Impressions from Week Eleven of the 2015 NFL Season

Not to sound like I’m piling on here, but OH MY GOD WHAT A HORRIBLE WEEK OF OFFICIATING! Has it always been this bad? Is this what people have been seeing week after week? If that’s the case, I don’t know how people can continue to not think the game’s fixed. Goodness gracious.

But controversial subject matter aside, this week somewhat shifted the power in both conferences, as teams that were once the underfoot of the NFL are suddenly becoming the teams to beat, and vice versa. A number of teams are on long winning streaks and long losing streaks. The end of the regular season should be an interesting one.

TENN @ JAX

Tennessee at Jacksonville

  • (Watched, incorrect)

To put it frankly, Tennessee just played far too conservatively in the fourth quarter. They were only up a single possession and they decided to run, run, run, when their running game was ineffective the entire game. Phil Simms or Jim Nantz, I don’t recall who, said something about coach Mularkey’s philosophy of sticking to the run throughout the entire game. This is fine and dandy… if your running game actually did something and your offensive line wasn’t awful. It just doesn’t make sense to me to run the ball when you had much more success passing it. Run it to set up some play action or something. Why run it so predictably on first and second down drive after drive?

A lot of people think that Blake Bortles is something of a work in progress. A quarterback that’s continually on the rise as an NFL starter. I… don’t see it. Sure, he’s thrown a lot of touchdowns and for a lot of yards, but a lot of it was in garbage time against teams with huge leads. His completion percentage is also well below average despite having a decent amount of weapons to his credit. To be fair, his offensive line doesn’t seem to give him a lot of time to work with. Time will tell, but I don’t see it.

It’s so weird seeing Jacksonville being included “In The Hunt” for the playoffs. What a wondrous time to be alive.

STL @ BAL

St. Louis at Baltimore

  • (Watched final Baltimore “drive,” incorrect)

Joe Flacco’s ironman streak ends after about eight seasons after he tore his ACL and MCL in this game. It was a good run, but the elite have to fall sometime.

And the hot topic for this week is St. Louis (again)! Last week, one of their players gave Teddy Bridgewater a knockout blow to the cranium as he was sliding and everyone but Jeff Fisher called him out for it. This week, Case Keenum, the starting St. Louis quarterback (for this week), suffered a very obvious concussion, but was not called out for it by Jeff Fisher. It’s almost like Jeff Fisher and staff don’t care! But that’s enough controversy, let’s get to the game recap:

I heard it was ugly and unenjoyable to watch. Glad I missed it.

WAS @ CAR

Washington at Carolina

  • (Watched one Washington drive before Halftime, correct)

Not much to say here, only that whoever picked Washington to win this looks awfully silly. Carolina’s a complete team, if not for their lack of weapons on offense for the passing game. Washington just looks inconsistent.

DEN @ CHI

Denver at Chicago

  • (Watched, incorrect)

Chicago had every opportunity to win this game. They missed open receivers in the endzone and their defense made the Denver offense punt what seemed like seven times during the game. They gained a lot of yards on the Denver defense through the air. They came close to tying it, until a questionable play call on the two-point conversion lost them the game.

Brock Osweiler had a good game. Not a great one, but good enough to rely on his defense to get the job done. There were times when I thought he faltered under pressure too quickly and other times when he was a little inaccurate. He came up big in the red zone, though. All in all, better than Manning’s played since, well, debatably 2014.

Would Jay Cutler have scored any touchdowns had he any weapons to work with? Sure, he has his tight ends, but they can’t be open all the time. He had inconsistent wide receiving threats the entire game. I’m sure he would’ve loved him some Jeffery.

DAL @ MIA

Dallas at Miami

  • (Did not watch, correct)

What’s that? Tony Romo comes back and Dallas wins? You don’t say? It’s almost like Tony Romo’s good or something. Hardy curse. Pssh.

He certainly didn’t play well to begin the game, though. Completed just over 50% of his passes (to start out) with 2 interceptions in the game. He’s shaking off rust, alright. Their defense has really stepped up, though. I would’ve expected more points from Miami on their own turf. Then again, the weather was not in their favor, which may have attributed to the lackluster games by each starting quarterback.

Miami, like Washington, looks to be an inconsistent team. One week, they’re alright, the other, they may as well be hitting a wall. They can’t seem to get anything going on either side of the ball. It’s a tragic thing, really, that seems to happen to Miami year after year. Is it too late to give Shula his job back?

OAK @ DET

Oakland at Detroit

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

I, uh, I’m not really sure what to make of this match-up.

Oakland is 0-3 against NFC North teams. That’s kinda bizarre, isn’t it? And had Chicago won on Sunday, they’d be 4-0 against AFC West teams! That’s really odd. Regardless, Detroit held Green Bay (at Lambeau Field) and Oakland (at Ford Field) to under 20 points. So… are they good now? I honestly can’t tell. And quite a few people saw this coming, too.

What happened to Oakland’s fans? Where’s all that enthusiasm around this up and coming team? Now it’s “hehe same old RAIDERS LOL!!!” And fans say the media flip flops too often. Calm down, people.

I will say this, though. Calvin Johnson is being utilized more. The defense is playing better, despite two starting corners being injured. Matt Stafford isn’t playing lights out, but good enough to win. It looks like this Detroit team is finally putting two and two together. I still think Jim Caldwell should be fired, but he’s wrapping up a “good finish” resume.

And Oakland. Yeah. I’m not really sure what’s going on here. Bad defense, according to some football commentators. Let me look at the time of possession for this game… 23:54 to 36:06. Not horrible, but Oakland could’ve had the ball longer, definitely.

NYJ @ HOU

New York at Houston

  • (Watched final New York drive, incorrect)

FitzMagic is hurting. He hasn’t played well since he injured his thumb and it’s definitely showing. You know what else is showing? New York’s defense is starting to crumble. They’re giving up way too many big plays. The team’s not what it used to be.

I had a gut feeling that Houston would win here, despite T.J. Yates starting, but I didn’t pull the trigger. And wouldn’t you know? They won. Houston is starting to look pretty good defensively. It makes me nervous to pick against them. Then again, New York is struggling and Cincinnati was, well, you know. They’ve won three in a row. And people were calling for Bill O’Brien’s head, too. Some people can’t seem to wait to jump on the “Fire _______!” bandwagon.

IND @ ATL

Indianapolis at Atlanta

  • (Watched final Atlanta drive, incorrect)

I feel really good for Matt Hasselbeck. In what very well may be his final season, he’s leading a team to victory… kinda.

This game was won by the defense. Hasselbeck, in reality, played somewhat shitty. If it wasn’t for Matt Ryan’s continuing offensive funk, Atlanta could’ve put this away by two scores. D’Qwell Jackson’s pick-six helped tremendously.

There’s not much else to say about this game. Indianapolis, against all odds, is finding ways to win. Atlanta, despite a great starting quarterback and great #1 wide receiver threat, and a good tight end in Jacob Tamme, find ways to lose 4 of the last 5 games. The grass was definitely greener on the other side of the regular season for Atlanta. And by that I mean the first five weeks of the season.

TB @ PHI

Tampa Bay at Philadelphia

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

My dilemma was not just pessimism, it seems. Tampa Bay throttled Philadelphia last Sunday, though according to those who watched the game, the Tampa Bay offense wasn’t as efficient as the stat sheet would suggest. Nevertheless, there’s one thing about the stat sheet that’s apparent: Mark Sanchez is clearly a back-up quarterback.

Props to Jameis Winston for a five touchdown performance. He’s proving himself to be a worthy #1 overall pick. And he’s just a rookie, too. It’s all uphill from here… unless he pulls an RG3. And how about Doug Martin? After a few forgettable years he’s starting to become the force he was in his rookie year. Things are finally coming together for Tampa Bay, it seems. Let’s just hope for them that Lovie Smith doesn’t fuck it up.

Speaking of fucking it up, Chip Kelly looks to have fucked up his team by trading away or releasing all of his talented players. I will say this though: ever since Jordan Hicks went down, this defense hasn’t really been the same. You could make the case that the offense’s ineptitude puts more pressure on them, and that looked to be the case against Miami last week. But 40+ points to Tampa Bay? That’s just pitiful. They need Bradford back quick if they want to close the bleeding wound. It doesn’t look good for Kelly’s job.

KC @ SD

Kansas City at San Diego

  • (Did not watch, correct)

I once made a joke that Kansas City was “the prettiest girl in the bar,” sneering at the fact that they won a game when I still wholly expected them to go 4-12 at best. Now, at 5-5, they might not be the prettiest girl at the bar, but they’ve got admirers. And a knock-out defense to boot.

Philip Rivers doesn’t have any pretty girls to pick up.

GB @ MIN

Green Bay at Minnesota

  • (Watched, incorrect)

I didn’t think it’d be a 30-13 blowout. I thought it would be much closer than that. This game was a lot like Week One when Minnesota faced San Francisco: Adrian Peterson couldn’t get going and the defense couldn’t stop the run. Teddy Bridgewater played better in this game than that game, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the awful offensive line struggles. Bridgewater was sacked more than my ex-wife (Haha, I’ve never been married).

Aaron Rodgers looked fine, if not for the pass rush and the constant drops by his receivers. Randall Cobb seems to be having a massive down year… as if the rest of the Green Bay offense. Despite this, thanks in part to Eddie Lacy’s big day, the offense roared to life against an elite Minnesota defense. At least, they were before they faced Green Bay.

SF @ SEA

San Francisco at Seattle

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Well, at least we know Blaine Gabbert is better than Jimmy Clausen. And Kaepernick. That must really sting.

In other news, I don’t think Lynch will be in Seattle after 2015. Not with how well Thomas Rawls has been playing.

CIN @ ARI

Cincinnati at Arizona

  • (Watched, correct)

HAHAHA CINCINNATI CAN’T WIN IN PRIMETIME HEORHORHORHOR!!!!!

No.

They played a hell of a lot better in this game than they did against Houston last week. They simply lost to a better team, as I’d hardly call Houston a better team than Cincinnati. Carsom Palmer, despite a shaky start, played his heart out and delivered knock-out throw after knock-out throw, as his running game was effectively disrupted.

Andy Dalton shook off his demons and played well, too. Giovani Bernard is such a useful tool, almost like Dion Lewis for New England before he was injured. As much as I feel A.J Green is overrated, he played a strong game, as well. Tyler Eifert is still a red zone threat. Overall, no problems with Cincinnati’s offense.

This was just a good game overall. If not for the officiating, I’d have no major complaints whatsoever. Two good teams duking it out with little to no major injuries.

BUF @ NE

Buffalo at New England

  • (Watched, correct)

Man, I was as frustrated watching this game as Brady was with his protection. Just blitz after blitz after blitz. Or fake blitzes. Rex Ryan had a lot of fun playing hide and seek with his rushers.

New England’s shuffling around offensive linemen like Tom Landry used to shuffle quarterbacks. It seems almost desperate. Goodness. If it wasn’t for New England’s strong secondary, this game may have tilted in Buffalo’s favor. It doesn’t help that Amendola got injured during the second half, either, leaving only Gronk as a reliable receiver, who was well covered the entire game. Buffalo seems to have the blueprint for knocking Brady off balance. An ugly offensive performance, on both sides. Strong defenses, though.

Then, we have the officiating. Oh, boy. The “inadvertent whistle.” The “Sammy Watkins giving himself up on the final play” play. The “The previous play is under review” call that came on determining whether or not a receiver in a two-minute drill made a first down or not with only a yard difference. Like it fucking matters! Everything involved with a catch. Pass interference. Holding. Anything subjective. Just… really, really bad. We need new refs.

An interesting week, a week full of “I should haves.” Teams regretting decisions and me regretting who I picked, especially during noon games. Nevertheless, it was fun and it paved the path to a more clear view of who the contenders and who the pretenders are. Next week, however, should be far more interesting.

  • Week Eleven Pick ‘Em record: 6-8
  • Overall Pick ‘Em record: 95-65

Impressions from Week Nine of the 2015 NFL Season

It was truly a week of upsets. Many experts (and me) incorrectly guessed a number of match-ups with teams favorited to win by a large margin. Because of this, their (and my) pick ’em records suffered tremendously. Nevertheless, the 2015 NFL Season chugs along without a care in the world. There are still three undefeated teams (Oops, spoiler) and the margin of efficiency between the teams in the league looks quite a bit like Arena Football. The winners win and win and the losers lose and lose.

There were also only 13 games this week, the least there will be in a week for the entire season (until Playoffs, of course).

[Cleveland @ Cincinnati]

  • (Watched, correct)

PRIMETIME. Good win, Dalton. Good win.

Not much to say on this one. Johnny Manziel had an okay performance, but his receivers dropped a lot of catches. His head coach also wanted him to stay in the pocket… and so did the opposing head coach. Anyone see anything wrong with that?

[Miami @ Buffalo]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

Whaddaya know? Miami still kinda sucks. I guess anyone could look good against the AFC South.

Buffalo had quite the revitalizing win after being embarrassed by Jacksonville in London last week. Tyrod Taylor only missed one pass the entire game… though he only tossed the ball 12 times, while they ran the ball 30-somethin’ times. It’s all they needed to do; they trampled Miami with their run game and with the deep pass.

I’m sure Miami misses Cameron Wake at this point. They didn’t get much pressure or stop the run at all. I didn’t want to speculate early on in the season, but now that we’re at the mid-way point… Ndamukong Suh’s contract looks a little extravagant. I guess Miami’s used to it. See: Mike Wallace.

Ryan Tannehill had quite the completion percentage. I suppose that’s what happens when you have Jarvis Landry catching anything and everything within five yards from the line of scrimmage. Jarvis Landry’s longest reception of the day? 24 yards. Without it, he had 10 catches for 45 yards. Quite the weapon he is.

[Green Bay @ Carolina]

  • (Watched sporadically in between breaks, incorrect)

As much as people give Aaron Rodgers shit for choking at the end, he was close enough to tying the game to worry Carolina fans. And he did it with next to no offensive weapons. Eat your heart out, Cam.

Cam Newton only completed 50% of his passes, but still scored 4 touchdowns to make the game a lot more high-scoring than I would’ve expected. Green Bay’s defense is starting to fall apart. Why? Who knows? They looked fine for the first five games. Then they let Philip Rivers throw for 500 yards. Then let an aging Peyton Manning throw all over them. Newton only threw for 50% of his passes, but 3 touchdowns through the air? With his receiving corp? Green Bay, what is going on?

Aaron Rodgers has also been sacked 11 times in the last 3 games. With as many Pro Bowl players as he has on his line, that’s unacceptable. It’s just been a case of inconsistency all-around for Green Bay on both sides of the ball.

Or hey, maybe Carolina’s just fuckin’ awesome?

[Jacksonville @ New York (Jets)]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

[St. Louis @ Minnesota]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

One of the hot topics of Week Nine’s slate of games is this one, where Lamarcus Joyner supposedly elbowed Teddy Bridgewater full-force right in the noggin, knocking him out for a few moments. Many are crying that this was a dirty move and Joyner should be suspended. Will he? From reports, not likely, but a fine is certainly coming his way. People are also speculating that the move was premeditated, as St. Louis’s defensive coordinator is none other than Gregg Williams, the one who instigated BountyGate with New Orleans back from 2009 to 2011.

Controversy aside, the game was interesting. St. Louis’s offense basically consisted of Greg Zuerlein’s leg, while Minnesota’s offense basically consisted of Adrian Peterson’s legs. Both defenses played spectacular and it was a game everyone expected: low scoring and run heavy. Nick Foles and Teddy Bridgewater are very similar: both kinda suck, and both rely too heavily on their defense and running game. In this case, Bridgewater’s running game and defense were the better options and that’s all there is to that.

[Washington @ New England]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Need I say anything here? New England’s really, really good, despite its shortcomings. Washington isn’t there… yet(?).

[Tennessee @ New Orleans]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

1 of 3 upsets this week that next to no one saw coming. New Orleans’ defense simply took a shit on the kitchen floor and didn’t clean it up by the time their mothers came home. And once again, Tennessee shows it’s not a force to be reckoned with on defense. It pulled through. It’s certainly better than New York (Giants)’s defense.

Drew Brees had another lovely game (plus a pick, but when does he ever not throw one?), but his running game was pretty bad. His offensive line has been very sporadic this season, giving up 21 sacks on the season at the halfway point. Their running game has also been either really good or really bad, depending on the defense they face. Many people thought New Orleans was a team on the rise, but it seems their defense just won’t let them get off easy.

A moral victory for Tennessee, but certainly not season saving. It’s nice for them to get a win when everyone was against them. I still don’t think they’re even close to the worst team in the league (I would argue Detroit, San Diego, and Jacksonville are all worse), but they aren’t getting anywhere near a winning record. I expect them to win 1, maybe 2 more games this season, but they’re destined for another top 10 pick in the 2016 draft. Maybe next year, eh?

[Oakland @ Pittsburgh]

  • (Watched final Oakland/Pittsburgh drive, incorrect)

Ben Roethlisberger is injured. Again. Now we get to watch Landry Jones start another game before a bye week. Hopefully he plays better than he did in his last start.

Both of these teams’ offenses played their hearts out. Antonio Brown had near 300 receiving yards and 17 catches. Derek Carr threw 4 touchdowns for the second week in a row. Both of these teams are good teams, but Pittsburgh was able to squeeze it out at the very end. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen as much support for a losing team as I have for Oakland this season. They’re 4-4, but people are super excited for their future, it seems. A future powerhouse of a team. Let’s just hope this isn’t just a one year thing.

Pittsburgh typically has an okay defense, but even against New York (Jets)’s defense, Oakland blew the cap off ’em. So perhaps Oakland’s offense is just that great. I’m sure it was a fun game to watch, it’s a shame I couldn’t. Now Pittsburgh needs to worry about Roethlisberger’s health, while Oakland has to worry about something completely different.

[New York (Giants) @ Tampa Bay]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

The funniest part about this game was the final few moments, when New York took a meaningless fumble back for a touchdown on Tampa Bay. It was a nice period for a bad sentence by Tampa Bay’s offense, which contributed to, like, 40 drops by its receivers. Tampa Bay had a chance the entire game, and its defense even stepped up by picking off Manning twice, but they couldn’t get it together. Probably because they suck, but whatever.

New York relied on Odell Beckham far too much. Again. Their offense stalled quite a few times during the game. They need to pick up the slack if they think they can take on New England next week. And their running game. Rashad Jennings is big and bruising, but he doesn’t get a whole lot of yards throughout the game. New York’s running game has been putrid this season. They need to shore that up. Quickly. Their defense isn’t exactly amazing, either. Maybe JPP can give them a little boost in the weeks to come. Maybe. I don’t know.

[Atlanta @ San Francisco]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

1 of 3 upsets this week. Atlanta has fallen far from their previous 5-0 record with great publicity. Now at 6-3, people are starting to call them out for their mediocre play, on offense specifically. Matt Ryan’s a top 10 quarterback, but he sure isn’t playing like one. Or maybe it’s his offensive line, as Devonta Freeman ran 12 times for 12 yards this game, making Ryan have to throw it just to catch up. San Francisco’s defense is pretty good at home, though.

And then, the controversy. 4th and Goal at the 1 yard line. Atlanta had been moving the ball pretty well against the defense for the entire drive. Down 4, Dan Quinn decides to kick the field goal instead of going for the touchdown. How did that result? His team lost by one… because he decided to go for the field goal, as the defense couldn’t stop San Francisco from getting first downs on their final drive. Ouch.

By the way, who was the starting quarterback for San Francisco? This guy:

  • 6-22 starting record
  • 25/26 TD/Int ratio
  • 53.4% career pass completion
  • 67.1 career quarterback rating

That must really sting.

[Denver @ Indianapolis]

  • (Watched, incorrect)

Tfw a perfect team loses to a shitty team:

The last of 3 upsets this week. On the bright side, Andrew Luck’s kidney exploded during the game, so now we get to see Matt Hasselbeck’s last hurrah as a starting quarterback for the next few weeks. Hopefully it goes more smoothly than Peyton Manning’s last year.

[Philadelphia @ Dallas]

  • (Watched, correct)

At this point, I was 5-6 in picks. I was at a serious risk for my first losing week of the season. I was nervous as hell coming into this game, but I was confident that Philadelphia would pull this out. And they did… in overtime. After giving up 27 points. Philadelphia’s defense? Are you home?

Nolan Carroll looked a lot like Bradley Fletcher in this game covering Dez Bryant. By that I mean he wasn’t even there. Dez Bryant had a good game, despite him being still slightly hurt. Matt Cassel also played a good game, kinda like how people expected him to play past 2010 in a Kansas City uniform. Alas, he couldn’t get it done, as Sammy Bradford was the hero of this game: by being okay during regulation, and great in overtime. Boy, oh boy.

Both defenses played “eh” this game. Dallas’s offensive line was predictably fantastic (except Tyron Smith, who struggled with Brandon Graham), allowing Darren McFadden to run all over the defense. Philadelphia’s offensive line also played pretty well. But then again, Greg Hardy is Dallas’s only true pass-rushing threat. It was simply a battle of possessions, as the offenses scored on nearly every drive in the second half.

It’s also nice to see Dallas lose. I really don’t like Dallas. I’m not afraid to admit it.

[Chicago @ San Diego]

  • (Watched, correct)

I was 6-6. If I lost here, I suffered the losing week. I was more shaky on this pick than the previous pick, as many others had San Diego beating Chicago, and I could perfectly understand why. Philip Rivers is elite. He has a few weapons left (not anymore). Chicago’s defense has a tendency to give up a lot of points to pass-happy teams, especially on the road (see: game at Ford Field). It looked like San Diego was the better team here, but once again, I believed in Chicago. Much like I believed them beating Kansas City on the road, I thought they could beat San Diego at home. I had a feeling. I went with it.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Nice to see Zach Miller have a great catch. I use that guy in Madden sometimes. He’s a cool dude. No, not this Zach Miller, this Zach Miller. Otherwise, Chicago played like they wanted it more, complete with a composed Jay Cutler and a constant “prevent” defensive scheme. I feel bad for Philip Rivers, as I like him, too, for the type of team he plays on. He clearly deserves better, but one man can only do so much. Needs a little more dosage of Woodcock, maybe.

San Diego’s season is over. There’s no way they’re making the playoffs with Denver at 7-1 and a rising Oakland team at 4-4. Not to mention, Philip Rivers has Danny Woodhead and Antonio Gates left as valuable offensive weapons. Stevie Johnson? Maybe. He didn’t exactly help his cause in the 4th quarter last Monday. He’s in a similar situation as Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco, except with a worse offensive line. Philip Rivers is a dead man walking. He’ll probably still throw for 5,000 yards. What else is he going to do?

Chicago looks okay. They’re 3-4 with Jay Cutler starting. If his defense was good, he’d probably be 5-2; 4-3 at the very least. Their season is far from being saved, but they have a good future.

  • Week Nine Pick ‘Em record: 7-6 ( ‘ .’)b
  • Overall Pick ‘Em record: 84-48

Impressions from Week One of the 2015 NFL Season

It was good to be an NFL tight end in Week One. Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Travis Kelce, Ladarius Green, Darren Fells, Tyler Eifert, Eric Ebron, Martellus Bennett, Jimmy Graham, and Jordan Reed all had at least fifty receiving yards and one touchdown reception in the first week of games. Some of the names I listed even had two touchdown receptions. Gronkowski had three.

It wasn’t good to be a Vikings, Browns, or Buccaneers fan in Week One. These three teams got blown out by teams many don’t predict having winning seasons. The 49ers, who admittedly looked good on Monday, lost basically half their roster during the offseason. The Jets are starting a seasoned veteran that doesn’t have much on his resume and a talented, but inconsistent receiving corp. Finally, the Titans went 2-14 last season. They revamped the team with a few key additions, including first round pick Marcus Mariota, but I doubt they’ll make any drastic improvements with their team. Nevertheless, the Buccaneers were simply outplayed in every way.

(Note: My impressions for a majority of these games are based on stats and a few highlights. While I love stats and numbers when it comes to football, I know they don’t necessarily paint the whole picture, so take with that what you will. I will note the games I did watch below the game headers. I will also note whether or not my Pick ‘Em guess was accurate from my previous entry.)

[Pittsburgh @ New England]

  • (Watched, incorrect)

Deflategate sure made Tom Brady fall flat, huh?! That was such a genius interpretation on my part. Never doubt Tom Brady, especially at home.

As for the rest of the game, it’s impressive to see how few weapons Tom Brady needs to succeed in games. Those weapons are Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and [Insert starting running back name here]. The gameplan boiled down to the Edelman-Lewis show outside the red zone, then the Gronkowski super deluxe finale within the red zone. It’s really embarrassing for Pittsburgh to fall victim to this scheme over and over and over again. That defensive secondary was problematic the entire game, while New Englands’ defensive secondary looked great despite losing debatably the best cornerback in the NFL in Darelle Revis.

Antonio Brown was amazing, as he always is, but hardly proved a threat in the long run. Speaking of long runs, DeAngelo Williams looked really good, too, thanks in part to a solid showing by the Pittsburgh offensive line. However, once they got into the red zone, the offense fell flat. The play-calling was subject and New Englands’ defense held up really well. Pittsburgh’s offense all-around was decent, up until the part where they actually needed to score points. And they didn’t. So they lost. It’s their defense that worries me. Very little pressure on Tom Brady throughout, and receivers were getting open like nobody’s business. There were, say, three, four blown coverages that game? Pittsburgh need to clean up their mess of a defense if they want any chance of making the playoffs.

[Indianapolis @ Buffalo]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

Man. That Buffalo defense sure is something. Andrew Luck and their so-called elite offense didn’t even reach the endzone until the third quarter. That’s pretty pathetic, especially for Indianapolis, who are among the discussion for Super Bowl contenders. I’m pretty sure I recall Luck throwing two interceptions before the half, too. Frank Gore only ran the ball eight times. T.Y. Hilton was the only consistent receiving threat, but left in the third quarter due to injury. Luck was sacked only twice in the game, but I heard he was pressured all day. So, instead of using a first round draft pick on an offensive lineman, Indianapolis decided to use it on a wide receiver. Starting to look a little naive with that choice.

Tyrod Taylor, on the other hand, looked fantastic with what he was asked to do. He only passed the ball 19 times, but completed 14 of them. No interceptions. He even rushed for quite a few yards, too. Buffalo doesn’t have a lot of offensive weapons, but Taylor made the most of what he had. Oh, and LeSean McCoy had 17 rushes for 41 yards. Against Indianapolis’s sluggish defense? Real elite running back there. This has little to do with the game. I just don’t like McCoy. My personal disdain for Shady aside, the Buffalo defense was everything people expected it to be and more. It’s looking to be up within the top 5 defenses this year, assuming nothing goes haywire.

[Cleveland @ New York (Jets)]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Cleveland are a sad, sad mess.

New York is also a mess, but less sad than Cleveland. I was genuinely surprised at how one-sided this game was. Guess you can never count out FitzMagic. Their defense looked up to standards as well. Then again, who are they defending against? Brian Hartline? Travis Benjamin? Johnny Manziel? Cleveland was up against a mountain. They didn’t bring the necessary equipment.

I was also fairly surprised at how not good Cleveland’s defense was. They held up pretty well until halftime, but after that, it was touchdown city for New York. I guess the team imploded after realizing they could actually win the game. For those not aware, Cleveland has a tendency to do that. No one really knows why or how.

[Carolina @ Jacksonville]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Remember what I said about Cleveland self-imploding after realizing they could win a game? The same could be said about Jacksonville.

Jacksonville was down a single point at halftime, showing rare resilience against a playoff team (to be fair, Carolina got into the playoffs last year because their division is awful). After halftime? Zero points scored. Ten points given up. Such has been the case for Jacksonville since, well, a while. The last five years, at least. Gus Bradley is on the hot seat. And if he isn’t, he should be.

I think I remember at one point seeing that Cam Newton was, like, 6 of 13 passing in the game. That was mindblowing to me. Sure, I don’t think Cam Newton is as good as everyone claims he is, but I didn’t think he’d cower under the might of Jacksonville’s lower twenties ranked defense. Then again, who was he throwing to? Jerricho Cotchery. Philly Brown. Tedd Ginn. Ick. At least he has Greg Olsen! Who… had one catch by the end of the game. Wow. I can see why Newton struggled early on. Jon Stewart (not that one) had a good day rushing, though, so at least they have that going for them. Carolina’s defense also provided five sacks and two interceptions. Step up the pass protection, Jacksonville.

[Green Bay @ Chicago]

  • (Watched three quarters, correct)

Oh, my God, guys! Jay Cutler is so bad! Look at his stats! They are so gross! Ugh! I thought Jay Cutler looked pretty good, actually. He managed the game well and completed the ball when he had to. Not the mention, his receivers dropped a couple passes, too. Though, this could also be deemed true by a terrific performance by Matt Forte, who gained, like, 180 overall yards rushing and receiving. Green Bay’s run defense was looking eerily similar to how it was last year before they put Clay Matthews inside. Speaking of Clay Matthews, he played amazing. Julius Peppers had 1.5 sacks, but was pretty silent aside from a few tackles for a majority of the game.

I would think Chicago would have had a better chance if they had any receiving threats. Or if they weren’t facing Green Bay. Jokes aside, the offense looked okay for the most part. Chicago didn’t get completely blown out like I expected them to, so that’s definitely a plus. Chicago may finish the season with an okay record. Their defense, while still bad, didn’t look bottom of the barrel. Then again, most defenses look bad against Aaron Rodgers, even without Jordy Nelson. Rodgers didn’t even have that stellar of a game. Didn’t pass for two hundred yards, but got three touchdowns in, along with some gaudy rushing numbers. Green Bay’s offense is definitely worse without Jordy, but it’s still good enough to put 31 points on the board.

[Kansas City @ Houston]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

J.J. Watt is still amazing. Travis Kelce is coming into his own.

Houston’s offense is starting to crumble. Brian Hoyer was pulled in the fourth quarter for back-up Ryan Mallett after a poor showing. Their run game was dismal, but a few receivers had good games (DeAndre Hopkins, Nate Washington). Their offensive line looks pretty bad, too. They gave up five sacks. Some of the highlight reels show a lot of way too wide open receivers, which makes me question the state of Houston’s defensive secondary as well. I actually thought this team looked good going into the 2015 season. Now that it’s here, there are definitely some issues facing this team.

Kansas City is a different story. Still no touchdown to a wide receiver, but Travis Kelce is starting to become the AFC West’s Rob Gronkowski. Alex Smith had a great game and Jamaal Charles had an okay game rushing and receiving. Aside from J.J. Watt, because he’s a god, no sacks from Houston’s defense. Kansas City is looking like an improved team. Their defense held Houston to 13 points until the fourth quarter. It’ll be interesting to see how the season plays out for them.

[Miami @ Washington]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

I really need to stop putting off-the-field adversities as a sign of weakness from a team. Washington’s defense actually held Miami to 17 points! Miami! With Ryan Tannehill and Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron and Greg Jennings! What’s going on with the NFL world?

Washington’s offense, on the other hand, looked (expectantly) like a mess. DeSean Jackson got injured early on, and after that, little offense to speak of. A few of Washington’s offensive players had decent games, too. Like Jordan Reed and Alfred Morris. It’s unusual they didn’t get more points on the board. Then again, recently-cut kicker Kai Forbath missed a field goal. I guess that’s enough to get you cut from Washington?

Miami’s defense was stellar, as many predicted it would be. Surprisingly few sacks, considering Washington’s offensive line, but only held them to 10 points. Included with this was two interceptions. A lot closer of a game than I would have expected, but Miami pulled it out regardless. Would I be worried? Maybe.

[Seattle @ St. Louis]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

They ran the ball on 4th and 1. They didn’t get it. An eerie reminder of what could have been last February.

St. Louis actually won. It was in overtime and it was close almost all the way through, too. This would’ve been a game I’d like to have watched, because there were touchdowns all around in many different ways. A punt return touchdown from both teams. Tavon Austin had a rushing touchdown. It was insanity.

Russell Wilson was good completion-wise, but threw an interception early on. I was also pretty surprised by how high-scoring this game was. 31-34? Are the Cowboys playing the Saints? Where’s the defense we know from these two teams? Lots’a sacks from both teams, though. Nick Foles played well in his debut in St. Louis, which surprised me some. Against Seattle’s defense, I would’ve thought he’d throw a pick or four. There’s not much else to say other than it was a very odd game.

[Detroit @ San Diego]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

C’mon, Detroit. Where’s that #2 defense you had last year? 33 points? And a comeback, nonetheless? You aren’t doing much to make me think you’re the real deal. Maybe you should’ve kept Suh, hmm? Regardless, Matt Stafford threw two picks and Calvin Johnson had two catches. Golden Tate had two, too. So many twos. You probably won’t win many games when your best offensive weapons aren’t getting the ball. Ameer Abdullah looked pretty good, though. Joique Bell? Not so much.

San Diego was a bit of the same, except Keenan Allen decided he wanted to have a reception buffet and hauled in 15 fucking passes! Philip Rivers showed he was feeling better from last year, aside from his own two picks. Danny Woodhead’s two touchdown runs were also fairly impressive, as he’s more of a pass catcher than a full-on running bruiser. Detroit’s defense had two sacks. San Diego’s had one. Both had two interceptions. Both gave up more than 27 points. I think both of these defenses have some practicing to do.

[New Orleans @ Arizona]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Drew Brees, my sweet, sweet knight. How long do you have before your arm loses its might? His numbers this game were very un-Brees-like, aside from the pass attempts and yards. The running game was pathetic and no receiver had any distinguishable good games (based on stats). The defense, as I predicted (and everyone else, too) was awful. Rob Ryan has shown to be a one-year wonder and needs to go. Either that or their defense need to be revamped with some fresh players. New Orleans didn’t look good. They probably won’t look good the rest of the year, either. I wonder how, or if, they recover?

Arizona is still a good team. How good? We may never know. There have been so many “buts” with this team it’s hard to tell anymore. They don’t have a playoff win under Bruce Arians, but they had to start a third-string quarterback against Carolina. Their defense is really good against the run, but questionable against the pass. They have a lot of talented running backs, but none of them seem to have much of an impact. Arizona is hard to pinpoint, and winning against a poor road team like New Orleans isn’t helping any. At least Larry Fitzgerald still seems productive. Carson Palmer looks good, too, coming off an ACL tear. Let’s hope he doesn’t get injured… again.

[Baltimore @ Denver]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Yeesh. Neither quarterback in this game looked good at all.

Peyton Manning, with all his numbers and honors and penchant for perfection, looked like a beaten old man. He had one interception, no touchdown passes, and didn’t throw for 200 yards, despite passing the ball 40 times. Those are numbers for a typical back-up quarterback, not Peyton Manning. Joe Flacco, on the other hand, fared far worse. Barely had over 100 yards passing and threw two interceptions, with no touchdown passes. Neither team had more than 75 yards rushing. Baltimore didn’t even have one player exceed 25 receiving yards. No touchdown passes. An ugly, ugly offensive game.

Defense, however, proved to be the deciding factor for both teams. Sacks aplenty for both teams, along with a 13-19 finish. Despite the ugly offensive showing, both teams had a chance to win all throughout. It just happened to be the team with more field goals made. Offensive line has become a question mark for both of these teams. And further down the road, Peyton Manning’s ability will be called into question, too. You can’t win the Super Bowl with an offensive performance like this. Your defense has to be very good in order to even make the Super Bowl. Right, 2006 Chicago Bears?

[Cincinnati @ Oakland]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Andy Dalton had a good game. Not that I expected him to have a bad game, but he needs to show this sort of resiliency in games that not just I, but everyone can see. The surprise of the Cincinnati offense here was Tyler Eifert. With the numbers he put up, you’d think he was A.J. Green out there. Getting rid of Jermaine Gresham, for the moment, looks to have been a good move.

Oakland’s offense was a little less stellar. They didn’t start actively scoring until late in the game, at the point where they were down 30-0. Cincinnati’s defense looked pretty meh all season last season. Is this just a good showing? Or is Oakland’s offense just that mediocre? I’m going with the latter. Then again, Derek Carr got injured a little ways into the game, so they had a back-up quarterback for a majority of the game. Who knows? Probably just Oakland being Oakland, much like Cleveland being Cleveland or Jacksonville being Jacksonville.

[Tennessee @ Tampa Bay]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

Do not let Marcus Mariota’s numbers fool you. He let his receivers do most of the work. Nevertheless; four touchdowns, no interceptions, and over ten yards per attempt? That’s a good start for the #2 overall pick. The rest of Tennessee’s offense fared pretty well, too. Delanie Walker, Kendall Wright, and Bishop Sankey all had pretty good games. Is Tampa Bay’s defense so bad that even Tennessee’s offense looks good against them? That’s kinda sad. Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David can’t do all the work. Pick up the pace, guys.

Jameis Winston’s first NFL pass was a pick-six. A sign of doom and gloom or something altogether (Brett Favre’s first NFL pass was a pick-six)? Nevertheless, after that, the offense didn’t get much going. Again, against Tennessee’s defense. Did I mention that Tennessee went 2-14 last season? My guy Derrick Morgan had two sacks in the game. But it’s Tampa Bay’s offensive line, so that’s not all too surprising. Tampa Bay’s just kind of a mess. Much like it was last year. I wonder who they’ll win against this year?

[New York (Giants) @ Dallas]

  • (Watched the final quarter, correct)

I don’t know what the hell Dallas was doing up until the very end of the game, but it wasn’t very Dallas-like. Turnovers and fumbles and dropped passes, oh my! And worst of all, the fair prince Dez Bryant suffered a serious injury. Dallas’s offense probably won’t be as prolific without him, but nevertheless, I think they’ll be okay. Their defense looked pretty good, for the most part, too. Sure, they gave up 26 points, but 17 of those were off turnovers, aka shortened field length to the endzone. Outside of turnovers, only 9 points. Dallas, despite its losses, are still a fairly complete team. And whether people agree with me or not, Tony Romo is among the top 10 quarterbacks in the league.

The saddest part about this game is that New York could’ve won. They had a minute and a half to go, and Eli decides to stop the clock by throwing the ball out of bounds on third down. Take the sack and, hell, run around like an idiot and waste some clock time, and maybe Dallas wouldn’t have had time to score that last second touchdown. Then again, with how bad New York’s middle-of-the-field coverage looked in that last drive, Tony Romo could’ve just thrown a Hail Mary down the middle to Lance Dunbar and won the game.

One other thing that stuck out was offensive line, for both teams. Only one sack between both teams, and each starting back had a decent yards per carry average. New York might be a mediocre team, but they can at least keep Eli Manning upright. Dallas’s offensive line is already greatly established from last season as one of the best.

[Philadelphia @ Atlanta]

  • (Watched, incorrect)

This one had all the makings of a Philadelphia comeback win. Down 20-3 at the half, they suddenly come roaring back after Atlanta’s offense starts stalling. If Cody Parkey didn’t miss that field goal in the fourth quarter, Philadelphia may be 1-0 right now.

One thing any NFL fan would notice about Atlanta is their defense. It looked astronomically better than it did last year, holding off Philadelphia’s notably fast-paced offense (until the second half). Despite the almost comeback, Atlanta held firm when it needed to, coming up with an interception in the final minute of the game. In regards to Philadelphia’s defense, it looked to me like it has the talent to be a good defense, but I don’t think the chemistry is there yet. Byron Maxwell got beat multiple times by both Roddy White and Julio Jones, making his offseason signing look a little fishy. They made some plays and provided quarterback pressure, especially in the second half, so I wouldn’t be too worried in the long run.

The pairing of Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray didn’t look up to par that night, though. It took a while for Bradford to get his game going. When he did, most of his completions were hitch routes or screens or crossing routes. Aka: easy throws. However, he still ended the night with two interceptions. DeMarco Murray looked completely unlike his former Dallas self, running for nine yards on eight carries. That’s more than pathetic; that’s humiliating. Darren Sproles ran for more vigor and spirit than he did, and he’s 32 years old. Murray was little more than a non-factor the entire game, until they basically took him out completely by the fourth quarter. Philadelphia’s defense I’m not worried about. Its offense, however? A few more questions surface after that loss.

Atlanta’s offense was surprisingly balanced. Tevin Coleman looks like a future star and Matt Ryan is already a star. It helps when you throw to other stars in Julio Jones and Roddy White. Atlanta’s offense is just full of shooting stars. If only some of those stars were on the offensive line. Or at tight end. Seriously, Atlanta. Would it kill you to draft or sign a decent pass-catching tight end? It might help in the long-run.

[Minnesota @ San Francisco]

  • (Watched, incorrect)

Of all the games in my pick ’em list, this game made me look the worst.

San Francisco lost so many players! They aren’t half the team they were last year! The sky is falling and Hell is rising upon the state of California! On the opposing side, Minnesota has Adrian Peterson back! Teddy Bridgewater is sure to improve upon his rookie season! Their defense is stout!

I fell for it. I fell for it all. The offseason hype, the offseason drama. The preseason performances and Teddy’s stupid “110 QB rating” nonsense in that span. When it came down to it, Minnesota turned into Cincinnati in primetime.

San Francisco, outside of the first quarter, looked spectacular. A well run machine. And by well run, I mean Carlos Hyde is filling the hole Frank Gore left tremendously. San Francisco’s offensive line was like a horde of giants, trampling Minnesota’s puny defensive line like they were tree branches. This, I believe above all else, was the deciding factor of this game. Kaepernick had all day to throw and Hyde had holes bigger than a whale’s gaping asshole to run through. It was over by halftime. Minnesota couldn’t get anything going, neither on offense of defense, despite early chances by poor San Francisco special teams play.

I wonder what happened to Vernon Davis? Just a couple years ago, he was among the top tight ends in the game. Now, he’s catching two or three passes a game. Is he declining? Or is he just being ignored for other options? Whatever it is, he isn’t contributing much to the offense. Instead they have Garrett Celek.

I wonder what happened to Mike Wallace? Just a couple years ago, he was among the top wide receivers in the game. Now, he’s catching two or three passes a game. Is he declining? Or is he just being ignored for other options? Whatever it is, he isn’t contributing much to the offense. Instead they have… who do they have? Charles Johnson? Good luck, Minnesota.

Questions aside, San Francisco looked really good against a team with a lot more talent than their execution showed. Their defense, without all of those lost in the offseason, still looked like the San Francisco defense of the past couple of years. If their offensive line keeps of their reign of terrors, they could go places. But only if.

Minnesota? Yeah. They have a lot of uncertainty heading towards the rest of the season.

It was an interesting week of upsets and typical bad teams looking really, really good. Elite quarterbacks looked like rookies and new starters looked like elite passers. The one thing I could take away from this week of NFL football is that I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. That being said, I’ll probably still pick against Jacksonville.

  • Week One Pick ‘Em record: 9-7.
  • Overall Pick ‘Em record: 9-7.