If you were to ask 100 football fans what the highlight of this week was, you would receive a good variety of answers. The clock management mistakes. The revival of Miami’s confidence. Chicago @ Detroit’s horrible officiating. Landry Jones’ stellar play to relieve an injured Mike Vick. The 4th down fake punt by Indianapolis, which has become another symbol of their decline. All of these things and more make up what was a fascinating week of football, and a horrible week for pick ’em (at least for me).
Many teams I had confidence in were either blown out or embarrassed. I learned a lot this week, specifically about the AFC South, and hope to improve next week on my pick ’em performance. But that’s not what’s important here. We’re here for football, so allow me to recap the week’s slate of games.
[Atlanta @ New Orleans]
- (Watched the final quarter, incorrect)
I didn’t see all of this game, but thanks to a few game recaps, I see that Atlanta was very, very mistake prone during this game. Multiple fumbles, a blocked punt, and a defense that couldn’t seem to stop Ben Watson or Will Snead. Drew Brees only threw a single touchdown pass, but his presence was felt in this game. A great moral victory for New Orleans, but I don’t see them improving much from this game.
Atlanta, on the other hand, should’ve been better. Had they not caused so many mistakes, they likely could’ve won this game. New Orleans’ defense allowed Devonta Freeman to rush for 100 yards on only 13 carries. That’s not a good sign. Not to mention, as much as people claim that Delvin Breaux “silenced” Julio Jones, I don’t think 6 catches for 93 yards is exactly “silencing.” Though, I believe Julio only had one catch during the second half, so I suppose it’s worth merit.
I’m not too worried about Atlanta after this game. They just played far below standards and New Orleans took advantage. One thing that’s troubling for Atlanta, though, is once Matt Ryan had to drop back and wait for receivers to come open, the defensive line swarmed him effortlessly. Their offensive line can’t seem to handle being so one-dimensional. Otherwise, a good moral victory for New Orleans, but Atlanta will likely bounce back.
[Cincinnati @ Buffalo]
Well. Buffalo’s defense sure is elite, huh?
This is quite the humbling loss for Buffalo. They’re at home. They’re up against an explosive offense. They had their chance to show their stuff and blew it. Cincinnati seems to be for real, but many would’ve said that weeks ago. Andy Dalton is playing like Tony Romo out there. And the reason I use Tony Romo’s name here is because both Dalton and Romo are attacked often for making mistakes in big games. Despite this, both have proven to be very good regular season quarterbacks.
How about Tyler Eifert, though? I didn’t think much of him back in 2013 when they drafted him, but he’s become one of the top-performing pass-catching tight ends in the NFL. No wonder they got rid of Gresham. He’s already caught 6 touchdown passes and is on pace for a 70 catch, near-1,000 yard season. He’s become one of many valuable weapons for this offense to play with. And on the flipside, Carlos Dunlap has 6.5 sacks on the season. That’s #1 in the NFL right now. And his career high? 9.5, back in his rookie season. He’s on pace for about 18.
Buffalo provided some good offense under E.J. Manuel, and the game was actually pretty close going into halftime. However, they did next to nothing in the second half despite a good running game. Buffalo isn’t the offensive powerhouse that can come from behind in these types of situations. That seems to be a staple of Rex Ryan’s teams: Don’t give the opposing offense points, so we won’t have to get any ourselves.
[Denver @ Cleveland]
I had a funny feeling this one would be close. My heart was pumping like a jackhammer once I learned the game went into overtime. Josh McCown had some bad errors early on, but had his way with the defense just enough to tie it at the end of regulation. Would Cleveland be this efficient on offense with Manziel? Maybe. Maybe not.
Peyton Manning is really struggling. He has 7 touchdowns to 10 interceptions on the season and can’t really seem to stretch the field as much as he used to. It’s starting to get to the point where people are wondering if he should be benched for back-up Brock Osweiller. Though, he’s winning games, and that’s all that matters, really. Still, one has to wonder if he can continue to win with just the support of his defense alone. At least Ronnie Hillman had a good game to give him some running support.
Cleveland’s defense showed up this game. Not so much against Ronnie Hillman, but definitely against Peyton Manning. 3 interceptions in the game, including one in overtime, but no sacks, which is surprising considering Denver’s offensive line issues. They held them to only 23 points in regulation without the help of Joe Haden. And Cleveland’s offense? Surprisingly, it’s starting to look like a good unit, Travis Benjamin and Gary Barnidge especially. Think about this for a moment: Gary Barnidge has more touchdown receptions this season than Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Antonio Brown, and Julio Jones. Gary fucking Barnidge. Seriously.
[Chicago @ Detroit]
- (Watched final 45 minutes, incorrect)
Well, everyone on the football forums said that this game was disgusting in terms of officiating. The Golden Tate “touchdown” was definitely questionable, but I didn’t see a whole lot otherwise. Except, well, the very obvious and blatant holding of Willie Young on the miracle pass to Calvin Johnson. I was absolutely shocked that that wasn’t called. Twitter was pretty shocked, too.
It made me feel like I was cheated, swindled out of my pick. But hey, Chicago had all game to turn it around, including two possessions in overtime that were ultimately wasted because they believed running Matt Forte, who was under 3 yards a carry throughout most of the game, on first and second down repeatedly would be a good idea. Both of these teams were so petrified to throw a ball deep that they were either sacked in the process or threw dump-offs to short-crossers. It made me feel sick as a backseat offensive coordinator.
Detroit’s first win came with controversy, but that could’ve happened against Seattle, too. I was actually surprised to learn that a majority of experts picked Detroit to win this game. I was almost certain that Chicago would win. So certain, in fact, that the non-call at the end of the game involving Willie Young being held made me a very grumpy blogger. Oh well. Good to see Calvin Johnson being amazing again, despite what the stupid media thinks of his “bad stats.”
[Houston @ Jacksonville]
- (Did not watch, incorrect)
Another game I had a lot of confidence in. This is part 1 or 2 of “Why I should always pick against the AFC South.” This part, though, pits 2 AFC South teams against each other, so it’s a little tricky. However, one thing seemed to slip my mind when choosing this match-up:
Jacksonville is still Jacksonville. At home or on the road, this team is among the worst in the league.
I put too much confidence in Brian Hoyer struggling and Ryan Mallett coming in to relieve him, only to lose the game—much like against Indianapolis, but Jacksonville is not Indianapolis. I also realized something from this game: Blake Bortles is not very good, despite a decent amount of weapons. Sure, he can score touchdowns… in garbage time. He’s also terribly inconsistent and pick-prone. Then again, he had no running game and was sacked three times. What’s a man supposed to do? Try and imitate Andrew Luck in 2014?
DeAndre Hopkins leads every major statistical receiving category in the NFL (aside from touchdowns and YPC) right now. This may be because he’s good, but it may also be because he’s Houston’s only genuine threat. Who else do they have? Arian Foster? Maybe. Garrett Graham? Who’s that? Cecil Shorts? Meh. Wait til Nate Washington comes back. He’ll have a 300-yard, 4 touchdown game against Miami next week or Tennessee the week after. I guarantee it. Nevertheless, Houston’s offense shouldn’t be underestimated. Their defense is good sometimes, too.
[Kansas City @ Minnesota]
I think if I could name this game, I’d call it “Under the Bridgewater.”
Why name it this? Because if Adrian Peterson doesn’t perform well, neither does Teddy Bridgewater. His performance against Kansas City was lower than dirt. It was underneath the bridge water. One could say that Kansas City’s defense is good and he only struggled because of it, but hey, Bridgewater’s touchdown to interception ratio is 3 to 4. He’s struggling. A lot.
Speaking of struggling, this Kansas City offense can’t seem to get anything going, either. You could say that Minnesota’s defense is good and they only struggled because of it, but hey, it’s Alex Smith. And Jeremy Maclin was injured.
Both of these teams rely far too much on their defense. They both also rely on a strong running game, even though Andy Reid prefers passing the ball 100% of the time. Adrian Peterson couldn’t get much going. Kansas City has no running back once Jamaal Charles went down with a season-ending injury. And here I thought Knile Davis was underused coming into this week. It turns out he’s just not that good.
Both of these teams are gonna struggle later on in the season if they don’t brush up on their offense.
[Miami @ Tennessee]
- (Did not watch, incorrect)
I will admit: I’m a huge idiot.
This is part 2 of “Always pick against the AFC South.” I thought Tennessee, after some close calls against Indianapolis and Buffalo, was actually an alright team. I was very, very wrong. Once they went up against a team with loads of talent on both sides of the ball, what do you know? They got completely annihilated. Have the Dolphins turned a new leaf? Or is Tennessee just that bad? Both, more than likely.
Marcus Mariota started the season off so well, too. Now he’s playing like a true rookie quarterback on a bad team. I almost feel bad for him. The offense is bad, the defense is bad. Everything’s bad (except Fasano and Morgan, of course), especially the offensive line. How many times has Mariota been sacked so far this season? 19 times. In 5 games. Yeesh.
Miami is a different story. They gave up some sacks, sure, and Tannehill threw a few picks, but that didn’t stop the offense from scoring 31 points. And the defense only gave up 10 points, and scored a touchdown of their own. They were simply the better team this game. Cameron Wake showed that difference in power tremendously.
[Washington @ New York (Jets)]
There’s nothing really new here: New York’s defense is fantastic and Washington’s offense is shitty. Now headlines are starting to propose that Kirk Cousins should be benched for Colt McCoy (I’m all for it). Why is this? Kirk Cousins’ touchdown to interception ratio is 6 to 8. Not to mention, his quarterback rating is below 80. That’s pretty bad now a days.
Washington’s defense couldn’t stop anyone by the second half. FitzMagic and Chris Ivory had their way whenever they wanted to. It was really sad to see Washington’s defense, after a good defensive game against Atlanta last week, give up three touchdowns. If New York hadn’t started fumbling in the first half, it may have been close to a blowout.
[Arizona @ Pittsburgh]
- (Did not watch, incorrect)
If I told you that Mike Vick went 8 for 12 for two touchdowns and near 150 yards, would you believe me? You shouldn’t, because he got injured early in the game. Landry Jones, gentlemen and gentlemen, had those numbers.
Landry Jones? The guy who looks awful in the preseason every year? Yep. The very one. He came in and decided that he was tired of Mike Vick being so ineffective and started chucking throws to the best receivers. This, in turn, made Arizona have to play catch-up, which didn’t work out too well for them, as Pittsburgh’s defense has improved considerably since Week One. All in all, a great showcase for Landry Jones, who will be starting next week due to Vick’s injury, and Pittsburgh’s defense, who held one of the NFL’s best scoring offenses to just 13 points.
But man, Arizona. They looked pretty good this year, too. Now, all of a sudden, they go against better defenses and they can’t get the offense going. Not against St. Louis and not against Pittsburgh. Sure, they can score a hundred points against Chicago, Detroit, and San Francisco (at home), but those teams aren’t exactly what one would define as “good.” Is Arizona really as good as its record shows? After this loss, doubts are starting to creep in. One thing’s for sure: they’re the best team in the NFC West thus far. Only St. Louis seems to be their only competition.
[Carolina @ Seattle]
- (Did not watch, incorrect)
I still don’t think Cam Newton’s that good. But one thing’s for sure: he can win games with his arm.
I think more of Carolina’s win as the downfall of Seattle as opposed to the strength of Carolina. 4 times now Seattle’s defense has given up a fourth quarter lead. This time, it was to a passing offense made up of Ted Ginn, Jerricho Cotchery, Philly Brown, and Greg Olsen. Sure, you could make the case that last time was against Cincinnati’s great offense and they were on the road, but Seattle was at home this week and were facing the weapons above, only one of which is pro bowl quality. If this isn’t Seattle’s defense at its lowest, maybe they should see how they do against Jacksonville. They might fuck that up, too. Nah, who am I kidding?
Cam Newton for MVP! Cam Newton for MVP! I think after this game, I can safely say that he at least warrants consideration. Not that I think he’ll get it or really deserves it over, say, Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady or, hell, even Andy Dalton, but he’s been very impressive with the type of receivers he has. And his defense is enough to keep him looking good, too. He’s definitely someone to gameplan around.
Seattle’s offense? That offensive line won’t win them very many games.
[Baltimore @ San Francisco]
Oh, Baltimore. You used to be so good. And now? You’re the new Cleveland. Enjoy last place.
Really, though. Baltimore needs help. A lot of it. On both sides of the ball. Their offense has Steve Smith and Justin Forsett. That’s it. Their defense has Jimmy Smith in the secondary. That’s it. Sure, Baltimore has some key players on defense, too, but they’ve underperformed greatly. Perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to trade away Haloti Ngata and get rid of Torrey Smith via free agency. Both are missed greatly by this team.
San Francisco is okay at home, as long as they’re facing sub-par defenses. Hell, they were fine against New York last week, too. Their defense just didn’t play the way they should’ve. I believed Colin Kaepernick would have a good game and he did. He’s not bottom of the barrel, but he only seems to be good against teams with poor pass defenses. Good to see Torrey Smith have a big game against his former team.
There’s nothing really new here, either: Baltimore is bad and San Francisco is slightly above bad (at home).
[San Diego @ Green Bay]
For perhaps the first time this season, the lack of weapons for Aaron Rodgers made him look human. Green Bay’s offense couldn’t seem to get anything going during the later half of the fourth quarter of the game, giving San Diego multiple chances to tie the game. And man, Philip Rivers had quite the game. Passing the ball well over 60 times for 500 yards. If only his running game and offensive line had the same efficiency. San Diego’s offense could be elite if they fixed some of their o-line problems.
Green Bay’s defense is not to be trifled with. They survived Philip Rivers’ onslaught by giving up only 20 points. It was a nailbiter all throughout the second half, but they came up with some big stops. Green Bay solidified its place as one of the top teams with this performance. Philip Rivers got a shiny trophy for his 500 yard performance.
It makes me wonder about San Diego, though. They’re 2-4 on the season. Their only victories came against Detroit and Cleveland, both of which are below-average teams. If Rivers is really capable of this kind of offense passing the ball, why not just go ahead and keep doing that? Sure, it’ll make him one-dimensional, but with his o-line, the running game will almost never get going. What’s the point? Let your best player use the ball. He’s not getting any younger.
[New England @ Indianapolis]
It wasn’t the blowout I expected, but at least we got this:
[New York (Giants) @ Philadelphia]
So much for that new and improved New York offense, huh? Eli Manning was mistake-prone as ever and Philadelphia’s defense was truly on fire. It’s hard to imagine what this game’s final score would’ve been if Sam Bradford wasn’t so fucking bad.
DeMarco Murray had an okay game. I thought Jon Gruden had an excellent point about Murray as a north-south running back. Philadelphia has him running laterally and it doesn’t seem to suit him. I think Ryan Mathews is the much more suitable back in this situation. Murray’s good, he’s just not that good for the system Chip Kelly likes to run.
But hey, at least that defense is pretty great, right? Not so much New York’s defense, but Philadelphia’s was great on almost every drive but the first one. New York’s offensive line was pretty good entering this match-up, too. They just got overwhelmed.
A good win for Philadelphia. A humiliating loss by New York. And to think, I wasn’t sure who to pick coming into this game.
Another exciting week of football is in the books and two things have become very apparent to me: the AFC South is deceptively bad and the officiating will never get better. At least there weren’t any blown calls in the Monday Night game! That I saw, anyway….
Former elite quarterbacks are becoming Average Joes. Former Average Joes are becoming elite quarterbacks. Teams are learning that free agency isn’t always the answer and that letting people go through free agency can destroy a team. It’s the suspense and type of strategizing that makes football so intriguing for me, and I personally can’t wait for next week. Here’s to you, NFL fans!
- Week Six Pick ‘Em record: 8-6
- Overall Pick ‘Em record: 58-33