Week 9: The Late Games
We had even more excitement in the late games, including some epic comebacks. So let’s get to it.
Philadelphia Eagles 49 Oakland Raiders 20
When I look at this game the first thing that comes to mind is, this is the Eagles Offence we were promised and it looked awesome. Nick Foles was the stand-out performer in this game as he nails down the starting QB position with a 7 touchdown 400yards and 0 Interceptions, game. The stat that will stand out is the 7 touchdowns, but equally important is 0 Interceptions, which is hard to do when you are moving the Offence at the pace that Foles was. What we saw the Chip Kelly Offence being run masterfully. Foles would rarely make the big play, but rather constant mid-range ones, moving the Offence down field at speed, not giving the Defence a chance to catch their breath and giving them more opportunity to make silly mistakes, which the Raiders Defence excelled at in this game. When the Raiders Defence would be suitably tired, that’s when Foles would make the killer blow, look for a mismatch and hit his target. It sounds simple, but it clearly isn’t to move that quickly without making mistakes takes some truly outstanding decision making and a combo of Foles and Kelly looks very exciting. What’s more impressive is they did this with only taking up 22 mins of time of possession. There is a chance this team might have found their feet, which might see a change of power in the NFC East. Quick mention about the Defence who did their job pretty well and forced Pryor to make silly mistakes, which he did masterfully.
What I like about Pryor is his natural ability to play the game, which is unreal. There is no better QB at running the ball in the league. What it does mean however is Pryor makes some silly mistakes as he hits Receivers on the run a lot. Aside from silly turnovers, Pryor made some good plays and without the help of McFadden who is rather surprisingly now nursing an injury. This meant that Jennings stepped up as the Raiders feature back and did a decent job, but all of this is irrelevant when the Defence plays as bad as it did. “No one is talking about the Raiders Defence, I really like them, they look like the Raiders of the 70’s”, that was me on last week’s Podcast and this how I was embarrassed in this game. The Raiders Defence couldn’t make a stop, a tackle, a sack and certainly not an interception. The momentum of this whole game was a one way street and the Raiders could do nothing to stop it. I do still like this Defence and I think it’s unfortunate that it’s this Raiders team that is going up against an Eagles team that have just kick started their season, but they do not have the Offence to keep up with a score like this and Raiders fans have to be worried about the rest of the season. That being said, I believe the future is bright for this team and with some good leadership, there is a good chance we could see a heavily improved team next year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21 Seattle Seahawks 27
This game can be looked at in a couple of ways. Does this game show that the Seahawks can come back from a big deficit? Or does it highlight issues with a Seahawks team that allows one of the worst teams in the league to dominate them in their home Stadium, which is one of the most feared destinations for an away team? Let’s take a look.
For starters let’s not take anything away from the Bucs, who came in to Century Link field and scored 21 unanswered points. Glennon looked like the player Schiano had hoped he would look like and Mike James finally stepped up for the injured Doug Martin in what was a balanced Offence, which is a problem the Bucs have had in previous weeks. For Glennon to come into this game and quickly lead 3 scoring drives AND throw zero interceptions against the supposed ‘Legion of Boom’, at this stadium shows exactly what the Bucs have at QB, which might be something special. Before I get onto the negatives of this team, do yourself a favour and watch Mike James’ jump pass for a TD, its unreal. As previously stated however the team went downhill after the initial 21 points and the Seahawks took over. As good as it was to score 21 pts., not scoring points in an entire half is a worry and is just handing Seattle the chance to win. What it looked like happened was the Bucs took the lead and then tried to just burn the clock, but failed, constantly giving a Seahawks team that has a college like mentality a chance to gain some momentum. When the Bucs look back at this game they will see some positives, but they have to look at how to close a game. One thing is for certain. They might be 0-8 but the Jags have them beat as the worst team in the league and I don’t think they go the whole season without a win.
As previously stated, Seahawks fans have to see positives and negatives from this game, but I want to start with the QB. Russell Wilson. I have made my opinions on Wilson fairly well known on this site. It’s not that I think he’s bad, but I don’t think he deserves even half the praise he gets. In this game I read several reports that Wilson led this team to victory and whilst that is true in the strictest sense it doesn’t paint the picture it should do. Wilson also put them in bad field position with a number of bad plays, including an interception early in the game. I guess my issue is that he regularly gets called elite and yes he does have a reasonably beat up set of Wide outs. But Brady and Rodgers get it done even without decent Receivers and often without a run game to talk of. When I see Wilson do this I will hold my hand up and say I was wrong. But until then, he is a GOOD QB in an exceptional team. Anyway in this game the Seattle Offence as whole did a good job of getting them back in this game. Lynch continues to be a sneaky bet for league MVP and ran for over 100 yards again. What was really impressive however was the way the Defence rallied and stopped the Bucs from scoring for a whole half of football. The more I watch this game, the more I worry its more about a team struggling to victory against one of the worst teams in the league and its not the first time we’ve seen it this year. In short, I think the Seahawks will have to go some to be considered Super bowl contenders in my eyes, but it did get a lot easier with some bad performances from some of the other contenders.
Pittsburgh Steelers 31 New England Patriots 55
I think by the score line it is fairly obvious that there was a Steelers Defensive collapse. Whats even more shocking is that towards the end of 3rd Quarter the score was level at 24 apiece. That means that from there was a total 38 points scored which is insane. Whats more insane is that the patriots scored 31 of those points, meaning the Steelers allowed 31 points in 20 mins. This is a major worry for a team that in previous seasons has hung its hat on Defence. Really up until the collapse, this team were in the game and Roethlisberger was playing pretty decent, throwing 4 TD passes and going for 400 yards. Bell continues having a decent season that started with injury and looks like he can really help on Offence. I think it is worth pointing out about how beaten up this Patriots Defence is and I think the Steelers would struggle to put these kinds of points up against most teams, but still it was a valiant effort. The Defence just doesn’t look like a Steelers Defence; Mike Tomlin will have his work cut out for him as he tries to plug several holes that are looking desperately bad. I think it might be time to call it a day for this season and start looking towards next season for this team and how they can improve their Defence, because make no mistake. This team will be back bigger and badder than ever next season.
“Tom Brady has lost a step, constantly underthrowing & overthrowing”, yup that was me again, but on this one I don’t think I was alone as it seemed a lot of people shared this opinion. Brady being Brady however was determined to prove us wrong and led an Offence that put up over 600 yards on a weak Steelers Defence. What we saw in my eyes was the Patriots football we had seen in the previous years. It’s at this point I want to point out that I am still on-board with this Patriots team and think they might be on the verge of being the NFC’s hot team as we get closer to the Playoffs. Brady’s fantastic performance received a massive helping hand thanks to Steven Ridley looking like the Running Back we had seen last year, which is a massive helping hand. Gronk as well looks like he has completely beaten his injury as he began to look like the unstoppable player we had seen in recent years, with the Gronk Spike being a welcome sight for Pats fans. The Defence still look beatable, but if this Offence can continue to score like this, then expect big things from the Patriots.
Baltimore Ravens 18 Cleveland Browns 24
Along with the Steelers I think that Baltimore can rule them out of the Playoffs this year. The problem emanates from the Offence & more specifically the run game, which is a serious problem. I don’t know whats happened but Ray Rice is just not getting it done this year, leaving Flacco (essentially a game manager), to air out the ball 40 + times to a beat up Receiving corps and in this game against an exceptional Defence. So whats gone wrong? Well to me it looks like they have some serious issues on the Offensive line, which was a major factor in this team making the Super bowl this year. They just don’t look like the same unit we saw give Rice some decent gaps and Flacco time to make some big plays. But what makes me think there is a large chunk of blame to be dished out to the O-line is it isn’t just Rice not getting it done, but actually the run game as a whole. Surely both Pierce and Rice can’t be experiencing this significant a drop off at the same time. What can be done though? Very little this season, but they can learn from their mistakes and move on. On Defence the team seems decent, but never dynamic, like the Ravens Defences we have become used to. I just can’t see this team pulling it round and becoming a playoff team, it feels like there is too much to do to make them anywhere near a contender. One final point. A lot of fans thinking the Flacco deal has really hurt them, but what should the front office do? There is really no one out them that gives them a better chance to win. The Ravens are famous for making good choices with salaries and personnel, if anyone can turn them around, it’s a GM like Ozzie Newsome.
The Browns are proving one thing to me. If you put a decent QB in here, you have a very good chance of being a very good team. I should stress that I do think Campbell is a good QB & is doing a cracking job & is clearly leaps and bounds above Weeden. But can you imagine how good this team is with a Luck or even a Cutler. Whilst I have been worried about what this team is capable, it has become clear that my pre-season faith in this team is justified and all the pieces around the QB (and obviously Running Back now) are elite. What makes me more excited for this team is the vast amount of draft picks this team has and how good they could be next year. As for this game it was nice to see Davone Bess make up for the previous game with a great performance in this game. As for Defence, I think it is fair to say the Browns are sorted. This Defence might be my favourite to watch and are at least top 5 in my opinion. Strangely this team is now in contention for a playoff spot and are in the running to even win the AFC North, a Division apparently no one wants to win. More astonishingly than that will be just how good this team is next year.
Indianapolis Colts 27 Houston Texans 24
Let me start this one by wishing Gary Kubiak all the best and we all hope he gets well soon and is back on the side-line barking out orders before we know it.
From what I have now seen for the Texans, I would be very surprised if Schaub gets his job back and he can be as annoyed as he likes, but the fact is Keenum has just been better. For starters Keenum has found a way to include Andre Johnson who hasn’t been a major piece all season. With Keenum at the helm, he looked better than we’d ever seen with 3 TD’s and over 200 yards receiving, something Schaub could never manage. What was really impressive however is how little they went to the run game and how well Keenum did leading a Passing Offence with Foster once again going down injured. Whilst I think it would be fair to say the team had the wind taken out of their sails when Kubiak went down, I think you would imagine Luck would bring the Colts back into this game regardless in the second half, that however shouldn’t take anything away from what was a decent performance against a team that has emerged as a genuine Super bowl Contender, especially when they were always in the game, right up until the last kick of the game.
I think the Colts might have got a little lucky here. Whilst I do think the Colts would put up a fighting chance against this Texans team, it was fairly obvious that they were in shock from what had happened to Kubiak. That being said the Colts managed to overcome a deficit against a team that is beginning to look half decent again with Keenum at the helm. I think right now you would be well within your rights to question why I was so critical of the Seahawks and yet am so positive for the Colts. I just think this Texans team is better than the Bucs and coming back against them would be a harder job. The Texans Special Teams made it difficult with a blocked punt in the first half but failed to convert a 55 yard field goal in the dying seconds, handing the Colts the win. Whilst I am still concerned about Trent Richardson, I do think it’s a matter of time before he finds some form and that could even be in the Playoffs. What really concerns me about this team however up and down this Defence is. Some games they look unbeatable, then in games like this one they look very beatable, which could be the difference between a Playoff win and an early exit from the post-season. Whatever way you look at this game, the Colts look good for the Playoffs and their Offence is dynamic enough that it might just take them to the big game, if they can get all pieces firing.
Chicago Bears 27 Green Bay Packers 20
I think it’s only fair that I start by saying, if Rodgers doesn’t go down injured, then they almost certainly win this one. That being said, the Bears are also pretty banged up and were also without their starting QB.
In my eyes the Bears came into this game without a hope and whilst I don’t wish injury on anyone, Aaron Rodgers going down for the Packers made it an even game that meant the Bears could load the box and stop the run, knowing that Wallace wouldn’t be good enough to beat them. That being said, despite them loading the box, the Packers run game was dominant and it makes you worry about just how beaten up the Bears Defence actually is. The Offence however is looking fine in the hands of McCown. Is he good enough to take the job away from Cutler? No, not even close, but it is nice to know that between Tressman’s game planning and McCown’s execution to big Receivers, the Offence can still put up decent points. Forte continues to go under the radar as a decent Running Back and seems to have the ability to always move the chains. But as previously stated the big worry for this team is the Defence that cannot find a way to stop the run. Also the Bears Safeties are looking the worst I have seen in a very long time with their favourite trick being missing easy tackles. Whilst this is a good win and Bears fans should be suitably happy that the beat the Packers, celebrations will have to be short lived as they go up against a Lions team that is loaded on Offence. This could be the chance the Lions need to take control of the NFC North, which currently has the Lions, Bears & Packers all sitting on top with the same record.
The Packers season has been blown wide open with the injury to Rodgers and it becomes evident just how good he is as his wide outs take a step back when he isn’t playing. One player that hasn’t been affected too much by the injury to Rodgers, is Eddie Lacy who continues, I would imagine to be the no. 1 Rookie of the Year Candidate and was the sole reason this game was kept remotely close. The Defence looks decidedly beatable without Matthews, even with AJ Hawk stepping his game up in recent weeks and gave up an awful lot to a back-up. The main issue this team has now is can they survive till Rodgers gets back and can they still make the Playoffs. My gut feeling says yes, but I don’t have them as my top team in the league any more.
That’s that then. Some ridiculous results this week and I would expect nothing less than more of the same next week.