A final prayer in Jacksonville sinks the Texans, the Patriots rebound with a resounding win, and the Dallas Cowboys make their first appearance of the 2010 season. Also, the Vikings face a decision regarding Brett Favre. Naturally, I make it for them.
Week Two Headlines
David Garrard goes Doug Flutie on the Texans
What are defenders incessantly told when facing a Hail Mary situation? The answer: Knock it down! Texans defensive back Glover Quin might disagree. As I’m sure you’ve seen, Quin out jumped the Hail Mary pack and knocked the ball toward the ground at the one yard line with a two-handed swat. Jaguar receiver Mike Thomas was lurking in that same area for a deflection. Shockingly, the ball landed in Thomas’ lap as he took one step across the goal line. Game over. While Quin didn’t exactly knock the ball directly to the ground, he did what all defenders are coached to do. As a result of the unfortunate deflection, the Jaguars are alive in the AFC South and the Texans are all but guaranteed to miss the postseason. Sometimes the bounces don’t you go your way. Literally.
What do the Vikings do now?
To begin, Minnesota should waive Brett Favre. What’s the point of keeping him around? He’s injured, he hasn’t played well, and he’s clearly not the solution at quarterback in 2011. If the Vikings were in playoff contention, then obviously Favre would be the quarterback of choice. However, the 2010 Vikings are done. Favre and Brad Childress want you to believe otherwise, but don’t believe them. Minnesota is three games behind the division leaders, have already lost to both the Bears and Packers, boast an average 3-3 record in the NFC, and are only a game ahead of the lowly Lions. The playoffs aren’t happening. It’s time to see what Tarvaris Jackson can do. If he isn’t the quarterback of the future, the Vikings need to know before the 2011 offseason. This isn’t the end for the Vikings, either. They have young talent to build around, especially on offense. Obviously, they are no longer a conference championship team, but they can still be competitive. Keeping Favre as the starting quarterback doesn’t improve the franchise in the long run. It makes the Vikings stagnant. The future is now in Minnesota. The Favre era, while short-lived, has ended. It’s time for Minnesota to think about their future. Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, and Sidney Rice deserve that much.
Cowboys top NFC East leading Giants
Jason Garrett wasted no time in implementing his radical coaching strategies; practice hard, be on time, focus. Whether Garrett’s innovative style spreads through the league remains to be seen. What we know for now is this; when the Cowboys put forth some effort, they’re still a good team. While it should be noted that the Giants played stupid, undisciplined football, the Cowboys went back to what worked in 2009. I haven’t seen every Cowboy game this season but I’ve seen most, and that was the first screen to Felix Jones I remember. The Eagles were terrorized by the Jones screen last season. The Cowboys also looked motivated. Wade Philips deserves blame for the Cowboys horrific start. But if players need to lose seven of eight games and have their coach fired before caring, then there’s something wrong with the players and organization, too. Whatever it is – entitlement, pampering, self absorption; it’s been cancerous to the 2010 Cowboys. While Jason Garrett’s effort to implement a new environment in Dallas is honorable, how embarrassed are Dallas fans that a lackadaisical culture existed at all? Now that the Cowboys have won a big game, it will be interesting to see how they respond. Will they continue to work, or will they find satisfaction in one big win in 2010 and look forward to 2011?
Who wants the AFC?
While we’ve been waiting for a team to step up and take charge in the NFC, AFC heavyweights have steadily struggled. The Jets have looked pedestrian against inferior opponents for the past month. The Patriots were embarrassed by Cleveland. The Ravens find a way to lose close games. The Colts are a mobile infirmary. And the Steelers haven’t been the same since Ben Roethlisberger returned. Sunday night’s clash of NFL titans gave us some clarity. The Steeler offensive line can’t give Roethlisberger enough time to consistently find receivers. Pittsburgh’s running game isn’t as strong as expected, and the defense, while stout, is still suspect to elite passing attacks. On the other hand, the Patriots have the pieces in place to win another title. Tom Brady, despite uncharacteristic down weeks, is still Tom Brady. The defense, when on top of their game, is good enough to win, and Bill Belichick still gets more from his players than any other coach. Whether New England overlooked Cleveland last week is unknown. Based on their Sunday night performance, it’s clear the Patriots are one of the NFL’s best teams and the collapse in Cleveland was an anomaly. Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning next will give us a better idea of where the Colts stand. For now, the Patriots are on top while the other four AFC contenders still have more to prove.
Someone take them to Chic-Fil-A (NFL’s top 5)
1. Patriots – I know, I know. I’m all over the place. Last week the Patriots were dropped from my top five. With the Ravens, Giants, and Steelers losing, and the Colts and Jets playing underwhelming football, I had no choice. Tom Brady has his team back on top for another week.
2. Jets – Yes, the Jets defeated the Patriots. But these rankings are more of a “what have you done for me recently” type of thing. The Jets are still winning, so it’s hard to say they’re struggling, but really, they’re struggling. Conversely, good teams win while they work out the kinks.
3. Packers – Fittingly, Aaron Rodgers will be presented the opportunity to give Brett Favre the final kick out the door. I think Rodgers and the Packers will be up to the challenge.
4. Ravens – Losing to an NFC opponent won’t cripple the Ravens. However, the defensive lapse on the Falcons’ final drive is concerning.
5. Falcons – Matt Ryan looks poised to take Atlanta back to the Playoffs. A race down the stretch with New Orleans will determine whether it’s as a wild card or division champion.
(Last Week: BAL, NYG, PITT, GB, NYJ)
Not even Ramen Noodle worthy (NFL’s bottom 5)
28. Bengals – It’s time to revamp the offense in Cincinnati. Too old, not good enough.
29. Bills – 1-15 looks a whole lot better than 0-16. One win means you stink. Zero wins puts you in the record books.
30. Lions – Young teams must learn to forget bad losses. The Lions looked hungover from last week’s collapse against the Jets and fell to the lowly Bills as a result.
31. Cardinals – I’m out of things to say. The Cardinals are just bad.
32. Panthers – They stink. There’s no denying that. However, it’s nice to see a lousy team give it their all every week. Steve Smith going after Aqib Talib for a cheap shot on Jimmy Clausen sets a good example for a young team. I love Steve Smith.
(Last Week: AZ, DEN, DAL, BUF, CAR)
Stock rising (but not in top 5, yet)
Jaguars – Just a game out of first place in the AFC South. If David Garrard continues his solid play, he and Maurice Jones-Drew may keep Jacksonville in playoff contention into December. Alligator blood. I’m telling you. Jack Del Rio refuses to go away.
49ers – A 4th quarter rally saved their season. Troy Smith has given the offense some rhythm and possibly saved Mike Singletary’s job. After a 1-6 start, being two games out of first isn’t too shabby.
Bears – I still haven’t figured out how the Bears are in first place in the NFC North, but they are. With one of the NFC’s wildcard spots going to the NFC South (cream puff schedules), the NFC North and NFC East will battle for that last spot. Beating Philadelphia in two weeks will be key to Chicago’s postseason aspirations.
Stock falling (but not in bottom 5, yet)
Titans – If it weren’t for a frantic 4th quarter rally against the Eagles, Tennessee would be 4-5 and riding a three game skid. Vince Young and Kerry Collins don’t look good enough to get the Titans into the playoffs.
Chiefs – Kansas City’s fall from 5-2 to 5-4 was as painful as could be. Two straight losses to division opponents will certainly hurt come playoff tiebreaker time.
Vikings – If I had a “Stock Bottomed Out” category, the Vikings would be there. Momentum is key to success. Minnesota can’t seem to hang onto it for more than a half.
Things I thought and would’ve said, but my son is only 5 months old and wouldn’t understand…
- Rookies Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford led their respective teams on game-tying drives late in the 4th quarter. They both ended up losing, but the Browns and Rams must feel good about the quarterback position moving forward.
- In 2009, the Houston Texans defense ranked 13th in the league in total defense. In 2010, they rank 32nd – dead last. The loss of Demeco Ryans hurts, but the underachieving defense is inexcusable – and a major reason the Texans will again miss the playoffs.
- CBS’ Dan Dierdorf called out Terrell Owens’ effort on the Bengals final drive. Dierdorf called Owens’ lack of hustle “pathetic.” No surprises there.
- The Dolphins lost both starting quarterbacks to season-ending injuries in their victory on Sunday. Some victory. So long, playoffs.
- Matt Ryan and Roddy White torched the Baltimore defense on Thursday night. Joe Flacco overcame a sloppy first half and did enough for the Ravens to win. Ray Lewis’ crew did not.
- The 49ers were a 4th and 18 away from waving goodbye to their 2010 season. Troy Smith converted on a pass to Frank Gore and kept San Francisco alive for another week. Amazingly, the 49ers overcame three touchdowns and an interception that were called back due to penalties.
- Howie Long’s son, Chris Long, is developing into a real terror. Not for his coaches, for opposing offensive lines. Troy Smith was harassed all afternoon.
- Not only were the New York Giants embarrassed by the Cowboys at home, but they were also embarrassed BY their home. The lights at the new Meadowlands went dark and the game was delayed for extended time until the lights came back on. Giant fans may have preferred the lights stayed out.
- You heard it here first. The Kansas City Chiefs won’t be in the playoffs. I’m already blaming head coach Todd Haley for the unavoidable collapse.
- The Seattle Seahawks pick on the really bad teams. If they didn’t play in the NFC West, they’d be in the basement of any other division in football.
- Jay Cutler is unpredictable, but the Bears defense keeps them in every game. Also, why does Matt Forte start?
- As an Eagles fan, I’m not thrilled about facing Dez Bryant and Hakeem Nicks twice a year for the next 7-8 years. In fact, I’m terrified.
- Tom Brady’s emphatic spike after his 3rd quarter touchdown showed how important Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh was to the Patriots. I kicked Brady to the curb last week. Clearly, I was wrong. He’s still one of the best big game quarterbacks in the NFL.
- Jimmy Clausen looked better for Carolina today. Steady improvement is all the Panthers need from Clausen.
- The Jets/Browns game in Cleveland was the closest thing to a playoff game today. The Browns would easily win the NFC West. I hope Eric Mangini gets another year.
- Seeing Buddy Ryan at the Browns game to support his sons was a special treat. I love Buddy. My favorite Eagles era was the Buddy Ryan era.
- The Buccaneers are still alive in the NFC playoff hunt after ten weeks. If I could call an audible on my NFC South predictions, I would. In fact, I’d call a “Halle Berry on two” audible like Josh Freeman.
- Jets kicker Nick Folk missed a 26 yard field goal in the 3rd quarter and then another from 48 in overtime. Gamblers got lucky, because the misses enabled the Jets to score in overtime and cover the spread.
- The Bills won, but it wasn’t pretty. My favorite part: with less than 20 seconds remaining in the first half, the Bills deflected a Detroit pass at the line of scrimmage. The football flew up in the air and three Bills stood under the sinking ball. All three jumped for the ball. Of course, the ball fell to the ground. The Lions kicked a field goal before the half.
- Randy Moss; one catch, 26 yards. He’s a difference maker alright. Caterers in Nashville are on edge.
- From the redundancy department; Peyton Manning put 3 points on the board before the end of the first half.
- Com’on, Eagles. Don’t ruin my week.