What a wild and wacky week it was in the NFL!
With the Giants on their bye week, The Freak was able to channel surf and watch parts of many exciting and entertaining games, along with some questionable coaching decisions.
Many of the top teams were pushed to the brink like the Houston Texans, who almost lost to Jacksonville in overtime. Really don’t understand the play calling by the Jags in overtime as they were on the Texans’ 10-yard line with a chance to win the game, and never tried throwing it in the end zone. Instead, they were content to kick the field goal and continue overtime.
When your record is 1-9 (won-lost), you have nothing to lose. Come on!
The Atlanta Falcons turned the football over like it was going out of style, and still managed to beat the Arizona Cardinals, who benched starting quarterback John Skelton for rookie Ryan Lindley.
Again, what was Coach Whisenhunt thinking?
Yes Skelton had a couple of bad drives, but it was still early in the game and you decide to put this rookie in to send a message. This was not giving your team the best opportunity at winning, and if anything you sent the message the season is over.
The one coaching decision that received a lot of attention was the injury to New England’s top player, Rob Gronkowski, on the extra point late in a 59-24 pounding of the Colts.
First of all, The Freak understands Coach Belichick’s thinking on why Gronk is on this unit in the first place as he is a great blocker. Traditionally on the extra point you just keep your offensive line out on the field and sub in four other blockers, which is simple.
However, at this point of a blowout game, shouldn’t you be thinking of getting your star players off the field?
Brady was still in the game passing, and could have been hurt as well.
The Freak knows this is how Belichick operates, and he will continue to do so regardless what we think. But for a guy regarded as the best coach in NFL, you have to wonder what is he thinking?
Belichick’s theory, or his justification, is that no one player is more important than another player, so he doesn’t want to pull Brady or Gronk in this instance because it would make those guys appear more special than others. Hello!
Of course these guys are special, and if other players can’t understand that or have an issue with it, then they shouldn’t be on the team. Period!
Question is – could this injury have been prevented?
You bet, and now the Pats are without their top red-zone threat for the rest of the regular season, which could jeopardize their run at the Super Bowl.
Stat of the week
Matt Ryan became the first quarterback since 1967 (Bart Starr) to win a game despite throwing five interceptions with no touchdowns.
Pet peeve of the week
We know the NFL is trying to protect players from head shots, and the Ravens’ Ed Reed was initially suspended and then fined because of his hit against the Steelers. Was it Reed’s fault that Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders lowered his head after catching the ball, which in turned caused the head-to-head blow?
How in the world can a defensive player, who is running 100 miles an hour, make that quick adjustment after an offensive player decides to lower his head?
Bonehead play of the week
Down 27-13 in the fourth quarter, Rams coach Jeff Fisher goes for a two-point conversion instead of kicking the convert. Obviously, he wasn’t good at math in school.
The sure thing
The Oakland Raiders haven’t won a 1 p.m. East Coast game since 2009 as they head to Cincy. Oakland has been brutal the last couple of weeks while the Bengals are starting to get hot as Andy Dalton’s red hair. Big Red will have a big game against Oakland’s secondary. Take the Bengals.
The Broncos head on the road to play divisional rival Kansas City, which is looking like the worst team in the NFL. With poor quarterback play and lack of a running game, Denver will take the lead early and gallop out of KC with a win.
Are the Chicago Bears going into hibernation once again at this time of the season? After two losses, the Bears head home angry as they host the Vikings. You can expect a Chicago team that will physically take it to Minnesota. Jay Cutler returns at quarterback, and he is the difference in this game. Bears win.
Don’t mortgage the house picks
The Giants take on the Packers in a big NFC game on Sunday night. Historically, the Gmen are bad after the bye week, and it doesn’t look any different this season as Big Blue has struggled the last couple of weeks. Green Bay is on a roll and if New York can’t find its pass rush, they will be in big trouble in the Big Apple. Pack wins on the road, and the Giants’ slide continues.
In a flashback to the ‘90s, Charlie Batch will start for the Steelers against the Browns, with one of his targets being the recently-signed Plaxico Burress. Yes, Pittsburgh is desperate as they hope to win on the road and keep their playoff hopes alive. The Browns, who have been in every game this year, would love to play spoiler. Even with all the injuries to the Steelers, the Browns will find some way to lose this game.
The Freak doesn’t like how the Falcons have played the last two weeks, and now they visit division rival Tampa Bay. The Bucs won a dramatic game against the Panthers, and will want to keep the momentum rolling as they have a good shot at the post-season. This game will be a shootout, and the Bucs will have the end-zone pirate ship rocking as they outscore the Falcons.
The 49ers are one of the best teams in the NFL, and now they have a quarterback controversy, which is never good for the team and the locker room.
San Fran heads on the road to take on the hot Saints, who have a realistic shot at the playoffs after starting 0-4 (won-lost). The 49ers are not a great come-from-behind team, and will fall behind early as the Saints are clicking offensively and they will have the “Who Dat Nation” jacked up inside the dome.
The quarterback controversy, Saints’ offence and crowd noise is just too much for the 49ers to handle. Saints win again.
Last week: 5-for-7.
John Turner is a Summerside schoolteacher. His column appears every Saturday during the NFL season. Feel free to e-mail questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.