Up The Gut: Week 1

Jon Gruden hasn't coached a regular-season game yet, but based on his offseason personnel moves, it's clear the game has passed him by, Mraz says

The DA Show
September 06, 2018 - 10:08 am

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By Shaun Morash

Cold Open

It was an offseason of change, controversy and player movement, perhaps unlike any we had seen before. In fact, it is still continuing with Le’Veon Bell’s hold out. We learned with the trade of Khalil Mack last weekend that there was no worse move than the Raiders digging into the archives to bring back Jon Gruden as their head coach.

Mack didn’t play by Gruden’s rules and simply show up, this after Chucky thought Doug Martin, Jordy Nelson, and Leon Hall were better alternatives than younger players. The idea in the NFL when free agency hits is to pay guys on their second deals that may just be entering their prime, not pay guys on their last legs. Gruden proved with wanting these moves that the game had passed him by, Mack’s trade only solidified that.

The truth is, there were no bigger supporters of Jon Gruden than Raiders fans in Oakland. In reality, he should now be the most hated man in Oakland. This was a young core robbed of something magical by the Bay two years ago when Derek Carr got injured. With the days and games dwindling in Oakland, the trade of Mack effectively ended all hope of seeing a Lombardi raised for those loyal fans before the team heads to Vegas. Oakland fans, you crapped out and you have Jon Gruden, the man you are so loyal to, to blame.

Ten Yard Gain

1-On Wednesday, I had my first doubts on my Super Bowl Pick of the Steelers. While I still expect Le'Veon Bell to report before Week 10 to get his accrued season and eventually bolt Pittsburgh in the off-season, I never expected his offensive linemen such as Ramon Foster to crush Bell publicly. The unwritten rule is don't speak about another player’s money, yet these Steelers now have no problem doing that when it comes to Bell. How can anyone trust this team to stay together and win the AFC as it stands right now?

2-Doug Pederson can go 0-16 multiple times and still forever be an Eagles legend. That being said, his act with the Philadelphia media will grow stale quick if he continues to be short and angry at men and women doing their jobs when it comes to reporting on the Eagles quarterback position. Maybe Pederson should quit the Nick Saban act and worry about the leaks in his own locker room before destroying the media he had no problem using when it came to selling books this off-season.

3-Jalen Ramsey kept talking and then talked some more all summer. All of this while the Jaguars receiving core lost both Allen's and Marqise Lee went down for the year. No longer will the Jaguars be the fun underdog story; they are now the hunted and the hated thanks to last season and now Ramsey's mouth. I am not so sure the Jaguars can cash the checks written by Ramsey to the rest of the league.

4-The Hard Knocks haters, which for some reason are out there, had to go into hiding after this summer's five episodes behind the scenes of the Cleveland Browns. I am a sucker every year for this series, but this year's version featured the most entertainment and intrigue since Rex Ryan's Jets blessed our televisions. I walked away feeling certain about one thing: When Cleveland does in fact get back to the postseason, Hue Jackson won't be the one leading them there.

5-I was a big fan personally of this year's quarterback draft class. By season's end, I expect Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen to each be in the running for offensive rookie of the year. On the flip side, the Bills drafting Josh Allen knowing he needed too much seasoning to play right away, and then entering the season with Nate freaking Peterman as the place holder seems like the biggest train wreck of any position group of any team to begin the season. This coming from a team that managed to actually make the playoffs in January.

6-I am going stock down on the Vikings this season. The defense is incredible, as is their 1-2 punch at wide receiver. Heck, Dalvin Cook if healthy will add another dimension. However, they gave 90 million guaranteed dollars to a quarterback that can guide your fantasy team to a title, but sink your real team's playoff hopes. Keep an eye on Cousins as the page turns on the Vikings season. As that division unfolds, don't be surprised when Cousins throws some costly interceptions that have some in SKOL nation longing for Case Keenum.

7-Last Year’s Super Bowl felt like the beginning of the end for the Patriots. Deep in my gut, which remains large, I predict the tag team of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have won their last Super Bowl. Although as it stands right now, picking a successor in their own conference remains difficult on paper. 

8- The Rams, Eagles, and Saints appear to be the three biggest favorites in the NFC. All powers on both sides of the ball. All have one major common theme: nobody other than their own fan bases were picking them at this time last year for playoff seasons. The league of parity turns quickly. Expect the unexpected from at least three teams you aren't thinking highly of at the moment. That is the beauty of football, the anti-NBA.

9-The most unpredictable division this year is the AFC South. The Texans have a lot of stock holders buying in, the Colts get their franchise QB back in the fold, the Jaguars come off a trip to the AFC Title game. However, the Titans are not getting enough fanfare. A Final Four team in the conference could have this division's best quarterback in 2018, yes that isn't as outrageous as it may sound in Marcus Mariota. Remember the Titans.

10-I leave you with my Super Bowl Pick for this year. All summer my belief was in the Steelers, but I cannot pull the trigger under the current Le'Veon Bell situation. The Patriots will suffer a heartbreaking postseason defeat in January, leaving the Titans to represent the AFC. In the NFC, while many align with the Falcons, the Rams, an Eagles repeat, or even the Vikings, I will take the Packers and Aaron Rodgers with a magical and healthy season. I put a curse on Rodgers on The DA Show last year, but I can't believe that is strong enough to stop one of the all-time greats from getting ring number 2. The Packers will beat the Titans in Atlanta to end this season.

Five Games to Chew On

5) Rams @ Raiders: The game's final weekend unleashes an altered Rams defense with a happy Aaron Donald. On the other side Jon Gruden returns to the sidelines with a locker room that has publicly been unhappy following the trade of the team's best player. A win at home versus one of the league's best team's could sure some of Oakland's mindset, but I wouldn't expect one.

4) 49ers @Vikings:  San Francisco's hype train is currently stalled at a station following Jerick McKinnon's torn ACL. If Jimmy Garoppolo is the Niners peanut butter, McKinnon would be the jelly. This game features two quarterbacks where expectations for big seasons have never been higher in their entire lives. How much the Vikings offense misses the mind of Pat Shurmur is an underrated storyline as well entering Week 1.

3) Chiefs @ Chargers: Death, Taxes, and experts picking the Chargers for a special season in the Philip Rivers era. The Chargers are that team sure to make your predictions look bad, always have been. This year's AFC West is ripe for the picking and L.A. can confidently say they have the best quarterback. Will the Chiefs miss the steady but not flashy Alex Smith? The Pat Mahomes-led Chiefs have the potential to be as high powered an offense as we see this year, but a young quarterback's first go-around in a season is hardly a sure thing. 

2) Cowboys @ Panthers: Being the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys comes with pressure. There may be no quarterback in football with more pressure on him than Dak Prescott this season. The Cowboys needed to jettison the contract of Dez Bryant, but adding Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns as if they are real go to pieces for Dak Prescott was comical. The Panthers seem to go one good season, one bad, every other year in the Cam Newton era. A good way to break that trend would to come out with a statement home win vs America's Team.

1) Texans at Patriots: Hopefully Tony Romo allows us to enjoy the week's best game without nonstop play predictions and sound effects. Deshaun Watson looks healthier than ever. His performance in six games before getting hurt appeared legendary, though it should be noted the Texans went 3-3 in the games he started. Houston has believers they are for real, while the Patriots want to make us believe nothing is wrong behind the scenes following an off season of questions. Week 1 may tell us exactly what to believe when it comes to these two teams. 

My Picks

I finished 1 game under .500 a season ago. Tthat won't be good enough to beat The Haus ( yes, pun intended). I am going against Robbie Rosenhaus and his College Picks against the spread with the hope of course of ending Huge Freeze’s trips on The Mothership. Let's roll the dice for Week 1:

Ravens -7 vs Bills: There should only be two words needed to make anyone confident in this pick: Nate Peterman. The Ravens losing last year in the finale to Andy Dalton and the Bengals led to a Bills improbable playoff berth and put Joe Flacco squarely on the hot seat in 2018. The Ravens defense was a top -coring fantasy defense in terms of sacks and turnovers. Nate Peterman knows a thing or two about each of those. 

Chiefs +3.5 at Chargers: ​The Chargers are tickling the eyes of Vegas, and Vegas rarely gets fooled. I think they are baiting you all into picking Los Angeles at home versus a young quarterback in Patrick Mahomes. The Chargers will remain fool’s gold until proven otherwise. The 3-and-a-half is a good hook here, as the Chargers could break a tie with a field goal late, but you win in the wallet if you take Kansas City and the Hook. 

Lions -6.5 vs Jets: The Sam Darnold era will likely be a golden one for a long suffering Jets franchise. Usually though Season 1 for any stud quarterback has many bumps in the road. A primetime game to start that career – versus a good defense on the road – is a tall task. Throw in one other overlooked fact, with a gluttonous amount of cap space left we should realize the Jets aren’t exactly the best roster in the NFL behind Darnold. Detroit gets off to a fast start, gets a couple of turnovers, and win by 10-plus. 

Football Food of the Week​

Chicken and Pineapple Skewers. Summertime is still here, even if it means sitting our fat asses on the couch stuffing our faces and watching football all weekend. For these treats, make sure you have peppers (any color) sliced into chunks, pineapple sliced into cubes, and chicken breast cut into chunks. Put three pieces of chicken, two pieces of pepper, and two pieces of pineapple on each skewer. Marinade the skewers for at least 4 hours in a tropical marinade. For these, I would recommend Kings Hawaiian brand Pineapple BBQ Sauce.

Grill these constantly rotating on medium heat until chicken is fully cooked. If you cook on high, the peppers may blacken before the chicken is fully cooked. Don’t have a grill? Not a problem, just put them in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. 

This will give you the crunch of a cooked pepper, the sweetness of a pineapple, and the juiciness of marinated chicken all in your mouth with every other bite. As always, what is better than eating something you can hold with your hands and not needing a utensil? These are easy to put on a tray for your football-watching party and pick away as your team drives down the field. 

Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.