Sunday, December 31, 2017

Titans and Jaguars Spice 2017 Wildcard

So now the 2017 playoffs are upon us and the wildcard round offers the most interesting slate in years as the Titans, Jaguars, and Bills all return to the playoffs after lengthy absences.    The Bills drought is of course the longest, dating to the 1999 season, while the Jaguars last made the playoffs in 2007 and the Titans in 2008, while the Titans look for their first win since Steve McNair upset the Ravens in 2003.

The Buffalo Bills look for their first playoff win since 1995 when they owned Don Shula and Dan Marino. 

The Bills bring some swag into this playoffs after this brawl in the season finale at Miami.

A quick comment on the slate of NFL coach firings - the most fascinating and bizarre is the story that Jon Gruden will get not only the head coaching job with the Raiders but also part-ownership.   With the firing of Jack Del Rio that rumor becomes more credible - with Mark Davis reportedly in heavy debt - a figure indicated by Boomer Esiason is $125 million - it makes sense to bring in ownership help, plus it's a selling point for the move to Vegas.

Titans over Chiefs -    This is the matchup Andy Reid didn't want because the Titans have won six of the seven career meetings they've had with Andy Reid teams.........

Tennessee Titans vs Andy Reid teams -

2000 @ Eagles - W 15-13
2002 vs Eagles - W 27-24
2006 @ Eagles - W 31-13
2010 vs Eagles - W 37-19
2013 vs Chiefs - L 26-17
2014 @ Chiefs - W 26-10
2016 @ Chiefs - W 19-17

.....and the last time the Titans traveled to Arrowhead they clawed out a clutch win.    The Titans have now beaten nine playoff contenders (the Jaguars twice this season, making ten such wins) in the eighteen wins they've clawed out the last two seasons.    Mike Mularkey may still not last into 2018 with the story Titans ownership is frustrated at seeming slowness at developing Marcus Mariota (an interesting matchup here per John Glennon is when Mariota was blitzed he was deadly accurate in completions); certainly the targeting of Patriots coordinator Josh McDaniels makes sense and the Titans are a good fit, but give Mularkey credit for reestablishing a culture with accountability in the Titans locker room.

The last Rams playoff game was 2004 at the Falcons.

Falcons over Rams -    The Rams enter unfamiliar territory - not only the playoffs for the first time since 2004 but also a playoff game at home, and in LA.   The Rams' last playoff win was at Seattle in 2004, so for the Rams this is something new, while for the Falcons it's become old hat.   While not necessarily as good as in 2016 the Falcons enter with momentum, and Matt Ryan is unbeaten against the Rams - but then this is not the same old Rams.

The only other playoff meeting between the Bills and Jaguars was Jacksonville's first ever playoff game.

The last time the Jaguars hosted a playoff game against someone other than the Patriots or Titans, it went swimmingly - and against another AFC East team

Jaguars over Bills -     Tom Coughlin's rebuild of the Jaguars has paid off in their first division title of the AFC South era  and their first division title since the AFC Central.    They face a Bills team that played well enough to make it but hasn't shown they've really taken the next step.    A key matchup - per John Glennon, when Blake Bortles was blitzed, he was abysmal.   So this game could be closer than the reputations of the two teams may suggest.

Where was this out of the Buccaneers all season? Maybe being home dogs helped.

Panthers over Saints -    Beating one team three times in a season is rare, and New Orleans' loss to the Bucs when they had to win to secure the NFC South (Atlanta's win over Carolina backed the Saints into the division title) raises a red flag; the Saints have gone just 3-3 entering the playoffs even with the season sweep of the Panthers, who won four of their last six and committed fewer turnovers in that span than the Saints.    The comeback of both teams has been remarkable, New Orleans from going 7-9 four of the last five seasons and Carolina from slumping to 6-10 in 2016.    The memory of back-to-back 41-38 games hangs over this matchup.

So the playoffs commence.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Playoffs Now Reckoning For 2017

The NFL's playoffs are on the horizon with one more week of regular season games to go.   Fifteen teams are fighting for twelve playoff spots, though there is little realistic chance the present top six in each conference will change.   

The game that defined the Rams season is this Week 3 shootout with the 49ers - ironically it has wound up also telegraphing the Niners' future, as they finally found the quarterback they need in November

Texans over Colts -   Suddenly scuttlebutt has it Bill O'Brien may not come back in 2018, surprising and seemingly unlikely as the Texans have a genuine quarterback in Deshaun Wartson and thus a bright future.

Lions over Packers -  The Packers got humiliated against the Vikings and it would seem there's no fight left, but then after getting smoked by a seemingly listless Bengals squad we're not sure about the Lions, either.   If Jim Caldwell is fired the new coach has to start holding Matthew Stafford accountable, as he approaches his tenth season and has never gotten better beyond merely good.

Vikings over Bears -   John Fox may not make it after this game, and one wonders about Mitchell Trubisky.

Redskins over NY Giants -  The Kirk Cousins deal remains a head-scratcher in inability to work out any deal between the Skins and him, to where his future more and more looks away from Washington.   The Giants have named Dave Gettleman as their new GM, and whoever the new coach is has to clean up a locker room culture that is completely toxic, full of me-first players; the Landon Collins fight with Eli Apple got headlines and showed the toxicity of this team; as refreshing as it is for a player to call out a teammate for being an all-around jerk it still reflects badly.  Of course the big cancer there is Odell Beckham, enabled throughout his time.   I would recommend against taking this job.

Eagles over Cowboys -  Suddenly the Cowboys no longer appear to be a contender, and the fixation by Jerry Jones to keep Jason Garrett strikes one as myopic hope in a coach who can't deliver no matter how much you want him to succeed.   Nick Foles' atrocious performance against the Raiders is a red flag; if he improves here then Philly's playoff chances will look a lot better.

Patriots over NY Jets  -  The bizarre fixation by media on Alex Guerrero and a supposed power struggle with Bill Belichick strikes one as a media-driven campaign to get him out of Foxboro; from the time it became clear Guerrero was a major training force for Brady and others there has been literally no media coverage conceding the legitimacy of his training methods, instead coverage pushes via implication that he is some kind of ripoff artist - and as Dan Le Betard's idiotic rant indicates, media believes he's giving steroids to Brady even though they can't say it in the open (the fact of it not being true of course doesn't matter).   And angry reaction about trading Jimmy Garoppolo shows media myopia continued; the fact is time (and cap math) ran out on the Patriots to be able to keep him, and trading for one draft pick isn't cause for alarm given the Patriots don't lean on the draft to build their rosters.   Media belief in a power struggle between Belichick and Robert Kraft once again is narrative-driven, not factual.    

With all that the Patriots hope to iron out kinks before the playoffs while the Jets may unexpectedly lose Todd Bowles to the Cardinals with a reported retirement by Bruce Arians.

Steelers over Browns -   The Steelers fanbase's deranged reaction to James Harrison's signing with the Patriots (not to mention angry reaction by some players) showed anew a team not disciplined or focused enough to be a true contender even after a wire-to-wire rout of the Texans.   They nonetheless get a hopeless Browns team that looks incapable of ever doing anything right.   DeShone Kizer looks like the worst quarterback failure in a decade.  

Niners over Rams -  This may rival Week 3's shootout with both teams exploding; Jimmy Garoppolo has the upper hand with nothing beyond further momentum for 2018 to play for, and thus unburdened by playoff pressure.   For the Rams it's realistically a throwaway game.

Chargers over Raiders -  Winning eight of their last eleven games is an encouraging surprise for the Chargers but they didn't elevate when they needed to against Jacksonville and Kansas CIty, so we feel this will just be a decent non-playoff year.   For the Raiders it's the old question "Now what?"  Del Rio may be gone and one wonders about Derek Carr, especially after his biggest laughfest since  Tillie's Punctured Romance at the Eagles.  

Saints over Buccaneers -   The Jon Gruden rumor suddenly appears legitimate with reports he is assembling a staff for the Bucs.   One wonders if he can get it right if he does take this job, though one holds out hope he or whoever can get Jameis Winston back on a winning track.   For the Saints the question now is whether they can win a playoff game.

Panthers over Falcons -   Last week's embarrassment by the Saints was a major blow for the Falcons' momentum and they get a Panthers team with a genuine shot at the division despite the season sweep by the Saints.   Last week's comeback win over the Bucs was only the second time in their last six games the Panthers haven't reached 31 points scored.  

Chiefs over Broncos -  Now we get to see Patrick Mahomes, and he should be better than the Broncos' Paxton Lynch.   Denver's fall could be seen approaching, but to have collapsed this badly is surprising.   Now with no credible quarterback and an overrated and aging defense, the Broncos have to start all over.

Dolphins over Bills -  Neither Jay Cutler (who may finally go away after this year) nor Tyrod Taylor inspire anything.   Miam's 4-3 home record stands better against Buffalo's 2-5 road record, so that may be enough.   One feels bad for Adam Gase as he had something good going with Ryan Tannehill and no doubt awaits Tannehill's return to health.

Titans over Jaguars -   Tennessee is not getting much respect for making the playoffs even though the Titans smoked the Jaguars in their own building earlier this year.   For all of Tom Coughlin wanting his players to keep playing and thus not develop rust the fact remains the Jaguars cannot advance beyond #3 seed in the AFC plus the Titans are fighting for their playoff lives, plus two bitter losses to the Niners and Rams show Tennessee is not just knuckling under to opponents - and Coughlin has a losing record (8-13) against the Titans as either coach or GM.  

Bengals over Ravens -   Cincinnati's win over the Lions after Marvin Lewis announced his coaching retirement shocked a lot of people and indicated the Bengals want him to go out a winner, and in the Andy Dalton era the Bengals have a 7-6 record against the Ravens, the seven wins coming in the last ten meetings.   Baltimore's improvement has been impressive nonetheless, especially in forcing 33 turnovers (plus-17 in differential).   

Cardinals over Seahawks -   A new candidate for changing coaches has suddenly appeared with rumor Pete Carroll may quit after this season, even with last week's pivotal win at Dallas.   The Seahawks, however, have major holes all around beginning with lack of discipline, resulting in a 4-4 record over their last eight games and the loss of home field advantage thanks to three home losses in their last four.   We think the Seahawks have run out of Carroll magic.

So we await the playoffs and also NFL Coach Black Monday.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Phony Rape Culture

College women are strikingly immune from violation compared to non-college women, according to a new study from the University Of Michigan.

Democrats Never Learn - Ownership Is Ownership

The Left's hostility to tax cuts reflects they don't believe in private property or property rights.

The Jones Act Failure

A new analysis indicates the Jones Act - a 1920 law known then as the Merchant Marine Act, it regulates maritime commerce - indicates the Act has been a failure and responds to criticism of an earlier analysis of the Jones Act by the American Maritime Partnership, which benefits from reduction in competition, the kind of reduction of Jones Act enables.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Roy Moore And The Weaponization Of "Sexual Harassment"

The smearing of Roy Moore showcases the weaponization and demagogization of "sexual harassment" and the growing problem of inaccurate and self-serving accusations.

Islam vs. Non-Muslims

The three worst doctrines of Islam

Week 15 Goes For The Kill

And all of a sudden the NFL's 2017 playoff race has turned ugly.  

Steeler fans and a lot of people on social media were furious that a Steelers touchdown got erased (it followed the worst effort against a pick route ever seen by New England's defense, and that gaffe came after one of the worst gameplans and execution ever seen by the Patriots) on the league's preposterously tight definition of a catch; the result was disaster for the Steelers on an endzone interception that won the game for the Patriots.    Being the top rivalry in the AFC right now this finish will earn more controversy than usual, and one has to ask why the league fears letting receivers get benefit of the doubt on catches.

It also got worse for the Steelers with ankle injury to Antonio Brown, which reportedly has cost him the season and maybe the playoffs.

Brady's former backup meanwhile pulled off a clutch last-second win in a game where both he and Marcus Mariota displayed clutch delivery.   Garoppolo's turnaround of the Niners shows anew the reality that quarterbacking is what wins.    The Titans offense went to a no-huddle attack and it clearly works.   Tennessee can still make the playoffs by beating the Rams and Jaguars at home.  

One of the wildest games of the weekend came amid media eruption about investigation of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, now putting the team up for sale, for reputed sexual harassment and use of a racial slur against a former scout with monetary settlements in at least four cases reported.   For what it's worth Cam Newton and other players vouched for Richardson's character after the game, and one should disabuse the notion that selling the team is any kind of lark based on a league investigation - it's way too big an investment for that.   The Panthers are a worthwhile purchase for a new Carolina owner with a quality team, fanbase, etc. and a playoff run pending.  

Carolina's win all but ends the forlorn playoff hopes of the Green Bay Packers.   Aaron Rodgers' return from injury - surprising in and of itself - ended with a lot of yards and two touchdowns but also three picks and his 33rd loss (to just six career wins) when trailing by at least two scores.  

Games between the Eagles and NY Giants at East Rutherford, NJ have shown a habit of bringing out the barrel of laughs from Joe Pisarcik to 1988's blocked field goal score to 2008's playoff grinder to Michael Vick's preposterous comeback in 2010.   2017 was the most competitive running of this series in years and the Eagles are in the NFC's first-round bye and still alive for the top seed and beyond.   For Eli Manning his NY Giants career looks to be ending, and struggle against the Eagles continues.

The playoffs thus are on the line for this coming week's games -

Ravens over Colts -   The Ravens are fighting for their playoff lives with the Bills and face a team that has haunted them since their 1996 debut, the ghost of the team that quit its city in late-March 1984.     The Ravens got the Colts at Indianapolis in their 1996 debut season and the rivalry has been woefully one-sided, a combined score 316-243 - an average of  22-17 per game.   That doesn't matter this year with the collapse of the Colts, reaching a new low with the loss to the Broncos.  

Vikings over Packers -   The Vikings are NFC North champs and the Packers are effectively out of the playoffs.   That's all one needs to know going into this game.   Aaron Rodgers is back, and looks ready to witness a fall to 8-8 or 7-9.   The question now is how far the Vikings can go; they've wrapped up the NFC North and can still get at least a bye.

Bears over Browns -  0-16 now beckons for the Browns after another rough outing for Mitch Trubisky of the Bears last week.   DeShone Kizer's rookie season will go down as a failure, leaving one to wonder if there is anything even here with him; a presumptive coaching change - just the latest such with the ever-perplexed Browns - also looms.

Panthers over Buccaneers -  Carolina's spectacular season rolls on; Tampa Bay's lost season stumbles to its conclusion.  The regression of Jameis Winston has been disturbing, but his effort against the Falcons showed reason to believe he is improving.

Titans over Rams -  There remains reason for optimism for the Titans after a dismal West Coast swing, with the switch to a no-huddle offense showing effectiveness at San Francisco.    Certainly the Rams' attack has become the most destructive since the Greatest Show On Astroturf and winning the division is a cinch, but the Titans have fought back from behind all season and need this game more than the Rams do, especially as.............

Falcons over Saints -  .......we expect the Falcons to finish the sweep of the Saints and thus end any hope of a playoff bye.   It's clear now the Falcons have worked in their new offensive coordinator's schemes well, and they've won the last three meetings with New Orleans.   Despite being plus-four in overall differential the Saints' turnover problems resurfaced against the NY Jets as well.   We expect the Rams and Saints' playoff seeds to stay the same.

Broncos over Redskins -  The Redskins, despite the win over the Cardinals, have transmuted back into the Deadskins, while the Broncos are on a two-game roll.

Chargers over NY Jets -  The Jets once again stand for Just End The Season.  San Diego's playoff hopes are gone so they need worry only about winning games, especially after their ugly no-show at Kansas City.    One also has to wonder if San Diego will try to draft one of the hotshot quarterback prospects entering the 2018 Draft, for Philip Rivers has been in slow-motion erosion all decade, failing to reach ten wins even once.

Chiefs over Dolphins - The Chiefs have their swag back and the Dolphins are fried fish for Lamar Hunt's powwow.

Patriots over Bills -  New England's stunner at Pittsburgh raised eyebrows for the struggle of the defense and also for the continuing inability - or unwillingness by Brady - to permanently engage other pass-catchers in the offense - Gronkowski had nine catches and Cooks had four; Amendola and James White were the only others targeted more than twice.    This binky approach has always ground the offense to a halt and the need for Brady to engage the likes of Kenny Britt (one catch for seven yards in his Patriots debut) into the offense becomes ever greater with playoff seedings on the line.   Buffalo's only chance at the playoffs is to win out, an unlikely prospect with a scuffling Patriots team looking to fix issues before the postseason arrives.

Forty-Niners over Jaguars -  The Jaguars are for real again, but so are the 49ers (they've won four of their last five), and Jimmy Garoppolo is clearly better than Blake Bortles, though Bortles' 3,174 yards and nineteen touchdowns aren't anything to sneeze at.   That edge is what will decide this outcome and put the AFC South into a one-game showdown on New Years Eve.

Cowboys over Seahawks - The Seahawks now appear to be in freefall.   They still own the tiebreaker for the playoffs, but a loss will cancel that out, and where the Cowboys have won three straight the Seahawks have lost four of their last seven, three of them at home.   Seattle's abandonment of discipline was in evidence again after last week's Jacksonville brouhaha as rookie Delano Hill attacked two Rams players and got ejected for it - it's a sign Pete Carroll's ethic increasingly doesn't work or he's not disciplining players.

NY Giants over Cardinals -  The Cardinals are now 6-8 and falling to their worst record since 2012.   The Giants have struggled to beat anyone but this looks like a morale-booster of a game.

Steelers over Texans -  Overmatched - that is the word for the Texans.   

Eagles over Raiders - The Eagles are flying to the top seed in the NFC, while the Raiders lament yet another lost opportunity.

The other big story percolating is that eleven and up to fourteen head coaches may be fired; one such domino has already fallen with Marvin Lewis of the Bengals retiring, presumably to Cincinnati's front office.   The hot coaching prospect is Josh McDaniels of the Patriots, but Jon Gruden amazingly may actually return to the league as a head coach.   A slew of coordinators will certainly be promoted to head jobs, and such turnover happens because - to use an old Ralph Kramdein-ism, one of these days, Morton, POW! Right in the kisser! - of finally finding the right coach.

With improvement in numerous teams the last two seasons, that's a chance teams should take.

Monday, December 11, 2017

First World Economy

This piece argues that companies need to focus on serving customers and also invest more in technology to rebuild the economy.

Tell "Me Too" To Shut Up

The catchphrase "Me Too" has popped up in the wake of Harvey Weinstein, yet it is nothing of substance, it's just another fraudulent "War On Women." It's in keeping with the Democratic Party and what it essentially is - a party of enablement, entitlement, and depravity. It is also character assassination now led by the malicious Kirsten Gillibrand.

Dogs Will Dog In Week Fifteen

The NFL hits Week 15 and hits have become a concern the last few weeks.

With multiple bad hits in the Bengals-Steelers brawl the week before, the Seahawks' reputation as a dirty team was amplified with another brawl started by them in the wake of a hard-fought loss.   Michael Bennett - he of the character assassination campaign in Las Vegas earlier this year - started the whole thing and his teammate got into it with a fan.   While one doesn't endorse fans throwing  objects at players, the Seahawks deserved it.

What may be Game Of The Year erupted in LA as the Eagles - despite losing Carson Wentz to an ACL - stormed to a 43-35 stunner after last week's ugly loss to the Seahawks.   The NFC playoff byes race is now strictly between the Vikings and the Eagles

Another candidate for Game Of The Year was Pittsburgh's eye-popping shootout over the Ravens marred by Baltimore's idiotic lack of clock awareness at the end

A subplot of the season right now is the Tennessee Titans, dismissed as a fraud team from what I've been hearing within media.    Fan reaction from the 12-7 loss at the Cardinals typifies the overreaction football breeds, with demands Mariota be benched, coach Mike Mularkey be fired, and even savaging of the Titans ownership group as somehow uncommitted to winning.    Some sobriety is always in order - the Titans certainly acquitted themselves dismally on offense as the defense erupted to eight sacks and zero touchdown allowed; as for Mariota going forward as a quarterback, his ability should not be doubted, as he led comebacks in both Colts games - Tennessee's first sweep of the Colts since 2002 -  and also triumphed in back-and-forth affairs against the Browns (a troublesome matchup for the Titans dating from 2001's 41-38 Browns win) and Ravens - both times where the game lead tied or changed at least four times - led the comeback drive against the Bengals, and has beaten eight playoff-contending teams (Detroit, Green Bay, Miami, Kansas City, Denver, Jacksonville, Seattle, and Baltimore) in the last two seasons (the 2016 win over division champ Houston was Matt Cassel's game); in all the Titans have won 17 of their last 28 games. 

While the Titans may not reach the Superbowl the growth they've shown the last two seasons in undeniable - and legitimate.   Mariota's volume stats this year aren't anything to shout about - but then situational execution is what wins, and for the most part Mariota has done just that.

Seven underdogs won in Week 14, so we can expect dogs to dog in Week 15 -

Colts over Broncos -   Two teams with lost seasons finish out the season simply looking for some kind of positivity.   Embarrassing the NY Jets gave the Broncos just that, but they are 0-6 in road games this year vs. Indy's 2-4 home record.

Lions over Bears -  The Bears likewise got a boost by embarrassing the Bengals, but here they face a Lions team still with a playoff shot and which beats up on teams with losing records; it's quality opponents the Lions don't beat.

Chiefs over Chargers - San Diego has surged and Kansas City's beating of the Raiders doesn't fix all their problems, but the Chiefs have owned the Chargers the last five games, winning by an average score of 27-14; it gets worse considering San Diego hasn't beaten the Chiefs since 2013.

Saints over NY Jets  - The old joke that Jets means Just End The Season is on again.   The Saints look like NFC South locks though a playoff bye now looks out of reach.

Panthers over Packers -  Carolina got a quality win over the Vikings and are just about clinched for the playoffs, while the Packers can only finish 10-6 and that is unlikely to be enough.   Even if Aaron Rodgers returns for this game the Panthers have too much to grab to let this one go, especially as they are seventh in passing yards allowed per game.

Jaguars over Texans -  Speaking of all but clinching the playoffs, the Jaguars are likewise close enough that they won't let this one slip away to a Houston team that is looking to 2018 and DeShaun Watson's return.   Until then the Texans have only the string to play out.   Noteworthy is that Blake Bortles has broken 80 in passer rating eight times this season.

Vikings over Bengals -  So when does AJ McCarron finally start for the Bengals?   By now it's clear Andy Dalton can't get it done.

Eagles over NY Giants -  Eli Manning - forget it.   The question is how well Nick Foles plays.

Cardinals over Redskins -  Oddly enough the Cardinals are salvaging a respectable season despite losing Carson Palmer.   Blaine Gabbert is validating Bruce Arians' praise that he can play; meanwhile the Redskins have lost six of their last nine games and have been downright awful in their last two.

Bills over Dolphins -  Salvaging a winning season is a reachable goal for the Bills, salvaging anything for the Dolphins this season disappeared when Ryan Tannehill went down even with Jay Cutler actually winning a game against the Patriots. 

Ravens over Browns -   Blowing a 21-7 lead to a vulnerable Packers squad is the kind of loss bad teams don't recover from.   The sad part for the Browns is DeShone Kizer finally showed actual winning ability.   The Ravens for their part have to be bashing their heads at blowing clock management at Pittsburgh last week.

Rams over Seahawks -   The Rams and Seahawks both lost last week and the Rams hold only a one-game lead having lost earlier this year at the Coliseum.   Seattle, however, does not have the same muscle they had before and while they can put up points they've struggled on their vaunted defense and homefield advantage isn't as effective anymore after losses to the Redskins and Falcons. 

Patriots over Steelers -   Pittsburgh has long struggled against the Patriots, losing twelve of the last seventeen meetings, but the injury to Ryan Shazier not only is a traumatic development on a personal level, it has hurt the Steelers defense as shown by the Ravens.   New England's tight ends have long had success against Pittsburgh's defense and now the secondary has gelled to where we can expect Stephon Gilmore to hold his own against Antonio Brown.   The caveat is Tom Brady's poor play at Miami, with some reportage his Achilles is hurting him; we doubt he will let it ruin this game, and the other wildcard is newly-signed ex-Titan Kenny Britt, the tallest pass-catcher other than Gronk on the New England squad.

Titans over 49ers -  As of this writing Marcus Mariota's status is questionable, but given how he gutted it out despite a bum knee at Arizona we think he will play.   He certainly didn't dodge blame for his poor performance at Arizona.   The Niners meanwhile have finally begun playing better now that they have Jimmy Garoppolo, and he has shown unquestionable ability.   The Titans need this game a lot more than the Niners and we think this will tip the balance.

Raiders over Cowboys - This is our Upset Pick of this week.   The Cowboys are 7-6 and have won five of their last eight while the Raiders are 6-7 and 4-3 in their last seven.   The Cowboys have struggled against Western-division teams in both conferences (a combined 2-3 in such games with wins over the Niners and Chiefs and losses to the Broncos, Rams, and Chargers) and their playoff hopes are realistically gone; the same is true of the Raiders.  Both teams have been schizophrenic, we think being in Oakland on prime time will tilt to the Raiders.

Falcons over Buccaneers -   The Falcons hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks so every win from here on is vital; they get a break against a Bucs team that has nothing to play for now and with a quarterback in Jameis Winston who is just 2-8 this year, a stunning regression after a promising 2016. 

So we await which dogs get the upsets.

The CFPB Technocracy

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a dictatorial technocracy that refuses to be accountable, and it was built that way.   That the hacks within are fighting assertion of legitimate authority shows why it has to be killed.
Also worth looking at is the troubled legacy of Dodd-Frank.

Monday, December 04, 2017

The Mueller Soap Opera

The Mike Flynn controversy has sparked a lot of loose talk about impeachment of Donald Trump because Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI - except there's evidence the FBI felt he in fact told them the truth. The Mueller investigation is no longer about collusion - that's now been discredited. It is about obstruction, and it is a disinformation campaign to end such, one that was led by a crooked FBI agent - Peter Strzok, keeping in the tradition of H. Paul Rico and Zip Connolly - who broomed the Hillary Clinton investigation (during which, BTW, Hillary's right-hand Huma Abedin lied to investigators). And no less than Alan Dershowitz dismisses the premise as "hope over reality" - shown in belief that Flynn's plea constitutes some kind of "smoking gun." It's also coming from a former FBI director who was in the Boston office in the years when the crooked head of the Organized Crime Strike Force, Jeremiah O'Sullivan, worked overtime to cover up for Billy and Whitey Bulger, and the FBI's reputation for corruption, sewn in the eras of H. Paul Rico and Zip Connolly, has only continued and continued.

The Roy Moore Soap Opera

Roy Moore, running for Senate in Alabama, has been attacked as a child molester by seemingly everyone - yet reading the accusation made in a Washington Post story indicates credibility problems with the accusation - further shown when subsequent claims Moore was banned at a mall in Gadsden, AL for stalking are refuted by the mall's security chief and several workers. And "the two-faced 'morality play'" of the Democrats only justifies voting for Moore to an even greater extent.

Playoff Races Now Approach

The NFL's 2017 season is now hitting the stretch for the playoffs, and that pressure has shown.

The meltdown of Kansas City's season was personified when Marcus Peters threw a referee's flag into the grandstands.    The switch of playcalling on offense by the Chiefs helped in that they scored 31 points in one of the games of the year..............

................but Alex Smith's inability to seize control to win the game showed again, and suddenly San Diego is in position to steal the division.

If that scenario sounds familiar, it is, albeit the last time San Diego helped cost the Chiefs the AFC West was 2013 in the immortal Seyi Ajirotutu game.  

Here are the top seeds in the AFC -

North - Steelers - bye
East - Patriots - bye

South - Titans
West - Chiefs

WC1 - Jaguars
WC2 - Ravens

Remaining teams at .500 -

While in the NFC -

North - Vikings - bye
East - Eagles - bye

West - Rams
South - Saints

WC1 - Seahawks
WC2 - Panthers

Remaining teams .500 or better -

So realistically we have four spots in the AFC with seven teams in contest, and three in the NFC with five teams in contest.   Every Seahawk win knocks the Packers further and further away from a playoff spot while San Diego is the big challenger to the faltering Chiefs and the South is a Titans-Jaguars showdown that may come down to Week 17; and the way both teams are playing both look like playoff locks.  

So the games remaining mean a lot to a number of teams -

Falcons over Saints - The Falcons are fighting for their playoff lives and need to just tie the Seahawks in standings with the head-to-head tiebreaker as their trump.    This rivalry has been 5-5 the last five seasons with a 3-2 home record for the Falcons in that span.   The Saints with their sweep of the Panthers - presently ahead of the Falcons in playoff seedings - all but have the division.

Bills over Colts - The Colts now have nothing to play for in a season that resembles 1997 all over again.   The Bills, though, aren't in that much better shape with Tyrod Taylor showing why he was benched even before getting hurt against the Patriots.

Vikings over Panthers -  The Vikings, for the moment the top seed in the NFC, more and more look like a machine and the Panthers loss at New Orleans ended any realistic hope of the division. 

Packers over Browns -  0-16 is now in play for the Browns and the Packers are actually in a playoff race.   The failure of the Browns as an organization just gets worse and worse, with no hope in sight - and the rumor of recruiting of Peyton Manning to take over the team will only intensify.

Chiefs over Raiders -  The Chiefs have faltered badly, but the Raiders are 6-6 for a reason and the Chiefs showed improvement, especially on offense; we think this will help them here.

Forty-Niners over Texans -   Jimmy Garoppolo's debut game wasn't much to write home about but it was a win, and now Garoppolo gets a Texans team whose collapse has gone unnoticed with the eye-popping fall of the Chiefs.

Bengals over Bears -  The Bears blew it against the Niners and Mitchell Trubisky's rookie season slogs onward toward a forgettable end.   The Bengals come off the ugliest loss in years, both in terms of on-field play and also in on-field violence.

Lions over Buccaneers -   The Bucs put up a whale of a fight at Green Bay and it wasn't enough.    Detroit failed yet again against a quality team and the Lions' playoff chances are gone.   Taking on a team with an outright losing record is what the Lions need here; an injured thumb is not what Matthew Stafford needed.

Jaguars over Seahawks -  Upending the NFC's top seed shows the Seahawks are racing to the playoffs, and they've won nine of their last eleven games against AFC teams.   But this is not the Jaguars team that was easy pickings for the last four years; this is a solid outfit that's got the playoffs in sight and the last time the Seahawks traveled east to the AFC South it ended ugly.

Chargers over Redskins -  San Diego has momentum, the Redskins don't.    Suddenly Philip Rivers is playing like the franchise power he's long been, while Kirk Cousins looks like a petulant child.  

Titans over Cardinals -  The Titans have secured back-to-back seasons .500 or better for the first time since the 2006-09 period where they won 39 games.    Their last two times against the Cardinals, oddly,  were in Tennessee and both were stunning finishes in Vince Young's game-winning touchdown in 2009 and Ryan Fitzpatrick's overtime INT after erasing a 34-17 gap in 2013.    Blaine Gabbert has one career game against the Titans and it was a loss.   The Cards' playoff chances are unrealistic.

NY Jets over Broncos - History has been stood on its head in Denver - this is the 20th anniversary of the Broncos' stunning first Superbowl win, and on this anniversary the Broncos have collapsed into irrelevance.   The Jets still have a slim playoff shot and face a Broncos team that has been outscored 421 to 108 since their bye week.  

Rams over Eagles -  The Eagles are shellshocked after a nowhere performance at Seattle and their West Coast swing goes to LA, with a playoff bye now possible for the Rams.   

Cowboys over NY Giants -  Peter Hermann and Mariska Hargitay may be hired as NY Giants coaches at this rate; Ben McAdoo certainly appears dead now, though the benching of Eli Manning was overdue after years of mediocrity and the angry sentiment for him is annoying.    The Cowboys' playoff hopes are slim.

Ravens over Steelers - The Ravens have the playoffs in their sights and suddenly look strong enough to upend the Steelers, winners of the last two meetings but losers of nine of the last fourteen.  

Patriots over Dolphins -   The Patriots are headlong toward the top seed again and the Dolphins are playing out the string.   Ding-Dong Suh hit Brady late several times the previous meeting, a rarity given he never even gets to Brady traditionally.   The suspension of Gronkowski is surprising given his lack of retaliatory antics in the past.  

And thus are we off through December.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Liberal Icons Equal Phonies

Liz Warren and John Conyers are considered icons of liberalism.  Both are frauds and Nancy Pelosi is once again living up to the Democratic Party's history of enabling rape out of their philosophy of entitled moral relativism - a philosophy at work with Conyers' selection of his son to take over, the resistance of Democrats in demanding Al Franken's removal (and the perfunctory apology by Franken as he portrayed himself as a victim), and with the firing of Matt Lauer from NBC News

The National Foot-Brawl League Hits Week 13

Ah, the days of the National Foot-brawl League.........

Remember the old days when the Oakland Raiders were the dirtiest team in the league?

They still are.   Of course this brawl started last season between Michael Crabtree and Aqib Talib and it's in keeping with the wild wild west of the AFC.    And amid all that in Denver the Raiders clawed back into longshot contention for the playoffs.   They need to win out their remaining games and get some help outside - but with Kansas City's recent fate they or the Chargers may get it; the caveats are the Raiders get road games at Philly, Kansas City, and at the Chargers.  

The Raiders are one of ten AFC teams still in genuine playoff contention, so games coming forward matter even more.   We thus look at those coming up in the Lucky 13th week -

Redskins over Cowboys -  The collapse of the Cowboys has vaulted the Redskins into a wildcard playoff bid, and after beating the fallen Giants the Skins have momentum while the Cowboys are lost without Zeke Elliott.   The Deadskins vs. Cowpokes rivalry remains one of the NFL's most celebrated.

Vikings over Falcons -  1998 will always be the signature game in the history of this rivalry, and with Week 13 the Vikings and Falcons now both have something big to play for with Minnesota fighting for a playoff bye and the Falcons very much in contention for the NFC South.    Both teams have enough strength (Minnesota has one of the playoff byes while the Falcons are 7-4 at this juncture) to make this perhaps game of the week.   It's clear Case Keenum is for real for the Vikings and it's also clear there is no Superbowl hangover for the Falcons.   The edge goes to a Vikings team that already beat one of the NFC's strongest teams in the Rams.

49ers over Bears -  Does Mitchell Trubisky have a future?   For that matter does C. J. Beathard?   Jimmy Garoppolo's late-game touchdown looks to have been decisive in San Francisco's decision to start him over the struggling rookie, who has San Francisco's only win but overall has not made the team competitive with anyone.  Now we see how good Garoppolo can be and if he can elevate a struggling Niners squad.

Packers over Buccaneers - The former NFC Central rivalry is renewed and the Bucs come in with their season gone and the Packers come in off a heartbreaker of a loss at Pittsburgh.   Brent Hundley hasn't made his team competitive outside of beating the Bears until this game against the Steelers and he comes into this Bucs game with confidence after so stellar a performance as he displayed, while the Bucs come in without much reason for optimism.

Jaguars over Colts - The Jaguars come off their own bitter loss, this one at Arizona, and get the falling Colts, shutout the first time these two met this year.   The Jags' only career season sweep of the Colts was in 2011's Suck For Luck campaign; look for the playoff-bound Jaguars to get another sweep this year.

Dolphins over Broncos -  Two miserable teams without competent quarterbacking playing out the string.   The Broncos' philosophy of going all-in won them a Superbowl and they're now paying for it with complete irrelevance.  

Panthers over Saints -  Last time out the Saints and Panthers were still struggling to get some momentum going.   The Saints have done a better job of it but the Panthers have been sneaky strong and even with some poor quality play out of Cam Newton (who has failed to reach 200 passing yards in four of his last five games and posted passer ratings under 72 in five of the last six) the Panthers have strung together a very good season.   New Orleans appears to be losing some steam of late and the Panthers look to jump on top of a defense 12th in scoring vs. Carolina's 8th.

NY Jets over Chiefs - The faltering of the Chiefs continues, and now some are wondering if Patrick Mahomes will start; Andy Reid's Monday presser only added to this speculation.   We doubt it given he hasn't taken a snap all season.   The Jets meanwhile are still playing people tough.

Ravens over Lions - The main strike against the Lions remains inability to beat quality opponents; Week Four's win at the Vikings is their only win so far against a quality team.   The Ravens are only 18th in scoring, but they're still in playoff contention at 6-5 despite continuing struggle from a clearly-plateaued or worse Joe Flacco; in his last six games he's reached 200 yards only once and three of those times his passer rating failed to reach 80.

Patriots over Bills -  People have forgotten the real reason why Tyrod Taylor was benched - there is no growth left in him.    This reality should be displayed again as the Patriots race headlong toward the top seed in the conference while the Bills have faltered since starting 5-2.

Titans over Texans -  Another sneaky good team has been Tennessee.   Houston lit them up for 57 points in Week Four but things have changed completely since then with Tennessee winning five of the last seven.   Gagging up the ball has remained a problem for both teams with negative turnover differential for both, while on the ground the Titans are sixth in rushing going against Houston's sixth-ranked run defense.   The Texans are a M*A*S*H unit of injuries compared to Tennessee, and Deshaun Watson's absence remains felt.  Tom Savage's collapse against the Ravens erased positive momentum from Houston's win over the Cardinals.

Chargers over Browns - By now it isn't even fair.   The Browns did shock the Chargers last season but that was then and this is a Browns team that doesn't show any fight.

Raiders over NY Giants -  The collapse of the Giants remains one of the shockers of 2017 and the benching of Eli Manning has come under fire but in reality was overdue, with the aborted trade to the Jaguars now back into Rumor Control Central. The Raiders' hopes of the playoffs require a win in this game, and beating the Giants is something the Raiders haven't done since 2001. Up and down the stat line it's a game pitting weaknesses against weaknesses in run defense, rushing, etc.

Rams over Cardinals - This game has makings of a highly-competitive affair with the Rams coming in at 8-3 and the 5-6 Cardinals getting new life with Blaine Gabbert and a tight win over the Jaguars.   The Rams didn't light up the scoreboard as much as they presumably hoped against the Saints, but it was certainly enough, and the last five meetings have been a seesaw affair with the Rams winning three of the last five. 

Eagles over Seahawks - The old Seahawks dichotomy of losing on the road and winning all their home games has been shot down this season with back-to-back home losses to the Redskins and the Falcons.   The Eagles come in with four road wins so far and hold the edge in scoring, points allowed, and turnover differential.   Where the Seahawks might have an edge is in attacking Philly's passing defense, presently 16th in the league, though Russell Wilson's completion percentage has failed to reach 62% the last two games.   Seattle's pass defense has of course been wounded with multiple secondary injuries. 

Cincinnati hasn't beaten the Steelers since Week 8 of 2015

Steelers over Bengals - Mike Tomlin in a Sunday interview talked openly about facing the Patriots in several weeks, and thus gave away a lack of focus on next week's opponent.   Not that the 5-6 Bengals - a surprising 5-6 at that - are really much of a challenge (just one Bengals win in the last eight meetings) and the speculation that Marvin Lewis will finally be fired has resurfaced.   To their credit the Bengals are tenth in fewest points allowed and fifth in passing yards allowed per game. 

Well, Lucky 13 is on the NFL roulette wheel.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Is There A Weinstein Cultural Pushback?

This piece examines how Harvey Weinstein's collapse has spurred a massive shift in cultural effort against sexual abuse.    Also worth examining is this look at how sexual predators exploit the campaign against masculinty -

"In the old days, for every Weinstein or Charlie Rose, there would be a get-even husband, outraged dad, family friend, big brother, or furious boyfriend..... but the malicious men currently in the news knew that too often the slow-coach Human Resources Department would merely catalogue their assaults and weigh the costs and benefits of endangering the careers of rich, powerful, famous predators."

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Patriots Feast On NFL Turkeys

What is the real threat to the future of the NFL? It isn't injury, it's a two-parter - Part One is the lack of intellectual growth among coaches. The New England Patriots are feasting on turkeys galore entering Thanksgiving weekend and there isn't a coach in the league who can compete with Bill Belichick. Week Eleven showcased how vast the qualitative gap exists between Belichick and everyone else - and it's not just in coaching, it's in roster construction as well..

New England's Speedy Gonzales show showed anew how bad other coaches are compared to the Patriots.   

Of course the bigger issue is Part Two - the lack of development of quarterbacks.     That some media are again lobbying for a team to sign the worthless Colin Kaepernick - he of fewer wins the last three seasons than Jacoby Brissett or Blaine Gabbert - is driven by disgust at the poor quality of quarterbacking.     The problem, though, is they're not being developed between the college game's refusal to play pro-style offenses - instead imposing the dumbed-down zone read offense - and the lack of a true developmental apparatus , i.e. a minor league.   The NFL's myopia about having a minor league and/or working with other football leagues to better develop players by now is clearly hurting the game - just what would not be beneficial from an alliance of the NFL with the CFL, arena football leagues, etc.?

So we hope quality of play improves somewhat this Thanksgiving weekend - 

2016 Thanksgiving

Lions over Vikings - The Lions have dominated this rivalry lately, winning the last three meetings, and have regained some momentum after winning three straight.   The NFC North has become strictly a two-team race between these two as the Vikings look to snap their slump, coming off a clutch win over a powerful Rams phalanx.

Chargers over Cowboys - Suddenly San Diego doesn't look like pantywaists anymore, though obliterating a collapsing Bills squadron is not exactly a clutch win.    The Chargers nonetheless have something they need - momentum - entering Jerry Jones World with the Cowboys now officially in freefall after their inability to function without Zeke Elliott showed in their ugliest loss in years.

Redskins over NY Giants - The Redskins blew it again at New Orleans while the NY Giants pulled off a stunner of a win over the Chiefs as Roger Lewis became this Giants generation's David Tyree.    The failure of the Giants' season won't be assuaged by one win, and being a divisional game the bad blood will boil, especially for a Redskins team that's not a playoff team but is better than 4-6, albeit only slightly.

The highest-scoring game in the Bengals-Browns rivalry's history came in 2004.............

.............until it was surpassed three years later

Bengals over Browns - The Broncos are collapsing, yet beating them in Denver counts for something for the struggling Bengals, and they get the winless Browns who look even worse than last year and are stuck with a quarterback who looks to have no future.

Titans over Colts -   Getting humiliated by the Steelers should motivate the Titans to redouble effort to clean up gaffes committed at Heinz Field.    They're looking for only the second season sweep of the Colts in their history and this Colts team continues to struggle.   Don't expect a runaway, though; that never seems to work when one expects it. 

Panthers over NY Jets -   Carolina more and more looks back in 2015 form as the Panthers travel to a Jets team that's lost four of its last five games.   The caveat to throw in is turnover differential - the Jets are plus-One to Carolina's minus-Seven - a yikes stat.

Chiefs over Bills -  Andy Reid's NFC East magic is gone and they get what looks to be a needed respite after losing three of the last four games.   The Bills no longer look like a playoff team - entering this week the Ravens have supplanted the Bills as the AFC's six seed - and are getting ripped for starting rookie Nathan Peterman and seeing five INTs in the first half at San Diego.  

Falcons over Buccaneers -  The Falcons despite struggling quite a bit are still in the playoff race despite only being the eighth seed in the NFC, and they get a slumping Bucs squad, one of the big underachievers of the season.

Eagles over Bears -  The Eagles just keep pillaging opponents and they get a bad Bears team this week.    Mitchell Trubisky is a rookie and his struggles will continue.

2016's Michael Floyd game

Patriots over Dolphins -  Forget it - the machine of the league vs. an inept division foe stuck with a quarterback who doesn't care and doesn't try.

Saints over Rams -  The Rams got exposed by the Vikings and the Saints look more and more like a Superbowl team.    Remember when they were 0-2?  They don't, either. 

Seahawks over 49ers - The Niners got their first win of the season and the Seahawks are losing starters more and more, but the Seahawks have too much firepower for the Niners.

Raiders over Broncos -  Which team is worse?   We think the Broncos, and so does John Elway after he ripped them for softness before they proved him right in their loss to the Bengals.  Neither team is going anywhere.

Jaguars over Cardinals -   Blaine Gabbert is an upgrade for Arizona's quarterbacking issue of late, but they get a Jaguars team racing headlong into the playoffs.  

Steelers over Packers - The collapse of the Packers is hilarious given how overrated they always are; they'd be better with Aaron Rodgers but it's impossible to think they'd be all that much better. Pittsburgh continues to surge.

Texans over Ravens -  The Texans suddenly have some momentum after finally breaking through with Tom Savage and they travel to Baltimore after the Ravens looked like 2000 all over again.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Joe Biden And The Failure Of Gun Control

Joe Biden's idiotic responses to the Texas shooting showcases the non-credibility of the Democratic Party and gun control advocacy in general.

A government that's not competent at implementing a simple background-check system is utterly incapable of physically pulling more than three hundred million guns out of private hands.

Why Is Ohio Sucking Up To A Terrorist Religion?

Ohio politicians are allowing Islamic savages to lobby to legitimize a terrorist religion - and CAIR-Cleveland's founder is the archtypal Islamic imperialist.

Gender Differences In Wages

The Bureau Of Labor Statistics releases a report every year on earnings by women - specifically in relation to men. The details disprove yet again the myth of discrimination.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Monday, November 13, 2017

Special Teams Make Special Plays Entering Week 11

The Patriots special teams proved decisive in New England's 41-16 massacre of the Broncos, and New England's investment in special teams has long paid off.   

Amid the escalating war between Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell - and the laughable opulence of Goodell's reported contract extension demands including $50 million, a plane for life, and health insurance for his family (which Goodell can already pay for himself) - the story of Martellus Bennett quitting on the faltering Packers and jerking his way into getting cut and then getting signed by the Patriots is a curious melodrama.   Regardless of the machinations of a player who's been an ass everywhere except Foxboro, we have Week Ten coming up -

Titans over Steelers -  Tennessee has now won four straight games against AFC North teams and has won seven of the last ten meetings with AFC Central legacy teams (the Houston Texans alas really don't count as an AFC Central legacy team despite Houston being one of that division's longtime host towns) so they go to a Steelers team that had to rally against a scrappier-than-expected Colts team.   The Titans have outscored the Steelers 205 to 187 this season while the Steelers are second in points allowed.   Both teams are all but the same in turnover differential (Tennessee has a slight edge at plus-One to Pittsburgh's minus-One) and Roethlisberger and Mariota are roughly the same in touchdown to INT ratio; the Titans have an edge in run defense as well, so expect another taut affair.

Ravens over Packers - The surprise was that the Packers beat the Bears.   They are now 5-4 but taking on the 4-5 Ravens, who look like better competition now than was the case when Rodgers was still there.   The Ravens haven't beaten the Packers since bludgeoning Brett Favre 48-3 in 2005 yet the Packers don't look like a playoff team; that the Ravens aren't either doesn't lessen that they now have a better shot than they would be thought of having at the end of September.

Buccaneers over Dolphins - This was supposed to be Week One, but of course circumstances beyond anyone's control intervened.   The Bucs got a needed win over another AFC East team last week and now get another such team, this one the increasingly inept Dolphins, this despite a surprisingly competitive match against the Panthers last time out.   Ryan Fitzpatrick, the presumptive starter, got swept by the Dolphins last year, but that was with Ryan Tannehill as quarterback.

Saints over Redskins - Shocker of a stat - Drew Brees is 1-4 against the Skins as Saints quarterback (2-4 lifetime) as his Saints host the Skins on a seven-game winning streak.   The Skins can put up points as they did against a good defense in the Vikings and turnover differential is surprisingly close at minus-One for Washington and plus-Three for New Orleans.   The Saints however are exploding, so we think they win even if it takes a 52-35 style score to do it.

Jaguars over Browns - Two of the very first wins in Jaguars history were against the Cleveland Browns before they transmuted into the Baltimore Ravens.   There is literally nothing in this matchup that favors Cleveland. 

Cardinals over Texans -  The Texans are now taking a Savage beating with Tom as their quarterback.  The schizophrenic Cardinals got mildly embarrassed at home to the Seahawks and now go to a faltering Texans team.   Bill O'Brien's postgame acceptance of responsibility for poor quarterback play showcases again his inability to do something he is supposed to do - develop a quarterback.

Rams over Vikings - This could be Game Of The Year, two 7-2 powers head on.   Curiously the Rams' two losses have both been home losses as they host a Vikings team that is fifth in points allowed but only tenth in scoring, while the Rams are first in scoring, fourth in points allowed, and plus-Seven in turnover differential.   Minnesota's edge could be on the ground at 118 yards per game, the same number allowed per game by the Rams. 

Chiefs over NY Giants - The most damning evidence that Ben McAdoo will be fired is that he's spent his time enabling Odell Beckham Jr and it's clear the other players see this favoritism for an inept receiver who's a bitch.    The question now is whether Eli Manning goes to the Jaguars for 2018.

Lions over Bears -  Now we wonder if John Fox will last in Chicago.   If Matthew Stafford has to beat a bad team, he'll do it, albeit it may make it look like a deadlocked playoff game to do it. 

Bills over Chargers -  The Bills may now be falling out of the playoff race (they're clinging to the Number 6 seed at present) but they get an underwhelming Chargers team this week.   San Diego is woefully behind the Bills in turnover differential (Buffalo remains at plus-Eleven there), running the ball, and especially stopping the run (presently dead last in rushing yards allowed per game).    

Broncos over Bengals - Maybe this week the collapsing Broncos get a respite with the subpar Bengals, coming in off a bitter loss at Tennessee, 1-3 since their bye week, 30th in scoring, and with Vontaze Burfict getting tossed from games yet again.    One wonders if either coach will make it after Week 17.

Patriots over Raiders, Mexico City -  The Raiders have faltered to 4-5, the Patriots now appear to be the unstoppable machine they've largely been for over fifteen years.    Most encouraging for the Patriots - Tom Brady threw to nine different pass catchers and the stats between catches was strikingly even.   Spreading the ball breaks up the opponent defense every time.

Eagles over Cowboys -  The Eagles lead the NFC for a reason, and the Cowboys suddenly look a lot weaker without Zeke Elliott.   NFC East games usually become tight affairs so we should expect a taut game and a lot of points with both teams in the top-eight in points and midpack in points allowed. 

Seahawks over Falcons - The Seahawks stubbed their toe at home against the Redskins but now get a Falcons team that has struggled this season, especially on turnovers (minus-Three to Seattle's plus-Six).   Oddly, the Falcons are sixth in pass defense where the Seahawks are just 13th. 

So we await special plays by special players on special teams - and everyone else.