It was November 2008 and I was on the sidelines for the Taunton High School Tigers football team. We had just beaten the Bridgewater Raynham Trojans who were the closest thing to a rival we had. In reality it was an amazingly one sided affair because Taunton hadn’t won a head to head game in 19 years. But we had a team that could do it and we prepared not as if we were going to squeak out a double overtime victory like we did, but as if we were going to win 56-0. Because if you are thinking about losing you are already halfway there. Here’s a little game highlight video one of the kids made.
As I watched that pig pile in the end zone, I thought, ‘how did I get here?’ It was a long strange journey that was pretty amazing. I should have been as happy as everyone in that pigpile, as happy my fellow coaches slapping each other on the back, as happy the fans exuberant at overcoming such a long period of losing. But I wasn’t.
There were problem in my personal life and the hours and effort I put into coaching only exacerbated them. It was a double edged sword because I got a huge high from helping kids succeed on and off the field, but it was costing me the longest relationship I had ever had. My college girlfriend and I had moved in together only a few months before the football season took over my life again and where I thought it would make the stress of coaching less, in reality it just heightened those tensions. That Sunday afternoon I watched the Patriots Steelers game with friends at 36 School Street, a place that has been so central to my life and when I ignored the football game and everyone to half heartedly play with the kid outside I knew my relationship was over. Later that night it was officially.
Somehow that all led me here, to this point and to be able to share with you these 64 thoughts I have about this weeks NFL Matchups. I don’t know that I have any more insight than your favorite analyst, but I do know that acquiring the knowledge I have has cost me a lot and it’s a price I am confident in saying was worth it. So here is this week’s NFL:64! Enjoy!
They are straight wins picks, I don’t involve the spread, but will mention it from time to time when I think it makes sense or makes me think Vegas knows something the rest of us don’t. If you don’t want to sift through all the games looking for your team just click the game and be magically transported to that game!
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
- To me it looks like Jon Gruden’s brother is trying to mimic the Cincinnatti system in Washington. Strong defensive line play, and an offense that runs first and takes shots down the field when the opportunity seems right. The personnel would seem to dictate that and so would their first 2 weeks of games. Expect more of that in the weeks to come.
- Matt Jones sees the field extremely well when he runs and gets to and through the hole like a bat trying to escape hell, or Meatloaf. I don’t think the job is his, yet, because Alfred Morris is still young and still a good back. Resigning Morris though looks like it won’t be a priority for the Redskins. in fantasy start Morris over Jones this week, but not sure how many more I’ll be saying that.
- This Giants team is not built to play a ball control, defensive team. Which is strange because that is what Tom Coughlin loves. They look like they want to be that, but are too explosive, which is only a bad thing because their defense can’t sustain the stress that quick scores by the offense puts on them.
- If I have a Giant in fantasy his name better be O’Dell Beckham Jr. or I can’t start them. As bye weeks start next week, Eli will be a fill in, but the RB situation is so murky I don’t think their is a man amongst them you can trust for more 5-10 touches, let alone 5-10 fantasy points.
Redskins 26, Giants 24
SUNDAY 1 PM GAMES
- The defense may not be good yet, because while they are 2-0, but only have a outscored their opponents by a total of 6 points. That’s good enough though if you are good close and late, which the Falcons have proved they are in both weeks 1 and 2.
- I told you to watch Leonard Hankerson and he started to show why. For whatever reason Roddy White was non-existent and Hankerson picked up the slack. Until White get injured we won’t know if that’s sustainable, but it certainly looked it.
- Rolling with Brandon Weeden. Yikes. If he had Dez Bryant I’d be far more comfortable. I think this damn near mutes the Cowboys pass game and puts a huge focus on the run game. Can they hold onto to playoff relevance until Romo returns? Debateable.
- I don’t think a single Cowboy player is relevant in week 3 for fantasy, including the kicker and defense. I do’nt know which RB you would want and with a hurt Jason Witten Terrance Williams is likely to disappear into double coverage. I don’t trust any of them and advise you not to either.
Falcons 24, Cowboys 17
- Not sure the problems on the field with the Colts stem from the problems between the GM and Head Coach or if it is just the talent level of the offensive line and defense are sub par. The later is definitely true so instead of speculating I’m going to just say they have failed to properly support Andrew Luck.
- I told you Andre Johnson was going to be awful and again he was. My question is this: You have the best young QB in the league, why have you surrounded him with veterans like Andre Johnson, Frank Gore and Reggie Wayne last year? Guys passed their prime who aren’t in the long term future of the team. It doesn’t make a lot of sense and has total undercut Luck’s value in fantasy.
- Hard to say anything positive when you go to Cleveland and lose, especially when the Browns then bench the QB that beat you. That being said the Titans got down early and never recovered. Mariotta first road game wasn’t a complete failure though as he was reasonable.
- I still don’t love any of the Titans in fantasy. Like with Eli Manning, when bye weeks start Mariota is going to be an intriguing fill in candidate, but he’s not an every week starter yet.
Titans 27, Colts 24
- Amari Cooper sure is the real deal isn’t he? Wow. and put him with Michael Crabtree and suddenly Derek Carr has some weaponry to throw to. Still doesn’t make them a good offense, but it means they can occasionally win a game, at home, when they get in a shoot out.
- I think the only guy I like in fantasy this week from the Raiders is Latavius Murray. He would be a guaranteed stud with 4 to 7 more touches a game. but without it he still an every week stud in season long fantasy and maybe someone I will look at in daily fantasy.
- We won, time to change the QB. It’s illogical, and I get the idea that the starter should not lose his job to injury, but Josh McCown has been there less time than Johnny Football. It’s not like Johnny Football was a fly by night undrafted free agent, he was a 1st round pick. I think this is foolish and I think you may have missed the chance to get Johnny Football to the place where he feels like he can go out and win every week. Which is 95% of what makes Johnny Football good.
- I don’t think Benjamin can be a top 30 WR for an entire season, but I think in stretches with Johnny Football he will be interesting. The problem is he will always be boom or bust. He does have good speed, vision and moves in the open field, which are skills that are easier to see when he returns kicks rather in the long catch highlights, so if they were to give him more chances in the open field I think he could be a top 40 WR which is a guy who should be owned and could be used during bye weeks.
I’m stashing him and hoping he gets another long TD against the poor Raiders secondary this week so I can flip him for something more useful as bye weeks start.
Browns 31, Raiders 17
- Taking care of business has hardly been a phrased ascribed to the Bengals in recent years, but that is exactly what they have done in a strangely scheduled first 2 week.1 I expect more of that in week 3, good defense, opportunistic offense and a heightened awareness to turnover differential.
- I think Jeremy Hill get the chance to keep his job going forward because Giovani Bernard is most effective with limited touches, but were he to fumble again we may not see him for a few weeks in anything more than a resting Bernard role.
- The Ravens usually take care of business in the ways the Bengals don’t, and opening at Denver and then at Oakland isn’t easy, but they had chances and didn’t capitalize. Its close to must win game for the Ravens, but after losing Terrell Suggs on defense I don’t think that they have the horses to deliver in a must win situation.
- I still don’t love Steve Smith, but he is going to get targets and he is going to give 800% effort on each one. That’s going to turn into fantasy points, just hard to predict how many.
Bengals 27, Ravens 24
- Last week’s Jags team is the Jags team I expect to see a lot in 2015, playing opponents tough and staying in the game. I don’t think they will win a ton of those matchups, but I expect them to be a tough game for everyone, except on the road in New England. I got the Pats covering the 13.5 points because the Pats are just that good right now.
- I can’t trust anyone on the Jags in fantasy yet. I’m watching a few with a careful eye, but I’m not considering any of them in either season long or daily.
- The Patriots fuck you mode is in full effect. They want to win and they want to win big. They are going to score a ton of points and beat up on as many teams as possible.
- Aaron Dobson is sneaking up on us in fantasy. Its hard to trust any Patriot not named Brady or Gronkowski, but if Dobson strings a few more of these consistent games together he could start to see some more downfield looks that could turn him into a top 20 fantasy WR.
Patriots 45, Jaguars 24
- Thanks for being a dumpster fire Saints and getting me and a million other folks knocked out of their eliminator pools for no other reason than you don’t seem to know what the fuck is going on.
- Mark Ingram is the only guy on the Saints I trust in fantasy at all, and it’s not that much. If Drew Brees doesn’t play, everyone else becomes borderline untouchable, especially with a tough matchup in the Panther’s D.
- Cam Newton doesn’t need WRs he is just going to run and jump into the endzone every time. Ok that’s not totally true, but if Ted Ginn can catch more passes then he drops and they keep targeting Greg Olsen 10-15 times a game I think the passing game will be good enough.
- Greg Olsen is going to catch 3 TDs one of these weeks, and I think it might be this week.
Panthers 34, Saints 21
- The Eagles are a mess and now they get maybe the best defense in the league. That’s not going to help right the ship.
- If you bought an Eagle for fantasy you’ve gotta stick with them at least for two more weeks. I don’t think selling Sam Bradford or Demarco Murray for half of what you drafted them for is a smart move for any fantasy owner.
- This Jets team is becoming super predictable because the defense is good and Ryan Fitzpatrick is what he is when he has solid offensive line play and good WRs. They aren’t great, they aren’t going to score a ton of points, but they don’t need to because the defense is forcing TO’s at an amazing rate, even if it’s unsustainable.
- It’s likely to be the Brandon Marshall show this week folks as the Eagles secondary blows and the Jets are going to be looking to secure a 3-0 record.
Jets 24, Eagles 13
- Did the Bucs win or did the Saints lose? I don’t have a clue really. I feel the Saints lost, but don’t want to discount the fact that Jameis Winston hasn’t lost to a QB not named Mariota since high school.
- If you own Mike Evans just sit him this week and let him prove he is healthy before you take another zero.
- Who are the Texans? I’m not sure they know and I don’t know how they get better with their current QBs. Ryan Mallett was better in the second half and Arian Foster will make them much better, but I don’t know that it makes them good.
- God I hope DeAndre Hopkins plays, as I have invested in him, but if he doesn’t and if Foster doesn’t, you aren’t playing any Texan in fantasy other than the defense.
Texans 20, Buccaneers 10
- The Chargers have been given a tough slate to start and coming out of it 1-2 isn’t the worst thing possible. I don’t think they can stop Adrian Peterson because they couldn’t stop Giovani Bernard. Their defense likely isn’t good enough to make a serious run at the division title, but they could maybe eck out a wild card if the stars align.
- Don’t know what to think of this team in terms of fantasy. I think Philip Rivers is a nice QB for fantasy, but I don’t think his ceiling is particularly high. The RB situation seems muddy, the TEs are hurt or suspended and the WRs are Keenan Allen who disappears far too often to be taken very seriously.
- Hey look what happens when you give the ball to your all world RB! Was that really that hard a concept to make happen Minnesota? Don’t forget that lesson!
- I’m not sure the Vikings WRs are worthy of starting, but you probably paid such a high price you still need to start them for a week or two more before giving up altogether.
Vikings 27, Chargers 21
- Don’t ignore Pittsburgh at home was the lesson to be learned after week 2. They looked like a different team and while the Patriots and 49ers are in different spheres of the NFL, the Steelers took a team to the woodshed that they should take to the woodshed.
- Antonio Brown is fantastic. Le’Veon Bell comes back this week and is headed straight into my daily fantasy lineup.
- I don’t think the Rams are as bad as they looked in week 2, I think that was a little bit of a hangover effect of beating the Seahawks at home. I still don’t think their run defense is particularly good as they constantly over pursued the Redskins back and think you could see a fresh, hungry Bell run all over them.
- Just stay away from Rams in fantasy if you can.
Steelers 34, Rams 20
SUNDAY 4 PM GAMES
- That was the 49ers team I thought we would see in their debut. Home field and Monday night football helped them overcome their mediocrity in their debut. I expect home field to continue to help them going forward, but that when they are on the road to struggle mightily.
- As much as Carlos Hyde returned to earth, I don’t think it was for good. I still think he has the raw skills to be a very solid fantasy option week to week.
- Carson Palmer looks like a much younger version of himself, like the guy we all thought he would be 10 years when he was still in Cincinnati and its impressive. He looks completely motivated and I think the Cardinals are going to run through a lot of the NFC and put up a ton of points as they go.
- Big fan of the Cardinals stack this week. I think Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown are all extremely strong fantasy starts in both season long and daily this week. I also think David Johnson is an interesting speculative play because he is reliant on the big play and has made one in each game so far this year.
Cards 42, 49ers 27
- What a terrible excuse by the Bills after being beaten by the Pats, “why don’t’ you run the ball?” Why should they Rex? If they can’t beat you up by passing and you can’t stop it, no need to run. I think you see something very similar from Miami.
- Tyrod Taylor is going to be a very usable bye week replacement, but I’m not sure I love him against the Dolphins defense trying to get a statement game under its belt.
- The Dolphins know that they took a bad loss in Jacksonville last week and will look to take some of that frustration out on a team licking its wounds after they were shut up by the big brother of the AFC East.
- The Dolphins passing game is legitimate and I expect that it will be very good this week against a tough to run against Bills D. I expect them to work those option angels and get some rushing yards for Ryan Tannehill that way.
Dolphins 27, Bills 17
- The line has moved significantly with the news that Jay Cutler is likely to not play and surprisingly it didn’t improve the Bears chances. Jokes aside Cutler should absolutely retire right now because he will never have a more Cutleresque game. 8 completions on 9 attempts and looking fantastic except for that 1 miss which was actually a completion, but to the other team that went for 6 points the other way and Cutler got hurt on the play. It’s like a microcosm of Cutler’s entire career.
- I don’t think you can trust any Bear in fantasy this week because I don’t know how long the starters will even play against a tough Seattle defense with a big chip on their shoulder.
- The one 0-2 team I’m not worried about. I think they have enough games left, including 8 at home, to right the ship. They do need to figure out how to best utilize their weapons, but it shouldn’t be as hard as it has seemed so far in 2015.
- Marshawn Lynch and Jimmy Graham are likely great DFS plays this week as the Seahawks are likely to try and get both of them rolling and happy by getting them each into the end zone.
Seahawks 38, Bears 10
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
- Denver’s defense is good and it’s offense is mediocre because of Peyton Manning’s arm and the bad offensive line. This means I think they are in every game and beat up on bad teams, but ultimately are going to lose some of those close games. There needs to be some serious adjustment to get some sort of running game going to make sure the defense isn’t on the field so long each game they start to lose effectiveness because they are exhausted.
- Not sure what to think of Denver on the road at Detroit. Detroit’s defense isn’t awful, completely, but that team might be giving up and they don’t have a coach in place to right the ship, so sadly the Lion’s season could be over which would mean good things for all the Broncos. If you own a starting Bronco you are playing them, even CJ Anderson. That’s season long advice, I’m staying away in DFS.
- Detroit played a good half against San Diego and has since disappeared in the mist. No idea what is going on there. Like I said above, their coaching is so bad, I think it’s possible the team has already decided to pack it in for 2015.
- I believe in Ameer Abdullah, but I don’t believe in his situation. Which means even though I am invested in him and I think the Denver D can be susceptible to his skill set, I’m sitting him this week as long as Lesean McCoy is healthy.
Broncos 26, Lions 17
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
- how does KC bounce back from that dreadful loss to Denver last week? They have an extra day to think about it, but their coach is still Andy Reid and he doesn’t inspire confidence in me in turning the ugly into positives.
- The studs will put some stats up against the Packers. Jamaal Charles and Travis Kelce specifically, Jeremy Maclin should be ok, but you are sort of TD dependent if you are playing him.
- How many more injuries can Green Bay absorb before they start to show signs of weakness? I don’t think it’s too many more to be honest, but Aaron Rodgers is at the height of his powers and he makes the other 10 players on offense way better.
- If you are a James Jones owner I think you are terrified that if he doesn’t catch a TD he is worthless. That being said if he catches another TD do your best to flip him to strengthen another part of your roster before week 4.
Packers 24, Chiefs 17
- @Oakland, home for the Chargers [↩]