By: Shaun Morash
The Cowboys are an unmitigated disaster starting with Jerry Jones and trickling down to the ball boy. On Thanksgiving Day, they experienced, in my opinion, the most embarrassing loss the franchise has ever had, which is saying something. After the game, the talk was about whether or not Dak Prescott was a true franchise quarterback, which is beyond comical.
The real problem with this team lies in that Jerry Jones will never get a true head coach to handle times if hardship. Jason Garrett’s career winning percentage is on par with Jeff Fisher, and Jerry Jones is just fine with that as long as he can truly call the shots. Dak Prescott is playing with a washed up Jason Witten and Dez Bryant, a very weak No. 2 wide receiver in Terrance Williams, and no running back due to the Zeke suspension.
Saying goodbye to Tony Romo wasn’t all Dallas had to do; they need to wipe the slate clean of the Tony Romo-era of core players and build this thing the right way around Dak’s skillset. If they don’t, we can expect Thanksgiving Day’s in Dallas to continue to look a lot like last Thursday looked.
Ten Yard Gain
1- The Chargers need to become America’s Team. Look back at every team, the very few, that have defeated Tom Brady in the playoffs: the Ravens, Broncos, and Giants of the past all have a very common denominator, that being a vicious pass rush. In a year where the AFC playoffs look like a snore, the LA Chargers could officially sneak in after an 0-4 start and pose the biggest threat to knock out the Patriots with their pass rush.
2- Sunday is the blue print for why the Jaguars should not excite anyone in the playoffs. For all the sacks and great plays by their secondary, if they do not generate a defensive score or big special teams play, they are dead in the water, especially on the road. Blake Bortles just cannot get it done.
3- By playing it safe, the Packers may have cost themselves a real run. Aaron Rodgers was throwing passes pregame Sunday night with the same zip he showed with a healthy collar bone in September. He obviously is not prepared to take a hit, but Green Bay is sitting right there for the final wild card spot in the NFC and if Rodgers was able to play and not on IR as early as next week, that spot could have and probably would have gone to the Packers.
4- I am ashamed and actually feel disgusting that I am a New York Giants fan for the first time in my life. At 2-9, finding out what you have in third-round pick Davis Webb is the right move; at 2-9, sending Eli to talk to reporters by his locker and not at a podium to explain why Geno freaking Smith will be the one taking over as a starter is the worst of any wrong move a team can make.
5- The empty Los Angeles Coliseum is actually a very sad and depressing backdrop for big NFL games. The Rams hosting the Saints truly had me excited for football on Sunday and ended up delivering. However, seeing Tony Romo and Jim Nantz do the opening with a ton of empty seats as a back drop made the game have a CFL feel. I am holding onto fading hopes this changes with Rams home playoff games.
6- Is Case Keenum going to turn into Rich Gannon? The only reason anybody hasn’t bought the Vikings as a true Super Bowl contender is because of who Case Keenum used to be. Week by week, people are beginning to change their mind. I am officially one of those people. As Case Keenum approaches 30, I really do believe a light bulb has gone off. It is truly amazing what no longer playing for Bill O’Brien and Jeff Fisher can do for you.
7- Matt Stafford should be ashamed of his 2017 campaign. The wide open NFC saw the Cowboys, Giants, Packers, and possibly Seahawks fade away from the post season this year. That meant this could have been a year for Matt Stafford to elevate his play, and the Lions into back to back postseasons and make a run. In the end, Stafford continues to get outplayed, like he was on Thanksgiving. What a confusing quarterback to figure out.
8- Why is Michael Crabtree even wearing a chain on the field during a game? I understand being angry and believe Aqib Talib is out of line for ripping it off twice, but the fascination with even having to wear a chain makes no sense to me. You have three hours a week in which you dress up and play, why can’t the chain stay in the locker for those moments?
9- Julio Jones became the first player in NFL history to have three games with over 250 yards receiving. His outburst on Sunday made it even more jaw-dropping that it took so long for Steve Sarkisian to properly scheme the offense to get one of the most dynamic players in football the ball in space and in the red zone. One touchdown in the first 11 weeks of Falcons football for Julio Jones defines their early season sputter.
10- Andy Reid going down with the Alex Smith ship is the most Andy Reid thing ever. He continued to state Alex is his guy this week as the offense has gone invisible for almost two months. Nobody crashes and burns after experiencing highs within one season quite like Andy Reid. He drafted Pat Mahomes in the first round to get the ball down field. The time is now, Andy. Don’t be a dumber version of the Kool-Aid man.
Five Games to Chew On
5 Patriots @ Bills: The Bills, Ravens, and Chargers appear destined to be the three teams after the final playoff spot in the AFC. For the Bills, this game versus New England symbolizes their biggest late season home game in years. New England’s train is rolling and the offense appears ready to drop 30 points in every game the rest of the way. Sunday would be the day for Tyrod Taylor to say hello to the haters, one of which includes me.
4 Lions @ Ravens: As I previously mentioned, the Ravens are in the mix behind big-time defense for a playoff spot. The Lions’ hopes are flickering but enter this game on extended rest after their Thanksgiving heartbreaker. Matt Stafford could use a zero-turnover game, but a Ravens defense fresh off three interceptions of Tom Savage shows no signs of slowing down. A Lions loss and they are out of the mix in my eyes; a Ravens loss at home would be just as devastating for them.
3 Vikings @ Falcons: The Falcons could be on the verge of becoming everyone’s darling to make the Super Bowl in the NFC if they explode on offense versus this Vikings defense. Julio Jones may be bottled up, but Matt Ryan is starting to look like his MVP self in spreading the ball. In many ways after Thanksgiving’s win, it feels like the pressure is off Case Keenum. Maybe that is a bad thing, as he seemed to thrive the most once Teddy Bridgewater was dressed and breathing down his neck. A potential playoff preview early in Atlanta should highlight the day.
2 Panthers @ Saints: This game was cherry picked to be flexed into the late window Sunday Afternoon for most of the country to see. The Saints are looking to avoid losing two straight for the first time since Weeks 1 and 2. If the Panthers do win, the NFC South suddenly gets wild as Carolina, New Orleans, and Atlanta could be fighting for anywhere between the No. 2 seed to the No. 6 seed depending on who closes this division door and who takes a wild card. Luke Kuechly versus this potent Saints rushing attack is the matchup to watch.
1 Eagles @ Seahawks: Finally, a very tasty Sunday Night matchup. Seattle is no longer a place opposing good teams fear going into. Deshaun Watson made sure of that and everyone seems to follow suit. The building will still be loud, though, making it critical for the Eagles offensive line to keep focus and not lose communication. Carson Wentz’s job will be easier than it otherwise may have been with the injuries to the Legion of Boom. The Eagles know all too well how badly they can pick on Byron Maxwell. The Eagles defensive line owns bad offensive lines which may cause a long night for Russell Wilson.
I went 2-1-1 on a 4 pack for the week, bringing my record to 15-20-2 on the season.
Giants +8 @ Raiders: The last time Eli Manning didn’t start a game at quarterback for the Giants, it was Kurt Warner who took the snaps. This time it is Geno Smith. For whatever reason, in a week full of turmoil, I sense the Giants have a big defensive effort as the Raiders will play without either of their two big receivers. Oakland will win, but the Giants will keep this game just close enough for fools in this country to believe going to Geno was the right move.
Dolphins +1.5 vs Broncos: This game has the appeal of sniffing a dirty diaper. However, the Broncos at this point with their quarterback situation should not be favored over Kentucky let alone an NFL team playing at home. Jay Cutler should return and Miami should get a spark, or at least a cigarette spark. In a game nobody cares about, I trust Miami more, especially at home to win out right.
Saints -4.5 vs Panthers: I am man enough to pick this game despite an interesting spread with a lot on the line. The Saints last lost two games in a row in Weeks 1 and 2. They return home versus a big division rival and I don’t think their eight-game win streak was some fluke. They should score plenty and run the ball enough to cover. Frankly, I am not convinced Cam Newton’s receivers make enough plays for him in what should be the loudest environment the Panthers play in all season.
Football Food of the Week
Mini Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Bacon Sandwiches. Take a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, a bottle of grape jelly and plenty of bacon home from the store. Toast the bread and spread peanut butter and jelly on each piece like classic PB&J. However, this isn’t your classic peanut butter and jelly because you are adding America’s rising food, bacon.
Cut these sandwiches into 4ths, using a whole loaf of bread and cutting each sandwich into 4ths you will get a bunch of mini finger sandwiches. The bacon will add a greasy crispiness to the sweet peanut butter and jelly texture to go along with the perfect toasty bread. This will be a party in your mouth with every bite which can take you back to your childhood.
Thanks for reading as always. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.