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Up The Gut: Week 1

The DA Show
September 06, 2019 - 11:51 am

By Shaun Morash

Cold Open

The Houston Texans are all in and are currently being run, seemingly by a desperate mad man in Bill O'Brien. After firing Brian Gaine in June, a month and a half after the draft, Bill O'Brien got the keys to the castle and is reshaping his already playoff caliber team in a bold way. Gone is Jadeveon Clowney, which on the surface, may not be the worst thing as opposed to investing money in a pass rusher that truly never lived up to his potential when he was drafted 1st overall.

Rather than suck up that deal and accumulate picks the Texans decided to trade some, and trade some more. They dealt each of their 1st round picks in the next 2 drafts plus a 2nd in 2021 to acquire a left tackle they will soon pay and a wide receiver in Kenny Stills who is now on the decline.

The future has been mortgaged in Houston, when they go to pay Deshaun Watson the 1st and 2nd round picks now gone would have been critical in supplamenting a roster that would and should become cap strapped. Those picks are gone, as is any wiggle room for O'Brien. The Texans are all in on this season, and next for that matter, However, much like the Brooklyn Nets did in trading away their future for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce while Lebron James still ran their conference, was this really the right time and right year to make this bold statement knowing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick still exist within the hierarchy of the AFC?

Ten Yard Gain

1-With Zeke and the Cowboys getting a deal done, Jaylen Smith and La'El Collins locked up long term, and Dak Prescott playing good soldier while awaiting his deserved deal, not to mention Amari Cooper awaiting his pay day, how the heck are the Cowboys actually affording this beyond 2019? Does Tyron Smith the anchor at left tackle get his walking papers after this year? Byron Smith is surely gone as well. Dallas played with fire and may get burned, leaving the question, what if Jerry actually doesn't pay Dak? It sounds crazy and I promise I am not out to sound "hot- takey." The 2020 NFL Draft is loaded at quarterback, would Jerry and the Boys be better suited swinging on a trade up for another quarterback and using that salary for the next 4 years and the rest of Zeke's prime as their true opportunity to win it all? With Jerry Jones, anything is on the table.

2-The Cleveland Browns hype train knows no limits. The problem is we have seen this before. The 2011 Eagles, dubbed the dream team that August after an off-season in which they added Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Jason Babin, Vince Young and rival Giants Pro Bowl WR Steve Smith. They were Super Bowl bound by Labor Day, but by Christmas they were a distant third place in their division. That is completely on the table for a Browns team with a rookie head coach and a locker room that seems consumed with a team in another conference more than themselves every time they have a quote.

3-My prediction for first coach fired goes to Dan Quinn. The Falcons once again seem loaded, but in a tough NFC South, they can once again continue their downward spiral following their Super Bowl collapse. I have the Falcons at 7-9 and Quinn out in Atlanta.

4-The playoff team that won't live up to their 2019 hype will be the Chicago Bears. They won too many close games due to their extraordinary turnover battle wins. Turnovers and bouncing balls tend to even out over NFL history and that could be the difference in 2-3 wins becoming losses for Chicago. The Bears by the way spent an entire off season fixated on 43-yard field goals. Why look in the past when you can move forward? It was a poor strategy by Matt Nagy publicly.

5-The playoff team that is getting the most disrespect heading into 2019 is the Baltimore Ravens. If you don't "buy” Lamar Jackson I can understand. He had extreme accuracy issues, and perhaps the league will catch up to his running style. The Ravens though are still coached by John Harbaugh, one of the best in this league, and will still play great defense without CJ Mosely.

6-My surprise playoff team in 2019 are the Detroit Lions. This goes against everything I wrote in last year's column. I was done believing in Matt Stafford after his Thanksgiving efforts, and I never loved the Matt Patricia hire. However, they have a schedule that can easily become 5-3 after eight games setting up a true test in the second half. They have a run game figured out behind Kerryon Johnson for the first time in the Matt Stafford era and are loaded on defense. In a tough division, but one where each team has question marks, I think the Lions are this year’s Lions, or the 2017 Jaguars.

7-Speaking of the Jaguars, following Andrew Luck's retirement I am convinced they get back in the playoff party. While Nick Foles will likely never be the same quarterback we saw in Doug Pederson's locker room, he brings an aura of respect to a locker room that frankly had a quarterback that defense never trusted in Blake Bortles. That defense remains stacked, and Leonard Fournette is healthy again. Jacksonville will win the AFC South.

8-Stop trying to convince yourself, unless you are actually a Colts fan, that Jacoby Brissett is a good NFL starting quarterback. The Colts offensive line will help him, yes, it was atrocious two years ago. Andrew Luck when healthy, as he was last year, is a top five quarterback. You don't just survive that sudden retirement and think you are a playoff team because you have a Ryan Mallett clone sitting behind him. Brissett may be a great locker room guy, but he is a backup quarterback you hope doesn't lose you football games, should your quarterback get injured for a week or two. Asking him to lead you for 16 games to a playoff spot is asking way too much. Indy is toast, and should be Toasting for Tua in April.

9-My NFC Championship Game Prediction: Eagles beat the Rams. Sorry New Orleans, but back-to-back devastating playoff defeats is tough to get off the mat from, and can see the end of the Drew Brees era in a Wild Card game loss. My AFC Championship Game prediction: Patriots beat the Chiefs. Yes, I went chalk and I hate doing it, but the drop off to the next tier of the AFC feels gigantic beyond those two.

10-My Super Bowl pick, the Patriots get their revenge and beat the Eagles. For the first time in the Tom Brady era, I am picking them to win the Super Bowl. It is too easy to pick them and the main reason I like being different. I have stated before I thought that Bill and Tom had won their last ring together and I continued to be wrong. Maybe me finally picking this will be the kiss of death to the dynasty, or maybe I will be right, either way I walk out of this Week 1 column a winner.

Five Games To Chew On

5-Texans @ Saints: The Monday Night Football Opener should be a fun track meet as Deshaun Watson and the new look Texans will air it out vs. a hungry Saints team who will play for the first time since the NFC Championship farce. The Saints have been notorious slow starters of late, remember Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs upending them in Week 1 last season. Expect a lot of points and gassed defenses before being put to sleep by the Broncos and Raiders in the final game of the weekend.

4-Giants @ Cowboys: A tradition renewed after one year away from this as the season opener. The theme of the Giants season will be if and when they turn the keys over to Daniel Jones, and don't think Eli Manning doesn't understand that. The excuse for those left in Eli's corner has been his lack of protection. Now, the Giants have rebuilt their offensive line to perhaps their best unit since 2008. Will Zeke play and if so how much? Amari Cooper remains banged up, perhaps the Giants, who are 1-6 in their last seven openers are just the right recipe for an upset here. 

3-Falcons @ Vikings: Kirk Cousins record vs. teams with a winning record remains dismal, lucky for him it is Week 1 so he is in good shape. Atlanta feels reloaded, refreshed and ready to contend. I may not be buying it long term, but a win in Week 1 vs. a good defense who is just as hungry to rebound from a disappointing 2019 would go a long way to changing the doubters mindsets. This should be a fun early window.

2-Chiefs @ Jaguars: Nick Foles and the Jaguars can be the third wheel in the AFC power structure, but an embarrassing home loss in which Patrick Mahomes treating them like a video game would be tough to wipe the stain from. Kansas City has retooled their defense, but in the heat of Jacksonville will Leonard Fournette be able to wear them down? I look for a tight game decided by a score late, in what should be the best game during the day.

1-Steelers @ Patriots:​ For the first time since 2002, the Super Bowl Champions will not be hosting the Thursday Night opener, instead we get this prime time duel on Sunday Night Football. Thankfully Carrie Underwood will be bringing back the classic "I've Been Waiting All Day" to get the party started. The distractions of Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell are gone, Ben Roethlisberger has a quiet confidence, but on the road in Foxboro is a task the Steelers have always had difficulty surviving.

My Picks

​A clean slate, after back to back seasons above .500, let's continue this season strong.

Titans +5.5 @ Browns: The Browns hype machine knows no bounds. They, however, were still just a seven-win team last season. The additions were big time, but how long will the gelling process take to fit this hype bus together? The Titans may have not been flashy, but they have been rock solid defensively and on the ground in each of the past three seasons. Cleveland may be more loaded, but they are not yet prepared to be anything more than a field goal favorite vs. a fellow AFC playoff contender that has proven way more than they have the last couple of years. Take the points and run with Tennessee in what should be a very tight game. 

Dolphins + 7 vs Ravens: The Dolphins are in tank mode, heck 2-14 is absolutely on the table. But as former Raven Bart Scott has said a ton, never sleep on a Miami team hosting a 1pm local start time. Visiting teams love the night life on South Beach and can often times lead to a rough start to these games for them. Ryan Fitzpatrick always starts off hot in his new locations, of which there have been plenty. Remember last season when he and the Bucs stunned the Saints in Week 1? Baltimore may win the North, but in Week 1 this game will be dicey late.

Patriots -5.5 vs Steelers: ​The Steelers can't beat the Patriots in Gillette with Le'veon Bell and Antonio Brown, I am supposed to think now without those two the time has come for Pittsburgh to have their day? I don't think so. The hype surrounding this game will be fun, Carrie Underwood bringing back "I've been waiting all day for Sunday Night" will be even more fun, but ultimately the Patriots win this game by a touchdown or more.

Football Food Of The Week

Sweet Chili Chicken Skewers. ​The beauty of Week 1, and frankly all of September is that in most of the country that eventually gets cold, summer is still actually here, which means plenty of time to grill outside pre-game. Marinate cubed chicken breast in some Kings Hawaiian BBQ sauce. Slice pineapple into cubes as well. Take four cubes of marinated chicken, four cubes of pineapple, and alternate each onto skewer sticks. The more chicken, the more pineapple, the more fun in your mouth. Grill these on low, constantly turning the sticks until done. Serve and enjoy.

Sweet, light, delicious food that can be eaten with your hands and not utensils. Does anything say welcome to football quite like that?

Thanks for reading enjoy the first of a flurry of 17 Sunday's that will go past us in the blink of an eye. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS