Week 3 NFL review: 5 things we learned

Week three is in the books and has brought its share of surprises. There were more major injuries, and somehow backup quarterbacks put up some pretty good numbers. Let’s review week three with five things we learned from last week’s games

1) Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald have been amazing

Who knew that two aged veterans would still be able to put up huge numbers? This week Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald continued to put up video game numbers as the Arizona Cardinals pounded the San Francisco 49ers 47-7. Palmer went 20/32 for 311 yards and two touchdown passes. Through three weeks Palmer has thrown for 803 yards, nine touchdowns to only two interceptions. Fitzgerald had nine catches for 134 yards. It was his second straight game where he had more than 100 yards receiving. To put that in perspective, Fitzgerald had only two games where he past 100 yards receiving last season.  With the Cardinals standing at 3-0, Palmer and Fitzgerald are lights out in the twilight of their careers.

2) San Francisco and Kaepernick need major fixes

On the other hand, the San Francisco 49ers were on the receiving end of the 47-7 blowout against the Cardinals. Kaepernick was horrendous. Kaepernick went 9/19 for 67 yards. He threw for no touchdowns, but threw four interceptions. Two of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns. Those two pick-6s happened in six minutes into the first quarter. The only bright spot of Kaepernick’s performance was a 12-yard touchdown run. There needs to be some change in San Francisco. No, I’m not saying that the 49ers should start Gabbert, because that is even worse, but the 49ers and Kaepernick need to find ways to improve. Kaepernick’s play through the first three games have been largely inconsistent. In their week one victory, Kaepernick went 17/26 for a dismal 165 yards and no touchdowns. Then in a week two blowout loss, He went 33/46 for 335 yards and two touchdowns. Then this trash performance happened. Whatever happened to the Kaepernick that took the league by storm during San Francisco’s Super Bowl run in 2012? The 49ers and Kaepernick need to find away to get back to that, or else it is going to be a long season.

3) The Oakland Raiders are proving they’re  legit

Who knew we would be saying this, but the Oakland Raiders are winning and competitive? Weird, I know. After being blown out 33-13 to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Raiders have turned around, all thanks to Derek Carr and Amari Cooper. With them lighting up on offense, the Raiders have pulled victories over the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. Carr has thrown for 726 yards and five touchdowns on the season, and Amari Cooper leads the team with 290 yards receiving. Latavius Murray has provided additional help with 248 yards on the ground. On the defensive side of things, they’ve provided clutch stops. Standing at 2-1 and their great play, the Raiders look like they can compete for a playoff spot in the AFC. And no, I’m not kidding.

4) Who your backup quarterback is matters

Week three had teams start notable backups in place of their starting quarterbacks due to injury. With Tony Romo out for 8 weeks, the Dallas Cowboys started Brandon Weeden in a 39-28 loss where the Cowboys blew the lead in the 2nd half. Yes, Weeden went 22/26 for 232 yards, but don’t let the numbers fool you.  Almost all of Weeden’s passes were short or dumpoffs, and very few if any deep balls. Weeden threw an interception when he was flushed out of the pocket trying to throw downfield. Weeden did not throw a touchdown as the Cowboys run game led by Joseph Randle carried the offense. But the run game is not enough to win the game, especially since your franchise quarterback and best wide receiver are out for extended periods of time. Weeden is 5-17 as a starter, something that should trouble the Cowboys. Going to the southeast, The New Orleans Saints started Luke McCown in place of an injured Drew Brees in a 27-22 loss to the Carolina Panthers.  Again, don’t be fooled by the 31/38 for 310 yards statline. Many of those passes were short, even if he averaged 8.2 yards a pass. And like Weeden, choked the game away by throwing an interception. McCown is also 2-8 as a starter, a stat that should worry the Saints if Brees is out longer than we think. Up in Pittsburgh, the Steelers must deal with losing Ben Roethlisberger for 4-6 weeks due to a sprained MCL and bruised bone, and must start Michael Vick, who seems to be way past his prime. Like it or not, backup quarterbacks matter in the NFL, and you’re fortunate if you have a good one. By the way, we could be looking at a Weeden versus McCown matchup on Sunday Night Football, great.

5) The new extra point rule is truly affecting games

This year, the NFL changed the rules to make extra points be kicked from the 15 yard line to make them an impact on the game. This rule change has made it’s impact and has affected the outcome of games. Before, extra points were automatic, with only 8 being missed throughout the whole 2014 season. This season, through only three games, we’ve past that number at 14. This affects games as what should have been a one possession game, has become a two possession game because of a missed extra point. Instead of going for the “automatic” choice of the extra point, more teams are leaning towards the closer two point conversions. But those are not automatic either. Because of this rule change, what a team does after scoring a touchdown has become more intriguing.

New England Patriots player spotlight: Taking a look at Jamie Collins

Image: Boston Herald
Image: Boston Herald

Bill Belichick has worked with some pretty dynamic defensive players: Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson, and Willie McGinnest to name a few. But none might be as dynamic as Jamie Collins. Collins is the ultimate chess piece; the player that can literally play every defensive position and play it well. In 2014, his first as a starter, he recorded 116 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions. Already this year, he has 22 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles…IN THREE GAMES. Barring injury, Collins is ready to not only cement his position as the best LB on the Patriots, but the best LB in the league.

At Southern Mississippi, the school that famously gave the world Brett Favre, Collins played defensive back (both corner and safety), linebacker and defensive end. The fact that he excelled at defensive back, standing at 6’3, 250 pounds is a test to show how freakish of an athlete Collins truly is. Also a standout track & field athlete, Collins was a state track qualifier. At the 2009 3A South State Meet, he earned first-place finishes in the shot put (51-6) and discus throw (156-0 or 47.80m), while also placing second in both the high jump (6-4 or 1.93m) and triple jump (43-10.5) events.* While at the 2013 Combine, he ran a 4.59 40 and had a broad jump of 11 feet, 7 inches, which was a combine record; Not just for linebackers or defensive players, but for EVERY player that has ever participated in the NFL Scouting Combine (this was recently beat this year by CB Byron Jones, but Collins’ record still stands for linebacker).

Image: NE Patriots draft
Image: NE Patriots draft

The interesting thing about Collins is where he lines up along the Patriots front. Teaming with fellow stud LB’s Donta’ Hightower and Jerod Mayo, the Patriots can make an argument for the best LB corps in the league. But again, he has lined up at defensive end, defensive tackle and some deep safety this year already. He joined in the effort against Buffalo with 8 sacks of Bills QB Tyrod Taylor. As the season goes on, expect Collins to start taking more of a dominant role and other teams will have to know where #91 is.

Belichick has tried before to add a player similar to Collins’ skill set (Adalius Thomas anyone?) but he struck gold here. Seeing Collins all over the field shows the amount of respect Belichick and Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia have for his ability and they will work to put him in the best position. His ability to cover TE’s (having to guard the best TE in the league in practice doesn’t hurt things) has made him indispensable and now is increasing his pass rush. His ability softens the blow of the loss of CB Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Creating an intense pass rush helps average CB’s look like Pro-Bowlers. After all, the Giants won two Super Bowls with this philosophy.

Collins, with all his ability and skill, has to prove going forward that he can sustain the level of success he needs to become an All-Pro. With good coaching and strong leadership around him, Collins has the ability to step up and be the best at his position. By giving arguably the best defensive mind in the last 20 years an invaluable addition shows how far ahead the Patriots are of other teams and how they are still the team to beat in the NFL in 2015.

NFL: Week Four Power Rankings

Super Bowls aren’t won in September, but you don’t do yourself any favors by starting 0-3. We have seven teams undefeated three weeks into the season, and a lot of franchises that resemble a healthy dumpster fire. One marquee quarterback is on a personal vengeance tour against the league, while another is looking every bit of the league MVP he was named in 2014. We’ve had surprises from teams in the NFC South, as massive injuries hit the faces of multiple franchises with championship pedigree. My beloved Patriots were given the earliest bye week in recent memory (no conspiracy theory here). So what do champions do during the bye week you may ask? Remember the scene in Billy Madison that required a pitching wedge, ice cubes, and a stuffed buffalo? It most likely plays out like this in the Brady household. TB12 sends the kids off to the grandma’s house and is having a week long slosh fest with Super G in his Brookline mansion. He dresses up, most likely as Gandhi (because all superheroes don’t wear capes) and boom, Brady baby number four gets dumped into Super G during the bye week. I’d bet my mortgage on it.

1) New England Patriots – #PrayforTheByeWeek

2) Green Bay Packers – The Denim King looks every bit of the MVP he was named last season. Health at the skill position is going to be something to watch in Green Bay.

3) Denver Broncos – “Keep, me, in, the, shotgun, please.” – The Forehead

Manning Praying He Stays In The Shotgun
Manning Praying He Stays In The Shotgun

4) Arizona Cardinals – Arizona looks like the most complete team in the conference, but can they stay healthy? The Kangol is doing a great job in the desert.

5) Cincinnati Bengals – AJ Green single handedly made someone very rich in daily fantasy football pools. I just can’t buy into The Ginger just yet.

6) Atlanta Falcons – Getting torched by a Brandon Weeden led Cowboys team isn’t what you expect from a Dan Quinn built defense. However, Julio Jones is playing like an absolute monster.

7) Dallas Cowboys – Dez and Tony Underwood-Simpson are both gone for the foreseeable future. Can Dallas’ defense allow them to tread water in maybe the worst division in football?

8) Buffalo Bills – Buffalo went back to being the Buffalo we saw in week one. Let’s see who shows up against the G-Strings this weekend.

9) Seattle Seahawks – Peter Rabbit decided to get Jimmy Graham involved in the offense. Smart move.

10) Carolina Panthers – The Panthers are one of the biggest surprises in the league thus far.

11) Pittsburgh Steelers – That scary Pittsburgh offense I spoke about last week is now even scarier….. For Pittsburgh fans. You are stuck with Mike Vick as your quarterback until around Halloween or later.

12) Kansas City Chiefs – Boy is Andy Reid one of the dumbest smart guys on the planet.

13) New Jersey Jets – Brandon Marshall made what he called the worst play in the history of the NFL. The Jets went back to being the Jets.

14) Indianapolis Colts – Chuck Pagano said a week three win against the Tennessee Titans was one he would remember for the rest of his life. That’s all you need to know about Indy.

Does this look like the face of the NFL's Designated Pharmacist?
Does this look like the face of the NFL’s Designated Pharmacist?

15) San Diego Chargers – The Chargers got their asses handed to them in Minnesota and Phillip Rivers went back to being Mr. Inconsistent.

16) New Jersey Giants – We’ll see what the Giants are made of when they head to Buffalo this weekend. Elijah played a decent game against a weak Redskins team.

17) Oakland Raiders – The Raiders won in the Eastern Time zone for the first time in 242 years.

18) Miami Dolphins – The Doppelganger stepdad from Step Brothers won’t be the coach of the Dolphins by Halloween.

19) Minnesota Vikings – AP is back, the defense is a bunch of ball hawks, and Teddy B is doing his best at taking care of the football.

20) Philadelphia Eagles – Chip Kelly has made some highly questionable roster moves since he has arrived in Philadelphia. Most of them haven’t worked out so well. Perhaps Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles should be getting more touches going forward?

21) St. Louis Rams – Nick Foles needs to improve in every facet of the game. These losses are falling on him not taking care of the football.

22) Baltimore Ravens – “The Ravens and Harbaugh are sweethearts.” – Jonathan Kraft

23) Detroit Lions – Fat Face has either really regressed or is hurt more than we know. The Lions looked terrible at home against Denver.

24) Jacksonville Jaguars – Jacksonville returned to being Jacksonville after kickoff on Sunday.

25) Cleveland Browns – I’m still perplexed why Johnny Manziel isn’t playing over Josh McCown?

26) Houston Texans – I’m happy for Houston to get their first win. Granted it was over King Crab and the Bucs, but a win is a win. The AFC South could be the worst division in football.

27) Tennessee Titans – If the Titans had an ounce of experience, they send the Colts to 0-3.

28) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Bucs need to get the ball into the hands of their playmakers. The offense is as vanilla as I’ve seen in a long time. It resembles a preseason offense.

29) Washington Redskins – The Redskins may jump into the tankapalooza pool shortly.

30) San Francisco 49ers – Ebola Head threw four interceptions and had nine completions. Tough times in San Francisco.

31) New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees better get his shoulder fixed, and quickly.

32) Chicago Bears – It is a fire sale in Chicago.

Revenge: Best when Served Healthy

via gillettesgallerygods.wordpress.com
via gillettesgallerygods.wordpress.com

On Sunday September 27th, the New England Patriots defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 51-17, in what can be considered an unmitigated blow out. Quarterback Tom Brady showed that even at the age of 38 he can do what most young gunslingers can only dream about. Brady amassed a respectable 358 passing yards with a passer rating of 119.6, at the age of 38 that is ridiculously impressive, even against a team as lowly as the Jacksonville Jaguars. In fact even when the game was well in hand and there was absolutely no chance of a Jaguar uprising, Tom Brady, the Patriot’s star quarterback and face of the franchise, remained in the game.

Recently, a rash of injuries have befallen a number of the league’s franchise quarterbacks. Dallas’ Tony Romo, Chicago’s Jay Cutler, New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Cleveland’s Josh McCown and most recently Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger have all missed or are missing considerable time under center due to on the field injuries. The 2015 season now more than ever has shown that despite the many rules placed to keep the teams chief signal callers out of harm’s way they just aren’t enough to guarantee the safety of all those under center. A great deal of the a fore mentioned Quarterbacks are over the age of 30 years old and it’s safe to say their ability to bounce back from injury is not what it once was. So, with all these injuries plaguing quarterbacks one must ask, why in the blue hell was Tom Brady allowed to finish a game that was decided by the end of the first half?

Tom Brady is not new to the overall consequence an injury can deliver to one’s season. New England fans remember the beginning of the 2007-08 Patriot’s campaign very well as it led to what is affectionately known as the Matt Cassel era. That of course was the year that Tom Brady coming off of a record breaking 18-1 season was injured in the first quarter of a 17-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, by then-Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard. It was an era that kept New England out of the playoffs and away from the AFC east divisional championship for the first time since 2002. It was something no fan or Brady himself wanted and it’s safe to say no New England fan ever wishes to see again as long as Brady can play.

Coach Bill Belichick often expresses to his players that the game of football is a full sixty minutes. Belichick expects his players to give him and the team everything they have for the full sixty minutes with no excuses provided. Let’s be clear, in the game of football working as a unit is important, and each teammate should be expected to give the same amount of effort as the person next to them. Let’s take into consideration a few facts before we play the game of there is no “I” in team. Both Tight End Rob Gronkowski and Slot-Receiver Julian Edelman were taken out of the game early in order to keep them safe and undamaged. Super star Rob Gronkowski has had his share of injuries; there is absolutely no denying that, in fact it’s feasible the Patriot’s would be willing to place him in bubble wrap in order to preserve him for a possible Super Bowl run. Julian Edelman is a play maker, but someone with a history of injuries that can hamper the team’s overall productivity. The New England Patriots were wise to conserve two of their more prolific, game changing playmakers in Gronkowski and Edelman but what about their biggest game changer, Tom Brady?

Many have said that Tom likes to set an example that Tom likes to play every down and every minute of every game. That may be true, as Tom Brady as known for being one of the more competitive people on the planet. When does pride step in the way of common sense? The answer to that question in this situation is abundantly clear; when the motive is REVENGE. Tom Brady never speaks about Spygate or has even uttered more than a few prepared statements about Deflategate. Tom Brady does his talking on the field and his last three games show a man who has never played better in his life. if you include last post season, Tom Brady has been virtually unstoppable. As wonderful and spectacular as Brady has been it is clear that he may in fact be his own biggest adversary.

Tom Brady needs to see the forest through the trees and place revenge to the side. When the New England Patriots sat Edelman and Gronkowski on Sunday, the game was well in hand. The Jaguars were not going to rally back and defeat the reigning Super Bowl Champions. To be brutally honest, Tom Brady never should have been on the field in the fourth quarter. Fans clamoring for a repeat of 2007’s Scorched Earth tour need to remember that Tom was eight years younger and hadn’t yet suffered a season ending knee injury. The Jacksonville Jaguars are not this year’s Buffalo Bills, they weren’t going to take advantage of Patriot mistakes and rally themselves back into the game. The game was over, all the Patriots needed to do was allow backup Quarterback Jimmy Garappolo and LaGarrette Blount the opportunity to run the ball and allow time to slowly run out. This plan of course never came to fruition.

Call it pride, call it revenge, or call it being accountable as the team’s franchise quarterback. In the end, the choice to stay in the game was daring and undoubtedly a risk not worth taking. This game was not played against the despised Indianapolis Colts, the slimy Baltimore Ravens or even the annoying New York Jets, this was just the pathetic, unimportant Jaguars. A Jacksonville team that did not need a message sent to them about how angry Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are about Deflategate. After spending an entire career doing what is good for the New England Patriots and their fans, Brady must recognize that staying healthy is what is right for both HE and the team. Besides, revenge is sweeter when you are actually there to administer the punishment.

New England Patriots: A Juggernaut? Still Too Early To Tell

After Sunday’s 51-17 thrashing of the Jacksonville Jaguars (the most points ever allowed by the Jaguars) at Gillette Stadium the talk has started. Is this year’s New England Patriot team capable of finishing what they started, but couldn’t finish, in 2007? Miami fans are hoping not…Mercury Morris is pacing the floor…Don Shula is preparing his Bill Belicheat speech..and Patriot fans are wondering could lightening strike again.

Pull In The Reigns

As much as fans want to dream about the possibility, it is way too early to even think about it.  The 2007 team started with three impressive victories over the Jets (38-14), Chargers (38-14) and Bills (38-7).  That team held every opponent to less then 30 points up until the final weekend of the regular season, when they defeated the Giants 38-34. Looking back many fans are wondering if New England would have done better in the play-offs by losing that game. The pressure of an undefeated season through the playoffs is intense and a loss would have eased that extra burden…ah, but I digress. (Read Jake Mackey’s article “Be Careful What You Wish For” for more on that)

2015 looks pretty good after 3 games, but the big difference between 2007 and now is DEFENSE!  Although this year’s Pats have no Randy Moss, they do have Rob Gronkowski and both teams showed the ability to rack up big numbers on offense. In fact they have outscored the Brady-Moss combination 119 -114. Unfortunately, in the process they have allowed 57 points compared to 35. Yes, many of the points allowed have been in garbage time, but the defense is still a big question mark, especially in the secondary.

Tom Brady Is Like A Fine WineWine

Last year at this time we were all wondering if Tom Brady was capable of another play-off run at the “old” age of 37. Now, in his 16th season, like a fine wine, he seems to have improved with age. Need some stats to back that up? How about this:

  •  A quarterback rating of 119.6,
  • Tom Terrific has thrown for 9 TDs with 0 (as in zero) interceptions
  • He leads all NFL QBs with 1112 yards in the first 3 games
  • Sunday he became just the fourth QB in NFL history to throw 400 touchdown passes, racking up two more in the lopsided victory.
The OL Has Outperformed Expectations (Photo: David Silverman nepatriots.com)
The OL Has Outperformed Expectations (Photo: David Silverman nepatriots.com)

Brady is playing behind a young offensive line that has outperformed expectations and he has helped with his lightening quick release. Although sacked 6 times, many have been caused by close coverage by defenses and, in almost every case, he has had a chance to be prepared for the sack and gone down without hard contact.

Even The Haters Are Converting

Marshall Faulk sti;; thinks he won the Super Bowl
Marshall Faulk still crying about the Super Bowl loss to Patriots

It seems like everyone, even the haters, have accepted that this year’s team could be special. On the NFL Channel this Sunday Marshall Faulk, who still thinks the Patriots cheated the Rams out of Super Bowl XXXVI, shocked his audience by predicting the Patriots would not lose their first game until week 14 when they play the Texans on the road. How’s this for a backhanded compliment – Houston will win because they are led by a management team that learned how to win from (you guessed it) … the New England Patriots.

Enjoying The Bye-Week

It will be too long before the Patriots travel to Dallas to take on the depleted Cowboys, so here are a few suggestions for next Sunday when the team has their early bye-week:

  • Check out the rest of the teams the Patriots play later this year
  • Shut the TV off all day and enjoy some quality time with friends and family
  • How about a movie? When was the last time you went to a Sunday matinee
  • Go leaf peeping in Vermont for some gorgeous foliage…be sure to take a camera
  • Make your spouse happy with a nice, long brunch at her/his favorite bistro. No need to rush home for the game

I’m sure you can think of more, but…none will live up to watching the 2015 New England Patriots!

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

An Undefeated Season? Be Careful What You Wish For Patriots Fans

Is this football deflated

The New England Patriots throughout their first three games of the season have proven that their, “Scorched Earth Tour” is no joke. They are eviscerating opponents on offense each week, and Tom Brady looks as good as ever. Due to all the offseason drama that unfolded, and all the scrutiny that was pointed directly at the star quarterback, along with the team’s dominance thus far, members of Patriots Nation are drawing direct comparisons to the 2007 season in which the team pulled off the first 16-0 regular season in league history.

In 2007, the Patriots started off hotter than any team ever has in league history. They won their first eight games by a combined average of twenty-six points a week, scoring an average of forty-one points per game. It was outstanding to watch as a Patriots fan, especially given all of the spy gate allegations after week one of that season. However, it was obvious by year’s end that the team had peaked to early, and the stress of the season caused the team to slow down, down the stretch.

New England Patriots' Dion Lewis, right, celebrates with Rob Gronkowski (87) after rushing for a touchdown during the first half against the Bills, (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)
New England Patriots’ Dion Lewis, right, celebrates with Rob Gronkowski (87) after rushing for a touchdown during the first half against the Bills, (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

In the second half of the season the team barely squeaked by the 8-8 Eagles and 5-11 Ravens in back to back weeks. In the end, all fans remember what happened in Super Bowl XLII. The New York Giants controlled most of the game, and the Patriots could not come up with the defensive plays to finish the job.

Thus far this season, media correspondents and fans alike of the Patriots are already predicting an undefeated regular season, which is moronic to do after three weeks. It is virtually impossible to predict how teams will fare at the end of the season, after only seeing one month of action. Last year at this time, the Patriots were considered one of the league’s worst teams.

“Their a weak team, their not good anymore.” Those were the famed words of one Trent Dilfer of ESPN, after the Patriots were destroyed in Kansas City on Monday Night Football last September. In addition, mid way through last year, many also believed that the Seattle Seahawks were in the dumpster. They quickly answered those doubts by going on a run of dominance to end the season.


Not only is an undefeated season far out of reach, it takes a massive toll on the team as whole. Many former players and members of the 2007 Patriots team have commented on the stress that built throughout the season, and how it finally hitting a tipping point during Super Bowl week. I can only speak to it as a fan, and you could tell that things seemed tense towards the end of that year. The last thing you want as a fan is to go up against another team, like the Giants, that has nothing to lose on the biggest stage.

Also, if the team were to go undefeated and lose again in the postseason it would for sure be considered a blemish on Tom Brady and Bill Belichick legacies. I don’t agree with it, that is just how it would be perceived. Therefore, if the team gets off to say a 10-0 start, it might not be a terrible thing if they drop a game or two down the stretch.

Fellow Gazette writer Bob Snowdon has a similar piece up today titled, “A Juggernaut, Still Too Early To Tell.” https://goallinegazette.com/2015/09/28/new-england-patriots-a-juggernaut-still-too-early-to-tell/

NFL: Throwing A Flag On The NFL

Last year was bad, but this year has seemed worse. No, I’m not talking about the quality of play in the NFL…I’m talking about seeing a flag dropped on what feels like every play.  It turned ridiculous as the 2013 season got underway and it just continues to get more and more annoying each year.

After two games, 2/3 of the teams in the NFL are averaging more penalties per game then they did last year. I don’t care who you root for, that’s not a good sign. The worst offenders are:

  • Buffalo with 12.5 per game
  • Tampa at 11.5
  • Dallas/Oakland both are averaging 10.5
  • Chicago is also in double digits with 10.0
Keep in mind, those are penalties that are accepted. Add in those that are declined and you get the picture. Too many penalties! From the desk of always reliable Mike Reiss According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there were 298 accepted penalties in Week 2 and 504 accepted penalties through Week 2, both of which are the most in a single week (minimum 6 games) and through the first two weeks of a season in NFL history.

Fewer Concussions?

After years of denial regarding their responsibility in concussions, the NFL finally realized they were going to continue to lose huge sums of money in player lawsuits. They looked foolish (the NFL looking foolish – no way) by continuing to deny the connection between the violent contact in the sport and head trauma despite the continued piling up of evidence to the contrary. The comparison to tobacco companies claiming there was no link to smoking and cancer comes to mind.
Suddenly the term “had his bell rung” stopped being funny. Getting dinged was now a serious concern.

If those figures are correct no one can complain about the increase in penalties for hits to the head. That said, the penalties that are being called many times now have no impact on concussions.

What About All The “Other” Flags

No one wants to see a player get injured, but let’s face it, everyone playing this game gets hurt sooner or later. The question is, how badly? Throwing 20+ flags in a game doesn’t lower that fact.

  • When was the last time your team received a punt or kick-off and you didn’t hold your breathe waiting for the infamous “push in the back” flag?”

This is one you see in almost every game at least once (admit it, seems like it is called every time doesn’t it?). Replays often show the contact was borderline at best, but the flags fly. How many times have you watched the replay and it just wasn’t there…or the push in the back was actually on the side as a player turned as he was being hit. Things happen so quickly as players are running full tilt on a collision course while the ball is in the air, making it almost impossible for the officials to see the exact angle of contact. Please, no more time-consuming reviews, but the number of penalties could be cut if officials were told by the league to only throw the flag when the foul is obvious and has an impact on the play.

Don’t you just love that little huddle where the officials gather in a circle for what seems like an eternity (actually just a few seconds) while they discuss who did what to whom and where did it occur. Anyone remember them picking up that flag and saying “Oops, no foul” on that play lately?

  • Interference – Offensive/Defensive

C’mon man, this one is called numerous times in every game. The ultimate “judgement” call that usually goes in favor of the receiver. The tick-tick barely touch flags need to stop…now! In the New England Patriots 2000-2001 play-off run to their 1st Super Bowl teams along the way (hello, St. Louis) cried the Patriots secondary was playing “too rough” and it was ruining the game.

Ty Law was too
Ty Law was too “physical” for the Rams

Well, as we all should know by now, the league jumped and things were tightened up, eliminating all “contact” in the passing game. It’s time for the pendulum to swing back to the middle after all these years.

  • Holding

We’ve all heard that this is something that could be called on every play, and I don’t know about you, but I believe it.  Since that is the case, how do officials decide when to throw a flag or let it go. I sure don’t want to see more flags, but right now its way too subjective. Is there a solution to this one?

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

Week 3 Picks

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 21:  at Heinz Field on December 21, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

We are through two weeks of the NFL season.Normally I would reflect on Week 2 right here, but honestly, it was not a great NFL weekend. It was an awesome college football weekend though. From Nebraska/Miami to Stanford/USC to Ole Miss/Alabama, it was an awesome day, and Sunday couldn’t help but being a little bit of a let down. Then of course, the Cowboys and Eagles played perhaps the worst football game in 30 years. Seriously, it was awful. It was unwatchable. But apparently everybody kept watching the Brandon Weeden/Sam Bradford showdown, because it got a 19 rating. There’s the power of the NFL right there.

Anyways, the 2-0 Cowboys are without Romo and Dez, the Eagles are 0-2 and look like they have a lot of kinks to work out, the Redskins are the Redskins, and now the 1-2 Giants are sitting pretty. I had the Giants (-3) last night, I thought there was no way they would start 0-3. This is a good team, don’t kid yourself. Eli still hasn’t thrown an interception, his completion percentage is close to 65%, Odell Beckham is one of the best receivers in football, Larry Donnell is turning into a good weapon at tight end, and their running backs are very diverse and dynamic, while their defense continues to make plays despite all the injuries to their pass rush. And of course the Redskins are the Redskins. Let’s dive into this week. Home teams are in caps.

Falcons (-1) over COWBOYS

I’m a little surprised the Cowboys are only getting a point without Romo. Even at home. Seriously, without Tony Romo their toast. He had to carry the franchise for three years until last year. Now they have no Romo, no Dez, and no DeMarco Murray. As good as their offensive line is, that can only get you so far. Of course, according to Jerry Jones, “This quarterback Weeden can drive the ball down the field. He’s a thing of beauty on throwing the football. His passing motion and his arm, frankly, you won’t see a more gifted passer.” Ten minutes later he traded for Matt Cassel. If I can disagree with Jerry just for a second, I’m going to go out and say Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler, and Peyton Manning are more gifted passers than Brandon Weeden, and there’s a lot of guys that I left out, but hey, that’s just one man’s opinion, and I’m not the GM of a professional football team.

Colts (-3) over TITANS

Don’t write the Colts off. Forget that sentence, don’t write Andrew Luck off. They’ve done a terrible job building this team. They keep drafting wide receivers even though they have one of the worst offensive lines in football, no running game, no pass rush, terrible safeties and bad linebackers. But hey, let’s go ahead and draft Philip Dorsett in the first round to be our fourth receiver. But their still going to be fine. Andrew Luck has carried the franchise his whole career, why shouldn’t he be able to now? No Luck hasn’t played particularly well, but don’t try and blame their 0-2 start on him. He’s a special talent, don’t try and over-criticize just because he’s the quarterback. They’ll still run through this division, and that starts this week with the Titans.

Raiders (+3.5) over BROWNS

I told you the Raiders would be ok this year, they just waited until last week to start being ok. Amari Cooper is going to be a star, maybe as early as this year. And of course, whenever the Browns are giving points, you bet against them. Seriously, why would the Browns ever lay points against another NFL team? Yes the Raiders are an NFL team, I think. Let’s move on before I change my mind.

RAVENS (-2.5) over Bengals

There’s a chance the Ravens just aren’t very good this year, but I’m not going to give up just yet. The Bengals have clearly been the better team through two weeks, but I’ll take Flacco over Andy Dalton in their home opener for now. Check back with me in a week. If the Ravens are still bad, I’ll jump ship.

PATRIOTS (-13.5) over Jaguars

I don’t expect the Patriots to play soft coverage and put zero pressure on the quarterback the way the Dolphins did against the Jaguars last week, so I think they’ll win. Seriously, the Dolphins had such a terrible defensive scheme last week they made Blake Bortles look like an NFL quarterback. He had time, he was comfortable, and he could make throws. That won’t be the case this week. And Tom Brady is playing the best football of his career, and he’s 38 YEARS OLD! His F-U tour continues and I have no problems laying 13.5 points. Go look at their schedule. I know it’s early, but it’s not inconceivable to see them going 16-0. Let’s move on before I say something stupid and arrogant. I already did? Let’s move on anyway.

PANTHERS (-3) over Saints

The Panthers coming off a good win against a Saints team that doesn’t want to admit their rebuilding with Drew Brees’ status uncertain only giving three points? Ok. I’ll take it. And by the way, even a healthy Drew Brees isn’t what he was three years ago. This Saints team is a long ways from the one that went to the Super Bowl and was making playoff runs every year. I’ll take the Panthers.

Eagles (+2) over JETS

I’m going to keep backing the Eagles. If by Week 6 this offense is still this terrible, I’ll admit I was wrong. The Jets are a nice team. Todd Bowles will be a good coach. But this 2-0 start doesn’t mean he’s going to win the Super Bowl in his first year. Calm down a little bit. Just let Ryan Fitzpatrick be Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Eagles running problems are correctable. Remember how bad the Patriots offensive line was the first four games last year? The Eagles can fix that. Bradford needs a running game to depend on, because right now he has no confidence, and he’s extremely gun shy. I’ll take the Eagles getting points.

Buccaneers (+6.5) over TEXANS

How can the Texans seriously be laying 6.5 points? They have no offense. I watched a good portion of their game against the Panthers last week. Seriously, that was almost as unwatchable as the Eagles-Cowboys game. They can’t run the ball, and they can’t throw the ball. They can catch the ball a little bit, but that doesn’t really matter if you can’t throw it. The Bucs looked good last week, and that was without Mike Evans being much of a factor. I’ll take Tampa in this one.

San Diego (+2.5) over VIKINGS

This feels like a toss up to me, so I’ll go ahead and take the team getting points. But I’m not confident in this pick at all. The Vikings are a decent team, but don’t overreact to last week. The Monday night loser is always a great pick the next week. The Chargers are traveling for a second straight week, but I’ll still take them getting points.

Steelers (-1) over RAMS

Don’t sleep on the Steelers. This is a very good team. When the Patriots are rolling everyone halfway through the season, that opening game will look competitive. Mike Tomlin is also ahead of the curve going for 2 every time. It’s kind of like the three point shot in basketball. Think about it, if you convert more than 50% of your two-point conversions, then you score more points than you would’ve hitting all of your extra points. And with an offense like the Steelers that has Big Ben, Antonio Brown, Heath Miller, and getting Le’Veon Bell back this week, they could really score a lot of points this year.

CARDINALS (-6.5) over 49ers

The San Francisco team you saw last week in Pittsburgh is a lot closer to what they really are than the San Francisco team you saw in Week 1. This is a severe coaching mismatch. Colin Kaepernick is still a below-average passer, and an opportunistic Cardinal’s defense should pounce on that. Also, Carson Palmer is 15-2 in his last 17 starts. Give me the Cards at home.

DOLPHINS (-2.5) over Bills

This is a tough one to pick, but the Dolphins have to turn it around, right? Rex Ryan hasn’t changed at all. Good defense, talks too much, clueless offensively. Coming home, with their backs sort of against the wall, I think the Dolphins come out and play inspired football. And don’t kid yourself, Tyrod Taylor isn’t winning games for you.

SEAHAWKS (-14.5) over Bears

Who thought a 13.5 point New England spread wouldn’t be the biggest of the week? Kam Chancellor is back. Jimmy Clausen is starting for the Bears. The Chicago defense is still awful. Seattle played well last week in Green Bay. But right now they’re 0-2 and need to win this week. I expect them to play inspired football at home where they are very good, and I seriously don’t expect Jimmy Clausen to cover a 20 point spread, let alone 14.5.

LIONS (+3) over Broncos

I’m throwing away my rule to pick the Broncos every game for the first eight games and pick against them the last eight. Peyton’s done, everyone can see it. He can put some good drives together, but he can’t play a whole game. He’s wildly inaccurate, especially on deep throws, and he’s been sacked seven times already. The Broncos have an excellent defense, but I like how the Lions tall receivers match up with them. Also, Detroit is getting points at home in a primetime game. I love the Lions in this one.

Chiefs (+7) over PACKERS

I think the Chiefs might win this game straight up. They’re coming off a long week, and scored 24 points against that Denver defense while turning it over 5 times. They’ll fix that, and I expect them to come out playing motivated and the Packers may have a little bit of a hangover after a big win over Seattle last week. Give me the Chiefs in a Monday night upset.

For college football fans or just degenerate gamblers who will bet on anything, I’m in a weekly college football pick ’em. Here’s my picks for this week: Vanderbilt (+24.5), Iowa (-25), Texas Tech (+7), Utah (+11), USC (-5), New Mexico, Tennessee, and Oklahoma State straight up.

NFL Record Last Week: 7-9-0

NFL Record Overall: 17-16-1

College Football Record Last Week: 2-6-0

College Football Record Overall: 7-9-0

The Battle of Rising Stars: Malcolm Butler vs. Allen Robinson

This week’s Patriots vs. Jaguars matchup includes two of the leagues up and coming talent and potential superstars in Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler and Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson facing off against each other.

As we all know Malcolm Butler has done a good job replacing Darrelle Revis as the Patriots number one cornerback and has the making to be one of the leagues top cornerbacks with continued improvement. Jaguars wide receiver is another guy who with more experience and improvement could work himself up the ranks of a top receiver in the NFL. Both players are in their second year and have had strong performances so far this year as well as good showing during their rookie seasons last year. Robinson is coming off a six reception, 155 yard, two-touchdown performance against the Dolphins last week, who were thought to have one of the best defenses in the league entering this season. Robinson was the key in last week’s victory and will be the key for the Jags offense going forward this season and further into the future. Robinson was having a good rookie year before having his season ended early due to a broken foot. He finished his rookie season with 48 receptions for 548 yards and two touchdowns. The biggest key to Robinson’s development may be the play of Jaguars second year quarterback Blake Bortles, who was taken third overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. Bortles had an inconsistent rookie partly due to a lack of offensive weapons and the poor play from the teams offensive lineman and defense. If Bortles can play with more consistency and get the ball to Robinson, Robinson could be a very good wide receiver in the NFL.

via nfl.com
via nfl.com

We all have seen Butler’s amazing Super Bowl interception and have seen how well he has improved following during training camp, preseason and so far in the regular season. Butler showed his great ball skills again last week when making a great play to pick off a tipped Tyrod Taylor pass. Butler played well covering another one of the leagues top young receivers in Sammy Watkins playing him tight in man coverage and even played well against in my opinion the NFL’s best wide receiver in Antonio Brown. Though Brown has a good game collecting 9 receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown, Butler made a few good plays and played good tight coverage on Brown the whole game but like I said Brown’s the best receiver in the NFL and is going to get his each and every game regardless whose covering him. This week will be a different test for Butler going up against Allen Robinson, who stands at 6’3 and runs a 4.4 40-yard dash. I think Butler will be able to cover Robinson well, but the only thing that does worry me is Robinson’s speed and quickness with his height and could be dangerous if he goes deep.

via www.cbssports.com
via http://www.cbssports.com

You never want to go into a game thinking its an easy win, but lets face it it’s the Patriots versus the jaguars this week the Patriots should win pretty easy. The Jaguars haven’t looked bad so far this season starting off 1-1, beating Miami last week and losing a close game against Carolina in week 1 but this is not a team that can beat the Patriots and this will be the biggest matchup to watch during this weeks game.

State of the AFC East and other thoughts

AFC East

Currently, the Jets and Patriots are tied atop of the AFC East with the Dolphins and Bills at 1-1. Is the AFC East much different than last year? The Bills look like a typical Rex Ryan team, a lot of vibrato after beating the most overrated team in the NFL in Week One and then crashing to earth against a team with actual talent. The Jets are undefeated, yet struggled against the hapless Colts and destroyed the dangerous tandem of McCown/Manziel in Cleveland. Miami snuck by Washington and lost to the Jags. Not saying the Patriots don’t have faults (i.e. their run defense), but it seems like the flaws of these teams will do them in again. Even though it’s early, Pats fans should get their popcorn ready and enjoy this season.

The run defense has been the biggest issue so far this season. The Steelers and Bills both ran very well against New England and Belichick and Company have noted this. Bringing in two defensive tackles (6’1, 340 LB Ishmaa’ily Kitchen and 6’6 330 LB Kendrick Ellis) of note means that they recognize this as an issue. It would be interesting to see if they sign one of these players, but the trio of Alan Branch, Sealver Siliga and Malcom Brown aren’t cutting it at the moment. How can this be resolved? It’s tough to say, since the Patriots morph their scheme to fit their opponent. Although, it seems as it could be something that gradually improves as the season goes on. Luckily, the next three opponents (Jaguars, Colts and Cowboys) have trouble running the ball. That could be enough time, with the bye mixed in, for Belichick and Matt Patricia to figure out what they can do to improve the defense.

The addition of Keshawn Martin last week means a few things: depth at WR and reliability on special teams. Martin is a special teamer that is also a solid returner (25.1 YPG on kick returns, 8.9 on punt returns with a TD). This addition could mean that they want current return men Amendola and Edelman to more focus on being the top 2 receiver options for Brady until LaFell comes back. With the use of Aaron Dobson in the last game (7 catches, 87 yards), adding Martin is a solid move across the board.


The biggest surprise this year is how well the interior offensive line has played. Guards Josh Kline, Tre Jackson, Shaq Mason and Center David Andrews have exceeded everyone’s expectations. With handling some talented defensive linemen in the first two weeks (Cameron Heyward, Marcel Dareus, Mario Williams to name a few) has been impressive to say the least. The biggest surprise has been Andrews, who is undersized (6’3, 285), yet has held his own. The MVP (outside Brady, of course) has to be OL Coach Dave DeGuglielmo. Having 3 rookies ready in the interior of an offensive line that has protected Brady and opened up holes for surprising RB Dion Lewis (Having Mason play FB might be the definition of smash mouth). Filling in for a HOF coach in Scarnecchia hasn’t been easy, but DeGuglielmo has stepped up and done an admirable job. As the season progresses, it’d be interesting to see if the rookies can keep it up and keep the dominance streak going.