Yep, it’s that time! NFL Review time!
Team of the Week: Atlanta Falcons
-I had my doubts about these guys the last few weeks. I thought they would lose to Atlanta at home but they pulled off a win. Then I thought they would lose to Detroit on the road, but they pulled off a nice win. Things looked scary for a second when Matt Ryan got his ankle stepped on, but he came back and the Falcons sealed a victory late. The defense has stepped up its game big time in the last two weeks. Sans one big play from Calvin Johnson, the defense pretty much shut him down all day. The Falcons are determined to make it a 3 team race in the NFC South, and they probably will. Michael Turner looks back to his old form the last two games. If the Falcons rely on Turner first and Ryan second, they should be in it at the end.
Game of the Week: Green Bay 33 Minnesota 27
-There really weren’t any stand out games this week, so I’m giving it to this game by default. I thought about giving it to San Diego/NY Jets, but gave it to this game instead. The Vikings gave the Packers everything they could handle yesterday, and they almost pulled off a huge upset. The Vikings looked like an inspired team under new rookie QB Christian Ponder. Ponder showed promise in his first game, taking it to the Packers in 3 plays on the Vikings first drive. But the Packers showed their strength late in the game, pulling away and capitalizing on the Vikings mistakes. The Packers have some flaws that were exposed in this game, and that will probably keep them from going 16-0 in the long run.
Dogs of the Week: Ndamukong Suh & Cliff Avril, Detroit Lions
-Look, I know there is no way to prove that these guys said anything. But to have a handful of Falcons players say that they were trash talking an injured Matt Ryan Sunday means a couple things. It means something was definitely said. That many players don’t come out and say something without that. It also adds to Suh’s reputation of being a “dirty player” around league circles. There was already a problem earlier in the game when the Lions wouldn’t let the Falcons come out of the tunnel. Add all of this together, and America’s darling Detroit Lions teams may not be such darlings after all. Suh is a great talent, but his reputation around the league is probably at an all time low at this point.
Other Week 7 Notes
-I think when it is all set and done, the 2011 Rookie QB Class may go down as one of the best ever. Number 1 Overall Pick Cam Newton is the playmaker everyone thought he would be in Carolina even though their record doesn’t show it. There’s no reason he can’t be the next Mike Vick. Andy Dalton in Cincinantil has the Bengals at 4-2 and right in the thick of the AFC Playoff Race. The Dalton-A.J. Green connection will be a formidable one in years to come. Christian Ponder showed a lot of promise in his first start yesterday against Green Bay. He made some rookie mistakes but that is to be expected in your first career start. Blaine Gabbert should improve given time with Jacksonville. And we’ve yet to see what Jake Locker (Tennessee), Ryan Mallet (New England), and Colin Kapernick (San Francisco) are capable of. This QB class shows a lot of promise and the future of that position in the NFL looks bright.
-Speaking of the QB position, TEBOWMANIA IS RUNNING WILD IN DENVER! Broncos fans wanted him, and they got him this week. And until the final 3 minutes of the game, Tebow was showing why people questioned if he good play in the NFL. Over-thrown/under-thrown passes, mis-reads, and poor mechanics plagued Tebow. Then something changed, and Tebow lead the Broncos on two straight scoring drives and a wild OT comeback win over Denver. Broncos fans need to expect more of this with Tebow at the helm. There will be a lot of ugly moments, but there will also be those moments when Tebow looks like the true winner everyone knows he is. And hey, at 2-4, the Broncos aren’t out of the AFC West race yet. That division may be wide open for the taking.
-Are the wheels starting to fall off in Detroit. I don’t think so, but I’m sure a lot of their fans are worried. The Lions lost their second straight home game against Atlanta. The offense has slowed down the last two weeks. Teams are doubling Calvin Johnson more often than not, and they are without RB Jahvid Best. And now, QB Matthew Stafford has an ankle sprain and may not play this week. The secondary is getting burned for big passes, and the offensive line is doing a terrible job protecting Stafford. At 5-2, there is still no reason to go into full blown panic mode yet. However, a road loss next week at Denver would change that.
-After all the hype the Oakland Raiders had coming into this week’s game, they sure did put up a stinker. Kyle Boller looked terrible in the first half, throwing 3 interceptions. So what did coach Hue Jackson do? Switch to Carson Palmer. Only Palmer played just as bad as Boller, throwing 3 interceptions as well. Palmer admitted after the game that he probably only knows 10% of the playbook. Sure Boller was playing bad, but if Palmer knew so little about the playbook why put him in? That might have hurt the Raiders more than keeping Boller in. The Raiders allowed the Chiefs to come into their house and rub their face in the dirt. They also let the Chiefs back in the AFC West race. Hopefully Palmer knows at least 50% of the playbook when the Raiders play again in two weeks.
-Are the Jets back? They were left for dead yesterday, down 21-10 at halftime. But the defense held the Chargers to zero points in the 2nd half, and the offense woke up in the 2nd half leading a comeback to a much needed Jets victory. Sure they beat the Dolphins last week, but anyone can beat the Dolphins. Mark Sanchez finally found Plaxico Burress, three times in fact. Just when I was ready to write off the Jets, they show they can still compete. If the Jets play like they did Sunday, then they may very well find a way to get back into the playoffs. But that depends on how much Mark Sanchez continues to grow. The Jets will only go as far as he does.
Hey I’m Just Sayin…
-That was a perfect collapse by the Dolphins. No one suspected it was intentionally done in their race for Andrew Luck.
-I think the Saints may have just scored again.
-Cleveland 6 Seattle 3. Yeah, lets move on. Nothing to see here.
-Chris Johnson says he is not the problem in Tennessee. He’s right, he’s only half.
-Rumors are surfacing that an 80 year old woman with a cane ran through the Rams defense at the airport.
-Maybe Joe Flacco really can’t lead a team to the Super Bowl.
1. Green Bay (7-0, #1 last week)- Some of their defensive flaws were exposed this week. But you have to wonder if anyone can hang with them offensively.
2. New England Patriots (5-1, #3)- They are now the class of the AFC by default thanks to Baltimore’s horrendous showing Monday night.
3. San Francisco 49ers (5-1, #4)- They could clinch the NFC West by the end of November.
4. New Orleans Saints (5-2, #7)- Dying for a rematch with the Packers come last January.
5. New York Giants (4-2, #8)- I hate moving teams up that didn’t play, but so many other teams struggled this week. Giants are still class of NFC East.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2, #10)- The offense showed up this past week. Now they need to show up with a huge showdown against New England ahead.
7. Detroit Lions (5-2, #5)- Offensively, they need to find a way to score when teams double team Calvin Johnson.
8. Baltimore Ravens (4-2, #2)- That was about as ugly as you could get Monday night. Joe Flacco needs to find his game and fast.
9. Buffalo Bills (4-2, #9)- They’re still banged up coming off the bye, but they get a wounded Redskins team in Toronto Sunday.
10. Atlanta Falcons (4-3, #16)- Big jump because of a big time performance in Detroit. Matt Ryan showed a lot of guts coming back after that ugly ankle injury.
11. New York Jets (4-3, #20)- They may be back after all. Big time second half performance.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2, #11)- They start a rough part of the schedule coming up. Going to the west coast to Seattle is no easy matter.
13. San Diego Chargers (4-2, #6)- Zero points in the 2nd half is not common for this team. Philip Rivers is not on his game this year.
14. Chicago Bears (4-3, #15)- Jay Cutler showed that he can be a solid QB if given time in the pocket.
15. Houston Texans (4-3, #19)- They’re still the class of the AFC South this year. Remember, that was 41 points without Andre Johnson.
16. Dallas Cowboys (3-3, #22)- Huge game at Philadelphia this week. Can Romo not choke away this one?
17. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4, #17)- Did the bye week finally right the ship completely?
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-3, #13)- This young team is regressing more then they would like.
19. Kansas City Chiefs (3-3, #24)- Suddenly, the Chiefs are right back in the AFC West race.
20. Oakland Raiders (4-3, #12)- Maybe they should have let Jason Campbell play with that broken collarbone last week.
21. Tennessee Titans (3-3, #14)- If Chris Johnson keeps talking, he will become a distraction more than anything else.
22. Cleveland Browns (3-3, #22)- Weren’t they suppose to grow on offense this year?
23. Carolina Panthers (2-5, #25)- If they could get their running backs going they could be a dangerous threat come December.
24. Washington Redskins (3-3, #18)- Tim Hightower, out. Santana Moss, out. Playoff hopes: Non-existent.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5, #27)- See what happens when your defense shows up?
26. Denver Broncos (2-4, #26)- TEBOWMANIA is growing faster than Hulkamania.
27. Seattle Seahawks (2-4, #21)- I guess Charlie Whitehurst is worse than Tavaris Jackson.
28. Minnesota Vikings (1-5, #28)- Christian Ponder showed promise. All you could ask for in his 1st game.
29. Arizona Cardinals (1-5, #29)- Larry Fitzgerald might be regretting that big contract now.
30. St. Louis Rams (0-6, #30)- Run defense is as thin as a super model.
31. Indianapolis Colts (0-7, #31)- Peyton Manning probably wishes he wasn’t on the sidelines.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-6, #32)- Countdown to the Cowher/Luck Era starts now.
Three Games I’d Like to See Next Week
New England vs Pittsburgh: Could be battle of the two top dogs in the AFC.
Dallas vs Philadelphia: Can Romo finally win a big game?
San Diego vs Kansas City: Suddenly, a huge game in the AFC West race.
Until next time,
Follow Me on Twitter @JCWonka