Say Cheese. NFL Week 5 Recap

The Packers and Patriots prove they’re the best. The Eagles prove they’re a joke. Please come back, NBA. I need you.

My birthday was last week. The party was a disaster. Ryan Howard didn’t show up. Jason Avant dropped my presents, and Juqua Parker dove into the cake before it was cut. Needless to say, I’m depressed.

Week Two Headlines

NFL’s Best
Right now, it’s the Packers and the Patriots, and then everyone else. It’s really not even close. The Packers dismantled Atlanta’s defense on Sunday night. The score indicates a much closer game than it actually was. Had Jermichael Finley held on to a couple of passes, the difference may have been about 10 points higher. Regardless, Aaron Rodgers was virtually unstoppable. There was a brief stretch where Atlanta looked to have him and the Packers on the run, but it wasn’t to last. Rodgers and the offense scored on six of their nine possessions while the Green Bay defense only allowed 87 total yards, zero points, and forced two interceptions on Atlanta’s final EIGHT possessions. Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFC, hands down. What we saw from him last night was not surprising. But Green Bay’s defensive performance, especially after getting manhandled on the Falcons’ first two drives, was not only surprising, but also devastating for the rest of the NFC. The only hope of beating Green Bay was to batter their defense and limit Rodgers’ opportunities. And really, only the Saints had a shot, anyway. But now, if Green Bay’s defense really found itself last night, there’s almost no hope. Rodgers is unstoppable. If the defense is half as good, the Packers are a lock to return to the Superbowl.
The Patriots are right there with Green Bay. In fact, I like New England’s offense better. They’re every bit as explosive and dangerous as Green Bay’s, but the Patriots can run the ball down opponents’ throats, too. Tom Brady is New England’s best player and most dangerous weapon. He did very little to defeat the Jets on Sunday, mostly because he didn’t have to. The running game was effective and punishing, averaging over four yards a carry and allowing the Patriots to control the clock and the tempo. On the game-clinching drive, New England ran 12 plays and rushed the football on 11 of them before kicking a field goal to extend their lead to nine. The drive ate over 6 minutes of game clock and left the Jets with just over a minute remaining to erase a two score margin. It was one of those, “we’re just better than you and you can’t do anything about it,” drives that demoralizes a team and puts the rest of the NFL on notice.
The top of the NFL mountain belongs to Green Bay and New England. The rest of the NFL is still at base camp.

Eagles, Eagles.
There are just too many things to rip the Eagles and Andy Reid for. I only want to address one: The field goal debacle at the end of the 1st half.
Ok, so self-inflicted wounds and the opposing offense are destroying your team. Nothing is going right. Team morale is in the toilet and the Bills look like they’ll score again before the half. Finally, something goes right. A turnover. Now you have the ball with an opportunity to score. 16 seconds left, no timeouts (what a surprise). Right now I’m panicking, because even 16 seconds isn’t enough time for an Andy Reid led offense to run a play and kick a field goal. But he does. Now there’s 8 seconds left. No way, he’s not doing it. He does. Reid runs another play, believing the Eagles have enough time to score from 25+ yards out or throw an incompletion before time expires. Whoops. No points. No momentum swing, except maybe the other way, and no boost in morale.
I hate when coaches do this. Athletes have some of the biggest egos in the world. I don’t care if Michael Vick said he could handle the situation. It’s the coach’s job to make the right call and not give Vick a chance to screw up such a golden opportunity. Charlie Manuel did the same thing in Game 4 of the NLDS when he gave Ryan – 0 for his last 15 – Howard a green light on a 3-0 pitch. Why would you even consider such a thing? Let him walk, boost his confidence, and get people on a base for a rally. Unbelievable.
Back to the Eagles, Reid compounded his mistake by attempting an even more desperate onside kick. It failed, but luckily, the refs bailed him out. Those three points Reid left on the field would have been huge in the 4th quarter. HUGE. Instead, Buffalo retained its momentum heading into the half and the Eagles had nothing to hang their hat on. Reid’s desperation is out of control. On Sunday, it may have cost his team a much-needed win.

(And that’s all there is for now. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else last night. I kept replaying the last four weeks, trying to figure out what went wrong.)

Someone take them to Chick-fil-A (NFL’s top 5)

1. Packers – After a lousy 1st quarter, the Green Bay defense looks to have found its groove. Bad news for the rest of the NFC.
2. Patriots – There are two elite teams in the NFL. Both have the two best quarterbacks. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
3. Ravens – Off week. Hopefully, Joe Flacco practiced. A lot.
4. Saints – They keep winning. However, the defense looks off, and less-than-convincing victories over Jacksonville and Carolina are a little unsettling.
5. Lions – First real test for the Lions is tonight. Then they host 49ers and Falcons. We’ll know soon if the Lions are for real.
(Last Week: GB, NO, BAL, NE, DET)

Hardly Ramen Noodle worthy (NFL’s bottom 5)

28. Cardinals – I doubt Kevin Kolb is having any fun right now. Life is easier and safer as a backup.
Colts – Indy managed to blow a 24-7 lead WITHOUT turning the ball over. I didn’t know that was possible. When was the last time the Colts had a running game? Edgerrin James?
30. Jaguars
– Barring some sort of miracle, Jack Del Rio will coach his final three games as Jacksonville’s head coach against Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Houston. So long, Jack.
Rams – The 49ers are making another 7-9 NFC West division champion unlikely. That’s bad news for St. Louis. With Green Bay, Dallas and New Orleans on deck, the winning won’t start anytime soon.
32. Dolphins
– Tony Sparano is 14-22 dating back to the start of the 2009 season. Miami isn’t building anything. There is no bright future. Why is he still the coach?
495. Eagles – They invent new ways to lose every week. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

(Last Week: JAC, IND, MINN, STL, MIA)

Stock rising (but not in top 5, yet)

Bengals – Are they good enough to contend for a Wildcard spot? No. Regardless, it’s fun to praise the Bengals while we can.
Chiefs – Sunday’s loss all but eliminated the Chiefs from the Andrew Luck sweepstakes and thrust them right back in the hunt for the AFC West.
Seahawks – Don’t look now, but the NFC West may be a two horse race. After nearly knocking off the Falcons, Seattle went into New York and shocked the Giants. After Cleveland and Cincinnati, Seattle’s schedule takes a turn for the worst, so they better win now and hope for the best later.

Stock falling (but not in bottom 5, yet)

Eagles – In perhaps the understatement of the 2011 NFL season; the Eagles are struggling. On the positive side, Juqua Parker just became a lot more famous.
Broncos – You know what you have to do, John Fox. You know it. Don’t deny it any longer.
Falcons – Four games against NFC playoff contenders, only one win (gifted by the Eagles). The Falcons are in trouble. They’re arguable the worst team in the NFC South. Yep, I said it.

Things I thought and would’ve said on TV if someone paid me…
  • Ron Rivera’s timeout at the end of the 1st half as New Orleans was scrambling for a final field goal was unbelievable. I don’t care if there were 12 men on the field or not. As a rule, you shouldn’t make it easy for your opponent to score points. Ever.
  • Steve Smith’s 1st quarter td catch. I’m not sure what Smith’s vertical is, but I’m pretty sure he was 4 feet off the ground when he caught that ball. That wasn’t even the best part of the play. Smith went on to manhandle Malcom Jenkins in the end zone after Roman Harper took a cheap shot at Smith. Also, why do we refer to these fights as “ugly incidents”? It’s football. Violence is part of the package. I, for one, appreciate a little fist-a-cuffs in an interdivision game.
  • Ask anyone on the Arizona defense what size shoe Adrian Peterson wears and they’ll tell you by referencing the footprints on their chests. Patrick Peterson, especially, was trampled by Adrian Peterson on a number of occasions.
  • The Chargers still can’t score inside the red zone.  Five trips on Sunday; one touchdown, four field goals. I understand he’s been a little banged up, but given his size and athleticism, why not give Vincent Jackson a few more opportunities to make something happen?
  • Andy Dalton won the rookie shootout in Florida on Sunday. Both he and Blaine Gabbert played relatively well. Gabbert had the unfortunate “Dallas Cowboys snap issue” that ultimately ended the game, but he performed well. Most importantly, he’s improved every week. I like him.
  • Gutsy call by Hue Jackson to go with the fake punt in the early stages of the 4th quarter while nursing a 5 point lead. It worked like a charm, though, as Oakland gained 35 yards on the play and eventually kicked a field goal, stretching their lead to 8.
  • Is there a better kicker in the NFL than Sebastian Janikowski? Three field goals from 50 yards or beyond is incredible.
  • I thought Matt Schaub had a million better options than the one he chose on the Texans’ final play. That interception was perplexing, to say the least.
  • I don’t care if his throwing motion is wacky or if Kyle Orton is the better quarterback. If you’re Denver, you can’t ignore how the team responded when Tim Tebow entered the game. His energy and leadership turned a 26-10 blowout into a 29-24 thriller. The stadium chanting his name post game was something special.
  • The Steeler offense finally woke up on Sunday, against one of the NFL’s better defenses, too. It amazes me how a team with few “big name” players finds a way to win and compete while their fellow PA brethren struggle with perhaps the NFL’s most talent laden roster. Coaching would be the biggest difference. No prima donnas would be second.
  • Good news for Eagle fans: San Francisco crushed another NFC playoff hopeful on Sunday. Not comforting? Yeh, I didn’t think it would help.
  • The Chiefs rushed for nearly 200 yards and featured Dwayne Bowe in the passing game. In other words, Kansas City returned to what made them successful in 2010. Maybe I wrote off the Chiefs too early.
  • I don’t know the Colts’ intentions with Peyton Manning, but at 0-5, it’s unlikely they’re in playoff contention when Manning is able to return. Curtis Painter looked adequate on Sunday, but if Indianapolis isn’t sold on him as their future, they better keep Manning sidelined and hope for the worst record.
  • Two weeks in a row an NFC East foe has suffered an embarrassing loss (Dallas last week), and for the second week in a row I can’t open my mouth because the Eagles continue to suffer equally or more embarrassing losses.
  • I understand the Jets are reeling, losing three in a row, but I find it hard to listen to those who have written them off completely. I actually felt Sunday’s loss to New England was the best game the Jets played since throttling the Jaguars in Week 2. I expect New York to grab a Wildcard berth.
Things I never thought and would not say this week…
  • It’s fun to be a Philadelphia sports fan.
  • Jaun Castillo has a bright future as a defensive coach in the NFL
  • I was right on about the Texans. They’re the real deal.
Fantasy Nightmare Football update of the week…
  • Jermichael Finley dropped a TD in the first half that forced a FG, and later dropped a pass for a 1st down that also forced a FG. I have Aaron Rodgers. I went against Packers kicker, Mason Crosby. Rodgers only outscored his kicker by 4 points. I lose.

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