Is Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano trying to get himself fired? Pagano doesn't have a contract past this season and isn't happy about it. There have been numerous reports that he and the front office are not on the same page and that Pagano might simply walk after this year.
But I don't have any logical explanation for that foolish fake punt play that Pagano allowed to happen in Sunday night's loss to New England. I'm sure you have seen highlights of it by now if you weren't watching it live. That was one of the worst plays I have ever seen. It had zero chance of working. It wasn't a bad call to go for it on fourth-and-3, but put the ball in Andrew Luck's hands and not in safety Colt Anderson's hands with just a center in front of him in the form of backup receiver Griff Whalen. The Pats had like five guys on top of just those two; the rest of the Colts players were all shifted wide. Whalen went and snapped the ball anyway and Anderson was tackled immediately (there was a penalty called on the play too; the Pats declined it). Six plays later, Tom Brady hit LeGarrette Blount for an 11-yard touchdown pass and a two-score lead.
"I take full responsibility for that," Pagano said. "We shifted over and I didn't do a good enough job of coaching it during the week. Alignment-wise we weren't aligned correctly, and then a communication breakdown between the quarterback and the snapper."
Uh, OK. At least the Colts covered in the 34-27 loss, which I recommended in my preview of that game. Even at 3-3, Indy should have little trouble winning the awful AFC South. The Patriots, meanwhile, are one of five unbeatens remaining. Atlanta was the only unbeaten team to lose in Week 6, which I sort of saw coming in New Orleans. I definitely didn't think Carolina would go to Seattle and win. The Broncos, Bengals and Packers also remain without a loss. Those three teams are all on the bye this week.
Here are some Week 7 games and opening lines that caught my eye. As usual, I will not touch on the Thursday game, my featured Sunday game (not sure yet which one; Jets-Patriots is best game but I'm tired of doing New England every week) or the Monday night game.
Steelers at Chiefs (+2, TBA): Many books don't have this line posted yet, and there's no total at the few that do because it's not clear who Pittsburgh's starting quarterback will be. There's a chance that Ben Roethlisberger could return from his MCL injury. But if Big Ben has to sit one more out, it probably will be third-stringer Landry Jones. He replaced a struggling and injured Michael Vick in Sunday's game against Arizona, and Jones threw two touchdown passes in the 25-13 victory over the Cardinals. Vick, who apparently suffered a small hamstring tear, was just 3-for-8 for 6 yards in two-plus quarters, while Jones was 8-for-12 for 168 yards and those two scores. He had never attempted a regular-season NFL pass prior to that game. Jones was a fourth-round pick in 2013 out of Oklahoma. The Chiefs lost their fifth straight on Sunday, 16-10 at Minnesota. I thought they might be the AFC's worst team with Jamaal Charles out for the season and I saw nothing in that game to change my opinion. Plus, top Chiefs receiver Jeremy Maclin suffered a concussion in the loss and is iffy for this week. Key trend: Kansas City is 5-5 ATS in past 10 as home dog. The pick: Steelers no matter the QB.
Bills vs. Jaguars (+4, 42): This is a 9:30 a.m. start from Wembley Stadium in London, which probably will be the home of the Jaguars by 2020. It's also an NFL first as Yahoo will stream the game live. It will only be shown on TV in the Buffalo and Jacksonville markets. But you can watch it on Yahoo for free -- this is the wave of the future, folks. The NFL no doubt will sell a slice of its broadcast package to an Internet service when the current broadcast contracts expire after the 2022 season. Buffalo lost 34-21 at home to the Bengals in Week 6. Starting QB Tyrod Taylor did sit as expected with backup E.J. Manuel completing 28-for-42 for 263 yards with a TD and pick. It's not clear yet if Taylor will be able to play this week. Top Bills receiver Sammy Watkins, who just returned from injury, hurt his ankle vs. the Bengals and he's in question too. Jacksonville enters on a four-game skid. Key trend: Jacksonville 1-9 SU in past 10 as dog of at least four points (4-5-1 ATS). The pick: Bills and "under."
Jets at Patriots (-9, 48): First place in the AFC East is on the line as new Jets coach Todd Bowles gets his first crack at Bill Belichick and Co. Should be a great game with that terrific New York defense, which is allowing just 269.2 yards per game, by far the fewest in the NFL, faces off against New England's No. 1 offense, which averages 36.6 points per game. The Jets are 4-1 for the first time since 2010. Brandon Marshall has been one of the NFL's top offseason pickups as the Jets got him for next to nothing from Chicago, and Marshall has 37 catches for 511 yards and four scores. Marshall has four straight 100-yard receiving games, the first Jet to do that since 1968 when Hall of Famer Don Maynard accomplished the feat. The last time these rivals played a regular-season game with this much meaning was 2011, when both teams entered at 5-3. The Patriots have won seven of the past eight meetings overall, but they have largely been close games. The last four have decided by three points or fewer. Key trend: New England 4-6 ATS in past 10 as home favorite in series. The pick: Take the points; might it get to double digits? I'd probably hold off seeing.
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