Tag Archives: Football

Red’s NFL Picks – AFC West

The Wild Wild West.  A dangerous place for the pundit.

Raiders. Raiders would have almost certainly been playing in the second round of the playoffs if not for losing first and second string quarterbacks and suffering a season-ending loss to the Broncos that cost them a division title and home field advantage.  The only team in recent memory to win a playoff game with a third stringer under center was the Texans in 2011 with T.J. Yeates.  But they beat the Bengals so it almost doesn’t count.  And nothing against Connor Cook, but when your QB is 18 of 45 with 3 INTs and rating of 30.0, it’s going to be a long plane flight back to California.  With even an average Derek Carr day, the Raiders had a decent shot at beating a Texans team with Brock Osweiler at the helm.  So Carr (brother of David – who, by the way, still sucks) and most of the offensive weaponry is still intact.  And they now have “The Beast”. With that addition, Latavius Murray might become the league’s best third down back and catch about 60 passes when it really counts. The Raiders defense is the weak link here – which is a surprise on a Jack Del Rio coached team. The Raiders end their championship drought when they clinch the title in the last game  against the Chargers.  The emaciated ghost of Al Davis croaks “Just win Baby” as the champagne pours.  But sadly, Walking Dead Al continues to roam the soon-to-be abandoned corridors of Oakland Coliseum hoping for an Uber ride to Vegas for all eternity.  Oakland takes home the silver and black cake with an 11-5 record.

Chiefs. It’s hard to bet against the Chiefs.  Red thinks they got the steal of the draft in Patrick Mahomes.  He looks like the real thing and may be starting by November.  Of course he will have to find someone other than Travis Kelce to throw to.  And C.J. Spiller and the running back committee will have to take charge at times.  A lot rides on the Thursday night opener in Foxboro.  If they knock off the champions, then the Chiefs may swoop in on their war ponies and beat enough of the weaklings and mediocrities on the schedule to grab a wildcard spot.  A humiliating loss could send the team into a tail spin.  Red likes the Chiefs chances.  Kansas City grabs the last AFC Wildcard spot with 9-7 record.

Broncos. New head coach Vance Joseph is going to be a winner.  But sorry Vance, probably not this season.  Yes the Broncos defense will keep them in a lot of games.  But this may be a year that Red’s Rule (score 13 points and beat the Cowboys) takes a road trip to Colorado.  Neither Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch is going to drag this offense over the goal line anywhere near enough times for the Broncos to have a shot at playing in January.  Having the injury prone Jamaal Charles and C.J. Anderson as your best options in the backfield is not encouraging.  Denver stumbles out of the gate and are lucky to finish 8-8.

Chargers. Red has always like this franchise.  Everyone in Southern California seemed so happy at the games sitting half-naked in the warm sunshine of Jack Murphy Stadium. The fans were in fact beautiful and so was the way the Chargers played the game. The offense was exhilirating and the high scoring games were entertaining.  Having Red’s favorite LT for a decade helped cement his love for this franchise.  But that love has been a one-way street.  Red has repeatedly picked the Chargers and they have rewarded him with disdain.  So the best thing Red could do for the Charges is shit all over their prospects for this season.  That he will gladly do.  Charges are woeful in their new home.  Just how stupid do you have to be leave San Diego?  You’ll go  4-12 and like it.

 

Red’s NFL Picks – NFC South

Surprisingly, the NFC South (unlike almost every other division) is actually comprised of teams entirely from the South.  More fun facts to follow.

Falcons. You know how many times Red has picked the Falcons before giving up on them last season. That’s right – a whole shitload. And how did that work out?  And then last season Red finally wakes up picks the Panthers – who decide to suck while the Falcons finally wake up – at least until the second half of the Superb Owl. Take heart Falcons fans, Red can failure pain.  And despite their pathetic performance in Houston, Red is biting on the Falcons. It may be a collapse of judgment to pick this team to win the NFC South, but this fall apart from some questions about a Superb Owl hangover, the Falcons look solid. Choking the list of positives, they have Matty Ice and the same basic offensive crew around him.  Expect lots of bombs and dive plays.  There may be a few questions – suck gas what happens without offensive wiz Kyle Shanahan? And is crack-up quarterback Matt Schaub capable of tanking over if needed? What will their record be?  10-6 or 11-5? Just flop a coin and don’t sink about it too much.   Really, Falcons fans you should stop gripping, just say “Tanks” for a memorable season last year and hope for the bust in 2017.  Atlanta strolls to an 11-5 record.

Buccaneers. The Buccaneers have a decent shot at a Wild Card spot. Their 5 game win streak to close the season almost almost landed them in the playoffs where nobody wanted to face them. They look to have two elite talents in Jameis Winston and Mike Evans. Doug Martin remains a question mark – he is either great or injured with little room in between. Jaquizz Rodgers needs to take over as the Number 1 back. Adding DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard makes this a formidable offensive unit.  On defense, Kwon Alexander put up Defensive ROY numbers in 2015 and improved last season and the rest of the defense looks good enough to win a lot of games.  The Bucs have had trouble finishing off close ones.  Dumping erratic kicker Roberto Aguayo and bringing in Nick Folk may help in that area.  Look for the Tampa Bay to go 10-6 and make it to Wildcard Weekend.

Panthers.  Panthers are a sexy pick to with the NFC South despite their first to worst performance in 2016. Losing six games by 3 points or less will get a bad record. Red thinks the Panthers are sadly headed in the wrong direction as evidenced by the firing of GM Dave Gettleman in July.  Rivera’s job is on the line this season and his best work is not done under pressure.  They do have an easy loser’s schedule and will not be playing with a makeshift O line as in 2016. But lack of a real running game will limit Cam’s options.  CN does improve his woeful 52% completion rate last season, but it would be hard not to.  On the other side the additions of Julius Peppers and Captain Munnerlyn (perhaps Red’s favorite name in all of the NFL) will bolster a defense that distinctly underperformed last year.  Still it is a difficult climb back to the excellence of 2015.  The Panthers make it back a ways, but not a long ways.  Carolina fans can expect an 8-8 record at best.

Saints.  The Saints’ window of opportunity has closed. Not that it was all that wide open anyway with three consecutive 7-9 seasons.  Adding boy-beater Adrian Peterson might help, but probably doesn’t offset losing rising star wideout Brandin Cooks.  Last year Drew Brees refused to look tired and old. The ageless wonder completed  a league-leading 471 of his league-leading 673 attempts for 70% completion rate (who in God’s name completed more than 70% of their passes last season?) for a  league-leading 5208 yards (are you getting the drift here?) and 37 touchdowns!  Imagine what that could have done for a team like say – the hapless Texans.  Even though DB should be tired and old in his by-God 17th NFL season, he again refuses to follow the script and that alone will carry this team a long ways – just not long enough.  Saints cannot score enough points to make up for sadly sagging defense.  New Orleans slumps to 6-10.

Answer:  Sam Bradford completed 71.4% and Matt Ryan completed 70.1% of their attempts to edge out Brees.

 

Red’s NFL Picks – NFC East

Some call this the highest profile division in the entire NFL. It’s hard to argue with geography and tradition. When you have teams from the big cities in the Amtrak corridor (Giants, Eagles and OTNAs), and the hated and loved (but seldom indifferent to) Cowboys, not to mention three teams that have won multiple NFL Championships – then yes a lot of people are watching what happens here.  And maybe more than any other division, the NFC East in recent years has been up for grabs like a Matt Schaub floater in the slot.  No team has repeated as division champion since the Eagles in 2004.  And since 2011, every team has won at least one division title with the Cowboys and OTNAs each grabbing a pair.

Unlike the AFC East, this is a tough call. Smart money is on the Cowboys with 2016 ROY Dak Prescott and suspended girl-beater Ezekiel Elliott returning from unbelievable stellar rookie seasons. If all that JerryWorld had to worry about was a sophomore slump from those two, then the Cowboys would be an easy pick.  But hold on Hoss.  Forty percent of the best O-line in football is gone with the unexpected retirement of excellent RT Doug Free and coveted LG Ronald Leary heading to the Broncos. They are not easy to replace and a unit that played together for several seasons is not readily replicated.  Add to that, the near complete fruit basket turnover in the Cowboys secondary with CBs Claiborne and Carr and Safeties Chuch and Wilcox being shown the door.  That leaves Byron Jones as the only remaining starter.  Unless the pass rush is much better than anticipated, expect to see the secondary getting burned early and often by the excellent wide receivers in this division.  And don’t forget the tougher champions schedule.  The only potential nothing-burgers on the schedule are the Rams and 49ers.  Every other team can beat the Cowboys.  Red sees the Boys at 9-7 at best.

The Giants will have the best defense in the NFL this season. The line has been solid and the secondary took a big step forward with addition of Janoris Jenkins.  The big question for the Giants is the offense.  Young Manning is now 36 and coming off his worst season in years.  Maybe adding Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram helps, but unless the Giants can run the ball, look out for trouble.  As with the Boys, the Giants have a tough schedule.  The Week 2 matchup with the Cowboys could be critical since they will likely be coming off a loss to the Patriots in Week 1.  Realistically, the Giants are 8-8 material, but they could grab second with the Elliott suspension looming.

The OTNAs will blow and be lucky to hit 6-10.

The Eagles have done more than any other team to boost their offense at the skill position with Torrey Smith, Alshon Jeffery, Donnel Pumphrey, and LaGarrette Blount (aka the Fat Pig). The Fat Pig will function as the anti-Darren Sproles. Trading Jordan Matthews is a serious and unexpected blow, but the defense needed help. Most analysts think the Eagles are a year away.  Red thinks that the Carson Wentz workshop will be cranking out a bunch of touchdowns with his new tools and a solid O line.  Eagles score early and often.  The addition of Derek Barnett may give the Eagles the best pass rush in the NFL.  Red predicts Bosa, Barnett, Graham and Cox may combine to break the NFL team sack record in 2017.  And just so you don’t have to look it up that would be the Bears 72 sacks in 1984.  A relatively easy early schedule (at least compared to the division rivals) has the Eagles at 6-2 at halftime and with some breathing room.  It gets tougher and the season-ending matchup at home against the Cowboys will be loser goes home.  Eagles don’t lose.  Eagles win division with a hard fought 10-6 record.

Red’s 2017 NFL Predictions – the Annual Bitch Portion Thereof

Well it’s time for Red’s Annual Bitch about the favorable TV treatment afforded the Hated Arlington Cowboys franchise.  Hang on to your Stetsons.

 If for some unfathomable reason you are a Cowboys fan, most Sundays you can sleep late, linger over brunch, get in 18 holes, have an under-the-covers nap (aka siesta tradicional) and still be back in the recliner with nachos in hand in time for kickoff. It’s even better this season than usual for all you HAC fans.  All Red can say is – at least your team made the playoffs last season  and there is some slight justification for having a reasonable share of games on National TV – but nothing justifies this:

Week 1       Giants Sunday Night Game

Week 2       At Broncos Sunday Late Game

Week 3       At Cardinals Monday Night Game

Week 5       Packers Sunday Late Game

Week 7       At 49ers Sunday Late Game

Week 8       At Redskins Sunday Late Game

Week 9       Chiefs Sunday Late Game

Week 10     At Falcons Sunday Late Game

Week 11     Eagles Sunday Night Game

Week 12     Chargers Thanksgiving Late Game

Week 13     Redskins Thursday Night Game

Week 14     At Giants Sunday Late Game

Week 15     At Raiders Sunday Night Game

Week 16     Seahawks Sunday Late Game

So adding it all up, the Cowboys get:

3 Sunday Night games

8 Sunday Late Games with only 49ers and Broncos as time zone related

1 Monday Night Game

1 Thursday Night Game (mandatory)

And the traditional Thanksgiving game

For a grand total of 14 national TV appearances. That is well above the standard 11 national TV appearances that the league regularly doles out to America’s Team.

And if you are a fan of the hapless Texans (who have actually won more playoff games in the time of their miserable existence than the Cowboys have during that period) you had better plan ahead and expect that the games will totally mess up your Sunday afternoon plans.

Week 2       At Bengals Thursday Night Game

Week 5       Chiefs Sunday Night Game

Week 8       At Seahawks Sunday Late Game

Week 10     At Rams Sunday Late Game

Week 12     At Ravens Sunday Night Game

Week 16     Stealers Sunday Late Game

That’s 6 national TV appearances which is better than the usual schedule but only because of 2 west coast games against the Seahawks and Rams and the mandatory Thursday night game.

Red calls Bullshit.

 

The NFL Dead Man of the Year Award

Before every season, Red selects one unlucky soul as “Dead Man of the Year” for the previous season. The DMOTY goes every season to the player who Red reckons went from being an important cog in his team’s machinery to a completely useless tool sitting on the sidelines scratching his balls. That is, it recognizes the player who benefitted his team just about the same as would have a “Dead Man.”

And while injury alone cannot get you a DMOTY plaque to hang in your mancave, not being able to reclaim your job when healthy will factor into Red’s consideration. So as with last year, there really wasn’t much serious competition among the dead wannabes in 2016.  JJ Watt is not in the running because he had a season-ending injury.  Brock Osweiler lost his job in week 14, was on life support until Tom Savage went down and then he actually guided his team to a playoff win (albeit against the rudderless Raiders). Darrell Revis got scorched early and often but did make some plays. Cam Newton set a nearly impossible standard to match in 2015 and so his mediocre 2016 (behind a truly horrid offensive line) looks worse than it should.  Flacco Joe has been waiting in the wings for a DMOTY for almost decade – he was close in 2016 but his time will come.

And while there may never be another player as worthy of the DMOTY award as Johnny Football in 2015, Red is proud -mind you – proud to present the 2016 Dead Man of the Year Award to none other than Tony Romo.

The longtime Cowboys’ quarterback was injured in the pre-season and unavailable for much of the season. But despite his impressive career over parts of 10 seasons and the old adage that you don’t lose your job because of injury, TR was unable to get back in the lineup to replace a rookie until he played a series in the Cowboys meaningless last game against the hapless Eagles.  To give TR credit, he led his team on a 6 play scoring drive ending with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams.  Other than that – bupkis – as rookie Dak Prescott stole the ever pliable hearts of dedicated Cowboys fans – at least until the playoff game against the Packers when he did a reasonable “Tony Romo in the Playoffs” impersonation until a wild 4th quarter.  And even if it bends the rules just a bit, Red is more than happy to do so to name Tony as the 2016 DMOTY.  As it turns out, the 2016 DMOTY award may be the final trophy on the Romo family shelf – unless the dedicated golfer makes it to the Senior Tour.  Straight and long, Tony.

No Mo’ Romo (cont.)

ESPN is reporting that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will retire and take up a career in broadcasting.  This means that all of Houston can let out a collective sigh of relief (or cry of agony as the case may be).  Red for one is glad that the Texans will not fall for the trap of signing a tired, old Tony Romo to be their starting QB for what would likely be 3 games before he goes down for the season.   The idea that TR was the answer to the Texans’ quarterback problem always struck Red as ludicrous.  Romo had a track record of near abject failure in the playoffs and to think that would change in Houston was a pipedream.

Dallas is expected to designate Romo as a post-June 1 release, softening the blow against the Cowboys’ cap this season. Instead of counting $24.7 million in 2017, Romo would count $10.7 million this year and $8.9 million in 2018. The Cowboys would gain $14 million in cap space, but it would not become available until June 2. But after Tuesday, Romo will no longer be with the Cowboys.

Romo’s decision came down to his health, sources close to the situation told ESPN. Romo, who turns 37 on April 21, believes his family and his health are paramount at this time in his life. He was limited to playing in just parts of five games over the past two seasons because of collarbone and back injuries, and he suffered a compression fracture in his back last August that led to him ultimately giving way to Dak Prescott.

The upside for Red is that Romo is rumored to replace addled and incoherent Phil Simms in the booth next to overrated and annoying Jim Nantz.   Nothing would make Red happier than TR having to put up with prima donna Nantz and his smarminess on 18 weekends next season.

Saints Showing Interest in Johnny Football?

NBC Sports is reporting that New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton is possibly interested in signing disgraced former Texas A&M and Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel as a backup to Drew Brees.

In New Orleans, Manziel would have no chance of earning a starting job, but he could earn a spot as a backup to Brees, where he’d learn from a veteran quarterback and perhaps get himself ready to be a starter some day.

Still, talking to Manziel and actually signing him are two very different things. If the Saints were convinced that Manziel was ready to put his personal problems behind him and contribute to a team, they could have signed him already, and they haven’t done so.

Johnny Football, New Orleans, Bourbon Street, Drive-Through Liquor Stores, Bars open until 4 a.m.   –  What could possibly go wrong?