Welcome to Week 14 Blitzers. This week’s podcast was highly entertaining as it usually is. I don’t know if the bye week from the podcast gave them extra energy or what, but I was happy to hear how much the guys liked the Bootleg Black and Gold Whiskey Cocktail, or the “JuJu” Cocktail as the guys renamed it. Honestly, there was way too much to even put into words here from Simple Jack, Tropic Thunder, the AFC East Conspiracy Theory & Tanking for Tom as well as Michael Bolton… to even review. You will just have to listen yourself here as I felt it was one of the best shows of the year thus far.
As we come up on the end of the season and the playoff picture was beginning to sort itself out, I got to thinking about how some of the trade deadline deals were working out for the teams that were involved. As I looked further into the trades I asked myself if there were there clear winners? If so, who were they? This week I take a look at four of the biggest names that were moved and how they’ve done so far in their new homes.
NEW ACQUISITIONS: WHO WON?
(DET to PHI for a 3rd RD pick)
Stats Before the Trade: 44 rec, 517 yds, 3 TDs (8 games)
Stats Since the Trade: 19 rec, 189 yds, 1 TD (5 games)
Blitzed Decision: Detroit.
They’re that hot girl at the bar who convinces the gullible guy to pay for her drinks all night by flashing him a pretty smile and making him think he has a chance. Then at last call, she dials an Uber and goes home to her boyfriend without having to spending a dime the whole night. Tate is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. Detroit acquired a 3rd round pick for a player they knew was going to skip town anyways. Problem is, he hasn’t exactly worked out for Philadelphia either. This past Sunday, he got on the field for 38% of the offensive snaps and totaled just one catch for 8 yards. I caught more grapes that fell off the shelf at the grocery store without looking than Tate has over the past two weeks. The difference is that I’m not being paid $6.2 million dollars to do so.
(OAK to DAL for a 1st RD pick)
Stats Before the Trade: 22 rec, 280 yds, 1 TD
Stats Since the Trade: 40 rec, 642 yds, 6 TDs
Blitzed Decision: Dallas.
The 27 year old Cooper has been quite the opposite for Dallas. This past week, he played 90 snaps and had 10 catches for 217 yards with three touchdowns. All of those stats were more in one game than Tate has combined in 5 games since joining the Eagles. Not only has Cooper returned to form as a bona fide #1 wide receiver for the Cowboys, he’s opened up the offense for Ezekiel Elliot, created space for Dak Prescott and kept the opposing defenses honest at the line of scrimmage. Additionally, extending the offense’s time on the field has helped their defense’s efficiency as well. The Cowboys are 5-1 since Cooper has joined Dallas with the lone loss coming in his first game to the Tennessee Titans, 28-14. They have since ripped off five straight wins and sit atop the NFC East with a record of 8-5. They certainly look primed to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2015 and for only the second time since 2010.
(DEN to HOU for a 4th RD pick and swap of 7th RD picks
Stats Before the Trade: 36 rec, 402 yds, 3 TDs (8 games
Stats Since the Trade: 14 rec, 179 yds, 2 TDs (5 games)
Blitzed Decision: Texans.
This is probably the least flashy of the trades but possibly one of the most underrated. Back in October, the Texans had just lost Will Fuller to a torn ACL while they were just beginning their improbable nine game win streak (that just ended this past week to the also-streaking Indianapolis Colts). In comes Thomas from Denver to replace Fuller and he has quietly been effective. Not so much on the stat sheet, but on keeping the defenses occupied from double teaming that other guy opposite him- DeAndre Hopkins. Thomas’ addition alone keeps defenses honest and has allowed the Texans to continue to be effective to the tune of nine straight wins. The scariest part of all of this? Think of the receiving trio they will have when Fuller comes back healthy in ’19. I’m thinking scary good.
(OAK to CHI for ’19 and ’20 1st RD, ’20 3rd and ’19 6th RD)
Stats Before the Trade: n/a
Stats Since the Trade: 36 TCK, 10 sacks, 4 Pass Def, 6 FrcFum, 1 INT, 1 TD
Blitzed Decision: Chicago.
The Bears paid a king’s ransom for this man. But damn it, he was worth. He instantly made their defense better and will continue to do so for the next five years plus. This season I have seen Mack finesse, power and stroll his way through offensive linemen. I have seen him take one arm and throw them away like a sack of potatoes. I’ve seen him (or rather not seen him in this case) come from what seemingly is thin air in the blink of an eye to take down the quarterback. I am old enough to remember Reggie White and Bruce Smith play football. I was not however, old enough to appreciate the greatness they possessed on the football field. We are fortunate that we get to watch Mack play. How Oakland ever traded him is beyond me. There is not another defensive player coming out in the draft this year or next that will match the talent that Mack possesses.
Awkward Transition Alert
There is no easy way to transition into my game of the week from talking about how the traded players are doing in their new digs. So, I’m just going to dive right in. Based on all the history and the fact that once again this has playoff seeding implications, the game of the week this week of course has to be the New England Patriots (9-4) going into Heinz Field to take on the reeling 7-5-1 Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh is coming off an embarrassing (there’s no other word to describe it is there Steelers fans?) and crushing defeat at the hands of the Raiders while the Patriots, well… they’re drinking a lot of this week’s Drink of the Week. I present to you, the Miami Miracle Margarita.
Miami Miracle Margarita
1.5oz Espolon Reposado Tequila
½ oz Blue Curacao
½ oz Florida Orange Juice
½ oz Pineapple Juice
½ oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
½ oz Jalapeño Agave syrup*
Blitzed Barkeep Build: All all ingredients to a shaker with ice, shake vigorously and strain into a rocks glass over rocks. Garnish with an orange peel cut into the shape of a dolphin.
*Jalapeño Agave Syrup Build: combine 12 oz. agave, 12 oz. water and 2 to 3 sliced jalapeños in a saucepot. Bring to a boil over medium/high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and skim/discard jalapeños slices.
Cool to room temperature or chill before using.
Now its no secret to Blitzed Nation that I am not a fan of the New England Cheatriots. This drink is the perfect drink for this week because the Jalapeño Agave gives the drink a kick at the finish that sneaks up on you, very similar to the way the Patriots lost last Sunday. The only real problem I have with that loss, is the trend with the Patriots losing that way is it gives them fire for the following week. This is already a big enough game with playoff implications and we don’t need to give Tom Brady any more motivation to play harder for the rest of the year. Statistically speaking, these are two rather evenly matched teams. Both teams score 28 points per game while giving up 22.5 (NE) and 23.5 (PIT) points per game. Shockingly, Pittsburgh has more passing yards per game (328.6 to 288.5) while New England has more rushing yards per game (118.2 to 89).
So, let’s play out the game Barkeep style. After officials usher out the black trench coat wearing camera men with NFL taped over the Patriots logos, the game begins with several questionable calls going against Pittsburgh. Multiple times the officials can be seen going to the review booth and returning to the field with rather large bulges in their pockets, followed out by Patriots officials. Undoubtedly, the next flag goes the Patriot’s way. Its no doubt that the Steelers easily take a large deficit at the half, 35-0. The start of the second half begins with a new QB under center- Patriot killer Eli Manning. He also brought along David ‘Pine Tar’ Tyree for good luck. The Steelers thought about consulting Kyle Shanahan for advice but decided that since they were attempting to comeback instead of blow a lead, he wouldn’t know how to help them. A solid running game (take note Russell Wilson) and multiple touchdown passes to Jesse James actually DO stand as he maintains control (as he did last year as well) to bring the Steelers close.
The Steelers sack Brady and instead of implementing the tuck rule, the ball was deemed to have been out of his hand and fumbled giving the Steelers a last second chance. A surprise guest appearance by Adam Vinatieri on a one-day trade to the Steelers is all they need to seal the deal on a walk off field goal. Pittsburgh wins on a wild 38-35 victory sending Pittsburgh into a frenzy. Somewhere a shattered phone rings with Gisele’s face as the background and deflated balls come to a rolling stop due to a low PSI.
If only it were that easy. This game is too hard to predict. Pittsburgh is banged up and New England is coming off that devastating loss. I can go with my head or my heart here. My head says New England will bounce back and continue to do what they always do- win and piss everyone off by getting a bye in the playoffs like they’ve done for what seems like the last 50 years. My heart is rooting so hard for Steeler Nation this week so I‘m going to go that way with my prediction.
FINAL SCORE: Pittsburgh 30 New England 28
Well Blitzers, that’s all from your Blitzed Barkeep for now. Remember to drink responsibly, take Brady’s name in vain and always give your keys to a friend if you’ve had too much. Tune in to the Blitzed NFL podcast this Tuesday to hear the guys review this week’s drink of the week and recap all of the action during Week 15.
The Blitzed Barkeep is a #TeamBlitzed All Pro from Bills Mafia. You can follow Blitzed Barkeep on Twitter here.