The Tragic Tale of Tua

Alabama was losing a football game.

That sentence hadn’t been said often in recent history and certainly not during Nick Saban’s dominant tenure in Tuscaloosa: 12 straight 10-win seasons, eight SEC Championships, five National Championships and a record of 126-20. He had overseen the college careers of 54 NFL draft picks, including 17 first-rounders and accomplished all of this in ten years with the program. It was one of if not the premier example of excellence in college football.

But Alabama was losing.

Alabama didn’t lose. They weren’t supposed to lose but, on the game’s biggest stage, the National Championship game against Georgia, Alabama was losing and doing so decisively. Quarterback Jalen Hurts was caged like a lion at the zoo for the entirety of the first half. What could go wrong went wrong and like when the Patriots struggle, the internet and seemingly world at large was thrilled. It’s yet another reason why excellence is so hard to achieve. Few root for Zeus.

Coming out of the tunnel for the second half, Saban made one of the biggest decisions of his career: he benched his starting quarterback.

It was an unprecedented decision. This was a championship game. Teams don’t recycle signal callers often and never with trophies on the line. Hurts had been flawless until this game and yet, when the clock began to tick, it was Tua Tagovailoa, not Hurts, who entered the huddle.

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Tua was king of the world. Now, his future is in doubt.

Tagovailoa was a freshman, adding insult to injured pride. Prior to January 8, 2018, Tagovailoa was an unpronounceable unknown but from the first snap, it seemed destiny itself coursed through his arm. Georgia had a lead, they had time, they had the crowd on their side but the coliseum of sport is fickle. It knows a great story when it sees one.

Two hours later, everyone knew who Tua was. Alabama rallied from 13 down, forcing the game into overtime, where Tua punctuated the night thousands of kids across the country dream of.

His postgame interview, a creature salivating at the thought of a misstep, was flawless. A truth became evident: Tua was not a one-night show. Tua was going to be somebody.

Hurts would later transfer to Oklahoma while Tua climbed Heisman boards. #TankForTua became an acceptable approach. No one likes to see a tank but Tua was worth all the marbles. The public was all-in. Week after week, Tua was untouchable.

He was all but a certainty for the first overall pick, a selection that last year would have garnered him a $30 million contract, with tens of millions guaranteed at signing. Given the skillset, Tua was all but gifted the titles of franchise savior and contract extension.

And then, as has been the case in college sports many a time, it was taken away.

With two minutes to go in the first half of what was becoming a blowout against Mississippi State, Tagovailoa came onto the field for a final drive, two-minute drill prep for their next victim. Rolling left, Tagovailoa was crunched and did not get up. Medical scans would later confirm a posterior wall fracture and hip dislocation, not only ending his season but potentially his career. This was the same injury that tore down the immortal Bo Jackson.

The minute Tua went down, he lost millions of dollars, compensation Alabama nor the NCAA will ever repay him. There is a possibility his career is never the same and a strong chance his career ends prematurely.

It was another example of why college athletes need paid for their efforts. The NCAA is a billion-dollar industry but maintains its tax-exempt status by spending money fruitlessly, upgrading renovations just installed the previous year, implementing locker room makeovers and jersey alterations. This is all money the NCAA could not make without stars like Tua. No one watches college football because they want to see the NCAA. They watch it for the players. Those responsible for making the funds are not receiving their proper share of the pie.

The guise of an education is thinly-veiled fraud (Richard Sherman’s time at Stanford and his testimonials after say as much) and the NCAA often recovers parts of those funds back by imposing fines on those who already don’t have the funds to pay for admission.

Take the story of Chase Young, a defensive end prospect from Ohio State who is jockeying for the top spot Tua has left open for bidding.

While progressive states like California pass legislation governing collegiate athletics, states in the South resist. They’ve been a fan of free labor for a long time: maximize profits, marginalize the guy responsible for them. It’s not an approach created overnight and it’s therefore unlikely a solution appears tomorrow but as with most things, acknowledging there’s a problem is the first step. Athletes like Tua are not an anomaly. They’re a regularity.

It would be one thing if football was the only thing these athletes were providing but they’re sustaining a billion-dollar industry, creating thousands of jobs in media, sports medicine, concessions, travel, hospitality, sports management, coaching and analytics. Take the NCAA out of college football and college football lives on. Take the athlete out of college football and there’s no football. It’s very clear who needs who more.

While slavery metaphors have no place in this discussion (repeat: none), players like Tua are rewarded with so little that a prison labor analogy is wholly appropriate. As host John Oliver discussed on Last Week Tonight on HBO, prison labor often goes for pennies on the dollar, at 63 cents an hour on average, or 8.7 % of minimum wage. In this monopoly, a free ride to Alabama, a $60,000-a-year institution, is literal pennies on the dollar in actual worth and Tua has earned the NCAA more in the last year than potentially any other athlete or employee. Since Tua declared for the draft after this season, that would mean he was compensated $60,000 on a total profit share of $867,530,000 this past year. That’s .0069%.

That number is just from network and marketing profits. It’s also worth noting that March Madness historically makes a larger piece of the pie than college football but the fact remains: college football’s face was not properly compensated. Not even close.

As if to add insult to injury, less than a week after Tua’s injury, Alabama poured $92.5 million into stadium renovations, including new founders suites that sold for $5 million each. “This money could be yours and probably should be but you’re an amateur. *shrug emoji”

If the NCAA wants to continue to pander like a child, they have a right to do so. The world has the right to drag the screaming delinquent to the real world.

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Luck of the Draw: What’s in the Water in Pittsburgh?

Sunday, the 19th of January, brought a wide array of exciting moments in sports. Among them? American Patrick Kane became the 90th player to record 1,000 regular-season points, the San Francisco 49ers set franchise rushing records in a disembowelment of the Green Bay Packers and a man by the name of Mahomes brought Arrowhead to the sky. Those theatrics notwithstanding, the day’s biggest impression on me came from none of these teams and players but from a game earlier in the day: the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins.

For context, let’s go back a couple of scenes.

With the team locker room resembling a hospital at points this season, the Penguins came into the week prior leading the league in man games lost with 188 and as of Sunday’s match, had breached the 200 wall. Many notable names have spent time on Pittsburgh’s injury list this season, names including Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Patric Hornqvist, Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz, Bryan Rust, Jake Guentzel and Nick Bjugstad.

So, a lot.

Despite a constantly evolving list of characters, the team hasn’t stagnated. In fact, it’s surged forward. During Crosby’s absence, the unit went 18-6-4. They had one of the more impressive records of December, going 9-2-1.

While a lesser talking point, the goaltending on the back end has been exceptional. With franchise goalie Matt Murray struggling after an initial strong start, coach Mike Sullivan turned to backup Tristan Jarry in mid-November. Jarry has been Vezina-worthy since in 20 games, recording a 2.10 goals-against-average and .929 save percentage. During that hot December, Jarry produced a 1.56 goals against average, .947 save percentage and three shutouts.

While Crosby has returned to doing what Crosby is known to do (he’s produced quite the highlight reel over the last few days), a notable misstep occurred in Boston the prior Thursday in which the Penguins were dispatched 4-1 (3-1 and an empty netter).

After the contest, coach Sullivan commented his team looked tired and lacked the jump in their game they usually have.

A rematch in Pittsburgh awaited them on Sunday and Matt Murray, who has heated up over his last few starts, was given the nod.

It did not start well.

Bruins center Patrice Bergeron would net the game’s first in 11 seconds.

Winger Anders Bjork would make it 2-0 less than two minutes later and star winger David Pastrnak, the league’s leader in goals, made it 3-0 with an assist from Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson, who shuffled the rubber into his own net.

Down 3-0, the game was all but over. No team in the NHL was more consistent with a three-goal lead than the Boston Bruins. Since the 2010-2011 season, the Bruins boasted a 200-1-6 record when leading by as much. Time for the next contest. Pittsburgh was and has always been capable of heroics, especially during Mike Sullivan’s tenure but 200-1-6 and a three-goal deficit? Unlikely seemed a kind term for the situation.

A little over a minute later, Sidney Crosby made a pass from behind the net to an open Dominik Simon, who netted one from along the goal line to cut the deficit to two.

As the period ended, the entire world seemed to have come to the same conclusion: pull Matt Murray. The analysts on NBCSN, most of if not all my media colleagues were calling for it and even I couldn’t come up with a good counterargument. The one man who wasn’t swayed? Mike Sullivan and, as per usual this season, Mike Sullivan was right again. Murray would pitch a shutout the rest of the contest.

Crosby would do Crosby things again in the second, tapping a no-look, behind-the-back pass to an open Teddy Blueger for the Penguins’ second goal horn. Pittsburgh carried play for most of the middle frame.

In the third, the Penguins would find themselves down two forwards. Wingers Dominik Kahun and Dominik Simon (bad time to be named Dominik) both went down with injury. Down a goal to one of the most complete teams in hockey and without their leading scorer (winger Jake Guentzel will likely miss the remainder of the season after shoulder surgery), Pittsburgh would have the added bonus of playing two men short on their bench.

Then the lethal Boston Bruins powerplay (third in the NHL at 26.6%) got an invitation to the ice after a Kris Letang elbow on Bruins winger Brad Marchand.

The Penguins’ luck was simply not good today.

Then the Penguins got a rush shorthanded and Jack Johnson (yes, that Jack Johnson) lumbered his way down the ice to gift the Penguins an odd-man opportunity, drilling a shot under the blocker of Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Now tied at three, Pittsburgh had a chance to do something quite historic here and if you’re wondering who was responsible for such a moment, well, I think you know.

He’s developed quite the reputation for making big plays in big moments, to the point I’ve started calling him “Mr. Clutch”.

He’s tied for 16th in the league for third-period goals and boasts an 18.7 shooting percentage this season, good for 12th in the NHL.

His name is Bryan Rust and Bryan Rust is a Pittsburgh Penguin.

In a goal eerily similar to the Crosby helper that started it all, Malkin won a puck from behind the net and threw it to a wide-open Rust near the bottom of the left circle for the lead-taking tally.

Boston attempted a rally of their own but were stonewalled by a Murray who has apparently recovered his form. In four games to start the new decade, including that Sunday’s, Murray has produced a 4-0 record with a 2.25 goals against average and .928 save percentage.

Pittsburgh continued its heroics after the All-Star break, displaying exquisite passing in an overtime win against rival Philly last night.

The Penguins have been given poor hand after porous hand all season at the table but keep putting together wins despite the odds. I don’t know what’s in the water in Pittsburgh but the Penguins should keep drinking. It’s working wonders for them.

Tim’s 2019 NFL Awards: Offensive Rookie of the Year

Welcome to the second annual NFL awards on this blog. Here’s to many more. We have a strong list of candidates for this year’s prizes after what has been a contentious, drama-filled and, at times, quizzical regular season. These nominees demonstrated the best their sport had to offer. We begin this year’s ceremony with the newcomers, the members who have burst onto the season as innovators and prodigies of the sport.

And the nominees are…

Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Redskins

58 receptions for 919 yards, 15.8 ypr, 7 TDs

The Ohio State product was one of the year’s first breakout candidates. In his first five career games, McLaurin registered 23 receptions for 408 yards and 5 TDs. His numbers began to regress once quarterbacks started going in and out of the starting rotation in Washington but we’d seen a glimpse of what McLaurin was capable of in a rebuilding scenario. Imagine what he can do when the Redskins build a team around him.

Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders

242 carries for 1,150 yards, 4.8 ypc, 7 TDs, 20 receptions for 166, 8.3 ypr, 1,316 yards from scrimmage

I always come clean when I’m wrong.

I did not like Jacobs’ tape out of Alabama. He didn’t have elite burst or eye-raising quickness nor did he possess overbearing strength. Jacobs was good at a lot of things but he didn’t seem particularly great at any one thing. I also found his limited reps in Tuscaloosa concerning.

This was one of the worst misses of my life. Jacobs started off with a bang, amassing 100 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns in the opener, the first player to do so since the great LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001. All Jacobs did through 2019 was force 69 missed tackles, the most by a rookie according to Pro Football Focus and become the focal point of a bruising Raiders rushing attack, amassing over 1,100 yards in 13 games. Had it not been for injuries, Jacobs might have battled for the rushing title. For the first time since Carr’s career year (earned my MVP vote that campaign), the Raiders looked like a legitimate football team and the drafting of a running back few had a strong first-round grade on made all the difference.

Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

349/542 for 3,722 yards, 64.4%, 6.9 ypa, 20 TDs, 12 INTs, 55.8 QBR, 93 carries for 544 yards, 5.8 ypc, 4 TDs

Kyler Murray came into a firesale situation. No one expected the Cardinals to be good this year and they weren’t but Kyler was. He had growing pains but a few times each Sunday, you’d see a play that demonstrated the talent valuation of a first-round pick.

Murray was a versatile athlete throughout the season, doing a young Russell Wilson impression much of the year as he did his best to squeak away from a constantly crumbling backfield. Kliff Kingsbury’s first year in Arizona was raw and certainly had some questionable decisions, including one of the league’s worst red-zone offenses and a ppg average of 22.6 (16th) but the Air Raid scheme itself has a storied track record of success. Even if Kliff turns out not to be the guy, Kyler certainly is.

A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

52 receptions for 1,051 yards, 20.2 ypr, 8 TDs

Half of the gym rat duo from Ole Miss was one of 26 receivers to cap 1,000 yards this season. Brown also tied for eighth in 20+ yard receptions with 15 and finished sixth among receivers in yards after the catch (463).

It’s been quite a while since there was a dominant receiver in Nashville. The Titans have had one of the worst receiving corps in football over the last two decades. There are multiple years during this span none of their WRs finished top-50 (4!) The last WR to net 1000 for TEN was Kendall Wright in 2013 (also Nate Washington in 2011) but to find a Titans receiver who finished top-ten in yardage, you have to turn the clocks all the way back to 2004. Derrick Mason finished 15th with 1,168 yards that season but it was Drew Bennett (there’s a forgotten name) who finished in the top-ten, totaling 1,247. The quarterback that year? A duo of Steve McNair and Billy Volek.)

The Titans, finally, might have found their guy. Now, about that quarterback…

Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

285/470 for 3,271 yards, 60.6%, 7.0 ypa, 21 TDs, 6 INTs, 42.6 QBR, 67 carries for 344, 5.1 ypc, 12 fumbles

Speaking of the Air Raid, Gardner Minshew played quarterback at Washington State where Air Raid figurehead Mike Leach called home. Minshew, under Leach’s guidance, took the program to a 10-2 regular season mark, tying a school record.

At the beginning of the season, QB Nick Foles goes down with a broken collarbone in his first start after signing a contract to be the franchise quarterback and sixth-round selection Minshew is thrust into the spotlight.

To say Minshew handled the pressure well would be an understatement.

Minshew would start with a 9/1 TD/INT split and end the year with a 21/6 ratio. The Jaguars developed an air attack for the first time since I don’t even know.

(Blake Bortles actually threw for over 4400 yards and 35 TDs in 2015, albeit 18 INTs. Before that? It’s been a while. You have to wade through the Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert years to 2008 when David Garrard threw for 3,620 yards but he also only threw 15 TDs to 13 INTs. The year before that though, in 2007? 18/3.)

Minshew Mania took over the sports world for a few weeks. Minshew’s play did take a noticeable dip in the second half of the season (He lost 12 (!) fumbles) but between Minshew and receivers D.J. Chark, Chris Conley and Dede Westbrook, the Jaguars looked like an offense no longer playing with a handicap.

And the Oscar goes to…

Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders

A few years ago, Josh Jacobs, his siblings and father were homeless. Now look where is he. In addition to a year that deserves recognition, Jacobs’ journey deserves applause as well.

I still have questions regarding his long speed and ability to accelerate but Jacobs displayed deceptive quickness and rock-like strength this year. He is by far the team’s most valuable player going forward. Where the Jacobs’ train goes, the now Las Vegas Raiders go.

Previous winners:

2018: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

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Movie Review: Cats

“A cat is not a dog.”


I hate musicals, just to be clear.

My biggest qualm with the medium is the execution of many of the products. While I by no means consider myself even an amateur explorer in the factory of musical escapades (far from it), the few I’ve subjected myself to have generally been taxing experiences. Even Les Miserables, my personal favorite, has subsections which rattle the frontal lobe. Grease is still mostly watchable but my list of positive things to say regarding the niche of theater ends there.

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Musicals often mistake their purpose. Theater’s purpose, as is all art’s, is to emote, often through story-telling and character expression. Let me be clear: art can express itself in any way it wishes. I’m not here to attack the virtues of creative expression. I applaud all sincere and genuine efforts by artists and how someone decides to tell a story is not what should be criticized, only the level of proficiency in which they use such an avenue.

I honestly find musicals lacking because they often fail to do this. Many run absent a true star character and a multitude seem to bypass the concept of a plot altogether.

Or maybe I’m just not jellicle enough.

Cats, you see, considers itself quite jellicle and if you don’t like it, well, maybe you’re just not embracing the jellicle nature of a jellicle film featuring jellicle cats of all jellicle shapes and jellicle sizes.

Hope you like the word “jellicle” because Cats is going to be saying it a lot and if you expect Cats to define the word then you clearly aren’t in the jellicle club.

After a box office bomb of an opening weekend, reeling in a paltry $6.5 million, Universal had to re-release the jellicle gem, sending out a further edited copy after being unanimously bashed for poor visual effects. Tom Hooper was certainly a capable director, furnishing films such as Academy Award winners The King’s Speech, the previously mentioned Les Miserables and The Danish Girl. Unsure where his attention to detail disappeared to because Cats is rife with jellicle discord and a lack of focus.

Also want to give Universal some serious jellicle kudos for releasing Cats during the same week as Rise of Skywalker. Bold strategy, Cotton.

So after the film was nuked by virtually every critic in the jellicle kingdom, I traversed to a local jellicle theater to see this jellicle jewel.

It is, as advertised, painful. As I bemoaned and groaned through the jellicle picture, a loyal defender of the jellicle production who had the fortune of joining me and my compatriots to that particular showing stood up and declared, “If we were going to be a bunch of assholes, why don’t we just leave?” to which I responded, “Wow, man, that’s not very jellicle of you.” and he proceeded to shut the hell up the rest of the way through a jellicle journey.

Jellicle from beginning to end, Cats displays true wizardries of incompetence early on, with computer graphic imaging that’s, well, let’s say jellicle. I don’t know what it means either, man. Just seems to be the thing to say here.

Hideous from head to toe, we must listen to these herds sing about being a cat and how lovely it is while at the same time looking forward to showcasing their talents in a competition to see who gets to die. Yes, really.

Rather than commit suicide, these jellicle cats must go to a jellicle ball and demonstrate jellicle skills before being chosen as the jellicle cat and flying into the jellicle sky in a jellicle balloon until it inevitably breaks and they fall to their jellicle deaths to begin a jellicle new life.

While Andrew Lloyd Webber is a well-respected individual and has penned many masterful manuscripts, Cats is effortlessly awful. The original musical made nearly $4 billion worldwide and it’s quite a jellicle mystery how something this terrible made that jellicle a sum. Few jellicle songs hit, with lyrics approaching insanity with the amount of repetition they’re utilizing. Let’s take a look at the opener, shall we?

“Because Jellicles are/And Jellicles do/Jellicles do and Jellicles would/Jellicles would and Jellicles can/Jellicles can and Jellicles do.”

If you need an explanation for the verse, it’s likely you aren’t in the jellicle mood or maybe you’re simply not jellicle enough to understand because jellicle.


That phrase will be rammed down your throat a thousand times over this quagmire’s quicksand running time of 110 minutes and if you’re hard of hearing, fear not, for the jellicle verse you might have just missed will likely be repeated in the very next jellicle line because that is what jellicles do and what jellicles do jellicles would and what jellicles would jellicles should and what jellicles should jellicles can and what jellicles can jellicles do.

If you think I’m being a patronizing prick, feel free to believe so but know this jellicle journal is but only as jellicle as the jellicle piece we’re discussing here on this jellicle day.

As audiences weave their way through emotions ranging from apoplectic to lifeless, Cats spends song after song discussing its jellicle contestants for the jellicle ball, including one tremendously poor effort surrounding James Corden’s character, in which this stupendously fat lard of a cat pronounces how much he loves being fat and how excited he is to be reborn so he can become fat all over again.

Yup, really want that guy to win. Seems like a real champion of jellicle cats.

Idris Elba’s Macavity is a magical cat who can teleport (!) for Christ’s sake and he has decided, for whatever reason (if you haven’t noticed already, Cats isn’t very caught up on the whole explaining things aspect of storytelling) that he is going to use this power to transport all of his fellow jellicle competitors onto a barge so he is the only remaining candidate for the one-way ticket to death, a ticket Judi Dench’s Old Deuteronomy (a totally normal and acceptable name for a cat) refuses to give Macavity because he isn’t jellicle enough; he doesn’t know the jellicle way.

With a plot dumb as nails, characters almost universally unlikable (one cat in particular, played by Jennifer Hudson, is ostracized and hated amongst the jellicle cats for some reason, a not-so-subtle nod to racism) and music, the meat and potatoes of a musical, directly and completely responsible for all ear cancer, there simply isn’t anything of substance to find in Cats.

But again, maybe I’m just not jellicle enough.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Batman BeginsThe MatrixL.A. ConfidentialHerTaken)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Spider-Man: Far From HomeDumb and DumberPokemon Detective PikachuThe Matrix Reloaded,Wanted)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Solo: A Star Wars Story, The Matrix RevolutionsTriple FrontierI am LegendIp Man 2)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide Squad)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (XXXThe SilenceThe Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath Race)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (DoomThe Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: Evolution)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (XXX: State of the UnionThe SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe Gunman)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The ExtendablesThe Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcast)

My score for Cats: 12.

This was the first film I decided to watch of the decade, pressured and punched by a dear friend and loving brother before I gave in due to a lack of additional shoulder muscle. I can say, with nearly complete confidence (George Clooney’s The American is awfully close) that Cats is the worst piece I’ve ever laid eyes on in a theater. Truly abhorrent, degrading and insulting material. I hope it wins all the Razzies.

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Movie Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

This is…*sigh*…not bad but also not what anyone was hoping for.

Solo will likely always be overshadowed for its price tag/wallet and was predetermined to suffer such a fate no matter how good this was. It’s unfortunate and a disservice to those who helped construct this artwork but where there are stalls in production and the termination of directors, there’s generally fire.

Ron Howard, under the tight reins of executive producers, ended up reworking nearly three quarters of the film.

The entire tonality of the film was flipped on its axle, leading stars actively questioning their roles, a major red flag for any production. Disney had botched this.Image result for solo star wars movie poster free use

But Disney, or any large megacorp, for that matter, would rather surge through the hurricane than wave the white flag and that they did. I discussed Disney’s reluctance to see straight on John Carter this summer (Was actually one of my better works this year. Worth a click).

Solo runs much smoother than broadcast but I use smooth as a detriment here. While Solo doesn’t scream panic on the screen, the story lacks narrative depth, no doubt a byproduct of a mosh pit of tonalities. The film was originally directed as a comedy since directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were expressly told to distance itself from a Star Wars taste and to instead look toward a character novella surrounding the famed smuggler.

And while I’d have no issue with a Star Wars comedy, producers were thoroughly against it. Some reports said Lord and Miller of Lego Movie fame were targeting a western more than anything. Whether space cowboy or straight comedy, all involved could agree that Han Solo deserved his own enterprise but there was enough vitriol in the disagreement to take an ax to the directing duo altogether, leaving all agreed to the “we need something different” statement but undecided on what qualified as different and what served as walking the plank.

In news that may shock some, the question of ambiguous texture arises on more than one occasion, making even “the dumb friend” in the group question what kind of park ride he got on. While Rogue One carries the Star Wars title, it also proudly states its individuality many a time across filming, a boastful demeanor which continues to magnetize audiences to this story in a familiar universe. Removed from that nostalgic environment, Rogue One still works on a narrative and character level. Being included in the Star Wars pages is simply a bonus.

Rogue One also didn’t reject the label like inheriting such a surname carrying tragic history.

Solo can’t decide if it wants to embrace the label with pride or trash it like a hand-me-down. If those are the only two options, given the Solo character is already part of the cannon, the former seems the right course of action but for whatever reason, the studios were deadset on something they deemed organic when the fragrance they’ve been churning out for forty years is still fresh.

And if western comedy is what you’re going with, that’s totally fine! Hell, might even be something *gasp* innovative.

Innovation scares people just like things and creatures people can’t understand. The unknown is unpredictable, not part of the plan and that upsets the schemers. (Sidenote: I’m in love with The Dark Knight. Truly a masterwork.) Films like Solo aren’t complicated or at least shouldn’t be. Complications arrive because of the parties involved.

And that truthfully sums it up, folks. Disney got too cute with this one and a bout of indecision during a dinner date with one of its finest suitors ended with some thrown handkerchiefs and dramatic exits.

Despite a clear miss at the shooting range, Solo, unlike John Carter, survives as an average endeavor. I give credit to Ron Howard, a man who’s been in the business a long time, and a crew who did what they could to make it all work. Star Wars has a family of its own and I believe those in Hollywood given the opportunity to add to the legacy do so with the utmost respect and reverence for the material.

Woody Harrelson’s bounty hero, along with most of the cast, can’t escape generalities, however, a pit Disney essentially pushed them into. I can almost visualize producers taking a far too active role in directing, correcting the cast’s portrayal of their vehicles at every turn, relaunching them onto a different set of tracks. If producers knew what was best for them, they’d put forward the funds and let the artists focus on the art.

Alden Ehrenreich is the picture’s best figure, an earnest and honest effort. There’s wit, showmanship and charisma here. Shame the script couldn’t have given the guy more to work with. Han Solo is begging for a comedy, howling for more one-liners. The producers stubborn resilience to frame this as a serious smuggler score rattles the mind.

Emilia Clarke, Paul Bettany, Harrelson and company don’t execute anything poorly and I can’t emphasize enough that I hold no resentment toward the cast for this one. It’s hard to win five-card poker with a pair of sevens.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Batman BeginsThe MatrixL.A. ConfidentialHerTaken)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Spider-Man: Far From Home, Dumb and DumberPokemon Detective PikachuThe Matrix Reloaded,Wanted)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (The Matrix RevolutionsTriple FrontierI am LegendIp Man 2Ip Man)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide Squad)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (XXXThe SilenceThe Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath Race)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (DoomThe Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: Evolution)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (XXX: State of the UnionThe SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe Gunman)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The ExtendablesThe Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcast)

My score for Solo: A Star Wars Story: 77. 

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a broken thoroughbred rounding the final bend of what was a promising start to the franchise. The original trilogy has aged tremendously and the prequels, while displaying poor acting and writing far more often than fans would like, are still watchable. The Force Awakens is arguably great despite being a near carbon copy of A New HopeRogue One may be better than any of the new trilogy installments.

Solo is the adopted stepchild who never finds a role to play in the family and despite promise, its parenting and circumstance prevent it from ever reaching its full potential.

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Movie Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home

“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.”

It’s been far too long. I’d rather not blather on about my absence or make any promises regarding my publishing schedule. What gets done get done and I’d rather not chain myself to a planner. Just know I’ve missed this space and while I may disappear at times, I’ll always come back. Now, to our feature presentation.

The Marvel cinematic universe is quite an achievement. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy started it all, although Downey Jr.’s Iron Man gets most of the recognition (Iron Man has aged far better than when I wrote that review, by the way). Regardless, there have been a lot of achievements set by the comic superpower and very few missteps. The Thor franchise is a blight on the resume, with the first piece being average and the sequel, Thor: The Dark World, being a complete trainwreck. Ragnarok was the best of the three and Marvel, having recognized the underachieving so uncharacteristic of them, has green lit a fourth installment under director Taika Waititi’s helm. While Marvel has yet to fire a successful Hulk feature out of its cannon (and perhaps wisely so. They’ve plodded with this character for a while and now that Mark Ruffalo has cemented himself in the role and delivered in a supplementary space, best not to mess with the formula) and handed the public what I considered a copycat film in Doctor Strange, Marvel has been practically flawless otherwise, churning out premium content on a yearly basis for a decade. It was quite a period of prosperity for comic nerds and fans of heroes. Marvel has demonstrated finesse in discussing current events, aided by top-of-the-line casting and prestigious writing.Image result for SPIDERMAN far from home movie poster free use

This chapter, however, is now over. Infinity War, likely the best Marvel ever got or will ever be, followed by Endgame, put the final ink blotches on a stunning manuscript.

And so now, at least for me, appears uncertainty. With some of its best content explored and finalized, it is a question for me of how long they can keep this up. I said this once before and everything turned out fine. Of course, when Iron Man and Cap are part of the picture, you probably shouldn’t be too concerned. They are no longer here and less dominant works are naturally more difficult to adapt., so it comes as no surprise that Marvel turns to the Spider-Man well once again.

As I said, Marvel likely doesn’t consider making Iron Man if not for the success of Raimi’s trilogy. While I’m not a fan of rebooting a character every five years, the Spidey universe is quite extensive. They haven’t finished mining the caverns.

While Marvel and Sony together made a mistake with the Garfield entries (have not aged well and weren’t good to begin with. Further reading/research regarding the two projects reveals Raimi’s reluctance to make a fourth while Marvel decided to immediately reboot the saga with most of the same farmhands in place, leading to what was likely a burnt-out and heavily pressured creative team). Marvel was much smarter this time around.

Following a rights agreement between Sony and Marvel, a unified effort made the wheels go round in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Originally skeptical of a relative unknown (always will be. Comes with a lot of pressure), Tom Holland has worked well in the recipe Marvel has concocted. Straying away from the serious drama of Raimi and the repugnant bad boy of Marc Webb, Marvel has gone lighter, returning to the enhanced but overwhelmed teenager that makes Peter Parker so relatable and likable. Despite his reflexes, abilities and intelligence, Peter finds himself on the hunt for confidence and validation. Pair the immense shadow of responsibility with an even larger one from a lost mentor and Peter is gasping for air.

Hopefully an international field trip will do the trick.

Try as he might, you can’t run away from yourself and often not from your problems. Spider-Man: Far From Home is about Peter accepting and acting on that information. Peter wants a relationship with MJ but over the course of the film, begins to realize he needs to embrace himself before he can open up. Those feelings of vulnerability and helplessness are not something a relationship can cure. Those are monsters you have to conquer solo. Sometimes, doing things solo, even as a superhero, feels impossible.

You would think the introduction of superpowers into our lives would solve all our issues. Spider-Man, perhaps more than any other, proves otherwise. Yes, you can swing from rooftops but that’s not a skill highly pursued in a professional field. Being a superhero means sacrificing yourself and your life for the greater good and that is not a responsibility taken lightly. It also means having to always wear a mask, even in front of those you care about in plain sight. Everyone who knows is a potential target. If anything, superpowers make life, which is already difficult, impossible. And yet, despite all he loses by donning the mask, Peter does it anyway because he knows it’s what he’s been tasked with, what he’s supposed to do, who he is.

There are times where Peter questions it, deals with the same self-doubt many of us battle. Peter is human and Marvel’s depiction of these heroes’ humanity is one of their products’ best qualities.

Has Jake Gyllenhaal ever had a bad role? I’ve yet to see it. Samuel L. does his usual, the direction stays direct and perhaps most importantly, it stays true to itself. Plenty of pieces have become imitations rather than creations. Spider-Man: Far From Home never even dreams of it and we’re all the better for it.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Batman Begins, The MatrixL.A. ConfidentialHerTaken)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Dumb and DumberPokemon Detective PikachuThe Matrix Reloaded,WantedLaw Abiding Citizen)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (The Matrix RevolutionsTriple FrontierI am LegendIp Man 2Ip Man)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide Squad)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (XXXThe SilenceThe Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath Race)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (DoomThe Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: Evolution)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (XXX: State of the UnionThe SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe Gunman)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The ExtendablesThe Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcast)

My score for Spider-Man: Far From Home: 89.

I’m excited to rewatch Spider-Man: Homecoming and put my thoughts down on that but until then, I’ll smile over Far From Home, a film which reminds us even the most powerful and most gifted sometimes feel weak.

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Tim Sports Report/NFL Week 3

Top 5

  1. QB Kyle Allen 19/26 for 261 yards, 4 TDs, fumble, 144.4 passer rating @ARI

Kyle Allen is an undrafted quarterback who has spent most of his career on practice squads. Last Sunday, he got to live his dream: balling in the NFL. Arizona is weak competition but it doesn’t diminish this man’s performance to me. It doesn’t mean Kyle Allen’s the next superstar but it was his day.

2. WR Keenan Allen 13 receptions for 183 yards, 2 TDs vs. HOU

The Los Angeles is desperate for a second receiving option. Until then, Keenan Allen is balling. The Rivers-Keenan connection is alive and well.

3. QB Daniel Jones 23/36 for 336, 2 TDs, 2 fumbles, 112.7 passer rating, 4 carries for 28 yards, 2 TDs @TB

An 18-point comeback is the perfect start to a career. Daniel Jones still wasn’t worth 7th overall but you could see the team playing with a new energy with Jones at the helm.

4. LB Shaquil Barrett 6 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles vs. NYG

Barrett had three sacks the previous week. 7 sacks in two weeks is outstanding. Tampa Bay might finally have a pass rusher.

5. WR Mike Evans 8 receptions for 190 yards, 3 TDs vs. NYG

Evans narrowly edges out Russell Wilson and Cooper Kupp for the five spot. Evans was a constant torture to the Giants and had it not been for a missed kick, Evans, not Jones, would have walked out the hero.

Worst of the Worst

5. Jets offense

I’m not certain but I think the Jets defense has outscored their offense. Can we officially declare Gase the heretic he is?

4. Arizona outscored 17-0 in final stages, drop to Carolina and Kyle Allen.

Can we declare Kliff the false prophet that he is now? That offense is awful. We were told Kyler was the solution. Turns out Kyler isn’t a miracle man, just an uber-talented athlete.

3. Titans allow nine sacks, drop 20-7 at home vs. Jags

Tennessee looked like a complete mess. It’s time for the Mariota Era to end.

2. Browns game management

With three timeouts, the ball inside the ten and 40 seconds on the clock, Cleveland was down seven and in a golden position to tie the game.

Pass play, incomplete.

With the clock not running, there’s no reason to not call a timeout. Strategize, make the perfect play call. Kitchens didn’t. In fact, he didn’t until after three straight incompletions. On fourth down, a missed blocking assignment sealed their fate. There’s no denying it: Kitchens lost Cleveland the game and spoiled an otherwise strong performance from the Browns.

  1. Steelers force five takeaways, lose anyway @SF

It takes a special team to lose despite a flurry of bounces going their way. Pittsburgh is that team.

Steelers Recap

Five takeaways. Six points.

That summed up the Steelers on Sunday. Five takeaways from the defense, four of them coming on the 49ers first four possessions. San Fran was giving Pittsburgh the ball practically the whole first half. Randy Fichtner is a real dumb guy though and Mike Tomlin isn’t much better. The Steelers continued to run their offense from shotgun rather than utilize a running attack that has helped them develop young quarterbacks in the past. Through one half, Rudolph was averaging three yards per pass attempt.

Impressive. Most impressive.

The Steelers coaching staff also has an obsession with running five-wide with a receiving core that is not equipped for such a task. Behind JuJu, they have James Washington, an inconsistent deep threat, rookie Diontae Johnson (struggles with drops), Donte Moncrief (only drops), stereotypical slot receiver Ryan Switzer and special teamer Johnny Holton. Does that sound like a group that should be on the field the majority of the time?

The Steelers staff is also very rigid and stubborn in their ways even as everyone else watches them run their head into brick walls for an entire afternoon. Normally, there would be consequences for such incompetence but not in Pittsburgh. In Pittsburgh, you can score 16 first half points in three games, average barely two minutes of possession per drive (#3andOut) and have a third-down percentage under 30 and still have your job.

The offensive line looked discombobulated most of the afternoon (whether the departure of line guru Munchak or another year on the tires, who knows) and the defense, minus the turnovers that were handed to them (which was most of them), was mediocre. I will note Minkah Fitzpatrick was responsible for two takeaways in his first game in the black and gold.

And for the third straight post game presser, Tomlin suggested a general lack of unpreparedness was the culprit, summarizing that San Fran was better prepared and was ready to take advantage of their opportunities.

At some point, someone needs to ask, “Why is your team regularly unprepared?” Because that’s Tomlin’s job. The coach’s job is to get his team prepared and if he’s going to keep peddling that as a reason for defeat, it’s only fair to question why that is.

Pittsburgh is a bottom-five team after this performance with a bottom-five offense, a coordinator that refuses to change, a head coach that seems generally unflappable regarding incompetence and a defensive coordinator who can’t define the word adapt.

At this point, six wins seems like a stretch, meaning the first they traded to Miami may likely become a top-ten pick. I still like the Fitzpatrick trade personally because of the team’s general inability to evaluate and/or progress defensive backs but that’s about the only thing to like in Steeler land.

Game of the Week: Vikings@Bears

The NFC North is the league’s toughest division this year with the NFC West not far behind. Minnesota and Chicago have two top-five defenses and Dalvin Cook, with maybe the exception of Christian McCaffrey, has been the league’s best back. Give me this all night long.

Week 3 Picks Against the Spread (Lines provided by ESPN. Lines may vary.)

Last week: 12-4 (!), 27-21 season, 3-0 high confidence

PHI@GB -4.5

Green Bay with three strong wins and Philly can’t stop the slow starts. Philly isn’t getting much from their pass rush either. Rodgers without pressure spells bad news. My pick: GB -4.5

TEN@ATL -4.5

This is my least favorite pick of the week. I’ve changed my mind on this one two or three times. In the end, going to take Atlanta and hate myself when Dan Quinn’s team underperforms again. If they do, it’s time for a change. My pick: ATL -4.5

NE@BUF +7.5

One of my rules is don’t swallow points in rivalry games. Hard for me to follow that rule when Josh Allen is the quarterback for one team and Brady is for the other. I love the Bills defense but can they hold the Patriots under 20? I don’t think so and I don’t have confidence Buffalo scores more than 20 against the best secondary in football. My pick: NE -7.5

CLE@BAL -6.5

Don’t swallow points in rivalry games but the gap between these two teams is so large. I get the better coach, defense, quarterback and home team. Too much to pass up. My pick: BAL -6.5

KC@DET +6.5

I love Detroit this week. Stafford and Kerryon are starting for me in fantasy. Lions also have a serviceable front seven on defense but I think their injuries at corner end up hurting them. It’s gonna be close but I think Mahomes covers. My pick: KC -6.5

OAK@IND -6.5

Indianapolis’ offensive line vs. a defense that doesn’t know what a pass rush is. Better coach, too. My pick: IND -6.5

LAC@MIA +16.5

Trap game for LA, could actually see Miami beating the spread but I’ll believe it when it happens. My pick: LAC +16.5

WAS@NYG -3.5

If McLaurin plays, I’ll take the Redskins. If he doesn’t, give me the Giants. I truly think he’s the difference. My pick: NYG -3.5

CAR@HOU -4.5

Houston just played well on the road against the Chargers. A home win against a team down a quarterback shouldn’t be too much to hope for. My pick: HOU -4.5

TB@LAR -9.5

The Rams were 2.5 point favorites on the road against the Browns. The Bucs and the Browns are basically the same team so the Rams, with the standard home field value of three points, should be -5.5. For whatever reason, ESPN is giving the Bucs an extra four points. Given the Rams performance against Cleveland, too many points. My pick: TB +9.5

SEA@ARI +4.5

Don’t swallow points in rivalry games. This is the game I probably should swallow the points. Arizona is awful but I’m gonna take Kliff’s Kowardice. Already hating myself. My pick: ARI +4.5

MIN@CHI -2.5

My game of the week features two top-five defenses against two bad quarterbacks in Trubisky and Cousins. Counting on Dalvin Cook to break one run. Don’t swallow points in rivalry games. My pick: MIN +2.5

JAC@DEN -3.5

Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew was fabulous against Tennessee. I expect regression and Fournette can’t run behind a bad scheme. On the other hand, Jacksonville’s defense vs. Joe Flacco is a rather large red flag, one too large to ignore. The Broncos haven’t forced a turnover or recorded a sack yet. I’ll take the points. In a week with a lot of tough spreads, the Jags are my high confidence pick this week. My pick: JAC +3.5

DAL@NO +2.5

The market is overreacting to the Saints performance last week. The Cowboys defense handled New Orleans last year with Drew Brees. This would be a tough game for New Orleans with Brees. I just think it’s gonna be too much without him. My pick: DAL -2.5

CIN@PIT -4.5

The Steelers offense can’t move the ball while Andy Dalton has been serviceable at least. Given the Steelers hit rock bottom last week, I expect a better performance this week but certainly not a five-point win. I actually have Cincinnati winning outright. Don’t swallow points in rivalry games. My pick: CIN +4.5


2019 NFL Power Rankings: Week 3

1. Patriots (-) (W 30-14 vs. NYJ) (3-0, 2-1 ATS)

New England has a cakewalk schedule and there’s simply no getting around that. Following the Steelers (remember when that was considered a tough game?), they faced Miami and the Jets. Next few games? @BUF, @WAS, vs. NYG, @NYJ, vs. CLE. None of those teams break the top half of my current power rankings. Their bye also comes before their toughest slate of games. All the pieces are lined up for another trip to paradise.

2. Chiefs (-) (W 33-28 vs. BAL) (3-0, 2-1 ATS)

Kansas City played one of the best teams in the AFC and won. Mahomes looked as good as ever. Mahomes’ Revenge continues.

3. Packers (+2) (W 27-16 vs. DEN) (3-0, 3-0 ATS)

One of three teams still undefeated against the spread (DAL, LAR), Green Bay, after missing the playoffs, is at the head of the North and among the best the NFC has to offer. Crazy what can happen with a new coach. They host Philly at home Thursday night.

4. Cowboys (-) (W 31-6 vs. MIA) (3-0, 3-0 ATS)

Slow start against Miami but ran away with it in the second half. Not much else to discuss here. Travel to New Orleans this week.

5. Texans (+2) (W 27-20 @LAC) (2-1, 2-1 ATS)

Houston beats an AFC competitor on the road. That’s a plus.

6. Ravens (+2) (L 33-28 @KC) (2-1, 2-1 ATS)

Baltimore played a strong game of football against one of the best in the AFC. Despite the loss, the contest confirmed their standing in the conference. Baltimore is for real.

7. Vikings (-1) (W 34-14 vs. OAK) (2-1, 2-1 ATS)

Minnesota handles bad team. On the plus side, Dalvin Cook has been arguably the best running back in football three weeks in. A road win against Chicago would go a long way.

8. Rams (-5) (W 20-13 @CLE) (3-0, 3-0 ATS)

The Rams looked out of sorts on Sunday night and they were one really dumb coach away from letting the game slip away. They may be undefeated but they have questions surrounding them. Jared Goff has been average at best after signing his extension.

9. Saints (-) (W 33-27 @SEA) (2-1, 1-2 ATS)

No Drew Brees? No problem. New Orleans went across the country and handled business. I often say you can tell a lot about a quarterback after he has a week to prepare. Bridgewater looked frazzled after being thrust into the huddle against the Rams. Looked much better on Sunday. Didn’t win the game but didn’t lose it either.

10. Colts (+6) (W 27-24 vs. ATL) (2-1, 2-1 ATS)

I’m as surprised as you but Indy deserves this spot. Top-five offensive line, one of the game’s best coaches and an underrated defensive corps. Luck or not, the Colts will contend for the playoffs. Brissett was near flawless against Atlanta.

11. Lions (+9) (W 27-24 @PHI)) (2-0-1, 2-1 ATS)

Beat the Chargers at home and won a road game in Philly. Impressive. Had it not been for a collapse against Arizona, Detroit’s 3-0. They may have the weakest roster in a loaded division but they’re still a good team. Right now, they’re a great team.

12. Seahawks (-1) (L 33-27 vs. NO) (2-1, 1-2 ATS)

Losing to a Brees-less team at home hurts. Chris Carson’s fumbles are becoming an issue. Amazing what happens when you hand the reigns to Russ, isn’t it? Just missed scratching my top five performances of the week.

13. Eagles (-3) (L 27-24 vs. DET) (1-2, 0-3 ATS)

Philly is one of three teams winless against the spread (DEN, MIA). Another slow start cost them. A slow start in Green Bay will drag them to 1-3.

14. Bears (-) (W 31-15 @WAS) (2-1, 2-1 ATS)

The Bears had an offense on Monday but were also against Washington. Not deserving of a party.

15. Falcons (-3) (L 27-24 @IND) (1-2, 1-2 ATS)

A win on the road in Indy would have meant a lot, especially with Cam and Drew Brees’ future in question but the Falcons have become known for letting golden opportunities slip past them. Happened again on Sunday. Defense looked great against Philly, was a no-show against Brissett.

16. Bills (+2) (W 21-17 vs. CIN) (3-0, 2-1 ATS)

Buffalo is 3-0 but their offense has stalled in back-to-back games and played essentially one quarter in week one against the Jets. Buffalo has escaped with wins, not won decisively. Host New England this week. Good luck with that.

17. Chargers (-) (L 27-20 vs. HOU) (1-2, 1-2 ATS)

Overtime win against the Colts, losses to Detroit and Houston. Oof.

The Rivers-Allen connection was on fire on Sunday and the running duo of Ekeler/Jackson has been more than serviceable but Rivers has no second receiving option. If Mike Williams isn’t being unreliable on the field, he’s being injured off of it. (Remember when he was a seventh overall pick? Ouch) Hunter Henry might never play a season of football again. Travis Benjamin hasn’t been the same since leaving Cleveland (that’s a first). The Chargers need a second receiving option badly.

18. 49ers (-5) (W 24-20 vs. PIT) (3-0, 2-1 ATS)

Five turnovers and escaped with a win because the Steelers are terrible. Hope their bye week cleans that mess up.

19. Panthers (-) (W 38-20 @ARI) (1-2, 1-2 ATS)

Cam is out indefinitely with a Lisfranc injury but how about Kyle Allen on Sunday? Earned my Tim’s top five performance of the week. Least they still have that McCaffrey guy.

20. Titans (-5) (L 20-7 @JAC) (1-2, 1-2 ATS)

The Tennessee offensive line is weak this year which is why I found it odd that most spreads had Jacksonville as two point dogs at home. Weak offensive lines against Sacksonville? No thanks. Destroyed repeatedly, the Titans offense was brought to a standstill. The team is hurting at receiver (Fifth overall pick Corey Davis wasn’t the dynamite they were hoping for) and if Henry gets funneled, the offense runs out of cards to play. The defense bottled Fournette but got shived by the Gardner. After a strong opener, Tennessee is falling back to Earth. That second overall pick you spent on Mariota hasn’t worked out so well either, huh?

21. Jaguars (+2) (W 20-7 vs. TEN) (1-2, 2-1 ATS)

Gardner’s Garden of Misfits (potential fantasy name for next year?) looked great on Thursday night. Nine sacks for the defense certainly helped but Gardner Minshew has really impressed. D.J. Chark has made some dynamic catches and certified himself as a viable fantasy receiver and, more importantly, the WR1 the Jags have been looking for. Shame Doug Marrone is incompetent and driving out their best player (Jalen Ramsey).

22. Browns (+5) (L 20-13 vs. LAR) (1-2, 1-2 ATS)

Competitive game against the Rams earns Cleveland some points but the offense is massively underperforming. Baker needs a real coach. The coaching in the final minute, with four plays, three timeouts inside the ten and 40 seconds on the clock, cost them a chance to tie. Terrible coaching has destroyed many teams and thus far, 2019 Browns is being added to the list.

23. Bengals (-2) (L 21-17 @BUF) (0-3, 2-1 ATS)

Down 14, Cincy scored 17 straight before Buffalo put the final nail in the coffin. Joe Mixon got a chance to perform and the Bengals offense isn’t terrible. They’re nowhere near as bad as expected.

24. Steelers (-2) (L 24-20 @SF) (0-3, 1-2 ATS)

Five takeaways and you still lose. This is the bottom. Rudolph looked pedestrian and the Steelers won’t run the ball. Awful coaching makes bad teams worse. I expect 0-4 next week.

25. Redskins (-1) (L 31-15 vs. CHI) (0-3, 1-2 ATS)

Can we fire the mediocrity that is Jay Gruden now? Washington has been stuck in the swamp of average since Kirk Cousins was their quarterback and now they’re not even that. They have a young core (Terry McLaurin is among the best rookie receivers thus far and almost the entire defensive line is first-rounders.) and some veteran talent. They can’t compete with Dallas or Philly but a new face could create a new beginning and identity for a team that desperately needs it.

26. Giants (+4) (W 32-31 @TB) (1-2, 1-2 ATS)

Daniel Jones’ first start featured an 18-point comeback. Very impressive but also one game. Still, brought a new energy to a team that needed it. Saquon out a minimum four weeks is gonna hurt.

27. Buccaneers (+2) (L 32-31 vs. NYG) (1-2, 1-2 ATS)

Mike Evans had a phenomenal day and the Famous Jameis Bakery was closed on Sunday but kicker Matt Gay missed an extra point, had another blocked and missed a 34-yard field goal as time expired. That’s five points left on the board. They lost by one. They also blew an 18-point lead.

28. Broncos (-) (L 27-16 @GB) (0-3, 0-3 ATS)

In three games with Bradley Chubb and Von Miller, Vic Fangio has managed zero sacks and no takeaways. That’s…not good.

29. Raiders (-3) (L 34-14 @MIN) (1-2, 1-2 ATS)

Raiders look like the old Raiders again.

30. Cardinals (-5) (L 38-20 vs. CAR) (0-2-1, 2-1 ATS)

Kliff Kowardice and company were down 21-20 near the end of the third quarter at home against a quarterback most people had never heard of it. It was a bad spot to be in but they could still change their fortunes.

Arizona was outscored 17-0 the rest of the way. At home. Against an undrafted quarterback who made a living on the practice squad.

Take your false promises and go to the basement. Try to figure out what a run defense is while you’re down there.

31. Jets (-) (L 30-14 @NE) (0-3, 1-2 ATS)

They covered the spread at least? Adam Gase is an awful coach. Shocked the Jets looked like a poorly-coached team. Again.

32. Dolphins (-) (L 31-6 @DAL) (0-3, 0-3 ATS)

This game began with Rosen throwing a bomb to DeVante Parker, who managed a one-handed catch while being draped by a Cowboy.

Miami proceeded to miss the 47-yard field goal.

Down 10-0, Flores did his team no favors by settling for a 19-yard field goal. You have been torpedoed in back-to-back weeks. You can’t lose much worse than 43-0. Go for it.

Down 10-6, Miami was in the red zone in the final minute of the first half. RB Kenyan Drake fumbled and Dallas recovered.

Still, despite bad miscues, Miami was in the game. The offense looked better with Rosen. Had the Dolphins converted their opening field goal, secured seven on 4th-and-goal and got points on their last drive of the second half, this game might have gone differently. Instead, Elliott and backup Tony Pollard each grabbed 100 yards and a score and Dallas cruised in the second half.

Through three games, Miami has a -117 point differential, the worst in the Super Bowl era. They’re competing with the 0-16 Browns and Lions for the worst team in NFL history.

Biggest Climb: DET +9

Biggest Fall: LAR/SF/TEN/ARI -5

Tim Sports Report/NFL Week 2

Top 5

  1. QB Patrick Mahomes 30/44 for 443, 4 TDs, fumble, 131.2 passer rating @OAK

Yes, against the Raiders, I know but go back and watch this film. Disgusting. Mahomes’ Revenge is for real.

2. QB Lamar Jackson 24/37 for 272, 2 TDs, 104.8 passer rating, 16 carries for 120 vs. ARI

The gap between rookie Lamar and year two Lamar is huge. As I said in my power rankings, Lamar Jackson is the best of the 2018 qb class so far.

3. RB Dalvin Cook 20 carries for 154, TD, 3 receptions for 37 @GB

Cook had a rough 2018 behind a haphazard offensive line. Vikings make some changes and draft a first round center and suddenly Cook is one of the best backs in the league through two weeks.

4. RB Le’Veon Bell 21 carries for 68, fumble, 10 receptions for 61 vs. CLE

I watched the entirety of the Monday Night debacle that was Cleveland versus a third-string quarterback. It was brutal but I watched it through to the end because of Bell’s performance. He was a one-man offense. Have to respect that.

5. WR Demarcus Robinson 6 receptions for 172, 2 TDs @OAK

Robinson made some nice catches in his own right. Remove Tyreek and another speed demon takes his place.

Worst of the Worst

5. Jets embarrassed 23-3 at home.

Like I said, it was brutal.

4. Dolphins thrashed 43-0 at home.

Miami is a bad football team. Are they competing for the exclusive circle of unwinnables?

3. QB injuries

Two big stars, Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees, left their games with injuries. Jets backup Trevor Siemian broke his ankle and Cam is now unlikely for the cats’ upcoming contest.

2. Kliff Kowardice

The Arizona Cardinals got inside the Ravens ten-yard line three times.

They kicked three field goals.

That cowardice cost Arizona a big road upset. For being a savant, Kliff coaches like a weasel. It’s a dog-eat-dog world and the NFL has no time for rodents.

  1. QB Kirk Cousins 14/32 for 230, TD, 2 INTs, fumble, 52.9 passer rating @GB

While every other facet of the Vikings team was in prime operation, Kirk did what Kirk usually does in big games: he choked.

Go back and watch the film (linked it in my power rankings for this week). Kirk throws one of the worst interceptions you’ll ever see in a crucial situation.

Steelers Recap

The playcall cancer known as Big Ben is out and Rudolph didn’t look like complete roadkill during the remainder of the contest. The argument could be made the offense looked better the instant Ben was taken out. Still, watching Russ run with nothing but green grass in front of him during a two-minute drill is torture. The idea of a QB spy apparently never came up.

And yet as awful as the Steelers have been two games in and with a now young backup at quarterback, I could see them winning against San Francisco. Don’t book it but I’m confidently taking Pittsburgh as 6.5 point underdogs.

Game of the Week: Ravens@Chiefs

Lamar Jackson and the best rushing attack in football face Mahomes’ Revenge. This is a likely playoff preview. Should be fun.

Week 3 Picks Against the Spread (Lines provided by ESPN. Lines may vary.)

Last week: 7-9, 15-17 season, 2-0 high confidence

TEN@JAC +1.5

When it comes to sports betting, I usually take the under for points in divisional games and take the points. Divisional games are always closer than they should be. After being robbed of a win by their own coach last week, Jacksonville comes home with a fire for Tennessee. The Titans weak offensive line against Sacksonville? Good luck. My pick: JAC +1.5

ATL@IND -2.5

Atlanta’s defense frazzled Wentz last week and bullied a top-five offensive line. Now they face another top-five offensive line in Indianapolis. If the defense shows up like they did against Philly, Atlanta should have the firepower on offense to overcome. My pick: ATL +2.5

CIN@BUF -6.5

Buffalo’s got a great defense (sorry, I’m a broken record) but their offense carries a walker. Lead back Devin Singletary is out and the receiving core is one of the weakest in the league (Zay Jones, John Brown, Cole Beasley). The Bills defense will likely thwart Cincy but the offense fails to take advantage of the extra possessions and Cincy finds a way to close the gap. Buffalo wins but I’ll take the points. My pick: CIN +6.5

MIA@DAL -21.5

I hate passing up that many points but I got scorched by Miami last week. Dallas is at home and their defense is stellar. I’ll reluctantly swallow the points. My pick: DAL -21.5

DEN@GB -7.5

Green Bay has a defense now and any capable defense against Joe Flacco is a great matchup. Denver hasn’t recorded a sack in two games. Clean pockets for Rodgers spells trouble. Oh and Green Bay’s at home. My pick: GB -7.5

DET@PHI -6.5

Philly’s slow starts have nearly led to an 0-2 start and they’re 0-2 against the spread. This is their last chance with me. Get it together, Philly. My pick: PHI -6.5

BAL@KC -6.5

Lamar Jackson is no Patrick Mahomes but he’s currently the best dual threat quarterback. The Ravens run game versus the Chiefs defensive front is a huge mismatch. I can’t bet against Mahomes to lose (he’s too good) but I will bet on a close contest against a historically strong Ravens defense. My pick: BAL +6.5

OAK@MIN -7.5

I’ve seen some spreads giving Oakland nine points so I consider myself grateful ESPN has only given them 7.5. The Vikings are a quarterback away from a serious contender. Calling Captain Kirk. My pick: MIN -7.5

NYJ@NE -22.5

Adam Gase is a fraud and poor Luke Falk has to start against the Patriots in Foxborough in his first start. Rough draw. Still like the Jets defense. As bad as the Jets were on Monday night, still only gave up 23. Despite New England being the best team in the league and the Jets one of the worst due to injuries, the Jets cover the spread and lose by 20. My pick: NYJ +22.5

NYG@TB -6.5

I hate betting on the Famous Jameis Bakery but with Daniel Jones starting I’ve changed my pick last second from Giants to Bucs. I played myself, didn’t I? My pick: TB -6.5

CAR@ARI +2.5

For whatever reason, ESPN is giving Arizona two with Cam out. Even if the spread was what it seems to be at other casinos (ARI -2.5), I’d still take Arizona. Carolina looked lost without McCaffery. One-dimensional offenses on the road don’t fill me with confidence. My pick: ARI +2.5

NO@SEA -5.5

Drew Brees is out but as I said in my power rankings, the Saints should be a playoff team regardless. Therefore, New Orleans getting a 5.5 point cushion seems generous especially given Seattle’s offensive line situation. My pick: NO +5.5

PIT@SF -6.5

The Steelers are a bad football team but they did lose a locker room cancer this past week. Hopefully (and this is a slim hope), Fichtner starts calling a run-based game plan with his run-strong roster. Despite all evidence to the contrary, this feels like the type of game Pittsburgh wins: a game against a superior opponent/coach on the road with a backup quarterback in his first start. Sounds like a recipe for disaster which means some baloney is gonna happen. Call it a hunch. My pick: PIT +6.5

HOU@LAC -3.5

This spread is just insulting. Houston played lights out against New Orleans and lost because of the Bill O’Brien Curse. Meanwhile, Los Angeles blew a sizable lead and had to go to overtime with the Colts and then blew another lead and lost to Detroit. Rivers hasn’t been himself to start the season. I get Deshaun and the team that’s playing better plus three points on top of that? Sign me up. NOW. My pick: HOU +3.5

LAR@CLE +2.5

I have high confidence in Atlanta and Houston this week but I’m putting the Rams down for my high confidence pick. Cleveland got wiped off the face of the map by Tennessee and then got a cakewalk last week yet still only managed 23 points. Rams just beat New Orleans handedly, Brees or no Brees. Goff is due to return to form, right? I’ll swallow 2.5 gladly. I would have swallowed 10. My pick: LAR -2.5

CHI@WAS +4.5

Chicago’s offense is a mess and Trubisky is a rather large elephant in the room that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. This game screams Washington, especially with the Redskins starting strong in their first two contests. And yet…who produces for Washington? AP against the Bears front seven? I like Terry McLaurin but Paul Richardson, Trey Quinn and Vernon Davis against the Bears secondary? The Redskins defense crumbled in the second halves of both predecessors because the offense couldn’t hold possession and I sense a familiar tale about to be told. Once again, Chicago makes it way closer than it should be but a victory nonetheless. My pick: CHI -4.5

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2019 NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

1. Patriots (-) (W 43-0 @MIA) (2-0, 2-0 ATS)

The evil empire continues onward with new secret weapon Antonio Brown. Despite their recent history in Miami, New England was unbothered, smothering the helpless fish. Expect New England to own this spot for the foreseeable future. Their next three dances? NYJ, BUF, WAS.

Oh and Antonio has been cut due to multiple sexual assault accusations. Good riddance but it doesn’t diminish New England’s superiority.

2. Chiefs (+2) (W 28-10 @OAK) (2-0, 2-0 ATS)

Mahomes’ Revenge is continuing its plundering through the AFC. It’s been smooth sailing thus far but rough tides approach: BAL.

3. Rams (+3) (W 27-9 vs. NO) (2-0, 2-0 ATS)

The rematch of the NFC Championship was dented by a Drew Brees injury but a win is a win and it was a dominant one despite another so-so performance from Goff. The NFC West is home to three undefeated teams, however. The Rams need to keep their foot on the gas.

4. Cowboys (+3) (W 31-21 @WAS) (2-0, 2-0 ATS)

Dallas’ case is upended by a weak schedule but they still deserve a top-ten spot. This is likely high given they’re unproven against their peers but they’ll have a chance to prove their worth. Following a vacation in Miami, they have the Saints and Packers back-to-back.

5. Packers (+4) (W 21-16 vs. MIN) (2-0, 2-0 ATS)

My top five teams all come in undefeated in games and against the spread. Green Bay’s offense jumped to life against one of the league’s most talented d-corps, putting up 21 unanswered. They then surrendered 16 straight and might have lost the game at home outright if not for the brainfart that is 2019 Kirk Cousins. Still, despite some concerns, Green Bay sits alone atop the North, the most competitive division in football.

6. Vikings (-4) (L 21-16 @GB) (1-1, 1-1 ATS)

Minnesota floundered early before rallying with 16 unanswered. Had they completed the comeback, they would have surpassed New England for my top spot due to strength of schedule. Instead, Kirk Cousins throws one of the worst interceptions you’ll ever see in professional football and Minnesota, despite two great performances, sits at 1-1. Dalvin Cook and the rushing attack are on a tear, the defense is rejuvenated but Kirk Cousins has been awful. Sunday he was 14/32 for 230, a touchdown and two interceptions, including the costly one in the end zone, and a fumble. That’s not what you’re hoping for when you shell out $27 million guaranteed.

Oh, and the Vikings kicking woes continue. They left four points on the board. They lost by five.

7. Texans (-2) (W 13-12 vs. JAC) (1-1, 1-1 ATS)

Sloppy divisional games happen. I think the team we saw in New Orleans is closer to the mark. Still, the Curse of Bill O’Brien has nearly dragged what should be a 2-0 team to 0-2. Houston needs a statement game against the Chargers this week. Please protect Deshaun Watson.

8. Ravens (+3) (W 23-17 vs. ARI) (1-1, 1-1 ATS)

Had it not been for Kliff Kingsbury kicking three field goals inside the ten, Baltimore likely loses this game. It was a regression and the only reason they move up in my rankings is the continual improvement of Lamar Jackson. It’s crazy what can happen in one summer. At this moment, Lamar Jackson, not Baker Mayfield, is the best quarterback of the 2018 class. Next week we see how good he really is when Mahomes’ Revenge comes to play.

9. Saints (-6) (L 27-9 @LAR) (1-1, 0-2 ATS)

The Drew Brees injury looms large. You could see the offense begin to stutter step when he left the huddle. Great teams overcome injury and the team’s performance without him will say a lot about their character and system. The Saints can and should be a playoff team without Drew Brees.

10. Eagles (-2) (L 24-21 @ATL) (1-1, 0-2 ATS)

Another slow start for the Eagles. Wentz looked awful in the first half, the worst I’ve seen him. He transformed in the fourth quarter and the Eagles nearly escaped playing half a football game. That’s a charade that won’t last against great teams. Philly needs to get their vehicle into gear.

11. Seahawks (+4) (W 28-26 @PIT) (2-0, 1-1 ATS)

The offensive line is an ongoing cause for concern but Russ finds a way, as per usual. DK Metcalf had some moments as Tyler Lockett becomes a WR1. Chris Carson is in danger of losing RB1 duties after multiple fumbles.

12. Falcons (+4) (W 24-21 vs. PHI) (1-1, 1-1 ATS)

Julio had a day but the evening belonged to the Falcons defense. They flustered Wentz most of the night and their defensive front was eating the Eagles offensive line throughout the contest. The Eagles have a top-five offensive line and it was a notable performance from a defense that has struggled to create pressure in recent years. Unfortunately, they play another top-five unit in Indianapolis this week. They can look at it two ways: an impossible expectation or another chance to prove themselves. With Brees and Cam out with injury, the division is theirs for the taking.

13. 49ers (+7) (W 41-17 @CIN) (2-0, 2-0 ATS)

Vegas has underestimated San Francisco in back-to-back weeks as they’ve cruised with relative ease. Matt Breida is beginning to look like a starting running back. Kyle Shanahan is a great coach and now has the team to demonstrate it. Still, their journey to the playoffs is rocky. The NFC is a far tougher conference and their division one of the most formidable in the league.

14. Bears (-4) (W 16-14 @DEN) (1-1, 1-1 ATS)

Chicago has one of the best defenses in football but one of the worst offenses. They are some roughing the passer baloney and a long field goal away from being 0-2. Matt Nagy better find his offense quick before he lets his defense’s efforts go to waste.

15. Titans (-2) (L 19-17 vs. IND) (1-1, 1-1 ATS)

Divisional games are always tougher than they should be. Still, the offense looks so…bland. Remember when Corey Davis got drafted fifth overall? That hasn’t aged well and neither has Marcus Mariota. Two top-five picks and two players who haven’t been the maestros they were expected to be.

16. Colts (+1) (W 19-17 @TEN) (1-1, 1-1 ATS)

Nothing spices up the wagons like a road rivalry win. The Colts are still a good football team. Stop overlooking them.

17. Chargers (-5) (L 13-10 @DET) (1-1, 1-1 ATS)

Los Angeles has had no problems in the backfield but Rivers has been average two games in. A narrow win against a team missing their franchise quarterback and a splattered egg of a performance against the Lions. Not a way to get into my good graces.

18. Bills (+4) (W 28-14 @NYG) (2-0, 2-0 ATS)

Buffalo has an underrated defense (I’ll keep saying it) and Josh Allen hasn’t lost them games though he almost did week one before the Jets went full Jets. With the Dolphins tanking and the Jets wrecked by injuries and coaching malpractice, Buffalo is the clear runner-up in the division. That means a chance at a wild card.

What do you mean Devin Singletary’s out this week?

19. Panthers (-5) (L 20-14 vs. TB) (0-2, 0-2 ATS)

Carolina is in trouble. Cam is not himself. The core is older. McCaffrey and the corpse of Greg Olsen seem to be the only threats on offense. Cam is ruled out for the road game against Arizona. 0-3 looms.

20. Lions (+3) (W 13-10 vs. LAC) (1-0-1, 1-1 ATS)

Matt Stafford is in top form and Kerryon Johnson is a threat. Kenny Golladay ages better every day. The defense isn’t complete turdblossoms. If it wasn’t for the Lions going full Lions, they’d be 2-0. That tie stings.

21. Bengals (-3) (L 41-17 vs. SF) (0-2, 1-1 ATS)

Cincinnati played so well against Seattle and played so poorly against San Francisco. Joe Mixon is trapped behind a porous offensive line. Any news on A.J.?

22. Steelers (-1) (L 28-26 vs. SEA) (0-2, 0-2 ATS)

The playcall cancer known as Big Ben is out for the season following elbow surgery. In a development no one saw coming, the offense looked dramatically better with him off the field. The season is not over. Minkah Fitzpatrick comes in a historic blockbuster for Pittsburgh. For the first time in forever, the Steelers will be without a first-rounder. Minkah should be worth it. Now can they win a football game? Or at least cover a spread?

23. Jaguars (+1) (L 13-12 @HOU) (0-2, 1-1 ATS)

Jacksonville was a trash Doug Marrone play call away from 1-1 and capturing a crucial road rivalry win. How long is this talented roster going to be saddled with this pleeb?

24. Redskins (-5) (L 31-21 vs. DAL) (0-2, 1-1 ATS)

Washington has started off strong in two consecutive contests but remains unable to finish. This Terry McLaurin kid looks good at least.

25. Cardinals (+3) (L 23-17 @BAL) (0-1-1, 2-0 ATS)

If Kliff Kingsbury wasn’t a complete coward, Arizona would have upset Baltimore. Kicking three field goals inside the ten should be a fireable offense.

26. Raiders (-1) (L 28-10 vs. KC) (1-1, 1-1 ATS)

Oakland is not as bad as expected but also isn’t strong enough to compete with Kansas City. That is by no means an indictment. Most teams can’t.

27. Browns (-1) (W 23-3 @NYJ) (1-1, 1-1 ATS)

Congratulations. You won a football game. Against a third-string quarterback. I look forward to you getting plastered on national television by the Rams.

28. Broncos (+3) (L 16-14 vs. CHI) (0-2, 0-2 ATS)

Denver might have lost on Sunday but it felt like a win. An offense that outgunned managed to face a Chicago nightmare. Bravo. Turns out your heart is still beating.

29. Buccaneers (+1) (W 20-14 @CAR) (1-1, 1-1 ATS)

The Famous Jameis Bakery was closed on Thursday night and when it is, life is at least manageable at Raymond James Stadium.

What do you mean that was a road game? They don’t win those. Can’t be right.

30. Giants (-1) (L 28-14 vs. BUF) (0-2, 0-2 ATS)

At this point, might be time to start the Free Saquon campaign.

What do you mean Daniel Jones is starting?

31. Jets (-4) (L 23-3 vs. CLE) (0-2, 0-2 ATS)

The Jets started Thursday with their second-string quarterback and ended with third option Luke Falk. Still, the offense was a complete dumpster fire. Adam Gase sure looked like a football savant, I’ll tell you that.

32. Dolphins (-) (L 43-0 vs. NE) (0-2, 0-2 ATS)

The Dolphins had a chance to do something amazing on Sunday. New England had lost six of their last seven games in Finland and had Miami done the unthinkable, I think most of the country would have been overjoyed. I was just hoping they’d cover the 18.5 point spread and not embarrass the home crowd. It looked like they might do just that at half, down only 16.

The game ended in a 43-0 shutout. Miami is in full tank mode and Flores is on his way out before his career even started. Minkah Fitzpatrick got shipped this week. The only promising thing going in Miami is their 2019 draft capital.

What do you mean Josh Rosen is starting? Can someone give that guy a break already?

Biggest Climb: SF +7

Biggest Fall: NO -6

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