Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Week Five: What A Surprise, There Are Good Teams Disappointing Us Again

Welcome to the NFL, the league where any team can win on any given day.  The league where one mistake can turn a win into a loss.  One bad call can cost you a playoff spot.  One turnover can be the difference in being a Super Bowl winner or sitting home watching the playoffs from your couch.  This is why the game is so compelling.  Ask a Pirates fan how much parody there is in baseball.  Ask a Bucks fan how much parody there is in the NBA.  Ask the Predators how much parody there is in the NHL.  Although there are plenty of good teams in those leagues, it is nothing like the NFL.  The Bengals should not have three wins all season, yet they have it after five games.  The Eagles should be undefeated, but they are almost the opposite of that.  Thank you NFL, you provide me with a heart attack on a weekly basis, and I could not be happier that you do.  Now to your weekly surprises and disappointments of Week 5 in football.


5. Pittsburgh Steelers- Not that watching the defending Super Bowl champions is so much of a surprise as the way they won this game.  Ben Roethlisberger was coming in with a bum foot and a two win and two loss record.  All he did on Sunday was throw for five touch downs and only ten incompletions on thirty-four attempts.  Playing a possible surprise team in the Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh knew this was as close to a must win that week five can bring.  Jonathan Dwyer comes out of the complete blue to run for over 100 yards (which is twice as much as Chris Johnson ran for by the way) to bring back the ground and pound that the Steelers are so used to playing.  Not to mention that they are playing with a patchwork offensive line, including Max Starks who was signed to the team on the Wednesday before the game.  Roethlisberger just took this game by the cojones and told his team "I got this."  To show that kind of tenacity with so many questions coming in on every phase of the ball for them, to take it over and win the game single handily is something you always want from your quarterback.  The Steelers may end that whole Super Bowl hangover curse yet.

4. Oakland Raiders- Al Davis would have loved to have seen this.  Playing with heavy hearts, the Raiders came with guts and glory to win a nail-biter game that came down to the wire.  Michael Huff intercepted a Matt Schaub pass in the endzone as time expired to clinch the game against a very good Texans team.  It may have looked very ugly, being out gained by almost two hundred yard, but they did what Al Davis wanted.  "Just win baby, win," was probably resonating throughout every single Raiders' player's mind.  Sebastian Janikowski tied an NFL record with three field goals over fifty yards, and four all together for the day.  A surprise fake punt to pad the lead in the fourth quarter went thirty-five yards to put them into field goal range again, in which Janikowski put the Raiders ahead by eight points to make it that much more complicated for a comeback on this emotional day.  Run DMC was held to only fifty-one yards rushing, but the Raiders did just enough to win on this day, and I'm sure every single player in that locker room is telling you that is all that matters for them.

3. San Francisco 49ers- If you erase the names of the teams on the box score for this game most people would think it was a Dolphins versus Packers game.  This was a game that put two three and one teams, both of whom coming in looked as if they could go far in the NFC this season, that ended with a forty-five point blowout.  The 49ers are for real.  They have the defense, they most definitely have the special teams, and they have an offense that can give you enough to win games.  After beating the Eagles in what some people called a fluke win, San Francisco showed that they were anything but a fluke.  Frank Gore looks to be the one of old with his second straight one hundred yard rushing game and maybe Vernon Davis will fall out of his funk with a two touchdown game to work off of.  This team is hitting on all cylinders right now, and they look to be a force to be reckoned with.  Who thought that Alex Smith would lead the biggest win for San Francisco since 1987?  Up until now Smith has a seven to one touchdown to interception ratio, and that is exactly what the Niners need to keep this roll going throughout the season.

2. Detroit Lions- When was the last time the Lions started a season off at five and zero?  Well it was the same year Elvis was rocking the world while singing Hound Dog and shaking his hips so mercifully, Don Larsen threw the only perfect game in postseason history, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis performed their last show together.  The Lions won the first five games of their season for the first time since 1956, and it couldn't be sweeter than a win over the rival Chicago Bears.  The lights were on for this upstart Detroit team and they answered with a vengeance.  The lions had a deafening crowd for the first time in years, and it knocked the Bears off their concentration with nine false starts.  The big plays helped them kill off Chicago.  They started the second quarter off with a seventy-three yard touchdown bomb to beast of a human Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best

1. Seattle Seahawks- Is this just another instance of the New York football Giants playing down to their competition?  How does one team terrorize the high-flying Eagles one week then lose to the absolutely terrible Seahawks the next?  Well it has a lot to do with turnovers.  Seattle caused the Giants to commit five of them, four coming from Eli Manning.  The Seahawks knew if they won the turnover battle then they were more than likely going to win the game against Eli.  The Seahawks took the lead with two minutes and thirty-seven seconds left in the game.  All the Seahawks did was let Manning go down to their end of the field and they picked him off on a tipped pass off of Victor Cruz's hands.  They took that back all the way for a touchdown to ice the game.  Just for good measure on the next possession just to kill any glimmer of hope, Seattle intercepted another Manning pass to end the game officially.  Oh, did I mention that the Seahawks made this comeback with Charlie Whitehurst playing quarterback?  Or that Doug Baldwin was their number one receiver?  Do I expect this to be a turnaround for this team?  Not betting on it, but it was definitely a good win to improve from.


5. New York Jets- Now I don't believe it was much of a surprise that the Jets lost to the Patriots, but how they lost to them is what's surprising.  The New England Patriots beat them with a good running game and defense, two of their highly scrutinized phases of their game.  Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis ran for 136 yards and the defense held the Jets to only 255 yards of total offense.  Even their Jets best commodity, Darrell Revis, couldn't stop Wes Welker from going over a hundred yards receiving.  The Jets are now under five hundred and are quickly losing face in the AFC with the Pats and the Bills already well ahead of them inside the division.  It brings up huge red flags that the Jets couldn't muster an offense that is this bad without its best player in Jerod Mayo.  New England now has a huge upper hand on New York and Rex Ryan and Co have a large hole to dig themselves out of, or else a third straight championship game will be more than out of the question.

4. Houston Texans- The Texans looked amazing on offense, until the fourth quarter when they needed it to.  It is hard to call a team a disappointment when their quarter back threw for over four hundred yards and their running back had 184 all purpose yards.  However as Al Davis put it, "Just win baby, win."  They did not do that on this day and it may cost them when it comes to seeding at the end of the year.  Schaub's achievements all were erased when he threw that inexcusable interception in the endzone near the end of the game.  It was just terrible and not the kind of clutch performance your looking for from a team expected to make the playoffs and compete.  Now most media outlets will all play how this was the Raiders tenacity in the wake of the passing of their owner, but I am pointing the finger at the Texans for taking a game they had in the palm of their hands and completely blowing it.  This is the same Texan team that looks like they have what it takes to make a playoff run during the preseason just to let everyone in Houston down by the time January comes along.  If this isn't the exception and this is the normal when it comes to clutch play in Houston, expect a very long year for these Texans.

3. Philadelphia Eagles- And we meet again.  The Dream Team has made my list for disappointments four out of the five weeks this season.  This spells disaster in Philadelphia (not that they really care about my list).  It is kind of ironic that they played a team that is known lately for being the welcome mat of the NFL, and got completely taken out.  The Bills caused Michael Vick to look like he was clueless out in that field.  He threw three interceptions in the Eagles first four possessions, which put Philly in a deep early hole.  They were already down by twenty-one six minutes into the third quarter.  That's a hole that is almost impossible to dig yourself out of.  It looks like the Eagles are only good at digging themselves into holes, because they sure as hell aren't good at playing football.  They scored one passing touchdown, one trick play touchdown, one rushing touchdown, and one defensive touchdown, basically a touchdown every way you can get one.  This Eagles team is sad, plain and simple.  It hurts to even watch.  Dream Team?  I'm going to go with not a chance anymore.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The Bucs looked just plain flat in this game.  They got absolutely slaughtered.  Losing to a team that hasn't proven anything by forty-five points, that is far from something you want to see from a supposed contender.  In fact, this is worse than what you expect to see from the Rams at this point.  This game was almost unwatchable.  After the first quarter, it was seven to three game and it was looking like it was going to be a good one.  Then the second quarter happened.  Then I am pretty sure the Bucs forgot to come out of the locker room for the second half.  Even losing a three to one turnover battle shouldn't produce a score this bad.  Raheem Morris better put a little fire under this team's asses, or he is going to lose them real quick if they continue to have losses like this.  This can either be something to learn from, or the start of a very bad downward spiral.  The only people who can stop this are wearing Buccaneer uniforms, and they don't have any time to waste.

1. New York Giants- This can either be really good or really bad if you're a Giants fan.  On the one hand, you can say that the Giants just play down to competition after a big win against the Eagles.  On the other hand, you can say that this Giants team doesn't seem very clutch with how this game turned out.  There is a huge red flag, and its tattooed right on Eli Manning's helmet.  The Giants have had early season surges and late season collapses pretty much every year that Manning has been at the helm.  Even the year they won the Super Bowl the Giants stumbled into the playoffs.  So the question remains, if the Giants are collapsing now, how bad will the second half of the season be?  Losing to teams that you should demolish is not something you can do in this years NFC East.  Eli was accountable for four turnovers, which is a recipe for a loss in itself, but when two of his interceptions came on the last two drives that is a recipe for a collapse.  Not to mention that one of them came on the six yard line as he was going for the go ahead score with less than two minutes left that end up being taken all the way back for a touchdown.  That's a possible fourteen point swing, and that isn't something that you can come back from very easily.  Point is that the Giants need to stop the trend of the second half, or this year will be the one that causes Tom Coughlin his job.

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