A couple of things to look at this week. Thomas Davis is back for the Panthers, which significantly strengthens their defense, and ends the NFL HQ attempt to sabotage the Panthers and boost the prospects of a favorite franchise. Yes, I believe the NFL deliberately scheduled the Panthers first 5 weeks the way it came out. By putting the Panthers in the first available bye, they ensured Davis would be away from the team for 5 weeks instead of 4. And they made sure the Giants game came during the suspension, so a preferred franchise (you know, the way they play favorites, along with the Cowboys, Packers, Patriots and Steelers) would have a chance to steal a win from a superior team. Fortunately it backfired.
Let’s talk “hot seat” – the silly little phrase talking heads use to describe coaches (managers in MLB) that are in danger of losing their jobs. CBS Sports did a take on their website. They also skewered Ron Rivera for his “backward-minded thinking” on the running play with 30 seconds left that nearly cost the Panthers a win. What a load of hot garbage. It was not backward-minded. It may have been the wrong play – a Cam Newton sneak would have worked just fine and probably took less time – but it was far from backward-thinking. That description DOES apply to Jason Garrett for his spineless punt call late in the game. Hue Jackson still ranks #2 despite the Browns improvement. Vance Joseph is #1. Three first-year coaches (Reich, Wilks, Shurmur) are on the list. Crazy. Let’s see how the “hot seat” guys and other guys fare this week.
Philadelphia at NY Giants – Lots of people think the Giants really won last week but some universal seizure stole it from them. Actually, their putrid defense is what cost them. And it’s going to cost them several more games this year. Philly isn’t nearly as good as last year, and have several injuries, but they have enough to go through this Swiss cheese defense. Eagles 23, Little People 21
Tampa Bay at Atlanta – The Bucs have looked awful since the 2-0 start. Atlanta has had enough injuries to open their own hospital. They have both their running backs, which will make for a little too much for the Tampa offense to match. Falcons 35, Bucs 24
Seattle at Oakland (London) – A nominee for Who Cares Game Of The Week. People will care because it’s in London, and everyone has an opinion on the London thingy. I care because the Lions are on a bye so I’m starting Mr. Jesus Juice on my fantasy team. What a perfect week to do so, against a secondary that gives up touchdowns at such a high rate that their coach is stuck with the Chucky look the entire game. Seahawks 38, Fakers 10
Arizona at Minnesota – Oh, boy.. a rookie QB and a rookie head coach in the dome with that obnoxious horn. That could be problematic. Vikings 28, Cards 13
Indianapolis at NY Jets – The Who Cares Game of the Week, in the same stadium as last week’s edition. J-E-T-S jets jets jets jets jets jets jets jets jets jets 27, Dolts 17
Chicago at Miami – This might be the Surprise of the League Bowl. Chicago was supposed to be rebuilding, and Miami was supposed to be bouncing back into the playoffs with the QB back. It’s been the opposite for both. With the excellent defense led by Mack, there’s not much Offensive Guru Adam Gase can do. Good Surprise of the League (Bears) 34, Bad Surprise of the League (Fish) 13
LA Chargers at Cleveland – The Browns are competitive, especially on defense. I think this time, there are too many offensive weapons for their young defenders to deal with. Clippers 28, Browns 14
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati – The only reason to care about this matchup is because you placed a bet on which player is the first to pull a set of brass knuckles out of his shoulder pads and bust somebody’s chin with them. These two sets of clowns always spend their games trying to prove “I’ve got a bigger unit than you” instead of scoring touchdowns. Whatever. Oh, yeah, Cincy has a better offense. Bangles 37, Steelers 28
Buffalo at Houston – Let’s call this one the Underachievers Bowl. The visiting underachievers have some spark with their rookie QB. The home underachievers have a lot more pieces on defense, so they have the edge, and better chance to underachieve less. Texans 24, Buffalo, NC 17
LA Rams at Denver – The CBS coaches article says Joseph is less deserving of a hot seat than John Elway, because Elway has been such an epic failure at drafting a new QB, but Elway isn’t going to fire himself. Perhaps, during another drubbing, Elway will watch the other sideline and then text his scouting department, “I think we need somebody like #16.” Rams 41, Donkeys 7
Baltimore at Tennessee – Having trouble sleeping? Ask your doctor if Baltimore at Tennessee is right for you. Ravens 19, Titans 16
Jacksonville at Dallas – If you asked me 3 weeks ago, I’d have said Jacksonville will roll in this game. But the offense is sputtering, and Zeke Elliott can get 200 yards from scrimmage every week if his coach uses him correctly. That’s a big “if,” but I think it’s probable for this matchup. Cowboys 23, Jags 17
Kansas City at New England – Now THIS is gonna be fun. The Greatest Defensive Guru Of All Time against the league’s best offense. The 123-year-old QB that plays like he’s 23 against an opportunistic defense. I think the stud QBs will rule the day, and we’ll see a track meet. If it plays out that way, the younger QB has more weapons and should prevail. Chiefs 38, Patriots 35
San Francisco at Green Bay – This should be a yawner compared to the Sunday night game. The backup QB is capable, but not superb. The home team has a zillion WR injuries. So this will not be a track meet. Give the edge to the home team. Packers 23, 49ers 17
Carolina at Washington – Pete Prisco of CBS Sports insinuated in his picks this week that the Panthers got lucky last week, and the defense sucks. The FG didn’t bounce off the goal post or get blown over the crossbar by a sudden wind. Gano nailed it – skill, not luck. And the defense? With Eric Reid another week into the system and Thomas Davis back, this is an elite defense. Washington, meanwhile, lost to the Dolts and got destroyed by the Aints. PANTHERS 31, Dead-skins 21
Last week’s record: 8-7
Season: 44-34