NFL: Week 7 Thoughts

Through 7 weeks, we’re down to 2 win-less teams, while just 1 undefeated squad remains.

New Orleans and Oakland had their byes.

I know it’s the NFL, and injuries are apart of the game, but this week seemed to contain a lot more season ending ones than normal.

NFC EAST (We Have a Winning Team Atop the Division)

  • Cowboys: Despite many injuries, the defense came to play.  They harassed Nick Foles all day, then knocked him out late in the 3rd quarter with an injury.  Not to mention holding a high octane offense in Philly to under 300 yards of total offense.  A decent day on the ground without DeMarco Murray, along with just enough from Tony Romo and a Phillip Tanner TD run, means a winning record and an NFC East lead all to themselves.  Dallas is also now 3-0 in the division.  (4-3)
  • Eagles: Down two quarterbacks following a head injury to Nick Foles, Matt Barkley saw his first action, and it wasn’t a great debut.   Three interceptions, no touchdowns for the fourth round pick out of USC.  The defense did all they could against the Cowboys, picking off Romo twice, and holding him to one touchdown.  The score was just 3-0 boys at the half. (3-4)
  • Redskins:  A good day for the offense, with both Alfred Morris and RGIII running for over 80 yards a piece.  Add 298 yards and 2TDs from Griffin to that against a take-a-way happy Bears defense.  But this day belonged to Roy Helu Jr, who scored 3 touchdowns, including the game winner with 45 seconds left.  Rookie tight-end Jordan Reed had a big day as well, catching 9 passes for a 134-yards including getting into the end-zone once. (2-4)
  • Giants: It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win, New York’s first of the season.  For the third straight game, the Giants defense shutdown a top 5 running back, this time the reigning MVP.  And for the first time this season, the defense pitched a shutout, forcing three Vikings turnovers to their one.  This while Eli Manning finally played turnover free football.  That’s not to say the Giants QB looked great.  There were a couple missed picks by the Vikings, to go with some poorly thrown balls and drops, but a turnover free day from the offense is something this team desperately needed.  Ruben Randle did lose a fumble on special teams, but made up for it with a 24-yard touchdown catch.  Peyton Hillis made an immediate impact running the ball, as did rookie Michael Cox, even if the numbers don’t show it.  Philly’s up next before their bye week. (1-6)

NFC NORTH (New Leader, But Still Crowded at the Top)

  • Packers: Aaron Rodgers and company got off to a fast start against Cleveland, leading 14-0 after the 1st quarter, and they never let up.  Rodgers threw for 3 touchdowns, while rookie back Eddie Lacy added another on the ground.  They’ve leaped back into first, but it came with a cost.  Tight-end Jermichael Finley, who was getting more targets with the loss of Randall Cobb, was carted off the field in the 2nd half after a big helmet-to-helmet hit.  As of Monday night, Finley was out of the ICU, had movement in his extremities, and is out indefinitely. (4-2)
  • Lions: Matthew Stafford had a big day, thanks in large part to his favorite target.  He hooked up with Calvin Johnson to the tune of two touchdowns and 155 yards.  Stafford ended up over 300 yards, something a passer hadn’t done to the Bengals in 20 games.  But it wasn’t enough, as rookie punter Sam Martin shanked a kick late in the game, which set up a Cincy game winning field-goal as time expired. (4-3)
  • Bears:  Devin Hester and Matt Forte were the stars.  Hester tied an NFL record with his 19th return touchdown, an 81-yard punt return in the 1st half.  Forte ran in for two touchdowns, including a 50-yarder in the 3rd quarter.  But the defense had no answer for RGIII and the Redskins, and it didn’t help when they lost Jay Cutler to a groin injury late in the 1st half.   They held two short lived leads, including 41-38 late, but it’s hard to win when you allow nearly 500 yards of total offense.  (4-3)
  • Vikings: How Josh Freeman is their best option is quarterback astounds me, but maybe we give the guy a break, as he learns a new system.  But what I really want to know is how a game changer like Adrian Peterson only ran the ball 13 times. I get the Giants did a good job stopping him, but he’s the type of back that no matter how a game is going, can rip a long one.  And this was a close game throughout.  That being said, without a special teams touchdown, there’d be no real positives for this team.  Sure they didn’t do terribly on defense, but they also missed a couple opportunities. (1-4)

NFC SOUTH (It’s Still All About the Big Easy)

  • Saints: Bye Week. (5-1)
  • Panthers: Another good day from Cam Newton and their defense helped Carolina double up the Rams 30-15.  Newton didn’t put up big numbers, throwing for just over 200 yards, but was accurate and smart with the football.  The run game was adequate with Newton teaming up with DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert to combine for over 100 yards on the ground.  The defense forced two turnovers, racked up 4 sacks and knocked the Rams Sam Bradford from the game. (3-3)
  • Falcons:  Harry Douglas was huge in the absence of Julio Jones and Roddy White.  The 5th year pro had seven receptions for a career-best 149 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown catch.  The Bucs made it interesting but the defense had its moments, like when safety Williams Moore sacked Mike Glennon to force a fumble on Tampa Bay’s first possession. Safety Thomas DeCoud added a 30-yard TD on a fumble recovery.  It was a much needed win for a team many thought had chances at a Superbowl run. (2-4)
  • Buccaneers: The offense had probably it’s best game of the year, and had a chance in the 4th, but couldn’t muster more than 2 field-goals in the final period.  Vincent Jackson continues to put up big numbers, grabbing 10 balls for 138-yards and 2 scores.  But in a winless year, things got worse.  Tampa Lost star running back Doug Martin for the year to a torn labrum.  (0-6)

NFC WEST (The Hawks Continue to Fly Higher than the Rest)

  • Seahawks: They never trailed Sunday against Arizona, but didn’t pull away until the 2nd half.  Seattle played well on both sides of the football.  Their defense picked off Carson Palmer twice and dropped the Cards QB 7 times.  The offense turned both those turnovers into touchdowns as a part of a 3 score day for Russell Wilson.  Wilson did fumble twice, but a fourth touchdown on the ground by Marshawn Lynch helped the hawks pull away.  Wide-receiver Sidney Rice found the endzone for the 3rd time in 2013. (6-1)
  • 49ers: The score says they only won by 14, but their fourth straight victory was never really close.  Up 17-0 at halftime, it took until the 4th for Tennessee to do anything productive on offense.  Colin Kaepernick wasn’t at his best in the air, but on the ground, him and Frank Gore did work.  Kaepernick found paydirt once, while Gore scored two rushing TDs.  The 49ers special teams added a score, when Kassim Osgood recovered a muffed punt for a touchdown.  (4-2)
  • Rams:  Sam Bradford was carted off late in the 4th, and it was revealed that he did in fact tear his ACL, and is lost for the season.  But the game was basically over by then thanks in large part to penalties.  St Louis was flagged for five personal fouls alone, and defensive end Chris Long was ejected for throwing a punch.  Turnovers and a lack of a ground game didn’t help. (3-4)
  • Cardinals: They kept it close early, but couldn’t avoid losing their 7th divisional game.  With absolutely no help on the ground, Palmer was forced to throw the ball 45 times, and managed just one touchdown and two interceptions.  Palmer did manage to spread the completions around, with 9 players registering receptions.  Jay Feely had a good day kicking the ball, going 3-3 on his field-goals, with a long of 52. (3-4)

AFC EAST (We Have a Race)

  • Patriots: They rallied late in the 4th to force overtime, but a new league penalty call helped set up New York’s game winner.   Chris Jones was called for and unsportsmanlike conduct for pushing a teammate forward in an attempt to block the kick.  But the game only went to overtime after New England rallied in the 4th after allowing the Jets to score 17 unanswered in the 3rd.  For the 2nd time in 3 games, Tom Brady didn’t throw a touchdown, and threw a pick 6 in the first half.  It was the run game and the leg of Stephen Gostkowski that gave them a chance in overtime.  Rob Gronkowski had a big day in his season debut, catching 8 Brady passes for 114-yards.  (5-2)
  • Jets: A risky 56-yard field goal attempt in overtime almost gave New England a chance to win it.  But the penalty on Jones gave New York new life, and Nick Folk an easier attempt from 42, which he nailed.  Geno Smith has yet to lose 2 straight games thanks to their overtime win against the Pats. Chris Ivory with over 100 yards on the ground. (4-3)
  • Dolphins: It wasn’t the performance you want coming out of your bye week.  Down 14-0 early, they managed to take the lead heading into the 4th quarter, but a turnover late set up a game winner for Buffalo.  Ryan Tannehill threw 3 touchdowns to lead the comeback, but his three turnovers (two interceptions) led to two Bills scores.  After starting out the season 3-0, the fins need to figure some stuff out in an improved division and quick. (3-3)
  • Bills: The defense won the game for Buffalo.  Rookie defensive back Nickell Robey’s pick six on the 3rd play of the game helped them build a big 1st quarter lead.  After blowing that 14-0 lead, Mario Williams had the play of the game, a sack forced fumble set up the game winning field goal but none other than former Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter.  Carpenter was released by Miami in August. The win snapped a 6 game road losing streak.  (3-4)

AFC NORTH (The Cats Have Come to Play)

  • Bengals: It wasn’t easy, but they did just enough to outlast a high-powered Lions offense.  Andy Dalton had a good day, showing he can go deep with an early 82-yard TD strike to AJ Green, as apart of a 3 touchdown, 372-yard passing day.  Dalton needed a big day in the air, because he got very little help on the ground.  Taking advantage of a short field in regulation, Dalton got into field-goal range, and Mike Nugent kicked the game winner, a 54-yard field-goal as time expired.  It was a big win, putting some distance between them and the rest of the league, with both Baltimore and Cleveland losing.  It’s also their 2nd straight road win. (5-2) 
  • Ravens: Another day, another close game doesn’t go their way.  They managed to come back and tie the Steelers in the 4th, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a 3rd loss in their last 4.  The defense did it’s job, holding Pittsburgh to mostly field-goals.  But once again Ray Rice did nothing on the ground, while Joe Flacco didn’t do much good or bad in the passing game.  Justin Tucker continues to be their only consistent offense, going 3-3 on field-goal attempts to keep it close.  (3-4)
  • Browns: Brandon Weedon with another bad start since returning from injury.  Cleveland’s QB went just 17-for-42 for 149 yards, a touchdown and an interception.  The Packers offense was just too much for their defense, which had been rounding into form during their 3 game win streak. Yet another case of a team not getting steady production on the ground, which puts the onus on the quarterback to throw more.  (3-4)
  • Steelers: Shaun Suisham’s leg was the hero, hitting all four of his field-goal attempts, including the 42-yard game winner as time expired.  Rookie rusher Le’Veon Bell ran for a career high 98 yards.  The defense only dropped Flacco once, but did a good job stopping the run.  It’s their 2nd straight win after starting the season 0-4. (2-4)

AFC South  (Luck Has Everything To Do With It)

  • Colts: This team continues to show they’re for real.  They have no defeated the Seahawks, 49ers and Broncos, and by an average of over 10 points.  It’s hard to win any games against Denver, let alone in Peyton Manning’s return to Indy.  But Manning’s replacement shows more and more why he was the number 1 pick in last years draft.  Andrew Luck was on point, An MRI confirmed that iconic wide-out Reggie Wayne is done for the year with a torn ACL suffered in Sunday night’s win.  (5-2)
  • Titans: Jake Locker’s return wasn’t enough to save Tennessee from a 2nd straight loss.  The offense couldn’t do anything until the 4th quarter, but by then it was too late.  Another week, another lack of production from Chris Johnson on the ground, though he did have a nice showing in the pass game.  Locker threw for 326-yards, but was sacked 3 times and picked off once in his return from injury. (3-4)
  • Texans:  Making a bad season worse, Houston is now on a 5- game losing streak, and saw both of their tailbacks go down.  Arian Foster left in the 1st quarter with a hamstring, then Ben Tate went down early in the 3rd, but he would return.  They also saw Brian Cushing go down with a left knee injury.  The defense got their first take away, a fumble recovery, since week 4 against Seattle,  One of the few positives was the play of Case Keenum at quarterback.  He looked steady all game, spreading the ball to many different players, and he didn’t throw any picks, something unique to Texans QBs this season.   But little protection late led to a lot of drive killing sacks, as well as the final one on a potential game winning drive which resulted in a lost fumble.  But look for Keenum to get another shot after throwing for more yards in a debut by a Texans quarterback. (2-5)
  • Jaguars:  According to NFL.com, their the first team since the 1984 Houston Oilers to lose every game of the season (played so far) by double digits.  The Oilers opened the season losing their first 10 this way.  After a decent showing against Denver, the offense couldn’t do much of anything.  Chad Henne wasn’t awful, throwing for over 300 yards, but he couldn’t find the end-zone, and threw one interception.  Maurice Jones-Drew and the run game was non-existent once again.  (0-7) 

AFC WEST (And Then There Was One)

  • Chiefs: Don’t look now, but a 2-win team from last season now stands as the last undefeated team and the division leaders.  Jamaal Charles ran for 86-yards and a score, while Alex Smith added a rushing score of his own.  They got one of their tougher tests from a desperate Texans team, but a strip sack with under two to play by Tamba Hali on rookie quarterback Case Keenum sealed the one point victory.  (7-0)
  • Broncos: They let the Colts jump out early, and they just couldn’t recover.  Peyton Manning sure tried to get his team to 7-0, and it looked like it would work.  But an interception and a fumble in the fourth quarter meant Denver just didn’t have enough time to complete a comeback.  They were down as many as 19, but managed to close the final deficit to 6. Eric Decker went for a season high 150 yards and a touchdown, while the run game continues to force Manning to throw nearly 50 passes. The loss ended their undefeated season and snapped a 17-game regular season win streak.  And just like that, they’re not even in first anymore thanks to a great start by KC.  (6-1)
  • Chargers: Ryan Matthews with his second straight 100 yard rushing game, while finding the endzone twice.  Phillip Rivers with a good day, going over 30,000 yards passing for his career.  The defense did exactly what it should against a team like Jacksonville.  They kept the pressure on them and held the Jags to just a pair of field-goals.  (4-3)
  • Raiders: Bye Week. (2-4)

So that’s it.  Week 8 is upon us.  It gets started in Tampa Bay on Thursday, where Mike Glennon hopes to lead his team to their first win of the year, while Cam Newton hopes to lead his team to a 3rd straight victory.  Enjoy it everyone.

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NFL: Week 4 Thoughts

The quarter pole of the season is here, and there are still 4 winless teams and 5 perfect teams.

Green Bay and Carolina were both on bye weeks, and enter week 5 at 1-2.

Let’s start with the have-nots (0-4)

  • Jaguars: Not surprised by this.  The Colts are a better team, and Jacksonville just doesn’t have any weapons outside of MJD to get them going on offense.  And Jones-Drew only carried for 23 yards.  They held a rare lead in this one, 3-0 after 1.  That’s where the positives ended.
  • Giants: I actually thought this was the type of game that would wake New York up.  I was wrong.  The offense continued to look lost, penalties killed their actual good drives and the defense wore down once again in the 2nd half.  Now they head into division play with a high-powered Eagles offense.
  • Steelers: A trip to London couldn’t help, so another perennial playoff team that finds themselves in the cellar.  It’s their first 0-4 start since 1968.  Ben Roethlisberger had a good day throwing the ball, but 2 turnovers in a 7-point loss was the difference.
  • Buccaneers: They led 10-0 in the first half, but allowed the Cardinals to score 13 unanswered in the 4th quarter to leave Tampa winless.  Rookie QB Mike Glennon couldn’t do any better than the benched Josh Freeman did.

Now for the big time haves (4-0)

  • Chiefs: They made easy work of the Giants, despite a bad 1st half from Alex Smith.  Jamaal Charles had a big day, and the defense was great again.
  • Saints: They made it look easy against another undefeated team in the dolphins.  They took their first possession and marched easily down the field for a TD, and a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. This after starting last year 0-4 last season.  Drew Brees had his 10th game of over 400 passing yards, good for 2nd all-time behind Dan Marino’s 13.
  • Seahawks: It looked like Seattle would take their loss, until their defense shutdown Houston, allowing Russell Wilson to lead his team to 20 unanswered 2nd half points to take the 23-20 win in overtime.  It’s the first 4-0 start in Seahawks history.
  • Broncos: Peyton Manning is a machine, starting off the season throwing for 16 touchdowns, and no interceptions.  It was close early against Philly, but then the offense put up 31 in the 2nd half to complete another laugher, 52-20.
  • Patriots: This team continues to find ways to win.  Win number 4 was costly, losing Pro-Bowler Vince Wilfork to a torn Achilles.

More teams feeling pretty good about themselves (3-1)

  • Colts: They won 37-3, but it wasn’t their best performance, getting off to a slow start in the first half.  Trent Richardson scored his 2nd touchdown since coming over to Indianapolis, and combined for 125 yards on the ground with Donald Brown.  Reggie Wayne and Coby Fleener had good days on the receiving end of Andrew Luck.  The wide-out and tight-end combined for 177 yards and 2 touchdowns on 10 receptions.
  • Dolphins: They couldn’t keep pace with New England, losing big to Miami.  Ryan Tannehill was picked off 3 times.  The Saints offense was just too much for a good Miami defense.
  • Lions: I said I thought Detroit could hand Chicago their first loss, but I never thought it would be to the tune of a 40 spot.  I thought it would be close late, with the home-field advantage tipping the scales for the Lions, but the usually stout Bears defense looked anything but.  The game wasn’t as close as the 8-point win suggests.
  • Titans: Up 24-6, QB Jake Locker was carted off the field with a hip injury in the 3rd quarter.  He left having thrown a career high 3 TDs.  Cornerback Alterraun Verner had a big day, picking off 2 Geno Smith passes, as well as recovering a fumble.
  • Bears: 3-1 in the NFC North is a good place to be, but after a poor showing against Detroit, Chicago needs a big bounce back in week 5.  The defense couldn’t stop Matt Stafford, and Jay Cutler was turnover prone.

.500 records at this point- good or bad? (2-2)

  • Bengals:  The Browns have a good defense, but you have to score more than 6 points against a 1 win team.  Giovani Bernard and BenJarvis Green-Ellis combined for just 50 yards on the ground.  Andy Dalton threw a pick on a drive that could’ve given them the lead.  He also fumbled twice, losing one.
  • Cardinals: They were lucky to play a bad bucs team, who let them come back from an early 10-point deficit.   Cornerback Patrick Peterson was the star, with two interceptions.  Larry Fitzgerald with his 80th TD reception.
  • 49ers: San Fran bounced back in a big way on Thursday Night Football, easily taking down St Louis 35-11. Frank Gore picked up his 1st 100-yard rushing game of the season (finished with 153 and a TD) and the defense picked up 5 sacks and two turnovers.
  • Jets: They didn’t look good at home against the now 3-1 Titans, but 2-2 under a rookie QB is nothing to scoff at.  Smith was picked off twice, and fumbled twice.
  • Bills: EJ Manuel didn’t look good, throwing 2 interceptions and a lost fumble but he was helped out by his defense and a big day on the ground.  Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller combined for 164 yards and a TD on 39 carries.
  • Chargers: A Richard Marshall fumble recovery in the endzone with 2:42 to go in regulation helped seal the win for San Diego.  The defense is woke up in the 2nd half, pitching a zero, allowing for the comeback victory.
  • Cowboys: They’re still in first place in the East, but that’s not saying much for the leagues worst division through week 4.  Dez Bryant had a huge 1st half for Dallas, but the wide-out and the rest of the offense were shut out in the 2nd half.
  • Browns; Don’t look now but Cleveland is on a win streak.  Brian Hoyer looked good in his 2nd start in the place of the injured Brandon Weedon, and Jordan Cameron is emerging as a top tight-end in the NFL.  And the defense was huge, limiting the Cincy to just 269 total yards.
  • Ravens: Baltimore couldn’t complete a 2nd half comeback, thanks in large part to 5 Joe Flacco turnovers.  It was another bad day on the ground, with Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combining for just 24 yards on 9 carries.  Torrey Smith had a big day, 166 yards and a TD.

And finally the 1 win teams (1-3)

  • Vikings:  They’re the happiest of this group, picking up their first win of the year.  Sure it was against the winless Steelers, but Adrian Peterson got going again, and Matt Cassel looked good in place of the injured Christian Ponder.
  • Falcons: A team I thought needed to make a serious Superbowl run looks bad early.  They are having trouble closing out games.  And with a much improved Saints team in the South, Atlanta needs to right the ship quick.
  • Redskins:  The only NFC East team to win on Sunday, the skins found away to rally back from a 14-0 1st quarter deficit to the Raiders.  A big defensive TD helped Washington get their first win of the year.  RG3 was held under 300 yards passing for the first time of the year, but it didn’t matter.
  • Eagles: They found a way to stay close to Denver in the 1st half, but then the Broncos turned it on in the 2nd.  They had a good day on the ground, and Michael Vick had an okay day throwing the ball, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
  • Rams: St Louis got absolutely nothing on the ground, forcing Sam Bradford to throw the ball 41 times.  The Rams QB threw 1 touchdown, but also threw an interception and lost a fumble in the blowout loss to

Early Notes and Stats:

  • The NFC East has the worst combined record at 4-12, while the AFC West boasts 2 4-0 teams and an 11-5 record.
  • Peyton Manning leads the league with 16 TDs, giving Denver the leagues best total offense.
  • The Eagles rushing attack is getting them nearly 200 yards a game on the ground.
  • Atlanta’s Julio Jones leads the league with 481 receiving yards.
  • Houston’s 3rd year Linebacker Justin Houston has 7.5 sacks, tops in the NFL.
  • Buffalo’s Kiko Alonso, New England’s Aquib Talib and Tennessee’s Alterraun Verner lead with 4 interceptions apiece.
  • 3 playoff teams from a year ago are 4-0.

Another fun week in the NFL, with week 5 kicking off Thursday Night in a battle of 2-2 teams, as the Buffalo Bills head to Cleveland to take on the Browns.