Monday, October 4, 2010
Week 4 was a week which the underdogs reigned supreme, as nine of the fourteen dogs covered, with six of them winning outright. This seems like more of an indication that this season is one of those which the parity is prevalent, in the sense that separation between the best and the worst aren't that great. It will all make sense later this week when I write my first power poll, for now, here's the recaps of this week's games.
Let's start with the Jets, who had the easiest win of the week. LaDainian Tomlinson dominated today and Mark Sanchez continued his effective passing game. The Jets seem well oiled and only will get better with Santonio Holmes, Darrelle Revis and Calvin Pace about to come back. As for the Bills, keep scouting Andrew Luck, Ryan Mallett and Jake Locker.
The game of the week was in Pittsburgh with another low-scoring battle between the Steelers and the Ravens. It was a must-win for the Ravens who couldn't afford to lose to Pittsburgh with Charlie Batch at QB. What impressed me about that game was how Joe Flacco was able to be somewhat effective, which is regular effective when playing the Steelers. Pittsburgh would have won had Jeff Reed hit a couple FG's, though, but that's another subtopic this year in the NFL, bad placekicking.
New Orleans continued it's Super Bowl hangover, struggling at home with the Panthers. The Saints left points early in the game by turning the ball over in Panthers territory twice. Also, the Saints couldn't score touchdowns and the mid-week acquisition of John Carney came up huge with a 3 for 3 day kicking FG's. Carolina was able to drive late, when the Saints defense turned up the pressure and Carolina couldn't even get a field goal try off. Panthers still have things to work on, but maybe they're no longer the worst in the league and Jimmy Clausen is gaining experience.
A funny game in Lambeau as the Packers had a barnburner with the always game Lions. Detroit really needs to learn how to win road games, but as Deion Sanders said on NFL Network last night, they aren't Homecoming anymore. Calvin Johnson makes his case for the best WR in football with his TD's, while Aaron Rodgers continued his impressive play. Once the Lions were stopped in the middle of the 4th quarter, the never saw the ball.
The game I figured was due to happen, the Bengals finally lost a game to a lesser team, which is bad enough, until you realize it's their archrival Browns. Yes, Terrell Owens had a big day, with 10 catches, 222 yards and a TD, but the offense still isn't that good and it's only a matter of time the mainstream media realizes that Carson Palmer isn't a good QB anymore. As for the Browns, all of a sudden, Peyton Hillis has become an effective running back. Still can't see this team play well enough to save Eric Mangini's job, and soon I want to see Colt McCoy play at QB.
The weirdest game happened in Tennessee as the Broncos rallied to win 26-20. Mostly nondescript game until the 4th when the Broncos got the ball at the Titans 1 after a pass interference call on a throw to Jabar Gaffney. After a penalty, Kyle Orton found Correll Buckhalter for the game-winning touchdown. On the kickoff, it was shades of the 1998 AFC Championship game for the Broncos as the kick was short and the Titans couldn't handle it. Denver took over, and iced it with a field goal. Still don't know what to make of either team.
This game was slightly weirder than Niners/Falcons, which played itself more like a Greek tragedy if you're a SF fan. They started so hot, getting a 14-0 lead, then let the Falcons slowly come back to make it 14-13 late in the 4th. That when Nate Clemens picked off Matt Ryan and ran it down the field, then loses focus on the run and gets stripped by Roddy White. Falcons proceed to march down the field and kick the winning field goal. Falcons survived their trap game and will move on, while the Niners continue to plummet and this might mean the end for Mike Singletary as head coach.
Instead of the Niners leading the NFC West, there's a three way tie at 2-2. The Cardinals lost another game on the road in blowout fashion 41-10 to the Chargers. Not much to say, the Chargers are playing well at home and the Cards are thinking about starting Max Hall next week. Meanwhile, the Rams had an easy win over the Seahawks at home and found themselves in a tie for first. I've been behind the Rams all year and I must say, they have the best chance to win the division. They have the best QB in rookie Sam Bradford, Steve Spagnuolo is as good a coach as that division has and Steven Jackson is skilled enough to make defenses key on the rush. The other thing to worry about is the Seahawks home field; they can win the division by going 8-0 at home alone.
Houston went into Oakland without Arian Foster for the first half. So they turned Derrick Ward into the version from the Giants early. It was close until Foster came in and ran a touchdown from 74 yards out. He scored another to make it 31-14, before holding on 31-24 over the Raiders. The Texans showed how good they are despite the loss of Andre Johnson, while the Raiders showed that...they're still the Raiders.
The play of the day happened in Jacksonville in a wildly competitive game between the Colts and Jaguars when Josh Scobee hit a 59 yard field goal to win it for the Jags. As usual when these two teams play, it was close, a back and forth contest which the guy with the ball last wins. Usually, that guy is Peyton Manning, but not yesterday. Now we have a Jags team, who I thought was among the five worst have the same record as Indianapolis.
The most hyped matchup Sunday was Donovan McNabb's return to Philly against Michael Vick's Eagles. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Vick got hit in the ribs and left the game and now won't play next week. That meant Kevin Kolb had to play again, and to be fair, he wasn't terrible and gets a chance to show how good he is with this week's game against the Niners. Meanwhile, McNabb and the Skins started fast, particularly with the running game, which the Eagles had trouble stopping all day. The second half was disjointed, but up 5 with 4 minutes left, McNabb ran for a first down, which didn't the Eagles much time for a comeback (though they came close). The Redskins win tied them with the Eagles for first with a very NFC West like 2-2.
Another team would join that tie as the Giants thoroughly dominated the Bears, even though the score was closer. Jay Cutler was battered by the Giants defense, sans Mathius Kiwanuka, to the tune of 9 sacks and left with a concussion at halftime. Once Todd Collins came in, the offense gave up and once the Giants drove down the field for a touchdown, the game was over. Still, the Giants have to clear up some areas, but the defense is getting better. As for the Bears, they now go from 3-0 and feeling good, to now at the crossroads this year with Cutler's injury. Of course, the Bears were lucky to be 3-0 anyway.
Just now, the Pats showed us Pats football. Trailing 7-6 at halftime, New England took advantage of every single Miami mistake en route to a 41-14 win. The offense did enough as Tom Brady channelled his 01-04 days while the much maligned defense took care of business in the second half. Player of the game goes to Patrick Chung who blocked a punt and a field goal, while running an interception back for a touchdown. Very impressive. While the Patriots righted their ship, the Dolphins now have lost to their two rivals at home in back-to-back weeks and if they are to win the division, they almost certainly have to win in New York and Foxboro. Troubling for the Fish, indeed.