*MOVIE RECAP: DUNE — Part One

Embarrassingly enough, I went into this movie not having read the book. My knowledge of Frank Herbert’s Dune can be best summarized to a simple cliff notes overview of the story. And my other familiarity with the novel is that I used to sell hundreds of copies per year, back when I was a bookseller slash bookstore manager. It was a constant bestseller, so I always kept it in stock.

At the same time, I have to admit that I’m a bit biased when it comes to this movie. Full disclaimer, a few weeks before the official cast of Dune was announced, I got the chance to meet and exchange words with Timothee Chalamet briefly — Oscar Isaac made the introduction. Yes, THAT Oscar Isaac.

All told, I have been dealing with Mr. Isaac for a while now through my day job. He is a normal and down-to-earth dude — extremely likable and personable. Unlike some of those entitled Hollywood types, acting pretentious and asking to be treated special…ahem, Jeremy Strong…. I had an awkward conversation with Jeremy Strong on the phone once. But that is another story for a different time.

Anyhow, meeting Timothee Chalamet was a pretty awesome experience, and even though it was a brief encounter, it was a pretty memorable encounter; He shook my hand and said, “Hi, it is cool to meet you”….It made my day, week, month, and so on… and I haven’t shut up about it ever since.

So yes, it was my own personal “Hollywood moment.” One of many unique Hollywood moments — meeting celebrities is one of the cool perks of working in New York City.

Ok, about the movie. 

So this movie is officially named DUNE: Part One — because it is based on the first half of Frank Herbert’s 1965 Dune novel. And I assume that the next Dune movie will be based on the second half of the book — unless they decide to turn the entire first book into a trilogy, which I doubt.

I read in different pieces that Frank Herbert was heavily influenced by the 1926 book Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E Lawrence — which was the basis for the epic 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia directed by David Lean……One of my favorite films of all time.

In any case, the story of Dune takes place on a desert planet called Arrakis. The native people of this planet are called the Fremen — The Fremen are nomadic, Arab-looking tribes. They are ruled and oppressed by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard) of the House Harkonnen; He is like a feudalistic planetary overlord of sorts.

The other power player here is the House of Atreides; Rule by Duke Leto Atreides (my boy, Oscar Isaac). Duke Leto’s young son Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), heir to House Atreides.

The Emperor and supreme ruler of the known universe assigns Duke Leto to replace House Harkonnen as overlords of Arrakis and all of the “spice” mining operations there. Spice is a precious asset; it is the equivalent to oil in terms of power for fuel — You need this Spice for interstellar travel.

And here is where the fuckery starts…

There is a conspiracy between the Emperor and House Harkonnen to wipe out House Atreides from existence. So not long after arriving in Arrakis, there is a surprise attack by the combined forces of the Emperor and House Harkonnen to kill off House Atreides.

Young Paul Atreides and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), escape, and the journey between boy and mother begin.

What pleasantly surprised me the most here was the solid screenwriting — primarily in how the knots and bolts of the story are explained to the audience. Mainly the opening scenes and the introduction of the Houses and the whole space mining concept, plus how the movie’s beginning gave us a quick background to the never-ending conflict between the ruling overlords and the Fremen. All of that was written and directed brilliantly, and it was very engaging.

Not having read the book, I was impressed with this adaptation because they did not try to force-feed the entire first book into one movie. Instead, they opted to split the books into parts and thus remain faithful to the source material. Therefore, it doesn’t feel like it was dumb down for the audience like some other adaptations out there.

Brilliant screenwriting work from Denis Villeneuve and his writing partners, Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, Passenger) and Eric Roth (Munich, The Good Shepherd, Forrest Gump, and The Insider).

Dune, the novel, is a complex and spectacular story that many consider unfilmable. But director Denis Villeneuve has created an exceptional experience here, adding a visual depth and dimension that I’m sure the book does not have — Villeneuve’s filmography is extraordinary with films like Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and The Arrival (2016), among others. So I’m not surprised by this achievement.

The scope and scale of this movie are epic and breathtaking. The combination of location shooting and special effects is outstanding. Bringing this world to life both digitally and physically is remarkable. The natural environment and the power of the desert felt real, which is something CGI or green screens cannot truly capture.

The atmospheric elements and the middle eastern imagery are well done. There is also a sense of spirituality and mysticism slowly being developed, which I’m sure will be further explored in upcoming films. On top of all that, Hans Zimmer’s score is superb.

The performances are excellent. Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, Stellan Skarsgard, and David Dastmalchia are all fantastic. There is an air of Marlon Brando from Apocalypse Now to Stellan Skarsgard’s character — No CGI, only prosthetics for Skarsgard — pretty cool.

Additionally, Rebecca Ferguson is noteworthy here; Lady Jessica is at the epicenter of the story, and Ferguson conveys such a powerful presence in every scene that she is in.

But objectively, Timothee Chalamet is the heart and soul here; he is perfect for this role. At first, he seems flat, stoic, and almost emotionless. But as the story evolves, you see him maturing and embracing his messianic destiny. There is a sense of vulnerability from Chalamet’s performance that merits praise.

And sure, this is another white savior story; however, it gets a pass from me, mainly because the source material is over 55 years old. My other issue is that they did not make time early enough in the story to explain to the audience about the whole aspect of sword-fighting with shields and how those personal shield devices can protect you. I hope there will be a director’s cut available at some point addressing some of the technology, like the whole thing with the lack of computers and Artificial Intelligence in this world.

Lastly, I find it interesting how they went out of their way to exaggerate Zendaya’s contribution here. The advertising was misleading — she was all over the promotion materials, hyping up her performance. Yet, she was in the movie for roughly 10 minutes, but it is evident that she will play a significant role in the second part.

All in all, Dune: Part One is a major cinematic achievement. Here is an adaptation that Hollywood got right, and I have not been this excited about a sci/fi slash fantasy series since the original Lord of the Rings trilogy back in the early 2000s.

Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿

DUNE: Part One (2021).

*NFL WEEK 14 RECAP (2021 Season)

Ok, here is the thing, Dallas got lucky in this game, simple as that. They caught Washington with an insane amount of starters out of this game. Some due to Covid protocols and some to injuries. On the other hand, Dallas came in almost at full strength.

Nevertheless, Washington had a lot of issues getting their offense going. The running game was non-existent; all running backs struggled to get some traction on the ground. The Offensive line had a hard time providing holes and dealing with Micah parsons and the constant pressure from Dallas. Adding to the lackluster running game was the absence of JD McKissic; he was ruled out before the game. 

Also, the O-line could not protect the QB like in the previous 4 weeks. Taylor Heinicke was under distress for most of the game; he was inaccurate, and his ball placement was way off — it seems like the pressure from Dallas got to him mentally. Heinicke ended up leaving the game to a knee injury and was replaced by Kyle Allen.

Allen played well for the most part, mostly because I don’t think Dallas had a game plan for him. Still, the offense was not as effective as during the winning streak. 

Curtis Samuel played but did not contribute much in this game. He has been slowly getting back into action from a groin injury that kept him out for most of the regular season. Terry McLaurin was shut out and eventually was ruled out for the remainder of the game due to a concussion. Not having TE Logan Thomas was crucial, and his absence will be felt during this last stretch of the regular season. Thomas has a torn ACL and is not expected to return until the 2022 season.

The defense held its own and kept this game from getting out of hand, but missing Casey Toohill and Montez Sweat made a difference. 

On top of all the injuries, we have also lost our star DT Jonathan Allen to Covid protocols. This absence sucks and will be rough for the defense. Plus, there was news about a positive Omicron test from a tier 3 employee. According to NFL covid policies, Tier 3 employees are not supposed to come into contact with tier 1 employees (players and coaches). But we will see how things develop in terms of more positive tests.

All in all, we still have 4 games left, and all of those 4 games are within the division. Washington has got to win out and lock in a playoff spot. Next up, we play Philly. The Eagles are 6-7, and I’m sure they will love nothing more than to play spoiler and overtake us in the playoff hunt. We have to beat Philly!

WFT 20 — COWBOYS 27

NY GIANTS 21 — LA CHARGERS 37

The LA Chargers have put together solid back-to-back wins and set up a must-see divisional matchup against Mahomes and company. The Chargers are 8-5, and they have 3 divisional games left in the regular season, so winning the AFC WEST is within reach. Next up, LA hosts Kansas city. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs

I never thought I would say this, but I actually feel sorry for fans of the NY Giants. This team is a complete mess, and deservingly so. Their clown ownership has been getting on my nerves for years. Plus, Joe Judge is not NFL head coaching material; he is a position coach at best. Next up, NY hosts Dallas. Advantage, Dallas Cowboys (but I hope NY wins)

VIKINGS 36 — STEELERS 28

Minnesota was comfortably leading 29 – 0 late in the 3rd quarter and looked like the game was over. I briefly turned away from the game, and when I came back to it, Pittsburgh had cut the lead, and the game was 20 to 29. The Vikings’ defense continues to underperform from week to week— they allowed Big Ben to make some crucial plays and make this game closer than it should have been. Next up, Minnesota visits division rival Chicago. Advantage, Minnesota Vikings.

The Steelers are the most inconsistent team in the NFL, and at times they seem to be dysfunctional and undisciplined. At 6-6-1, Pittsburgh has to win out and get some help to make the playoffs. Next up, Pittsburgh hosts Tennessee. Advantage, Tennessee Titans.

CHIEFS 48 — RAIDERS 9

Kansas City has now won 6 games in a row, setting up a crucial matchup against the LA Chargers on week 18. The Chiefs are playing better defense, making all the difference this late in the season. Next week, Kansas City visits the LA Chargers. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs.

The Raiders are such a mess right now, which is insane considering all the talent assembled on all sides of the ball. However, it is safe to say that significant changes are coming to Vegas next season. Next week, Las Vegas visits Cleveland. Advantage, Cleveland Browns (but I hope Vegas wins).

49ERS 26 — BENGALS 23

San Francisco is having a late-season surge, and they have a legit chance to make the playoffs, but injuries continue to haunt them. Next week, San Francisco hosts Atlanta. Advantage, San Francisco 49ers

The Bengals took this game into overtime but couldn’t hang on and neutralize Jimmy G from torching them in OT. As a result, Cincinnati has lost 2 games in a row, and they are at risk of falling out of the playoff race. Next week, Cincinnati visits Denver. Advantage, Denver Broncos.

BROWNS 24 — RAVENS 22

Cleveland caught a huge break when Lamar Jackson left the game injured. This win saved Cleveland’s season, and with 3 divisional games remaining, they could still win the AFC NORTH division. Next up, Cleveland hosts the Las Vegas Raiders. Advantage, Cleveland Browns.

The Ravens without Lamar Jackson are a completely different team, and their post-season hopes rest in Lamar’s health. Next up, Baltimore Host Green bay. Advantage, Green Bay Packers.

TITANS 20 — JAGUARS 9

ok, let’s not overreact here — Tennessee beat and shut out the worst team in the NFL. The score should have been higher. The Titans have 3 regular-season games in a row left in the schedule against playoff-contending teams, and by week 18, we will have a better idea of how good this Tennessee team is. Next week, Tennessee visits up and down Pittsburgh. Advantage, Tennessee Titans.

Urban Meyer sucks, simple as that. He has got to go, and Jacksonville needs to find a real NFL-caliber coach, not some College hack of a coach who never had any pro-football experience. I don’t care how much he won at the college level — the NFL is the big league, and not everyone is cut out to coach there. Next week, Jacksonville hosts Houston, another mess of a team. Advantage, Houston Texans.

SEAHAWKS 33 — TEXANS 13

Seattle is rebounding nicely after getting beat down by my Washington Football team on week 12 and have now put together 2 solid wins. At 5-8, Seattle is not entirely out of the wildcard race, but they will have to win out and get some help to grab a playoff spot. Next week, Seattle visits LA. Advantage, La Rams.

The Texans are just playing out the schedule, hoping to land a good draft spot for the 2022 NFL draft. A complete and deep rebuild is in order for Houston. Next week, Houston visits Jacksonville. Advantage, Houston Texans.

BUCCANEERS 33 — BILLS 27

Tom Brady still owns Buffalo. It got dicey in the 4th quarter for Tampa Bay as Buffalo tied the game and took them to overtime. But Brady threw a 58-yard pass to Breshad Perriman to seal the deal. Next up, Tampa Bay host New Orleans. Advantage, New Orleans Saints (they own Tom Brady during the regular season).

Tough loss for Buffalo; they needed this win badly to remain relevant in the AFC playoff hunt. The good thing is that 3 out of the 4 games remaining in the regular season schedule are against losing teams. Next up, Buffalo hosts Carolina. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.

PACKERS 45 — BEARS 30 

The Packers played from behind for most of this game, but once the 3rd quarter came around, Green Bay opened up a can of whoop-ass all over Chicago and never looked back. Next week, Green Bay visits Baltimore. Advantage, Green Bay packers. 

Chicago has to continue to build around Justin Fields; he can be both dynamic and mistake-prone, so adding better pieces to compliment him will be crucial for his development. Next week, Chicago hosts Minnesota on Monday Night football. Advantage, Minnesota Vikings.

SAINTS 30 — NY JETS 9

Field goals and rushing TDs were the keys to victory here for New Orleans. They ended their 5-game losing streak and, at 6-7, still have a chance to get into the playoffs. Next up, New Orleans visits their arch-rival Tampa Bay. Advantage, New Orleans Saints.

The NY Jets have been officially eliminated from playoff contention, and they can now just play out their schedule and look to build towards next season. I have a feeling the NY Jets will be much improved come 2022. Next up, NY visits Miami. Advantage, Miami Dolphins.

FALCONS 29 — PANTHERS 21

Atlanta has some fight still left in them, and as nuts, as it sounds, they are still alive in the NFC playoff race. Next week, Atlanta visits San Francisco, a massive game for both teams with playoff implications. Advantage, San Francisco 49ers.

The Panthers are a disaster under Matt Rhule, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a change is made at the end of the season. Cam Newton is not really the issue here; the firing of Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady was just an excuse but not the solution. Next week, Carolina visits Buffalo. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.

BRONCOS 28 — LIONS 10

Denver looked formidable, beating up on the 1 win Detroit Lions. The Broncos seemed inspired to win this game — I’m sure the sudden passing of Demaryius Thomas played a factor here. Next up, Denver hosts Cincinnati. Advantage, Cincinnati Bengals.

Even though they are not the worst team in the 2021 NFL season, Detroit will probably end up with the number 1 pick in the 2022 Draft. The Lions have building blocks available to improve in 2022. Next up, Detroit hosts Arizona. Advantage, Arizona Cardinals.

LA RAMS 30 — CARDINALS 23

This was a must-win for LA — The Rams delivered a dominant primetime performance on Monday Night Football. Matthew Stafford threw for 287 yards with 3 TDs and zero picks. Cooper Kupp had 13 catches for 12 yards and 1 TD — safe to say Kupp is the best wide receiver in the NFL this season. The Rams defense was exceptional, pressuring and keeping Kyler Murray at bay for most of the game. Next week, LA hosts Seattle. Advantage, LA Rams.

The Cardinals missed a huge opportunity to sweep LA, but no big deal, no reason to panic; at 10-3, Arizona is still one game away from clinching the NFC WEST. Next week, Arizona visits Detroit. Advantage, Arizona Cardinals.

*NFL WEEK 13 RECAP (2021 Season)

Impressive win for Washington, extending their winning streak to 4 games in a row. We now sit at the 6th playoff spot and with some wiggle room to move up. 

Taylor Heinicke wasn’t statistically impressive, but he played a tough and fearless game. Heinicke is slowly but surely cementing his future as the potential long-term solution at QB for Washington. 

Antonio Gibson ran hard carrying the ball 23 times and had some solid catches for a combined total of 111 yards. 

I was happy to see how TE John Bates was more involved in the offense. Also, glad to see Adam Humphries being better utilized than in the last 3 previous games.

It was such a bummer seeing Logan Thomas getting injured and coming out of the game. Losing him sucks; he is such a big target for Heinicke — plus, he is a very good blocking TE. Unfortunately, he has been put on IR and is done for the rest of season. Hopefully, Ricky Seal-Jones is clear to return quickly, as he was already emerging as a legit target for Heinicke before getting injured.

The defense continues to show signs of improvement, especially in the secondary; this unit is playing much tighter than earlier in the season. Kendall Fuller is playing like the experienced Super Bowl-winning CB he is.

Cowboy killer Montez Sweat might be back for this upcoming Dallas game, which will add an extra weapon to pressure Dak. But his recovery remains uncertain. I hope he returns for some of the last few games of the season.

With that in mind, this is Dallas Week for Washington — it is all about beating Dallas and advancing our playoff seed position. We play them twice in 3 weeks — we are 1-0 in the division, and all of our remaining regular-season games are divisional games, so we truly control our own destiny — We are built for December football, and beating Dallas at home this Sunday will propel this team to believe that we can make a deep run in the post-season.

The Cowboys continue to be the heavy favorite by the talking heads in sports media. So it would be beyond awesome to beat Dallas and to put the entire NFL on notice — The Washington Football is indeed coming…..

#BEAT DALLAS

WFT 17 — RAIDERS 15

COWBOYS 27 — SAINTS 17

Dallas beating up on teams on slumps does not impress me. Dallas is full of holes, and their defense is overrated and overhyped by sports media. Next up, Dallas visits Washington. Advantage, Da Washington Football Team. 

No legit starting QB and no Alvin Kamara equals no chance for New Orleans. It feels like Drew Brees retired a year too soon. Next up, New Orleans visits the NY Jets. Advantage, New Orleans Saints.

NY GIANTS 9 — DOLPHINS 20

The Dolphins have won 5 straight games to propel them into playoff contention. Next week, Miami has their bye week.

The NY Giants are done, simple as that. A massive overhaul of coaching slash management is in order. I don’t feel sorry for them; John Mara and the entire Mara clown-ownership family had this coming. Next week, the NY Giants visit the LA Chargers. Advantage, LA Chargers.

EAGLES 33 — NY JETS 18

The Eagles refused to go down quietly into the night, even though they should. Gardner Minshew was sensational covering for injured Jalen Hurts. Minshew has the tools to be a starter somewhere in this league, and I would not be surprised if he is starting for a team in need of a QB next season. Next up, Philly has their bye week.

Not much was expected from the NY Jets this season, and in a way, they have kind of overachieved at 3-9. Next up, the NY Jets host New Orleans. Advantage, New Orleans Saints. 

LA RAMS 37 — JAGUARS 7

The LA Rams ended their 3 games losing streak, although this win came against a 2-10 rebuilding Jacksonville team. So let’s wait and see how LA finishes this last few weeks of the NFL regular season. Next week, LA has a huge season-defining game at Arizona. Advantage, Arizona Cardinals.

The Jaguars have tons of issues to address in the off-season to be competitive in 2022. However, Trevor Lawrence seems to be made of the right stuff to lead this Jacksonville team for many years to come. Next week, Jacksonville visits Tennessee. Advantage, Tennessee Titans

SEAHAWKS 30 — 49ERS 23

The Seahawks shocked the hell out of me here; I was about to close the lid on their season. But this win leaves Seattle mathematically still alive for a wildcard spot. Next week, Seattle looks to continue to add victories while visiting Houston. Advantage, Seattle Seahawks.

San Francisco squandered an opportunity to inch closer to a playoff spot — and with this loss, they have put themselves on muddy waters to clinch a post-season berth. Next week, San Francisco visits Cincinnati, another win-needy team. Advantage, San Francisco 49ers.

CHIEFS 22 — BRONCOS 9

The Chiefs struggled to beat their arch-rivals — and their offense looked shaky for most of the game. Nevertheless, their defense is playing solid as of late, and it is the primary reason the Chiefs are in 1st place in the AFC WEST. Notwithstanding, Kansas City needs to get their offense back on track if they aspire to go deep in the post-season. Next week, Kansas City hosts the Raiders. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs.

Denver lost a lot of ground in the playoff race with this loss. They are still mathematically alive, but it is a long shot for them at this point. Next week, Denver hosts Detroit. Advantage, Denver Broncos.

LIONS 29 —VIKINGS 27

Detroit finally won their first game of the season, and it came against a division rival which always adds a little extra sweetness to it. Next up, Detroit visits Denver. Advantage, Denver Broncos.

The Vikings took a big hit to their playoff aspirations by losing to winless Detroit. Minnesota’s defense is the biggest disappointment here; they can’t seem to make crucial stops when they are most in need of a stop. Next up, Minnesota, in a must-win game, hosts Pittsburgh. Advantage, Minnesota Vikings.

LA CHARGERS 41 — BENGALS 22

One hell of a statement win for the Chargers. They are now 7-5 and one game behind Kansas City’s division-leading 8-4 record. However, the Chargers are still alive in the division title hunt. Next week, LA hosts the NY Giants. Advantage, LA Chargers.

Ugly game for Cincinnati; they were behind for the entire game, and although they made a last-game rally, it wasn’t enough to overcome such a large deficit and inconsistent play in all areas. Next week, Cincinnati hosts San Francisco. Advantage, San Francisco 49ers.

CARDINALS 33 — BEARS 22

With Kyler Murray and Deandre Hopkins back in the starting lineup, Arizona put an offensive display of firepower that will be tough to contain in the post-season for any opponents. Next up, Arizona rematches division rival LA Rams. Advantage, Arizona Cardinals.

Andy Dalton threw 4 picks, and the game never really felt close for them to have a shot. Strangely enough, Chicago is still alive for a playoff spot, even though they should be eliminated already. Next up, Chicago has a chance to keep their post-season hope alive at Green Bay. Advantage, Green Bay Packers. 

COLTS 31 — TEXANS 0

The Colts are slowly but surely creeping up on Tennessee for the division title. Jonathan Taylor continues to be Indy’s X factor. Next week, Indy has their bye week.

The Texans are probably the worst team of the 2021 NFL season, even worst than Detroit, I think. Houston should aim at landing one of those college QBs coming out of next year’s draft and trade or release Deshaun Watson. Rebuilding won’t be successful unless they figure out a way to move on from Watson. Next week, Houston hosts Seattle. Advantage, Seattle Seahawks.

BUCCANEERS 30 — FALCONS 17

The Bucs are on a 3 game winning roll and find themselves within reach of clinching the NFC SOUTH. Tom Brady and Gronk are still a lethal combination; they hooked up for 2 TDs in this game. And as long as Gronk is on the field, Tampa Bay’s offense is legitimately dangerous. Next week, Tampa Bay hosts a wounded Buffalo team. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.

The Falcons are finishing the season better than most people expected and find themselves at a respectable 5-7. Next week, Atlanta visits 5-7 Carolina. Advantage, Atlanta Falcons.

STEELERS 20 — RAVENS 19

This was a massive win for Pittsburgh to keep their season alive. The Steelers are now 6-5 and have a tough road ahead to clinch a playoff spot. Next up, Pittsburgh visits a desperate Minnesota team. Advantage, Minnesota Vikings.

The Ravens squandered multiple opportunities to put this game away. Baltimore is at 8-4 and sits on top of the AFC NORTH, and with 3 divisional games remaining, the Division title might come down to a week 18 final game of the season rematch against Pittsburgh. Next up, Baltimore visits struggling Cleveland. Advantage, Baltimore Ravens.

PATRIOTS 14 — BILLS 10

New England caught Buffalo with an excellent game-plan and exploited Buffalos’s weaknesses. The Patriots have been on 7 game win streak and currently sit on top of the AFC EAST, but Miami and Buffalo still have a shot at catching up. Next week, New England has a bye week.

Buffalo needs to get their run game established to become a complete offense; it is Josh Allen or nothing when it comes to the run game. The Bills have to figure out how to create a better-balanced offense to have a shot at the division title. Next week, Buffalo visits Tampa Bay. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.

*NFL WEEK 12 RECAP (2021 Season)

We are officially the hottest team in NFL, with 3 wins in a row. So we are basically undefeated for the entire month of November, and that is a beautiful thing to say. 

Taylor Heinicke had another strong game, showing poise, escape ability, and solid decision-making under heavy pressure. The run game was outstanding; Antonio Gibson looked phenomenal, ending his day with a combined 146 yards receiving and rushing. 

The Offensive Line continues to impress me — They consistently provide enough time for Heinicke to make plays and allow our running backs to find holes. The entire unit needs to be commended for how good they have looked these last few weeks.

Additionally, I was happy to see Logan Thomas and Curtis Samuel get some action. Their presence in the field will be crucial in December. 

The defense, as a whole, is starting to live up to the hype. Landon Collins looks pretty comfortable with his new role as a hybrid linebacker. The secondary is finally clicking and playing tight. 

Hopefully, Montez Sweat returns soon to bolster this defense — I can only imagine how great this defense will be with a healthy Chase Young next season.

Losing our kicker Joey Slye sucked! and now we are on our 4th kicker this season. JD McKissick was injured, but it seems like he will ok for week 13. 

It was embarrassing to see the state of FedEx field with pipes bursting over fans watching the game. And how empty the Stadium looked on a primetime game — This is a direct indictment on Snyder and his horrendous track record as an owner. 

In any case, with this win, we move to the 7th playoff spot, and we now control our own destiny. So it is all about putting together some crucial divisional wins in the final stretch of the NFL schedule.

This upcoming Sunday, we play the Raiders in Las Vegas — this will be Washington’s last game outside of the division. This team has to keep the momentum going and continue to rack up some wins — and who knows, we could potentially edge out Dallas by the end of the season.  

WFT 17 — SEAHAWKS 15 

and for the rest of the league……

NY GIANTS 13 — EAGLES 7

The NY Giants stepped up and delivered an early Xmas present to my Washington Football Team. With this win, NY knocked Philly down one spot in the NFC EAST standings, and Washington is now on the driver’s seat for the last wildcard spot in the NFC. Next week, NY visits red hot Miami. Advantage, Miami Dolphins. 

Good and bad, it is all about Jalen Hurts for Philly, but it was mostly bad in this game. When Jalen gets loose, he looks almost unstoppable, picking up chunks of yardage. However, scoring or creating any red zone offense was virtually non-existent. Next week, Philly has a chance to get back on the wildcard race visiting the NY Jets. Advantage, NY Jets.

COWBOYS 33 — RAIDERS 36

The Raiders ended their 3 games losing streak and essentially injected new life into their playoff hopes. However, the post-season seems unlikely for Vegas, but they are still pretty much in it. Next up, Las Vegas hosts Washington. Advantage, Da Washington Football Team.

Right on cue, Dallas has begun to fall apart just like I predicted. Their running game seems stuck in the mud — so it all falls on Dak’s shoulders to make things happen. The Cowboys have now lost 3 straight games, and the rest of the NFL schedule is not very promising for them. Next up, Dallas visits New Orleans on Thursday Night. Advantage, New Orleans Saints.

49ERS 34 — VIKINGS 26

The combination of Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell has become the key to San Francisco’s late-season success. The 49ers are playing well-balanced football and seem poised to give the rest of NFC WEST a run for their money. Unfortunately, word got out that Deebo Samuel suffered a groin injury and will be out for a few weeks. Next week, San Francisco visits Seattle. Advantage, san Francisco 49ers.

The Vikings needed to win this game to keep their playoff hopes alive. Now, things are looking dicey for Minnesota as injuries are starting to pile up, and the remaining schedule is looking tough. Next week, Minnesota visits winless Detroit. Advantage, Minnesota Vikings. 

PACKERS 36 — LA RAMS 28

Green Bay is riding high at 9-3 and running away with the NFC NORTH. Their defense is complementing their offense nicely, making Green Bay a legit threat in the post-season. Next week, Green Bay has their bye week.

Fumbles and picks were the stories here. Third straight loss for the Rams, and it is time to start worrying. LA needs to get back to the running game and create more balance with their offense. Matt Stafford needs a solid running game to take them to the next level. Also, they need to figure out a way to get OBJ more involved in the offense sooner than later. Next week, LA hosts Jacksonville. Advantage, LA Rams. 

BRONCOS 28 — LA CHARGERS 13

Denver refuses to go quietly into the night. The Broncos keep finding ways to win, and they are doing it mostly with solid defensive play and some up and down QB play. As a result, the Broncos are in the mix for the AFC WEST title at 6-5. Next up, Denver visits 7-4 Kansas City. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chargers blew a huge opportunity to challenge Kansas City for the top spot in the AFC WEST. With 4 Interceptions in the last 3 games, picks are starting to become an issue for Justin Herbert, but no reason to panic; he will clean those up. Next up, LA visits Cincinnati. Advantage, Cincinnati Bengals.

BILLS 31 — SAINTS 6

Simply put, Buffalo embarrassed New Orleans at home. The Bills are once again showing how dangerous their high-scoring offense can be. The Bills have to play 3 top 5 defenses in the next 3 weeks of the NFL schedule; we will see if Buffalo can consistently put together some wins. Next week, Buffalo hosts New England. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.

The Saints have now lost 4 games in a row, and the time for panic is at their doorstep. The injuries to Alvin Kamara and Jameis Winston have been magnified in these recent losses. However, I don’t believe that a Sean Payton-coached team will lose 5 in a row. Next week, New Orleans hosts Dallas. Advantage, New Orleans Saints.

DOLPHINS 33 — PANTHERS 10

The Dolphins have won 4 games in a row, and they have officially put the AFC EAST on notice. Jaylen Waddle has emerged as their legit top receiving threat. Next week, Miami will host the NY Giants. Advantage, Miami Dolphins.

Cam Newton struggled to get things going and ended up getting benched. On top of that, Christian McCaffrey got injured and will be done for the year. The Panthers have not been the same since Ron Rivera left, and it seems to me that Matt Rhule might not be the correct type of head coach for this rebuilding team. Next week, Carolina has their bye week.

PATRIOTS 36 — TITANS 13

This was a massive win for New England; beating this 8-4 Tennessee team is a huge confidence booster for a Patriots team looking to challenge Buffalo for the top spot in their division. Next up, New England visits Buffalo. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.

This was a disaster of a game for Tennessee, full of mistakes, fumbles, and interceptions. The absence of Derrick Henry has derailed Tennessee’s chances to make a deep run in the playoffs. Next up, Tennessee has their bye week.

BUCCANEERS 38 — COLTS 31

Tampa Bay needed this win badly to get some type of rhythm going into the final stretch of the NFL schedule. The Bucs found a way to neutralize Jonathan Taylor and keep this game close enough and into overtime. Tom Brady has been looking shaky at times but continues to orchestrate game-winning drives in tight games. Next week, Tampa Bay visits Atlanta. Advantage, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Colts were pretty close for most of the game, but Indy was inefficient at protecting the ball with 5 turnovers, which in the end, made all the difference in the outcome of this game. Next week, Indianapolis visits Houston. Advantage, Indianapolis Colts.

RAVENS 16 — BROWNS 10

It was an ugly game for both teams and Lamar Jackson, who ended up with 4 picks. Nevertheless, it only took one brilliant play from Jackson to TE Mark Andrews to put this game away. Next week, Baltimore visits reeling divisional foe Pittsburgh. Advantage, Baltimore Ravens.

The Browns’ inability to get their running game going was the difference maker here. Kareem Hunt had 7 rushes, and Nick Chubb had 8 rushes with a combined 36 yards. It was a pathetic effort from an offense that was supposed to be versatile and dynamic. Next week, Cleveland gets a much-needed break.

BEARS 16 — LIONS 14

The Bears went into this game surrounded by rumors of Matt Nagy getting fired — It did not happen, but unless they win out, Nagy will probably not be coaching Chicago next season. Next up, Chicago visits 9-2 Arizona. Advantage, Arizona Cardinals.

Detroit is 0-10, and their best chance to win at least 1 game this season will come on week 16 against Atlanta. Next week, Detroit hosts another division rival Minnesota. Advantage, Minnesota Vikings. 

BENGALS 41 — STEELERS 10

A massive divisional win for Cincinnati, pulling them closer to the division title. The Bengals had the perfect recipe here, running the ball effectively with Joe Mixon, who ended up with 165 yards rushing and 2 TDs. Also, the defense was all over Big Ben, making him look ineffective for most of the game. Next week Cincinnati hosts a desperate for a win LA Chargers team. Advantage, Cincinnati Bengals

Pittsburgh has lost 2 games in a row, setting up a crucial matchup with the division-leading Baltimore. Next week, Pittsburgh is in a must-win game against Baltimore. Advantage, Baltimore Ravens. 

FALCONS 21 – JAGUARS 14

Atlanta is a whole different team with Cordarrelle Patterson on the field. And at 5-6 Atlanta should feel good about how well they bounce back after losing two straight games. They are still hanging around and probably will finish the season on a good note. Next week, Atlanta host Tampa Bay. Advantage, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

The Jaguars are 2-9 for the season, but they show flashes of improvement from week to week and seem to be building an identity going into next season. Urban Meyer has a lot of work to do — this complete rebuild will take a couple of seasons. Next week, Jacksonville visits LA. Advantage, LA Rams.

NY JETS 21 — TEXANS 14

The NY Jets showed some grit and guts in this game, converting on 2 fourth-down attempts and playing tough football. Zach Wilson looked shaky at first but recovered and made crucial plays to put this game away. Next up, NY is looking to spoil Philly’s playoff hopes. Advantage, NY Jets.

The Texans could not keep their winning momentum from last week’s upset over Tennessee and struggled for most of this game. Injuries, penalties, and mistakes continue to haunt Houston. Next week, Houston hosts Indy. Advantage, Indianapolis Colts.

*TV SERIES RECAP: RATCHED (Season 1)

I genuinely appreciate the type of shows Ryan Murphy puts together. He is at the forefront of a powerful movement happening right now in the creative fields of show business. I see him as a crucial part of this new creative force that seems fully committed to reinventing Hollywood as an industry—and reinventing how entertainment is being produced and presented to the world.

Ratchet is an origin story, told in a Ryan Murphy way, adding a modern sensibility to a period piece, along the same lines as Murphy’s Hollywood Netflix series. It is a highly stylized TV show with extensive uses of colors and fantastic location shots. It is a very visual show, with excellent production quality, set designs, costumes, and cinematography. There are many Hitchcock and David Lynch influences in it — Simply put, it is visually a beautiful show to watch.

The character of Nurse Mildred Ratchet (Sara Paulson) was Introduced to audiences in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey. This nurse Ratched character was originally played by Louise Fletcher, a performance for which she won an Academy Award for best actress. Interestingly enough, I heard Louise Fletcher was never approached regarding the revival of her character.

Nurse Ratchet is portrayed as a mysterious and psychologically damaged person trying to save her adopted brother Edmund (Finn Wittrock) from execution after murdering a bunch of priests. She manipulates her way into a mental facility where Edmund is being held to determine his mental capacity. Once inside the hospital, nurse Ratched will devise a plan to free her stepbrother.

The mental facility is run by Dr. Hanover (Jon Jon Briones), an eccentric doctor who believes in unconventional mental rehabilitation methods. For example, he believes lesbianism is a mental disorder and can be cured by extreme methods like putting women in a boiling hot bath, followed by a freezing cold bath. He also puts patients under lobotomy procedures to cure them of whatever he perceives to be mental disorders.

There are many compelling and redeeming qualities to nurse Ratched, more so than in the 1975 film. I started viewing her as this monster in the making, and as I finished binge-watching the show, I unexpectantly began rooting for her. We explore things from her past that allow us to become more empathetic to her. We see how sexual abuse and mental illness can be linked together. The character Gwendolyn (Cynthia Nixon) comes off as the most believable real-life character here; Gwendolyn allows nurse Ratched to appear a lot more relatable and human.

The supporting cast is incredible. Nurse Bucket (Judy Davis) delivers a magnetic performance. Lenore (Sharon Stone) is great as this bizarre, super-rich diva, hell-bent on revenge on Dr. Hanover. Corey Stoll plays a 1940s Humprey Bogart type of private detective, hired by Lenore to hunt down Dr. Hanover. Amanda Plummer is a scene-stealer as this weird and possibly deranged motel receptionist. Nurse Dolly (Alice Englert) delivers a seductive and captivating performance.

As I finished binge-watching this first 8 episode season, I realized that Paulson is exploring something psychologically profound with this role. It seems to me that she is approaching this character in a unique and sophisticated way.

All in all, Ratchet is an extravagant, outrageous, and at times ridiculously insane show to watch, but it is incredibly entertaining, and I could not get enough of it. I’m looking forward to season 2.

Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿

RATCHED (2020). Streaming on NETFLIX.

*NFL WEEK 11 RECAP (2021 Season)

What a massive and crucial win for Washington. This game was beyond emotional for what it meant for Ron Rivera and his coaching staff that followed him here from Carolina.

The legend of Taylor Heinicke continues to grow from week to week. He was electric in this game, throwing for over 200 yards with 3 TDs, zero picks, and rushing for 29 yards. Pretty remarkable, to say the least. 

The defense, without Chase Young and Montez Sweat, is actually playing at a high level. They pressured Cam Newton consistently throughout the game and kept McCaffrey mostly contained. Collectively, they are getting it done. It was a terrific all-around performance.

We are now on a two-game winning streak and poised to make a run at a possible wildcard spot — if we win out, of course. Nevertheless, we will need Dallas to continue to self-destruct — and we need to win all of our 5 remaining divisional games. 

This is not an insanely difficult task. It is all well within the realm of possibility. Next week, we play Seattle at home on Monday Night Football. The Seahawks are struggling, and Russell Wilson is not 100%. However, our recent history on Monday Night has not been great. But many variables are playing in Washington’s favor, including the return of key players like Logan Thomas and possibly Curtis Samuel. Advantage, Da Washington Football Team.

WFT 27 — PANTHERS 21

and for the rest of the league……

NY GIANTS 10 — BUCCANEERS 30

The Buccaneers ended their two-game losing streak. Tom Brady connected with all of his offensive weapons often and effectively. It was good seeing Rob Gronkowski back on the field. Next up, Tampa Bay visits Indianapolis and needs to find a way to neutralize Jonathan Taylor. Advantage, Indianapolis Colts.

Well, Jason Garrett has been fired as the Offensive Coordinator for NY. However, he was not the main issue plaguing NY — more urgent changes need to be made for the Giants to return to glory. First thing, Dave Gettleman needs to be fired, followed by getting rid of Joe Judge and finding a more experienced head coach. Then, Daniel Jones needs to go — and then, the NY Giants should press the reset button and start over. Next up, NY hosts divisional rival Philly. Advantage, Philadelphia Eagles. 

EAGLES 40 — SAINTS 29

Jalen Hurts coming into his own as a dual-threat QB and showing Philly that the key to their future is to build around him. Philly is now 5-6 and making things interesting in the NFC EAST. Next week, Philadelphia visits division rival NY Giants. Advantage, Philadelphia Eagles.

The Saints have now lost 3 straight games, and their season is sliding away. New Orleans needs to put together some wins ASAP to keep their playoff hopes alive. Next week, New Orleans hosts a wounded Buffalo team on Thanksgiving day. Advantage, Buffalo Bills. 

COWBOYS 9 — CHIEFS 19

Hold off on writing off Kansas City just yet. The Chiefs’ defense had another strong showing, keeping Dallas to field goals. Kansas City has won four-straight games, and by the look of their schedule, they should win out the rest of the season — of course, if their defense continues to complement their offense as well as they have these last four weeks. Next up, Kansas City has their bye week. 

As I predicted, and right on cue, the overrated Cowboys are starting to unravel. Zeke and Tony Pollard combined for a pathetic 16 carries for 82 yards and zero TDs, and Dak was beyond ineffective. Next up, Dallas hosts a Thanksgiving game against the Raiders. Advantage, Las Vegas Raiders.

49ERS 30 — JAGUARS 10

I’m not surprised with San Francisco’s two-game winning streak. They are making a late-season push, making things interesting in the NFC WEST at 5-5. Next week, San Francisco Hosts another 5-5 Minnesota team. Advantage, San Francisco 49ers.

Well, the silver lining here is that Trevor Lawrence did not throw any picks in this game. Jacksonville has 3 winnable games left in the 2021 schedule. Next week, Jacksonville hosts 4-6 Atlanta. Advantage, Atlanta Falcons.

CARDINALS 23 — SEAHAWKS 13

Colt McCoy had a bounce-back game, throwing for over 300 yards with 2 TDs and zero picks. Zach Ertz had his most productive game this season with 8 catches for 88 yards and 2 TDs. The Cardinals are 8-2 for the season, and they will be okay with McCoy until Kyler Murray is ready to return. Next up, Arizona visits 3-7 Chicago. Advantage, Arizona Cardinals.

The Seahawks are nose-diving out of playoff contention, and Russell Wilson might just be playing out his last few games as a Seahawk. Next up, Seattle visits Washington on Monday Night. Advantage, Washington.

VIKINGS 34 — PACKERS 31

The Vikings won a massive game here, giving themselves a fighting chance to make the playoffs. Kirk Cousins had another impressive game, throwing for over 300 yards with 3 TDs and zero picks. Justin Jefferson had a monster game with 8 catches for 169 yards and 2 TDs. Next week, Minnesota visits San Francisco. Advantage, San Francisco 49ers. 

Outstanding performance by anti-vaxxer Aaron Rodgers, throwing for 385 yards with 4 TDs and zero picks. But it wasn’t enough to contain a resurgent Minnesota team. Next week, Green Bay hosts 7-3 LA Rams, fresh off their bye week. Advantage, La Rams.

COLTS 41 — BILLS 15

Jonathan Taylor was unstoppable here, rushing 32 times for 185 yards with 4 TDs. The Colts need to ride Taylor into the playoffs and give Tennessee a run for the AFC SOUTH division tile. Next up, Indianapolis Host Tampa Bay. Advantage, Indianapolis Colts

Shocking loss for Buffalo — they looked beyond inept and could not figure out a way to stop Jonathan Taylor. And with New England making a late-season push, things might get a bit hairy for Buffalo. Next up, Buffalo visits struggling 5-5 New Orleans Saints. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.

TEXANS 22 — TITANS 13

Nobody saw this coming from Houston. The stats don’t really show much for Tyrod Taylor, but Taylor was deadly for Tennessee. Next week, Houston has a chance to get back-to-back wins visiting 2-8 NY Jets. Advantage, Houston Texans.

Maybe not having Derrick Henry is finally starting to show its ugly face for Tennessee. Ryan Tannehill threw 4 picks and struggled against a 1 win team. The Titans must forget about this embarrassing loss and stay focused on winning their AFC SOUTH division while holding off a late-season surge by Indianapolis. Next week, Tennessee visits New England. Advantage, Tennessee Titans.

DOLPHINS 24 — NY JETS 17

The Dolphins are on a three-game winning streak and could potentially throw a monkey wrench on the AFC EAST. Next up, Miami hosts 5-6 Carolina with an inspired Cam Newton as QB. Advantage, Miami Dolphins. 

The NY Jets are a disaster. The need to pick up a few wins here and there to build some momentum going into the off-season. Next up, the Jets visits another 2-8 Houston team. Advantage Houston Texans.

LA CHARGERS 41 — STEELERS 37

The LA Chargers pulled off the win with a late-game TD and holding off Big Ben. As a result, the Chargers have essentially saved their season…for now. Next week, the LA Chargers visits Denver for a crucial divisional game. Advantage, LA Chargers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were trailing by 17 points in the 4th quarter but managed to make things tough for the Chargers. Big Ben, who is recovering from Covid, looked formidable after finding his rhythm late in the game. Next week, Pittsburgh has a massive divisional game visiting Cincinnati. Advantage, Cincinnati Bengals.

PATRIOTS 25 — FALCONS 0

New England has won 5 straight games and riding high after shutting out Atlanta. However, their winning streak might end against a Mike Vrabel team that always seems to have New England’s number. Next week, New England hosts Tennessee. Advantage, Tennessee Titans.

It was a disaster of a game for Atlanta; Mat Ryan was awful, Kyle Pitts was well-covered and kept from making a difference. The absence of Patterson affected the way Atlanta’s offense runs. Next week, Atlanta visits Jacksonville. Advantage, Atlanta Falcons

BENGALS 32 — RAIDERS 13

The Bengals ended their two-game losing streak and kept their playoff hopes alive. Joe Mixon rushed 30 times for 123 yards with 2 TDs, giving Joe Burrow another reliable offensive option. Next up, Cincinnati has the chance to climb up in the AFC North against division rival Pittsburgh. Advantage, Cincinnati Bengals.

The Raiders have lost 3 games straight, and their playoff hopes are slipping away rapidly. Derek Carr and Josh Jacobs are not as effective as they were early in the season. Next up, Las Vegas Raiders visits the overrated Cowboys on Thanksgiving day. Advantage, Las Vegas Raiders.

BROWNS 13 — LIONS 10

The Browns suffered to edge out winless Detroit. Baker Mayfield was horrible throwing for a sad 176 yards with 1 TD and 2 picks. Cleveland has all kinds of issues that went beyond OBJ, and if things don’t click soon, their playoff chances might slip away. Next week, Cleveland begins a two-game series with division foe Baltimore. Advantage, Baltimore Ravens.

Tim Boyle started as QB for injured Jared Goff and had a pretty decent game — and along with D’Andre Swift, kept Detroit within striking distance of winning this game. Swift had a powerful game, rushing 14 times for 136 yards and 1 TD. Next week, winless Detroit hosts an improving 3-7 Chicago team. Advantage, Chicago Bears.

RAVENS 16 — BEARS 13

Not having Lamar Jackson was a crutch for Baltimore. They struggle to score TDs, settling for field goals and trailing 13-9 until Devonta Freeman got loose for a 3-yard run to end this game with a handful of seconds left. Next up, Baltimore hosts a Cleveland team hot on their trail for their AFC NORTH division. Advantage, Baltimore Ravens.

Chicago blew a huge opportunity to get a crucial win and make things fun in the NFC NORTH. Losing Justin Fields to injury during this game was the difference-maker here. Next up, Chicago visits winless Detroit. Advantage, Chicago Bears. 

*MY DMV SUMMER (2021)

I’m having difficulty recalling a summer season that felt so short and simultaneously stressful as Summer 2021 was — It took weeks for me to sit back and reflect on how stressful but, at the same time, how joyful this past summer of 2021 was for me.

There were chunks of days and weeks between 2020 and 2021 that felt like a fog in my memory. And there were some weeks and days that felt like a hundred things happened all at once.

Despite all the stress, I can’t help but feel a sense of hopefulness about what the future holds for me.

Admittedly, since the pandemic started, throughout all of that time, I have had all kinds of existential dilemmas and moments of pure joy. However, the constant challenge, above anything else, has been finding ways to maintain balance, re-centering my compass, recommitting to my goals, and finding ways to stay safe and healthy.

All be told, 2021, so far, has been a lot kinder to me than the previous five years before the pandemic began; Which is a crazy thing to say considering the state of the world. But strangely enough, it is true.

There is a sense of rebirth and refocus that I have been feeling lately — like a reset button has been pressed, and I can feel that some solid progress has been made from all the personal growth I have experienced in the last few years since my Mother’s passing.

I cannot tell you how happy I am to be making this type of progress in most aspects of my life. And one of those improvements was a promise I made to myself that I would spend more time visiting the DC area multiple times within a calendar year. But, unfortunately, since I moved to NYC, my visits to my childhood home have been somewhat infrequent.

This past Summer of 2021, I actually visited the DMV area three times (DC, Maryland & Virginia for the uninitiated). And all three visits were pretty rad — Yes, I will start using the word “rad” more often on this blog.

I got to see my sister a few times. I got to walk around my old stomping grounds and see some people I hand’t seen in years. And I even got around to do some sightseeing and tourist stuff that I took for granted when I lived there.

I still follow the DMV area closely as if I’m still there. I consistently look at Instagram and Twitter to know what’s happening and what’s trending in DC. I still read and engage with the Arlington Patch, DC Eater, Washingtonian, and the City paper.

I find myself getting outraged with WMATA weekly, the same way I did when I lived there.

Ultimately, it’s the whole idea of coming back home. When I feel like I need a break from my NYC life, I go back home for a few days. I walk the streets I grew up in, and it brings me back; it gets my compass centered.

In any case, my DC visits are usually planned around food and drinks — and as a proud member of the NYC food and beverage industry, my standards slash expectations are pretty high and not the same as the usual non-industry civilian. At the same time, whenever I find myself back in DC, I’m always looking to explore new spots. But I’m also a creature of habit, and I keep returning to my old DC area haunts.

Here are some of my DMV Summer 2021 highlights:

THE QUARTERDECK (Arlington, VA)

Summer season is always crab season in the DMV. Crabs are a massive component of the DC area’s food identity. Especially Maryland Blue Crabs and all of the seafood goodness that comes out of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Quarterdeck is a unique Crab-centric restaurant that has been around since 1979, and many locals consider it an Arlington institution.

First thing, you should always make a reservation. Walk-ins are a long shot, especially on weekends. FYI, they do things the old-school way, whereas they only take reservations over the phone.

I kept things straight here, ordering a dozen crabs — and as we waited for the crabs to be ready, we ordered some hush puppies and fried oysters as appetizers — and, of course, cold beers. I had a very refreshing Kolsch-style ale from a local brewery called Lost Rhino Brewing Company.

Eating crabs can be a bit messy, but it is always a fun and delicious experience.

UNION MARKET (NE DC)

Union Market is a perfect reflection of the rapid gentrification DC neighborhoods have experienced in the last 20 years. When I was a kid growing up in the DMV area, Union Market was a dump, and now it has become this trendy and super-expensive neighborhood. It is finally safe for white people to walk around and live there now.

At a glance, Union Market is just a food hall; however, it is actually a lot more than that; it is an entire community of businesses featuring stand-alone restaurants, a movie theater, a bookstore, a record shop, and even a separate Latin American themed food hall, La Cosecha

On this latest visit, I spent most of my time walking around and seeing all the new additions and changes since my last visit a few years ago. Acclaimed Stephen Starr restaurant St. Anselm has a DC location here (and there is also a Brooklyn location).

I was happy to see La Cosecha’s potential in terms of being a culinary and cultural marketplace. It is obviously still developing and growing as a concept. But overall, I liked what I saw. I even picked up a couple of hard-to-find Bolivian wine bottles from the Grand Cata wine shop.

Ok, for the food, we ate lunch at Peruvian brothers (La Cosecha Marketplace), we had their Peruvian chicken (the classic Pollo a la brasa Peruvian dish). It was a hot-ass summer afternoon, so I ordered a frozen Pisco slushy to pair with my Pollito a la brasa. The chicken was tasty and flavorful, but it would probably not make my top list of Peruvian-style chicken restaurants in the DMV — Still, it was, by far, much better than any Peruvian Chickens I’ve had in NYC and New Jersey.

After lunch, we walked back to Union Market food hall and found bar seats at Rappahannock Oyster Bar. We ordered a few rounds of Oysters and beers — It was a delightful experience while enjoying some locally sourced Oysters and refreshing cervezas.

BARCA PIER & WINE BAR (Old Town Alexandria, VA)

Overseeing the majestic Potomac River, this waterfront spot is a welcomed addition to Alexandria’s historic old town neighborhood. 

Barca means the boat, and this Tapas restaurant embodies beautifully the Mediterranean vibe with its outdoor bar and outdoor dining room space.

My only disappointment on this visit was the lack of Spanish red wines — it is illogical for me to go to a Tapas Restaurant and not order tablas de quesos y embutidos without pairing them with some of my favorite Spanish varietals like Mencia, Tempranillo or Garnacha; Mostly, because I refuse to drink Pinot Noir or Cabernet at a Spanish place. So I hope they add some red Spanish varietals soon.

We ordered most of the standards like Pan con Tomate (on Ciabatta bread), Serrano Croquetas, Patatas Bravas, and Wild Mushrooms. They were all pretty good but not impressive. Nevertheless, the highlight of my dining experience was the Pork Tenderloin Montadito (stuffed with manchego, red onions, arugula, garlic aioli). I would totally order this again on my next visit.

They use OpenTable for reservations.

MI VIDA MEXICO (WHARF)

There is a subtle NYC influence here by Chef Roberto Santibañez from popular Mexican standout Fonda NYC (Chelsea & Brooklyn).

Mi Vida’s menu covers different Mexican regions; however, I really wanted to try their Oaxacan dishes, especially since I’m still looking to find a place in the DC area with some decent Oaxacan cuisine. Unfortunately, Espita Mezcaleria has disappointed me with their Mole Negro on two visits now. 

I blame New York City for this; it has spoiled me when it comes to Oaxacan Cuisine. 

Anyway, we started with some chips and some freshly made Guac — followed by the Zarape de Pato (Slow-Braised duck, layered corn tortillas, roasted habanero cream). This is an outstanding dish and my favorite dish out of my entire dining experience.

Next, we had the Costillitas con Mole Negro (Slow-braised baby back ribs, with mole negro and crema). And the Enchiladas de Mole Negro (Braised brisket, sesame seeds, Cotija cheese, and crema) — It was a Mole Negro party.

By far, these last two dishes were the best Mole Negros I’ve eaten in the DC area.

Reservations available through OpenTable.

DOÑA AZUCENA (Arlington,VA).

This place has always been my to-go spot for authentic Pupusas in Northern Virginia. All told, Doña Azucena has one of the most affordable and legit “Cheap Eats” in the entire DC area. Sadly, elitist rags like Washingtonian never include authentic, immigrant-owned restaurants like Doña Azucena on their lists of Cheap Eats.

Anyhow, I kept it simple on this latest visit; I ordered two cheese Pupusas at $1.75 each. They always served their pupusas with a side of delicious “curtido” (fermented cabbage). As a side note, it is a major red flag if a Salvadorian place sells Pupusas and doesn’t serve curtido with them. Disappointingly, there are plenty of Salvadorian places in the NY/NJ area that, instead of curtido, serve salsa, and sometimes they even give you ketchup with your pupusa order— that’s right! fucking ketchup!!

For an entree, I ordered a Mojarra Frita (fried Tilapia, served with yellow rice, salad, and house-made tortillas). This is one excellent dish—a whole Tilapia for $13.00 bucks. If fish is not your thing, they have a tasty Carne Asada dish, also at $13.00.

Doña Azucena is a gem.

COOPERWOOD TAVERN (SHIRLINGTON)

I consider myself a Steak tartare whisperer of sorts — LOL!! But in all seriousness, I should probably write a guide to the best steak tartare in the DMV area in a future blog post. 

Cooperwood Tavern is a locally owned restaurant with two locations in Virginia (Loudon County and Arlington county). I lived in the Shirlington neighborhood for many years and frequented all the bars and restaurants around there. It is one of my favorite neighborhoods for dining out in Virginia.

Cooperwood’s consistently well-prepared Steak Tartare with a quail egg on top is the main reason I go there on every trip to the DMV area. Also, their locally-sourced chilled oysters are a must; I’m not a big fan of their grilled oysters, but they’re worth a try. And on top of all that, their Venison Meatballs are also pretty good. On my next visit, I’m planning to try their Braised Rabbit and their Duck Two Ways.

Service at the bar can be a bit spotty at times and not as hospitable as you might expect from a well-thought-out restaurant concept such as this place. The cocktails are good but not exciting; I prefer to order from their extensive beer menu. Nevertheless, table service is pretty solid.

They use OpenTable for reservations.

THE GIBSON (U STREET)

Before the pandemic started, the Speakeasy game in DC was pretty solid. Unfortunately, as we are slowly getting back to “normal,” there seems to be only a handful of speakeasies reopening back for business. Happily, The Gibson did reopen, and I hope many more return soon. 

Admittedly, The Gibson is one of my very favorite, low-key, intimate cocktail bars in the District. It is hidden in plain sight behind an unassuming door in U street.

The cocktails are outstanding. The intimate setting is perfect for date night or after-dinner drinks. On this latest visit, I had a few rounds of excellent Mezcal Negronis. My only disappointment was that their bar menu did not return. They used to outsource their small bites food menu from next door restaurant Marvin, which has not reopened, and it seems like it will not return — I miss their exceptional deviled eggs. 

Reservations are encouraged but not required. I always book ahead of time through Resy

FISHERMAN’S CRAB DECK (Grasonville, MD)

About an hour’s drive from DC, you have one of my favorite communities in the Eastern Shore area of Maryland. The locals call it The Narrows, but it is officially known as the Kent Island Narrows. 

It is mainly made out of waterfront seafood restaurants and some fun waterfront live music bars, like The Jetty (another favorite spot of mine). So anyway, in the summer of 2021, we made a quick pit stop on Kent Island to indulge in some locally sourced seafood goodness. 

We kept things simple and had some golden fried hush puppies and some tasty Crab Legs, followed by scallops and Crab Cakes; It was all great stuff.

This is a charming community, and most restaurants, like the Crab Deck, are only open seasonally; however, they do have some year-round restaurants like The Fisherman’s Inn.

Oh, and please do not feed the seagulls.

*NFL WEEK 10 RECAP (2021 Season)

An outstanding win for Washington; nobody gave us a chance, and we rocked the NFL world.

Our offensive line held up pretty nicely against Tampa Bay’s edge rushers, allowing just a handful of hits on Heinicke. The Buccaneers’ defense threw everything they had on us, but Washington’s offense adjusted well. 

There was plenty to like in this game from the offense; Antonio Gibson was effective running; he had 24 carries for 64 solid yards and a couple of catches. Terry McLaurin made some tough catches. Deandre Carter is now a legit red zone threat. I dig how they are slowly but surely getting John bates and Dax Milne more involved in the offense. 

Masterful final scoring drive in the 4th quarter; going the field’s length with 19 plays for 10 whole minutes, followed by a bold, riverboat Ron 4th and 1 call to put the game away with a TD. Amazing stuff! 

Defensively, this was the best game of the season for this unit. Tom Brady never looked comfortable and even began to whine and get frustrated like he usually gets when things don’t go his way. He is such a sore loser. 

It felt like things came together for our defense, and they played like a cohesive unit. Casey Toohill filled in for Montez Sweat nicely, and Jamin Davis seems to be coming into his own as a linebacker. In addition, William Jackson III looked more comfortable, and the rest of the secondary had a terrific game. 

Losing Chase Young for the season is a bummer. Plus, Ricky Seals-Jones got banged up and is now listed as questionable for next week. I really hope we get Darryl Roberts, Curtis Samuel, and Logan Thomas on the field soon. 

Next week, Ron Rivera returns to Carolina with Cam Newton as the starter. This will be a tough challenge for Washington; neutralizing Cam and Christian McCaffrey will be crucial for any chance to win this game.

A victory against Carolina could potentially set Washington up for a late-season run, especially with 5 divisional games remaining in the schedule. Advantage, Washington. 

WFT 29 — BUCCANEERS 19

COWBOYS 43 — FALCONS 3

Another lucky break for this overrated team. The subplot here was the return of former head coach Dan Quinn to the team that fired him. I don’t really put any stock on this win. Next up, 7-2 Dallas visits an improving 6-4 Kansas City team. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs.

The Falcons are an enigma; they look formidable one week and awful the following week. Next up, Atlanta host New England on Thursday Night Football. Advantage, New England Patriots. 

EAGLES 30 — BRONCOS 13

Jalen Hurts slowly but surely, coming into his own as a duel threat QB; He constantly finds solid chunks of yards when scrambling. As a result, defenses have to come up with specific game plans to contain him better. Next week, Philly hosts New Orleans. Advantage, New Orleans Saints. 

The main story for Denver should be the absence of OC Pat Shurmur due to Covid. The Broncos did not look like the same team from week 9 without Shurmur calling plays. Next week, Denver has their bye week.

49ERS 31 — LA RAMS 10

Man, San Francisco looked formidable here. The defense was dominant, pressuring Matt Stafford and making him uncomfortable for most of the game. The offense was on fire; Elijah Mitchell carried the ball an impressive 27 times for 91 yards. Debbo Samuel was unstoppable with 2 TDs for a combined total of 133 yards of both rushing and receiving. Next week, San Francisco visits a scrappy Jacksonville team. Advantage, San Francisco 49ers.

The Rams could not get anything going offensively — and for some strange reason, they got away from the run game for a combined 9 carries and 51 yards for both Sony Michel and Darrell Henderson JR. No reason to panic…yet. Bad games such as this one are bound to occur from time to time in the NFL. Next week, the Rams have their bye week

CHIEFS 41 — RAIDERS 14

This game was closer than the final score suggests. It was 17-14 midway through the 3rd quarter until the Chiefs exploded all over the Raiders, scoring 24 unanswered points. And on top of all of the offensive firepower, Kansas City’s defense also stepped up big-time. This was a crucial divisional win, and it might just be the turning point for the Chiefs this season. Next week, Kansas City will host overrated Dallas. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs.

The Raiders have lost two games in a row and are finding themselves in a tough spot in their AFC WEST division. However, they still have 3 divisional games remaining and a shot at making the playoffs as a wildcard. Next week, Las Vegas hosts the 5-4 Cincinnati Bengals. Advantage, Las Vegas Raiders. 

PANTHERS 34 — CARDINALS 10

Cam Newton returned and scored 2 TDs back to back in the 1st quarter. Carolina seemed inspired by the mere presence of Cam in the lineup. The Panthers are now 5-5 and could potentially make a late-season run for a wildcard spot. Next week, Carolina welcomes back Ron Rivera. Advantage, the Washington Football Team. 

Colt McCoy could not duplicate his success from week 9 against San Francisco. Carolina had a solid game plan, and Arizona could not adjust or establish their run game to give McCoy a better chance to make things happen. Next week, Arizona visits the 3-6 Seattle Seahawks. Advantage, Arizona Cardinals.

VIKINGS 27 — LA CHARGERS 20

The Vikings save their season yet again by getting more aggressive with their offense. Kirk Cousins finally found ways to spread the ball around to his receivers, especially to 2nd-year receiver Justin Jefferson who ended up 143 yards. Also, Dalvin Cook ran effectively for 94 yards and 1 TD. Next week, Minnesota has a season-defining game hosting Green Bay. Advantage, Minnesota Vikings.

The Chargers are having a hard time putting together back-to-back wins as they did early in the season. At 5-4, they are starting to lose ground in the AFC WEST. Next week, LA hosts a Pittsburgh team with the possibility of no Big Ben. Advantage, LA Chargers.

BILLS 45 — NY JETS 17

After a stinker on week 9, Buffalo had a huge bounce-back game against a divisional foe. Josh Allen was impressive, spreading the ball around to receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis for a combined 267 yards. Nest week, Buffalo hosts 5-5 Indianapolis Colts. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.

Mike White mania came to an end after throwing 4 picks and struggling to get anything going. Joe Flacco came in late in the game to finish up a scoring drive; maybe Flacco should get a chance to start the next game. The Jets are a complete mess and have no clue who will be starting at QB on week 11. Next week, the NY Jets hosts divisional rival Miami. Advantage, Miami Dolphins.

PACKERS 17 — SEAHAWKS 0

Anti-vaxxer Aaron Rodgers returned as the starting QB — Rodgers was shaky for most of the game; he had to rely heavily on the run to move the offense. AJ Dillon ended up with 168 yards and 2 TDs to carry Green Bay to victory. Next week, Green Bay visits a needy 4-5 Minnesota team. Advantage, Minnesota Vikings.

Russell Wilson was obviously rusty throwing 2 costly picks and struggled to get his offensive weapons involved. It was an ugly and messy game for a 3-6 Seattle team sitting at the bottom of the NFC WEST. Next week, Seattle hosts 8-2 Arizona. Advantage, Arizona Cardinals.

PATRIOTS 45 — BROWNS 7

I did not see this coming, New England dominated Cleveland in all aspects of this game. Mac Jones had one of his better games of the season with 3 TDs. New England is now right in the middle of a playoff hunt. Next up, New England visits a banged up 4-5 Atlanta Falcons team. Advantage, New England Patriots.

Cleveland could not protect Baker Mayfield for most of the game — Baker was under fire for most of the game and exited due to injury after sustaining multiple hits. This was an embarrassing loss for this Cleveland team with Super Bowl aspirations. Next up, Cleveland should bounce back hosting winless Detroit. Advantage, Cleveland Browns.

DOLPHINS 22 — RAVENS 10

The Dolphins are officially on a two-game winning streak, and they are getting things done mostly on defense. This is the version of Miami I expected to see this season. Tua has moments of solid QB play but continues to be inconsistent. The remaining schedule looks positive for Miami, and they could potentially make a run at a wildcard spot. Next week, Miami visits their division rival NY Jets. Advantage, Miami Dolphins. 

The Ravens were ineffective in all areas of this game. Miami constantly pressured Lamar Jackson. Plus, Baltimore’s running game was never a factor. Next week, Baltimore visits Justin Fields and the 3-6 Chicago Bears for what should be a very close game. Advantage, Baltimore Ravens.

TITANS 23 — SAINTS 21

I cannot overstate how impressed I’m with Tennessee, their six-game winning streak, and how well they have adjusted to life without Derrick Henry. The Titans are a dangerous team that continues to find ways to win tight games. Next up, 8-2 Tennessee hosts 1-8 Houston. Advantage, Tennessee Titans.

Trevor Siemian is actually playing pretty well for New Orleans, but the absence of Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas has affected the overall offensive outlook of this team. The remaining schedule for New Orleans is a mix of some very tough games and some winnable games. Next up, New Orleans visits 4-6 Philadelphia. Advantage, New Orleans Saints.

COLTS 23 — JAGUARS 17

The Colts need to continue to ride Jonathan Taylor into the post-season; Taylor has been the driving force behind the Colts’ recent success and their two-game winning streak. However, those victories came against pretty awful teams. Next week, 5-5 Indianapolis visits 6-3 Buffalo. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.

The Jaguars took Indianapolis to the limit and made this game close. Jacksonville is slowly finding a rhythm and will probably finish the season feeling better about their future. Next week, Jacksonville hosts a resurgent 4-5 San Francisco team. Advantage, San Francisco 49ers. 

LIONS 16 — STEELERS 16

We had our first and hopefully our last tie game of the season. Detroit cannot catch a break, and it must be heartbreaking for their fandom to see their team winless this deep in the season. The thing is, the Lions are actually not as awful as their record suggests. Next week, Detroit visits a deeply wounded and vulnerable Cleveland team. Advantage, Cleveland Browns.

Mason Rudolph filling in for Big Ben has been good but not great. The Steelers need to focus on the running game until Roethlisberger returns. Next week, Pittsburgh visits Justin Herbert in LA. Advantage, LA Chargers.

*MOVIE RECAP: THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK

Mob movies will always capture my attention, especially over the top, cartoonish, bumbling New Jersey mafia guys like the characters from The Sopranos. 

Many Saints means Moltisanti in Italian, which pretty much tells you that this movie is really all about Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola) and indirectly about a young Tony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini).

Nonetheless, we still get to see a younger version of Anthony Soprano growing up in Newark, New Jersey, idolizing his uncle Dickie and becoming a man. As we slowly see young Tony picking up some street smarts — I found similar Michael Corleone overtones here, where both characters don’t want anything to do with their family businesses at first.

The casting is impressive across the board. It was fun recognizing the younger characters, and while some of the actors are obviously doing straight-up impressions, they all did an excellent job.

Vera Farmiga captures Livia Soprano brilliantly. Finally, we get to briefly see some of the early toxic relationship dynamics between Livia and Tony from the first season of the Sopranos. Further exploring the relationship between Livia and Tony in the next movie will be crucial — of course, if there is a sequel to this prequel — there should definitely be another movie.

Corey Stoll is outstanding here — he nails all of the Maneurismns from Junior Soprano. We get to see how petty and insecure Junior can be even as a younger man. And how Junior schemes and manipulates his way into more positions of power.

Ray Liotta delivers a convincing performance playing dual roles as twin brothers “Hollywood Dick” Moltisanti and Salvatore “Sally” Moltisanti. Liotta makes both parts stand out; Hollywood Moltisanti is mean and abusive towards the women in his life. In contrast, twin brother Sally Moltisanti is more philosophical and reflective. Ray Liotta is mobster movie royalty, so having him involved in this movie gives it a sense of gangster movie legitimacy.

The power structure of the DiMeo crime family is not fully explained or broken down like I wanted to, but we still get to see early versions of Paulie Walnuts (Billy Magnussen), Pussy Bonpensiero (Samson Moeakiola), and Silvio Dante (John Magaro). The backstory of Silvio’s hair and eventual toupee is hilarious.

I wanted to see more of Tony’s father, Johnny Soprano (Jon Bernthal); he was relegated to more of a background character here. Hopefully, the next film will feature Johnny Soprano in a more prominent role.

Plus, we have a pre-teen and a teenage version of young Artie Bucco. Also, teenage versions of Carmela Soprano (Lauren Di Mario) and Jackie Aprile (Chase Vacnin), all of these three characters, provide some memorable scenes. The teenage version of Janice Soprano (Alexandra Intrator) stands out as a fascinating character to explore further as the Soprano extended universe moves along in other movies or TV projects.

However, the performance by Alessandro Nivola is exceptional — I think that this is an Academy Award-worthy performance. Dickie Moltisanti was always a present memory throughout the series, and Nivola’s performance cements Dickie’s importance and legacy in the general scope of all things Sopranos.

Dickie is a highly conflicted man, wrestling with inner demons, extremely menacing and out of control, while at the same time trying to do the right thing for the people in his life. Alexandro Nivola brings this character to life beautifully.

The women in Dickie’s life are remarkable; His wife, Joanne Moltisanti (Gabriella Piazza), his mistress, Giuseppina (Michela De Rossi), and even Livia Soprano — all of them assert a particular type of influence on Dickie.

On top of all that, we have a racial component that serves as the backdrop of the whole story. Harold (Leslie Odom Jr) runs numbers, collects money, and works as a street enforcer for Dickie. Through Harold’s eye, we begin to see the cultural and social changes starting to take place in New Jersey and the brewing racial tensions between the established communities living in Newark. Additionally, the 1967 Newark riots are a crucial plotline here, which is a pretty remarkable thing, considering that I cannot recall this historical event ever featured anywhere in cinematic history.

Anyhow, there is plenty of things to dissect here. There is lots of fan service with plenty of references to the TV series sprinkled throughout the movie, so you have to pay close attention — It is a lot more enjoyable if you are familiar with the show.

The voiceover of Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) at the start of the movie was cool. I know it is weird because he is dead, but don’t think about it too much or try to make sense of it — let it take you along for the ride. After all, there were many esoteric and supernatural themes throughout the series. So the movie opening this way and being narrated by Christopher throughout parts of the movie is right on brand.

Oh, and there is this brilliant scene of baby Christopher’s reaction to meeting his young uncle Tony for the first time.

Anyway, liking or not liking a movie is a concept pretty hard for me to put together in simple terms of like or dislike. So my measuring stick has always been based on whether a movie or TV series is engaging or not engaging. And whether it is memorable or unmemorable.

The Many Saints of Newark meets all those requirements; it is a fascinating and pretty memorable movie. In essence, it is a fascinating story as it relates to the Sopranos TV series.

So, yes, this Soprano story holds up as a standalone movie. It feels like an origins story; it is a film aimed at fans of the series, as it spends time setting up, putting pieces in place for things to make sense, primarily for fans of the show. It does not taint the legacy of the show, but it actually manages to extend specific themes and storylines from the series

This movie serves as the perfect setup for more Soprano movies and content, especially the impending rise of Tony Soprano within the DiMeo crime family. And the inevitable confrontation between Harold and Tony.

For one, there is tons of space between the end of this movie and the first episode of the Sopranos TV series, which is why David Chase should continue to make more prequels and more Sopranos-driven content.

In any case, I didn’t realize how deep and invested I got into this movie, that when the opening theme song from the series started playing, I was like, fuck, they got me!

Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿

The Many Saints of Newark (2021).

*NFL WEEK 9 RECAP (2021 Season)

Well, we have reached the midway point of the 2021 season, and Washington’s record is a sad 2-6. 

To be clear, I did not see this coming. I expected Washington to have a winning record by this point of the season. So, yes, this is shocking. 

I realized now that losing Ryan Fitzpatrick in the first game of the season was the canary in the coal mine for Washington. 

Taylor Heinicke has had some good moments and some pretty awful ones, but it is not all on him. The entire team has underperformed. 

However, the biggest disappointment has been how inconsistent this defense has performed in these first 9 weeks. Chase Young and Montez Sweat were supposed to be a dominant two-punch combo, but they have not lived up to the hype. 

In retrospect, it was stupid to let Ryan Kerrigan go; his veteran experience is needed. However, moving Landon Collins to a hybrid role between linebacker slash safety seems to be the right move.  

Antonio Gibson has been dealing with a shin injury for weeks now, limiting his ability to contribute in the run and pass game. But, when healthy, I’m convinced that he will be a dynamic offensive weapon. 

Brandon Scherff has been out for a while, and so has Logan Thomas. We also just recently added Center Chase Roullier to IR. Those are crucial missing pieces to the offense. 

Plus, the kicking game has been a disaster. We released Dustin Hopkins and brought in Chris Blewitt, but it hasn’t made much difference — the kicking issues and inconsistencies have remained. So we just cut bait with Blewitt and signed Joey Slye. 

Our free agent signings have not worked out as well as we hoped. William Jackson III hasn’t been the shutdown corner we thought we were getting. Bobby McCain has not been as impactful as I expected him to be. Curtis Samuel has been hurt through most of this season and hasn’t seen much playtime. 

On top of all that, we have the front office controversies. Plus, the pending congressional investigation regarding the toxic workplace culture created by Snyder and his lackeys. 

And here we are, finding ourselves at 2-6 and taking on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in our first game back. Of course, nobody gives us a chance, but you never know; this game could be the one game where the combination of a solid game plan and desperation meet up to pull off the upset.

COWBOYS 16 — BRONCOS 30

The Broncos put a beating on the overrated Cowboys; Denver ran the ball effectively with their running backs Javonte Wiliams and Melvin Gordon III, for a combined 38 carries and 191 rushing yards. Denver is a dangerous team, and at 5-4 could make things interesting in the AFC WEST. Next week, Denver hosts Philadelphia. Advantage, Denver Broncos.

I’ve been prophecizing the collapse of the Dallas Cowboys for a few weeks now, and they finally got exposed. Their defense is not elite, and their offense struggles to run the ball with a declining Zeke. Next week, Dallas hosts a dangerous Atlanta team. Advantage, Atlanta Falcons.

EAGLES 24 — LA CHARGERS 27

Justin Herbert had a bounce-back game here, throwing for over 350 yards with 2 TDs and zero picks. The Chargers are 5-3 and still on top of the AFC WEST, but they face a tough stretch in the schedule. Next up, LA hosts Minnesota for what should be a close game. Advantage, LA Chargers

Jalen Hurts seems to be getting more comfortable from week to week. Upcoming opponents will need to start scheming ways to neutralize Jalen’s scramble ability. Next up, Philadelphia visits Denver. Advantage, Denver Broncos. 

NY GIANTS 23 — RAIDERS 16

Two late field goals in the 4th quarter made the difference in this game. The Giants have a solid defense, and they kept putting the offense in good spots throughout the game. At the end, NY managed to edge out the Raiders, stopping them from a comeback late in the 4th quarter. Next week, New York visits Tampa Bay. Advantage, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Derek Carr threw 2 picks and struggled to get past a solid NY Giants defense. The Raiders need to start featuring Josh Jacobs better. 13 carries will not be enough to give Vegas a chance to win close games. Next week the Raiders hosts Kansas City for what should be a massive divisional game. Advantage, LA Raiders.

CHIEFS 13 — PACKERS 7

Nothing seems to be working for Kansas City, and even though they look awful on both defense and offense, they still manage to barely edge out this Green Bay team with no Aaron Rodgers. Next up, Kansas city visits the Raiders for a chance to climb up a spot in the AFC WEST. Advantage, Las Vegas raiders.

The Aaron Rodgers Covid fiasco continues to be the biggest story dominating sports media. Rodgers should be suspended, period. On top of that, Jordan Love was ineffective, making his first start in the NFL. However, Green Bay’s defense is pretty good, and they will keep them in close games. Still, things will not get easier for Green Bay without Rodgers. Next week, Green Bay hosts a rested Seattle team. Advantage, Seattle Seahawks. 

CARDINALS 31 — 49ERS 17

I have been singing Colt McCoy’s praises for years now. For some background, I always preferred McCoy over Kirk Cousins when they were both in Washington. I think Arizona will be in good shape not to rush Kyler Murray back. Next week, Arizona hosts 4-5 Carolina. Advantage, Arizona Cardinals.

Jimmy G was effective for most of the game until he threw a pick late in the game and pretty much sealed any chances for a comeback. San Francisco needs to get Elijah Mitchell more involved; 8 carries for 36 yards is unacceptable. Also, San Francisco’s defense is not playing up to expectations. Next week, San Francisco hosts a wounded LA Rams team, looking to bounce back. Advantage, LA Rams.

JAGUARS 9 — BILLS 6

Jacksonville shocked the NFL world. The Jaguars’ defense stepped up and held Buffalo to field goals while making Josh Allen uncomfortable through most of the game. Next up, Jacksonville visits a surging Indianapolis team looking for a wildcard spot in the playoffs. Advantage, Indianapolis Colts

Josh Allen had his worst game of the season, but no reason to panic, rough games like this are bound to occur on any given Sunday in the NFL. Next up, Buffalo has an easy divisional game against the NY Jets. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.

FALCONS 27 — SAINTS 25

Atlanta is alive in the NFC SOUTH at 4-4 and can potentially make a run for a wild card spot, a long shot, but within the realm of possibility. Next week, Atlanta visits the overrated Cowboys. Advantage, Atlanta Falcons.

The Saints self-destructed here with drops and penalties. Trevor Siemian was actually pretty good, and going forward; the critical factor will be for Siemian to get more comfortable with his receivers. Next week, New Orleans visits 7-2 Tennessee. Advantage, Tennessee Titans.

BROWNS 41 — BENGALS 16

Well, Cleveland just saved their season and looked much better offensively without drama queen OBJ. Nick Chubb was on fire rushing for 137 yards and 2 TDs. Next up, Cleveland visits 5-4 New England. Advantage, Cleveland Browns.

I was surprised at how poorly Cincinnati played against a division rival. This loss is a significant setback for Cincinnati — and now they find themselves in last place in the AFC NORTH. Next up, Cincinnati has a much-needed bye week.

RAVENS 34 — VIKINGS 31 

What a terrific back and forth game this was. Minnesota could contain Lamar Jackson from getting loose and scrambling for chances of yards. Even Le’veon Bell got some solid action in this game. Next week, Baltimore visits a disappointing but still dangerous Miami team. Advantage, Baltimore Ravens

Minnesota has now lost two close games back to back. They have bigger issues than QB play by Kirk Cousins, and the future of Mike Zimmer as head coach will depend on how they finish this season. Next week, Minnesota visits LA. Advantage, LA Chargers. 

TITANS 28- LA RAMS 16

No Derrick Henry, no problem for Tennessee. It was rushing by committee here, and even recently signed Adrian Peterson rushed for a score. So I think Tennessee will be just fine without Derrick Henry. Next up, the Titans host New Orleans. Advantage, Tennessee Titans. 

Matt Stafford throwing costly picks was the main story here; however, their lack of effective running game was also an issue. The Rams have way too much firepower on offense to be this pathetic. Next, up, LA visits a 3-5 San Francisco team trying to save their season. Advantage, LA Rams.

DOLPHINS 17 — TEXANS 9

Finally, Miami won a game that they were supposed to win. Nobody expected Miami to be 2-7 this late in the season. Unfortunately, Miami’s victory will be short-lived. Next week they host an early week 10 game against Baltimore. Advantage, Baltimore Ravens.

The Texans are a disaster, and although they have some good moments on defense, they are still a mess of a team. Next week, Houston has their bye week.

PATRIOTS 24 — PANTHERS 6

New England looked formidable and reminded Sam Darnold that New England still owns him even though he is no longer with the NY Jets. Next week, 5-4, New England hosts another 5-4 Cleveland team. Advantage, Cleveland Browns.

No question that Sam Darnold looked awful in this game, but benching him will not solve all of Carolina’s issues. Next week, Carolina will have another rough outing visiting Arizona. Advantage, Arizona Cardinals.

COLTS 45 — NY JETS 30

This was a fun game to watch for me on Thursday night. Carson Wentz had an excellent game, throwing for 272 yards with 3 TDs and zero picks. Jonathan Taylor ran all over New York with 19 carries for 172 yards. Next up, Indianapolis hosts Jacksonville, fresh from a shocking win. Advantage, Indianapolis Colts.

Josh Johnson had some good moments here, but the Jets are a rebuilding team, and not much should be expected from them this season. Next up, the Jets hosts a wounded Buffalo team. Advantage, Buffalo Bills. 

STEELERS 29 — BEARS 27

This game came down to the last few seconds with a field goal — Chicago and their rookie QB unexpectedly tested Pittsburgh. But in the end, Big Ben led this offense effectively and got it done. Next week, Pittsburgh hosts winless Detroit. Advantage, Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Chicago Bears got robbed by some really awful referee calls. Nevertheless, I was impressed with Justin Fields QB play; He showed that he could take this team to the next level and dominate the NFC NORTH for years to come — of course, if they build around him properly. Next week, Chicago has their bye week.

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