Do you believe yet? The Lions defense flat out destroyed the Bears offensive line in a game that was a lot closer on the scoreboard than the play on the field resembled. To beat these guys you’ve got to get an A game from every one of your offensive linemen. I don’t care if he’s got constant double coverage, but you’ve got to go Calvin Johnson’s way at least once in every series. The guy is arguably the most dangerous weapon in the game, and he only got 6 targets. Inexcusable. Jahvid Best busted loose for 163 yards on the ground including a huge 88 yard jaunt that effectively sealed the game for the home team.
The Bears have 99 problems, but Jay Cutler ain’t one. As much shit as this guy takes, he didn’t shrink one bit under the incessant Lions pressure. His line blows, and he rarely has more than two seconds to go through his reads. Matt Forte is the most important player on this team, and he added another 151 all purpose yards. Unfortunately, aside from some trickeration with Devin Hester, this guy is all Cutler has on offense. Julius Peppers sustained a knee injury during the game, and although he was able return to action, that’s a situation that warrants monitoring. Don’t be shocked if they lose to the Vikings this week at home, even with McNabb under center for the Vikings.
Vikings / Cardinals
The Vikings finally broke into the win column this year with a (first quarter) pounding of the Cardinals. Adrian Peterson was dominant running for three first quarter TDs, something that hasn’t been done in 12 years. Even in victory, McNabb is unimpressive. Sure he avoided turnovers for a change, but a 10/21 performance against the Cardinals secondary isn’t anything to thump your chest about. Jared Allen is still getting it done on defense. His 2 sacks on Sunday gave him 8.5 on the year.
Kevin Kolb was worse than McNabb, completing half of his passes, throwing 2 TDs, and putting up a 46.9 QB rating. With Beanie Wells unable to get going and rendered pretty useless with the Cardinals down 28-0 after the first quarter. You can’t tell by how they’re playing, but I still think the Eagles got the best of the Kolb deal.
Bengals / Jaguars
The Bengals are the worst 3-2 team in the league, but that means squat. They’re 3-2. AJ Green keep building his resume, catching another TD and adding a couple of other impressive catches. Andy Dalton is doing a great job of managing that offense.
The Jags suck. Their execution the last play of the game says it all. Look away. There’s nothing to see here.
S#*%^y in Philadelphia
As I mentioned in my preseason preview, Fred Jackson is an incredibly underrated player. His fantastic start to the season will end that though. He finished just shy of 200 total yards against the Eagles “defense” and is making a case for the league’s offensive player of the year award. The Bills are a win against the Giants away from going into their bye an amazing 4-1.
Laughable…Unbelievable…Pathetic. Those three words pretty much sum up the Eagles so far. Michael Vick looks like a deer in headlights out there, missing wide open receivers and throwing horrible passes that you don’t see even in high school ball. It’s only a matter of time before he’s knocked senseless and sidelined for a few weeks. They can’t stop anyone on defense and have surrendered 119 points over the last 4 weeks. They’ll lose to the Redskins this week.
Seahawks / Giants
What an effort by the Seahawks. For a team not being given much of a chance be competitive, to come back against the Giants with their backup QB is impressive. Marshawn Lynch looked like an NFL rusher, and Doug Baldwin is quietly becoming a reliable receiver. Brandon Browner made the play of the game, picking off Eli Manning and running it back 94 yards for the clinching score. Seattle has to be moderately pleased about heading into their bye with 2 wins. Aside from the shutout in Pittsburgh, they’ve been competitive in every game so far.
Victor Cruz is ridiculous. He showed great concentration on that tipped catch around two defenders that he ended up taking in for a score. Hakeem Nicks is clearly their #1 receiver, but Cruz is the dynamic downfield threat this offense needs. Eli deserved a better fate, throwing for 420 yards and three (nearly 4) TDs. Six sacks look nice in the boxscore, but I’m not sure how you let a Jackson/Whitehurst led offense light you up for 27 points. If they play like that again this week, Buffalo will stomp them.
Chiefs / Colts
This certainly wasn’t the snorefest I was expecting. Congrats to the Chiefs for erasing a 17 point late third quarter deficit to beat the Colts on the road. Matt Cassel was competent for a change, only missing on 8 of his 29 pass attempts and tossing 4 TDs. Dwayne Bowe was a beast, showing just how much damage he can do when given the ball. Without Jamaal Charles the Chiefs have to get the ball into Bowe’s hands as often as possible.
Curtis Painter played better in his second start than he did in his first, throwing for 2 scores and 0 INTs. Again Pierre Garcon was his primary target, and if Garcon can stop dropping routine passes, he’s going to have a big year. The Colts aren’t a great run team, but losing Joseph Addai, Mr. Consistent in the backfield, won’t help Painter. Pat Angerer was all over the place again totaling 15 tackles. Indy should have won this game, and if they don’t beat the Bengals this Sunday, they won’t see win #1 for quite a while (@ Saints, @ Titans, v. Falcons).
I Like Where This Is Going
What a great game. The Saints couldn’t shake the Panthers and needed a late TD along with a defensive stand to hold off the Panthers. Drew Brees continues to put up video game numbers at QB, completing 32 of 45 passes for 359 yards and 2 TDs. Aaron Rodgers is the only QB in the league I’d take over Brees. He’s now thrown a TD pass in 32 straight games. Jimmy Graham continues to be Brees’ best weapon, putting up another 100 yards receiving game and converting big plays for their offense. He’s going to be special.
Cam Newton didn’t have his best game as a pro, but he almost came up with his best victory. I’m impressed with how quickly he’s adapted to the pros; doesn’t look overwhelmed like I was certain he’d be. Now he just needs to get some Ws. Look for them to keep it close and may be get a win at Atlanta this Sunday. The Bucs have 3 wins to Carolina’s 1, but the Panthers are clearly the more competitive, better prepared team in my opinion. If Cam keeps developing at this rate, the Bucs are going to get a quite a test in weeks 13 and 16, and right now I’d give Carolina the edge.
49ers / Bucs
Ok Niners, you’re halfway there. I said beat the Bucs and Lions, and I’d believe. Completing the second half of this equation won’t be nearly as easy as the first turned out to be. Alex Smith will never be flashy, but he was at his efficiency peak Sunday, completing 11 of 19 passes, throwing 3 TDs, and posting a 127.2 passer rating. Frank Gore looked like his old self rushing for 125 yards on a 6.3 average per carry.
The Bucs get the 3 Ps in this one – Piss Poor Pathetic. Josh Freeman was awful, the defense couldn’t stop Florida’s offense (bazinga!), and they couldn’t establish anything on the ground. You’re not going to win many games that way, and they won’t win this week in their return home to host the Saints. Brees is going to pick these schleps apart. I’m not going to waste any more time talking about a team that didn’t bother to show up.
Chargers / Broncos
San Diego moved to 4-1 on the year by winning this game, but I’m still not overwhelmingly impressed by what I’m seeing from this team. The four teams they’ve beaten (KC, Miami, Minnesota, Denver) have a combined four wins, and they’re largest margin of victory is only 10 points. They’re one of the league’s worst red zone teams, scoring TDs only 41% of the time, and the rate is worse (33%) during their last three games. I’m still not big on the Jets, but this should be the Chargers toughest game aside from their loss to the Patriots.
For the love of all that is holy, Tim Tebow has been named the starting QB for the Denver Broncos. After another abysmal performance from Kyle Orton, John Fox had no choice but to give in to the public’s relentless Tebow chants and make a change under center. Will the Broncos suddenly start winning games? Nope, but like Tebow or not, Broncos games just got a little more interesting. Willis McGahee hasn’t been getting a ton of talk, but this marked his second straight 100+ yard game and third on the season in just five chances. He’s the clear #1 back in this offense, and I’m impressed with how he took ownership of that job.
Just Win Baby!
I haven’t rooted for the Raiders since Bo Jackson was in the backfield, but I really like this team. Unlike recent Raider teams, these guys have been competitive week in and week out and should be very excited about their future. It says a lot when you can win a big game on the road when you only get 41 rushing yards from Darren McFadden. Got leg? Sebastian Janikowski continues to be the best kicking weapon in the game. All he did was add FGs of 54, 55, 50, and 42 yards. RIP Al Davis.
A couple of red flags for the Texans – Matt Schaub got really banged up in this game and gets to face the ravenous Ravens this Sunday. How do you throw for 416 yards and have a QB rating of only 72? Defensively, the Texans lost Mario Williams for the foreseeable future with a pectoral injury. That’s a huge loss. These next two games - @ Baltimore and @ Tennessee – should be great indicators of their readiness to move to the next level.
Steelers / Titans
Don’t count them out just yet. The Steelers pretty much stomped the Titans. After allowing a first quarter FG, Pittsburgh ripped off four consecutive TDs and put Tennessee in their rear view. Ben Roethlisberger, gimpy foot and all, heaved 5 TDs in a huge performance that helped Pittsburgh match the Titans at 3-2 and send a message that they’re still among the league’s elite. Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer filled in nicely for an injured Rashard Mendenhall, totaling 156 rushing yards between the two of them. This Sunday’s game against the Jags could get ugly in a hurry.
Losing to the Steelers on the road is nothing to be ashamed of, but the Titans lack of competitiveness for most of the game was disappointing. They were unable to get any pressure on Roethlisberger and generated only one turnover on the day; an interception just before the half that resulted in no points. They need to put this loss behind them immediately, use their bye week to get refocused, and come out strong and ready to face the division rival Texans at home in week 7.
Patriots / Jets
There was grounding and pounding going on alright, but the Patriots were the ones dishing it out. Just as the Stevan Ridley hype train got rolling, BenJarvus Green-Ellis reminded us he played for the Patriots too, posting his biggest game of the year by far. He ran for 136 yards, scored twice, and outgained the Jets as a team on the ground by almost 40 yards. Wes Welker continues to be a machine, eclipsing 100 yards receiving for the fourth time in five games this year. Not that he needs any help, but Aaron Hernandez getting back to full health will only help Welker’s ability to get open.
You could see it on Rex Ryan’s face in the postgame conference. His team isn’t as talented as he’d like everyone (including his players) to believe, and he knows that we know it too. The Jets weren’t awful, they’re just not an elite team. Shonn Greene finally had a decent game, but his TD was only his second on the season. Mark Sanchez had his first INT-less game and posted his best passer rating on the year, but he was only able to throw for 166 yards against the defense that’s getting lit up like a Christmas tree this year. They get a break this week, hosting the Dolphins on MNF, and shit will hit the fan in New York if the winless Dolphins get on the board against their Jets.
I Must Break You!
If there was any doubt as to who is the best team in the NFL, the Packers squashed it by beating the Falcons. Down 14-0 and having lost his blind side protection, Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to scores on 6 of their last 8 drives. He threw for 396 yards and two TDs and showed just how what kind of a leader he is, putting the team on his shoulders and consistently, methodically marching his team down the field against the Falcons. James Starks didn’t have a huge game, but he got the majority of the carries after Ryan Grant fumbled early. I’m anxious to see how Starks does against the woeful Rams run defense this week. Gotta give it to the defense too. After allowing two early TDs, the Packers didn’t let the Falcons modify the scoreboard for the rest of the game. If you don’t know who Desmond Bishop is by now, you better do so soon. This guy makes plays.
What a disappointing loss for the disappointing Falcons. They were trying to avenge last year’s playoff loss were inept offensively after taking a 14-0 lead. The remaining Falcons drives ended in punts (5) and interceptions (2). Matt Ryan is no longer automatic at home, and Michael Turner didn’t do much after an early outburst, totaling only 56 rushing yards. Tony Gonzalez is still getting it done. He’s lost a step or five, but he still catches what’s thrown in his direction and is a load to tackle. Unfortunately for the Falcons, Julio Jones went out with a hamstring injury. That would be a big loss, however long he was out.
Best and Worst
Best Teams (Previous Rank)
1 – Packers (1)
6-0 is right around the corner; no way the Rams slow down this machine.
2 – Ravens (2)
After a week off, I think they lay a sound beating on the Texans this Sunday.
3 – Saints (3)
They’re extremely dynamic and deep offensively and might have the games new best tight end.
4 – Patriots (4)
Weapons galore offensively, but they’ve got to fix that defense to get any higher on this list.
5 – Lions (5)
They’re going to lose eventually, but eventually isn’t this week. Calvin Johnson and a healthy Matthew Stafford and Jahvid Best is a lethal combination.
6 – Bills (NR)
They’ve already matched last year’s win total and are a serious playoff contender.
7 – Steelers (NR)
It’s obviously not going to be smooth sailing this year in Pittsburgh, but the talent and experience is there to win big games.
8 – Chargers (8)
Show me more!
OUT – Texans (6)
I think they’re going to stagger a bit here on the road against Baltimore and Tennessee, especially with Andre Johnson and Mario Williams on the shelf.
1 – Indianapolis (1)
Congratulations. You suck!
2 – Jacksonville (3)
Indy falling into a victory is the only thing keeping the Jags from the top of this list. After they lose to the Steelers, Ravens, and Texans, they’ll get to face those Colts in a battle for the top spot.
3 – Miami (5)
Still looking for their first win and a viable QB.
4 – Minnesota (2)
If they don’t beat the Bears this week, it’s going to be a while until they see win #2 (Packers, @ Panthers, @ Packers, Raiders, @ Falcons).
5 – St. Louis (6)
Nothing’s going right for these guys, but I still refuse to believe the Rams are one of the three worst teams in the NFL.
6 – Kansas City (4)
Prediction – They won’t lose this Sunday.
7 – Denver (8)
Tebow time! An exciting loss is still a loss.
8 – Cleveland (NR)
I could probably fall asleep at one of their games.
OUT – Seattle (7)
They’ve looked better each week since getting throttled by Pittsburgh.
Aaron Rodgers (GB) – 26/39, 396 yds, 2 TDs, 117 QB rating
Drew Brees (NO) – 32/45, 359 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 100.1 QB rating
Matt Cassel (KC) – 21/29, 257 yds, 4 TDs, 138.9 QB rating
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – 24/34, 228 yds, 5 TDs, 1 INT, 116.2 QB rating
Curtis Painter (IND) – 15/27, 277 yds, 2 TDs, 115.8 QB rating
Alex Smith (SF) – 11/19, 170 yds, 3 TDs, 127.2 QB rating
Adrian Peterson (MIN) – 29 carries, 122 yds, 3 TDs
Jahvid Best (DET) – 12 carries, 163 yds, 1 TD
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (NE) – 27 carries, 136 yds, 2 TD
Fred Jackson (BUF) – 26 carries, 111 yds, 1 TD, 6 receptions, 85 yds
Frank Gore (SF) – 20 carries, 125 yds, 1 TD
Matt Forte (CHI) – 22 carries, 116 yds, 4 receptions, 35 yds
Victor Cruz (NYG) – 8 catches, 161 yds, 1 TD
Doug Baldwin (SEA) – 8 catches, 136 yds, 1 TD
Dwayne Bowe (KC) – 7 catches, 128 yds, 2 TDs
Pierre Garcon (IND) – 5 catches, 125 yds, 2 TDs
Jason Avant (PHI) – 9 catches, 139 yds
Calvin Johnson (DET) – 5 catches, 130 yds, 1 TD
Brandon Browner (SEA) – 6 total tackles, 1 huge INT returned for a TD
Jason Pierre-Paul (NYG) – 6 total tackles, 2.5 sacks
Nick Barnett (BUF) – 3 total tackles, 2 INTs, 1 TD
Pat Angerer (IND) – 15 total tackles
George Wilson (BUF) – 11 total tackles, 1 INT
Brian Robison (MIN) – 4 total tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Josh Freeman (TB) – 17/33, 187 yds, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 43.4 QB rating
Michael Vick (PHI) – 26/40, 315 yds, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 66.1 QB rating
Kevin Kolb (ARI) – 21/42, 232 yds, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 46.9 QB rating
Kyle Orton (DEN) – 6/13, 34 yds, 1 INT, 21.0 QB rating
Matt Ryan (ATL) – 18/32, 167 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 55.1 QB rating
Cedric Benson (CIN) – 24 carries, 53 yds
Darren McFadden (OAK) – 16 carries, 51 yds
Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) – 17 carries, 58 yds
Chris Johnson (TEN) – 14 carries, 51 yds
Denarius Moore (OAK) – 0 catches on 6 targets
Jacoby Jones (HOU) – 1 catch for 9 yards on 11 targets
Dallas Clark (IND) – 1 catch, 7 yds
Percy Harvin (MIN) – 1 catch, 11 yds
Brandon Lloyd (DEN) – 1 catch, 20 yds
Eric Decker (DEN) – 2 catches, -4 yds