Armchair Quarterback: Week 7

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Welcome sports fans to another edition of our little sports corner here at MWN, the Armchair Quarterback. I am your host as always, BigPopaGamer. Here I discuss the ten most interesting things I observed in the past week of football. So, ready or not, let’s jump into it.

Your week 8 rankings, courtesy of ESPN are as follows.
1. Titans (6-0)
2. Giants (5-1)
3. Steelers (5-1)
4. Bills (5-2)
5. Redskins (5-2)
6. Buccaneers (5-2)
7. Panthers (5-2)
8. Cardinals (4-2)
9. Patriots (4-2)
10. Packers (4-3)
11. Eagles (3-3)
12. Jaguars (3-3)
13. Bears (4-3)
14. Falcons (4-2)
15. Cowboys (4-3)
16. Colts (3-3)
17. Chargers (3-4)
18. Broncos (4-3)
19. Jets (3-3)
20. Ravens (3-3)
21. Saints (3-4)
22. Vikings (3-4)
23. Texans (2-4)
24. Browns (2-4)
25. Rams (2-4)
26. Dolphins (2-4)
27. Raiders (2-4)
28. 49ers (2-5)
29. Seahawks (1-5)
30. Chiefs (1-5)
31. Bengals (0-7)
32. Lions (0-7)

This week’s theme will focus on the teams that have surprised us all, regardless if it’s good or bad. Indeed, if you look at the rankings you should be able to see immediately that something isn’t quite right in the NFL these days. I have spoken on it before but let’s look at these teams a little more closely shall we?

1. New England Patriots

I have no idea what to call this team anymore. We all knew that when Tom Brady went out with that horrific knee injury, the entire season for the Pats just became about ten times harder. Enter Matt Cassell, a relative unknown that has never started even a college game in his entire football career. Can you imagine the anxiety ol’ Billy Boy had when he watched Cassell for the first time? It was like giving the keys to your favorite luxury car to a 12 year old and telling him good luck. But did anyone really expect them to be 4-2 at this point in the season? I expected a lot worse, to be honest with you. But what I can’t figure out is how in one week they go to San Diego and absolutely get embarrassed and then come back the very next week and practically shut out a very good Broncos offense. But two stats really stand out when looking over this game. The Pats went for it on two fourth-downs and made them both while the Broncos attempted none. The Broncos also turned the ball over 5 times, 2 interceptions and 2 fumbles, losing all three.

Flip a coin this next sunday. That’s about the best chance you got of predicting what this team is going to do.

On a side note, it was a sad thing to see Rodney Harrison get carted off the field for what could possibly his last appearance in a Patriots uniform. I hate for any player to be injured, but to be lost for the season and to possibly end your career that way is sad.

Wish you could have gone out like this…

Patriots next three games: St. Louis, @ Indianapolis, Buffalo

2. Chicago Teddy Bears

The name is probably incorrectly labeling this team. I don’t know how many of you know this but they are actually leading the entire league in total points to this point with 196, followed closely by Green Bay with 194 and San Diego with 192. No, seriously, the Teddy Bears are actually scoring more than anyone? Only the Cardinals and teh Giants have better points per game. So let’s look at this.

In seven games Kyle Orton, the man I’ve been trying to get Lovie Smith to start since they went to the Superbowl, has thrown for 10 touchdowns. They have rushed for 6 touchdowns. Their kicker kicked 21 extra points and 13 field goals. So let’s add this up.

16 touchdowns x 6 points = 96 points
21 extra points = 21 points
13 field goals = 39 points

Total offensive scoring = 156 points.

In Kyle we trust….right?

So what’s missing? The rest of the points are made up in interception returns and safeties as well as one 2-pt conversion. Whatever else you might want to say, Kyle Orton is finally getting some production out of an offense that for a long time now has been known as one dimensional. The funny part is that their running game has been stagnant lately and their defense is ranked 24th. So basically Orton is the only thing keeping them in the game. Pretty good for a guy that no one thought was worth a damn huh?

Next three games: Lions, Tennessee, @ Green Bay

3. Washington Casino Owners

This one came out of left field. Here we have a team that had a beloved teammate shot down last year and the retirement of their beloved coach, Joe Gibbs in the offseason. They finished last season at 9-7 and made it to the playoffs but ended up losing to the Seahawks 14-35.

But this is one team that is for real this year. They have a new coach that has lit a fire under their butts in Jim Zorn. They have a QB that is finally comfortable in the offense and they have the best running back in the NFL this season, Clinton Portis. But what about the rest of team? Who are they? Well you might have heard of Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El, Chris Cooley on the offensive side and a little known defensive end by the name of Jason Taylor. Besides that, to the average fan, they aren’t anything special. But what I have seen from watching them is this team has bought into the mentality that they are good enough to compete with anyone in this league. They are the sum of their parts. But still, they are a surprise.

Next three games: @ Detroit, Pittsburgh, Bye

4. Miami Flying Fish

In 2007, Miami came within a hairs-breadth of being the first team in NFL history to go winless. A perfect (or imperfect) record of 0-16 has never been done before and for a team that once went 13-0 in the Don Shula days, this was quite a fall. Enter new Executive VP and former Cowboys coach, Bill Parcells. Mr. Parcells quickly fired head coach Cam Cameron and most of the staff, including the general manager, Randy Mueller. He then hired Tony Sparano, a coaching prodigy that used to work with Parcells in Dallas. The Flying Fish also proceeded to clean house, releasing Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor. When the whole Favre vs. Packer Land happened, the Fish were happy to pick up Chad Pennington as their new QB.

Enter the 2008 season and the appearance of the ‘Wildcat’ formation or as I call it, the ‘Ronnie Brown Show’ and the absolutely stunning victory over the perfect team of 2007, the Patriots. Since then they have gone 1-2 defeating the Chargers and losing to the Hamburglers and the Emo Birds. But it was these two victories against the AFC title contenders of a year ago, that had the entire league talking about this ‘Ronnie Brown Show’. We have yet to see if they can pull out a .500 season, but it’s still fun to watch them line up in that formation and score, even though the defense knew what was coming.

Next three games: Buffalo, @ Denver, Seattle

5. Buffalo Bills

For a team that ended last season with a 7-9 record, we all knew this was a team that was on the uprise and thought they could contend with the Patriots for the AFC East title, but no one really seriously considered they would be LEADING the division. I know Brady’s injury gave them a great opportunity but they have really surprised me with how well they have done so far. Last season their was a constant QB battle between JP Losman and Trent Edwards with Edwards finally winning the job. Now that he has the job, Edwards has been doing pretty good, even if he hasn’t scored that many TD’s, he is taking care of the football, only throwing two picks so far, and managing the game. The strength of the offense is definitely in their running game and a solid defense. Lynch has 5 td’s already but only 389 yards.

Their defense is ranked 10th in the league with 293 YPG. Bend but don’t break mentality. The funny thing about this team, and I’ve watched them several times, their offense is just flat out boring to watch. They are usually slow to get started in the first half and finally start scoring in the second. This is a dangerous trend if they find themselves in the hole early.

This is more exciting than the Bills offense

Next three games: @ Miami, Jets, @ New England

Worse Loss of Week 7: Dallas vs. St. Louis

I’m sorry, but seeing the Cowboys not only lose to the Billy Goats but to lose by 24 was a hilarious thing to me. Especially after all the drama with Favre calling Romo and pushing him to play and with the trade for Roy Williams.

Let me ask you something. If you are a struggling team and want to find another wide receiver, why do you raid the receiving corp of the DETROIT KITTY KATS??!? If anything else, the Cowboys constant drama is fun to watch.

Best Win of Week 7: Chicago vs. Minnesota

To see a score like this one, 48-41, really makes me wish I had the NFL package. Who’da thunk it?

Blowout of Week 7: New England 41, Denver 7

BigPopa’s NFL Beef

This is something that has been ongoing with the league but still bursts my bubble. Last week, Troy Polamalu claims that the game of football

“just loses so much of its essence when it becomes like a pansy game.”

What was he talking about? Against the Jaguars last week, the Steelers were fined $45,000 by the league office for five different players. The leading player in all of this fining? Wide Receiver, Hines Ward. What was he fined for? Unnecessary roughness. Wait a minute!?! They fined a receiver for that?!? Yes they did. Apparently, Ward is blocking linebackers too roughly. The week before that, against Baltimore, he was fined $5,000 for stepping over Ravens DB, Corey Ivy. And the best part is he wasn’t flagged on either incident.

He likes to hurt people

He likes to play rough

So now the NFL is watching game tape and looking for minor infraction in which to penalize players. What’s next, fining running backs for hitting the hole too hard? Mike Tomlin, Steelers head coach, said,

“It’s starting to cost too much money to come to work for these guys.”

But you know the best part? This past weekend in the Steelers – Benagls game, Ward blocked a linebacker who outweighed him by at least 50 pounds, so hard that the defender broke his jaw. If you are going to get fined for unneccessary roughness, you might as well take a guy out for the season right? Good for you Ward, for not changing the way you play the game.

Stupid NFL Decision: Chargers vs. New Orleans……in LONDON

Why oh why are we doing this? Why are you forcing these two teams to fly all the way to England to play this stupid game? These Brits don’t care about American football. We all know this. My British friends are always ragging me about US football. I think this is pointless and won’t promote football. It will only piss the futbol fans off when our teams destroy their pitch.

What this does is put a drain on those two teams, especially San Diego. The only nice thing about all of this is the schedules. Both of these teams have Bye weeks following the Euro game, so at least the league is giving them time to rest. But just for shits and giggles, how about we go to China next year and play a game. I’m sure they would be totally interested since they have probably never seen a black man before.

Games to Watch for Week 8

1. Tampa Bay at Dallas – just to see how the Cowboys respond vs. a very good Happy Pirates defense

2. St. Louis at New England – lots of good storylines here. The Billy Goats are hot, the Minutemen are hot, someone is gonna be cooled by the New England weather. Who’s it going to be?

3. N.Y. Tall Boys at Pittsburgh – A match up between two very good teams. And this has no division implications so I expect them to have some fun and play bigger than they normally would.

4. Indianapolis Ponies at Tennessee – This one is very important. Last time the Titans were on MNF, Keith Bullock had 3 picks vs. a team that had guaranteed victory. With a 3 game lead over the Ponies, the Titans should win easily but I expect Manning to come out and really challenge the secondary. Should be a fun one to watch.

5. San Diego at New Orleans – Two high-powered offenses collide. We shall see if the Saints can shake off the beat-down they received by Carolina and if the Chargers can pick themselves up after their loss to the Bills.

Alright folks, that’s all I got this week. Until next time, stay classy.

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