After an impressive win for the 49ers on Thursday night, the NFL weekend continued on Sunday with a bunch of intriguing games. Here is a recap of this weekends games and hopefully a better understanding of where we stand, now 4 weeks into the season.
After two weeks of impressive wins, the Ravens had an opportunity to make a statement with a win against Buffalo in upstate New York. So what do they do? They go and drop the ball. Well, in fairness they didn’t drop the ball as much as Flacco simply threw it to the Buffalo defense as the Bills improved to 2-2. Flacco had 5 interceptions in this game, which ended up being too much to overcome for even a stout Ravens defense. Granted most of the Bills points (20 to be exact) came in the first half and they were held to only a field-goal in the second, the Ravens came up just short when the final second ticked off the clock. EJ Manuel didn’t look terrific, as he went 10-22 for 167-yards and only 1 touchdown. Luckily, Fred Jackson showed up and had 87-yards and 1 touchdown of his own. We think that moving forward, this is exactly what you can expect to see from the Ravens and the Bills this year. The bottom line is, you wont ever know what to expect, and in the end it wont really matter when January rolls around.
Well last week we had a few bold predictions that really went to bite us as final scores started coming in from around the league. Although none of them were probably as surprising as seeing the Browns beat the Bengals 17-6 in week 4. Even as I write this, I wonder how this is even possible. The Bengals have been flying high in the last few weeks and have been looking mighty impressive. And the Browns, well they are the Browns. Either way, this game wasn’t even close on Sunday. The Bengals only managed to get field goals and Andy Dalton was a measly 23-42 over the course of the game. Brian Hoyer, on the other hand, started his first game in the NFL and threw for 269-yards and 2-touchdowns. We really aren’t sure what else to say about this one as it is quite possibly the biggest surprise of the weekend. We said in last weeks preview for this game that Cincinnati should be sure not to get caught up in the ‘trap-game’ element of this weekend, and it looks like they certainly did.
We also mentioned in last weeks preview that the home field advantage of the Lions could be a major factor in the game between Detroit and Chicago. And as both teams traded blows throughout the game, Chicago couldn’t keep up with Detroit as the Lions won 40-32. This is Chicago’s first loss of the season and ties both teams up at 3-1 at the top of the NFC North. Jay Cutler did go 27-47 for an impressive 317 yards and 2 touchdowns and Matt Forte also did his part with 95-yards and 1 touchdown of his own. The problem was that Chicago’s defense simply couldn’t’ stop Matt Stafford from accumulating his own 242-yards, or Reggie Bush from raking up 139-yards. This was a pivotal game for both of these teams and we figured it would be as good as it ended up being. Despite the final score, both of these teams look extremely impressive and it will be fun to watch when they meet again later this year and Chicago has the home field advantage.
With a 31-7 win for the Chiefs, Kansas City continues to impress while the Giants continue to surprise. When a team wins a few games to start the season, there are a whole lot of factors that could be in play. Other teams could have a hard time deciding what a new offense will do, the momentum of new coaches and players can ride high for a few games, or simply there is a new mindset around the locker room that gets people fired up on Sunday. But none of these thoughts could get you prepared for the Chefs to go 4-0 to start the season in the fashion that they have. They aren’t just beating teams, they are working teams around and having their way with their opponents in ways that other squads only wish they could do. Alex Smith put up 288-yards and 3 touchdowns alone on Sunday, as he continues to be impressive. Come to think of it, if Smith wasn’t in the same division as a guy named Manning, he could easily be the top ranked QB in the AFC West. As for the Giants, the troubles only get worse. Its not just their winless record that raises eyebrows for concern. It’s the continually inability to score points or get anything going on either side of the ball. Eli Manning was 18-37 for only 217-yards and 1 touchdown. Simply put, this isn’t enough for the Giants and Manning will need to put up better numbers if they hope to turn this season around. The one bright (or at least, not as dark) side of this loss for the Giants is that they are in a very weak NFC East conference where it would only take a few games to get back into contention for a playoff spot. And well, we’ve all seen what Eli can do in the playoffs.
You’ve probably seen one of those British “Keep Calm and Cary On” signs at some point or another. Well this poster should’ve been in the locker room of both 0-3 teams heading into London this weekend as the Steelers went up against the Vikings. And as we had requested in our preview last week, the NFL gave the British a game that they will hopefully remember and realize that a 34-27 action-packed game is more entertaining than a 0-0 draw in what they consider football. Anyway, I digress. The point of this game is that the Vikings finally racked up their first win of the season behind Adrian Petersons’ 140-yards and 2 touchdowns. Furthermore, Matt Cassel stepped up and started the game and was impressive in his own right, going 16-25 for 248-yarsd and 2 touchdowns of his own. As for the Steelers, well they should maybe give the Giants a call and see what they are doing to stay calm at 0-4. Roethlisberger went 36-51 for 383-yards, so there isn’t much more he can do. And even running back Le’Veon Bell had 2 touchdowns of his own to match AP for the Vikings. However it simply wasn’t enough as the Vikings scored too much in the beginning of the game for the Steelers to catch up. Despite the 0-4 record, we still believe that his Steelers team isn’t half as bad as it record displays, so there is still time to turn things around. As for the Vikings, they’ll hope to keep up this winning now that they have their first one of the season out of the way.
Going into the fourth quarter of the Bucs and Cardinals game on Sunday, we thought that we’d have to eat crow twice this weekend (after the Browns/Bengals) for another assumption win that we predicted. After all, the Bucs were up 10-0 and the Cardinals hadn’t put together a quality drive the entire game. Thankfully, someone woke up in the fourth and the Cardinals restored our credibility as sports writers (or so we like to claim). Maybe the Bucs got ahead of themselves, thinking 10 points would be enough to notch the first win of their season. But the Cardinals weren’t ready to go down and put up 13 in the fourth to edge out a 13-10 win. For the Bucs, they now move to 0-4 to join only a handful of other winless teams. Maybe things will get easier next week against an also struggling Philly team, or else fans in Tampa are going to get desperately concerned. As for Arizona, it may not be the win some people predicted, but, hey, a wins a win and 2-2 is better than half the other teams in the league.
The same warning that went out to the Bengals before this weekend was also suggested to the Colts as they faced off against the Jaguars. Unlike the Bengals, it appears that the Colts were listening as they romped the Jags 37-3. This was a statement game for the Colts, who have now won 2 games in a row and are tied at the top of the AFC South with the Titans at 3-1. Andrew Luck went 22-36 and had 2 touchdowns as he hit a variety of targets for an even dose of passing throughout the game. On the other side, even as he was given a new chance to start again, Blaine Gabbert still couldn’t put up much as he went 17-32 for only 179 yards. He also didn’t get much help from Maurice Jones-Drew, who only had 23 yards on 13 carries. Apparently Jacksonville giving away free beer at this weekend’s game wasn’t enough to change the luck of the Jags. Maybe NOW they’ll consider calling the QB kid from their hometown who is still looking for work.
We also predicted last week that the Seahawks and Texans game would be a great one and we proved to be right in a 23-20 overtime thriller. The Texans had majority of this game as they put up 20 in the second half and went into halftime up 20-3. Unfortunately for Houston the ball stopped rolling and they couldn’t stop the Seahawks from putting up 17 of their own in the second half. And all it took in overtime was a field goal to send the Seahawks to 4-0 and the Texans to 2-2. The league would’ve looked completely differently had this game went the other way. The Texans would’ve been tied with the Titans and Colts at 3-1 in the AFC South, while the Seahawks would’ve shown they have a weakness. Instead, the highly touted Texans fall for the second straight week, and the Seahawks proved that they aren’t out of any game as long as there is time left on the clock. The Texans may have outplayed the Seahawks in this one, but it’s the final score that matters and the Seahawks will take wins however they come.
We were hoping for a better game in Tennessee than it was, but maybe the Titans are looking to prove that they are as good as the final score read on Sunday. After a 38-13 win over the Jets, the Titans are now 3-1 and looked might impressive with a balanced attack. The one downside is that Jake Locker was sent to the hospital after being knocked down on consecutive plays in the fourth quarter. We’ll have to wait and see how serious the injury was, but after a 3-touchdown game, Titans fans will surely be hoping its nothing that will call for Ryan Fitzpatrick to start taking snaps with the first string. As for the Jets, they certainly tried and Geno Smith didn’t look too bad with his own 289-yards and 1 touchdown. But their defense simply couldn’t stop the Titans from racking up 38 points and their offense isn’t quite good enough to keep up. Keep an eye on Locker to see whether or not he will return to help the Titans continue their winning ways.
The Redskins and Raiders game was a bit more interesting than some may have thought before the day began. Although it wasn’t as high scoring as we had predicted last week, the result was the same as much as Washington notched its first win of the season in a 24-14 win. RGIII still looks to be getting into the swing of things as he only went 18-31 for 227-yards, but at least a win will take some heat off of him. As for Matt Flynn, who was starting in place of Terrelle Pryor, he went a modest 21-32 for 227. An interesting note was that the Raiders scored all 14 of their points in the first quarter. At that point, some may have thought that Flynn was going to do what he has done time and time before, come into the game as a backup and light up scoreboards. Unfortunately for Raider fans, the momentum did not continue throughout the game and instead Washington was the team that gave out an even dose of scoring throughout the remainder of the game. The Redskins will look to build on their first win of the season, as they head to Dallas to play division the rival Cowboys next weekend.
Speaking of Cowboys, they too played an AFC West team this weekend, but didn’t come away with the same result that the Redskins had. Instead, the Cowboys were up at halftime 21-13 after a huge second quarter, but couldn’t keep the momentum up during the second half and eventually lost 30-21. Phillip Rivers was big in this game, throwing for over 400-yards and racking up 3 touchdowns. Both teams are now 2-2, although that’s probably a bit easier to stomach for the Cowboys who remain atop the NFC East, while the Chargers are still two games back of the Broncos and Chiefs in the AFC West.
Speaking of the Broncos, they continued to look dominate in their 52-20 beat down of the Eagles. A lot of power rankings before this game had the Seahawks ahead of the Broncos for the top spot in the league. However as the Seahawks had trouble in their win against the Texans, the Broncos have yet to be in danger at all this season. Instead, Peyton Manning continued to light up defenses, this time as he went 28-34 for 327-yards and 4 touchdowns. Manning is having a career year, which isn’t too bad for a guy who some thought may be done just a few short seasons ago. But what’s more to note for the Broncos is how inspired the rest of the team looks when playing with Manning. The receiving core of Thomas, Decker, and Welker all seem to give their all on each play, not knowing when it will be there turn to catch the ball. Knowshawn Moreno is having a Comeback Player Of The Year worthy season, as he continues to rack up touchdowns as well. And the defense looks inspiring, even without Von Miller or Champ Bailey. For the first time since 2000, the Broncos had a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown, which was the score that really put this one out of reach for the Eagles. As for those Eagles, well they too are in the NFC East, so nothing is impossible quite yet. But what looked like a firepower offense from Chip Kelly is quickly proving to not cut it in the NFL. It might be interesting to note that the final 7 points scored by the Eagles were from Nick Foles, who entered the game as Vick headed to the bench. No matter how good Vick is and how much publicity he has surrounding him, if he doesn’t start winning games, fans in Philly may start calling for Foles to get more reps when the game actually counts. It will surely be interesting to see how the Power Rankings line up this week, and whether or not the Broncos can get into that number 1 spot, even though both they and the Seahawks won this weekend.
This season hasn’t necessarily been an easy one for Tom Brady. In just a few weeks, people have questioned the legitimacy of the Patriots and whether or not they deserve their 3-0 record. But after beating Atlanta on Sunday night, in Atlanta by the way, the Patriots continue to roll and are looking more impressive. The 30-23 win not only proved that the Patriots can put up points, but it also showed that they can keep other teams out of reach. While the Falcons tried to come back in the fourth quarter (especially after converting on an onside kick), the Pat’s defense remained strong and allowed to get Brady the ball back with just a few minutes left. As great as other games were this weekend, this one certainly had people on the edge of their seats throughout most of the fourth quarter.
Statistically, Brady went 20-31 and had 316-yards, including 2 touchdowns. He seemed to have found a new favorite target in Kenbrell Thompkins, who he hooked up with for multiple occasions during the evening. Julian Edelman also got hot in the second half and had 118-yards on 7 receptions.
For the Falcons, Matt Ryan went 34-54 for 421-yards. Despite the last few weeks of losing, Ryan proves that he is a legit quarterback who is trying his best to will his team to victory. Julio Jones, had 108-yards, but dropped a huge gain late in the game that could’ve changed the outlook of this game. But Ryan’s favorite target was Tony Gonzalez. He had 149-yards on 12 catches and 2 touchdowns. Gonzalez was so lethal on Sunday that the Patriots began to double team him and leave other coverage’s wide open as the Falcons ran plays in the red zone during the final seconds of the game.
While the Patriots go to 4-0 and its looking like Tom Brady could pull four guys off the street and have them put up big receiving yards, the same is not to be said for the Falcons. The team that went to eh NFC Championship last year are now 1-3 and are quickly losing pace with the hot Saints. While the Falcons have put up a modest 94 points in total this season, they have let up 104. For perspective of how bad that is, the Saints have only let up 55, the Panthers have given up an inspiring 36, and even the winless Buccaneers have only given up 70. The Falcons have to fix these deficiencies on defense if they hope to stay a contender in the NFC.
The Falcons will be in primetime again next week as they play the Jets on Monday night. The Patriots will look to go 5-0 and travel to Cincinnati, against a confusing Bengals team.
Monday nights game between the Saints and Dolphins wasn’t nearly as exciting as we had hoped. Despite a slow start in the first, the Saints the remaining three quarters and finished with a final score of 38-17.
The real interesting part of this game was how quickly Ryan Tannehill fell apart. The Dolphins had a chance when the game was 14-10 in the second quarter. But after losing a fumble in Saints territory, he then threw an interception two possession later and couldn’t pull it together after that. He finished 13-25 with only 121 yards. This game was Tannehill’s (and the Dolphins) chance to prove that he was a legit NFL quarterback and their 3-0 record was deserved. And while it may be too soon to jump on the Fins and discredit their start, they certainly have some glaring holes that need to be filled.
On the other end of the ball, Drew Brees looked fantastic per usual. He went 30-39 for 413 yards and four touchdowns. It must be comforting having a tight end like Jimmy Graham that you can count on regularly like Brees can. He hit Grahm four times for 100-yards, including two touchdowns. Again, we don’t want to discredit the Dolphins hot start, especially because the Saints look to be primed for their own record-setting season. Nonetheless, this game proved the difference between a Super Bowl contender like the Saints, and a playoff contender like the Dolphins.
Next week the Dolphins will host the Ravens, while the Saints will travel to Chicago. But before any of this starts, we’ll look forward to the Bills and Browns on Thursday night. And with the hot streak the Browns have been on as of late, they may look to make a statement on Thursday night in primetime.
Take a look at a few picks from last weeks action.
First Pick was a free one from Steven Newman.
New York Jets vs Tennessee Titans
Sunday, September 29th, 2013 1:05 PM EST
Selected Play: Play On Tennessee Titans
Line Selected: Money Line: -185
Pick Type: Free Play
Play Title: Battle of the Surprise
The New York Jets and Tennessee Titans are two of the NFL’s most surprising teams thus far with 2-1 records but also being two of the league’s most-penalized clubs.
Jake Locker will be a scrambling outside the pocket machine and tear the Jets defense up. Tennesee is averaging about 16 yards per point they score.
Quarterback Geno Smith is responsible for all but one giveaway with six interceptions and one lost fumble. He is 16 of 29 for 331 yards. I still feel the Jets are not the real deal.
Oddsmakers currently have the Titans listed as 3½-point favorites versus the Jets, while the game’s total is sitting at 41.
New York won its last outing, a 27-20 result against the Bills on September 22. The Jets covered in that game as a 2.5-point favorite, while the 47 combined points took the game OVER the total.
The Titans were a 20-17 winner in their most recent outing at home against the Chargers. They earned a push of the 3-point spread as favorites, while the total score (37) made winners of UNDER bettors.
New York: 2-1 SU, 3-0 ATS
Tennessee: 2-1 SU, 2-0-1 ATS
This pick was provided from Johnny Crain
Monday, September 30th, 2013 5:40 PM EST
Selected Play: Play On New Orleans Saints (-6.5)
Line Selected: Game Line: -110
Pick Type: Premium Play
Play Title: New Orleans -6.5 vs. Miami
New Orleans 31 Miami 19