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Another week of NFL action is behind us and what have we learned? We have learned absolutely nothing. It was a week in which the struggling Green Bay Packers absolutely dismantled the Houston Texans on Sunday night. Aaron Rogers went crazy and threw six touchdown passes against the Texans. It was a week in which my predicted Super Bowl winner decided to lay an egg against the Giants. In San Francisco, Eli Manning and the Giants were quick to remind the world that they are the defending champions and they should not be counted out just yet. If the first six weeks of the NFL have taught me anything, it’s that I should stop trying to predict things, and I should stop trying to figure out what’s going on. With that being said, here’s my list of predictions and things that I’ve figured out from the NFL:
Knee-jerk Reaction #1 – Monday night we saw the “Tale of Two Games” airing on television. Monday night’s contest reminded me of another game from 19 years ago. It was in January of 1993. The Buffalo Bills were playing host to the Houston Oilers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The Oilers had beaten the Bills 27 – 3 the week before in Houston to force this playoff rematch. In the loss, the Bills Hall-of-Fame quarterback, Jim Kelley, went down with an injury. Behind Warren Moon, the Oilers dominated the first half of the playoff game. They took a 28 – 3 lead into the locker room. On the opening series in the second half, backup quarterback Frank Reich was intercepted for an Oilers touchdown. The Bills were now trailing 35 – 3 and many of the fans in the stadium were now making their way to the exits. However, the defending AFC champions still had something to prove. Reich would hook up with Andre Reed three times for scores as the Buffalo Bills would mount an amazing come-from-behind win against the Oilers.
Fast forward to Monday night and you have a game similar to 19 years ago. The San Diego Chargers opened up the game with a flurry and dominated the Denver Broncos. Jumping out to a 24 – 0 halftime score, the game seemed to be all but over. As the Patriots can attest, though, you can never count Peyton Manning out of a game. Manning had an 18 point comeback against the Patriots in the AFC Championship game in 2007. On this night, though, Manning vaulted himself into the record books with the fifth greatest comeback in NFL history. Manning led the Broncos to 35 second-half points on their way to a 35 – 24 win against the division rival Chargers. As one writer so aptly put it, if the coaches will get out of his way, Manning will win a lot of games for the Broncos.
Knee-jerk Reaction #2 – For about two minutes on Sunday, the entire Cowboys organization went brain dead. Let me set the scene for you. The Cowboys had marched up and down the field all day long on the Baltimore Ravens defense. The Cowboys had 481 yards of total offense and kept the ball for over 40 minutes during the game. That being said, they were still trailing by eight points late in the game. After marching down the field and scoring to make the score 31 – 29, they lined up for the two point conversion. The attempt was no good, which forced them to try an onside kick. After miraculously recovering the kick, the Cowboys found themselves at the Baltimore 35 yard line with one timeout left and about 30 seconds left. In the NFL, this is enough time to run about 3 more plays. What happened next was mind boggling. The Cowboys threw a short pass to Dez Bryant and gained about one yard for this play. However, the other two receivers on the play, Austin and Ogletree, had run all the way up the field. The play is designed for them to take the safeties away from the action and hope Dez can break away for a nice gain. The safeties were gone but Dez couldn’t break away. The problem, now, is that Austin and Ogletree need to run back to the line. Apparently, they didn’t get that memo. Replay would show them just loafing back to the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile, Dez is arguing with the officials about something. All-the-while, time is ticking off the clock. With a timeout to use, Garrett and Romo both look confused on what to do and finally as the clock gets down to four seconds left, the timeout is called. Dan Bailey missed a potential game winning field goal of 51 yards, but he never should have been in that position. Many people can be blamed here, but my blame goes on Jason Garrett. As the head coach, you have to be in charge during this situation. First of all, call a running play. The Cowboys ran the ball for over 220 yards against the Ravens. The play to Bryant gained one yard but sent the receivers way down the field. A running play may not gain you any more yards but it will put you in a position where your receivers aren’t 25 yards down the field. Also, when he sees the chaos going on with his offense, he should have used the timeout and tried to get the ball closer for Bailey.
Knee-jerk Reaction #3 – Have we forgotten about the Giants? This team won the Super Bowl last year after barely making the playoffs. This team has proven time and time again, it’s not how you play in September that counts. It’s how you’re playing in December and January that’s important. Take the Packers last year. This team went 15 – 1 during the regular season and coasted to victories in most of the games they played. However, when they got to the playoffs it was the Giants who knocked them off at home. The Giants seemed to be limping into the playoffs but were able to knock off the Falcons, Packers, 49ers, and the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. This year many people, myself included, have been praising the 49ers and the Falcons. Sunday was a reminder to all that the Giants are still playing and that Eli Manning is still a game-winning quarterback.
Knee-jerk Reaction #4 - With the 49ers getting dismantled the way they did my Super Bowl prediction is changing for the first time all season. I used to think that if my Super Bowl prediction did change, that it would probably be because of the Houston Texans. However, they got destroyed by the Packers so I can’t pick them either. There’s no other team in the AFC that’s worthy, either. As a matter of fact, only two teams have winning records in the AFC after week six as opposed to seven teams in the NFC. So, with that being said, I’m going with the Giants this week for my prediction. I know the Falcons are undefeated and probably should be my pick; they, however, have yet to really play anyone tough. They’ve played all four teams in the AFC west, a mediocre division, the Panthers and the Redskins. Because of this, I’m sticking with the Giants this week. As always, though, check back next week because it’s sure to change.
Knee-jerk Reaction #5 – The Yankees drama this off-season is going to be worthy of a reality show. I know this is a football blog, but I have to throw this in here. First of all, I’m not a Yankees fan and unless they are playing a division rival of the Texas Rangers, I want them to lose. With that being said, the Alex Rodriguez story is fascinating to me. The fact that Girardi, the manager of the Yankees, decided to bench A Rod for game five of the division series, and then again during key games in the Championship series is intriguing. Here you have a player who is making 200 plus million dollars and has put up huge numbers, yet his struggles are so bad that he is being benched in the most important time of the year. I have a feeling they will move him this off-season to some unfortunate team that doesn’t know what they are getting into.