The first half of the 2015 NFL season has been crazy.
Right now, the Atlanta Falcons are in sole possession of the second wild card in the NFC… but does anyone really believe this team will be there at the end? They’ve lost three of their four, including back to back losses against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, unforgivably, the San Francisco 49ers.
While the loss to the New Orleans Saints a month ago was simply a case of running into Drew Brees healthy and at home, and even last week’s loss to Tampa Bay featured an insane number of turnovers that you would not expect to see again, the loss to the 49ers this week was simply inexplicable as the Falcons running game completely disappeared against a very bad team.
In context, it now looks like the Falcons are finding ways to lose every week, and their current lead (a game and a half over the Rams and Seahawks) seems unlikely to hold up since they still play the Vikings, the undefeated Panthers twice, and New Orleans again. But beyond that, it’s easy to imagine this team dropping one of their two road games at Tampa Bay or at Jacksonville, and you have to wonder just who’s left on the schedule that the Falcons might actually beat.
This Week’s Sucked And Won
Andre Johnson, WR (IND): I know the Johnson signing hasn’t really worked out, but this week against Denver he caught zero passes for zero yards and was only targeted three times. It looks like Johnson doesn’t figure into the Colts offense at all.
This week’s poor sport award goes to former Panthers and current Packers DE Julius Peppers. Knowing former teammate Cam Newton’s propensity for giving touchdown footballs to kids in the stands, Peppers snatched the ball away before Cam could give some kid the coolest souvenir imaginable. Of course, Green Bay’s defense still got their asses spanked, but the kids in the stands got to see a former hero acting like a spoiled brat. Class act, Julius.
Shocking realization of the week
By beating the Jaguars, Ryan Fitzpatrick became the first quarterback to start and win against the same opponent with five different teams.
This week’s Catch Of The Day goes to the Bills Sammy Watkins, on just a picture perfect 44 yard throw and catch TD from quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Watkins called for the ball, then ran to the spot where Taylor’s had perfectly placed it. A thing of beauty.
Drew Brees must have felt like a marked man against Tennessee this week, as the Titans drew 3 roughing the passer penalties in their game against New Orleans. Brees also got sacked 4 times and hit (legally) bunch more than that. Duck Drew! Duck!
This Week’s Great But Lost
Michael Crabtree, WR (OAK): Crabtree caught 7 passes for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough to lift Oakland over the Steelers.
This week’s “no substitutions please” award goes to the New York Jets. Due his thujb injury, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had to be replaced as the holder on special teams. His substitute? Kicker Nick Folk, who couldn’t kick because of a quad injury. His substitute? Punter Ryan Quigley, who went xx for xx in field goal attempts. I’d love to tell you that for some reason back up QB Geno Smith had taken over punting duties but sadly that was still Quigley.
Thursday Pick: Buffalo (+3) @NY Jets (MGM Mirage)
The long term trends here favor the Jets: the home team has had the better of it in this divisional rivalry and the Jets own a modest advantage over the last half a dozen years. The short term trend favors Buffalo: they crucified the Jets last year, winning both games by a combined 55 points. The bottom line though is that the Bills just got healthy whereas the Jets are all banged up. These two teams aren’t that far apart: injuries make the difference.
Buffalo Bills 23, New York Jets 22
“There is nothing wrong with our team. We just lost a tough game.” – Packers coach Mike McCarthy, on his team’s loss to the undefeated Panthers.
“It was fun to see him out there chasing the quarterback.” – Giants QB Eli Manning, on teammate DE Jason Pierre-Paul, who saw his first action of the year after his unfortunate fireworks mishap and injury.
“I thought we would get the kick, get the stop defensively, then use our timeouts and go attack on offense. We’re a really good two-minute offense. I felt like we were stopping them defensively and could do it again and go win that way.” – Falcons coach Dan Quinn, on his decision to kick a field goal to make the score 17-16 with 3 minutes to go against the 49ers. The Falcons never got the ball back and lost 17-16.
“We’re close to leading the league in penalties right now. That’s gonna get you beat.” – Saints QB Drew Brees, after his team lost to Tennessee overtime.
“It’s nothing that a little Charles Woodson wine won’t take care of.” – Raiders CB Charles Woodson, deflecting a question about his injury status and taking the opportunity to chat up his Napa Valley vineyard.
“We won, that’s the biggest thing. Obviously there was some sloppy things we have to clean up.” – Jets coach Todd Bowles, on his team’s closer-than-expected win over Jacksonville.
“We will bounce back. We are 7-1. It’s a long season. Name me the last undefeated champion.” – Broncos S TJ Ward, putting Denver’s first loss of the season in proper context.
“I don’t agree with the hit. I think some of those players on that team are pretty cheap, to tell you the truth. I hope we see them again.” – Vikings G Brandon Fusco, echoing the comments of a number of Minnesota players about the Rams’ hit on QB Teddy Bridgewater that knocked him out of the game.
“There are three people I have zero respect for in this world. It’s people who hit women, people who molest children and rapists. I’m glad he didn’t have a good day. I think it’s a joke a guy like that is able to play this quickly.” – Eagles C Jason Kelce, taking a huge shot at Cowboys DE Greg Hardy.