NFL 2021: Week Thirteen Assassins

Not a lot of news in the NFL this week. Guys entering and leaving Covid protocols (Goodbye TJ Watt. Welcome back Amari Cooper). Guys entering and leaving due to injuries (Maybe Hello to Kyler Murray and Deandre Hopkins. Goodbye again Christian McCaffrey). The grind of NFL football continues apace.

Some interesting trends of late:

  1. The Patriots have won 6 in a row. Against some pretty good teams. With a 5th drafted rookie QB. This weeks’ test against the Bills will be fascinating.
  2. The Chiefs have won 4 in a row and are now atop their division. Seems the cream is starting to rise after early struggles in the AFC.
  3. The Dolphins have won 4 in a row also. This ain’t the cream rising. This is playing the Texans, Jets and Carolina. They did get a nice win against the Ravens in there though. Maybe they are for real. Nah.
  4. The Saints are on a 4 game losing streak. Injuries are a huge part of it, but Sean Peyton’s genius moniker is taking a beating.
  5. WFT with 3 wins in a row. Rams and Seahawks 3 losses in a row. These are interesting times we live in.

Enough rambling. Here’s your games:

Thursday, December 2nd, 7:20 p.m.

Dallas Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints (+6, 47.5)

Sunday, December 5th


New York Giants @ Miami Dolphins (-3, 42)
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans (+7.5, 46)
Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions (+7, 47.5)
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Jets (+6.5, 45.5)
Arizona Cardinals @ Chicago Bears (+7, 46.5)
Los Angeles Chargers @ Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5, 50.5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons (+10, 50.5)


Jacksonville Jaguars @ Los Angeles Rams (-13, 48.5)
Washington Football Team @ Las Vegas Raiders (-2.5, 48.5)
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers (+3, 44)
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks (+2.5, 46.5)


Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs (-10, 49.5)

Monday Night Football

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills (-3.5, 45)

Great lineup of night games this week. Thursday night has two teams who were expected to (and still might) compete for the Super Bowl, but are on unexpected losing streaks. The Cowboys defense and the Saints offense will go head to head to see which sucks more, while the Saints defense has collapsed of late. Seems like all Cowboys to me (especially if Taysom Hill starts), so I’m laying the 6. Maybe I’ll be surprised.

Chargers/Bengals may be the only early game worth a peek. Lots of bad teams playing early apparently. I liked the Chargers to make the wildcard, but their defense has, once again, not played to expectations. And they play in a tough division, where every team is above .500. Plus I get to check in on my guy Joe Burrow. Only game to watch for me.

Ravens/Steelers has the pedigree to be a very watchable game, especially if, like me, you love watching Ben R. suck donkey balls. That will be a defensive slugfest, and while he is still electric, Lamar Jackson’s 87.5 passer rating and 12 interceptions are a growing concern. Niners/Seahawks could be worth a look too, but neither team is actually fun to watch. And if you’re into maschocism, you can watch the Dan Snyder/Mike Davis teams battle each other to see which franchise Hamlet can dislike more. Although with Gruden gone, my dislike for the Raiders only falls on an idiotic owner who won the “he’s my Daddy” lottery.

I am a bit surprised the Broncos are getting 10, but I guess the bookies are back to fawning on the Chiefs. Likely with good reason. But I expect the Broncos to make it a good game. And even if they don’t, I get to watch Mahomes, so it should be fun.

Monday night should be a fantastic game. I am super-excited to see what Belichick does to try and stop the Bills offense, and to see if Brian Daboll has an answer. And to watch Mac Jones and see if he has developed beyond the game manager he has by and large been so far, and to see if the Bills defense can stop it. Should be a great game, and a possible AFC Championship preview.

So, let’s hear from you. What game has your interest? Which team do you think is a fraud, and which is better than their record. And which is your favorite Takashi Miike film?

Hmmm. The line on tonight’s Cowboys/Saints game has moved down to the Cowboys giving 4.5. Yes, the Saints are much better at home and there’s the Covid outbreak for Dallas. I must be missing something …

I predict Green Bay will lose ZERO starters to injuries on Sunday.

I’m about as sure of this prediction as I am all of my other ones - not terribly.

Seattle has to be the biggest disappointment of the season. They were supposed to contend for the NFC West title, but are now essentially out of the playoffs. The MNF game was the first time I’ve seen them in weeks, and I was shocked to see how bad their offense was. Most of Wilson’s passes weren’t even close. I would expect the Niners to roll over them on Sunday.

At the other end, the Patriots have to be the biggest surprise of the season. I’m no fan of Bill Belichick, but the man can coach.

As a lifelong (50+ years) Redskins/FT fan, the Dan Snyder era has been a travail, as I still root for the team knowing that I’m also by default rooting for him. But I’d like to see a convincing win this week against a team that’s just totally crushable.

W/respect to the Pats, my 2nd team (and sometimes it feels like 1st team), at what point do we not think of Mac Jones as a game manager? He has the same Y/A as the Josh Allens/Tom Bradys of the world, but fewer attempts as they’ve been hammering the running game. I’m just asking because “game manager” and “system quarterback” are often used pejoratively.

Mac Jones’ intended air yards (how far from the line of scrimmage the pass is supposed to go) is 7.6, below both Brady (8.1) and Allen (8.7), and 23rd in the league. 55.4% of his throws are short of the first down, 6th highest in the NFL. He’s averaging 2.53 seconds per pass, which is the third fastest in the league. He’s making quick, short throws in a timing offense. And he’s doing it very well (2.4% turnover worthy throws, 8th in the league). And, as you point out, the Pats are running the ball consistently and well, and he is not asked to make huge throws down the field. So far in the league, he’s doing what is asked of him very well. And what is asked of him is to manage the game.

As a Pats fan, I’m with Hamlet on this one. They are winning with Mac Jones, not because of him. I definitely think he is still in Game Manager stage, which is totally fine for a rookie QB. He has already surpassed expectations, IMO. He has shown more flashes lately of pushing the ball downfield with accuracy and fitting the ball into tight windows, so I don’t think he’s reached his potential by any means. But he is still struggling in the red zone and I don’t think anyone is in the “2:00 left and a TD to win, better be scared of Mac Jones” camp.

Okay, that’s interesting, and gives me a clearer perspective.

Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown was suspended by the league for violating COVID-19 protocols, by misrepresenting his vaccination status. The league handed down similar suspensions for Buccaneers backup safety Mike Edwards, and free-agent wide receiver John Franklin III, who had been in training camp with the Bucs.

Brown has an injured ankle and heel, and wasn’t expected to play this week or next anyway, due to that.

Bills vs. Patriots, everything in the AFC East up for grabs. Buffalo is desperate for a passing-of-the-torch moment - and thought they had it last year - but Belichick is saying not so fast.

As a lifelong Seahawks fan I feel the need to defend them but I can’t.

I’m hoping they get something figured out by next year.

Is it Wilson? The o-line? Their defense looked really good on Monday, except they were on the field for almost 42 minutes. The fact that they only lost by two points speaks volumes about their D.

I can’t quite get my head around Josh Allen. Last year was a remarkable breakout year for him, and while he’s not nearly as bad as he was in 2018/2019, he’s not quite looking as good as he did last year, e.g. already as many INTs this year as he had all of last year. I don’t see enough of the Bills to know whether it’s him or the people around him.

Just a quick note: Fuck Brent Musberger.

The elderly douche-canoe who doesn’t quite know when to shut the fuck up defended John Gruden by calling his firing a “professional hit job” and completely ignoring the racist and sexist things that Gruden ACTUALLY SAID in an email. It’s like defending Roman Polanski without mentioning the fact he drugged and raped a 13 year old girl.

Someone find Brent a nice farm upstate, put him out to pasture, and get him off of my TV screen.

Does W or L in tonight’s DAL-NO game go on McCarthy’s or Quinn’s record?

Maybe he thinks that racism and sexism is so pervasive among NFL coaches that it seems like only singling out Gruden is a professional hit job.

Edit: Not trying to start a debate or defend him, just saying that that’s may have been the thought process going on in his head to say something like that.

If that’s the case it’s probably true.

That doesn’t in any way mean Gruden’s fall was unwarranted. It definitely was.

Taysom Hill is rapidly becoming my second-favorite QB.

You mean your second favorite runningback who throws?

I’m beginning to think Micah Parsons might be an OK football player.