By: Shaun Morash
Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese are no more in New York in what was the most “Un-Giant” like move in firing their head coach and general manager during the season. While it was refreshing to hear Giants Co-Owner John Mara acknowledge this season had spiraled out of control, it still stings that this move could not have been done a week earlier when it was so evident to everyone, except for Peter King, that the Giants botched the way they handled the Eli Manning benching. Now Eli will return under center as it is evident Davis Webb simply isn’t ready, which is fine, but that streak was unnecessarily snapped to watch Geno Smith fumble twice?
The next few weeks will become the most important weeks for the Giants franchise in quite some time. If you whiff on another coaching hire, you now become the Browns, which is a place no franchise wants to be.
Forget the name Mike Smith. Forget Jon Gruden. Heck, we can forget Bill Cowher? The right man for the job is Josh McDaniels. His failure in Denver can be something to learn from, and eventually a Patriots assistant has to work out as a head coach. Don’t screw this up, Giants, the fans have shown you just how big the pitchforks they have can be.
Ten Yard Gain
1-JuJu Smith Schuster’s hit wasn’t dirty. In this day and age of NFL football, we have a hard time separating the words “illegal and “dirty.” Under the rules, JuJu’s hit was certainly illegal as Burfict was defenseless. However, Schuster is still going to make a play in the open field and actually leads with his shoulder, despite the outcry he led with his helmet. His helmet did make contact, but on that angle of a shoulder blow, it can happen. Football needs to get safer, but we also need to realize it is still football and these plays can be ok.
2-Rob Gronkowski’s hit, unlike Schuster’s, was dirty. Had Gronk pulled that WWE move on a more high-profile player, he likely would have been suspended multiple weeks. Heck, had someone done that to Tom Brady, they would have forever been labeled dirty for the rest of their career. Gronk’s constant public pass he receives because he is a lovable frat boy was never more evident than this week.
3-Russell Wilson is the MVP of the league, not Carson Wentz. Wilson has had his share of critics over his early and successful career, as many have pointed to his dominant defense, or the run game led by Marshawn Lynch, early in his career. Now with injuries mounting and Beast Mode in Oakland, this is truly Wilson’s team. Just when many expected the Seahawks to collapse and fold, they have rattled off back-to-back wins on Wilson’s back. He outplayed Carson Wentz and sent the message: he is the game’s best young quarterback.
4-The Chiefs really have hit rock bottom. Who has the nails ready to put in their coffin? Now losers of four in a row, they find themselves in a three-way tie for the AFC West lead – and one of those teams, the Chargers, started 0-4. Alex Smith awoke against the Jets and threw dimes like Opening Night, but now it is the defense that is wilting. Very few teams regress this much only to flip a switch and have a big January. I am sorry, Chiefs fans: even if you do escape with the division, you are one-and-done in January, at best.
5-I admit I was shocked at how good Josh Gordon looked in Los Angeles. After not playing a single game since 2014, he looked like his former dominant self. All this while playing in a below-average offense with a below-average quarterback. The thought this offseason will be to sell Josh Gordon high, but why do that? The Browns need players under their new regime. After putting up with so many headaches for Gordon, they should now hold on to him and help the offense build with him as a key piece in 2018.
6-Adam Gase had stones until he didn’t following that onsides kick on Sunday versus the Broncos. After being passed over for the Broncos head-coaching job, Gase, up huge in the fourth quarter, had the Dolphins kick an onsides kick. That was awesome and showed some stones to stick it to his former employer. Only he said that had nothing to do with why he onsides kicked following the game. Coach, nobody would think less of you for admitting you did it. In fact, you look worse for denying it.
7-The Vikings could become the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home building. Suddenly, they control their own destiny for the 1 seed in the NFC, and boy are they hard to beat in their thunderous new digs. Last season, we got a Super Bowl first with a game going to overtime. This year, we are realistically in line for another Super Bowl first, a team playing the game in their own building.
8-Marvin Lewis’ time has to finally be up in Cincinnati. The ultimate goal of any franchise is to win a Super Bowl, and after a while, coaches and messages can run stale with any franchise. For the Bengals, that Lombardi isn’t coming with Marvin Lewis leading the way. If it were, it would have happened by now. Monday Night’s loss all but finished the Bengals for this season. The franchise should start anew after back-to-back years without a trip to the postseason.
9-The Saints had the biggest gut-check win of the weekend in their demolishing of the Panthers. They lost back-to-back games in Weeks 1 and 2 and could have very easily fallen into another losing streak versus a good Panthers team. Instead, they answered the bell and got back to making plays with Alvin Kamara. Whether it is on the road or at home, the Saints remain one of the most dangerous playoff teams in 2017.
10-No playoff team impresses me less on a weekly basis more than the Titans. Tennessee slept-walked through an inferior Texans team and edged out a 24-13 win that was a lot closer than the score indicated. In a season with the Patriots and Steelers not having other contenders feel real, this should have been a big year for the Titans. Instead, they remain a bore fest destined for the first Saturday game on Wild Card Weekend.
Five Games To Chew On
5-Raiders @ Chiefs: Andy Reid took an unprecedented step by suspending star corner Marcus Peters for this game following his throwing a flag into the stands on Sunday. That should free up Michael Crabtree who is coming off a suspension. Amazingly, the loser of this game will fall to seven losses while the winner, along with possibly the Chargers, will control the AFC West heading into the final three weeks.
4-Vikings @ Panthers: The Vikings keep beating playoff contenders at every chance they get, so it would be no surprise for them to go on the road and knock off the Panthers, especially now that they hold the 1-seed by virtue of the fourth possible tie breaker over the Eagles. On the flip side, Carolina is the team that needs to prove they belong after the thumping they received from the Saints last week. A loss by the Panthers would also further tighten the NFC Wild Card picture.
3-Ravens @ Steelers: It is hard to imagine the Steelers emotionally will be able to rise to the occasion for this game on a short week following all that transpired versus the Bengals. However, how could they not possibly get up for an even bitterer rival in the Ravens. Baltimore is looking to distance itself from the other AFC Wild Card contenders and can put them suddenly within a win of virtually locking that spot up.
2-Seahawks @ Jaguars: “Sacksonville” is looking to seal the AFC South with a strong December starting with this game versus the NFL’s leading MVP candidate, Russell Wilson. There is no better quarterback this makeshift Seahawks secondary could want to play this week than Blake Bortles, who has struggled against good defenses. This game is one I would bet the under in total points on, but I expect some big hits and a lot of fun late on Sunday.
1-Eagles @ Rams: Just two years ago, these teams were at the center of the NFL universe for trading up to acquire the first and second overall picks. They each landed what they had hoped would be their franchise quarterbacks. Now those two quarterbacks, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, will square off with NFC playoff seeding and a potential bye week on the line. This game will have the rest of the leagues general managers salivating and second guessing why they didn’t move up in that draft instead of allowing the Rams and Eagles to.
How about my first 3-0 week last week? The turnaround has officially begun. I am 18-20-2. For this week:
Rams -2.5 vs Eagles: Look around the Eagles wins this year and you will find one win versus a playoff team, the Panthers. The Eagles lost to the Chiefs and the Seahawks, handily. The fact of the matter is the Eagles have been a fun story but have proven nothing, certainly not like the Rams proved in their win over the Saints. I expect a really fun game Sunday. In the end, the Rams win this game outright, and if you like them outright, it has to be by at least a field goal and a cover.
Giants +4.5 vs Cowboys: This has been one wild week for the Giants, but I’d expect the players that were “quitting” rising to the occasion and to play their rival the Cowboys like it is their Super Bowl. For once there will be positive vibes in MetLife stadium this season and Eli Manning has to have a chip on his shoulder. For one day in 2017, I think the Giants win one for their fans and bury the Cowboys’ playoff hopes.
Ravens +5.5 at Steelers: Five-and-a-half points is a big spread for any divisional game, let alone for a team to be laying on a short week after an emotional game in which they lost a heart and soul player for their defense in Ryan Shazier. The Ravens defense is rolling and should have no distractions. I think Baltimore pulls the upset and wins the game, but even if they lose, it won’t be by a wide margin as Vegas is suggesting.
Football Food of the Week
Perfect Potstickers: Dumplings or Potstickers have gone under the radar as perhaps the most under-appreciated appetizer since the turn of the century. With an outside that can be both crispy and moist depending on where you bite into, as well as an inside bursting with beef, a pot sticker is sure to tickle and touch your tongue for whatever texture you are looking for.
For this make-at-home snack I have found the perfect, pun intended, recipe that I have attached here.
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