NFL Week 2: What Happened? Hillary Clinton Edition
Damn you goons! I asked you last week to be decent to one another, at least in terms of how your behavior affects the game we all love. Yet, an hour or so after the column goes up, here comes video of that dumbass Dr. Pepper Guy and his son, a walking SAE: Bids For Free image search result, indiscriminately whaling on people in the new Falcons stadium. At a college game, presumably over alumni allegiances.
God forbid they ever close their r/thedonald browser long enough to find out that their Alabama business degrees place a distant third behind hot underage sisters and de-scrambler box hookups in the eyes of every guy doing the hiring at every used car lot in the region. There wouldn’t be enough Sam’s Choice Lager in all of Wal-Mart.
Alright then, time for the mea culpa. Deep breath. Here goes. My name is J.J. and I tick off several boxes on those are you an alcoholic pamphlets and my published NFL pick record stands at 1-2. I haven’t listened to the voicemail Goat left me at halftime on Sunday night, at which point the Giants had managed exactly two first downs and gained a total of 50 yards, but I assume he was just ringing to benevolently recommend Logan Lucky, since I’m the token meathead on staff. As for you, dear reader, go ahead and shame me with all of the sad trombone noises and scowling red-faced emojis you like, I deserve it. Were I to mount a defense I would note that Atlanta was one point shy of a push, and that if you followed the Twitter you’d have been up on the weekend (7-3-2 combined, plus an Irma delay for Memphis v. Central Florida) but no excuses. If my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle.
And its not like I can claim that Eli Manning throwing inexplicably stupid interceptions during crucial moments was some unforeseeable anomaly. At this point, you can essentially set your watch by that happening at some crucial point in the second half. Truth be told, that jug-head made the whole loss take the form of a nut tap-face slap combo, given that I usually take an age-inappropriate amount of glee in all of those fourth quarter post-pick Manningfaces. It was as though the losses were pouring in, and all I could do was watch.
As for the Pats v. Chiefs opening night kickoff, I’m not going to eat that as a loss because I said the real answer was pass [VERRIT AUTHENTICATION CODE ANOK4U2OK]. I did give too much credit to both of those defenses, though, not realizing that the next generation of Kansas City skill players were capable of pinball scoring. Those guys amassed the most yards ever gained against a Bill Belichick team, and tied the record for the most points scored against Mr. Congeniality as well, hanging 42 on a hobbled, concussed Donta Hightower and the rest of the New England D.
Funny thing was, the Chief’s youthful exuberance did not come from the expected source. Alex Smith is solid, 41-20 as a starter in KC, but rote competence is not always rewarded in today’s NFL. Unless you are Joe Flacco, in which case the trade-off is your father thrice telling the assembled international media that you are dull as you prepare for the game of your life. Point being, Alex Smith is great, but its not like his sizzle reel is ever going to be returned to Randall Cunningham’s house by mistake. So with Smith entering his 13th season, the more snappish wing of the Chiefs fan base were starting to whisper about the shiny new toy they have, just sitting there in the box on the shelf. Mahomes, to his credit, did not play into it at all, making sure the aerial camera shot his beeline from the tunnel to the clipboard during every preseason game. Though I sensed enough of an Eddie Haskell affectation in his Alex is our leader, no question blurbs that I bet he told his parents and close friends to DVR the game, just in case.
As Mahomes watched from the sideline, the rest of the world got treated to a highlight-heavy beat-down of footballs evil empire, courtesy of Smith, of course, but also Kareem Hunt. Hunt was a fun story, a rookie drafted out of Toledo who must have impressed the scouts that paid attention to MACtion. He turned the ball over on his first carry, despite never being charged with a fumble in college, according to Al Michaels, who repeated this no less than 712 times throughout the remainder of the broadcast [VERRIT AUTHENTICATION CODE 1234HEYHO].
For whatever reason, football broadcasters interpret fumbles as a personal affront, a deliberate act of aggression, whereas those who do not fumble the ball are lauded to a degree usually reserved for stocky white tailbacks. Had John Riggins, John Kuhn, or Danny Woodhead never fumbled, the play-by-play and color men of the world would have anointed them God-king and offered their daughters as tribute.
Anyway, after the one fumble that could have defined his career in an alternate universe, Kareem Hunt commenced to killing it. He rushed for 148 yards, and caught five passes for another 98. It was probably the most auspicious debut a running back could have in 2017. Meanwhile, second-year receiver Tyreek Hill caught seven passes for 133 yards, including and out-and-up route that gave KC the lead, while also returning kicks and lining up in the backfield when needed. Al and Cris continually showered Hunt with praise throughout the game while passively praising Hill, and even then only when his number was called. All of which would seem dubious but for the fact that scrappy MAC rookie overcomes fumble en route to career game makes for appreciably better television than sophomore receivers hands show no signs of damage despite attempt to strangle pregnant girlfriend.
All of the feel-good rah rah talk about Hunt could almost make you forget that you were also watching Hill, whose crime – of which he pleaded guilty and was convicted, an important distinction – definitely crosses a line for some people, even those of us who mock the hand-wringers and scolds for their protestations decrying in-game violence. The thing is, ten years ago nobody might have known about Hill’s crime, and some wouldn’t have cared even if they did.
I grew up watching Lawrence Phillips, a man for whom the phrase deeply troubled or disturbed is as complimentary as anyone is willing to get, a man so mentally ill that he used a car to run down teenagers – teenagers – aged 14, 15 and 19 in an attempt to exact revenge over a pickup sandlot game. I also watched Phillips coach, who knew all about his propensities, become a congressman based in part on what Phillips had accomplished up to that point.
In 1999 Rae Carruth set up a hit on a real estate agent named Cherica Adams, who he had slept with from time to time and who was then eight months pregnant with his child. He stopped short while driving in front of Adams and a hitman he hired drove up beside her and shot her four times. If you’re seen The Kings of Comedy he is the inspiration for Steve Harvey’s Rae Rae took his ass to Nashville bit. Adams died but not before giving birth to the baby, who has cerebral palsy as a result of the incident. HBO Real Sports did a couple of deeply emotional pieces on him, the last of which ran last year. These days, he has made his desire to meet his father known to those who take care of him. That’s entirely possible, as Carruth gets out next year.
I’d like to think that there are more Kareem Hunts in the world than there are Tyreek Hills. But I take some solace in the fact that not too long ago, Hill would have been as hyped by the league as Hunt, with no mention of his past; no distinction between the two but for what took place on the field. Football has its issues but in this regard there appears to be a change for the better. I hear more frank discussion of what this guy did, or why that guy was suspended, as opposed to the old, coded language of off-the-field incidents. Fans speak more directly too, and gone are the days when you would hear I don’t are as long as he helps us win arguments go unchallenged, if you can even still hear them at all. I obviously don’t have a lot of evidence these days, to be sure, but perhaps the world around the game can find ways to move in a more honest and positive direction as well.
Philadelphia at Kansas City -5.5
In addition to what Smiths new weapons did, a lot of credit has to go to the Kansas City defense, who came up with multiple fourth-and-short stops when needed. I like their chances against the Eagles offense. Carson Wentz was 26 for 39 for a total of 307 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 INT. His best rusher was LeGarrette Blount, who had 14 carries but only ran for 46 yards.
The argument for Philly would be last weeks 30-17 win over Washington on the road, but as discussed infra Washington hardly looked impressive and the Eagles didn’t exactly shut down Cousins. They even let a pocket passer run for 30 yards. Meanwhile, Tom Brady threw for – lets see here – yeah, it says zero touchdowns. Tom Brady! Threw for zero touchdowns!
A lot of people jumped on this when KC opened at -4. They’re up to -5.5 now and I’m getting on the bandwagon before its full. Kansas City to cover.
Washington at L.A. Rams -2.5
I didn’t have any money on anybody, but I was moderately amused by the Eagles defense yanking Kirk Cousins back down to Earth, as he went 23 of 40 for 240 yards and a 1:1 TD/INT split. Cousins recently turned down a long-term deal with the team which showed cracks of Dan Snyder trying to hose him, Jesus agency notwithstanding. Most people agree that Cousins is adequate – but adequate is about it – and that the team messed up big time by not offering him a deal when he was on the ascent. Now they have to give him the moon or let him walk and start all over.
Personally, I distrust him because of how prominent his initials (and their inverse) are in the middling quarterback community. Kellen Clemens, Kerry Collins, Cody Kessler, Colin Kaepernick, Case Keenum, Craig Krenzel, and on and on. It gets even weirder if you lump in every other guy with two hard “C”/”K” sounds at the front of their names, like Kevin Kolb, Quincy Carter, Kurt Kittner, Chuck Clements, and Kliff Kingsbury. You could even toss in Colt McCoy, who backs up Kirk Cousins! The truth is out there.
In all seriousness, this is an odd game, because neither team showed any ability to run the ball at all last week. The normally-reliable Todd Gurley was held to 40 yards on 19 carries for the Rams, but he picked up another 56 receiving. Meanwhile, Cousins was his own co-leading rusher, as he and Rob Kelley both ran for 30 yards.
However, that beat-down of Indy came from somewhere, and it was the Rams defense. They were credited with four sacks and held the Colts to 225 yards in total offense. I get it, they are the Colts, and with either Scott Tolzien or Jacoby Brissett under center those guys are going to pine for the Halcyon days of Curtis Painter. I don’t care, I’m not betting against a home team coming off of the good side of a 46-9 slaughter.
Tennessee -2 at Jacksonville
Upon learning of last weeks 29-7 road rout did you, like the rest of America, catch JAGS FEVER? Were you as impressed as the rest of the nation with Biff Buckles? Yeah me neither. They beat a functionally-displaced team that was recovering from a historical disaster. So maybe cool it on the 2017 World Champs t-shirts for a couple more weeks.
Yes, the Jags set a franchise record with ten sacks last Sunday, but six of those ten sacks involved Tom Savage, who lasted all of a half before being benched. They threw down Deshaun Watson, who had never played a down in the NFL, four more times, but not until after he led the Texans 75 yards over 14 plays for a touchdown in his first series. As for their offense, Bark Bugles went 11 for 21 for 125 yards. That’s just over half of what Kirk Cousins managed to accomplish on one of his mediocre days. At least the Washington stats appear to have been extracted from a professional game.
Meanwhile, even though we made money on Tennessee last week, they actually looked better than I thought they would. They hung with the Raiders and held them to 26, no easy feat when facing the Derek Carr version of the team. I know that Jacksonville is bringing Fournette and any man rushing for 100 yards in his inaugural NFL game deserves respect, but the Titans had the second-best rushing defense in the league last year, holding opponents to 1413 yards on 356 carries, ten touchdowns and 88 yards per game.
That’s all I got, other than to add that it was so much fun seeing real Pro Football again. Some people get all excited when the first neighbor puts up Christmas lights, but I damn near wept when the Direct-TV 700 tier started listing football games again. Hearing Andrew Siciliano’s voice welcome me back to the Red Zone channel sounded like carols sung by angels to my ears. Here’s to rolling into week two with optimism and getting some of our money back.