Should The Eagles Pursue Richard Sherman?

For the past few years Richard Sherman has been one of the most recognizable names in professional football. Whether it’s him being a part of one of the best Superbowl winning defenses in recent memory or his fiery, charged up controversial interviews, Sherman has been as prevalent a face as there’s been in the NFL. For perhaps a few reasons, the Seahawks seem relatively open to trading the cornerback who this past season was named to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl. I’m not here to discuss those reasons. There’s one thing and one thing only that matters in my eyes. How does this affect the Eagles. I feel that despite the Seahawks open willingness to discuss a deal for him, nobody seems to be taking it too seriously. At least as of now. But I bring this to light for a few reasons, the most fundamental being that Eagles could actually really benefit from a player like Sherman. For the heck of it, let’s break this down the simple way…

 

Pros

The Eagles desperately need a cornerback. Last year their secondary woes were too dire to ignore. As bad as their cornerback situation was, where we stand now, it’s worse. The Eagles have cut Leodis Mckelvin. Nolan Carroll is gone too and while those will ultimately probably be good moves for the birds, they still have to find someone to fill the void. The Eagles play in a division where they have to face Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall twice. It’s imperative to find at least one player that has either elite production or potential. The Eagles are probably considering a corner in the first (as well as other positions) so it might make sense to get one that’s established.

He never gets hurt. Seriously, by some freakish chance, one of the most aggressive players in the league has not missed a game yet. He’s started in every one since he became the starter his rookie year. Having a player that doesn’t get hurt often is such a valuable asset to a team, especially one that is trying to win and figures to be in the mix for a playoff berth down the stretch. Not only would the Eagles be able to fill a void, they would be able to do it with someone they can rely on week in and week out.

His intensity is a match for Philly. Richard Sherman is one of those guys you love to hate…unless he’s on your team. Say what you want about his personality but there is absolutely no denying the mans passion for the game. Philly fans would eat that up like cheesesteaks and crab fries. A few big plays on D combined with some wins and Sherman could have the city in the palm of his hands.

His price is going down. The reason I started to ponder this was because I read that the Seahawks could be dropping his asking price. First they wanted a player and a high pick. Now they apparently want a first round pick and a conditional mid round pick later (which could be OK if that means he’s on the team for at least a couple of years). Profootballtalk suggested it could eventually drop to just a first. Instead of using a pick to draft someone who might be good the Eagles could get one who’s already proven he’s elite.

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Cons

He makes too much money. One of the reasons Seattle is likely open to trading him is because of his expensive price. The Eagles as they stand now wouldn’t have enough to take on his salary without cutting or trading additional players. Still, for a team that was supposed to be cash strapped the Eagles seemed to manage pretty well in free agency. Howie Roseman and his guys have a remarkable ability to work around the parameters of the league’s salary cap. So while as of now it would seem pretty unlikely they could afford him, if there’s anyone who could make it work it’s Howie Roseman.

He’s 29. As I mentioned before Sherman has made the Pro Bowl the past four years. But everyone knows the day comes eventually where a player loses that elite step. You don’t want to mortgage a part of your future if you think that day is sooner rather than later. Does Sherman probably have at least a few good years left in him? That’s very reasonable to believe. But let’s be honest this team is built around Carson Wentz and his future. It may be foolish to acquire too many veterans for stopgap roles instead of grooming young players who could be a core part of this team for years to come.

The Eagles could lose valuable players. If the Seahawks end up being firm and demand additional players with a first round pick then would it be worth it? What if that meant not having Jason Peters protecting Wentz’s blindside? There are certainly expendable players on the Eagles roster but there are also a lot of players I wouldn’t be excited about parting with either, especially if it means adding the 14th overall pick too.

His personality could pose some problems. Sherman is known to be a fierce competitor and quite outspoken on a number of issues. He’s played in Seattle his whole career where he’s quite familiar with his teammates and coaches. It’s fair to question how he would handle a situation he didn’t approve of in Philadelphia. What if he doesn’t agree with a scheme or assignment or decision? Could that potentially cause distractions? Issues in the locker room? That could be a risky proposition to gamble on for a 29 year old corner.

Verdict: Surprisingly, I think the Eagles should at least be interested in trading for Sherman. They need a corner, badly. Sherman plays the position at an elite level and while his production might drop they could probably still get a few good years out of him. His veteran leadership would be of great value too, considering this is a young squad still learning how to compete and play in the NFL. He’s a SuperBowl champion and he brings that championship mentality week in and week out. While his demeanor could spark some drama I ultimately think that at the end of the day Sherman just wants to win. I would want that attitude on my team. It would be risky sending away a high pick but at least you’re getting someone reliable in return. I wouldn’t want to send additional players in the deal unless the team strongly feels they would be able to win without them on the team. He’s expensive but if Howie Roseman can figure out a way to afford him then why not? The Eagles could be targeting offense at 14 but let us not forget gems at the running back position can often be found in the second and third rounds and even beyond. I would like to get another young corner to pair with Jalen Mills but drafting one later to learn from Sherman sounds like it could be a wise move too. Overall if the Eagles couldn’t swing a deal to land Sherman it wouldn’t be the end of the world. It would be exciting to keep our first round pick and draft a promising prospect that could be on the Eagles for years to come. But if the price comes down to maybe just a first round pick or even less and the Eagles could figure out a way to afford him, then I’d do it.   It would unquestionably immediately make the defense better. It would help them as they try to make the playoffs in Doug Pederson’s second year as head coach. He’s 29 but won’t turn 30 until after next season ends. Combine that with his healthy past and veteran presence and I think the Eagles would be foolish to at least not try to make a deal work.

 

Gratz’s Grumblings: Week 2

After finally processing live football with your own eyeballs, it’s hard to stop yourself from making snap judgements about every single conceivable thing after week one of the NFL season. Well, week one came and went and now we have a whole new set of results for us to dissect as if we’re scientists making a hypothesis for a groundbreaking new study. Here’s what happened around the league in week 2:

The Jets defeated the Bills in what was an unlikely shootout in Buffalo. Matt Forte scored three touchdowns as he helped teammate Ryan Fitzpatrick overcome his longstanding struggles against Rex Ryan. Perhaps this is one of those too soon overreactions but I get the vibe that the Rex Ryan era in Buffalo could be coming to an end if they don’t turn this around…and fast. It just seems that both players and executives alike are losing faith in the charismatic coach and could be over his schtick. Who knows, maybe he will turn it around big time and make a splash this season, but his offensive deficiencies and waning trust might prove to be something too big to overcome.

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The Steelers beat the Bengals 24-16. Honestly I don’t know how much one can take away from this contest. These are two teams who historically beat up on each other and while this game certainly could have a big impact standings wise, it’s still tough to tell which one of these teams will make it farther when it’s all said and done.

The Browns exploded on the Ravens and took an early three score lead only to blow it and lose in typical Browns fashion. Sticking with Browns tradition, the team is already on their third string quarterback through three NFL weeks. While the NFL is great for it’s thrilling surprises, some things truly never change.

One of the bigger stories around the league is how Kirk Cousins is looking through two games. After leading the Skins to the playoffs they now face a divisional opponent in New York who could send them to 0-3 and really make their season look bleak. It’s still early and this can be another one of those classic too soon overreactions as the Skins still have a lot of weapons surrounding Cousins even if he really isn’t all that great as a quarterback. What’s more alarming is how bad their defense has played, giving up 65 points in two weeks.

Another potential letdown could be looming in Seattle. Seattle yet again fell to the Rams, losing 9-3. Look I get it, they played a team playing their first home game in a major city in years…still, you need to find a way to get something going as they are clearly the more talented team. The absence of Marshawn Lynch could really put a damper on things in Seattle, even with that stout defense. It’s hard to bet against Seattle in the long run but as of now it seems that there are clearly better teams than them in the NFC, including one in their own division.

One of those teams looks to be the Carolina Panthers. After a hard fought week one loss, they bounced back nicely and dropped 46 on the 49ers, something that is traditionally a sign of good teams. On the other hand, it’s still pretty hard to evaluate where the 49ers are at, although if one had to guess they would probably assume them to be just average and not a real threat going forward.

The Cardinals smacked the Bucs 40-7. It was a really disappointing showing from Tampa Bay after they received pretty much universal praise for their week one win. I still think they can be a dangerous team as the season continues and probably just got exposed by an even better one.

Jimmy Garoppolo threw three scores then got hurt in New England’s win against Miami. The Pats are 2-0 without Brady and are probably starting rookie Jacoby Brissett in week 3. I will continue to emphasize how amazing it is to see the Patriots play at a high level no matter who is playing on either side of the ball. Even with a rookie third round quarterback likely to start the next game, you still get the feel the Patriots will be just fine.

Speaking of rookie quarterbacks, Carsen Wentz again looked like a maestro in his Monday night debut. He continued to looked poised and smart against the Bears (although Chicago is pretty pathetic again this year). Still it’s an encouraging sign and we will have an even better understanding of where he’s as a quarterback in his tough week 3 matchup with Pittsburgh.

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The quarterback who started for the Eagles before Wentz led his new team to a hard fought 17-14 win against the Packers. Sam Bradford and the Vikings were impressive but they real story to watch is Adrain Peterson’s injury. He has a torn meniscus and his long term health this season doesn’t appear to be in real jeopardy although it is something to keep an eye on. Even with a strong defense and veteran quarterback, the Vikings will need AP if they want to be alive for the deep postseason they were hoping for before the season started.

UPDATE: Adrian Peterson will be getting surgery and his timetable to return is 3-4 months.

Gratz’s Grumblings: Week 1

The NFL offseason can be excruciating. Between the waiting, the lack of other sports besides baseball, and the overwhelming amount of petty sports talk radio, when the first Sunday finally hits it really is like Christmas morning. Well forget all that waiting, all that time you wasted debating what your teams record will be (everyone will probably be wrong), football season is finally here. Now, the speculation ends, it’s time to watch all the glorious action unfold right before our eyes. Here’s what happened on the first real football Sunday of 2016…

The Broncos beat the Panthers in an exciting Superbowl rematch from last year. The Broncos were lead by quarterback Trevor Siemian who had never thrown an NFL pass prior to Thursday night. Impressed is an understatement of how I felt watching Siemian in his first ever start. He was confident, poised, and even made some nifty plays that would have made Brett Favre proud as he led his team to complete a fourth quarter comeback. His two interceptions are really not too concerning considering it was against a Superbowl defense and it was his first ever start (and they won). While you shouldn’t jump to a conclusion about someone’s long term future after watching one game, it’s hard not to be optimistic about Siemian being a starter in this league after Thursdays win. Perhaps the biggest story about this game was the abuse Cam Newton received from the Broncos D. He suffered multiple shots to the head and at times seemed like a guarantee to at least miss a few plays (which never happened). The Panthers and NFL have maintained that proper concussion protocol was followed although it doesn’t take a neurosurgeon to realize that Cam Newton didn’t seem to be feeling so hot at times and might have needed a break. Despite the Panthers loss, they still figure to be a team playing late into the postseason.

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Keeping with the theme of young quarterbacks making their first starts, Carson Wentz looked stellar in the Eagles 29-10 beatdown of the Browns. A lot of times it’s easy to tell a rookie is playing quarterback…they look jittery, nervous, make mistakes, etc. Wentz did none of these things as he had the composure of a longtime veteran making just another opening day start. Yes, it was against the Browns who are plain awful, but it’s still impressive considering it was his first ever NFL game for a guy who played in Division 1AA and barely played in the preseason. The Eagles D looked great too, ferocious and aggressive as they seemed to play with a passion that was clearly lacking in the Chip Kelly era. I don’t know how else to explain it but the game just had a vintage Eagles feel to it…an energetic crowd, tough D, and a fine display of the west coast offense. The Eagles are certain to face far more challenging contests this season and both sides of the ball will inevitably have their struggles. But, one week into the season you have to be pleased with what you saw if you’re an Eagles fan. On the flip side, I thought the Browns would be improved with Hue Jackson and could do better this season than people expected. Nope. Highly unlikely. The Browns were atrocious as usual and RG3 suffered yet another injury and will be out until November. The Browns will add another weapon on offense when Josh Gordon returns but with Josh McCown under center and a clear lack of talent overall it figures to be another long year for Cleveland Browns fans.

Love them or hate them, you have to acknowledge the greatness that the New England Patriots display year in and year out. They had plenty of reasons to drop their first game against the Arizona Cardinals. No Tom Brady or Gronk (among other missing players), a quarterback making his first start (are you noticing a pattern here?), and an extremely tough opponent on the road…no problem. The Patriots found a way to win and notched the W behind strong quarterback play from Jimmy Garoppolo, who like Siemian and Wentz, looked like a season veteran playing just another opening game. In my opinion, this game is less about the Cardinals being able to take advantage of a weakened opponent and more about the Pats innate ability to find ways to win NFL games, no matter what cards they’re dealt (no pun intended). It was truly impressive. While many people expected more from Arizona, they should still be able to put together another great season that results in a deep playoff run.

If the Patriots are experts at finding ways to win games, the San Diego Chargers are in a league of their own when it comes to losing. The Chiefs completed their biggest comeback in 56 years as they downed the Chargers after being down 24-3 in the second half. Andy Reid is notoriously bad in the first couple games of the season but his early season ineptitude was trumped by the Chargers and theirs. The Bolts lost wide receiver Keenan Allen for the year which is certainly a blow, but that really doesn’t have much to do with the outcome of this single game. Going forward, it’s reasonable to expect another solid season for the Chiefs and while the Chargers certainly have talent on the roster, including Melvin Gordon who seems poised for a much improved second season, until the Chargers show they can manufacture some wins it’s hard to get too excited about any real chance of success in a tough AFC West.

The Packers survived a scare from up and coming Jacksonville. The Jaguars were threatening deep into Packer territory late in the fourth quarter but ultimately came up short (literally a yard away from a first down). Even with the loss, I think the Jaguars are a legitimate team this year and could very well win a weak AFC South. It makes sense for the Packers to have some rust as some of their players are getting reacclimatized to NFL game speed. The Packers have been a trendy Superbowl pick but they will have to show improvement if they want to compete with the other NFC heavyweights.

Perhaps the quarterback flying the most under the radar is Jameis Winston. The first overall pick from last year put together an impressive rookie campaign and continued to build off it in week one as the Bucs beat the division rival Falcons. The Bucs played conservative last year due to Winston’s inexperience but they could really let him loose this year and compete and it’s entirely possible the Bucs are the second best team in that division behind only Carolina.

The Jets lost a close one to Cincinnati. It seems like while they are a decent team, they just can’t break through to the next level. It is obviously early however and if Brandon Marshall can be as productive as newly acquired Matt Forte was, they can still be a dangerous team this season. Oddly enough, a big concern for the Jets was actually on defense. Darrelle Revis was absolutely torched by AJ Green, a possibly troubling sign for the 31 year old defender.

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The Redskins failed to live up to their hype as the favorites in their Monday night game against the Steelers who were missing some key offensive players. The story to me in this game was that Josh Norman was barely allowed to cover Antonio Brown while the arguably best wideout in the game went berserk in Washington’s secondary as they continued to send Bashaud Breeland on him. It was puzzling to not see Norman on the left side of the field with The Steelers really lacking any other real threats besides Brown.

Chip Kelly and the 49ers shut out the Rams 28-0. The performance by St. Louis, er, Los Angeles was an embarrassment and inexcusable. The Rams wanted to be competitive in their first season back in California yet trotted out Case Keenum and were thoroughly dominated by a 49ers team that is far from stacked with talent themselves. Chip Kelly could however do better than expected as he’s never had less than 7 wins in an NFL season.

The Seahawks survived a scare from the Miami Dolphins. It seems like the Hawks always have a few frustrating clunkers each season against inferior talent. They survived this one, and still expect to be contender when it’s all said and done. I do have a gut feeling however that Miami will surpass a lot of peoples expectations with Adam Gase running the show there.

Last year the Giants ultimate downfall was their inability to win close games. They buried that crutch in week 1 with a 20-19 win over Dallas. Eli Manning threw for 3 scores and even hooked up with Victor Cruz who finally returned to action. The Cowboys have an uphill climb with Dak Prescott as their starting quarterback although a one point loss in his first game could perhaps be a sign of optimism rather than pessimism for the long haul.

Other results: The Ravens beat the Bills in an expected defensive oriented showdown. Jim Caldwell and the Lions narrowly beat the Colts as Indianapolis continues to give Andrew Luck none of his last name on the defensive side of the ball. Oakland beat New Orleans in a shootout, Minnesota beat Tennessee, and Houston was too much for the Bears.

Eagles Should Sign Marques Colston

At 32 years old, Marques Colston’s best playing days are likely behind him. The 6’4 wide receiver has had quite a career, being drafted in the 7th round, the Hofstra product played his way into being Drew Brees’ number one option, playing key a part of a record setting offense and winning a Superbowl in the process. However, after career lows in receptions, yards, and touchdowns, along with an inflated salary, it has been reported that New Orleans is probably going to release him.

Despite being in the tail end of his career, I believe the Eagles should give him a look in free agency. Why? It’s quite simple, leadership. The Eagles head into the Doug Pederson era with Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor as the two most promising wide receivers on the roster. Matthews will be 24 by the season opener and Agholor, last years first round pick, turns 23. With such inexperience at the position, it would be wise to bring in some veteran leadership to guide the young corp and set an example. What better guy to do that than Marques Colston? Colston is known for his quiet and humble demeanor, preferring to let his play do the talking, an honorable approach that has led to high praise from former teammates and coaches alike.

Additionally, Colston is from Harrisburg, PA. I believe he owns a home in South Jersey. He is a minority owner of the Philadelphia Soul, Philly’s arena football team. Also among that ownership group is former Eagles Quarterback, Ron Jaworski, who definitely has some influence in the organization as he was reported to be an active member of the head coaching search. It seems like this pairing would be pretty easy  to set up.

Colston has other business ventures and at 32, it’s unsure if he even wants to continue playing in the NFL. If he does however, it would probably be at a reasonable price and while he’s probably only worth a marginal salary the off the field worth alone could prove to be invaluable.

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Aaron Hernandez Busted For Having Shank In Cell, Moved To Segregation Unit

You guys remember Aaron Hernandez right? The dude who played pro football but had his career cut short after being found guilty of murder and shit? Yeah him! Well, speaking of cut, the ex Patriot was found with a shank like weapon in his cell.

“Guards found a prison-made knife during a shakedown of Hernandez’s cell Thursday, WHDH.com reported, citing sources. He was immediately taken out of general population, according to the website.”

Bad Aaron! Most people are going to see this and shrug it off, simply saying ” classic Aaron!” and move on with their day. But here at Gratzfeed we’re too wise, we see the bigger picture. Isn’t it a coincidence how this happened just as star Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski got hurt and was ruled out of Sunday’s game with a week to week prognosis? Hernandez was going to shank his way through that prison like a sega genesis video game until making it to a safe zone where he would then be picked up by Bill Belichick.. so close but yet so far. Just joshin around, if Bill Belichick wanted to actually do this he wouldn’t have gotten caught because… c’mon it’s Bill fucking Belichick. He knew they were playing the Eagles this weekend and realized he didn’t even need to pull a stunt like this, too much time and effort. Could just as well sign an undrafted Division 6 tight end and throw em out there against the Birds and still probably win by 50, meh.

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You can check out the full story here:

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/14292439/aaron-hernandez-moved-segregation-shank-found-cell

Gratz’s Grumblings: Week 10

We’re getting to that sweet spot in the NFL season, Thanksgiving day football, coaches and coordinators dropping like flies, teams solidifying their playoff stature while others crumble. Whether your team falls in the former or latter category, it’s an interesting time of the season. Let’s take a look around the league, shall we?

Peyton Manning broke the record for most passing yards of all time, breaking Bret Favre’s previous record of 71,838. All smiles then right? Not hardly, Peyton struggled mightily thereafter, throwing four interceptions and getting benched for Brock Osweiler. What’s worse is that after the game it was revealed that Manning has a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot. Oh, and the Broncos were annihilated, losing 29-13 to the Kansas City Chiefs (it was worse than the score indicates too). Peyton is definitely out this week against Chicago and will be re-evaluated after that. Despite having no allegiance to Denver, I’ve defended the Broncos all year and will continue to do so. Their defense is stacked but was without DeMarcus Ware and Aquib Talib, two of their best players. Assuming these guys get back on the field this will be a very tough defense to face as the year goes on, as defense becomes ever so important. Plus, Andy Reid after the bye is like Chick Fil A on Sundays, lights out. Concern for the Broncos is definitely legitimate however, their health is key and they have to get in an offensive rhythm when Peyton returns. In reality, this will probably come down to Peyton’s health and his effectiveness when he gets back on the field, whenever that may be. Brock Osweiler was a second round pick and only 24, who knows, maybe he can play?

Somehow, some way the Lions beat the Packers. This is less about the Lions winning and more about the Packers losing. The Packers have a laundry list of offensive woes: lack of a running game, poor line play, and Randall Cobb’s inability to step up the way he was expected to. It’s just uncharacteristic of them to go three and out the way they are doing so often. With the Vikings playing so well, the Packers may be fighting for a wild card spot this year instead of enjoying their typical first round bye.

Rex Ryan returned to New York to face his old team in an emotional Thursday night game. Ryan prevailed as the Bills beat the Jets 22-17. The Bills and Jets have very similar styles but the Bills were the more physical team and were able to force turnovers, giving them the advantage in a hard fought game.

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Rob Ryan, on the other hand lost his defensive coordinator job as the hapless Saints defense allowed 47 points to Kirk Cousins and company. Yeah, that will do it. The Redskins are now 4-5 and right in the thick of the  pathetic, and I mean pathetic, NFC East race.

The Eagles are also 4-5 except they seem to be trending down instead of up as they endured a sickening loss to the Miami Dolphins who were just asking to lose the game. The Eagles are a mess, Sam Bradford wasn’t well protected at all and it cost them. Slammed to the ground in the third quarter he suffered a sprained shoulder on his non throwing arm while also coming away with concussion from the thud. Jason Kelce looks lost. Miles Austin and Riley Cooper combined for over 90 snaps while each failed to receive a single catch. Mark Sanchez threw an excruciating fourth quarter interception. Chip Kelly seems to be overmatched and this team is just simply not that good. They aren’t even fun to watch and Philadelphians are truly over this team, despite being alive in the division race. Can you blame them? It’s one of those “even if they win the division how far can they really go?” type of deals. I still want the Eagles to finish strong and make a playoff push because you never know what could happen, but for now one would be naive to have any real expectations for this middling, injured, uninspired group.

Bill Belichick is one of the best, (if not the best, coaches of this generation, but he always struggles with Tom Coughlin and the Giants and this Sunday was no exception. However, while trailing, Tom Brady in classic Tom Brady fashion drove the team down the field and set up Stephen Gostkowski for a cold blooded 54 yard game winner that took the life right out of Metlife Stadium. Unfortunately for the Pats, Julian Edelman suffered a leg injury and his return this season is in question which comes right after losing Dion Lewis for the year. The Patriots are known for overcoming these kinds of losses so while it is indeed a loss, history suggests they’ll be just find going forward. On the other hand, despite losing the game the Giants probably aren’t too disappointed. They almost knocked off the best team in the world and are still in first place in their division while getting a bye week to fix things up. Not saying they’re going to or should win the division but until another team consistently gets going, they should be relatively confident about their playoff chances.

The undefeated Bengals are now defeated, losing to the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. Not necessarily a reason to abandon ship for the Bengals, every team has a hiccup at one point in the season or another. The Texans are now tied for first with the Indianapolis Colts who were on bye in the AFC South. The Colts have been disappointing all season so it’s actually pretty reasonable to expect this to be a real competition for the rest of the season, with the Texans having a legitimate shot to win the division.

Everyone knew the Arizona Cardinals were a good football team, but a lot of people were unsure if they were that good. The answer to that question is yes, yes they are as they secured a clutch win in one of the hardest places to play on earth, Seattle. The Cardinals look like they are the real deal and a real contender that’s built for the long haul, watch out.

Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are the leagues best QB-WR combo and it’s scary. The Steelers beat the Browns and are 6-4 and currently stand in good position to compete for a playoff spot. In reality, with the ever unstable condition of their quarterback, it’s really week to week with this team.

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Gratz’s Grumblings: Week 5

Well, that’s another week of NFL football in the books. Wing filled, beer soaked, fantasy obsessive, NFL football. While I have a rock hard boner for cold weathered, playoff football I get a little depressed as the number of football Sundays shrink at a Devonta Freeman like pace. Let’s check out what the fuck happened in week 5 around the NFL.

Jamal Charles tore his ACL and will be out for the season as the Chiefs suffered a deflating 1 point loss to the Bears. One of those things that just really fucking sucks. This is the second time Charles tore an ACL, this time in his right knee. Charles is currently 28 years old and everyone knows how hard it is for rushers to perform at a high level beyond that age without  a torn ACL. It may seem dramatic but it’s appropriate to wonder if Charles will ever be able to return to form and if he does, for how long? The Chiefs find themselves in a hole at 1-4 and their season may be over. Luckily, they still have a lot of talent on this team so I don’t think a severe overhaul would be necessary. Not to make excuses for them but their schedule has just been absolutely brutal, having already faced Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and the scorching hot Bengals. They still should have been able to best the Bears with or without their star rusher and a team with their expectations should have made their other losses a lot closer. Disappointing season? Yes. Still reasonable to expect them to be successful in the near future? Not so much.

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Speaking of the scorching hot Bengals, they were about to be doused with a bucket of ice cold water, until they weren’t. They trailed Hawks 24-7 in the fourth quarter and rallied all the way back to give Mike Nugent the chance to clank one off the upright and get the W. It’s a big time win for the cats but an even bigger loss for the Seahawks. How did that happen? That’s just so crushing after an energizing, Kam Chancellor returning victory last week. At 2-3 they really cost themselves the luxury of future flukey fuck ups. However, they are a defense oriented team and if they can crack the postseason they will still be a threat to make it pretty damn far. Again, that’s if they can crack the postseason.

There is no excuse for the Ravens losing to the Browns. None. Even without Steve Smith Baltimore should have been able to win this game by at least a touchdown. Instead they’re 1-4 and in last place in the AFC North. Josh McCown had a historic 457 yard passing day. JOSH McCOWN. JOSH FUCKING McCOWN. I have no idea what’s wrong with the Ravens but honestly I don’t hate it. Saves us all the breath we’d waste debating Joe Flacco’s elite status, no matter what side you’re on.

The Patriots won. In other news Chick Fil A is scrumptious and Chris Christie is fat.

The Eagles. Chip Kelly is a bum! Chip Kelly is a genius! Fire Chip Kelly! Eagles are winning the NFC East! Honestly, nobody knows what the fuck the Eagles are about still and anybody who makes a prediction about their season is just wasting their time. The Eagles had a very nice win against the Saints but simply put the Saints suck. That’s no reason to be down or knock them, quite the opposite. Their defense is improving and can force turnovers. They almost hit 200 yards rushing in balanced attack amongst their three talented runners. Josh Huff FINALLY got into the action and caught his first NFL touchdown as he led the team in receiving. Sam Bradford has to get better, he threw two ugly red zone interceptions and those mistakes aren’t going to be as easy to recover from against better teams. Because the Eagles won by 22 points nobody seemed to care about how Caleb Sturgis ineptitude as a kicker as he missed another extra point. That kid better figure it out and fucking fast. With this team it’s a better idea to just take it week to week instead of calculating complex scenarios, just enjoy the ride and hope it doesn’t fall off the fucking tracks.

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The Broncos are scaring everyone but I’m still not too concerned. Peyton Manning hasn’t lit it up like he used to but people aren’t realizing how good their defense is playing. They create turnovers, get to the quarterback and a better defense might be even more valuable than a prolific offense come playoff time. Peyton Manning stlll isn’t bad either and they still have talented receivers. They seem to be getting a lot of flack for a team who is undefeated, with more time to figure out this offense they can be a dangerous team if they can put it all together.

Gratz’s Grumblings: Week 4

Predicting what’s going to happen in the NFL is a lot like eating a crave case by yourself, you think you know what you’re doing but the end result is always a disappointing mess that makes you question what the fuck you were even thinking. The first couple of weeks are interesting because there are always surprises. Each team’s offseason creates their own questions to be answered heading into the season and the results are always mixed. Some things go according to plan (the Patriots are still the fucking Patriots and the Packers are still the fucking Packers) and some things completely catch you off guard (Ndamukong Suh is a non factor on the D-line? The Ravens starting 0-3? Week 4 is an interesting time though because it’s right where you can start to gather enough evidence to make worthwhile observations and predictions for how things are going to pan out for the rest of the season. Of course there’s some shit you can never plan for but I think a teams performance after week 4 is a much stronger indicator for how their season is going to be than say after week 2. With that said, lets take a look around the league and try to make sense of just what the fuck is going on in the NFL.

Nobody expected the Dolphins to be this bad. In fact, it was almost universally agreed on that they were going to build off their 8-8 campaign from the year before and compete for a playoff spot which has eluded them since 2008. They spent a boatload of money on Ndamukong Suh and it’s already looking to be a complete disaster. He seems to be frustrated at times and indifferent at others. Reports from earlier in the year said that he was ignoring defensive calls and going rogue and doing his own thing. Not only is that not the type of play the dolphins payed for, it’s also not the leadership they expected from a veteran who has proven he can be one of the leagues most dominant forces. We’ve seen free agent fiascos before, on the defensive line too *cough Albert Haynesworth cough* but this one went downhill fast. The Dolphins have to find someone to get through to him and figure out a way to get him on the same page as the team or else this can cost this team a severe amount of not only money, but further headache and complications going forward. The big question is if head coach Joe Philbin will be losing his job soon. It’s a shame too, Philbin has been a solid coach the past few years but if he has lost the locker room it may be best for him to go so the Dolphins can scrap this year and start to plan for next season. Week 4 is still early, but once a locker room is lost it’s very, very hard to recover. Plus they play in the same division as the Patriots and while they’re only 2.5 games back, it doesn’t take an expert to realize they aren’t going to catch up to them and claim the division title and as always, grabbing a wildcard spot in the AFC is like grabbing a doorbuster from Walmart on Black Friday, a fucking dogfight.

Update: While in the process of writing this, Joe Philbin has been fired. He will be replaced by Dan Campbell, the Dolphins tight end coach of the past 5 years. Campbell will be the youngest head coach in the league at 39.

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Moving right along, the Jets rebounded nicely from their loss to the Eagles. However, it’s fair to wonder just how far they can go with Ryan Fitzpatrick (or Geno Smith, whatever) as their quarterback.

Kicking (or lack of) was a major theme in week 4. It cost the Steelers a chance to put the Ravens in a daunting 0-4 spot while gaining ground on the Bengals for the AFC North. Josh Scobee lost his job because of his performance in this game. It was still encouraging for the Steelers, Mike Vick showed that he is a capable backup for Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell is still an absolute beast and being paired with Antonio Brown on the offensive side should be enough to keep the Steelers afloat until Big Ben returns.

Caleb Sturgis had big time kicking problems as well this week. The Eagles replacement to Cody Parkey missed a 33 yard field goal as well as an extra point while the Eagles lost by 3 points to the Redskins. As frustrating as this is for Eagles fans the team has bigger problems than an inept kicker. They again showed their inability to produce substantial offense in the first half. The defense was on the field for 42 minutes and allowed a game winning touchdown drive to Kirk Cousins. Kirk fucking Cousins. While people will argue the defense was gassed, they still need to improve (they gave up a first down on 3rd and 19 off a draw play on the first drive of the game). It was nice to see them taking more shots downfield but they can’t just seem to piece everything together. DeMarco Murray has spoke out against his lack of touches in the offense. Luckily, the NFC East is one of, if not the weakest divisions in the NFL so the Eagles can still make a push for a playoff appearance, but with the way they’re playing the words eagles and playoffs shouldn’t even be in the same sentence.

Todd Gurley was finally ready for a full time workload and the rookie took advantage, accumulating 146 yards on 19 carries as the Rams pulled the upset and delivered the Arizona Cardinals their 1st loss of the season. The Cardinals, despite losing are still a good football team. However at 2-2 the Rams are a classic example of the “pretender or contender” debate. They are a pesky team and time will tell but I would expect them to be around .500 at the end of the season, maybe 9-7. Definitely an encouraging sign for a team who is way past due for success.

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One of the most impressive teams this year so far has been the Atlanta Falcons. Insiders have applauded their offseason strategy of getting hard working, mid level free agents who bought into the culture instead of throwing money at high profile names with big price tags and even bigger egos. Stellar rushing performances and a smart, efficient Matt Ryan carried the team to a 48-21 rout over the Texans. You never want to jump the gun, but the Falcons look like the real deal this year.

The Bears beat the Raiders. Whatever.

Colin Kaepernick has been disastrous since week 1 and there is starting to be some chatter about benching him. Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday he was playing in the Superbowl with Jim Harbaugh on the sideline? I’m always amazed by how fast things change in this league. Kaepernick, to me, is hard to evaluate. Is he a quality starter just on a disorganized team with a weak supporting cast or is he really just not good enough of a passer to relive his past success? I think in the right system Kaepernick can shine. You can’t expect him to run an offense like Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning but with an offense tailored to him and the right people around him Kaepernick would be a hell of an addition for another team at some point. Perhaps a split from the 49ers would be in both parties best interest in the near future.

The Giants walloped the Bills 24-10 for their second consecutive double digit win. Still have no idea what either of these two teams are about just yet. The Bills are really banged up and were without both LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins this past week and with Tyrod Taylor at the helm its not a surprise that they only scored 10 points. I still think the Bills are trending upward going forward but they simply have to get healthy and establish some consistency.

I heard an interesting point by Mark Schlereth this past week on ESPN, the NFL is having an offensive line crisis. He mentioned that offensive lineman simply aren’t learning the technical skills they were once taught in the past and that is a big reason why O-line play this season has been dismal. This can be directly accountable for the overwhelming amount of injured quarterbacks so far this season. It will be interesting to see if this is addressed in the future as teams need to protect the most coveted position in sports. We mentioned that the Steelers lost without Big Ben, the Colts survived a big time scare from the Jags with Matt Hasselbeck running the offense and Brandon Weeden and the Cowboys lost a wild overtime thriller to the Saints. It’s probably not too smart to evaluate these teams until we have a better idea when their true signal callers are ready to return to action.

Speaking of signal callers, Peyton Manning has been the subject of a lot of gloomy talk this year. He’s too old. He doesn’t fit Gary Kubiak’s system. Yet, the Broncos are 4-0 and two games ahead of everyone in the AFC West. This is in large part to their defense which has looked downright scary. They can really get to the quarterback and create turnovers. If the offense can get clicking to a vintage Peyton Manning level then this team will be a force to be reckoned with as the season progresses.

Finally, as a depressed Eagles fan I like to keep tabs on good ol’ Andy Reid to see how he’s doing in Kansas City. The Chiefs are 1-3 however they have had a brutal schedule so far with their past three games against Denver, Green Bay and Cincinnati. Still the Chiefs were supposed to compete for the AFC West so perhaps this really isn’t a valid excuse. Remember Eagles fans, the grass aint always greener on the other side…

Gratz’s Grumblings: Week 2, Breaking Down The Debacle In Philadelphia

For this week of Gratz’s Grumblings I will be focusing solely on the Philadelphia Eagles game against the Dallas Cowboys because well, that was the only game I watched this Sunday as I was unfortunate enough to have been there. The abysmal performance from the Eagles cannot be understated. Simply put, that was one of the worst displays of the sport I had ever seen. It’s early in the season, and there’s a lot to break down, definitely not too late to tweak things around and salvage the season, so let’s take a closer look at what the fuck is actually going on with this team after two games.

It’s no secret that the offense was atrocious. I think inept would be the correct word. Demarco Murray was held to 2 yards on 13 carries. Let me repeat that, Demarco Murray was held to 2 yards on 13 carries. However, if you talk to anyone who watched the game they would probably tell you this really didn’t fall on Murray or indicate what kind of runner he is at all. Murray had nowhere to run all game as the line played poorly. Also there was an even bigger problem than the offensive lines woes and Murray’s lack of running space…

Chip Kelly was out coached by Dallas this week and Atlanta last week. It was almost as if Dallas had the Eagles play call on each and every snap. Yes the offensive line played bad but there’s a deeper rooted problem and that is schematically the Eagles are off. This is a huge concern considering so much of Chip Kelly’s success relies on his schemes working each week. Chip Kelly has proven through two seasons that his offense isn’t a gimmick and I believe he is a smart enough coach to figure this thing out.  Whether there is enough talent to really take the offense to next level still remains to be seen. I’m really not too worried about this offense. The biggest concern for me is the line, which don’t get me wrong is a huge question mark going forward but as far as the scheme not working and getting out coached, I think Chip will figure it out.

Sam Bradford didn’t play all that bad. A lot of people are criticizing his play from yesterday but I really don’t think it’s founded. Listen, it’s hard to throw no matter who is under center when the defense knows exactly what you’re doing. The Eagles knew they couldn’t run against Dallas so were forced to pass and play catch up in the second half, what do you expect from Bradford? A Mike Vick type run of 30 yards to put them in scoring position? The red zone interception was a killer and a bad, bad play but I don’t think it’s fair to judge his performance off one mistake. With how the offense as a whole played yesterday that one interception should be at the very bottom on the list of concerns. I don’t think Bradford played particularly well but I don’t think he played poorly either. Again, it’s only his second game since 2013 so it’s going to take some time to get into a groove and get comfortable. He might not turn out to have the pro bowl season some of us thought he would under Chip Kelly but that’s not to say he won’t be effective going forward, and he’s still a whole lot better than Mark Sanchez. Also, he doesn’t exactly have the best receivers with the Eagles…

The receiving core’s ability might be limited this season. I’m sick and tired of defending Jordan Matthews. When they drafted him all I heard about was his tremendous work ethic and thirst for improvement. It was well documented that Matthews didn’t exactly have the most sound hands coming into the NFL but everybody was assured they would improve. Well guess what? He’s still dropping passes, important passes too. On one of his drops he leaped in the air for a pass he really didn’t need to jump at all for. He could have calmly put out his hands and secure the ball but he acted like a kid playing pick up football who was just trying to do too much. Don’t get me wrong I like Jordan Matthews and think he will have a fruitful career with the Eagles but his hands have to get better. It’s only his second year so it’s not really fair to hold him up to an elite standard. That’s really the problem with the receiving group as a whole, they are just young and inexperienced. As I just mentioned Matthews is in his second year and Nelson Agholar is only a rookie. You have to temper your expectations at least for this season. Josh Huff is only in his second year too but the former third rounder really isn’t showing much promise at all. Riley Cooper and Miles Austin are both on the downward sides of their careers which is OK considering they aren’t really supposed to be the focal point anyways. If the wide receivers underperform that falls mostly on Chip Kelly. These are his guys. He made the decision to let Jeremy Maclin walk. That is starting to show its ill effects as the Eagles really don’t have a respectable deep threat at the moment and its hindering them. I don’t remember Sam Bradford taking any big shots down the field because quite frankly we don’t have that type of receiver on the roster yet to throw it to, or we do and he’s not ready for that role at the moment. This hurts too, the five and six yard completions are great and all but when a defense doesn’t respect your ability to go deep it makes it much easier for them, plus it allows them to focus more on run stopping. Like the running game I think the passing game will see a lot of improvement too. If not, it’s another group of decisions you have to question about Chip Kelly. However…

It’s way, waaaay too early to start calling for Kelly’s job. Hey, even if this thing turns out to be a huge bust firing him now would only set us back another half a decade. Then, the next guy would have to bring his people in and the a new process would start and we would have an abundance of new players and recent draft picks who might be the total opposite of what they want. The bottom line is if the Eagles were unsure of Chip Kelly they should cut ties before this season. We’re pot committed at this point. Plus, at the end of the day it’s only two games, Andy Reid once took an 0-2 team to the NFC Championship so step back from the ledge. If the Eagles have a losing record this season then maybe in January we’re having a different conversation.

The defense is probably my greatest concern. I feel like a lot of people are excusing the poor defensive play due to the offense’s inability to stay on the field. That is a valid argument but I trust Chip Kelly’s ability to fix the offense more than I trust Billy Davis’ ability to fix the defense. His play calling seems off, his coverage personnel seems off and even their formations seem off.  Last week when asked why Julio Jones was able to run wild across the defense their response was because it’s hard to play him and double him because he gets lined up all over the field. So? Isn’t that the defensive coordinators job? To account for this and try to find a way to counteract it? There was a play this week where Maxwell was all alone on an island with no receiver on his side and two receivers lined up on the opposite side. It was evident that Maxwell would have no impact on that play, unless they gave it to the running back who was on Maxwells side, but still far from him and unlikely to cross paths with Maxwell. Yes the defense was on the field for a lot of the game but this wasn’t that hard of a game to plan for. Dez Bryant was out leaving the Cowboys with a weak group of playmakers. Their leading rusher from last year is now on the Eagles. Brandon Weeden is…Brandon Weeden. There is no excuse for letting Brandon Weeden go 7 for 7, none. Even when the Eagles knew the Cowboys were going to run the ball at the end of the game they still struggled to stop them. Like the offense, the scheme is off and unfortunately I’m not confident in Billy Davis’ ability to fix it. Speaking of Byron Maxwell though…

Byron Maxwell looked horrendous, again. Like really, really bad. They paid him a boatload of money not because he’s an elite cornerback, but because he was the best at his position in a weak free agency class and the Eagles needed to upgrade that position badly. If he’s unable to cover elite corners (or any corners at all) then the Eagles need to devise a plan that will put him in situations similar to where he found success in the past. That is, unless they can’t because they don’t have the Legion of Boom surrounding him. Maxwell plays better as a zone corner, not as a guy you throw on an island like Darrelle Revis. Whatever his deal is it needs to be figured out immediately.

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Yes, Sundays performance from the birds was dismal. Yes, there are huge question marks on both sides of the ball. Yes, it is early and the Eagles can still turn this thing around and salvage the season. You gotta remember our competition going forward, the Giants and Redskins don’t appear to be playoff teams and the Cowboys are going to be without both Dez Bryant and Tony Romo for an extended amount of time. Somebody has to win this division. Even the mighty Seahawks are 0-2. There’s plenty of reason to be scared silly right now but there is still a lot of football left to be played. Chip Kelly is now going to face the toughest challenge he’s ever faced in Philadelphia and the answer to whether he can handle it or not begins now.

Gratz’s Grumblings: Week 1

I’ve been waiting for the return of NFL football like a fat kid waiting for a hot pocket to cool off. It’s been excruciating, and at times painful, but when it arrived last Thursday it was all worth it. The annoying part sometimes is reading the tweets or watching the analysis the next day and seeing all the overreactions from one game. “They’re going to the Superbowl!”. “He’s a bust!”. “Fire him!”. That’s why Gratz’s Grumblings exists, to give you some perspective on things that happened around the league, one week at a time. Such as:

The Patriots didn’t appear to skip a beat as Tom Brady was sharp as usual and Gronk was beastly, collectively shredding the Steelers’ secondary to bits. In classic Patriots fashion, they chose their running back seemingly out of a hat, opening the season with Dion Lewis who missed the entire 2014 season with a broken leg. In his return to NFL action he racked up 69 yards on 15 carries and 51 yards receiving on 4 catches. As always, if the Patriots are healthy they figure to be a team playing deep into January and possibly even February.

It’s too early to begin evaluating the Steelers. Yes their defense was inept against Brady and the Pats but their bread and butter is really their offense and they’re without star running back Le’Veon Bell for another week and wide receiver Martavis Bryant for another three weeks. Once they get their full arsenal of weapons back they should start to click and be a tough team to outscore, assuming their defense improves enough at least to slow opponents down.

It’s also way too early to jump to conclusions about the Indianapolis Colts. Their performance against the Bills was ugly but when a team has so many new pieces it takes time to gel and come together. Many of their new players are older too so they didn’t exactly receive the most reps during the preseason. Although I don’t exactly agree with them being the trendy Superbowl pick just yet (mainly because of their defense), they should win their division handily and look like a different team than what was on the field week one.

Adam “Pacman” Jones should face discipline for his actions on Sunday. After a play, he ripped the helmet off rookie receiver Amari Cooper and slammed his head against it. He showed virtually zero remorse and claimed it was a “heat of the moment” incident. When you have as checkered a past as Jones does, I don’t think you get to use that excuse anymore. The officials clearly missed it as he should have been ejected from the game right then and there. He probably will receive a fine but no suspension, however I personally would support a suspension of a substantial length. What if somebody accidentally stumbled onto Coopers face with their cleats while Coopers helmet was off? Then what?

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Speaking of Pacman Jones, I’m also sick of defending Ndamukung Suh. This week after a play he “accidentally” knocked off the helmet of Redskins running back Alfred Morris with his foot while walking back after making the play. He claimed he didn’t see him. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to Suh, so that excuse is starting to wear thin as well. You’re a world class athlete, you can bench a bajillion pounds, yet you can’t lift your leg up or move your body so you avert a human body laying next to you? If that’s the case then you shouldn’t be allowed to play in the league. The NFL has said that he didn’t do anything wrong, but I think they are just toning down the discipline to players after getting embarrassed from the recent Tom Brady sanctions getting reversed. I don’t know if Suh should necessarily be punished for this instance or not, but I will say that he should be on very, very thin ice.

I don’t care who he played, Marcus Mariota’s debut performance was downright impressive. He went 13-16, while tossing 4 tds in the process, all to different players. He also didn’t even play the fourth quarter. It’s just rare for a rookie quarterback to show that kind of comfortability on the road in his first NFL game, Marcus Mariota could be really special.

LeSean McCoy still isn’t over the fact that he was cut from the Eagles. He arranged for a group photo of “Chip Kelly rejects” including himself, Trent Cole and Todd Herremans. Whatever. Get over it dude.

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The Giants/ Cowboys game was ridiculous and frustrating. As an Eagles fan I was “rooting” for the Giants because it would appear early on that we’d be battling more with the Cowboys than the Giants for a divisional title later in the season. I’ve seen better clock management from 8 year olds playing Madden than what Eli and Todd Coughlin displayed Sunday night. Coughlin is the most conservative coach and it just doesn’t make any friggen sense. It’s one thing to continually run the ball and settle for field goals but it doesn’t take Vince Lombardi to realize that if you don’t have a defense that can hold anybody then those field goals won’t do shit for you by the end of the game. That gaffe also led to Jason Witten’s second touchdown catch which was the difference maker in a brutal fantasy loss by yours truly. Fuck you Barkow.

The Eagles gave fans many things to be happy about as well as many things to be enraged about, I’m mostly enraged though. I admit I brushed off Cody Parkey’s preseason struggles and simply thought “hey, it’s only preseason, he’ll be fine”. Yet, the nearly automatic kicker from last year missed a 44 yard field goal in a dome that would have put the Eagles back in front and in good position to close out the game. Also, something that has plagued the Eagles for the past… I don’t even know how long it’s been is the secondary. This offseason we threw a boatload of money at Byron Maxwell to come in and anchor the secondary and be our shut down corner. Well, he looked bad, really bad on Monday night. Not only was he consistently torched by Julio Jones, he was also getting beat by a 33 year old Roddy White who’s best playing days are clearly behind him. Maxwell wasn’t bad in his debut, he was fucking horrendous. Another thing I took issue with was the complete lack of discipline, accumulating 10 penalties for 88 yards, many occurring at key moments. On the bright side Kiko Alonso made what was perhaps the best catch in the NFL this weekend, making a diving end zone interception to prevent a touchdown. While the offense was out of sync the entire first half, it looked razor sharp in the second half. If they’re able to consistently replicate their offense from the second half on Monday night, the birds will be a tough team to outscore.

If you didn’t stay up for the second Monday night game, just know that Carlos Hyde is the real deal. He ran all over the Vikings accumulating 168 yards and 2 touchdowns on 26 carries, a total workhorse. The 9ers actually looked pretty good and while a lot of people completely wrote them off this season, they definitely still have enough talent to overachieve.