Up The Gut: Week 14

By Shaun Morash

Cold Open

The Falcons and Saints have both had their seasons and potentially their playoff dreams or positions altered because of a ridiculous NFL rule that was added last year and went primarily unnoticed. A team, as you now know, can return a blocked extra point or intercepted 2-point conversion attempt back to the house to earn two points of their own.

The 2 point conversion and/or extra point are just that, extra. They are supposed to be penalty free and the one play in a game without true repercussions. While many will argue again how much more exciting those plays made those games, I would argue they are nonsense.

No team should ever have a season go from 10-6 to 9-7 because of an interception on a 2 point conversion. Shame on the NFL for, once again overthinking itself in a sport that doesn’t need more excitement added. Leave that to the NHL or Major League Baseball.

Ten Yard Gain

1-You need to get lucky sometime when you are good and that is exactly what happened to the Cowboys last Thursday night. I cannot remember as abysmal a special team’s performance as the one the Vikings put forth. Between shanked punts and a fumbled punt return Minnesota literally handed a game to Dallas that the Cowboys frankly didn’t deserve to win.

2-Colin Kaepernick’s benching Sunday came just as the hype around Kaepernick was starting to re-materialize. Chip Kelly said after the game that he went to Blaine Gabbert to “provide a spark.” If you have to turn to Blaine Gabbert at any point to provide a spark than the quarterback you had starting is not an NFL quality quarterback, period.

3- Todd Bowles post -game press conference Monday sounded like a man who is defeated and a man who has no idea what he is doing. It is a real shame it has gone this way for Bowles in New York because truth be told I do not think he is a bad football coach. However, he has a team full of dogs and the dogs have laid down and left him as the man looking like an idiot. Wrong place, wrong time for Mr.Bowles.

4-Earl Thomas is the beating heart of the Seahawks defense. They may have enough talent to recover from his injury and play good enough defense, but come crunch time in big time playoff games this is the kind of injury that becomes a death blow for Seattle and their “Super Dreams.”

5- The Cam Newton benching over a wardrobe violation was the most ridiculous and over analyzed story coming out of Week 13. However, in stories like this we tend to overlook the obvious: How hard is it for Cam Newton just to wear a damn tie if those are the rules?

6- As I previously noted with Earl Thomas and the Seahawks, the New York Giants will undergo a similar feel to their team with the loss of Jason Pierre-Paul. The Giants lack of depth at pass rush was an undersold story because the defense had played so well. However, if you are a Giants opponent down the stretch it makes no sense to ever run a play Olivier Vernon’s way anymore. That Giants defense without JPP can suddenly become very, very exposed.

7- The Washington Redskins have lost two games in a row and now find themselves on the outside looking in in the playoff picture. Jay Gruden reportedly screamed at his team loud enough for the entire media to hear it on the other side of a wall Sunday. If the team does not respond in Philadelphia than this is a ship that is taking on water and it would probably be too late to recover.

8- The Raiders once again proved they are a heavy weight fighter in the NFL. Being punched in the mouth early by the Bills the Raiders were able to flip a switch again to roll over Buffalo in the blink of an eye. Oakland has gone from nice story that will probably be out in the playoffs to perhaps the biggest favorite to win the Super Bowl. In a league full of parity they are probably the most complete package.

9- Every one and a while Las Vegas thinks they have outsmarted everybody with a spread only to have it blow up in their face. That was the case in New Orleans where for some reason the Saints were near touchdown favorites vs the red hot Lions. The Lions never let New Orleans truly feel like the game was winnable and thus leaving Vegas with real egg on their face.

10- Paxton Lynch did just enough for the Broncos to beat the Jaguars Sunday. He certainly did everything that Trevor Siemian can do. In my personal opinion the Denver Broncos should roll with Paxton Lynch for the remainder of the season. He provides just as much post season experience as his counterpart, with much more upside. Plus for the long term outlook of the franchise, playing games this valuable is something that can go a long way toward Lynch having a great career in Denver.

Five Games to Chew On

5 Dozen Anchor Bar Wings Game of the Week: Steelers @ Bills: The Bills need to win out in December to have a chance at the playoffs. This will arguably be their toughest game left on the schedule. The Steelers are riding high having won 3 straight games and have laid a couple of eggs on the road in spots this year and this could look like something similar. This game should be a lot closer than meets the eye.

4 Prince’s Hot Chicken Game of the Week: Broncos @ Titans: The Titans come off a late bye week in a 3 way tussle for the AFC South. Demarco Murray now has fresh legs and will need to put the Titans on his back to neutralize the vaunted Broncos pass rush. Marcus Mariota’s MVP campaign could rise big time with a big performance here at home. The Broncos cannot afford to lose this game and give the chance for the Dolphins to once again jump them for the final wild card in the AFC.

3 Curd Burger’s Game of the Week: Seahawks @ Packers: The Packers quest to win out will meet a tall task as the Seahawks come to play in a game that screams big time December football. Seattle’s defense without Earl Thomas has a chance to be exposed if Aaron Rodgers heats up on what should be a cold day. The Packers suspect defense though could once again become exposed if Russell Wilson shines. This would be a game I would stay away from betting on, but it should be one you make sure you watch as a football fan.

2 Orders of Baked Beans Game of the Week: Ravens @ Patriots: Finally Monday Night Football has a game worth watching again, and boy do they need it after that Colts-Jets snooze fest. The Ravens have historically been one f the few franchises that gives the Patriots a hard time in Foxboro. New England’s free pass of easy games the last couple of weeks is now over, Baltimore will play this game in primetime like it is their Super Bowl as they try and maintain a lead in the AFC North. Brady vs Flacco could be the best quarterback back and forth we see all weekend.

1 Piled High Pastrami Sandwich Game of the Week: Cowboys @ Giants: The Dallas Cowboys only loss this year came in Week 1 vs the New York Giants. Now Dallas steps into the Giants house after the “Gmen” lost an ugly game to the Steelers and lost one of the stars of its suddenly awesome defense. When these two teams square off you throw out the records and anticipate it being a game decided late in the 4th quarter. If the Giants find a way here, the storylines of them sweeping the Cowboys will be enormous heading into January.

My Picks

It was another winning week for me as I went 2-1. I am now 6-1-2 in the last 3 weeks, bringing my record to 17-18-4 on the season.

Steelers -2 @ Bills: The Steelers have won 3 in a row, the 1st two in the streak were suspect, but snapping the Giants 6 game win streak was not. The Bills had their spirit broken in a blink by the Raiders late Sunday afternoon. They could come home still a little tired and wore down as they try and dig their heels in to have a last stand on this season. The Steelers though are just too talented to not win this game by a field goal and probably more. Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are rounding into form and it will only continue to get better for them here.

Eagles +1 vs Redskins: The Eagles have lost 7 of 9 games, Carson Wentz’ promising start has all but been lost, yet when it comes to playing games inside the NFC East anything goes. The Redskins have lost two straight, the last one in Arizona causing Jay Gruden to yell at his team louder than anyone has heard Gruden yell before. This will be a back and forth spirited NFC East clash, but ultimately, at home, I think the Eagles play spoiler in what could be their final win of the 2016 season.

Texans +6 @ Colts: A huge game, I guess, in the AFC South as two pretenders duke it out for at least a share of the lead in their division. The Colts will be playing on a short week and maybe more importantly be playing with false confidence after their blowout of the Jets. The Jets essentially did not show up, upon further investigation of the tape Andrew Luck threw many balls that should have been knocked down or intercepted vs competent defenses. The Texans know how big this game is, and will at least try and play defense on Luck unlike the Jets. 6 points is way too big a spread between two teams that are equally as bad.

Football Food of the Week

Bacon Cheeseburger Dip: As I have done sporadically throughout the season I like to sprinkle in dips throughout the season and this one is beefy, gooey, and oozy all rolled into one. If you love the tender taste of grounded hamburger beef, melted cheese, crisp and chewy bacon with every bite tickling your taste buds than this dip is sure to become the hit of your football Sunday and one you may carryover with you into the holiday season.

You can dip bread or chips in this unique blend in a skillet, whatever your heart desires. I have attached all of the ingredients and proper instructions on what may be my most delicious offering I find this football season. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/234687/slow-cooker-bacon-cheeseburger-dip/

Thanks for reading, have a great weekend! You Can Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.

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