Patriots-Giants will be the only game of the weekend to feature to winning teams. That is almost unbelievable to comprehend in Week 10. This year it feels like weekly we look at the NFL schedule and it is 90% yawners, and 10% of “Ok I’ll get into that.” This is a league that has prided its self on the entertainment of parity. Have we gone so much into parity that it is now hurting the entertainment?
Post-Thanksgiving, when the playoff races are the hottest, will be the ultimate test case for this bizarre, subdued, NFL season. For now, however, we are getting more games closer to Titans-Jaguars, than Patriots-Packers. As long as the television ratings stay there or even grow, the league will never care about a league full of 8-8’s.
Ten Yard Gain
1- Dan Quinn had all of us believing the Falcons were for real, despite being ahead of schedule at 5-0. Now they are 1-3 in their last 4, with the lone win being a 3 point squeaker over the Mariota-less Titans. Quinn’s rookie Head Coaching experience reared its ugly head when he inexplicably kicked a field goal from the 1 with less than 5 minutes left in San Francisco. 3 weeks ago the Falcons in the playoffs seemed like a lock. Now, they will be lucky to keep the Seahawks or Vikings off for the final spot.
2- Speaking of NFC Contenders, has anyone looked ahead to the 6-2 Vikings 2nd half schedule? They go @Oak, vs GB, @ ATL, vs SEA, @ ARZ, vs CHI, vs NYG, and @ GB. They will be lucky to go 3-5 in that stretch which would finish them at 9-7. Let’s not lock in the Vikings for the playoffs just yet as well.
3- I absolutely loved that Eagles offensive linemen came out this week and admitted when they could Sunday night, they tried to throw a little “extra mustard,” on their blocks on Greg Hardy. With the fans being so passionate about Hardy somehow being able to play, it is nice to know there are opposing players who feel he is a loser too.
4- The bloom is off the Dan Campbell rose, and in the long run that is probably a good thing for Dolphins fans. After the team looked like a machine in Campbell’s 1st two games coaching, fans were calling for the interim tag to be ripped off. As always, be cautious, give things time and we will see what someone’s value is. For 2016, Campbell’s value is not yet that of a head coach.
5-The expectation for Jason Pierre-Paul was that he would play on a snap count of about 15 plays or so in strictly pass rushing situations in his 1st game back. Instead he played 47 snaps. By the 4th quarter the freshest player on the field was Jason Pierre-Paul. That is good news for the Giants who are desperate for a pass rush. As players and offensive linemen wear down from a long season in December, Pierre Paul will be in October fresh form.
6- Despite losing to the Steelers, I am incredibly excited for the future of the Raiders as a team. The biggest problem is fans in Oakland have waited out some lean years to finally get a franchise quarterback. Just as he hits his prime, he may be destined to lead a franchise in Los Angeles. This is absolutely criminal to Oakland fans to me.
7-R-E-L-A-X was what Aaron Rodgers cautioned Packers fans with after a rough September in 2014. It feels like in Week 10 that same message needs to be sent. They have lost back to back games, the offense is sputtering, and defensive stars are openly fighting on the sideline. Ultimately though, everything will be ok, because of the man who told Packers fans to R-E-L-A-X. You’d rather slump now, then slump late.
8- Mike Pettine has no interest in the future of the Cleveland Browns. Each week, especially this one, he proves it by not going with Johnny Manziel. At half time, after a big Manziel drive, Pettine’s main concern Thursday night was that Johnny needs to stay in the pocket. As a short quarterback perhaps Pettine should have more designed roll outs? This marriage just isn’t going to work, Pettine deserves the ax for the way he has handled this.
9- Rex Ryan was Rex Ryan on Thursday Night when he named IK Enkempali a team captain vs the Jets. The fact Rex does this and rewards a man for punching a teammate, with the microscope on the NFL for violence, is completely tone deaf. Not funny rex, the act is old.
10-The offseason will be an interesting one for teams searching for quarterbacks. Instead of the usual Brian Hoyer types, we may have both Matt Stafford and Colin Kaepernick available. They both have way more raw talent, and have proven more in the league, than most quarterbacks who ever become available. Those will be extremely interesting names to watch in the off season.
Five Games to Chew On
5 Homemade Biscuits Game of the Week-Panthers @ Titans: It may be strange that a game the Titans are playing in is one of the top 5 games of the weekend, but that speaks to the weakness of this weekend’s schedule. The fact though is this game could be a classic trap game for the Panthers. As they come off two huge wins and are feeling their oats a bit, the sneaky improving Titans at home may be the team, ironically, that catches the Panthers in a cat nap for their 1st loss.
4 Scrapple Egg and Cheese Sandwiches Game of the Week- Dolphins @ Eagles: The Eagles have been a team that takes one step forward, two steps back throughout the year. After outlasting Dallas Sunday night, Philadelphia has a chance to get a true win streak rolling. Following this Miami matchup they will play the Bucs. It is imperative the Eagles win this game at home; however, the Dolphins are a lot more talented than their record indicates. This game has a chance to be a 4th quarter nail biter with the Dolphins defense vs Bradford.
3 Taco Truck Taco’s Game of the Week-Vikings @ Raiders-The Raiders still find themselves in the Wild Card hunt despite the loss to Pittsburgh. If they are serious about getting in they must beat good teams at home. That is exactly the test the Vikings present. On the flip side, I noted earlier how difficult the Vikings 2nd half schedule is. This may be one of their easier games left. This could be a make or break game when January comes calling for these two teams.
2 NY Bagel’s Game of the Week-Patriots @ Giants- The Patriots have beaten every team in the NFL since 2008 except the New York Football Giants. The Giants do not have the pass rush they had in 2007 and 2011, but they still do have Eli manning and Tom Coughlin. Coughlin is 5-1 lifetime vs Bill Belichick. If any coach has Belichick read it is TC. The Giants defense though has nobody to hang with Gronkowski. Can Eli magic be enough to knock New England off an unbeaten season once again?
1 Sushi Platter Game of the Week-Cardinals @ Seahawks- The Seahawks have been known for having the best home field advantage in football in recent years. The moment that crack in the foundation began to show itself was when the cardinals went in there two seasons ago and won. Arizona needs to do that again to fortify themselves as a potential runaway NFC West champ. The Seahawks haven’t been right all year, but here, at home, they have a chance to really start their 2015 run before it is too late.
Thanks to a Jaguars cover I avoided a 2nd straight winless week. I am now 18- 10 on the year. Still grea, but the gap is thinning.
Packers -11.5 Vs Lions: The Packers franchise has won 24 straight vs the Lions at home. I fully expect that streak to extend to 25. Green Bay has lost two straight games vs very good teams. Playing the Lions is a get right spot for the Pack. Aaron Rodgers has a chance himself to right the offensive ship. Detroit should have trouble moving the ball in this game too. Packers 27- Lions 10 seems like a right score and that gets you the big cover.
Denver -6 vs Chiefs: The Chiefs stink, despite their improved play in recent weeks. Going into Denver trying to avenge a heart breaking loss on Thursday Night Football in week 2 will not be easy. Denver has spent a week wondering how on earth they lost that game to Luck and the Colts. The Broncos defense will find its pride again and roll Alex Smith and company. A touchdown gets you the cover, and that should come no problem.
Bengals -10.5 vs Texans: The Bengals are legitimately a beast. I still won’t fully trust them in a playoff game, but I have no reason not to trust them at home in the regular season. The Texans are awful. That offense will have a tough time keeping up with Dalton and company. This should be a Monday Night laugher.
Football Food of the Week
Taco Station. Tacos are great and often overlooked when it comes to football gatherings. We all know about Taco Tuesday’s, have your friends over for taco touchdowns. Make your ground beef, your ground chicken, and take all of you essentials like cheese, lettuce, sour cream and put out a build your own taco station on the table. It’s fun for everyone and perfect to handle with your hands as your team is driving to tie a game late, This may be simple and seem boring, but don’t you dare tell me it isn’t delicious.
Thanks for Reading everyone, enjoy your weekend. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS