Monday, November 28, 2011

Harbaughs, Tebow Magic, Flops, and the Rest of Week 12

They're related!

  • Hmm, maybe Houston should have tried for Kyle Orton after all.

  • Has Patrick Peterson reached just-don’t-kick-to-him status after his fourth punt return for a touchdown in his rookie season? Admittedly, two of them were against St. Louis, but all four were for 80+ yards.

  • Jay Cutler learned something from last season’s NFC Championship game: put on a headset and talk to your back-up on the sideline. Even if you’re just whispering to him how bad he is, it looks better than sitting by yourself and sulking on the sideline.

                                   "If only I were still in the game! I know I could 
                                                  throw at least three more interceptions!"

  • Indianapolis scored it’s first offensive touchdown in the month of November today.  Oh my.

  • Rich Gannon’s analysis consists of saying things like, “You can’t throw interceptions;” or “The defense has to play better;” or “They need a stronger run game.” Thanks for those insights, Rich.

  • Stevie Johnson’s touchdown celebration imitating Plaxico Burress shooting himself was totally worth 15 yards.  Except that it helped the Jets to a touchdown on the next drive.
Stupid, yes. But still funny.

  • Tampa Bay’s now lost five in a row.

  • San Diego’s lost six in a row. Goodbye, Norv, I wish I could say it’s been fun.

  • As it turns out, San Diego kicker Nick Novak’s most embarrassing moment of the day wasn’t missing a game-winning field goal in overtime. The less said about this the better.

  • Alex Smith was sacked nine times by the Ravens on Thanksgiving. And that was without Ray Lewis.
Just when you thought maybe it doesn't suck to be Alex Smith.

  • Jay Cutler was really rocking the local-news-anchor hair.

  • The Chargers’ alternate uniforms are so pretty. They should wear them all the time.

At least they'd look nice losing.

  • Tim Tebow is 5-1 as a starter this season. Crazy.

  • I was not impressed with Caleb Hanie’s angrily gesturing at his teammates whenever they were unable to catch his wildly inaccurate throws. (Then again, they've been playing with Jay Cutler; they should be used to errant passes.)

  • Mike Periera, his smug monotone, and his ridiculously toolish glasses made another appearance. Blech.
Just look at him. Ugh.

  • Oakland’s Shane Lechler had an 80-yard punt today against Chicago! Yeah, try to return that one, Devin Hester.

  • Von Miller looks like the Defensive Rookie of the Year to me. The entire Denver defense is impressive.

  • Percy Harvin had the longest non-scoring play in NFL history when he returned a kick for 104 yards. He got his team to the freakin’ three-yard line and they couldn’t score?! Not even a field goal?! This is what Percy gets for playing for Minnesota.

  • Jerome Simpson’s flop is awesome.

  • The Bears have a fullback names Tyler Clutts. What a terrible last name for an athlete.

  • Houston Texan’s tight end Owen Daniels took snaps at halftime, just in case the team lost third-string quarterback T.J. Yates, too. I’m always intrigued by who is each team’s emergency qb, and I always kind of want to see a punter or a wide receiver have to take significant snaps.

  • Ndamukong Suh. Yikes. You had a chance to escape with a one-game suspension until that disaster of a press conference. Not even your mother believed you on that one, hon. He had seen the tape, too, at that point, so he had to know what he was selling had absolutely no connection to the hard evidence that the entire country had seen. 
"Please excuse me, sir, while I try to regain my balance."

  • It’s pretty bad when your ex-teammate says you’re “out of control” and that something needs to be done about you.

  • As a Packers’ fan, I’ll just say thank you to Ndamukong Suh. That touchdown you gave us was a huge turning point in the game. See you in January - if you’re back from your suspension by then.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Week 12: Green Bay at Detroit

Finally! Football fans have been waiting all season for tomorrow’s showdown between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions! How will the league’s best quarterback handle Detroit’s front four? How can a spotty Green Bay secondary limit Calvin Johnson? Can Green Bay’s offensive line keep Aaron Rodgers upright and avoid a repeat of last year’s devastating loss at Ford Field? Let’s look at a couple of issues for this game:

The O-line.  It’s hard not to worry about Aaron in this game. Last time he took the field in Detroit, he suffered his second concussion of the season. I think Detroit’s defensive line is going to be a huge challenge for the Packers. Detroit is able to bring pressure without blitzing, which is key since anyone who has watched Rodgers knows, you don’t blitz #12. Rodgers has a passer rating of almost 140 and a 70% completion rate when facing the blitz. But given their impressive talent, Detroit can get to opposing quarterbacks without having to bring extra men.

Run game. Detroit has a surprisingly poor run defense, ranked 27th in the league. The Packers’ running game took a hit on Sunday when James Starks injured both his knee and his ankle. Thankfully, his injuries do not seem to be as serious as they appeared (Starks credits this to being bow-legged) and he still has a chance to play on Thursday. I think the Packers should hold him out, even if he is able to play. It’s a short week, don’t risk making the injury worse - they’ll need him later in the season. And despite everyone in the world being down on Ryan Grant, I like the guy. He’s not amazingly fast or shifty, but he can pick up ugly, necessary yards. As a back that improves with more carries, Grant’s had a hard time of it this season, considering the low number of carries he’s been given. I think he could have a big game on Thursdays if he gets the opportunities.

Who covers Megatron? It’ll be interesting to see how the Packers’ defense tries to handle Calvin Johnson. Jermichael Finley offered his suggestions, encouraging physical play. I think he’s right - the Packers should be willing to take a few flags when it comes to covering Calvin Johnson if it means bumping him out of a comfortable rhythm. To that end, I think Charles Woodson might be the best option. If anyone knows how to play physically in coverage, it’s Woodson, though Tramon Williams might have a bit more of Johnson’s speed than Woodson. No matter who is covering Johnson, the safeties really have to be accountable in order to allow Woodson or Williams or whomever to challenge Johnson’s receptions. The Packers can’t sleep on Detroit’s other receivers, either, as Matthew Stafford has been finding ways to take advantage of the attention Johnson necessarily draws. On Sunday, for example, none of Detroit’s five passing touchdowns were to Johnson.

Keep forcing turnovers. The Packers’ defense continue to lead the league in interceptions with 19, and it’s their ability to force turnovers that has prevented them from being a scapegoat in a Packers’ loss. The more often the defense can get Aaron Rodgers back on the field on Thursday, the better the chances of us all spending the dinner being thankful for an 11-0 record.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Redskins, Economics, and Jay Cutler's Thumb

  • No matter your opinion on Tim Tebow, let’s just all take a moment to be thankful that Denver managed to pull out a huge upset against the New York Jets. That ought to shut the Jets up. Well, at least for a day or two.
Close your mouth, Rex.

That's better.

  • Never, ever pick the Giants over the Eagles, apparently.

  • The No Fun League has informed Bears’ receiver Earl Bennett that he will get kicked out of the game if he continues to wear his awesome orange shoes. Whew, thank goodness the league is finally cracking down on those dangerous uniform violations.

C'mon, how often does a Chicago Bear get to look cool?

  • Poor little John Skelton’s line: 6/19, 99 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs. And then he was replaced by someone named Richard Bartel.

  • Let’s get to know some of this year’s Washington Redskins:
"What?! We only get four downs?! Since when!?"
  • Lions’ receiver Tony Scheffler wins my best touchdown celebration of the week award. Though, I have to say, I thought it was a lot cooler when I thought he was doing a West Side Story dance rather than imitating a cell phone commercial

  • We all knew the Buffalo Bills weren’t going to win the Super Bowl this year, but they did look pretty good the first seven games of the season, averaging just over 30 points a game. The last three games, however, they’ve averaged 8.7 points. The defense was pretty solid in the first seven games as well, holding opponents to 21 points, compared to the 35 points they’ve given up on average over the last three games. What happened? Did Harvard economics major Ryan Fitzpatrick draw up some charts and graphs and realize that he still has a $59 million contract whether he wins or loses?
"...carry the 1, divide by number of wins - yep, still $59 million."

  • So, Jay Cutler. Broke his thumb. Needs surgery. And I don’t really care what Lovie Smith says, I have a hard time believing Jay will be back on the field before the end of the regular season. Cutler broke his thumb trying to run down San Diego Charger Antoine Cason after he intercepted Cutler. Now, I really, really hate to keep on defending Jay, but I have to say, despite the outcome, I’d still rather have a quarterback who tried to stop an opponent from scoring after an interception than a a quarterback who watched as a defender walked into the endzone with his football (ahem, Tom Brady!).

  • Cutler’s injury is interesting in a couple of ways. The timing is rough, as Cutler was in the midst of the best stretch of his career, and the Bears are gunning for a wild-card spot.  It’s also interesting because there are few teams in the league whose success is less dependent on the quarterback than Chicago. Chicago wins on defense, Devin Hester, and Matt Forte. (Remember, the Bears accidentally got into the Super Bowl five years ago with Rex Grossman as quarterback. Rex Grossman!)  And though Caleb Hanie hasn’t played much, he’s been pretty decent when he gets an opportunity, like last season’s NFC Championship game.
  • So how much does Cutler’s injury affect the Bears’ playoff hopes? The Packers in week 16 are really the only challenge they face on the rest of the schedule, so I expect the Bears to still be in the hunt late in the season.
The truth is with Cutler out, we are all losers. No more of this:

Or this:


Or even this:

But we will probably get to see a lot of this:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Week 11: Tampa Bay at Green Bay

The Packers are a far, far better team than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Pack will probably destroy the Bucs … but still, this game makes me nervous. I remember the 2009 Tampa Bay game in which Josh Freeman made his first start, and the Packers made him look like a superstar. And I’m wary of the Packers’ first loss being a trap game against a huge underdog. And I’m going to be at the game on Sunday, and I’m afraid of jinxing Green Bay. The Bucs already surprised New Orleans and Atlanta this season. They’re on a three-game losing streak and just got whipped by the Texans in a game where their effort was questioned, and they could be playing for pride.

So, I’m going to talk myself through this anxiety, and show how the Packers just can’t be beaten by the Buccaneers.

Tampa has a very weak defense. They rank 28th in passing yards allowed and 29th in rushing yards. They’re missing their best defensive player in DT Gerald McCoy, who’s out for the season with a torn bicep. And just in case that didn't placate my fears, this is the defense that just acquired Albert Haynesworth.  In case you don’t know who that is, here’s what The Onion had to say about him:

Report: Albert Haynesworth Just a Mound of Hot Dogs and Ice Cream

This defense has to play Aaron Rodgers. Awww, those poor kids.

                                              You know what he’s doing here? Crowning himself 
                                           with an imaginary laurel wreath. Because he’s a winner.

Josh Freeman is having a rough season. After a strong sophomore season, Freeman is struggling to connect with his receivers. Freeman is second only to Philip Rivers for most interceptions, and while his receivers are certainly talented, they lead the league in dropped passes. Plus, Freeman is playing with a sprained thumb on his throwing hand.

"Stop dropping my passes!'

The Packers’ defense likes taking the ball away.  The Packers lead the league in interceptions. They’re an opportunistic defense that is going to jump on any mistakes by the Buccaneers. Charles Woodson is on a mission - you can smell how much he wants another pick-six to tie him for most all-time. Perhaps Sunday will be his day.

Yes! Another excuse to use this picture!

Let’s hope the Packers’ defense continues the aggressiveness of last week and puts some pressure on Freeman.

(I couldn’t find a picture of the Packers sacking Josh Freeman,* so just pretend this is Josh.)

 *This may or may not be true.

The game is at Lambeau. The Bucs have only one win on the road this season, against the Minnesota Vikings (which barely counts as a victory), and it’ll be the first cold weather game of the season for those sun-spoiled Buccaneers.

Thus, the Packers will win on Sunday. Q.E.D.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Week 10 Was Not Kind to NFL QBs

  • What in the heck is going on in the league? The Ravens lost to the Seahawks. Cincy nearly beat Pittsburgh. Philadelphia lost to ARIZONA! Craziness.
His name is John Skelton, in case you were wondering.

  • Speaking of the Ravens, is there a harder team to figure out? They sweep the Steelers, beat the Jets and the Texans, but lose to Jacksonville and Seattle? And as much as I like Joe Flacco, I’ve never really believed in him … until two Sundays ago when he led that amazing game-winning drive, despite his receivers’ best efforts to sabotage him. And now I’m back to not believing in him. He only has 10 touchdowns and a 75.6 passer rating on the season. Sorry, Joe.
He looks confused, too.

  • Rough weekend for quarterbacks: Texans’ Matt Schaub is out, probably for the rest of the season, with a foot injury.  In Kansas City, Matt Cassel is also out for the season with a hand injury. Mike Vick suffered two broken ribs. Matthew Stafford and Ben Roethlisberger both have broken fingers in their throwing hands. 

  • Please, no more Ford commercials. The fake customer press conference campaign not only doesn’t make sense, it is also very irritating. Just stop.
I saw this probably 232 times this weekend.

  • Okay, people. One more time. All together now: Do. Not. Kick. To. Devin. Hester.

I told you not to do it.

  • Matthew Stafford’s head is roughly the size of a beach ball. It’s huge!

Look at that thing!

  • I actually kinda like Mike Smith’s call to go for it on 4th and inches from Atlanta’s own 29 in overtime. I understand why everyone says it’s stupid. I get it. But I still like it. It was all-in, putting everything on the line for one play. Boiling the entire game down to one play. Gutsy.  What I did not like was the play call. What was that? Is fourth-and-inches really the time for a delayed handoff?? Instead of having to go inches, Michael Turner had to go five yards from where he took the handoff. Try going five yards when everyone in the stadium knows exactly where you’re going.
Sorry, Mike, you had no chance with that play call.

  • Tim Tebow went TWO for EIGHT! I thought he must have gotten injured or pulled from the game when I saw that line, but, no, he played the whole game and threw only 8 passes.

  • Even more shocking? THE BRONCOS WON!! They won when their quarterback only completed two passes the entire game! And their starting running back went out. And their back-up running back went out. How did this happen?! Must be the Tebow mystique.

  • I guess we can stop with all the Don’t-sleep-on-Philly talk. 
Yeah, you can probably sleep on this.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week 10: Minnesota at Green Bay

Monday begins the Packers’ three games in eleven day stretch - thanks, NFL schedulers! But no worries, the Pack can handle it!

Once again, the Packers face the Minnesota Vikings.

Viking advantages: Christian Ponder has another game - his first victory - under his belt. Jared Allen will once again run wild on a Chad Clifton-less offensive line. Cornerback Antoine Winfield will be back on the field after missing four games with a neck injury. The Vikings are coming off a bye week.

Packer advantages: The game is at Lambeau. The defense has more film on Christian Ponder than last time. They’re not the Minnesota Vikings.

Seriously, these are their fans.


Smell that? Smells like 9-0 to me.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thursday Night Football, Manning Faces, and Other Stuff

  •  Can I just say how stupid and unfair Thursday night games are?  Lucky San Diego and Oakland get to kickoff Thursday Night Football this week - FOUR days after their last game. And the following week the New York Jets get to play the New England Patriots in a night game on Sunday, and then have to travel across almost the whole country for a Thursday night game in Denver. The thing is, no one really likes Thursday Night Football. Thursdays are just not as conducive to football watching as Saturdays and Sundays and even Monday nights. (Notable exceptions are holidays because they’re, well, holidays.) I have things to do on Thursdays. I’m not the only one, either, which is why they never put good match-ups on Thursdays. So not only do most people not like TNF and not only is TNF unfair to the teams that have to play it, but the truth is the only reason for its existence is for the NFL Network to try to get in on some of the absurd revenue that NFL games generate. So go ahead and screw over teams that are trying to win tough games in competitive divisions so that the NFL Network can unleash more overly-bombastic and marginally-qualified announcers on the world.
  • The Arizona-St. Louis game would win the award for the most boring overtime game were it not for those last 15 seconds.

  • I don’t really care if the Packers go undefeated. It would be cool, and a bonus, but my heart’s certainly not set on it. I don’t think a loss would necessarily be a bad thing for them. I could never understand why Colts’ fans and everyone else in the entire world flipped out when the Colts gave up their perfect season 2009. I thought it was a good call. (I can understand how Peyton Manning might be upset, though.)
This is what comes up when you Google 'Peyton Manning sad.'

  • Chicago’s win Monday night was a big deal. But an even bigger deal is how devastating the loss was to the Eagles, who are now sitting at 3-5 instead of 4-4 in a division that’s up for grabs.
This is relevant because I'm talking about the Bears

  • It seems people are forgiving Mike Martz for the disaster that was the first three games of the season. But if I were a Chicago fan, I wouldn’t. I just can’t let go of the fact that it took this supposed offensive genius four weeks to figure out what every casual fan had realized from watching two minutes of Chicago's offense. Not to mention his refusal to make use of Cutler's former favorite target in Greg Olsen. And his decision to demote Johnny Knox for Roy Williams. And his frameless glasses he wears - I hate those kind of glasses!

This is relevant because Martz's play-calling caused a lot of sacks.

  • Stupid, ugly-faced Jay Cutler continues the best stretch of football I’ve ever seen him play.  Don’t look now, but Jay has had four zero-interception games this season! Plus, the Bears allowed zero sacks on Monday for just the second time since Cutler came to Chicago. This should upset a Green Bay fan like myself, but it doesn’t - it will just make it all the sweeter and funnier when the Bears inevitably collapse and all the Bears’ fans turn on their team faster than you can say “Jay Cutler sucks.”
This is relevant because Chicago didn't allow any of this on Monday night.

  • Mark Sanchez is a crappy quarterback who has good games when it matters. He is the anti-Tony Romo.

  • Everybody is excited about the 6-2 Bengals. I understand that Ohio sports fans haven’t had a lot to be a excited about lately, but let’s not coronate the Red Rifle just yet. The Bengals still have two games against the Steelers, and two against the Ravens. That pretty much puts them back to .500. If they win more than one of those 4 games, I will possibly consider reconsidering my view on them.
  • Tom Brady throws a lot of tantrums.

  • Packers linebacker Frank Zombo just can’t catch a break. People would start to call him injury-prone if he weren’t so tough! He broke his shoulder blade in a preseason game’s warm-ups, but then still played the game. Wore a sling for just one day, and returned two weeks earlier than expected. Then, in his first game back, he hyperextends his knee. He didn’t tell anyone because he thought it was a ligament tear which would end his season. “I thought I could be done for the season,” he explained, “So I said,Whatever, I'm going to play.” And again, he returns much earlier than expected, only to suffer a hamstring injury that will keep him out of next week’s game. Poor guy.
  • The New York Giants’ final 8 games are: at San Fransisco, Philadelphia, at New Orleans, Green Bay, at Dallas, Washington, at NY Jets, and Dallas. Ouch.
And this is what you get when you Google 'Eli Manning sad.'

See? Look how cute he is. Couldn't be his fault.