Dave’s Free Play, Monday 9/21/15
It’s a little too early to start referring to the NFL East as the NFC Least. But following two mostly discouraging weeks for the four teams in that sector, it’s sure tempting.
The division is a dumpster fire at this point. The Dallas Cowboys are 2-0. But one of those wins was only achieved thanks to disastrous clock management and strategy on the part of the opponent, and now the Cowboys are going to be without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for extended periods.
The Washington Redskins are 1-1, but no one seems to be taking them seriously and probably with good reason.
The New York Giants ought to be 2-0. But instead they’re 0-2 and have shot themselves in the foot so badly one can’t help but wonder about the mental state of the team.
And then there are the Philadelphia Eagles. 0-2 and the breakneck-paced offense is a comedy of errors right now. DeMarco Murray has carried the ball 21 times for a net gain of 11 yards, which is unbelievable. Sam Bradford has not quarterbacked the team especially well, and there don’t seem to be any playmakers on this team.
Tom Coughlin was on the hot seat coming into this season and a loss this Thursday to the Redskins would be a disaster. One can’t help but wonder if Coughlin even survives September if Big Blue dips to 0-3. Chip Kelly is the mad scientist who is intent on doing things his way, even though it sure looks like he might not have the personnel to support his preferred style of play. Kelly will be back coaching college football in 2016 if things don’t turn around soon for the Eagles. Philly fans, if surveyed today, would undoubtedly wish he was coaching college football in 2015 with the way things have gone thus far.
The good news for all four teams is that the season is only two weeks old. Things can and do change overnight in the NFL. But the fact remains that as of today, only NFC East fans with strong glass half-full outlooks will be able to find much to be happy about right now.
I split my four NFL plays, but I’m really irritated at not pulling the trigger on the Cowboys when that line got to seven. There just wasn’t any way to justify the Eagles being favored by that much and shame on me for not stepping forward. The Bucs and Browns were winners, I had the wrong side with the Lions. As for the Texans, while they made it really interesting at the finish against Carolina, they were a wrong side as well. My take that Ryan Mallett at QB gave them a better chance to win than with Brian Hoyer under center was incorrect. My new stance is that George Blanda would be the best QB on the Texans roster if they activated him. That, despite the fact Blanda passed away several years ago.
My early view on the college card for Week 4 is less quantity and more quality. That remains to be seen and I’ve got a long way to go before the slate is set. For info on how to get all my personal plays as I make them myself, address an email to me at email@example.com and I’ll provide all the details on costs and how everything works.
The Browns took control early and save for a brief anxious moment in the fourth quarter, they were comfortable winners as the Sunday free play. I’ll head to the diamond for the Monday comp.
ORIOLES (Jimenez) @ NATIONALS (Gonzalez)
Take: NATIONALS -142 (Southpoint)
Turn back the clock a few months, and the upcoming series between the Orioles and Nationals looked as though it would be top of the marquee stuff. Baltimore came into the campaign primed for a second straight post-season appearance. Washington was the pre-season favorite to win it all and their presence in the playoffs seemed to be a foregone conclusion.
The beauty of sports is that just because it’s supposed to happen doesn’t mean it will. The bad news from a fan standpoint is that what was supposed to be a huge late season Beltway Brawl now means next to nothing aside from regional pride. I will resist the temptation to go on a rant as to why these two franchises are where they are this season. At this point, that would just be piling on and I don’t want to be accused of hitting below the beltway.
So I’ll just concentrate on tonight’s game. Ubaldo Jimenez takes on Gio Gonzalez, and while each of these pitchers falls squarely into the erratic category, there isn’t much question that the Nats lefty is flashing the better current form.
Washington is playing the better ball right now. In fact, I guess they’re still alive in the NL East. A six-game deficit with 13 games remaining is technically not insurmountable. But with the Mets about to spend an entire week facing the Braves and Reds, the playoff hopes for the Nats are on life support, and that would only be from the perspective of an eternal optimist.
At least that current form for the Nationals could be helpful tonight. Soon to be MVP Bryce Harper continues to amaze and he’s actually getting some offensive support from his pals. The Orioles have been a really bad road team all season. While the overall ledger will fall well below expectations, the Nationals have actually been a solid host, and a win tonight would push them to .600 for the season in home games.
Factoring in the team data along with the Jimenez/Gonxalez comparison, and I believe a case can be made that this number is actually a little on the cheap side. I made this Washington -165, so laying nearly a quarter less that is pretty palatable. I’ll side with the Nationals tonight.