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The Good, Bad and Ugly: Week #4
In the NFL, the Jets and Ravens fall from the ranks of the unbeaten while the Colts, Broncos, Giants, Saints and Vikings all remain perfect with impressive wins.
Let’s take a look at all of these teams and others in our weekly edition of The Good, Bad and Ugly.
The Good Giants: New York played at Kansas City. Nothing else needed to say in their easy 27-16 victory. The Giants continue to show good balance on offense and a tough attacking defense.
Colts: Indy looks like the most complete team right now even against a weak Seattle squad. Peyton Manning threw for over 300 yards once again and the defense held the Seahawks to only 49 yards rushing in their 34-17 win over Seattle. The Colts are the most quiet 4-0 team in the league right now.
Patriots: Thanks to bad calls, mistakes by the Ravens, and a dropped pass late in the game, New England squeaked out a 27-21 win against Baltimore knocking them from ranks of the unbeaten. The Ravens’ offense outgained the Pats and their defense pressured Tom Brady all day including a big sack and fumble recovery for a touchdown. The Pats are 3-1, but they have some serious issues in protecting Brady and getting pressure on the opposing teams quarterback.
Jaguars: Jacksonville had their second solid offensive performance in beating the surprisingly 0-4 Titans 37-17. David Garrard had a great game throwing the ball for 323 and three touchdowns and the offense gained over 400 yards on the day. If they keep playing this well — especially offensively — they might just save Jack Del Rio’s job as coach.
Bengals: Cincinnati has some swagger and confidence back after another 23-20 win in overtime against the winless Browns. The biggest reason they’re 3-1 (tying them with Baltimore for the AFC North lead) is their defense. RB Cedric Benson gives them toughness in the running game and their offensive line is playing better, but it’s the defense — which use to be their achilles heel — that’s now one of their strong points.
Bears: Chicago continues to use a conservative offense, big play special teams and solid defense to move to 3-1 after a 48-24 rout of the Lions. Jay Cutler threw for less than 200 yards because Detroit’s defense got a heavy dose of Matt Forte (121 yards on 12 carries). Johnny Knox added a 100-yard kickoff return TD and the Bears defense knocked rookie QB Matthew Stafford out of the game with an injury. Everyone is focused on Green Bay and Minnesota in the NFC North, but the Bears will definitely have a lot to say in who wins the division.
Texans: It wasn’t pretty, but Houston didn’t need style points to beat Oakland. Matt Schaub had pedestrian numbers and Steve Slaton rushed for only 65 yards, yet the Texans still routed the Raiders 29-6. Like Jack Del Rio, Gary Kubiak could very well save his job this season if they continue to win football games.
Broncos: I know Denver is 4-0, but if the Colts are the quietest undefeated team in the NFL, the Broncos are the shakiest. Their defense continues to play well but the offense continues to struggle the score. They didn’t need much in their 17-10 win over the Cowboys but they will need to play better especially offensively against the Patriots who are coming to town this week.
Saints: New Orleans has made a believer out of me with their dominant 24-10 home victory over the Jets. For the second week, the Saints offense was slowed by an opponent’s defense while their defense stepped up big to lead them to victory. New Orleans forced 4 turnovers, allowed only 14 first downs, sacked Mark Sanchez four times and held the Jets to 3 of 12 on third downs conversions. All the talk this season has been about Drew Brees and the offense, but it’s been the Saints defense which leads the league in forcing turnovers. That’s the real story of their 4-0 start.
Washington: Okay, they beat the Bucs 16-13 but they are still a bad football team even with a 2-2 record.
Dolphins: Miami’s 38-10 win over the Bills was ugly, especially offensively by both teams. But the “Fins” did get their first win of the season and as Forrest Gump would say “That’s all I have to say about that”.
Steelers: Suddenly, Pittsburgh has turned into a team that asks their offense to win games and not the defense. The No. 1 ranked defense from last year couldn’t close the deal in two losses and needed the offense to handle the task in two wins so far this season. Ben Roethlisberger threw for over 300 yards (2 TDs) and Rashad Mendenhall (filling in for Willie Parker) rushed for a career- high 165 yards (2 TDs) a closer than expected home 38-28 win against the Chargers. The Steelers compiled an impressive 497 yards of total offense. The defense didn’t play badly. but they continue to not made big plays or force turnovers although James Harrison had two sacks. The entire defense should get going next week as they expect to get Troy Polamalu back and because they travel to Detroit.
49ers: San Francisco are a reflection of their head coach Mike Singletary. Tough, physical and confident. The Niners’ defense forced turnovers, sacked and battered Mark Bulger and pitched a 35-0 shutout against the Rams at home. The offense did enough to keep the St. Louis defense honest and moved the ball when they needed. But it was the defense that continues to dominate games so far this season. For those who thought the Niners would have a let down after the tough last-second loss at Minnesota were absolutely wrong. San Fran is off to their best start since 2002 thanks to the coaching of Singletary and his young team buying into his system.
Vikings: Minnesota defeated Green Bay 30-23 Monday night in the so-called “Revenge Bowl” at the Metrodome, but it wasn’t because of the “Messiah” Brett Favre. Sure, he threw for three touchdowns and no pick, but it was the defense of both teams that were the story in the game. Jared Allen and others took advantage of a injury-riddled Packers offensive line with eight sacks of Aaron Rodgers and forced him into two turnovers. Meanwhile, Green Bay’s defense allowed Favre an enormous amount of time to survey the field and even when he did throw the ball, the Packer defenders were out of place especially on big passes down the field. To the Packers’ credit defensively, they did a great job of shutting down Adrian “Superman” Peterson. But they lacked a pass rush up front and they look confused in their pass defense. Rodgers, under attack all night, still was solid in his performance as he threw for a career high 384 yards and two touchdowns in defeat. So Favre fans, calm down because he wasn’t the reason the Vikings won the game and he certainly wasn’t best player or the best quarterback on the field in their victory.
The Bad Ravens: Baltimore fell from the undefeated ranks after a tough 27-21 loss to the Pats in Foxboro. Joe Flacco had more passing yards than Tom Brady, but costly mistakes and a dropped pass on fourth down by Mark Clayton sealed the fate of the Ravens. Despite that, the Ravens look like a formidable team once again in the AFC.
Lions: Detroit continues to prove they can score points, but they also continue to show their inability to shut down any offense in the league as evident in their 48-24 loss to the Bears. The Lions “D” allowed didn’t force a turnover, allowed over 150 yards rushing including a 7.6 yards per rush average. Those are the kind of numbers that led to Detroit’s 14th consecutive road loss and will surely lead to more losses this season.
Buccaneers: I didn’t put Tampa in the “Ugly” category this week because they played Washington close in their 16-13 loss, but they are still a very bad football team.
Jets: Rookie QB Marc Sanchez got a rude awakening in their 24-10 road loss at New Orleans. Sanchez was 14 of 27 for 138 yards, three interceptions, one fumble and looked confused against an underrated Saints defense. After one subpar game, some Jets fans are saying he’s a bum and New York shouldn’t have drafted him. Those fans are also people who believe in the Easter Bunny. Sanchez didn’t ask to be called Mark “Sanchize” (a play off the word franchise), he just wants to be a quality quarterback and so far he is. How about giving credit to the Saints and their defense? But of course, that makes too much sense, right?
Browns: Like the Bucs, Cleveland battled the surprising Bengals hard, but still lost 23-20 in overtime. Tthey are still a bad football team.
Cowboys: Dallas is back to playing like the “Cowgirls” with their 17-10 uninspired loss to the 4-0 Denver Broncos. Tony Romo once again turned the ball over and the offense continues to be inconsistent. Things are so disfunctional in “Little D”, head coach Wade Phillips has no idea what’s going on. During the Cowboys’ post game press conference, a reporter asked Phillips why didn’t give Marion Barber the ball more in the second half, he responded by saying “I don’t know”. I don’t know? Are you serious? All will be fine for at least one week with the team from Texas as they get to play the hopeless Chiefs this week.
Packers: For all the reasons why Green Bay lost 30-23 to the Vikings Monday night, I refer to the Vikings’ report.
The Ugly Raiders: I’m all for giving JaMarcus Russell a chance to develop, but going 12 of 33 for 128 yards, no touchdowns and one fumble isn’t good. It’s not all Russell’s fault that Oakland is 1-3, but he can’t continue to struggle if the Raiders wanna score points and compete in the AFC West.
Titans: There are two reasons why Tennessee is 0-4. They have a quarterback that doesn’t make big plays and a defense that can’t stop anyone, especially after their 37-17 loss at Jacksonville. Management didn’t want to pay Albert Haynesworth and they won’t admit he’s the reason the defense is struggling but football players in the league know that you must be able to stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback and Haynesworth is among the best in football in making those things happen for a defense. Should the question now be is time for Jeff Fisher to step down as head coach?
Chiefs: Two words — Todd Haley.
Bills: Again, two words — Dick Jauron.
Seahawks: Seattle is boring and have no playmakers!
Rams: They are officially the worst team in football!
Chargers: San Diego’s defense is the reason they lost at Pittsburgh 38-28. They gave up 38 points, 497 yards of total offense including nearly 200 yards on the ground to a Steeler team who came into the game averaging just 81 yards per contest. They were pushed around by the Pittsburgh offensive line all night and couldn’t cover the Steelers receivers. Even I can’t put all the blame on Norv Turner for this one but don’t worry, he’ll have plenty of games this year to take full blame in a loss.
My top 15 teams in the NFL 1. Giants 2. Colts 3. Saints 4. Vikings 5. Ravens 6. Eagles 7. Jets 8. Patriots 9. Bears 10. Steelers 11. Falcons 12. Broncos 13. 49ers 14. Bengals 15. Chargers My Top 25 Division I college teams 1. Florida 2. Texas 3. Alabama 4. LSU 5. USC 6. Cincinnati 7. Ohio State 8. Miami 9. Penn State 10. Oklahoma State 11. Georgia Tech 12. Oklahoma 13. TCU 14. Oregon 15. Boise State 16. Ole Miss 17. Missouri 18. Kansas 19. South Florida 20. Nebraska 21. Auburn 22. Iowa 23. Houston 24. West Virginia 25. Georgia My top 10 HBCU Division 1 teams 1. South Carolina State 2. FAMU 3. Prairie View A&M 4. Grambling State 5. Hampton 6. Alabama State 7. N.C. A&T 8. Morgan State 9. Southern 10. Tennessee State My top 10 HBCU Division II teams 1. Albany State 2. Shaw 3. Tuskegee 4. Bowie State 5. Fort Valley State 6. Benedict 7. Elizabeth City State 8. Morehouse 9. Virginia State 10. Clark Atlanta DIVISION I HBCU PLAYER OF THE WEEK WR Will Scott, N.C. Central: Scott caught five passes for 179 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles’ tough 23-17 loss at North Carolina A&T.
DIVISION II HBCU PLAYER OF THE WEEK S Adrian Horton, Fayetteville State: Horton accumulated nine tackles, a forced fumble and an interception in the Broncos’ 37-17 win over Chowan.
Well that’s it for this week. Enjoy the games and we will talk next week!