If the Eagles lose, I propose the following:
- The absolute first thing that should be done is to fire Special Teams Coordinator Bobby April. That aspect of the team has been unbelievably bad for years now, and it makes no sense that the man has a job.
- Michael Vick should be replaced by Nick Foles. Why not give it a shot at this point.
- Jim Washburn should be fired as the defensive line coach, because all we heard about in the preseason was how deep and talented the D-line was, and they came into the game second-to-last in the league behind the perennially-flaccid Jaguars' pass rush.
- Either Andy Reid or Marty Mornhinweg should be fired, whoever has more to do with the play selection. Some of the red zone and endgame issues fall on Vick, sure, but if you had 100 rushing yards in the first quarter and then get gifted a red zone possession, don't you think that your best player, Lesean McCoy, should touch the ball?
BEARS 51, TITANS 20
TRIUMPH: This game was out of hand quickly, with the Bears leading 28-2 at the end of the first quarter and 31-5 at halftime, so it's not altogether surprising to see that the Bears ran the ball 36 times. What's interesting about it is that Matt Forte had just 12 rushes compared to 20 combined from Michael Bush and Armando Allen (?). Even after this game, and without taking into account the fact that he missed two games, Forte has 45% of the Bears' rushes this season, so this is just a blip on the radar. Especially considering the game flow, and it's not like Forte didn't provide bang for your buck as a fantasy owner (148 total yards and a TD).
TRAGEDY: Even at age 37, Matt Hasselbeck has been quite serviceable for the Titans as the replacement for Jake Locker, after a revival year last season (2nd most completions, 3rd best completion %, and 3rd most yards in his career). This season, he has been almost as effective, but in this game, he didn't get anything going, posting just a 14.2 Total QBR (tied for second-to-last thus far this week). He gets a Dolphins defense that just allowed a record yardage total to Andrew Luck next, so he should be back to his manageable ways soon enough.
TREND: Apparently the Bears defense and special teams thinks that Rex Grossman is at quarterback again, because they're doing their darndest to make it so that Jay Cutler's offense doesn't have to lift a finger. Combined, the D/ST unit leads the league in takeaways with 28 (that's more than 21 teams last year in half as many games), is 3rd in the league in sacks, and has scored 8 touchdowns (the whole Jaguars team has scored 11). The year they went to the Super Bowl with Sexy Rexy, the Bears were first in turnovers, 8th in sacks, and scored a seemingly ridiculous 9 D/ST touchdowns.
TRAIL MIX: More Bears' D/ST fun. After this week, they will be the second-highest-scoring non-quarterback in fantasy football, behind just Mr. 50 Points, Doug Martin. Their 141 points according to ESPN is better than 27 teams all of last season, and if they keep this up, their total would have put them 7th among all players, behind just the top 5 quarterbacks and Ray Rice. The difference between them and the 10th best defense BEFORE this week was the same as the difference between the 1st and 39th wide receiver, and 7 of the other top 10 defenses hadn't had their bye week yet, while the Bears have.
COLTS 23, DOLPHINS 20
TRIUMPH: It would actually have been more impressive to not have two 100-yard receivers when Andrew Luck throws for 430 yards, but how about having two not named Reggie Wayne? Yes, Wayne had 7 receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown, but T.Y. Hilton and Donnie Avery each had at least 5 receptions for at least 102 yards against a porous Dolphins defense even before they traded Vontae Davis to the Colts earlier in the year. Heading into the game, Hilton hadn't had more than 37 yards since Week 3, and Avery had caught less than 50 percent of his targets all season for just under 350 yards.
TRAGEDY: The Dolphins were the best defense in the league on third down coming into the game, allowing just 26% conversions. The Colts, to their credit as a young and mostly new team, were top-10 in the league offensively on third down. Clearly Indianapolis imposed their will, going 13-for-19 on third down, moving Miami's season percentage all the way up to 33.
TREND: OK, I swear I'll talk about the Dolphins in the next part, but let's get to the first half of Andrew Luck's rookie season. He's on pace to throw 672 times, which would be the most by any player since his predecessor Peyton Manning in 2010, and the third most all-time. His 4808 yards would be the 8th most all-time (four of those ahead of him being last year). Now, obviously those two stats are correlated strongly, and his completion percentage, yards-per-attempt, and TD/INT ratio aren't anything otherworldly, but the team is in prime position to make the playoffs after being the worst in the league last year and giving away one of the three greatest quarterbacks of all time.
TRAIL MIX: It seems that Miami has a mutually-exlusive defensive skillset. They're 3rd-best in rushing yards-per-game and yards-per-attempt allowed, but are 4th-worst in passing yards allowed per game. Only the Buccaneers' 1st-ranked run defense and 32nd-ranked pass defense has a more dramatic discrepancy.
BUCCANEERS 42, RAIDERS 32
TRIUMPH: Surprise! It's Brandon Myers! An underrepresented fantasy asset in the past few weeks, Myers had gone 7 games and 31 receptions without a touchdown, while also being the second-most-targeted Raider since Denarius Moore came back from injury in Week 2. This time, he caught another 8 balls for 59 yards and 2 touchdowns (and doing so for multiple of my fantasy teams).
TRAGEDY: Darren McFadden, it's been nice knowing you. After another lackluster start (7 rush, 17 yds), he suffered what I hear is a high ankle sprain, ending his surprising run of health after an equally-surprising run of futility. Remove by far his longest run of the year, a 64-yard touchdown in Week 3, and he has just one total touchdown and an icky 2.8 yard per carry. I quit.
TREND: Apparently Doug Martin is into Tyler Perry, because he did bad all by himself. After losing Pro Bowl left guard Carl Nicks for the year last week and losing right guard Davin Joseph for the year before it started, he apparently has taken that personally. In the last two games, he has 61 touches for 486 yards and 6 touchdowns. That's almost exactly the rushing statistics of RGIII all season (69, 487, and 6), and is just 22 yards fewer than the entire Saints team had through 7 games. Oh, and he had at least 120 total yards and 5.3 yards per carry in his two prior games.
TRAIL MIX: I realize I sorta touched on this already, but it's bordering on ridiculous. The Bucs allowed just 22 rushing yards, but let Carson Palmer throw for 414 yards, further expanding the difference between their rush and pass defense. They've allowed 20 yards per game more than anyone else through the air, while allowing 5 fewer yards per game than anyone on the ground. For those that care (and that's pretty much just me, let's be real), that puts them at a solid 29th in the league in total defense.