Up The Gut: Week 13

By Shaun Morash

Cold Open

Josh Normans antics on Thanksgiving prove what most should have already known; he is a punk. Odell Beckham Jr. should never have speared Josh Norman last season, but the idea Beckham was suspended for his actions that day and Norman wasn’t was probably the biggest joke of the 2015 season. Fast forward to Thanksgiving, with the entire nation watching, Josh Norman again played his same old antics on Dez Bryant.

When one star receiver gets animated and heated with Norman it is one thing, when two now have gotten to breaking points it is a pattern. Norman’s game isn’t about skill or being shut down, because he isn’t good enough to shut down big time receivers. Norman’s game is about playing head games, but those head games make him a punk. Thanksgiving with Dez Bryant officially sealed the answer to who was wrong in the Beckham/Norman feud last season, it was Norman.

Ten Yard Gain

1- As has been documented on the show my visit to Cleveland and First Energy Stadium this weekend was nothing short of awesome. The fans in the muni-lot and Dawg Pound deserve so much better than the product they are receiving. That being said, my trip told me one thing I was wrong on all season, there is no way the Browns win a game in 2016. They are in fact the worst NFL team of all time.

2- Todd Bowles sticking with Ryan Fitzpatrick at 3-8 continues to baffle me. With Fitzpatrick the Jets still lost to the Patriots Sunday, a game they were close in, but close means nothing in the standings. Woody Johnson and him need to get on the same page as far as Bowles job security goes. Starting Fitzpatrick does not benefit the organization, and that needs to be Bowles priority.

3-On Monday Bart Scott suggested to DA that Rob Gronkowski could be out in New England after this season. At 1st glance that seemed crazy, but when you really think about it, it makes a ton of sense. The Patriots have no issues getting rid of players while they are still of immense value. Gronk fits right into that category, even if he is the best tight end of all time. This would be no different than Richard Seymour, Jamie Collins, or Deion Branch.

4- Gary Kubiak’s decision to kick what amounted to a hailmary field goal has been criticized all week, but truthfully I do not have a problem with it. By punting you are committing to not winning the football game. You prepare all week to win a game, not tie a game. He took a shot and came up short. Looking back the smarter decision would have been to run a play and try and get a long 1st down as your odds are likely higher to convert. However, in that scenario, punting should never be an option.

5- Carson Wentz is 2-6 in his last 8 games and is the 30th ranked quarterback in that time. The 3-0 start had everyone clamoring that Wentz was the 2nd coming of Joe Montana, but as we now know those expectations were too much too fast. The Eagles had a huge win over the Steelers, but the other two wins were vs the Browns and Bears in that 3 game stretch. Wentz could end up being an all-time great, but he sure hasn’t looked or played like one this season. The Eagles are who we thought they were.

6- My favorite moment from the NFL weekend had to have been the Saints sticking it to Gregg Williams and running up the score Sunday. Sean Payton’s crew was up three touchdowns in the 4th quarter and was running wide receiver passes. The Saints and Drew Brees feel they had a season robbed from their careers because of Williams so I loved the juice and revenge factor they brought to the table. The NFL needs more of that.

7- The Lions sent a message to the Vikings and the NFL on Thanksgiving, a message we all should have yelled in early September: You Don’t Trade a 1st Round Pick for Sam Bradford. His interception to seal the Lions win and not send the game to overtime was inexcusable and looked much more like Ryan Fitzpatrick than a true franchise quarterback. The Lions sweeping the once 5-0 Vikings may be the biggest division sweep any team has this year.

8- 5 lowly points were all the Seahawks could muster in Tampa Bay, on a week where the Seahawks were being touted as the team everyone should fear in the NFC. Seattle has earned name recognition with two Super Bowl trips in recent memory, but the fact is they are simply just a good team, but hardly a team anybody should fear. We should not lose sight of the fact both the Dolphins and Bills were a play each away from upsetting Seattle in their house.

9-The Steelers and Ravens collision course I highlighted last week is still on for Christmas Eve. Both teams have very losable matchups this Sunday, but the team that could find a win here really would give themselves a leg up to try and make Christmas Day less important than it appears it will be.

10-Adam Gase deserves Coach of the Year votes; in fact if they make the playoffs he probably deserves the award. At 1-4 Gase could have simply taken his lumps and let this season be a learning year. He did not, instead he cut starting players and shuffled his lineup to what he felt would be hungry guys who would give the Dolphins a best chance to win. He was right and not many 1st year coaches would have taken those chances.

Five Games to Chew On

5 Pieces of Grilled Salmon Game of the Week: Panthers @ Seahawks: If I had my choice I kind of wish this game would have been flexed out of primetime, but at the time of the flexing restriction the Panthers season seemed to be revived. It is all but dead after their loss to Oakland, but none the less this game should be entertaining because the Seahawks are licking their chops. Coming off of an embarrassing loss to Tampa Bay the Seahawks seem fired up to rub the Panthers nose in the way they acted last season. It will be interesting to see how Cam and the Cats respond is they get punched in the mouth early in this one.

4 Bowls of Gumbo Game of the Week: Lions @ Saints: Don’t look now but this team features 2 legitimate playoff contenders. You could make the case this is actually the Lions “easiest” game left on what appears to be a brutal schedule down the stretch. The Saints need a win in the worst way to gain ground on the Falcons who play a difficult opponent. The Lions offense is built to win indoors as it has at home all year so this won’t be a typical road opponent the Saints see. Expect a lot of points and non- stop entertainment. A loss would likely end the Saints season, but a Lions loss would throw the entire NFC North into flux.

3 Lump Crab Cakes Game of the Week: Dolphins @ Ravens: This could actually be a potential Wild Card Weekend matchup as the red hot Dolphins come into Baltimore to play a Ravens team scratching and clawing to keep pace or create distance with the Steelers in a division that will likely only see one playoff team come out of it. The Ravens rush defense was really weakened a couple of weeks ago by Zeke and the Cowboys, look for Miami to follow a similar game plan with Jay Ajayi. This game will also feature two quarterbacks that in many ways mirror each other with talent and deserved criticism.

2 A-Town Crème Donuts Game of the Week: Chiefs @ Falcons: The Falcons hot start did nothing to ensure they will be AFC South Champions by Week 13 as the Saints and Bucs are right on their heels begging for the Falcons to slip up in 2 games down the stretch. One of those games could be here as the underappreciated Chiefs roll into town. Seeing how Kansas City responds off an emotional overtime win vs a division opponent will be something to watch here. However, one loss for the Chiefs could just as easily put them on the outside looking in in the AFC playoff picture.

1 Clark Bar Game of the Week: Giants @ Steelers: The Gmen are riding into Pittsburgh on a 6 game win streak that hasn’t convinced the critics they are as good as their record indicates. The Steelers have righted their ship and come into this game off extended rest. This game will feature two of the best quarterbacks in football, ironically forever tied together in the same draft class. It will also feature the game’s two most electrifying playmakers in Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. Expect a similar down to the wire affair we saw when Dallas went to Pittsburgh a few weeks ago.

My Picks

I was 2-0-1 last week, 4-0-2 the last 2 weeks. I finally am on a roll. My season record is 15-17-4. For this week I like:

Eagles +1 at Bengals: The Eagles are 2-6 in their last 8 games and effectively need to win out to have any prayer at a fading playoff spot. The Bengals look like they will play this game without AJ Green and have suddenly bottomed out to be one of the worst teams in football. The Eagles road troubles have been well documented and are coming off of a short week, but they should do enough defensively to get pressure on Andy Dalton and force turnovers that tilt this game. You are getting a point here in what is basically a pick’em. Give me the better team in the Eagles here.

Seahawks -7 vs Panthers: The Seahawks have circled this game on their calendar for a long time. The Panthers made a lot of enemies in being “poor winners” last season and now are wounded ducks that everyone can’t wait to get a piece of, especially these Seahawks. Seattle has a lot of pride at stake playing on national TV after being embarrassed in Tampa Bay a week ago. I expect the best Seattle performance we see all season in a romp here.

Colts -1.5 at Jets: The Jets are coming off of as emotional performance as you will see from them all season and they still came up short at home vs the Patriots. The Colts need this game badly and have no room for error as they haven’t played since last Thursday and now get their franchise quarterback Andrew Luck back. The Jets upset the Colts last season on Monday Night and don’t think the Colts have forgotten about that. Payback will be the word of the day on Monday.

Football Food of the Week

Fried Buffalo Chicken/Macaroni and Cheese balls. For this awesome item you need to purchase a rotisserie chicken, elbow macaroni, a cheese sauce of your liking, Italian breadcrumbs, and vegetable oil.

Boil our macaroni while you cut up and shred the chicken off of your rotisserie chicken. Mix the shredded chicken with a cup of Franks Red Hot Buffalo wing sauce. When the pasta is done mix with the cheese cause of your choosing. Let both the macaroni and cheese as well as the buffalo chicken cool. When both are cooled mix them and scoop with an ice cream scooper onto a tray.

Roll the cooled, mixed scoops in Italian breadcrumbs so that the outside is completely coated. Fry each of them in a frying pan for approximately 3-5 minutes, let cool again and serve.

These sound more complicated than they are and are sure to be a hit. They are the perfect way to spice up the 1st December weekend of football.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the weekend! You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS

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