by Ryan Meehan
Week six started out with a bit of an upset, but as we’d find out in the Sunday games you never know what can happen. Washington bounced back, Oakland did put up a fight, and would New England be able to stave off the Seattle Seahawks at the end of that matchup? Let’s dig in…
Titans 26, Steelers 23
I work with a guy who ran into two of our mutual friends (whom I know pretty well and are very knowledgeable about football) and he was willing to bet them the Titans would win the game and neither one would take it. That tells me one of two things: 1) Nobody trusts the Steelers anymore and they have turned into one of those shaky teams that has a good coach and quarterback but their defense has just aged to the point of no return, or 2) I was wrong about the Titans. Since I have never been wrong about anything in my entire life, I’m going to assume it’s the first one, and with good reason. Like we’ve been saying here, that defense simply cannot function at the speed that won them Super Bowls XL and XLIII. With free agency the way that it is, it’s very difficult to hold on to players during a time stretch like that. And with injuries and awareness of injuries being higher than ever, it’s very hard to stay healthy for an extended period of time in the NFL. To be brutally honest, I’m starting to think that Pittsburgh was very lucky to make the playoffs last year, and the postseason this year has to be a distant thought at best. It’s a shame because I like Mike Tomlin, but even a great coach can’t fix everything.
Buccaneers 38, Chiefs 10
Even though this may sound a bit hypocritical since the Giants gave up a thirty plus spot against the Bucs in week two, there’s no excuse for anyone giving up that 38 to Tampa after that game. From a film study angle, it was very easy to see how they almost won that game and it gave every other team that has the Bucs on their schedule a blueprint to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Kansas City, who was supposed to have turned the corner this offseason, now looks like one of the worst teams in football. They have all sorts of internal issues and are playing putrid defense. The only good thing that I can really say about Kansas City is that they are consistent, but the problem there is they are consistently playing like pure dog shit. I don’t really have a lot to say about Tampa Bay because if the Saints hit a hot streak, they’ll disappear further and further into mediocrity with every New Orleans win.
Jets 35, Colts 9
The New York Jets rebounded from their Monday night loss against the Texans by blowing the Colts out of the water and making sure Andrew Luck’s life was a living hell from one to four in the afternoon. This is what I want to know – What kind of a coach goes for a field goal when they’re down 28-6? The answer: Colts interim coach Bruce Arians. Indy won big with an emotional week just seven days before, and then they go lay down for the Jets. The Colts “were who we thought they were” before last week, and as harsh as it sounds that’s just the truth. As much as I hate to say it, the Jets looked great and they finally pulled that Tim Tebow fake punt everyone has been hanging on the edge of their seat waiting for. It’s my own personal opinion that the best time to use that move again would be next week against New England (who is not necessarily known for their special teams play) and then save it again for the playoffs should they get there. Plus it would really make a statement that with everyone in the AFC East locked at 3-3, Rex isn’t afraid to take a chance in an important game to get ahead in that division. Mark Sanchez looked better today, but who doesn’t against Indy’s pathetic defense?
Redskins 38, Vikings 26
The recipe for a head sound Robert Griffin returning to the field after a concussion last week was to get up early, and that’s exactly what the Redskins did. He had 138 yards on 13 carries, and what’s even better is he didn’t play like a guy who had a concussion last week. The same Minnesota defense that everybody (including me) had been so impressed with up until this point cracked under the pressure of playing outside in a hostile environment where the opponent wanted blood and was going to do anything in their power to get it. As for the Vikings, even when they do win I can’t help but notice that there isn’t a lot of Christian Ponder floating around whether they win or lose. If you’re a Minnesota fan, this could be of some concern should they sneak into the playoffs – That guy doesn’t exactly have a lot of desirable leadership qualities and it’s quite likely they’ll face someone who does in the first round…Really the only team I can think of who doesn’t would be Seattle and he’ll get lit up by those guys the way their defense is playing.
Dolphins 17, Rams 14
This one was kind of a toss up for me when we were doing picks this past week. Both of these teams have exceeded expectations after being projected to be the bottom feeders of their respective divisions. In the end the stinginess of Miami’s defense proved to be too much for the Rams, or at least too much to rely on a 66 yard field goal attempt by Greg Zuerlein. The Dolphins are starting to show up on my Doppler even though they don’t get any respect or face time on any of the wrap-up shows, and a team like New England better watch out otherwise they could get an unwelcome surprise come November.
Falcons 23, Raiders 20
Atlanta improved to 6-0 despite a brief scare from the Oakland Raiders, whom I’m not even going to discuss and whom they should have beaten by at least ten. This is not the first time this year this has happened, and the Falcons may be undefeated but there are definitely some holes in the boat and if they can’t score any FlexSeal up in this bitch they could be out by Saturday Night of Divisional Playoff weekend. Matt Ryan threw three interceptions, and Atlanta was only able to crank out 45 yards in total rushing. Asante Samuel did have a pick six so he’s got some gas left in the tank for sure, but they are just barely winning some easy games. It’s almost as if they’re the antithesis of the Dallas Cowboys. Speaking of which…
Ravens 31, Cowboys 29
Say what you will about Dallas hanging in there with a tough team like the Ravens. Go ahead and say that they had several chances at the end of the game including a 51 yard field goal attempt that had the distance. The point is, the Cowboys continue to lose and they are now buried deep in the NFC Sort Of with no way out coming anytime soon. I’m going to tell you right this moment the Cowboys won’t make the playoffs, especially with Dez Bryant dropping passes in crucial situations. (Even though for the most part he had a great fourth quarter, he dropped the two point conversion) Now the one thing I’m not going to do is blow smoke up Baltimore’s ass…it’s just not going to happen. Joe Flacco had another just good enough/Joeflaccoesque day, and when it comes down to it the Ravens can’t stop the run the ay they used to. Their ass was saved by Ray Rice on numerous occasions, and they should have blown out the Cowboys at home which didn’t happen. So if you’re looking for purple praise, you’re not going to find it here. They gave up 227 yards on the ground and Ray Lewis now has injured triceps and is out for the year. They’ll still win that division because the Bengals and the Steelers aren’t playing up to speed, but they’re the worst 5-1 team in the NFL and they have Houston next who will be pissed after a big home loss.
Lions 26, Eagles 23 (OT)
The Eagles have blown more fourth quarter leads in the last two years than any team in the NFL. They could very easily be 0-6 and lost the NFC East lead to New York with this loss at Lincoln Financial field. Michael Vick said after this game that he was glad they were headed into a bye week so they could clean up some of the issues that their offensive line and secondary are experiencing, but Philadelphia is in need of about a month off to handle all of that. I saw severe fourth quarter issues with both teams in this one – The Eagles were up 23-13 with four minutes left and still lost, and the Lions could have avoided overtime altogether but they couldn’t get into the end zone from the one yard line with a fresh set of downs. I’m just glad I didn’t have to sit through this bullshit.
Browns 34, Bengals 24
Cleveland got its first win on Sunday as they finally finished the job they couldn’t in week two against their division rivals the Cincinnati Bengals. I think the Bengals may have been exposed a bit here – Playoff teams don’t lose games to awful teams and let’s face it up until now that’s exactly what Cleveland was. Speaking of which, it was Brandon Wheedon’s birthday, and on this day he became the first 29-year old rookie to insert some made up statistic here. The Browns are now on the board, other than that I don’t have a whole lot to say about this game or either of these two teams at the moment, other than the fact that they are in the “limbo” category that I will discuss later on during the summary and Stock Watch.
Giants 26, 49ers 3
Wow…just wow. Not only did the Giants go into the Bay area and keep San Francisco out of the end zone all afternoon, but they did it without a statistically impressive day from Eli Manning. (193 yards) Bonus note: Ahmad Bradshaw had 116 yards on the ground and killed a ton of clock while doing so, therefore it may be possible for the Giants to get away with a win here and there when Eli doesn’t put up big numbers. Alex Smith threw three picks, two to Antrell Rolle and the Giants defense snuffed the 49ers the whole game. Now since I’m a Giants guy, I can’t get too mushy about my disappointment in the Niners…but, really? Three points at home when you had the chance to show the world that it should have been you in the Super Bowl and not the team that you were hosting? That shocks me when you consider all that they do have and didn’t seem to want to use. The moral of the story here is that when the pressure is on the Giants to come up with a big win on the road against a conference powerhouse, they can deliver but if it’s against the Browns at home they struggle. “Inconsistency” is the word that Rodney Harrison used to describe it, which may very well be accurate. Regardless of how New York will be classified this week, they’re 4-2 and their stock is rising sharply. After the game concluded reports began to surface regarding a 49ers fan being stabbed by two other Niners fans while en route to Candlestick Park. That story is right here: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57532316/football-fan-stabbed-in-candlestick-park-attack/
Bills 19, Cardinals 16
The Cardinals’ luck seemed to be going back and forth throughout this game…Just when it looked like they’d be able to steal this game away from Buffalo, Kevin Kolb got sacked for the nineteenth time in three games and got knocked the fuck out with a rib and chest injury. I sat at the end of the bar and watched Jay Feely hit a franchise record 61 yard field goal only to miss a 37 yarder a minute and a half later when they got the ball back. And then Skelton threw an interception in overtime that turned out be the deciding factor when the Bills punched a FG through at the end. The real story here is the fact that after starting out not losing a single September game, the Arizona Cardinals have lost two straight and the “smoke and mirrors” comments are starting to show up amongst those of us who knew better than to think they’d be in the mix with San Francisco and Seattle in late December.
Seahawks 24, Patriots 23
Russell Wilson looked very good in this game and didn’t throw a single pick, but it was Seattle’s defense who stole the show. They aren’t giving up any rushing yards without a serious fight, and although Tom Brady had over 300 yards passing, that only translated into 23 points and if Seattle is going to look as sharp on offense as they did on Sunday it’s going to be nearly impossible to beat them at home. Returning to Wilson, he hit Sydney Rice for a 42 yard touchdown pass to clinch the lead in this one but was the play that I noticed more was the touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards. I thought Edwards may have gotten away with a bit of a push off in the end zone, so if you’re a Packers fan you can make your own snooty comment here about Seattle and the methods their wide outs use to get open. New England doesn’t need to panic just yet as they still have one of the best to ever play the game under center, but I was a tad put off by the fact that Tom Terrific threw the ball 58 times (more than any other game in his career) and they still couldn’t win the ball game. It might be time for the Pats to start surfing the CFL for any running back that wants a real job, or at least start dialing up any recent NFL running backs that might be looking for work.
Packers 42, Texans 24
Whether or not you choose to admit it, this was a do or die situation for the Packers. If they had dropped this one, they’d be 2-4 looking up at a very crowded National Football Conference where they might seriously be in danger. With all of the problems that they’ve been facing with JerMichael Finley’s agent running around on Twitter saying Aaron Rodgers isn’t a good leader, they had a gun to their head Sunday night, and they turned the gun on the Houston Texans and mercilessly pulled the trigger. Green Bay established the fact that they weren’t going to let Arian Foster do a whole lot from scrimmage, and although JJ Watt added two sacks to his league high total of 9.5 Houston’s defense appeared frustrated and committed a bunch of unnecessary penalties. (Daniael Manning, what were you doing punching someone on the ground when fourth down was coming up?) I thought Aaron Rodgers saying “Shhhh” when referring to his critics in the postgame interview was a little corny, but what do you expect from a guy who celebrates scoring touchdowns by emulating the application of a wrestling championship belt? Nonetheless, I was pleased to see the Packers get back into it as I think we all know the NFL owes them one. Keep in mind they did all of this with Brandon Jennings and BJ Raji on the sideline in street clothes, not a small task by any means. Their offensive line also knocked it out of the park here.
Broncos 35, Chargers 24
Didn’t I mention how the Chargers were as fake as fake could get and were riding a record they didn’t deserve into a game they couldn’t possibly win? Of course, it didn’t look that way as the Chargers scored 24 right out of the box. But you knew…you just knew that Peyton Manning wasn’t going to let it happen. Not to beat a dead horse, but most teams hang themselves after falling behind 24-0. But in the culture that Denver has developed, they simply won’t give up when presented with the challenge of coming from behind. That’s why they went out and got Manning – for games like this one. And how about the Chargers? Blowing that lead at home, recklessly pissing everything that they had worked so hard to establish in the first half, and letting the rest of the NFL know that their defense is ready to decide they’re gassed with exactly thirty minutes left in every football game. Big shoutout to San Diego wide receiver Eddie Royal for tricking his own quarterback into throwing guaranteed pick sixes. Way to show up against your old team, douche. I’ve never seen a guy bait his own man like that, and then leave him out in the stable for all of the other horses to beat the shit out of him. The Chargers are toy. T-O-Y, end of discussion.
One real positive thing that I did notice this week is that we haven’t seen any of the real shitty throwback jerseys rear their ugly head and disrupt the contrast on our TV set. The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t the Iowa Hawkeyes (although they may as well be) the New York Jets don’t look like a World War Two special ops unit, and the Chiefs don’t have an outline of the state of Texas on their helmets. Overall one of the undefeated teams went down, and questions still remain about the other one so as far as I’m concerned it’s anybody’s ballgame here. When you consider that over the past few years we’ve seen teams that aren’t one or two seeds go all of the way, it’s easy to see how any of these middle of the road teams who are hot could make a run. Look at some of these playoff potential teams as a publicly owned company that’s traded on the New York Stock Exchange – What we have to look at here is who’s stock is going up, and who’s stock is going down. (A who’s hot and who’s not if you will) Here are some examples -
Going Up: You have to think Green Bay is the hottest right now riding on the wings of that beatdown they put on Houston. The New York Giants are another example of a team who has looked very impressive although they have their moments. Both of those teams were also the last two teams to win the Super Bowl, so they have recent success on their side. Believe it or not, the Miami Dolphins are turning out to be my biggest surprise of the year and with the way they’ve been able to keep teams under 20 points I have to think their stock is rising fast. Even though the Bears had the week off I’d have to put them in that category as well, and Seattle also looks good. Do I have to mention the Jets? I probably should, as they look better. (Sigh)
Going Down: This might sound like a homer pick, but I don’t know how the Eagles couldn’t be viewed as a team whose stock is plummeting. That’s some Enron/Facebook shit right there. Here’s a shocker: The only team in the league left who remains undefeated is in this category – The Atlanta Falcons. Their failure to maintain balance is costing them trust points with nearly everybody who follows the league. The Steelers are also falling considerably. I never trusted San Diego so their presence doesn’t apply here.
Holding: The Minnesota Vikings lost this week but they are still in decent shape. The Lions won, but haven’t really shown me that they are disciplined enough to get up early and/or hold a lead. New Orleans has won one game, but I can’t put them on the rise just yet. I would put New England in the category listed below.
Still in Limbo: The rest of the teams in the league could literally start from scratch today and make a justified playoff run. It’s still only six weeks in, and early enough that anyone who could run the table could make it in. This includes your Buffalo Bills, your St. Louis Rams, and a host of other AFC and NFC South teams that can’t hold my attention.
Check back with us next week, we’re going to do a format that’s similar to the one we used in week six, but the article will be more informative yet shorter. See you Thursday.
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