By Shaun Morash

Cold Open

Another week and there is another suspension controversy surrounding the NFL. This time it involves the Seahawks as Michael Bennett after a cheap shot and Quinton Jefferson after a near fan brawl will not miss any games. This outcome I simply cannot understand. Just last week JuJu Smith-Schuster was suspended after a block that was high, but many would argue was clean. Now Michael Bennett doesn’t get suspended on a play he could have purposely blown out an opposing player’s ACL on?  Quinton Jefferson was unfairly targeted and had a beer thrown on him by a Jaguars fan, however that is no excuse to scale a wall like Spiderman and incite a near riot either.

I will play conspiracy theorist as to why these players were not suspended, in particular Bennett. The league is scared of the Seahawks as their players outside of Colin Kaepernick have been the most outspoken when it comes to social and racial injustices. Just look at Bennett after video tape emerged showing Las Vegas police seemingly doing a correct job in handling a tense situation and Bennett, a situation Bennett claimed they did not handle properly. The league turned its back on it. Now, the league turns it’s back on a play in which player safety should be an enormous concern?

If the league suspends Bennett then Bennett will assuredly pound the gavel saying he was unfairly treated and his enormous following he has gained in his fight against racial and social injustice are sure to follow. This is one big game for the NFL, just escape 2017 without any more PR nightmares. Player safety be damned.

Ten Yard Gain

1-The Dolphins and Giants are a lesson to the NFL to end color rush and go to throwbacks on Thursday Night Football. The 80’s look both those teams displayed in Week 15 was perfect and looked so much sharper than the space ship color rush uniforms we see on teams weekly now. If the excuse for not wearing more throwbacks is because of helmets and safety then that is simply inexcusable. Create a decal that fits over the entire helmet to resemble team’s helmets of yesteryear.

2-Jameis Winston is on the verge of becoming Jay Cutler. Dirk Koetter appears all but gone, meaning Jameis will get his 3rd coach in 4 years in 2018. From NFL Offensive Rookie of the year to the sewer pit he has gone. His natural skills are too good for teams to ignore and give up on, but he is truly becoming the ultimate coach killer at the most important position.

3-Snow games are awesome, don’t be a grumpy guy who hates them. Nobody outside of Buffalo or Indianapolis would have cared about Colts at Bills Sunday if not for the eye appealing blizzard on live TV. Sure the game was sloppy and it is a shame if weather determines the outcome, but it is so much fun to watch and as fans we are here to be entertained, so enjoy it.

4-I refuse to overreact to Tom Brady’s pitiful performance on Monday night. For at least 4 years Brady has had a performance similar to what went down in Miami and after all of those games I overreacted to thinking it was the beginning of the end of Brady. I refuse to do that right now, the AFC is far too mediocre to think the Pats aren’t the front runners to do so with Brady.

5-My heart breaks for Carson Wentz. Another young superstar lost for the season in what has been a forgettable 2017 for the NFL. For Eagles fans looking for the positives, don’t fool yourself, Nick Foles does in fact stink.

6-Cam Newton reminded everyone how dangerous he and the Panthers can be and they should not be overlooked. Unlike the AFC, there are dare I say it 8 teams alive for 6 spots in the NFC and all 8 can make a run to the Super Bowl. One of those teams is absolutely the Carolina Panthers. After some early season struggles and mishaps at the podium Cam Newton is back to looking like an MVP.

7-Aaron Rodgers magic hat has to run out at some point, doesn’t it? As he returns for the final 3 weeks Green Bay has a shot to win out, get to 10-6, and possibly sneak in the playoffs. Unfortunately for them just winning out guarantees them nothing in January. That being said, their schedule is extremely difficult, can Rodgers really have another December to remember?

8-Eli Apple deserves to play in Canada; he is the opposite of an NFL pro. After being scratched for a 4th straight game for the terrible Giants, Apple took to Twitter to retweet and compliment a former college teammate torching the Giants defense. This is a punk, immature move by what can only be described as the biggest mama’s boy in the National Football League. The Giants need to do what’s right this offseason and release this rotten Apple after just 2 seasons of his career.

9-The lack of official diagnosis that we know of Ryan Shazier still scares me. Shazier was all smiles after Sunday Night’s win from the hospital. However, seeing him laid up with that much family by his side is a scary sight. We still haven’t officially been told his long term diagnosis. Sometimes no news is good news, but is it?

10-Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, what the heck happened to you guys? Both quarterbacks were on the verge of being great playoff stories last year before their seasons ended on Christmas eve. Now Mariota is pirating a Titans ship that could be sinking short of a playoff run and Carr crashed last week vs the Chiefs almost ending the Raiders season. 2017 was supposed to be an enormous step forward for both of these young men and it couldn’t be trending in a worse direction.

Five Games to Chew On

5 Dolphins @ Bills: If the Bills win out they will end the longest playoff drought in professional sports. 1st up in their way is a Miami Dolphin team that just made the big bad Patriots look silly. The Dolphins have a very good chance at the final wild card spot in the AFC is they pull the impossible and win out to get to 9-7 themselves. More snow could be on the way to Western New York for this matchup early Sunday.

4 Chargers @ Chiefs: The idea of a double header on a Saturday is so awesome. The NFL tapped back into this two years ago and went away from it last year except for on Christmas eve. This will be the nightcap on Saturday and the winner will walk away as the front runner for the AFC West crown. The Chiefs come off a huge win vs the Raiders, if they go back to back they semi prove they have turned around their season that seemed destined for derailment 2 weeks ago.

3 Packers @ Panthers: Another big test from an AFC North foe in the Cat’s house in Carolina is here. This time it is Aaron Rodgers looking to crash the playoff party and take no prisoners. There is one problem with that fairy tale dream in Wisconsin, Cam Newton is playing like a man possessed himself and is looking to will the Panthers back to January football.

2 Rams @ Seahawks: A Rams loss in this game would be nothing short of devastating for their surprise season. Getting swept by the Seahawks would give Seattle the inside track at the NFC West and have the Rams suddenly appearing like a Wild Card. The Rams have rebounded after big game losses multiple times this season and it will be on the legs of Todd Gurley to make sure the Rams season finishes where it belongs, atop the NFC West.

1 Patriots @ Steelers: Mike Tomlin says this matchup is like being in the “kitchen” in the NFL this week. I still don’t fully get what that means but I hope it has a breakfast nook. Pittsburgh has been living on a prayer of tight wins for 3 weeks now and their defense is nowhere near where it needs to be to deliver physical blows to Tom Brady. Rob Gronkowski is back and the Patriots can win and re seized the number 1 seed in the AFC. If you are sick of seeing AFC Championship games hosted by Robert Kraft I suggest you put on some black and yellow Sunday afternoon.

My Picks

I was back to being a loser last week with a 1-2 record. For the season with just 3 regular season weeks left I sit at 19-22-2. For this week:

Ravens -7 @ Browns: The Browns had their chance at a win last week when they collapsed vs the Brett Hundley led Packers. Unlike last year where they shocked us all with a win in Week 16 the magic is out. The Browns are going 0-16, and while they have played close games with Baltimore in recent memory I think they are in for a world of hurt vs these Ravens/ Baltimore’s defense has 3 shutouts on the year, all vs pitiful offenses and quarterbacks. I Predict a 23-0 win for the Ravens here vs Kizer and yet another shutout to keep them alive and well in the playoff hunt.

Packers +3 at Panthers: The Panthers are “ballin” as the kids say, led by Cam Newton. However, in my life I have seen too many Aaron Rodgers Houdini like moments to expect anything less this week. I am getting points in Rodgers return to save the Packers season? How do I not jump all over that and assume the Packers win outright?

Saints -15.5 vs Jets: The Jets are officially toast, for what must be the 5th time this year. Bryce Petty is now in at quarterback and on this weekend last year he was almost decapitated by the Dolphins on a Saturday Night. The Saints at home are a nightmare for opponents. To me this game feels like the biggest blowout of the weekend and Vegas sees it that was with this spread. The Saints could lay a 40 burger on the Jets while Bryce Petty flounders once again in December.

Football Food of the Week

Pigs in a Blanket with Taco Dip. Inspired by the conversation on the show on Wednesday I present two awesome Football snacks combining as a power team, the Golden State Warriors of the coffee table so to speak. Make your traditional pigs in a blanket with crescent rolls and mini wieners. Then make a traditional taco dip with chili, cream cheese, and taco cheese. When both items are done and placed in front of you and your company many will ask where are the chips for the dip? You can simply respond with “You silly rascal, the pigs ARE THE CHIPS!” Yes that is right by dipping the mini pigs in the taco dip you create the classic chili dog taste but only in bite size form. If you can’t down with that, what can you get down with?

Thank you for reading and sharing. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS

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