What have we learned - Week 9
Penn State didn't play, but they still got shafted, as usual. I'm not too worried about the Lions falling to #3 in the BCS poll because I doubt if Alabama or Texas Tech will go undefeated, but it's just a measure of how in love with the SEC and Big XII pundits are. Critics cite Penn State's games against Coastal Carolina and Syracuse, but the Orange game was scheduled years ago, when they were decent, and it was on the road, so I don't know if you can pick on it too much. Texas Tech played Eastern Washington (and gave up 24 points), SMU, and UMass. Alabama struggled against Tulane, for crying out loud, and played Western Kentucky and Arkansas State. And if everyone hadn't whiffed on Clemson (come on, Clemson always sucks!), that win would look a lot less impressive. So everyone needs to shut up about the out-of-conference schedule of Penn State. Plus, maybe someone in the Big XII could play some defense once in a while. The Texas-Texas Tech game was wildly entertaining, but that final play was such awful defense by the Longhorns that it was just sad. Florida got some revenge on Georgia, who's looking worse every week, and of course now tons of people are calling the Gators the best team in the country (Florida played Hawaii at home and still has a game against the Citadel, by the way). Other people laud USC for playing at Virginia (which is mediocre) and scheduling Ohio State (at home, of course, although they do play them in Columbus next year). Well, they have to schedule tough opponents, don't they? The Pac-10 certainly doesn't give them any issues - they just beat Washington 56-0! When your conference stinks, you have to play some good teams. Furthermore, I always say this about Big Eleven teams - they have to play in crappy weather late in the year. Penn State should schedule some of these southern teams in late November and see how they do. There was more college football this weekend, but with Penn State having a bye, I skipped a lot of it. Sorry!
Philadelphia 26, Seattle 7. The Seahawks scored on a 90-yard touchdown pass ... on the first play of the game. Then they gained 143 yards the rest of the game. Even after that play, I wasn't too worried, although it took McNabb a while to get in a groove. He was 3-for-13 at the end of the first quarter ... and was 25-for-30 in the final three quarters. Plus, on the road, the Eagles committed only one penalty, and it was a dicey horse-collar tackle with a minute left in the game. Seattle is ravaged by injuries, true, but if the Eagles play defense like they did on Sunday and get a little bit more out of their offense, the second half of the season could be huge for them.
DeSean Jackson update! 2 catches for 20 yards, 1 rush for 3 yards, 5 punt returns for 50 yards. Season totals: 34 catches for 525 yards and 1 touchdown; 7 rushes for 53 yards; 27 punt returns for 298 yards.
Turnovers: Eagles 1, Seahawks 0. Turnovers = loss? No, as the Seahawks did a good job holding onto the ball. They're just not that good. 0-1.
New York Jets 26, Buffalo 17. The Bills have fallen to earth a bit, as they have become a bit too free with the football. I don't know much more about this game, because I wasn't watching it, but the AFC East is looking fun, isn't it?
Turnovers: Bills 3, Jets 1. Turnovers = loss? Well, each team returned an interception for a touchdown, but I'll still say yes. 1-1.
Chicago 27, Detroit 23. The Lions scored all their points in the second quarter. Someone should have told them you play four quarters. The grand Dan Orlovsky Era comes to an end, as he got hurt and the Lions signed Daunte Culpepper. That probably won't work, as the Lions have bigger issues than quarterback, but why Culpepper couldn't get a job before this is strange. Meanwhile, Rex Grossman takes back over at QB for Da Bears. Grossman did take them to the Super Bowl, after all, so we'll see how that works for them.
Turnovers: Lions 3, Da Bears 2. Turnovers = loss? Sure. 2-1.
Cincinnati 21, Jacksonville 19. The Bengals won a game! Holy crap! The Ryan Fitzpatrick Bengals won a game! The QB from Harvard won a game! That's great for the Bengals, but if you're Jacksonville, don't you have to win this game? This is the same team that just lost to Cleveland, mind you. In the NFL, you can't expect crappy teams to be crappy all the time like in college. The Bengals might have been sucking all year, but they still have talent. It's not like USC playing a winless Washington team. The Jaguars play Detroit next week. They better watch out, or they could lose to three really bad teams three weeks in a row.
Turnovers: Bengals 2, Jaguars 1. Turnovers = loss? Interestingly enough, no. 2-2.
Baltimore 37, Cleveland 27. How did the Browns lose this game? I checked it out, they were leading 27-13, and then suddenly it was 27-27. What the heck? Then Terrell Suggs, who had never had an interception return for a touchdown, now has two this season, and the game was over. What a weird thing. I will say that the Browns are totally dysfunctional. They're actually changing quarterbacks because the fans want Brady Quinn. That's not really how you run a franchise, is it? Look Derek Anderson isn't great, but shouldn't they bench the wildly underachieving Braylon Edwards before they bench the QB? Quinn gets to play against the lousy Broncos, but it's on Thursday night, so he doesn't have a lot of time to prepare. The Browns, unfortunately, just bought themselves another season after this, at least, of sucking.
Turnovers: Browns 2, Ravens 0. Turnovers = loss? It looks that way! 3-2.
Tennessee 19, Green Bay 16. I've been hearing a lot about how the Titans can't win the Super Bowl because they don't have much in the passing game. I'm not saying they will win the Super Bowl, but teams can win without a dynamic passing game. Pundits tend to lose focus and get dazzled by teams that fling the ball all over the place and put up points. I'd love to remind these people that defense wins championships and that a powerful running game takes care of a lot of problems. I'm not sure if the Titans can come back if they fall behind, but they don't fall behind a lot because they're so solid in every aspect of the game. Yes, they're boring. But you better get used to them.
Turnovers: Packers 2, Titans 0. Turnovers = loss? Well, you definitely don't want to turn the ball over against the Titans. 4-2.
Tampa 30, Kansas City 27. You're Kansas City. You take a 24-3 lead in the second quarter and even pull a sweet trick play where your quarterback fakes out Ronde Barber, a Pro Bowler, and hauls in a touchdown pass. Then you kick off, and the Buccaneers, who have only had one kickoff returned for a touchdown in their history, return the kickoff for a touchdown. It's 24-10, and the comeback is on! And on the tying touchdown, the KC defender somehow let the receiver get behind him and then stopped and tried to jump for the ball. If he had taken one step further back, he would have gotten the ball. But that's why he plays for the Chiefs!
Turnovers: Buccaneers 4, Chiefs 1. Turnovers = loss? Yes, the Chiefs lost with a +3 turnover margin. Good show, lads! 4-3.
Arizona 34, St. Louis 13. You're St. Louis. You get a lucky touchdown to take an early lead. You have stoned the high-powered Cardinals offense on the first drive. Then you get an interception returned for a touchdown. Then it's 10-7, and a rookie running back puts a superb fake on a defender and goes 30 yards for a touchdown. With less than two minutes left in the half, you're backed up a bit. You throw three incomplete passes and take 15 seconds off the clock and don't force Arizona to take any time outs. When they get the ball back, Kurt Warner throws a poor pass into a defender's hands, but he bobbles it to the receiver, who takes it in for another touchdown. That's why you're the Rams! The Cardinals, by the way, have a 3-game lead in their division. Yikes. Will the world end if the Cardinals make the playoffs?
Turnovers: Rams 3, Cardinals 0. Turnovers = loss? Pretty much. 5-3.
Minnesota 28, Houston 21. I didn't watch any of this, but any game in which the awesomely-named Visanthe Shiancoe scores a touchdown is a good one.
Turnovers: Texans 3, Vikings 1. Turnovers = loss? Houston scored a touchdown on their only turnover, but let's say yes anyway. 6-3.
Miami 26, Denver 17. I didn't watch much of this game, but Denver went in the tank pretty quickly, didn't they? The Dolphins are playing very well, especially on defense. At the end of the game and winning by two points, they went on a 15-play, 8-minute drive that went 80 yards for the clinching touchdown. That's quality stuff!
Turnovers: Broncos 3, Dolphins 1. Turnovers = loss? Looks that way. 7-3.
Atlanta 24, Oakland 0. Whenever I turned this game on and the Raiders had the ball, I had to watch for a few plays. They're just so inept it's astonishing. They didn't get a first down in the first half and ended up with three total. They had -2 yards in the first half. It was really amazing. The Falcons are okay, but they're not this good. Oakland doesn't look like they could beat a Division III college team right now.
Turnovers: Raiders 2, Falcons 1. Turnovers = loss? You know, the Falcons could have turned it over three of four more times and it wouldn't have mattered. 8-3.
New York Giants 35, Dallas 14. Trent Dilfer is raving about the Cowboys when Tony Romo comes back, claiming that his return will alleviate all their issues, including helping the defense. He might be right, but they look awful right now. The Giants simply ran right over them. It was pretty ugly. The Football Giants come to Philadelphia this weekend for a HUGE game. Man, I hope the good Eagles show up.
Turnovers: Cowboys 4, Giants 3. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 9-3.
Indianapolis 18, New England 15. As this was the night game, I had no reason to watch it, but Belichick really screwed the pooch, didn't he? He screwed up a challenge, took a foolish time out, and then had no time outs to challenge something later. Of course, Jabar Gaffney dropped a sure touchdown pass - it was one of the worst miss ever, seriously - and some dude on a 3rd-and-1 leveled a Colt away from the play, drawing an idiotic penalty. Good move, second-string dude! The Cheaters are 5-3, but they look like they don't really know what they're doing.
Turnovers: Cheaters 2, Colts 0. Turnovers = loss? I suppose. 10-3.
Pittsburgh 23, Washington 6. It was probably not in Washington's best interest to knock Ben Roethlisberger out of the game. When a back-up quarterback comes into a game, especially when he's a veteran, he often gives his team a huge lift. Washington may have relaxed a tiny bit, and that's all the Steelers needed. I always get worried when a back-up quarterback comes into a game, unless he's completely awful. I'd rather a quarterback who's struggling stays in the game. Roethlisberger was playing very poorly, and maybe Washington wished he hadn't gotten hurt.
Turnovers: Washington 2, Steelers 1. Turnovers = loss? It sure does look that way. 11-3.
So far this year, teams that turn the ball over less than their opponents are 82-23. That's pretty good!
Tennessee: 8 turnovers, +10 margin, 8-0 record.
Miami: 6 turnovers, +9 margin, 4-4 record.
Kansas City: 11 turnovers, +7 margin, 1-7 record. (That's weird.)
New York Giants: 7 turnovers, +6 margin, 7-1 record.
Philadelphia: 9 turnovers, +6 margin, 5-3 record.
Chicago: 13 turnovers, +6 margin, 5-3 record.
Green Bay: 10 turnovers, +4 margin, 4-4 record.
Cleveland: 9 turnovers, +4 margin, 3-5 record.
Indianapolis: 10 turnovers, +2 margin, 4-4 record.
Carolina: 10 turnovers, +1 margin, 6-2 record.
Pittsburgh: 10 turnovers, +1 margin, 6-2 record.
Washington: 8 turnovers, +1 margin, 6-3 record.
Atlanta: 9 turnovers, +1 margin, 5-3 record.
New England: 11 turnovers, +1 margin, 5-3 record.
Arizona: 14 turnovers, +1 margin, 5-3 record.
Jacksonville: 10 turnovers, +1 margin, 3-5 record.
St. Louis: 10 turnovers, +1 margin, 2-6 record.
Oakland: 11 turnovers, +1 margin, 2-6 record.
Tampa: 16 turnovers, +0 margin, 6-3 record.
San Diego: 11 turnovers, -1 margin, 3-5 record.
Baltimore: 14 turnovers, -2 margin, 5-3 record.
New Orleans: 13 turnovers, -2 margin, 4-4 record.
Minnesota: 16 turnovers, -3 margin, 4-4 record.
Seattle: 11 turnovers, -3 margin, 2-6 record.
Detroit: 12 turnovers, -3 margin, 0-8 record.
Buffalo: 16 turnovers, -4 margin, 5-3 record.
New York Jets: 17 turnovers, -4 margin, 5-3 record.
Cincinnati: 18 turnovers, -5 margin, 1-8 record.
Dallas: 17 turnovers, -6 margin, 5-4 record.
Houston: 17 turnovers, -8 margin, 3-5 record.
San Francisco: 20 turnovers, -10 margin, 2-6 record.
Denver: 19 turnovers, -11 margin, 4-4 record.
I suppose on this Tuesday, we have more to worry about than football (at the time when I'm finishing this, we have elected a black president, which surprises me a bit, but not too much), but still - it's football!