Monday, October 31, 2016

Week Eight Plays Whack A Pack


Week Eight of the 2016 season saw some things change yet others stay the same.





Before anyone could play Whack A Pack, first the Tennessee Titans hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars; the year before at Tennessee the two teams scored 79 combined points; there was no such shootout this time as Marcus Mariota and the Titans displayed some creative playcalling, and after getting rolled 36-22 the Jaguars thought they'd continue without coaching changes - then something changed and offensive coordinator Greg Olson was fired.   Last year the Detroit Lions fired their offensive coordinator and won six of the next eight games, so this change bears watching.





The Redskins and Bengals squared off in London, the final London game on the schedule this year amid scuttlebutt the league wants to increase the London slate next year despite inability to make any money with the game.   The game itself was the most competitive of the London slate that anyone can remember but it ended in a hated tie (27-27) on yet more missed FGAs.   Josh Norman also got exposed by AJ Green.  




This week saw three standout games.  When it appeared the day would see two ties the Raiders pulled off their most spectacular win in memory in a thriller at Tampa Bay, a Superbowl rematch that lived up to the name Super.    The Raiders' reputation for playing dumb football and incurring plethoric penalties as a result came through in a big way with twenty-three fouls, while Derek Carr exploded to over 500 passing yards, the second guy to do it this season after Matt Ryan against the Panthers.   With that the Raiders are 6-2 with a showdown game against the Broncos coming up.






The AFC West is the deepest division in the league as the Kansas City Chiefs made history, beating the Indianapolis Colts for only the third time in the last sixteen meetings, this despite losing Alex Smith to injury and playing Nick Foles.   The slow-motion collapse of the Andrew Luck Colts - and potential collapse of Chuck Pagano's employment there in the first such coach opera since Wayne Watch with the 1990s Detroit Lions and Wayne Fontes - thus continues.






Speaking of Wayne Watch, Fontes' former team suffered another loss to the AFC South and fell to 4-4 while Brock Osweiler salvaged some pride from last week's embarrassment at Denver.  




This is the second of two Games Of The Week.  Aaron Rodgers did it again - when he had to stage a comeback, he failed.    And with the Vikings at present running away with the NFC North the Packers and Lions may be battling for a wildcard spot down the road.   For Matt Ryan the win ended a four-game losing streak to the Packers and offered renewed optimism for the remainder of the season.




Just when Bills Mafia thought it had a chance, it got crushed.   Tyrod Taylor did offer some good play but it was telling EJ Manual seemed to play a little better when he came in during garbage time.   The win is New England's 498th as they close in on becoming the first team originating from the American Football League to reach 500 career wins.   And yet the game wasn't even the big story.....




....and no, the big story wasn't the adult toy thrown onto the field.  The Patriots stole the show the day after by trading Jamie Collins to the Browns for a conditional draft pick.   As usual with Bill Belichick trades the specifics are left to speculation, but Mike Lombardi pointed to one play in particular against the Bills - the second play of the Bills' opening drive - where Collins freelanced his way away from making a play and thus the Bills gained 28 yards; such freelancing fails and because of that invariably gets players demoted and eventually cut from Belichick rosters.





  
The third Game Of The Week.  Any thought that Tony Romo would get back the starting job with the Cowboys has officially ended when Dakota Prescott clawed back against the Eagles and led the winning overtime touchdown drive, further cementing the 2016 Cowboys as a playoff contender.   

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