by Ryan Meehan
I don’t know much, but that’s also the one thing that I will always be an expert on. You just never know sometimes how wrong you can truly be, and in my case I was wrong about a lot of things I was sure about. It keeps your ego in check, and lets you know that when it comes to predicting games, there are no real “experts” anywhere. I am no exception, and although well put together and tailored to fit a well polished format sometimes these articles that I do are full of what looks like boldface lies. So if you’re on the hunt for some haphazardly compiled coverage of week three in the NFL, you’re in luck – here’s our coverage of what transpired in week three:
Giants 36, Panthers 7
I have to say this was a total shock to me. I absolutely could not believe that with all of the injuries that the Giants had suffered that they would be able to come out and wipe Carolina in Charlotte like this. New York dominated this game from the opening snap and was up on TeamCam 20-0 at the half. Overall the Panthers committed five turnovers. There are two points that I’d like to make about this game if I could do so: 1) It’s about time football fans (including me) start taking the Giants very seriously and not just as a team that sneaks in as a Wild Card every few years and mysteriously winds up winning the Super Bowl. They are for real and Eli IS an elite quarterback. It should also be brought up here that regardless of who is hurt on offense they can more than make up for it on the other side of the ball. And even in the absence of Bradshaw and Nicks, Andre Brown and Ramses Barden stepped up and had monster games. 2) The second thing I would like to discuss is that although I still believe Cam Newton has a lot of potential for success in the NFL, I got the sense in both the press conference that he gave on Wednesday and the performance he gave the next night that the pressure of playing at the pro level is starting to get to him. Now I can’t say for sure if it’s going to be something that he is going to continually have a problem with, but he definitely looked rattled this week.
Vikings 24, 49ers 13
I have no idea at all how this went down. All Sunday night and Monday I reviewed the stat sheet several times and I just don’t get it. This was a sure bet, a bet so certain that it was almost too good to be true. Well, it was just that as the 49ers lost to the Vikes in what I consider to be a rather significant upset. San Francisco having “the whole package” like I’ve been showering you with all year would also usually mean they’d be able to put up more than 13 points against the hapless Vikings. But Minnesota stuck to their guns and didn’t budge a bit, so you have to at least give them credit for that. But not too much, because they are still the Vikings. Actually, if you’re giving them credit at the moment you can go ahead and stop. Right now.
Bears 23, Rams 6
It wasn’t pretty, but the Bears held the Rams the entire 60 minutes without giving up a single touchdown. Chicago still struggles in the middle of the field and has a tendency to forget their routes a lot, but they got the W. It’s hard to gauge the Bears though because with all of the negativity that was going on in the Green Bay game, you have to wonder if that’s going to have an effect on their longevity. I still think there’s a couple of guys on that squad that aren’t cool with Cutler, and that’s going to be a problem if they can sneak in as a wild card. The Rams disappointed the hell out of me, not simply because I picked them to win but because I had spoken so highly of what they have done so far this year. They showed such fire and emotion in the first two games only to look flat yet awestruck at the same time. Are you still giving the Vikings credit? I thought I told you to stop doing that…
Titans 44, Lions 41
This game was wild and featured over a thousand yards of total offense. Tennessee is all over the map this year. Darius Renyaud had an 105 yard kickoff return for a touchdown, which could have also been a horrible decision and tells me that he probably should have downed the ball for a touchback. But here again he knew something I didn’t, so congratulations to him and more importantly to Jake Locker. I’ve been bashing Jake Locker awfully hard lately, but I’ve been doing it because up until now I had seen none of the big play action that had made him so coveted coming out of college. This weekend I saw it – he had a little bit of help because the Titans had two special teams touchdowns, but if that’s what they needed to do in the first quarter to sort of light a fire under his ass it certainly worked. Kenny Britt also had 55 yards receiving which is great news, not because I follow or even like Tennessee but because it means that he was able to refrain from punching women for three whole hours.
Jets 23, Dolphins 20
If Mark Sanchez gets anymore radio love this week for his less than stellar showing against the Dolphins I am going to be pissed. In a game that, mind you, the Dolphins blew twice in OT – (the first when they missed that field goal and the second when they called timeout right before a kick that they wound up blocking) Sanchez only went 21-45 and threw two picks. For the last time, Mark Sanchez will never be the Mark Sanchez that has been sold to you. And the Dolphins are the Dolphins. Seriously…
Bengals 38, Redskins 31
Cincinnati was really firing on all cylinders in this game… I’m really pumped about this Andrew Hawkins guy the Bengals found just wandering around the CFL free agent pool – he had a 59 yard touchdown grab this week and he can really catch the ball. Dalton also looked awesome and it only took him 19 completions to get to 328 yards so that shows right there that he is super efficient. I couldn’t be happier that things are looking up in Cincinnati, so good for them. RG3 wasn’t horrid but he wasn’t great either. This is what I did want to see out of this game – very exciting and very intense from both teams.
Chiefs 27, Saints 24
One of three overtime games today, the New Orleans Saints lost at home to Kansas City in what has to be the worst year any one team has ever had in the history of professional sports. Think about it: Just one year ago they were on top of the world, looked like they had a future just as bright as anybody else, and a franchise quarterback to match. In that time, they lost their head coach, had a nasty spat with that same franchise QB, were accused of serious events in a situation so strange that there was no proper precedent for handling it, and now they’re 0-3, with two of those losses at home. Now they look tense and are scratching themselves nervously, like a dude who just now realized that he desperately needs a shower. The Chiefs I can’t take seriously until at least week nine. A lot of specific things are going to have to happen for them to get in anyway.
Jaguars 22, Colts 17
Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 177 yards and Andrew Luck wasn’t very effective in the red zone when it counted. Basically all you really need to know is they got a bunch of people together, there was a football game, and the guys in the white jerseys won. There’s absolutely nothing else you can usefully take away from this one.
Bills 24, Browns 14
While the Bills continue to slowly make progress, the Browns are falling further and further into irrelevance. The stat line from the BUF_CLE game showed just about what you’d expect – Ryan Fitzpatrick played manageably just good enough to get the win, and Brandon Wheeden is still throwing interceptions right on cue. Nothing extremely important to see here – if you see the Jets or New England start to tank that’s when you’re on alert to see what Buffalo might do.
Cowboys 16, Buccaneers 10
Dallas rebounded from that awful showing up in the Pacific Northwest by beating Tampa Sunday, a game that ended very similar to the way that their last one did. At the end of the game, Bucs coach Greg Shiano told his guys to go all out and pop the offensive line and knock the quarterback back during the kneel down. This of course is a very classy thing to do, providing all that you have done up until that moment of your life is bomb daycare buildings and senior citizens’ centers. Shiano doesn’t have that much balls, but it will be interesting to see if this continues. We’ll find out because the Bucs still have a lot of games to lose, they’re terrible. The Cowboys are now on top of the NFC East but keep in mind, the reason that I am always suspect of their potential is the fact that in games that they should win they still only score 16 on the Bucs? (And 7 against Seattle? Really?) They still have a lot of work to do before they sniff anything playoffs and a team like Atlanta would kill them right now…So let’s talk about the Falcons for a second.
Falcons 27, Chargers 3
Atlanta has definitely stood out to me this year as a team who wants to be known. They put together this very unique combination of defensive players that has worked brilliantly and have been able to pile on yards and points on the offensive side of the ball as well. Not to toot my own horn, but I told you the Chargers were toy. Given it was a tough chance, but they went out at home in front of a lot of their fans who had paid good money and cranked out one goddamn field goal. Thomas Decoud had two interceptions for the Falcons as Atlanta rolled over San Diego with ease. Matt Ryan essentially went into Philip Rivers’ home study and shit all over the walls while Rivers was out chewing gum, skateboarding, and doing his best to look like a damn fool. Of course I’m kidding, Rivers probably doesn’t have a study.
Raiders 34, Steelers 31
I didn’t see this one coming either. The Steelers owned pretty much the whole game here too, but at the end Oakland had a massive surge at the end. And you know that if Janikowski comes out at the end he’s going to make that field goal every time. There was a very sobering moment here when Darius Heyward-Bey left the game after he was knocked out cold before he hit the ground in a very severe collision. He was able to give the thumbs up sign as he was being carted out on the stretcher, but it is going to change his career forever as you don’t see many people recover from a hit like that. It should also be noted here that even though the hit was helmet to helmet and could have done permanent spinal damage to Bey, the replacement zebras didn’t even call it a personal foul and no flag was thrown on the play. As for the rest of the game, Roethlisberger had a very impressive showing (384 yards, four touchdowns, but more importantly zero picks) but Oakland just turned on the burners late and they never looked back. There was a very cool moment before the game started in which Marcus Allen lit a torch in memory of Al Davis, showing that maybe his seemingly never ending feud with the franchise may have been resolved although it’s not clear how that was done.
Cardinals 27, Eagles 6
As bizarre as it sounds, the Cardinals have had good defensive performances this year. They’re in first place right now. The Eagles lost their first game of the year and look very suspect. I don’t normally trust anything Eagles anyway, but this alarms me and it tells me Vick lacks a certain focus that for some reason everyone has always thought he had. Everyone always uses the phrase “Football IQ” but I have to honestly say that Michael Vick has some very odd form of Football ADD. There are instances where he makes more time for himself both in and out of the pocket only to scramble and still not make a decision with the extra time he made for himself. If there’s any animal rights activists that are looking for him they can probably find him in the University of Phoenix Stadium parking lot, where he’s likely still trying to find somebody to throw to. In other words, I see a lot of dancing but not a lot of big play power. Arizona emerged today as a team that is improving, but don’t get psyched about it just yet they still have to play San Francisco twice and .500 is a ways away.
Texans 31, Broncos 25
On Sunday the Houston Texans took yet another step on the way to continuing their reign as the most underrated and underappreciated franchise in the league. They took the lead early on, and while I was concerned with how Foster would be able to find a hole in that beast of a line, but he did all afternoon. The Texans are dominant when it comes to managing a football game, and they make you play at their pace every single time you step on the field to face them. Who would have ever thought Wade Phillips would be the mastermind behind such a driving force? Not me. When he was hired by the Dallas Cowboys to take over that position, all any writer would talk about is his defensive mind. It was hard to buy into that, because of course Dallas wasn’t winning any playoff games and you would repeatedly see their defense blow easy wins. I think that now since Wade is in a coordinator role, he’s finally found his identity and he’s done so with what just so happens to be an extremely kick-ass football team. As for Denver, I’m sure you’ll hear a lot about them this week and you’ll also hear that there are some people who are hitting the panic button. I can tell you right now with 100% certainty that there’s no way anybody should be panicking here…They still have a first ballot hall of famer in charge and have an extremely potent defense full of young stars, so just because they are 1-2 and have suffered back to back losses there’s no telling when they might go on this pounding spree and win eight in a row. They have the team in place to do it, Manning just needs to be getting ahead early more as opposed to constantly having to come up with 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Ravens 31, Patriots 30
New England got up right off the bat and before you know it, it was 13-0 in their favor. The crowd noise had settled down considerably and it appeared that the Patriots’ loss against the Cardinals last week was a fluke. But Baltimore came back when Torrey Smith caught a touchdown pass, on an emotional day where his brother had been shot dead in the early morning hours. (A flag was thrown, but later picked up as the refs determined there was no foul on the play. We’ll discuss this more in a couple of paragraphs…) Throughout the game the quality of the officiating was progressively declining and it culminated on the last sequence of the game where rookie Ravens kicker Justin Tucker nailed a field goal at the end that went over the goalpost although it was unclear whether or not the attempt was actually good. Further complicating matters was the fact that the play was not reviewed, which I thought went against the rule that states that every scoring play was to be reviewed. Belichick ended up grabbing on official as he was leaving the field, and the whole thing culminated in a huge mess of questions about the officiating crew and how they are handling some of these games. Look for the league to spend a lot of time checking out the details of this game and assuring us that it won’t happen again even though we know it will. (Cue impending doom…)
Seahawks 14, Packers 12
I do these columns late Monday Night. I usually have the summary done by then and truth be told, this is the last part I work on before it goes up. It’s hard to find words for what happened in Seattle on Monday night…I want to be angry but it’s more sadness than anything else. What else can you really call it? It’s hard to come up with words at that point. That call was 5% poor officiating and 95% riot control. Period, point blank. In the other room right now, there are players who built this product for years talking about how bad this is. I am agreeing with Steve Young and Trent Dilfer. Something isn’t right here. I’m not going to go into a ton of detail because there is no detail. At some point, in this matchup with about six minutes remaining, the refs stole the show. A team who name rhymes with the Beattle Beahawks started throwing the ball for flags, and they were getting them. Something was broken – Spirit was broken. And it all ended with what was arguably the biggest botched call in just about any pro sport.
As much as it pains me to go there, I can’t accurately summarize this week’s action without continuing to mention the replacement referees and their struggle to manage some of the games that they are officiating. There were a couple of skirmishes in more than one matchup on Sunday, and let’s face it – the replacement guys aren’t as well built as the Ed Hochulis of the A Team. Because of their absence of stature or general lack of confidence they seem to either be more intimidated by the players on the field, or the players are just simply not taking them seriously enough and it’s leading to a mutual unstated agreement across the league that it’s go time all the time. Never in a million years did I think I’d end up taking the same side as Cris Collinsworth when it came to anything NFL related, but here we are and if I can agree with what those guys are saying we have a serious problem that needs to be resolved as soon as possible. At first I was very happy with they way that the replacement refs were doing, but they are indeed letting things slip away from them and in some instances have completely skipped the procedure of making a call on the field. I understand why they are doing it – it’s to give them an easy out due to the requirement that any call that must be overturned has to display indisputable evidence during the review process. That doesn’t make it right, and it has become very evident that even though these guys are doing the best job they possibly can they are in way over their heads and are extremely under qualified.
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