NFL: Week 9 Thoughts

We’ve passed the half-way point, and there are still a couple team looking for a their first win, and the Chiefs remain unbeaten, despite teams best efforts.

6 more teams were off this week: New York, Detroit, Jacksonville, Denver, Arizona and San Francisco.

NFC EAST (A Strange Thing Happened- Everyone Not on a Bye Won)

  • Cowboys: They never make it easy, almost losing to a one win Minnesota team at home.  But Tony Romo shook off a late interception to drive his team to a late second game winning touchdown to Dwayne Harris.  Jason Witten had a good day, catching 8 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown.  Their rush defense couldn’t slow down Adrian Peterson, but they did a good job on Christian Ponder in the pass game.  (5-4)
  • Eagles: Nick Foles really doesn’t want to give up his starting job.  He only threw for 7 touchdowns, tying an NFL record with 6 other QBs (Peyton Manning did this in the season opener).   Wide-receiver Riley Cooper was the beneficiary of 3 of those touchdowns, finishing with 139 yards receiving.  Not to be outdone, Desean Jackson finished with 150 yards and a touchdown on the day.  This after a few weeks of struggles on offense, and against a previously top 10 ranked defense in Oakland. (4-5)
  • Redskins: It took overtime, but Washington was able to pick up a win and stay on pace with the rest of their division mates.  As if they needed more weapons on the ground, with RGIII and Alfred Morris on the roster, full-back Darrell Young emerged and found the end-zone 3 times, including the game winner.  Entering action, Young had only carried the ball twice this season.  Add 121 more yards from Morris, and you have why this team survived the Chargers comeback attempt.  (3-5)
  • Giants: Bye Week. (2-6)

NFC NORTH (These Teams Can Score With Anyone)

  • Packers:  A division loss bigger than most.  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a what turned out to be a fractured collarbone on Green Bay’s opening drive, and is expected to miss at least 3 weeks.  Seneca Wallace didn’t do much in his absence, completing just 11 of 19 passes for 114 yards and an interception.  Rookie runner Eddie Lacy did all he could to make up for the Rodgers injury, picking up 150 yards and a touchdown on the ground.  The loss snaps a 6-game win streak over NFC North opponents. (5-3)
  • Lions: Bye Week. (5-3)
  • Bears: No Jay Cutler. No problem.  Back-up Josh McCown had a good day, throwing for 272 yards and two touchdowns, and no turnovers.  Brandon Marshall had a big day receiving, catching 7 passes for 107 yards and a score.  The wide-out was only outdone by back Matt Forte, who ran for 125 and a score.  Defensive end Shea McClellin had 3 of Chicago’s 4 sacks on the night.  (5-4)
  • Vikings: They had a chance to pick up their 2nd win of the year, but they left too much time on the clock for the Dallas offense.  Adrian Peterson woke up, rushing for a 140 yards and a score.  Ponder added another score on the ground, and threw one to tight-end Kyle Rudolph, who left late with a foot injury.  3 sacks on the day, including two by Brian Robison.  Make it 4 straight in the loss column. (1-7)

NFC SOUTH (New Orleans Has Company)

  • Saints: If you’ve got a good front 7, you can beat this team.  Losing Darren Sproles in the 1st quarter, and being without franchise TD leader Marques Colston didn’t help, but there are too many weapons on this team to lose to an inconsistent Jets team.  But it happened, thanks in large part to two Drew Brees interceptions and a lack of a run game following the Sproles injury.  (6-2)
  • Panthers: Cam Newton wasn’t as mistake free as he’s been, but it didn’t stop Carolina from picking up their fourth straight win.  Newton threw two interceptions, and just one touchdown, but he did run one in.  The defense is a big reason for the win, pitching a shutout in the 2nd half, and picking off Matt Ryan 3 times.  Cornerback Drayton Florence returned one of those interceptions for a 38-yard touchdown.  Fullback Mike Tolbert scored his 5th TD during the win streak. (5-3)
  • Falcons:  So much for this team making a run.  Another 3 Matt Ryan picks meant another loss for a team with superbowl aspirations.  Steven Jackson had his first rushing touchdown as falcon, but littleness can be found in the bright spot category for Atlanta.  Much like Houston in the AFC, this team is a big disappointment.  (2-6)
  • Buccaneers: They managed to carry a 21-3 lead into the halfe time break against a very good Seahawks team on the road.  but then the Seattle defense picked up and their bid for win number 1 came to an end in overtime. (0-8)

NFC WEST (Seattle Hasn’t Looked Great Lately, But Keeps On Winning)

  • Seahawks: For the 2nd week in a row, this didn’t look like the best team in the NFC, but luckily for them, they weren’t playing high caliber teams.  They put themselves in a big hole early against the winless Bucs, and needed an extra frame to finish them off.  A big reason for the win was the contributions of Golden Tate on punt returns and Marshawn Lynch in the run game.  (8-1)
  • 49ers: Bye Week. (6-2)
  • Cardinals: Bye Week(4-4)
  • Rams: It took til week nine, but this team finally picked up their first rushing touchdown of the season.  It was apart of a second consecutive 100-yard game from rookie Zac Stacy, who finished with 127 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns.  Too bad for St. Louis, it wasn’t enough.  Kellen Clemens was mediocre, throwing for 210 and a score, but he did lose a fumble.   Their defense did get to interceptions, and record 3 sacks. (3-6)

AFC EAST (Looking Like A Two Team Race)

  • Patriots: They tied an NFL season high with 55 points, and had a big day on the ground and in the air.  Tom Brady had 252 passing yards in the 1st half alone, more than 5 of his first 8 games this season.  He finished with 432 and four touchdowns, including a 2 to Aaron Dobson and 1 to Rob Gronkowski, both who finished with over 100 yards receiving   Danny Amendola also tallied a 100+ yard game, as did Stevan Ridley, though his work was on the ground.  The defense wasn’t spectacular, but you don’t need to be if the offense clicks like it did this time out. (7-2)
  • Jets: This team continues to play to the level of their opponents, and has still yet to lose or win 2 in a row.  They absolutely shut down the Saints on defense, and did a lot of good on offense.  Chris Ivory bounced back from a poor week 8 to deliver nearly 140 rushing yards and a touchdown.  Geno Smith wasn’t great, but he didn’t turn the ball over either.  Nick Foles continues to have a great year kicking the football, making all 4 of his field-goal attempts; he’s now 23 for his last 23, the longest streak in the league.  The defense did a good job stopping the run, and limiting the Saints high-powered offense.  (5-4)
  • Dolphins: It wasn’t pretty, but when you snap a 4-game losing streak, all you want is the win.  For only the 3rd time in NFL history, Miami won on a safety, thanks to a Cameron Wake sack.  It was a strange way to end their skid, but there were a lot of good things Thursday night.  The defense was good all night, forcing 3 Bengals turnovers and limiting too many big passing plays, and of course the game winning safety.  Ryan Tannehill also had a nice game, especially on the drive late in the 4th to help force overtime. (4-4)
  • Bills: They managed a season best 470 yards of total offense against a stout defense. But two turnovers in the 2nd half were returned for scores, killing any chance of handing KC their first loss of the year.  Jeff Tuel’s pass at the goal line in the opening minutes of the 2nd half was picked off and returned a 100 yards to tie the score at 10.  CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson combined for nearly 200 yards on the ground, but no scores.  Their defense did a good job, but it wasn’t enough.  (3-6)

AFC NORTH (Cincy Isn’t All Defense These Days, But They Are All Alone at the Top)

  • Bengals: They didn’t play like a team that entered action on a 4-game win streak.  To be fair, not many teams fair well on a short week, but after the way this team has been playing on offense, they were almost as bad for much of the game.  Two Mike Nuggent field-goals and running back Giovani Bernard wee the scoring offense for Cincy on Thursday.  Bernard found the end-zone twice, while fellow back BenJarvis Green-Ellis helped out on the ground in a nice way.  Andy Dalton had been so great in the past four, but three picks and taking a game losing safety in OT was a big step backward.  This while the defense did an uncharacteristically bad job stopping the Dolphins run game. (6-3) 
  • Browns: Snapping an 11-game losing streak to anyone is nice, but to a division rival, which helps you leap frog them in the standings, is a beautiful thing. Cleveland did a lot of good things against Baltimore, and it all started with Jason Campbell under center. The 31-year-old QB threw 3 touchdowns, 2 to Davone Bess, for 262 yards, while not turning the ball over. Greg Little had a big day, with 122 yards receiving. Cleveland won while getting nothing out of star tight-end Jordan Cameron and very little out the run game.  (4-5)
  • Ravens: The reigning Super Bowl champs countinure to sputter, losing to Cleveland for the first time in the Joe Flacco era. Flacco didn’t have a bad day, throwing for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns to Marlon Brown, but he was picked off once. And you know you have a problem when Flacco leads the team in rushing with 25. Ray Rice continues to struggle mightily on the ground, and this team isn’t the same without him going well. (3-5)
  • Steelers: You’re not going to win many games when you allow a franchise high in points, especially when it’s to the Patriots.  And that’s exactly what happened Sunday at Foxborough.  They got down early, and managed to come back to tie the score at 24 in the 3rd quarter, but were outscored 31-7 the rest of the way.  Jericho Cotchery benefited from a big day by Ben Roethlisberger, catching 3 touchdown passes, but big Ben also threw 2 picks in the loss.  They allowed New England to gain 630 yards of offense. (2-6)

AFC South  (The Luck Still Hasn’t Run Out)

  • Colts: For the 10th time in his young career, Andrew Luck led his team on a fourth quarter comeback. He had some help from breakout receiver TY Hilton, who caught 3 touchdowns. Hilton had really stepped up in the absence of Reggie Wayne. Indy continues to get nothing in the run game, as Trent Richardson continues to struggle since coming over in a trade earlier this year. A couple of two-point conversions on late TDs and a couple of missed Houston field goals helped secure the come from behind win. (6-2)
  • Titans: Jake Locker was not good, but luckily Chris Johnson picked up the slack on the ground.  Locker had only thrown 1 pick all season, but threw two Sunday, though he did score with his legs. The run game was the offense, with Johnson scoring twice, and Shone Green adding another. The defense did enough in the end, and this team is in the hunt, just two games back and two left with Indy, (4-4)
  • Texans:  Case Keenum looked like really good in the 1st half, thanks in large part to Andre Johnson  who had nearly 200 yards receiving before the break.  The young starter had his team up 21-3 over a good Indianapolis squad heading into the break, then things took a turn for the worse.  In a scary moment, head coach Gary Kubiak collapsed as the teams headed to the locker room.  He was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons and was treated at the hospital with medicine that’s “designed to break up clots consistent with people who suffer strokes.”  Wade Phillips took over head coaching duties, and the team didn’t respond.  Randy Bullock missed two field goals and the team was held to just 3 points in the half as the Colts came back yet again  They’re now losers of 6 straight. (2-6)
  • Jaguars: Bye week. (0-8)

AFC WEST (KC Likes Winning So Much They Just Keep Doing It)

  • Chiefs: Another case of making it hard on themselves, but finding a way to get it done for the leagues remaining unbeaten.  Down 10-3 at the half, the defense picked up in the 2nd half to help get them another win.  Linebacker Tamba Hali and cornerback Sean Smith both returned turnovers for touchdowns.  The offense was non-existent, managing just 210 yards of total offense.  (9-0)
  • Broncos: Bye Week – It wasn’t a quiet week off for Denver, as the learned they’ll be without head coach John Fox for an extended amount of time.  The 58-year-old Fox felt light-headed while golfing, went to the hospital, and will have heart surgery.  Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will take over in his absence. (7-1)
  • Chargers: With a chance to win in regulation, what they thought was a Danny Woodhead touchdown was ruled down inside the 1.  And somehow they couldn’t punch it in.  Resulting in a game-tying field goal, and ending in an overtime loss to Washington.  Rookie wide-out Keenan Allen continues to impress, catching 8 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown.  Philip Rivers had a bad 1st half, but picked it up in the 2nd half.  In the end, the Skins ability to run it in from inside the 10 proved too much.  This team continues to be very up and down.  (4-4)
  • Raiders: The defense had been on a role, but they had no answer for the Eagles passing game on Sunday.  Their run game led by Terrelle Pryor was good again, with Rashad Jennings getting over 100 yards following an injury to Darren McFadden.  But it’s pretty hard to come back from a 28-13 1st half deficit if you yourself cannot throw the ball too well.  Sure Pryor finished with 288 yards passing, but couldn’t find the end-zone while throwing two picks. (3-5)

That’s it.  Week 10 approaches.

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Week 2 Thoughts

2 weeks down.  15 to go.

Let’s break down 2-0 teams first:

  • Seattle: A Superbowl pick for many, and after an ugly win in week 1, the Hawks walked all over the 49ers, another consensus playoff pick in the NFC.  The defense was a takeaway machine, and Marshawn Lynch made it look easy, scoring 3 touchdowns against a good run defense.
  • Patriots: 2 wins by a combined 6 points.  Tom Brady isn’t getting much help from his receiving core, which is down 2012 stars Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.  They’re lucky to have faced two rookie quarterbacks to start the season.
  • Dolphins: They’re much improved under second year QB Ryan Tannehill, and their defense has picked up where it left off last year.  They’ve looked better than New England early.
  • Texans: First team since the merger to win their first two on the final plays of the game.  They haven’t made it easy on themselves, but Arian Foster woke up this week and sometimes you’ve gotta win ugly.
  • Broncos : No surprise here. Peyton Manning has put his neck injury far behind him, and is getting contributions from his entire receiving core.  9 touchdowns and 0 interceptions is a nice way to start your season.
  • Saints: Bounty gate behind them, Drew Brees continued to be Drew Brees, and New Orleans is showing they should be feared once more in the South.
  • Chiefs: Yes, after just 2 wins last year, the Chiefs find themselves at that mark heading into week 3.  Many, including myself, had them improving quick. With a good defense, an actual QB, and a healthy Jamaal Charles, this team will continue to make noise in the West.
  • Bears: Their defense has a knack for scoring off turnovers.  A big game from Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett helped them outlast the Vikings.

Next up the 1-1 teams:

  • Packers: Aaron Rodgers is really good, and with James Starks finally providing a 100 yard rushing game, Green Bay looks like the toast of the NFC North once again.
  • Lions: They looked poised to move 2-0, but they were shut out in the 4th quarter against Arizona.  A good day from Calvin Johnson was about the only thing they got on offense.  After a big first game by the running back tandem of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, the two combined for just 56 yards on 17 carries.
  • Colts:  Andrew Luck couldn’t lead another of his usual 4th quarter comebacks.
  • Eagles:  Offense isn’t the problem for Philly early, with Michael Vick looking like the guy Atlanta drafted so many years ago.  The defense however, has looked liked Swiss cheese, allowing 539 yards in their loss to San Diego.
  • Cowboys: They barely held off the Giants in week one, and bad offensive play calling saw them drop a 1 point game to the new and improved Chiefs.  Another year of mediocrity could be in Dallas’ future if they don’t get the run game going.
  • Falcons: Matt Ryan and Julio Jones got going against the Rams, but concern over a thigh injury to off-season acquisition RB Steven Jackson doesn’t help a team with Superbowl aspirations.  But with a great receiving core and defense, Atlanta should be fine.
  • Raiders: They’re 1-1 record is about as much as you can ask for.  They could be 2-0 if not for Luck’s comeback in week 1.  After years of sub-500 play, improvement each week is all you can ask.  They need more from WR Denarius Moore, their most athletic receiver, who was 0-2 on Sunday.
  • Titans: They held a big lead over Houston, but they the Texans overcome an 8-point 4th quarter deficit to win in overtime.  Chris Johnson looked good on the ground, while Jake Locker was okay.
  • Ravens: The defending champs have not looked good through 2 games.  The offense hasn’t gotten going, and with an injury to Ray Rice midway though their 14-9 win over Cleveland, a weak run game could get worse.
  • Chargers: A big day from Eddie Royal, Phillip Rivers and a 46-yard field goal from Nick Novak saved San Diego from an 0-2 start.
  • Cardinals: Their defense has shown flashes of greatness, but a hamstring injury to pro-blow wide-out Larry Fitzgerald hurts.   You have to hope it’s not serious.
  • Rams:  Sam Bradford had a good day, but a big pick 6 helped Atlanta take a big 24-3 halftime lead.  Bradford played well in the second half, but it wasn’t enough.
  • 49ers:  They’re usually stout defense has been suspect in two games early, and Colin Kaepernick has had one top-notch performance, and one full of bad decisions.  San Fran will need more consistency if they want to stay with Seattle all year in the division.
  • Jets: They held their own against the Pats, but when you hold Tom Brady to 13 points on the road, you need to win that game.  Geno Smith is a rookie, so you’re going to have to live with some mistakes, but you can’t have your QB throw 3INTs in the 4th quarter, especially in a division game.
  • Bills:  EJ Manuel has looked good in his first two career starts.  This team could be 2-0, but leading his team back against the Panthers for a win showed Manuel is capable of playing big when his team needs it most.
  • Bengals: After a 3-point loss on opening day, a big performance from rookie runner Giovani Bernard helped Cincy take down their division foe the Steelers.

And finally 0-2 teams:

  • Giants: 7 INTs for Eli Manning is concerning, but the lack of a run game might be more of a worry.  Manning had another big yardage game, but that doesn’t mean much with the 4 INTs.  In 300+ yard games for his career, the Giants are just 13-14, showing just how important the ground and pound game is to Big Blue.  They’re lucky no one in their division is better than 1-1.
  • Redskins:  The defense has looked bad through 2 games, and RGIII is clearly not the same player right now as he was last season.  It’s early, but they could go from first to worst in the East if they don’t pick it up soon.
  • Panthers: Two hard-fought games for Carolina, but two losses none the less.  A hungry Giants team awaits in week 3.
  • Buccaneers: Two tough losses to start the season.  They had week 1 locked up, and would’ve beat the saints if not for Drew Brees and his ability to drive quickly and easily.
  • Jaguars: No surprise here.  Not many wins to be had for Jacksonville once again.  No TDs through 2 games, tough to win that way. Not much else to say.
  • Browns: Their defense is doing the job early.  Their offense is bad.  You hold the defending champs to 0 points in the first half, you’ve gotta find a way to score more than 3.  Plain and simple.
  • Vikings: Adrian Peterson started off their season with a 78-yard TD run on the first play from scrimmage.  He’d score 2 more in the game, but it wasn’t enough to save them opening night.  And the Bears defense was too much for Christian Ponder and co in week 2.
  • Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger misses tight end Heath Miller and it shows.  Pittsburgh is going with tight end by committee, with the do-it all Miller out.  The defense hasn’t looked bad, and the return of Troy Polamalu has helped.

Looking ahead to Week 3:

  • Chiefs @ Eagles – Andy Reid comes home to Philly looking to get Kansas City to 3-0, while the Eagles look to improve defensively.
  • Texans @ Ravens – A match-up of AFC powerhouses.  The defending champs look to put together a complete game, while Houston looks to put a game away before the final drive.
  • Giants @ Panthers – one of these teams will pick up their first win, the other will be in trouble at 0-3
  • Lions @ Redskins – Detroit looks to keep pace with a couple of 2-0 teams in Green Bay and Chicago, while Washington looks to pick up their first win of 2013.
  • Chargers @ Titans – Phillip Rivers looks to grow off a big performance in week 2, while Jake Locker and Tennessee hope to rebound from an overtime loss to Houston.
  • Cardinals @ Saints – The Super Dome will be rocking, and as much as Arizona looks better than a year ago, I think Drew Brees will get his team to 3-0.
  • Buccaneers @ Patriots – The bucs have played well enough to be in both their games, only to lose late.  The Pats have done the opposite.  They’ve allowed teams to stay in it only to win on field goals late. I really dont like how New England is playing, but I have to give the home team the edge, and say they become a 3-0 team.
  • Packers @ Bengals – Two good defenses.  Aaron Rodgers is a former MVP QB, but Andy Dalton has some offensive weapons to work with himself.  Look for the run game to tell the story.  If James Starks can provide a spark like he did against Washington, Cincy has to hope for a big game from the tandem of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and rookie Giovani Bernard.
  • Rams @ Cowboys – St Louis is no pushover, but I don’t see them pulling out the road win.  Tony Romo and Jason Witten have things going early, and after Dez Bryant got going last week, look for the boys to pull out a fairly easy win at home.
  • Browns @ Vikings – Another case of two teams looking for their first wins of the season.  The Browns defense has played much better than the Vikings has, but Minnesota’s offense has looked better than the boys in orange.  Special teams play could tip the scales in this one.  Look out for Vikings Rookie returner Cordarrelle Patterson to play a big role, he had a 105 yard punt return TD in week 2.
  • Falcons @ Dolphins – This is one of the more intriguing games on the slate.  Atlanta wants to continue to rise up and make a statement in the NFC, while Miami looks to surprise and keep pressure on the Pats in the AFC.  Atlanta is more polished on offense, but don’t look past an improved Dolphins team from top to bottom.
  • Bills @ Jets – It’s a match-up of rookie QBs, each looking to get their teams to 2-1.  Division games are always fun and this should be no different.
  • Colts @ 49ers – It’s a bounce back for both teams this week.  If you’re San Fran you want to score early and often, with the comeback ability of Luck and the Colts.
  • Jags @ Seahawks – Seattle will be 3-0.  Not even a thought of an upset here, especially after the Jags best hope on offense in RB Maurice Jones-Drew was hurt in week 2.
  • Bears @ Steelers – The bears defense has allowed a lot of points, but have also gotten a lot of takeaways through 2 weeks.  I never feel comfortable picking Jay Cutler, but I think he has more weapons to work with than Ben Roethlisberger, so I say they move get to 3-0.
  • Raiders @ Broncos – Another easy 3-0 team in Denver.  Oakland has looked okay so far, but the high flying Broncos offense at home is just going to be too much for Terrelle Pryor to try and out gun.

Enjoy week 3 everyone.