Up The Gut: Week 12

By Shaun Morash

Cold Open

Sunday the league saw a ridiculous 12 extra points missed. Now, some of this can be explained by the terrible weather coast to coast, but a lot of it can be explained by the continued ridiculous rule change to move the extra point back, no longer making it easy.

A popular opinion since this rule has changed and even since Sunday is that the no longer easy extra point is a great rule. I say nonsense to that. The NFL is already exciting enough, the extra point was the one play where there would rarely be excitement and that is perfectly fine. The Bengals season has been sunk in large part to missed kicks, and teams yesterday either won, lost, or had their games changed entirely due to missed kicks. If a kick is meant to be blocked it would happen, no need to make the play harder.

Kickers should rarely be in a position to cost your team a hard fought game and that is exactly what the NFL has done with this rule.

Ten Yard Gain

1-It has now been ten years since the NFL implemented a triple header on Thanksgiving Day. Never before in the previous 9 years have all 6 teams been at .500 or better, until this year. We are on the verge of potentially the best Thanksgiving day ever on a couch; make sure your dinner is timed out right.

2- At 1-4 Ryan Tannehill no longer looked like a viable NFL starting quarterback. Five weeks and Five wins later Tannehill suddenly has clicked under 1st year Head Coach Adam Gase. Miami is 1 game back of the final Wild Card in the AFC in large part due to the offense Gase has had come together. On Sunday, with Jay Ajayi held in check it was Tannehill who showed the guts to be a winning player under center.

3- I still can’t believe what I have witnessed this year out of the Packers. At 4-6 they are officially buried from playoff contention. They sit 3 games back of the final Wild Card in the NFC ad 2 games back of their division with 6 games to play. In fact only the 49ers and Bears have worse records in the NFC.

4- The Redskins asked Kirk Cousins to “prove it” one more year before opening up the check book. To Kirk’s credit he has proven it and is about to get seriously paid. Judging by the rise in quarterback’s contracts I would not be surprised if Cousins ends up being the highest paid QB in the entire league this offseason. I’m not saying he deserves it, because he doesn’t to that extent, but he will probably get it.

5- The Eagles have clearly established themselves as the worst team in the NFC East. Talent wise they are just not on par with the Cowboys, Giants, and Redskins. This is a team that needs serious offensive weapon upgrades to find out what Carson Wentz truly is. They are 2-5 in their last 7 games, asking them to go 3-3 in their final 6 just to finish at 8-8 appears to maybe be just too much.

6- With the Charlie Strong firing at Texas rumors in full effect , one NFL name makes too much sense to ignore; Chip Kelly. Kelly may have too much pride to leave the NFL like this, but even he has to admit that the 49ers roster may be so far away from being competitive that management may not even allow him to be the coach before it is good again. A cushy, prominent College Job like this doesn’t come along every year and for Kelly this is all about timing.

7-The Bucs win vs the Chiefs pulled them within a game of everyone’s once sexy pick the Falcons for 1st place in the NFC South. The Bucs appeared dead in mid-October but have really been resurgent, even after Vincent Jackson was lost for the season. Give Jameis Winston credit for not wilting after a rough, turnover prone start. They have a real chance at the playoffs and a big game vs Seattle on tap.

8- Bruce Arians’ Cardinals season has followed a similar and now dead track to that of the Green Bay Packers. The truth is, in a quarterback’s league, if you gamble on a retread quarterback like Carson Palmer your window is a lot smaller than you realize when living in the moment. This happened to the Cardinals with Kurt Warner and it is happening again. At some point this team is going to have to hit on a quarterback in the draft to have Lombardi Trophy’s in their case.

9- Todd Bowles proved on Monday he is truly spineless. The season is over and reports surfaced last week that he was worried about his team revolting on him if Bryce Petty continued to be the quarterback. Bowles gave in and now Ryan Fitzpatrick is starting a game that could have immense value to Bryce Petty and the Jets franchise moving forward. If Mike McCarthy is on the open market in a month and a half how do the Jets not make a move?

10- Speaking of coaches on the hot seat, is any seat hotter than Marvin Lewis’ in Cincinnati right now? The Bengals coach who had yet to win a playoff game now won’t even make it to one this season. His support staff of coaches have left one by one, the most back breaking one possibly being Hugh Jackson. The time has come for a new voice in Bengals Nation.

Five Games to Chew On

5 Cuban Sandwiches Game of the Week: Seahawks @ Buccaneers: A quick glance at the schedule and you will notice that the Seahawks have a very realistic chance at winning out. The toughest game left, arguably, comes this week on the road vs the suddenly hot Bucs. If Jameis Winston wants to truly prove he has gotten past his early season woes he will have to prove he can play turnover free football vs this feasting Seahawks defense. However, just a few weeks ago Seattle lost in New Orleans, which should be the blue print for Tampa Bay here.

4 Smothered Breakfast Burritos Game of the Week: Chiefs @ Broncos: The loser of this Sunday Night Game may be tied with the Dolphins by the time Monday morning rolls around. Neither has an easy schedule the rest of the way, and neither is an easy bet for the playoffs as long as Tannehill and the boys keep rolling. This is a major moment in Trevor Siemian’s career. If he loses and looks ugly on National TV this may become Paxton Lynch’s team in December.

3 Pieces of Pudding Pie Game of the Week: Steelers @ Colts: This is one of the juicy Thanksgiving games I was referencing earlier. Only the juice may be squeezed out as Andrew Luck is in concussion protocol at the time this is being written. Indianapolis has looked ugly at times this year, but a win on Thanksgiving to get to 6-5 gives them a real shot to overtake the Texans in the AFC South. For the Steelers, stringing together back to back wins after playing their ugliest football of the year will go a long way toward making the Steelers look and feel like the team that can pick off the Patriots come the playoffs.

2 Stuffed Hot Peppers Game of the Week: Vikings @ Lions: It wasn’t that long ago that some petitioned the NFL to take the Lions off on Thanksgiving. Well there is a reason you stick with tradition, because we now have arguably the game of the weekend for 1st place in the AFC North. The Lions have trailed in the 4th quarter of every game this season, but 6 times now they have found a way to win games late, this could be the case vs a Vikings team that is 1-4 in their last 5 games. The Vikings defense showed they still can be dominant at times in their game vs Arizona. However, that game was still way too close for comfort at home vs a bad Cardinals team.

1-25 pound Turkey Game of the Week: Redskins @ Cowboys: The Redskins offense is becoming more and more explosive as each week passes. They will need to control the clock some on Turkey Day however, if they want to keep the Cowboys dominant offensive line off of the field. The Cowboys actually have 3 fairly challenging games in a row beginning with this game; they then travel to Minnesota, followed by a trip to the Giants. All it may take is one Redskins win Thursday to throw the entire NFC East and NFC hierarchy into chaos.

My Picks

I went 2-0-1 last week to improve my record to 13-17-3. For this week (playing early lines here due to Thanksgiving,) I like:

Redskins +7 at Cowboys: A Thanksgiving Classic is in the making. This is the 1st “short week” in the careers of Ezekiel Elliot and more importantly Dak Prescott. I think that matters here. I also am buying into what the Redskins are doing offensively and the Cowboys defense has been a house of cards.  Josh Norman will do enough to get into Dez Bryant’s head as well. Ultimately the Cowboys winning would surprise nobody, but NFC East games are always tight and this one should be no different. Washington with the points feels like a no-brainer here.

Giants -7 at Browns: Back to the NFC East I go for pick number two. I had been of the mindset for a long time that the Browns were not going 0-16, I now think they are. The Giants had a major wakeup call vs Sunday when they played down to the Bears competition level most of the afternoon. I don’t believe they will do the same on the road vs Cleveland. The Browns now have players admitting the front office is allowing their quarterbacks to get killed. They have no belief and are now getting to the point where they are playing not to get hurt. Expect a Giants win by two touchdowns and an easy cover.

Raiders -4 vs Panthers: The Raiders losses in Oakland earlier in the year, especially vs the Falcons made me think twice about this game. Also the Raiders will be off short rest while the Panthers play on long rest. The Panthers though will have their defense looking like a mess without Luke Kuechly. I expect a big offensive day from Derek Carr and company, only laying 4 here helps. Give me the Raiders to keep the good times rolling.

Football Food of the Week

Thanksgiving leftover sandwich. This is going to be simple, because there is really no other reason to think outside the box on Thanksgiving weekend. You will be tired of family by Sunday, with nothing but leftovers. In fact I’d argue the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the day most NFL fans watch solo more so than any other Sunday of the season.

Therefor I am proposing a Thanksgiving leftover Sandwich. You take your turkey, if you have it some ham, some stuffing, mashed potatoes, and if you are really feeling frisky some cranberry sauce. You warm it up (except the cranberry sauce) and throw it all between two pieces of rye bread, or any other leftover bread you have from Thursday. This is the best way to get rid of those leftovers before you head back to work and the best way to empty the fridge that will start to have that 5 day old turkey smell real quick.

Thanks for reading everyone, Happy Thanksgiving! You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS

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