Saturday, September 29, 2012

NFL Picks - Week 4

Week 3 Results (8-7) – Overall (26-19)

Back down to 8-7 again last week.  In my defense, I did predict the Cardinals and Bengals upsets and got hosed with Green Bay.  I did really well with Top Performers predictions.  Matt Ryan (30/40-275-3-1), Calvin Johnson (10-164-1) and JJ Watt (2.5 sacks and 6 tackles) were standouts.  Michael Bush did score but was held to 55 yards.  On to the next one…

Panthers @ Falcons
Carolina is 1-2 and facing one of the league’s better teams for the second week in a row.  Atlanta scored 31 in both games last year against Cam’s Panthers.  Expect to see another down week for the Panthers as the Falcons prove to be far too much offensively.  Atlanta again puts 31 on the Panthers. 

Patriots @ Bills
The Patriots have owned the Bills over the years, but things aren’t exactly what they used to be.  Another loss will give the Patriots their first three game losing streak since 2002.  I expect to see a very focused Patriots team and a determined Tom Brady.  Can Buffalo get enough stops defensively?  I wouldn’t count on it. 

Vikings @ Lions
These two teams had two close contests last year, with Detroit winning both by a total margin of 9 points.  The Lions have looked sloppy of late, and the Vikings are clicking as one of the NFC’s surprise teams.  The key to this one will be if Minnesota can get to Matt Stafford early and often or whether Stafford will prey on a weak secondary.  No one expects the Lions to drop to 1-3, but Christian Ponder and the Vikings pull off the division road win.  Jerome Simpson makes an impact in his first game of the year.

Chargers @ Chiefs
I’m not sure which is the better team at this point, but public opinion is on the Chargers.  These teams split with the home team winning last year’s matchups.  I want to see what Jamaal Charles can do against that tough Chargers dun defense.  Kansas City isn’t an easy team to play, and I just don’t believe in the Chargers.

Seahawks @ Rams
This one has low scoring, helmet-cracking defense written all over it.  The Seahawks are the better team, but they’re coming off an extremely emotional MNF win.  I also think karma is going to punch them in the mouth at some point for that unearned win.  Maybe it happens Sunday.

49ers @ Jets
Even with the loss at Minnesota last week the Niners are still one of the best teams in football.  The Jets aren’t, especially after losing their best player, Darrelle Revis, for the rest of the year.  San Fran gets back on track.

Titans @ Texans
I don’t think the Titans are anywhere close to the Texans from a talent standpoint, but this one has a little bit of an upset alert to it.  The Titans have some playmakers on offense and can win this game if the Texans let them hang around.  Houston has been scoring consistently this year (30, 27, 31 in games 1-3), and as long as they’re focused, Tennessee isn’t going to stop them.  Arian Foster runs wild.  

Raiders @ Broncos
This should by far be the easiest game so far for the Broncos.  Atlanta and Houston rank 7th and 4th respectively against the pass, while Oakland ranks 26th.  Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker both score as Denver cruises to 2-2.

Dolphins @ Cardinals
Arizona heads into this one 3-0, and Miami doesn’t have the look of a team that’s going to give them their first loss.  I don’t think this one matches up well for Miami offensively.  Reggie Bush is banged up, and this Cardinals defense is one of the better in the league so far.  They destroyed Michael Vick last week and get to feast on the rookie Ryan Tannehill. 

Bengals @ Jaguars
This one is tough.  The Jags suck, but Andy Dalton and the Bengals on the road aren’t an autopick.  The Bengals haven’t stopped the run this year, and MJD is still one of the better runners in the business.  Look for that to be the matchup all afternoon.  Jacksonville moves the ball well enough to create just enough scoring opportunities as they win an ugly one where neither team scores 21. 

Saints @ Packers
I don’t think New Orleans is turning this thing around.  They’re 0-3 and heading to Green Bay to face a team that just got jobbed worse than possibly any other team in NFL history.  The pissed Packers put up a plethora of points.  Aaron Rodgers has a huge game, and the Saints go home 0-4.

Redskins @ Buccaneers
On paper this looks like a game where RGIII should have his way and name his score.  Something tells me this one is close, despite the Bucs struggles to consistently move the ball and their loss of Adrian Clayborn.  The Bucs win on a Connor Barth FG with less than a minute to play. 

Giants @ Eagles
Even without Hakeem Nicks, I think the Giants are the better team in this one.  Michael Vick just continues to make too many stupid decisions with the football.  The better team may not win this one, but I almost always go with the more reliable QB.  There’s no question who that guy is in this one. 

Bears @ Cowboys
I’ve got a feeling this one is going to be ugly with a lot of penalties and mistakes.  I expect Rob Ryan to confuse the Bears up front leading to at least 4 sacks of Cutler.  The Cowboys are weak up front too, and I expect Julius Peppers to get AT LEAST 2 sacks of Romo.  I trust Romo more than I do Cutler, and I’m getting Romo at home.  Dallas’ defense is the key in this one as they get to Cutler often, and the secondary does a good job on Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. 

Biggest winners (highest margin to lowest) –
1) Texans
2) Packers
3) Falcons
4) Giants
5) Broncos

Closest calls (lowest margin to highest) –
1) Buccaneers
2) Jaguars
3) Rams
4) Vikings
5) Chiefs

Top Performers –
QB – Aaron Rodgers v. Saints
RB – Arian Foster v. Titans
WR – Larry Fitzgerald v. Dolphins
Defense – Julius Peppers @ Cowboys

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Talbuc's Take - Week 3

I don’t want to hear anyone associated with the league’s side of NFL operations saying a damn word about the “integrity of the shield” and that garbage that they like to spew.  This officiating has become an embarrassment and is disgracing the game.  The officiating of the Packers/Seahawks game was an abomination to the sport and got the headlines, but it wasn’t the only shame.  How about the referees in the Lions/Titans game marching off 27 yards for a personal foul instead of 15 because they don’t realize which 44 yard line they’re on?  How about Jim Harbaugh getting 5 timeouts in a half? 

Roger Goodell and his flunkies need to quit bickering with officials over the dollars that are separating the two sides.  Are the “real” NFL officials worth what they’re asking for?  No, but if Mr. Goodell truly cares about the “integrity of the shield” he needs to bring back the professionals, not only for the sake of the league and quality of the product but also for the safety of its players he swears to care for so dearly.  I’m no fool, but if the owners are playing this “they’re still buying the product so who cares” stance, then shame on them.  The bottom line doesn’t always need to be the bottom line.  These unfit officials have already cost one team a victory.  How long until their ineptitude is the cause of a significant injury?  Why do we need to wait until something horrible happens before we fix the problem?  Get it together NFL!

AFC East
Through three weeks there are two 2-1 teams in the AFC East, and neither of them resides in Foxboro.  Those top teams, the Jets and Bills, both won on the scoreboard but lost personnel, one quite more significant than the other.  The Jets lost All Pro corner Darrelle Revis for the season to an ACL injury in a non-contact situation.  I don’t think there’s a player on their roster whose loss makes a greater impact to their team.  They’ll be thoroughly tested these next two weeks when they host the 49ers and Texans in back to back games.  I highly doubt they’ll still be atop the division after the conclusion of those contests…..Buffalo experienced their loss when CJ Spiller went down in the first quarter with a shoulder injury.  Unlike Revis, who is lost for the season, Spiller’s injury isn’t expected to sideline him for long.  Still, this is an offense already without Fred Jackson that gets to host a pissed off Patriots team Sunday.  Jackson could be back as early as this week, and while the Bills want to lean on the run game, it’s nice consolation to know that Ryan Fitzpatrick is tied for the league lead with 8 TDs through the first three games…..New England is 1-2 in the standings and below .500 for the first time since 2003.  I don’t think they have any uncorrectable problems, but they definitely need to be making more plays on defense – 2 INTs and a meager 3 sacks through three games.  They also need to move on from this Welker contract drama and throw the guy the football.  He didn’t go from one of the league’s better producers to Julian Edelman’s rightful backup overnight.  Oh and Bill Belichick chasing and grabbing one of the officials after the game is an image I won’t soon forget…..Then there’s Miami.  Not to be left out, the Dolphins had an “oh damn” moment of their own Sunday when Reggie Bush left the game with a knee injury.  Bush thinks he’ll be back this week, but this 1-2 team can’t afford to be without their best (by far) offensive player for any significant stretch. 

AFC North
It took 8 months, but the Ravens got their championship game revenge and sit atop the North, tied with the Bengals at 2-1.  I don’t know if I could have found the give-a-damn to strap on shoulder pads after the loss of a family member, but Torrey Smith did and couldn’t have given his brother a better tribute.  After going through an experience I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, the Ravens receiver was the star of the game, catching 6 passes for 127 yards and 2 TDs.  Way to go Torrey!  The wannabe refs were at the center of this one, ruling that a Justin Tucker that sailed over the top of the right upright, was indeed good.  See how easy that was Billy Cundiff?  If I’m worry about anything with the Ravens it’s that they’re struggling to generate much of a pass rush outside of Haloti Ngata.  Courtney Upshaw hasn’t gotten off to a hot start, and Paul Kruger has been invisible…..The Bengals got a big win at Washington, with Andy Dalton throwing for over 300 yards for the second week in a row.  He also tossed 3 TDs, but the highlight heave of the day was Mohamed Sanu’s deep strike to AJ Green.  A big positive for Dalton is that he had completions of at least 20 yards to give different receivers.  Even though it was on the road, the Bengals need to keep their foot on the accelerator in games like this.  After getting out to a 24-7 lead last in the 2nd quarter, Cincinnati allowed 17 straight points to even the game before Dalton tossed two more TDs.  Their upcoming schedule sets up nicely with games against the Jags, Dolphins, and Browns.  Now is the time to rack up the victories…..  I know it’s not easy to travel out west and head home with a win, but the Steelers have no excuse for letting the Raiders drop them to 1-2.  They gave up 34 points in this loss and have surrendered 65 total points in their two defeats.  They’re also having trouble establishing any semblance of a ground game.  Yes the offensive line is banged up yet again, but Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer have combined for 142 rushing yards on 54 carries or 98 less yards than Antonio Brown has on his 18 receptions.  Ben Roethlisberger has carried this team before, but I’m not sure he can do it for an entire 16 games…..Bringing up the rear is one of the league’s two remaining winless teams.  On the positive side, their three losses are by a combined 18 points.  On the negative side, Trent Richardson followed up his 109 yard game against the Bengals with 27 against the Bills, Brandon Weeden is tied for the league lead with 6 INTs, and their next three games are against the Ravens, Giants, and Bengals. 

AFC South
Did I call that one right or what?  The Texans totaled 436 yards against the Broncos, and JJ Watt got 2.5 sacks of Peyton Manning.  If you take away the two garbage time TDs Denver scored down 20, the Texans’ total yards allowed doesn’t look so bad.  These guys are clicking in all phases right now.  Not even losing part of an earlobe can keep Matt Schaub off the field.  If they didn’t have believers after trashing the Dolphins and Jaguars, folks took notice after this one.  They’ll have two more tune ups against the Titans and Jets before hosting the Packers and Baltimore prior to their week 8 bye.  If they’re not 5-0 when Green Bay comes to town I’ll be shocked…..I think the rest of the division has already been eliminated from postseason contention.  The Jaguars got their first win last week against the Colts.  Maurice Jones-Drew had his first big game of the year, rushing for 177 yards and a TD.  I still think the Jags are horrible, but this week’s matchup against the Bengals will give us the truest evaluation of this team in my opinion….. The Titans escaped from that circus of a matchup against the Lions with their first win of the year.  I don’t see the excitement lasting long with an upcoming trip to Houston this Sunday.  Chris Johnson is still absolutely awful, “spearheading” the worst rushing game in the league.  Mr. CJ2K has 45 yards on 33 carries.  I don’t care how bad your blocking is.  That’s pathetic.  Speaking of pathetic, the Titans rank among the worst in football defensively against both the run and pass.  This defense wasn’t supposed to be gangbusters this season, but they weren’t supposed to get rolled over each week.  So far, teams are averaging 38 points per game against these guys.  Not good…..Indianapolis gets a week to heal up from the first three games and plan for the Packers.  I like the chemistry Andrew Luck has developed with Reggie Wayne.  The veteran receiver ranks 4th and 5th in football in receptions and receiving yards respectively.  Defensively, they’ve played better against the pass than I expected, but teams are still running on them rather easily. 

AFC West
San Diego sits alone atop the division, but color me unimpressed.  Sure they’re 2-1, but they got smoked in their only tough matchup, a 27-3 beating at home against the Falcons.  Ryan Mathews saw his first action of the regular season but didn’t make a difference in the game.  The 3 points were the fewest scored by the Chargers during either Norv Turner’s or Philip Rivers’ tenure.  Rivers didn’t handle the Falcons’ pressure well, completing a little more than half of his passes and throwing 2 INTs.  Per ESPN, Rivers was 6 of 14 with both of his INTs on plays where the Falcons rushed 5 or more guys.  I’ll believe in them a bit more if they can beat the Chiefs in KC…Speaking of those Chiefs, they got their first win of the year at the Saints’ expense.  Jamaal Charles busted out with 233 yards on the ground and a TD, helping put the Chiefs atop the NFL in rushing after three weeks.  Matt Cassel is still Matt Cassel.  Even against a really bad Saints’ defense, Cassel couldn’t complete 60% of his passes or throw a TD.  He is SOOOO holding this offense back.  A guy of whom I’m a huge fan and advocated the Bucs drafting last year, Justin Houston, exploded for 3 sacks of Drew Brees, giving him 4 on the season.  He’s exactly what the Chiefs are looking for in a pass rusher opposite Tamba Hali…..The Broncos were taken to the woodshed against the Texans, and questions about Peyton Manning’s potential as a passer are starting to pop up.  Through 3 games, Blaine Gabbert, Russell Wilson, Carson Palmer, Jake Locker, and Ryan Fitzpatrick all have a higher passer rating than Manning.  After a solid week one against the Steelers, he’s had two subpar games against what I believe to be great teams.  I’m not hitting the panic button yet on Manning.  Remember, in addition to the neck issue, he’s trying to implement a new offense with new personnel.  I like his chances against the Raiders this week.....That Oakland team followed up a very disappointing road showing against the Dolphins with a home win against the Steelers.  They get a thumbs up for that performance, but I still don’t believe in this team.  Darren McFadden had his best rushing game of the season (18-113), but if you take away his 64 yard TD run, he averaged less than 3 yards per carry.  I’m not a fan of Carson Palmer at this stage of his career, and losing Darrius Heyward-Bey for who knows how long to a neck injury isn’t helping the offense. 

NFC East
I wondered how the Giants would bounce back on a short week after a dramatic comeback win at home against the Bucs in week two.  Question answered.  The Giants rolled down to Carolina and whipped Cam Newton and his Panthers all over the field all night.  Eli Manning continued to show why he’s one of the best QBs and leaders in the game of football.  Now he didn’t have a statistical explosion, but he did such a great job of consistently leading his team down the field for scoring opportunities and exploiting weaknesses and mismatches in the defense.  I love how he adjusts at the line.  Andre Brown had quite the game in Ahmad Bradshaw’s absence, rushing for 113 yards and 2 TDs.  Brown is easily the hardest runner on the roster and will make things interesting when Bradshaw is ready to return.  Martellus Bennett seems to be a great fit for this offense.  The free agent TE scored in his third straight game and continues to draw a ton of targets from Eli.  I really like where this team is right now.....Philly is up next for the champs.  The Eagles were pretty much pushed around by the Cardinals, a team with an underrated defense.  Can Michael Vick eliminate the mental mistakes and keep the Eagles on the right side of .500?  Will the Eagles make a concerted effort to make LeSean McCoy the focus of the offense?  In my opinion they won’t win consistently unless they do.  I’m not big on this team, and despite the 2-1 record, they’re 4 points from being 0-3.  I don’t see them being any better than .500 after these next three games (Giants, Steelers, Lions).  I must compliment their pass defense though.  No, Brandon Weeden and Kevin Kolb are world beaters, but in addition to holding them both in check, they gave Joe Flacco his toughest game of the year so far…..Dallas got a home win against the Bucs, but it wasn’t quite the bounce back from the Seattle loss that you’d look for from a playoff contender.  They had only two three-play drives on the day, but they started in Tampa territory on their two first half scoring drives.  They didn’t do much when they had to create on their own.  They also got lucky when a call went their way, hosing the Bucs out of a TD on a play where Tony Romo got pancaked and fumbled.  I’m not impressed with this team so far.  How do they do Monday night against a comparably dysfunctional Bears team?.....Bringing up the rear are the 1-2 Redskins, fresh of a bitter home loss to the Bengals.  RGIII is getting a ton of (rightful) publicity, but I’m not buying the Redskins as a team.  Is Alfred Morris a true primary ball carrier?  Can Pierre Garcon get healthy, and can anyone establish himself as a legit option in Garcon’s absence?  Fred Davis is having a disappointing start but leads the team with 11 receptions.  They’re awful against the pass, as I said they’d be, and have surrendered back-to-back 300+ yard passing games to Sam Bradford and Andy Dalton.  What will Eli and Romo do against these guys?

NFC North
Jay Cutler didn’t have a great personal bounce back from the Green Bay drama game, but the Bears won a convincing 23-6 contest against the Rams.  On defense they’re doing a great job of getting to the passer with just their front four, freeing up the rest of the defense to shut down receivers and create turnovers.  They intercepted Sam Bradford twice (one for a pick-6), sacked him six times, and held the Rams to 160 total yards on offense.  Michael Bush did a decent job in Matt Forte’s absence but missed the entire fourth quarter with what appears to be a shoulder injury.  Keep an eye on that…..Easily the surprise of week three, the Vikings took care of the Niners 24-13 in a game they controlled throughout.  Hats off to the Vikings for playing one hell of a football game.  Christian Ponder did a great job of controlling the game; throwing for 2 TDs, rushing for another, and most importantly, not turning the ball over.  The fact that they were able to hand the ball to Adrian Peterson 25 times tells you that they were playing the type of game they wanted to play.  Percy Harvin continues to be a target monster, catching 9 more passes for 89 yards.  I’m interested to see how much of a boost Jerome Simpson provides the offense with upon his return from suspension.  Chad Greenway showed why he’s considered one of football’s better backers totaling 10 tackles and 2 sacks on the day.  How will they respond this week in Detroit against a disappointed Lions team?.....Wow, it took me three teams to finally get to the Packers.  It wouldn’t have though had the pop warner fill in officials know the rules of football prior to taking the field.  Simultaneous catch my ass.  Golden Tate simultaneously caught that ball like I simultaneously drive a cab from the back seat or how I simultaneously fly a plane from row 33.  What an awful awful embarrassment for the NFL.  The Packers aren’t blameless in this.  Where’s the explosive offense from last year?  Where are the big plays and rhythm?  Shock jocks like to laugh at Aaron Rodgers and his offensive line for the 8 first half sacks, but what they didn’t mention is how Seattle’s secondary was straight abusing Packers receivers all game.  Rodgers isn’t an indecisive guy who just holds onto the football.  Now they get the winless Saints at home.  The Packers have to bounce back from that screwjob and take care of business…..The Lions definitely did NOT take care of business in Tennessee last Sunday.   Talk about your strange games.  The Titans/Lions matchup featured a horribly executed penalty mark off, a hail mary tip and catch for TD, and bad bad bad execution from the Lions on the last play of the game.  I said I didn’t trust this team in my season preview, and they’re not proving me wrong.  They barely beat a decent Rams team, got smoked in San Fran, and looked inept throughout at Tennessee.  They’ll still be in the basement next week if they don’t bring their A-game this Sunday against the Vikings. 

NFC South
Atlanta was the only NFC South team to win in week 3.  They’re also one of only two remaining unbeaten teams in the league.  I said I had big thoughts for this team in 2012, and I’m not wrong so far.  They have a QB who is stepping firmly into his prime, two receivers who can beat anyone on any given Sunday, a future HOF’er at TE who is still one of the best in the business, a young RB (above) who is going to be a huge factor before all is said and done, and an aggressive, physical defense.  I love the way this team is set up.  I think they’re one pass rusher away from being a complete football team.  They get the Panthers at home this week, and given their success in the Georgia Dome, I expect the Falcons to be undefeated come Monday…..No one is looking like a threat to the Falcons at the moment.  Sitting tied for second are the Bucs and Panthers.  Tampa Bay lost more than the game at Dallas.  They lost their best pass rusher in the process.  Adrian Clayborn will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL, leaving Michael Bennett and Gerald McCoy as the team’s only serious pass rushers.  Expect offenses to key even more on those two the rest of the way.  Those two are having tremendous seasons, as is MLB Mason Foster, a guy I was big on replacing this offseason.  I’m glad he’s proving me wrong; showing that he can be a strong NFL MLB.  I’ve got to see more from this offense though.  They look very vanilla on this side of the ball, and I worry about their ability to post points in a hurry when the situation presents itself…..If I’m Carolina I’m extremely worried about Cam Newton.  I said it right when I saw the play on tv, and I’m glad to hear it echoed by the shock jocks this week.  I’m sorry bubba, but we don’t celebrate TDs when we’re getting our asses kicked.  After a 1 yard TD, Newton got up and did his superman thing and showed everyone just where his head is.  It’s about him, not the team, and that’s something that would really bother me if I’m a Panther player.  They had no answer defensively for anything the Giants wanted to do and will continue to struggle against teams that have the ability to consistently move the football.  I believe those who were looking for the Panthers to take it to the next level this season were quite premature…..Wow, the Saints are actually 0-3.  That was a piss poor performance this past Sunday against the Chiefs.  You’re up 11 at the half at home against a Matt Cassel-led offense, and you get outscored 14-0 for the rest of the game.  Shame shame Saints.  This might be the worst defense in football.  They’re getting run over week in week out like a slow squirrel.  This group is going to slow down the Packers?  What an awful start for New Orleans.

NFC West
I’m really not sure where to go with this.  In one of the worst calls in the history of pro sports, the Packers were absolutely jobbed out of a win, and the Seahawks improved to 2-1 on the year.  Get rid of these bums now!  If I play defense in the NFL, I want to be on the Seahawks.  That crowd absolutely fulfills the role of 12th man, making it extremely difficult for opposing offenses to focus and communicate.  I love this defense.  Chris Clemons destroyed the Packers blockers for 4 sacks, and both Brandon Mebane and rookie Bruce Irvin added two apiece.  That secondary is physical and does a great job of taking advantage of the inept replacement refs.  Russell Wilson put the first headline in his scrapbook after this one.  Wilson doesn’t light up the stat sheet, but he’s not a game manager, someone trying not to lose a football game (see Tarvaris Jackson).  He just doesn’t have a lot to work with at receiver.  I like this team a lot and still feel pretty good about my prediction of them winning the West…..Ok, so they’re not unbeatable.  The Niners pride themselves on being able to run the ball at will offensively and shut down the other team’s run game defensively.  Well none of that happened Sunday at Minnesota.  It’s not like they were awful offensively.  Minnesota simply made more plays, especially the big ones.  No, it’s not time to panic.  The Niners didn’t head back west after the game but instead remained on east side prior to this week’s matchup at the Jets.  I fully expect a bounce back Sunday…..The West has two feel good story teams.  Arizona took it to the Eagles from the first whistle to the last whistle in a 27-6 butt whoopin’.  QB Kevin Kolb was efficient, threw for 2 TDs, and didn’t turn the ball over.  Ryan Williams got the bulk of the carries and averaged 6.4 yards per.  There was a Larry Fitzgerald sighting too.  The All Pro had easily his best game of the year so far, catching 9 passes for 114 yards and a score.  The story of this one though is the defense.  These guys are strong at every level.  Daryl Washington is having the breakout season I predicted, and that secondary refuses to give up big plays.  They’ve yet to allow an opposing team to reach 20 points.  I didn’t believe much in this team in the preseason, and as good a story as they are, I’ve got to wonder if the defense can carry a lacking offense for an entire season.  I’m not ready to jump on the Kevin Kolb bandwagon yet is what I’m saying I guess…..St. Louis simply isn’t making strides.  They lack big play ability on offense and don’t close out enough drives defensively.  The talent is absolutely there on the defensive side of the ball to carry a weak offense through short stretches, but they have got to get better offensively.  They get the hot Seahawks and Cardinals in their next two game and look to avoid falling even further behind in a surprisingly competitive NFC West.

Best and Worst

Elite Eight
1 – Houston Texans (4)
2 – San Francisco 49ers (1)
3 – Atlanta Falcons (5)
4 – Baltimore Ravens (3)
5 – Green Bay Packers (2)
6 – New York Giants (8)
7 – New England Patriots (6)
8 – Seattle Seahawks (NR)

Out – Denver Broncos (7)

Funk Bunch
1 – Jacksonville Jaguars (1)
2 – Cleveland Browns (2)
3 – Oakland Raiders (3)
4 – Miami Dolphins (4)
5 – Indianapolis Colts (6)
6 – St. Louis Rams (NR)

Out – Minnesota Vikings (7)

Top Performers

QB –
Ben Roethlisberger – 36/49, 384 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs, 123.2 QBR
Joe Flacco – 28/39, 382 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 117.7 QBR
Andy Dalton – 22/46, 328 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 132.9 QBR
Matt Ryan – 30/40, 275 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 107.8 QBR
Matt Schaub – 17/30, 290 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 115.3 QBR, 1 mangled ear
Jake Locker – 29/42, 378 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 113 QBR; 4 rushes, 35 yards

RB –
Jamaal Charles – 33 car, 233 yards, 1 TD, 6 rec, 55 yards
Andre Brown – 20 car, 113 yards, 2 TDs, 3 rec, 17 yards
Ray Rice – 20 car, 101 yards, 1 TD, 5 rec, 49 yards
Maurice Jones-Drew – 28 car, 177 yards, 1 TD, 2 rec, 16 yards
Mikel Leshoure – 26 car, 100 yards, 1 TD, 4 rec, 34 yards
Darren McFadden – 18 car, 113 yards, 1 TD, 2 rec, 2 yards
Arian Foster – 25 car, 105 yards, 1 rec, 3 yards

WR –
Torrey Smith – 6 rec, 127 yards, 2 TDs
AJ Green – 9 rec, 183 yards, 1 TD
Calvin Johnson – 10 rec, 164 yards, 1 TD
Mike Wallace – 8 rec, 123 yards, 1 TD
Larry Fitzgerald – 9 rec, 114 yards, 1 TD
Santonio Holmes – 9 rec, 147 yards
Ramses Barden – 9 rec, 138 yards

Chad Greenway – 10 tackles, 2 sacks
Akeem Ayers – 10 tackles, 1 sack
Chris Clemons – 4 sacks, 4 tackles
JJ Watt – 2.5 sacks, 6 tackles
Michael Johnson – 3 sacks, 5 tackles
Justin Houston – 3 sacks, 3 tackles
DeMarcus Ware – 2 sacks, 2 FF, 2 tackles
Thomas DeCoud – 2 INTs, 3 tackles

Worst Performers

QB –
Sam Bradford – 18/35, 152 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 39.2 QBR
Josh Freeman – 10/28, 110 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 45.2 QBR
Cam Newton – 16/30, 242, 0 TDs, 3 INTs, 40.6 QBR
Philip Rivers – 21/38, 173 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 45.2 QBR
Ryan Tannehill – 16/36, 196 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 50.2 QBR

RB –
Chris Johnson – 14 car, 24 yards, 0 TDs
Willis McGahee – 12 carries, 36 yards, 0 TDs
Shonn Greene – 19 car, 40 yards, 0 TDs
Doug Martin – 19 car, 53 yards, 0 TDs
DeMarco Murray – 18 car, 38 yards, 1 TD
BenJarvus Green-Ellis – 17 car, 38 yards, 1 TD, 1st career lost fumble

WR –
Vincent Jackson – 1 catch, 29 yards
Jordy Nelson – 2 catches, 19 yards
Justin Blackmon – 1 catch, 7 yards
Jason Witten – 2 catches, 8 yards
Sidney Rice – 1 catch, 22 yards
Brandon LaFell – 1 catch, 27 yards
Demaryius Thomas – 3 catches, 34 yards 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

NFL Picks - Week 3

Week 2 Results (10-5) – Overall (18-12)
Nice bounce back last week getting to double digit victories; patting myself on the back for the Rams and Seahawks picks.  Of my top performer predictions, I hit with Victor Cruz (11-179-1) but missed badly with Adrian Peterson (16-60-0).  Let’s see if I can be more accurate this week. 

Rams @ Bears
Chicago needs a quick start to erase the memories of last week’s nightmare.  Do the Bears have Cutler’s back?  Both teams will likely be without their starting backs, but Chicago is in much better shape with Michael Bush. 

Bills @ Browns
I look for Trent Richardson to have a big game in this one as the Browns win for the first time in 2012.  CJ Spiller gets his, but Brandon Weeden, at home, makes more plays than Ryan Fitzpatrick. 

Bucs @ Cowboys
I have a bad feeling the Bucs could get boat raced in this one.  I’m guessing Tony Romo learned a thing or two from watching that Bucs-Giants game. 

Lions @ Titans
They haven’t looked too pretty yet, but this is the easiest game so far for Detroit.  I don’t think this is the week Chris Johnson and his offensive line get it together.  It’s close, but I think Tennessee is still winless come Monday. 

Jaguars @ Colts
If the Colts can contain MJD as well as they did Adrian Peterson last week, this one shouldn’t be that close.  I’ve got Indy winning by 6. 

Jets @ Dolphins
Darrelle Revis is playing this week, so he should shut down Ryan Tannehill’s only downfield receiving option.  I expect the Jets to load the box and shut down Reggie Bush and force Tannehill to find his third and fourth reads.  The Jets offense does just enough to win an ugly game.

49ers @ Vikings
I don’t think the Niners are going undefeated, but I don’t think they lose their 0 this Sunday.  They can stop most team’s run games with their three down linemen and maybe a linebacker.  They do the job this week and force Christian Ponder to make plays. 

Chiefs @ Saints
There should be a ton of points scored in this one, and the Saints will easily be the league’s biggest disappointment (if they weren’t already) with another loss.  I think this one is closer than New Orleans wants.  They win on a late FG.

Bengals @ Redskins
This might be the toughest game for me to figure out this week.  On paper it looks like a matchup RGIII should exploit all day long.  Look what Brandon Weeden did to the Bengals secondary.  On the other hand, the NFL is a “gotcha” kind of league, and I’m going to roll with the road upset in this one. 

Eagles @ Cardinals
They’re 2-0 and off a huge road win at New England.  Big time letdown spot for the Cardinals right?  No way they score enough on this defense right?  Wrong.  Cardinals defense comes up big in this one. 

Falcons @ Chargers
In the second of this week’s matchups of unbeatens, the Falcons steal a win out west.  The Chargers get Ryan Mathews back, but I believe Atlanta’s passing attack will prove to be too much for San Diego

Texans @ Broncos
This one has game of the week potential.  I think the Texans will prove to be too much for the Broncos on both sides of the football but especially defensively.  JJ Watt gets 2 more sacks, and the Texans send a message with the way they’re able to run on the Broncos. 

Steelers @ Raiders
I think this turns out to be a really ugly contest.  Oakland isn’t going to do much of anything against Pittsburgh’s defense, but I’m guessing the Steelers to struggle a bit offensively as well in their trip to the west coast.  Heath Miller scores the only touchdown on the afternoon for either team.   

Patriots @ Ravens
The Patriots start missing Aaron Hernandez this week.  Baltimore gets revenge for last year’s championship game loss as their own version of Hernandez, Dennis Pitta, scores the winning touchdown.

Packers @ Seahawks
I definitely think the Seahawks have what it takes on defense to beat the Packers.  This might be the best secondary Green Bay faces all year, and yes, that includes the Niners.  Week 3 ends with a good one.  Aaron Rodgers to James Jones late for the game winner. 

Biggest winners (highest margin to lowest) –
1) Cowboys
2) 49ers
3) Bears
4) Texans
5) Colts

Closest calls (lowest margin to highest) –
1) Cardinals
2) Browns
3) Bengals
4) Falcons
5) Ravens

Top Performers –
QB – Matt Ryan @ Chargers
RB – Michael Bush v. Rams
WR – Calvin Johnson @ Titans
Defense – JJ Watt @ Broncos

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Talbuc's Take - Week 2

It didn’t take long to get our first flip flop from week one.  After having no answer for the Niners on either side of the ball last week, the Packers shut down Jay Cuter and company to avoid an 0-2 start.  Green Bay was excellent defensively, sacking Jay Cutler 7 times (Clay Matthews had 3.5 of them) and forcing 4 INTs.  How good were they?  The Packers secondary held Brandon Marshall to 0 first half targets, a week after the receiver torched the Colts for 119 yards and a TD.  Marshall also dropped a TD pass in the 3rd quarter that could have made the game 13-7 instead of 13-3 and didn’t catch his first pass until their were just 7 minutes left in the game.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Bears lost Matt Forte to an ankle injury, and he’s unlikely to play this week and possibly longer.  Jay Cutler showed his ass and pushed around LT J’Marcus Webb.  How’s that locker room this week?  Aaron Rodgers didn’t have a highlight filled game, but he was efficient.  He also got help from Cedric Benson who ran for 81 yards on 20 carries.  I loved the excellently executed fake FG by the Packers.  Chicago had no idea what was going on.  The Bears are a solid defense, so the fact that the Packers looked in much better rhythm this week speaks volumes for San Francisco’s defense. 

Browns @ Bengals
I can honestly say I didn’t expect to see both QBs put on a passing clinic in this one.  Andy Dalton had a great game, completing 24 of 31 passes for 318 yards and 3 TDs.  That was the 3rd time he’s thrown for more than 300 yards and only the 2nd 3 TD game of his career.  Brandon Weeden rebounded from his pathetic 5.1 passer rating against the Eagles to put up 322 yards and 2 TDs against the Browns.  Trent Richardson got in on the fun too, scoring twice and rushing for 109 yards on 19 carries.  He had 19 carries last week too but finished with 70 less yards.  If Dalton can throw for 318 yards on a Joe Haden-less defense, how many will Ryan Fitzpatrick put up in week 3?

Raiders @ Dolphins
You couldn’t have paid me to sit through this one.  Featuring what I believe to be two of football’s worst teams, the Dolphins got into the win column with a 35-13 thrashing of the Raiders.  Reggie Bush ran for a whopping 172 yards and scored twice.  Brian Hartline made out routes an art form, catching 9 passes for 111 yards.  He was targeted on 12 of Ryan Tannehil’s 30 passes which tells me the rookie has found a security blanket.  Color me impressed if he can do it again against the Jets in week 3.  Darren McFadden and the Raiders blockers couldn’t get anything going on the ground for the second game in a row.  McFadden rushed for 22 yards on 11 carries a week after gaining 32 on 15 totes last Monday in San Diego.  Big problem!  He’s their offense, and they can’t utilize him at all like they’d like.  You think it’s going to get any easier against Pittsburgh on Sunday? 

Cardinals @ Patriots
Ok, so in my picks piece I said that this one would be close for a half with the Cardinals giving the Patriots a little bit of a scare.  Arizona apparently took me seriously and took it to the AFC Champs for a full 60 minutes.  In return the Cardinals left town with a 2-0 record and winners of the season’s biggest upset so far.  It sure didn’t help the Patriots (or my fantasy football team) that Aaron Hernandez was lost for 4-6 weeks with an ankle sprain on their third offensive play from scrimmage.  Maybe they’ll be forced to stop this game they’re playing with Welker and utilize one of their better weapons.  This non-featuring of their reliable receiver is an obvious negotiation middle finger if you ask me.  Can someone please explain to me why the Patriots didn’t try to get any closer with 40 seconds to go?  Rob Gronkowski had two HUGE penalties on that final drive.  The first one negated a Danny Woodhead go ahead TD, and he had a false start on Tom Brady’s first attempt to line things up for Gostkowski.  When the Patriots kicker finally did make it onto the field, he did his best Billy Cundiff impression, messing himself under pressure, and pushing the ball way wide.  Josh McDaniel’s play calling so far is suspect at best and will be under the microscope now that he’s down one weapon.  Heading to Baltimore for a Sunday night showdown isn’t the easiest environment to turn things around. 

Saints @ Panthers
I think the Saints might be in a little bit of trouble.  It’s too early to go into panic mode, but an 0-2 start and 75 combined points allowed is not quite how championship seasons start.  This defense is brutal so far.  They’re the worst team in the game against the run and aren’t much better stopping the pass.  Drew Brees must be feeling the pressure to make things happen as he threw a really stupid pick-6 deep in his own territory early in the game to pretty much set the tone for the afternoon.  Pierre Thomas is easily the team’s best rusher and really needs to be featured more.  Cam Newton didn’t have a spectacular Sunday, but he got the job done, consistently leading the Panthers on scoring drives.  Watch out for Brandon LaFell.  He and Newton hooked up 6 times for 90 yards in this one and should get even better together as the season progresses.  New Orleans HAS to win Sunday at home against Kansas City

Chiefs @ Bills
Speaking of those Chiefs, they’re reaching desperation mode already as well as they fell to 0-2 after getting throttled 35-17 by the Bills in a game that wasn’t even that close.  Like the Saints, the Chiefs have surrendered 75 points through two games and are falling horribly short of preseason expectations (especially mine).  Jamaal Charles gimped his way to 3 yards on 6 carries and isn’t exactly making an Adrian Peterson-like return from his own ACL injury.  Dwayne Bowe scored twice for what that’s worth.  I’m shocked they’ve been this bad on defense.  Sure they didn’t have Brandon Flowers or Tamba Hali in week one, but this defense has talent despite evidence to the contrary.  CJ Spiller is loving life.  With Fred Jackson nursing that knee injury, Spiller gained 170 total yards against the Chiefs and leads the league in rushing (by 51 yards) after two weeks.  Buffalo’s defense responded after getting shellacked by the Jets in week 1 with a Leodis McKelvin 88 yard PR TD, sacking Matt Cassel 5 times, forcing 3 turnovers, and limiting KC to 2 garbage 4th quarter TDs.  The Bills can’t afford a letdown now as they head to Cleveland, and either the Saints or Chiefs are going to be starting at 0-3 a week from now.  

Bucs @ Giants
This one was interesting from the first to literally the last whistle.  The Bucs looked like they were on their way to putting the defending champs in an 0-2 hole early in this one.  Vincent Jackson made a great play on a Josh Freeman deep ball early in the 2nd quarter to give the Bucs their first lead of the game.  After an exchange of scores, as bad as the Giants were playing, they had a chance to get into FG range late in the 1st half, but Eli Manning threw his third INT of the half.  The INT wasn’t so much the bad part.  The bad part was the inexcusably putrid pursuit of Eric Wright on the part of the Giants offense.  My kids do a better job chasing me around the yard than those 11 professionals did Wright who danced around the field on his way to a pick-6.  The Giants must work on their red zone execution if they’re going to have any hopes of repeating.  Their first two drives of the game saw them penetrate Tampa’s twenty, but both drives ended in FGs.  Ahmad Bradshaw suffered a neck injury early on and was replaced by Andre Brown, not David Wilson.  Wilson is apparently still in the doghouse and Brown looks to get the majority of the carries if Bradshaw misses any time.  For the Bucs, they didn’t get a victory, but I love the way this team is competing.  You didn’t see a lot of last year.  Doug Martin joined Jackson in scoring his first TD as a Buccaneer, and the defense played a strong three quarters.  Unfortunately, football is a four quarter contest, and the Bucs allowed 24 points in that final frame.  The Bucs aren’t going to win many games when they allow the opposing QB to throw for 295 yards in the second half as did Eli.  I can’t not mention the controversy at the end of the game.  I like the message Greg Schiano sent the Giants and the rest of the NFL that this Buccaneer team doesn’t quit and doesn’t lay down for anyone.  On the game’s final play, the Bucs dove at the center on the snap attempting to cause a fumble on a kneel down play.  Eli called it a “little bit of a cheap shot”, but I’m not sure I agree.  I’m not for players intending to injure their peers, but what’s this unwritten rule crap about a defense needing to lay down because the opposition goes into kneel down mode?  Sure you’re unlikely to get a turnover, but what’s so wrong about trying to win the game when there’s still time on the clock?

Texans @ Jaguars
There’s not much to say about this one.  The Texans bullied the Jaguars all afternoon to a 27-7 victory.  Houston ran for 216 yards on the day as a team with Arian Foster gaining 110 and scoring once with Ben Tate adding 74 yards and 2 TDs.  It says something about the strength of your team when you can win by 20 even though Andre Johnson catches a meager 3 passes for 21 yards.  JJ Watt is playing every bit as well as I anticipated him to, totaling 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a fumble recovery, and 2 PDs on the day.  Chad Henne was forced to finish the game after Blaine Gabbert left with a hamstring injury.  After a decent week one, Gabbert regressed to last year’s version and couldn’t anything done offensively for Jacksonville.  Their two QBs combined to complete 9 passes on the day, none of them credited to 5th overall pick Justin Blackmon who put up his first goose egg as a pro. 

Vikings @ Colts
Andrew Luck’s second game as a pro went a lot better than his first.  April’s #1 pick tossed 2 TDs, didn’t turn the ball over, and led his first 4th quarter game winning drive that resulted in an Adam Vinatieri 53 yard game winning FG.  Adrian Peterson was held out of the endzone after making two trips there last week, but Percy Harvin stepped up with 12 catches for 104 yards.  This team desperately needs another threat at receiver.  Jerome Simpson might be the answer, but he has one game remaining on his suspension for being an asshat.  A couple of big plays I saw that impacted the game were a Christian Ponder lost fumble near midfield on 3rd and 8 and a questionable late hit penalty on Jared Allen.  With Luck scrambling on 3rd and very long, the replacement refs called what I thought was a very ticky tack personal foul on Allen as he tripped up the QB going out of bounds.  That gave Indy, up 11 at this point, an unearned 1st down and allowed them to put 3 more on the board, making it a 2 TD game. 

Redskins @ Rams
Stay hot Josh Morgan.  With the Redskins driving to get in position for a game tying FG attempt, the idiot receiver got up after a 7 yard gain and threw the football at Cortland Finnegan.  Now I know Finnegan is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest ass football, but my 5 year old has better discipline that Morgan showed.  Finnegan got in his head, broke his brain, and the receiver cost his team a chance to win the football game.  RGIII wasn’t able to do whatever he wanted this week facing a much stouter defense.  Still, the rookie had a fine game, limited the mistakes, and was responsible for 3 TDs.  When you look at the boxscore you’ve got to laugh.  Sam Bradford completed 26 passes to 6 different receivers, but only one of them had more than 3 catches.  It should come as no surprise that Sam Bradford’s primary target Sunday was Danny Amendola.  The short passing game king caught 16 passes, 12 in the first half to tie an NFL record.  Steven Jackson was benched for a personal foul call and also suffered a hamstring injury.  It doesn’t look like he’ll play against the Bears, so that means rookie Daryl Richardson will likely lead the Rams in carries Sunday.  I expected Isaiah Pead to earn a decent role, but he’s been limited to special teams so far. 

Cowboys @ Seahawks
Told you so.  After a great opening night win against the defending champs, Dallas went west and laid an egg.  Don’t put that all on Tony Romo and the Cowboys though.  The Seahawks are a really good team, especially on defense.  In my season preview, I praised their secondary, a unit that may be the best in football.  Romo struggled to build sustainable drives, and DeMarco Murray was limited to 44 yards rushing after gaining 131 against the Giants.  Sure the Cowboys have multiple weapons, but they really need Dez Bryant to be the feature guy in the passing game.  Through two games Bryant has just 7 catches for 102 yards.  He’ll likely draw Aqib Talib this week and has I’m sure already seen plenty of film of Hakeem Nicks abusing the Tampa corner.  Seattle was able to stick to their game plan.  Run the ball and stop the run.  They rushed for 182 yards as a team, with Marshawn Lynch’s 122 yards leading the way.  What Russell Wilson lacked in style he made up for in substance, completing 75% of his passes and not turning the football over.  I don’t believe there’s a team in football that would benefit more from acquiring a top tier receiver than these Seahawks.  There’s just not a lot of talent for Wilson to work with.  It won’t get any easier this Monday night if the Packers bring Thursday’s attitudes with them to Seattle

Jets @ Steelers
Now that’s more like it.  After the offensive outburst in week 1, the Jets crash landed in Pittsburgh.  Mark Sanchez threw for fewer yards than every QB not names Jay Cutler or Blaine Gabbert, Shonn Greene got knocked out of the game in the first half after tallying only 23 yards on 11 carries, and Stephen Hill didn’t catch a single pass and was targeted only twice a week after catching 5 passes for 89 yards and 2 TDs.  I believe this is the Jets team we’ll see more of in 2012.  Ben Roethlisberger had a much easier afternoon without having to face Darrelle Revis.  He needed to have success through the air because neither Jonathan Dwyer nor Isaac Redman had much success on the ground.  In my AFC North preview I suggested the Antonio Brown might have become Roethlisberger’s new #1.  Through 2 games Brown has been targeted 18 times to Wallace’s 11.  It’s only a couple of games, but while Wallace might be the best deep threat in football, Brown has 3 20+ yard receptions this year to Wallace’s 1.  Debating whether or not Mike Wallace is your #1 receiver is a nice problem to have. 

Titans @ Chargers
Wow this Titans running game is garbage.  Chris Johnson and his blockers look like garbage time preseason players.  In my picks for week 2 I mentioned that the stout Chargers run defense and weak Titans rushing “attack” would be the key to the game.  Well, Johnson was outrushed by his QB, and Jake Locker only carried the ball twice.  Johnson is a joke at this point, and while his interior line might be junk, you’ve got to step up at some point, especially when you’re as quick and explosive as Johnson is (or was).  Nothing went well for the Titans on offense.  Locker completed half of his passes and threw an interception while Nate Washington and Kenny Britt (on limited snaps) combined for 3 receptions and 25 yards.  Not the start Titans fans were looking for.  San Diego on the other hand has to be stoked that they’re 2-0 without star running back Ryan Mathews.   Jackie Battle and Curtis Brinkley combined for 112 yards rushing, and Philip Rivers had 3 TDs and completed passes to 7 different receivers.  And that’s with Antonio Gates inactive for the game.  The Raiders and Titans aren’t exactly the Niners and Texans, but 2-0 is 2-0. 

Lions @ 49ers
San Francisco looks to be in postseason mode already.  After pushing the Packers around, they picked on another NFC North team, sending the Lions back to Detroit in a game that wasn’t as close as the score reflects.  Their defense is a championship caliber unit.  They can apply constant pressure to the QB with 4 pass rushers.  They can clog up run lanes with three linemen.  Their inside backers can cover better than some corners.  Their safeties are lethal weapons.  Alex Smith is proving me wrong through two games, showing that he can indeed repeat and exceed his 2011 breakthrough numbers.  If I can raise one red flag it’s the potential distraction of an unhappy Randy Moss.  He was targeted only once in limited snaps, and given his history, you’ve got to wonder if he’ll be able to handle this kind of role for an entire season.  I think he’ll be alright, but that would be the one risk I see facing the Niners at this point.  Great situation in San Francisco.  This wasn’t a big loss for Detroit.  Everyone expected them to lose, but it’s not like they were inept in doing so.  Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Kevin Smith were all able to make some plays.  What’s really disappointing is that Titus Young had another flop of a game.  Through 2 weeks, the guy who caught 17 passes for 171 yards and 4 scores in the last 4 games of 2011 has 2 receptions for 25 yards.  On a positive note, they’re supposed to get Mikel Leshoure back this week, and apparently, Detroit plans on getting him the ball early and often.  I rated this guy higher than Mark Ingram when they entered last year’s draft. 

Ravens @ Eagles
This was probably the second worst officiated game of the weekend (worst one is still to come).  From inconsistent penalty calling to a really bad fumble call that almost cost the Eagles the win, the replacement refs were out of their league in this one.  The players were sloppy as well – 6 turnovers in all.  Michael Vick overcame 2 INTs, a fumble, and injuries to his left tackle and center to beat a really strong defense.  I picked Baltimore because I believed (still do) they were the better team playing better football.  Teams coming off a MNF game the previous week tend to struggle in their next game, so maybe that trend was a factor.  A legit factor was the disappointing play by Joe Flacco, especially in the second half.  He barely had a completion percentage of .500 and threw for less than half as many yards per attempt as Vick.  I expected Torrey Smith to be Flacco’s #1 guy out of the gates, but it’s TE Dennis Pitta that’s getting all the looks.  Through two games Pitta has 13 catches for 138 yards and 1 TD.  He’s already 33% of the way to matching last year’s numbers.  Philly is now 2-0 with a total win margin of 2 points.  If Arizona hadn’t won at New England I’d give them a better shot of beating the Eagles (bit of a letdown spot this week for the Cards in my opinion).

Broncos @ Falcons
I’m telling you.  Don’t sleep on the Atlanta Falcons.  They’re my non-Packer NFC team to make it to the Super Bowl, and they’ve done absolutely nothing to sway me from that thought so far.  A week after Julio Jones caught 6 balls for 108 yards and 2 TDs, Roddy White was the focal point of the passing game, catching 8 passes for 102 yards and 1 TD.  Even old man Tony Gonzalez got in on the act with 7 catches for 70 yards and a score.  They guy is still one of the best in the game.  Sean Weatherspoon and Williams Moore were the standouts defensively for the Falcons.  Weatherspoon is always around the football.  If he’s not making the tackle, he’s cleaning up the play.  Moore had an INT, put a nice hit on Demaryius Thomas in the endzone to break up a TD pass, and a sack.  These guys are for real.  Michael Turner gets a “stay hot” too.  How damn fast was he pounding those drinks if he got a DUI at 2:30 or whatever when the MNF game didn’t end until 12:30?  Slow your roll bro!  It must be a Manning thing.  After little brother Eli threw 3 INTs against the Bucs, Peyton threw 3 INTs of his own against the Falcons.  Unfortunately, Peyton threw for 269 less yards and 4 fewer TDs.  Those INTs were some of the ugliest throws I’ve seen him make.  Not to take anything away from William Moore and the rest of the Falcons secondary, but a decent PAC-10 defense picks off those passes.  There were some bright spots though.  Von Miller sacked Matt Ryan giving him 3 through the first 2 games.  Willis McGahee ran for 113 yards and scored twice.  Demaryius Thomas has assumed the role of Peyton’s #1 target, especially in the red zone.  He has 13 catches and 188 yards to go along with 2 scores so far.  Don’t be surprised when Thomas finishes in the top 10 this year in receptions.

Best and Worst

Elite Eight
1 – San Francisco 49ers (1)
2 – Green Bay Packers (3)
3 – Baltimore Ravens (2)
4 – Houston Texans (5)
5 – Atlanta Falcons (6)
6 – New England Patriots (4)
7 – Denver Broncos (7)
8 – New York Giants (NR)

OUT – Chicago Bears (8)

Funk Bunch
1 – Jacksonville (3)
2 – Cleveland (2)
3 – Oakland (5)
4 – Miami (1)
5 – Minnesota (7)
6 – Indianapolis (4)

Top Performers

QB –
Eli Manning – 31/51, 510 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs, 89.5 QBR
Andy Dalton – 24/31, 318 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 128.2 QBR
Brandon Weeden – 26/37, 322 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 114 QBR
Sam Bradford – 26/25, 310 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 117.6 QBR
Philip Rivers – 24/32, 284 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 119.8 QBR
Ben Roethlisberger – 24/31, 275 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 125.1 QBR

RB –
Reggie Bush – 26 car, 172 yards, 2 TDs, 3 rec, 25 yards
CJ Spiller – 15 car, 123 yards, 2 TDs, 3 rec, 47 yards
Willis McGahee – 22 car, 113 yards, 2 TDs, 2 rec, 11 yards
Marshawn Lynch – 26 car, 122 yards, 1 TD
Trent Richardson – 19 car, 109 yards, 1 TD, 4 rec, 36 yards
Arian Foster – 28 car, 110 yards, 1 TD, 6 rec, 37 yards

WR –
Danny Amendola – 15 rec, 160 yards, 1 TD
Hakeem Nicks – 10 rec, 199 yards, 1 TD
Victor Cruz – 11 rec, 179 yards, 1 TD
Darren Sproles – 13 rec, 128 yards
Dwayne Bowe – 8 rec, 102 yards, 2 TDs
Percy Harvin – 12 rec, 104 yards, 2 car, 13 yards
Brent Celek – 8 rec, 157 yards

Clay Matthews – 4 tackles, 3.5 sacks
D’Qwell Jackson – 3 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 INT
JJ Watt – 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a fumble recovery, 2 PD
William Moore – 5 tackles, 1 sack, I TFL, 1 INT, 2 PD
Calais Campbell – 7 tackles, 2 sacks
Garrett McIntyre – 6 tackles, 2 sacks
Michael Griffin – 16 tackles, 1 FF
Charles Godfrey – 6 tackles, 1 pick-6
Tramon Williams – 4 tackles, 2 INTs
Mason Foster – 12 tackles, 1 INT

Worst Performers

QB –
Jay Cutler – 11/27, 126 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs, 28.2 QBR
Blaine Gabbert – 7/19, 53 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 62.8 QBR
Mark Sanchez – 10/27, 138 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 66.6 QBR
Peyton Manning – 24/37, 241 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs, 58.5 QBR
Joe Flacco – 22/42, 232 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 66.8 QBR
Jake Locker – 15/30, 174 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 65.1 QBR

RB –
Michael Turner – 17 car, 42 yards (2.5 avg), 1 rec, 0 yards, 1 DUI
Jamaal Charles – 6 car, 3 yards (0.5 avg), 3 rec, 19 yards
Chris Johnson – 8 car, 17 yards (2.1 avg), 2 rec, 11 yards
Ryan Williams – 10 car, 13 yards, 1 near game-losing fumble
Knowshon Moreno – 3 car, 2 yards, 1 fumble
Darren McFadden – 11 car, 22 yards (2.0 avg), 2 rec, 19 yards

WR –
Josh Morgan – being a dumbass and costing his team a chance to tie the game late
Larry Fitzgerald – 1 rec, 4 yards
Brandon Marshall – 2 rec, 24 yards
Andre Johnson – 3 rec, 21 yards
Dez Bryant – 3 rec, 17 yards
Fred Davis – 2rec, 14 yards