Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Week 5 recap

The last game is done and it's time to look back at the weekends action:
Jaguars 36 @ Bills 26 >>> I'm going to just come out and say it; the Bills offense under Ryan Fitzpatrick is not that bad. I've heard all the hate thrown at them this week. I heard Fitzpatrick described on one site as "mediocre". Really? 20/30 for 220 yards and 3 TDs is mediocre now? It's not Pro Bowl caliber but it's pretty good. RB C.J. Spiller carried just five times for the Bills so nice to see he's still not getting any work.
The Jaguars looked better. Eventually. Garrard threw 16/20 for 178 yards, 3 TDs and an INT. On the ground the Jaguars bagged 210 net rushing yards. And this reveals the real problem with Buffalo. Their defense just can't hold people down to enough points for their offense to catch up. The Bills can put 26 points on the board -- almost as many as the Colts put on Jacksonville last week -- but they just can't keep teams down to managable scores. Dare I say it, but the 0-5 Bills are actually improving in some regards.
Broncos 17 @ Ravens 31 >>> Random irritation in the last two weeks? Hearing about how the Broncos "can't" run the football. Could someone please replace "can't" with "won't". There is a difference. 13 carries is not even trying to run the football. That's more like the Colts idea of a running game. Meanwhile Kyle Orton continues to impress with 23/38 for 314 yards and 2 TDs. Receiver Brandon Llyod made both TD catches and chalked up 135 yards off 5 catches.
Joe Flacco on the other hand went 14/25 for 196 yards. Where are all the "mediocre" comments now? Flacco was officially worse than Ryan Fitzpatrick this week. Luckily for Flacco the true strength of this Ravens team surfaced as RB Ray Rice carried 27 times for 133 yards and 2 TDs. Two more rushing TDs (one by Flacco and one by Willis McGahee) rounded it off for the Ravens.
Chiefs 9 @ Colts 19 >>> What we've learnt from this game is that either a) the Chiefs defense is really good or b) the Colts offense is running out of cyclinders to misfire with. There wasn't a single TD until the 4th quarter, and even then it was just the sole TD from Colts RB Mike Hart. The Chiefs almost made this look even worse for the Colts when WR Dwayne Bowe worked free in the end zone but a big dropped pass meant it wasn't to be for Kansas.
Matt Cassel went 16/29 for 156 yards, failing the Fitzpatrick test of "mediocrity" for week 5. Peyton Manning was 26/44 for 244 yards and an INT, so he also falls below the "mediocrity" level of Fitzpatrick on account of the lack of TDs. Chiefs LB Tamba Hali had a good game, recording another sack and forced fumble. The Chiefs have been odd defensively this year. They bend in the open field but right about in the red zone they start to come up strongly. That's a lot of credit to defensive coordinator Romeo Crennell.
Packers 13 @ Redskin 16 (OT) >>> It must have been like watching a tennis match in FedEx Field as both teams sent the ball sailing up and down on offense. Well, at least a tennis match where not a lot of scoring happens. Aaron Rodgers went 27/46 for 293 yards, a TD and an INT (i'll give him a pass on the Fitzpatrick "mediocrity" test). Donovan McNabb went 26/49 for 357 yards, a TD and an INT. Most surprising on the day was Packers RB Brandon Jackson who took ten carries for 115 yards (longest; 71).
A tough game to call really. The Packers notched up 5 sacks, including 1.5 for Clay Matthews while the Redskins took home 4, including two from LB Brian Orakpo. The star of the day on defense was Redskins safety LaRon Landry, with 10 tackles, a pick and a FF. Overall both steams stunk it up. The Redskins perhaps were the luckier of the two sides to come back into the game in the 4th quarter and then go on to win, but ultimately it's going to be a long season ahead for both Green Bay and Washington on this evidence.
Rams 3 @ Lions 44 >>> Oh my god!! What? I had my bets on Detroit but damn, what happened to St. Louis? Sam Bradford went 23/45 for 215 yards and 2 INTs, badly failing the Fitzpatrick test of "mediocrity". Shaun Hill only just beat Fitzpatrick with 21/32 for 227 yards and 3 TDs. RB Steven Jackson gave a good show on the ground for the Rams with 25 carries for 114 yards, but it was not to be. Stefan Logans kick return for a TD and Alphonso Smiths pick 6 started and ended the TD scoring for the Lions.
This was just utter and pure domination as the Lions converted yards into points time and again. Even rookie DT Ndamukong Suh got in on the act, forcing a turnover with an interception (D-line INT count; 1). The Rams defense just came apart against a Lions offense that has been waiting for an opportunity to bust somebody open. The big question now is whether Hill will continue to start when Stafford recovers from his injury. Because Hill has been good. Very good.
Bears 23 @ Panthers 6 >>> This! This is precisely why I hate picking games. Bears QB Todd Collins was truly awful. 6/16 for 34 yards and 4 INTs!! To quote Mike Mayock of NFL Network "Are you kidding me?!". How then, how, do the Carolina Panthers (who also had 3 sacks) not take advantage of this? How do you not bury Chicago into the floor after a performance that bad? Well it's really easy. You go one worse.
Jimmy Clausen went 9/22 for 61 yards and an INT. When he was hauled off it was the turn of Matt Moore who went 5/10 for 35 yards and 2 INTs. I mean, Jesus f***ing Christ! That is god awful. What makes this worse is that the Bears offense under Mike Martz switched to a rush orientated attack, with Matt Forte rushing 22 times for 166 yards and 2 TDs. Even Chester Taylor got 18 carries. But what about the Panthers? The Carolina Panthers who have probably the best one-two rushing tandem in the league? Did they put up a combined 40 carries? Of course not! That would be too logical and too sensible!
DeAngelo Williams; 12 carries for 51 yards. Jonathan Stewart; 8 carries for 30 yards. Are you serious? What the hell is wrong with Carolina? Why isn't John Fox stamping on his offensive coordinators throat and demanding the extra carries for the running backs? Why does it take a Mike Martz led Bears offense to show you how to run your offense? Why do I even care? I hate the Panthers!!!
Ahem, on a side note, Julius Peppers came up with an INT (D-line INT count; 2). Bears DE Israel Idonije had 3 sacks and a forced fumble. Panthers De Everette Brown also got a pick (D-line INT count; 3) as did DT Ed Johnson (D-line INT count; 4).
Buccaneers 24 @ Bengals 21 >>> Further evidence of the futility of picking game winners. Why? Because I expect the Bengals to beat the Buccaneers, which they were doing handily until the last 2:28 of the game. It's third down and 12, the Bengals have the ball. All you have to do is run it. The clock will run down to the two-minute warning, unless the Buc's use their final time out. If they don't, it's all good. You've just creamed off 28 seconds from the clock. Most importantly, you still have the ball and all you have to do is kick it away. Just punt and ask the the Bucs' to drive all the way back for the tying score.
Not the Bengals though. Oh no. The Bengals have to take a shot and get picked off. This leads the Buccaneers to pick up the game tying TD. I mean seriously, how bad does your game management have to be? How do you let this happen? Was it a joke? Was it part of some cosmic game to screw over my picks? I dunno.
On the enusing Bengals possession they drive down the field looking for a field goal and throw another pick. The Bucs' then come back the other way and an interesting play occurs. Michael Spurlock caught a pass near the sideline and on his way to the ground the ball makes clear contact with the turf.
Now as I understand it, that's an incompleteion. If you hold the ball and press it into the ground it's incomplete. You have to have it off the ground and in your hands. If this one stands, then why not Calvin Johnsons TD catch from the Bears game? Ah well. Bucs' kick the field goal and improve to 3-1.
Josh Freeman finished 20/33 for 280 yards, a TD and an INT. Palmer finished 21/36 for 209 yards, 2 TDs and 3 INTs (failing the Fitzpatrick test of "mediocrity"). Cedric Benson of the Bengals provided the only notable show on the ground with 23 carries for 144 yards (longest; 22). Makes you wonder what would have happened if he'd carried that ball on the 3rd and 12.....
Falcons 20 @ Browns 10 >>> The Browns have looked okay with Seneca Wallace under center. By Ok, I of course mean "not as bad as last year". Wallace went 11/15 for 139 yards and a TD before hobbling off the field with ankle injury prior to half time. I'll give him a pass on the Fitzpatrick "mediocrity" meter. Jake Delhomme gets no such luck. 13/23 for 97 yards and 2 INTs. Nor does Falcons QB Matt Ryan; 16/28 for 187 yards and a TD.
On the ground, Browns FB Peyton Hillis was kept largely quite but he did make a great one handed grab out of the backfield, rolling in for a TD. Falcons RB Michael Turner was the leading ground gainer, with 19 carries for 140 yards (longest; 55). But one of the key plays was made by Falcons DE Kroy Biermann who blocked a pass and came up with an interception (D-line INT count; 5). More impressive was that Biermann got to his feet and ran it in for a 31 yard TD. Biermann has been all kinds of impressive for the Falcons this year.
Giants 34 @ Texans 10 >>> About three minutes into the 2nd quarter and this one was over as a contest. The Giants handed the Texans a beatdown that few would have anticipated (especially those of us who took the Texans. Huh, Houston?). Eli Manning finished the day with 27/42 for 297 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs. His leading receiver Hakeem Nicks had 12 catches for 130 yards and 2 TDs. Between them the Giants RBs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs had 26 carries for 108 yards and a TD.
Such a contrast from the Texans. Matt Schaub went 16/34 for 196 yards and an INT, failing the Fitzpatrick "mediocrity" test. After a great season so far, RB Arian Foster had just 11 carries for 25 yards as the Texans slipped away into obscurity.
The big difference was defense. Once again the Texans crumbled in spectacular fashion. Kareem Jackson may have had a pick, but that was more of a case of trying to make up for lost ground than it was making a game changing play. Compare to the Giants who got their pass rush going again, which saw Osi Umenyiora add another two sacks to his season tally. After a rocky start, the Giants are starting to come good again.
Saints 20 @ Cardinals 30 >>> What? What? Is this a joke? Are you serious? The Cardinals? And it was the defense that did it! The Cardinals D! What? How?
Even more bizarre were the two fumbles by Cardinals rookie QB Max Hall; one that led to a TD when OT Levi Brown scooped and scored, and another that was smothered for a ten yard gain. Hall finished 17/27 for 168 yards and an INT, failing the fitzpatrick "mediocrity" test. Drew Brees came up with 24/39 for 279 yards with 2 TDs, but with 3 INTs he too fails the test. Most surprising for me was Cardinals RB "Beanie" Wells who managed just 35 yards on 20 carries.
Overall the game was bad, then in the 4th quarter the Cardinals D came up big with safety Kerry Rhodes returning a fumble for a TD, followed by a last minute interception for a TD by Corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Titans 34 @ Cowboys 27 >>> Somehow the Cowboys find even more ways to beat themselves. It's laughable really. They're a great team that just refuses to stop shooting themselves in the foot. Tony Romo went 31/46 for 406 yards, 3 TDs and 3 INTs. The Cowboys even remembered that RB Felix Jones exists and let him carry the ball on the ground 15 times for 109 yards. Miles Austin hauled in 9 catches for 166 yards and a TD. But it wasn't enough.
The Titans D came up with 6 sacks and 3 picks. The Cowboys committed 12 penalties for for 133 yards. And then to round it off Chris Johnson had 19 carries for 131 yards and 2 touchdowns. Vince Young was only able to add 12/25 for 173 yards and 2 TDs, so he fails the Fitzpatrick test of "mediocrity".
But it didn't matter, as the Cowboys were flagged for excessive celebration after bringing the game back to 27 a piece. On the enusing kick off, Marc Mariani did what he seems to do best for the Titans, taking the ball back for a huge return. That set up the winning TD for Johnson and once again the Cowboys were sunk.
Chargers 27 @ Raiders 35 >>> Somehow the Chargers once again contrived to lose a game that should have been emminently winnable. Two big punt blocks in the first quarter netted the Raiders a combined 9 points. And even though starting QB Bruce Gradkowski went down, the Raiders hung in there until a forced fumble in the 4th quarter was returned by safety Tyvon Branch for the winning score.
Philip Rivers once again led the Chargers strongly, throwing 27/42 for 431 yards and 2 TDs. FB Mike Tolbert punched in one more. But back up Raiders QB Jason Campbell stepped in and threw 13/18 for 159 yards and a TD. RB Michael Bush also put in a strong showing with 26 carries for 104 yards and another TD. Coupled with their strong defensive and special teams showing, the Raiders finally shook off a losing streak to the Chargers that dates back to 2003.
Eagles 27 @ 49ers 24 >>> My tickets arrived today for the 49ers game against the Broncos at Wembley. I almost wish I hadn't bought them. The 49ers looked awful for much of the game. I have never heard any crowd boo as loudly as the Candlestick crowd. And when the chants of "WE WANT CARR" (meaning back up QB David Carr) kicked off, I was expecting the 49ers to just fall apart. In fact Alex Smith responded rather well.
Thriving in the shotgun with trips to one side and a single receiver to the other, Smith came back with two 4th quarter TD passes to Vernon Davis and Frank Gore (even though their was a suspicion of a pick play on the Gore TD). But by then it was too late. Kevin Kolb had already thrown 21/31 for 253 yards and a TD, putting on a confident display, if not spectacular (i'll give him a pass in the Fitzpatrick "mediocrity" stakes). RB LeSean McCoy overcame his "rib injury" (I'm not sold on that, given how active he looked) to carry the ball 18 times for 92 yards and a TD.
Alex Smith on the other hand didn't finish that badly. 25/39 for 309 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs is pretty good. The problem is that after a crisp first drive, Smith struggled until suddenly finding inspiration late in the game. But it was too inconsistent. Smith and the 49ers O went missing for the 2nd and 3rd quarters, which ultimately cost them dearly. The sole bright spot was the catching ability of WR Michael Crabtree (kid has some sick hands) and DE Justin Smith with two sacks.
Vikings 20 @ Jets 29 >>> I was disappointed that Randy Moss's return to New York saw him covered by Antonio Cromartie. I was hoping to see Moss vs. Revis part 2. Still Moss did get himself a TD and Cromartie played well as the battle stayed interesting all night. But with the rain lashing down it was never going to be an offensive firework show. Favre completed just 14/34 passes, but managed to put up 264 yards, 3 TDs and an INT to avoid falling into "mediocrity" with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Adrian Peterson carried 18 times for 88 yards.
Mark Sanchez managed just 21/44 for 191 yards, thus falling below the Fitzpatrick "mediocrity" level. Luckily LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonne Greene were on good form, taking a combined 30 carries for 151 yards and a TD. On defense, Calvin Pace returned to the line up and nabbed himself 1.5 sacks (as did Vikings DE Ray Edwards). And then Corner Dwight Lowery put the icing on the cake with a 26 yard interception return for a TD.
So how did I finish pick wise for the week? Badly. 6-8. Tack on the total score and I'm at 35-41 for the season. It's just stupid. The whole season has been an abberation (of course, picking Buffalo over Green Bay in week 2 didn't help). I'm close to giving up. How do you predict the Bengals play calling stupidity? How can you predict the Chargers, a professional football team, not taking the time to self-scout and fix their god awful special teams? I've concluded that picking football games is like tossing a coin. Pure luck. But without the known odds.
And I've also concluded that Ryan Fitzpatrick was actually one of the better QBs on the day. Shame he plays for the Bills really, because it means people will always look past what is actually happening on the field and just bash him for no good reason.
Have a great day everyone.

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