What have we learned - Week 6
So every sports pundit was talking about how Wisconsin would provide a true test for Penn State. Then, after my beloved Lions dismantled the Badgers in Madison, sports pundits were talking about how weak PSU's schedule is. So which is it? I'm worried about the next two weeks, but right now, Penn State looks as good as those heavyweights in the SEC and Big 12. That's right! The big game, of course, was the Red River Shootout (which they're not allowed to call a "shootout" anymore), but I didn't watch much of the game. Texas still has a tough schedule, so it will be interesting to see what happens with them. I'm worried because Michigan, Penn State's next opponent, lost to Toledo, of all teams, so the Wolverines will be pissed next week when they go to Happy Valley. A few of the nice stories this year so far, Vanderbilt and Northwestern, went down, and Oklahoma State, led by coach Mike Gundy (famed for his "I'm a man! I'm forty!" rant last year), took down Missouri, which wasn't ready for their closeup, apparently. I fully expect Missouri to beat Texas this weekend, because nobody expects them to. Notre Dame went on the road and got beat, but not before, according to my mother, the refs tried to give the game to the Irish (I'm not joking about this - she called me on Saturday and was really angry about some of the blown calls). Out West, Arizona, which had aspirations of greatness, went on the road to Stanford and, while only losing by 1 point, got spanked by the Cardinal running game. And Arizona State continues to circle the drain, as they forced five (5!) turnovers by USC but still got shut out. Ouch. And Cal is ranked! Tom has to be pumped!
Philadelphia 40, San Francisco 26. Look, I like David Akers. He's a good kicker. But he's no longer a good kicker from outside 40 or so yards. He's just not. I can live with that. Andy Reid still thinks he can make 50+-yard field goals, though, which is ridiculous. So when he sent Akers out with one second left in the first half for a long field goal, nothing good could happen. The best thing that could happen would be a miss. The worst thing would be a block returned for a touchdown, which is of course what happened. The Eagles, however, tightened up their defense, and Reid decided to run the ball with Correll Buckhalter (only 18 carries, true, but 7 catches out of the backfield), and Philly put together 23 points in the fourth quarter for a HUGE win. It wasn't pretty, but once they settled down after the blocked field goal and the touchdown by the 49ers to start the second half, you could tell they were much better than San Fran. Now the Eagles have a bye, so Brian Westbrook can get healthy. Maybe they'll take off after a week off.
DeSean Jackson update! 1 rush for 1 yard, 6 catches for 98 yards, 2 punt returns for 28 yards. Season totals: 29 catches for 433 yards, 6 rushes for 50 yards, 19 punt returns for 253 yards.
Turnovers: 49ers 3, Eagles 1. Turnovers = loss? It seemed like it would be a wash for a while, but it turned out a 'yes.' 1-0.
Indianapolis 31, Baltimore 3. You know, I didn't watch this game, but I'm a bit peeved that the Colts should have been 0-4 going into this game, and now it looks like Peyton Manning is getting healthy. So now the Colts are going to take off, but they should already be too far behind to do any damage. Grrrr. Also, the Ravens deserve to lose the rest of their games for kicking a field goal while losing 31-0. Seriously, Baltimore?
Turnovers: Ravens 5, Colts 0. Turnovers = loss? It sure looks like that. 2-0.
Minnesota 12, Detroit 10. The most boring game of the day did, however, feature the dumbest play, perhaps, in NFL history. Did everyone see the safety in the first quarter? The box score says Jared Allen tackled Dan Orlovsky in the end zone. This is, of course, bogus. If you've seen the play, you know that Orlovsky simply runs out of the end zone, as if he didn't know where the end line was. Allen was about five yards away from him. I feel bad for Orlovsky, but it was still an idiotic play. Oh, and the Lions lost by 2 points. That's why they're the Lions.
Turnovers: Vikings 3, Lions 1. Turnovers = loss? Well, no, because the Lions were playing! 2-1.
New Orleans 34, Oakland 3. The Raiders actually led this game 3-0 after one quarter. Poor Oakland. Reggie Bush, by the way, just tied Anquan Boldin for the fastest receiver to 200 catches. He's not as good as people thought he would be, but he's pretty good.
Turnovers: Raiders 2, Saints 0. Turnovers = loss? Sure. 3-1.
New York Jets 26, Cincinnati 14. Oh, the Bengals are bad. Could they go winless? That would be fun! Carson Palmer still wants to play without getting healthy for an 0-6 team. Why wouldn't he just want to get healthy for next season? I understand that he loves playing football, but the season is over, man! Let it go!
Turnovers: Jets 3, Bengals 1. Turnovers = loss? R. C. Favre threw two interceptions, but Cincy couldn't take advantage of it. Of course! 3-2.
Atlanta 22, Chicago 20. I foolishly turned this game off when Chicago scored their touchdown to go ahead 20-19 ... with 11 seconds left. They couldn't win with only 11 seconds on the clock! Sheesh. I don't know who runs the clock at games, but I hope you saw the fact that on the play before the game-winning field goal, the clock didn't start for about a second-and-a-half after the ball was snapped. Given that the field goal was kicked with a second left, I wonder if the NFL will be looking into the clock. That seems weird.
Turnovers: Bears 1, Falcons 1. Turnovers = loss? It's a wash.
Tampa 27, Carolina 3. I didn't watch any of this. I guess Jake Delhomme had a bad game. I've thought he's been overrated for a long time, so I'm not surprised.
Turnovers: Panthers 3, Buccaneers 0. Turnovers = loss? Sure! 4-2.
St. Louis 19, Washington 17. I'm certainly glad that the Rams won because it helps the Eagles, but if you're St. Louis, don't you have to cut Richie Incognito? Here you are, driving for the winning field goal, which would be your first win, against a good team on the road, and if you're Incognito, you start yelling at the referee - not another player - and you get a 15-yard penalty to turn a chip-shot field goal into a long one. It all worked out in the end, but Incognito's idiocy (despite the fact that he has that great name) is a reason why the Rams suck.
Turnovers: Washington 3, Rams 1. Those were the first turnovers by the Washington offense this year, by the way. Turnovers = loss? Definitely. The Rams scored their only touchdown on a fumble return. 5-2.
Houston 29, Miami 28. That first Dolphins touchdown was pretty awesome. They ran the "Wildcat" formation that has been so good for them, and Ronnie Brown handed off to Ricky Williams, who pitched back to Chad Pennington, who was split out like he usually is in this formation. Pennington launched a 53-yard touchdown pass. I love when coaches pull weird crap like this, because it takes balls in the staid NFL. Soon their coach will get conservative and boring, and we'll all be sad. But that was cool. Oh, and Houston won for the first time. That was nice for them.
Turnovers: Texans 4, Dolphins 1. Turnovers = loss? No. Miami is semi-decent and they couldn't win this game with a +3 turnovers margin? Sheesh. 5-3.
Jacksonville 24, Denver 17. In the Suicide Pool that Woody! runs, where you pick a team you're certain is going to lose, I took Jacksonville this week. I figured they were on the road, and they're kind of up-and-down, so why not? Well, in one word, turnovers. Sure, the Jaguars beat the Broncos up in the fourth quarter, but the +1 turnovers margin for the Jags was just enough to win a road game against a pretty good opponent. Damn.
Turnovers: Broncos 3, Jaguars 2. Turnovers = loss? Yes, confound it. 6-3.
Green Bay 27, Seattle 17. You know, it's unfair to hold Aaron Rodgers to the R. C. Favre standard. I think Favre is overrated, but his consecutive games streak is pretty impressive. But he's a freakin' freak of nature, for crying out loud. To say that Rodgers should play through everything just because R. C. did it is going to get him hurt more, and fans and media people who suggest he's not "tough" because he's not going to put together a streak like R. C.'s should shut up. I'm glad he didn't get hurt more, mostly because he was playing what suddenly looks like a bottom-five NFL team, but I wouldn't be surprised if he gets lit up one of these days when he shouldn't have been playing and spends far more time than necessary rehabbing. Give it a rest, Packers fans - R. C. Favre is gone, and he ain't coming back.
Turnovers: Seahawks 2, Packers 1. Turnovers = loss? Sure looks that way. 7-3.
Arizona 30, Dallas 24. Man, what a bad day for the Cowboys (and, continuing on, a bad week, as Adam Jones was suspended today). They lost their quarterback and punter in the space of a few plays. You may not think the punter is all that important, but considering they're going with a 40-year-old QB and field position will be important, losing the punter is pretty tough. Of course, they wouldn't have lost the punter if their special teams could, you know, block someone. The Cardinals are in first place (!), two games ahead of the 49ers (!!), but after the bye week, they have to go back to the East Coast, where they stunk up the joint a few games ago. Good teams have to win a difficult road game, don't they? The Cardinals play at Carolina in two weeks. We'll see if they're a good team or just the same old Cardinals.
Turnovers: Cardinals 3, Cowboys 1. Turnovers = loss? For once, the Cowboys won the turnover margin. Yet they lost. I guess they should keep turning the ball over more than getting them! 7-4.
San Diego 30, New England 10. Will the Cheaters even win 8 games? I watched a few minutes of this game, and they looked awful. Matt Cassell looked terrible, sure, but so did everyone else. Sheesh. Speaking of phoning it in, John Madden called this game but will miss next week's game in Tampa because he's tired of riding the bus cross-country so much. Hey, here's a thought: Take a frickin' plane! Anyway, it will be the first game he misses in 28 years. That's not bad.
Turnovers: Cheaters 1, Chargers 1. Turnovers = loss? Another wash.
Cleveland 35, New York Giants 14. I didn't watch any of this game (the Phillies were on!) but I certainly liked the outcome. I wouldn't have picked the Browns, but you just got the feeling, after this weird weekend, that the Giants were ready for a fall. One wonders if Eli will regress now that he had a bad game. As an Eagles fan, I can only hope!
Turnovers: Giants 3, Browns 0. Turnovers = loss? Definitely. You can't turn the ball over that much on the road and win. Well, you can occasionally, but it's not a terribly good idea. 8-4.
Tennessee: 8 turnovers, +6 margin, 5-0 record.
Philadelphia: 7 turnovers, +5 margin, 3-3 record.
Washington: 4 turnovers, +4 margin, 4-2 record.
Indianapolis: 6 turnovers, +4 margin, 3-2 record.
San Diego: 6 turnovers, +4 margin, 3-3 record.
Green Bay: 8 turnovers, +4 margin, 3-3 record.
Miami: 3 turnovers, +4 margin, 2-3 record.
Cleveland: 7 turnovers, +4 margin, 2-3 record.
Pittsburgh: 5 turnovers, +3 margin, 4-1 record.
Tampa: 10 turnovers, +3 margin, 4-2 record.
Atlanta: 5 turnovers, +2 margin, 4-2 record.
Jacksonville: 8 turnovers, +1 margin, 3-3 record.
Chicago: 10 turnovers, +1 margin, 3-3 record.
Kansas City: 10 turnovers, +1 margin, 1-4 record.
New York Jets: 10 turnovers, +0 margin, 3-2 record.
Minnesota: 10 turnovers, +0 margin, 3-3 record.
Arizona: 12 turnovers, -1 margin, 4-2 record.
New England: 7 turnovers, -1 margin, 3-2 record.
St. Louis: 6 turnovers, -1 margin, 1-4 record.
Oakland: 8 turnovers, -1 margin, 1-4 record.
New York Giants: 4 turnovers, -2 margin, 4-1 record.
Buffalo: 9 turnovers, -2 margin, 4-1 record.
Carolina: 9 turnovers, -2 margin, 4-2 record.
Dallas: 9 turnovers, -2 margin, 4-2 record.
New Orleans: 11 turnovers, -2 margin, 3-3 record.
Cincinnati: 12 turnovers, -2 margin, 0-6 record.
Denver: 11 turnovers, -4 margin, 4-2 record.
Baltimore: 12 turnovers, -4 margin, 2-3 record.
Detroit: 9 turnovers, -4 margin, 0-5 record.
San Francisco: 15 turnovers, -5 margin, 2-4 record.
Seattle: 9 turnovers, -5 margin, 1-4 record.
Houston: 13 turnovers, -8 margin, 1-4 record.
So that's the week in football. Yes, I'm very happy that the Phillies are a game away from the World Series. But that's a post for another day!