by Ryan Meehan w/ Coach Ryan
This week Denver Broncos coach John Fox found out on Saturday that he will have to undergo aortic valve replacement surgery early this week at a hospital in Charlotte, N.C. While this is being viewed as something that could take four to six weeks to recover, I don’t expect to see John Fox back coaching the Broncos at any point this season and that includes the playoffs. I’m no doctor, but if the guy has heart issues my guess would be that his surgeon isn’t going to recommend NFL postseason football as the best medicine. (We’ll also run into that theme later on in a different capacity…) There has also been this very bizarre story involving Richie Incognito of the Miami Dolphins supposedly forcing fellow teammate Jonathan Martin to cough up $15,000 for a Vegas trip that he had no interest in participating in. Since Martin failed to file a formal complaint, the situation has gotten a bit hairy. Personally, from everything that I’ve read about Richie Incognito when it comes to his play suggests that all of this is probably true. He’s widely regarded as one of the NFL’s dirtiest players and every time I read or hear his name out loud I just picture a football with a hat on and sunglasses draped over it. Plus he’s got one of those stupid tribal arm tattoos so he should have to sleep outside regardless of how much money he makes playing football. Anyway…where were we? Ah yes, week nine.
Dolphins 22, Bengals 20 (OT)
Well, color me stupid because I thought this one was foolproof and I was dead wrong. This game was rare, as it’s only one of three games in NFL history to end on a safety. I couldn’t be more disappointed in the Bengals losing this game. I jocked them so hard last week on two separate websites and they let me down. I suppose Miami was due for a win at home (and they earned it big time) but this game was lost on one play. Dalton had three interceptions, which negates the 330 plus yards that he put up yet again. And the Bengals won the time of possession battle by twelve minutes. When you combined that with not a single Tannehill turnover, this was not going to be the forty point blowout the Bengals planted on the Jets last week. This game proved just how week to week this league really is.
Panthers 34, Falcons 10
Untrue to the form of the rest of the NFL, the Falcons are the one thing that continues to remain consistent as far as disappointment goes is the Atlanta Falcons. Nothing says failure to respond to Southern hospitality quite like starting the year 0-4 on the road a year after you hosted the NFC Championship game. And nothing says “failure” quite like Matt Ryan, and I can tell you exactly why: I’ve always kind of thought Matty StupidAssNickname has been a bit overrated, and this season we’ve seen why. Yeah sure, the Falcons have been terrorized by injuries but who hasn’t? The Carolina Panthers are my new man (or I guess men) crush. They’ve been able to turn a expectationless season into 5-3, and Cam Newton is looking like a miracle worker when I think most of us can agree he’s hardly that.
Cowboys 27, Vikings 23
As I said in the preview, this is a game between two teams that I absolutely cannot stand. And not only did my favorite team to hate win, but they probably shouldn’t have given all of the opportunities the Vikings had to blow it. Once again Dez Bryant wasted very little time reminding us that it was all about him, and had his ass not been saved on the final drive by his lover in rage there would be some serious talk of anger management and a veil for a urine sample in his locker on Tuesday. I do have to hand it to Tony, he looked absolutely perfect and composed on that last drive. But here again, people will look across the field and go “Yeah, but it’s not like he pulled out Excalibur’s Sword” as they point to Christian Ponder. Romo put together a playoff drive and he should be commended for that.
Titans 28, Rams 21
From a statistical perspective these two teams were virtually identical in this one, with the difference proving to be a late touchdown run from Chris Johnson. Let’s just put it this way: Who’d you start on your fantasy team this week: Him or Zac Stacy? Both had great afternoons, and it seemed to be a pretty decent matchup. But at the horn, the Titans were just a little bit better leaving Rams fans wondering just how they will find a new way to feel underappreciated with each coming week.
Jets 26, Saints 20
By this point, most everybody no longer holds the title to the farm, so screw it. How in the world did this happen? In a game where the Jets allow Drew Brees to throw for 382 yards and do pretty much what he does every week they win by tow field goals? How does that even work? Oh, right…it’s because the Saints have no run defense and we still aren’t sure that they can close big games. But in my eyes I guess I didn’t really view this one as a “big game”, and given the fact that the Jets got smacked around last week in what everyone was assuming was their swan song you could make the argument no one in their right mind saw this one coming. In the coaching battle of unspeakable levels of armpit suet, Rob prevailed. I know we don’t discuss kickers much here, but Nick Folk is perfect through nine games and regardless of what position you play that’s a pretty impressive statistic. With everything else that happened this week, I guess I’m not really all that surprised here. Wait until you see this…
Raiders 49, Eagles 20
Just as you wonder “How did this game ever get out of hand so fast”? I should remind you that you do understand that there is no legitimate explanation as to how things like this happen. Oakland’s defense is atrocious – 7 TDs on anybody in the league is just wrong – but what you won’t hear in most of the headlines is how the Raiders’ offense torched the Eagles for over 550 yards, and that’s why right now they still aren’t as good as Dallas. And such as I was saying just two weeks ago with Dalton – Any league where we are protecting the quarterbacks to the degree that Nick Foles DOES throw for seven touchdown passes, we should probably have a serious conversation as far as whether or not we are protecting them too much. I’m going on the record right now as saying there’s no way that guy throws for four TDs the entire rest of his career, and maybe (just maybe) this was a game where an average guy picked up some out of this world numbers.
Chiefs 23, Bills 13
Well at least something we thought was going to happen actually ended up going that way. The Chiefs are now 9-0 after disposing of the sometimes easily disposable Buffalo Bills. People are still skeptical of Kansas City (and they are going to be for some time) but their defense is brutality and it’s time everyone started taking notice.
Redskins 30, Chargers 24 (OT)
Of course the Chargers would find a way to lose this game…why wouldn’t they? This was a game that they had to have in a week where both the Jets and Tennessee lost, and they totally blew it. The Chargers are like that one friend you have who you can count on to always count on you to borrow money and never return it, and Philip Rivers is the Daili Lama of douchebaggery. Okay so they probably got screwed out of the last touchdown as well as the spot – but really you can’t punch it in with a fresh set of timeouts at the one? That’s just sad. Darrelle Young had three touchdowns for the Skins and even if it’s just for the time being – they look to be headed back on the right track…But will it be too late?
Seahawks 27, Buccaneers 24
So I’m not going to dance around this, Seattle is a team that I like but there is an elephant in the room which is weird for such a liberal city. From the “Now we may have had some idea why there was so much Adderall in the locker room to begin with” file, the Seahawks appear to be almost totally non-functional in the first thirty minutes. And it happened at home where they are supposedly invincible (and I’ve agreed with that for good reason) against a team that I was arguing last week were worse than the Jacksonville Jaguars. For some reason, the “trust” meter on Seattle will never truly hit 100%. And that’s the real issue here: If they’re sitting here at 8-1 and some schmuck like me is trying to convince you to BUY BUY BUY when there has been this many questions surrounding their inability to stuff easy teams like the Buccaneers, then how the hell are you supposed to feel about them played in mid January when all of the trees in your neighborhood are dead? God, I want so much to believe that it isn’t true, but the Seahawks might have some serious problems…
Browns 24, Ravens 18 (By Coach Ryan)
This looked like a typical Browns and Ravens game except for which team was dominant. Cleveland’s defense shut down Flacco and limited Rice to just 17 yards on 11 carries as the Cleveland Browns started closing the door on Baltimore’s chances to makes the playoffs. Baltimore has now lost three in a row including two in the division before they have to host the AFC North leading Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
The Browns finally were able to end their three game skid going into the bye. Cleveland may not be a dominant AFC team but with their new attitude fierce defense they may becoming a team that opponents should worry about the rest of the way. Give credit to Jason Campbell who was able to make plays when it appeared that Baltimore had a chance to climb back into the game. Any chance that the Ravens had to come back seemed to disappear after Tandon Doss fumbled a punt leading to a Browns score in the third.
For the first time in years Baltimore’s defense looked confused, old, and worn out compared to Cleveland’s who has had the killer eye all season long. Although Cleveland may not quite be ready to seriously compete for the playoffs this year all you have to do is look at the standings in the North which have the Bengals and Browns sitting one and two with the Ravens and Steelers bringing up the rear with a combined record of 5-11. Before this game, the Ravens had beaten the Browns in 11 straight games and although upsets happen all the time in the NFL, this game (and this season in general) may be showing a sneak peak of the changing of the guards in the AFC North where teams with orange helmets sit on top of the division. I for one am ready for the change.
Patriots 55, Steelers 31
Steel curtain or soggy tissue? Did ANYBODY play defense in this one? I haven’t watched a ton of tape of this yet but how in a world with usable oxygen did the Steelers score 31 points? Thankfully, the Patriots were able to balance that horrid defensive performance by putting up the most yards that had ever been recorded against Pittsburgh. This is no longer the AFC grudge match we’ve come to know, and in the coming years it’s only going to get worse. I won’t write about the Patriots more until I see more from them, but it is good that Gronkowski is back and it doesn’t appear as if he’s missed a step at all. And even if he has, that’s one hell of a distraction/decoy, depending on how you look at it.
Colts 27, Texans 24
Still think instant replay fixes everything? You shouldn’t because with about three minutes left in the first half of this one, the Colts got screwed out of an inexcusably overturned replay call which would have given them the ball at Houston’s 30 yard line with Andrew Luck sitting there smelling blood in the air. You know when Cris Collinsworth is right that something else in the balance of humanity is incorrect and my jaw dropped when I heard the official overturn this one. The Colts looked like assless chaps in the first half, and couldn’t function at all without having Reggie Wayne to rely on. You get the feeling that he may never be back to normal, so if that’s the case you would think Indianapolis is going to be looking for a major draft pick in the next selection Thursday or be looking to acquire some guy like that in a trade. What Indy needs is a guy like Andre Johnson, who had a gangbusters outing in this one.
But on his way into the locker room, Texans coach Gary Kubiak collapsed and the game became secondary. The Texans completely fell apart in the fourth quarter as their minds were obviously elsewhere. They blew an 18 point halftime lead and dropped their sixth straight. Luck looked like a completely different player in the second half, as he threw to TY Hilton for three second half TDs and the Colts came back to win.
But they are lucky they did, because this game also featured a bad call by Chuck Pagano. Down 24-12 (just an extra point away from being down a touchdown and a field goal) he went for two in a move that I will never understand. I’ll tell you why this is a big deal: When the Colts finally did score at the end (putting them up 25-24) the pressure was on to convert the two point conversion. This is a two point conversion that would have been completely unnecessary had they just gone for one earlier, and they ended up getting lucky. Fleener made an incredible catch, but even the best receivers and ends in the league don’t come down with that ball more than 30% of the time. So it’s highly unlikely after much criticism this week that they (or anybody else) will do that again. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: It’s called “The Chart”, not simply “A Chart”. It’s not a suggestion, that graph is well calculated and if it wasn’t there wouldn’t be laminated copies of it accessible on the sidelines at a moment’s notice. Word to the wise: conservatize.
Bonus Comment for the Week: I think it’s really important that Trent Dilfer knows we all walk out of the room when he does his “dime” segment. That’s really bad television and I sincerely hope ESPN figures it out at some point, but I seriously doubt that will happen and that’s a crying shame.
Bears 27, Packers 20
The big moment in this game of course was when Aaron Rodgers left the game early to get his shoulder X-rayed and did not return. Even at home, this was crippling for the Packers because they never really got into the flow of things. During the times where they lead this game, you never really felt like they were “winning” it. And so begins the Seneca Wallace era in Green Bay, at least for the time being. I don’t feel the least bit out of line saying when I say that without Aaron Rodgers the Packers are a 5-11 team that can finish 6-10 if they hit a hot streak. Although the Bears probably weren’t the best measuring stick for how well they can perform against the NFC’s elite, I have to hand it to Marc Trestman for the masterful job he did when it came to that fourth quarter drive. If you wonder “Which fourth quarter drive?” shame on you for not paying attention.
The drive that the Chicago Bears put together at the end of this game was nothing short of masterful, and that’s coming from a guy who can’t stand Bears fans. It just sucked the life out of a stadium that had already had the life sucked out of it once, and was punishing to a disturbing degree. The Packers defensive line crumbled into bread chunks, and it exposed just how untrustable they’ve really become overall as a team. When it was all said and done it took 18 plays an seemingly an eternity off of the clock as Matt Forte was dominant. And not only did he dictate the pace of the drive, he did so because he not only had the strength to plow through the defense AND stay in bounds. This sets the stage for a battle of NFC North Supremacy next week as the Bears take on the Detroit Lions. The Packers are 5-3 as well, but with the injuries and everything else you have to figure they are headed in the wrong direction before they are headed in the right one.
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Meehan and Coach Ryan