By Shaun Morash
Ok, I’m tapping out, I say uncle. The Cowboys are pretty damn good. I firmly believed they would crash back down to earth and lost a competitive game to Green Bay. Not only did they not lose, the game was also not competitive. The Cowboys offensive line is the most dominant position group for any team and any position in the NFL today.
The defense’s warts get covered up by the Cowboys controlling tempo and time of possession and that is a recipe for success. However, this season can still get derailed for the Cowboys. The only ones who can do that derailing are the Cowboys themselves. The team has gelled and the offense has rhythm. If and when Tony Romo returns that could all go downhill fast. Romo may look to over compensate for his doubters and try and make too much happen. That could result in costly interceptions and those interceptions could result in losses. Jerry Jones cannot help himself; Romo will see the field again. That would be a mistake and I don’t really see how one could argue different at the moment.
Ten Yard Gain
1- The Ryan Fitzpatrick Jets era appears over. Fitz is headed to the bench and if Geno Smith struggles the next man up should be Bryce Petty, not going back to Fitz. The irony of this whole situation is the amount of wasted newspaper print and hours on sports talk radio that the Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jets contract situation took up this summer. Was there any non-Jets fan that didn’t see this coming a mile away?
2- Even in a win the Jaguars managed to disappoint me. Refreshed off a bye week, with a win in their pocket they still managed to struggle with one of the worst teams in football in the Bears on Sunday. Gus Bradley saved his job in London, but I can no longer defend his ability to coach up talent. That roster has 11 win type talents, just look at it, yet it feels like they will putter to 8-8 in what should be a division they can dominate this season.
3-Those sick of the “Odell Beckham Jr.-Kicking Net,” saga that won’t end can only blame themselves for Beckham taking this to a whole new bizarre level. Beckham slamming his helmet in frustration at the net a few weeks ago was never a big deal, yet was made to be so by the media and some fans. Beckham knew it was ridiculous and has now flipped the tables on the whole thing. A lesson should be learned here by fans and media stop over analyzing situations Beckham is in, because what you get will be nauseating in return. Don’t blame OBJ, blame yourselves.
4-The wheels began to fall of the Wentz Wagon last week, and the wagon has no officially crashed this week. If not for a punt return for a touchdown and Malcom Jenkins INT return for a touchdown the Redskins would have run the Eagles and Wentz off the field last week. Things may only get uglier vs the Vikings defense this week.
5- Rex Ryan has never been a good head coach but somehow someway he has scoffed at his critics and helped lead the charge of an impressive 4-game win streak in Western New York. The Jets and Dolphins seasons have one up and smoke, clearing the way for the Bills to be the biggest threat to the Patriots and make them a viable wild card contender as well.
6- Cam Newton was so much more mature at the beginning of this season than he was following the Super Bowl loss. However, it appears a tiger doesn’t change his stripes. Walking out on his post-game presser following short answers full of attitude at the media was uncalled for an ugly. Cam Newton should never have the word “leader” associated with him.
7-Two straight losses by the Broncos have proven they are the team we thought they were: A fringe playoff team that suffered just enough off season losses on defense combined with a set back at quarterback. The Raiders and Chiefs arguably are more talented and a 4-0 start for Denver will now become a desperate dog fight to get into the playoffs.
8-The Patriots may have been given the biggest gift Sunday in Miami, in a game they did not even play. Ben Roethlisberger’s knee injury has lined up perfectly. The Steelers will now be missing their leader vs New England this week and perhaps in the 4 or so weeks to follow. This should allow the Patriots to create some distance for the top seed in the AFC and make the road to the Super Bowl come through Foxboro.
9- Between the phantom pass interference call in the 4th quarter of the Ravens-Giants game and the non-call in the Falcons-Seahawks game I am more convinced than ever that pass interference needs to be reviewable. The Giants were lucky that call did not end up destroying their season, but the Falcons now may have to play a road playoff game in Seattle as opposed to in Atlanta because of the missed call on Richard Sherman. This whole officiating process and lack of consistency has become a disgrace.
10- The Raiders have been road warriors this year but that only benefits you if you stay strong at home. For the 2nd time this year the Raiders were pushed around in the black hole, this time by a division rival. Oakland is sure good enough to make the playoffs and maybe win the division but lapses like these are why they aren’t ready for a deep post season run just yet.
Five Games to Chew On
5 Orders of Slows Mac and Cheese Game of the Week: Redskins @ Lions: If you haven’t paid attention the last couple of weeks, the Detroit Lions are playing some good football. They have won two games in a row and find themselves very much in the thick of the muddle NFC Wild Card hunt at 3-3. They have been able to score some points, last week vs a pretty good Rams defense. The Redskins meanwhile have won 4 in a row and believe they are the best team in a good NFC East. This has the chance to be a highly entertaining shootout in the dome Sunday and likely comes down to a Matt Stafford or Kirk Cousins untimely interception.
4 Cans of Pepsi Game of the Week: Raiders @ Jaguars: Pre-season these were the two teams everyone was pegging for a surprise season. The Raiders, 6 weeks in sit in 1st place of their division, while the Jaguars sit with just two close victories. The Raiders have shined on the road this season, while the Jaguars have not one a game near the swimming pool all season. This matchup does feature some exciting players on both sides and the winner may have an inside track at their respective division titles.
3 Clark Bars Game of the Week: Patriots @ Steelers: This may have been game of the year before Ben Roethlisberger’s injury. Now it is merely slightly interesting at best. The Patriots have been rolling thunder since getting TB-12 back, the Steelers defense should offer little resistance. The may have trouble slowing down Le’Veon Bell but the entire x-factor as to whether this game will be competitive or not is whether Landry Jones can get Antonio Brown the ball enough to make game changing type plays, and maybe even twerk his face off.
2 Rocky Mountain Oysters Game of the Week: Texans @ Broncos: Finally an interesting Monday Night Football matchup. The Broncos defense is salivating at the thought of playing the man who bolted their organization for the money and glory in Houston. The national television focus will be on Brock Osweiler, who has struggled this year. If he beats his former team it may propel him to a big 2nd half of the year. If the Broncos defense destroys him, he may never be able to shake that image from the public’s eye.
1 Seahawks @ Cardinals: The Cardinals have righted the ship at 3-3 and will be in primetime for the 2nd straight week. After a season of not winning the NFC West the Seahawks are amped to get back the crown they believe should be theirs. If the Cardinals lose this game there is a realistic chance the Seahawks run away with the division. Expect fast defenses and big hits on Sunday Night, overall I don’t think you will see a more playoff-like game all weekend.
Don’t look now but I was 2-0-1 last week and 4-2-1 over the last two weeks. I am now 6-11-2 on the season. For this week:
Vikings -3 at Eagles: Two straight losses for the Eagles have everyone pumping the breaks on anointing Carson Wentz. Things will not be any easier for him this week as he plays arguably the best defense in football. The suspension of right tackle Lane Johnson already killed Philadelphia vs the Redskins last Sunday. The Vikings can exploit weak links on offensive lines like no other team. Sam Bradford is also looking for revenge and to prove to the Eagles they mistreated him (Even though if you have a brain you know they didn’t.) This game could get ugly and really send the Eagles season spiraling.
Raiders -1 at Jaguars: The Raiders have been road warriors this season, giving big efforts on offense each week. I expect them to rebound after a putrid home effort vs the Chiefs. I want to be a Jaguars believer, but their struggles vs a bad Bears team, even in a win, were a disgrace. What scares me about this game is the Jaguars receivers going after a mediocre Raiders defensive back field. Ultimately though this is a one point spread, essentially a pick’em, so give me the better team here and that is Oakland.
Chargers +6.5 at Falcons: This game is screaming upset to me. The Falcons are coming off an emotional two game road trip where they proved to the football world they were a good team. Now they welcome in the lowly Chargers so a natural energy let down has to be expected. San Diego breathed a sigh of relief as they finally closed out a close game over Denver. They also have extended rest off of that Thursday Night game. The Chargers play close games so I don’t expect them to get blown out here, making this number way too high to expect a Falcons cover.
Football Food of the Week
Ham and Cheese mini croissants. With my favorite team, the Giants, playing an early morning game in London I am going with a bit of a brunch theme. To be fair this should have been done earlier as you folks out on the west coast start football at 10am.
The great part about ham, cheese, and croissants are that they are all utility men of the food universe. You can have ham for dinner, ham for lunch and you bet you have ham for breakfast. For these little delectable treats you need to purchase Pillsbury Croissant dough, ham cold cuts, and the cheese of your preference.
Roll pieces of ham and cheese in triangle cuts of the croissant roll dough. These will look like pigs in a blanket, only with ham and cheese as opposed to a little wiener. Bake them on 350 degrees for approximately 8-10 minutes, let cool then serve.
You get buttery dough with every bite along with that melted, gooey cheese taste with perfectly warmed ham. No matter what time you eat these you can make a proclamation it belongs in the meal grouping you would be having, especially in the early morning time.
Thanks for reading, enjoy your football weekend. You can follow me on Twitter @MrazCBS.