Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein (4) kicks the game-winning field goal against the New Orleans Saints during overtime in the NFC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome

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Up The Gut: Week 2

Shaun Morash Shares His Thoughts, Makes His Picks For The Week's Biggest Games

The DA Show
September 13, 2019 - 9:38 am

By Shaun Morash

Cold Open

Antonio Brown is a Patriot.

If you are taking bows on Twitter that you predicted he would sign there following his release from the Raiders, stop taking bows; you are one of a million not one in a million. The reason we aren't surprised should also be the reason we are suspicious of collusion. Will we ever know the exact time Antonio Brown and the Patriots decided they wanted a marriage with each other? Likely not. But here is what we do know: Earlier this summer Tom Brady signed what amounted to be a fake contract extension, one in which next year isn't guarantees but his cap number for this year was significantly lowered, after free agency was over.

We also know that while the cryotherapy/foot mishap for Antonio Brown may have been an accident, his not wanting to play in a newer helmet always seemed strange. That led to the Raiders getting frustrated then continuing to miss practice after thinking this problem was solved, once again continues to aggravate the Patriots. Then there was punting a football and reportedly calling your general manager a "cracker," even that did not warrant a release from Oakland. The recording of a Jon Gruden phone call, illegal, yet not something that would get Brown released. Only when he finally demanded his release was he granted it.

Brown exhibited a pattern of behavior that was so bizarre, and dare I say calculated, with the end game being his getting a release, ultimately leading to just hours later getting a deal with the same team nobody was surprised he'd end up with. This isn't spygate or deflategate, but this may be worse and we will never know. Jon Gruden was used like a whiffle ball on the 4th of July and the NFL will seemingly do nothing about it.

Ten-Yard Gain

1-If there was any doubt about paying Dak, Mr.Prescott should have ended those doubts Sunday. Sure the Giants defense is made up of many young names and seven draft picks from April getting time, but Dak carved them up like a roast at a family dinner. Zeke was pedestrian on Sunday, and that was to be expected, but a true test of an elite quarterback is their ability to spread the ball to all the weapons at their hands. Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Randall Cobb were 3 of those weapons. The Cowboys may be the most dangerous they have been on the offensive side of the ball since the mid-90's.

2-The least surprising outcome of Week 1 was the Browns losing to the Titans. The Browns will have a target on their back each and every week as if they are the Super Bowl champions. They do not have the offensive line, or kicker to survive that kind of pressure or close games. If they lose in prime time on the road this week, the heat will pick up for Freddy Kitchens in that locker room.

3-The most surprising outcome of Week 1 was the Bengals losing to the Seahawks. The Bengals should be one of the worst five teams in football, while the Seahawks should feature an MVP candidate in Russell Wilson and be very much a playoff contender. Yet on the road, the Bengals fell just 21-10. Perhaps we underestimated just how bad a coach Marvin Lewis was?

4-Bill O'Brien is what will separate Deshaun Watson from being a great player on a great team, from a great player on a very average team. O'Brien allowing his defense to be in the “prevent” after his star quarterback gave them a lead in just two plays is disheartening. Trading away essentially your next 3 drafts while the offensive line remains in shambles is even more disheartening. Watson may be too good to let Bill O'Brien totally ruin him, but Bill will unintentionally try his best.

5-Why do we assume the Steelers will be great again? They survived Le'Veon Bell off their offense, sort of, as James Connor eventually wore down. Their offense sputtered in Week 17 last year and again on Sunday Night with Antonio Brown gone. Ben Roethlisberger is continuing to look older and older in front of us, with less of the fanfare Eli Manning has received. Sunday Night could have had just as much to do with what the Steelers may be this year as it has to do with what the Patriots are this year.

6-Why don't the Lions trust Matt Stafford? Stafford was asking this question very loudly on the sidelines late in the 4th quarter after Matt Patricia and Darrelle Bevil used a timeout just prior to a pass Stafford would have completed to ice the game. The result was a failed 1st down conversion, a Cardinals game tying drive, and a tie in the record books after overtime. Stafford has been in the league long enough that in Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals - of all teams - he should be given all the leash he needs to put a game away late.

7-The Jets entered Week 1 with enormous internal expectations in Year 2 of Sam Darnold. They enter Week 2 feeling like they may be on the cusp of disaster. After blowing a 16-0 lead they now have lost Quincy Enunwa for the year, they have Bill Belichick thinking so little of them that he is willing to trade a former star receiver their way, Sam Darnold has Mono of all things and Adam Gase is already sniping with the media.

8-Why did Jay Gruden not just cut Adrian Peterson at the end of training camp if he was going to deactivate him in Week 1? Morgan Moses was one of apparently many veterans in Washington to take this as a sign of disrespect. In theory, Peterson at this stage of his career is probably the 3rd most talented running back on the roster, and those 3rd running backs need to contribute on special teams to play. If Gruden had any sense of this locker room backlash, and he should have, Peterson should have never made the team is he wasn’t valued ahead of Guice or Smallwood.

9-Dan Quinn hot seat watch is here to stay. The Falcons 12-point output vs the Vikings was unacceptable. Matt Ryan’s offensive line is bad, and the Falcons defense could not stop me if I got 30 carries. Their fall from that Super Bowl collapse continues steeper and steeper.

10-There is no fixing Jameis Winston. This is being written prior to Thursday Night Football vs. the Panthers, but I remain confident it will hold. Three interceptions, 2 of which were returned for touchdowns in the opener, is everything we know about Jameis Winston to this point. Bruce Arians had an entire offseason to fix his problems and yet they still exist. The Bucs will be drafting one of the big name quarterbacks in the 2020 Draft.

Five Games To Chew On

5-Browns @ Jets: A Monday Night “Must-Win” at MetLife Stadium for both of these AFC pretenders. The Jets need to rally quickly after some bad injury news and now mono for Sam Darnold. To start 0-2, both losses at home, would feel like season over already. For the Browns, and 0-2 start off of these big expectations would be catastrophic. The game may simply come down to the Browns actually being able to protect Baker Mayfield long enough to have Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry expose a bad Jets secondary.

4-Eagles @ Falcons: Will the Falcons floundering attempt at masquerading to still be an elite team continue as an Eagles pass rush licks its chops at the idea of rushing Matt Ryan? I’d sure expect so. That being said, while Philadelphia rallied to beat Washington in the 2nd half, their slow start vs Case Keenum was puzzling. The Falcons have more weapons than the Redskins, and another slow start may be Atlanta’s hope at righting the ship.

3-Vikings @ Packers: The Packers already have a winning record, which may be a bad thing for Kirk Cousins who tends not to win games when facing teams of such caliber. Minnesota’s offense, particularly on the ground was something to see in Week 1. The Packers defense had bouquets thrown at their feet after holding Mitchell Trubisky and company to 3 points. Are they for real? Perhaps, or maybe the Bears offense is that bad.

2-Seahawks @ Steelers: This may be the most intriguing game of the weekend as both teams gave suspicious performances based on expectations. Are the Seahawks taking a step back this year? Their clinging for dear life against the Bengals at the very least raised an eyebrow. For the Steelers though, this game is far more important. They are at home with a west coast team traveling to them, and are looking to avoid a 0-2 start, which could ultimately have them two games back of the Ravens already in the North. The Bengals mustered 20 points vs. this Seattle defense, the Steelers, if they want to calm the critics, need to do more than that with Roethlisberger.

1-Saints @ Rams: The NFC Championship Game rematch is here, with all eyes on the officials. I can’t help but think in the back of referees in this game’s minds that any close call could go the Saints way on Sunday, which also would not be right to the Rams. This should be the most intense, playoff-type, feel of a game this weekend and it is shocking it is not in primetime. The use of Todd Gurley will be where my eyes go when watching the Rams offense in this one.

My Picks

A 2-1 Week to start things off, If only I wasn't a sucker by taking the Dolphins and the points. For this week:

Lions +2.5 vs. Chargers: Dating back to 2015 in Weeks 2 and 3 home underdogs are 18-6 ATS after losing the previous week. My money is backing that trend in all 3 plays this week, starting in Detroit. The Nick Foles injury in Jacksonville has me more confident the most likely worst to first division winner will be the Lions. They choked in Arizona but still didn’t lose. The Chargers are reeling with injuries and have to travel East for an early start time. I expect the Lions front to get after Phillip Rivers with Okung out, and the Lions to make enough plays offensively to win outright.

Giants + 2 vs. Bills: The Giants defense looked as bad as anyone could imagine vs Dak and the Cowboys. The Bills offense does not possess that same talent. Offensively, the Giants are getting crushed for only having Saquon touch the ball 15 times, that number should sky rocket vs the Bills. The Giants offensive line is better than the Jets offensive line, and that is where the Bills got their money’s worth smothering Sam Darnold. Once again I expect a win out right for the home dog here.

Broncos +2.5 vs. Bears: John Elway deserves all the criticism he can handle for the way he has refused to rebuild the Broncos following Peyton Manning’s departure. However, historically even when being mediocre the Broncos are always a tough beat at home. Von Miller should get after Mitchell Trubisky, and the Bears offense making enough plays in the environment is certainly up for debate. I am grabbing the Points here in what should be a low scoring, ugly affair, one I expect Joe Flacco to actually out play Trubisky in.

Football Food of The Week

Buffalo Chicken Stromboli. If you have read Up the Gut and thought I would go two weeks without mentioning Buffalo Chicken you do not know me at all. For this, the recipe is simple, pizza dough, olive oil, chicken breast, Franks Red Hot sauce, and butter.

Take chicken breast and cut them into strips, cooking them on a frying pan until they are clearly cooked. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and poor a bottle of franks red sauce into the melted butter and mix it. Take that mixture and toss the cooked chicken in it.

For the pizza dough, kneed it on a counter into a rectangular shape. Take the now sauced chicken and line it right down the middle. Fold the pizza dough, and/or wrap the dough around the chicken until it is covered, pinching the ends. Lightly glaze the top of the dough in some olive oil, bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Let it stand for 5 minutes before slicing it up into finger food pieces, serve with blue cheese.

Thanks for reading everyone. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @MrazCBS