Up The Gut: Week 15

By Shaun Morash

Cold Open

Panic is setting in on Jerry World and the Cowboys fan base after what was only their 2nd loss all season. That panic is only taking place because Jerry Jones simply cannot help himself when it comes to a quarterback controversy. Dak Prescott has seemingly hit a bit of a rookie wall, coincidentally vs probably the two best defenses in the NFC the last two weeks, but that doesn’t mean his job should be lost.

Just a month ago Tony Romo stood on a podium and tried to squash himself as a distraction, calling the 2016 Cowboys Dak Prescott’s team. Jerry Jones’ man crush though has apparently made Romo’s appearance on the podium meaningless and a waste of everyone’s time. Let’s all be honest for a second, the Cowboys are the current team in playoff position that has the least chance of winning a Super Bowl. Yes, I said it.

The reason they have the least chance is not because of anybody on their current roster, it’s because Jerry Jones will sink this ship. I now fully expect to see Tony Romo play at some point this year, and I fully expect a divide in this locker room after he does so. Cowboys fans I am sorry, but even the Texans have a punchers chance at holding the Lombardi Trophy, you simply cannot with Jerry Jones running the show.

Ten Yard Gain

1- The Lions were lucky to escape last Sunday, if not for bad holding penalty after bad holding penalty on the Bears on a potential game tying or winning drive Detroit may have been picked off. The Matt Stafford injury on his throwing hand is a major deal, and the Lions with games @ Giants, @ Cowboys and vs the Packers to close the year may be the most likely candidate to lose out in the entire league.

2- The Giants defense arrived on the scene on national tv in a big way Sunday Night and showed the nation they better not count out Big Blue come January again. They will be hard pressed to win any playoff game while scoring 10 points, however, all it may take is to have the best defense in the NFC and a slant to Odell Beckham Jr to change a playoff game on its heels.

3-The Patriots tried to fumble away a huge home game to the Ravens Monday Night but still prevailed to score 30 points against one of the best defenses in the NFL. The recipe is there for the Patriots to get picked off in the post season, but going to Foxboro with Alex Smith or the Raiders secondary is something Bill Belichick is praying for.

4- The Raiders are still the best team pound for pound in the AFC West, but as always in the NFL it is about matchups. The Chiefs matchup very well vs Oakland, but that doesn’t make the Chiefs a bigger threat to beat other AFC power houses besides the Raiders. Don’t be fooled by last Thursday Night, the Raiders are still the better team.

5- Jeff Fisher’s head coaching career in the NFL is likely over. However, he Rams are in a position right now where they should make sure they make the right football decision and not necessarily the best immediate business decision. This team needs a guy who can come in and mentor, teach, and groom Jared Goff. That person may not be the flashy hire to sell tickets in Los Angeles, but long term winning sells. Be smart Stan Kroenke.

6- The Falcons might have beaten down the awful rams, but in doing so they raised eye brows as to just how dangerous they can be in January. They are not a dome team, not the kind that the Lions or Saints are. Their offense can travel and has done so all season. Lost in the midst of that Rams game was that they put up that kind of point total without either of their top 2 receivers. At the moment they have to be the most dangerous team in the NFC.

7- In a downpour in Miami Florida on Sunday Fox tv cameras showed a woman in an Arizona Cardinals “ski” hat at the stadium. This was the most puzzling sight to me on Sunday. Who brings a ski cap to Miami? Who wears a ski cap in warm rain? What ARIZONA Cardinals fan owns a ski cap? These are all questions that still have me dazed. I need to meet this woman.

8- Le’Veon Bell looked like one of Santa’s reindeer dashing through the snow in Buffalo. Last year the Steelers were derailed by his injury now he is hitting his stride and fully healthy. They can win in the cold, win on fast tracks, really win anywhere. If the Steelers get picked off early in the post season, or don’t make it at all, it will be on Mike Tomlin over coaching.

9- One of the most interesting moments on Sunday was when the Eagles were holding open try outs for their long snapper on the sidelines in Philadelphia. I have never witnessed a team lose its starting and emergency long snapper in the same game. I’m sure every special teams coach is at practice this week ensuring they have a 2nd emergency long snapper before they look as ridiculous as the Eagles did.

10- Bryce Petty succeeded when finally given the opportunity on Sunday. Yes it was vs the lowly 49ers, but down 14 points early Petty never panicked and brought his team and offense all the way back in an overtime win. This was the kind of thing Petty could have done about 4 weeks ago, but stubbornly the Jets and Todd Bowles let him rot on the bench.

Five Games to Chew On

5 Juicy Lucy’s Game of the Week: Colts @ Vikings: The Vikings are awaiting the return of Adrian Peterson in Week 16 vs the Packers. If they let Andrew Luck throw it on their defense and upset them in their building, that Peterson return may not matter. This is a must win game for both teams as both are trying to keep division title hopes alive. This is an inter-conference playoff match as I believe the loser is finished. A great quarterback vs a great defense, both dome teams, this game should be tight until the end.

4 Hot Pretzels Game of the Week: Lions @ Giants: The Lions have played just two games outdoors all season; they have lost both of them. This outdoor test will be the toughest as Matt Stafford’s throwing hand will be compromised in what could be rainy weather vs an elite defense. However, if Eli Manning throws some turnover prone balls this game could change just like that. This is the last Giants home game of the year, so this game is actually more important for them.

3 Racks of Ribs Game of the Week: Titans @ Chiefs: The Titans at 7-6 really deserve the AFC South on my mind after beating the Broncos on Sunday. A win in Kansas City will make us truly believe they could be even more than just a one and done wild card host. Kansas City has had a few extra days to prepare for this game, but Derrick Johnson out in the middle could be a key factor in just how much Demarco Murray runs wild.

2 Chicken Quesadillas Game of the Week: Bucs @ Cowboys: This game will mark three straight primetime games out of 4 for the Cowboys. The Bucs defense is starting to rise to an elite level, a level that the Cowboys have had trouble with each of the last two weeks. If Dak Prescott struggles in the 1st half the entire football world will be on Romo watch late Sunday Night. If the Giants win earlier and the Cowboys slip up here the NFC East becomes real interesting in the final 2 weeks.

1 Fry Bread Game of the Week: Patriots @ Broncos: A rematch, sort of, of last year’s AFC Championship Game. The Broncos defense will be ready to unleash on Tom Brady and the Patriots who will be playing on a short week. However, Bill Belichick has to be licking his chops at the idea of facing Trevor Siemian. Denver really needs this game, especially if Miami wins Saturday Night. Von Miller, just like in January, will be the difference if Denver can win this game or not.

My Picks

I went 2-1 last week, continuing my recent trend of winning. I am now 8-3-2 in the last 4 weeks and have finally gotten to .500 on the year at 19-19-4 on the season. For this week I like:

Packers -6.5 @ Bears: I’m all in on the red hot Packers. The Bears lost an emotional divisional road game last week in which they shot themselves in the foot over and over again. They welcome back Alshon Jeffery from suspension, who could pose some threat to the Packers defense. However, Rodgers is in the zone right now and I expect the Bears defense to get lit up here. I have no problem laying close to a touchdown here, as I expect this game to be won by 10-13 at worst.

Saints +2.5 @ Cardinals: Vegas continues to distribute disrespectful lines in Cardinals games. The birds are cooked and have now released Michael Floyd after his DUI arrest. The Saints season is also finished, but Drew Brees is out there still looking to build something, and some momentum to end the season. I think the Saints rise to the occasion and are frankly the better team and will win the game outright.

Raiders -3 @ Chargers: The Raiders are not bad enough to lose two games in a row, especially if the 2nd game is coming after a 10 day layoff. The Chargers have played hard and close with everyone this season but they are simply out of gas. This is a get right game for the Raiders offense, and on the flip side Khalil Mack will feast on the Chargers offensive line. The Raiders run away from this game in what we can start calling the “Relocation Bowl.”

Football Food of the Week

Mini Grilled Cheese with Bacon Sandwiches. Embrace your inner child this weekend by buying a large loaf of bread, a half a pound of American cheese, bacon and butter. Cook the bacon on your frying pan or griddle and then place cut pieces in between two slices of buttered bread with cheese on each slice of the bread.

This technique will allow cheese to melt on both sides of the bacon and bread. When the sandwiches are together cook them on a frying pan, Panini press, or even in the oven to get the toasty, crispy ness of your mother’s grilled cheese. Cut each sandwich into quarters and serve on a platter.

Grilled cheese is great, with bacon is even better, cut it into 4ths and you have a finger food your entire viewing party to enjoy. Ooey, gooey, and crispy, what more can you ask for?

Thanks for reading as always. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS

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