As we usually say, another week has passed in the sportsgasm that is the NFL season, but this week is a bit different, because J-Dub walked out of SBM World Headquarters after Richie Incognito called him some sort of terrible name. On a serious note, be sure to check out Meehan’s coverage of that story…
Now, let’s get to the important points from Week 9.
1) Your Official Dr. Kelly Brackett NFL Death Watch: Teams Dropped To The Critical List
Because football straddles it regular season and it’s play-off season across the New Yea’s holiday, the Ravens started 2013 as an elite team. They sure as fuck aren’t elite now, and they don’t deserve to be thought of in that light at all. The Ravens are getting juked out of their shoes on almost every single goddamn play and there’s no way an honest eye can look at them as being a playoff team in the AFC. They probably couldn’t even beat an NFC East team, which really just makes them the top-shelf, Wal-Mart version of the San Diego Chargers. Speaking of which…
San Diego Chargers:
Raise you hand if you knew the Chargers would find a way to lose this game. Why wouldn’t they? Cue cliche in 3…2..1… This was the classic “must-win” game for the Chargers; they needed this win, especially in a week had to have in a week where both the Jets and the Titans won, and they gagged on it like a drunk on a chicken wing. The Chargers are that one friend who you can count on to always count on you to borrow money and never repay it; they just never come through when you need them to. On top of all that, Philip Rivers is the Dali Lama of douchebaggery.
Don’t even start with that shit about how they got screwed on that last touchdown call and the resulting spot. If you can’t punch the ball into the end zone from the one-yard with a fresh set of downs and timeouts to burn, you don’t deserve to win.
2) Dr. Kelly Brackett Has Some Warnings
What happened to Houston Texans’ head coach Gary Kubiak was diagnosed as a “transient ischemic attack,” which is just a big-buck medical term for “big-ass warning sign.” Right now, there are some team in the NFL that had better heed some similar warnings.
There’s a an old saying that winning cures everything, but the other side of that coin is that winning can also hide a lot of bad stuff. Right now, the Seahawks need to come to terms with the fact that their offensive line needs to get healthy. More inportantly, they need to deal with the fact that in their last two games, the Seattle defense got torched by two back-up quarterbacks (Kellen Clemems and Mike Glennon) who if it weren’t for their current gigs in St. Louis and Tampa respectively, they could both be waiters at Applebee’s.
Sure, I know that the Raiders aren’t exactly the picture of health to start with, but let’s talk about a team that made another potential Applebee’s waiter look like a future Hall-of-Famer. Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles threw 7 touchdown passes…count ’em, 7 touchdown passes. Think about that for a moment. Before Peyton Manning did it to start this season, it had been over 40 years since an NFL quarterback had thrown 7 touchdown passes in a single game (Joe Kapp in 1969). Kapp and Manning are both guys who did it against the defending NFL champions; Foles did it against a team that couldn’t cover a five-foot table with a ten-foot tablecloth.
Green Bay Packers:
Of all the teams on this list, the Packers are the one looking to take next, biggest fall. Sure, it’s easy to point to the fact that Aaron Rodger’s collarbone is the difference between the Packers in the playoffs and being a 5-11 also-ran, but that also overlooks the fact that the Green Bay defense couldn’t stop the combination of “Cool Hand” Luke McCown and Matt Forte, who sadly lacks the opportunity for an ill-fitting, yet undeniably Berman-esque nickname.
3) Teams That Just Might Be For Real
New York Jets
When a team can give up 23 first downs to a team like the Saints, 382 yards to Drew Brees, and still beat them…that’s a pretty serious accomplishment. It just might mean that the Jets are deserving of their above .500 record. The Jets probably aren’t a play-off team; the best-case scenario is they split their remaining games, giving the Rex Ryan haters another year of sitting on their couches, wallowing in their own farts, and cursing the fact that Ryan is still in the NFL.
Like it or not, Ryan has somehow managed to get the most out of this team, especially with second-rung talent like Geno Smith and Chris Ivory. Did you notice Ivory racked up 139 yards on eighteen carries? Did you notice that while we tend not to discuss kickers much, but Nick Folk is perfect through nine games and regardless of what position you play, that’s impressive.
There’s two ways to look at this. First, on the field, there’s all sorts of upsides to this team. This team has looked solid in a loss at New England and a hard-fought home win over a Bengals team that is clearly amongst the best in the AFC. But’s there’s really no ignoring this ultra-bizarre story involving Richie Incognito, which has all the hallmarks of a cancer which could destroy a young and talented team.
How is the timing of this not perfect? The Saints lose, the Falcons and the Buccaneers are dumpster fires on top of train wrecks, and all of a sudden, the Panthers are a playoff contender. What New Orleans lacks in stopping the run, the Panthers have a brutal pass rush and a stifling secondary. That call on fourth and one was risky, but we love shit like that. It’s no secret that will be exactly what they need when they have a gun to their noggin come December or even (gasp) the playoffs.
4) The Cowboys are a playoff team, and we have the filled barf bags to prove it.
Like it or not, the Dallas Cowboys have a lot of reasons to believe they have what it takes to succeed, if by success you mean make ti to the playoffs and…wait for it…actually win a game in the post-season. But in the style typical of the Jerry Jones-era Cowboys, the things that make them a playoff team will also give them absolutely no shot at being in the Super Bowl. As sure as Anderson Cooper’s taking the tour of your local dildo factory when his poverty report strolls through your town, Dallas is now in position to really bury the shitbox that is the NFC East. Regardless of how good the Eagles look lately, the Cowboys are much, MUCH better.
But let’s look at why the Cowboys can win the NFC Least and nothing else. Once again, Dez Bryant wasted very little time reminding us that it was all about him, and had his ass not been saved on the final drive by his lover in rage, there would be some serious talk of anger management and a veil for a urine sample in his locker on Tuesday. We do have to hand it to Tony Romo; he looked absolutely perfect and composed on that last drive. But here again, people will look across the field and say “Yeah, but it’s not like he pulled out Excalibur’s Sword” as they point to Christian Ponder. Romo put together a playoff drive and he should be commended for that.
5) Let’s talk about two-point conversions for a minute…
For the great play-calling we saw from the Bears’ Marc Trestman and the Panthers’ Ron Rivera, we also saw some bizarre decisions from Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano. Down 24-12…more importantly they were just an extra point away from being down a touchdown and a field goal…Pagano made a move we really struggled to understand. Pagano went for the two-point conversion, and the Colts failed. Here’s why that’s a big deal.
When the Colts scored at the end of the game, giving them a 25-24 lead, they were in a position where they needed a two-point conversion in order to avoid losing the game on a last-second field goal. This would not have been neccesary had the Colts simply gone for the one-point kick earlier. Pagano and the Colts pulled the horseshoe on their helmets out of their collective asses when Coby Fleener made an incredible catch…even the best receivers in the NFL don’t come down with that ball more than 30% of the time. Any way you slice it, going for two in the third quarter was a mistake. We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again; that little chart you see coaches consulting every time their team scores is just that…a fucking chart. It’s not a bible etched in stone tablets; it’s a laminated Excel spreadsheet. Sometimes, you still have to make a coaching decision.