by Ryan Meehan
Week seven in the NFL wasn’t one of the more eventful weeks this year, which was evidenced by the fact that one of the bigger stories involved a team that had a bye. Sunday afternoon reports had started to circulate that an equipment manager for the San Diego Chargers was seen handing out small towels that supposedly had an illegal substance inside that could possibly be “stickem”. Although nothing is certain yet and the Fox broadcaster (Jay Glazer) who reported the original story is a complete buffoon, the Chargers did blow a huge lead in that game and ended up losing so it will interesting to see how the NFL investigates this situation and hands out punishment. As far as the teams who played, we didn’t see anything that was really out of the ordinary.
49ers 13, Seahawks 6
Part of me wanted to pick a low score in this game, but I guess that part of me has a vagina because I didn’t do it. This is what I took away from the last 5 days of watching San Francisco – The Giants showed that the 49ers could be beat. The Seahawks showed that the 49ers could be beat, but if you don’t score off of their mistakes you’re going to lose the game because the 49ers usually win those close matchups. I’m starting to develop an opinion of Russell Wilson that isn’t a good one. Basically, I’ve noticed that although his style doesn’t remind me of the guy his tendency to experience extreme highs and extreme lows like Rex Grossman. I’m well aware that structurally those two quarterbacks have nothing to do with each other at all, but I can’t help but notice that Wilson also tends to look very sharp one week and then the next week he just looks like he is there with a really good seat. The Seahawks need to show me something on offense if they want to hang with the upper echelon NFC teams.
Packers 30, Rams 20
Aaron Rodgers looked very sharp in his outing against the Rams on Sunday – 30 for 37 with 342 yards and not a single pick. I’m thinking that Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are now his go-to guys, and the loss of Greg Jennings hasn’t affected them nearly as much as some fans were stressing over. The only dark spot for the Packers is that ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter is reporting that defensive back Charles Woodson has a broken collarbone and is out at least a month, so even though he is getting up there in years those will be some very big cleats to fill. The Rams hung in there, played respectably, and are still a scrappy team they just didn’t have a chance in hell at winning. Maybe they’ll have better luck against the shaky Patriots when they head to England next week.
Giants 27, Redskins 23
Although the Giants were able to pull this one off, it certainly cements any of the comments that Spickler has been making about their inconsistency. Eli Manning was able to throw a 77 yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz, which inflated his stats to the point where you might think that he had a great day. But he also threw two picks, and that very same inconstancy shined through the cracks of the glory as for some odd reason the Giants still continue to experience some problems at home. Keep in mind this is the same team that went into San Francisco last week and blew out the 49ers in their own house, but then just barely squeaked out a four point victory just seven days later at home against one of the worst secondaries in the league. (And you have to wonder why the Giants couldn’t convert big plays against that secondary, which also raises questions about their traditionally conservative play calling) They’re now a game and a half up on the Cowboys but questions about why they can’t close the deal early at home against average teams are still abound. Long story short – RG3 was good (Redskins 480 total yards on offense), but Eli was better. In other words, the Giants do still look like one of the teams to beat in the NFC but there are still questions.
Vikings 21, Cardinals 14
There’s no doubt in my mind that if Adrian Peterson continues to play the way he does, he would have to be the comeback player of the year. I can’t imagine that without him the Vikings would be sitting at 5-2, especially with Christian Ponder running the show. For your snoozer stat of the day, Christian Ponder only completed one pass for four yards in the entire second half. AP better continue to look impressive, because if the Vikings have to rely on their passing game they’ll be out of the playoffs by 7PM Saturday of Wild Card weekend. Arizona has lost three straight and Cardinal talk is disappearing from the landscape, especially with Seattle’s defensive play having elevated I think most people realize that no NFC West teams other than the 49ers and Seahawks have a shot at the postseason. I thought something about Arizona smelled funny, and I was right.
Titans 35, Bills 34
Let’s face it: The Buffalo Bills can not play defense. When you couple that with a critical pace error, it’s easy to see why they won’t be putting a winning season together for quite some time. When they had the opportunity to put this game away, they got greedy and Fitzpatrick threw a very stupid interception that led to the Titans getting the ball in prime territory for a veteran QB to seal the deal. Although it’s still early, Matt Hasselbeck has the Tennessee Titans winning football games and even though they’re under .500 at the moment if I had waited another week to do the stock report they’d be right up there amongst all of the other teams who are headed in the right direction. That 4th and death situation that Hasselbeck converted was easily the ballsiest throw of the week, hands down.
Colts 17, Browns 13
I would have liked to see the Browns win this game because I don’t really have an opinion on the Colts, but something told me they wouldn’t be able to do it. As it turns out I was right, and the Colts ran away with a victory in what was an uneventful game. Indianapolis might be the least interesting .500 team in the league, which is saying a lot because the AFC is full of them.
Texans 43, Ravens 13
The collapse of the Baltimore Ravens has begun. Even with Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed back in the lineup, what we suspected last week turned out to be true: They still can’t stop the run at all, and when it comes to defending the pass they are just too slow. I can’t wait to see how that defense responds when they play the Giants later this year. Even at 5-2, it’s a very real possibility that the Ravens will miss the playoffs altogether. With Ray Lewis gone for the year, if Joe Flacco looks as confused as he did in this game they have no shot. Which is crazy, because you figure someone has to win the AFC North. As for Houston, they rebounded from that stamp that the Packers put on them last Sunday night by scoring a franchise record 43 points against Baltimore. Arian Foster had two more touchdowns (just another day at the office for him) and Schaub was brilliant. I see a very serious difference between both squads that were 5-0 just a couple of weeks back – The Falcons have been winning close games and don’t have that killer instinct that the Texans do. If the Texans get up on you early, you’re dead in the water. Their only weakness so far this year was that they ran into an extremely upset Green Bay team that wasn’t leaving town without a W last week. Both of these teams have a bye and will not play next Sunday.
Cowboys 19, Panthers 14
God dammit. Oh well, at least the rest of the league is still well aware that the Cowboys’ offense can’t produce as they only scored one touchdown in this game. Dallas is as impotent as Jerry Jones after a case and a half of whiskey, but since they won the game you won’t hear even Jerry complaining. The Cowboys are a joke. Carolina has lost 4 straight and they are struggling in almost every sector. You can’t say that their defense was impressive because this is the Cowboys we’re talking about, and obviously to say that their offense has things figured out is simply delusional. In 22 career starts, Cam Newton is 7-15 and he’s getting burnt out by the spotlight rather quickly.
Saints 35, Buccaneers 28
New Orleans had a bit of a scare here…they fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and for a brief moment it appeared as if their season was on the brink of continued destruction. The return of Jonathan Vilma proved to be a non factor as the Saints are still having defensive troubles, but there are always intangibles that we can’t see as fans of the game. Drew Brees did throw for over 300 yards in the first half, which is impressive no matter who you’re playing. There wasn’t a lot of defense in this game, save one play that was a difference maker in the game. Josh Freeman (who had a very impressive 420 yards in the air) hit Vincent Jackson deep and for a second it looked like he had an easy score. But Saints corner Malcolm Jenkins came from out of nowhere (There’s your Faith No More reference for this article) and tackled him before he reached the end zone. Tampa couldn’t punch it in from the two yard line where Jackson was tackled, and Drew Brees used that momentum to lead the Saints down the field and it looked like the Buccaneers weren’t going to be able to recover. However, Freeman led them on a respectable drive down the field and almost tied the game on a last second shot to Mike Williams who caught the ball in the end zone. However, he had stepped out of bounds and the rule says that if you step out of bounds you can’t be the first one to touch the football. So essentially the Saints got away with one here as the game ended on an offensive technicality. Even though this is their second win in a row, I can’t help but think that the Saints are still very much in trouble – Their defense is still struggling, they’re still glaring up at an undefeated Atlanta Falcons team, and just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, they play Denver next Sunday Night and that matchup doesn’t bode well for the Saints. In an unrelated note, I would love for someone to buy me a creamsicle Vinny Testaverde jersey for Christmas and I’m not really sure why. You have two months to figure that out.
Raiders 26, Jaguars 23 (OT)
I have attempted to research this one numerous times and I’m still skeptical as to whether or not this game was actually played. That’s what it certainly seemed like, especially when you consider the game it was airing against assured it virtually 0% of the ratings share. Truth be told, it did happen and although Carson Palmer had respectable numbers and Darius Heyward-Bey made some big plays, there’s nothing that you need to know about anything that went down here. Josh Scobee is having a great year, but ironically that’s also a red flag for your franchise if your kicker is having the best year on a 53 man roster. Here’s another depressing stat – Rashad Jennings from the Jaguars had only 44 yards on 21 carries. Ouch.
Patriots 29, Jets 26 (OT)
Both of the late games were decided in overtime, although you could easily make the argument that this one didn’t necessarily need to. And what’s interesting is – it didn’t need to for either team, as they both could have won the game in regulation. The second half of this game was a display of slop, and there’s no nice way to put that. The Patriots up ten at home with very little time remaining is usually a lock, so when you consider that Mark Sanchez was able to put the Jets in the position to win the game in the last two minutes there was something that went clearly wrong. It all started when Patriots kick returner Devin McCourty fumbled on a late kickoff in which the Jets recovered. However, they weren’t able to turn it into a touchdown and had to settle for a Nick Folk field goal. The Pats were able to counter and send the game into overtime. After adding another three spot, Patriots DE Rob Ninkovich caused Mark Sanchez to fumble and recovered ending the game. The one thing that I was able to really take away from the end of this game was that the Patriots were able to convert in some very clutch situations, but all of those plays seem to come when they need to save their own ass. New England is still a mystery to me, I can only imagine how Koz feels right about now. He sent me a text message during the end of this game which simply read: “We have a garage sale going on at NE, just giving away football games. Get them while they’re hot only 9 more left”.
Steelers 24, Bengals 17
The Cincinnati Bengals are now officially on chitwatch. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it’s a prison term used to signify when one group of inmates keeps an eye on another inmate’s every move. That said, I don’t want the Bengals to distract you from the rest of the teams that are playing great football. The Steelers looked extraordinarily sloppy in the first half, unable to pull it together until late in the second quarter. Things looked so bad early on that they probably could have used some of that stick ’em that the Chargers got busted with. Neither team did much in the third period, but Pittsbugh won the game because that trend continued for Cincinnati in the 4th. The Steelers were able to stop Dalton and Green from connecting, which surprised me because their defense has looked pretty weak the past month. But luckily for them, Big Ben was able to keep them on the sidelines so they wouldn’t get worn out. I’m sort of pissed off that Andy Dalton isn’t having a monster year, not just because I had the Bengals winning the division but because it means I can’t use the term “ginger cyborg” nearly as much as I’d like to. As long as he’s going to go 14 for 28 for 105 yards, that dream is as good as dead. (That’s another musical reference that you’ll get later this week. Stay tuned to FOH)
Bears 13, Lions 7
Is it maybe possible (hear me out for just one last paragraph, I’ll make it count) that he Lions just still suck and we’re getting hoodwinked into believing they’re better than they actually are? Is it possible that maybe, just maybe the Detroit Lions are the same shitty team they were ten years ago when Matt Stafford can’t figure anything out? That’s what I think this is…The Bears played great and held Detroit scoreless for the first 59 1/2 minutes, but the Lions did plenty of dumb shit to make it easy for them. When it’s not a major offensive carnival, any team in the NFL can beat the Lions. Jay Cutler took a huge shot in this one, and may have some rib issues because he fell on the ball in the wrong manner. This wasn’t an exciting football game at all, but the Bears are in great shape to get a decent seed for once.
Bye Weeks: Atlanta remains undefeated without putting forth any effort, and the Broncos are gearing up for a huge showdown with the Saints in the Superdome on Sunday Night. The Dolphins look to make a big splash against the Jets, and Philadelphia looked like shit this week even though they didn’t suit up and play a single down. The San Diego Chargers find themselves in a very sticky situation and may be under serious heat from the NFL, who we now know to be looking to make an example out of anything and everything that moves. (so at least their running game is safe) Oh, and in one last note – The Kansas City Chiefs have decided to start Brady Quinn next week in place of Matt Cassel, and their fans have decided to celebrate by eating Joe Montana at halftime.
Summary: It seems like just yesterday it was the weekend of Super Bowl 41 we were hearing analysts talk about how the power shift was complete and the American Football Conference had taken over as the dominant half of the NFL. Over the past few years since, it’s become very obvious that this is not the case and this year is a prime example. There is a seemingly endless supply of mediocre AFC teams, and none of them strike me as one that could make a run for the Super Bowl. And who’s going to win the AFC North? That division could become this year’s AFC West with Baltimore’s lack of drive. We’ll see how this pans out in the weeks to come…
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