week 11 Review
Another condensed look at this week’s games…well relatively. So let’s take a look.
Indianapolis Colts 30 Tennessee Titans 27
It looks like I might have been wrong about Trent Richardson when I said he would rush for over 100 yards this week. That being said the Colts found a decent back in Donald Brown who managed to rush for 80 yards. But the true story is Andrew Luck, who staged a second half comeback that should have us talking about him in the same sentence as Brees and Manning and I don’t think it’s long before he is considered an elite QB. The Defence is still a worry for the Colts but it does look like Luck is good enough to win a shoot-out. It might be fair to say the Colts might be guilty of looking into the future on occasions and neglecting the necessary tape studying needed against some of the teams that would be considered “cake walks”, like against the Rams. But after this game it looks like the Colts might have learnt their lesson. The Titans didn’t play a bad game and the Offence was at the least efficient, but the struggled to close the game and couldn’t keep an inform Colts Offence at bay. Johnson had a great first quarter but then struggled in the rest of the game. The Titans have a decent team for the future, Locker’s injuries must be a concern but never the less this is a good team that can look forward to a decent future. But it won’t happen this season.
New York Jets 14 Buffalo Bills 37
We were wondering what we’d see after the bye week for the Jets. Good Geno or Bad Geno. What we got was very bad Geno and serious concern about this Jets team going forward. Let me start by saying I’m not trying to take anything away from a great Bills performance, who managed to turn round some poor results and get a decent win led primarily by a hard tackling Defence, which looked as good as we’ve seen this season. That being said Geno and the Jets really did their best to help them. Geno’s stats were embarrassing and I don’t know where it went wrong after some decent play prior to the bye week. As if 3 Interceptions wasn’t bad enough, only completing 30% of his passes was doubly so and has to be a concern for what they’ve invested in for the future of this team. Whilst we’ve been watching crazy consistency with a win always followed by a loss for this Jets team, I find it hard to believe they can come back from this one. One last mention for the Bills. EJ Manuel looks to be back to form and was really the most dangerous piece on an Offence that has relied heavily on their run game, which has to get Bills fans pretty excited, especially with a serious lack of Receiving talent this game. Whilst they would have to go some to make the playoffs this year, they are a young team with a great Defence led by Kiko Alonso. This team could definitely be challengers next season.
Baltimore Ravens 20 Chicago Bears 23
Crazy game here that was plenty long enough thanks to adverse weather conditions but still managed to extend itself with a trip into overtime. Pretty much at the end of the first quarter the game got suspended thanks to crazy wind and rain which left a sodden Soldier field that got cut up very quickly and had little or no bounce. The story of the Bears team is similar to what it has been all season. Dynamic Offence that keeps them in games and little or no Run Defence and has made every struggling Running back look elite. But a win is a win and the Bears can thank their Defence at least for some decent plays to create turnovers, as well as their exceptional Wide Receiver corps. After this result they are well within the hunt for the NFC North and maybe with a few of the injured players back, they might be able to mount a playoff challenge. The Ravens could be struggling for the remainder of the season and will have to seriously go some to make the playoffs, despite being in a division no one wants to win. As good as Flacco is, his contract looks like it might be seriously hurting the team as they struggle with depth and are left with budget weapons after a few injuries. The Ravens could struggle for a few seasons and maybe should entertain the idea of a trade for Rice, but there are some serious pieces that with the right editions in the draft next year could see them return to the play-offs, but this year seems like a stretch and some changes at coaching could be necessary in the off-season.
Cleveland Browns 20 Cincinnati Bengals 41
Big game here for the Bengals Defence who were the real difference maker in this game. Dalton looked better than he has in previously games but still continues to make seriously questionable mistakes. The kind of mistakes that could cost them a play-off game. The Bengals Special Teams made some exceptional plays too, blocking 2 punts and returning one of them for a Touchdown. But as previously mentioned it was the Defence that was the difference maker here and looked like they had gotten over the loss of Geno Atkins, with Burfict being the difference maker and leading the charge for a seriously powerful Defence. The Browns going behind meant they were forced to throw a ridiculous amount and no matter how much I like Jason Campbell, he is not a QB that could lead them past a large deficit to win the game, especially after the Bengals had a serious momentum shifting 2 Quarter, with 31 points being scored in that 15 minutes alone. Despite some dodgy performances recently, the Bengals are in the driving seat for the AFC North, but in my opinion go out at their usual spot in the playoffs.
Oakland Raiders 28 Houston Texans 23
The story of this game is and should be Matt McGloin, who was a free agent that has bounced around several teams before finding a home with the Raiders, backing up Terrelle Pryor after the got rid of Matt Flynn. McGloin has been an underdog for pretty much his entire football career that he will have hopefully extended by this fantastic performance. For more on McGloin look out for a post on the site later this week. Rashad Jennings continued to make the most of Darren McFadden’s injury and posted a +100 yard game behind what looked like a potent all round Offence. The Texans earlier this week said that the starting job was not definitely Keenum’s and Schaub could be brought back in. Which was made evident as Keenum was benched for Schaub after seemingly doing very little wrong. In fact Keenum before being benched threw a great touchdown under intense pressure and looked like the missing piece the Texans needed. Regardless Kubiak showed faith in Schaub ahead of Keenum, who proceeded to have a very ordinary game and stood no chance of bringing them back into it. If the Coaches still have faith in Schaub, it is clear that the fans have lost their faith, as they proceeded to boo Schaub after pretty much every play. Andre Johnson continued his mid-season resurgence as he caught for over 100 yards, but it wasn’t enough to beat a Raiders team who seemed to put their faith in McGloin and were justly repaid.
Arizona Cardinals 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 14
The Cardinals are very quietly looking like a playoff contender as they move to 6-4 equalling the Niners record and providing a possible upset in the NFC West. The Jags did a great job in this one of taking away the Cards run game and Ellington and Mendenhall to miniscule yardage. However the Cards then proceeded to carve them up through the air with Palmer going a whole game without throwing one of his signature interceptions. The Cards Defence continued to look like the dominant force they have been all season in particular the secondary who might be the best in the league. For the Jags there are definitely some positives they can build on for next season. The Run Defence was exceptional in this game and I am generally a big fan of this young secondary. On Offence it is really hard to find the same positives and should be a focus for this team if they plan to improve next season.
Washington 16 Philadelphia Eagles 24
The Eagles are no joke and now have control of the NFC East with the Cowboys finding ways to lose. Foles continues to play great football and leading a speedy Offence that has cut down on the mistakes, giving plenty of time for what is looking like an exceptional Defence to get a bit of rest. Shady McCoy could be the best Running Back in the league at the moment and managed to take down RGIII on several occasions and playing at a ridiculous pace. That being said, with their dominance of this game they should have put it away sooner, but let the Redskins back into the game. For the Redskins Griffin showed flashes of brilliance and flashes of stupidity as he continued his efforts to get himself injured again. Morris had another good game and looked unstoppable at times. The Redskins have to be slightly concerned that the QB they gave up an awful lot for might never look like the player he was and could continue to make silly mistakes. The Eagles look playoff bound with only the Cowboys realistically looking like they could stop them. The Eagles have found the formula on both sides of the ball and could be this year’s hot team.
Detroit Lions 27 Pittsburgh Steelers 27
If this game was to end at half time, Stafford would look like a superstar. Unfortunately for him it didn’t and by the end of the game the story was Ben Roethlisberger who threw for 4 TD’s to win this game. That being said the Steelers Defence has to get an honourable mention for taking the teeth out of one of the best QB/ WR Tandems in the league and made them look decidedly ordinary, for the first time in a few games. Roethlisberger’s performance is even more impressive when you realise he managed to operate without an effective run game with Bell averaging 2 yards a carry. Despite his 2nd half disappearing act, Megatron continued to look like one of the best Receivers of all time and until the Steelers brought in some new tactics at the half way point it was looking like another game dominated by the future Hall of Famer. The Steelers however took control of the 2nd half and are now looking like a good run might make them contenders in the AFC East.
Atlanta Falcons 28 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 41
The Falcons have unfortunately hit free fall and it might be time to start looking at what they need to do improve next season. Ryan continued to throw Interceptions to a very hungry Bucs Defence, led by Gerald McCoy who seemed to get to Ryan with every play. The Bucs Offence is the story though as back-up Running Back Bobby Rainey tore the Falcons Defence apart and continued to provide much needed balance to what was a desperately unbalanced to Offence after being bounced around several teams before finding a home with the Bucs. Whilst the Falcons are in serious trouble, the Bucs can use this this result and the remainder of the season to figure out what they need to do to try and keep up with the rest of the teams in the NFC South and Schiano can see if he’s done enough to keep his job.
San Diego Chargers 16 Miami Dolphins 20
Games do not get much closer than this with the difference being between a field goal and a touchdown. In truth though the better effort and sheer will to win despite facing off-season adversity, that has now effected the starting line-up was from the Dolphins, a team who could be closer than ever after the issues with Richie Incognito. For Philbin they need to put some wins together to make sure the Dolphins front office know he is worth keeping in a job despite everything that has happened this off season. Tannehill played a so so game, with Charles Clay once again showing up as his main target. The difference between the two teams was on Defence. Where the Dolphins managed to hold the Chargers to 1 touchdown. For the Chargers it is worth noting that Ryan Matthews continues to impress and finally looks like the no. 1 Running Back this team has been desperate for since losing LeDainian Tomlinson and is proving to be a much needed weapon in Phil Rivers & Mike McCoy’s arsenal. The problem for McCoy now however is, has Rivers done enough to keep his job? Or do they look for a younger option in the draft.
San Francisco 49ers 20 New Orleans Saints 23
The phrase of the week…”controversial referee decisions”, in this it was what looked like a legal hit from an exceptionally in form Ahmad Brooks on Drew Brees, which put the Saints in field goal range in the dying moments of the game. A single decision that marred what was one of the games of the week. As well as the dodgy call at the end of the game, the Niners got lucky early on when an interception got fumbled across the end zone giving the Niners a touchback, meaning they got the ball back on their own 20 yard line. The Niners Line-backers continue to look at a different level in the league and they have to have one of the hardest hitting secondaries in the league. As for Kaepernick, he definitely looked better than last week but it still feels like he’s missing something. You get the feeling that with the play action not working as well as it did last year, maybe they should just line him up as a passer and have him make plays for from bootlegs. The Saints however did a great job of keeping Brees upright despite constant pressure from the Niners. Brees did his usual job of spreading the ball round efficiently and despite the bad call at the end of the game, never felt under any pressure and always looked calm. The Saints are easily in the conversation for Super bowl contenders and probably stand as much chance as anyone of taking it. The Niners now just have to worry about making sure they make the play offs, now that the Cards are on the same record as them.
Green Bay Packers 13 New York Giants 27
There has probably not been a single player missed as bad as Rodgers is for the Packers since Manning for the Colts in 2011. The Packers seem to be able to weather any injury at any position except for that of Aaron Rodgers. Without Rodgers they look toothless. Whilst Tolzien managed to create decent yardage, he still threw 3 Interceptions and with them being constantly behind, there was little chance to give possible Rookie of the Year Eddie Lacy a chance to work some magic. Green Bay have now dropped behind both the Lions and the Bears and desperately need Rodgers back to even be considered for a playoff spot. The Giants seem to have found their form and have now won 4 in a row. Eli is playing better and the Defence has started playing like the unit we have got used to seeing in playoff games. The Giants also have luck on their side as they continue to play teams with serious injury issues. Next week it’s the Cowboys.
Minnesota Vikings 20 Seattle Seahawks 41
It would appear the Seahawks have gotten over their ‘let’s make every game look difficult’, phase and entered their ‘let’s look like genuine Super bowl Contenders’, phase and it is very good timing as they now are joint with the Broncos and Chiefs for the best record in the league. Wilson took control of this game and was accurate under pressure, if the pocket collapsed he would just escape sacks in his usual way by scampering for yardage. In truth the Seahawks Offence didn’t have a great deal to do other than dot the I’s and cross the T’s as the Defence took control. This performance is the first time I’ve thought that the Seahawks could be contenders, but it is abundantly obvious they are and could easily be one of the hot teams in the NFL right now. As for the Vikings, they have to be looking on to next season and figuring out what they can take with them to improve. Expect another start from Freeman in the coming week and maybe a more rotational feel as they take a look at the current pieces they have.
Kansas City Chiefs 17 Denver Broncos 27
This had to be the game of the day and in truth the Chiefs first real challenge. So what did we learn from this AFC West game between rivals? Well we found out the pecking order of this division and it starts with the Broncos at no. 1 as they beat the Chiefs for the first time this season. The Chiefs major weakness was exposed early on as they went down by a big score and failed to come back. Smith struggled to move his Offence down field at any great pace and his Receivers reciprocated by making some silly mistakes. Charles played a good game and the Defence made some great plays, but it was just not enough to keep up with a high powered Broncos team. The Broncos continued to look great on Offence and had an unreal looking Line backing Corps, who made it difficult for Smith to throw the short yardage passes he generally uses to drive downfield. Peyton managed to turn in a solid performance that helped the Broncos move the Chiefs down nearly everyone’s power rankings. Expect a couple more losses from the Chiefs, but still a run to the playoffs.
New England Patriots 20 Carolina Panthers 24
It is a real shame that this game will be remembered for an uncalled Pass Interference call, that stood only a slim chance of changing the game, especially when what we witnessed was a great game between 2 Super bowl contenders and yes I do think they both stand a chance. But it was one team that stood out in this game, which was probably the ‘hottest of hot’, teams the Carolina Panthers, who were led by Cam Newton having the performance of his career. Cam seems to have finally found what he was missing which is an ability to convert in the end zone. Newton managed to make some yardage through the air but wasn’t afraid to run and was in fact their top rusher. Steve Smith continued to play like a player 10 years younger and regularly beat Aqib Talib and wasn’t afraid to let him know about it. The Defence continued to be one of the best in the league and was the final piece of a team that has seriously made me wonder. ‘Can the Panthers win the Super bowl?’ A question for which the answer is in fact yes. The Patriots didn’t play badly and you have to think they make the play offs, with no one else in their division seemingly wanting to win the AFC East. One of the major problems is the play of Brady, who will have to pull his socks up when they play the Broncos next week.
And that’s week 11 in the bag. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.