We are sadly coming to a quick close to this weird NFL season. I mean we have games on Wednesday now in this new world and after what we saw, hopefully that was the last one. We are also at the point where the playoff picture is rounding into form.
With the added seventh team, it’s going to be interesting to see which added bubble team makes it. Baltimore is looking like a team that could potentially miss the playoffs because of poor play, as of late, but they have arguably the easiest schedule among those competing. The NFC West is still dominating, but the injuries are starting to really pile up in San Francisco. Maybe a team like the Vikings can make a strong push and overtake them.
Ultimately, we still have so much football left. There is sadly still plenty of time for injuries to occur. Still time for players to develop, hit a tremendous hot streak, and elevate their team. Like what if Carr looks in the mirror and balls out! Unlikely, yeah, but who saw Tannehill coming? I think we will be discussing about a potential dark horse for these playoffs, like the Titans last year.
New Orleans Saints 9-2 (-3) @ Atlanta Falcons 4-7
How is the Taysom Hill experience going? Honestly, not bad, but way different than with Brees and that’s working to their benefit. Hill showed last week that he can’t be totally relied upon to move the ball through the air. Not even completing ten passes or throwing for more than 100 yards, but if you look at the game script, why even throw? The defense showed up in a huge way once again. They proved that the only position that can turn into a QB is a tight end. But, for real, 3,13,9, and 3 are the points they have given up over the past four games. They also have forced 12 turnovers over that span. That’s three a game! Now will this be the normal? Probably not, but this is the ceiling, this is exactly what this group is capable of. Who knows when Brees will get back honestly. If they go 4-0 with Hill, why rush it? Especially if the team is playing at this high of a level the entire time. We should all look at this as an audition for Hill. I believe this is Drew’s last year and Payton needs to know where this team goes. Paying, Kamara, and Thomas have locked down the key pieces and if they can get quality production from Hill, at the QB position for what they pay him, then that deal looks like robbery for the Saints. This team’s strategy looks like – Run the ball with Kamara and Murray. If they call a pass play, look at Thomas and if he isn’t open, just tuck it and run. That recipe sounds like enough to beat this Falcons squad.
Being a fan of Atlanta has to be a tragic life to live. You see your team lose games against Chicago or Detroit in such awful ways. Then the Falcons can go out and absolutely embarrass a potential AFC playoff team in Las Vegas. Did the Steelers defense sub in for them on Sunday? I mean they forced five sacks which was a season high. They also forced a season high five turnovers. They capitalized on every single turnover for a total of 26 points. That’s a surprise seeing how Julio was out and, normally, Matt Ryan can be a little suspect without his guy. But because of how good the defense played, they never really had to move down the length of the field to score. But this week won’t be the Raiders. The Falcons got embarrassed by this Saints team just two weeks ago and I hope the offensive line took a long look in the mirror. The Saints sacked Ryan 8 times in that game and that’s the most in one game by any team this year. You can’t expect this offense to click if Matt Ryan is never upright.
So thinking about what happened between these two teams a couple weeks ago, it should be a no brainer lock for the Saints to cover. To be honest, I think it is. This defense in New Orleans is elite and I see Atlanta having a hard time moving the ball. But if Atlanta scores early, I’m hesitant to believe that Hill can lead a comeback charge. But even if they do lose this game, the one bet I kinda love is the Saints point total of 24 points. I think that even if this is a shootout, or a blowout, they cover that point total. Last week was not a true representation of their talent, but more of a Rick Astley.
New England Patriots 5-6 @ Los Angeles Chargers 3-8 (EVEN)
Well I guess we are all learning that Cam is just a shell of what he was. I know, me personally, I thought Cam would come in and light the world on fire. But sadly, we are getting a below average passer who is able to capitalize around the goal line with his rushing ability. Even with that, he still only had 13 total touchdowns on the year. For context, thats one more than Dak and just one fewer than Fitzmagic. As a team, they only average 20.8 points per game – That ranks 27th in the league. N’Keal Harry has done nothing with his opportunities and it’s looking like the organization is having trouble drafting wide receivers. Thankfully, the defense is still top tier. They looked as great as they could against Arizona, coming in with a game plan to neutralize Murray – and it worked. They will always have that potential of shutting down an offense, but I don’t know if that’s the normal. This week they will have their hands full with the future Rookie of the Year.
Yeah, I said it, Herbert for Rookie of the Year and I don’t even think it’s close. He is second in passing yards per game and that has helped the team be third in total offensive yards in the league. Yeah, their record with Herbert is 2-8, but most of that falls on the coaching staff, in my opinion. Anthony Lynn is a quality coach who gets his guys behind him, and they believe In him, but this man couldn’t manage a clock to save his life. This team has talent all over the place, but injuries have also killed them. Derwin James is really missed in those late game situations where he can be the general on the field. Austin Ekkler was surely missed – I mean he only came back and balled the hell out in his first game. Just walking back into a 30% target share, close to 60% of the rushing totals, and overall the most productive person on the team with the ball. Herbert knows that if he wants to succeed, he needs to not turn the ball over and get that ball into the hands of his best playmakers. Honestly, I’m scared of the AFC West in the next couple years. This Chargers team is probably the best team in LA.
Now, even after all that praise for the Chargers, and Herbert, I still feel super uneasy about this pick. Belichick is 19-5 against rookie quarterbacks in his career. He is also known for throwing praise on guys just to bring them down to earth, and guess what he just said this week. “It looks like he’s going be a good quarterback for a long time, a lot to work with and I know he’s a smart, hard-working kid that likes football and I’m sure he will continue to get better, as he has this year throughout the course of the season,” Belichick said. “He’s improved from the early games that I’ve watched, and like I said, has a lot of good skill players to work with – good tight end, good backs, good receivers. So, yeah, he’s a good player.” So even though I think the Chargers are better, give me the Patriots to win.
The Washington Football Team @ Pittsburgh Steelers 10-0 (-9.5)
Honestly, I’m heartbroken. I have my absolute favorite team hosting my new found favorite team in the opposing team. Alex Smith is the perfect candidate for the Comeback Player of the Year Award winner. The dude almost lost his leg, and now he is throwing for 300 yards in an NFL game. If you’re gonna come back, this isn’t the worst offense to come back to. Antonio Gibson looks like the best rookie running back in the league. He is currently on a hot streak of a touchdown in five straight games. The best part about Gibson is, the fact that he sat in on wide receiver meetings during the offseason, and yet he isn’t even used in the passing game yet. That gives me so much hope for his excellence. Terry could use the help, I promise you that. This is a guy who has had two 900+ yard seasons with backups. His separation and route running are bar none and his hands are guaranteed. Alex Smith is still 36, but he can get the ball where it needs to when throwing to Terry. The defense is still doing its thing. Still number one in passing defense, and the only team to average less than 200 a game. The biggest key to their pass defense is their pass rush. Sweat, Young, Kerrigan, and Settle are a dominant core group. Honestly, they can take advantage of a weak offensive line group in the NFC East – But they aren’t taking on a team in the NFC East, they are taking on the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers.
So how do you feel as a Steelers fan? On one hand we are 11-0. That’s the first time in franchise history! They are led by a Hall Of Fame quarterback, a decent running back, and arguably the best receiving core, and offensive line in the league. Ben has 4-5 guys that he can look for to catch the ball. All game against Baltimore, Ben was scanning the field and hoping to find the best target closest to the line of scrimmage. This offense reminds me a lot of the Patriots of year’s passed. Multiple layers of slants/crossing routes and moving the ball down the field. The saddest moment was when Hollywood Brown was able to take the ball 70 yards off a weak tackling job from Edmunds. Maybe that is the weak link for this defense. When they believe the game is “in hand”and they take plays off. You don’t see 100% effort each play because they believe the talent around them is good enough for them to take a play off. That has to be why we always play down to our competition. This right here has the makeups of an upset game.
So we have a team that I believe is better than their record, and a team that tends to play “down” to their competition. Washington can take advantage of you if you’re sleeping. The offensive line is quality and I think Gibson can go for 100+ yards. Plus, we have the Steelers coming off a short week, against a divisional opponent. Give me the Football Team +9.5.