Week 3 has less upsets and more than a few close games. Still its fair share of surprises, though, and not just where scoring is concerned.
Speaking of scoring, how about that Green Bay at Detroit game? Between both teams, a grand total of 1 passing and 1 rushing touchdown occurred. Stafford threw 2 picks to make his second abysmal game in a row. At least partically because of this, Megatron has now gone two games in a row sub 100 yards and no TD receptions.
Continuing on scoring irregularities, the Vikings held the New Orleans Saints to 20 points. In New Orleans. Even against the 49ers last year in a period where ESPN had them ranked number 1 playing their best football of the year, the Saints put up 23 against them despite an ugly turn over. The Saints punted 4 times in a row at one point, and would have a fifth time if a Viking’s defender had not decided to practice a psuedo- pro wrestling move on Drew Brees for an unnecessary roughness penalty which led to a touchdown. Looking deeper, the truest fault of the Saints this year has been , in this humble scribe’s opinion, the play calling. The Saints have played an inordinate amount of run plays, although this is understandable with Mark Ingram averaging Peterson/Charles like yards per carry. However, Ingram was out this game, and so Cadet, Robinson, and Thomas split his carries to very little effect. Despite running for a paltry 3.4 yards per carry, they kept doing it, recording 32 rush attempts to their 35 pass attempts. This is especially frustrating when taken into account that Brees completed 27 of his 35, a staggering 77% completion rate and 8 yards per attempt.
Speaking of horrendous play calling, what was with the Denver offense yesterday? In the first half, rush attempts were almost as frequent as pass attempts, despite being crushed repeatedly by the Seahawks. Ball’s longest rush, 9 yards, was negated because he fumbled it! The Denver D did all it was asked and more, getting a 4 and out on the supposedly most balanced offense in the league on their first possession, and then holding them to a field goal after Ball’s blunder! The Broncos seem to wake up in the second half, relying on the calm, collected passing game that carried the Chargers to victory against the Seahawks, but it was too little too late for Manning and Co. However, I think it is important to note that Manning did all he could (with the exception of that horrible audible. “3rd and 9, what should we do? Draw play!!”), the fault for this one lays heavily on the offensive coordinator.
In regards to power rankings, hard to argue with the top 3, although I would switch Cincinnati and Denver, considering the Bengals haven’t faced stiff competition, whereas the Broncos faced two playoff teams and the former Super Bowl champions for two wins and a loss that was almost a win. Eagles at number four baffles me, but ESPN has always loved the Eagles. Eagles are one lack of a bad call and one lack of a bad play away from 1-2 against Colts and Redskins, not the type of play you expect from a top 5. Rounding out the top 5 we have the Cardinals, who should really be number 4 after roughing up the 49ers and their week 1 victory against the Chargers (who went on to beat Seattle). Patriots are way too high, but we have to chock this up to ESPN’s favoritism, like with the Eagles. The Bears and Falcons are kind of in the same boat here in that they both can be incredibly good teams but can be downright terrible, as evidenced by the Bears game vs the Bills and the Falcons’ trouncing at the hands of the Bengals. Panthers at 10 and Steelers at 11. Face value, not a bad placement except for one thing: the Steelers just annihilated the Panthers. Just a little common sense is all it would take to switch the two. Outside the top 10/11, can’t argue with very much except for the incredibly low placement of the Chiefs. Granted, when looking at some of the traditionally pretty good teams from 12-18, it can be understood if they were at 19.
Game to watch this week is the Sunday Night New Orleans at Dallas. Angry playoff team/Superbowl contender looking to get back on track? Check. Written off team coming off huge come back win? Check. Lots of fun in what is sure to be a shoot-out? Check. Last year the Saints obliterated Dallas in New Orleans last year, posting a nearly perfect game on both sides of the ball. Dallas might be looking for revenge while trying to fight for what is looking to be an increasingly competitive NFC East, but it just won’t be enough against the Saints. Saints finally have their break out game in a 44-27 victory.
Just a random thought, but consider this scenario: Patriots continue to play poorly this season and the next and decide to, while trade value is high, trade Bill Belichick for draft picks to the Oakland Raiders. What makes this so interesting is that the Raiders have a lot of talent, their main weakness is just lack of good coaching staff. The Patriots are just the kind of team to do this, thinking it wants to do a reboot with Brady playing poorly. Honestly, with all the solid veterans and playmakers the Raiders have, a Belichick to Oakland deal could be virtually the same as when John Madden was hired as the Raiders head coach way back when.