Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand WE’RE BACK!
Seriously, I missed all of you too. It’s been a crazy two weeks. No, seriously. I pretty much had a panic attack that evolved into some sort of bug. Personally, I blame my Saturday Night Sparks. For those who have hearts that aren’t destined to explode around 28, Sparks is an energy drink that has alcohol in it, kind of like a Red Bull/Beer mix except tastier. Actually, it kind of tastes like medicine, but I’m fiending, so we’ll stick with it. Anyway, two weeks ago on Saturday, I was dead tired but had managed to make it out to hit The City with the crew (always a good idea). In order to get back in the game, we grabbed some Sparks and watched college football to pregame. It’s worth mentioning that I’m a “fast sipper” when it comes to drinking. I don’t take big gulps, but I’m consistently looking down to realize that “hey, there’s a drink in my hand that I should drink,” which winds up chipping away at drinks faster than you think. Long story short, without realizing it I managed to get three Sparks deep in the span of an hour and a half. This is beyond being jittery. I’m pretty sure my heart was tapping out SOS in morse code. My friends, stunned that anyone would do this to their nervous system, were asking me if I could see straight. The answer was no, I could not. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure I could see their thoughts and the future, so it was a six of one, half a dozen of the other thing. Suffice to say, I was a mess that night (I literally felt like everyone else in the world was moving in slow motion…which, relative to Captain Speedpoision, they were…), and the next day was the most awful kind of hangover. Yes, I’m saying that it was bad enough to take a whole week off. But let me get my footing and we’ll be back on top in no time.
But until then, here’s the Hangover…
• We need to put a moratorium on using the phrase “career game” when it applies to opponents of the Detroit Lions. When we start tossing those words around and Kyle Orton is involved, something is very wrong with the system.
• Seriously, do the Lions finish in the top half of the SEC right now?
• Watching a first round wideout who couldn’t catch a pass to save his life turn into the kind of receiver that makes his quarterbacks better (one of whom was Joey Harrington) makes me wonder whether or not Roddy White is a closet racist.
• Why I love Chad Pennington: 22/29. 228 yards, 1 TD, 7 different receivers catching passes, 4 of whom with 3 or more receptions. I made a lot of fun early on, but I’m willing to say that this team will be fighting for wild card contention at the end of the season. The schedule is a joke, and they’ve got the ground game to win all sorts of ugly close ones.
• Meanwhile, the flip side of that coin is that Philip Rivers is so keyed in on LT and Chris Chambers that teams are starting to figure out an offense that should have been running circles around the competition.
• Yeah, gotta be psyched that the Seahawks got back Bobby Engram and Deion Branch, right? Not trying to say I called this, but…
• How can you not think the Redskins are the favorite to win it all at this point? Take away a week one outing with a new coach and a new system against the defending champs, and this team has shown it can win every single close game. Better still, they won their most recent victory with Santana Moss being swallowed alive, with credit due to the emergence of Devin Thomas, the continued dominance of Chris Cooley, and Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts averaging just shy of five yards every time they ran the ball. Considering that they see the Rams, Browns, and Lions in the next three weeks, this team should be rolling with a head of steam into Pittsburgh, and could be 8-1 at their bye week. The Behemoth is BACK, baby.
• You know what’s probably a good idea? Having over 10 draft picks and passing on every single quarterback available when your options are Damon Huard, Brodie Croyle, and Tyler Thigpen. Awesome. It’s like they’re trying to get Larry Johnson to walk off in the middle of a game. I’m betting Herm lost track of how many picks he had.
• I don’t get it when it comes to the Panthers. It’s got to be a Whole > Sum of Parts thing. Smith opens up the box for Williams who stays fresh thanks to Stewart, and that leaves Jake Delhomme time to find Muhammad and so on and so forth. Nobody on that team (with the exception of Smith) is THAT good, right:?
• Vin(ce)dication? For those of you who are still high on Kerry Collins, you’re crazy if you think 17/32 with 163 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs is getting the job done come December. The Titans offense was practically nonexistent on Sunday, and if Baltimore didn’t have a slow footed rookie under center (who will be good, but who is still a rookie), they’d have made the Titans pay for it down the stretch. Fix VY, and this team can beat anybody. Keep the status quo, and someone is going to figure out how to beat this team, even if they do it in a 9-6 ugly-off.
• Also, someone should really introduce Joe Flacco, Demetrius Williams, and long passes downfield. Those three would really get along great, I bet. I understand that this offense isn’t exactly build for speed, but didn’t Cam Cameron coach the 1-15 Dolphins last year? Shouldn’t this offense feel like a Ferrari speedballing cocaine in comparison? Just having Cleo Lemon on the bench is making the Jaguars worse each week. That dude never stops shooting the albatross.
• MJD over at Shutdown Corner says everything there is to say about the Sage Rosenfels meltdown. The first turnover could have been the ground causing the fumble, the second was a great strip, and the last was a stupid interception in panic time. The Texans offense has looked ugly and has let their big gun (Andre Johnson) go to waste this year, and that changed on Sunday.
• But man, that dude was a LOLicopter on that first hit…
• The Broncos need to figure out how to slow down opposing running backs. Warrick Dunn moves like Hugh Laurie in House and he put up 6.7 yards a carry. Teams are going to start forcing the Broncos to be a bit more conservative (Tampa is, believe it or not, NOT the only team that knows the Tampa 2 defense), and if the Broncos can’t play better possession ball, one of their opponents with a better offense is going to make them pay.
• The fact that we’re all this excited about the Bengals putting up 22 points is a testament to just how disappointing they are this year. Also, why would you cut underpriced, potential upside Kenny Watson and keep overrated Chris Perry? I’m pretty sure Mike Brown is keeping Marvin Lewis around as punishment at this point. He’s got to be banking on a terrible parking lot incident by bringing Chris Henry back and adding Cedric Benson.
• If Kurt Warner plays smart and tries to minimize turnovers, and the Arizona defense can try to slow teams down to that 20-30 point range, could they beat just about anybody? For the first time, the whole “nobody can possibly cover that passing offense” thing is working out (maybe better than expected if Boldin comes back 100%), and Mr. Hightower is making up for Edge having been pretired for two years now. Look at the rest of the schedule (they still get Seattle…TWICE) and tell me that this team isn’t a lucky win or two (and this is an offense that can win those) from a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
• Why I like JP Losman (and yes, they lost, but when your defense gives up 41, that’ll happen): Lee Evans averaged 50 yards a catch on two receptions. Also, he had a TD. Hell, the top four receivers all averaged more than 10 yards a catch. Obviously, you stick with the hot hand, but at least I have faith JP will wind up somewhere after his contract runs out.
• New England’s offense is still good enough to beat teams that can’t effectively bracket Randy Moss. Great. We knew that. What we didn’t know is whether or not Matt Cassell could go deep to Moss and short to Welker in a similar rhythm to Brady. On Sunday, he did. True, he still throws dumb passes (those two picks were of the “wow that’s dumb” variety that you don’t see Brady throw), but it’s pretty obvious that the pats pass defense is still weak enough to warrant throwing the ball often and trying to win via fireworks. Also, games like this help Matt Cassel know that Randy Moss isn’t going to backhand him after the game, which is nice.
• Why would you even draft Vernon Davis if this is going to be what happens?
• Ben Roethlisberger will be bleeding from his ears when it’s all said and done, but the Steelers are winning the AFC North easily. Unless the Ravens can pull together some of the more surprising upsets of the season, last week’s Monday Night game sealed the deal. Better get Leftwich ready though, because if he’s not seeing significant playing time in the next month, I’ll be stunned. Nobody is built to be a crash test dummy for men who hit like