Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Tuesday Morning Thoughts: Week Seven in the NFL
Congratulations to Peyton Manning
On Sunday night, with practically the whole football universe tuned in, Peyton Manning
eclipsed Brett Favre on the NFL's all time passing touchdown list in superb fashion, thumping the San Francisco 49ers at home 42-17. Manning, who went 22/26 for 318 yards and 4 touchdowns with a near perfect 99.4 QB rating, threw his record setting pass to Demaryius Thomas with 3:08 left in the first half. After years of dominance in the league, Manning, who at one point was thought to possibly never play again, looks as strong as ever. Behind the arm of Peyton Manning and an improved defense, Denver appears to be the favorite in the AFC as we approach the halfway mark of the 2014 season.
Not Sold on Dallas Just Yet...
The Dallas Cowboys are currently 6-1 and their upcoming schedule currently suggests that Dallas may
rack up W's on the win column. However, it's their schedule that's the issue.
Through seven games, Dallas has played all seven games against teams who currently do not have winning records, with their next 3/4 games being played against below .500 teams. The Cowboys, in their NFL best six wins, have won by an average margin of 10 points against the likes of the Rams (3 points), Texans (3 points) and Giants (10 points). While not the worst Dallas could be doing at this point in the season, consider close battles with average at best quarterbacks in Austin Davis, Jake Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick before looking at the scoreboard.
The offense is clicking thus far behind the league's best offensive line and the NFL's leading rusher Demarco Murray. While Murray is on pace to join the elite 2,000 yard club, also remember that Murray is on pace to receive record carries, which isn't exactly what you want with an injury prone running back who seemingly can't hold on to the ball early in the season.
Also, while a Kudos is deserved for Rod Marinelli for turning the projected worst defense in league history on paper into a surprising competitive defense, this defense is still prone to collapse at any time. Dallas seemingly fails to get to the quarterback (Tied for second last in the league with a mere 6 sacks) and allows nearly 5 yards per carry to opposing running backs, a recipe for disaster in the long run when mixed with nagging injuries.
The Cowboys are a solid team and look impressive thus far, beating Seattle in Seattle, where the Seahawks are always tough no matter the record. Yet outside of that Dallas appears to be an slightly above average team, and only after they defeat proven teams will they earn "title contender" merit.
Much like Dallas, the Arizona Cardinals are enjoying a successful season so far. Winning games with their second string quarterback? A defense that is still stingy even after all the injuries/suspensions? And the Cardinals are still 5-1 after all of this? How could somebody think twice about this team being a contender in the NFC? Well...
The front seven for Arizona has fared well for the Cardinals so far in 2014, allowing a tied for league best 3.2 yards per carry and only 72.5 yards per game on the ground, also a NFL best. Yet the back end of this defensive unit, surprisingly, has been the weak spot of this defense through six games for Arizona.
Ranking second last in pass yards allowed per game with 284.8, sixth in completed passes over 20 plus yards with 25, this secondary has seemingly been picked apart week to week. It all starts with the anchor of the defensive backfield, Patrick Peterson.
Peterson, considered a shutdown corner and the best corner in the NFL by many, has been the exact opposite as of late, chasing down receivers and occasionally tugging a jersey after losing a step on his man. Yet don't blame Peterson for the whole mislapse, as Antonio Cromartie has not lived up to his name since arriving in Arizona. Mix that with Tyrann Mathieu not looking like himself after the injury and you a secondary hanging on a thread.
This once called "elite" secondary has surrendered 277 yards to Eli Manning (threw 27 interceptions previously, already thrown 5 this season), 479 yards to Peyton Manning (okay I'll give them a pass) , 245 yards to Colin Kaepernick (almost zero accuracy on his throws) and 354 yards to Kirk Cousins (just benched in favor for Colt McCoy).
Switching to the offensive side of the ball, Arizona ranks in the 28th in yards per game (317.3), 26th in rushing yards per game (91.8) and 21st in passing yards per game (225.5). Clearly the offensive production has been slowed down by injuries, yet this team still lacks an established threat at tight end. Andre Ellington has touched the ball out of the backfield the 7th most times in the league thus far with 105 attempts, yet only averages a mere 3.7 yards per carry, which is 72nd in the NFL along with a lone touchdown. While the offense is about as good as anticipated, nothing about this unit causes opposing defenses and coaches to lose sleep before game day.
Very much similar to Dallas, Arizona has an impressive record with not so much impressive substance to back it up. The Cardinals barely etched out wins against San Diego and San Francisco by an average of less than a possession at home, while also mildly struggling with teams such as Washington and Oakland. What happened when Arizona tried their luck against an established team such as the Broncos? A 21 point loss.
Again, Arizona appears to be a solid team with potential. The Cardinals have a chance to show they're for real when they play Philadelphia and Dallas these next two weeks. But as for now, they remain with a question mark next to their identity.
Percy Harvin to the Jets... A Win for NY
Last week, the Seattle Seahawks sent WR Percy Harvin packing for New York in a trade with the Jets, who will be sending back a conditional draft pick. Sending shockwaves around the league when announced, the trade was inevitable to people within the Seattle organization. Through multiple reports, locker room and character issues plagued Harvin in his tenure as a Seahawk, mostly in his last season. Whether it be for salary cap intentions or team morale, Seattle finally has bid farewell to a possible cancer. Yet the New York Jets emerge as the "winner" of this trade. New York traded away a conditional pick in next year's NFL Draft, leaving a possibility for an any round pick. In exchange, the Jets received one of the most explosive, dangerous and speedy players in the league who finally appears to be healthy. Although the situation doesn't look good for Rex Ryan and his team, Harvin may come in and produce just one more year for Ryan with New York.
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