Monday, October 31, 2011

Week 8's Trouncings and Tebowings

Normally, I try to stay away from discussing Eagles games in this forum to keep homer-ism at bay.  However, there’s only so many times that a team scores on its first six drives against a team that was highly touted defensively and coming off a 34-7 victory themselves.  Without further ado, the WD-4T for Week 8, starting with the Drubbing of Dallas.


TRIUMPH: Tony Romo attempted 8 passes in the first half, and while Jason Witten was the main target of those throws, three of them targeted… Laurent Robinson?  He ended up with five catches on 8 targets for 103 yards, including a 70-yard TD.  Miles Austin and Dez Bryant combined for 6 catches on 8 targets for 55 yards.  I’d call this more of a statement about the Eagles’ secondary doing its job on the other guys than Robinson doing something special.
TRAGEDY: The Cowboys’ defense was ranked the best against the run in the league, averaging 70 rushing yards allowed per game.  Lesean McCoy had more than that in the first quarter of this game, eventually rushing for 185 of the team’s 239 yards in the contest.  The Eagles are running on everybody, and they have a lot of unconventional stretch and cutback running plays that Dallas is not likely to face much of against other teams.  I think their defense (at least against the run) is better than it showed last night.
TREND: Yes, there’s all the talk about Desean Jackson needing a new contract and how he makes this team explosive offensively, but as far as consistent offensive production goes, it’s really Jeremy Maclin that I feel is the more important receiver in this offense.  Maclin has 13 more receptions, 56 more yards, and 2 more touchdowns than Jackson this year (including the first game of the season, in which he was still recovering from a serious illness), and had 23 more receptions and 4 more touchdowns last year.  Most importantly, though, is that Maclin netted 8 more first downs than Jackson last year and is on pace for the same advantage this year.  Team consistency from week to week depends on consistent individual production, and that’s what Maclin has brought to the table the past few years.  Just make sure you leave some room on the payroll for him.
TRAIL MIX: Assorted nibblins’ for your consumption pleasure:
After running 25 times for 253 yards last week, DeMarco Murray did not disappoint, yielding 74 yards on just 8 carries against the Eagles.  Had the Eagles not given Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan something to chew on other than another cheeseburger, Murray was well on his way to a 150+ yard day.
Here’s a gold nugget:  The last time the Eagles scored 30 points in a game without having a pass play of more than 25 yards was Week 1 – of the 2009 season.  Brian Westbrook led the team in rushing, and McNabb and Kolb combined for just 82 yards passing, as Jake Delhomme threw 4 INTs and was replaced by Matt Moore and later Josh McCown.  Also note how none of those players are on those teams anymore, and that was just two years ago.
Lastly, the Eagles held the ball for over 42 of the 60 minutes of the game.  Domination.  Although, in 2009 I recall a game in which the Dolphins held the ball for over 45 minutes and still lost to the Colts.  Curtis Painter, you fail.


TRIUMPH: Despite being replaced by Willis McGahee thus far this season and being down big for most of the game, Knowshon Moreno had a solid day, running 14 times for 69 yards.  Actually, as a team the Broncos managed almost 200 yards rushing on 30 attempts.  Unfortunately, their success was more related to the fact that the Lions have a bottom-five run defense, although they have only allowed 3 rushing touchdowns.
TRAGEDY: Although I don’t consider this to be much of an anomaly, there’s really nothing in this game that came as close to a tragedy as Tim Tebow did.  Everyone talked this week about how bad he was for the first three quarters last week, and here he was this week with this future-MVP line: 7-21, 80 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT.  Even after more than doubling his passing yardage and completing over 60 percent of his passes in the fourth quarter, he finished with an ESPN Total QBR of 3.4 out of 100, the lowest for any quarterback with a sufficient amount of plays in any game since 2008.  Unfortunately for Tebow, Rex Grossman’s 2006 season was not in the sample.
TREND: Calvin Johnson has had between 5 and 7 receptions for between 113 and 130 yards and either 0 or 1 touchdown in each of his last four games.  This comes after he scored two touchdowns per game in the first four games of the season.  One word for the opposition: hitman. 
TRAIL MIX: I heard this one on TV today and thought it was compelling:  Tebow’s average yards-per-attempt rushing yesterday (6.3), while above his career average, was not anything special when it comes to running quarterbacks.  However, what is special is that his yards-per-attempt passing in this game was less than that (4.4).  For comparison, Matthew Stafford’s YPA was 8.9 on a solid but not spectacular day throwing the ball.


TRIUMPH: Let’s be honest here:  the clear anomalous success is the fact that the Rams won this game.  I mean, they had just been beaten 34-7 by (as we saw emphasized yesterday) an average Cowboys team, and the Saints had just absolutely destroyed the Colts 62-7.  The Rams were missing Sam Bradford for a second straight week, and hadn’t won a game all year.  And then this?
TRAGEDY: A rookie set the Cowboys single-game rushing record against the Rams last week, and the Saints come marching in and run for… 56 yards on 20 carries?  I know, they were down a lot, but they weren’t down more than 10 points until the very end of the first half.  The Rams were the worst run defense in the league, and the Saints failed to take advantage.
TREND: Drew Brees is a little bit of a gunslinger, no?  He’s had 4 games of at least 2 interceptions this year already, and is coming off a career-high 22 INT’s in 2010.  In 3 of the Saints’ 8 losses since 2010, Brees has had 3 or more INT’s, and that recklessness has caused them to lose inexplicably to the Cardinals, Browns, and Rams in that span.
TRAIL MIX: This game reminded me a whole lot of the Patriots losing to the Browns 34-14 in Cleveland last year when the Pats were 6-1 and the Browns were 2-5.  Uncharacteristically poor play by an elite quarterback?  Check.  Failing to run the ball effectively when you didn’t trail by more than 10 for almost half the game?  Check.  Allowing more rushing yards than passing yards?  Check.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Giving my other weekly post a friend. And a name.

I had a brief (and totally real) conversation with the Triumphs, Tragedies, Trends, and Trail Mix weekly column, and I noticed in his tone of voice a hint of loneliness.  So, I’m doing what it takes to maintain satisfaction in the Strong Side, Left Side workplace, and giving the old 4-T a friend.  In the interest of symmetry, I’ll look towards the future, pointing out some of the games and matchups that I’m looking forward to each week.  Spoiler alert: this column is not likely to include Dolphins or Redskins games.  They’re downright awful, but their defenses are just good enough to avoid a Colts-style smackdown, which would at least give me something to talk about.

This column will have a similar flavor to the WD 4T ("Weekly Deets:  Triumphs, Tragedies, Trends, and Trail Mix" abbreviated – yes, I just made it up), but with question words!  That’s fun, right?  Everybody loves the Four Questions.  Wait a second... I think I’ll call it

The Seder Slate 
Week 8
(Ooh, and it rhymes this time!)

What? Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans

Why? These teams got beat by a combined score of 103-14 last week, and now face each other in the Licking-My-Wounds Bowl.  Tennessee at least has a decent record, while the Colts need to show up sometime, right?

Who? Titans RB and generally despised fantasy entity Chris Johnson has massively disappointed, earning roughly $1 million per 20 rushing yards this year after signing his big contract in the offseason.  He faces a Colts defense allowing over 150 yards rushing per game, second-to-last in the league.  Go big or go home, CJ.

How? Watch this game with some old, bitter Baltimore or Houston football fans.  Then remind them that their current teams are better.

What? Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos

Why? The Lions are starting another losing streak after falling to the Falcons last week, while the Broncos aim to play more than 4 minutes of good football and win consecutive games for the first time since the middle of 2009.  Oh, right and there’s….

Who? **skies part** The Lord God Tim Tebow.  **cloud cover returns**
(Honorable Mention:  Broncos kicker Matt Prater, who hit a 52-yard field goal last week in Miami that would have been good from 70.  Now he’s back in the thin mile-high air.  You do the math.)

How? Watch this game lying on your back; it’ll give you a close facsimile to how Tebow will experience the game, except he’ll have Ndamukong Suh lying on top of him.

What? Washington Redskins at Buffalo Bills

Why? Well, the Bills are hosting this game from Toronto, the capital of Ontario, and the Redskins are from Washington, D.C., the capital of the US.  That’s worth something right?  No?  Hm, how about watching two teams with a combined 7 wins after Week 7 play each other that finished with a total of 10 wins last year?

Who? Maybe Rex Grossman can find a new job in Canada’s not-the-US job market.  Watch for that during halftime.

How? Watch this game sitting on or around a moose.  A stuffed one will suffice for now.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week 7's Trinkets and Trumpets

In an effort to avoid being "that guy," I will refrain from talking about the plethora of running backs that were injured early in their games, causing me much fantasy football consternation.  Instead, we'll talk about the 'Boys bludgeoning, the Raiders reeling, and the Seahawks, well, sucking.

THE BLOWOUTS (Texans 41, Titans 7; Cowboys 34, Rams 7; Saints 62, Colts 7)

TRIUMPH: The Cowboys had rushed for just under 85 yards per game coming into this contest, for a total of 424 yards.  They ran for 294 yards in this game, 253 of which came from rookie Demarco Murray.  The Rams were bottom-five in the league in run defense heading into the game.  Guess that wasn’t a statistical anomaly.
TRAGEDY: Arian Foster had more yards receiving (119) than he had rushing (115) in the Texans-Titans game.  So did Chris Johnson – except he had 24 receiving yards.  Wop wop wop.
TREND: Saints TE Jimmy Graham’s worst statistical (read: fantasy) game of this season was a six-catch, 79-yard performance against a Bears team whose defense is built to contain the big play.  Absent a monstrous game that skews his statistics, he is legitimately on pace for 100 catches, 1500 yards, and 10 touchdowns.
TRAIL MIX: Murray’s 253 yards harkens me back to fellow Oklahoma alum Adrian Peterson’s record-breaking 296 yard performance in his rookie year.  Also, while this is not surprising given the fact that each team was winning big, but the Texans, Cowboys, and Saints averaged 250 yards rushing.


TRIUMPH: Michael Bush ran 17 times for 99 yards (5.8 avg) after Darren McFadden left the game with an injury in the first quarter.  Yes, Bush more than tripled any of his rushing totals this year, and he had two 100-yard games in McFadden’s absence last year, but this is DMC’s team.  Don’t forget that.
TRAGEDY: The Raiders were in the bottom ten in the NFL in pass defense coming into the game, and Matt Cassel was coming out of a bye after a 4-TD game in Week 5.  Not surprisingly, Cassel threw all over the lot … oh, he didn’t?  What, only 2 TD?  No?  Then, what’d he – no touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and less than 6 yards per attempt, huh?  Odd.
TREND:  Darrius Heyward-Bey, much maligned due to his disappointing first two years in the league after being drafted 7th overall, has caught at least four passes for at least 80 yards in each of the last four games.  This is a noticeable trend, considering he had either caught four passes or had 80 yards receiving just three times in his first two seasons.
TRAIL MIX: Twenty-four teams played in games on Sunday.  Eight quarterbacks played in those games who do not have a full season of NFL starting experience (John Beck, Kevin Kolb, Cam Newton, Christian Ponder, Matt Moore, Tim Tebow, Charlie Whitehurst, Curtis Painter).  Those players threw a combined 6 interceptions.  The Raiders had two quarterbacks play in this game, Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer, who had combined for ten seasons’ worth of game experience.  They threw 6 interceptions.


TRIUMPH: Kudos to Browns kicker Phil Dawson for making two 50+ yard field goals.  Yeah, that’s pretty much the only triumph in this game.
TRAGEDY: Aside from the final score, I would say that the tragedy (at least for fantasy owners) was Marshawn Lynch hurting his back in warmups and missing the game without anyone outside the stadium knowing about it until the game had already started.  Maybe he could have gone into Beast Mode and gotten the ‘Hawks another couple field goals to win the game.
TREND: Opponents have run against the Seahawks 33 times per game this season (4th most in the league).  The Seahawks have allowed 3.2 yards per carry this season (best in the league).  Think you might want to start passing on them?
TRAIL MIX: The Cleveland Browns (3-3) have a better record than the Philadelphia Eagles (2-4), despite being in the bottom ten in the league in passing and rushing.  Their secret?  Their wins have come against teams who are a combined 2-17.  The Eagles’ losses have come against teams who are a combined 17-8.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week 6's Truisms and Triangular Prisms

I have nothing much to say to start this post off, except that it's good to see Sexy Rexy back where he belongs.

TRIUMPH: We have a Brent Celek sighting!  He had his highest reception total (4) in any game started by Michael Vick, and was thrown to a team-high 9 times.  This coming after he caught 4 passes for 17 yards TOTAL in the previous three weeks.
TRAGEDY: The Redskins rushed for just 42 yards on 14 carries in this game after averaging over 30 carries for 110 yards in their first four games.  Not only that, but the Eagles’ defense had allowed 140 yards per game prior to this.  Chalk it up to Rex Grossman throwing enough interceptions that not only were the ‘Skins losing, causing them to run less, but they were almost doubled in time-of-possession in this game.
TREND: Lesean McCoy had 20 total carries in weeks 4 and 5, both Eagles losses in which ball security in the passing game was an issue.  He had 28 in Sunday’s game, a dominating Eagles win.  Also, he has scored a touchdown in every game this season.  Stud.
TRAIL MIX: You knew it was coming:  over the Redskins’ five games thus far, Rex Grossman has shown monotonic declines in yards and touchdowns and monotonic increases in turnovers, culminating in a 9-22, 143 yards, 0 TD, 4 INT performance that caused him to be pulled from the game in favor of John Beck, who hadn’t appeared in a real game since 2007.  As bad as he was, Grossman’s quarterback rating (23.7 out of a possible 158.3) was actually better than four games he had during the Bears’ Super Bowl run in 2006.  The Redskins got what they deserved for trusting him, and I am just glad it was against the Eagles.

49ERS 25, LIONS 19
TRIUMPH: Michael Crabtree was the target on nearly half of Alex Smith’s passes (15 of 32), while Vernon Davis was targeted just twice.  I expect that trend to balance out a little bit in the future, suffice it to say, although I do think that Crabtree will be a significant part of the 49ers’ offense going forward.
TRAGEDY: As a point of comparison with the above stat, Calvin Johnson was thrown to just 9 out of Matthew Stafford’s 50 pass attempts (he did catch 7 of them, however).  Brandon Pettigrew, Nate Burleson, and Jahvid Best combined for 32 pass targets, of which they caught 18. 
TREND: I’m not sure what the 49ers are doing differently here, but here is a summary of Frank Gore’s first three games this year: 59 carries, 148 yards, 1 TD.  His last three?  50 carries, 293 yards, 3 TD.  He’s averaging nearly six yards per carry in that span. 
TRAIL MIX: There was a whole lot of hoopla over the allegedly unsportsmanlike handshake between coaches Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz.  Turns out that Harbaugh had said something about his Schwartz being bigger than the Lions’ coach.

TRIUMPH: The Patriots defense, the worst in the league through the first four weeks of the year, has now put together two fairly decent performances in a row against ostensibly decent teams (Jets, Cowboys).  However, those offenses have inconsistent quarterbacks that hold them back, so I would like to see how they handle the rest of their schedule.
TRAGEDY: Wes Welker had been averaging almost 150 receiving yards per game on 9 receptions per game, and was held to 6 catches for 45 yards in this game.  That flash in the sky you just saw was Welker coming back down to earth.
TREND: The Cowboys’ defense is legit. They are top-five in total defense and boast the best run defense in the NFL while playing against pretty good teams (Jets, 49ers, Redskins, Lions, Patriots).
TRAIL MIX: Brady and Romo both went 27-for-41 and ran for 17 yards in this game.  Rob Gronkowski and Miles Austin both caught 7 passes for 74 yards.   Combine Danny Woodhead and Kevin Ogletree and you get Davin Woodtree.

Billy Cundiff’s five field goals and two extra points gave him 20 points in ESPN Fantasy this week.  That marks the fourth consecutive week where a kicker has scored 20 or more points!  Too bad it was a different kicker each time, or we’d be talking about a fantasy MVP.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Week 5's Trrrrrack Stars and Trrrrram Cars

As an Eagles’ fan, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to write all of these football posts, but I suppose it’s better than if I were writing about baseball.  Speaking of baseball, there are three strikes, three outs, and three Molinas (Yadier, Bengie, and Jose, if you’re counting), so I’m going with three sets of triumphs, tragedies, trends, and trail mix.  Hope it’s got that touch of sweetness to really complement the savory aspects.

Steelers 38, Titans 17

TRIUMPH: Ben Roethlisberger threw for 5 touchdowns in this game, allaying some fears about his injury status and the ability of the offensive line to protect him.  Keep in mind, though, that 4 of those touchdowns went for fewer than 10 yards (an unlikely occurrence), and Roethlisberger averaged just 6.7 yards per attempt in this game.
TRAGEDY: The Titans defense allowed over 400 yards in this game, which was over 100 yards more than their previous average.  However, part of that was a 70-yard run by a third-string running back, so let’s call this a bit of a fluke defensively.
TREND: Mike Wallace has not had fewer than 75 yards receiving in any of his last 10 regular season games, and has gained 1001 yards and scored 5 touchdowns in those games.
TRAIL MIX: The Steelers play the Jaguars this week, ending a string of four straight games against the AFC South.  Who scheduled that?

Patriots 30, Jets 21

TRIUMPH: BenJarvus Green-Ellis tallied 27 carries and 136 yards in this game, both career highs.  This one week after Stevan Ridley netted almost 100 yards on 10 carries and had everyone in fantasy leagues gobbling him up.  Green-Ellis was running well against the Jets’ front all day, and I think the Patriots just wanted to ride the hot hand.
TRAGEDY: When the Jets assigned Revis to cover Welker throughout this game, most would have expected Welker to have a down game.  Well, Revis held Welker’s receptions down (he had 5, compared to his average this season of 10), but a 73-yard catch distorted Welker’s numbers.  The play occurred due to a busted coverage by the safety, not by Revis, and the performance by Welker shouldn’t affect anyone’s perception of Revis’ cover skills.
TREND: I know I mentioned that the Jets defense was better than they looked last week, but now I’m willing to change my opinion.  The Jets have allowed 134.8 rush yards per game this year, compared to 90.9 last year.
TRAIL MIX: The Jets attempted over 35 passes per game in their first four games.  In a game against the worst pass defense in the league (not to mention a team with an offense that can put points on the board quickly), the Jets attempted 26 passes.  Huh?

Packers 25, Falcons 14

TRIUMPH: James Jones and Jordy Nelson both tied for the Packers’ team lead in pass targets (7).  Don’t be fooled, this offense runs mostly through Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley, who still lead the team in targets for the year.
TRAGEDY: Ryan Grant received just over half the touches of James Starks in this game, and gained less than half as many yards in the process.  I expect the Packers to roll week-to-week with whoever is running better that day, in a similar way as their passing attack is organized.  Grant’s got better days coming.
TREND: In his four seasons as a starter, Michael Turner has rushed for fewer than 4 yards per carry in over half of those games.  Good thing he’s been in the top five in the league in carries and rushing touchdowns over that span, or that would be tough to handle.
TRAIL MIX: Aaron Rodgers completed a pass to 12 different players over the course of this game.  That’s more receivers catching a pass in a single game than any team with at least as many pass attempts has had catch a ball all season (including so-called equal-opportunity offenses like the Patriots and Saints).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In Which Adrian Peterson Runs and the Bears' O-Line Hides

Life is like a box of chocolates in two ways: you never know what you’re going to get, and if it doesn’t have nougat, you better elude it.  Sticking with the former, we’re switching up the program by having Alex write his impressions of Week 5’s action as Jon-Michael takes a break from his usual responsibilities to insult a Native American.  Let’s get to the words.

Bills 31, Eagles 24
As an Eagles fan, I am incredibly disappointed in the lack of discipline that this team is playing with.  There are a lot of turnovers, penalties (Juqua Parker, I’m staring straight at you, bro), and clock management errors that are holding this team back.  The offense has gained 513 and 489 yards the last two weeks, but poor red-zone offense and horrendous defense have been their undoing.  I am not surprised that the defense hasn’t stopped the run, given the way that the defensive line is structured, but it’s the pass defense (which was a little better this week) that has been disappointing as well.  The defense is going to get better as the players get more time in the new system, but it’s really the lack of ball security from the offense (14 turnovers the past four games) that’s my concern.  I’m surprised that Lesean McCoy hasn’t fumbled more, given the way he holds the ball while running.

Chiefs 28, Colts 24
You have to feel really bad for the Colts’ remaining roster, as they are trying as hard as they can to win a game or two without Peyton Manning.  Curtis Painter has done a lot better than I thought he would, and he appears to really like Pierre Garcon (7 receptions, 271 yards, 4 TD in Painter’s two starts).  However, the Colts’ attempt was once again thwarted, as Matt Cassel had an incredible game, completing over 70 percent of his passes and throwing 4 touchdowns (2 to the apparently-not-a-seven-game-wonder Dwayne Bowe).  Now, if only the Chiefs hadn’t lost Tony Moeaki, Eric Berry, and Jamaal Charles for the year in the span of three weeks…

Seahawks 36, Giants 25
Classic Eli Manning.  And, as it appears this season, classic 2011 NFC East quarterbacks.  Put up a bunch of yards and touchdowns (Eli had 420 and 3, respectively), then make the key turnover to lose your team the game.  Also, after scoring 30 points in their first three games combined, the Seahawks have scored at least 30 points in each of their last two games.

Vikings 34, Cardinals 10
Just watch Adrian Peterson’s last two touchdowns.  

Raiders 25, Texans 20
The Raiders win one for their late owner Al Davis, per his eternal request (“Just Win Baby”), despite a heroic effort from Matt Schaub (there was actually an egregious dropped pass at the Raiders’ 10 yard line that would have scored a touchdown, but the Texans ended up settling for a field goal).  Schaub has a lot of similar characteristics to Tony Romo, in the sense that he puts up big numbers and wins a lot of games late, but also is likely to make that one dumb interception, as he did in the red zone at the very end of this game.  It’s funny how nobody talks about Schaub’s value to his team and whether or not he should be starting, but Romo gets criticized up and down ESPN.  That’s what Romo gets for being on what used to be America’s Team, I suppose.

Chargers 29, Broncos 24
The Tim Tebow Era, Part II has begun in earnest.  Well, if a 4-for-10 for 79 yards line excites you.  Actually, it appears to excite the Broncos roster, as Tebow’s entrance spurred a near-comeback, as Tebow was 2-3 for 51 yards on a 0:24 drive that almost won the game.  The Chargers did their usual “play down to the competition” thing, eeking out a win against a clearly inferior opponent.  They appear to finally not be throwing away the first half of the season, and perhaps this is the year they make a legitimate run at the AFC title.

Lions 21, Bears 10
This was a sloppy, sloppy game, in which 26 penalties were called.  One of the Bears' first drives lasted just under 7 minutes, yet ended in them failing to convert a 4th down.  This drive may have been the most agonizing I have ever seen.  Here's the rundown of this drive, which started at the Bears' 18 and ended at the Lions' 26: 
-- 6 penalties, 5 by the Lions
-- 1 challenge from each team, with the Lions benefitting both times
-- 2 timeouts taken by the Bears, meaning that they spent all three of their first half timeouts on this drive, which ended in no points.
-- When you remove the yardage from penalties and such, the Bears ran 11 plays to completion and gained 23 total yards on those plays (7 of those plays involved Matt Forte, and gained 15 of those yards).  The drive somehow totaled 62 yards. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Week 4's Trrranscendentalists and Trrrain Wrecks

Now that we’ve hit the quarter-pole in the season, we have enough information to make reasonable conclusions about how we think teams and players will do for the rest of the season. 

For example, we can safely assume that the Lions are out of the doldrums.  We can also safely assume that the Patriots’ defense is not very good.  We can also safely assume that the Eagles are not any sort of Dream Team, unless Vince Young has a disturbed subconscious.  Not that we needed this season’s performance to tell us this, but we can safely assume that Rex Grossman is not the quarterback of the past, present, or future of any team.

Since we’re through four weeks of the year, which is ¼ of the season, and it’s October 4th, I’m going to review four games today.  Life is full of patterns.


TRIUMPH: Ravens TE Ed Dickson was thrown to 12 times in this game, twice as much as any other Raven.  Keep in mind that Anquan Boldin was only targeted twice, as he was sippin’ a margarita on Revis Island.
TRAGEDY: Santonio Holmes caught just three of the 12 passes directed his way, but I can’t imagine that most of them were his fault, given how Mark Sanchez performed.  With all of the passing that the Jets appear to want to do this year, I can’t imagine Holmes is kept down much longer.
TREND: After getting rocked by Darren McFadden last week, the Jets returned to their run-stuffing ways, not allowing Ray Rice and Co. to come to a boil by allowing a mere 3.1 yards per carry.
TRAIL MIX: In this game, Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez combined to go 21-56 with 282 yards, 0 TD, and 2 INT.  In his first career start for an 0-3 team, Curtis Painter went 13-30 for 281 yards, 2 TD and 0 INT.  The Jets and Ravens both won playoff games last year with these quarterbacks.


TRIUMPH: I’m going to consider it a triumph for the Bears’ playcalling that Jay Cutler was allowed to throw the ball only 17 times.
TRAGEDY: The Bears’ normally stout run defense was run on for a strong 7 yards per carry from an offense operating out of the shotgun for more than half the game.  The fact that DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for just 18 carries is still puzzling.
TREND: Steve Smith has corralled at least 6 passes for at least 150 yards in three of the first four weeks of this season.  He met either of those conditions just once last year.  I guess Cam Newton’s kinda good.
TRAIL MIX: Matt Forte followed up a 9 carry, 2 yard performance in Week 3 with 25 carries for 205 yards in Week 4.  Normally I’d find that odd, but Forte bookended a 22 carry, 166 yard game last year with two games in which he averaged 10 carries and 18 yards.


TRIUMPH: Laurent Robinson had 7 receptions for 116 yards in this game and was the Cowboys’ most targeted receiver.  However, don’t expect him to have anything close to that the rest of the season, as the team has a bye week next and will likely have Miles Austin return to prominence.
TRAGEDY: The Cowboys bottled up Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson for the first half of the game, as the two connected for 3 passes for 38 yards.  While the end result for Johnson looked good (8 receptions, 96 yards, 2 TD) due to their furious comeback, Stafford completed less than 50 percent of his passes.
TREND: The Lions have come back from 20+ point deficits in consecutive weeks.  The Bills came back from 18+ point deficits in weeks 2 and 3.  The Vikings gave up 17+ point leads in weeks 2 and 3.  See a theme here?  The overemphasis on passing in the NFL appears to have spawned a trend of streaky performances within games, and no lead appears to be safe.
TRAIL MIX: The Lions have won 8 straight games, giving them the longest active winning streak in the league.  From Week 10 of 2007 to the start of this streak, they had gone 5-47.


TRIUMPH: Pierre Garcon, who had 149 yards and 0 touchdowns in the first three weeks of the season, had 142 yards and 2 touchdowns in this game: on two receptions.
TRAGEDY: Somehow, Curtis Painter managed to average 9.4 yards per pass attempt despite completing only 43% of his passes.  This isn’t bad for him, certainly, but it’s more a tragedy relative to the Bucs’ tackling on Garcon’s two scores.
TREND: The Colts have allowed the fifth-most rushing yards in the league this year, but this shouldn’t surprise you, as they were in the bottom ten in the league in each of the last three years.
TRAIL MIX: The Colts haven’t started 0-4 since Peyton Manning’s rookie year in 1998.  Peyton Manning just signed a 5 year, $90 million contract.  The most-hyped quarterback prospect since, well, Manning, is Andrew Luck, who would be the consensus first overall pick in next year’s draft.  What if the Colts get that pick?