With the winter air come the changes around the league, and it got off to a solid start this week. Let’s take a look, shall we?
After last week’s Eli Manning Benching Debacle, the writing appeared to not only be on the wall, but burned into the wall, for Ben McAdoo. The news came out on Monday that McAdoo and General Manager Jerry Reese were fired, presenting the very apparent opportunity for a rebuild (or maybe a retool?) of the team to move them into a new era and build around Odell Beckham, Jr. as the star of the franchise. They are very likely moving on from Eli after this season, which is fine, and they are in position to draft a quarterback in rounds one or two this coming offseason, as well as a running back (in my opinion, another glaring need).
I’m not sure who the Giants will bring in as GM, although Dave Gettleman’s name has come up already. The rumor mill always starts grinding right after a change like this is implemented, and I’ll say this much is obvious: there is a former head coach in interim HC Steve Spagnuolo that the team could consider, but I see a coaching staff overhaul in the near future of this franchise.
New York needs to address its lines, its running back position, and probably quarterback. I don’t see Eli coming back next year after all the mess that happened last week. That is ok though, he can go to another built team in need of a quarterback (like Jacksonville) and succeed there. Is Davis Webb the Giants’ answer? I’m not sure, but they can pick up a QB and an RB for pretty cheap financially.
As for who their next head coach is, I’ll give you one name that makes the most sense to me: Bill Cowher. Yes, he has been out of coaching for several years. He could certainly make a move like Dick Vermeil, who laid out of coaching for 15 years. He left the Steelers because he won a championship, and because he wanted to follow his daughters as they played college ball. Those daughters are out of college now, and he regularly commutes to New York for his current job. It just makes too much sense to me.
The Browns made a move as well on Thursday, firing GM Sashi Brown. They are sticking with Hue Jackson for another year (right now), although I am not sure why. I am sure Hue does a great job of coaching, but it may be that a coordinator job is right for him, like Gus Bradley. Gus was in the same position, hot coordinator, but came to the Jaguars and didn’t do much, and it took a coaching change to spark the team to success. Same situation here, if you ask me.
Brown will be guilty of whiffing on quarterbacks like Wentz, Watson, and Mahomes. The only notable quarterback he has drafted in DeShone Kizer and the jury’s still out on him. I don’t know that he should have been fired, but he was definitely part of a team responsible for keeping the team a joke. The Browns should have done more, and maybe they will in the offseason.
Some offensive players were suspended for the same amount of time for very different actions this week as well. Steelers WR Juju Smith-Schuster had an illegal hit on a Bengals player, Vontaze Burfict. Burfict is himself a dirty player and may have gotten a taste of his own medicine. But, Juju was suspended, as he likely should have been.
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski, on the other hand, basically body slammed a dude during the Pats’ game against the Bills last week. He only got one game, and that is kind of crazy. He did more damage and the hit was more blatant. However, Gronk is a member of the Patriots, and the Patriots are almost always set up to win and win often, so that is the reality.
The season drags and tempers can flare a little. It’s almost the end of the regular season (sad face!) but the players are surely feeling it by now. However, a dust-up or smack-talk is one thing; hitting someone is totally different.
Finally, I’m proud of the Jaguars – they laid it on the Colts last week and are riding an 8-4 record, guaranteeing they will not have a losing season for the first time in the ’10s. That is pretty amazing. What’s more amazing is they are doing while Blake Bortles is still quarterback. I don’t know if the Jags are going to draft Mayfield or Jackson, or sign a vet, or both, but unless Bortles’ consistency improves, he will likely not be on the roster next year.
A solid-but-injured Seahawks team comes to Jacksonville this weekend – let’s see what happens.
THE AARON IT OUT TOP FIVE
PREVIEWS & PICKS
SAINTS @ FALCONS – This will hopefully continue an impressive streak of solid Thursday Night games. There is a solid amount of history with these two teams in prime-time and they are each firing on all cylinders right now, and while I’m not gonna come out and say that Atlanta is playing great, they held the Vikings to their lowest score of the season since week 4 last week. I think that Atlanta has enough on defense to stop the Saints, and has enough on offense to keep it balanced, to come away with a Falcons win.
PACKERS @ BROWNS – Come on. Packers win.
LIONS @ BUCS – Some would say that the outcome of this game depends on whether Detroit QB Matt Stafford’s hand is any better, but you and I know better. Yes, we do, because we know that Tampa Bay is a train wreck and trying to glide to the end of the season so they can get rid of Dirk Koetter, the coach that the Bucs ran Lovie Smith out of town for and who anyone in Jacksonville could have told them is way overrated. In any case, I think the Lions will win here, because they have the talent and the mental capacity to do so.
RAIDERS @ CHIEFS – Remember the beginning of this year, when the AFC West was an impressive division? Now, one of the teams is already trying to find its 2018 answer at quarterback, and the other three in halfway decent playoff contention are struggling to keep treading water. Both of these teams are 6-6, but only one has lost six of its last seven games and looks to be in a tailspin. That team is Kansas City. While they’re out looking for answers, I’m going to predict a Raiders win.
VIKINGS @ PANTHERS – Potentially an interesting game here, but after last week I think the Panthers are vulnerable to a team like the Vikings, who can both put up points and play great defense like New Orleans did against Carolina last week. Minnesota has the tools to continue their winning streak and I don’t see any reason why it stops here. Vikings win.
NINERS @ TEXANS – Do I have to? Texans win.
COLTS @ BILLS – If Tyrod Taylor is back for the Bills, this turns into a win for Buffalo. If he’s not, it turns into a win for Indianapolis. I’m thinking the Colts may win anyway, though, as Buffalo is kind of a train wreck; the only team they’ve beaten in the last five weeks is a slumping Chiefs squad. Colts win.
BEARS @ BENGALS – I mean, I’m not trying to be snide, but some of these matchups – if you willingly watch them, more power to you, I guess. Future TV commentator John Fox vs. future TV commentator Marvin Lewis ends with a Bengals win.
COWBOYS @ GIANTS – Eli is back (as he should be), and Dak’s hand is all messed up lookin’. There are reports of Dez not being happy and stuff like that and it’s just juicy delicious that the “New Triplets” may be blown up after this year, but in any case, I think that the sad, sad thing that is the Giants season gets a little bit of a bright spot in this game. Giants win.
TITANS @ CARDINALS – The Titans just got done beating a couple of divisional foes but the Cardinals are tougher than one might think. Yes they have a joke at quarterback but the defense is nasty enough to force mistakes and stop the run; they showed that to the Jaguars a few weeks ago. The Titans also haven’t put up more than 24 points in a game since week six. Here, I’m seeing a Cardinals win.
JETS @ BRONCOS – Stinker matchup number four of this week. It’s the last one, though – Jets win, at least they have a serviceable quarterback.
REDSKINS @ CHARGERS – Now this looks like a good game. However, the home-field advantage that normally would exist won’t be that for the Chargers here. Los Angeles is not turning out to Chargers games (or Rams games, for this matter, and have a city on fire to deal with to boot), and traveling fans are using that opportunity to show up for their teams. I think that, as much respect as the Chargers have garnered over the last couple of weeks, that Washington will come in and dominate. Looking for a Redskins win here.
SEAHAWKS @ JAGUARS – The Seahawks come into this game with a confidence-boosting win over the Eagles in their belts. That is pretty good, but Seattle still can only go where Russell Wilson can take them. If he can be contained, then the ability to beat them comes out. The defense also contributes, because in only one of their wins has Seattle allowed more than 18 points to be scored by their opponent. However, they have been ravaged by injuries and haven’t yet faced the league’s number one defense. Enter the Jaguars. With a little more consistency on the offensive line last week, the Jags appeared to look good, even great, and Blake Bortles made smart moves. If that play continues, I can see success in Jacksonville’s future. I’ll go ahead and predict a Jaguars win.
EAGLES @ RAMS – Another great game in store, because although the Eagles lost last week, these two teams will likely comprise two of the top three NFC playoff spots. The Rams have the defense to keep the Eagles contained, but I think that Philly will be ready to bounce back from their surprise loss last week and make up for that performance. Eagles win.
RAVENS @ STEELERS – I think the Ravens have an opportunity here to go for the upset. The Steelers are down a wideout, but they’re firing on all cylinders. The Ravens are playing way better than earlier in the year, but they are down their star cornerback who was (is?) apparently on drugs. This should be a good, tough game but I’m going to go ahead and say that the Ravens win.
PATRIOTS @ DOLPHINS – I wrote about Gronk up top but no matter what I think about the Patriots, they win by first taking advantage of their divisional schedule and beat those opponents to the best of their ability. A 5-1 or 4-2 record in-division in the basis for a successful season. I don’t think the Dolphins will keep up with the Pats, even if they put up a ton of points on Denver last week. If Miami wins I will be pleasantly surprised, but I picked the Bills last week and the Pats shut them down. Patriots win this week.