Posts Tagged ‘Detroit Lions’

NFL Football 2012: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Monday, October 29th, 2012


The Good: Eight weeks in to the NFL season and we are starting to see the contenders separate themselves from the pretenders. We’re down to one undefeated team, the Atlanta Falcons at 7-0. Interestingly though, they are rarely the team mentioned as the best in the NFL. The one loss Houston Texans tend to get more credit, along with the one loss Chicago Bears, and the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. After a slow start, it looks like New England Patriots are getting their act together. They have three losses on the season, but appear poised to dominate their division.

The Bad: First up on this list is the Detroit Lions. A young, brash team coming off a playoff berth is in last place in the NFC North. The Lions are 3-4 and have been outscored by their opponents so far. Three games out of first and facing a tough schedule makes me think that this Lions team won’t see the postseason this year. We can’t get through the bad without mentioning Philadelphia either. The Eagles are a mess, with controversy around the QB, head coach, and the defense. With Michael Vick and Andy Reid fighting for their jobs, most of the country has already given up on them. Finally, I have to mention the New York Jets. Mark Sanchez isn’t getting it done, but the team is wary of putting in the backup, Tim Tebow, to try and lead a turnaround. Under .500 and in danger of not making the playoffs, this team needs a face lift.

The Ugly: Let’s start with the New Orleans Saints. Sure, there was plenty of controversy surrounding the team this year, and they don’t really have a head coach. However, they still have Drew Brees, and the Super Bowl is in New Orleans this year. I thought that would be motivation enough to contend for the division title and try to become the first team to make the Super Bowl a true home game. Unfortunately, they are 2-5, and their defense looks anything but super. Next on the list is the Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton is having a rough season, and the team is only 1-6. They won 6 games last year, and in the offseason, Ryan Kalil took out a full page ad in the newspaper guaranteeing a super bowl for this team. Nice try Ryan, but you tricked yourself and your fans into thinking your team could get it done this year. Instead, they are among the lowest scoring and most disappointing teams in the NFL.

Good thing there are still 9 weeks left before the regular season ends. Every team still has a chance to change their fortune.

NFL season kickoff

Thursday, September 13th, 2012


All of the predictions and preseason statistics are out the window now that the ball is in the air and the NFL season is underway. One of the major story lines of the preseason was the use of the replacement refs. I’ll be the first to admit I like seeing Ed “Hercules” Hochuli calling games, but realistically, the refs shouldn’t be a part of the outcome. In boxing, the saying goes “the ref did a great job if you didn’t notice him in the ring.” I feel much the same about football. With the exception of giving the Seattle Seahawks an extra time out last Sunday, I really didn’t notice the replacement refs too much. So that’s a plus for the NFL, but could be troublesome for the referees who are looking for leverage in their negotiations.

So that just leaves me with football to recap. After one week, teams that won shouldn’t get carried away and think Super Bowl, but teams that lost shouldn’t go out and burn their new Nike NFL jersey either. There is plenty of optimism for fans of the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Houston Texans and the Atlanta Falcons. Those teams won convincingly and have fans excited for the season. The next bunch of teams got the victory, but the jury is stil out. Those teams include the Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccanneers, and the Denver Broncos just to name a few. Of the losers, fans of the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, and New Orleans Saints have to be scratching their heads. What went so wrong that they started off 0-1? What if they lose this weekend and start the season 0-2? Since 1990, teams that start the season 0-2 make the playoffs less than 14% of the time. That’s a massive mountain to climb, which means that there are a number of teams that will be essentially playing for their season this weekend.

Best of luck to every team this weekend. I just want to see good football (and a Bears win). Regardless of who you cheer for, we’ll keep you up to date on what’s going on this season, as well as offer you the best selection of fashionable fan gear around. If you don’t believe me, click here to shop your NFL team and see for yourself.

Week 9: When Fungus is Acceptable

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Hiding in Plain Sight

Last week Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers played 34 minutes and recorded 0 points, 0 rebounds, and 0 assists. He managed two steals and two personal fouls and without those you may not have even know he was there.

Michael Wilbon made a brief argument on PTI that Fisher is a guy who does the “other things” to help his team win. I’m sure he was moving the ball, screening, playing some defense, and being a leader and a nice guy, but in 34 minutes you think he would pass it to a guy who would make a shot or he would accidentally run into a rebound. Fisher was just hiding in plain sight, not contributing anything noticeable.

Flashback to 2006:

*Comedy Central airs the last new Chapelle’s Show on July 23rd. Borat opens the first weekend of November at the top of the box office. The confluence of these two events that happened just 3+ months apart created a venn diagram overlap in pop culture relevance where it became virtually impossible to escape people quoting Chapelle/Borat, especially if you were in college at the time. Chapelle was on safari and done with the show, but new episodes aired with many re-runs of the old ones and three and a half months was not long enough for some people to beat those jokes to death. And then Borat happens. So the quote wheel keeps spinning for the frequent repeaters out there.

*The Chicago Bears are going 13-3 on their way to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman at QB.

*Terrell Owens leads the NFL in touchdown receptions and has 1,180 yards receiving.
*Michael Vick throws for 2,474 yards and runs for 1,039 yards and combines for 22 TD’s.
*Larry Johnson is second in the league in rushing and rushing TD’s, with 1,789 yards and 17 TD’s. He also added 410 receiving yards and 2 receiving TD’s.

Now those three fantasy football studs are hiding in plain sight. Vick is out of jail and on the bench. TO is in Buffalo not doing a whole lot and Larry Johnson has been cut by the Chiefs for vomiting his thoughts on Twitter.

Many professional athletes and celebrities and people not famous have not yet evolved the filter between the brain and the fingertips. And it is not their fault. Evolution takes time and social networking is relatively new. The brain to mouth filter was not even fully evolved in many and now they are under stress to develop a second filter on the fly to protect themselves from their thoughts escaping through their fingertips to Twitter and the world. Maybe we should cut all these athletes who type stupid stuff a break because evolving that kind of ability will take generations.

Ups, Downs, and Laterals

Of course sports are cyclical and players begin to decline once they’ve reached a certain age, but TO, Vick, and Johnson seem to still have enough ability to offer a team something productive. Instead they are just being hidden in plain sight by their own specific circumstances.

While individual players find a way to hide in plain sight, it is very difficult for teams to hide team weaknesses. And at the half-way point of the NFL season, with the playoff picture forming, those weaknesses are apparent to everyone.

Three – maybe four – of the divisions are all but mathematically clinched. It would take a melt down of New York Mets proportion for the Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, or Minnesota Vikings not to win their division.

The Colts and Saints both remain undefeated after getting challenged hard by the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers. A missed FG by Kris Brown of the Texans prevented Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and DeMeco Ryans from taking a shot at Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, and company in overtime. The Colts have played two tight games in a row.

The Panthers were marching, nearing FG range, down three with less than three minutes to go in the 4th quarter when Jake Delhomme fumbled and New Orleans recovered. Three and out for the Saints, followed by a DeAngelo Williams fumble returned for a TD by New Orleans on Carolina’s ensuing possession put the Saints up 10 with 2:00 to go and there’s your ball game.

The Vikings sat the week out on a bye and still gained ground in the division with the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers losing. No word yet on any team boating excursions during the week off. Had there been some sort of team building exercise, I’m sure Twitter would have been a flutter. Maybe Brad Childress would have been in a drag. You never know.

The Saints have played three close games in a row which they won by one-possession scores. The Colts have played two close games in a row, winning the two by a combined seven points. The Vikings are a missed FG and a Brett Favre to Greg Lewis 32-yard TD with 0:00 on the clock away from being 5-3. There is no NFL team this season that is going to march over every opponent they play. Even the teams with the best records have won fugly a time or two and escaped with a win.

The New England Patriots not winning the AFC East would not be a Mets-type collapse, but probably more of a Minnesota Twins sneaking up on the Detroit Tigers sort of let down. It might be possible for them to get caught all season long, but nobody will believe it can happen. Tom Brady is connecting with Randy Moss like it is 2007 and they have a linebacker who is in his forties in Junior Seau.

The Show

Remember in Bull Durham when Crash Davis tells Ebby “Nuke” LaLoosh that he needs to get new shower shoes?

“You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob.”

I think the same goes for bad mustaches and facial hair that looks more neglected than grown. At 6-0, it is something to joke about, but now with two Bronco losses in a row, it may be time for Kyle Orton to think classy. He’s had it off and on throughout his career, but it might be time go now.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are sitting on top of the AFC North in a tie with the Cincinnati Bengals after beating the Denver Broncos on Monday night. The Bengals are coming off a win over the Baltimore Ravens. Cedric Benson rushed for over 100 yards for the second time this season against the Ravens. Maybe that vaulted Ravens-Ray Lewis-D that earned Trent Dilfer a ring is finally showing its age. Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward hooked up for two TD’s last night in their win over the Broncos.

The Dallas Cowboys went to the Philadelphia Eagles and took away a big win that, coupled with the San Diego Chargers victory over the New York Giants, puts the Cowboys in first place in the NFC East.

Tony Romo has 9 TD’s and only 1 interception during his team’s four game winning streak. Miles Austin continues to be a big play guy, catching only one pass but for a 49 yard TD.

Philip Rivers took the Chargers down the field and threw a TD pass to Vincent Jackson with 0:21 on the clock to give San Diego a one point win. Eli Manning was 25-33 for 215 yards and 2 TD’s, but the Giants were flagged for over 100 yards in penalties which will stop any team from gaining momentum in any direction.

The bye week for the Giants this week is sorely needed. DeMarcus Ware is salivating at the opportunity to play the Green Bay Packers and their O-Line this week. And the Eagles have to fly all way across the country to San Diego, which, for the sake of the entire city of Philly, I hope goes better than their trip to Oakland did.

The New York Jets come off their bye for a Week 10 match up with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who beat the Kansas City Chiefs last week. The Jets and Jags are both 4-4 with neither team having a realistic shot at winning their division, so this game is huge for both teams in the scope of Wild Card spots. Maurice Jones-Drew leads the NFL with 11 rushing TD’s.

Matt Cassel stuck it to all Dwayne Bowe fantasy owners by throwing 2 TD passes to Chris Chambers, who had been on the Chiefs for about eight seconds.

Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals went to Soldier Field and inspired the crowd to boo loudly the home team Chicago Bears. Tommie Harris went ahead with a punch to the face of a Cardinal O-lineman to get ejected four plays into the game. We like your enthusiasm there Tommy, we just need you to direct it in a more positive way. Warner and Jay Cutler both had big statistical games, but the Bears could not overcome 89 yards of penalties and or their inability to convert on third down.

The Packers were probably hurt most by their Week 9 performance, losing to first time starter rookie Josh Freeman and the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Aaron Rodgers was bludgeoned again and the defense did not do much in the way of stopping a bad offense. Two weeks ago Minnesota, at 6-1, was coming into Lambeau Field to play a 4-2 Packers team. A Packer win gives both teams two losses and sets up the Pack up to tie the division at Tampa Bay with Minnesota on a bye. Instead, the cheese falls to 4-4 in an ugly way. Three of their four wins are against one-win teams: Lions, Browns, Rams.

Speaking of the Lions, Browns, and Rams… the Browns and Rams were spared by being on a bye, but the Lions suffered another loss. So did the Washington Redskins.

Calvin Johnson returned to the line up for the Lions and they played the Seattle Seahawks tough, but could not find a way to win it, in part because rookie Matthew Stafford had five learning opportunities in which the ball went the other way on him. Matt Hasselbeck spread the ball around. Six Seahawks had five or more catches. T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught his only TD pass.

The Atlanta Falcons beat the Redskins to move to 5-3 and put themselves in a nice position for a Wild Card birth. Michael Turner had a huge game, 166 yards and 2 TD’s and Matt Ryan hooked up with Tony Gonzalez for a TD. Clinton Portis left the game and with him took Washington’s only hope.

The Tennessee Titans won their second game in a row and handed the San Francisco 49ers their fourth loss in a row. Vince Young is 2-0 as a starter and Chris Johnson leads the NFL in rushing yards.
The Niners have lost their last three games by one possession scores. Next week Mike Singletary squares off against his old team, the Chicago Bears, in what will be a critical game for each team’s drive for the post-season.

To Week 10:

Thursday night games begin with the Bears and 49ers.
The Bengals and Steelers play to break the tie for the AFC North lead.
The Patriots go to Indy for an always fun game to watch.
And either the Chiefs or the Raiders will win because they play each other.

The New York Yankees 2009 World Series Championship is still only less than a week old and there is plenty of World Series gear here for you to commemorate #27.

The item of the week this week is some real NFL sideline apparel to help you get ready for cold weather.

NFL Week 8: 10-Favre

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Usain Bolt adopted a cheetah named Lightning Bolt.

Stephen Colbert and Colbert Nation are sponsoring the U.S. speedskating team in the Vancouver Olympics.

A golfer tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

Manu Ginobili pulled a flying bat out of the air during a basketball game. (I once accidentally pulled a live bat out of a washing machine. I thought it was a sock stuck to the wall of the inside of the machine. It screeched and spreads its wings. I threw it, said swear words, and ran upstairs. I don’t love flying bats.)

The three daughters of OJ Simpson’s lawyer are all over reality TV and gossip mags and marrying Lamar Odom and getting dumped by Reggie Bush.

The NFL and FOX devoted one camera to a single player for an entire football game on Sunday.

Stephon Marbury got ejected from a Knicks game… from the first row of paid seats where he was a spectator.

Nothing should surprise us in sports anymore – not Michael Vick, not Tim Donaghy (that one was almost predictable), not Tom Cable, or the Denver Broncos or Tennessee Titans, not Andre Agassi, and not even Syracuse WR Mike Williams quitting on his team this week. Stud college WR’s named Mike Williams do not have a good track record.

It shouldn’t surprise us that Brett Favre was booed mercilessly for most of the game in his return to Green Bay, where for 16 years the good people there put cheering for Favre on the same level as feeding their kids, going to church, and Old Milwaukee. I was a Viking fan living in Wisconsin for 14 years. I witnessed Favre becoming an icon, a legend, and seemingly a best friend to Packer fans. And while the treatment Favre got at Lambeau Field on Sunday should not have surprised me, it did. I didn’t expect a standing O or anything close to it, but I didn’t expect non-stop booing.

It’s about the same as a dude who dates a girl for a long time, then she decides to break up with him and he gets a bummed out, but when she wants to go back to him, he refuses and then hates her with more vigor than he ever loved her and when he sees her at the grocery store, he just boos at her through the produce section and all the way to the deli, down the cereal aisle and right up to the check-out counter where he encounters her new guy who is taller, better looking, makes more money, and was the same dude who struck him out in a high school playoff game to end his baseball career. And then when the girl and her new guy walk out to the parking lot, the dude is standing there with a sign that reads, “Legends Don’t Wear Purple.”

It’s about like that.

It seems to me that the same things that endeared Favre to Green Bay fans are the things for which they now boo him. He is human; he is flawed. They loved him for his energy and passion and for speaking uncensored early in his career. They loved his unorthodox play and didn’t mind his vices at all. He was like them, like us; he could have been your neighbor. But the flaw they couldn’t accept was the man’s inability to decide when to retire from the only thing he has ever done. He reached a level in the minds and hearts of Packer fans where the humanness of him transcended into something other than human and they expected him to be perfect. They forgot that he’s human. He is just like them, but they wanted him to be something better.

Then he went to a division, border, and bitter rival, which doesn’t help anything except the Viking offense.

And now he has found Sidney Rice and made him 6th in the league in receiving yards.

The Vikings improved to 7-1 on the season, including a Green Bay sweep, on which ESPN dedicated roughly 1,793 hours (and counting) of programming.

Chris Berman loves Brett Favre. He loves Favre more than Kanye loves Kanye.

Aaron Rodgers has taken 31 sacks this year through 7 games, thanks in great part to Jared Allen. Ten quarterbacks last year took over 30 sacks all season long, including Rodgers who took 34. Rodgers is a good quarterback. He can run and throw and he’s a smart guy. He can make every throw you need him to make except the one out of bounds to avoid taking a sack. And now he has two sprains to nurse.

Jared Allen has a great sack dance. As much as I didn’t like Gilbert Brown, he did too.

My brother works a job in Wisconsin where he uses two-way radios daily. He is a Viking fan living in Wisconsin and working with mostly Packer fans. When he confirms that he has understood a radio communication, in stead of saying “10-4”, he says “10-Favre”. One guy he works with has taken to responding to that with “12-Rodgers” – which is hilarious because it makes no sense at all.

Anyway.

The New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts are the last of the undefeated. Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are playing about as well as you can. The Saints receivers – Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey, specifically – made some ridiculous catches last night in their win over the Atlanta Falcons. Jason Elam was struggling with the kicking last night and had he been on, it may have been more interesting than it was at the end of the game. Both Pierre Thomas and Michael Turner looked really good.

Manning and Brees are at the top of the NFL QB class right now, but Matt Ryan will be there one day soon, along with Joe Flacco, who led the Baltimore Ravens in a beat down of the previously undefeated Denver Broncos.

The Chicago Bears chewed up and spit out the Cleveland Browns. Derek Anderson has thrown 9 interceptions and has the same number of passing TD’s as he does rushing TD’s: 2. Not great. The Browns scored a TD… then missed the extra point. Not great. Eric Mangini, in response to a question about why he didn’t replace Anderson with Brady Quinn earlier, said, “I thought we actually moved the ball at times earlier.” Anderson was 6-17 for 76 yards, 0 TD, and 2 INT. Not great. They had 191 yards of offense and were 1-11 on third down. I’m not sure when Mangini thought they were moving the ball well.

The Dallas Cowboys routed the Seattle Seahawks. The Eagles spanked the New York Giants and now the NFC East has three five win teams. Dallas goes to Philly for Sunday Night Football this week. Big game with a couple of big play guys in Miles Austin and DeSean Jackson. The Giants play host to the San Diego Chargers, who had the good fortune of playing the Oakland Raiders last week.

I am begging Eli Manning to get things on track because I need Steve Smith to be an awesome fantasy WR for me and he hasn’t scored or cracked 100 yards in three weeks.

The St. Louis Rams and the Tennessee Titans got their first wins of the year. Steven Jackson got his first rushing TD of the season on Sunday. He is second in the NFL in rushing with 784 yards and has only 1 TD. The Rams aren’t good, but they were playing the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

The Titans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, who I just cannot figure out at all. The Jags very nearly beat Indy in Week 1 and then beat Houston in Week 3. They beat Tennessee by 20 in Week 4 and then lost 41-0 against Seattle. They were favored by 9.5 points the very next week and managed a 3 point win over the then winless Rams and then this week they lose to the Titans by 17. No idea.

Vince Young played well, completing 15 of 18 passes. He did not have to do too much though because Chris Johnson ran for 228 yards and 2 TD’s. Maurice Jones-Drew had 177 yards on 8 carries in that game.

Ted Ginn, Jr is a guy I can’t really figure out either. Every once in a while he makes a big play – or two in one quarter like he did on Sunday – but he also does a lot of things that make you scratch your head (for non-Miami fans) and throw bricks at windows (for Miami fans). Rex Ryan and Bart Scott were not exactly gracious after the New York Jets defeat at the hands of the best football team with the best talent and the best of everything else in America, the Miami Dolphins.

Arizona Cardinals vs Carolina Panthers. Your QB’s: Kurt Warner and Jake Delhomme

One of them is going to turn the ball over six times. Who is it going to be? Delhomme, right? Wrong.

Not a good game for Kurt Warner. Warner is a really good guy. This has been well documented. And good guys are often generous and more than willing to share, so maybe Warner took sympathy on the struggling Panthers and decided to share the ball with them. It’s easy to hold Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin to 89 yards combined when Warner is being so generous.

If the playoffs started today, the Houston Texans would be a wild-card team. They beat the Buffalo Bills by three scores on Sunday. Two big things from that game: 1) Owen Daniels is done for the year with a knee (again, thank you Al Michaels) and 2) Terrell Owens was seen in the end zone with the ball in his hands for an alleged touchdown. It’s been a rare sight this year.

NFL leaders in receiving TD’s:
Vernon Davis, 7
Visanthe Shiancoe (and four others), 6.
Owen Daniels (and three others), 5.

Next Week: The Tampa Bay Bucs try to get their first win when Green Bay comes to town.

Quick World Series note on this NFL post: FOX gave the player of the game thing to Cliff Lee last night. Lee pitched pretty well but it was a mostly unremarkable performance. He gave up 5 ER over 7 IP, meanwhile Chase Utley hit 2 HR’s. I think FOX was more concerned with integrating movie previews into their broadcast than they were getting that one right. The Phillies go to New York now for Game 6. Pedro vs Andy Pettitte on three days rest. It should be a great. My wife cannot wait for it to be over so she can get her FOX TV shows back.

NFL Week 6: The Review

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

NFL week six is in the books. We’ve officially reached the point where teams are who we thought they were – or are.

So what do you say…let’s say we get this party started right…Raider-style.

Oakland Raiders v. Philadelphia Eagles

“We went out and threw a fight on somebody and said, ‘Enough. Let’s play,’” said Raider coach Tom Cable after the game. And if you’re headed into a fight, who better to lead you than Tom Cable? Allegedly. JaMarcus Russell set season highs for completions (17) and passing yards (224) as the Raiders somehow defeated the mighty McNabb’s 13-9. Reverting back to form of year’s past, Philadelphia ran the ball just 14 times. Eagles coach Andy Reid has an extra day this week to let his visible disgust subdue. Fortunately for Eagles fans, next stop is the nation’s capital.

Washington Redskins v. Kansas City Chiefs

In what may best be described as an “offensive pillow-fight,” the Chiefs recorded their first win of the season, beating a pathetic Redskins team 14-6. Don’t let the score fool you – there were no touchdowns in this one. Washington converted just 2-14 third down conversions and held the ball for 23 minutes. Jason Campbell was benched in the second half. Jim Zorn was stripped of his play-calling duties. And Dan Snyder paid one million dollars for an up-and-coming hot dog vendor. I’ll let you decide which of those are true and which is false. Congratulations, Ryan Succop. The Chiefs kicker – and NFL Draft 2009 “Mr. Irrelevant” – went 4/4 and was apparently the only player who didn’t “Suck-op.”

Tennessee Titans v. New England Patriots

Speaking of sucking…have you seen the Titans? I know they’ve been hit hard by injuries…but 59-0? They gave up five touchdowns…in the SECOND QUARTER! Jeff Fisher should have walked off the field at halftime and never come back: “Okay guys…I’ve had enough. But keep at it…see you tomorrow.” Alas, he stayed – long enough to watch Brian Hoyer sneak in for the Patriots eighth touchdown of the day. Warren Moon – at the ripe old age of 52 – would have looked better in those Oiler jerseys then the Kerry Collins/Vince Young duo. Two completions…negative seven yards. That’s not a misprint. Oh…and Tom Brady threw for 380 yards and six touchdowns.

Houston Texans v. Cincinnati Bengals

Trivia time: Who leads the NFL in passing touchdowns?

It’s not Drew Brees. And it ain’t Peyton Manning. The answer is Matt Schaub. The Texans rode Schaub’s arm and a stout defensive front to a 28-17 victory. After a run of exciting finishes, the Bengals and NFL rushing leader Cedric Benson (another great trivia question) were held to just 46 yards on the ground. Making matters worse, Cincinnati also lost NFL sack leader, Antwan Odom, (yet another amazing trivia question) for the season. Time will tell if the Bengals can regroup and challenge for the division – or if it’s time to kiss the baby.

New York Giants v. New Orleans Saints

From a baby to a grown man – Eli Manning spent many a football Sunday at the Superdome – but never as a player. And he might want to keep it that way. In Manning’s hometown return, the other quarterback, Drew Brees, spoiled the party. Brees (369 yards and four touchdowns) and the Saints offense scored at will against what many considered the league’s no. 1 defense, winning 48-27. New York gave up 34 first-half points – matching the total they had given up in the first half of their first five games combined. The previously undefeated Giants benefited from a relatively soft schedule, and while they are still among the NFC’s upper echelon, don’t be surprised if they start to falter.

Minnesota Vikings v. Baltimore Ravens

Here’s your Brett Favre alert. The Vikings quarterback hit Sidney Rice on a 58-yard bomb on their final possession to set up Ryan Longwell‘s game-winning field goal. But don’t forget the Ravens came right back and positioned themselves for a 44-yard field goal – until Steven Hauschka missed it. Or the fact that they allowed Baltimore and Ray Rice to score 21 points in the fourth quarter, turning a blowout into a ballgame. The Vikings are 6-0. They’ve got the best rusher in the league, Adrian Peterson, and the best pass rusher in the league, Jared Allen, but they could very easily be 4-2. Looking forward to seeing how this – and by this, I mean Brett Favre – plays out.

Pittsburgh Steelers v. Cleveland Browns

When discussing the bottom-feeders of the NFL, let’s not sleep on the Cleveland Browns. Now 1-5, after a 27-14 defeat to the Steelers, the Browns remain incapable of doing anything right. Derek Anderson played like a Pro Bowler compared to last week, completing a whopping nine passes for 122 yards. He was just slightly overshadowed by Ben Roethlisberger’s 417 passing yards. I would like to personally apologize to Josh Cribbs. He deserves better. After returning a 98-yard kickoff to the house and rushing for 45 yards some team has to get him out of Cleveland – don’t they? And the Browns aren’t willing to pay the man! Pay the man his money! Unbelievable! I don’t know who I feel worse for – Cribbs or Cleveland fans?

Carolina Panthers v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In the latest installment of “games you shouldn’t subject yourself to” comes Carolina’s 28-21 victory against the still-winless Yuccaneers. They’re baaack! They even get to wear their retro orange jerseys this season. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for 362 yards rushing and three touchdowns, overcoming Jake Delhomme’s two interceptions and 65 yards through the air. There’s not much else to say about a game like this. It’s too bad somebody has to win.

St. Louis Rams v. Jacksonville Jaguars

Another winless team? Really? A week in which Maurice Jones-Drew publicly called out his coaching staff, the Jaguars rode their little bowling ball to a 23-20 overtime victory. Jones-Drew ran for 133 yards and three scores. Now, 0-6, the Rams have lost 16 straight games dating back to last season. And there really isn’t cause for hope. Fortunately, Sam Bradford is healthy and ready to turn one lucky team around…

Green Bay Packers v. Detroit Lions

How did the Packers manage two bye weeks in a row? Oh…right…they played the Lions. Take a bad team like Detroit, sit their best player, Calvin Johnson, and their starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford, and what do you have? A team incapable of scoring. Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton threw three more interceptions than touchdowns (zero) and Aaron Rodgers excelled at leading his team into the red zone – and letting Mason Crosby kick field goals – as the Packers won 26-0. In more cheerful news, Donald Driver passed Sterling Sharpe for first place on Green Bay’s all-time receptions list. And, no, Brett Favre did not come through the tunnel to carry him across the field.

Arizona Cardinals v. Seattle Seahawks

Matt Hasselbeck’s health was widely considered the Seahawks measuring stick for success. That is until Kurt Warner and the Cardinals debunked that theory. Warner threw for nearly 300 yards, tying Dan Marino’s record as the fastest to 30,000 career passing yards, and Arizona won 27-3. Adding injury to insult – Seattle lost Pro Bowl lineback Lofa Tatupu for the season. Adding insult to injury – it’s raining in Seattle right now.

Buffalo Bills v. New York Jets

Just when you thought we were done with terrible teams…”it” won! Buffalo allowed over 300 rushing yards and still managed a 16-13 victory in overtime. I’m assuming Mark Sanchez’s five interceptions didn’t help. Maybe it’s time to hold off on the photo shoots? Following a 3-0 start this season, Jets coach Rex Ryan finds his team at .500. Over/Under on swear word usage in the locker room this week? 362. Meanwhile, despite losing Trent Edwards, replacing him with Harvard great Ryan Fitzpatrick and Terrell Owens remaining as existent as Dick Jauron’s head coaching job after the season, the Bills are somehow two games out of first place.

Chicago Bears v. Atlanta Falcons

Sunday night featured two potential NFC sleepers. But penalties and turnovers doomed Chicago from the start – and ultimately, their final drive –in a 21-14 losing effort. Jay Cutler, who, at the moment, cannot be considered the best quarterback in his own trade, threw another red zone interception, Matt Forte fumbled on the goal line and the offense committed three penalties on the game’s final drive. Whether it’s been the porous offensive line or the adjustment to a new quarterback, Forte is in the midst of a sophomore slump of epic proportions. And who knows if he’ll ever climb out. On the subject of sophomores, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan continues his impressive play and has his team just a game behind the marching Saints.

San Diego Chargers v. Denver Broncos

This was to be the game when the undefeated Broncos faced reality. In their previous meeting with San Diego, they were demoralized 52-21. They couldn’t win another big game – especially on the road. But the Broncos stomped all over those sentiments about as fast as you can say “Eddie Royal.” The second-year receiver returned a 93-yard kickoff and 71-yard punt return for scores. The 5’10 Royal pumped those legs so fast his Bronco throwback jersey was almost tolerable – almost. The Chargers’ Darren Sproles returned the favor with a punt return touchdown, but it wasn’t enough. The Broncos defense has turned back the clock, going all-Tom Jackson on opponents – having allowed just 10 points in the second half this season – and Kyle Orton keeps winning. Go figure. Kudos to Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator – and San Francisco 49ers vagabond – Mike Nolan. Apparently they didn’t get the message this team should finish with double-digit losses.

How can you not love the NFL? Unless you’re a fan of the Titans, Redskins, Rams, Rai…Scratch that. There are probably a lot of NFL-haters right now. Until week seven…

NFL Week 5: Feast or Famine

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

It was a feast or famine week in the NFL for most teams in Week 5. Some teams looked great in victory, some looked ugly in victory and some looked truly disastrous in defeat.

I hope you found that Miles Austin and Jeremy Maclin were available when you checked to see if they were on the waiver wire in your fantasy leagues this morning. And I also hope that you are in last place so you can pick one of them up or that the guy who is in last place has already given up and hasn’t checked his team since drafting Matt Forte second overall and starting the year 0-3.

Miles Austin caught a few passes and then ran all over, through, and aroundthe Kansas City Chief defense for 250 yards receiving on Sunday. Covering Austin must not have been high on Mike Vrabel’s to-do list this week when he and a few other Chief veterans took over practice after Head Coach Todd Haley pulled his coaching staff off the field because he was so frustrated with how poorly the team was practicing. Also not high on the Chief to-do list: tackling, taking the proper angle of pursuit, running fast, Gatorade baths for the coach.

Austin and the KC D made Tony Romo’s day. He just had to lob it out there and then sit back and watch his passing yards run down the field to an overtime win. Not a bad way to go. It sure beats trying to jam a ball into Sam Hurd with Champ Bailey covering him in the end zone on the last play of the game.

Haley chose to kick the PAT after Matt Cassel drove his team down the field for a TD with less than a minute remaining. Had he opted to go for 2 and been successful, the story today would have been a) Tom Brady’s former backup rallying his team late in the game and leading to them victory b) Tony Romo is terrible…blah blah blah…The Cowboys are terrible…TO somehow…There’s a huge screen in Dallas…Jerry JonesJessica SimpsonWade Philips. But, Haley kicked it and then lost in OT so now we talk about Austin.

Jeremy Maclin in Philly hauled in 2 TD’s from Donovan McNabb to rack up 142 yards receiving. Missouri Tiger fans cheered on their alum while DeSean Jackson fantasy owners threw tantrums while watching him catch the ball once for a total three feet.

Roddy White had the other big WR game in Sunday’s games, going for 210 yards and 2 TD’s against the San Francisco 49ers, who looked more like the 2-14 2004 Niners than any of the teams from the Joe Montana or Steve Young years. Matt Ryan threw for 329 yards in that game and Michael Turner scored three times. Frank Gore sat out again with an ankle injury, not that it would have mattered had he played. Michael Crabtree is supposed to debut for San Fran in Week 7, after their Week 6 bye.

Yeesh

Do the bad teams in the NFL look worse than usual this season? Maybe that is just a thought that has been rattling around my brain the last few weeks. But it sure was reinforced and highlighted by these six games:

Minnesota Vikings at St. Louis Rams
Pittsburgh Steelers at Detroit Lions
Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Bucs
Oakland Raiders at New York Giants
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs

The six favorites (also the six teams who won) had a combined record of 20-5 coming into the weekend and the underdogs (the losers on Sunday) had a combine record of 2-22. The only favored team of those six playing at home was the Giants. After the weekend the winners are 26-5 and the losers are 2-28.

Ouch.

The Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Titans, and Rams could not combine the points they put up to beat the individual efforts of the Vikings, Giants, Atlanta Falcons or Seattle Seahawks. That’s four teams that scored more than the combined effort of those six teams, which was a blistering 35 points.

Yikes.

I would like to say that the Buffalo and Cleveland defenses were just so stout and beat up on each other so hard they held the offenses to a 6-3 final score, but that’s not remotely the case. Derek Anderson played the complete game on Sunday and completed only 2 of his 17 passes… and his team won! That’s about the same as when in pool you have all of your balls left on the table and your opponent scratches on the 8 ball to lose. You didn’t deserve to win, but you did.

2-17! This is the guy to whom Brady Quinn lost his job. When I was checking on my fantasy team Sunday afternoon, I was convinced that that stat must have been a typo or a mistake. No way can an NFL QB in a NFL offense with NFL wide receivers complete only 2 of 17 passes.

Also perplexing was that Oakland only threw the ball 13 times while getting trounced by the Giants 44-7. Coach Tom Cable clearly has more confidence in his right cross than he does in JaMarcus Russell. Keep in mind also that the team was playing without Darren McFadden at running back.

The Minnesota Vikings avoided faltering against a weak team after two back-to-back thrilling weeks. They jumped out to a 14-0 lead on St. Louis in the first half of the first quarter. Adrian Peterson scored twice, Brett Favre threw for a touchdown pass, and Jared Allen recovered two fumbles, returning one for a TD. Favre turned 40 last week and joins some punters and kickers in the 40+ club. Percy Harvin led the Vikings in receiving. Ram WR Donnie Avery scored a TD in the 4th on a pass from Kyle Boller to bring the Rams within 28 points and then celebrated with a solo dance in the end zone. His teammates apparently weren’t up for a TD dance down 28 points. Steven Jackson went for 84 yards on 21 carries but still hasn’t found the end zone yet this season.

Marc Bulger returned late in the game after Boller left with an injury. Bulger’s return to the field and the fact that Boller started again when Bulger was ready to play should create something of a QB controversy in St. Louis. The bigger controversy in St. Louis though is Rush Limbaugh’s bid to buy the Rams. Most shocking about this story is that someone actually wants to buy the St. Louis Rams.

Maybe James Carville and George Stephanopoulos are interested in the Raiders.

Big QB Days

Matt Hasselbeck returned from injury to throw for 4 TD’s in a Seattle Seahawk beat down of the Jacksonville Jaguars. I don’t get the Jags. They nearly beat the Colts in Week 1, then lost to Arizona in Week 2. They beat Houston and Tennessee after that to get to 2-2 and make people think that maybe they could put together a respectable season. Then they didn’t show up at all on Sunday and lost 41-0. Their season is kind of like the acting career of John Cusack. They won a few games, but other than that it’s been ugly. There was Say Anything, Being John Malkovich, and High Fidelity, and then there was everything that happened after that. In case you haven’t seen 20 or 30 previews for it, he is in a disaster movie (pun may or may not be intended) about the world ending in 2012. So don’t sweat not getting the Olympics in 2016, Chicago, they wouldn’t have happened anyway.

Peyton Manning threw for 300+ yards and 3 TD’s as the Colts took advantage of playing the Titans. Over the weekend I heard both Tony Dungy and Ron Jaworksi say that Manning is playing better than he ever has before. That could be scary. Manning’s career is kind of like Will Smith’s. Will Smith makes one movie a year and it’s a huge financial success, even if it is terrible or the ending doesn’t work or the twist in the middle is ridiculous or he looks hideous. Peyton Manning delivers every season – no matter who the cast around him is, who is directing the action or who is writing the script. Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark are 2nd and 3rd in the NFL in receiving yards and first year coach Jim Caldwell is undefeated thus far.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 3 TD’s against the Rams. Matthew Stafford was out with an injury. Daunte Culpepper threw for 282 yards in his place. Calvin Johnson left the game early with an injury that may or may not have been a knee scrape. Megatron’s status for Sunday against Green Bay is up in the air. Fast Willie Parker was Injured Willie Parker again on Sunday so Rashard Mendenhall did the leg work for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Eli Manning continues to throw Steve Smith’s way. Smith is leading the league in receiving yards and touchdowns. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw shared the ball carrying responsibilities but it was Bradshaw who scored twice and had three times as many yards per carry.

The Arizona Cardinals blew a 21 point halftime lead before Dominique Rogers-Cromartie returned a Matt Schaub interception back for a touchdown and a win near the end of regulation. Schaub threw for 371 yards on the day, including 101 yards and 2 TD’s to Andre Johnson. Kurt Warner also topped 300 yards and connected with his number 1 receiver for 2 TD’s. Larry Fitzgerald had 79 yards, including the TD’s. Steve Slaton and Owen Daniels both topped 90 yards of total offense for Houston and Anquan Boldin had 81 receiving yards for Arizona.

The legend of Chad Henne was born last night as the Miami Dolphins beat the New York Jets 31-27 with 21 fourth quarter points against Rex Ryan’s Gang Green. Henne was 20-26 for 241 yards and 2 TD’s in an offense that is built for travel by truck or train instead of helicopter or airplane. Ted Ginn, Jr accidentally caught a long TD pass for Henne, who made just his second NFL start out of the University of Michigan. Ricky Williams blazed his way to 70 yards receiving and 68 yards rushing. The Dolphin Wildcat O produced 110 yards of offense.

Despite taking the loss, Jet fans have to be a little bit excited about Braylon Edwards and his 64 yards and 1 TD effort after being on the team for about 100 or so hours. Mark Sanchez should benefit from having that threat line up next to him in the coming weeks.

Man Hugs

I was sitting with my wife watching a football game a few weeks ago and she was noticing that a lot of guys pat each other on the butt after a play or on the sideline. She found it strange and asked me why. I said I didn’t know, it’s just what guys do on the football field. This is an aspect of the game that goes unquestioned and mostly unnoticed. But what does not go unquestioned or unnoticed is Bill Belichek’s hugging habits after and before games.

Has any man’s hugs or handshakes been more analyzed and scrutinized than Bill Belichick’s? The talking heads on TV and the voices on the radio love talking about how this man hugs other men. First it was Eric Mangini and the hugs or handshakes after games when the Jets played the Patriots. This year it is the hug that Belichick shared with Bronco Head Coach Josh McDaniels before the game and the hug that they did not share after the game.

Is he sincere enough at the traditional mid-field Head Coaches handshake/man hug after every game? Does he blow them off? What kind of hug is it? Who does he hug and who doesn’t he hug?

I have a better question. Who cares? This is the sports equivalent to celebrity tabloids reporting an encounter between two rival heiresses at a Hollywood night club. Apparently both men and women love a good soap opera.

Josh McDaniels has taken over a volatile situation in Denver with a quarterback who looks like he dropped out of Stillwater. He reigned in Brandon Marshall and started the season 5-0 after beating his mentor and the New England Patriots. Tom Brady had a costly and uncharacteristic late game fumble. Randy Moss caught only one ball and it was an interception on a hail mary at the end of the first half.

Kyle Orton is 5-0 and Cedric Benson is leading the league in rushing yards. What’s up with that, Chicago Bears?

You saw a lot of retro jerseys during the Week 5 games. This week’s item of the week is a retro look you can have of your own. Sorry, it’s not the Denver Bronco brown and yellow socks.