Runnin’ Up The Gut: Week 7 NFL Analysis and Review

First and foremost, I’d like to apologize for the lack of a column the past few weeks. Life’s been pretty nuts over here on this side of the fence, and now that it’s somewhat stable, I can once again bring to you an analysis the only way I know how: right down the middle, no-nonsense, and unbiased!

Now, looking at what’s been going on since my last column, there’s been a lot going on, including the trade of Randy Moss to Minnesota, Brett Favre’s “scandal”, and Dallas Clark being injured for the rest of the season, just to name a few. These are just a few of the things that I have had mentioned to me worth mentioning this week, and I’ll start off with the one that I’ve been getting the most, and the question that I’ve been hearing since it happened:

Did the New England Patriots make a mistake in trading Randy Moss?

I have mentioned in previous weeks that I still believe Randy Moss is one of the elite wide receivers in the NFL today. For any team to trade him away is certainly a huge loss, but for what the Patriots traded him for…that is the mistake I believe they made. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Patriots are notorious for hoarding draft picks and making them successful (Tom Brady comes to mind), but for such a receiver as Moss, they could have gotten much more from the WR-depleted Vikings. At that point, they badly needed a good receiver, with the loss of Sidney Rice, and they would have paid a lot more for Moss, I would think. The question of whether or not Moss prospered from the trade still remains to be seen, but for what the Vikings paid for him, it looks to be a downright steal.

The next question I would like to address this week comes from the staggering amount of penalties that were called last week. This question is one that has been burning through my own mind, and I felt like it needed to be addressed this week, after hearing it during commentary in the New York/Dallas game last Monday:

Should the coaches of the NFL be allowed to challenge more than three times in a game?

Given the controversies of these past couple of weeks, including the Miami/Pittsburgh touchdown fumble call, I do think that someone does need to meet with officials regarding these inconclusive calls. That call decided the game, and while it may or may not have been conclusive as to which team recovered, it doesn’t excuse the fact that the officials, in essence, decided the game. Sure, these things do tend to happen from time to time, but if you ask any NFL player, coach, owner…anyone involved with the NFL, they will tell you that every game counts. Such a call completely shifted the balance, and while one could argue that this was the second week in a row that the Steelers had such a call in their favor, this is not intended to point the finger or to promote another team’s agenda; this is to look at the bigger picture. Now, in the first half of the Giants/Cowboys game, Tom Coughlin used up both of his alloted challenges, and was correct in doing so, earning himself a third challenge. The rule is, after earning your third challenge, it is irrelevant as to whether or not the third challenge is correct; that is the final one, therefore, a coach can only challenge up to three times a game. Now, with the rule about “conclusive evidence”, is that truly a fair rule? What is defined as “inconclusive”? Now, looking closely, I can say with confidence that a Miami player fell on the ball first, and it looked as if it went nowhere during the Pittsburgh game. However, the official called it “inconclusive”, and therefore the Steelers retained possession. Right or wrong call? Doesn’t matter now, but the point is, such situations are avoidable, and I am simply suggesting that officials make a better attempt to see that said situations are avoided. Therefore, I believe that the coach should be allowed to make challenges beyond the third until he gets one wrong. However, I also understand that the “inconclusive evidence” rule may make what seems like a legitimate challenge meaningless. Now, this is one topic that I’d like to discuss with others, so feel free to shoot a comment or message my way, but it seems to me that this is a controversial topic, and potentially a Catch-22.

Last week, turnovers were the story of the league, as there were some teams that were given the loss not because they did not produce numbers, but because of that one huge number that was produced in the turnover column. One team that did just that was the San Diego Chargers. Four turnovers, two of which were off of careless mistakes, led to 10 points for the New England Patriots. Currently, the Chargers are at 2-5, a far cry from the dominant four-time AFC West championship team that they are known as. So, with that being said…

Should the Chargers still be considered the best team in the AFC West?

First off, let’s look at this division: you have the Chargers, the Denver Broncos, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Oakland Raiders. This season, the Chiefs have come alive defensively, as they have only allowed 112 points, which is the least in that division, and good enough to be given the 4th best in the league. The Raiders have scored 179 points to the Chargers’ 177, but the points allowed makes the difference; Raiders-165, Chargers-149. The only reason the Raiders are up on the Chargers is because Oakland won last week, and the Chargers did not. Why? The turnovers. Turnovers are absolutely killing the Chargers this season, and with the Chiefs playing as well as they have, this may be the year that San Diego falls from the top of the AFC West. Granted, the Chargers look better on paper, but let’s be frank: if things always went as it goes on paper, then what fun would fantasy football be? The point is, anything can happen in the NFL, and we all know that we’ve seen a fair share of everything this season so far. The answer to this question, currently, is obviously no. Kansas City has simply been playing much better than San Diego, end of story.

Here’s some quick blurbs for other things that came up during the past week:

Steelers and Big Ben: Roethlisberger’s return really hasn’t made too much of a difference; the Steelers are still winning, and it hasn’t even been the offense that’s been winning, it’s been the defense. The Steelers have given up the least amount of points in the entire NFL this season, and that is what has been winning for them. Perhaps the old “Steel Curtain” truly is back in Pittsburgh…

Brett Favre controversy: Why is what he did back in New York relevant now? That’s the main issue with these retroactive investigations, including the NCAA investigations…if they were truly issues (which they ARE), why were they not looked into more closely during that time, and why are punishments just now being handed down? He admitted he sent the texts…good for him for admitting where he went wrong. OK, so he did it. Hand down a justifiable punishment and let the man be. As far as his starting this week, I wouldn’t be surprised if they just started him for a couple of plays, then benched him just so he could keep his consecutive start streak going.

Tony Romo: The loss of their starting quarterback absolutely cripples the Cowboys. Sure, Jon Kitna is a capable quarterback, but now with the loss of Romo, teams can now be more confident in their abilities to defend the talented Dallas receivers. Any good quarterback is only as good as his receiving core, and Kitna has a good one to work with in Miles Austin, Jason Witten, Roy Williams, and Dez Bryant. However, what hurts the Cowboys is the chemistry factor. Romo had a good chemistry going with Austin and Witten, was developing one with Bryant, and Williams was starting to emerge from the funk he’s been in since being traded to Dallas. Things were looking bad in Dallas before, but the loss of Romo makes the dark cloud over the Cowboys now look more like a hurricane just touched down (no pun intended) in Dallas.

That’s all for this week’s “Runnin’ Up The Gut”. It’s good to be back, and good to be writing again. Next week’s lineup of games looks to be interesting, and I truly hope all of you enjoy watching them as much as I do, and next week, I’ll be back to give more analysis. Until then…enjoy the ride!

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