Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Justin C's Take: Stars, Goats & Notes from Week 3 of the NFL

Game of the Week: Tennessee Titans 44  Detroit Lions 41
-Talk about a wild affair. It appeared the Titans were on the verge of winning this game until the Lions came back late with a hail mary to send it to overtime. Then there was the giant miscommunication between Shaun Hill, the Lions center, and coach Jim Schwartz on 4th and 1 in overtime deep in Tennessee territory. I have to give credit to the Titans. I did not think they were capable of putting up 44 points in a game after getting manhandled rather easily in their first two games. Was it Jake Locker's breakout performance? I will wait to see a couple more performances before I decide on that. But I love a high scoring overtime game, so this gets my vote this week.

Team of the Week: Arizona Cardinals
Okay, I am officially ready to buy into the Cardinals. Of course, that probably means that they will lose their next three games. But the Cardinals defense just made Mike Vick's life a living hell on Sunday. Vick barely had any time to throw the ball because of the pass rush. Half the time it looked like the Eagles had no offensive line to speak of. Now, are the Cardinals a better team than the San Francisco 49ers? I don't think so. Sure the 49ers suffered a hiccup on the road against Minnesota, but they are still a more complete team than Arizona. And while I'm buying into the Cardinals overall, I still question whether or not Kevin Kolb or John Skelton can lead them on a Playoff run. But if the defense can shut down team's like they did with Tom Brady and Mike Vick, then there is no reason to think the Cardinals won't be in every game this year.

The Chris Berman "You Can't Stop Them, You Can Only Hope to Contain Them" 3 Stars

3. A.J. Green
This kid is going to be the next Calvin Johnson. Green is a physical beast and he showed it this Sunday against Washington. On the Bengals first play from scrimmage, Green caught a 73 yard touchdown pass from fellow WR Mohamed Sanu. Green finished the game with 9 receptions for 183 yards and that score. Green has great play making ability. He can go up and get any ball you throw to him and he has break away speed once he gets the ball in his hands. Pretty soon, defenses are going to have to show Green constant double teams and make someone else on Cincinnati beat them.

2. Christian Ponder
Ponder has faced many questions on whether or not he is the long term answer at QB for the Minnesota Vikings. Well, Ponder answered some of those questions Sunday. Ponder faced a great 49ers defense and did not look intimidated at all. Not many people gave the Vikings a chance in this one, myself included. I was impressed by Ponder's performance in this one, especially his 23 yard touchdown run. The Vikings are a surprising 2-1. Are they a Playoff team? Probably not. But Ponder is answering some of his doubters with his play this season.

1. Jamaal Charles
While watching the Bills game Sunday, I had to do a couple of double takes when I saw the stat line of Jamaal Charles. Then when the Bills game ended and it switched to the Chiefs/Saints game, my eyes were not deceiving me. 33 carries for 233 yards and a touchdown? Add on 6 catches for 55 yards, and that is almost 300 yards from scrimmage for Charles. Many people were questioning whether Charles was himself after coming back from ACL surgery. He hadn't played well the first two games. But Charles, just like Ponder did, silenced his critics. And Charles may have also saved the Chiefs season.

The "We Are Almost As Bad As the Scab Refs" 3 Goats of the Week
3. Jim Schwartz
That was a big mess at the end of the game for Detroit. According to head coach Jim Schwartz, the ball was never suppose to be snapped on 4th and 1 from inside the Titans 10. They just wanted to draw the refs offside. Instead, there was a miscommunication and the center snapped the ball, and Shaun Hill was stopped and the Lions lost the game. Why, in a road environment, would you even attempt that? Especially with your back-up QB in the game. Detroit is now 1-2 to start the season, and that was just a dumb mistake to cost your team the game after they fought back to tie it.

2. The Eagles Offensive Line
I touched on this above, but the Eagles O-Line gave Mike Vick absolutely no time to throw the ball. Vick was scrambling half the time and just chucking the ball away or making a bad throw. I don't care how good the Cardinals defense was, you just can't let them dominate you like they did. You have to wonder how long Vick is going to stay healthy.

1. Bill Belicheck
Okay, I know the scab refs are doing a horrible job. But that does not excuse Patriots coach Bill Belicheck for doing what he did after the Ravens game. You NEVER put your had on an official now matter how bad he is doing or how wrong you think a call is. I'm assuming Mr. Hoodie is going to be writing a big fat check to Commissioner Goddell this week. Just a dumb move overall on his part.

Other Week 3 Notes
-I wish I could have given the scab refs their own award this week. Once again, the officiating during both prime time games this week was atrocious. And the Monday Night Game? Wow, just wow. Seeing one ref signal a touchdown then another ref signal what appeared to be an interception was just hilarious. Some of the penalty calls in that game were terrible as well. Oh, and the scab that signaled touchdown also missed a blatant offensive pass interference call in the end zone. I could ramble on and on about the scabs, but if Monday is not enough to get a deal dome with the real refs, then I don't know what will be.

-So who should be more worried about their 1-2 start: the Steelers or the Patriots. While the Pats lost to Arizona at home, the Steelers should be more worried. Yes, the defense is missing James Harrison and Troy Polamalu, but they should not have been shredded like they were against the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders offense is not that good. Add to the fact that you never know when Ben Roethlisberger will get hurt, and the Steelers could find themselves in a dangerous situation in the near future. I was down on Pittsburgh to start the year and I still don't think they are a Playoff team. The Patriots defense needs some tweaks done to it as well. Tom Brady and the offense can't carry the team the entire year. The Pats need their young guys on defense to come around too.

-I said it in my quick Twitter pick on Thursday, but I am never betting against Eli Manning with his back to the wall ever again. Eli was without RB Ahmad Bradshaw and WR Hakeem Nicks, and the Giants still tore apart the Panthers defense. And the Giants defense shut down Cam Newton. Eli just knows how to win with his back up against the wall. They have the most confidence of any team in the NFC East. People doubted the Giants going in to Thursday night and the silenced all of their critics. The Redskins have injuries, the Eagles can't protect Mike Vick, and the Cowboys are inconsistent. The Giants are still the best team in the NFC East because of their depth. If you can win games with Andre Brown and Ramses Barden in your line-up, then I like the Giants chances when everyone is healthy.

-The best team in the NFL right now? I'm going with the Atlanta Falcons. Three weeks, three very good performances. They rattled Peyton Manning early last week and dominated the San Diego Chargers this week. The Chargers have a good offense and they could just not get anything going. And the Falcons did all of that with their best CB Brett Grimes out of action. Matt Ryan is finally coming into his own as a QB. That offense will be tough to stop if they can get the running game going on a consistent basis. The Falcons already have a two game lead on everyone in the NFC South and I don't know if anyone in that division can beat them. The Saints, Panthers and Bucs all have very suspect defenses and I don't think they are good enough to stop both Julio Jones and Roddy White. That WR combo is going to take that team far.

Random One Liners...

-So can Tim Tebow play cornerback too?

-See, I told you guys the Raiders wouldn't score points against Pittsburgh. Oh wait...

-Aaron Rodgers is going to have a lot of unwanted kids if he can't get some protection. Thank You, I will be here all week.

-Maybe Peyton Manning isn't his same old self after all.

-You think Joe Philbin will try to freeze the kicker ever again?

The Booker T FAB FIVE
1. Atlanta Falcons
2. Houston Texans
3. Baltimore Ravens
4. Arizona Cardinals
5. San Francisco 49ers

The King Bookah PEASANT FIVE
28. New Orleans Saints
29. Miami Dolphins
30. Indianapolis Colts
31. St. Louis Rams
32. Cleveland Browns

3 Games I'd Like To See Next Week
New England vs Buffalo: Time for the Bills to prove if they are for real again.
NY Giants vs Philadelphia: Will Vick even make it out of the game against the Giants pass rush?
New Orleans vs Green Bay: The Saints 0-4? Good luck making the Playoffs if that happens.

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

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