Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Talbuc's Take - Week 3

Believe in Buffalo
The Bills are for real! I love it! They stood toe to toe with the Patriots and eventually knocked them out. After stomping the Chiefs, they beat an also surprisingly good Raiders team before improving to 3-0 by beating the Patriots. Next up they go to Cincinnati and should be 4-0 before starting a really tough stretch – v. Eagles, @ Giants, v. Redskins, v. Jets, @ Cowboys. Their bye in week 7 breaks that stretch up a bit, and if they can emerge 6-3 at that point, you’ve got to like their chances to go .500 the rest of the way and make a playoff push. Watch out Jets!
I’m not going to overreact to the Patriots’ loss, but Brady can’t throw another 4 INTs this week at Oakland and leave with a win. More on the Raiders in a minute.
Wake Me When It’s Over
The 49ers are 2-1, but they’ve beaten two really bad teams (Seattle week 1) and get to face a pissed off Eagles team in Philly this Sunday. Frank Gore is banged up and slow, and Alex Smith can’t consistently make plays vertically. I expect them to get whooped by the Eagles.
What a disappointment by the Bengals. They had a chance to get off to a 2-1 start against an unimpressive 49er team, and managed a meager 2 FGs and a gift safety. Bad day for Andy Dalton and the entire offense; unable to generate anything. Good chance Buffalo doubles San Fran’s 13 points this week, so the Bengals better have a solid week of practice.
What He Said
This is basically a copy of the game above. Miami should have won against the Browns but instead dropped to 0-3 by losing to an unimpressive Browns team playing without Peyton Hillis. You shouldn’t lose when the opposing QB completes less than half of his passes (McCoy was 19-39). Tony Sparano is sitting on one of the hottest hot seats in the league. See Todd Haley in KC. They’re not beating the Chargers Sunday, so does he survive the bye only to (likely) lose to the Jets on the road? They’re clearly the worst team in that division, so with their season likely over after this Sunday, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Dolphins make a change.
It’s Raining It’s Pouring!
What an ugly game. Cam Newton had his worst game so far by far, but more importantly, his team got their first win. Jonathan Stewart is clearly the better back through three games, making the re-signing of DeAngelo Williams as profitable as it was sensible.
Blaine Gabbert’s first start as a pro didn’t go as he’d hoped. He led a conservative offense in bad conditions to a FG and a freak TD to Mike Thomas at the end of the first half. The weather should be better this week at home, but the Saints will be a tougher foe than the Panthers.
Minnesota Meltdown
How ‘bout them Lions! After spotting the Vikings a 20-0 lead, they got two Calvin Johnson TDs and 4 (including OT) Jason Hanson FGs to move to 3-0. I love what they’re doing, and the next two weeks will tell me a lot about this team - @ Dallas and v. Chicago. Look for Titus Young to continue asserting himself offensively; love his potential.
Congratulations to the Vikings for losing a double digit second half lead for the third week in a row. How does a team with (arguably) the best back in the league lose sizeable leads like it’s their job? I’ll tell you. You only give Adrian Peterson five, yes five second half carries. Pure genius! McNabb is bad. Sure he went 22 for 36, but he barely broke 200 yards. Make some plays! They’ve got two winnable games coming up (@ KC and v. Arizona), and if they lose them, it’s Christian Ponder time. I’ve McSeen enough.
Don't Dream It's Over
I still think the Giants suck. Brandon Jacobs has no business running free for a 40 yard TD on a passing route, and Kurt Coleman and Nnamdi Asomugha lose man points for their weak tackle attempt on Victor Cruz’s long TD run. Cruz bested Nnamdi for another score later in the game, as the Eagles rolled over for the Giants. Hats off to New York for the division road win, but I think this game said more about the Eagles than the Giants. Love him or hate him, you’ve got to give Tom Coughlin credit. He does a fabulous job of preparing his team and actually managing a football game.
Damn Dream Team! What a sloppy showing by the Eagles. Michael Vick got beat up again and looked inexperienced and indecisive in the pocket. He bruised, not broke his right hand, so he should be on the field against San Fran Sunday in what has to be a must-win game for the Eagles. LeSean McCoy, not Vick is this team’s most dangerous weapon.
So Sorry, Sam
Baltimore got back on track by thrashing the Rams in St. Louis. Joe Flacco went off for 389 yards and 3 TDs, all to rookie Torrey Smith who was making his first pro start. He won’t do that again, but the threat of him getting free deep might open things up a bit more for Ray Rice and Ed Dickson, a guy I think claims a significant offensive role soon. The defense sacked Sam Bradford five times and got a Haloti Ngata TD to cap their scoring. They needed a good performance before hosting the Jets this Sunday night. I expect the Ravens to beat New York and move to 3-1.
There are worse teams, but the Rams might be the most disappointing so far this year. Sure they haven’t faced any softies yet, but they’ve been decisive losers in each of their three games. The defense is trying to match the offense in ineptitude, and that schedule doesn’t get any easier with the Redskins, Packers, Cowboys, and Saints on the horizon.
At Least They Didn’t Score 40!
The Chargers were lucky they played the Chiefs this week with as sloppy as they looked. Not having Antonio Gates doesn’t help, but Philip Rivers should have made more plays in the passing game. He let KC hang in a game that shouldn’t have been close. Ryan Mathews is getting more involved, so look for him to shine against the Dolphins this week.
As I mentioned earlier, Todd Haley’s on the proverbial hot seat thanks to an 0-3 start that saw them outscored 109-27 in those “contests”. If they lose to the Vikings and Colts these next two weeks, he could be gone before/during their week 6 bye. Again, what a waste of Dwayne Bowe’s talents.
Too Many Weapons
After Bills-Patriots, this was probably the next best game of the week. The Saints trailed 16-7 in the first half and 19-17 at halftime, but Drew Brees’ 3 second half TDs and a late score by Mark Ingram held off Houston. I like that when Lance Moore finally got back to full strength he produced big time – 9 catches for 88 yards and a TD. Jimmy Graham is a beast. The guy can get shut down for an entire half and still put up 100 yards. Imagine what he’ll be like when he figures out football. I picked the Saints to win the Super Bowl, and I’m definitely not disappointed with what I’ve seen so far. I really like they’re chances of being 4-1 when they head to Tampa in three weeks.
James Casey was Houston’s most impressive player; had a couple of really big plays. Houston’s reward? A pissed off Pittsburgh team followed by the Raiders, Ravens, and Titans. I still think they win this division, but don’t be a bit surprised if their week 7 game at Tennessee is highly significant.
Sleepwalking to a Win
How bad can you play and still win a football game? Just ask Pittsburgh. Rashard Mendenhall couldn’t run, and you know your OL is in bad shape when you can’t grind it out against the Colts. Aside from his long TD to Mike Wallace, Ben Roethlisberger didn’t make many big plays. Again, disappointing considering they were facing the Colts. Bright spots? Mike Wallace and Troy Polamalu are amazing talents. I hyped Wallace in my preseason predictions, and so far, his 377 receiving yards are second most in the league. Polamalu looks 150% healthy and was a beast getting after Kerry Collins. If they come out that flat again this week at Houston, they’ll get boat raced.
Speaking of Kerry Collins – WOW, that was bad. Sure he didn’t get a lot of time to prepare with the Colts this preseason, but the man is supposed to be a professional passer. Those guys don’t consistently miss wide open receivers with horrible timing. I’d start Curtis Painter and increase my scouting of Andrew Luck. What a difference two players make when the Colts play at home. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were on Roethlisberger’s heels throughout, and when those two get going, the crowd gets loud, and it’s a whole different kind of atmosphere in the dome. Pat Angerer is a monster. He was everywhere, totaling 21 tackles as the key reason for Mendenhall’s struggles.
Tough Win For Tennessee
What a huge loss for the Titans. Kenny Britt is done for the year after tearing both the ACL and MCL in his right knee. With 17 catches and 3 TDs in less than 3 games, he was well on his way to a monster year. Chris Johnson really needs to get things figured out. He’s run for a horribly disappointing 98 TOTAL yards in three games. Wow! Matt Hasselbeck has looked rejuvenated; solid in every game so far. Look for Nate Washington to take over as his primary target and for Johnson to be used more in the passing game to get him jump started. Where are you Jared Cook?
Like the Browns, I don’t have much of anything to say about the Broncos. Kyle Orton is average at best, and the Broncos (John Fox) are fighting giving Tim Tebow a shot. After they lose to the Packers and Chargers in their next two games and are sitting 1-4, do we need to see more Orton? Their fans will still be pissed because Fox will probably next go with Brady Quinn.
Different Year, Same Results
This game was close on the scoreboard for a half, but there wasn’t much doubt that the Packers were the better team and would leave with a win. Hello Jermichael Finley! He showed his red zone skills with two early TDs. Ryan Grant outperformed James Starks this week but suffered a bruised kidney. I’m interested to see how they divvy up the carries this week if Grant plays. If he doesn’t, this is the kind of matchup where Starks has a chance to stake a serious claim for the job. Either way, the Packers should roll the Broncos.
That’s two ugly showings in a row for the Bears. Can they beat the Panthers at home this week? I think it ends up being closer than Bears fans want it to be. Jay Cutler is visibly uncomfortable in this offense, and they can’t string together any consistency. I still don’t see them being a threat to the Packers or even the Lions this season.
Pretty Don’t Pay the Bills
I love it that the Bucs won an ugly game; shows character, especially against a division rival. Josh Freeman put up a 56.8 QB rating on the day, but most importantly, he got a W. His biggest play of the game was his last, a fourth and short where he drew the Falcons offsides to seal the victory. Defensively, the rookie and the old man were the standouts. Mason Foster is thriving in a three down role, totaling five tackles and a sack and leading the team in both categories on the season. This guy’s arrow is pointing directly skyward. Ronde Barber recovered a fumble, defended three passes, had a tackle for loss, and amassed four total tackles on the day. Adrian Clayborn registered his first sack as a pro. Let’s hope he doesn’t stick to this one-every-three-games trend. EJ Biggers was beaten early and often by Roddy White, displaying a boundary weakness. I’m not a big Cody Grimm fan, but losing a starting safety for the rest of the year won’t help. I still think Corey Lynch and Larry Asante will do just fine. Do the Bucs still want Tanard Jackson to be a part of the team?
If I’m the Falcons I’m a little worried. Last year’s division champs are 1-2 with their one victory coming in a late rally against the Vickless Eagles. They were awful in week one against the Bears and couldn’t establish a thing on the ground against the Bucs with Michael Turner. Their offensive line is extremely porous. Besides not opening running lanes for Turner, they got Matt Ryan sacked another 4 times, bringing their/his season total to 13. He won’t make it their week 8 bye at this rate.
Kicking Fit
Tony Romo’s not going to put this win on his resume, but he did enough to lead the Cowboys to a boring field goal filled MNF victory. Felix Jones was the key offensive player for the Cowboys, showing a couple of times that if he can get past the first layer of the defense, he’s going to run for a while. That was his first solid showing of the year, and if he ever misses time, I think there will be a noticeable drop off to Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray. Sean Lee has quietly become a defensive leader. The guy is everywhere every week.
Rex Grossman is the definition of an average, frustrating QB. He’s no threat to put together a six point drive with his arm and can’t make the right read AND put the ball where it needs to be twice in a row. The Rams defense will reach a new low this week if Grossman can move them up and down the field.
Seahawks / Cardinals
Seattle wins a boring NFC West game. Kevin Kolb isn’t a hero so far. I got nothing else.
Best and Worst
Best Teams (Previous Rank)
1 – Green Bay (1)
They’ll be here next week too after demolishing Denver.
2 – Baltimore (3)
That’s more like it. I still think they’ll prove to be the class of the conference.
3 – New Orleans (4)
They’re this year’s sneaky team who’ll be there in the end. Bank on it!
4 – New England (2)
The league’s worst pass defense is a serious sore spot; wouldn’t be shocked if the Raiders beat them this week.
5 – Detroit (NR)
A win this week at Dallas would be a big statement and give them even more confidence going into week 5 against the Bears.
6 – Pittsburgh (6)
Their OL is going to be what keeps them from winning the division. No run lanes, no time for Ben to get comfortable.
7 – Houston (7)
They’d jump Pittsburgh with a win this week, and they’d be really dangerous with a legit #2 receiver.
8 – Philadelphia (4)
No they’re not as good as the hype, but they’re not this bad either.
Worst Teams
1 – Kansas City (2)
They’ve got a better chance of winning this week than do the Colts, but I think KC loses when these two go head to head in week 5.
2 – Indianapolis (1)
How bad are things when you want Curtis Painter on the field?
3 – Seattle (3)
That win against Arizona doesn’t impress me. Beat the Falcons this week, and I’ll move you down this list.
4 – Jacksonville (4)
Four of the next five weeks are brutal (Saints, Steelers, Ravens, Texans). If they lose to the Bengals in week 5, the Chiefs and Colts might have some competition.
5 – Minnesota (5)
They’ve only lost their three games by a combined 14 points, but they’re such an uninspiring team. Not sure how they get any better with McNabb at QB.
6 – Miami (7)
Not sure how they get up for this week’s game after giving away last week’s.
7 – Denver (6)
Eager to see how they come out of their week 6 bye after losing to the Packers and Chargers the next two weeks.
8 – St. Louis (NR)
They got hosed with a brutal early schedule, and this week’s game against Washington is huge with the Packers on deck.
Best Performances
Joe Flacco (BAL) – 27/48, 389 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 103.6 QB rating
Matthew Stafford (DET) – 32/46, 378 yds, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 108.8 QB rating
Drew Brees (NO) – 31/44, 370 yds, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 99.6 QB rating
Ryan Fitzpatrick (BUF) – 27/40, 369 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 92.6 QB rating
Darren McFadden (OAK) – 19 carries, 171 yds, 2 TDs
LeSean McCoy (PHI) – 24 carries, 128 yds, 1 TD
Ryan Mathews (SD) – 21 carries, 98 yds, 2 TDs, 4 catches, 51 yds
Felix Jones (DAL) – 14 carries, 115 yds, 3 catches, 40 yds
Wes Welker (NE) – 16 catches, 217 yds, 2 TDs
Torrey Smith (BAL) – 5 catches, 152 yds, 3 TDs
Jermichael Finley (GB) – 7 catches, 85 yds, 3 TDs
Calvin Johnson (DET) – 7 catches, 108 yds, 2 TDs
Rob Gronkowski (NE) – 7 catches, 109 yds, 2 TDs
Pat Angerer (IND) – 21 total tackles (12 solo)
Jared Allen (MIN) – 6 total tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Calais Campbell (ARI) – 10 total tackles, 2.5 sacks
Ray Lewis (BAL) – 10 total tackles (all solo), 1 forced fumble
Dwight Freeney (IND) – 4 total tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Worst Performances
Andy Dalton (CIN) – 17/32, 157 yds, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 40.8 QB rating
Sam Bradford (STL) – 16/32, 166 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT, sacked 5 times, 1 fumble, 62.8 QB rating
Tarvaris Jackson (SEA) – 18/31, 171 yds, 0 TDs, 1 INT, sacked 4 times, 60.0 QB rating
Michael Vick (PHI) – 16/23, 176 yds, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 71.5 QB rating
Frank Gore (SF) – 17 carries, 42 yds, 1 fumble, 0 receptions
Chris Johnson (TEN) – 13 carries, 21 yds
Willis McGahee (DEN) – 22 carries, 52 yds (2.4 yards per carry)
Cedric Benson (CIN) – 17 carries, 64 yds
Shonn Greene (NYJ) – 15 carries, 59 yds
Santonio Holmes (NYJ) – 1 catch, 19 yds
Steve Smith (CAR) – 2 catches, 15 yds
DeSean Jackson (PHI) – 2 catches, 30 yds
Reggie Wayne (IND) – 3 catches, 24 yds
Hakeem Nicks (NYG) – 3 catches, 25 yds

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