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The NFL’s Good, Bad & Ugly: Week 6
NORTH CAROLINA — Another wild week of NFL football in Week 6 both on and off the field.
From the soap opera called “Dallas” to upsets like Cleveland over the Super Bowl Champion Giants and the winless Rams over the seemingly solid Washington Redskins.
Let’s talk about all of this and more in our weekly good, bad, and ugly report.
Browns-The Cleveland team that took it to the Super Bowl Champion Giants Monday night resembled the team most of the experts expected on the field this season. The Browns dominated on the ground, in the air, intercepted Eli Manning and put lots of pressure on the Super Bowl MVP. Browns quarterback Derek Anderson finished 18-for-29 for 310 yards, Braylon Edwards caught five passes for a career-high 154 yards and Jamal Lewis scored on a 4-yard run for the Browns, handing the Giants (4-1) their first loss, leaving the Titans as the NFL’s only unbeaten team. Defensively, the Browns only sacked Manning once (courtesy of Rookie Alex Hall from St Augustine College) but they constantly pressured him and intercepted him three times in the game. Maybe the Giants took the Browns lightly or maybe Cleveland was the most prepared all season coming off a bye. Whatever the case, the Browns looked more like a playoff team then the defending champions. The Browns will need to continue to play the way they did Monday night as they travel to Washington to face an angry Redskins team who were also upset by the Rams. The Giants look to get back on the winning trail this Sunday as they go to the left coast to face the stumbling Raiders.
Buccaneers-Did anyone expect the beatdown the Bucs put on the Panthers? Coming into the game, Carolina clearly looked like the best team in the NFC South with great balance on offense and defense while the Bucs struggled on offense scoring only 13 points last week in a loss to Denver. In this game, the tables were turned thanks to the much maligned and traveled Jeff Garcia. Garcia, starting for the first time since the opener, threw for 173 yards and a touchdown. Warrick Dunn had his most productive day running the ball since rejoining the Bucs with 115 yards on 22 carries en route to an easy 34-3 rout of the Panthers. The victory, Tampa Bay’s first at home against the division rival Panthers since 2002, enabled them (4-2) to pull even in the standings with Carolina (4-2), which sputtered a week after routing Kansas City 34-0. The defense did its job, too, intercepting Panther quarterback Jake Delhomme three times, setting up a touchdown and stopping two other drives. With both the Saints and Falcons winning, suddenly the cushion Carolina had is gone and the battle wages on in the surprisingly competitive division. Tampa Bay has a good chance to take the division lead this Sunday as they host the struggling Seattle Seahawks while the Panthers get to host another divisional foe as the high-flying New Orleans Saints come to town led by Reggie Bush and Drew Brees.
Falcons-Atlanta continues to surprise with big wins so far this season. The latest upset comes at home against the Chicago Bears after Jason Elam booted a 48-yard field goal on the final play to give them a stunning 22-20 victory. Chicago made two big blunders late in the game that sealed there fate. After scoring what they thought was the winning touchdown to give them a 20-19 lead, the Bears decided to squib kick the ball to the Falcons, allowing them to run the ball up near mid field. The second blunder came when Chicago played a prevent defense that allowed Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to hit Michael Jenkins for a crucial 26-yard reception leading to the winning field goal from Elam. This was another case of the Bears finding a way to lose a game and not finish the deal. This just underscores the problems Chicago has in trying to finish games. They will try to finish games and get a victory this weekend as they host there divisional rival Minnesota Vikings while the Falcons can celebrate there last second victory for another week because they have a bye.
Cardinals-I stand corrected. I thought Arizona would come out and play hard against the Cowboys, but fall short of getting a victory but I was wrong. The Cardinals looked inspired and ready to play, while the Cowboys sputtered on offensive until late in the game when they put together some impressive drives leading to a game tying field goal that forced overtime. The overtime was shortlived for the Cowboys, as they were unable to do anything with the ball offensively and attempted to punt the ball but the punt was blocked and picked up by Arizona for a touchdown and a stunning overtime win. The Cardinals moved to 4-2 and are atop the NFC West while the Cowboys remain a half game behind the Giants. The Cardinals get to enjoy the victory over Dallas for a week because they have a bye, while the Cowboys get to decide if they are going to let Tony Romo play with a bad pinkie. They have to get newly acquired WR Roy Williams acclaimated to the offense and have to put behind the distraction of Adam “Pacman” Jones. They also have to travel to St .Louis to play another upset minded team that beat the Redskins last week; the Rams.
Jaguars-Jacksonville got a much needed victory on the road in Denver against the Broncos. Once again the Jags proved, when they play physical and can run the ball, they usually win and that was the case last week against Denver winning 24-17. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 125 yards and two touchdowns, David Garrard threw for 276 yards and a touchdown and Jacksonville forced three turnovers in a much needed road victory. The Broncos proved if you are physical with them, can put pressure on Jay Cutler and can run the ball on there defense, you can beat them. On four straight possessions, Denver turned the ball over with two fumbles an interception and once on downs. The Broncos were without some key players: rookie receiver Eddie Royal, tight end Tony Scheffler and tailback Selvin Young and they lost slot receiver Brandon Stokley to a concussion shortly after his 11-yard touchdown catch that capped Denver’s opening drive but alot of what they didn’t do or couldn’t do was a credit to what the Jaguars did. The Jags will get an opportunity to heal there wounded as they have a bye week while the Broncos try to get back on the winning side when they travel to Foxboro to face the confusing Patriots.
Eagles-With all the other teams in the NFC East stumbling, Philly traveled out west and used a fourth quarter comeback to beat the 49ers going away 40-26. Without Brian Westbrook, Donovan McNabb put the offense on his shoulders going 23 of 36 for 280 yards and two touchdowns and the offense scored 23 unanswered points in the fourth quarter after being down nine points going into the quarter. The Eagles also got some productive yardage out of Correll Buckhalter who rush for 93 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. Andy Reid finally put his stubborn hat on the bench and allowed McNabb and others on the offense to go out and play football, have fun and make plays. Defensively, Philly forced three turnovers, sacked J.T.O’Sullivan twice and shut out the 49ers in the fourth quarter, allowing the McNabb and his “crew” to score at will en route to the victory. After questions about the Eagles and if they will fall way behind the leaders in the NFC East, the Eagles find themselves only a game and a half behind the Giants with home games against New York and Dallas along with another shot at Washington so all is not lost. The Eagles get to sit back and watch the rest of the division this week because they have a bye and then get ready to host the surprising Atlanta Falcons the following week.
Patriots-I guess New England figured, if they are going to lose, they might as well lose BIG! They did against the Chargers. Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes and San Diego’s defense stuffed quarterback Matt Cassel on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line to highlight a 30-10 win. Rivers and the rest of the Chargers know that beating the Patriots doesn’t make up for the loss that kept them out of the Super Bowl or that mind-numbing home playoff defeat two seasons ago nor does it make up for horrible losses against Carolina, Denver and Miami. All games they should have won but under-performed leading to their .500 record. New England’s defense allowed Rivers to throw for over 300 yards, the offense compiled over 400 yards total offense and allowed and injured L.T. to rush for 74 yards on 20 carries. Offensively, the Patriots continue to struggle with less than 300 yards of total offense, including only 203 yards for quarterback Matt Cassell and more importantly, Randy Moss had three catches for only 26 yards. Can you say complainting? Moss can and I’m sure the “get me the ball” complaints are on the way. I said it before the season started, the Patriots (with or without Tom Brady) would struggle to stop teams defensively because their linebacking crew is old and their secondary is horrible. They blamed Asanti Samuel for not intercepting a pass in the Super Bowl against the Giants and let him go to Philly. I’m sure they wish they didn’t blame him and let him go at this point. In addition, “Mr. Genuis”, Bill Bellichick’s decision not bring in a veteran quarterback when “Tom Terriffic” went down to injury looks more and more like a huge mistake and Patriot fans should criticize him for it. It doesn’t get easier for the Super Bowl runner-ups as they host the offensive minded Denver Broncos on Monday night.
Cowboys-Dallas has been exposed and exploited. Poor play calling on offense, a weak secondary and lots of drama have led to problems and led to an overtime loss against Arizona. The Cowboys have talent and head cases. They have players who can make plays and players who make headlines. They have a team with a good offense and scenerios during the game that can be offensive. This team has no balance on offense and has glaring holes on defense. Add in the fact that Tony Romo injured his pinkie and was said to be out for four weeks, now announced he is ready to play this week even though they have a capable back up in Brad Johnson. Dallas need to sure up there offensive line and here’s a thought……..run the football!!!!!! It’s sad when Marion Barber leads you in rushing (45) and receiving(128). The other sad thing about the Cowboys situation is Wade Phillips who is as much of a lame duck as a coach as George Bush is as the current President. Phillips doesn’t call the offensive plays. That falls under the soon to be coach, Jason Garrett. Garrett’s play calling has been suspect at best yet if the Cowboys continue to struggle to win games, you can bet Phillips will be the scapegoat. Hopefully, the Cowboys will fix some of there issues before it’s too late for him and for the team because right now, they are not playing well enough to make the playoffs or the division title.
Giants-What was that on Monday night? The Super Bowl Champs looked like the inconsistent Giants prior to their big run late in the season. With quarterback Derek Anderson outplaying Eli Manning, Braylon Edwards making big catches and Eric Wright returning an interception 94 yards for a touchdown, the Browns won on Monday night for the first time since 1993, ending New York’s 11-game road winning streak with a 35-14 win.Anderson finished 18-for-29 for 310 yards, Edwards caught five passes for a career-high 154 yards and Jamal Lewis scored on a 4-yard run for the Browns, who handed the Giants (4-1) their first loss. Manning was picked off three times and the Giants, so dominant through their first four games, were roughed up by Cleveland allowing 454 yards of total offense, including over 300 yards to Anderson in the air. New York didn’t force a turnover and allowed the Browns to control the ball for almost 33 minutes of the game. At the end of the game, the Browns fans were chanting “overrated” towards the Giants. I don’t know if they are overrated, but I do know they underrated the Browns and if they do that this week at home against the 49ers, they surely will lose and I will agree with the fans of the “Dawg Pound” in Cleveland.
49ers-I don’t know how much we should be surprised that San Francisco is in the bad category this week, but I am surprised they blew the lead and played the way they did in the fourth quarter against the Eagles. After dominating Philly for three quarters and leading by nine going into the fourth quarter, the 49ers fell asleep at the wheel against the Eagles on both sides of the ball and managed to steal defeat from the jaws of victory losing 40-26. Even though the 49ers won the time of possesion battle, they turned the ball over three times, allowed pressure on quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan and stop playing when it got to the fourth quarter. This is still a young team with no direction and it will be up to ownership to decide if Mike Nolan is the coach to take them in the right direction for the future. I don’t think he is and even if he is, with loss like last week, he won’t be around long enough to do so.
Bears-If there is a team in the NFL that doesn’t know how to finish games, it’s probably Chicago. They had Carolina beat and loss, they had Tampa Bay beat and loss and last week they had the Falcons beat and couldn’t close the deal. As good as the Bears defense can be, they allow too many big plays late in games that leads to losses. The most recent came last week against Atlanta where rookie quarterback Matt Ryan hit Michael Jenkins for a BIG 26-yard completion setting up the game winning field goal from Jason Elam. Isn’t ironic that we are talking about Chicago’s defense struggling and not the much maligned and criticized offense? Kyle Orton has been pretty solid for the most part and the running attack has been consistent yet the Bears are 3-2 and struggling to win games. That’s odd for the monsters of the midway, but all is not lost in a mediocre NFC North because the Bears, despite their struggles are actually in first place and are the favorites to win the division in my opinion. The Bears have a chance to extend there lead in the division with a win at home against the hated Minnesota Vikings this weekend.
Dolphins-If Miami wants to be considered as a playoff contender, they can’t lose games like they did last week against the Houston Texans. Andre Johnson had an acrobatic 23-yard reception on fourth-and-10 that kept the last drive alive and Matt Schaub ran for a 3-yard touchdown with three seconds left to lead the Texans to their first win, a 29-28 victory. The Dolphins had knocked down consecutive passes in the end zone before Schaub ran for the score on fourth down. The two-point conversion failed, but Houston had enough points to get their first victory of the season. It was an amazing comeback considering Houston blew a 17-point lead the previous week to the Colts. The game was close throughout, but it was Miami’s defense inability to stop Houston on third down that proved to be the difference in the game. The Dolphins have surprisingly made strides this season but if they want to challenge for the playoffs, they have to beat mediocre teams like the Texans. They will get another chance at a bad team this week when they host the Ravens while the Texans have a legitimate shot at winning their second game in a row as they host the pathetic Lions.
Ravens-After a 2-0 start, Baltimore has come crashing down to earth with a three-game losing streak after an embarrassing loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Steve McNair, Kyle Boller and now Joe Flacco. Different quarterbacks, same results: NO POINTS! Flacco threw three picks and was sacked four times while the running game stunk, managing only 51 yards for the game. Not much to say about the Ravens in this game other than they look like the same team they were under Brian Billick. No offense and a good but aging defense. Baltimore started the season well and have come to the pack. I think the team that lost three in a row is the real Raven team rather than the team that won two games to start the season.
Panthers-What happen to Carolina? The team that looked so balance on offense and defense, got clobbered in Tampa Bay 27-3 last week. Tampa’s defense held intercepted Jake Delhomme three times and held the Panthers rushing attack to only 40 yards rushing for the game. Offensively, the Bucs were efficient, controlling the ball for over 34 minutes, rushing for 142 yards and didn’t turn the ball over. The Panthers, who usually play well in Tampa, got six catches for 112 yards out of Steve Smith, but the rest of the receiving core was silent and ineffective. Part of the problem for Carolina on offense was the injuries on their offensive line, but it’s no excuse for the beatdown they took in Tampa. They did not come to play and the Bucs made them pay for it. They better come to play this week because they host the high scoring New Orleans Saints in another NFC South showdown.
Raiders-Oakland is just bad.
Bengals-Although they are playing hard, they are winless. Enough said.
Lions-They are not playing hard and they are winless. Enough said.
Games to watch week 7:
1. San Diego at Buffalo-Yeah I know, the Chargers should lose because they are a west coast team traveling east and the west coast teams have come up short so far this year when traveling to play eastern teams but I’m not buying it. What the Chargers need to do is run the ball and stop the run. LT is getting healthy but is still not 100 percent but San Diego still needs to try to run the ball on Buffalo. They also must score early and put pressure on Trent Edwards and the Bills offense. This is an important game for the Chargers because they need to prove they can beat a quality football team on the road for the first time this season. The Bills need to protect Edwards because he is coming off a concussion two weeks ago against the Cardinals. The Bills need to win to stay atop the AFC East division.
New Orleans at Carolina-We talked about these two teams earlier. The Saints are coming off a blowout win over the Raiders while the Panthers were blown out by the Bucs. The key matchup in this game will be the Saints offensive line versus the Panthers front seven. The Saints have to get Reggie Bush in space to make plays while the Panthers defense must keep pressure on Drew Brees and not allow him to be comfortable in the pocket to make plays down the field. Another key matchup will be the surprising Saints defense against a banged up Panthers offensive line. The Panthers must give Jake Delhomme time to get the ball to Steve Smith and company or it will be another bad loss for the Panthers again this week.
Minnesota at Chicago-This is a divisional battle between two teams fighting for first place. The Vikings look to get Adrian Peterson back on track after struggles the last two weeks on the ground while the Bears look to shake off the ugly last minute loss they had last week against the Falcons. The key matchup will be the Adrian Peterson against the front seven of the Bears. The Bears cannot allow Peterson to run wild on them because that will set up the play action pass which will lead to easy pass plays down the field and points and if the Vikings get up on the Bears early, it will be a long day for Kyle Horton and the Bears offense which is not really built for comebacks.
Indianapolis at Green Bay-The Packers are playing the Colts at the wrong time. The Colts look like the Colts of old, dominating the Ravens defense threw the air and on the ground and the defense got back to stopping the run and making big plays even without all-world safety Bob Sanders. The Packers are playing with a banged up Aaron Rodgers and a defense that has struggled all season. The key matchup will be the Packers defense versus Peyton Manning. The Packers must pressure Manning and take him out of his rhythm on offense so they can disrupt the passing game. They must also stop the run. All tall task for a struggling defense against the league’s best quarterback that seems to be healthy once again.
Denver at New England-This is a statement game for both teams. The Broncos wanna win a game against a quality team on the road while the Patriots want to prove they can beat a quality team at home for the first time this season. The key matchup will be the Broncos defense versus the Patriots run game. The Broncos have struggled to stop the run and the Patriots will look to exploit that weakness.The Broncos must also get pressure on Matt Cassell and force him to turn the ball over and not allow him to complete big passes down the field to Randy Moss and company.
My top 15 teams after week 6:
1. Tennessee 2. Pittsburgh 3. Giants 4.Washington 5. Dallas 6. Denver 7.Tampa Bay 8. San Diego 9. Jacksonville 10. Washington 11. Philadelphia 12. Arizona 13. New Orleans 14. Indianapolis 15. Atlanta
Best performance by a Division I college football team:
Mississippi State:“The better be focused this weekend and avoid a let down as they travel to play Sylvester Croom and his Bulldogs of Mississippi State”. That’s what I wrote last week after Vanderbilt upset Auburn to run there record to 5-0. Make it 5-1 thanks to Mississippi State. The Commodores struggled to score points and couldn’t stop the Bulldogs from making big plays to narrowly beating them 17-14. Sylvester Croom hasn’t won many games in his tenure so far at Mississippi State, but he does know how to beat top 25 teams.
Worst performance by a Division I college football team:
Oklahoma-Once again “big game Bob” failed to win a big game as the Oklahoma Sooners blew a lead to Texas losing 45-35. The Sooners came out scoring early and often but couldn’t stop the Texas offense and couldn’t stop making crucial mistakes throughout the game. The biggest surprise was not the outcome but the fact Oklahoma only dropped to number 4 in the national rankings. I thought that was gift just like their previous number 1 ranking. By the way, when is the mainstream media going to start questioning Bob Stoops and his coaching ability in big games. Meanwhile, the Longhorns hopefully have stop celebrating because they have another “big game” against a very good and angry Missouri Tiger team that was upset by Oklahoma State last weekend.
Best HBCU football team of the week:
Morgan State: Morgan State’s came into the game against NC A&T knowing they would be facing an Aggie team fired up trying to win for their home crowd on Home Coming day. They not only played well, they dominated the Aggies in front of a sellout crowd at Aggie Stadium beating them 41-3. The Bears No. 2 nationally-ranked defense held North Carolina A&T to just 139 yards of offense and didn’t let up the entire game defensively forcing the Aggies to use three quarterbacks in the game. The three quarterbacks that played, threw for just 23 yards with an interception on 7-for-29 passing. Those passing woes translated into the Aggies going 0-for-16 on third down conversions.
Best HBCU football player of the week:
Antwarn Jones: Jones scored three touchdowns, including the tying score and the winning TD with 10 seconds left in the game, to lift host Seton Hill to a 35-28 victory over West Virginia State. Jones, who rushed for 104 yards, scored on a 5-yard run to tie the game with 6:44 remaining and won it on a 12-yard run to cap an 80-yard drive for Seton Hill (7-0, 4-0 WVIAC). Jones also had a 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Worst organization of the week:
The New York Yankees: See the Blackbox posted on this website about the “STANKEES” and how they treated third base coach Bobby Meachem.
The Clemson Tiger football program: Actually they are the worst college athletic program of the week. How could the AD and the rest of the athletic department allow some of the players and coaches to bash Tommy Bowden just after he announced his resignation? Players saying he couldnt motivate them and they are happy to see him gone have a right to feel like that but should have kept their thoughts “in house” or within the team and the school. Instead they were allowed to trash Bowden to any reporter walking around with a microphone. Furthermore, why let the coach go in the middle of the season? It’s obvious they are not going to get to a BCS game or win a national championship so what’s the harm in allowing him to finish out the season? It doesn’t show in class or respect for Bowden who didn’t do a bad job, they just didn’t win a championship. It’s been said that Clemson wants to build their football program like an SEC program/school. Right now they need to concentrate on becoming a class act program rather than a big time football program.
Until next week…….Enjoy the games!