I was really looking forward to last Sunday. Four games, starting at 6:30 a.m. and ending around 14 hours later. Colts vs. Patriots, 49ers at Jaguars, Lions at Chargers, Jets at Raiders. Then, Broncos at Bills on Monday night. Let’s go!
I got up at 8 a.m. on Sunday, and by the time I turned on the first game, it was halftime and the Colts were leading by the not-worth-it-to-get-up-early score of 10-3. If you can believe it, I was happy that the “real action” had not happened yet. How was I to know that 13 points scored to that point would be more than 75% of the total points scored in the game?
But, ok, I didn’t bet anything on that game. The 49ers-Jags game had to be better.
No. The 49ers jumped out to a 10 point lead and never looked back, winning by a final non-competitive score of 34-3.
My Lions had to be better, and it was, with Detroit winning a very exciting game on the last play of the game by a final score of 41-38. Go Lions, and here we go for some exciting football! Bring on the Jets and Raiders!
As Lee Corso would say, not so fast. Fans had to wait for the 4th quarter to see the first, and only touchdown of the game as the Raiders won 16-12.
Well, The Bills had to win, right? Even though the Broncos are not exactly an offensive juggernaut (really, just plain offensive) the Bills would give us some excitement and save the weekend.
Again, no. Although the game was close, it was not well played and the Broncos/refs came out on top of the Bills 24-22.
Although scoring is down this year in the NFL this year, it was not the lack of points that made four of the five games we saw on TV last weekend in our area (the fifth game was the NY Giants/Dallas Cowboys “clash”, won by Dallas 49-17) boring. It was the ineptitude of the offenses. It was the stubborn insistence on calling plays again and again that were not working. It was the penalties. It was the length of the games. It was the blowouts. It was the play of quarterbacks that either shouldn’t be in the NFL or are stuck in systems not suited for them. It was the frustration of watching it all. It was….AHHHHH!!
I think my wife made the most perceptive comment of the day when, after watching about 10 minutes of the Raiders/Jets commented, “This sucks”.
The Colts/Patriots, Raiders/Jets, and Broncos/Bills games were all extremely frustrating to watch. Of these six teams, only the Buffalo Bills played a real NFL quarterback, and that QB did not play anywhere near his normal level. Mac Jones, Russell Wilson, and Zach Wilson love to tease their teams’ fans by making them believe they can score, tasting it, feeling it…only to yank that good feeling rug out from under their fans’ Lazyboys. Mac Jones…what is he thinking? The last time I remember an NFL coach getting on his QB on the sidelines the way Patriots’ offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien got on Jones was Mike Ditka freaking out on Jim Harbaugh. And what was O’Brien thinking with his play calling, or did Jones change the play calls? Something was wrong, because the Patriots suddenly decided they should pass after moving the ball smartly down the field by running.
During the Monday Night game, Joe Buck informed us that Russell Wilson’s passes average length of travel was 3.2 yards. That’s less than 10 feet! Given that, I suggest Wilson throw all his passes underhand, since he is so inaccurate with overhand throws. Even with Wilson’s softball approach to passing, the Bills lost on the final play because they allowed the Broncos two chances to make an easy field goal! Really, I can’t make this up. The Broncos, with their typical far, far right conservative approach, took two plays to set up for a game winning field goal, and then missed it. No problem. The Bills, even with legions of coaches on the sidelines and in the pressbox, somehow had 12 men on the field! Given their second chance, the Broncos managed to make good on their second try five yards closer, a fitting end to the weekend of pro football viewing and this penalty filled, incomplete passes galore, and lots of turnovers filled game.
The next day, the Bills fired not their special teams coach or any of their players, but their offensive coordinator. I must admit that although I think the Bills play calling was very suspect, they still would have won had they had the foresight to only play 11 players at a time on the game deciding play.
In spite of all of the other follies, in my opinion the worst game, and the most frustrating game to watch was the Raiders and the Jets on Sunday night.
I have to state that I am very biased. I bet the Jets. My fantasy team has Garrett Wilson and the Jets’ defense. I picked the Jets in this column last week, even stating that the Jets could win by not playing any offense at all, just wait for the inevitable Raiders offensive mess up.
The Jets had nearly 100 more yards from scrimmage than the Raiders. Between the two 20s, the Jets moved the ball on the ground and in the air. The Raiders did little on offense except hand off to Josh Jacobs. The Jets did a pretty good job of containing Maxx Crosby.
But when it counted, the Jets couldn’t do it. No touchdowns. Their only scores were on field goals. Penalties, frequently pre snap penalties, killed them. Dropped passes. Inaccurate passes. Red zone frustration. Questionable play calling, as all play calling that doesn’t work is.
But the most frustrating player has to be quarterback Zach Wilson. Despite his obvious talent, Wilson has been an NFL flop. The Jets have Trevor Siemian, why not play him? When asked that question, coach Robert Saleh pled the 5th, a hugely unsatisfying answer since he is the person responsible for that decision.
Please, please, please, CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN, no more Jets, Broncos, Raiders, Panthers, Giants, Patriots, Cardinals, or Bears games. But, a quick check of the schedule, and OH NO! This week, we get the Raiders, the Jets, and the Broncos on TV. I think I might take my wife’s sage advice and find something else to do on Sundays. Or at least, quit complaining about it.
Because, with TV revenues, team apparel, fan interest, and attendance all up, the NFL can afford to have the attitude of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Here are this week’s picks against the point spread. Lines are from sportsline.com on Wednesday, Nov. 15.
Dallas Cowboys (-10 ½) at Carolina Panthers: When the Cowboys play, the points don’t matter. They either slaughter the other team, or lose. 10 ½ points on the road, though…
Detroit Lions (-7 ½) vs Chicago Bears: Even if Justin Fields is back.
LA Chargers (-3) at Green Bay Packers: Home field, shmome field
Miami Dolphins (-13 ½) vs LV Raiders: The Dolphins are now the Dallas Cowboys East, beating the heck out of bad teams and losing to good ones.
SF 49ers (-11 ½) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: When they are healthy, the 49ers are the best in the NFL. They proved that again last week, getting most of their good players back and pounding a very good Jacksonville team on the road. If they fall behind, sprint to your local sportsbook and put your life savings on the Bucs in the second half.
Philadelphia Eagles (+2 ½) at KC Chiefs: How do the Chiefs, with their two person offense, keep beating good teams?
Last week: 4-2-1
Colorado (+4) over Washington St.: (Friday) I was glad Colorado got the cover last week, but I would have preferred that they won the game outright, because then they would be playing to clinch a bowl berth this week. Instead, they have to win this one and next week, but considering that Washington St. has lost six in a row since starting 4-0, I’ll gladly take anything more than a field goal.
Kentucky (-1) at South Carolina: The Gamecocks are dealing with injuries all over the roster, and they’re down to just two scholarship running backs left on the roster. That’s a problem because they’ve also been hurt by the immature play of quarterback Spencer Rattler. He was a 5-star recruit for a reason, but he hasn’t developed the maturity to match his talent. Kentucky, on the other hand, is the antithesis of South Carolina – steadiness, with no flash. That will get the job done for the Wildcats.
Northwestern (+3) over Purdue: Better team, at home, getting points. What’s not to like?
North Carolina (+7 ½) over Clemson: Even though their defense often looks at lot like USC, I think North Carolina is actually the better overall team here. Clemson wasn’t really very impressive in their last two wins over Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, and I’ll take my chances that North Carolina can at least keep it a one score game.
Browns (-1) over Steelers: The Steelers did it again last week, pulling out a win despite being outgained by 75 yards. They’ve still been outgained in every game this season and they’re somehow 6-3. But I’ll take the Browns running game and defense to grind this one out.
Giants (+9) over Commanders: Yep, I’m betting on quite possibly the worst offense in the NFL. This game should end up something like 13-12.
Dolphins (-13 ½) over Raiders: Two wins in a row for the Raiders, two cigar parties in the locker room since the firing of Josh McDaniel. But the Dolphins tend to pour it on when they play bad to mediocre teams.