NFL Week 7 breakdown
Monday, October 20, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Let's get to the important news first - the Buffalo Bills are now 2 games up in the AFC East (assuming New England loses tonight), thanks to their defeat of the Chargers and the Oakland Raiders improbable win over the NY Jets. Go Bills!

Now that we're in week 7, we're starting to see which teams are legit, and which teams are starting to look over-hyped.

Contenders.
  • As stated above, the Bills now must be considered legitimate contenders for the AFC East title (or the wildcard slot at worst), if they continue to play the way they are now. Their next 3 games are against division rivals. If they win, it's going to be hard to catch them in that division. Trent Edwards played a masterful game against the San Diego Chargers, but I was most impressed by their defense who rallied in spite of injuries to two key players and held the explosive Chargers to a measly 14 points. Kawika Mitchell stepped up in a big way yesterday, with a pick in the end zone against Philip Rivers, and forcing a key fumble later in the game. Why Tony Gonzales declined to be traded to them is a mystery to me.
  • The Tennessee Titans are also no fluke at 6-0 this year. Their 1-2 tandem of Chris Johnson and LenDale White can just grind a defense down. Speaking of defense, Tennessee also looks fierce on that side of the ball as well. You can tell that even when a team manages to beat them (they will lose eventually), it may cost them in terms of how worn out and beat up they'll be afterwards.
  • The Giants bounced back this week and returned to form. All teams are going to have bad weeks where they lose or almost lose. The measure of a team is how it bounces back from that, how they rally in the 4th quarter or in the next game. The Giants had an off week against the Browns (who played the game of their lives), but showed they were still the #1 team in the NFC East for a reason.
  • Ditto for the Washington Redskins, who rode Clinton Portis to another win (they can't all be pretty I suppose). Right now it looks like the Giants and Skins will go to the playoffs, with one team winning the division and the other taking one of the wildcard spots.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers also look pretty fine. No Willie Parker and no Rashard Mendenhall? No problem. Just put in Mewelde Moore and the offense keeps on ticking. That's the sign of a solid team - they can handle injuries to key players and still win games.
Pretenders.
  • The Cowboys usually wait until December or so to start falling apart, but I see they've gotten a jump on that this year. At the beginning of the year a lot of experts picked this team to win the Super Bowl, but right now they're in danger of perhaps not even making the playoffs. The problem with the Cowboys is that they're a collection of highly talented individuals, instead of a team. They play sloppy football and are unable to come together as a true team because they lack leadership on all sides of the ball. Their secondary is terrible, and it's becoming evident that Tony Romo's incredible scrambling ability was covering up a lot of glaring flaws on that O line.
  • I'm putting the San Diego Chargers on here with a few caveats. One: if LaDanian Tomlinson can get healthy, they become a much more legitimate team. That big toe injury is clearly hindering his ability to be explosive off the line, and the whole offense suffers because of it. I'm sure they're looking at Michael Turner's stats this year and regretting letting him get away. The ability to allow LT to take 3-4 weeks off to heal his big toe may have made the difference in their season. Two: the AFC West is weak enough that the Chargers can still rally, especially if the Broncos stumble tonight against the Patriots. However, it's going to take a much higher level of play (particularly on defense) if the Chargers want to be taken seriously.
  • Much like the Cowboys, the Minnesota Vikings spent a crapload of money to make the team into a "Win Big, Win NOW" type of unit. And like the Cowboys, the Vikings have shown an inability to win when it matters. Their defense can't defend the pass still, the special teams are atrocious.
  • Brett Favre is clearly the lipstick to the NY Jets pig. They're still a mediocre team even with Favre at the helm. The Raiders tried as hard as they could to let the Jets win and they still couldn't close the deal.
  • The Indianapolis Colts are too young on the O line, too old at the WR spot and clearly unable to replace Bob Sanders at all on defense. Peyton Manning is really struggling this year, and I blame a lot of it on the fact that you can tell he lacks confidence in the offensive line, which is leading him to rush the pass and make some stupid throws. Has Manning's magic finally left him?
The following teams are wildcards right now - good enough to beat any team on the right day, but not yet showing the consistency to group them in either group above. Consider this the "Maybe, Baby" list: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers.

Hooray for more upsets! Props to the St. Louis Rams, who won their second game in a row this week. It's impressive because it wasn't like they beat some similarly crappy team - they beat the 2 legitimate teams from the fearsome NFC East. What's going on with St. Louis? Was Scott Linehan that bad of a coach? Is Jim Haslett that good? It's hard to say. I do know that that offense is too talented to have been playing so poorly, so it was only a matter of time before Steven Jackson exploded in a game. Part of the problem had been the defense - they were playing from behind so quickly in the first 3 games that the run game got neglected, which then made it difficult for the passing game to succeed, because every defense knew they'd be throwing the ball and played pass defense accordingly. With the defense finally stepping up these past few weeks, the offense has finally been allowed to win the game for them. Regarding Haslett as a coach, reports are that the Rams are feeling inspired under his leadership, which is perhaps all this team needed.

The Oakland Raiders still suck. They tried everything they could to lose the game (including disobeying my "Stop this 'icing the kicker' bullshit" edict from last week, which almost cost them the game). However, props to the defense for finally holding solid while the offense struggled, carrying the team until late in OT, when the offense finally got something going and won the game. While I still think the way Al Davis handled the Lane Kiffin situation was incredibly lousy, the fact is that the team is now free to focus on football instead of wondering when the head coach was finally going to get fired and all the baggage that goes along with that. It was a ballsy call by Cable to kick the loooong field goal in OT, as a miss would have given the Jets the ball in great field position.

Studs of the week. Did you see that kick that Sebastian Janikowski made for the Raiders to win the game in OT? It would have been good from 62 yards or better. Just awesome. Steven Jackson ran for 160 yards and 3 TDs and carried his team to their 2nd straight victory. Clinton Portis is campaigning for Stud of the Year with his performance this year, notching another 175 yard, 1 TD performance. Continuing the running back theme this week, LenDale White and Chris Johnson combined for 300+ yards and 4 TDs. Andre Johnson put up 141 yards this week and Steve Smith had 122 yards and an amazing TD catch.

Teams I like this week. If the St. Louis Rams put up another strong game next week (win or lose), I'll officially apologize for mocking them earlier in the year. I also like the Bills, who look like they're back on track, and the Panthers who looked great. Lastly, I like the Ravens who showed what they can do when Joe Flacco plays a decent game.

Teams I don't like this week. Yes, they won, but the Raiders still continue to vex me. In OT, JaMarcus Russell literally looked terrified at the prospect of making a mistake while throwing. The playcalling reflected this same fear from the sideline. I don't know why they used a #1 draft pick and gave out such a huge contract, if they're not going to trust Russell to win the game when it matters. The Cowboys played another pathetic game, and are 1-3 now in the past 4 games. The Cleveland Browns collapsed again. Braylon Edwards isn't doing his QB any favors with his drops, and starting the game going something like 3/17 isn't going to help Derek Anderson keep his starting job much longer. Lastly, Herm Edwards cravenly went for a FG with 4:56 left in the game, when his Kansas City Chiefs were down 27-0. Pathetic - not even trying to win, just trying to make sure you don't get completely shut out.

No pictures this week, because I'm lazy :)
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2 comments:

On 4:32 PM , SS+1 said...

As a resident of MN describing the Vikes defense as attrocious is BARELY the tip of the iceberg. At least Peterson had a huge breakaway TD this week...that's about the only positive thing that happened against the Bears.

 
On 8:19 AM , Sunny. said...

I am away from MN but can get the situation right. I find Peterson as hard pass of time. but good be positive
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