Week 9 and we’re just a smidge past half-way through the season. Almost forgot to write a column this week, which would’ve been very upsetting for about four of you. Hi Mom. We’ve got our mid-season awards to hand out, touch on some offenses that exploded for points, a weekly gripe session (more personal foul garbage) and I’ll deal you some more winners (read: losers). 54′s the Mike. Red, 82….Red, 82….
What I learned this week…..
Tom Brady isn’t quite as done as I thought. 432 & 4. The Patriots last 6 drives went like this: FG, TD, TD, TD, TD, kneel down.
HeThey had 21 4th quarter points and three WRs totaled 120 yards and averaged of 26 per-catch. Well done, playboy.
The Cleveland Browns aren’t quite as bad as I thought. They beat a Ravens team this week that was coming off of a bye and really had to have the win. The Browns have played some decent teams very tough this season. Wonder what they’d have managed if Hoyer hadn’t gone down.
Seattle Seahawks are cutting it close. Last two weeks they played some bad football teams, and were it not for Kellen Clemens and whoever that dude is at QB for Tampa, they’d have lost them both.
Chip Shots: As my buddy Ed said, the Philadelphia Eagles probably needed to get away (4-1) from home (0-4),where they haven’t won since before manned space exploration, to just get back to football. They did, in a big way. What hit me most was not their 49 points, b/c that’s what the Chipper is designed to do, but that it was done in so few plays. I expect them to rip off 75 plays or such, but this was done in just 57. In fact only three drives were of the sustained variety: the Eagles had four scoring drives that lasted fewer than five plays. Actually, the Raiders had 92 plays and controlled 38 minutes of the clock. And with 52 seconds to go they were losing 49-13. So go ahead, Green Bay, control the clock. Chipper doesn’t care.
For what its worth…There should be some type of roughness for an unnecessary roughness call. The Jets got flagged for going low on Drew Brees, tackling him around his waist. Troy Polamalu got flagged for hitting Gronki at the goal line after he had made a catch. Brandon Flowers gets a roughing the passer call for tickling Bills 8th string QB Jeff Tuel and Ed Reed got a 15 yarder for leading with his shoulder a split-second after an Andrew Luck pass sailed through his WR’s hands. What the hell are we doing out there?
Half-time Awards…We’re giving out our first half awards because more important than being right is making snap judgments way way too far in advance. And with that….
Off ROY – Giovani Bernard: If the Bengals know what’s good for them (and Andy Dalton and AJ Green) they’ll see if they can up Gio’s workload as the season moves forward. Gio is averaging 4.5 yards/carry and has 30 catches for 8.9 yards/catch. His 6 TDs (4 rush) are second on the team and he’s the only player with both a rushing and receiving TD. I know rookies can hit a wall b/c 16 games is a lot, and I know NFL LB’s pack a punch, but if the Bengals make a run, he’ll be a big reason why. Well, him and all that Skyline Chili.
Def ROY – Kiko Alonso: The Bills have had a good history of draft picks paning out (McKelvin, Byrd, Dareus to name a few), and I’m not trying to jinx anyone here, but just playing at a really high level for a guy who’s faced the Bengals, Saints, Patriots, and Chiefs. His mind-boggling tackle total of 89, a season for a good LB, includes 22 against the Bengals in a game they easily could’ve won. Add to that 2 sacks, 4 INTs a forced fumble and a recovery and you’ve got yourself a DPOY candidate in waiting.
Off POY - Peyton Manning: this guy was cut; a free agent for any team to sign. He’s got 29 TDs, 2919 yards and just 6 INTs. He’s leading the 7-1 Broncos that have bridged the gap quite nicely while waiting for their defensive studs to return.
Def POY - J.J. Watt: another season in which the Wisconsin product is playing out-of-his-mind football. By the time the season is over he’ll have a dozen or so sacks (5.5 now), but that’s not what makes him so dominant. He has 4 passes defended, more than many DBs in the league, to go with his 38 tackles. Watt has DE’s all over the league thinking pass defense too. A DL used to think to get his hands up only at the last second if he couldn’t get to the passer. Safe to say he’s revolutionizing the position for the second time since its inception. Honoraries to LT.
MVP – Andrew Luck: His resume is pretty impressive already and without him they’d be completely sunk. His stat line isn’t the gaudiest, at 13/3 TD/INT, 58.3% completions for 1,845 yards. But he’s beaten Denver, Seattle and then the 49ers in San Francisco and he had another comeback Sunday night on the road against a divisional opponent. That’s 10. Impressive.
Coach - Andy Reid: A year ago, worst team in football. Now, 9-0. Can’t all be Alex Smith.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugh
Good: Philadelphia Eagles and Nick Foles. A 49-20 win in Oakland in which he went 22-28 for 406 yds and 7 TDs. Seven. Foles found 5 different Eagles for TDs and 2 of them had 130+ yard days. He’s completing 63% of his passes and his TD/INT ratio is impossible. Literally. It’s 13/0.
Bad: Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Halfway through the 3rd quarter their game in new England was tied 24-24. By the end they had lost 55-31. It was the most yards they’ve ever given up (610). The most points they’ve ever given up (55). And after 28 4th quarter points scored by Mr. Brady, the Steelers are left wondering when this season will be over.
Ugh: Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At first inspection it looks like the Buccos were thisclose to the biggest upset of the year. Up 21-0 on the Seahawks they were going to make Vegas a LOT of money. Then they happened. In the last 20 minutes, plus OT, the Buccaneers gave up 20 points. Not coincidentally, in those same 20 minutes, plus OT, they punted 5 times and of their 8 drives scored 3 points. That’s how you lose a football game you were leading 21-0.
W2W4: 1) Panthers at 49ers. Carolina brings to San Francisco the #2 Rush Defense in the league, and has scored 30 points or more in each of their last 4 games, all wins. The Niners counter with the #1 rushing attack in all of the NFL (now that the Eagles are throwing it) and have scored more than 31 points in each of their last 4 games, also all wins. The Panthers have scored 30 or more in all five of their wins. The 49ers, 31 points or more in all 6 of theirs. Be sure to tune in.
2) Saints and Cowboys. New Orleans, as I’ve said, is great at home, not on the road. Well, they’re at home. Dallas has the 9th rated passing attack, but the 31st rated passing Defense. Drew Brees and the Saints sport the 3rd highest rated passing offense, but a stout passing D (Patriots games notwithstanding). Tony Romo and Dez Bryant seem to enjoy adverse environs, so I’d expect a barn burner in this one. In the JerryDome the high-flying offenses will make this your 4 o’clock Chips-N-Dip Game™ for sure.
Locks of the Century of the Week…Week 9 was again mediocre. I’ll never understand why I’m giving all of these picks and then in my survivor pool I go elsewhere. Anyways, 4-3 is never getting it done. At least the straight winners won. Looks like we’re going to have to start taking points, and start the week early.
WAS -2.5 @ MIN Thursday The carousel goes round & round in Minneapolis and this time its on a short week. Like I’ve said, I take better coaching and QB play in short weeks, and it usually turns out. Aside from Peterson, the Vikings can’t hit you with anything. Redskins -2.5
BUF +3 @ PIT I agonize over this game b/c I want to think the Steelers aren’t as bad as they looked the last two weeks, but there it is on film. Meanwhile, the Bills have played KC tough, Cincinnati tougher, and the Saints much closer than the final score indicated. I know, b/c I watched. Don’t ask. But every time I think I know which way the Stillers are going, I’m wrong. Pittbisrugh is just 2-6 ATS but the Bills aren’t much better on the road. You know what? Screw it. Push
CIN -1 @ BAL This game started as a pick ‘em and I think is up to -1.5 in some books. If you can find -1, take it b/c that’s really the same as the pick. Baltimore looked bad against Cleveland, couldn’t get anything going. The Browns Defense isn’t bad but the Bengals Defense is better. Even without Geno Atkins. Baltimore can surprise you (both ways) but I’ll lay a point here b/c when it comes down to it, Cincinnati is just better all around. Bengals -1
DET -2 @ CHI: Admittedly, I was wrong about Cade McNown’s ability to beat the Packers. But the Bears would’ve lost if Aaron Rodgers didn’t leave the game early. Who on Chicago is going to bother with Megatron? If they throw it 45 times, can they all be defended? Maybe. I don’t think so though. Detroit has a chance to pop big, long runs and that keeps a team honest. Quietly, the Detroit Lions are making moves. And I’m getting on while there are still seats available. Lions -2
HOU +2.5 @ ARI If you’ve ever read this column you know exactly where I’m going with this. Anytime you can get Case Keenum and points, you take them. Am I right? Killer. No, seriously, the Texans have the #11 passing offense (with a bullet!) and the #9 rushing offense in the NFL. On the other side of the ball they’re #1 against the pass. Sure, they’re on a losing streak, but they lost their last two, after much ballyhooed (in this space) QB change to the 9-0 Chiefs and the 7-2 Colts, by a total of 4 points. The Cardinals are not the Chiefs or the Colts. Texans +2.5
Told ya so…Eagles and Nick Foles…Case Keenum…Giovani Bernard…
NFL Week 9
Topics: 10 & Out, AFC, Andrew Luck, Andy Reid, Carolina Panthers, Case Keenum, Chip Kelly, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jj Watt, Kiko Alonso, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, NFC, NFL, Nick Foles, Peyton Manning, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rob Gronkowski Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tom Brady, Washington Redskins