|Undefeated Mirage Gives Way to Reality of Flawed Patriots Team in OT Loss to Broncos||Gronkowski Avoids Major Injury||Connelly’s Top Ten: Harper Drop, Officials Desperate to be Liked, Run Out Clock||There’s Hope for a Hanley Trade|
The first week of the second half of the 2011 NFL season is over, and the results have me just as confused as you probably are after trying to read the first part of this sentence (translation: Week 9 happened).
It is total anarchy from spots 2-31, with only the top team and the bottom team firmly entrenched upon their thrones (one being an actual throne, the other being an unemptied Port-a-Potty).
As I do each week, I try to make sense of the madness in my NFL Power Rankings, including Pete Carroll’s delusions, the Redskins’ belief in ghosts, the AFC West’s refusal to succeed, and the haunting Super Bowl XLII flashback.
I’ve already had something like three mental (and emotional) breakdowns since Sunday afternoon, and I’m starting to develop a nervous twitch in the left side of my face, so let’s just move on before I go on an Uma Thurman Kill Bill rampage that ends with me committing seppuku.
Last week’s rankings are in parentheses.
Without further ado, my ranks of the bold, the beautiful, and the blithering idiots after Week 9:
The Colts got branded again, on their home turf no less, and now are the only remaining team left without a win. They’re like the anti-Green Bay. But hey, I just mentioned them in the same breath as the Packers! That’s something!
Looks like everything is back as it should be in St. Louis after an exciting week of World Series titles and football upsets.
Sure, Miami might have won their first game of the season, but by managing to squander their lead in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, they only reinforced my belief that they can’t do anything right.
A 99-yard punt return for a touchdown in overtime gave the Cardinals a much-needed win Sunday. Normally this would have put them right back in the hunt for the NFC West, but this year the 49ers aren’t adhering to the division’s unspoken agreement to send a sub-.500 team to the playoffs.
Coach Pete Carroll responded to his team’s loss by saying, “I’m really disappointed at where we are. We thought we could be better. I don’t know any other way to think.” I have an idea, Pete: have you ever considered thinking realistically?
10 first downs, 172 yards, and a lopsided 18-point loss. After another week of playing like crap, I’m almost positive this is how the team came to be known as the “Browns.” It won in a close vote over the nickname “Skidmarks.”
The Redskins lost their fourth in a row to fall to the NFC East cellar. “We have to do something to keep our confidence up,” said ‘Skins wide receiver Jabar Gaffney. “And stop playing like we’re seeing ghosts out there.”
To be fair, Washington is playing so poorly that I could forgive the Redskins for mistaking their own teammates for ghosts who can’t help but let the ball and opposing players slip through their hands.
It was the third week in a row that Blaine Gabbert threw for under 100 yards. Granted, it was a bye week for the Jaguars, but still.
Carson Palmer served up another three interceptions and the Raider defense couldn’t manage to stop a quarterback running the option offense. I still can’t fathom why Raider Nation gets so dolled up to watch their team suck each year.
The Broncos put up 38 points running the option as both Willis McGahee and Tim Tebow rushed for over 100 yards. Now the Broncos are just one game back from joining the three-way tie for first place in the AFC West. That might be asking a lot of Tebow’s first time.
The Titans managed all of 95 yards in the second half, leading to zero points. A recent study has shown the Titans were not named after the gods of Greek legend, but in fact is a nickname derived from the Latin word meaning “shipwreck.”
That was a miserable performance by the Chiefs at home, even by Kansas City standards. And since they’re not even the only Kansas City, they have pretty low standards.
The league’s second-leading receiver behind Wes Welker, it’s hard to find fault with Steve Smith for his team’s poor record halfway through the season. That said, his name is extremely generic.
Terrible pun alert: The bye week left the Vikings with much to Ponder.
Coach Raheem Morris was furious after the Bucs lost in part because of nine penalties for 80 yards. Morris said, “It’s not good enough to come to the sideline and apologize to your teammates, coaches or whoever.” I’m not sure who is included in the “whoever” category, but in case it’s an expansive group, Tampa Bay players should know I’m an understanding guy.
Three interceptions helped the Cowboys overcome converting just one of three red zone opportunities, plus a fumble by Dez Bryant at the goal line. I hope they know that even though they’re America’s team, they don’t have to reflect America’s struggles. We all appreciate the gesture, though.
Just when the Eagles seemed to be back on track, they blow another fourth quarter lead to fall three games back in the NFC East. At least they can take solace in R. Kelly.
The Chargers lost again thanks to another poor performance by Philip Rivers. While he did throw for 4 TDs, Rivers also served up two pick-sixes (plus another plain, ol’-fashioned interception as a bonus) to kick off the Chargers’ favorite game each year: Hot Potato with the rights to first place in the AFC West.
After eight possessions on Sunday, the Bills had as many turnovers as first downs (3). They eventually ended up with 14 first downs for the game, so at least they can say they persevered and gave it their best! Which is more than I can say for this joke.
Behind 261 rushing yards and touchdowns by running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate, the Texans pounded the Browns into submission. As a word of advice, I wouldn’t interpret this statement in conjunction with what I wrote about Cleveland.
Cincinnati won five games in a row for the first time since 1988, the same year I was born. I still have yet to see a Bengals’ five-game winning streak in my lifetime, though, because why would I care to watch the Bengals?
Matt Forte fumbled twice but the Bears took on a never-say-die attitude to stage a fourth quarter comeback led by Forte’s 133 yards, Jay Cutler’s two touchdowns, and Coach Lovie Smith’s name change. Henceforth, he would like to be known as “Meanie.”
Between my ongoing unemployment and the Patriots’ two-game losing streak, I’m pretty sure my destiny is to become a crazy person who lives on the street corner prophesying Armageddon on a cardboard sign that doubles as my blanket. Otherwise known as Occupy Wall Street.
The Jets won their third game in a row behind a stifling defense and an unusual display of competence from Mark Sanchez. With a win next week against New England, the Jets can gain sole possession of first place in the AFC East and diminish me to a quivering mess of shattered dreams drowned in tears of despair. I wish I were kidding.
Julio Jones lit up the stat sheet with three catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns. A lot of talking heads had questioned the Falcons when they traded their entire slate of draft picks to move up and select the rookie Jones in the first round; unlike the Raiders, at least the Falcons can say they got something in return other than six interceptions.
Eli Manning’s comeback was eerily reminiscent of Super Bowl XLII, in that I started weeping uncontrollably at the outcome.
The Saints avenged a disappointing loss last week after Coach Sean Payton gave the team baseball bats, urging them to “be physical, bring the wood and hit somebody.” It’s still unclear how the Saints got away with only six penalties after taking the gesture literally.
It may be the Lions’ bye week, good for some much-needed R&R, but transformers never sleep.
I can understand how the Patriots would give up a last-minute desperation touchdown drive, but the Steelers? Unheard of! It’d be like if their team leader rode a motorcycle without a wearing helmet.
The 49ers already have more wins halfway through the 2011 season than all of last year, when they went 6-10 under Mike Singletary. It is difficult to believe the 49ers have made such a turnaround with largely the same roster, but it becomes incomprehensible considering Singletary’s ability to connect with and motivate players.
Joe Flacco capped the game-winning 92-yard drive by throwing a 26-yard touchdown to Torrey Smith with eight seconds left, leading the Ravens to a 2011 sweep of the Steelers. Bummer. I guess I’ll have to save my “Joe Flaccid” joke for another week.
Normally I would find solace in the fact that the Green Bay defense gave up 38 points, but the box score reminds me that Aaron Rodgers is unstoppable (21 for 26, 247 yards, 4 TDs). The box score also informed me that I don’t have to care anyway because the Patriots are destined for another one-and-done and won’t even reach the Super Bowl to play the Packers.
When I told my mom the box score was being mean to me, she didn’t even do anything about it. Thanks for nothing, Mom.