10 Things We Learned in Week 10 | November 15, 2012
Considering Week 10 was book-ended by prime time games involving the Jags and the Chiefs, it was actually a highly enjoyable week of action. The Jags may not have contributed much to the enjoyment, but the 1 win Chiefs certainly made MNF an entertaining and unpredictable encounter. Admittedly, the ending was rather predictable - a Matt Cassel clutch pick doesn’t get you many points in “NFL i-Spy” but nonetheless it was a vastly improved display from Kansas City and the game had plenty of talking points. Not least, the injury to Big Ben and the ramifications it could have for the rest of the season. Which brings us nicely on to:
1. You Need a Good Back up Quarterback!
Week 11 could see starts for Colin Kaepernick, Byron Leftwich, Jason Campbell and Nick Foles. Whilst the Eagles could have Tom Brady under center for the rest of the season and still not make the Play Offs, the other 3 teams are well in the hunt and the performances of the back ups will go a long way to determining how the season pans out.
On the face of it, the Bears appear to have the best insurance plan. Campbell was having a decent 2011 in Oakland before injury curtailed him. He has plenty of starter experience, a strong run game to support him and a go to receiver in Brandon Marshall. Kaepernick is a different kettle of fish, and whilst he has performed well in some creative schemes this season, he is unproven as a starter. The early signs were encouraging in the second half against the Rams, but a Week 11 visit from the Bears and their formidable Defence is another matter entirely. Leftwich is another veteran, he does have experience…but it’s been 6 years since he was a regular starter.
My money is on Kapernick being the best of the bunch, but back up QBs are a strange breed – just look at the contrast between Caleb Hanie and TJ Yates last season. One completely destroyed his team’s season, whilst the other did enough to lead the Texans to the Play Offs. It’ll be fascinating to see how this season’s back ups cope with the pressure.
2. Adrian Peterson May Not be Human
Last week, I said it was time for Christian Ponder to stepup. Ponder duly obliged with a much improved display against the Lions, but the man who is at the forefront of the Vikings surprising season is Adrian “Purple Jesus” Peterson. On Christmas Eve he torn his ACL, now he is the league’s leading rusher! It doesn’t make much medical sense, but Peterson is proving all the doubters wrong. This week he surged for another 171 yards including a 61 yard TD as the Vikings moved to 6-4 and in the hunt for a Play Off berth.
If the Vikings do secure a Play Off spot, it will round off a miraculous 12 months for Peterson and be one of the stories of the season.
3. There’s 4-5 and there’s 4-5
The Arizona Cardinals are 4-5 and the general consensus is that they are a complete bust and will be lucky to reach 6-10 for the season. Meanwhile in New Orleans, the Saints are also 4-5, but after an heroic victory over the 8-0 Falcons, suddenly things are looking up for 2009 Champions. Jimmy Graham is looking like Jimmy Graham circa 2011, Drew Brees is playing at an elite level, the Defence are finally making a few plays and Chris Ivory has nicely developed his Marshawn Lynch impression. A Divisional title looks highly unlikely, but few would bet against the Saints finishing 6-2 and getting to 10 wins and a possible Wild Card spot. It’s a far cry from the early season defeats to the likes of the Redskins and the Chiefs!
4. Norv Turner is Done!
Surely even Uncle Norv cannot survive this season. The Chargers looks like a team on the slide, last weeks win versus Kansas City papered over a few cracks, but they all reappeared during the Week 10 loss in Tampa Bay. There was the familiar Philip Rivers brain freeze at the end of a long drive, a lack of production form Ryan Matthews and a special teams botch leading to a Tampa TD. What was new this week, was the Turner Press Conference meltdown. It wasn’t quite in the Derek Anderson league, but it certainly showed a man in turmoil and
makes for great you tube viewing was a shame to see.
5. There was Something Funny in the Water in San Francisco
The following things happened in San Fran on Sunday afternoon – Alex Smith throw a touchdown despite being blind in one eye, Johnny Hekker threw 2 completions, Steven Jackon made the block of the season on a blitzing Patrick Willis, , David Akers landed a 33 yard field goal with 3 seconds left to force OT, an 80 yard Sam Bradford OT throw to Danny Amendola was called back for an illegal formation, David Akers missed a 41 yard game winner, Greg Zuerlein kicked a 53 game winner, said game winner was ruled out for delay of game – despite the Rams having 2 time outs to burn, Greg Zuerlein missed a 58 yard game winning field goal. Oh, and we had the first NFL tie since 2008, despite not many of the players realizing. Apart from that, not much happened!
6. Bud Adams is a Great Motivator
This weeks Tennessee conceded 48 less points than in week 9, they also scored 17 more. Admittedly, the Bears are a better team than the Dolphins, but even so you have to give the Titans a lot of credit for the turnaround. Adam’s rant after the Bears game clearly had the desired effect and Tenessee played as if their jobs were on the line in Miami. Jake Locker will never be an elite passer, but he has amazing instincts and can scramble as well as any NFL QB. Chris Johnson finally appears to have found some consistency and the Defence picked off Ryan Tannehill thrice. Most importantly I got to use the word thrice, which is far better than the mundane “three times”!
7. Surely it’s “Time” now!
Or maybe not. you have to wonder what less Mark Sanchez has to do to lose the starting gig in New York. In Seattle he was about as effective as Eli Manning in a sitcom. 9-22, 124 yards and an interception is hardly going to keep the Tebow fans at bay. Tebow is still being used in some offensive packages, but there are no signs that Rex Ryan trusts him to throw the ball. The Jets are 3-6, but do have a relatively easy schedule and are not entirely out of the Wild Card picture. But they need to start winning immediately, and Ryan has to decide which of his QB’s is the man for the job. For the sake of making this column easy to write – I really hope it’s Tebow!
8. The Patriots Will Win the AFC East
This isn’t a glowing appraisal of the Pats, more an indication of how poor the Division is. New England defeated the Bills on Sunday, but it was as much to do with unnecessary Buffalo turnovers as it was Patriots playmaking. The Pats D are allowing plenty of big plays against them, and it may prove to be a major problem in January. But seriously, who out of Miami, Buffalo and the Jets is going to usurp them this year? Miami is a work in progress and will have plenty of days like Sunday’s thumping by the Titans. The Jets are injury plagued and have major QB issues. And as for the Bills, for all his good work, Ryan Fitzpatrick is an interception waiting to happen. He drove the Bills towards a game winning touchdown, only to end the drive with a terrible interception in the End Zone. It’s been the story of Fitzpatricks season and one of many reasons why New England will once again make the Post Season.
9. Nobody’s Perfect
I never seriously expected the Falcons to go undefeated all season. They’d had a soft schedule, but were run close by the likes of the Panthers and Raiders. That doesn’t smack of 16-0 to me. A trip to their bogey team was always liable to end in defeat, but it’s not a complete disaster for Atlanta. They sit at 8-1 and are in prime position to get a first round bye in the Play Offs. There are question marks over the team – can Matt Ryan win in the Play Offs? Can they win in January outside the Dome? But for now, this defeat isn’t a big problem for the Falcons. In fact, having the “Perfect Season” pressure lifted may be a blessing in disguise.
10. NFL Red Zone goes off air at 1am UK Time!
Worth knowing, just in case (to use a highly unlikely random example) the Rams are lining up a game winning 58 field goal at 12:59am!
Star of the Week: Andy Dalton – It’s been an up and down second season for Dalton. Some moments of magic but too many interceptions. The is week however he played arguably the best game of his short career. Managing the game superbly and throwing 4 TD passes to 4 different receivers as the Bengals upset the Giants in Cincinnati. What’s more, he wasn’t sacked or intercepted all day. Dalton is still a work in progress but this was a massive step in the right direction.
Flop of the Week: The referees in Carolina – All touchdowns are reviewed. So how on earth did the video referee miss the fact that Trindon Holliday drop his punt return before crossing the goal line? It was an act of stupidity from Holliday – celebrating before he scored, but it was even more stupid from the video referee. The rule was introduced to ensure this type of problem was picked up on, seems some refs didn’t get the memo.
Highlight of the Week – Talking of stupidity, well done to the Kansas City defence for a superb End Zone celebration dance after taking a Byron Leftwich fumble in for a touchdown. Just a couple of minor problems – Firstly an End Zone group celebration is a 15 yard penalty. Secondly, it wasn’t a fumble, it was an incomplete pass. Net result: Pittsburgh retained possession and had a 15 yard gain! Everyone else had some comedy cold to laugh at!