By Sterling Pingree
Chicago at Buffalo
You’re Nathan Peterman (I’m sorry, but play along) you’re statistically one of the worst quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL. (Hey, you got to play in the NFL!) The future of the Franchise, Josh Allen gets hurt and your head coach bypasses you and starts Derek Anderson, who was famously playing golf two weeks ago. Anderson starts two games, scores 11 points in 8 quarters and is now in concussion protocol. Sean McDermott says you’ll start against the Bears (yippee), but now signs Matt Barkley. The question becomes, how badly does McDermott NOT want to start Nathan Peterman? Also, how little does Matt Barkley have to show in practice this week to start on Sunday? Nathan Peterman is a like an albatross contract in baseball, nobody wants to trade for it, nobody wants the player; he’s essentially Pablo Sandoval except for one thing. THIS IS THE NFL, YOU CAN JUST CUT HIM! NOTHING IS GUARANTEED IN THE LEAGUE AND YOU HAVE NOTHING INVESTED IN NATHAN-PETERMAN.MYSHOPIFY.COM (an actual website) JUST CUT HIM ALREADY!
Tampa Bay at Carolina
Tampa Bay believes in Fitz-Magic, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Bengals last week while the Panthers are having one of their good years. Have you noticed with the Panthers they are either a legitimate threat to win the conference (2015) or they’re an underwhelming group that misses the postseason? High variance with Cam Newton, you know who doesn’t have a high variance? Jameis Winston, because all he does is throw picks. In just 4 games this year, Winston has thrown 10 picks! How is that even possible, until last week he was a consistent 2 picks per start since coming off of his suspension and Sunday he threw 4 to the Bengals. Winston’s time in Tampa appears to be over as the Bucs can pick up his option after the season and they will almost surely decline that option, which raises the question, will anybody sign the former Heisman winner to be their starter? My guess is his career is going to follow the path of another former Buccaneers signal caller: Josh Freeman.
Kansas City at Cleveland
Hue Jackson is gone. Todd Haley is gone. Is there at least a chance that the Browns hired Haley and kept Jackson, just to make their season of Hard Knocks better? Maybe it was a producers’ note to John Dorsey not to get rid of them because the Brogan Roback and Baker Mayfield RV storyline wasn’t going to be enough and they were going to need the conflicts between Gregg Williams and Todd Haley as well as the conflict between Hue Jackson and everybody. (How weird is the episode when Dez Bryant just shows up in Cleveland, shakes hands with everybody INCLUDING THE TEAM BARBER and then is never heard from again? After the season I am going to go back and watch the season over again just to see how good HBO tried to make a team look that will most likely achieved some kooky record like 2-11-3. That’s right, I’m vaguely predicting that the Browns will have two more ties this year. Believeland)
NY Jets at Miami
Imagine you’re the Miami Dolphins (I know, first I make you Nathan Peterman and now you’re pretending you’re the Miami Dolphins, I’m putting you in some undesirable places in this week) you’ve invested a lot of time and effort into the Ryan Tannehill era. Like a relationship where you’re not really sure: she might be the one or you should’ve broken up before last Valentine’s Day, but either way you’ve been together this long, maybe that says something? Ryan Tannehill with the Dolphins is what happens when you’re just not sure. Now, Brock Osweiler is in the picture. Brock Osweiler in this scenario would be the girl that you know is a HORRIBLE idea to date, a few of your friends dated her and it was a nightmare. One of your friends even gave her $72 million and they broke it off after a year. The Dolphins know that this is a bad idea, but they’re tempted by Osweiler anyway. The best you can hope for in Miami is that they use the Osweiler experience as a way to decide once and for all that they’re done with Ryan Tannehill. Just had a thought when considering where Ryan Tannehill might go next and one team jumped out at me: the Raiders. Imagine how vanilla-bland-mediocre that quarterback room would be with Derek Carr, AJ McCarron and Ryan Tannehill. Just Jon Gruden on his quest to find the next Rich Gannon, feels like a reality show on Cinemax.
Pittsburgh at Baltimore
We’re in the midst of the Steelers righting the ship of the AFC North, two weeks ago this seemed like a good division from top to bottom: the Browns had two wins and a tie, the Bengals were in first place, the Ravens defense had snuffed out Marcus Mariota 11-times and the Steelers were starting to get their mojo back after a sluggish start. Here we are at week 9 and the Ravens are a crapshoot who might have a good defense, the Browns fired everybody except Gregg Williams and the Steelers still don’t have Le’Veon Bell but will win the division because apparently nobody else knows how. I hate the AFC North, you can’t make sense of it and the damn thing follows the same script every year.
Detroit at Minnesota
Speaking of following the same script, the Detroit Lions have never written a script before. The Matthew Stafford era in Detroit is predictable in its unpredictability and week to week are perhaps the league’s hardest team to forecast. Matt Patricia is following the lead there as one week he looks like a genius first year coach and the next he is criticizing the posture of the media, in the literal sense. Minnesota was a favorite of mine going into the season and even with the duds on their resume (the scarlett letter loss to the Bills) I think the eventually win this division. They have the most balance, but they also have a really tough schedule which features the Saints, Rams and Patriots. I can totally see the Vikings being a 3 or 4 seed in the NFC, be an underdog and get beat at home in the Wild Card round by Carolina.
Atlanta at Washington
The Redskins are Alex Smith, Alex Smith is the Redskins. The Redskins and Eagles play week 17 in Washington and that will decide the NFC East. That’s all I know right now.
Houston at Denver
The Texans lost Will Fuller and added Demaryius Thomas this week. The Texans have been rolling since getting off to an 0-3 start. My question in this game is: two weeks ago Deshaun Watson couldn’t fly to Jacksonville two weeks ago because of what the elevation would do to his injured ribs, what is the thin air of Mile High going to do to him? Not to mention, Von Miller. (Isn’t it weird that the Broncos home stadium has probably had like 15 names in the last 15 years and we wouldn’t know, because everybody still calls it Mile High. That’d be like if for some reason Fenway Park was called “North of Popeyes” in the 70’s and we just kept going with it.) Demaryius Thomas was traded from Denver to Houston and now will play his first game in Denver but for Houston. He’s played his entire career as a Bronco and after being traded did he just stay home? Thomas probably flied to Houston on Tuesday, has practiced and now is just heading back where he came from but now is going to play for the other football team in the same stadium he’s played in for 9 years. I get mixed up if the weekly meeting gets moved across the hall, I can’t imagine what this scenario would do to me.
LA Chargers at Seattle
Would not have thought 3 weeks ago that this would be a good game and it is certainly a top 5 game this weekend in a fairly loaded slate. The Seahawks won one for their late owner Paul Allen in the first game after his passing last week in Detroit and the “12th Man” will be humming for this one. Add in that Melvin Gordon III is questionable with the injury that kept him out of the Chargers’ London game and we could be talking next week about whether or not the Seahawks can nab the 6th seed in the NFC.
LA Rams at New Orleans
Let’s call these next two the co-main event of the weekend. If Packers-Patriots is Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant, then Rams-Saints is certainly Macho Man Randy Savage vs Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Packers at Patriots features two icons in what will be a methodical slug fest, while Rams at Saints is two high flyers representing the new aerial stylings of the NFL. The Rams are undefeated but much like the Patriots in late November 2007, the burden of expectation seems to be weighing heavily on the Rams. They have not looked sharp the last 3 weeks, especially in the first half last week against the Packers and as the Rams seem to be very slightly trending southernly, the Saints are firing on all cylinders. Brees has never looked better (except maybe 2009), Mark Ingram is back and all of the imaginative stuff that Sean Payton is doing with Taysom Hill as a “back up” quarterback is unique. Mike Lombardi always says “the most skilled swordsman is not scared of the second most skilled swordsman. He is afraid of the most unorthodox swordsman.” In this case, they are one and the same, the Saints are the second best team in the NFC and also the most unorthodox.
Green Bay at New England
I went to the last Packers game in New England and the stage was very much the same. It was December 19, 2010, Sunday Night Football, a dream matchup, except it wasn’t. Rodgers was injured so fans were treated to the following: the dawning of the Matt Flynn deserves a franchise QB deal fad, Aaron Hernandez catching a touchdown, Dan Connolly returning a kick off 71-yards to the 5 and Tully Banta-Cain sacking Flynn on the game’s deciding play as time expired. It was a great game, but not what you’d necessarily expect with these two franchises. Just 8- years later, there are very few holdovers from that game; shows how quickly things evolve in the NFL. Michael Jordan’s promo talking about who is the G.O.A.T has everybody amped for what should be a great regular season game, that the Patriots will win because Tom Brady wins these types of games. Add in the fact that the Packers defense has been an obvious suspect this season and multiply that by trading away Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to Washington and this seems like a transitional time for a shaky Packers secondary.
Tennessee at Dallas
This is a “throw them off our scent” game for the Cowboys. This feels like a game where Dallas will win going away and bring the “We Dem Boyz” delegation back to Facebook for a week or so. Tennessee can’t protect Marcus Mariota and if there is one thing Dallas does well (and they definitely don’t do more than one thing well) they can rush the passer. This is Dallas’ last shot, after this week they travel to Philly, to Atlanta, home for Washington on Thanksgiving, home for the Saints and Eagles. That’s a tough stretch and if they want to get back to .500 before that back breaking stretch, they’ve got to be able to beat Marcus Mariota at home. If they don’t? I don’t think Jason Garrett will ever be fired during the season, but if he ever was, it might be during this upcoming stretch for the Cowboys.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree on Twitter) is a co-host of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.