Week Ten gave us our first Thursday Night game of the year between Baltimore and Atlanta and it was a great one. The Falcons went up early and appeared to have the game put away but then the Ravens came back and made it interesting but once again Joe Flacco couldn’t stomach the pressure. Their offense still has a bit of a ways to go before we can believe all of the analysts that are prediciting a Ravens-Packers Super Bowl in Dallas. The Ravens’ defense held Michael Turner to just 39 yards on 17 carries, but it’s hard to simply say that’s the formula to stop the Falcons since 7-2 Atlanta still ended up winning the game 26-21. I think maybe Matt Ryan just had a bad 2009 instead of having a great 2008 as most of the skeptics originally thought. Maybe he is that good. 32 for 50 with 3 TDs and the most important stat of all: zero interceptions.
Now as a Giants fan, I feel obligated to admit that New York got lit up by a team that a lot of people think were the worst in the NFL in Dallas. The dudes in blue got HOUSED in every single aspect of the game, and retreated to their uberconservative offensive strategy in the third quarter. Eventually Tom Coughlin will be fired as coach of the New York Giants at some point in his career, and when he does it will be because of play calling in games like this one. They could have easily come back on a team like the Cowboys down 13 at halftime. Instead, they packed it in and took the L like dunces. As for Dallas, it’s a little alarming that they came out and decided to start playing all of a sudden after mailing it in the way they had in previous weeks. Jon Kitna is 38 years old? It wasn’t just Kitna that beat the Giants, they had a sure touchdown called back for a penalty and ended up getting no points at all on that drive. They had other penalties and miscues as well, a lot of blown pass routes, and to add insult to injury the power went out at Giants satdium and the game was delayed for 12 minutes. That fifth of an hour would have been an excellent opportunity for the G men to come out revitalized but that didn’t happen. WR Ramses Barden broke his left ankle and is out for the season.
If that wasn’t bad enough for the city that never sleeps, the Jets barely beat the Browns paving the way for Sunday night’s matchup of the Steelers and Patriots to be the game that would essentially decide who is the best current team in both conferences. This was a fun game to watch. Pittsburgh didn’t play well in the first and third quarters. New England on the other hand looked every bit as sharp at some of their recent Super Bowl squads. Wes Welker dropped an easy pass that even Wes Welker never drops and Brady had an awkward intentional grounding call against him because he didn’t get out of the pocket in time, but other than that the Patriots were about as close to perfect as you’ll see a team get. Tom Brady’s favorite receiver of the evening was Rob Gronkowski? Believe it, but Tom threw to eight different receivers. Before this game, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger had a passer rating of 137.8 out of the pocket in 2009 and 2010 which was first in the league. I’d be willing to bet that number dropped significantly after Sunday night’s contest. Both of these teams have what is takes to go the distance but comparatively it looks like it will be easier for New England to get there.
The Bengals had two turnovers in fifteen seconds during the first quarter of Sunday’s loss against the Colts. And if you’re really, really bad at fantasy football I should probably inform you that Bengals kicker Mike Nugent is out for the season. Carson Palmer had three picks and rarely do you have that stat and come away with a win. Indy kind of got a free one since everything Cincy did was so bad. Next week the Colts have to play the Pats and if their six point victory over a team like the Bengals is any indication of how they are going to play in that game, they are going to get fucking clobbered.
Minnesota’s season is over. Sure it was a road game, but Chicago was a bad team and the Vikings had to win that game in order to keep their season (and any remaining faith they might have had in their coach) alive. It’s over. As for the Bears, it’s crazy to think that they are now in first place due to winning the tiebreaker against the Packers. The Packers are at least two games better than Chicago at the moment and could very easily be 8-1, but instead both of those teams are 6-3.
Tampa beat Carolina handily, but I’m not sure if that gives us any new information about them. You probably have a guy in your office that’s a Buccaneers fan that you can’t stand. I feel the same way about watching Tampa. That being said, the NFC South race is one the most interesting races in the NFL right now. Standings:
Atlanta 7 – 2
New Orleans 6 – 3
Tampa Bay 6 – 3
Carolina 1 – 8
I am hoping that there is some way one or two playoff spots in this division come down to all three teams the last week of the season. I maintain that the NFC Wild Cards will come from the the East and South, but in a situation like this we could see the defending Super Bowl champions lose their playoff spot to a team like the Bucs. So I’m following the NFC South very heartily at the moment.
The Titans got upended by Miami, making the AFC South even messier as the Texans also lost to Jacksonville. That game featured the one and only time that I’ve ever seen a hail mary work, and I’ve watched a SHIT TON of football in my life. What does it all mean? It means that every team in the AFC South is within two games, and out of all those franchise the one that has the least chance of getting anywhere is Houston. Who knew? That’s why we don’t make Super Bowl picks a lock after week one.
It also means that Miami is an unlikely contender, but a contendor nonetheless. If the Jets hit a losing skid the Dolphins are in great shape. And the Jets hit a losing skid it wouldn’t surprise me one bit. For the most part the AFC East is still a two team race, but the Jets are showing more and more signs of weakness with each passing seven day period.
Denver scored 49 points against the Chiefs? I didn’t think they would score 49 points the rest of the year. There was a weird moment in this game where the Chiefs wanted to challenge a call but the equipment that the refs were supposed to use on the field (to review the play) was not functioning properly. The rule book states that if said equipment ISN’T working then the call cannot be challenged. It wouldn’t have mattered, but it does make you wonder what would have happened in a game where it was important. The NFL should have some sort of backup plan in place. Todd Haley refused to shake Denver head coach Josh McDaniels’ hand after the game, but then later apologized like a little bitch. This division is really up for all four teams will finish 8-8 and the league will realize that none of them deserve to go. (I can at least hope for a change in the postseason structure, can’t I?) For further proof that stats don’t translate to wins, KC QB Matt Cassell passed for 469 yards in a loss. Second and third? Big Ben and Eli Manning, who also lost.
Buffalo got their first win against the season at home. It was against the Lions making it somewhat weak, but at least their hardcore fans got to see the team win. The 49ers are winners of 2 of their last 3 games, but still just trying to save Singeltary’s job at this point. In other NFC West news the Seahawks stomped Arizona.
Breaking Strange News: Donovan McNabb and the Washington Redskins have apparently agreed in principle to a five year deal where $40 million is guaranteed and he could make up to $78 million. Pretty risky considering that he was benched in favor of Rex Fucking Grossman two weeks ago. Just an odd move in general. Maybe since the Redskins are in Washington they get some sort of tax incentive for making shitty business deals. They better hope this doesn’t turn out to be Albert Haynesworth Part Two.
Monday Night Football:
And…the Skins motivational strategy didn’t work. They were pounded by the Eagles…at home, after all of that hoopla. I know for the Giants sake I should have wanted Philly to lose, but 59 points is super funny anyway you look at it. The Eagles offense looked to be the best in the entire NFL.
This is officially the NFL’s final bye week, so beginning Thursday night it’s a full 16 game schedule at the Bears travel to Miami to take on whoever the fuck the Dolphins plan on starting at quarterback. Enjoy that. Picks coming Thursday morning as usual.
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