Monday Morning Realist Week 11

By Akiem Bailum, host of TRST’s “10 Minutes on the Clock”, Twitter: @Li495Akiem

Weak Cards In Every Deck

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The Atlanta Falcons have held the top spot in the NFC ever since Week 1. If there was any week for the Dirty Birds of the ATL to lose, it was this week.

With the Cardinals coming into their matchup vs. the 8-1 Falcons having lost 5 straight, Atlanta was seen as a heavy favorite. This was supposed to be one of the more relatively easier victories that the Falcons could rack up this season, right?

Right?

Right….?!

Wrong.

The first play for the Atlanta Falcons from scrimmage would be prophetic of how the entire game would go. Matt Ryan’s first throw would be intercepted by the Cardinals’ Rashad Johnson. The Cardinals capitalized on it with runs from Laron Stephens-Howling to take a 7-0 lead.

Atlanta would turn the ball over to Arizona two more times in the 1st quarter as Ryan would throw 3 picks in the opening frame alone. He would have 5 for the game. After 1 quarter, Arizona was leading 13-0 on the top team in the NFC as their defense started to resemble the defense was had seen during the 1st 4 weeks of play.

The Falcons would slowly, but surely, claw their way back into it as they took advantage of the fact that Arizona’s struggling offense settled for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. The 3-yard run in the 1st quarter from Laron Stephens-Howling would be the only TD for the Cards. 4 Jay Feely field goals would round out the Arizona offensive attack.

You had to have a feeling that the Falcons would find a way to pull it off. First with John Skelton, and then with Ryan Lindley (who made his NFL debut, by the way), their offense never really got going. Atlanta had another bad day when it came to stopping the run as the Cardinals would outrush the Falcons 137-58. Passing, it would be a different story. Larry Fitzgerald only caught the ball 1 time for 11 yards.

In addition to the 5 picks and 1 sack, Matt Ryan went 28/46 for 301 yards. Roddy White, though, would have a huge day despite their difficulties contending with the ‘Zona D—8 catches for 123 yards.

The Falcons move to 9-1 while the Cardinals are now 4-6 and losers of 6 consecutive games. Arizona hasn’t been the same team since the Kevin Kolb injury. It’s obvious that if this team had a real NFL quarterback (like a Peyton Manning, for example, whom they were pursuing over the offseason) they’d be a more legitimate contender than they are now.

As for the playoff-bound Falcons, they seem to be in trouble if they have plans on going to New Orleans to play in the Super Bowl this year. Teams now know how to beat this team—with defense and the running game. I picked Atlanta to get to the Super Bowl, but right now, they do not want to face the Seahawks in the postseason.

In Week 12, the Falcons travel on the road to play the Buccaneers while the Cardinals go back home to face their division rival St. Louis Rams.

Free Football in Texas (Part I)

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At 4-5 entering Week 11, the Dallas Cowboys probably needed to defeat the Cleveland Browns in order continue to have a shot at the playoffs. At 4-6 in the NFC, it wouldn’t look good going forward for America’s Team.

The Browns at this point are 2-7 and 0-4 on the road & are playing for solely pride at this point. Early on, though, you would think the roles were reversed. At the end of 1 quarter, the score would be 13-0 Browns—just like Cardinals/Falcons was.

And just like the Cardinals/Falcons game, the Cowboys would come back to the tie it, but it would be tied at the end of regulation. Trent Richardson turned out to be the huge performer for Cleveland with 28 carries for 95 yards. Brandon Weeden also continued his improving play with a 20/35 day for 210 yards and 2 TDs.

Tony Romo was put under duress all game long. The Browns defense managed to get to the ‘Boys #9 a grand total of 7 times. 8 Cleveland defenders, including Craig Robertson and (appropriately since we’re entering the holiday season) Frostee Rucker were responsible for the 7 sacks on Romo.

As it turned out, this game would be one of 3 on Sunday that would go into overtime. Dan Bailey had already kicked 2 field goals earlier. He would end it with a 38 yarder to send the Cowboys Stadium crowd home happy. Dallas prevailed 23-20. Even though Romo was sacked 7 times, he did throw for 313 yards on 35/50 passing and 1 TD.

Also, Dez Bryant is one of the most maligned players in the league for his off-the-field exploits (and rightfully so). But his day was big today for the Silver and Blue—12 catches for 145 yards.

There would be a scary moment towards the end of the game when the Cowboys’ Kevin Ogletree would collide helmet to helmet to helmet with two Cleveland Browns and would be taken out of the game. With the high amount of concussions suffered last week, this is the last thing anyone wanted to see happen to any player.

Dallas is now 5-5 and only 1 game behind the 6-4 New York Giants who were on their bye week in Week 11 (the last week for bye weeks, by the way). Dallas gets Washington at home in their annual Thanksgiving Day matchup this Thursday Turkey Day. Cleveland’s next opponent shall be the Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday for Week 12. The Browns are now 2-8.

Free Football in Texas (Part II)

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Two NFL football games occurred in the state of Texas on Sunday. Browns/Cowboys wouldn’t be the only one that would result in free football for the fans in a state that has to be considered the American Football capital of the world.

Jaguars/Texans at Reliant Stadium also would extend into overtime as it seemed on paper that this one wasn’t even supposed to be competitive. Jacksonville was 1-8 coming into this game and are playing only for pride. The Texans are coming off an impressive defensive performance against the Chicago Bears on a nationally televised matchup on Sunday Night Football. Mismatch on paper, right?

Right?

Right…?!?!

Wrong.

With no Blaine Gabbert for most the game, Chad Henne would be taking the snaps on the day for the Jacksonville Jaguars…and didn’t do too badly. Houston’s defense clearly didn’t game plan for Henne as they did for Gabbert and it showed—Henne threw 16/33 for 354 yards and 4 TDs this game. Justin Blackmon would have a monster outing for Jacksonville as well as he caught 7 passes for an astounding 236 yards.

Though, obviously, part of that is the fact that the game would go deep into overtime as was shown by the box scores for both teams. The top-5 ranked defense in the NFL was being carved up by a quarterback who isn’t exactly a veteran and a team that isn’t exactly in the thick of things even in a weak AFC. It was 34-20 in the 4th quarter.

2 touchdowns from Matt Schaub to Garrett Graham later, Houston would tie it up and the score became 34-34.

With just over 4:00 minutes left in the overtime period, both Jacksonville and Houston were tied at 37-37. Last week in the NFC West, the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams would resolve nothing in 5 periods of play as their game resulted in a tie. Late in the overtime period, it looked like we’d be seeing two straight ties in two consecutive weeks. Chalk that possibility, obviously, up to the new overtime rules that make NFL overtimes more similar to those in college.

Schaub initially would throw an interception before the Jaguars would turn the ball over on downs. Then, a 48 yard connection from Schaub to Andre Johnson later would seal the deal as the Texans improved to 9-1 with a 43-37 victory over the Jaguars. Matt Schaub would throw for the 2nd most yards of a quarterback in NFL history—527 with 5 TDs and 2 interceptions and a 43/55 day. Johnson also had himself a big day too—14 receptions for 273 yards and (of course) the game winning score.

With Week 12 upcoming, it’ll be a short week of practice for the Houston Texans as they will play the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Thanksgiving Day. The 1-9 Jacksonville Jaguars will stay in the division as they play the Tennessee Titans in J-Ville.

Mojo Risin’

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Important free football wouldn’t only take place in the state of Texas. It also did so in North Carolina as the 5-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers took on their divisional rival Carolina Panthers at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.

After losing 4 of their first 5, the Bucs have out of nowhere looked like one of the hottest (if not the hottest) team in the league. Carolina is another one of these teams that are simply playing for pride at this point, but they too hung tough with a good team in their division. At one point, it was 21-10 Panthers.

Tampa would tie the game up with only 12 seconds left in regulation with a Vincent Jackson touchdown catch from Josh Freeman. The Bucs getting Vincent Jackson is paying dividends for them.

One 15 yard pass from Freeman to former Colt Dallas Clark later would seal this one for the Bucs as they came back to defeat the Panthers 27-21. Tampa Bay now is 6-4 with the Panthers at 2-8.

One notable statistic came from Doug Martin. ESPN’s SportsNation is now referring to him as “Martin ScoresEasy”. He ran easy once again today—24 carries for 138 yards as he continues to make a case for rookie of the year. Samantha Gordon isn’t the only runningback that America has become introduced to this year, apparently.

Josh Freeman (who I still maintain as underrated) went 25/46 for 248 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions.

Cam Newton’s line would include a 16/29 for 252 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions, and 2 sacks. Brandon LaFell for the Panthers would have 6 catches for 93 yards.

Next up for the Buccaneers shall be the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium—a game that many will have as a potential upset pick for Week 12. The Panthers will go on the road to Philadelphia to play the 3-7 lowly Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday Night Football.

Not Quite Ready, Just Yet

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Patriots/Colts was unarguably the hottest ticket on the NFL programme from about 2001 to 2009. But, with Peyton Manning now in Denver and leading that team towards the playoffs, it has lost a little bit of luster lately.

By the way, Peyton and his Broncos had a huge game vs. the Chargers and Philip Rivers who seemingly thinks he plays for the other team these days.

The story of the Indianapolis Colts has been one of the most appealing to NFL fans this year. Coach Chuck Pagano is battling leukemia and the team has used it as a rallying cry for the rest of the season. Andrew Luck is right up there with Doug Martin (and possibly Robert Griffin III) as a rookie of the year candidate.

They were 6-3 heading into their game in Foxboro vs. the New England Patriots when no one (myself included) expect Indy to even be in this position after a dreadful 2-14 “Suck for Luck” clip they posted last year.

Of course, one had to fully expect reality to set in as they went up against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. No sane person outside of the state of Indiana should’ve been predicting the Colts to beat the Patriots. Maybe in the future when Luck gets more experience, but not now.

Indy was able to hold their own for a while. They took leads of 7-0 and 14-7 in the 1st half and were only down by a touchdown at the end of the 1st half.

Then Tom Brady put on his Superman cape, or something.

After the 1st half it was over. What was close at the half would become a rout at the end of the 3rd quarter. It was 38-17 Patriots by then. It would be 59-24 by the time there would be 4 zero’s on the game clock at the end of the 4th quarter.

It was another blowout victory for the Pats, something that they’ve become more and more accustomed to over the years. Brady would have another Brady-like performance going 24/35 for 331 yards, 3 TDs. As for Rob Gronkowski, his day would include 7 receptions for 137 yards and 2 of the Pats’ touchdowns.

Unfortunately for the Pats, the win would come at a cost. Gronk was later diagnosed with a broken forearm and will be going in for surgery on Monday. He’ll miss 4-6 weeks (possibly the remainder of the regular season). They’re already banged up enough with no Aaron Hernandez.

As for Andrew Luck, he’d go 27/50 for 334 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions.

The Patriots will play their divisional rival New York Jets on Thanksgiving Night on NBC and are now 7-3. The 6-4 Colts will return home to Lucas Oil Stadium for a matchup vs. the Buffalo Bills

Preserving The Status Quo

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Baltimore Ravens. Pittsburgh Steelers.

As football fans, we all know by now the numerous connotations of hard-hitting, smash-mouth football that are associated with these two teams. Week 11 of Sunday Night Football in 2012 would be no different.

Of course, this game would be missing some notable defensive presences, including Ray Lewis and Troy Polamalu. It’d also be missing Ben Roethlisberger. With the injury he sustained last week vs. the Kansas City Chiefs putting him on the shelf for 3-4 weeks, the Steelers now are turning to former Jaguars QB Byron Leftwich in Big Ben’s stead.

The start of the game looked promising for the Steelers. They got out to an early 7-0 lead thanks to a 31 yard run from Leftwich for a TD. That’s one thing that most will not remember him doing at any time while playing in North Florida for the Jags.

It also came at a cost as after the TD, he seemed to be clutching his throwing arm and it showed throughout the duration of the game. He didn’t seem to have the same zip on some of his throws as one would have. And with Roethlisberger on the shelf until December, this was without a doubt, the last thing any Steeler fan needed to see. The words “Charlie Batch” started to come out of the mouths of football fans in Western Pennsylvania.

After that, the Steelers would score only once after that. They’d struggle to get anything going as on many of Leftwich’s passes, they’d be immediately met by Ravens defenders or their secondary.

On the other side, Joe Flacco’s line for the day would be 20/32 for 164 yards and 0 TDs.

The biggest play of the day would come courtesy of a Baltimore Raven as late in the 4th quarter, Jacoby Jones returned a Steelers punt 63 yards to make it 10-7 Ravens. That gave Baltimore a lead and they wouldn’t look back after that. Jones, earlier in the year, has already notched returns of 100+ yards twice, so he’s given the Ravens a pretty good year so far on special teams.

Even at the conclusion of Week 11, it’s not over. In fact, the Steelers and Ravens will meet again in 2 weeks as part of the Week 13 schedule. This time, of course, it’ll be played at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

As for Week 12, the 8-2 Ravens travel almost the full way across the country to San Diego to play the struggling Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. 6-4 Pittsburgh gets the Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, and the Cincinnati Bengals were also victorious over the tepid Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11 by a final score of 28-6. Cincy is 5-5, meaning 3 teams in that division have a chance at the playoffs, including those somewhat surprising Bengals.

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

 

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Posted on November 19, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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