Don't get excited, the Patriots aren't "back" yet (and other Sunday opinions)
I live in New England. Most of my friends are Patriots fans, and after beating down the Dolphins on Sunday many of them started proclaiming the Pats were back. Sure, 38-7 is a beating regardless of circumstances, but let's take a step back and look at a few things. First of all, the Dolphins were a weak 3-0. If not for a couple of trick plays and bad INTs in previous weeks, Miami could have just as easily been 0-3. At 3-0 Miami was far behind the Chiefs at 3-0 or the Rams at 3-0. Those last two teams are stacked; Miami is not.
Secondly, Miami historically plays poorly in New England. Here's a list of the games played in New England since the Wildcat game in 2008.
2017: Pats 35 Dolphins 17
2016: Pats 31 Dolphins 24
2015: Pats 36 Dolphins 7
2014: Pats 41 Dolphins 13
2013: Pats 27 Dolphins 17
2012: Pats 28 Dolphins 0
2011: Pats 27 Dolphins 24
2010: Pats 38 Dolphins 7
2009: Pats 27 Dolphins 17
2008: Dolphins 38 Pats 13
As you can see, yesterday's 38-7 result was to be expected. But history aside, Miami's problems were on full display yesterday. Their offensive line is missing 3 starters, which prevented the run game from doing anything. The defensive line is banged up due to multiple injuries, which allowed the Pats to run with ease. But more importantly than anything else, the Dolphins are a mediocre team that punches above their weight on occasion. And with home field advantage (and homecooking) the Pats should have won that game easily. And they did. In two weeks when they play the Chiefs and then go on the road to play the Bears we will know the quality of this team more.
Raiders Get First Win
Kudos to the Raiders for hanging in there in a wild game against the Browns. I'm just going to look the other way on the awful officiating in this game since both teams should have had an extra touchdown due to stupid "forward progress" opinions. I've got to say, I thought the Raiders were done when the Browns scored two unanswered touchdowns late in the game. But I should have known it wasn't over because, ya know, the Browns.
It must be incredibly frustrating to be a Browns fan. Not just because of 1-15 or 0-16 seasons. But because of bad kicking, defensive meltdowns, and pick sixes this team could easily be undefeated. Instead they're 1-2-1 after four weeks. It isn't like they're being blown-out, either, since in every game they've had a late lead. They're just killing themselves in the end. But hey, Baker Mayfield looks awesome (aside from the aforementioned pick six), so the future is (strangely) bright in Cleveland.
Are the Titans For Real? Ditto the Bears?
To begin with, if you read my picks you know I took the Titans to win this game. And for the majority of the game yesterday, I thought I was about as wrong as I could be. But then Mariota punched one in from 2 yards out and everything changed. I'm not sure what to make of the Titans. On one hand they have one of the more boring attacks in football, but on the other they find ways to win (against good teams too). The jury is still out for now, but maybe with continued success I'll start believing in them.
Daaa Bears. Another team that I'm not sure what to make of. After a complete demolition of the Buccaneers, the Bears look like the team to beat in the NFC North. Which is hysterical, because over the last few season they were mediocre at best. But Khalil Mack is a bona fide MVP candidate, and the offense took advantage of a bad Tampa defense yesterday. After a bye week they play Miami in Miami, and then the Patriots in Chicago. By then I'll have my mind made up. The problem for teams like the Bears and Titans is that we haven't seen much from these franchises over the past 5-6 years, so when there is early season success we look at it skeptically.
LeVeon Bell is Right for Holding Out
Look, I'm not a Steelers fan, but I understand why their fans would be annoyed with Bell. If one of my team's best players or one of my favorite players was holding out I'd be angry too. But you saw what happened to Earl Thomas yesterday. Dude didn't want to hold out because he wanted to be a "team player", and now he's on IR for a broken leg. He isn't getting the payday he wants because this is his second major injury in the past 365 days. When this happened, the LeVeon's of the world were validated for holding out because, at the end of the day, his future is more important than the team.
I think in some ways there is a generational gap when it comes to this topic. Older fans will scream that he's being selfish for holding out and he needs to be on the team. That makes sense if you personally have worked at the same factory/firm/company/whatever for 20-30 years. Younger fans who, as a generation, have been dicked over by those same companies for any number of reasons (fired for voting, fired for getting pregnant, fired for getting a concussion at work, had hours halved because of cutbacks, don't get benefits, get paid minimum wage but expected to give maximum effort, this list goes on) are more sympathetic with LeVeon Bell. LeVeon understands that the Steelers don't give two damns about him, and because of that, he is holding out so he can get a better contract during free agency. You can't blame the man. And honestly, if the Steelers showed any kind of loyalty to him, then he would reciprocate. The problem is Pittsburgh wants him to sign the tender, run him into the ground, and then dump him. Especially now that James Conner has been doing so well.
Loyalty is a two way street. You should never be loyal to anything that won't do the same for you. Whether it is a football team, a company, a girlfriend, or a pet. And that's why LeVeon Bell is in the right.