By Shaun Morash
The 2-0 Vikings received devastating news this week when we learned that not only is left tackle Matt Khalil out for the season, but star running back Adrian Peterson will likely be out months. Before you become the guy that dismisses the loss of AP because of his putrid stats to start the year, please take into account he was doing that behind one of the worst run blocking offensive lines in football built in 2016.
AP’s absence is about more than stats, he is a guy you game plan for, a guy you load the box for, a guy that would open up the pass game for Sam Bradford. Let’s break this down even simpler, the Vikings have now lost their franchise quarterback, best all-around player, and best offensive lineman for the season essentially. Off of that, we are supposed to buy in that a career .500 or worse QB is now leading this team to the playoffs simply because of great defense?
Hard pass on the Vikings chances at anything better than 8-8 in 2016.
Ten Yard Gain
1-Jay Gruden and the Redskins have given into the critics and fan pressure, Josh Norman will now be shadowing opponents top receivers, starting this week vs nemesis Odell Beckham Jr. Norman has played well the 1st two weeks, but if he psyches himself out of this game and Beckham beats him like he did last year the fans in Washington won’t be patient with their new defensive star.
2-The potential playoff team that has to have everyone the most uneasy through two weeks are the Seattle Seahawks. Their offense looks worse than the Browns offense, and that is saying something. Many are pointing to their offensive line troubles and that is correct. But, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, and more have played with offensive line problems and still had their team scoring. Point being, Russell Wilson is nowhere near elite, and is an exaggerated game manager.
3-Rex Ryan’s hot seat may not be the hottest in the NFL. Gus Bradley had high expectations from ownership after the money spent in free agency. Two games in, the Jaguars are 0-2, and a bad 0-2 following a blowout loss vs a less talented opponent in the Chargers. If this continues to spiral in October, I would not be shocked if Bradley doesn’t survive the season.
4-Jay Cutler is awful. Yes that is stating the obvious, but after seeing what we saw Monday night and frankly his entire career I would be stunned if some team has Cutler as their training camp starter next August. Chicago has to move on and QB needy team’s better see him as a backup and nothing more or they too will be wasting a season in 2017.
5-Carson Wentz has looked every bit the franchise QB that the Eagles dream he will be, As a team though everyone needs to pump the breaks on the 2-0 Eagles hype train. When all is said and done this season there is a good chance the Browns and Bears will have the top 2 picks in the 2017 draft. Both of which were the Eagles 1st 2 opponents.
6-The Broncos were overlooked by many, if not most people outside of Denver for a playoff spot. Yet two games in their defense looks just as ferocious, if not more as last year. Trevor Siemian can be a place holder for Paxton Lynch as the rookie continues to groom himself for late November. Shame on me for overlooking Denver.
7- Jameis wasn’t so Famous in Arizona in Week 2. After a week of bouquets thrown at Winston’s feet heading into the Arizona game, Jameis came up small and looked shell shocked in the Bucs blowout loss on Sunday, Further proving Winston still has a long way to go vs elite defenses and the Bucs are at least a year away from being a serious NFC threat.
8-I backed off the Raiders winning the AFC West and I am glad I did. I still think this team is good enough for an AFC Wild Card spot, but their loss at home to the Falcons showed some true warts that are keeping this team from being a 12 win juggernaut. Their secondary is horrendous and can somebody wake Bruce Irvin up and tell him the season has started?
9- A growing trend through two weeks of the NFL season is that ratings are mysteriously the lowest they have been since 2009. Many will point to the protests turning people away, and I believe that is the truth. However, this Monday Night game I expect to get wrecked in the ratings and be an alarming night for the NFL. Not only is the matchup an unappetizing Falcons-Saints game, but it is going up against a presidential debate for the ages.
10-Hats off to the New York Giants defense. All that was asked is that they go from worst in the league to average and that could be good enough to get Big Blue back in the playoffs. Well after bottling up Drew Brees is appears the Giants may be much better than average on that side of the ball. They are the only team through two weeks not to allow a pass play of 30 yards or longer. 200 million dollars goes a long way.
Five Games to Chew On
5 Racks of Kansas City Ribs Game of the Week: Jets @ Chiefs: A win over Buffalo has Jets fans breathing freely, but their starting 6 game gauntlet is only just beginning. The Chiefs will be hungry after losing a game to AFC contender Houston in Week 2. A loss to another potential wild card contender in the Jets could have long lasting impacts on the Chiefs come December. This is a big game when tie breaks come in for both sides. A win for the Jets would mean they would in theory only need to go 1-2 over their next 3 difficult games that follow.
4 Tony Luke’s Philly Cheesesteaks Game of the Week: Steelers @ Eagles: Bart Scott told DA this week that Carson Wentz is “fool’s gold,” adding that all he has done is play the “JV.” Well the Varsity is coming to town in the form of the unbeaten Steelers. This is the most expensive ticket on the secondary market in the league this week and should be a closer game then we would have thought a month ago. If Carson Wentz comes out of this game looking like Peyton Manning the league should be on notice.
3 Pounds of Carolina Pulled Pork Game of the Week: Vikings @ Panthers: The shovels have been out on the Vikings season this week now that they are without their franchise QB, franchise running back, and starting left tackle. The Panthers smell blood in the water and are looking to avoid a 1-2 start and Super Bowl hangover. Expect defense to be the word in Charlotte on Sunday.
2 Slices of New York Pizza Game of the Week: Redskins @ Giants: Josh Norman vs Odell Beckham is the main storyline heading into Met Life Stadium Sunday. The part of this game that matters though is the Redskins season may be over before October, at least in the NFC East race with a loss to the Giants. The Giants have shown they are a different team than last year with back to back close wins. Putting their throat on a division rival and ending them would be a true sign this Giants team is for real. This could actually be the most entertaining game of the weekend or the biggest blowout of the weekend when all is said and done.
1 Bowl of Skyline Chili Game of the Week: Broncos @ Bengals: The Broncos 1st road game of the year will be a true test. The Bengals, believe it or not, have actually played the Broncos well in recent years. If you are an anti-Broncos as a playoff team thinker this is a game they would have to lose to back that theory. Expect a lot of defense again in this game, but if Andy Dalton, AJ Green, and company lose at home we may be questioning the validity of their playoff contention.
Hey look I stink at picking games through 2 weeks. If not for the Cowboys in Washington on Sunday I would be winless. I am 1-4-1 on the year, things better turn around fast. I like two dogs and one favorite this week.
49ers +9.5 @ Seahawks: I want to make one thing clear when making this pic, I believe the Seahawks are winning this game, but I can’t make the leap that they are going to wake up and beat anybody by 10 points this week. Their offensive struggles are real, starting with the offensive line. I would be alarmed if I was a Seahawks fan. Their defense may score a touchdown off Blaine Gabbert this week. That being said, the 49ers have looked better than advertised through two weeks and I can see Chip Kelly’s up tempo offense actually neutralizing this specific matchup in San Francisco’s favor.
Raiders +1.5 @ Titans: Here I go again on the Raiders band wagon. Oakland burned me last week when I took them as a 5 point favorite at home and I am confident they won’t burn me again this week. The Titans to their credit have played well the 1st two games, but the Raiders may be the best team and have the best quarterback that they have faced yet. The Raiders flaws lie in their pass rush in secondary, not their run defense. The Titans as a run 1st offense aren’t built to take advantage pf where the Raiders are reeling right now. I like Oakland to win out right, but give me the point and a half to play it safe.
Steelers -3.5 @ Eagles: I think Bart Scott was into something on the Eagles only playing the JV. The Steelers are the polar opposite of the Browns and Bears, and probably are the best team the Eagles will see all year. The Steelers can score on any defense and asking Carson Wentz to play keep up with Ben Roethlisberger is a tough ask. This line is only so small because money is coming in on Philadelphia and they have believers, I’m not one of them.
Football Food of The Week
BBQ Chicken Nachos: If you have followed this blog the past four years on top of being a huge Buffalo Chicken fan I am also a huge Nachos fan. This week I present to you a very easy and tasty form of Nachos.
While chili meat or seasoned chicken have become the norms for nacho toppings me must never over look the power of barbeque chicken. The night before your big game party make sure you purchase a rotisserie chicken, your choice of tortilla chips, shredded cheese, scallions, jalapenos (optional,) and a bottle of barbeque sauce. There are many and I mean many varieties of barbeque sauces and tastes that go with them. For this I recommend a honey barbeque but whatever your bbq sauce of choice usually is it will work for your taste buds.
When you wake up Sunday morning chop up your rotisserie chicken or put into a food processor or shredder. Simply empty a bag of tortilla chips onto a cooking sheet or tray and load the chips up with all of the shredded chicken, thinly sliced scallions, jalapenos and plenty of cheese. Last but not lease drizzle the bbq sauce throughout the top and let there be enough for every chip to have its own taste.
Since the chicken is already cut the time in the oven should be 8-10 minutes. This is a fantastic, cheap, and easy snack to have this weekend. Enjoy!
Thanks for reading as always. You can follow me on Twitter @MrazCBS