Tag: Denver Broncos

NFL Week 4 random thoughts!

I know I said by Week 4 you know what teams are and what they’re not, but some teams tend to defy the logic and, accordingly, are more difficult to figure out.

The Buffalo Bills certainly fit that description, and to an extent so do the Oakland Raiders, but no team is more enigmatic than the St. Louis Rams.  They started the season by knocking off the defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks, and in the process put up 34 points against one of the most ferocious and feared defenses in the NFL in the last decade.

They followed that up with a loss to a Washington team that is shooting blanks on offense, and then only managed to put up 6 points in a loss to a Steelers team with a dreadful defense.  At that point, the Rams looked like a team that won one game by fluke and was headed for the second tier of the NFC, right up until they were able to out-duel an Arizona Cardinals team that was one of the three hottest teams in the NFL 24-22.

I’m not sure what to make of the Rams, but if I base it on their season so far, they’ll win next week at Green Bay before losing consecutive home games to the Browns and 49ers.  Here are my NFL Week 4 random thoughts!

Ai yi yi!

This Week’s Sucked And Won

Peyton Manning:  Who’d have thought the Broncos could win a game where Manning threw two picks and had a passer rating of just 68.9?  Let this be a lesson, however.  Denver’s defense is among the best in the league, and at the end of the game, Peyton did lead his team on a nine-play scoring drive.  Don’t look past the Broncos, who have discovered multiple ways to win.

Once again, thank goodness for NFL Redzone.  For its afternoon game of the week, Fox inexplicably decided to show a blowout waiting to happen in the Packers vs. 49ers instead of the much more interesting matchup of Vikings vs. Broncos.

I get that Aaron Rodgers is the best player in the NFL and therefore a big draw, but watching him pick apart a crap defense that’s come close to giving up 100 points in two weeks is definitely not a better draw than the rising Vikings led by second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater vs. perennial playoff bound Denver led by the game’s senior grand master Peyton Manning.  And while these games may not have unfolded the way you might have expected, it is clear that the Minnesota/Denver game was the better contest.

Luckily NFL Redzone gave me a better option than sitting through a game I had no interest in.

Shocking realization of the week:

Kansas City scored 21 points this week on nothing but field goals.  Kicker Cairo Santos went 7 for 7, one shy of the NFL record.  This happened on a week when most NFL kickers were struggling with misses right and left (the other exception:  Arizona’s Chandler Catanzaro who went 5 for 5).

If there’s a play I hate more than the douchey time out right before a field goal attempt I don’t know what it is.  Consequently, there’s nothing I love more than seeing a kicker miss the field goal only to see him get another shot at it because of that idiotic time out play.  This week’s dumb-ass award goes to the Colts’ Chuck Pagano.  I only wish Jaguars kicker Jason Myers could have made the second try to send the Colts home losers.

Are the Panthers aiming to get the best highlight every single week?  Surely there was none better this week than TE Ed Dickson’s recovery of a Jonathan Stewart fumble that got tipped into the air and into Dickson’s waiting arms, resulting in a 57 yard “fumble return” for a touchdown in the third quarter of the Panthers win over Tampa Bay.

Detroit Lions

Good thing this is on TV or nobody’d believe me

This Week’s Great But Lost

Josh McCown, QB (CLE):  32 for 41 (a 78% completion percentage) for 356 yards, 2 TDs and a passer rating of 119.1.  Possibly the best day of McCown’s career, and he did it despite getting sacked 4 times and getting hit a bunch more by a determined San Diego pass rush.

There’s good news and bad news for Eagles fans.  Sam Bradford had a truly great game, leading to the conclusion that trading for him was not as incredibly idiotic as the rest of the Eagles’ offseason moves.  The bad news?  There’s plenty, but how about starting with the fact that Philadelphia’s offense is predicated on the run, and the Eagles can’t run to save their lives.   As an aside, officiating in this game was absolutely awful and even though it favored the Eagles, I hate seeing bad and especially inconsistent refereeing.  Bad calls are bad calls.  Even if they help your team, you shouldn’t want to see them.

Thursday Pick:   Indianapolis (+2) @Houston (William Hill)

The Colts have looked like garbage this season, and you might be tempted to think that Indianapolis’ terrible offensive line will be in big trouble facing Houston’s supposedly great defensive line.  Well, think again.  Houston has looked worse than garbage this season, and I’m actually wondering how they even managed to win one game.  Historically, the Colts have only lost to the Texans four times ever.  You think THIS Texans team is going to reverse that trend.  I hate this game because I hate both of these teams this year, but I’m not taking Houston for all the tea in China.

Indianapolis 27 Houston 24

N-F-Yell:

“This has been the most awesome period of my life.  I’m a Dallas Cowboy.  Dream come true.” – Cowboys DE Greg Hardy.  Hardy will play his first game as a Cowboy next week after serving a four game suspension to start the season.

“I think it’s crap that people are giving him crap.” – Browns LB Craig Robertson, defending CB Joe Haden, who sat out Sunday’s game against the Chargers because of a broken finger.

“Why do I like blitzing?  Because I am good at it.” – Broncos safety TJ Ward.   Ward is fourth on the team in tackles, and has two sacks and a forced fumble from the safety position through four games.

“It’s a bad feeling.  I wish I had been able to come through.” – Steeler K Josh Scobee, who missed two field goals in Thursday’s loss to the Ravens, including the potential game winner.  Scobee has since been cut by Pittsburgh.

“His world is based on hype and that one catch.” – Bills CB Stephon Gillmore, referring to Giants WR Odell Beckham, Jr.  Various Bills players complained that Beckham was a prima donna and a cheap shot artist after their game on Sunday.

“I hate it.  They’re the only team in the league that does it that way, and the reason they’re the only team in the league that does it that way is because they’re stupid.” ESPN analyst and former offensive lineman Mark Schlereth, on the Eagles run blocking schemes.

“It was a fun plane ride back for the guys who were able to stay awake.” – Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, on the flight back from London after the Jets defeated the Dolphins.

“I don’t care what the Cubs fan say, this is more painful.” – Actor (and Detroit Lions fan) Jeff Daniels, after the Lions loss to the Bears dropping Detroit to 0-4.

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Random thoughts and funny quotes from Week 1

I was pleased to see, as time wound down in the first half of the Jaguars-Panthers game, that second-year QB Blake Bortles gamely led his team to what should have been a game-tying touchdown. But then their rookie kicker missed the new, more difficult, extra point. I guess the “automatic” nature of the old extra point was just ruining every game, as you will no doubt recall.

Remember how games were getting decided by last-second clutch field goals, or two-minute touchdown drives. And never by missed extra points. What the hell, man?!

Thank goodness that now it will be relatively routine to see a game where the touchdowns and field goals are nullified because some poor schlub missed a 22-yard kick for the extra point. Way to go, NFL. Way to solve that terrible problem of games being decided by field goals and touchdowns but not extra points. You sure showed us. Pardon me, now, I have to go throw up. A lot.

Heh, extra points are #1! Yeah? ‘Cause they smell like #2! Haaaaaaaa!

Heh, extra points are #1!
Yeah? ‘Cause they smell like #2! Haaaaaaaa!

This Week’s Sucked And Won:

Broncos offensive line: Denver’s strategy this season is to keep Peyton Manning healthy? Lots of luck. The Broncos surrendered four sacks and their ball carriers averaged less than three yards per carry.

Jameis Winston tied an ignominious record in his NFL debut, becoming only the second quarterback to throw a pick-six in his very first passing attempt. Whose record did he tie? None other than Brett Favre.

Shocking realization of the week:

In the Ravens and Broncos game, each team’s longest play of the day was made on defense. Broncos defender Aqib Talib returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown. Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, likewise, returned an interception 24 yards for a score. Neither team produced longer plays than these on offense.

It’s hard to remember an NFL opening day when hardly any rookies made a big splash.  Marcus Mariota had impressive numbers, but it was, after all, against crappy Tampa Bay. Running backs Melvin Gordon and T.J. Yeldon both played capably but produced unspectacular results.

This Week’s Great But Lost:

Antonio Brown: 9 catches, 133 yards, one touchdown. Yeah, the Patriots don’t miss Darrelle Revis… much.

On the flip side of my observation about rookies, there was also no shortage of veteran players who joined new teams and promptly looked quite ordinary.  The Colts got little out of Frank Gore and Andre Johnson and the Eagles got even less than that from DeMarco Murray.  Jeremy Maclin was only average for the Chiefs, as was Michael Crabtree for the Raiders. This just wasn’t a big day for new faces, either young or old.

Thursday Pick:  Denver (+3) @Kansas City (Westgate Superbook)

Anyone watching the Chiefs this past Sunday had to be impressed with the team both on offense and defense. But the Denver Broncos were impressive in a different way.

First off, their defense played ferociously, shutting down a Ravens offense that is a hell of a lot better than the Texans team the Chiefs faced. Second, and more significantly, the Broncos showed a genuine commitment to running the ball, controlling the game, and limiting Peyton Manning’s passing attempts in order to keep him (hopefully) healthy and relatively fresh at the end of the season.

Bottom line, this is a divisional rivalry game that the Broncos have owned since Peyton Manning got to town. Nothing I saw on Sunday is going to have me go against that overwhelming trend.

Prediction

Denver Broncos 26, Kansas City Chiefs 21

NFYell:

“We were listening to the Patriots radio broadcast for the majority of the first half on our headsets.”
– Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, complaining about the routinely poor quality of the communications system at Foxboro.

“As a number one receiver you have to make number one plays and I didn’t.”
– Baltimore Ravens WR Steve Smith, stepping up after a tough loss to Denver.

“Sometimes when you are really good, you are a hair from disaster.”
– Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell, making absolutely no sense at all and showing that coaching the Lions has now officially caused him to lose his mind.

“It’s my fault at the end of the game. There is nobody else to blame but me. The decision to throw the ball there on third down was not a good decision. It should have been a run, whether we scored or not.”
– Giants coach Tom Coughlin, accepting responsibility for bad decision-making in the closing minutes of the loss to Dallas.

“It’s on me right there, that’s clock management. Obviously just take the sack, take the 40 seconds off the clock. Give them less time. That’s 100% on me, can’t afford to throw it away. Got to sit in there and take the sack.”
– Giants QB Eli Manning, accepting responsibility for bad decision making in the closing minutes of the loss to Dallas.

“I don’t even know if those plays were legal. I haven’t seen that block before.”
– Dolphins DT C.J. Mosley, questioning Washington’s heavy use of cut-blocks in Sunday’s game again Miami.

“We have a coordinator who finally trusts us to run. Something about this staff, no matter what the score, we are going to fight and fight and fight.”
– Bears OG Matt Slauson, on Chicago sticking with the run successfully for an entire game, despite it being in a losing effort.

“That’s what winning football is.”
– Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, correctly assessing the importance of offensive line play.

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NFL 2015 preview: The Kansas City Chiefs will fall in the AFC West

Predicted Finish

Denver Broncos (10-6) (3rd seed; Divisional Round)

San Diego Chargers (8-8)

Oakland Raiders (7-9)

Kansas City Chiefs (6-10)

The AFC West is a division where the top teams are in a state of decline while the rebuilding teams aren’t, well, rebuilt yet.

Peyton Manning remains the greatest quarterback in the game. Not just now. Ever. But his age, and the Broncos’ failure to significantly fortify their offensive line, likely means that Manning will be fighting off injuries just as much as he is fighting off opposing defensive linemen come January. Their chance to break free will be to rely heavily on the running game, much as the Dallas Cowboys did last year. That would help Peyton stay healthy and free up Denver’s receiving corps, which is less loaded than it used to be. Still, I don’t see the Broncos as the kind of elite team they were the last couple of years.

Lagging behind Denver are the Chargers, who still have Philip Rivers. He’s still good enough to get them to second place, but lack explosiveness offensively and lack the defensive firepower to get very far in the playoffs (if they get there at all).

The one team I find really exciting in this division is the Raiders. They added Amari Cooper to an offense that sorely needed a breakout star. He can help Derek Carr take that next step offensively. Defensively, the Raiders are still a work in progress, but they’re rapidly approaching the point where they will be that team absolutely no one wants to play if they can stay on track.

Kansas City has flirted with contention, but I think they take a step back this year. While Jeremy Maclin fills a hole in the offense, he alone isn’t enough to help the Chiefs get over the hump.

Overall, the AFC West is in a state of minor upheaval. And while Peyton Manning is still good enough to guide the Broncos into the AFC Divisional Round, I have them falling prey to the Baltimore Ravens there.

Games to Watch:  

Week 2 – San Diego @ Cincinnati: If the Chargers aim to prove me wrong and play like contenders this season, this early contest against the playoff-hopeful Bengals is the kind of game they need to take charge of and win.

Week 5 – Denver @ Oakland: How good are the Raiders? If they can hold at home against division favorite Denver, the answer might be better than you think.

Week 13 – Kansas City @ Oakland: It’s been a long time since this classic AFL rivalry meant anything. It might not at Week 13, but then again, it’s getting closer.

Week 17 – San Diego @ Denver: The NFL, per usual, pits the division’s top two against each other to close out the season. And why wouldn’t they?

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Dallas Isn’t America’s Team Anymore: NFL Divisional Playoff Preview

I know some people are thinking that maybe the “fix is in” for Dallas after last week’s ref-a-palooza against Detroit, but that represents 1970s thinking.

In the internet age, every team is America’s team.  You can be a San Diego Chargers fan living in Morgantown, West Virginia and see every one of their games and even read all the stories about them in the San Jose Mercury News if you want.

Back in the day, there were only 2 or 3 games a week on TV and one of them was always Dallas.  Ain’t like that no more son.  And trust me, the Packers and their shiny quarterback and their funny cheeseheads are just as big a draw as the Cowboys and their mouthy wide receiver and their shiny silver helmets.

But on to the Divisional Round.  After a shaky start in the Wildcard round, I came out OK, going 2-2 in game picks and 3-1 picking over/unders.  My Sunday, in fact, was a perfect 4 for 4 on both games.

I said last week that you rarely see four home wins in the early rounds of the playoffs, but you might see that this week, I’m just not sure.

You’ve got Green Bay and Seattle who both hold massive home field advantages, you’ve got Denver who clearly outclasses the Colts, and you’ve got New England, who despite a turbulent playoff history vs. the Ravens are probably the most complete team in football.

Which one of these home favorites are you gonna bet against?!

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The Miami Dolphins That Might Have Been

As I watched the final minutes of the Denver Broncos win over the Miami Dolphins, I found myself thinking back to 1991, and the Washington team that won the Super Bowl that year.  They went 14-2, the best record in the NFL.  And they waltzed through the playoffs.

In fact, their 13 point win over the Bills in the Super Bowl was the closest playoff game they played that year.  And the thing absolutely no one remembers is that they didn’t play the two best teams in the NFC besides them, the 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles.
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