Monday Morning Realist Week 10

Twitter: @Li495Akiem

Rotten Apple

Week 10 of the 2012 NFL campaign will be looked at as forgettable for both franchises that represent the nation’s top market.

After doing eenie-meenie-miney-mo between the Giants and Jets, I decided to start with Big Blue.
After coming off a loss last week vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, the G-Men continued their test of the AFC North in Week 10 by going on the road to Paul Brown Stadium to face the Cincinnati Bengals.

Now, it has Giants fans all over the Tri-State area checking their calendars to see if there are any more AFC North games on their schedule.

The key for the Bengals today included their running game in opposition to that of New York’s in addition to turnovers. Cincinnati rushed for 129 yards and the Giants mustered a mere 76. They nearly doubled the amount of rushing yards New York had.

Turnovers normally do not win you football games either. The Giants had 4 while the Bengals only had 1. 2 of those turnovers were Eli Manning interceptions. He would also go 29/46 for 215 yards, 4 sacks, and no touchdowns. Andy Dalton would throw for 4 TDs despite less than 199 yards on a 21/30 day for him.

That’s now 2 straight that the Giants have lost and it once again has the faithful of Big Blue worried. In the past (i.e. before Eli Manning and head coach Tom Coughlin won 2 Super Bowls), this would prompt Giants fans to call into sports talk radio in New York and begin crowing about quarterback changes, criticism that Eli Manning is nothing more than Peyton’s little brother, and calls for Tom Coughlin’s head on a silver platter.

It’s also common for the Giants, even in the years where they’ve won Super Bowls, to have these 2nd half swoons and still manage to back into the playoffs. The rest of the Giants’ schedule is rather tough as well.

As for the Bengals, the win will continue to reinvigorate their playoff hopes in a weak AFC while still contending with the Ravens and Steelers—the latter of which looks like the hottest team in football at this point.

The record of the Giants is now 6-4 while the Bengals move to 4-5. The Giants will be on a bye week for Week 11 while the Bengals should go 5-5 when they play the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

Sounding Off

While the Bengals made mince meat of the Giants, the Jets traveled to Seattle to play the Seahawks. Gang Green was coming off of a bye week in Week 9 after being embarrassed at home by the Miami Dolphins 30-9. That was in a contest in which the Jets outdid the Dolphins in nearly every statistical category—except the one that mattered the most.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks were coming off a victory in Week 9 over the Minnesota Vikings that was dominated by rushing attacks. Marshawn Lynch would run for 124 yards in that game while Adrian Peterson had nearly 180.

Some things, unfortunately for the Jets, do not change.

It turned out to be (not) precisely what the struggling Jets offense needed—traveling to play a top 5 NFL defense in Seattle in a stadium known for its decibel level. The Jets offensive performance today included a grand total of no offensive touchdowns. The only TD on the game was off a fumble recovery in the 1st quarter.

Other than that, the line for Mark Sanchez was 9 for 22 with 144 yards, no touchdowns, 1 interception, and 3 sacks. An easy indicator of when Mark Sanchez has an off day is when Tim Tebow is ever in the game. He was and went 3 for 3. Dustin Keller also had a couple of key drops in this game.

Meanwhile, Seattle continues its push towards the postseason. Russell Wilson went 12 for 19 with 188 yards and 2 touchdowns. Marshawn Lynch had himself another huge day with 124 yards on 27 carries.
Here’s one way you know it was going to be a bad day for the Jets—the Seahawks first touchdown wasn’t thrown from Russell Wilson. It was thrown by Golden Tate. Tate had more TD passes on the day than did Sanchez. And, like Tebow, Tate is a southpaw.

Seattle is now 6-4 in a division that is looking more like it’ll be contested between them and San Francisco. Between their defense and their rushing attack, they are not a team I would want to face in the playoffs if I’m the Atlanta Falcons (who should be the top seed). Week 11 is a bye week for the ‘Hawks.

This could be a team that’s built for January despite the rookie quarterback. If not for the fact that they have a rookie quarterback, we’d be talking about them as Super Bowl contenders.
As for the Jets, the beat continues for them at 3-6 and the Rams lurking next week in St. Louis. As the postseason becomes less of a possibility for Gang Green, the calls in the Tri-State Area for the job of Rex Ryan will only get louder.

So will the Tim Tebow chants.

Saint Finished Yet!

New Orleans’ Week 10 matchup against the division rival (and undefeated) Atlanta Falcons was described as their Super Bowl. This was an accurate description. Heading into the game the Saints had won 3 of their last 4 games, but a loss to the Falcons in the same division would have been, possibly, the final blow to their postseason chances in a very tough NFC.

I predicted the Falcons would win this one because despite the Saints winning 3 of their last 4, what didn’t change is the fact that the Saints had the worst defense in the NFL.

The game turned out to be more reflective of one other statistic that could hurt the Falcons come postseason time—the Falcons’ weakness that is their rush defense. The Saints exploited that weakness today by outrushing Atlanta 148-46. To teams that may face the Falcons in the playoffs—that is how you beat them.

Some major offensive numbers were put up today. Drew Brees was 21/32 with 298 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Matt Ryan threw for a career best 411 yards, 34/52, also with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White would have more than 100 receiving yards as did Jimmy Graham for New Orleans.

When it mattered late with the Falcons driving into the red zone down by 4 and needing a touchdown, they got a defensive stop forcing a turnover on downs. No doubt that it was the biggest defensive stop of the year for New Orleans in a year that has been devoid of many this year.

Tony Gonzalez, though, did reach a milestone as he continues to engrave new accomplishments that will be on his Hall of Fame plaque after his career ends—100 touchdown receptions.

What does this mean? It means that the Saints are once again in the playoff race with Atlanta and a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that is 5-4 and has won 4 consecutive themselves. It’s a safe bet that 4-5 for the Saints will become 5-5 since they get the Oakland Raiders in Oakland-Alameda next week. If what the Ravens did to the Raiders is any indication, I won’t want to be in the Black Hole next week as a Raider fan because it has a butt-whooping written all over it.

As for the Falcons, most pundits will still pick them to win the Super Bowl. I picked them to be the NFC representatives prior to the year starting. But, this team is starting to remind me of those Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts teams. Efficient offense, but had a weakness when it came to defending the run. It was their Achilles heel many a postseason and it could be that of Atlanta this year.

Also, more questions will arise of the Falcons if they once again flame out in the postseason this year. The talk in Atlanta will be if they’re a team built for the regular season and not the playoffs.
Atlanta is 8-1 and gets the flailing Cardinals at the Georgia Dome next week. Saints get the Raiders.

By the way, there’s a party this week at Mercury Morris’ place, I’ve heard.

Kissing Your Sister?

Ties in the NFL are, of course, a possibility. Ties in the NFL are, also of course, a rarity. In today’s society of sports cynics, ties are treated in almost the same capacity as losses.

Take what happened the last time an NFL game ended with both teams with the identical amount of points. It was in 2008 when an Eagles and Browns matchup concluded tied at 13. What everyone takes away from that game was when Donovan McNabb gave a press conference when he claimed that he didn’t know an NFL game could end in a tie.

The reaction around the Delaware Valley was immediate. Many Philadelphia Eagles fans as well as media eviscerated him for being an idiot and oblivious to the rules of football. Others just used it as an excuse for their case that he should leave football given he was entering the back end of his career.

Ties are taken as an aberration in the American sports landscape. They’re teased as being a result that should only happen in soccer or hockey.

We enter into the picture, today’s Rams/49ers game at Candlestick Point in San Francisco. What was 17-7 Rams going into the 4th quarter ended in a 24-24 tie as it concluded.

For most of the game, the NFC West leading Rams got outplayed. Steven Jackson ran for 101 yards while Frank Gore had nearly the same amount. St. Louis possessed the football for about 6 minutes longer than did the Niners.

Most of this was done with San Francisco’s quarterback injured. Alex Smith left the game with a concussion. Meaning Colin Kaepernick would be taking the snaps for the 49ers. While the centerpiece of their offense is Gore, Kaepernick did run for a touchdown in addition to going 11/17 with 117 yards with no passing TDs or interceptions.

Sam Bradford did have himself a respectable game as well—26/39 for 275 and 2 TDs.

St. Louis’ defensive line also looked like an NFC West defensive line based on what we’ve seen this year by sacking Niner quarterbacks 5 times—Michael Brocker and Robert Quinn each with 1.5.

It’s rare when a team’s record includes 3 numbers instead of one, but the Rams are now 3-5-1 while the 49ers are now 6-2-1. St. Louis goes home to play the lowly J-E-T-S. The Niners will be at home on Monday Night Football next week vs. the Chicago Bears.

We Want Foles!

Philly fans got Foles, albeit, in inauspicious fashion.

Week 10 between the Cowboys and Eagles in South Philly’s Lincoln Financial Field was a must win for both teams. Both were coming into the game 3-5, but the Eagles had lost 4 straight after a promising start to the season despite being bitten by turnovers.

Eventually, turnovers and porous offensive line play finally caught up to them and now they’re fighting for their playoff lives—if there are any at this point.

Head coach Andy Reid is also fighting for his job and football fans in the Delaware Valley have had enough. How popular most Jon Gruden (or even Oregon head football coach Chip Kelly) be in Philadelphia these days?

Philly got the game started with a 7-0 with a Michael Vick touchdown pass to Riley Cooper. The Cowboys would assume the advantage at half with the score being 10-7.

Michael Vick would be taken out of the game after suffering a concussion and an eye injury. So, in came Nick Foles. His first throw to Jason Avant wasn’t a bad throw but it was incomplete off of Avant’s helmet after he pulled up lame on the turf while running his route.

Foles’ first (and only) touchdown pass would be to Jeremy Maclin for 44 yards. At that moment, Twitter blew up with folks proclaiming that Foles had just wrested Vick’s job away from him. His first game wasn’t too bad given the circumstances—22/32 for 219 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He was also sacked 3 times and turned the ball over once on a fumble.

Meanwhile, for the Cowboys, Tony Romo would go 19/26 for 209 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Dallas won this game in the 3rd quarter. It was 17-17, but a Dwayne Harris 78-yard punt return for a touchdown made it 24-17. 1 minute later, Foles’ interception was caught by Brandon Carr who took it 47 yards to the house. It was 31-17 and at that point, fake pink slips were being written throughout Eastern Pennsylvania directed at Andy Reid.

The next game for the Eagles will also be in the division—on the road in Landover, Maryland’s FedEx Field to play the Washington Redskins. Dallas heads home to play the Cleveland Browns. “America’s Team” is a 4-5 team right now.

Texans Are Pretty Good…No Bull

The last time the Houston Texans appeared on Sunday Night Football wasn’t a memorable experience for the Bulls on Parade. It was vs. the Green Bay Packers in Houston and Aaron Rodgers threw for a franchise record 6 touchdown in what was a victory with authority.

Rodgers and the Packers frustrated the Texans as they would commit a plethora of uncharacteristic penalties as well.

This time around would go a lot better for Houston than did last time. Coming into their matchup at Chicago’s Soldier Field, both the Texans and Bears were 7-1. Both were praised for their stellar defenses.

Throw in rainy conditions, and you have a matchup that will be conducive to high defensive performance. That’s what we got. In the first half of the game, both teams would combine for 6 turnovers. That’s a testament to defense outplaying offense.

Houston’s Danieal Manning (1 pick & an ex-Bear) & Kareem Jackson (1 pick) as well as Chicago’s Tim Jennings (2 picks) were especially stout on defense for their respective clubs. The conditions didn’t make things easier for the offenses either.

Jay Cutler only went 7/14 for 40 yards and 2 interceptions, but this was because the concussion bug also hit him too. Like Michael Vick, Alex Smith, and several other NFL’ers in the day, he would also be taken out of his game due to suffering a concussion. Backup QB Jason Campbell was only 11/19 for 94 yards.

Even Matt Schaub in the victory threw for less than 100 yards by going 14/26 for only 95 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, and 1 sack courtesy of Julius Peppers.

If anyone on offense stood out, it was the Texans’ Arian Foster with 29 carries for 102 yards as well as Chicago’s Brandon Marshall who caught 8 passes for 107 yards. Other than that, it was all defense. You are hoping that this is a preview of the Super Bowl if you prefer old-school, defensive, smash-mouth football.

One meme that much was made of was the idea that the Texans couldn’t win in bad conditions given that they’re mainly a “dome” team playing in warm Houston. I never believed that for a second.

With the victory, the Texans increase their record to 8-1 and maintain their hold on the 1 seed in the AFC. They’ll go home to play division rival Jacksonville in Week 11. As for Chicago, they’ll be on another nationally televised game next week—Monday Night Football in San Francisco vs. the 6-2-1 49ers.

Stay tuned to TRST for the most in NFL coverage, including The NFL Final Score every Sunday!

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Posted on November 12, 2012, in NFL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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