By Shaun Morash
No Brady? No Gronk? No problem for the franchise that just won’t go away. I will not be the guy that dares to wonder out loud of there is a quarterback controversy brewing in New England, because there isn’t one. The Patriots will still be Tom Brady’s team when he returns, despite potentially three more excellent performances by Jimmy Garappolo.
I will, however, be the guy that questions Tom Brady’s legacy as the “Greatest Quarterback of All Time,” if Garappolo goes 3-1 or 4-0 here in Brady’s absence. As it stands currently, the Patriots are 12-5 with Bill Belichick on the sidelines and Tom Brady not under center since the 2008 season. That is a remarkable record that no current NFL team would be able to obtain without a true franchise QB at the helm. That record is telling, and it tells me Tom Brady cannot be considered the best quarterback of all time if his team never misses a beat without him.
Ten Yard Gain
1- The Ezekiel Elliot hype train was derailed on Sunday. The talk around the Cowboys starting Dak Prescott was that he would be helped because of the “great” Cowboys run game. Assuming a rookie 1st round running back would be great off the bat was a mistake. 20 carries for 51 yards simply will not get it done in this league. Imagine how many less yards he’d have without that offensive line in front of him?
2-No team in recent NFL history could have a worse week 1 than the San Diego Chargers had. They lost their best and only worthy wide out on Keenan Allen for the season, and were the victims of the biggest come back in Kansas City Chiefs history. No team’s season should be declared dead after a Week 1 loss, but that may hold true for San Diego.
3-A couple of weeks ago on The DA Show I backed off my Colts winning the AFC South pick with John Kincade. I cited the Colts disaster of an offensive line and the fact many who pick them are blinded by their quarterback and don’t notice how porous that roster is. What we saw in Week 1 at home vs a bad Lions team was exactly what we all should see coming all season long for the Colts.
4- While I don’t believe the Eagles will turn into a Cinderella this season, I do have to admit Carson Wentz looks every bit the part of a perennial pro-bowl quarterback in the NFL. He will undoubtedly have his struggles this season, not every team he plays is the Cleveland Browns, but Howie Roseman should be on the fast track to locking up executive of the year.
5-I had mildly high hopes for RG3 this season, and am stunned he is already on injured reserve. What has happened to his career after earning offensive rookie of the year honors is nothing short of sad. He may be back in the 2nd half of the year, if the Browns choose to go that route, but he is very much like Tony Romo in that they just cannot stay healthy and have to seriously consider their lives after football, and with that must make the hard decision of whether it is right to keep putting their bodies through this.
6-Survivor pools across the country cringed and winced as Kenny Stills missed touchdown almost destroyed many people’s hopes for a deep run in their offices. The Seattle Seahawks did not look like the Super Bowl contender we think they are. However, this isn’t new to the Hawks, last season they were off to a very pour start and rallied for a huge 2nd half of the year. That slow start ultimately cost them the division, another slow start here could do the same again.
7-Here is an overreaction from Week 1 that I am All-In on: The Bucs are NFC Conference Championship contenders. I will not go as far as to use the word Super Bowl yet, but Jameis Winston looks like a quarterback who has been commanding a professional offense for 5 plus years. He has targets all over the place, and the biggest key for the Bucs is their defense now. Robert Ayers and Noah Spence flashed in week 1, if those 2 grow into a pretty good pass rush tandem the Bucs could surprise us all and make a run come January.
8-Erik Coleman told DA this week that Jack Del Rio going for the two point conversion and win in New Orleans was a “no-brainer.” I would not go that far. Though Del Rio’s decision to do so and having his team convert will do wonders for that teams mentality and faith in their coach as the games get tougher and the pressure is on if the Raiders are for real. How fun will the NFL be if the silver and black again return to perennial post season contenders?
9-The NFL team sitting at 0-1 that has to feel the best about itself is the Jacksonville Jaguars. The far majority of Super Bowl picks I read had the Packers hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. On opening day, the young and talented Jaguars gave the Packers everything they could handle and came within a better 4th and 1 play call of probably beating Green Bay to start the season. With that roster and such a weak division the Jaguars are in fact for real even at 0-1.
10-Salsa dancing was set back 100 years in living rooms across the New York area late Sunday when Victor Cruz found the end zone for the 1st time in 2 years for the Giants. Cruz had an impressive leaping catch over the middle earlier in the game that made New York Giants fans begin to dream again. The Giants trio of receivers in Odell Beckham Jr, Victor Cruz, and Sterling Sheppard may be the best the NFL has to offer by season’s end.
Five Games to Chew On
5 Big Texas Steaks Game of the Week: Chiefs @ Texans- Whether momentum can truly follow from game to game will be tested by the Chiefs this week. No team should feel better about themselves and be raring to go more so than Kansas City. The Texans though will have revenge on their mind after an embarrassing Wild Card loss suffered at the hands of the Chiefs in January. These Texans now feel they have a quarterback that won’t turn the ball over all game long the way Brian Hoyer did on Wild Card Saturday. Both these teams have eyes on division titles, but if they need to go the Wild Card route this game may be the tie breaker.
4 Neapolitan Pizzas Game of the Week: Cowboys @ Redskins- One of these teams (barring an unlikely tie,) will be 0-2 and hitting the panic button on Sunday afternoon. Jay Gruden has his critics storming the gates at FedEx Field demanding answers as to why Josh Norman was paid all of that money and never switched over to spy Antonio Brown. That creates the perfect must watch storm in this game, Norman wants to take on the best receiver on the opponent, and in this case that man will be Dez Bryant who was essentially shut out by the Giants last week.
3 Chimichangas Game of the Week: Bucs @ Cardinals- This game may not seem like a big one, or even an interesting one on paper, but after watching the Bucs last week count me in. The Cardinals have become such a tremendous home team under Bruce Arians; however, their Sunday Night loss to the Patriots was alarming. If Famous Jameis brings his air attack into Glendale and stuns the birds the NFC playoff picture we predicted could be turned upside down early.
2 Jucy Lucy’s Game of the Week: Packers @ Vikings- The Vikings will dust off their fancy new building in front of the whole country watching on Sunday Night. Who will be under center for Minnesota is still in question at the time I am writing this. The Vikings figure to be the Packers biggest competition for the NFC North this year, but if Green Bay can steal a win on the road vs them this division race may ultimately not be as close as Viking s fans hope in 2016.
1 Primanti Brothers Sandwich Game of the Week: Bengals @ Steelers- This is the rematch I have waited for the most all off season. The Bengals are at a disadvantage knowing the refs and leagues eyes are on them to behave and keep the game clean, which could take some of their edge off. The Steelers have to feel like their Roethlisberger to Brown connection is unstoppable after Monday night. This would be a big statement win for whoever comes out on top.
Like an idiot I picked the Browns and Colts, and like an idiot I lost both of those games. The Giants won by 1 giving me a push in that game, so I begin the season at 0-2-1. The fast track to .500 begins with this 3-pack:
Cowboys +3.5 @ Redskins: The Redskins will be raring to go and embarrassed following their Monday night drubbing. However, a short week and the distraction of the Josh Norman questions had to have some what kept their focus not at 100% all week. Their defensive line got no pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, so don’t expect any taking on the Cowboys offensive line. In the NFC East, as we relearned last week in Dallas, every game is right. If Washington wins this game there is no way it is by more than a field goal. Take the 3 and a half and run with Dak and the Boys.
Jaguars +3 @Chargers: I had to double check this line 15 times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. The Chargers are flying back home off of a monumental collapse in Kansas City and ready to play the rest of the year without their only lethal threat on offense in Keenan Allen. The Jaguars came within a 4th and 1 of potentially beating everyone Super Bowl pick in the Packers. The Jaguars roster is too talented to start 0-2 and lose to the anemic Chargers. You could take the Jags and the money line if you want to fatten up instead of just taking the points here.
Raiders -5 vs Falcons: The Raiders have the respect and ear of Jack Del Rio after the decision to go for 2 paid off last week. Now they come back to play in what could be their final home opener in Oakland. The Raiders will be confident while the Falcons heads must be spinning after Famous Jameis had his way and toyed with the Atlanta defense. This game could get ugly by the Bay and I suspect this game has the widest margin of victory this week.
Football Food of the Week
Fiesta Taco Station. This is one of my favorite football foods of the week because it involves fun for everyone. Take some ground beef or ground chicken, or heck even both and cook it on the frying pan with your selected spiciness of taco seasoning. Put out a cooked bowl of the meat of your choice, with bowls of lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, salsa, sour cream, hard shells, and soft shells on a table near your tv and have everyone watching the games with you pig out and make their own tacos.
I highly recommend including multiple salsas and tortilla chips to go with this spread. It is fun for everyone, and best of all delicious. Is there anyone who watches football who doesn’t enjoy tacos? I can’t think of one.
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