Lookee here – we got a matchup between two division leaders going through quarterback turmoil. And did we mention that a Cincy win clinches a first-round bye, while a Denver win leap frogs them, at least temporarily, over the Bengals for a first-round bye? Pass the popcorn!
Earlier this year, when the Bengals were 8-0, a friend born and raised in the Cincinnati area posted on Facebook “The Bengals are 9-0. I’m nervous that something really bad is about to happen.” Yeah, ‘bout that: The Bengals promptly lost three of their next five games and QB Andy Dalton broke his thumb, relegating him to the sidelines for the remainder of the regular season. Way to jinx your team, buddy.
Dalton broke his thumb two weeks ago while tackling Pittsburgh DE... Read More
Lions at Saints (8:30pm ET Monday, ESPN) The Detroit Lions started the season in a complete free-fall, going 1-7 before winning 3 straight. But, the good times are over as they’ve returned to their losing ways for the past two weeks to bring their record to 4-9, consigning them to the cellar of the NFC North.
How does a team go from 11-5 and a Wild Card berth to the fourth-worst record in the league just a year later? The blame can essentially be laid at the feet of the defense. Last year, the Lions D was 2nd in yards allowed and 3rd in points. This year? 16th and 28th. What happened? The biggest difference is clearly the departure of free agent DT Ndamukong Suh. Yes, Suh’s replacement, Haloti Ngata,... Read More
Even at 5-7 and riding a 3-game losing streak, the New York Football Giants find themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt, in a 3-way tie for first place in the NFC East – OK, technically they’re in 3rd place due to their division record, but, still… Five of their losses have come by a total of 11 points, so it’s not so much that they’re simply terrible as they are snakebitten. Not like “Dallas Cowboys” snakebitten; more like “leading pass rusher blows his fingers off with fireworks” snakebitten. Jason Pierre-Paul did make it back for Week 9, but hasn’t been his old self, and without the services of Victor Cruz this year, Eli Manning has been left with Odell Beckham... Read More
Cowboys at Redskins (8:30pm ET Monday, ESPN) You gotta hand it to the Dallas Cowboys: For all the bad luck that befell them this season, they still had a puncher’s chance as late as Week 11 of making the playoffs. But, that dream died when quarterback Tony Romo went down for the season having re-broken his collarbone in a 33-14 Thanksgiving Day loss to Carolina. Romo’s taken a lot of heat over the years, but the fact is the ‘Boys are 3-0 in the games he started (and finished) this year, and 0-8 in those he didn’t. Throw in the 6-week absence of All-Pro wide receiver Dez Bryant and you’ve got the ingredients for the 27th most passing yards, 28th most passing TDs, the 2nd most interceptions.
It’s the Who’ll Get the First Pick in the Draft? Bowl!
The Baltimore Ravens are 3-7, tied for the fourth-worst record in the NFL. But as you look at the numbers, they don’t appear all that bad. They’ve only been outscored by 2.3 points a game – less than a field goal. All but one of their losses was by 6 points or less, and the one that was over was by 8 (still technically one possession). The Ravens' kicker, former Pro Bowler Justin Tucker, has twice missed field goals that would’ve made the difference between winning and losing. Tucker came into the season with the best field goal percentage of all time, but now has the fifth-worst field goal percentage in the NFL, largely because he’s made only... Read More
Bills at Patriots (8:30pm ET Monday, ESPN) If the season ended today, the 5-4 Buffalo Bills would be in the playoffs for the first time since Doug Flutie lined up under center and Bill Clinton was president. While first-year head coach Rex Ryan jibber-jabbers to any journalist bored enough to listen, the story of the Bills’ season has been the play of quarterback Tyrod (just change it to Tie Rod and be done with it, man) Taylor. After four years riding the pine in Baltimore, where he got into just 14 games, not even throwing a single pass in 5 of them, Taylor finally got his shot this season, and has made the most of it.
In 7 starts this season, Taylor has led the Bills to a 5-2 record,... Read More
The bad news is the Houston Texans are 3-5. The good news is they play in the AFC South, are just a half-game behind the Colts for first place, and Colts QB Andrew Luck is gonna miss 2 to 6 weeks with a lacerated kidney and an abdominal strain. Though middle-of-the-pack in total offensive yardage, the Texans are working harder for than anyone except the lowly Niners, gaining a meager 5.0 yards per play, including a tragic 5.9 yards per pass play and a just plain embarrassing 3.3 yards per rushing play.
QB Brian Hoyer seems to have won the battle with fellow Patriots cast-off Ryan Mallett for the starting job. Hoyer’s led the team to two wins in their last three games since taking the reins full time,... Read More
The Indianapolis Colts are 3-4. They have been outscored by 27 points; are 1-3 at home; QB Andrew Luck’s 9 interceptions are the lion’s share of their 15 turnovers this season, the second-most in the NFL; they’ve gone into halftime without having scored a point three times; in Week 5 head coach Chuck Pagano called what has been called the worst play in NFL history; and rookie wide receiver Phillip Dorsett has broken his ankle and will be out 4 to 6 weeks. Despite all this, the Colts sit atop the AFC South.
Just seven weeks into the season, Luck has gone from The Next Great Quarterback to The Great Question Mark. No one seems to know what’s wrong with Read More
The 4-2 Arizona Cardinals appear to have a high-powered offense led by a talented (if aging) quarterback in Carson Palmer, a Hall-of-Fame receiver in Larry Fitzgerald, a rising star in John Brown, and one of the most innovative coaches in the game in Bruce Arians. Look closer and you see a team that has beaten up on a string of weaklings: the Saints, Bears, Niners and Lions are a combined 7-17, and lost to the Cards by a combined score of 168-66.
It’s been a season of frustration, meanwhile, for the 1-5 Baltimore Ravens, who are arguably the best 1-5 team in the NFL. Hooray? They’ve only been outscored by 19 points over the course of the season, never losing by more than 6 points. But, as the great... Read More
The first-place New York Football Giants roll down I-95 this week for a primetime matchup against hated divisional rival the Philadelphia Eagles, who are tied for second with Dallas at 2-3. Both teams are coming into the game hoping to build on big Week 5 victories.
Eli Manning last week led the Giants on an 82-yard game-winning drive that culminated with a 12-yard touchdown pass with 21 seconds left on the clock, for a 30-27 win over the 49ers. Along the way, Manning set career highs for attempts and completions, going 41-54, for 441 yards, and became the winningest QB in Giants history, supplanting Phil Simms.
Eagles QB Sam Bradford, who was part of Coach Chip Kelly’s massive offseason overhaul, threw 2 end zone interceptions in the first half... Read More
After serving as Tom Brady’s sacrificial lamb in the season opener, the Pittsburgh Steelers rebounded to win their next two games, but the second victory was a costly one: QB Ben Roethlisberger suffered a torn MCL midway through the third quarter, knocking him out of commission for 4-6 weeks.
Michael Vick (surely there’s a better candidate available, no?) filled in last week for Big Ben, and while he completed 19 of 26 passes, he averaged a paltry 4.8 yards per attempt, to go along with 33 yards rushing on 9 carries. What really killed the Steelers was Vick’s inability to convert on two fourth downs in overtime, and kicker Josh Scobee’s missing field goal attempts from 41 and 49 yards in the fourth... Read More
Last year the Lions and Seahawks went a combined 23-9. Three weeks into the 2015 season, they collectively sit at 1-5. However, while the Seahawks appear to be getting their act together, the Lions continue to circle the drain.
The 0-3 Lions have been outscored by an average of 9 points a game, with each loss worse than the previous one. QB Matthew Stafford is second in the league with 5 interceptions, while the team is averaging a league-worst 2.6 yards per rushing attempt, having gained a grand total of 135 yards. A staggering 24.2% of their drives have ended in a turnover; in fact, the offense has more turnovers than touchdowns.
Things got so bad after Week 3’s loss to Denver – when the Lions averaged 1.43 yards per... Read More
In a season that’s devoted to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the modern NFL, this week’s Monday night game throws back to the very first Super Bowl, before it was even called a Super Bowl, with the Green Bay Packers facing the Kansas City Chiefs.
It’s never easy to go into Lambeau Field, as there is no city that loves its team more than Green Bay, where the team is famously owned by the city itself, and the Packers are riding a ten-game home winning streak. But even absent the cold weather and the 12th man, the Packers arguably have the best quarterback in football in Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay (2-0) struggled early in last week’s 27-17 win over the Seahawks, as RB Eddie Lacy and WR Devante Adams both... Read More
Coming off the best season of his career, Andrew Luck was supposed to lead the Colts to a cakewalk over the Bills last week as a mere formality on the march to Super Bowl 50. It didn’t quite work out that way.
Luck went 26 for 46 in pass attempts, with two interceptions and no touchdowns until the end of the third quarter, while his backfield managed only 64 yards. The Colts' defense didn’t fare much better, allowing the Bills to score on four consecutive possessions to run up a 24-0 lead.
Meanwhile in New York (actually New Jersey), the traditionally hapless Jets, who lost QB Geno Smith in the preseason to a broken jaw – because a teammate punched him, no less – surprised everyone by lighting... Read More
Monday Night Football is finally back this week, with not one but two NFL games to help quell your withdrawal symptoms from the long and difficult offseason. We go back to the usual format of one Monday night game a week next Monday, so you don’t need to worry about overdosing and/or getting divorced as the season goes on.
We’re starting off with a couple of great matchups: Philadelphia at Atlanta and Minnesota at San Francisco.
Eagles at Falcons (6:55pm ET, ESPN)
With new quarterback Sam Bradford coming off of an unusually strong preseason performance after missing the 2014 season because of an ACL injury, the Eagles are poised to make some real noise in the NFC East, particularly with newly minted teammate DeMarco Murray, who led the... Read More