Photo Credit: NFL.com
We’re at the quarter mark, and there are still a lot of questions and things up in the air in the league. What happened to the Lions? Where did the Falcons and Jets come from? Are the Bengals really going to run away with the division that easily? Typically 4 games isn’t enough to know who playoff teams will be, but it is a chance to start making some assumptions.
Quarter Pole Quick Hits:
- The Giants could easily be 4-0 after giving up two 4th quarter leads. The division has 3 teams tied for 1st, but with the Cowboys woes I see the Giants starting to pull away and taking the division.
- You know your team is in trouble when you fire your coach 4 games into the season. Rebuilding year for Dolphins fans
- The AFC East is going to be a fun division to watch, and I wouldn’t be surprised if both the Bills and Jets pull Wild Card slots
- The Broncos are 4-0 despite Manning’s “waning ability”
- The AFC South is a bit of a shit show, there’s a legit chance the Jaguars can win the division
- The NFC East could also be fun. The Cowboys could have a late season comeback once Romo comes back, and the Giants will be fighting as well
- The Packers should run away with the conference, and I think the only question is how many interceptions Aaron Rodgers actually throws all year
- Can the Panthers sustain? They’re undefeated but have beat some pretty weak teams
- Who takes the NFC West? The Seahawks and Cardinals could battle it out, with the Rams playing spoiler
More Kicker and QB woes:
Starting to think talking about star QB’s has jinxed the NFL, as Andrew Luck missed his first game as a pro last week. So far we have Luck, Romo, Cutler, Roethlisberger, McCown, and Brees all missing time. Kickers have also been struggling mightily with Week 4 being pretty rough. There were 10 kicks (six field-goal attempts, four extra points) missed from 40 yards and in. The 2nd kicker got fired when TB cut their rookie.
Todd Gurley had a pretty interesting Sunday, with 2 rushing yards in the first half and 144 in the second half. It was his first game back in nearly a year after he tore his ACL at Georgia. Granted people are probably making too much of this play, but I’m going to say the same thing. Up by 2, Gurley gets the ball and hits a 30 yard run, with a very doable move to score his first career TD. Instead, he lays down at the 8 yard line to avoid scoring, and securing the win after a kneel to let the clock expire. Sure the odds are low, but if he scores and Zeurline misses the extra point with the new tougher rules, it’s now a one possession game against one of the top offenses in the league. Smart, selfless play. As a Rams fan I’m excited and thinking that Gurley has the chance to be the next Steven Jackson for us.
How about Matt Hasselbeck! Winning 2 games for the struggling Colts, at age 40, hasn’t started a game in 3 years, and while he has a killer flu virus. Last week’s win against Jacksonville involved a 40 year old Hasselbeck driving the team down for a field goal that was hit by a 43 year old Adam Vinatieri.
Team in Trouble:
If having half your team retire at 30 and losing one of the best NFL head coaches isn’t enough of a red flag, the 49ers are really struggling this year. They are dead last in offensive scoring (only 48 points) and are 28th in scoring defense. The 49ers are my pick for the #1 overall draft pick this year. Do they go QB and replace Kaepernick 2 years after signing a Mega-Deal? It seems like just last year that they had made it to 3 straight NFC Championships.
Stat of the Week #1:
The NFC South, which had a 7-8-1 team win the division last year is the only division with 2 undefeated teams right now
Stat of the Week #2:
The Jets defense is leading the league in Takeaways and points per game.
Stat of the Week #3:
Rob Gronkowski leads all TE in both yards and TD’s, despite playing one less game than most other tight ends
Stat of the Week #4:
32 year old Larry Fitzgerald is still 3rd in receiving and averaging 108 yards per game
Stat of the Week #5:
Devonta Freeman had his 2nd straight 3 TD game on Sunday.
Stat of the Week #6:
Ravens punter Sam Koch has one pass attempt, and one completion for -3 yards, and still has a higher passer rating than Andrew Luck, Ryan Mallet, Colin Kaepernick, Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Blake Bortles (7 starting QBs).
Stolen Stat of the Week #7:
In Andrew Luck’s first 2 games, he went 0-2 with 493 yards, 3 TD and 5 INT
In Matt Hasselbeck’s first 2 games, he went 2-0 with 495 yards, 5 TD and 0 INT
Surprising Problem in Cleveland:
I wouldn’t have guessed it, but the Browns QB’s are actually playing pretty well this year, which is leaving them with an interesting problem to have. Both QB’s are actually playing pretty good. Manziel has 3 TD’s and 1 INT with a 99.7 passer rating, while Josh McCown has 4 TD’s and 1 INT with a 98.4 rating.
Everybody says not to judge a book by it’s cover, and I was very guilty of doing that last week. Looking at the slate of games (especially the 2 primetime games), it was a bit tough to get excited for the week. But America got 2 crazy endings that will be memorable after the season is over.
Sunday night’s game was a close contest, albeit between the 0-3 Saints vs. the Cowboys with a backup QB. Deep in the 4th Quarter, the Cowboys were facing 4th and 7 from the 17 yard line. Weeden threw a nice ball up to a diving Terrence Williams who caught the ball in the endzone to tie the game and send it to OT. Then the 2nd play of OT, Brees hit a streaking CJ Spiller for an 80 yard TD, marking Brees’ 400th TD pass of his career (he’s the 5th QB to join that list). Awesome end to the game, there have been a handful of good ones on NBC this season.
Monday night’s game was a bit of a sleeper until the final 5 minutes. Down by 10, the Detroit Cecils sack-fumbled Russell Wilson for the 2nd straight possession, and this time ran it back for a TD. Then down by 3, Stafford led the Cecils 90 yards and nearly into scoring range. The final play had Calvin Johnson diving for the endzone and Kam Chancellor punching the ball out at the 1 yard line. The ball bounced around in the endzone before being batted out by one of the Seahawks players (more to come). It was an absolutely crazy play and crazy way to win the game.
Illegal Bat Rant:
I’m not trying to pride my football acumen here, but one of my biggest pet peeves in the NFL is when I know a rule that either players or commentators have no idea how to talk about it. Perfect example is everytime when a game ends in a tie, you hear some player baffled that the game didn’t continue when time expired. First of all, you’re a professional, this is your game and you need to be an expert to the rules. Second, how are coaches or somebody in the huddle not saying “we need to score here or the game is a tie.” When as a fan, I’m watching and fully realize that….Anywho: Same thing happened Monday night. After the game, Steve Young and Ray Lewis had ZERO idea that the batted ball out of the endzone was an illegal play. Then they were trying to compare it to Punters knocking it out of the endzone even though it’s an entirely different scenario since that team has possession of the ball and it results in a safety, not a touchback. The post-game discussion lasted a full hour (granted, there wasn’t much else to talk about regarding the game itself). Then needed an ex-ref to describe it to the team. Then Pete Carroll and the guy who batted the ball said they didn’t know the rule, but both admitted that it was an intentional act (which is written into the rule). The Cecils should have had the ball at the half yard line since it was an illegal bat, and they totally got robbed on the call and the game. Of course the refs love Seattle on Monday nights, but the fact that play wasn’t reviewed is crazy. My best guess is that even New York didn’t know the rule here.
Kam Chancellor Effect:
I’m normally one who hates hearing about holdouts and one player thinking they’re above the team. But Kam Chancellor has single handed affected the outcome of half the games the Seahawks have played so far, stay with me. In Week 1, it was his replacement that Lance Kendricks burned for the game tying TD for the Rams in the waning seconds. Had Chancellor been playing, he most certainly wouldn’t have been beat and the Seahawks would be 3-1 so far.
Quote of the Week:
In referring to whether Jay Cutler was criticized too much, Martellus Bennett said “They threw rocks at Jesus, and Jesus was an excellent guy who did a lot of awesome stuff.”
Quote of the Week #2:
Michael Bennett (Martellus’ brother no less) said “I don’t like Matt Stafford much. He’s from Dallas. They killed JFK…I hold it against him.” Very timely Michael
Games of the Week:
Rams at Packers: Why? Because I’ll be there, in the confines of Lambeau Field!!! I am so excited for this weekend and to watch my team play in a venue so full of NFL History.
Seattle at Cincinnati: Seattle is still a strong team, and it’ll be interesting to see a matchup between a top offense and strong defense.