by Ryan Meehan
In week eight some teams proved that they are indeed for real, while other teams’ problems were magnified to the point where they can no longer be avoided. Two such teams faced off in the Atlanta/Philadelphia game, which we’ll take a look at here in a second. We’re at the point in the year where teams may be making some changes in major areas at both the quarterback and head coach positions. Eat up, week ate is now on the FOH analysis dinner table…
Buccaneers 36, Vikings 17
What happened here? Minnesota was at home against a very unpredictable opponent and they had the opportunity to improve themselves to 6-2, therefore distancing themselves from all of those middle of the road NFC teams that we’re just not sure about yet. Instead, they will now be facing all sorts of questions regarding whether or not they can be just as good with someone else under center, and it’s hard to blame someone who poses such queries. Now I know it probably seems like I bag on Christian Ponder a lot in these wrap-ups, – but remember, good quarterbacks have the ability to win games that they are expected to win. This was the case Thursday night and when you go 19 for 35 with a pick to match you’re not going to be able to rely on Adrian Peterson for everything, especially when the whole team only had four rushing first downs all night long. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won two straight and looked great in both games, which I can’t seem to really pin down.
Falcons 30, Eagles 17
The Atlanta Falcons improved to 7-0 and Matty Ice washed down some fresh Eagle with six consecutive scoring drives to win this game. Julio Jones is THE MAN. The Falcons are undefeated for several reasons, but the most noticeable to me are the facts that 1) they don’t fail to take advantage of any scoring opportunity, and in a related note 2) they have a great sense of balance in place to help them do so. A team doesn’t get to 7-0 in that conference this year without having an amazing sense of awareness, composure, and most importantly pace. Pace is the biggest key to their overall success, and if you are a fan of any other NFC team you should find it horrifying. What’s even worse is they have been able to manipulate that pace to the point where they can change it on you at any given second. Meanwhile, the Eagles make the latest stop on their “smoke and mirrors” tour where they try to convince everyone in the country that they are a good team. Of course they do this to repress the thought that they are telling themselves the same lie. But it gets even funnier than that – After the game Michael Vick suggested that it had been communicated to him that there may be a potential for a change at the quarterback position. Let’s take a look at that by itself for a second: What we have here is not only a completely insane premise for a professional sports team, but also a situation that is completely unprecedented. This is a guy who was given a hundred million dollar contract, electrocuted house pets and did prison time for it, found a team that was willing to take on that public relations nightmare, got another fucking hundred million dollar contract, and now there is talk of him being benched. This is throwing all of your food away in front of a homeless person because you have a tummy ache. This is crazy.
Lions 28, Seahawks 24
If you’re a Green Bay Packers fan, I’m sure it doesn’t exactly break your heart to see the Seahawks lose at the last minute. This one is very puzzling for me because although the Lions have looked good at points this year, I expected the Seahawks defense to contain Matthew Stafford and ruin his weekend all afternoon long. Instead he came out and dropped 352 yards on them, and Seattle’s defense looked devoid of any sort of identity whatsoever. I am still skeptical that the Lions have the stones to get back into the race, but I bet they would love to be in the AFC right now…If I were the Seahawks, I would be approaching panic mode when it comes to that offense because aside from that touchdown run from Marshawn Lynch, he had a pretty Skittleless day overall.
Giants 29, Cowboys 24
The Giants were up 23-0 in this one before things got awfully scary for New York. Dallas scored 24 unanswered points and you could just feel the momentum swinging further in their direction with every single drive. But the foundation on which the Giants’ early success in this game had been built eventually came back to bite the Cowboys in the ass on one of their last drives. If you aren’t familiar with Dallas, I’m talking about turnovers and on Sunday Tony Romo was giving them away like they were kittens. He threw a total of four picks (you could argue that the last one didn’t really matter) and for the majority of his outing, he looked as if he had no control over where the play was going. As a Giants fan it does bother me that they were able to blow a lead like that this fast, but it also gives me a little bit of hope that when that does happen the Giants can at least bounce back just enough to pull through for the victory. For all of this “toughest schedule in NFL history” talk, the New York Giants are 6-2 and managing themselves very well. Who knows – maybe the schedule will turn out to be a blessing for them and it will elevate their level of play. Not to sound biased, but I see no reason why the Giants can’t compete with the Green Bays, Atlantas, and San Franciscos of the NFC. Hell, they’ve beaten the shit out of the 49ers already and a lot of people still have them going to the Super Bowl. Returning to the Cowboys, I’ll leave you with this final additional note: The one interesting thing that I noticed about Tony Romo happened on the last play of the game – Romo was getting rushed pretty heavily and he kept having to back up to buy himself precious seconds, but when it came down to it he threw the ball about ten yards too high and out of the end zone on the last play of the game. If you’re down AND it’s the last play of the game, wouldn’t you at least want to keep the ball in the field of play on the off chance that someone might catch it? I get that the guy has several dudes that could snap my neck like a twig in his face that want him dead, but seriously in that situation it’s Romo’s job to make sure that they at least have a chance to win and he didn’t do that. Which is fine by me, I can’t wait to see the Cowboys’ current organizational structure go up in flames.
Dolphins 30, Jets 9
Anyone who is shocked by this outcome shouldn’t follow sports. Think of how ridiculous that would even sound – “You mean, Mark Sanchez wasn’t able to find his way around one of the better defenses in the league, even with his marginal talent level and tendency to not spot open receivers?” It’s pretty hilarious when you think about it, really. I’ve heard a lot of people on the talk radio circuit mentioning the fact that there has never been a better time to start Tebow, and it’s hard to disagree with them. Think about it – They are headed downhill in a hurry, and it’s not like they can get any worse. The real story here of course was that the Dolphins came up with three huge plays on special teams in this one, proving that sometimes that can be the difference between an average team barely winning and an average team handling another average team.
Bears 23, Panthers 22
It’s just my own personal opinion, but for a majority of this game the Bears looked like a five or six seed that is an easy out Wild Card weekend. They didn’t look at all the way that had looked recently, and were hardly frightening. Cutler struggled to put together the pieces of a bad day, but in the end he was still able to glue everything together so the parents wouldn’t notice when they returned from vacation. Once again Cam Newton appeared to be frustrated again after the game was over, almost like he never agreed to the part where he has to come out and talk to the media when he’s in bad mood. Personally, I think he’s being a whiny little bastard. The Bears should take notice of how easily this game could have gone the other way – they were outgained in total yardage 2 to 1. On a final note, maybe Warren Moon should shut the hell up and stick to drunk driving.
Browns 7, Chargers 6
I don’t even care what record they finish with, I’d like to stress here that this loss alone should prevent San Diego from making the playoffs. Blowing that lead against Denver I can understand because Peyton Manning has bought houses because of his ability to come from behind. Only being able to put up six points against the Browns is simply not acceptable. Usually when things are going bad for the Chargers on offense, they look dysfunctional. In this game, they looked non-functional and couldn’t get anything going. Zero fourth quarter points and a quarterback that went 18 for 34 tells me that the Chargers will have home field advantage come January, but it won’t be because of their record it’ll be because they’ll all be in their living rooms watching it go down on television. What’s even weirder is that on the other side of the field, Brandon Wheeden had an even worse day but they still won. Isn’t it awesome you missed watching this game?
Raiders 26, Chiefs 16
Just when you thought that the Cleveland / San Diego game was the worst of the week, you saw this one the schedule. As you might imagine by looking at the score, there were a ton of field goals in this game so it’s not surprising that it wasn’t filled with excitement. I don’t really have a whole lot to say about it other than it doesn’t really matter who starts at QB for the Kansas City Chiefs. 6 of one, half a dozen of the other – either way I’m not paying attention. Oakland looks good but they can screw almost anything up so don’t hold your breath there.
Packers 24, Jaguars 15
As hot as the Packers currently are at the moment, it is kind of a little disappointing they weren’t able to win this game by a much larger margin. I mean, they score 42 against the Texans but only 24 here? I’m not quite sure I understand how that works, save the “Any Given Sunday” argument. The Packers certainly did not play like an elite team on Sunday, especially when you consider that Maurice Jones-Drew didn’t even play in this game…Well see how they perform with the meat of their schedule coming up.
Colts 19, Titans 13
There’s been a lot of talk about how the AFC is littered with mediocre teams, and Indianapolis being 4-3 is living proof that all of that talk is completely justified. This was a fishy matchup for me anyway because I can’t figure either of these teams out. One week the Titans come out looking strangely inspired and the next week they can’t figure anything out. And then one week the Colts come out legitimately inspired, beat a recent Super Bowl champion and then stink up the joint. I just don’t get it. One of the most telling signs of how out of place this was has to be Matt Hasselbeck’s comment afterwards: “I don’t really understand how we lost the game”. That tells me one of two things – Either the result of this game was a freak accident, or this concussion thing has gotten absolutely out of fucking control.
Patriots 45, Rams 7
NFL fans in London were treated to a blowout victory of epic proportions, as Tom Brady showed everyone that he isn’t slowing down at all and soccer sucks. The Rams actually had a great first drive, but then everything just sort of fell apart. They were 3 and out almost every time they touched the football, and very rarely do you see a team be competitive when they do that. Gronk caught two more touchdown passes and is becoming one of the most popular fantasy football prospects in America, and with good reason. I’m not quite sure how the live feed thing works overseas, but it looked terrible over here. The lighting looked almost as if it were an episode of American Idol, and the Patriots just looked like little white fuzzy blobs scampering across the television screen. But if those fuzzy white blobs can play like they did in England, the rest of the regular season should be a breeze for Tom Terrific and the gang.
Steelers 27, Redskins 12
Look, the Redskins won’t make the playoffs this year but they have found their franchise quarterback. Unfortunately for them, that guy wasn’t anywhere near as productive on Sunday as he has been in previous games. The Redskins looked flat, and from what I understand this was a somewhat boring game overall. Everyone is harping on the Steelers for their uniforms, and that’s fine with me because they were awful. They looked like a cross between those old Gap polo shirts and something that you might be required to wear if you ever went to prison. As if that weren’t enough of a culture shock, there’s also another argument floating around my head that also accuses it of being offensive in a different way, but I’m going to save you that. And if the uniforms weren’t bad enough, the socks were worse – sporting the same vomit-inducing black and yellow stripes, only to go horizontal instead of vertical like the unis did. I have to admit I must call bullshit on myself here, because the same Steelers defense that I was bashing just a few weeks back did an amazing job containing the phenomena that is RGIII. They made the Redskins’ rushing game almost completely invisible, and didn’t give Griffin any opportunities to make big plays down the field at all. I liked the fake reverse that the Skins pulled in this one, but with the way Ryan Clark hit Griffin in the open field I can’t imagine they’ll plan on running that anytime in the near future. They need to focus more on getting their receivers to catch the ball because they had ten drops in this game, and when you consider that Griffin went 16 for 34 if they could have caught half of those balls it could have potentially made a big difference.
Broncos 34, Saints 13
The Broncos splattered New Orleans all over the field and it wasn’t pretty for Saints fans. Once again their defense surrendered 30-plus points, and once again Drew Brees’ receivers were dropping passes that couldn’t have been thrown any better. Let’s face the facts: New Orleans is just not the same team without Sean Payton around. You can’t replace the intangibles that he brought to the table, and because of it the Saints will need a miracle to even be considered in the playoff hunt. As for Denver, I had assumed that Peyton Manning would be back in true form this year but now he’s got me believing that he is the clear choice for Most Valuable Player. Think about it: Which one player means more to their team than Peyton Manning does to the Broncos? Sure Denver has a fantastic defense, but they are also very well rested because when Manning is on it they enter the field every opposing drive feeling very refreshed and the results speak for themselves.
49ers 24, Cardinals 3
Look, this didn’t tell us what we didn’t already know. It’s common knowledge that the 49ers are a lot better than Arizona. But there was no use to blow themselves out in this game. I still think TODAY that Atlanta would beat them but keep in mind the 49ers have to be thinking long-term – they aren’t really playing for today. The Cardinals were probably an out of box failure to begin with. The unit worked great for a month but now “Error 404” pops up all over the place and you have to do everything in your power to pretend you don’t want to break your television. Even when the end of the game was inevitable, they still couldn’t score a single touchdown, welcome to .500 and mediocrity. San Francisco had this one in the bag with seven minutes left in the third quarter, there was no reason to get wacky with anything. And they were smart by calling it conservative because it worked. Alex Smith was only 18 for 19, but hey if you can be that efficient and you don’t need to throw the ball more than 19 times, you’re in good shape.
Since I usually start these things with rants, let’s get right to it. I’d just like to point out how exhausted I am with wide receivers making the “throwing the flag” move after every single goddamned incompletion. You’d think that in a gridiron game like football, guys would think less of dudes who participate in such sissy behavior but that couldn’t be further from the case. It’s almost as if they have this sort of unspoken agreement that it’s okay to ask for a flag on every play, and I’d just like to say that I think that’s weak. Hurricane Sandy will make landfall on the east coast late Monday night, so NFL fans need to keep a close watch on that situation because they are expecting major power outages in some Eastern cities that have NFL teams. Which got me wondering – How exactly does one predict a power outage? I understand how Doppler radar works and all that jazz, but how can people in the meteorological field predict whether or not there will be power outages and how long those outages will last? That’s about enough of me trying to dissect the world’s problems in a column that was originally supposed to be about football. We’ll see you back here on Thursday with our picks…
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