Sunday, October 30, 2016

Week 8 NFL Notes

I must say that one kind of person who I don’t like to be around is a  Seahawk fan who feels like beating someone up because their team lost. I’ve said I am not and never have been a Seahawk fan, even though I’ve lived in the area for 25 years. When they lose, especially Pete Carroll’s team, I can’t be happier. The exception was Super Bowl XLVIII, because I dislike Peyton Manning more than I do the entire Seahawk team, and that is saying something. 

This week, the Seahawks got dumped by the Saints 25-20 in a game that they appeared to have in hand early, leading 14-3 in the second quarter before a Russell Wilson interception turned the momentum in the Saints’ favor. The Seahawks had opportunities to stem the tide, when a field goal attempt and the end of the first half went humorously awry, and in the fourth quarter a first-and-goal at the Saints’ five ended in only a field goal. The Seahawks still had a chance to win with just under 2 minutes;  but with no timeouts, Wilson helped waste valuable time by throwing short passes to receivers who  burned the clock in YAC instead of heading for the sidelines. Wilson was obliged to spike the ball twice, and a last play pass went out of the end zone.

The Seahawks have no running game, we have been told, and for a team predicated on a run offense with a first-line running back out with injury and a read-option quarterback who can’t run, these are something of a hindrance. The large percentage of the blame, not surprisingly, is going to the offensive line, which admittedly doesn’t have serviceable tackle play. Nevertheless, I have to wonder to what extent the offensive line is to blame with the Seahawks’ supposed offensive woes. Very few teams in this league have top-drawer offensive lines, so why should this team’s line be judged any differently? 

What I find particularly curious is the fact that Wilson has been sacked 12 times in 7 games. Does that sound like a lot? Does the fact that Andrew Luck has been sacked 31 times in 8 games sound like more to you? In fact, coming into today’s game, only four teams allowed fewer sacks than the Seahawk offensive line, this despite the fact that Wilson is averaging 35 pass attempts a game. Granted, Wilson may be getting rid of the ball quicker to avoid sacks, but this in no way should be taken out of context; I suspect that most teams have observers complaining of offensive line play. In fact that Seahawks may have a better line relative to other teams.

Elsewhere in the NFL:

Titans 36 Jaguars 22 DeMarco Murray has already surpassed his rushing yards total from all of last season with the Eagles, and with Marcus Mariota showing no signs of a “sophomore slump” despite the expectation that he was not “ready” for the pace of the NFL, the Titans are suddenly 4-4. Meanwhile, the Jaguars’ offense was completely inept until the end, which wasn’t enough to keep their offensive coordinator, Gus Bradley, from being fired on Saturday. Firing an offensive coordinator seemed to help the Bills and the Dolphins, so who knows.

Redskins 27 Bengals 27 For the second straight week a game ended in a tie, and again it shouldn’t have. Another missed chip-shot field goal try in overtime by the Redskins followed by another chance with when the Bengals fumbled on their side of the field. But Kirk Cousins 458 yards passing was a largely wasted effort, and an offensive pass interference penalty that negated a second chance at kicker redemption ended in the above result. 

Chiefs 30 Colts 14 As already noted, Andrew Luck was sacked six more times in this game to up his total to an NFL leading 31 sacks in 8 games, although this is nowhere near the pace to break the NFL record, 104 in a single season by the 1986 Eagles—a number which was inflated by Randall Cunningham’s inability to make decisions (rapid or not), being sacked an incredible one out of every four pass plays. 

Raiders 30 Buccaneers 24 (OT) Derek Carr threw for 513 yards, and the Raiders keep rolling with hardly any noticing at all, now 6-2 in the AFC West, keeping pace with the Broncos and Kansas City. Of course if this was the “old” Raiders this would be “old” news, but this team has been so long without credibility that it won’t be until next week, when they play the Broncos, that we shall see if credibility is something they can earn back.

Texans 20 Lions 13 I told you that the “MVP” talk about Matthew Stafford was premature. A “trick”  downfield fourth-and-four pass by the Lions on their very first possession set the tone as the Texans built a 17-3 lead that Lions never really threatened, despite the fact that Brock Osweiler continues to look like yet another quarterback bust, which has been an ongoing problem for the Texans.

Jets 31 Browns 28 Another close loss for the Browns, in another game where Jets’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was barely serviceable in avoiding turnovers. Joe Namath he ain’t; Broadway Joe threw 220 interceptions in 140 games played, and finished with a 65.5 passer rating—and still made it to the Hall of Fame. But then again, Namath had charisma and won a Super Bowl, which is lot more than one can say about Fitzpatrick and his off-putting arrogant estimation of his own ability.

Patriots 41 Bills 25 Nowhere near as competitive as that score would seem to indicate, and with a machine like Tom Brady at the helm, who needs a running game?

Panthers 30 Cardinals 20 Wasn’t this is how the Panthers went 15-1 last season? Only three of their regular season wins were convincing “blowouts,” and the team depended more on the opposition’s failure to play to standard than anything else. Despite throwing for a lot of yards again, Carson Palmer just can’t seem to make the throws when they actually count for something. 

Falcons 33 Packers 32 A tough loss for the Packers, featuring the disconcerting habit of so many defenses to take the long “layoff” of a long scoring drive by the offense in the late stages of a game not as an opportunity for “rest,” but as one to forget what they are supposed to be doing, which is stop the other team from scoring the game-winning points. Aaron Rodger threw four TD passes, but as he has been so often this season, he was ineffective for most of the second half (11-17 for only 76 yards), and subtracting a 58-yard pass overall threw for only 188 yards off 27 completed passes. 

Broncos 27 Chargers 19 Melvin Gordon ran for 111 yards and caught passes for 44 more. Unfortunately, he didn’t score any touchdowns for the Chargers, thanks to Philip Rivers’ three interceptions, which in cumulative terms accounted for a 21-point swing in favor of the Broncos—meaning that Broncos’ offensive ineptitude in this game was just a formality.

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