And the results are in. In the poll: Will the New England Patriots make the playoffs? 64% say yes, 36% say no.
New England Patriots over St. Louis Rams, 23-16
When Tom Brady went down for the year in the first quarter of the first game of the season, a number of people predicted New England would not make the playoffs, and some said they would go 6-10. If you also knew that Laurence Maroney would hardly play a down and be out for the season too what would you think? And now we’re down to the oddly named BenJarvis Green-Ellis and third down back Kevin Faulk as our primary runners until Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan are back. Rodney Harrison is out for the season (career). And the defense is aging and very weak at defensive back. Well, okay we have Randy Moss, still one of the best, and probably the most talented receiver in the league. Ahh, but we have one advantage. Bill Belichick. Despite two blowout losses, if Belichick can get this team to the playoffs, or even close, his Hall of Fame credentials are sealed (not that they aren’t already). Love him or hate him, and he’s my guy so I love him, he is the best coach out there. He takes modest talent and turns them into winners.
If we can continue to beat the teams we are supposed to beat, and steal a few wins against teams that we should lose to (sans Tom Brady), then we’ll make the playoffs. And I’ll be happy (NOT! I’m spoiled, I want more Super Bowls) with this season.
Last year when Kevin Faulk caught a short swing pass and turned it into a first down in the fourth quarter that basically sealed the game in the AFC Championship game against the Chargers, I turned to my wife and said “Kevin Faulk is always money.” He was this week too.
MVP: Kevin Faulk, RB, New England Patriots
GAMES I WATCHED
Washington Redskins over Detroit Lions, 25-17
Despite the win, this was a rather sloppy game by the Redskins. And the sloppiness was much discussed in the Washington Post this week. Jason Campbell played well but his first half fumble resulted in a Detroit touchdown and left the Redskins behind at the end of the half. The key to the game in the second half was a punt return for a touchdown by Santana Moss, who had a superb overall game. But mostly the whole game was sloppy for both sides. I see why the Lions are 0-7.
One of the problems for the Redskins on offense was the poor play of Stephon Heyer at LT in place of the injured Chris Samuels. Ironically, the argument for Heyer to be the starting RT over Jon Jansen is because he is a better pass blocker, and he has been until Jansen took over the RT spot. But against the Lions Heyer was awful. He gave up a couple of sacks, got called for holding, and from my view got by with a few holds that weren’t called. I don’t know if it was playing on the left side of the line, which can have a surprisingly major impact on an offensive lineman used to one side or the other, or just a bad day. Either way, the Lions defensive end, Dewayne White, whipped Heyer all day long. And it’s not like this White dude is a great DE.
Despite this sloppy win I am very impressed with the Redskins overall this year. Jason Campbell is playing very well (although he needs to quit fumbling), Clinton Portis is running like an All-Pro and leads the league in rushing yards, Santana Moss has had some big games, the offensive line is playing well, and the defense is pretty stout. Most of all I am impressed with Jim Zorn. Last year the Redskins would have lost a game like this and seemed out of sync all year, even though they did make the playoffs. This year, other than this game and their loss to the Giants, they have played consistently good football and win close games instead of losing them.
Zorn really put his stamp on the team with his little fracas with Clinton Portis, who took himself out of the game to adjust his helmet, and then was going back in, all without informing the head coach. Portis is a bit of jerk and a coddled athlete. I liked that Zorn put him his place.
The key play in the game was a Santana Moss punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Moss also had a great game with 9 catches, 140 yards, and a touchdown.
MVP: Santana Moss, WR, Washington Redskins
New York Giants over Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-14
The Giants and Steelers have two of the best defenses in the NFL and they proved it in this game. This was one of the hardest hitting, down and dirty defensive slugfests I have seen this year.
The best unit on the field was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense. They were just amazing! They held the Giants to two field goals and a 6-0 lead after two Roethlisberger interceptions. And in one of these series they had a phenomenal goal line stand, holding out the best goal line runner in the league, Brandon Jacobs. There are few goal line stands historically I will remember but this certainly will be one of them.
Unfortunately, this game was mostly decided by the Steelers losing their long snapper and late in the fourth quarter, poor LB James Harrison when in to long snap on a punt and pitched it over the head of the punter for a safety that tied the game. After the free kick and good field position, the Giants drove for the winning touchdown with about three minutes left in the game. Granted the Giants would have had decent field position and had they scored on the ensuing drive they would have gone up by 5, but this was basically the play that changed the game.
Frankly, I am sick of hearing what a good quarterback Big Ben is. Phil Simms said he was the best quarterback in the league. I beg to differ. Roethlisberger is playing like a rookie who has no sense of the pass rush. In every game I have seen him play he holds on to the ball way too long, resulting in big hits, sacks, and bad plays. The only reason he has gotten by with this so far is he is a big, strong QB with a very strong arm. He’s hard to bring down and a lot of times he can zip passes down the field with defenders draped all over him. Against the Giants he threw four interceptions, which really were the difference in the game. While the Giants had a great pass rush, Ben still held the ball too long and made some really bad plays. He is going to have a hard time staying healthy taking the unnecessary hits, and his mistakes are likely to accumulate as the season goes on because he’ll be more battered. His coaches need to correct this or I don’t see the Steelers doing much in the playoffs. It’s irritating to watch as well.
The Giants deserved the win. Their defensive line is phenomenal.
MVP: Mathias Kiwanuka and Justin Tuck, DEs, New York Giants
Cleveland Browns over Jacksonville Jaguars, 23-17
This was another close game and was decided by a blocked field goal and a turnover in the fourth quarter. The blocked field goal cost the Jaguars three points and a fumble on a kickoff return cost them three more, which resulted in a six point difference in the score.
Cleveland defensive tackle Shaun Rogers was just a beast in this game. The Jaguars offensive line couldn’t contain him, while the Cleveland defense did a good job of containing the running combination of Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor. Rogers also was the fellow that blocked the field goal.
Overall this looked like two good teams playing even though both are 3-4. Derek Anderson and David Garrard had mostly solid outings. Despite the passing totals, the Cleveland offense was really geared toward the tough running of Jamal Lewis, who helped them establish the passing game. The Jaguars had to rely on a few big runs by Garrard and the passing game because the Browns shut down the rushing attack. Matt “Cocaine” Jones had an excellent day receiving, while Braylon Edwards continued to have the dropsies.
Both teams looked solid in this game and should be competitive in the AFC for a playoff spot. Cleveland, however, and Anderson in particular, can’t revert back to their early season form if they hope to be in the hunt.
MVP: Shaun Rogers, DT, Cleveland
Tennessee Titans over Indianapolis Cots, 31-21
The Tennessee Titans put a big fat stamp on the NFL and the AFC in their win against the Colts. Their 6-0 record was questioned by many, including me, because they have not beaten any winning teams. This game was a huge statement game for this team. Even though the Colts have been struggling this year, they are still one of the best teams in the league and Tennessee’s win solidified their legitimacy as the best team in the NFL at the midpoint with a 7-0 record.
Tennessee clearly has one of the best, if not the best, offensive line in the league. They have two solid running backs in Chris Johnson and LenDale White. Kerry Collins is playing very solid football. And the defense is strong across the board — defensive line, linebacker, and defensive backs. They are going to be a hard team to beat.
Most impressively, when the Colts started the third quarter with a long drive and touchdown to go up 14-6, Tennessee responded with a long drive of their own for a touchdown and two point conversion to tie the game. They didn’t flinch being down 14-6 like average to below average teams do. This said a lot about the character of the team.
The pivotal play in the game was late in the third quarter when the Colts impetuously (and I think mistakenly) went for it on 4th down near midfield. The Titans stopped the Colts and converted their good field position into a 17-14 lead. The Colts went for it again on 4th down on the next drive and were stopped yet again and the Titans never looked back.
MVP: Kerry Collins, QB, Tennessee Titans
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive Player: Brain Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia Eagles, 200+ total yards
Defensive Player: Shaun Rogers, DT, Cleveland Browns
Offensive Lineman: Kevin Mawae, C, Tennessee Titans
Special Teams: Santana Moss, WR, Washington Redskins
Rookie of the Week: Donnie Avery, WR, St. Louis Rams, 6 catches, 163 yds, 1 td
FEATURED OBSERVATION: BIGGEST JERKS IN THE NFL
Following are who I think are the biggest jerks in the NFL this year.
#1. Larry Johnson, RB, Kansas City Chiefs. Why do these big, oversized football players think they can get by with abusing women? It’s sickening and disgusting. Johnson has now been accused twice of abusing women in bars. Way to go big man. What a punk.
#2. Adam “PACMAN” Jones, CB/KR, Dallas Cowboys. This guy has to be a complete idiot. He got suspended for a year and then gets drunk and starts a fight with the bodyguard Dallas hired to keep an eye on him? This guy has real issues. And he’s not even THAT talented or done anything in the NFL to think he could even get buy with crap like this. What an imbecile.
#3. Plaxico Burress, WR, New York Giants. What is it with these prima donna wide receivers who think they are above their team and above their coach? Burress has been a head case his entire career and you just have to get sick and tired of a teammate who doesn’t play by the same rules you do and mostly gets away with it. No doubt he has a ton of talent. Too bad he is also one of the biggest jerks in the league as well.
#4. Terrell Owens, WR, Dallas Cowboys. If there were a hall of fame for jerks in the NFL, Owens would probably be the charter member. He trashed QB Jeff Garcia in San Francisco, completely blew up the team with his petulant, me first feud with Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia, and now he is mouthing off again about not getting enough catches — and this was before his supposed boy Tony Romo got hurt. ME FIRST, ME FIRST, Team #3 — after my money. What a team player!
#5. Chad “Ocho Stinko” Johnson, WR, Cincinnati Bengals. You can put Ocho Stinko right up there with Burress and Owens as being another loudmouth, me first, thumb your nose at the coach jerks. Does he realize what a clown he is? He is a joke.
#6. Jerry Jones, Owner, Dallas Cowboys. I guess since Michael Irvin got away with stabbing a teammate in the neck with a pair of scissors, cocaine, and whores that Jerry figures anybody can get away with anything and will sign anyone. Well, I’m glad the Dallas Cowboys are in such disarray. That is what you get for signing Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson.
#7. Kellen Winslow, Jr., TE, Cleveland Browns. Another prima donna, talented hot head. He was a hot head at the U. of Miami too. His coach is sick of him and the Browns tried to trade him. He is a constant mouth off and his latest accusation of the team not handling his staph infection properly may be true, but his past behavior makes anything he says fall on deaf ears. Grow up.
#8. Al Davis, Owner, Oakland Raiders. Al Davis is the Godfather of Jerkdom. His handling of the Lane Kiffin firing was so unbelievably immature, and at his age? What a petulant, weak man. He is a lifelong jerk, constantly suing the NFL and feuding with players and coaches. I still can’t get over the way he treated Marcus Allen.
#9. Brett Farve, QB, New York Jets. First of all he turned his retirement into a soap opera, which was bad enough. Now he reportedly communicated with the Lions about how to beat his old team. Whether true or not, Farve’s whole “ahh shucks” shtick has now worn thin. Retire already.
#10. Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco. Way to go Mike Singletary for putting this BUST of a #1 draft pick in his place. Not only does Davis not live up to his potential, he’s a jerk too. Go figure.
#11 Clinton Portis, RB, Washington Redskins. Clinton Portis is another one of those guys with such a lot of talent but has been coddled too much. He recently made a comment that it would be nice to play behind a good offensive line and was called out by former Redskins Brian Mitchell for basically trashing his offensive line. Thanks teammate!! He thinks he is bigger than the team and his coach, as evidenced by the fracas on the sideline he had with Jim Zorn when he took himself out of the game and then was going back in without informing the coach. So, he makes the list of the biggest jerks as well.
Honorable mentions go to: Michael “Jailbird” Vick just because he deserves it. LaDanian Tomlinson who is one of the biggest whiners in the NFL. Richie Incognito, G, St. Louis Rams who is one of the dirtiest offensive lineman in the league. Philip Rivers, just because he’s a jerk in general. And Terrell Suggs, who needs to tuck in his lip, keep his mouth shut, and quit slobbering on himself all the time.