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Tuesday Tackle – Week 14

Week 14

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I was in Denmark to see a buddy this weekend. It was good to catch up with him, but also Copenhagen is really beautiful this time of year. The Danish have this thing called hygge, which doesn’t directly translate to English but essentially means the pursuit of coziness; sitting in front of a crackling fire with a blanket, cup of coffee, and a nice book. That kind of thing.

Anyway, someone should tell Mark Sanchez about it because he’s never going to work a day in his life again after this weekend, and I think he’ll need some hygge.  

 

Go Ahead Touchdown (Best of the Week)

Dallas Cowboys

I have to admit, I thought the Cowboys were going downhill. Dak Prescott hadn’t looked anything close to his Romo-ousting best, Ezekiel Elliott was having his worst professional season, and the man they brought in to fix all of this was one of the most error prone receivers in the league. I’m talking about Amari Cooper, of course.

Cooper had a bad case of the dropsies in Oakland. While there are other factors at play, last year he was only able to bring in 50% of his targets. During his six games in Oakland this year, it was a more respectable 68.8%. In Dallas, though: 75.5%. By comparison, league yardage leader Julio Jones is only 65.3%.

What is making this current burst of form so special is that Cooper is not only reeling them in, he’s finding ways to make jaw dropping moves after he’s brought the ball in and make plays when needed. This week alone he put up 217 yards and three touchdowns (including the game winner in overtime) and his work has truly transformed that team.

Which is funny, because when Dallas gave up a first round pick for him everyone scoffed: they thought that John Gruden had gotten immense value for a deeply flawed player, and that Jerry Jones was losing the plot. What Oakland wouldn’t give right now for any sign that they too might be transformed.

 

First and Long (Worst of the Week)

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

There are a lot of players who could sit right here today. Mark Sanchez is ripe for the picking, though pouring on the punishment with him feels like beating a dead horse after it’s bolted from the barn, the door of which you then go back and close. We could talk about Kirk Cousins but I don’t want to spend my morning thinking about beige.

Instead, we’re going with Gronk. Though to be honest, we could also (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) go with Bill Belichick too.

It had already been a difficult game for New England. At the end of the first half, the Patriots decided to go for a touchdown rather than the safe field goal when there were only seconds left on the clock. Without a timeout left Tom Brady could under no circumstance get sacked, as they wouldn’t have enough time to get a kicker out. Of course Brady held onto the ball way too long and got sacked, so they left what would have been game winning points on the board. That one is on Bill; it’s not winnings until it’s in your wallet.

What is also on Bill is the baffling decision to defend so deep on the play which the Dolphins’ marketing department has dubbed ‘The Miami Miracle’. Unless Ryan Tannehill had eaten a literal mountain for breakfast, there was no way he was throwing the ball the 70 yards straight to the endzone. By defending that deep, the Pats allowed the Dolphins to break out a good ol’ lateral play, and the rest is history. Or a miracle, technically.

Along with going deep, Belichick had also sent out the ‘hands team’ to defend deep against Tannehill’s suddenly granite powered arm. This included a certain Mr. Robert Gronkowski.

After the Dolphins dipsied and doodled their way through the Patriots, Gronk wound up as the last line of defense. However, as he tried to react to Kenyan Drake, his body stumbled and loafed over, giving Miami the win. He just couldn’t find the angle to make the tackle, and couldn’t react in time.

“I did sucky,” Gronk said about the missed tackle after the game.  And that is a real quote, by the way. I’m not making a joke here.

“I did sucky.”

What is not a joke either is, after watching Gronk’s awkward body flail about, just how broken down he seems these days. He’s had more surgeries than I can count to his back, and his arm is held together with industrial cladding. He doesn’t need the game financially, has already appeared in WWE and movies, and outright told the Pats that if they tried to trade him he’d just retire instead. After seeing how his body could not react to make a tackle, you have to wonder how much longer we’ll be seeing him. And when he goes, it will be sucky indeed.

 

Fantasy Stud (Player of the Week)

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player put up 47.8 fantasy points before. I’ve had players in my teams be in the 30s, but never nearly fifty. However, Derrick Henry decided to head on out there, rustle some things up, and blew everyone else in fantasy land away. Against the very sad Jaguars, Henry rushed 17 times for 238 yards and four touchdowns.

However, what brings me the most joy is how he was left on the bench in my league. Danny, you’re an idiot.

 

Mr Irrelevant (Worst Player of the Week)

Mark Sanchez, Washington Redskins

Oh okay, fine. I can’t resist. Let’s look at just how bad the Butt Fumbler was, shall we?

He completed six of fourteen passes for 38 yards. In those attempts, he managed to throw two interceptions. He was also sacked five times for a combined loss of 29 yards, meaning his net yardage was nine yards.

Nine yards and two interceptions, one of which was a pick six. And yet they still won’t call Colin Kaepernick… wonder why?

 

Khalil Mack Award for Being Khalil Mack

Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears

I didn’t get to see the Bears game because I was busy being all hygge in Denmark. As such, I don’t feel it’s fair of me to take this award away from Khalil just yet. He did well, with a sack, two tackles, and a forced fumble. And without the eyeball test, I just can’t strip his namesake award from him and give it to, say, Trey Flowers of the Pats. In their losing effort he still managed two sacks, four tackles, and a forced fumble, but… No. For now, Khalil stays.

 

Sunday Night Hail Mary (Bold Prediction for Next Week)

Serious Ram-ifications

If the Eagles lose this game, then the defending Super Bowl champions’ season is over and the team needs to ask themselves why it all went so wrong for them. They’ve had injuries, especially at running back, and lost some key coaching personnel to higher positions at other teams, but that can’t explain why one of the most free scoring teams in the NFL last year have tanked.

A win would put them at a 7-7 record. Somehow, that would be good enough to be in the chase heading into the final few games. The Vikings are the current sixth seed with a 6-6-1 record, and the other teams in the hunt are falling away. The Redskins and Panthers are also at 6-7, but both have quarterback issues of varying degrees while the Eagles are stacked there. Even another loss for the Cowboys and their 8-5 division leading record looks wobbly.

But for the Eagles to stay alive, though, they have to knock off the Rams. A few weeks ago I’d have told you that was impossible, but after seeing the Bears do it… I don’t know. Did they find a crack in the Rams?

Either way, this should be a fascinating game. The Rams will be playing to beat their chests and re-assert their alpha status in the NFC, and the Eagles will be playing to stay alive.

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