It’s going to be a hectic end of the year for us football-wise, my friends. The Texans are in first place, the Cowboys and Eagles are neck-and-neck for a playoff spot, and Tom Brady has an injury that is obviously a Belichick ruse.
We’ve got holidays coming up, college football everywhere, and it’s dawning on all of us that it’s already too late to get our Christmas shopping done early.
To get caught up on everything, time now for another edition of the NFL mailbag.
■ Q: Something something something Jason Garrett?
A: I get a lot of email questions that roughly ask the same thing, so allow me to summarize. Yes, I think Jason Garrett has finally reached the make-or-break portion of his coaching career. The Cowboys are a good young team, but also sometimes uninspired and fairly dumb, in football terms. Rarely is there a moment when you watch a Cowboys game and think, “Wow! Our Ivy League coach really outsmarted that guy on the other sideline.”
There are plenty of coaches who could get the exact same results out of this team, and Cowboys fans want more than they’re getting.
■ Q: Did the NFL get it right with the Myles Garrett suspension?
A: Absolutely. The NFL hates to suspend players, especially stars. If he doesn’t throw the helmet then everyone gets fined but nobody gets suspended, which is what the NFL wants.
But he did swing that helmet, and that’s bad optics for the NFL.
■ Q: Has the NFL gone too far in protecting quarterbacks?
A: No. Also, yes.
■ Q: Does your way of vaguely answering questions endear you to people?
A: You know, that’s a question all of my wives have also asked me.
To explain, no, not in the general sense. NFL defensive players are faster and stronger than ever before. Guys are getting drafted solely as edge rushers, and they’re borderline super-heroes out there. Yes, quarterbacks are football players and they should take hits. But no, not late hits, low hits, brain hits, or anything else that would turn a prime time Sunday Night Football matchup of Dak Prescott vs. Aaron Rodgers into a battle between Whatsisface McGee and Johnny Practicesquad.
That said, this trend of throwing flags for roughing the passer when the defensive player barely grazes his shadow has to stop. It’s undermining the entire game.
■ Q: How is the high school football up there in Ohio and Kentucky?
A: After more than 20 years of covering high school football in Texas, I’ll admit, it’s … a bit of a dropoff. They think they take it seriously up here, but as Larry Miller once said, it’s the difference between shooting a bullet, and throwing it.
Now on to the picks.
In Week 11, I went 5-1, and 4-2 against the spread. If I could bet against the Bengals and Lions every week, I’d have enough money for a place in Vegas with a pool, a hot tub, and a solid gold dog.
For the season, that makes me 44-21-2 straight up, and 36-29-2 against Las Vegas.
As always, these are for the purposes of comedic discussion only. No wagering.
■ Dallas (+5.5) at New England: Dallas has been awful this season in the first quarter. The Cowboys start slower than “Hotel California.”
Pick: Patriots to win but not cover, winning by five or less.
■ Green Bay (+3) at San Francisco: The 49ers schedule over the rest of the season is pretty brutal. The difficulty level goes from Glass Joe straight to Bald Bull.
Pick: Packers to win it outright.
■ Seattle (+1) at Philadelphia: I love Seattle this season, but if the Eagles lose, they’re doomed. Sometimes I make picks solely on the basis of drama.
Pick: Eagles to win and cover.
I’ll also take the Ravens over the Rams, the Bucs over the Falcons, and the Bengals to lose, no matter who they play.
Good luck, everybody.