written by Kenneth Haines
WHAT WE LEARNED WEEK 9
Falcons at Buccs, 31-19 Atalanta.
1.Bomb brothers was a horrible nickname. Much like the “dream team” moniker the Eagles gave themselves before the season even started, a few years back. The Eagles were not the dream team and the Falcons are not the bomb brothers. Indeed, the Falcons seem more interested in running the ball and short to medium passing, rather than throwing deep bombs all day. Whatever the method it is working as the Falcons get another win.
2.Mike Glennon is not the answer. Perhaps we didn’t learn this in Week 9 but always knew it. Mike Glennon threw for a respectable 207 yards and 60% completion rate, but he threw no TDs and threw 2 picks. By the 4th quarter, the game was still close. However, when clutch QB play is needed the most Glennon was unable to deliver.
Player of the Game-Demaryius Thomas, 115 yards, 2 TDs.
Lions at Vikings, 44-35 Vikings.
1. The Vikings continue to roll. The Vikings continue to establish themselves as one of the league’s best. It all starts with Adrian Peterson who had another great game Sunday. Peterson ran for 167 yards and 2TDs. Bridgewater contributed big with 305 yards passing and 4 TDs. The defense was no slouch as they made a number of splash plays, 4 INTs, 2 sacks, and a fumble recovery. The Vikings are here to stay.
2.Lions need defense. A common theme among the Lions is big points and plays. The Line get too little pressure, the corners are not strong enough, and there doesn’t seem to be a playmaker on the field at times. Look for the Lions to heavily address the defense in the off-season.
Player of the Game-Trey Waynes, 3 INT, 2 tkl
Eagles at Giants, 27-21 Giants
1.The Giants are contending for a wildcard. With this win the Giants improve to 5-4 and have slowly put themselves into wildcard contention. It helps the NFC is weak this season but the Giants can’t control that. After a sluggish start, they have strung enough wins together to put them just a game out of the wildcard lead. Catching the 9-0 Redskins is most likely out of the question. However, there is plenty of hope and season left to grab the wildcard.
2.Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. The Eagles lose because of turnovers. The defense can make plays, the offensive line opens holes, and Carlos Wentz looks like a young star. Yet, when it comes down to the Eagles continually lose the turnover battle. They are -13 on the season. Look for Coach Avery to focus on ball security in the off-season.
Player of the Game-Sterlng Shepard, 121 yards receiving, 2TDs
Jets at Dolphins, 35-24 Dolphins.
1.The Jets offense might be heating up. The young receivers and QB are getting more reps which is leading to higher confidence and of course experience. The Jets scored 21 points in the first quarter this past Sunday. Showing flashes of what the offense could be in the coming year. Alas, the Jets petered out and only score 3 points for the rest of the game.
2.The Dolphins will run the with just about anyone. On Sunday the Dolphins at 26 rushing attempts by 5 different players. Most of the workload is handled by Arian Foster, but the likes of John Conner, Dri Archer, Ryan Tannehill, and J. Ajayi all saw rushing attempts as well. Apparently the strategy of spreading the ball around (running?) was succesful as the Dolphins scored 4 rushing TDs on the day. Still, there is room for improvment as the Dolphins failed to record a rush from any wide reciever. The season is coming to an end Dolphins, open up that playbook. Hell, even the Kicker can get a fake run in.
Player of the Game-Dolphins defensive line, 6 combined sacks.
Cowboys at Browns, 38-24 Cowboys.
1.The Cowboys can ride their offensive line to wins. On Sunday the longest run for the Cowboys was 11 yards, the longest pass was 28 yards. My point is that the Cowboys are not an explosive team, yet on Sunday they managed to produce drive after drive. Using a balanced attack of passing and rushing the Cowboys managed to score a TD in every quarter this past Sunday. It’s a recipe for success that few teams in the league could recreate. The Cowboys are still technically in the playoff hunt, can they lean on their offensive line to save their season?
2.RGIII is a statistical marvel, and I don’t mean that in a good way. I have already mentioned his struggles in previous weeks. However, as the season plays out and we have more date to look at a common theme is beginning to emerge. On Sunday Roger threw for 2TDs, and 1INT. The week before he threw 1TDs, and 3 INTS, before that 1 and 1, and before that 4, and 4. His stats continue on like that. Everytime RGII throws a TD it is a statistical guarantee that he will throw a INT. Corners will be begging to play in the AFC North in the off-season. I do not expect the RGIII experiment to continue into next season.
Player of the Game-Dak Prescott, 268 yards passing, 4TDs, 2INTs
Steelers at Ravens, 40-0
1.We learned nothing from this game. The Steelers defense came to play and the Ravens offense was flat. If these two teams played against I would not expect this score or anything similar. It is not wise to look too much into these games.
2.If we did learn anything it’s that the Steelers defense is emerging. A bunch of sacks, turnovers, and punts. That is what the Steelers defense accomplished on Sunday. The Ravens offensive line had little answers for a Steelers pass rush that seemed unstoppable. The Steelers are a dark-horse SuperBowl contender if they continue to play like this.
Player of the Game-Steelers defense
Saints at Niner, 42-0.
1.The Niners are on pace for the first pick in the NFL draft. No team needs it more then the Niners are they lack playmakers on both sides of the ball. The only decision the Coach seems to be worried about it to stay put or trade down in the draft.
2.The Saints can run the ball. The Niners don’t have a lot going for them but run defense is one of their better traits. However, the Saints were committed to the run game Sunday handing it off 35 times. Mark Ingram carried the lion’s share and managed to rush for 105 yards on 24 carries. Don’t overlook CJ Spiller though who managed 11 touches on the ground as well.
Player of the Game-Drew Brees, 304 yards passing, 2 TDS, 0INTs
Colts at Packers, 15-28 Packers.
1.The Packers continue to win with defense. The Packers only allowed 17 yards on the ground. The Colts offensive line is notoriously bad but this is just too much. Andrew Luck was forced to consistently test the Packers secondary and while he managed 237 yards and 2TDs it was the 4 picks that doomed the Colts this past Sunday. The Packers continue to lead in most defensive categories.
2.Colts coaching change has put a 180 on the season. The Colts looked like one of the league’s best just a month ago. With the coaching change combined with a few losses the Colts now look mortal. They still are in position to win a wildcard however. Can the Colts save their season or will the fast start just become a bittersweet memory.
Player of the Game-Packers Defense
Jags at Chiefs, 46-14 Chiefs.
1.Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. On Sunday we saw another team play the Chiefs that just did not have an answer for the league’s best pass rush. The Chiefs added another 8 sacks on Sunday bringing them to ridiculous totals. It takes a competent offensive line, a strong running game, and smart coaching, but we have seen the Chiefs pass rush stymied this season. As long as the majority of teams continue to underestimate this fierce Chiefs pass rush the Chiefs will continue to win games.
2.The Jaguars need more from the run game. On Sunday the Jags only managed 33 yards on the ground. That is just asking too much from Blake Bortles. Wether the problem can be traced to the offensive line, lack of RB talent, or just plain bad coaching is only something that can be answered internally. The Jaguars have too much talent at WR, not to mention Blake Bortles, to be unable to open up holes for the run game. Hopefully, the Jaguars can address this problem before next season starts.
Player of the Game-Chiefs defense
Titans at Chargers, 49-27.
1.Titans running woes are over. With everyone healthy again the Titans revved up their run game on Sunday. Derrick Henry had 213 yards, and the team combined rushed for 250 yards. Will any team be able to stop this Titans running attack?
2.Mariotta can hurt you too. Despite all the focus on the Titans running attack, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Mariota who is putting up a very strong season. His play action passing and accurate deep ball are preventing teams from staacking the box every play.
Player of the Game-Derrick Henry, 213 yards, 2TDs
Broncos at Raiders, 56-20 Broncos.
1.The Broncos have a star in Paxton Lynch. The young rookie QB has a number of quality games already under his belt. On Sunday he not only threw for 265 yards, 3TDs and 1INT but he managed to lead his team to 56 points. Moving forward, the Broncos will need to go with youth as they are rumored to be in salary cap hell.
2.C.J. Anderson continues to run. One of the reasons Lynch can be a successful QB is C.J. Anderson who continues to run over, around, and through teams on a weekly basis. On Sunday he managed another 100 yard game (108 yards). This was a true beast mode effort as he had 31 rushing touches. That kind of workload would break most players.
Player of the Game-Paxton Lynch, 265 yards passing, 3TDs, 1INT
Bills at Seahawks, 42-14 Seahawks.
1.Seahawks defense warming up. The Seahawks have struggled offensively at times. However, as the Season progesses they seemingly are warming up for a playoff run. The Seahawks still are one of the most talented teams in the NFL and are a likely choice to make some noise in the playoff. On Sunday they took it to Settle amassing 438 totals yards and 42 points.
2.The Bills need more out of their passing attack. Tyrod Taylor struggled in the air completing only 40% of his passes for 196 yards and no TDs. The Bill’s commitment to the run game is obvious as they 28 times in this game. Yet, their backs are averaging just over 2.3 yards per carry. Not nearly enough to win games.
Player of the Game-K.J. Wright, 2INTs, 1TD
GAME OF THE WEEK
Which brings us to our game of the week. Coach Tyler took his Panthers on the road to face Ken and the Rams. The Panthers had been using rush heavy offensive attack that highlighted the unique abilities of Cam Newton. The Rams were having none of that as their defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. Forced out of their comfort zone the Panthers struggled to move the ball early and by halftime were losing 16-10. The Rams only increased their lead in the third quarter outscoring the Panthers 7-3. Trailing by 10 entering the 4th the Panthers refused to quit. They managed to scored to bring the game within 3. The Rams however, were driving and time was running out. Deep in the red zone the Rams had the ball, facing a 2nd and 2 a quick pass was called. In completed the Rams easily win but the Panthers pass rush got their first sack on the day. The sack resulted in a fumble and the Panthers recovered. With the seconds ticking away the Panthers threw two bombs to Kelvin Benjamin and moved into FG range. They tied the game in the dieing seconds to force OT. In Overtime it was the Panthers who won the toss. They were marching when Cam Newton was picked off by Olgetree on a nice user. The Rams needed just a FG to win now. On the first play of the Rams drive Todd Gurley found the edge and rushed for 11, as he was going out of bounds the Panthers managed to strip him and recover the fumble. The Panthers would not waste their luck and managed to drive the field and kick a FG securing the comeback win over the Rams. Congrats to both coaches and teams for winning our coveted GOTW.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK (Week 8, Week 9 and 10 will be combined)
Rueben wins for his FG block, kicking team recovery, forced fumble recovery by Jets all on the same play. Congrats to Rueben who now leads the contest with 2 points.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
NFC OFFENSE-Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings QB, 305 yards passing 4TDs, 25 rush yards
NFC DEFENSE-Trey Waynes, Vikings CB, 2tkl 3INTs
AFC OFFENSE-Derrick Henry, Titans RB, 203 rush yads, 2TDs, 85 receiving yards.
AFC DEFENSE-Cameron Heyward, Steelers DE, 2 tkl, 1 sacks, 2 FR, 2 TD
Ok no one was interested in the mailbag section so that has been killed. Thank you all for reading, again please ignore the typos.