Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving NFL notes

Thanksgiving NFL football included perennial participant Detroit finding some offensive life after falling behind the hopeless Chicago Bears 14-3 in the first quarter, as Matthew Stafford threw for 390 yards in 34-17 victory going away. I’m of course not particularly pleased with this result, since it means that the Green Bay Packers must defeat the suddenly unbeatable New England Patriots Sunday to remain in sole possession of first place in the NFC North. As for the Chicago Bears, more and more the firing of Lovie Smith looks like a mistake; although Smith’s Tampa Bay team is playing well below preseason expectations, there is no doubt that the Bears would have been more competitive defensively than they seem to be playing now.

Meanwhile, despite some “home cooking” from the game officials—13 penalties for 100 yards compared to just 3 for 20 yards for the home team—the Seattle Seahawks won a surprisingly easy victory over the San Francisco 49ers, 19-3. Both teams featured returning players on defense, but it was Seattle’s who made the greater impact. Offensively, one should note that for the second straight week, the Seahawks were held to four field goals in five scoring drives. 

Finally, Philadelphia “surprised” many observers who are still not convinced that Mark Sanchez is not only the best backup quarterback in league, but is playing like the starting quarterback he once was. In the past 4¾ games he has played the Eagles are 4-1, with Sanchez playing the best stretch of games that he has ever played. There have been his detractors no matter what he does; after a blow-out victory in which he threw for 332 yards and had no turnovers, complaints could still be heard about his 54 percent completion percentage in the game. Sanchez is currently completing 63.4 percent of passes this season. Yesterday on the national radio broadcast, there was a complaint that the game could have been a bigger blowout win than 33-10 against Dallas, if the Eagles had not settle for three field goals instead of touchdowns, hinting not too subtly that Sanchez was at fault; funny how you only hear how “great” Russell Wilson is when in the past two weeks on 10 scoring drives, the Seahawks “settled” for 8 field goals.

Next week the Eagles will play Seattle in Philadelphia. Given the way the Seahawks defense has been playing recently, I’m not placing any bets on the Eagles chances of winning that game; after all, they were hardly competitive against Green Bay. It will be a “homecoming” of sorts against Pete Carroll, his former college coach at USC—who had advised Sanchez to spend another year in college because he wasn’t “ready” for the NFL.

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