Uh, 11-4, because you forgot that the Saints won!!!!
I'll say this about the Saints: Finally, finally, Kikaha kept his feet and stopped attempting to tackle at the ankles. Also, I'm glad the d-line finally pulled off some real life bull-rushes; Romo would have helped out his line more, but is Bradford any more mobile than Weeden? Furthermore, the Saints coaches might be bright enough to realize that with Lewis and Byrd back they can use Browner primarily as an inside dime DB. However, that is a big might. Spiller will get more touches, and that will be at the expense of K-Rob, but Ingram did okay against the Cowboys. I was wondering after the Dallas game why the Saints don't activate Joe Morgan at WR and use him as a deep threat as a way of possibly opening up space for Cooks underneath; I don't have to wonder if they'll take that course this week, because they cut Morgan. Meaning that Brees will still have to stick with Snead as his main target. I like Willie Snead, but he is not the type of receiver who will free up other receivers. Still, Brees finally returned to expected form with that last regulation drive; that only highlights a chronic problem for the Saints: their FG kicker, and that weakness is what inclines me to think that Philadelphia wins.
On to the contrarian picks.
Oh, here's one:
Winston is not yet better than Bortles. Yeah, that's it. So, Jacksonville wins.
I can't let that be the only contrarian pick.
Maybe the Eagles will find some life at some point during the season. But that some time ain't this time. And, if the Saints win this one, they'll be primed to upset Atlanta on Thursday in the Superdome to get to .500! WooHoo! So, New Orleans wins against the Eagles.
By the way, thus far, Atlanta reminds me of the 2009 Saints. Can't allow that to happen.
Hmph.Well, we have good reason to think that Cousins reads TGL, because he looked like a real QB on that last drive with the way he made sure to get good use of Garcon, and the only reason he would look so good is that he had to - just had to - show me.
It's hard for me to believe that Brees can be well enough healed to be able to throw the ball downfield. If he can't make the deep throws, he needs to keep resting. Colston has lost his hand-eye coordination; he has dropped a high number of passes; this is his last year. Problem is, the Saints don't really have anyone to take his place. Coleman is in his first year; so, he's at least a year away as a possible every down replacement. Snead is doing well in the old Lance Moore role. It's time to make more use of Spiller; he should be fully recovered now. Eh, doesn't matter. Dallas wins.
Contrariwise - the pickings are slim, but here is a bonus contrarian note:
Nah. There were 16 games. 14-2 or 15-1. Take your pick. Outstanding job regardless!!!
Having gotten to see a little of Cousins at QB last week, I was so very unimpressed that I'll go with the Eagles for no other good reason. Philadelphia wins.
I'm going to say that the Denver defense is good enough to keep Peterson in check, and that might well be enough for a Denver win.
Browner was horrible against Carolina. Not that he was particularly good in the other two games, but against Carolina he was worse. Some folks say that he was overrated inasmuch as the last two years he was opposite Sherman and Revis, but that makes no sense. Being opposite Sherman and Revis means that you should be thrown at much more often so that your coverage weaknesses become plain as day, and, yet, that is not what happened. Sure, Browner is known to get lots of penalties, but his coverage skills have not been as bad as they were against Carolina. Browner said that he was in zone coverage and didn't drop deep enough. Uh, hmmm, that doesn't sound even slightly plausible. It seems more likely that he is simply better at man-to-man when he is right up at the line and can engage the receiver right away. It's also worth noting that Payton questioned the amount of zone that the Saints played against the Panthers. Well, if you didn't like it, then you should have intervened. You're the head coach, dammit!
So, why were the Saints running so much zone defense. It could be that the Ryan/Allen duo have no hope with regards to the defensive line - a group which can neither put pressure on the QB nor stop the run (and I stil want to know what it is with Kikaha always diving at the ball carrier's ankles!?!?!). And, furthermore, they don't seem to be able to keep the blockers off of the LBs. So, no d-line translates into terrible LB play, and it's just down hill from there.
Lewis and Byrd might get back on the field this week. But Lewis would replace Breaux who has played well after his first NFL foray against Arizona, and Breaux will likely move over to nickel which would, in turn, push the other rookie, Swann, into a backup role. Personally, I'd see whether Breaux would do better than Browner when teamed with Lewis (assuming Lewis really can play after a hip injury), and I'd leave Swann at nickel. As far as Byrd goes, I don't know what benefit he'll bring. The FS in the Saints scheme so far seems to do nothing other than be an eleventh body on the field. No QB pressure results in no takeaways; the Saints do not yet have an interception; ay least I don't recall them having one yet this year.
A shutout?!?!?! Hmm. Maybe so, but, if that's the way it's unfolding, maybe Payton will play Grayson some at QB. That should at least be entertaining if only for the possible horror show of a 3rd round QB pick who underwhelmed in training camp. You're right about the absolute lack of chemistry between Brees and the receivers. Cooks was wide, wide open on the Brees INT; it's hard to believe that Brees did not know before hand that his injury had made that throw an impossibility. McCown and Grayson would have both been better on the deep pass; maybe that's reason enough to force Brees to sit this week, because that's the sort of throw which I expect requires more significant recuperation before Brees can pull it off.
I am a Beckham fan -- and not at all (or not just because) he's a home town boy who went to the same high school as the Mannings and Michael S. Pearl. And I am really looking forward to Beckham being on the field at the same time as a pretty-much-in-football-shape Cruz. But, then there's Eli who I don't trust; he's too inconsistent. When he's good, he's great. When he's not good, he'd make an alright back-up.
The Saints defense would not be exceptionally bad if they had any defensive linemen. For that matter, rookie OLB Kikaha has been almost worthless; he has caused a couple of fumbles downfield, but he can't tackle, and if you can't tackle by the time you get to the pros, forget about it - because, with the CBA, teams don't have much practice time that can be devoted to tackling. Since the alleged d-line which the Saints have could not get any leverage against a depleted Arizona o-line in week 1, there is absolutely no reason to think they will be any better against the equally bad Carolina o-line. Carolina wins. And Brees should take a week off.
Let's see what contrarian picks are available this week. Washington wins just because. Sure, Miami does not have much offense, and the Rams don't have a top-tier QB, but the Washington defense has been good. The only reason for going against the Redskins is the possibility that Beckham and Cruz will be on the field together; that could be good enough to overcome Eli playing as only Eli can.
Why would I go with the Rams in consideration of their QB? Just because the Steelers defense is suspect? Okay, maybe that's sufficient reason. Even so, Pittsburgh wins.
But what if the Chargers dedicate the defense to stopping Peterson? Maybe Bridgewater can pull out a victory, but I'll say he doesn't; therefore, San Diego wins. Right. I'm not a Bridgewater fan, although I respect the Vikings coaches for realizing after week 1 that it is a Peterson team, not a Bridgewater team.
From discrimination according to Jindal, to criminalization according to Huckabee, to war according to Trump. Okay, a Trump spokesperson. I think the term war better corresponds to the perspectives of the portions of the electorate to which appeal is being made in all three instances. More interesting, but also related, is why it is that Trump's response to the asserted Muslim problem/question is unlikely to be of detriment to him: First of all, the initial news reports seem more focused on the Obama part of the assertion rather than on the Muslims (and their supposed training camps) part of the claim, but Trump's intended audience (and it could just as well be referred to as the Republicans' intended audience) are predominantly the people who so viscerally dislike Obama that they will be inclined to favor almost anything said against Obama.
Secondly, the members of that intended audience are woefully ignorant about the thinking of American Muslims (if those audience members even personally know or have engaged with any Muslims) despite the fact that more than a few of those same expected voters will no doubt regale anyone who will listen with their indubitable knowledge/expertise regarding the history of Islam as if such a history justified the proclaimed broad judgment against at least the trustworthiness of any Muslim. That ignorance in conjunction with over a decade of widely promulgated insinuations suggesting (when not outright accusations against) Muslims as inherently more likely enemy others, along with the American Muslim communities' own cluelessness about how to counter with a better presentation of what they are actually like (which is not to say that such a better presentation would not create tensions within Muslim communities themselves, in large part because those communities are still largely immigrant - even if naturalized - rather than American-born and also because of the current nature of American Muslims' religious education and the extent of their willingness and ability to philosophically investigate/challenge their own manners of expression - a problem neither limited to Muslims nor to religious belief) has resulted in a more entrenched and now almost reflexive bias/prejudice against anything Islamic and anyone who puts forth an alternative perspective/judgment,
Given that few politicians have ever been actual leaders, and given that the goal of politicians (beyond getting themselves some notoriety) is to get elected, it is in no way surprising that politicians are extremely reticent to even seem to stand outside of the prevailing attitudes of those whom the politicians see as most likely to give them their votes. In other words, what would be surprising would be to see a politician put forth a thoughtful, a meaningful counter-perspective (where thoughtfulness and meaningfulness are dependent upon avoiding the now almost useless and shallow expressions in terms of discrimination, racism, and the like).
Is it okay to criminalize religious faith-based polygamy - as but one example - despite the fact that polygamy is or could arguably be Biblically based? Uh, I think Huckabee and the other discrimination-screechers think so. I also think that the jailers would have, while she was being detained, let her have a Bible, refrain from cutting her hair, possibly even refuse blood transfusions (were they needed), grow a beard, or whatever else could be easily done for the sake of accommodating her faith.
I did not watch The Really Real Reality TV Show last night on CNN, nor did I watch The Really Real Children's Reality TV Show which preceded it, but I did see an ABC online article about the kiddies' political performance which I find to be pertinent to discussion about contemporary American - if not generally Western - culture, a culture which is best described in one word as fearful.
The reason the article caught my attention is because it regarded the way Ahmed Mohamed was treated by his teachers and the police when he brought to school a digital clock which he had himself constructed. Were it up to me, the teachers and the police who responded with the - ahem - cautiousness that resulted in that 14 year-old being arrested would be fired, if only because those adults displayed a repulsive ordinariness, that ordinariness being the fear so rampant in contemporary culture. Still, even worse - and yet so very ordinary - is the way Bobby Jindal and Lindsey Graham responded to moderator Jack Tapper when he brought up what happened with and to Ahmed Mohamed:
But wait, it gets better. Well, actually worse:
Not a word about how an intellectually interested 14 year-old individual human being got treated!!! No, just the requisite praise for the police and an (equally requisite?) indictment of the "Muslim community", whether that be the American Muslims, Muslims in the West, or simply Muslims in general. Never mind that this indictment has been issued before. Then again, maybe it is an immortal indictment. After all, it was to be found getting plenty of play after the Charlie Hebdo murders, but what got next to no attention were the "46 examples of Muslim outrage" in response to that atrocity. I did not fact check any of those forty-six examples, and I am not especially interested in why those denunciations did not succeed in getting well publicized, because the call for - the insistence upon - outrage on the part of Muslims (especially when that insistence comes from the mouth of politicians) is a feint. Not only is it very likely impossible to do "enough to 'denouce violence'" to satisfy the indictors, but the feint serves to hide the fact that the very notion of engagement will not be considered.
And here is where the matter goes beyond the issue of Muslims and Islam, because the unwillingness or the inability to engage (meaning with at least an initial presumed-to-be-ultimately-justified respectfulness towards the encountered other) seems to be culturally flaunted as if indicating either certainty, strength, or principled-ness rather than the rightly shameful way of being that it is.
Who do the Saints have to play safety? They resigned Kenny Phillips after putting Rafael Bush on IR. The point here is that the best plan for the Bucs is to go with a scheme that goes after whoever it is that is playing safety for the Saints. In other words, go deep. Even if successful, and although division games tend to be closer, New Orleans wins.
Contrarian picks are hard to come by this week. But that has never stopped me from finding some.
If the Lions realize that their running game is the key to their success, if the Lions run Abdullah and Bell, they win. After all, San Francisco was able to run against the Vikings, and the threat of Stafford as a passer has to be respected. Detroit wins.
The Steelers ground game gashed the New England defense. It is to be expected that the Patriots will figure out a way to improve their defense over the course of the season. Whether they do it in time for this game, well, that is questionable. Buffalo ran well against the Colts, but, as weak as the New England run defense is, surely the Indy defense is worse; so, the key to shoring up the Patriots run defense is to take the chance that QB Taylor cannot throw the Bills to victory. New England wins, because it is too early to believe in the Buffalo offense - despite the fact that it is way way too early to imagine that the Pats will be back in the Super Bowl this year.
If Kuechly is out, then the Texans have a good chance. Houston wins with the proviso that Kuechly does not play. On the other hand, if Kuechly is a full go, then the Panthers defense is good enough to see to it that Carolina wins.
Bengals win because this is the regular season. The Jets should be able to run all over the Colts; it is doubtful that the Colts find a ground game against the Jets. Other than being at home, and other than the Jets having a dubious QB situation, the only thing the Colts have going for them is the Cromartie injury. I'm almost inclined to make this a contrarian pick; the problem is that I just don't believe in the Jets QB yet. But maybe I'll change my mind and go contrarian on this game.
Is that pessimistic view fabricated by the ways or nature (rather than the intentions) of the media? Or, is that pessimism a verdict, a judgment expressed against the society and the world revealed through the various media? For that matter, does the pessimism indicate judgment against those very same media, and, if so, what characteristics would the media have to make manifest in order for it to seem that the media offer a glimpse of something other than the pessimism which seems appropriate as judgment against the present?
Is the popularity of Trump part of the general pessimism? Or, does Trump impart a sense of hopefulness? I think it is the former - almost as if Trump would end up exacerbating what is here being discussed as pessimism. I have not met anyone who is inclined to be (of necessity excessively) charitable towards Trump who at the same time feels that Trump brings forth optimism.
As to the end of Empire, maybe it is; maybe it is not. I heard a lot of end of empire sort of talk during the '70s.
I'll agree that there has been a cultural shift even if that shift has nothing to do with end of empire and even if its origin cannot be localized to 2005. To the extent that this shift is well or best characterized in terms of a turn away from and against politeness, is it the culmination of what has been brought to us by the internet in conjunction with the shibboleth of an egalitarianism that is taken as superseding the messiness of what seems like relatively groundless judgment?
In the abstract, it does seem accurate to say that Americans in general have become less welcome to the very notion of immigration. In the concrete, that same attitude does soften, for instance when folks in southeastern Louisiana are asked whether New Orleans would have been rebuilt were it not for the, uh, Texicans. Although usually cast as opposition to illegal immigration (which is reasonable simply as a concern over whether a nation should be at least somewhat effective in having control over its borders), the general anti-immigration tenor indicates a context in which a great many people feel that the only course of action available is to try to conserve the wealth that they currently have. This is a vein of the pessimistic sense, and the issue which never seems to come up or get addressed is why it is - what has occurred such - that so few people have the feeling that there is now not as much opportunity as it seemed like there used to be.
New Orleans is just about what I expected. Spiller might make the offense more explosive when he returns. Yet another DB injury (this time at safety) just adds to the worries given that the d-line played precisely as I feared they would. Only Cam Jordan put pressure on Palmer, only to always miss managing to get a sack.
Philadelphia does not have enough speed at WR to make maximally effective the type of offense they want to run; they need the Cardinals' WRs. Eagles need to figure out a way to run the ball - especially straight ahead, up the gut of a defense. Will reserve judgment on DBs, since Jones and White can run free against almost any defense.
Minnesota looks like they might have been severely overrated; I certainly thought they were over-hyped.
San Francisco might not be as bad as predicted and as I expected. But I still don't think they'll end up being a good team.
Pittsburgh has serious DB issues. But, then, everyone knew they would. Only thing I can figure is that the DBs were often confused - but not because of the Patriots' scheme.. How else to explain why they'd forget to cover Gronk so frequently?!?!
Detroit needs to learn to run the ball. Stafford is not Brees. Although Stafford has better receivers than Brees has available to him, both need viable running games - Stafford even moreso than Brees.
Denver better get its o-line to work more effectively, and that probably will happen. Eventually. Later rather than sooner. Probably.