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Tag:Philadelphia Eagles
Posted on: November 21, 2011 5:33 pm
 

In The Trenches; Week 11 Thoughts

<span style="color: #6e8dcf;">Primetime Thoughts

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A Giants dud t'was.

G-Men Fall Face First-There was certainly enough motivation for the New York football Giants.  An opportunity to deliver the knockout punch to a division rival who has been underwhelming all season would typically have any team chomping at the bit.  Instead, the Giants struggled against the alleged "Dream Teamm," who looked more like the Replacements with Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin out.  Vince Young came in and looked like, well, Vince Young, throwing 3 interceptions.  Lucky for him, the Giants were even less efficient, highlighted by an impressive 29 yards rushing.  The Giants seemed likely to win handedly, but matched the Eagles' incompetence every step of the way, until Young showed potential suitors in free agency something in an 18-play, 80-yard drive which took almost 9 minutes to give Philadelphia a 17-10 lead with 2:45 left.  The Giants blew a big opportunity to 1) knock the Eagles out for good and 2) keep a 1 game cushion over the Cowboys.  Things don't look promising for New York as their next two games are against the Saints and Packers.  10 points wasn't enough to outlast Young, it definitely won't be against Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.

Tebow Mania At Epic Proportions-If you were to tell me after 5 starts, Tim Tebow would be 4-1 nad the Broncos 5-5, I would've laughed in your face, called you crazy, then smacked you back into reality.  That's how inconceivable it seems, at least it did, before the Jets were the latest to fall over Tebow as Denver won 17-13.  The Jets stellar defense was supposed to absolutely crush the college offense.  It appears the Jets defense isn't playing quite as well as Rex Ryan would like.   It's one thing to get lit up by Tom Brady, it's another to let Tim Tebow lead a 95-yard drive at the end of the fourth quarter to beat you with his legs time and time again. 

Baltimore Rights Ship-Last week Ray Rice rushed five times, the Ravens were underwhelming on offense, and lost to the Seattle-Stinking Seahawks.  Yesterday Rice rushed 20 times, registered over 100 yards on the ground, and Baltimore took down surprising Cincinnati in a battle of 6-3 teams.  What have we learned here?  Rice is a pretty good player and when he gets the ball a lot, the offense fares well.  Why is this troubling?  Well, the Ravens have already been through this two times too many, leaving many concerned of a potential trend.  One that would leave them doomed come playoff time.

Watch Out for Oakland-One reason Tebow and the Broncos won't make the playoffs: the Raiders are a balanced offense with a quarterback who can pass the ball.  Carson Palmer has provided Oakland with its best quarterback since JaMarcus Russell, ahem, Rich Gannon was around.  Palmer hasn't even been able to utilize Darren McFadden who has been out essetially the last four games.  Michael Bush has filled in admirably and proven himself as a starting running back in this league, but he lacks the explosiveness McFadden brings to the table.  When he returns, Oakland will be even more difficult to contain.

Cowboys Sneak Past Redskins-A win is a win, but that one was ugly for the Dallas Cowboys, who pulled out the overtime victory against Washington 27-24.  The Redskins managed 20 points their previous 3 games, including a shutout, but put a scare into Dallas, tying the game with 14 seconds to go on a 12-play, 89-yard drive.  If Rex Grossman can hardly be contained, I can't wait for them to face a team with a quarterback who wasn't benched in favor of John Beck.

Lions Storm Back-It didn't look too promising for the Detroit Lions, allowing 27 quick points to the Carolina Panthers.  Lucky for them, Carolina's defense is as bad as their offense is good.  That and a running game for a change helped spark a massive 42-8 run once they trailed, 27-7.  Kevin Smith, a one-time Lions draft pick, was brought back from the dead and ran for 140 yards and 2 touchdowns along with 61 yards receiving.  Whether this will last is yet to be determined, but Detroit must feel better knowing they have the potential to manage the clock with Smith.  Facing the Packers on Thanksgiving, if the Lions can put points up early, which is likely given the Packers inconsistencies on defense, we may have an upset in the making.

Dolphins Feast On Buffalo-It was reported earlier in the week that LeBron James was quoted, regarding to the Dolphins win streak, as saying, "Not 0, not 1, not 2." Wait a minute, I got that wrong, but the Dolphins have put together a 3-game winning streak, which likely makes the season a success given the state of the franchise a month ago.  Although on the flip side, they have taken themselves out of the running for Andrew Luck, a supposed franchise quarterback/best prospect since John Elway.  Look at those wins as you wish.  On the other side of the field, the Buffalo Bills 5-2 start is a distant memory and the playoffs are becoming less and less likely.  Next up is the Jets, also a 5-5 team that will be fighting to remain relevant in the playoff hunt.

49ers Nearly Clinch NFC West-Another game, another win, the process has become routine for Jim Harbaugh and San Francisco.  A 23-7 victory over Arizona is not representative of the dominance the 49ers displayed over the Cardinals.  If not for 3 David Akers missed field goals or inept play in the red zone, this might have been a 30 or 40 point margin.  At 9-1, San Francisco is 5 up on the Seahawks with 6 to play.  San Francisco could mail in the last 6 games, finish 9-7, and likely win the NFC West.  That would be asking the Seattle Seahawks to win 5 more games, and I'd bet my life that they won't.  Nothing would be sweeter for Harbaugh to clinch the division with a win Thursday night on Thanksgiving against his brother John.

Falcons Steady Against Titans-The Titans 5-4 record coming into yesterday's game is misleading, simpy because it implies that Tennessee is a good football team.  Atlanta cruised throughout, despite only winning, 23-17, as the Falcons jumped out to a 23-3 lead in the 3rd quarter.  For Tennessee, Chris Johnson was once again irrelevant with 13 yards on 12 carries.  However, Jake Locker saw his first real action and left Titans fans feeling good about Locker going forward, as Locker went 9-for-19 with 140 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Bears Win, Lose Cutler-The Chargers season is going up in flames as Philip Rivers continues his worst season in the NFL.  In 10 games, Rivers has 17 interceptions this season, his previous career-high was 15.  The Bears win their fifth in a row, but I'm still not sold.  As you've read from week to week, I don't buy into what Chicago has going on right now.  I certainly won't now as Jay Cutler has a broken thumb on his throwing hand and will be out a while.  The reports conflict, but Cutler won't return earlier than Week 16.  Luckily, the schedule isn't terrible, as the four games Cutler is sure to miss include the Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos, and Seahawks.  But if Caleb Hanie proves to be a steep decline from Cutler, it won't matter who they play.

Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:25 am
 

In The Trenches: Week 10 Thoughts

<span style="color: #6e8dcf;">Primetime Thoughts

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A game of inches indeed..

Falcons Lose Ground-It was a call which left many scratching their heads.  On their second drive in overtime, Atlanta believed they had converted a third down only to be short a few inches at their own 29 yard line.  Head Coach Mike Smith played with fire, had Matt Ryan hand it off to Michael Turner, and got burned as Turner was stopped in the backfield.  New Orleans kicked the game-winning field goal moments later and padded their division lead.  Smith put all the heat on himself, not wanting to give Drew Brees and the Saints offense back the ball.  It's a bold call which will make you look like a champ, or a chump as it did Smith.  I won't play armchair quarterback and unequivocally say they should've punted, although it'd be an easy route to take.  Even with a first down, Atlanta had at least 35 yards to go before field goal range and their defense had just forced New Orleans into a three and out.  But it's not a call that I will question Smith making.

Eagles Crash Landing-Never say never, but the Eagles'playoff hopes look as promising as a salad being consumed by Andy Reid.  The latest fourth-quarter meltdown came against the Cardinals in a 21-17 defeat as John Skelton (who?) did what Kevin Kolb has failed to do for most of this season.  Skelton gave the Cardinals offense a pulse and actually found Larry Fitzgerald early and often as Fitzgerald had by far his best game of the season with 7 receptions for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Barring a miracle finish, the Eagles will miss the playoffs, which may signal the end for Head Coach Andy Reid.

Romo Cowboys Up-While the Eagles continue to fade into a top-16 draft pick, the Dallas Cowboys are showing signs of life again, clobbering the Buffalo Bills, another fading team, 44-7.  Tony Romo had as many incompletions as touchdowns, throwing for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns.  DeMarco Murray continued his brilliant display of rushing with 135 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.  Murray's average of 6.7 yards per rush, not too shabby.

49ers Stifle GMen-The game was up for grabs at the start of the 4th quarter as New York led 13-12.  Frank Gore had left the game with a knee injury.  That would presumably leave the Giants in a prime position with Alex Smith forced to do the heavy lifting.  Deemed a "Game Manager," Smith was efficient in San Francisco's 27-20 win in a battle of NFC division leaders.  The 49er defense did their part as well, but let's give credit where credit is due.  Smith has been labeled a bust as long as he's been in the league.  While he is not putting up numbers that make fantasy football players act like schoolgirls, he has been reliable in crucial moments.

Patriots Blow Out Jets-It was a game the Jets had been looking forward to all week.  At least that's what we were led to believe.  Maybe it was the fact that Rex Ryan kept quiet for once, maybe it was the fact that New England's defense finally had a substantial lead to work with.  Whatever the reason, the Jets simply got handled in a 37-16 stomping.  Tom Brady had all the time he needed to dissect the Jets defense while Sanchez couldn't keep up.  The Jets had their chances, but couldn't capitalize.  As terrible as the Patriots defense has been this season, a Bill Belichick-coached team will make you pay.  From Nick Folk missing a 24-yard field goal to Sanchez's pass being tipped and intercepted at New England's 25-yard line, any momentum the Jets appeared to be gaining was soon squashed.

Ravens Hungover Again-It appears the best time to play the Ravens is right after they defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers.  For the second time this season, Baltimore fell flat on its face, this time losing to the Seattle Seahawks, 22-17.  We've seen this before as the Ravens blew out Pittsburgh Week 1 only to lose to the Tennessee Titans.  No one expected Seattle to pose as much of a threat and frankly, they didn't.  It was the Ravens who did themselves in with two fumbles on kickoffs and terrible play calling once again.  Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron is losing credibility by the day, as we've seen a tendency to completely forget about Ray Rice.  Rice only had 5 carries, 5, for 27 yards.  Zero in the fourth quarter and one in the third.  Cameron managed to pull this off before against Jacksonville when Rice only had 8 carries.  Simply maddening.

Broncos Win Again Despite Tebow-When you are told that the Denver Broncos only completed two passes, you're initial thought is probably something along the lines of, "They kept Tebow in the whole game?" or "Wow Tebow was that bad?"  Forget even winning the game, which is exactly what Denver did, 17-10, as Tim Tebow went 2-8 for 69 yards and a touchdown to go with 43 yards rushing and a touchdown.  The Broncos did amass 244 yards on the ground, but still.  Two completions? Two? We know exactly what Tebow supporters are thinking, "Only Tebow could win a game with two completions!"

Texans Gaining Steam-People will likely overlook them given their lack of a competitive division, but the Houston Texans have the components to go deep into January and we're seeing it consistently.  Houston kicked Tampa Bay to the curb, 37-9, as the Texans are now 7-3 on the season.  Houston has what most lack, a balanced offense which can lean on either aspect.  Arian Foster and Ben Tate are by far the best 1-2 punch running attack in the NFL.  Tate managed 63 yards on the ground while Foster totaled 186, 84 on the ground.  Matt Schaub continues to put up decent numbers even with out Andre Johnson.  Imagine how much more potent the offense can be when its Pro Bowl Wide Receiver is healthy.  Johnson has missed the last five games, but Houston has remained patient as its been able to win without Johnson, allowing Johnson's hamstring to fully heal.  With a bye week coming up, Johnson should be ready to go Week 12.  AFC, you've been warned.

Bears Nip Lions-The Lions fade continues as they have lost three of their last four, with the lone win coming against the Broncos.  As for the Bears, still not sold on them, call me stubborn.  As for Matt Forte, he should probably pay the man as he is all but the entire Bears offense.  That and Devin Hester being counted on for a return touchdown here and there.

Colts Remain Winless-Now 0-10 after a 17-3 loss to the Jaguars, it looks as if the Indianapolis Colts have all but clinched the <del>rights to Andrew Luck </del>first pick in the draft.  The Colts have a firm two game lead on the Rams and Dolphins, both with two wins under their belt.  Frankly, I don't see a game on the remaining schedule where the Colts can come out on top.

Posted on: October 17, 2011 11:51 am
 

In The Trenches: Week 6 Thoughts


Primetime Thoughts

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Handshake gate?

49ers Tame Lions-There were some, myself included, who weren't sold on the San Francisco 49ers.  I'm not ready to jump on their bandwagon, but I will recognize them as a legitimate contender.  The NFC West, or the race for 8 as I've previously put it, looks to be San Francisco's to lose at this point with 5 wins already.  They stifled a Lions offense that had been able to score at ease all season.  Perhaps Head Coach Jim Schwartz was so ticked at Head Coach Jim Harbaugh because he had done what no team had previously thought of, double-teaming Calvin Johnson.  I know what you're thinking, why haven't teams been doing that already?

Packers Are Lone Undefeated Team-I'm not sure if any of the Green Bay Packers broke a sweat on Sunday.  Now that's not a jab at the St. Louis Rams, although they seem to be lacking all around, but a testament to Green Bay's dominance.  Aaron Rodgers was okay I guess, 17-28 for 310 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Not much to complain about, unless you're Brett Favre, in which you are disappointed Rodgers didn't reach 400 yards and 4 touchdowns?

Falcons Go Back To Their Roots-Noone was happier than Michael Turner to see the Falcons return to their run-heavy approach, except for his fantasy owners.  Turner ran 27 times for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns as Atlanta took down Cam Newton 31-17.  Atlanta should keep this in mind going forward.  I'm not saying abandon the passing game, but at the very least run to set up the pass like you have the last few years.  I don't care if you're Matt Ryan or Tom Brady, a running game will only open up the field.

Eagles Bounce Back-An overall solid performance by the Eagles as they likely knocked Rex Grossman out of the starting quarterback job in Washington.  Philadelphia picked off Grossman four times and held the Redskins to 42 yards on the ground.  The Redskins fast start seems like a distant memory and Head Coach Mike Shanahan will likely roll John Beck out there, who was the favorite in preseason to start under center.

Giants Survive Another One-It wasn't looking good for the G-Men, you could tell as Head Coach Tom Coughlin's face became brighter as the fourth quarter went on.  Buffalo had the ball in field goal range with less than 5 minutes to go, as Ryan Fitzpatrick had the Bills offense clicking on all cylinders.  Then an underthrown pass down the sideline by Fitzpatrick changed everything as Corey Webster saved the Giants from a late-game demise.  Eli Manning led New York down the field for a Lawrence Tynes field goal and the 27-24 win.  They're 4-2, but the Giants would probably like to see a few dominant performances for an entire game.

Steelers Cruise-It had all the makings of a blowout as the Steelers led 17-0 in the second quarter.  That was more than enough, but Jacksonville hung around and made it a close one with a hail mary at the end of the game.  A win is a win and Pittsburgh is 4-2, but this a game the Steelers should've won by at least double digits.

Brady Leads Pats Comeback-The quarterback play looked to be the key factor in this game.  Could Tony Romo keep up with Tom Brady?  The answer looked to be yes for most of the game.  Romo was actually out-intercepted by Brady, 2:1.  Then Head Coach Jason Garrett decided to quit while they were ahead and take the ball away from Romo.  Now Romo has shown to be prone to mistakes late in the game, but you can't play not to lose against Brady.  Especially when you're running game is average at best.  Dallas was in the driver seat late in the game, but decided to take time off the clock and rely on their defense to hold Brady down.  If you can't trust the guy to make plays late in the game, that would appear to be a red flag with the player you have under center.

Raiders Honor Davis-Playing their first game at home since Al Davis passed away, it was inconceivable to see the Raiders fail to honor Davis against the BrownsDarren McFadden led the way with 91 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.  The Raiders took a big hit with Jason Campbell who appeared to break his collarbone and is unlikely to return this season.  Kyle Boller and Terrelle Pryor are the current candidates to replace him.  Yikes.

Ravens Outlast Texans-A valiant effort by the Houston Texans, but without their top players on offense and defense, they couldn't keep up with the Baltimore Ravens.  Houston did their best minus Andre Johnson and Mario Williams, leading 14-13 midway through the third quarter.  Baltimore eventually pulled away behind solid running from Ray Rice and timely passes by Joe FlaccoArian Foster was bottled up by the Ravens, who were able to stack the box with Johnson out.  The Ravens are coasting, the Texans are not.  Luckily, Houston plays in the AFC South, where rivals are lacking to say the least.

Vikings To Fold?-This looked to be a competitive game on paper.  Chicago can't stop the run and can't keep Jay Cutler upright.  Minnesota runs the ball well and gets to the quarterback.  That's why they play the game, as the Bears stomped on the Vikings, 39-10, and may have sent Donovan McNabb to the bench for good.  McNabb wasn't awful, going 19-24 for 177 yards, but the Vikings season looks to be over.  This isn't so much about McNabb's usefulness as it is about the Vikings giving their 1st round pick Christian Ponder some playing time.  McNabb is on a one-year deal and was likely staying for only one season anyway.  So they might as well see if Ponder has potential to be the franchise quarterback going forward.

Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:43 am
 

In The Trenches: Week 5 Thoughts

In The Trenches: Week 5 Thoughts

Posted on October 10, 2011 by David S. London <!-- .entry-meta -->

R.I.P. Al Davis (1929-2011), you always said it best; Just Win Baby!

Raiders Win With Heavy Hearts-The NFL lost a longtime member in Al Davis on Saturday, leaving Raider Nation with heavy hearts along with many other who appreciated all of Davis’ efforts.  Head Coach Hue Jackson was very emotional after the 25-20 victory over the Houston Texans, as Oakland fought down to the wire, as Michael Huff’s interception in the end zone as time expired sealed the win.  The Chargers may be the favorite to win the division, but their sloppy play remains a weekly trend, and with the Raiders providing a legitimate foe, the AFC West may not be won till December.

Eagles Solidifying Bust Label-Head Coach Andy Reid doesn’t want to talk about this alleged Dream Team, much less the playoffs.  Much like Jim Mora, Reid might just hope the Eagles can win a game, another game as Philadelphia has lost four straight. Michael Vick had another performance which left many with mixed feelings.  On one hand, Vick threw for 315 yards and ran for 90.  On the other hand, Vick threw four interceptions, giving him seven on the year.  Vick had six all of last season. The dream has become a nightmare.  

A Giant Fall-New York had blown out Seattle the last two times they met in the regular season and this one looked to be the same, at least on paper.  Then they played the game, which didn’t quite turn out as expected.  The Seahawks stunned the Giants as double-digit underdogs with a 36-25 victory.  Seattle’s offense showed some life, consistently sustaining long drives on a typically reliable Giants defense.  It didn’t help that Eli broke his turnover-free streak at three, clinching the game for Seattle with a pick six in the red zone.

Saints Slip Past Cam-With each passing game, all the Cam Newton doubters look more and more foolish.  Carolina continues to sneak up on teams and give them a run for their money.  New Orleans saw themselves trailing 27-23 in the fourth quarter.  The Saints also have a pretty solid quarterback in Drew Brees, while the Panthers defense, not so much.  30-27 win for New Orleans.

Colts Remain Winless-It looked like Peyton Manning was under center during the first half with Indianapolis leading 17-0.  Ok maybe not that great, but the Colts looked primed for their first win of the season.  In a season that has seen little offense support the defense, it was the defense who let down, allowing Kansas City’s normally non-existent offense to put up 28 points on the board.  Two positives for the Colts, there’s always next week and reports say Peyton Manning’s return to the field this week remains questionable.

Cardinals Look Awful-This is usually where we come to terms with the fact that Donovan McNabb is a shell of his former self, but the Cardinals looked so bad, he gets a reprieve for a week.  Transitions are difficult for anyone coming to a new team, especially when it’s a quarterback.  That being said, Kevin Kolb has not quite lived up to expectations as Arizona has started 1-4.  Him and Larry Fitzgerald have not been connecting as much as one would hope, namely fantasy football owners (most importantly).  The Cardinals slow start would’ve been no big deal, except for the fact that the 49ers have plans of a record over .500 in what many figured was a division race for 8 wins.

Patriot Vindication-Rewind to last January, and Bart Scott was feeling pretty good after taking down the Patriots in the Divisional Round, reminding everyone that New England’s defense can’t stop a nosebleed and the win was poetic justice (just go with it).  This time around it was the Patriots who bent the Jets over and gave Rex Ryan and Co. a good ol’ spanking, 30-21.  The score misrepresents a game which New England controlled throughout.  The Jets have lost 3 in a row and are doing themselves no favors with a slow start.  On the bright side, the running game had its best showing and the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football may be the pick-me-up the Jets need.

49ers Raid Bucs-Apparently San Francisco had other plans when the NFC West was deemed a .500 record at best.  The 49ers opened plenty of eyes after walloping Tampa Bay 48-3.  Presumed a bust by all, Alex Smith has looked like, well, not Alex Smith, with a 7:1 TD:INT ratio, providing San Francisco with stable play under center.  A few more wins, and the 49ers may have locked up the NFC West.

An Iffy 4-1- (San Diego)-A win is a win is a win, but San Diego’s 4-1 record feels nothing like it should.  The Chargers have allowed teams like the Broncos and Chiefs to compete down to the wire when they should be blowing them out.  The Chargers can’t afford to slack off with the Raiders in their division as previously discussed.

New Sheriff In Green Bay-It pains me to give this man any attention, but much like a car accident, you can’t help but look and discuss.  Brett Favre is many words, alleged sextor, diva, sourpuss, wrangler jeans model, etc.  For those of you who didn’t hear Favre’s radio appearance, he does his best to take a passive-agressive shot at Rodgers, saying that Rodgers is alright, but fell into a good situation and should’ve won a Super Bowl sooner.  Right, because winning a Super Bowl is as easy said as it is done, and you won a bunch yourself.  Just kidding, it was only one, the same amount as Rodgers.  All the while, Rodgers isn’t throwing an interception while one leaves to go to the bathroom, or simply closes their eyes for just a second.  Looks like Favre sees people marveling at the stud that is Rodgers and he just can’t handle the lack of attention.  As far as the game, Rodgers and the Packers fell behind early, 14-0, then climbed out behind Rodgers’ reliable arm to win 25-14.  Rodgers was lights out, again, throwing for 396 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Soon this will become merely a blip as Rodgers has made these jaw-dropping performances routine dating back to last January.

<span style="color: #6e8dcf;">Primetime Thoughts

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 4:25 pm
 

In The Trenches: Week 4 Thoughts

Time to hit the panic button?!?

Eagles Not Soaring-Nobody was expecting a 1-3 start from the Philadelphia Eagles after the first month of the season.  A loss to the San Francisco 49ers is troubling enough, but blowing a 23-3 second-half lead is even more eye-opening.  Alex Henery missing two field goals inside 40 yards didn’t help matters, but the game shouldn’t have even come to that.  This alleged Dream Team has proven unable to battle in the trenches, a must for any team to be considered a contender, let alone a Dream Team.  This team can score in bunches, and those in defense of Philadelphia will find excuses, namely Ronnie Brown turning the clock back to his Wildcat days in Miami, but let’s be real.  A 20-point lead against San Francisco in the third quarter should be in no danger.  If it’s not clear, I’m not quite sold on the 3-1 49ers.

Romo Solidifies Role For Two-Face-There may not be a better man to play the role in the Batman series.  One week, Tony Romo shows flashes, reminding everyone that he is a Pro-Bowl caliber quarterback.  Romo lead two late-game comebacks against the Redskins and 49ers.  Then there was the opening game against the Jets where Romo flipped the switch in the fourth quarter.  Sunday against the Lions was a tale of two halfs to say the least.  Romo’s Cowboys lead 27-3 early in the third quarter, only to lose 34-30 with Romo’s three interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, playing a pivotal role in Detroit’s charge.  It probably didn’t help either that Rob Ryan claimed that Calvin Johnson would be the Cowboy’s third-best receiver.  Maybe stick to assessing talent on the defensive end Rob.

Bills Stumble-After flexing their muscles and taking down Tom Brady a week ago, Andy Dalton and the Cincinatti Bengals didn’t seem like much of a challenge.  Too bad Buffalo felt that way as well, falling apart in the fourth quarter, losing 23-20.  The fireworks that Ryan Fitzpatrick had been lighting all season fizzled out against an unlikely opponent. Up 20-13 midway through the fourth, it’s a game they likely should’ve held on to win, but inexperienced teams will let games get away as we saw here. 

The Early MVP Favorite-Aaron Rodgers hasn’t missed a beat and the Broncos will vie to that after he threw for over 400 yards to go with 6 total touchdowns, two rushing.  Rodgers has more toys to play with than he needs, from Greg Jennings to Donald Driver to Jordy Nelson to Jermichael Finley.  The two-headed monster in the backfield in Ryan Grant and James Starks gives Green Bay the perfect compliment, allowing Rodgers to torch defenses time and time again.  As for the Broncos, well, Tim Tebow made an appearance, rushing once for -1 yards.  Good times for Denver these days.

G-Men Escape-The Giants are breathing a sigh of relief after Victor Cruz nearly gave the game away, literally.  The officiating ruled that Cruz gave himself up, rendering the play over.  However replays show him simply getting up, dropping the ball in the process before anyone touched him.  It’s certainly not a black and white ruling, but one that the Giants were fortunate to have.  Victor Cruz will likely never let go of the ball again.

Dirty Sanchez Needs A Cleaning-Or at least a few more seconds in the pocket.  I know what you’re thinking, “a few more seconds to allow a different defender to make a play on him.”  While Mark Sanchez has been downright awful, inducing projectile vomit from Jet fans amany, this does not fall entirely on him.  Once a very efficient ground and pound, New York has not brought its running game out on to the field, only amassing 284 yards in 4 games. It’s very difficult to be a one-dimensional offense when you’re an elite quarterback like Tom Brady, but expecting Sanchez to lead an aerial assault may be asking too much.  There are receivers to work with, but when the defense is sitting back, expecting a throw since the ground game is disregarded, turnovers become not if, but when.  It also doesn’t help that Sanchez’s offensive line too has been missing with the running game.  I don’t care who you are, Brady couldn’t do much either with only a few seconds to throw the ball.

Patriots Back On Track-All is right in the world, Brady shows off his brilliance, Wes Welker racks up a bunch of yards, Chad Ochocinco remains irrelevant, and the defense is still not reliable.  But wait, spotted at the Patriots 31-19 victory over the Raiders was, in fact, a running game.  Rookie Steven Ridley led the ground game with 97 yards as New England totaled 183 for the game.  Brady had to only throw 30 passes, after games of 48, 40, and 45 attempts. 

Falcons Experience Turbulance-This game looked to be over when the Falcons were leading 27-7 in the third quarter, but nearly collapsed like the others  as Steven Hauschka missed a 61-yard field goal as time expired.  Atlanta showed flashes of brilliance in building that lead, but it’s not a comforting win if you’re Head Coach Mike Smith.  The defense was the downfall last season, and despite the offseason improvements, you can’t handle the Seattle Seahawks?  If Tarvaris Jackson was giving them trouble, I can only imagine what Aaron Rodgers will do to them next Sunday night. 

Texans Roll, Johnson Trips-If not for Andre Johnson’s injury, the Houston Texans would be Chevy Riding High right now at 3-1 after a 17-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers; albeit a victory over the Steelers doesn’t seem to hold as much weight as it used to.  With the division in shambles as previously discussed (Indianapolis Mannings sans Manning, Jaguars are the Jaguars, and we are not ready to take the Titans seriously yet), Houston has to be feeling good about its prospects.  The only concern is the severity of Johnson’s injury. 

Vikings Remain Winless-Technically the season is not over, but sitting at 0-4 after a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs is as close to a nail in the coffin as one can get after four weeks.  Donovan McNabb has not worked out as hoped, and one has to wonder when the rookie first-round pick Christian Ponder will be thrown into the fire.
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Primetime Thoughts

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Posted on: September 20, 2011 10:34 pm
 

In The Trenches: Week 2 Thoughts

The top two scoring teams in the NFL after two weeks: Buffalo and Detroit.

Say What?

Lions, Bills, & 4 Wins, Oh My-Granted, two of them are against the injury-ravaged Chiefs, but Detroit and Buffalo are looking to cement themselves as legitimate playoff contenders.  It comes as no surprise that quarterback play has sparked the good starts as Matthew Stafford has shown us why the Lions hitched their wagon to him while Ryan Fitzpatrick has instilled life into a once lifeless Bills offense.  Detroit has to feel good considering the rest of the NFC.  The NFC West as previously concluded is a race to 8 wins, and the Cowboys and Giants have both caught the plague as players continue to drop like Obama’s approval rating.  I don’t think they’re ready to take down the Packers, but the path to a Wild Card spot looks to be within reach.  The Bills are in a much deeper AFC, including the Jets and Patriots as division opponents, but look like they will be playing meaningful football come December.

Vick’s Return to Old Nest Sour-The Eagles looked like they had taken control of the game late in the third quarter with a 31-21 lead.  Vick had been effective, but had also taken a beating throughout the game as the Falcons defense constantly got to the former Atlanta quarterback.  The hits piled up, and Vick was eventually forced to leave the game with a concussion.  However, nobody thought it would be his own offensive linemen to do the trick.

That Tom Brady’s So Hot Right Now-Zoolander’s Hansel would be proud to see what Tom Brady has been up to these days.  With what seemed to be all day to read the defense, Tom Terrific looked just about unstoppable as San Diego was his latest victim.  An early frontrunner to repeat as MVP, Brady will have to keep it going against the, dare I say it, offensive juggernaut that is the Buffalo Bills next week.

Redemption for Romo-Roasted across media outlets after his forgettable fourth quarter against the Jets, things were not looking great against the 49ers.  Two fractured ribs and a punctured lung are painful enough, much less dealing with that while reading coverage, avoiding massive linemen, and throwing the ball.  But Romo would go on, leading the fourth quarter comeback and overtime win to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start.  Romo definitely won over many who doubted him, but things don’t look up with wide receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin both dealing with nagging injuries.  Oh, and a few broken ribs.

Steel Curtain Clamps Down-All is well for Pittsburgh as the Steelers were left for dead by many after the Ravens blew them out.  Nothing like a matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback, to lift their spirits.

Ravens Get Clipped-Remember how great Baltimore was last week?  Me neither.  After filling up the bandwagon with a blowout win against the Steelers, Joe Flacco and Co. struggled mightily against the Tennessee Titans. #discouraging.

Smile for the Cam-era-The game against the Cardinals was taken with a grain of salt, shaky secondary play and all.  Green Bay’s defense is an elite one, and Cam Newton throws for another 400+ yards.  The three interceptions keep everyone in check as a reminder that Newton will have his lumps during his rookie season.  But this man looks like a star in the making, possessing the size, strength, and athleticism to be a force to be reckoned with.

Vikings Can’t Keep It Up-A second straight week the Vikings had a double-digit lead at halftime.  A second straight week the Vikings lose late in the fourth quarter.  Donovan McNabb, where art thou?

Jets Bounce Back-Having realized that they won’t face Romo again, New York decided that wins may not be gift wrapped as nicely as last Sunday’s.  The Jets stomped the Jaguars 32-3 behind four interceptions while holding Jacksonville to 203 total yards.  The offense didn’t face its biggest test, but Sanchez showed signs of improvement, going 17-24 for 182 yards.  The two interceptions are still a concern.

G-Men Win, But It Ain’t Pretty-A win is a win, but that was not an inspiring performance for the Giants as whole.  Eli Manning finished 18-29 with 200 yards, but started the game going 2-11.  The offense was helped by four first downs via Rams penalties along with St. Louis settling for three field goals in three red-zone trips.  It also didn’t hurt when Cadillac Williams watches a lateral instead of going after it, allowing Michael Boley to return the fumble for a touchdown. 

<span style="color: #6e8dcf;">Primetime Thoughts

Follow <span style="color: #3b5998;">David S. London on Twitter

Posted on: September 12, 2011 12:51 pm
 

In The Trenches: Week 1 Thoughts

I sure do miss that lockout talk.

Thoughts

Packers On Cue-If you had any doubts about the Packers contending this season, those should now be gone.  Aaron Rodgers looked sharp as did the rest of the Packer offense, putting up 42 points on the scoreboard and almost 400 total yards.  They allowed nearly 500 yards to the Saints, but let’s not forget about the fireworks Drew Brees and Co. regularly put up as well.  The Packers were able to slow New Orleans down on several occasions, including a goal-line stand to end the game.

Ravens Pummel Steelers-Games between these two tend to be hard-fought, down-to-the-wire, and low-scoring.

Sunday’s was none of the above.

In what may be his coming-out party, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco torched a tough Steeler defense for 224 yards and 3 touchdowns.  The stats may not be too eye-popping, but you saw Flacco dissect a Pittsburgh unit with ease, threading one pass after another.  Combine that with Ray Rice cruising to 107 yards rushing and an elite defense, folks we may have a runaway in the AFC North.

Falcons Get Clipped-All this offseason hype about a revamped offense, I was among many who jumped on the Falcons bandwagon.  The acquisition of Julio Jones was the last piece of the puzzle for Matt Ryan.  The offense would become an aerial assault and fade away from the run-heavy approach.

Maybe next week?

Ryan left much to be desired, with two turnovers and unable to get the Falcons in the end zone.  Perhaps credit is due to the Chicago Bears; I still am not sold and likely will not be for a while.  Things don’t get easier with a matchup against former Falcon Michael Vick next Sunday.

Life Sans Peyton-Talk about an eyesore.  Could it be any more clear which quarterback is most valuable to their team after Indianapolis looked like a shell of their former selves?  Kerry Collins is trying to fill some of the biggest shoes around in Peyton Manning, who is out indefinitely and it wasn’t pretty.  The Colts trailed 34-0 at halftime, the largest ever in their franchise history.  On the bright side, if Peyton doesn’t return, that put the Colts at the front of the line for the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.

Not the worst thing in the world, considering we can’t actually expect Manning to lead the Colts forever.  At least not with these recurring neck issues.

Dream Team Off To Good Start-Michael Vick took way too many hits and was 14-for-32, but the offense picked up where it left off last season in a 31-13 victory.  A bit sloppy for the Eagles, but the flashes of brilliance were demonstrated throughout the game.  Not the biggest test for the revamped defense, but a solid showing nonetheless.

Lions Pounce Tampa Bay-So far so good for the Lions bandwagon.  Matthew Stafford performed as expected, throwing for 305 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Tampa is not quite in the elite category, but they are no slouch either, and Detroit simply manhandled them on all fronts.  The Lions’ defense limited Tampa Bay to 1 touchdown and 56 yards rushing. 

Cam Newton Impresses-The pass coverage played by Arizona yesterday left much to be desired, but Cam Newton definitely showed people he is more than capable of leading an NFL offense.  A rookie-record 422 yards speaks for itself.  The Panthers are far from the playoffs, but they will be somewhat competitive and Newton will learn on the fly.  You can only learn so much while holding a clipboard. 

G-Men Replaced By Little Giants-The injuries that piled up during the preseason were absolutely inexplicable.  If the Giants had no bad luck, they’d have no luck at all.  Eli Manning also lost two reliable options on offense in Steve Smith (Eagles) and Kevin Boss (Raiders).  That being said, the last Manning standing looked atrocious.  A veteran quarterback by now, Manning looked lost at times in the second half.  The Redskins offense looked better than it has in recent memory, Rex Grossman, Sexy Rexy, proved capable.  Again, give credit where it’s due.  But if you’re a Giant fan, it doesn’t look too promising going forward.

Chargers Get Around Slow Start-They all said that this season would be different, that they’d get off to a quick start.  Last season’s special teams’ issues are a thing of the past.

Only to allow a kickoff-return touchdown on the very first play.

San Diego trailed 17-7 at halftime and looked headed for yet another season with early letdown.  Philip Rivers was not the sharpest, throwing 2 interceptions, and the Vikings offense in the first half showed some signs of life.

Much like that time Huff and Doback put liquid paper on a bee, the Vikings offense, died.

Donovan McNabb’s debut as a Viking, well, not the best.  It’s hard to find positives when your final stat line looks like this: 7-for-15 with 39 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.  That’s an average of under 6 yards per completion.

Yikes.

San Diego was fortunate that their slow start was outweighed by Minnesota’s quarterback’s ineptitude.  The victory was bittersweet, as they lost their Pro Bowl Kicker Nate Kaeding to a torn ACL and Nose Tackle Luis Castillo to a broken leg.

Romo Hands Win To Jets-For the most part, Mark Sanchez was Dirty Sanchez, leaving the Jets offense nowhere to be found.  Tony Romo had been cruising all day against one of the top defenses in the NFL.  I’m not blind to the fact that other plays were crucial in this fourth-quarter meltdown, such as the blocked punt for a touchdown, or Jim Leonhard not giving up on the play and stopping Witten at the Jets’s 3-yard line, but Romo’s two turnovers in the fourth quarter cost at least a field goal and set up the Jets in field goal range with under a minute remaining.  The Jets better hope Mark Sanchez picks up his play, because they don’t play Tony Romo again this season.

<span style="color: #6e8dcf;">Primetime Thoughts

Follow <span style="color: #3b5998;">David S. London on Twitter

Posted on: September 8, 2011 12:45 am
 

In The Trenches: NFL Season Preview

The lockout is old news and the Saints and Packers square off Thursday.  The only thing missing from this anticipation of the NFL season is Brett Favre overkill…for now.

Packers Set To Defend Title-The Green Bay Packers begin their title defense against New Orleans with the dreaded Super Bowl hangover tossed around.  Unlike the many winners before them, Green Bay looks equipped to dominate for the immediate future and make a run at a dynasty.  Aaron Rodgers has made all Cheeseheads forget bout his predecessor/alleged sextor, letting his play speak for itself.  With a loaded receiving core, a healthy Ryan Grant in the backfield, and a defense which remains intact, look for more of the same from the Packers. 

Eagles Do Their Best Heat Impression-There was no championship-esque celebration in the offseason or guarantees of 5, 6, 7 titles, but the Philadelphia Eagles were reeling in big names much like the Miami Heat.  Nnamdi Asomugha, Domingue Rodgers-Cromartie, and Asante Samuel give the Eagles the best cornerback trio in football.  Jason Babin shores up the defensive line.  The linebacker group is weak in comparison, but with the Eagles likely leading most of their games, teams will be forced to pass against the aforementioned three-headed monster with a solid defensive line.  The offense got deeper as well with Ronnie Brown backing up LeSean McCoy.

New Cardinal Set To Spread Wings-It was discussed before the lockout began, and it happened once the lockout ended.  Traded for Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2012 2nd-round pick, Arizona is banking on Kevin Kolb to be more Kurt Warner and less like Derek Anderson.  The Cardinals locked up Kolb for 6 years, $65 million, with $22 million guaranteed.  Now Kolb has impressed when he’s played, but the guy’s only made 7 starts in his career.  Whether Kolb ends up working out for the Cardinals only time will tell, but they’re probably relieved that Anderson is no longer starting.  The numbers may be easy to top, but will he be as <span style="color: #743399;">serious about the game?

Who Wants the NFC West?-In all seriousness, a 7-9 team made the playoffs for the first time in NFL history.  You could’ve discovered that all four teams were doing their due diligence in hopes of a high draft pick.  All these teams seem to be undergoing makeovers.  The Cardinals have a new quarterback, St. Louis looks to build off Sam Bradford’s solid rookie season, Rookie Head Coach Jim Harbaugh throws Alex Smith one last bone to provide pedestrian results under center (though he could be secretly plotting for Andrew Luck, hmm), and Pete Carroll’s balance-of-power-changing move was, Tarvaris Jackson?Not so sure about that one Petey, but Sidney Rice is a nice addition to the receiving core.

All in all, let’s hope this isn’t another race to 8 wins.

AFC South Up For Grabs-A division which Peyton Manning has routinely put in his back pocket now looks to be up for grabs.  The Colts quarterback’s streak of 227 consecutive games comes to an end due to a slow recovery from neck surgery.  Somewhere Favre is basking in the glory of his streak remaining intact while sporting his wrangler jeans on a tractor in the heart of Mississippi. 

Manning’s return remains a question mark, leaving the Houston Texans in the driver’s seat.  With last year’s 9-7 season being their first ever above .500, Houston looks primed to make a postseason appearance.  The offense remains intact with Matt Schaub at the helm, with Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, and Arian Foster at his disposal.  Although if Foster gets a hold of his teammates future scans, it may put them at a disadvantage (I hear he posts them on twitter).  The offense is the same, but the defense looks to be viable with the addition of Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips.  Prized acquisition Jonathan Joseph should help the secondary, but it will be up to Phillips to turn this defense around. 

Lions Ready to Roar?-The laughingstock of the NFL for the last several years, non-sextors aside, the Detroit Lions bandwagon looks to be filling up rapidly.  Franchise Quarterback Matthew Stafford has shown flashes in his two seasons.  Only thing is, he’s only played 13 of 32 games due to injury.  If Stafford can prove to be healthy, watch out for the Lions offense to be a top-10 unit this season.  That with arguably the nastiest defensive line in football has people thinking relevant December football for these guys, and dare I say it, playoffs?  The rest of the defense may be shaky, but when you put pressure on the quarterback, it makes the job a lot easier on everyone else.   

 Hey Everybody, It’s the New Kid-Two rookie quarterbacks will be thrown into the fire from the get go.  Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals and Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers will have even less to work off than most rookie quarterbacks because of the lack of offseason workouts with teammates.  Neither one is ready to take the reins, but Carolina needs to sell tickets, and frankly, if you’ve seen Jimmy Claussen play, you know Carolina is no better.  So Newton might as well take his lumps and earn the experience.  Dalton was supposed to sit and learn the ropes, but then Carson Palmer decided he didn’t want to play for a halfway house, err, the Bengals anymore.    Palmer will play for anyone else, but Owner Mike Brown won’t budge, feeling that Palmer should, “honor his contract.” Funny coming from an owner who will never hesitate to rid themselves of a bad deal. 

State of AFC West Address-The Chargers, perennial favorites, say this year’s different, that they won’t struggle out of the gate.  If they can live up to their promise, this division is theirs for the taking.  Kansas City was a nice story, but they seem more like a bubble team.  Don’t be fooled by Denver starting Kyle Orton, the playoffs take a backseat as the Broncos try to decide what exactly should Tim Tebow be doing.  Among options such as tight end and full back also include team pastor.  And nobody really ever knows what Al Davis is doing with the Raiders.

Big Names, New Places-Donovan McNabb is a Viking, Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth are both Patriots, and Reggie Bush is a Dolphin.  Aging Pro Bowl players, expect all to make impacts with their new teams, showing to all that a fresh start was in order, especially McNabb.

Coaching Debuts-6 teams will be with new coaches, only 1 (John Fox, Denver) is not coaching their first-ever NFL game.  None of these teams are expected to do much in the standings, but Raiders Head Coach Hue Jackson has to be aware of the looney bin that also serves as his boss.  Talk about job security.

Predictions
My regular season picks <span style="color: #743399;">last season left much to be desired, only nailing 7 out of 12 playoff teams, but I did pencil Green Bay for the Super Bowl, thus credibility is restored. 

NFC East
Philadelphia
Dallas
New York
Washington

NFC West
Arizona
St. Louis
San Francisco
Seattle

NFC North
Green Bay
Detroit
Minnesota
Chicago

NFC South
Atlanta
New Orleans
Tampa Bay
Carolina

Wild Card: Dallas, New Orleans

AFC East
New York
New England
Miami
Buffalo

AFC West
San Diego
Oakland
Kansas City
Denver

AFC North
Baltimore
Pittsburgh
Cleveland
Cincinnati

AFC South
Houston
Indianapolis
Tennessee
Jacksonville

Wild Card: New England, Pittsburgh

Super Bowl XLVI- Atlanta vs. New York

<span style="color: #6e8dcf;">Primetime Thoughts

Follow <span style="color: #3b5998;">David S. London on Twitter

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com