The Couch Slouch

There is only one way to stop the cheating Patriots

Patriots/Facebook

A popular sentiment these days – and one that most of Sports Nation wants to embrace – is that the New England Patriots finally will be kaput in the postseason and cannot possibly win Super Bowl 54.

What America are these people living in?

Tom Brady could start the game strapped to a gurney, and they could win.

Julian Edelman could play the first half barefoot and the second half in flip-flops, and they could win.

Bill Belichick, at this very moment, is sitting at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Mansfield, Mass., reviewing the latest Patriots surveillance tape of the Kansas City Chiefs' training table.

Still, most of us are hoping that, much like President Trump's three-year win streak ending with impeachment, the Patriots' 18-year NFL dynasty will cease with an implosion.

The Patriots' demise has been prematurely predicted countless times before. Heck, I bought a Patriots piñata at TJ Maxx in 2015 that I have yet to take a baseball bat to.

Is it finally time?

They are old – their quarterback is 42, their coach is 67 and their owner is 78. Then again, the quarterback might be the greatest of all-time, the coach might be the greatest of all-time and the owner is still savvy enough to seemingly dodge prostitution solicitation charges in Florida in which he was allegedly caught on videotape.

Speaking of videotape – before we deep-dive into the team's supposed free fall – let's briefly address the Patriots' latest cinematic venture, "Bengals in Autumn," which should screen at next year's Cannes Film Festival.

(NFL Films should hire Belichick. He gets footage no one else has access to.)

So a video crew working for the Patriots filmed the Cincinnati Bengals' sideline during a recent game. At this point, I don't care if it was an "accident;" if a Wells Fargo branch is robbed and John Dillinger is standing in front of the bank, would you give him the benefit of the doubt?

This occurrence echoes the team's 2007 Spygate scandal, in which the Patriots videotaped New York Jets defensive coaching signals, prompting NFL fines for Belichick and the team, plus the loss of a first-round draft pick.

But my barber George – yes, I got another haircut last week and he told me I do not have to come in again until April 2021 – has a better idea this time, disciplinary-wise. A fine? Pfft. Draft picks? Pfft. Oh, no. George says…

BAN THEM FROM THE POSTSEASON FOR ONE YEAR.

Like this year. And why not?

Because if we don't, as Roger Goodell is my witless witness, these swindling, cheating, scamming, preening Patriots are going to win another Super Bowl.

Sure, they've had lousy offensive-line play, they've had no running attack and no deep threat and they've been unable to replace Gronk. They had no offensive player selected to the initial Pro Bowl roster for the first time since 2003. And the mighty Brady has been reduced to shuffling around the pocket, throwing six-yard checkdown passes.

Uh, you realize the Patriots are 12-3 and we're talking about them struggling.

How good have the Patriots been?

The Patriots will finish at least 12-4 this year for the 13th time in 17 seasons. In that span, the NFL's other 31 teams have finished at least 12-4 a total of 66 times; seven teams have zero 12-4 seasons since 2003. The Patriots make 12-4 look as easy as the Cleveland Browns make 4-12 look simple.

Woe are the Patriots? I think not.

The Patriots are like POTUS – write 'em off at your own risk. They have endless tricks in their shoplifted bag; for crying out loud, Edelman apparently faked a head injury against the Buffalo Bills Saturday.

Between Brady, Belichick and borderline officiating – I believe the last time the Patriots lost a replay challenge was at the Boston Tea Party, late 1773 – I cannot bury these knaves.

What I can do is beg beg beg Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes or Jimmy Garoppolo or Aaron Rodgers to put the kibosh on this unspeakable national nightmare.

Ask the Slouch

Q. Since President Trump has been going to more sporting events lately, do you think he will take in the Georgetown-vs.-Deep State basketball game next month in D.C.? (Gary Duncan; Washington, D.C.)

A. If I were the Hoyas, I wouldn't play Deep State – those games have got to be fixed.

Q. Do we have you to thank for increasing the exposure of our fair city of Spokane when listing it as the residence of another successful contributor to "Ask the Slouch," or is it just because of Gonzaga basketball? (Steve Owings; Spokane, Wash.)

A. I don't even know where Spokane is.

Q. If R*dsk*ns owner Daniel Snyder were impeached for malpractice, who do you think he would call as character witnesses? (John Myers; Harrisonburg, Va.)

A. Even if he were impeached, I suspect he would be acquitted in a Senate trial.

Q. Have Duke basketball fans seen more flops than Amarillo Slim? (Mike Soper; Washington, D.C.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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TEXANS HAVE ZERO DEPTH AT CORNER

Here's what Davante Adams' big day against the Texans really proved

Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

Seven weeks into the season, Bradley Roby has been the sole bright spot playing for a secondary that has been subpar at best. He entered Week 7 against the Green Bay Packers trailing only Eric Murray for the most tackles as a defensive back while owning the Houston Texans' only interception of the season.

During his media availability on Thursday, Roby spoke about having the Texans' confidence to trust him as the primary defender shadowing the opposing team's best receiver.

And with Davante Adams coming to NRG Stadium with Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, Roby had an opportunity to illustrate why Houston's coaching staff have so much faith in him.

Three plays into the game, Roby sustained a knee injury that sidelined him the rest of the afternoon. In his absence, the Texans felt his importance competing with a depleted secondary.

Adams would go on to have a career day against the Texans. He recorded a career-best 196 receiving yards on 13-of-18 targets and two touchdowns — as the Packers handed the Texans a 35-20 loss on Sunday.

Had the Fort Worth native avoided the injury, would it have resulted in a victory for the Texans? Perhaps not. It is always hard for a team to come away victorious after going scoreless during the first half, but Roby would have limited the destruction caused by Adams. Rogers completed four deep passes where he recorded 28 or more yards, with Adams being the recipient of three.

Not only did Houston have to deal with the effects of not having their best corner shadow one of the league's premier receivers, but the team was not prepared to battle without Roby, according to Michael Thomas following the loss.

"When you lose your starting corner like that, it's going to affect [the team]," Thomas said. "Anytime you have to make adjustments. If you're not prepared, and you don't have the right mindset, then you're probably not going to get the right results you want. Maybe we could have done it a little sooner, but you definitely miss a guy like Roby. You plan on having your number one guy go against their number one guy all the time."

Roby's premature exit left the Texans with a gaping void to slowdown Rodgers and the Packers without two of their projected starting corners. Gareon Conley — who revived his career during the second half of last season — has yet to play a single snap for Houston in 2020 as he continues to recover from offseason ankle surgery.

Their lackluster performance on Sunday showcased the lack of depth and talent the Texans have in the secondary. And with the trade deadline a week away, it may be in the Texans' best interest to invest in a young defensive back they can build around in the future — especially considering the timetable on Conley's return remains unknown.

Interim head coach Romeo Crennel said on Monday that the team is hoping Roby's injury is short-term and hopes to have their top corner make his return following the bye.

At 1-6 on the year, all the Texans have left to play for is pride as they close out the remaining nine games of the season, and the best way is to prevent another receiver from recording nearly 200 yards in a single game.

For this vulnerable secondary, it is a feat easier said than done. And with the talents of Jarvis Landry, T.Y. Hilton, and A.J. Brown remaining on the schedule, it is only best for Roby to make his return to the field sooner rather than later.

"I take pride in it. It's an opportunity that not a lot of guys get throughout the league, and I'm thankful for that. Just to be able to go against the best and try my best for the team and see how I match up. I'm very thankful for that." — Roby.

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