Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What We've Learned From NFL Week 9

Welcome to the third installment of "what we've learned: NFL edition". Last weeks action of football did not disappoint; unless you're a chargers fan like myself. Seems like there are plenty of teams that could be superbowl contenders, but its still early yet. With that said, let's see what needs to be discussed from the previous week of football.

Charge-less Chargers

     So if you don't know that I am a diehard San Diego Chargers fan, you do now. I was not a happy camper on Sunday and it started early on in the game. The Chargers were absolutely dominated and shut out by the Miami Dolphins 37-0. It was actually embarrassing to watch my team struggle every second of the game. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers had a more than bad game completing 12 of his 23 pass attempts for only 138 yards and an uncharacteristic 3 interceptions. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a much more enjoyable game throwing for 288 yards and 3 touchdowns. 
     This game really got under my skin, and I am not really sure why. The Chargers looked tremendous all season and then all of a sudden they're on a three game losing streak. There was just too many things that went wrong in that game against the Dolphins to analyze, so i will narrow it down to the key points. First off, the Chargers desperately need to find some way to run the ball. Philip Rivers cannot continue to carry this team because defenses are adjusting to the pass happy offense of the Chargers and it is becoming a nightmare for Rivers. It's a tough task for an offense when your only threat is passing the football, and it clearly showed against the Dolphins. The Chargers got back tailback Donald Brown (Uconn pride) and he had a few rushes after coming back from a concussion related hiatus. Branden Oliver is the current starting running back for the Chargers and he has been playing tremendously well. His explosive speed, size and agility force everyone to compare him to Darren Sproles and with good reason. Against a mediocre Dolphins defense, Oliver rushed for only 19 yards on 13 carries. I still think Oliver is a solid running back for their offense as he has dual threat abilities. He can rush the ball as well as catch screen passes for big yardage. It looks like star running back Ryan Matthews will play in the next game and that could be a season saving addition to this team. But in the meantime, the Chargers have to hope that the running game can finally flourish. Another major detriment to the Chargers right now is their offensive line, its horrific. The entire game against the Dolphins, Rivers felt the pressure from the defense. He was sacked multiple times and was forced to throw the ball out of bounds. The offensive line needs to get some serious work in over the next two weeks otherwise the Chargers are in for serious trouble. 
     Every good team has that one bad game that they need to get out of the way, and the Chargers  just experienced that game. Look at the Patriots, they got absolutely crushed by the Kansas City Chiefs in week 4 and look at where they are now! (just took down the mighty Broncos) The Chargers have this Sunday off with their bye week and will take on the Oakland Raiders in week 11. I can only hope that the Chargers can turn it around because they have the potential to make a good playoff run with Rivers having a tremendous year. 

Stellar Steelers

      Everyone knows that the Pittsburgh Steelers have been one of the most successful team in the past few years and I am not here to negate that opinion. The Steelers have been flying under the radar this year but i think its time to address their potential. Big Ben and the Steelers beat the Ravens 43-23 on Sunday night. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 25 of his 37 pass attempts for 340 yards and a terrific 6 touchdowns. Despite a poor rush performance from LeGarrett Blount and Le'Veon Bell, the Steelers still managed to dominate a strong Ravens defense.
     Despite all of the criticism Ben Roethlisberger has received in years past (probably because he totaled his motorcycle and possible raped a girl in a bathroom), he should still be considered an elite quarterback in the league. I have never been much of a big fan of Ben, but I respect how good of a quarterback he is. He isn't called "Big Ben" for nothing. Roethlisberger is a tough quarterback who can evade defenders and he has a cannon for an arm. No one should deny the fact that Big Ben can play some fooseball. The only thing lacking for the Steelers is a solid runningback. Ever since the icebox Jerome Bettis left the team, the Steelers have not found "the guy" at running back. Every team needs a star running back and the Steelers are far short from that with Bell and Blount. The Steelers always seem to contend in the AFC North against teams who always seem to perform well and this year is no different. Each team in the AFC North currently has a record above .500, the Steelers, Ravens, Browns and Bengals. The Steelers are currently in second place with a record of 6-3. If the Steelers continue to dominate their opponents then I could only assume that they finish the year in first place. But that is a huge IF. The AFC North should be interesting to watch the rest of the year to see who comes out on top, and who will potentially grab a wild card spot into the playoffs. 
     It will be interesting to see how the AFC North shapes out as all teams in the division have the potential to be good playoff teams. The Steelers take on the New York Jets next Sunday which should be a game to avoid at all costs as the Steelers will more than likely run over the Jets. If Big Ben can continue his dominance, the Steelers are most certainly a team to be feared in the playoffs. 

Is The Gold Rush Over?

     I know its only midway through the season, but I can only conclude that the San Francisco 49ers are not the same team as they were last year. Simply put, the 49ers are not playing like a team that played in the NFC championship last season. The Niners lost a close game to the St.Louis Rams on Sunday by a score of 13-10. The Rams? Yeah, the Rams. It does not take rocket science to calculate the fact that the Rams are not a terrific team by all means. Colin Kaepernick had a good game until the final play of the game when he fumbled the ball on the goal line attempting to give the Niners the win. 
     So what's wrong with the 49ers? It seems that the preseason woes are finally catching up to them. ESPN talked about nothing but how poorly the Niners looked in preseason but failed to accept the fact that preseason flaws can carry over into the regular season if not addressed promptly, and that is exactly what could be going haywire with this team. I have been a quiet fan of the 49ers ever since Kaepenick became quarterback because I think he has terrific upside with his speed and his arm as well as the fact that he came into the league basically out of nowhere. The Niners have countless weapons on their team and I along with NFL analysts can't understand why this team is 4-4 right now, its confusing. With Kaepernick at quarterback, seasoned veteran Frank Gore at runningback, and terrific wideouts Anquan Boldin and Stevie Johnson, there is no debating the fact that this team has the offense capable of bringing them to the superbowl. Keep in mind that the Niners have not had the easiest schedule having to play the Cowboys, Broncos, Chiefs, Eagles and Cardinals. Come to think of it, that's a pretty tough schedule. Although the teams the Niners have encountered this year are all probable playoff teams, they are still more than beatable for a team like the 49ers.
     Despite a sub-par start to the season, I still believe that the 49ers will make a terrific playoff run because they have too many good players that want nothing more than to reach the superbowl. The Niners play the New Orleans Saints next Sunday. This is one team that the Niners would not want to play in hopes of playing a game that would boost their confidence. The Saints are playing terrific football right now but I think that the Niners are ready to turn on the afterburners and start playing like a superbowl team. It will be a terrific game but the Niners defense will hold off Drew Brees just enough to allow them to win this game. 

Week 10 Upset Alert: Chicago Bears defeat the Green Bay Packers
8:30 PM ET
(3-5, 3-2 away)
(5-3, 3-0 home)

     Sorry Mark, I had to do it. The Packers looked very poor against the Saints in week 8, but Aaron Rodgers will always bounce back from a tough loss. There were not many underdogs that looked appealing to me this week other than the Bears. The Bears are a much better team than their 3-5 record indicates. I might sound like an idiot once this game concludes or even after the first quarter, but I am still waiting for the Bears talent to come together and produce some good football. Although I despise Jay Culter, I think him and WR Brandon Marshall will find a good connection this game which will propel them to a win along with a solid effort from running back Matt Forte. 

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