And so here we are, with Week 3 done, me lagging behind the rest of the world, and finally time to take a look at my picks and pick up some of the important threads from a great week of action. Starting with;
Redskins @ Cowboys
A field goal feast in Texas. Nine field goals between them and ironically the one touchdown scored was by the losing team. I'm not even sure how the Redskins lost this game. The Cowboys were destroying themselves with bad snaps, throwing away plays and making their own lives difficult. And that's before we get onto the fact that the Cowboys pass protection was horrendous. Just abject. The sole bright spot for the Cowboys was that fact that Felix Jones finally started to make an impact on the ground. Oh, and they won, which I guess was a plus point!
Patriots @ Bills
Did err, someone order a shootout? Because that's what we got. The resulting win has put the Bills first place atop the AFC East, ahead of the highly rated Patriots and ahead of Rex Ryans apparently Super Bowl worthy (according to him at least) Jets. What a sickening blow it must have been for Brady though, throwing for 387 yards and four touchdowns, only to lose the game. But then that's what happens when you throw four interceptions. Two were tipped, but two of those picks showed how well the Bills pass coverage is coming along.
Jaguars @ Panthers
What can I say? In rainfall probably more appropriate for the Amazon rainforest, at least the cheerleaders looked exceptionally hot, because neither of the quarterbacks did. Gabbert was 12/21, threw an interception, was sacked for a safety and fumbled the ball 3 times. This is the best quarterback in the 2011 draft, according to just about every professional pundit (none of my top four have had a regular season snap yet). Netwon was 18/34, mainly throwing dump offs this time around, but at least he didn't throw any interceptions for a change and managed to actually win the game. Jaguars back Maurice Jones-Drew has to be gutted that his 24 carries for 122 yards didn't earn his team a better result.
Texans @ Saints
A fourth quarter explosion for the Saints put the Texans away, but it's not like Houston didn't have its chances; 1/5 in the Red zone? They were putting up points and yards, but if you get into the red zone that many times against a team like the Saints then you have to put some points on the board and make it count, especially when your defense has managed to pick off Drew Brees twice. Still a big game for passing yardage with Brees hitting 370 yards and Schaub 373.
Dolphins @ Browns
A big win for Colt McCoy on a day when neither he nor his O-line played all that well (he was 19/39). Chad Henne was a little more efficient for the Dolphins (19/29) and rookie running back Daniel Thomas almost reached 100 yards on the ground, but Miami just couldn't make enough of it. The Browns defense were the big winners, keeping their team in the game with 5 sacks, a pick and a forced fumble, including 1.5 sacks each for defensive end Jayme Mitchell and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin.
49ers @ Bengals
It was a game of defense. Or rather, a game of horrible offensive play. In fact, perhaps "offensive" sums it up quite nicely. 49ers; 5/15 on third down. The Bengals; 1/10 on third down. One of ten? Andy Dalton threw another two interceptions, but at least Alex Smith managed to rustle up 20/30, if for only 201 yards and no touchdowns. Despite rookie 49ers running back Kendall Hunter getting on the scoresheet, the 49ers offensive line was horrid. The Bengals D had 5 sacks, including two for defensive end Jonathan Fanene, as well as three forced fumbles as a unit. The 49ers D at least looks marginally better on the back end now, with Carlos Rogers and Reggie Smith looking like not bad pick ups.
Giants @ Eagles
Remember Victor Cruz? You should do. He hit it big time in last years pre-season, looked like a complete beast at wide receiver... and then disappeared into obscurity during the regular season. Well he finally got his shot and he took it with both hands, which is highly recommended for a wide receiver; 3 catches, 110 yards and 2 touchdowns. Not a bad days work. Even Eli Manning looked good; 16/23, 254 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Eagles looked like crap in comparison. Mike Vick threw a pick and managed to add another 3 fumbles to his tally. What is that now, six in two games? Eventually Vick left the field through injury and Mike Kafka came on to throw two more interceptions. They even ran that dive/toss play that I diagrammed the other day, in the red zone again. This time it went a little better because they didn't fumble it away, but they still couldn't block it properly and lost yards. Oh, and Jason Pierre-Paul put another two sacks on his tab for the year. And to think I wrote him off as a rookie....
Lions @ Vikings
It wouldn't be the 2011 season without the Vikings blowing a first half lead. 20-0 at half time and you have to think the game is in the bag. Even the Vikings with their erroneous ways couldn't shit that lead away right? Wrong! First half for Adrian Peterson; 12 carries, 73 yards and a touchdown. Second half; 5 carries, 5 yards. I mean seriously? When you hear TV talking heads going on about running the football, this is one of the prime things they're talking about. You have the lead, run it, burn time off the clock. Make the defense desperate, make them throw, make them one dimensional. Oh, and there's the small matter that your best player is Adrian Peterson. That's important to. Stupid as hell. The defense even produced five sacks, including three for Mr. Boom and Bust himself, Jared Allen. But Matthew Stafford would not be denied his 32/46 for 378 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jason Hanson would not be denied his game winning 32 yard kick in overtime.
Broncos @ Titans
Titans playing with a bit of fire in their belly! Of course the Broncos had the ball on the two yard line at one point and - while ahead 14-10 - decided to go for it on fourth down instead of taking the easy field goal. That went well. If by well you mean, badly. I never understand that kind of decision. Ok I get it, you're jealous that Bill Belichick gets all the credit for being a risk taker. Guess what? Belichick also gets a lot of shit for making stupid decisions just to prove a point. And yeah I know, the stat geeks have poured honey in your ear and told you that you should be going for it on fourth down more, because a team much better than you at running the ball in short yardage has done so successfully. Well guess what? You're not a running team, and just because some team or the other has completed 6/10 on fourth downs, usually one yard or less, doesn't mean you should as well. Because you suck John Fox. In the same way that Chris Johnson has this year. Let's put it this way, Chris Johnson had 21 yards on 13 carries. The punter, Brett Kern, who runs like he's just had a hernia operation, picked up 21 yards on 1 carry, then the snap was botched and he managed to fake out an edge rusher. That's where Chris Johnson is right now this season.
Jets @ Raiders
You know the league is getting too pass orientated with its rules when it lets Mark Sanchez pick up 369 yards! He was actually pretty good for a change, which is why the kid is so frustrating, because he flashes such great potential at times, but just never quite seems to fulfill it. Old boy LaDanian Tomlinson isn't done showing off his skills either, catching 5 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. But the dya belonged to the Raiders, their defense that produced four sacks (including two for defensive end Jarvis Moss), their O-line which blocked for four rushing touchdowns and kept the Jets down to just one sack, and Darren McFadden; 19 carries for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns. The guy has speed in buckets, he's strong, he makes great reads and he is tearing teams apart right now. It's an odd thing to say but... the Raiders are looking really good right now!
Ravens @ Rams
It wasn't even close. Ray Rice had 81 yards off 9 carries. Ricky Williams had 42 yards off 5 carries. The Rams managed two sacks, but Flacco was still able to get off 48 passes, of which he completed 27 for three touchdowns. Every single one of those scores fell to rookie receiver Torrey Smith, who scored three touchdowns on his first three passes. Here's what I said about Smith pre-draft; "Probably my favourite receiver in the 2011 draft. Yeah I know, Torrey Smith? But he was consistently very good from what I saw. In particular I thought his positioning, working the defenders to get over the top of them on deep passes, was excellent". Now Smith has shown the world why I was so glowing about him. What I'm a little concerned about though looking at the Ravens is this; you went up 21-0 in the first quarter, but you still threw the ball 48 times? Hello, Ray Rice is your running back. He happens to be pretty good. Or they could have give Ricky Williams a heavy run around, or let rookie Anthony Allen take some knocks. I'd be a little worried about that decision making process if I were a Ravens fan. If I were a Rams fan, I'd just be flat out worried about everything.
Chiefs @ Chargers
The box score belies the fact that the Chiefs came within about 8 yards of kicking a game tying field goal. But Matt Cassel - God love him (or perhaps hates him?) - threw a horrible pick to Eric Weddle on an attempted screen pass to literally throw the game away. Not that Phillip Rivers hadn't already tried that himself, throwing 24/38 for 266 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions (including one to safety Kendrick Lewis, from last years rookie watch list), as well as a fumble. It was a scrappy game in all honesty, but running back Ryan Matthews (also from last years watch list) came through with 98 yards and 2 touchdowns for the Chargers.
Packers @ Bears
Somehow the Bears only managed to give up 3 sacks this time, despite the Bears persisting with their annoying habit of putting Cutler under center with an empty backfield. He still threw two picks, both to Morgan Burnett who is quietly having a great season so far. Cutler finished 21/37 for 302 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Aaron Rodgers though, still looking good. 28/38, 297 yards, 3 touchdowns and one pick. All three touchdowns were caught by fourth year tight end Jermicheal Finley. Ryan Grant also had a great day for the Pack, with 17 carries for 92 yards.
Cardinals @ Seahawks
The Seahawks win a game! God the NFC West looks more horrible than usual this year. Three sacks for the defense. Two picks as well, including one for safety Kam Chancellor (last years rookie watch list). Tavaris Jackson and Kevin Kolb both looked horrible still. 2.5 sacks for Cardinals defensive tackle Calais Campbell was probably the highlight of the game.
Falcons @ Buccaneers
It's official; the Falcons O-line is horrendous in 2011. They just look like ass. They gave up four sacks (including one to 2010 7th round linebacker Dekoda Watson and one to defensive tackle Brian Price, both on last years watch list) and just generally got pushed around. Matt Ryan was 26/47 for 330 yards, 1 touchdown and one interception, though a number of big drops from his receivers didn't help the cause. Josh Freeman wasn't exactly playing lights out either, throwing no touchdowns but two interceptions. His rushing touchdown and the kicking of Connor Barth were just enough though in the end.
Steelers @ Colts
My God this was an ass game if you're a fan of offensive football. The Steelers had to run a pick play, which are supposed to be illegal, to get Mike Wallace open enough for a touchdown. Luckily I'm a defensive fan, or at least I like to see defenses given the opportunity to compete and they certainly did in this one. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis combined for 3 sacks and two forced fumbles. Second year linebacker Pat Angerer (not on last years watch list) had 11 tackles, 9 assists. Meanwhile Troy Polamalu was busy scaring the shit out of Curtis Painter when Kerry Collins was finally pulled from the game, even though Polamalu's stat sheet only records two tackles. Frankly I think the Steelers were lucky. A combination of their excellent defense and a completely woeful Colts offense won this game. Any more performances like this and the Steelers will be lucky to finish the season with a winning record.
So that's that for another week. Maybe Thursday night, maybe Friday I want to dig out the Powerpoint slides again and look at run defense, with a view to explaining why Casey Matthews is doing so poorly after being drafted by the wrong kind of team.
Picks wise I was a rotten 6-10 this week, which takes my season tally to 26-22. All that hard work from last week has been wiped off. Ah well. At least my draft picks, if that's what you can call them, from 2010 and 2011 are really starting to come good now.