While I still lie in wait for the results of the Eagles’ Game of the Year Part III, there was plenty of action last week. This includes not one, not two, but three games (Giants/Patriots, Cardinals/Rams, Ravens/Steelers) that were decided in the final minute of play. Since I was sickened for multiple reasons by the results of all three of these, I will discuss none of them.
Let’s get to the shenanigans.
PACKERS 45, CHARGERS 38
TRIUMPH: Yes, Philip Rivers threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns, which I’m sure will make people think he’s back in the saddle. However, the Packers appeared to totally disregard Vincent Jackson (7 receptions, 141 yards, 3 TD), and the Packers’ pass defense is right at the bottom of the barrel with fellow preseason Super Bowl favorites, the New England Patriots. Not to mention that Rivers threw 3 interceptions, with two being returned for touchdowns and the third being returned inside the 10.
TRAGEDY: Even after this game, the Chargers still rank as a top-five pass defense. The Packers can throw on anyone, and frankly, they still held Aaron Rodgers to his lowest passing yardage total of the year. This is a pretty solid defense that was made to look bad by its offense.
TREND: Yes, Aaron Rodgers threw for under 250 yards, but in his last two games he has completed 80 percent of his passes, thrown 7 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, and has a quarterback rating of right around 145 (and an ESPN Total QBR of 90.5 out of 100). Through 8 games, he is on pace to break the NFL records for passing yardage, quarterback rating, and completion percentage. Super Bowl Hangover fail.
TRAIL MIX: Jordy Nelson and James Jones appear to be mutually exclusive commodities, producing consistently in the aggregate but being wildly inconsistent individually. In their last five games, Nelson and Jones have averaged 74 and 61 yards per game, respectively, with massive standard deviations of 38 and 47. However, in that time they have combined for between 115 and 157 yards (a standard deviation of just 16). It’s almost like they’re combining forces to become Calvin Johnson….
BRONCOS 38, RAIDERS 24
TRIUMPH: After netting 11 receptions for 114 yards in his first five games of the season, Jacoby Ford has five receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown in this game. Now, with Carson Palmer recently installed as the starting quarterback, this may be a harbinger of future performances if Palmer just likes Ford more than other guys, but it still looks kind of random to me.
TRAGEDY: On the other side of that coin, Darrius Heyward-Bey was thrown to once and had zero receptions, coming on the heels of a four-game stretch where he averaged more than 5 receptions and 95 yards per game. Again, we’ll have to see what having Palmer at quarterback does for the Raiders’ passing game (aside from having three interceptions per game).
TREND: Darren McFadden is a stud. However, if he weren’t around, people would feel similarly about Michael Bush. In the 9 games in which he has had at least 16 carries, he has averaged 109 yards, and was only held under 90 yards once (in a game against the stingy 49ers run defense).
TRAIL MIX: Yes, we know Tim Tebow has divine powers, and I think only divine intervention could have produced these ridiculously similar rate stat lines in his two victories: 48.1% vs. 47.6% completions, 5.96 vs. 5.91 yards per attempt, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in both games. Even in the game he lost, the only real deviation from that pattern was Tebow throwing a pick-six and fumbling a bunch.
COWBOYS 23, SEAHAWKS 13
TRIUMPH: Marshawn Lynch, where did you come from? Although he has scored in each of his last three games played, he had rushed for exactly 24 yards in two of them. It was the 135 yards on 23 carries that was surprising, especially against the apparently-not-what-we-thought-they-were Cowboys run defense, who just allowed 160 yards rushing to a bottom-three rushing team.
TRAGEDY: Like I did last week as well, this is more of an actual tragedy than a disappointing performance. Miles Austin started off the year with 14 receptions, 233 yards, and 4 touchdowns through 2 games, but a hamstring injury sidelined him for a month. He came back into the lineup, but was not as effective, with 14 receptions, 170 yards, and no touchdowns in his next four games. Now he has re-injured his hamstring, and this could be a major hindrance for him completing the season healthy. And for two of my fantasy teams.
TREND: Evidently, DeMarco Murray is the second coming of Adrian Peterson. Both players were injury concerns coming out of college, but Peterson put those fears to rest by having two 200-yard games in his rookie season, and being a consistent monster in the fantasy world. Through three starts, Murray has 55 carries for 466 yards, good for an average of 8.5 yards per carry! While the first two games were against the Rams and Eagles, two awful run defenses, the Seahawks were allowing just 3.2 yards per carry this season. Dude’s legit.
TRAIL MIX: This really isn’t that related to this game, but both teams are involved, so we’ll go with it. The NFC East, NFC West, AFC East, AFC North, and AFC West each have three teams that are within 1 game of each other, with the clumping in the AFC divisions being among the leaders and the NFC clumping being among the bottom teams (behind the Giants and 49ers, respectively). Also, the AFC West happens to have all four teams within one game of each other.