Up The Gut: Week 9

By Shaun Morash

Cold Open

                  Cam Newton’s points on officiating were worthy of discussion following a missed call on a leg shot, in the pocket, that Newton took on Sunday. However, for Cam Newton to expect the same treatment a quarterback like Tom Brady, heck even a quarterback like Jameis Winston gets is unfair.

If you are a pocket passer that only takes off in an emergency and slides each time they get to a 1st down you should absolutely get the benefit of the doubt from officials. If you are a guy like Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, or even Ryan Fitzpatrick that benefit of the doubt should never be given. What Cam Newton is failing to recognize is you cannot have it both ways as a quarterback. If you expect protection from officials, then you as the player need to show you want to be protected. Like Roethlisberger and Fitzpatrick, Cam Newton takes off way too often and will try and run people over, rarely looking to slide. That kind of play makes you a running back, just as much as it makes you a quarterback.

While this week’s incident was not Cam as a running back, the track record he is speaking of isn’t the same as this play. If Newton is willing to let that part of his game go then he has every right to expect to be treated like Tom Brady. However, expecting to be able to get the best of both worlds is just plain silly.

Ten Yard Gain

1-Two weeks in a row the Vikings have reverted to frauds after I finally stopped calling them by that name. Sam Bradford surviving this season behind that kind of tackle play has suddenly become a major question mark. It was hard to imagine the Vikings as a wild card team or even out of the playoffs after that 5-0 start, but this team may very well end up being last season’s Atlanta Falcons.

2- The Patriots trading of Jamie Collins at this point in the season was mindless. Bill Belichick is an evil genius and should pretty much always get the benefit of the doubt. However, let’s not pretend that he never strikes out. The Chandler Jones deal has proved to be a mistake, and now Jamie Collins could be mistake number 2 on that defense. When games get tight, like they often get in January, missing a big defensive piece like Collins could be the difference between a crucial 4th quarter stop and 7 points for the opponent. It is a shame if petty contract talks ultimately play a part on costing Tom Brady another ring.

3- The legend of Dak Prescott soared to new heights on Sunday Night, ironically in what was Dak Prescott’s worst game as a pro yet. He really struggled early but was bailed out late by the play of Zeke and the offensive line. The biggest part of this game though was Jason Garrett’s obvious dis trust in his defense by electing to go for it on 4th and 1 in overtime, rather than kick a field goal and play defense. Injuries are mounting for the Cowboys on their back end, and look for the cracks in that defense to expose themselves as these 2nd half of the season games get tighter and bigger.

4- The trade deadline came and went without the Browns trading Joe Thomas. I am nowhere near the war rooms or offices of general manager’s league wide but I can only imagine as bad tackle play has been prevalent for many contenders including the Seahawks, Cardinals, Giants, and Vikings, that the Browns received a phone call or two. Thomas has paid his dues for that organization and deserves to go somewhere that gives him a realistic shot at winning before it is too late.

5- Gus Bradley surviving this season in Jacksonville is something I unfortunately no longer feel is possible after the team was inexplicably embarrassed by the Titans last Thursday night. The real interesting dynamic here is that this may be the only chance for Tom Coughlin to get back into the league. He can coach up a young team and has obvious ties to the Jaguars organization. Something tells me TC is sitting and waiting for the phone call daily now.

6- The Matt Stafford MVP talk was short lived as the Lions were exposed on the road mounting little offense vs the Texans. The Lions though still are a strong bet in home games, but they may look back at this Texans game as the reason they missed out on a wild card berth. The AFC South is rolling it’s eyes at Stafford as this game could be the one that helps the Texans out last the rest of the trash in the worst division in football.

7- I will go to my grave believing the moment the “sex toy” was thrown on the field in Buffalo Sunday was the funniest moment in the history of me watching the NFL. This was peak Buffalo and left so many questions that need to be answered, mainly, how did the fan sneak it in?

8- Five road wins for the Raiders, the most recent coming after 20 penalties totaled over 200 yards in Tampa Bay. Those penalties must be cleaned up for the Raiders to rise up and potentially be the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC. However, their road wins this year are telling us a story that we need to follow toward January. Oakland may just be young enough, and dumb enough to not fear going into New England in the playoffs. The Raiders may actually be the team most likely to beat the Brady Bunch in crunch time.

9-Redskins PR embarrassed their organization and the league in general with the stunt they pulled post-game in London Sunday. With a German television reporter asking and receiving an answer from Dustin Hopkins Sunday, only to have a PR director scream no interviews and pull Hopkins away, the Redskins sent a big message to the world that the NFL is far from global friendly, in fact the opposite of everything the NFL game in London were supposed to be.

10- A hat tip this week must go to Andre Johnson, the future Hall of Fame receiver that announced his retirement. In a league that has become so accustomed to the diva wide receiver, Johnson was anything but. I often feel casual fans, or just fans outside of Houston don’t really appreciate just how good Johnson was because he never made himself the center of attention the way a Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown, or Odell Beckham Jr do. Credit to Johnson for always being classy, I just hope his lack of wanting the spot light does not hurt him in his quest to be a 1st ballot Canton inductee.

 

Five Games to Chew On

5 Pounds of Smoke Gouda Game of the Week: Colts @ Packers: Just when we thought the Packers were back on track they somehow lose a game to the Falcons in which their secondary bottled up Julio Jones and made him a non-factor. Luckily for the Pack, perhaps the worst team in the NFL that has a franchise quarterback is coming to town. This game will be a very interesting watch in the late afternoon window Sunday because of the quarterback play. The loser though will have many questions to answer as to whether they can even make the playoffs.

4 Crab Cakes Game of the Week: Steelers @ Ravens: At the time this is being written, Ben Roethlisberger’s chances of playing are up in the air. The Ravens are coming off a bye week and a home win vs their arch rival could catapult them into a 2nd half surge for a division title. The way the AFC West has looked it is appearing less and less likely this division will get two teams into the playoffs so each combination of Steelers, Ravens, and Bengals matchups the rest of the way are essentially must-wins.

3 Fry Breads Game of the Week: Lions @ Vikings: Nobody needs a home game worse than the Vikings whose season seems to suddenly be spiraling downward. They have had much home success this year though, but who knows how out of sync their offense will look with the sudden resignation of Norv Turner. On the flip side the Lions have also been a great home team, but their road efforts could be what keeps them out of the playoffs. If the Lions pull the road upset here the team that makes the playoffs out of these two would not be the team we would have guessed just three weeks ago.

2 Slices of Pizza Game of the Week: Eagles @ Giants: This is one of the best rivalries in football with many huge regular season games played throughout the years. This game will be no different as the winner will be in full control of an NFC Wild Card spot and the loser will likely be 3 games out of the division lead with a likely Cowboys win at Cleveland coming this week. The Eagles defensive line has feasted on poor offensive lines this year making this a very tricky matchup for the Giants. However, Carson Wentz check down style offense plays right into the strengths of the suddenly strong Big Blue defense.

1 Ghirardelli Hot Fudge Sundae Game of the Week: Broncos @ Raiders: Al Michaels calling a Raiders game on Sunday Night Football? What year is this? Well Raiders fans enjoy the spotlight, you deserve it. The division lead will be on the line in this one, but the Raiders will need to clean up their undisciplined approach as winning games where you take 23 penalties will never happen two weeks in a row. For the 1st time in what feels like forever the Raiders have the edge at quarterback and the Raiders big time duo at receiver going toe to toe with the Broncos secondary is worth the price of admission.

My Picks

Finally the football gods smiled down on me with a 3-0 week, and don’t look now but I have had a resurgent 3 weeks that have gotten me back to sniffing distance of credibility for the 2nd half of the season. My current record is 11-12-1. For this week:

Eagles +2.5 @ Giants: For what has to be the 1st time in Up the Gut history I am electing to pick against my personal favorite team the New York Football Giants. The Giants have not beaten the Eagles at home in a game that matters since Plaxico Burress was still wearing Blue. This is the start of a new era for the rivalry with two new head coaches on the sidelines. Unfortunately for the Giants, the Eagles strength, their defensive line, plays right into the Giants weakness which is their offensive line. This game will be ugly, sloppy, and tight. If the Giants win perhaps it is 24-23, but sadly I see this as an Eagles win with Eli Manning looking lost.

Jets + 3.5 @ Dolphins: The Dolphins have really found something in Jay Ajayi in recent weeks on the ground, but the Jets defense’s vulnerability lies on their back end, not playing the run. Nothing the Jets do is pretty, but they are the better of these two teams talent wise and a win here will give the Jets a chance to get back to .500 vs the Rams next week. I think they do enough here to win this game outright.

Panthers -3 @ Rams: The Rams are coming off of a bye week and sadly I think little will change as far as Case Keenum goes. Realistically seeing a quarterback like Keenum is great news for a vulnerable Panthers secondary looking to gather confidence. Also the Rams play a dirty style of defense under Gregg Williams, and hate Cam Newton all you want; at least for this week the refs will probably call a sensitive game to protect him. This Rams defense will shoot itself in the foot with penalties and the Panthers win and cover.

Football Food of the Week

Taco Crescent Ring. Ring in November with a ring, a taco ring. The beyond simple ingredients include ground beef, taco seasoning, taco cheese, and 2 cans of Pillsbury crescent dough. Simmer your taco beef in a pan, add the seasoning and water. Then lay out cresent triangles in a circle, adding the cooked and seasoned beef on top of the dough. Sprinkle the cheese throughout and roll the dough over, pinching it together. Bake this for approximately 20 minutes, let cool then serve.

If you love tacos, and who doesn’t, you will love that spicy beef taste with gooey cheese. Also, instead of the crunch of a taco shell or the softness of a soft tortilla, you will get the buttery flakiness of a crescent holding the beef together. This taste is not often mixed but when done properly here you will once again have your taste buds dancing, forgetting that your fantasy football team stinks.

The full step by step directions and ingredients to this tremendous football snack can be found here: https://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/taco-crescent-ring/a52fade5-13ce-483a-b1d6-55c22aeb5c5a

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS

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