This is all so sad what has happened with Tom Brady and the Bucs. I can't help but think we are being robbed of something though. See, forever, those who have been tired of Tom Brady winning football games in a league meant to be about parity have wanted him to look old. We all get old, nobody beats Father Time, except Brady.
Brady now looks old, and he's probably retiring after this season. But will we ever know if this is about age? Is this decline really all about the distractions from his family life, coming apart at home? Brady's had a sensational career, the greatest of careers. And even if you're tired of Brady's career, you could still admire and respect it.
But the time has come to see Brady's career end, and it's ending with a thud. I wish we got a zero-distraction pure look at him being mortal and old, like we all get. We're unfortunately robbed of that. Maybe I'm being petty, and I know it's ridiculous, but this sad ending to Brady's career doesn't feel as fulfilling as it should be (to those rooting for his demise). The NFC South still stinks, a late Brady tease and trip to the playoffs is in the cards. But that final January game for him has a chance to be very sweet.
No. 1: Aaron Rodgers believes what the Packers are going through right now may be the best thing for them? Green Bay may look back and view losses to the Giants and Jets as acceptable if both teams are for real, but you can't lose to the Commanders. They're currently 3-4, and dates with the Bills, Cowboys, Eagles, and Rams are coming soon. An NFC wild-card spot may end up out of reach for the Packers if they don't surprise us with some upsets.
No. 2: Geno Smith continues to amaze, in what might be the most surprising season for a player in a long, long time. However, the Seahawks' quarterback will be without his top weapon in DK Metcalf for an indefinite period. If Smith keeps balling out -- while relying on Kenneth Walker as a power runner -- and Seattle reaches the playoffs, how could they not stick with Smith long-term?
No. 3: The officiating crew in Jacksonville last weekend should be reviewed ashamed. The Giants held a three-point lead before Saquon Barkley started a slide well before the boundary. The refs ruled Barkley out. Then, as the Giants continued to get stops on the Jags' final drive, the refs tossed three flags on three potential game-ending plays. At some point the refs need to get out of the way. There was no greater example of that than Sunday in Jacksonville.
No. 4: Kenny Pickett will be fine in the long run -- his two interceptions last weekend were inexcusable, but part of the NFL learning curve. This season should've never been about the playoffs for the Steelers. A fanbase so used to crisp, competitive football is going to have a hard time sitting through the growing pains with Pickett. Take a look around the NFL, at the quarterbacks that struggled in their rookie seasons. Many were better off because of it.
No. 5: Joe Burrow somehow still feels underrated. The Bengals' offensive line, that was supposed to be fixed, hasn't been this year. The defense has been a sieve at times. And yet, after seven weeks, Burrow and star wideout Ja'Marr Chase are once again clicking and resembling an AFC North favorite. Despite all their flaws, is there really another team -- aside from the Bills and Chiefs -- that you trust in January more than the Bengals?
No. 6: Russell Wilson trying to play threw a partially torn hamstring while the Broncos are 2-5 sure feels like a mistake. The trade rumors have started, and there's a good chance that, a week from now, Denver's roster may be picked apart like the hyenas in "The Lion King". So much for a Denver roster that was just missing a star quarterback. Wilson may be on a team in worse shape than his Seahawks were in the pervious two seasons.
No. 7: The Colts have already been swept by the Titans. With the AFC South seemingly slipping away, Matt Ryan is already being benched in Indianapolis. This can't be a Frank Reich call -- I refuse to believe this is a Frank Reich call. Colts owner Jim Irsay is tired of being sold a bill of goods on washed, former star quarterbacks by his front office and staff. The tank is on for these Colts.
No. 8: Patriots fans (and dare I say, Bill Belichick) are so delusional about the once-in-a-lifetime quarterback lottery they won with Brady, that they're willing to stunt the growth of Mac Jones if it means inserting Bailey Zappe at the first sign of struggle. Chants for Zappe rained down on Monday in Foxboro, and in the second half, the Bears dismantled Zappe and left egg on Belichick's face. Most NFL general managers would be fired if they gave up on their choice of a first-round QB like that so early. But, The Hoodie survives on a lifetime deal.
No. 9: Eagles GM Howie Roseman is always creative and aggressive, and no other GM has mastered accumulating picks on one end, while accumulating talent on the other. The Eagles are undefeated, now with multiple first-round picks, and they just added Robert Quinn to bolster their pass-rush. Roseman still deserves to be an NFL executive of the year.
No. 10: Major League Baseball is now finished playing its games on football Sundays, avoiding such a conflict in the World Series. Baseball needs to start doing this for all playoff series. Admit defeat -- at least on Sunday afternoons. It took Twitter to tell me that Bryce Harper had hit the biggest home run of his career. The NLCS-clinching game for the Phillies was a complete afterthought in real time, going up against a Sunday afternoon slate of football.
Five Games to Chew On
Cardinals at Vikings: Minnesota has been disrespected at 5-1 overall, but another victory against a playoff team from a season ago should set them up with an NFC North lead that would feel impossible to blow. Arizona has been impossible to figure out, week to week. But, it's almost "Call of Duty" release time, so Kyler Murray needs to start stacking wins.
49ers at Rams: Much like Indianapolis and Tennessee last week, it seems ridiculous we'll be done with both 49ers-Rams matchups before Halloween. San Francisco owned Los Angeles in Week 4, and the Rams just had a week to regroup and recharge. The quest to become an elite NFC contender once again and avoid a Super Bowl hangover has to start this week.
Patriots at Jets: Even in the darkest of seasons, it's very difficult to fathom Belichick not having the right gameplan for the Jets. They're a franchise he's owned for many years. But these Jets have a top defense and a burgeoning, creative offense. On the flip side, Jones starting and failing against New York won't garner any kind of support from fans in New England.
Packers at Bills: Rodgers is actually getting 11-plus points in a game in some sportsbooks. This is almost unheard of. And, more importantly than gambling, his Packers are in danger of ending their first half at 3-5. The Bills, coming off a bye, suddenly aren't a runaway in the AFC East with the upstart Jets rising.
Giants at Seahawks: Just as we all suspected in August, the only Week 8 matchup between two winning teams will take place in Seattle, as the Giants head out west. It's an important game for both teams, too, as 6-1 still doesn't give the Giants a division lead. And a loss by the Seahawks just pushes them back to leave the 49ers, Rams, and Cardinals within a muddled division race.
Another 2-1 week has us over .500, finally (11-10 is the record). For this week:
Jets (+2.5) vs. Patriots: The Patriots have won 12 straight games against the Jets. So, saying the Jets are due would be an understatement. Do I fear that Belichick devises a clever gameplan to confuse Zach Wilson? Of course. Here's the issue: What exactly is this Patriots offense going to do against this red-hot Jets defense? I'm getting points with the better team at home, and it could be a real blow to the Belichick aura.
Titans (-2.5) at Texans: The Texans will compete every week -- no matter how undermanned they are. But, any time they getting less than a field goal against a playoff team, I just need to lay the points. The Titans have won four consecutive matchups, and while not perfect, they seem to be getting better on defense. The Titans had a pick-6 last week, and there'll be opportunity for more forced turnovers. Oh, and Derrick Henry isn't going to go two straight weeks without scoring.
Rams (+1.5) vs. 49ers: Los Angeles lost to San Francisco a couple weeks ago. They just had an early Week 7 bye, and should be refreshed. The 49ers defense comes in having allowed seven touchdowns against the Chiefs last week at Levi's Stadium. Their history of regular season success against Sean McVay's unit can't be ignored, but let's not pretend these 49ers have been a juggernaut this season. The Rams will get right here. Even if it doesn't lead to a Super Bowl repeat run, the NFC West title run will begin here.
Football Food of the Week
Chicken Cutlet, Roasted Red Pepper, Mozzarella sliders. Roasted red peppers and mozzarella cheese are such a perfect combo. That moist combo of taste and texture is reminiscent of the dancing scene between Beauty and the Beast. This is such a simple recipe. Pan fry chicken cutlets, bake Pillsbury Grands biscuits and lightly dust them with butter and garlic powder. Then you place a slice of fresh mozzarella, a dash of canned roasted red peppers, plus a cutlet on each biscuit after they're done baking. You'll have a buttery garlic bread taste. The match of red peppers with mozzarella. And of course, a nice crispy cutlet. You're welcome.
Thanks for reading as always, and enjoy Week 8. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.