Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Mess That Is NFL Entering Week Four

The Falcons routed the Saints on Monday Night to finish Week Three and it displayed some ominous signs for the Saints

The NFL is a mess entering Week 4 with a number of 0-3 and 1-2 teams that were supposed to be better than this, especially the young quarterbacks; seeing rookies like Trevor Siemian and Carson Wentz sparkle and storm forward is good, but seeing talented young players like Jameis Winston and  Marcus Mariota continue to struggle can become galling as a league fan.  The grind of the season begins to pick up with Week 4.   The predictions -

Bengals over Dolphins - It's still not a scenario where the Miami Dolphins can be taken seriously despite a stunning win over the Browns.  Ryan Tannehill is in his fifth season with NO improvement over his rookie year - it took him this long to reach thirty wins.   The Bengals meanwhile won in Week One and have been in a mini-tailspin since with another poor outing last week; that there isn't a quarterback controversy between Andy Dalton and AJ McCarron is striking because there should have been one in preseason.

Colts over Jaguars -  The first London game of the year features the Jaguars - perennial sacrificial lambs to the myth of an NFL team in London - against the Colts, who got off the skids against the Chargers and have routinely feasted on division teams under Andrew Luck.    The lack of progress from Blake Bortles this season has been a huge letdown.

Redskins over Browns - The Redskins got a needed win last week and while they're not great shakes they get the winless Browns.  The only silver lining for the Browns could be new quarterback Cody Kessler, who put up a genuine fight against the Dolphins, the best a Browns quarterback has looked in recent memory.

Lions over Bears - Jay Cutler is toast, that's been clear for awhile now.  Brian Hoyer is a slight improvement, but that's all.   The Lions come in better than their 1-2 record might indicate, though it's a stretch to consider them a playoff team.

Patriots over Bills -  The funniest moment of the season happened with the publication of Tom Brady photos while naked sunbathing.   It serves to further infuriate the failures that have rooted against him from the fans to the NFL league office as the Patriots have stormed to 3-0 having to play everyone and his brother at quarterback.    Brady returns after this game while the Bills come in after a stunning win over the Cardinals.

Titans over Texans  - This is a reach after another disappointing showing from Marcus Mariota against the Raiders; Mariota has played from behind basically his entire short career of now nineteen games and has not cashed in on comeback opportunities outside of three.   Yet of his three wins two have come on the road, and he's had a higher yards per throw average (6.8 YPA) than Brock Osweiler (6.4), this even without the IR status for JJ Watt.   Both teams are top-7 in fewest points allowed and at the bottom in scoring.   While the Titans have been respectably consistent - just not good enough - the Texans showed some graphic weakness in their last outing with clueless coaching and a noticeable lack of discipline, especially on returns.

Falcons over Panthers - Suddenly one has to worry about Cam Newton, who has thrown five INTs this year so far and is 1-2 going against a Falcons team flying high after whipping their bitterest rival.  Matt Ryan comes in with the highest-scoring offense in the league right now and with just one INT to seven touchdowns, and an eye-popping 9.4 yards per throw.

Seahawks over NY Jets  -  We're assuming right now that Russell Wilson plays despite an MCL sprain; even if Trevonne Boykin plays the Seahawks get a good matchup after Ryan Fitzpatrick fell apart at Kansas City (a laughable 18.2 passer rating and 4.2 yards per throw) and blew his only home game so far with the late INT against Cincinnati.

Raiders over Ravens - The last time the Raiders played the Ravens the league got its true introduction to Derek Carr. This year the Raiders are 2-1 against the most quiet 3-0 team in memory. Carr leads an offense 8th in scoring against a 24th-rated offense but with a defense 4th in fewest points allowed. Joe Flacco, though, has thrown four INTs in three games.

Broncos over Buccaneers - The Broncos have proven the doubters wrong and Trevor Siemian has risen to the occassion, and he gets a Bucs team that beat the Falcons and hasn't risen since.    Jameis Winston did improve after a miserable game at Arizona but couldn't finish a comeback against the Rams; he needs to pierce a Broncos defense that is only 8th in points allowed.

Cardinals over Rams -  Which Cardinals team will show up here?  The one that crushed the Bucs 40-7 or the one that got embarrassed by the Bills?  They get the inept Case Keenum as their opponent and that should help.

Chargers over Saints - The loss to the Falcons further illustrated several hard truths about the Saints - they can't build a quality roster and Drew Brees is in permanent decline.   San Diego's road woes have been graphic; they get New Orleans at Qualcomm this go-round.

Cowboys over 49ers - The Week One shutout of the Rams is history, and the Niners' season appears to be history as well with two abysmal losses and no capable quarterback on the roster.   The Cowboys meanwhile come in with a solid young core led by Dakota Prescott, who has been solid and more despite only one touchdown so far.

Chiefs over Steelers - The Steelers got undressed by the Eagles and now former Eagles coach Andy Reid comes to town a year after the Chiefs' season turned around in spectacular fashion beginning with a win over the Steelers. Alex Smith comes in with a better passer rating (90.6) than Ben Roethlisberger (83.2).

Vikings over NY Giants  -  The Giants got two wins but then got stunned by the Redskins and now have to go to the surprise of the season, the unbeaten Vikings.   The Giants are once again in the bottom third in scoring with nonetheless decent effort from Eli Manning.  The Vikings aren't much better in scoring but have done so having to start Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill.

So it goes for Week Four.

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