Up The Gut: Week 9

By: Shaun Morash

Cold Open

The Jimmy Garoppolo trade will have ripple effects felt league-wide – first and foremost in New England, where within two months they have traded away Jacoby Brissett and Garoppolo, leaving no future behind Tom Brady. This is pure Patriots arrogance; do they expect Brady back next year? Yes. Should they expect him in 2019? No. The flexibility of the Patriots’ draft plans are gone; they must draft one this year.

As for the 49ers, they have a quarterback. Now it is time for Kyle Shannahan to build what he thinks he will be able to, but also this takes Kirk Cousins rumored next destination out. Maybe Cousins returns to Washington after all?

The Browns and Giants now know if they are in the top three that the 49ers will not be there waiting to also take a quarterback, clearing the way for Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold to each land in one of these places.

Usually the NFL trade deadline is a total dud, but this Garoppolo trade may be the most impactful NFL deadline deal ever.

Ten Yard Gain

1- Zach Miller’s leg injury is tragic and sad for him, the Bears and the league. In an NFL where head injuries and CTE are prevalent, Miller’s leg injury may have shifted the focus somewhat. The mere thought of amputation should have the NFL worried for the future of safety in the sport. Luckily for them and more importantly Miller amputation doesn’t seem to be a probability at the moment.

2- Saquon Barkley has scouts and fans drooling, once again fooling people that their team should be using a precious top-five draft pick on a running back. Be very careful with Barkley. Greg Schiano called the Ohio State defensive line the best line he has ever been around, this includes the NFL. Barkley carried the ball 21 times against them, ad nine of those carries went for a loss. If you are one of many teams with offensive line problems, Barkley is not the pick for you.

3- The Cowboys are screwed without Zeke. There is no other way to sugar coat it. He has become everything in their offense while Dak Prescott continues to look more and more like a game manager. In a wide-open NFC, this could have finally been the year Dallas returned to a Super Bowl. Now 8-8 seems far more likely.

4- The Seahawks are all in after trading for Duane Brown from the Texans. John Schneider is all-in in the previously mentioned wide-open NFC and you have to respect that. This is not the best Seahawks teams we have seen over the last few years, but they can still beat any team in the league on any Sunday with that defense and Russell Wilson. The offense has sputtered because of a leaky offensive line. This may not save that line from sinking, but it could keep it afloat to make some noise in a season in which Aaron Rodgers is done, the Falcons are mediocre, the Giants are awful, and the Cowboys are without Zeke.

5- NFL losing ratings war to the World Series is primarily thanks to London. The NFL has oversaturated the market in games and there was no better example of that than on Sunday. We all woke up, many of us on the East Coast with heavy rain, and had nothing to do but watch the Browns and Vikings. Follow that up by the early and late regular windows and by 8 p.m., Eastern football overload had sunk in. Entertaining baseball was the perfect break and many fans took it. I truly believe without that London game the ratings between Sunday Night Football and the World Series on Sunday would have beem a lot closer.

6- Patriots are frauds. They once again escaped death at home thanks to Travis Benjamin running the wrong way and Joey Bosa jumping off sides late. The Garoppolo trade will shift the focus a bit on New England this week, but make no mistake: this isn’t a good football team and won’t be able to escape with victory playing this way versus a real playoff team in their building in January.

7- Matt Ryan can’t handle playoff football outdoors. It felt like every single Falcons possession in MetLife Stadium Sunday featured Matt Ryan botching a snap and/or rubbing his hand so much with a towel it could have started a fire. Those were undoubtedly awful conditions to play in in New Jersey, but seeing Ryan that mentally frayed by the elements is a good enough sign to me that he and the Falcons are simply not built to win football games as the weather turns out of their comforts of a dome.

8- The Bucs are awful. In the midst of a chaotic, surprise-filled season with teams that have disappointed, don’t overlook just how bad the Bucs are. After signing DeSean Jackson, going on Hard Knocks, and people picking Jameis Winston for MVP, the wheels have completely fallen off. Winston is looking more like a bust than an MVP, and Dirk Koetter is looking like a lifelong offensive coordinator and not a head coach. Somewhere Lovie Smith is smiling.

9- The Bills bus continues to roll: 4-0 at home, 5-2 on the season and Sean McDermott is looking like the best rookie head coach we have seen in years. This was a team that traded off piece by piece, including Marcell Dareus, and appeared to be tanking. Shady McCoy has looked like an MVP and Tyrod Taylor is playing every game like it is for his livelihood. How awesome would the Titans winning the AFC South and hosting a Wild Card Bills team be? Perhaps a Music City Miracle redemption?

10- Dolphins in primetime three straight weeks should be criminal. Now they have traded off Jay Ajayi and could not be a less entertaining team. Ryan Tannehill’s injury is the best thing to happen to Adam Gase because it is an easy excuse for why the team looks non-respondent in too many games this year. Gase joins Ben McAdoo and Dirk Koetter as major second-year flops as head coaches.

Five Games To Chew On

5 Raiders @ Dolphins: I just called the Dolphins in primetime criminal and here I am picking them as one of the top-five games of the week. This isn’t a juicy Sunday Night game to the eye, but it does feature two playoff teams from a year ago on life support. Adam Gase hopes trading Jay Ajayi will wake up his team and offense, and the Raiders defense is the perfect recipe to get an offense going it appears. Oakland went back to a lifeless offense in Buffalo after rising versus the Chiefs. Will the real Amari Cooper please stand up?

4 Ravens @ Titans: The Titans are in a first-place tie with the Jaguars in the AFC South while the Ravens are a half game behind the Titans and Jaguars for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC. When it comes to tie breakers, this could be the Ravens’ season on the line. Joe Flacco appears ready to go after an ugly hit and concussion suffered last Thursday night. The Titans will look to run the ball with more success than Miami did versus Brandon Williams and company.

3 Broncos @ Eagles: It is Brock Osweiler time again in Denver as Trevor Siemian was finally shown the bench. Osweiler better be prepared because he is walking into a hornets nest as the Eagles defensive line continues to feast. The Eagles did not play down to the 49ers last week at home and should be up for the challenge versus the Denver defense. The Broncos on a short week coming across the country is a difficult position to be in, but they need a win to stop the bleeding and bring confidence back to a team that seemed to have swagger at 2-0 many weeks ago.

2 Falcons @ Panthers: One of Cam Newton’s closest friends and No. 1 wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was stunningly shipped out. With Cam Newton’s attitude off the field this year, this could either sink him or motivate him and the offense to get moving. The Falcons have sputtered all season and beating the Jets should not make us feel they have stopped what has been wrong. This is a spring board game in the NFC South for the winner, and I expect fireworks into the fourth quarter.

1 Chiefs @ Cowboys: This game has certainly lost some luster with Ezekiel Elliot now out, but it is Dak Prescott’s time to prove he belongs in the same breath of the other emerging elite quarterbacks in this league. Kansas City still looks like they are pound for pound the best football team in the NFL and watching their pass rush go up against the Cowboys All-Pro offensive line will be worth the price of admission. Zeke won’t be there to break a big play, so if Tyreek Hill can pull a rabbit out of his hat on the other end, that could be the difference.

My Picks

Hey, I finally had a winning week! A 2-1 record that wasn’t 3-0 because of my unexplainable faith in the Lions has me at 9-14-1 for the season.

Broncos +8 @ Eagles: These are two trains heading in opposite directions, but as we learn in the NFL, we should expect the unexpected. While I think the Eagles do enough in the fourth quarter to win this game, I actually expect this one to be very tight and for the Broncos to cover. Carson Wentz throws a couple of costly interceptions and Denver’s defense feels their mojo. The Eagles run game, with too many toys under the tree, doesn’t get going here. Philadelphia wins but by a field goal late.

Chiefs -1 @ Cowboys: The Cowboys have proven to run through Zeke and their offensive line. Dak Prescott has to put on his big-boy shoes and make some plays, specifically to Dez Bryant, for the Cowboys to win even at home. I see Marcus Peters taking a forced throw the other way and Kareem Hunt going back to gashing an opponent. The Chiefs win this game by a touchdown and cover.

Lions -2.5 @ Packers: The Packers are the team most reliant on their quarterback to make magic happen than any other team in the NFL. That magic is not coming back anytime soon with Aaron Rodgers on the shelf. The Lions haven’t been right in weeks – and cost me a perfect week with their dud versus the Steelers on Sunday Night – but pound-for-pound, they are better than the Packers and do enough for a road win here. Darius Slay intercepting Brett Hundley seems inevitable.

Football Food of the Week

Chicken Bacon Ranch Empanadas, an American flair to this Latin treat. Purchase empanada shells, usually frozen, at your local grocer. You will also need chicken breast or strips, bacon, cheddar cheese, and ranch dressing.

Chop or shred the chicken and brown it in a pan while doing the same with the bacon strips. Lay out each empanada shell and put some chicken, bacon, a sprinkle of cheese, and a table spoon of ranch dressing on each. Fold the shells over, pinching the sides closed with a fork creating the beautiful fan outline.

Fry the Empanadas in a frying pan and oil like you would with chicken cutlets, each side getting no more than two-and-a-half minutes. Let them cool by sopping up extra oil with paper towels, then serve.

With each bite, you will get the scintillating crunch that comes with a perfectly crispy empanada shell to go with oozing ranch, gooey cheese, and the classic mix of chicken and bacon. These won’t exactly scream healthy, but what on Sunday ever does? They are simple and you can make many of them quickly to serve at your football watching party this weekend. Enjoy.

Thanks for reading everybody and enjoy the first football weekend of November. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.

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