What I learned this week…..
Cincinnati Bengals… rookie RB Giovani Bernard has some real wiggle, as they say. He can really make a DB or LB look silly. They got something there, if he stays healthy.
Kansas City Chiefs… That defense is remarkable. Reid has done a great job utilizing some high-end offensive talent, covering up holes in the line and overcoming losses at TE, but the defense is making this a potential run. They play Denver twice still, November 17th after their bye and then at home 2 weeks later, and those should be a hoot. Welcome back, Kansas City. Maybe you are this good.
Pittsburgh Steelers…may still have some fight left in them. On its face their remaining schedule looks challenging, and it may be with the opponent’s records 36-28, but you’ve got to look deeper. In a division where the best teams are 3-3, Pittsburgh is only 2 games back with 5 divisional games to play. Add to that 4 more Conference games and in a year where the AFC Wild Card could be a free-for-all the Steelers can still make some noise if they string some wins together.
For what its worth…If the season ended today, the Broncos would be a wild-card team.
Mystery team… #1 overall Defense, 252.8 YPG, #7 overall Offense, 395.7 YPG, #1 against the pass, 131.3 YPG/against…Who am I?
Hey, didn’t you used to be…RGIII? I saw a prop: Will each QB throw a 1st half TD? So I looked into it. Turns out, not only has RGIII not thrown many TDs at all this year, but he hasn’t thrown one in the first half of any games. If Shanahan is the QB whisperer (let’s ask McNabb and Cutler about that) then RGIII just can’t hack it right now. Has the game caught up to him? Maybe so, or maybe he rushed back after the knee and isn’t the same. Neither were Brady, McNabb, and Carson Palmer the year after. Some would argue they never regained their top-level abilities. It’s terrible to think, but that may be RGIII, too.
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots…So, Brady shocked the world, 2/3 of Gillette, & Rob Ryan. In his third attempt at the game-winning drive in the last 3 minutes, he finally struck. A win for the ages? Some say. One of his signature moments? Sure. Top 5? No, c’mon. But, fight through the week of Brady worship. Again, the offense looked abysmal at times. So bad, in fact, that we did a little research. (which we do not like to do.) So far this season the Patriots have had the ball in 1st and Goal, or within the 10-yard line, 17 times. Of those 17, they’ve come away with 8 FGs, 6 TDs, and 3 turnovers. And that’s just not going to cut it. The fact is, if you’re actually watching these games, or studying the film, you can see each week there are throws that Tom Brady misses. In the loss to the Bengals a monsoon ruined the game-winning drive for him, but that was really only at the end. When it was just a tropical storm he missed a wide-open Aaron Dobson running free. Against the jets he missed Edelman early for a wide-open 10 yd TD, then missed a wider-open Thompkins at the sideline, sailing the ball. Against the Bucs he missed both Kenbrell Thompkins and Edelman wide open, hands in the air, behind the defense. Sunday it was an easy TD down the right seam to Amendola (before he got knocked into November.) He’s hit that pass to Welker for a TD many times before, so it’s not WR height. It’s Brady. He didn’t even look at a wide-open Brandon Bolden on a wheel route out of the backfield, & that’s happened twice this season. On what would be easy check-downs, he forces the ball, as he did to Edelman late. And even later, there were two balls that, had he led his target, they’d have been TDs instead of incompletions. He’s lost a little life on that fastball. He’s lost a little control on the changeup. He’s not spotting his pitches, and he’s not making the right read every time like he used to. But somehow they’re 5-1.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugh
Good: Aqib Talib. Before he went out late with a hip flexor, he held the NFL’s #1 receiver, Jimmy Graham, to Zero yards on ZERO receptions. Now pay him his money, BB. In CASH!
Bad: Brandon Weeden. Dude, what was that throw? That looked like Ultimate Frisbee out there.
Ugh: Raiders offensive line. They let Terrelle Pryor get sacked ten (10) times. Ten. At one point they had a 4th and I think 48. That’s half the god damn field. Brutal.
W2W4: What to watch for…last week brought Saints-Pats, the FOX National Game of the Week. Which really only means people all over the country got to root against the Patriots and we got shots of Boston (40 miles away) and baseball promos. But I said it was going to be a good one, and it was. This week there are some really good rivalry games (Jets-Pats, Steelers-Ravens, Cowboys-Eagles) but I’m going to pump Broncos @ Colts, for obvious reasons. If this turns into a shoot ‘em up, Luck might actually have the goods to keep pace. (T.Y. Hilton, ladies and gentlemen.) Add to that Colts space cadet owner Jim Irsay stating the obvious (‘m sure Peyton would’ve liked more rings too) and you’ve got a lot of added incentive for each QB to light the lights. But it might not. Indy is giving up a measly 15.8 PPG going into Monday Night.
Locks of the Century of the Week…Week 5 I went 1-2. Baltimore won outright but Cincy couldn’t cover and I missed out on half a point in Foxboro. C’est la vie.
WAS v. CHI 51 O/U I once watched the Bears and Redskins play a 10-6 game. Maybe 9-6. The total couldn’t have been low enough. As an homage to that wretch-fest, I go under here too. Skins -1.5 and a total of 51 contemplates a 28-25 Redskins win. Possible? Sure. Unlikely. Under 51.
DAL +2.5 @ PHL Cowboys always have a tough game in Philly. The vitriol there is palpable. But the Eagle defense is just not good. They may need 6 or 7 new players. And Romo can light up weaknesses. Will he Romo? Maybe, but Chip’s team has handled success even worse than adversity, and I love a good underdog Cowboys+2.5
TB @ ATL -7.5 I know, I know. I said “stop talkin’ about the Falcons. They stink.” I stand by it. But they’re coming off of a bye, against a divisional opponent who appears to be coming apart at the seams. Now they say they welcome an investigation by the NFLPA into the leaks re: Freeman. “We’re not afraid of an investigation” is how the GM put it. Tampa is 31st in the NFL in total offense (YPG), 32nd in Passing offense (that’s, like, the worst you can be) and will be playing from behind at some point.
Mystery team… The Houston Texans. Believe it. If you take out 35 points thrown away by QBs, they average 23.6 PPG/against. Even more reason the QBs are killing them. And Kubes is a QB guy himself.
Thanks for tuning in to your weekly roundup. As always, keep it right here for biased but unresearched opinions. For 10 & Out, I’m Case Keenum.