While a select few National Football League (NFL) teams have seemingly clinched a spot in the postseason, the majority are still fighting to remain relevant in the playoff hunt.
The Seattle Seahawks (10-1), Indianapolis Colts (7-3), and Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) have big leads on the rest of their division opponents and are hoping a few more victories will help to crown them division champions.
The New Orleans Saints (8-2) and Denver Broncos (9-1) are on their way to the playoffs, but have the Carolina Panthers (7-3) and Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) breathing down their necks for divisional supremacy.
The Chiefs became the last unbeaten to fall as they lost last Sunday night and are hoping to jump right back aboard the winning train at 1 p.m. Eastern time at home against the San Diego Chargers (4-6) at Arrowhead Stadium. Although losing to the Broncos in Denver may not raise the alarm, what may start to trouble Chiefs fans is the offense’s inability to generate big plays and put numbers on the board.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith’s inability to throw the ball down the field is once again under scrutiny as the team managed only one play on offense that netted more than 30 yards, a rush by running back Jamaal Charles. Alex Smith told reporters at the Miami Herald that it may not be big plays, but consistency, that will take the Chiefs offense to the next level.
“I think the biggest thing is getting into a rhythm,” Smith said, “moving some chains, getting consecutive plays ran, getting into the flow of the game, changing field position at a minimum. I think that’s where it starts.”
The Chiefs may not have to worry about playing catch-up like they did last week as they host the Chargers who are looking for a win in order to remain in the running for the last wild card spot. Since starting 4-3, the Chargers have lost their last three straight. With four of their last six games remaining against probable playoff teams, a loss will likely knock them out of contention. The Chargers will need to treat their division match-up this week as a must-win or else it might be lights out for the team.
The NFC East has heated up considerably since the first quarter of the season and this Sunday’s 4:25 p.m. Eastern time showdown between the Dallas Cowboys (5-5) and the New York Giants (4-6) will go a long way in deciding who wins the division.
The Giants seemed all but an afterthought after their 0-6 start, but have since won four straight and jumped back into contention. The team is doing it with their defense, giving up less than 12 points a game in their four wins compared with the almost 35 they were giving up in their first six losses.
And while Giants quarterback Eli Manning is not winning games single-handedly, he also is not losing them anymore. The quarterback has only thrown two interceptions in the team’s four wins compared with 15 in his first six losses.
Veteran linebacker Jon Beason and the Giants know the importance of winning these division games.
“If we can get that one, we’ll be on our way,” Beason told the NY Times. “It’s going to be a big-time game.”
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo knows the pressure of playing in a big game and fans will hope that the bye week has given their team an advantage. The problem? Romo has lost his last three games coming out of byes. Look for a high-scoring close affair this Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are two quarterbacks who have played and won their fair share of big games. This Sunday night marks the 14th match-up between the All-Pro pair as the Broncos travel to New England to face the Patriots at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time.
The talk surrounding this game will undoubtedly center on the quarterbacks. Brady, with a career 9-4 record against Manning, is having one of his poorest offensive seasons while Manning might be on his way to setting several records in Denver. This game, however, may not be decided by the quarterbacks, but by the defense and coaching.
Last Monday, the Patriots could not slow down the Carolina Panthers offense, which converted eight of 11 third downs and put up 24 points on the Patriots. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton completed 68% of his passes and ran for another 62 yards against the banged-up Patriots defense.
While Manning will not test the Patriots defense with his legs, he is far and away a more accomplished passer than Newton. On an injured ankle last week, Manning was impressive as ever, throwing for 323 yards and one touchdown. Even more impressive was that the Chiefs defense was not even able to register a single quarterback hit, let alone a sack, for the entire game.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has beaten Manning before and it will come down to whether or not the legendary coach can come up with a scheme that will force Manning to take sacks and make mistakes.
Talkative and revealing as ever about his game plan, Belichick told WEEI Radio, “You have to play good team defense, that’s all there is to it. It’s not just ‘Take one guy away in their offense.’ They have a lot of weapons, they execute very well.”
Belichick knows what it is like to have an excess of talent on offense, which will help him prepare for Manning and company. Fans of all teams will want to tune into this battle of NFL royalty to see which all-time great, Manning or Brady, will walk away with a win in round 14.
Seattle looks like a tough team to beat. After two weeks of the 2013 NFL season, it looks as if the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks are the strongest teams in the league. TGO
Refer to story below. Source: AP Sports
SEATTLE (AP) — Richard Sherman celebrated by dancing with cheerleaders, Marshawn Lynch cut, plowed and strolled his way to three touchdowns, and Pete Carroll got one rousing birthday gift.
The awaited NFC West showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers was a one-sided rout.
Lynch scored on touchdown runs of 14 and two yards, and added a seven-yard TD reception in the second half, Seattle flustered Colin Kaepernick into his worst passing game as a starter, and the Seahawks dominated in a 29-3 win Sunday night.
”Every game we feel like we should dominate, and we did,” Seattle safety Earl Thomas said.
The game was delayed 60 minutes late in the first quarter when thunderstorms blew through the area. The highly anticipated matchup was sloppy as opposed to sensational, but Lynch more than did his part.
Sun, Sep 15, 2013
Lynch finished with 135 total yards, including 98 yards rushing, to make up for quarterback Russell Wilson hitting on just two of his first 10 throws and Seattle’s receivers struggling to get open. His TD run on the first drive of the second half gave the Seahawks a 12-0 lead. His TD catch pushed the advantage to 19-3 early in the fourth quarter.
”We are dedicated to running the ball and we are going to keep working until we really own it, and we don’t own the running right now like we can. We’ll get better at it,” Carroll said.
This won’t be a game noted for efficiency or execution by either side. There were careless turnovers and untimely penalties. But that was expected between these nasty rivals and the favorites not just in their division but as potential NFC representatives in the Super Bowl.
And it was the Seahawks getting an early, important advantage over the 49ers.
”We did what we expected to. I think you guys expected something different. I think you guys expected something a little more Kaepernick-y,” Sherman said. ”We didn’t expect any of that. We expect guys to play discipline ball.”
Then there was Sherman, Seattle’s ultra-confident All-Pro, who intercepted Kaepernick’s deep sideline pass for Davis with about 13 minutes remaining. He celebrated his first interception of the season by dancing with the Seahawks cheer squad. Steven Hauschka kicked a 37-yard field goal, and the Seahawks’ lead was 22-3 with 11:31 left.
”He should probably stay at cornerback,” Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate joked about Sherman. ”I don’t see a future in that.”
And just because Carroll can’t stop competing, he challenged and won the Seahawks another turnover following a kickoff fumble with 4:15 left and the Seahawks leading by 26.
Wilson finished 8 of 19 passing for 142 yards, one of the worst games in his young career. Kaepernick was 13 of 28 for 127 yards passing, and he ran for another 87 yards. His three interceptions matched his entire season total from 2012. Frank Gore was held to just 16 yards on nine carries, and Anquan Boldin, who tortured Green Bay last week for 13 catches and 208 yards, was targeted just once in the first three quarters. His only catch came with 9:40 remaining.
Boldin was shadowed most of the night by Sherman. It was a request Sherman made following Boldin’s big day a week ago and with the Seahawks minus their other starting cornerback Brandon Browner.
”I asked Coach for the challenge,” Sherman said. ”I wanted to follow him. There were a lot of things said this week.”
The 49ers finished with five turnovers and no TDs in a game for the third time since the start of 1979 season.
”I don’t think any of us are proud of our performance,” San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said.
Leading 5-0 at halftime after a wacky first half of delays and points coming via safety and a field goal, Seattle started the second half going to Lynch. He carried on the first four plays, and when Seattle faced third-and-12, Wilson scrambled and bought time for Doug Baldwin to get open downfield for a 51-yard reception to the 20. After a penalty backed up the Seahawks to the 14, Lynch took an inside handoff and darted nearly untouched for his first touchdown of the season.
Seattle extended the lead later in the half thanks to a careless personal foul penalty from Aldon Smith, slapping the helmet of Seattle’s Breno Giacomini behind the play after Zach Miller and the Seahawks were stopped short on third-and-28. Given another chance, Wilson stayed in the pocket against blitzing safety Craig Dahl on third-and-4 to find Lynch wide open in the left flat. Lynch took a few steps toward the end zone, stopped and waited, and finally crossed the goal line, pushing the lead to 22-3.
”He was saying he just took a couple of seconds off the clock,” Wilson said.
Notes: Seattle played the final three quarters without starting left tackle Russell Okung, who was out with a toe injury. Carroll said he didn’t know the severity. … San Francisco lost nose tackle Ian Williams (ankle) and safety Eric Reid (head) to injuries. Davis also injured a hamstring. … Seattle held San Francisco’s three running backs who carried the ball to 13 total yards on 11 attempts. … The crowd of 68,338 was the largest for a Seahawks game at CenturyLink Field.
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org
That entire Thursday night game was ugly; not just the ending. Brady has to be a magician to continue winning with the “talent” around him at the skill positions. TGO
Refer to story below. Source: Shutdown Corner
Three-fifths of the New York Jets’ offensive line could face some discipline from the league offices.
Center Nick Mangold, right guard Willie Colon and left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson all were involved in a big scrum at the end of the New England Patriots’ ugly 13-10 victory at Gillette Stadium on Thursday night.
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Mangold went low to tackle Patriots corner Aqib Talib, who had just essentially sealed the victory with his second pick of the game with 38 seconds remaining. Instead of just going down, or out of bounds, Talib dilly-dallied and Ferguson went low to tackle Talib as he stepped out, hitting him below the knees.
That set off a fight near the Patriots’ sideline that involved several players from both teams. Ferguson was seen throwing multiple punches, and Colon made contact with an official, which is a big no-no. Ferguson and Colon both were flagged for their plays and ejected from the game just before the Patriots took a final knee to end it.
It’s not an automatic suspension for any of the three players, but the league made a point of fining Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh heavily for a low hit on an interception last week against the Vikings.
Mangold defended his actions after the game and said that New England head coach Bill Belichick talked back to him afterwards.
Whatever his excuse, the NFL might disagree. There could be a few FedEx packages waiting for all three players in their lockers this week.
Michael Vick and the Philadelphia offense looked awesome. The question is, are they going to be consistent over an entire 16-game season and into the playoffs; should they make it that far?
The jury is still out, but after one game, they sure look like the real thing… TGO
Refer to story below. Source: Yahoo Sports
LANDOVER, Md. – The onslaught started with four Philadelphia snaps in the first minute of play. Yes, four plays in one minute. “I don’t think you can get too much faster than that,” Michael Vick said. Yeah, well, don’t challenge Chip Kelly to find out.
The four plays went for 56 yards and that was probably all anyone really needed to know that the Kelly experiment in the NFL was going to work, let alone lead to an opening night 33-27 victory over Washington that wasn’t really as close as it looks.
There were 30 plays run in the first quarter alone. There were 322 first-half yards, the Eagles seemingly slowed only by suspicious leg cramps of Washington defenders. There was just one big blur after the next, Kelly’s Oregon Ducks reborn in the pros.
Did the country just witness a revolution in the National Football League?
“Maybe so,” Vick, he of two touchdowns throwing and another rushing, said in a way that sure sounded like a knowing yes.
Kelly, the 49-year-old revolutionary in the Eagles visor, was asked about his play-calling. Had he even bothered to reach all the way into his bag?
Bag of tricks, he was told.
“I don’t think it was a bag of tricks,” Kelly said. “It was just football.”
If this is just football then this also may be the future. The furious tempo and spread attack that swept the college ranks over the past decade or so made its full and complete entry in the NFL Monday. As opening nights go, this one played to rave reviews.
“That,” said owner Jeffrey Lurie, who lured Kelly to Philly, “was a great dream.”
Or a nightmare for defensive coordinators. Kelly and the other proponents of this style of play have been influencing the league for a few years now. Indianapolis, Denver and, especially, New England have all applied the principles of the tempo to their attacks. But this isn’t borrowing.
This is what Chip Kelly is about, full-throttle, full-attack, full enjoyment.
“It’s really a game,” Kelly said. “Sometimes I think we take ourselves too seriously. We love playing football. There’s a passion to it. That is the way it should be played.
“I had a lot of fun tonight. I think our guys had a lot of fun.”
The guys had fun. You can be sure of that. Vick looked like he was 22 again, throwing for 203 yards, rushing for 54, even getting out there and laying down multiple blocks. LeSean McCoy ran for 184 yards and a TD. DeSean Jackson caught seven passes for 104 and a score. Everyone was running in space. The stats would’ve been higher, but Philly held a huge lead in the third quarter and tried to slow down the game and run clock. It almost cost the Eagles, but they held on in the end.
“We’ve got to look at that,” Kelly said.
“There will be games we have to press for four quarters,” Vick promised, looking like he couldn’t wait.
“It was a crazy game,” Vick continued. “I’ve never been a part of anything like. When the first quarter was over, I thought we were about to go to halftime. It was unreal. The only thing I can tell myself is, it’s going to be a long season.”
Imagine being the other guys. At the start of the game, all along the Eagles sideline, the Philly defense made sure to get a front-row spot to watch what it had been stuck practicing against since April.
As the Eagles began roaring over Washington, as defenders huffed and puffed and supposedly got injured to slow down the pace, they could only cackle with delight. They’d been waiting months to see this.
“It was awesome,” linebacker Trent Cole said. “I wasn’t surprised one bit.”
“I’m happy to be on their side [rather] than out there defending them,” linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. “As a defense, to sit back and watch an offense, wear a defense down like they did, it’s very fun to watch.”
“[Washington was] having a hard time lining up,” McCoy noted.
It wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, but across the Eagles locker room, the players weren’t enjoying just the satisfaction of a victory or the joy of winning. There was a sense this was the start of something very big.
Everyone is going to just get better as the offense gets fine-tuned. There’s more to it. Wait until the Eagles work out the kinks. And the defense thinks it’s sharper than ever, just from having to practice against the offense. Robert Griffin III wasn’t so scary this year.
“I have to say, from playing them in the past, the game [seemed] a lot slower to me,” Cole said. “I always thought they were the fast team. It just seemed like they were slow out there. It looked like it was slow because look who we are playing against. That’s who we’ve got to go against in every practice.”
Mainly this was just fun. Kelly was laughing and smiling throughout the game. Players were hugging him and knocking his visor off. This may be the pros, but it felt rather collegiate.
That, more than the offensive innovation, is what Lurie said he saw in Kelly. That this system worked – against the opinion of many critics – is just a bonus.
“I saw him as a program builder not as an offensive technician,” Lurie said. “I was looking for someone who builds programs and brings people together and, at the same time, has a smart, dynamic mind. It wasn’t about taking a certain offense to the pros, it was bigger than that.”
Kelly shrugged off a lot of the praise, a lot of the standard business of a postgame NFL news conference. On the number of plays: “We don’t count plays. We never have.” On whether he was concerned Vick got hit too often: “He seemed pretty happy.”
He shrugged. Just enjoy it, he was saying.
“We’ve said since day one it’s a game, it doesn’t have to be run like a business,” Kelly said. “We don’t practice like a business, we don’t train like it’s a business. We’ve got a bunch of guys who are excited about being at work every day, and they make us coaches be ready for them because these guys are going to challenge us. It keeps us sharp.”
It’s something you only rarely hear in the control-freak, deathly serious NFL.
“He’s a dynamic coach who has his own way of approaching football,” Lurie said.
Back in the locker room, right after the game, Lurie walked up to Kelly and handed him a special commemorative game ball marking his first victory. They’d taken a chance on each other last spring – the owner going to the college ranks, the college coach jumping to the pros.
History is littered with failure in marriages like this. If there were every any second thoughts, they’re long gone now.
“The first,” Lurie said he told Kelly, “of very many.”
Opening night on Broadway couldn’t have gone any better.
I believe we all know by now that Tim Tebow isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, if for no other reason that he really can’t read defenses. Additionally, evangelical Christians aren’t exactly known for their high IQs, quite the contrary. Having said that, when is he going to realize that he doesn’t have what it takes to be an NFL quarterback. Face it Timmy boy, you suck as a quarterback. You had your moments of glory with Denver, so be thankful for that. TGO
Refer to story below. Source: Shutdown Corner
Tim Tebow is an NFL free agent quarterback. Emphasis on the last word.
According to TheMMQB’s Peter King, speaking Thursday night on the NBC broadcast, Tebow received an “inquiry” about joining an NFL team at a position other than quarterback. King reports that Tebow declined the request. He also has said no to Canadian football and US Rugby.
Tebow wants to play quarterback. In the NFL. That’s it, apparently. He pretty much spelled it out in a tweet last week, which said in part:
“I will remain in relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback.”
When Tebow signed this offseason with the Patriots, there was immediate chatter about him switching to tight end to compensate for them losing Rob Gronkowski to injury and Aaron Hernandez to murder charges. The move never happened. Tebow received some training-camp snaps as a personal protector on the punt team, but his uniform number — 5 —indicated he was primarily viewed in New England as a quarterback. And apparently, not a good enough one, as he was cut.
After being released by the Broncos, Jets and Patriots — teams with varying degrees of quarterback proficiency, ahem — Tebow might need to look in the mirror. We can’t blame a young man for chasing his dreams, and we commend his drive, but playing quarterback in the NFL again might be pretty tough to achieve at this point.
The Denver Broncos’ offense looked unstoppable last night, as they made minced-meat out of (for me) the much hated Baltimore Ravens. Of course, Peyton Manning won’t look this good every night as he will more than likely never sniff seven touchdown passes in a game again, but with those receivers and as good as their defense will be when they get all their starters back, they will be tough to beat…
Needless to say, those who had Peyton Manning as their starting quarterback in fantasy football are all smiles this morning. TGO
Refer to story below. Source: Shutdown Corner @ Yahoo
DENVER – From 1969 to Thursday night, no NFL player had thrown seven touchdowns in a game.
But, we haven’t seen many players like Peyton Manning in the last 44 years, either.
Manning threw seven touchdowns in a game at 37 years old. He’s supposed to be getting ready for retirement, like John Elway, Dan Marino, Joe Montana and Steve Young did at age 38. But it seems like Manning’s prime might last forever.
When Manning threw his sixth touchdown Thursday night, it was the third time in his career he had done that, which is an NFL record. His seventh came on a quick screen to Demaryius Thomas, who took it 78 yards for the record-tying score. And this wasn’t against a terrible team playing out the string; this came on opening night against the defending Super Bowl champions, the same team that beat Denver in the playoffs last season. Manning completed 27-of-42 passes for 462 yards, to go with those seven touchdowns. He’s the sixth player in NFL history to throw seven touchdowns in a game. The Broncos steamrolled the Ravens 49-27 in the NFL’s kickoff game.
This was the type of performance that people will talk about many years from now. Remember when Manning threw seven touchdowns that Thursday night in Denver against the defending champs?
Make no mistake, this win doesn’t make up for what happened last January to the Ravens in the playoffs. But the way Manning played, and way the rest of the team rallied around him, it sure seems the Broncos are confident they can make up for that playoff disappointment this year.
The only way you could tell this wasn’t the same Manning from his late 20s was the way some balls fluttered. He doesn’t have a great deep ball anymore. But he always found the open guy. Julius Thomas got in the end zone twice. Wes Welker scored twice. So did Thomas. Andre Caldwell had the other score. The last time someone threw seven touchdowns in a game was Sept. 28, 1969, when Joe Kapp did it.
Manning finished second to Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in the MVP voting last season. Manning had a tremendous season, his first in Denver. Manning has a great chance to win his fifth MVP this season. The team is going to ask him to do a lot, without a proven running game and especially when the defense is without suspended linebacker Von Miller. Denver’s addition of Welker might help Manning put up numbers he never has before, not even in his Colts days.
It’s one week. There are countless stories of a team playing well in the season opener and that being a laughable memory by the time their season quietly passes in December. But it sure seems like Manning and the Broncos are serious about making up for what happened here last January. Especially if Manning continues to play like the end of his prime is nowhere in sight.