Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Talbuc's Take - Week 5


Anyone else sense that?  It’s the Patriots about to go on a big run.  In doing whatever they wanted to on offense against the Denver Broncos, the Patriots moved back above .500, and I’d be willing to wager they don’t slip below it again.  Tom Brady and the passing game has been this team’s story for years, but look out NFL because these guys can now run the ball whenever they want to as well.  Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden are a solid 1-2 combo and keep the offense flowing really well when they’re in the mix.  Suddenly Wes Welker isn’t worth benching anymore either.  Go figure.  Loved hearing him take a jab at Belichick in a postgame interview.  And don’t look now, but they’re probably getting Aaron Hernandez back too.  I think these guys just won the first game of a what will be a long winning streak.

Houston continues to roll, although that MNF game against the semi-pro team from New York was too close for comfort.  They were expected to roll the Jets, but played that one defensively, knowing that if they get out to a bit of a lead they can manage the game the rest of the way since the Jets are probably the least dangerous come from behind team in the league this year.  They did have a huge loss in the game though.  Brian Cushing took a hit to the knee and is out for the year with a torn ACL.  This has been a dominant defense thus far, but no team loses a guy like Cushing and just continues rolling like nothing has happened.  They have two huge tests in Green Bay and Baltimore before their week 8 bye.  As great at that 5-0 start is, how they play these next two weeks should tell you more about this team than the perfect start. 

The Jaguars are doing an awesome job at confirming my belief that they’re the worst team in the league.  They’re better than no one at passing the football, and that says a lot when Matt Cassel and Mark Sanchez are starting for two of the other 31 teams.  They can’t stop anyone either, be it on the ground or through the air.  After the seemingly fluke win at Indy, they’ve been outscored 68-13 in their last two games, both at home.  Being on a bye this week, they shouldn’t lose again, but never underestimate the powers of the pathetic. 

The Bengals aren’t ready for prime time.  When you’re 3-1 in a year when the AFC North looks more “winnable” for you than it has in any other year, you don’t lose at home to the Miami Dolphins.  Now they head to Cleveland to face the Browns for the second time this year already, and the Browns are getting back Joe Haden.  There’s a big difference between 4-2 and 3-3. 

Are you paying attention Bengals, because the Ravens showed you how to win the ugly ones?  Even when they couldn’t find the endzone one single time, Baltimore found a way to win on the road at KC.  They’re sitting at 4-1 and are the clear #1 team in the division in my opinion.  Avoiding a slip up at home this week against the Cowboys will be huge with the Texans on deck before a week 8 bye.  These next two games are extremely important for the Ravens from a postseason positioning perspective.

Kansas City is the team who would benefit most from an upgrade at QB.  A team with Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe on offense shouldn’t be 24th in the league in points scored. 

The Steelers got the win in that game against the Eagles to even their record at 2-2, but are they really any good?  They’ve beaten the Jets and Eagles at home and lost on the road at Denver and Oakland.  This week’s game at Tennessee might be the best indicator of this team’s worth.  They got Rashard Mendenhall back, but that offensive line is still struggling to create holes in the run game.  On defense, Troy Polamalu came back for last week’s game, but he’s already been ruled out against the Titans.  This has the looks of an 8-8 club sure to have its ups and downs the rest of the way.

I still don’t think the Chargers are any good, and losing to the, at the time, winless Saints isn’t changing my opinion.  Where the hell is Antonio Gates?  The guy has been on the field for every game but one and is tied for third on the team in receptions with Ryan Mathews, the RB who missed the first two games of the season. 

Stay hot Jets.  Far be it for me to defend these guys, but they have played possibly the league’s two best defenses over the last two weeks.  Still, they simply don’t have enough talent to be competitive on a weekly basis.  ‘Defense wins championships’ is a popular saying, but as I like to say, you can’t win if you don’t score.  My feelings on Mark Sanchez are well documented, but the guy has absolutely nothing to work with.  Shonn Green is a terrible NFL running back, and Jeremy Kerley, Jeff Cumberland, Chaz Schilens, Clyde Gates, and Jason Hill might be the most pathetic set of pass catchers this league has seen in years.  Even Baby Jesus can’t save this team.  I think they’re easily the worst 2-3 team in football, and yes, that includes the Bills and Dolphins.  Both of those teams have at least a little promise. 


Congrats Drew Brees on breaking Johnny U’s TD record and leading the Saints to their first win of the season.  As great as that had to feel, the Saints are still just 1-4 on the year and are getting their bye week at, likely, an undesirable time.  I’m sure they want to get back out there this week after getting that first win, but they’ll have to wait a week before traveling to Tampa in search of win #2.  With the way they’re playing what they’re calling defense, that second win might prove to be as elusive as the first. 

In case anyone still doubted them, the Falcons are for real.  Going on the road to face the Redskins after a dramatic comeback win against the Panthers could have been the spot for Atlanta to lose their first game, but they rallied for three fourth quarter scores to get their fifth win in five tries.  If they can avoid a letdown at home against the Raiders, they’ll cruise into their bye at a rock solid 6-0.  If I have a concern about this team it’s their run defense, but their dynamic offense’s ability to put teams in a hole quickly, that weakness gets concealed quite a bit.  Fortunately for the Falcons, there’s not a team on their schedule that presents much of a threat in this area until the Panthers and Giants in December.

Time to hit the panic button.  Green Bay is in trouble.  This obviously isn’t the same team that went 15-1 last season.  After the FSU-like collapse at Indy, the Packers are sitting at 2-3 on the year with a trip to undefeated Houston on the agenda this week.  They’re completely out of rhythm on offense, and it’s not because Greg Jennings is out of the lineup.  The offensive line’s play has been putrid and will get ransacked by the Texans this Sunday night unless they make some major changes in play. 

Minnesota just keeps taking care of business.  They run the football on offense, stop the run defensively, and have a QB who doesn’t turn the ball over.  They’re tied with the Bears for the lead in the North, and while I’m not ready to print playoff tickets in Minnesota, they’re entering a stretch of winnable games.  If they lose the road games at Washington and Seattle but take care of things at home against Arizona, Tampa Bay, and Detroit, they’ll be a happy 7-3 heading into their week 11 bye.  Percy Harvin is quietly putting together an MVP resume this year.  He’s a threat to score literally every time he has the ball in his hands.  Stay tuned.

RGIII has gotten the hype this year, but Andrew Luck is the guy I’d take if choosing between the two.  I love the control he shows over the offense in his rookie year, and he’s doing it with a very veteran Reggie Wayne as his only established receiving threat.  Luck and the Colts travel to the Jets this week in what should be another good test for the rookie.  The Jets are starting to panic at 2-3 and are going to pull out all the stops to keep from falling to 2-4 at the hands of a rookie QB. 

Can we quit paying attention to the Cardinals yet?  Sure they’re 4-1 and tied for first in the NFC West with the 49ers, but if any team’s fast start can be called fraudulent, it’s Arizona’s.  Kevin Kolb got thrown around by the Rams, and with the way that offensive line is playing, neither Kolb nor John Skelton is going to be spending a lot of time on his feet.  They’re horrible at pass protecting and opening running lanes, and losing the talented Ryan Williams for the year with a shoulder injury isn’t going to help things.  Don’t be surprised if Buffalo gives them their second straight loss.  It gets ugly after that with games against the Vikings, Niners, Packers, and Falcons.  Sell sell sell!!!

The Giants avoided the letdown at home against the Browns, but it wasn’t promising after falling behind 14-0 early on.  The Giants offense ended up dominating the Browns defense both on the ground and through the air to put the game out of reach, but with the way their defense has come out flat in three (DAL, TB, CLE) of their first five games, it should give their fans pause.  Injuries are mounting up early, and their schedule isn’t getting any easier.  They travel to San Fran this week and then play division rivals Washington and Dallas before taking on the Steelers.  Keep an eye on this team.  Eli may need to put even more of it on his shoulders.

Michael Vick sucks.  Does anyone make any more inopportune turnovers than this guy?  They’re a lucky 3-2 and host a disappointing Lions team this week.  Should Vick not fumble away another one, they’ll get a week off before hosting Atlanta.  Everyone talks about him not making it through the season because of the physical pounding, but it’s the dumbass decisions that could have Andy Reid turning to rookie Nick Foles before too long.  Is Reid going to let Vick determine his Philly fate? 

Is it too early to panic about Cam Newton?  The Panthers are bad, and so is he.  He’s showing zero control over the offense, and many of his passes have you wondering if he was even looking where he was throwing it.  They’re on a bye this week but face the Cowboys, Bears, Redskins, and Broncos in their next four games.  How much uglier will things get before that Broncos game?  You don’t get a lot lower than 1-4 through five games, but I don’t see them or him turning it around any time soon.  This looks like an easy 10 loss season for a team that many (not me) expected to challenge for the playoffs. 

Quick Thoughts

1) JJ Watt has my vote for Defensive POY, and it isn’t even close. 

2) With another loss, look for the Geno Smith draft talk to heat up with the Jets.

3) If I had a vote for MVP after 5 weeks, my top three would be Matt Ryan, Arian Foster, and Tom Brady.

4) The NFC North will end up being the most competitive division in football this year.

5) The NFC wild cards will end up coming from the North and West, not the East as everyone expects. 

6) Arizona will end up finishing last in the NFC West.

7) 0-5 Cleveland will win two of their next three games against the Bengals, Colts, and Chargers.

Best and Worst

Elite Eight
1 – San Francisco 49ers (1)
Two straight thrashings earn them the jump over Houston who let the Jets stay too close.

2 – Houston Texans (1)
3 – Atlanta Falcons (3)
4 – Baltimore Ravens (4)
5 – New England Patriots (6)
6 – New York Giants (7)
7 – Chicago Bears (NR)
8 – Minnesota Vikings (NR)

Out – Green Bay Packers (5), Arizona Cardinals (8)

Funk Bunch
1 – Jacksonville Jaguars (1)
2 – Oakland Raiders (3)
3 – New York Jets (5)
4 – Cleveland Browns (2)
5 – Kansas City Chiefs (6)
6 – Tennessee Titans (7)
7 – Carolina Panthers (NR)
8 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NR)

Out – Indianapolis Colts (4), Miami Dolphins (8)

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