This will end. Maybe next week. Maybe during conference championships. Hell, maybe right now. Perhaps as you read this, our early Sunday slate is going down in flames. I would hate to come off as some sort of pragmatism monitor, but in the course of a run like this I feel just a twinge of responsibility to note-especially to any of you who are new around here-that nothing lasts forever.
But it would be pretty fucking sweet if it did, am I right? Because we are absolutely on fire. We’ve always held our own, and finished last year with a winning record, but we’ve never been this far ahead this deep into the season. Just in case you missed my clucking about it on Monday night, we are 16-3 over the last five weeks and up 18 units on the year. We’ve got so much momentum I am thinking of asking the boss to redesign this year’s Official Ruthless Holiday Party t-shirt!
Seriously though, we didn’t even have to bite our nails at any point last weekend. Hopefully you made it to the pay window and have a little more dough in your pocket for next Thursday’s dinner or holiday gifts. Goat is already back on his beat so the time is drawing near. By the way, is “Rockin around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop” just really lazy songwriting? Or is that something oldies used to say when they were still working the kinks out of youth culture, like “left-handed cigarettes” or calling their fathers “Daddy-O”?
By the way, it appears as though that Christmas Carol musical might be a bit problematic by today’s standards, but I already saw this clown try to smear Jeremy Corbyn as an antisemite because of a Dickens reference on Wednesday. Truthfully, after the impeachment hearings and another Democratic debate I just don’t have the strength. We had to watch an imbecile repeatedly use the words “Chalupa” and *shudder* “nude photos of President Trump” within seconds of each other all week. The business-friendly centrist pinup-of-the-week connived to lie about his non-existent Black support, blamed it on spurious homophobia, and the corporate media just sort of let it go. I’m definitely in the mood to focus on some football.
As was Colin Kaepernick, who threw a football in public for the first time in years last Saturday. Between the out-of-nowhere announcement, the media-proxy arguments about access and footage, and the last-minute relocation, the whole affair was as confusing as it was revelatory. The Athletic article I linked to has a breakdown of the whole thing, and it’s worth a read, but I have a few arguably valid observations on the whole affair.
First off, he can certainly still throw. Most of the footage that made the sizzle reel consisted of undefended posts thrown on his count. I’m not saying that Melissa McCarthy should have tried to run him down with a golf cart for the sake of authenticity, but they could have at least cycled through some tennis racket drills or something. Regardless, the passes were all spirals and dropped right in the basket.
He also looked a lot bigger compared to the last time he was in uniform. I feel bad for even mentioning it, because among the myriad of excuses used to drum him out of the league back in 2016 was the complaint that he was too lean, which makes just a shade more sense than “he wears his cap backwards” but looks notably better in newsprint. I should also note that he threw in a tank and shorts that showed great definition, so despite being a vegan he’s not doing the crust-punk version of a cruelty-free diet consisting solely of potatoes and beer.
Finally, I have to mention the Kunta Kinte shirt. Look, I get it. It’s the metaphorical equivalent of firing a gun at a snare drum, but I get it. I’m not entirely sure that the younger people he inspires will catch the reference to a 1977 miniseries that was counter-programmed by Man of Atlantis. Honestly they might not even remember the Chapelle’s Show sketch at this point. But there is an argument for leaving the NFL brass with absolutely no excuse for not giving him a job after a performance that justifies doing so. Then again, the Colts had Brian Hoyer start a game two weeks ago. Kaepernick could have shown up wearing a cape screened with Jim Irsay’s mugshot and there would still be no excuse. HEY LOOK (other) FOOTBALL!
MIAMI +10.5 v. CLEVELAND
Now that Jared Goff is struggling, Sean McVay doesn’t look like quite the genius he was touted to be. Perhaps the quarter of the league that ran out and hired coaches young enough to know how to use Tinder discreetly may regret taking Woody Allen’s “all men are Socrates” approach in the off season. I would imagine that Miami’s recent improvement will keep Brian Flores safe, however. Flores is only 37 but for some reason he never comes up in those vibrant young coach discussions. Gee I wonder why?
My best analogy for the current Browns is Uri Geller in the 80s. After The Amazing Randi put the poor bastard through the cringe worthy Johnny Carson debacle in 1973, you would figure one of his friends would say “hey maybe see if you can guess people’s dead relatives’ names or something” but nope. He just kept it up with the damn spoons, popping up on sub-Jerry Lewis telethons and Good Morning Murfreesboro or what have you.
Cleveland keeps sending Baker Mayfield out there behind a porous line to try and trick defenses into thinking he can bend spoons, though to his credit he occasionally catches somebody too distracted to figure out how it’s done. The rest of the time sees him take beatings, as was even the case during recent wins over the Bills and Steelers. Though nobody bashed him over the head with a helmet I guess. This week he has to try and blow out a bad but resurgent Dolphins squad despite limited practices from both Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry and a coach with his neck in the noose. The Dolphins just hung with Buffalo through three quarters after two honest-to-God wins and I think 10.5 is too much rope. They can even let Baker bend a spoon or two, just so long as they keep it close.
NY GIANTS +6 v. CHICAGO
Returning to our theme of nothing lasting forever, Mitch Trubisky is now sports writer drama fodder in Chicago. Remember when the number two overall pick out of legendary QB factory North Carolina was the long-awaited answer to the prayers of fans who had gritted their teeth though Rex Grossman and Jay Cutler and Kyle Orton since before the Iraq War? Now he’s got possibly-phantom hip injuries, a coach who might be sabotaging him, and he can’t even keep his job safe from career backup Chase Daniel, who himself may be quietly seething because White Jock Law says that a guy named Chase will always get the start ahead of a guy named Mitchell. Drama indeed. Never mind the pimps, these days it’s even hard out here for a Mitch.
It’s not that the Giants are much better, mind you. However, the Bears are the sort of team the Giants can hang with. Big Boo’s glaring weakness is their pass defense, which has let opposing teams score 27 points in all but one game this season, but Trubisky is dead last in the NFL in both yards per attempt and yards per completion. If his hip pointer is real, that might explain why his rushing, which got him to the Pro Bowl last year, has been lacking.
Here again, we’re not looking for great football. We’re looking for competitive football. The Giants have lost six straight but the Rams are bottoming out these days and Todd Gurley still picked up 97 yards and a TD last week. If the Bears couldn’t deal with him, they won’t fare much better against Saquon Barkley, who racked up 125 on them last year when they had a healthy Akiem Hicks. I think a maelstrom of QB drama, suspect defense and cold weather has a better chance of keeping this whole affair within six that Freddie Kitchens does of keeping his gig through to next season.
OAKLAND -3 v. NY JETS
Speaking of which, in a truly baffling decision, the Jets office gave Adam Gase a vote of confidence last week, assuring him and the tabloids that his job is safe and he will return to coach the team next year. I have two theories. Either they mixed up the usual situational metaphor and had no idea how to go about literally hitting him with a carrot, or Jets owner and current U.K. ambassador Woody Johnson realizes that he was a thumbnail away from being in the same position as E.U. ambassador Gordon Sondland, and is so happy about winning that particular unqualified rich dickhead lottery that he is incapable of making sound football personnel decisions at the moment.
We recently discussed Oakland’s December cupcake feast, and the effect it should have on their 6-4 record. Kansas City is back in its groove and as of now, the Raiders sit behind the Bills in the wildcard packing order. Point being they need this win, as neither the Titans nor the Jags are going to be this easy in terms of non-divisionals.
By some advanced stat metrics, Derek Carr is among the most accurate QBs in the game right now, and his line gives him the time needed to be that good. Oakland has won three in a row against two better teams and also the Bengals. No reason they can’t cover a field goal against an unmotivated Jets squad perfectly content to tread water until the ever-mythical next year.
DALLAS v. NEW ENGLAND -6
He keeps winning, we keep betting. The infuriating thing about the Pats is that they’re pretty good even when they play down to the level of their opponent. Last week they pissed away a bunch of opportunities, to the extent that they didn’t score a single point in the last 26 minutes of the Sunday night game, and still skated to 9-1, though to their credit they covered and got us paid in the process.
Here come the Cowboys into Foxboro, where the Pats never lose, having just survived a back-and-forth dogfight with a Lions team led by a backup QB handing off to tailbacks they found down at the bus station. Fair play to Dallas – Rayne Dakota Prescott actually has gaudier numbers than Brady for the overall season, and is second in the league in both DYAR and DVOA. Zeke is still very effective in spots, and though he’s not in a best-of conversation in a league with Chubb, McCaffrey and Kamara, he’s got $90 million to argue otherwise. All that having been said, New England still sports the best overall defense in the league, which they lead in points allowed, yards per game, and yards per play. Call those mass stats or broad stats all you like, but in nine out of ten games this year, the scoreboard said what the scoreboard said.
I saddled you with three bad games because that’s where the value is, so we may as well have fun on Sunday afternoon. This will be competitive early and may stay that way for a while, but I don’t see it ending within six under the circumstances.
Pete Buttegieg and Gordon Sondland both deserve to be unemployed. Colin Kaepernick does not, and if we stay this hot, perhaps you can say the same about me. In all seriousness, this is all so much fun because I know you guys are winning, and I love it when you tell me so. Let’s try and keep it up so we’ve got even more reasons to be thankful.