Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar has started an investigation into the transportation of asylum seekers who were apparently lured onto a charter flight to Martha’s Vineyard by operatives working for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Salazar is looking for the person who reportedly made false promises of housing, jobs and money to the migrants many of whom were flown thousands of miles from where their immigration hearings will be scheduled. “Somebody preyed upon these people,” Salazar said a new conference to held to announce the investigation. Salazar has identified persons of interest but failed to disclose more.
DeSantis’ office wasted no time in exploiting a recent tragedy in responding to the Sheriff’s announcement. DeSantis’ communications director, Taryn Fenske, posted the following on Twitter.
“Immigrants are more than willing to leave Bexar County after being enticed to cross the border and ‘to fend for themselves.’ FL provided an opportunity in a sanctuary state w/ resources, as expected – unlike the 53 who died in an abandoned truck in Bexar County in June.”’
DeSantis pledges to continue to use Florida taxpayer funds to transport migrants to wherever he thinks the most political bang for the buck can be had.
Not quite as wild a weekend as Week 1 but with a few surprises nonetheless. Some teams already look to be in trouble and some are rising to the occasion. And as always most are just somewhere in the middle of the pack.
- Buffalo Bills – In back to back weeks, the Bills have knocked off the defending champs and last season’s No. 1 seed in the AFC. And have hardly broken a sweat in so doing.
- Kansas City Chiefs – Did not look great against the Chargers, but someone is going to have to convince Red the Chiefs don’t belong very near the top.
- Philadelphia Eagles – This team looks very ready to play in dispatching the Vikings with ease.
- Miami Dolphins – Tua tosses 7 count ’em 7 touchdowns. Holy crap. Maybe teams will start to cover Tyreek Hill now.
- Tampa Bay Bucs – Unimpressive but still one of the undefeated. Real test comes in two weeks against the Chiefs still seeking revenge for Superb Owl butt-whipping.
- New York Giants – Hey, Red is as surprised as you are.
- Baltimore Ravens – Best of the 1-1 teams with very tough loss to Miami.
- Green Bay Packers – Snapped back and took care of business against the Bears who might be awful.
- Los Angeles Chargers – Second best 1-1 team in the AFC. Need to find a way to win close games.
- Los Angeles Rams – Had a tough time putting away a pretty bad Falcons squad. Still plenty of talent here.
- Arizona Cardinals – Red may be generous here but they found a way to win a tough game on the road.
- San Francisco 49ers – May have come to their senses with Jimmy G. back under center.
- New England Patriots – Enjoy it while it lasts.
- Pittsburgh Stealers – See New England Patriots.
- Denver Broncos – Okay you beat the Texans. Big Whoop!
- Detroit Lions – When was the last time the Lions scored 36 points? Red would look it up but where is the fun in that?
- Seattle Seahawks – 1-1 but on life support until the offense remembers that the point of the game is to score more points than the other team.
- New Orleans Saints – Field goal, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, fumble, interception, interception, interception, touchdown, fumble, downs is not going to win many games.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Skunking the Colts had to feel good. Maybe the Jags defense is for real.
- New York Jets – Red may be charitable but Jets fans have to be thinking – our team might not completely suck this year.
- Washington Commanders – Tough loss to the Lions does not portend well.
- Minnesota Vikings – Yawn.
- Dallas Cowboys – Grudging respect for knocking of the Bengals who look lost.
- Cincinnati Bengals – Looking lost.
- Cleveland Browns – Losing to the Jets is never a good sign.
- Chicago Bears – Will beat another good team some day. But not any day soon.
- Tennessee Titans – Is the Tannehill Reign of Terror over? Malik did nothing to ensure that on Sunday.
- Las Vegas Raiders – Nothing good happening in the desert right now.
- Atlanta Falcons – Showing some signs of life – protoplasmic in nature.
- Houston Texans – Could have beaten the Broncos but for a series of blown coverages in the fourth quarter. Red was rooting for another tie because no team has ever gone 0-0-2.
- Carolina Panthers – Checking for a pulse. Still checking.
- Indianapolis Colts – Red is pretty sure that you can never win with zero points.
Red notice that he had forgotten to give the pre-season wrap up with his final picks for Division Champs, Wildcard Teams, Conference Championships and the Superb Owl.
AFC Division Champs – Chiefs, Bills, Ravens, Colts
AFC Wildcards – Chargers, Raiders, Bengals
NFC Division Champs – Eagles, Rams, Packers, Buccaneers
NFC Wildcards – Panthers, Lions, 49ers
AFC Champions – Bills over Chiefs
NFC Champions – Eagles over Rams
Superb Owl Champions – Bills defeat Eagles
Each week Red will rank the NFL Teams from top to bottom or bottom to top or top ten and bottom five or some variation thereof depending on how he feels. Let’s Roll
- Buffalo Bills – When you knock off the defending champs in resounding fashion you get the top spot. Nuff said.
- Kansas City Chiefs – Would be No.1 but see Buffalo Bills.
- Los Angeles Chargers – May be hard pressed to hang in when facing Chiefs without Mr. Allen.
- Baltimore Ravens – Stay healthy and hungry.
- Philadelphia Eagles – An NFC team had to be in top 5. Eagles earned it. AJ Brown trade looks great so far.
- Tampa Bay Bucs – Not too many more pushovers on the schedule. Stay tuned.
- Pittsburgh Stealers – In the words of Gomer Pyle – Surprise surprise surprise.
- Minnesota Vikings – Count Red among the shocked after dismantling of Packers.
- New Orleans Saints – Don’t get your hopes up but enjoy this week
- Miami Dolphins – Red rewards teams that beat Bellicheat.
- NY Giants – Deserve consideration after knocking off No. 1 AFC seed Tennessee
- Chicago Bears – Who’d a thunk it. Fields looks real.
- Seattle Seahawks – Nice win. Booing R. Wilson shows lack of class.
- LA Rams – A worse opening day could not be imagined.
- Cleveland Browns – Revenge tastes okay.
- Tennessee Titans – Need to right the ship quickly.
- Cincinnati Bengals – Flash in the pan?
- Indianapolis Colts – You tied a bad team and are lucky you play in a shitty division.
- Las Vegas Raiders – Losing a close one to the Chargers – not the end of the world.
- Arizona Cardinals – Red is being kind here. They looked awful Sunday.
- Washington Commanders – Dumb name, same old team.
- Detroit Lions – Could have beaten the Eagles and taken a big step forward.
- Atlanta Falcons – Tough loss and then you get to face the Rams on the road. This may be the best it gets in ‘Lanta.
- New England Patriots – They just might suck.
- Denver Broncos – Bad schedule = Bad loss.
- Houston Texans – Coulda, shoulda, didn’t.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Will do better in cosy confines of Wembley.
- Green Bay Packers – They deserve this spot. 7 points!!!!
- San Francisco 49ers – Red hates them for making him type 49ers,
- Carolina Panthers – Another unfortunate scheduling anomaly.
- New York Jets – Just pencil them into this spot.
- Dallas Cowboys – You give Red a chance to rank the Cowboys last and damn if he isn’t going to take it. Red Rule is back in place – Score 13 points and beat the Cowboys.
The AFC West is the pre-season pick for the Red’s NFL Division of Excellence in 2022. Red’s best guess is that three teams from the West make the playoffs come January.
Kansas City Chiefs – Once again Andy Reid is directing the Patrick Mahomes Show with regular stars Travis Kelce, Juju Smith-Schuster and Clyde Edwards-Hellaire featuring a really good offensive line and supporting cast members Marquez Valdez Scandling, Isaiah Pacheco and Jerrick McKinnon. With an offensive cast like that who needs a great defense? The Chiefs may not have a great defense but it is more than adequate to hold most teams to 20 points or fewer and let the offense take care of business. Yes, losing Tyreek Hill was tough, but there is enough talent here to take this team a long ways. Does Red foresee a game in February? Chiefs are 13-4 and would be better if not facing a brutal schedule with 9 games against 2021 playoff teams including the AFC and NFC champions, the NFC runner-up and the BIlls. Ugh.
Los Angeles Chargers – Every time Red has picked the Chargers to excel, they have disappointed him. This season may not be any different but Red is willing to roll the dice anyway. Justin Herbert is the best “young” quarterback in the league. He has a solid running game with Ekeler and Sony Michel to fill in. A capable receiving corps in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. If he had a stud TE, the offense might be unstoppable. What the Chargers also have this season is a defense that can rise to the occasion and get a stop when needed in the 4th quarter. If the Chargers can ever figure out how to finish and win those innumerable one-score games, they might just challenge the Chiefs. Chargers might be better than the 12-5 slot that Red has them in.
Las Vegas Raiders – The much traveled Raiders seem to settle into the desert last season. There is no lack of talent if the Raiders can also settle on an offensive scheme that allows the options he needs to succeed. If the Raiders can hang around until Week 12 (including bye) with a 7-4 record, what looks to be a brutal closing stretch (Chargers, Rams, Patriots, Stealers, 49ers, Chiefs) will tell if the Raiders are playoff worthy or another also-ran. Red gives them a shot at a 3-3 close and a 10-7 record that might let them slip into the last wildcard spot.
Denver Broncos – The Broncos will be better and benefit somewhat from the last place schedule in getting to play the Jets. And as with the rest of the West they play the weak sisters of the AFC South. But with the top competition in the AFC West, the Broncos will struggle to keep up. Having a real quarterback helps, but not enough. Broncos are last and least in the West with a 7-10 record.
This could be the most balanced division from top to bottom in the NFL. But Red is running low on gas and time. A quick look at the AFC North is what results.
Baltimore Ravens – No team did more with less last season. The Ravens were ravaged with injuries, the defense was terrible, Lamar Jackson was not good in the clutch and yet they started 8-3 before losing 6 in a row to finish in last place. There were a few highlights. Justin Tucker broke the NFL record for the longest field goal in history, kicking a 66-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Detroit Lions 19–17. The Ravens also tied the record for most consecutive games rushing over 100 yards as a team with 43 in a 23–7 win over the Denver Broncos. But it was downhill from there. This season there appear to be at least 13 winnable games on the schedule. There are tough games against the Bills, Bengals (2) and Buccaneers, but every other game is winnable. Keep in mind that 5 of the season-ending 6 losses were by a total of 8 points. Red thinks the Ravens win the close ones this season and pick up a win against the Bengals at home. A 12-5 record is a big stretch but can be done. However, if L. Jackson sits all bets are off.
Cincinnati Bengals – An unbelievable turn around in 2021 got the Bengals their first playoff wins in 30 years. Red admits he wasn’t a believer, but Hallelujah Brother! Everyone will be gunning for the AFC Champs this season who were just 4 points shy of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. The Bengals biggest weakness last season was pass protection. Burrow was sacked 51 times in the regular season and 19 times in the playoffs doing his best imitation of Patrick Mahomes running for his life in the Superb Owl. The Bengals signed Karras, Collins and Cappa to plug those holes. The skill spots are still solid and if the line is better, watch out. The Bengals did not lose much talent over the off-season. There is a lot to like here. Bengals go 12-5 and lose the division title in a tie-breaker.
Cleveland Browns – Maybe some day the Browns will make a good move at quarterback. Perhaps Bernie Kosar will come out of retirement. Until week 12, much-traveled Jacoby Brissett will be under center. He does have three capable running backs in Chubb, Hunt and Johnson and the addition of WR Amari Cooper will help. The Browns defense is actually pretty good if it can just play 60 minutes this season and not give up late leads. Red wonders if there are enough masseuses in Cleveland to go around. All that talk about DeShaun Watson being such a great guy and role model appears to have been a bunch of hooey. He is talented and if the Browns can go 6-5 until his return he will have the freshest legs and arm in the game. Browns are 10-7 and in the mix.
Pittsburgh Stealers – It was inevitable that the Stealers would suck some day. Today is the day. 6-11 is the result.
Once a perennial contender for Red’s NFL Division of Excellence Award, the AFC South has fallen into the ranks of the mediocre. Having two dreadful franchises in the mix for the past several years has not helped. The Titans have carried this division since the early retirement of Andrew Luck and the Colts’ decline. Will the Colts be back? Will the Titans repeat as the AFC’s No.1 seed? Will the Texans and Jaguars continue to suck? Read on.
Indianapolis Colts – The quarterback shuffle since the departure of Mr. Luck continues. Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers and Carson Wentz all lasted one season. Now it’s Matty Ice’s turn. Red doubts he will fare much better. Fortunately for Mr. Ice, he may not need to be very good to win enough games to clinch the South title. The Iceman has some top tier talent in WR Michael Pittman and RB Jonathan Taylor, who led the NFL in rushing in 2021 with 1,811 yards. The Colts almost always field a good corn-fed O-Line and with some play action, the Ice Bucket will have time to find targets other than Pittman and keep defenses honest. The Colts defense is decidedly average, so the Ice Tray will have to keep the Colts scoring to win games. If Ice Hole can put 25 points on the board consistently, the Colts have a chance. Nothing comes easy but the Colts win the division with a 10-7 record (5 wins coming against AFC South rivals).
Tennessee Titans – This is probably not Red’s wisest choice as the Titans could surprise with its superior running and defensive games. Maybe Derrick Henry is an Emmitt Smith type running back that can produce at a high level for a decade. Maybe not. That the Titans continue employ a quarterback who couldn’t start for his college team is somewhat remarkable. With some outstanding talent last season, Ryan Tannehill threw 14 interceptions with only 35 passes of 20 or more yards and 7 passes of 40 yards or more. And now Julio Jones and A.J. Brown are gone. Maybe Robert Woods, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, and Dez Fitzpatrick can fill those shoes. Okay, probably not. There is a successor waiting in the wings. Malik Willis was a winning dual-threat QB in college. If he steps up, then maybe Tennessee does not go 9-8 grasping for the last wildcard straw.
Houston Texans – The Texans couldn’t stop anyone last season – either on the ground or in the air – giving up more than 30 points seven times last season. The highlight of the season was a win in Tennessee as the Titans were adjusting to life without Derrick Henry. What’s to say that this year will be better? Really not much. Davis Mills has a almost a full-season of games under his belt. But he lost team MVP Brandin Cooks and will be relying on a bunch of unproven talent. New head coach Lovie Smith is a defensive guy, so maybe some scheming will keep the Texans in some games late. If Smith is willing to let his offense open it up, the Texans just might surprise some folks early on. They’ve got a slim shot at starting 3-3 or 2-4 and playing the NFC East helps with weak sisters Giants and Commanders on the schedule. A 6-11 record could be a triumph. Hard times in H-Town.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Well 2021 was nothing short of an embarrassment with Urban Meyer making a fool of himself in almost too many ways to believe including kicking his kicker in the leg and calling him a “dipshit”, repeatedly dissing his assistant coaches as “losers”, hiring a racist bully as the team strength coach, signing Tim Tebow as a TE, fondling a woman at his Ohio restaurant and generally acting like the A-Hole that he is. It didn’t help that No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence looked very much like an overmatched rookie who should have been spared the David Carr treatment and sat on the bench for a season and learned the NFL trade. The Jags have added some good talent and new head coach has the advantage of not being a petulant child. Jags struggle early but play decently down the stretch to post a 6-11 record.
Red is rushing this one out to get ahead of the Thursday night opener so no one can accuse him of waiting for the results.
Buffalo Bills – As noted Red missed the greatest game in NFL playoff history for a reason that now seems somewhat foolish – spending time with the Lady Red. But sacrifices have to be made even at Casa Roja. It’s really hard to find something to not like about the Bills. So Red won’t try. Some think a new offensive coordinator will throw a wrench in to the works but Red doesn’t buy it. Simply put, Josh Allen makes everyone on the offense better. Other than S. Diggs there isn’t any truly great offense talent on the Bills, but it just doesn’t matter with Allen under center. Watch how much new addition Jamison Crowder improves with Allen chucking the rock to him. If Allen stays healthy (Case Keenum could win you a game or three if needed), the Bills will score and score again. A top tier defense only gets better with the addition of Von Miller. Could this be the season that the Bills finally get their hands on a Lombardi Trophy? Bills go 15-2 and stomp into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Miami Dophins – There might not be another season like the Dophins’ 2021 season if the NFL lasts another 200 years. After a clos win in week 1, the Fins lost seven in a row including an embarrassing thrashing by the Jaguars (before Urban Meyer’s exit stage right) who broke a 20 count ’em 20 game losing streak. But then, something clicked and the Dophins cranked out a seven game winning streak before blowing a shot in the playoffs in the final weeks. That resulted in showing Brian Flores the door and moving on. For the record, no NFL team has ever had a 7 game losing and 7 game winning streak in the same season. The Dolphins have made some good moves. Speed burner Tyreek Hill helps open any defense as he must always be doubly accounted for. But it all starts with the quarterback. Can Tua Tagovailoa get them to the promised land? Things are looking up in S. Florida, but not that far up. The Dophins are no match for the Bills but maybe can claw into the playoffs with a 10-7 record.
New England Patriots – At one time the New England Patriots owned this division and a weak and spineless Red picked them to win every year until last season. But as George Harrison sang, “All things must pass.” Unfortunately for the Pats, they don’t really pass anymore. Even the arrival of WRs DeVante Parker and Ty Montgomery won’t help if Bellicheat can’t find a quarterback to run his scheme. Overall, this really looks like one of the least talented rosters in the league. But Billy B can do a lot with a little. The Pats probably start no better than 1-3 but then face some weak sisters to rally to a respectable 6-5. Ah, but then reality sets in when they have to play the Bills, Cardinals, Raiders, Bengals, Dolphins and Bills to finish out of the money again. Pats are 7-10 and sitting at home in January.
New York Jets – Does anyone want to hear Red anything about the Jets? Anyone, anyone, Bueller, anyone? Red thought not. Jets are slightly better at 6-11.
This is certainly an interesting division with the final two NFC teams left standing last season and the Superb Owl Champion Rams. Red wonders what odds you could have gotten on a Rams-49ers NFC title game parlay last September. In fact, the NFC West was the official Red’s NFL Division of Excellence in 2021 with three teams winning more than 10 games and making the playoffs. This season – maybe not so much.
Los Angeles Rams – The Rams seem unlikely to suffer a Superb Owl Champion next season slump. Matt Stafford still has a solid O-line despite the retirement of All-World tackle Andrew Whitworth. What else does MS have going for him? Well there is the incredible Cooper Kupp. Maybe the Rams can continue to target Kupp 12 times every game with Kupp drawing double coverage on every play. That certainly did not stop him last season from almost hitting 2000 receiving yards. And Van Jefferson is no slouch either – having averaged 16 yds/catch and 6 TDs. Throw a top tier TE in Tyler Higbee and a serviceable Allen Robinson and there just aren’t enough bodies in the defensive backfield to go around. Maybe what appears to be a lack of quality running backs won’t be a problem with a defense-stretching passing game, but it is a big question mark. The Rams defense was spectacular in the playoffs last season allowing just over 16 pts/game. But they have lost Von Miller, Darious Williams, Sebastian Joseph-Day and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. In reality, if the Rams can hold teams to 20 points per game on average they will win a lot of games. Rams cruise to another 12-5 season and take the West.
San Francisco 49ers. Turmoil under center is the watchword as Jimmy Garrapolo is unexpectedly back with a big contract. Yet all the talk is about Trey Lance who filled in a bit last season. Jimmy G had a decent season and led an only above average team to the NFC Championship game – much to Red’s amazement. If that situation does not get resolved quickly – well expect a trade to whichever team’s No. 1 passer goes down first. There are some things to like here. Everyone might be talking about Deebo Samuel if Cooper Kupp hadn’t sucked all the oxygen on the west coast. DS accounted for over 1400 yards of offense and 51 first downs (that’s 3 per game for those keeping score). In the backfield there isn’t much behind Elijah Mitchell who had a decent rookie campaign. But the Niners need a credible pass-catching threat out of the backfield. Maybe someone will step forward. Outside of the division, the Niners play three other playoff teams (Chiefs, Bucs and Raiders). It could be a tough slog to 10-7 and another wild card berth.
Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals looked to be on a roll with a respectable 11-6 record despite some injury setbacks last season. Then the Rams crushed them in the first round of the playoffs. To say that Kliff Kingsbury is now on a short leash is an understatement. The main problem is the lack of offensive talent around Kyler Murray. At RB there is the frequently absent James Connor and then ?????. At WR there is newly acquired Marquise Brown, the suspended D-Hop and ????? At least Zach Ertz seems solid at TE. But with Mr. Murray sucking up all the money with his new mega-deal it seems that the Cardinals will be playing with one hand in the back pocket wondering where the wallet went. If Murray stays healthy, the team will win some games. They could even win some games with the well-seasoned and very football smart Colt McCoy under center. This team just seems worse than last season. It’s a tough slog starting with the Chiefs, Raiders and Rams. Cardinals will be somewhat lucky to go 9-8 and miss out on the playoffs.
Seattle Seahawks – Well someone has to suck in this division. It is not that the Seahawks are a terrible team, they just don’t measure up to the competition. Hey, they had a good run and Red will be the first to call for the head of Pete the Cheat. His 13th season is indeed unlucky as Carroll is run out of town on a rail after the Seahawks finish at the bottom of the NFC West again with a 7-10 record.
The Division Red loves to hate. Red will keep it short here.
Green Bay Packers – The class of this division for a long time having won 8 of the last 10 division titles and only missing out on the playoffs in 2017. A-Rodg has proved himself to be pretty much an A-Hole in taunting the Packers over the off season – not to mention his vaccination deception of past seasons. But fortunately, Mr. Rodgers neighborhood is not exactly populated with teams likely to beat out the Packers in 2022. But there is no doubt the Packers are in a rut. They are a fantastic regular season team that chokes in the playoffs. Mr. Double MVP could not manage to rally his offense to score more than 10 points against a decent 49ers squad while the Packers defense turned in their performance of the year in limiting the 49ers to 13 points. Thirteen points should never win an NFL playoff game unless there is a blizzard or you are playing the Cowboys. This is Green Bay’s last shot at glory with Rodgers in the hold. Don’t hold your breath in Wisconsin. Green Bay still wins the North with a 12-5 record.
Detroit Lions – Red is really way out on the limb with this one. The Lions were bad at the beginning of last season with 8 straight losses to begin the Dan Campbell era. A 3-5-1 record to finish was an improvement and the Lions have made some upgrades over the off season. Goff settles in with a new offensive coordinator and maybe the best two-way back in the league with D’Andre Swift. If their run defense is as good as it has been in the pre-season, the defense will be able to tee off on opposing QB’s with edge rushers Hutchison and Harris. The key for the Lions will be winning games at home. Other than the Packers, the Lions only play three playoff teams from last season – Bills, Eagles and Cowboys. With a soft early schedule, the Lions could be 4-1 when they waltz into Arlington on October 23 after a bye week. If they knock off the Cowboys, people will start talking. Detroit goes 10-7 and makes it in as a wildcard.
Minnesota Vikings – Red hears that there is a team somewhere near Canada that plays football – but not very well. After a tumultuous off-season in which both Head Coach Mike Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman were shown the door (replaced by Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah), it seemed that major roster upheaval would follow. Well, not really. All the major pieces are still in place. A few bright spots (Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson on O and Safety Harrison Smith in the backfield) are surrounded by a lot of mediocrity and Red knows mediocrity having watched the Texans play for over 20 years now. The Vikings are mediocre again at 8-9.
Chicago Bears – Who cares? Certainly not Red. Bears are going nowhere and not in a particular hurry. Its a gloomy 6-11 season for the Chicago faithful.