giants have more than a punchers chance at beating the Bucs. If that happens, the loser of this game will fall another crucial game back in the loss column. The Cowboys need this game more, but don’t discount how crippling a loss here by the Eagles would be getting swept by Big D.
1 Krispy Kreme Doughnut Game of the Week: Packers @ Panthers: The unbeaten Panthers, taken on the suddenly offensively hobbled Packers. This game features two very good defenses and may be the game that determines home field advantage in the NFC. You could argue that the Packers playing the stingy Broncos defense is actually a benefit coming into face Carolina’s defense. Can Cam Newton make enough plays to match Aaron Rodgers? It’s almost a shame this is an early start on Sunday that most of the country will miss out on.
It finally happened in Week 8, I went winless. I did get a push on the Giants that could have been a win if any defense showed up whatsoever. It just wasn’t meant to be. Rather than carry a push as a tie we will scratch it from the record going forward. That leaves us at 17-8 on the year. This week I am taking three road teams.
Jaguars +7.5 @ Jets- The key to this spread is to get it at 7.5 as it still sat on Thursday. Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing, which helps the Jets, but catching snaps and taking hits from pass rushers will be something to keep an eye on in this game. The Jets defense has been called out by Head Coach Todd Bowles and will be swarming and ready to go in this game. That being said, I think the Jaguars are a little better than we all realize and the Jets aren’t as good as we had assumed. Like the Jets to win this game, but if I’m getting more than a touchdown with points in Jacksonville, then I will take it and run.
Redskins +14 @ Patriots- This may be a suicide mission betting against the Pats Sunday. Just like my Jaguars pick, I do not believe the Redskins will go win this game. However, I wouldn’t be nearly as stunned as the rest of the world. Kirk Cousins is feeling himself a little bit, and I think the Redskins will get the ground game going enough to keep Tom Brady off the field more than usual. New England wins this game and probably wins by 10. I feel a late back door cover saves the day for me and the points from captain Kirk.
Denver -5 @ Colts- Andrew Luck looked sloppy early but rebounded late vs the Carolina defense. The Broncos defense is on a completely different level right now. Peyton Manning knows in the back of his mind this may be the last chance he will ever have to play in the house that he built in Indianapolis. If there is any magic gun powder left for him to sling it may come in this game. I expect a double digit win by Denver that leaves the good feeling Indy built up Monday in showing fight, in complete disarray.
Football Food of the Week
Root Beer Pulled Pork Sliders. I have to credit Buzzfeed on this find. This is really simple but requires cooking overnight in a crock pot or slow cooker. Get either a pork shoulder, or thinly sliced pork chops, place in your slow cooker with some finely chopped onion and enough root beer so that the fluid level goes to a centimeter or two above your pork level in the pot.
Let that cook for 12 hours on low as the root beer flavors soak into the pork. Take out of the crock pot and put right into a bowl where the pork should easily come apart and shred. For good measure add as much of your favorite flavored BBQ sauce as you want in the bowl and mix. You will get tasty slow cooked pork, juicy with a different yet delicate root beer taste, and the zing of BBQ sauce. Serve on slider rolls and enjoy.
Now that’s a tremendous pick at snack at this weekend’s football gathering!
Thanks for reading, enjoy your football weekend. As always you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS