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With bye weeks starting, I can’t believe how much lighter the schedule felt. It felt to me like there were a lot more than three fewer games on. I do wish the games were spread out more between the noon and 3 PM time slots. Earlier on there were eight games to keep track of. Later there were only three. Then again, it was hard to take my eyes off the Redskins/Cowboys matchup.
Panthers over Falcons or “Welcome to the Mushin”
After three subpar seasons and a bit of malcontent in Chicago, Mushin Muhammed is back to his old stomping grounds and participating in a big way. Last season, he looked liked he had lost a step. This year, he’s looking as good as ever.
I don’t know what to think of Jake Delhomme. Watching him play, he doesn’t seem that special. His stats this season have not been that solid (Before this week) and yet he makes SUCH a difference compared to the David Carr/Vinny Testaverde/Matt Moore Triumvirate. What I do know is that since he became the starting QB for the Panthers, they are 38-26 with him, and 5-10 without him. That’s a pretty big swing.
I know there are a lot of people who swoon over Julius Peppers and his high sack numbers in seasons past, but I really don’t like the guy much. He seems so hell bent on racking up sacks that he over pursued the run a few times on Sunday and caused a Pick Six to be called back for delivering a late hit to Matt Ryan’s head. He’s treated like a superstar, payed like a superstar, but I don’t think he has played like a superstar in two years.
I really don’t like the fact that the Falcons came out and had Matt Ryan throw the ball 41 times. This team has won two games by running the ball, and although the Panthers contained Michael Turner pretty well, the game was close enough for them to stick with their bread and butter. They had been using Jerious Norwood very effectively to keep Turner’s workload from getting out of control but today he gets three carries. The guy has produced when on the field these last three seasons.
Statistical Notes – Matt Ryan is 21/31 in the Falcons two Victories and 33/74 in the two losses. Roddy White is on pace for over 1300 yards. Julius Peppers has 4.5 sacks in his last 18 games. Mushin Muhammed is on pace for 88 catches and 1200+ yards. Rookie Jonathon Stewart, who has looked great, has scored a TD in three of his first four NFL games.
Browns over Bengals or “We have to watch this matchup AGAIN later this season?”
Oh man was there some bad football going on in this game. Against two of the bottom third defenses in the league, the teams posted totals of 278 and 211 yards. Their average gain per play was just under four yards. They combined for six turnovers and 15 penalties. But hey! One of them had to win, right?
Braylon Edwards finally made his presence felt by scoring a touchdown. Immediately after, he broke into some ridiculous air guitar routine. Braylon! You don’t even have 100 yards in four games and your team is in danger of going 0-4. Now is not the time to celebrate!
Derek Anderson will probably avoid being sent to the bench in favor of Brady Quinn for at least another week. He didn’t play all that well, but well enough to get the victory. With Anderson struggling and the Bengals starting Harvard QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Browns came in with the better plan – Pound the ball. The ball kept finding its way into the hands of Jamal Lewis while they passed only sparingly. The Bengals, despite Fitzpatrick not having played in an NFL game since 2005 and being in the lead most of the game, kept throwing and throwing. Man, Fitzpatrick’s first interception may have been the worst pass I’ve seen in awhile. That thing hit the safety who was playing 10 yards behind the target in stride. Seriously, can anyone tell me why Marvin Lewis isn’t hanging out with Matt Millen right now?
Everyone calls Chad Ocho Cinco a diva, a showboat, selfish, and any number of similar derogatory terms. He’s on a 0-3 team that he doesn’t want to be on with the starting quarterback on the sidelines with an injury. He makes a turning stab at a poorly thrown ball and ends up falling backwards onto the ground while the ball is picked off by Erick Wright. Wright takes off running with the ball and gets a few yards back the other way before Chris Perry hits him and jars the ball loose. Who is there running back towards the play to recover the fumble? Ocho Cinco himself. Many players in similar situations would slowly get up and walk towards the sidelines. I think this simple action shows that whatever else he is, Ocho Cinco is a guy you want on your team.
Statistical Notes - At this time last season, Chad Johnson had 28 catches for 488 yards and 3 TD’s. This season he has 11 catches for 116 yards and 1 TD. Braylon Edwards had 18 catches for 375 yards and 4 TD’s. This season he has 11 catches for 97 yards and 1 TD. That’s a pretty epic decline. Carson Palmer had 76 TD’s to 45 INT’s the last three seasons. Bengals QB’s have 2 TD’s and 6 INT’s this year. With 6 catches this game, T.J. Houshmanzadeh has 24 on the season, putting him on pace for 96. It’s hard not to be impressed by this considering how bad the Bengals are.
Baseball Interlude: After watching my Badgers drop a game to a team that had 21 total yards in the first half, the Brewers lose on Saturday, and the Packers lose to Tampa, I needed something good out of Wiconsin sports. We got it in the form of the Brewers first postseason in a billion years. Watching C.C. Sabathia put the flailing pitching staff on his back and give up 24 earned runs in 120.5 innings of work has been amazing. Throwing 230 pitches in five days to pick up 2 much needed wins has quite possibly made him the greatest Brewer since Young, Molitor, and the gang hung up their cleats even though his career with Milwaukee is likely to be a total of just over three months long. I’m really not much of a baseball fan anymore, but It is exciting to see this team in the postseason and C.C.’s play has inspired me to some level of interest in the sport.
Jaguars over Texans or “Josh Scobee for Team MVP.”
Josh Scobee kicked a 40 yarder, 47 yarder, and 37 yard game winner to help the Jaguars get to 2-2 and back into contention. Last week, Scobee kicked a 51 yard field goal at the buzzer to win beat the Colts. He’s 10/11 this season including 2/2 from 40-49 and 2/2 from 50+. Kickers are one of the more underappreciated positions on the field, mostly because at best they are expected to hit every field goal and at worst they can “Lose” a game for a team. I suspect that the Jacksonville fans will learn to appreciate Scobee if he keeps up his performance.
Matt Schaub is really an efficient quarterback when he isn’t getting hammered. He struggled in the first two games against the onslaught of the Titans and Steelers pass rush but had plenty of time to throw on Sunday. The result was a really big game. Suddenly Schaub has a surprising amount of weapons to work with. 3rd round pick Steve Slaton is proving to be a versatile back, even splitting out and going downfield for a huge TD. 4th round pick Owen Daniels is starting to look like one of the better receiving tight ends in the league. 7th round pick Kevin Walter (7 picks away from being Mr. Irrelevant) is impressing me with his route running.
The Texans can’t be feeling too good at 0-3 right now, but the have a four game home stand coming up hosting the Colts, Dolphins, Lions, and Bengals. The Colts are reeling right now and the other three aren’t very good. If they continue to play like they did today, they could be 4-3 before you know it.
The Jaguars pulled this one out, and David Garrard played more like David Garrard v.220.127.116.11 than David Garrard 18.104.22.168 but I am still stymied by the fact that they limited the rushes of Maruice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor to 17 for the game, especially after the way they absolutely pounded the Colts last week.
The David Garrard scrambling show in the fourth quarter was incredible. On 4th and 8, he scrambled for a first down. Next play, scrambled for five yards. Next play, scrambled for a five yard TD. When you are playing a QB that can move and has done so twice so far on this drive, how can’t you key a linebacker on him? The Jaguars defense looked confused when they did it a third time. The idea of a fourth time was preposterous, right? Wrong. Despite Garrard running for about 30 yards on the drive, the Texans looked utterly unprepared for another attempt and Garrard waltzed into the end zone.
Statistical Notes – Kevin Walter has 7 TD’s in his last 10 games. The Texans share the ball pretty well. Walter, Andre Johnson, and Owen Daniels all have 15 catches in three games. Steve Slaton has 14. Mike Walker, some guy the Jaguars picked out of the crowd as far as I can tell, had 5 catches for 46 yards. Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson, highly touted free agents, have a combined 3 catches for 17 yards on the season.
Chiefs over Broncos or “I don’t understand the NFL at all.”
One week ago, I thought the Broncos were a team of destiny. I also believed that of the Chiefs, as I thought they had a good shot at 0-16. Suddenly, we have the Chiefs exposing the Broncos big weakness, their run defense. The Saints and Chargers each lost close games to the Broncos, combining to run on only 30% of their plays. The Chiefs come in and run over 50% of the time, giving Larry Johnson 28 carries. That’s irritates me because now I have to eat crow and grudgingly admit Larry Johnson is a fine player. I’ve never cared much for Johnson and blasted him bad over the first two weeks of the season. I was wrong. Fine. I’d rather not talk about it. ;)
Late in the second quarter, the Broncos had the ball at midfield with a first down and the lead. They lined up with one WR split to the right, two WR and a TE in a “Trips Left” formation, and Brandon Marshall in the backfield. I think it’s pretty obvious what is coming here. In comes every KC linebacker and safety. TE Tony Sheaffler stumbles way towards the sidelines, missing any blocks and the two receivers get bowled over. Brandon Marshall takes the pitch just in time to see Derrick Johnson coming full steam with three other chiefs behind him. He gets absolutely clobbered, loses the ball, KC ball at the 2. If you are going to run something like that, don’t load up the side the play is going to unless you think your wide outs can block Linebackers and safeties coming with a head of steam. If you have the players to do that, you probably don’t need trickery anyway.
The Chiefs came into this game in the bottom three defensively in rushing yards, rushing TD’s, and YPC. The Broncos respond by calling 52 pass plays and 20 running plays. If you know a team is so weak at one aspect of the game, why not exploit it? In their 19 carries, Michael Pittman, Selvin Young, and Andre Hall were averaging 5 yards. Why not go with that?
Stastistical Notes – Despite only playing 3 games thus far, Brandon Marshall has 31 catches and is on pace for a 128 catch, 1700 yard, 12 TD season. He’s pretty good. Eddie Royal is also having a fine season, on pace for over 100 catches and 1200 yards. Larry Johnson suddenly has 415 rushing yards, just seven yards behind the leader Michael Turner.
Saints over 49ers or “Return of the Deuce!”
I’ve been a pretty big fan of Deuce Mccallister since he entered the league. If not for those two huge injuries, he could have had a really fantastic career. Even with some serious surgeries under his belt and turning the dreaded three oh, the Deuce still has some gas left in his tank. Pierre Thomas filled the goal line role to some extent while Mccallister sat on the sidelines, but this is a different team with Deuce back in the lineup.
With Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey out of the lineup, you would think that Drew Brees would have a more difficult time. Instead, he turned to 2nd round sophomore Devery Henderson, rookie “Who Date” Robert Meachem, and third year “who dat” Lance Moore. Drew Brees is extremely efficient and accurate even with two of his top receivers out and Reggie Bush a non factor in this game. He likes to throw the long ball and is good at it.
New 49ers golden boy J. T. O’Sullivan is starting to feel the effects of poor pass protection that has plagued the niners for a few years. He didn’t look very comfortable back in the pocket, getting sacked 6 times to bring this year’s total up to 19. Letting your QB get hit at least five times is a good way to get the backup onto the field.
The Frank Gore rule – I’ve noted in most of my reviews that the 49ers fate is tied to the number of times Frank Gore runs the ball in any given game. If he runs it 19 or more times they win, 18 or fewer times, they lose. He had 16 carries this game and put another loss in the column. That makes them 0-21 over the last three years when Gore doesn’t get significant carries, and 14-1 when he does.
Statistical Notes – Isaac Bruce pulled into sole position of 11th on the all time TD catch list, and surpassed Andre Reed to become the number 5 all time in receptions. Drew Brees is on pace for a 5372 yard, 32 TD season. Oh, and he’s completing 72% of his passes. Although Reggie Bush only had 7 yards receiving, he did have 5 catches putting him at 31 for the year. He is on pace for 124. His previous career high is 88. Frank Gore has 10 straight games of 100+ total yards dating back to last season.
Jets over Cardinals or “Shootout at the old folks home.”
39 year old former MVP Brett Favre faced off against 37 year old former MVP Kurt Warner. Between high flying offenses, a mob of penalties, some good kick returns, and interceptions, the ball moved around the field 1305 yards during the course of the game.
Brett Favre had a record day in his storied career, throwing for a career high of 6 TD passes. He had lots of time and his receivers were wide open most of the day, but he really showed he can still throw the ball as hard as anybody.
Kurt Warner had a particularily bad first half, throwing for less than 100 yards while being picked off twice and fumbling twice. The fact that he ended up with 472 passing yards shows how crazy his second half was. Nearly 400 yards in a single half of football.
Down by 34, a seemingly insurmountable number, the Cardinals did not lay down after the half. They came storming back with five straight touchdowns, at one point being down by only 13 with a quarter to go. Although they fumbled the ball all over the place and looked generally terrible in the first half, I give them credit for making a game out of this.
Statistical Notes – Brett Favre now is 34 career TD passes above Dan Marino’s once unbeatable looking 420. Lavernious Coles and Jerricho Cotchery are both on pace for over 1000 yards and 10 TD’s. Coles has passed the 1000 yard mark only once in the last four years and his career best is 7 TD’s. Three Cardinals players (Steve Breaston, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin) had 100 yard games. I’m not sure I’ve seen that before. Kurt Warner’s career high in yardage is 4830. He is on pace for 4888. Boldin and Fitzgerald now have 5 100 yard games between them.
Penalties – I don’t know any historical numbers when it comes to penalties, but it really seemed like there have been a lot of flags this season. This week, each game saw an average of 11.5 penalties moving the ball 93 yards. A lot of these penalties seem to be illegal motion/twelve on the field/false start type penalties that are very costly mental mistakes that teams should have worked out by week four of the season. I also have seen what seems to be a larger amount of injuries this year. Players are always getting carted off the field. This would explain such mistakes. When you start having to work with unfamiliar players, your timing is likely to be off. Again, I have no historical data about this, but it may be interesting to look into at another date.
Titans over Vikings or “Shootout at the old folks home version 2.”
Ok, so maybe this one wasn’t quite a shootout, but 36 year old QB Kerry Collins stepped onto the field against 37 year old Gus Frerotte. Unlike Brett Favre and Kurt Warner, these guys showed their age. They “Treated” us to a combined 43/78 showing with 0 TD’s and one INT.
The defenses did not disappoint. As always, the Vikings run defense was stout. They held the Titans to a mere 76 yards on 34 attempts, a 2.2 YPC clip. Their prior lowest game was 137 yards. The Vikings were also held to under 100 yards for the first time this season. Adrian Peterson did perform better than I expected, being a little banged up and playing against the Titans. This wasn’t one of his biggest days rushing, but he once again showed why he is one of the best RB’s in the NFL.
We did see Peterson fumble the ball though, a big problem for the Vikings this week. They turned the ball over four times. The Titans defense now has 12 turnovers in 4 games to lead the league.
Starting late in the third quarter, we saw some serious offensive stalling. Fumble, missed Field Goal, Punt, Punt, Punt, Field Goal, Punt, Punt, Fumble, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt. Defense minded purists must have loved this sequence while those that enjoy high flying offenses were probably bored to death.
Expectations have been high for the Vikings this season and they have disappointed up to this point. Before the season started, I looked at Minnesota’s schedule and said I would not be surprised to see them come out and start 1-3 at which point questions would be asked about the quarterback situation, causing the team to either get it together or spiral out of control. I was right, except for the fact that they tried to address the QB situation in week 3. This offseason, they tried to fix the passing game by signing Bernard Berrian to a big contract. Berrian made a few plays but had a big drop in the end zone this week. In a league where the QB position is so important, I think the Vikings should have tried to make a trade or something this offseason. By pulling Tarvaris Jackson after two weeks, they show they really didn’t have all that much faith in his ability to perform and improve.
Statistical Notes – Vince Young had two interceptions in week 1. Kerry Collins has one interception in three weeks. LenDale White has scored a touchdown in every game this season. The Vikings paid big money for Jared Allen to come in and rack up sacks. He has 2 this season. Adrian Peterson is on pace for 1700 yards rushing and 12 TD’s. He’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
Bills over Rams or “Bills are one of three unbeaten teams?”
The Bills are looking to be the biggest surprise of the season. Some picked them to rebound and possibly take a shot at a wild card spot. Now, they are all alone on top of the AFC East with Tom Brady out for the season. The path is clear for them.
They really need to start playing a full game though. Three weeks in a row they needed some fourth quarter heroics to get the job done. It’s an encouraging sign that the team can overcome adversity and come from behind, but that kind of thing can catch up to you.
The Bills took the lead in the fourth quarter when Trent Green threw a pass to a spot on the field that had no rams within 10 yards. The ball was picked off, and taken in for a touchdown. Marc Bulger has struggled a lot, but there have been some serious QB protection issues driving that. Trent Green had a fair amount of protection this Sunday and didn’t look so great.
The Rams are now 0-4 and Scott Linehan is gone. I wonder if that means Marc Bulger will get back into the lineup. I look at this team and wonder how putting in a QB in the twilight of his career is supposed to make things better.
Steven Jackson looked like the stud we all know him to be. To think that the Rams fretted about paying this guy, a proven commodity that is only 25 years old, is strange. Even after the big payday, even playing for a bad team, Steven Jackson is out there playing hard and playing with emotion. I think this is the kind of guy you want to build a team around.
Statistical Notes – Steven Jackson has 480 total yards already this season. The rest of the Rams team has 507. Tory Holt, who became the 16th player in NFL history to amass 12,000 receiving yards, has eight straight games without a 100 yard performance. Lee Evans has 332 yards on only 14 catches! He is on pace for 1320 receiving yards on 56 catches, with a crazy 23.7 Yards per reception average. Trent Edwards is completing 65% of his passes and is on pace for a 3700 yard passing season.
Chargers over Raiders or “Oh, Now I remember that Tomlinson guy.”
Going into week three, with LaDainian Tomlinson having amassed only 13 fantasy points and facing the possibility of missing week 3 with an injury, fantasy football players who had the first pick were probably cursing their decision not to play Tomlinson. Last week, he had 2 TD’s but his yards per carry remained quite low. This week, he seemed to be back to the Tomlinson that has been running over opponents for years. In a game where Philip Rivers and the passing game struggled, Tomlinson once again showed off his importance to the franchise.
The Raiders actually led this game going into the fourth quarter and held the Chargers scoreless in the first half. After how well their running backs have performed lately, I do have to question the decision not to keep Michael Bush and Darren Mccfadden pounding the ball. Instead they chose to have JaMarcus Russell throw the ball quite a bit. While he played well for almost three quarters, a big interception and sack/fumble led to two Chargers TD’s. The biggest mistake was probably the interception. It was a very poor read in range of a field goal that would have put the Raiders up 18-3. Instead, the score was soon 15-12.
Philip Rivers was hurried a lot of the day and the passing game didn’t look anything at all like the one that has shown up for the last three weeks. I was pretty impressed with the Raiders secondary keeping his targets in check for almost the entire game.
This win kept the Chargers from their second straight 1-3 start. As I have mentioned before, I believe the slow starts by the Chargers may be caused in part by the resting of their starters in the preseason. Tomlinson hasn’t gotten up to speed until week 4 or 5 in the last three seasons.
Statistical Notes - 2nd year Tight End Zach Miller leads the Raiders in receiving yards and catches. After rushing for 450 yards in the first two games, the Raiders have rushed for 170 yards in the last two. Philip Rivers has throw a touchdown in 11 straight games. He only had 2 interceptions in the last eight games before having 2 this week. Despite being down in yardage and receptions, Antonio Gates has scored in 3 of 4 games this season. Tomlinson hadn’t rushed for 100 yards in four games dating back to last season.
Redskins over Cowboys or “Who was that playing in week one, anyway?”
For three weeks now I have commented that the team I witnesses playing against the Giants on the opening Thursday of NFL games looks nothing like the team that has been playing. Jason Campbell especially seems to have improved greatly. After the last four games of last season with the Redskins winning out and being led by a Todd Collins I started to wonder if Campbell was the man for the job. Week 1 didn’t help my opinion much. Suddenly he is standing patiently in the pocket and going through his progressions to make good reads. Most importantly, he is learning how to find his talented wide receivers down field instead of checking down to RB’s and TE’s.
Of course, all of this has been opened up a lot by Clinton Portis. People may still question trading a lockdown corner like Champ Bailey for a running back, but Portis is truly a talented back and is being utilized properly this year by Jim Zorn. He is getting a consistent number of touches (23, 23, 23, and 23 the first four games including receptions) and looks great. This makes defenses have to respect the run and opens things up for Santana Moss to make the big plays.
For the second week in a row, a defense did a pretty decent job of holding down Terrell Owens. Yeah, he caught 7 balls for 71 yards and a TD but that is about what passes for TO nowadays. I love the idea of having a corner play man on him with safety help should he beat the corner. Carlos Rogers broke up at least three plays in the first half. Of course, safety help is easier to provide when the safeties aren’t worried about run support. After Marion Barber and Felix Jones were handed the ball 80 times in the first three games, the Cowboys abandoned that aspect of their offense, giving Barber only 8 carries.
The other thing that happens when you double team Owens on every play is other receivers start to get open. Jason Witten provides matchup problems the way it is and Miles Austin and Patrick Crayton are finding plenty of open field. I love the constant man in motion schemes that the Cowboys employ. They cause the defenders to be chasing guys from one side of the line to the other before the snap and create confusion to get some players open.
The NFC East is just sick. The Philadelphia Eagles are once again the “Worst” team at 2-2. The Giants remain undefeated, and the Redskins and Cowboys are each 3-1. There will be a lot of great matchups between these four teams before the end of the year.
Statistical Notes – Jason Witten has become the clear cut number one option, on pace for 108 catches and nearly 1500 yards. He has had 6 or 7 catches in every game and 90+ receiving yards in 3 of 4. Because he hadn’t scored a touchdown until this week, fantasy analysts were claiming he wasn’t doing that well this season! Terrell Owens is on pace for his lowest reception total (Other than his short 7 game 2005 season) since 1999 but has scored in 11 of his last 14 games. He’s a touchdown machine. Jason Campbell, who was a career 57% completions guy with 22 TD’s to 17 INT’s is completing 65% of his passes and has 6 TDs to 0 INT’s in four games this season. Santana Moss, who has never caught more than 84 balls in a season, is on pace for 108 catches and 1700 yards. He also has scored in 5 of his last 6 games. He’s playing like a try stud. It took until week 12 for Clinton Portis to have 4 20+ carry games. He has 4 already in week 4 and is on pace to rival his Redskins season best in rushing yards.
Carnage guesses on games: I think you should take my advice only every other week. I posted a pretty terrible 7-6 (Again, straight up, not against the spread) for the week bringing my season total to 39-21, or 65% correct. I would like to think I can get that up to the 72% range. I’ll try harder next time. Seriously though, who really thought that the Bears would beat the Eagles or the Chiefs would beat the Broncos?
Panthers over Falcons
Browns over Bengals
Jaguars over Texans
Broncos over Chiefs
Saints over 49ers
Cardinals over Jets
Packers over Bucs
Titans over Vikings
Chargers over Raiders
Bills over Rams
Cowboys over Redskins
Eagles over Bears
Ravens over Steelers
Bears over Eagles or “I have no idea what is going on”
If you told me that the Bears would turn the ball over four times, I would have believed it. If you told me that the Bears would be -2 in turnovers and WIN the game I wouldn’t have. In the third quarter, the Bears drives went Punt, Interceptions, Punt, Fumble, Punt, Fumble. The Eagles started 3 Drives in Bears Territority and came away with….six points?
To demonstrate further problems with the Eagles offense, they were 2/13 on third down and 1 of four in the red zone. At one point, the Eagles had 1st and goal at the Bears 2 yard line. You have four chances to get the ball 2 yards. Pass, Pass, Aborted Pass, Pass and a Huge opportunity turns into the Bears ball. Later, the Eagles had a seven minute drive go down to the Bears 4 yard line. This time, Run, 2nd and goal from the one. Run, Run, Run and the Bears are given the ball back. Correll Buckhalter has done a good job considering his past injuries and trying to replace Brian Westbrook, but this offense just is not the same without westbrook. Five failed 3rd down conversions were 5 or fewer yards to go. With Westbrook In the game, I think they convert a few of these and get into the end zone twice. Not to take anything away from the Bears defense, of course. To make two goal line stands against the Eagles is tremendous.
Although Kyle Orton threw the ball away twice, once in the end zone, and fumbled twice I think he is progressing as a quarterback. Along with Donovan McNabb, the two QB’s found 17 different targets over the course of the game. It is good news to see your QB’s looking around the field and finding the right guy to throw to.
Statistical Notes – Kyle Orton has five TD passes in the last two games. The season he started 14 games for the Bears, he threw nine. Matt Forte had his first career game with Fewer than 100 total yards. His Yards per carry has dropped every week until hitting a dismal 2.3 on Sunday Night. Donovan Mcnabb 2 games with Brian Westbrook in the lineup: 642 Yards, 4 TD’s 0 INT’s. Mcnabb 2 games without Westbrook: 458 yards, 2 TD’s, 2 INT’s. The Eagles tacked on four more sacks this week, bringing the team total to 17 in four games.
Steelers over Ravens or “Did you ever throw a beer bottle at a Police Car?”
I do not have Cable TV at home and don’t meet with the crew if the Monday Night Game is not a Packers game. I head down to a local bar and check it out. I walk in case I decide to have a drink or two, and it was raining a little so I went to a closer, slightly more shady bar than the one I usually go to for sports viewing. A 48 year old guy with long hair decided to befriend me and asked me questions like “Have you ever wanted to go home and get a gun and pump a few rounds into the juke box when people are playing country music” and “Did you ever throw a beer bottle at a Police Car? I did it at a riot in the park when I was like, 16 dude. It didn’t accomplish much.” It was funny because I was watching the football game on one screen while he kept his eye on the “Brewers vs. Cubs” hoping the Brewers would pull out the victory. The game of course, was the replay from Sunday.
I seriously can’t believe that only one player was carried off the field for this game on a stretcher. These are two really really physical defenses. 8 sacks between the two games, seven rushes stopped for losses. 470 total yards, and 27 first downs. After their first drive, the Steelers gained only 6 yards on their next six drives. I thought there was no way this team could muster up 10 more points to win. Ben Roethisberger looked as frustrated as I had ever seen him.
In come the Ravens in the third quarter, putting up five entire yards in 5 drives and fumbling the ball away to give the Steelers the lead. The teams combined for 8 drives of 0 or fewer yards.
34 year old Derrick Mason impressed the heck out of me. He was laying out for every ball, going over the middle knowing he’d get smacked, and driving the Steelers crazy. He’s a good guy to have for Joe Flacco to develop. I thought the play where Flacco scrambled in the backfield for 12 seconds was particularily interesting. Mason never gave up on the play and earned the Ravens a first down.
Dangerous punt return men Yamon Figures and Santonio Holmes were also kept in check. 10 punt returns for a total of 5 yards. That’s some good special teams coverage.
Statistical Notes – Derrick Mason is on pace for 86 catches this season. That would give him 80+ catches in five of his last six years. He could be duking it out with Hines Ward to become the 20th player with 800 catches. The Ravens D, expected to decline this season, is averaging 186 yards per game and 13 points. Terrell Suggs has a sack in each of the first three games. After rushing for 300 yards the first two games, the Steelers have 102 in the last two. Ben Roethisberger has game pass completions of 13, 13, 13, and 14 this season. He has been sacked 15 times, on pace for 60 for the season.
Buccanneers over Packers or “NOOOOOOOOOOO! NOT MORE INJURIES!”
The Packers are starting to look like a MASH unit. Luckily, it looks like Aaron Rodgers is not too hurt (Although with the protection problems, how long he’ll last, I do not know). We saw a glimpse of Matt Flynn and if Brian Brohm is worse than he is, I’m frightened.
What really bothered me is Packers receivers not coming back to the ball if their routes failed. On plays where Rodgers had time, you could see Packers pass catchers standing around. When the pocket breaks down, you run back to the ball.
I give the Bucs pass defense a lot of credit though. Their cover 2 scheme is looking to be effective once again. Speed is good.
Seriously though Gruden, isn’t it time to give up on this Brian Griese experiment and put Jeff Garcia back in? I was PRAYING for you to pass the ball. Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn were killing us. Brian Griese was giving us hope. 15/30 for 149 yards, 1 TD and 3 INT’s vs. a depleted secondary? Hmmmmmmm.
Stastistical Notes – Greg Jennings seems to be a favorite of Aaron Rodgers. He is on pace for 100 catches and 1900+ yards receiving. Ryan Grant is averaging 3.4 YPC and Brandon Jackson 5.2. Tampa has attempted 169 passes to only 106 rushes. Earnest Graham is on pace for 1300 rushing yards on only 228 carries.
Next Week’s picks
1. Titans over Ravens
2. Panthers over Chiefs
3. Bears over Lions
4. Packers over Falcons
5. Texans over Colts
6. Dolphins over Chargers
7. Giants over Seahawks
8. Eagles over Redskins
9. Bucs over Broncos
10. Bills over Cardinals
11. Dallas by 80 over Bengals
12. 49ers over Patriots
13. Jags over Steelers
14. Vikings over Saints
That’s all for the review this week!