This week’s Post Game Handshakes find that everything old is new again, as the last two Super Bowl MVP’s stepped up on the road against the two teams thought to be the best in the league. Also getting a post-game handshake is Rodgers’ former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, with a bold fake punt that could have sealed the game. Wag of the finger to the Cowboys and Jason Garrett for late game management. Shocking turn of events there.
Rodgers and Eli Manning, Giants and Packers Explode: The Texans are the most balanced team in the league. The 49ers were everyone’s pick for the best. Both got to host the last two Super Bowl winners this week, and we were reminded why each of those teams won titles. Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning went in and put on clinics, while their defenses stepped up and frustrated the opponent. Everything we know after six weeks is now out the window. Yes, the Packers and Giants may have their flaws, and yes, they played great games. There are no clear favorites for the Super Bowl.
And the Best Team is? The Field? Overreaction week, version 6.0, is here again. Who is the best team? I’m going to ask for your input, because a very informal poll on Twitter last night resulted in the Giants getting the most votes in the aftermath of Sunday’s romp in San Francisco. The same Giants who came into the game at 3-2 and just last week trailed the Browns at home, and boasted a best win against 1-4 Carolina until Sunday.
Falcons- only remaining undefeated, but just needed late heroics to beat Carolina and Oakland at home, teams that are a combined 2-8 this year.
Texans- undefeated coming in, but just got housed in primetime by the Packers.
Giants- The defending champs put together their best game on Sunday. We’ve also seen them lose in Philadelphia, trail Tampa Bay at home until the fourth quarter, lose to Dallas at home, and trail Cleveland at home.
49ers- Have looked perhaps the most dominant at their best, but now have lost to Giants in convincing fashion, and at Minnesota.
Bears- Off to a 4-1 start with some great defensive performances, and didn’t play this week, so did nothing to change our view.
Packers- Would we view this differently if the call in Seattle had them at 4-2 instead? They’ve beaten two of the teams listed above, fairly handily. The loss to Indianapolis seems crazy now, after having an 18 point lead.
Ravens- Baltimore is 5-1, but have just struggled to beat Kansas City (and yes, that’s a bad thing when KC hasn’t led all year) and just survived a game in which they were gashed and outplayed at home against Dallas for large chunks of the game. Oh, and they just lost Ray Lewis, maybe for the year, and Lardarius Webb. Maybe they get there once Terrell Suggs returns, but there are real reasons for concern in Baltimore despite the record.
Patriots- New England is about 3-4 plays from having a much better record than 3-3, but losses to Arizona and Seattle when they should have put the games away show their flaws.
Feel free to vote at home, and write in candidates if you feel that I’ve slighted someone like San Diego, Denver, Arizona or Minnesota in this list.
Ian Rapoport, Gotta Have Those Hands Ready: NFL Network reporter and friend of the site Ian Rapoport (@rapsheet) got caught with this errant ball while along the sideline. Head on a swivel, Ian!
Jason Garrett Continues to Struggle in Late Game Management. Broken record here, and I went off on the end of that Cowboys game yesterday. Garrett may be the worst at end of game management I have seen. Remember, he iced his kicker last year. Yesterday, the Cowboys managed one play in the final 26 seconds, with one timeout in hand, on the edge of field goal range. They settled for a missed 51 yard attempt. His explanation seems, well, let’s just say that a good coach wouldn’t be waffling there. Press the issue, don’t throw an inside slant to pick up a few yards inside and get tackled. Call timeout right away. I didn’t get the sense that he was upset about not spiking it immediately.
Dallas just lost a game in which they out gained the Ravens 481 to 316 on the road, and had the ball for over 40 minutes, and in which things bounced their way to even get that opportunity with an onsides kick recovery. Good teams make their own breaks, or at least take advantage of those given. Dallas doesn’t even want to do that.
Greg the Leg is Human, but just barely: Greg Zuerlein finally missed, three times. While one of them was from shorter, another was from 52 yards and the final one would have set the all-time record to tie the game from 66 yards, and it had the distance. So while several kickers may now have a better field goal conversion rate, I’m still confident that Zuerlein adds the most value because of degree of difficulty. Only two of his 15 makes have been from less than 30 yards. I’ll probably do something on Zuerlein later. It sucks that his misses came in a three point loss, but he’s also been a big reason why the Rams were 3-2 coming in.
Scott Pioli got offered a contract extension, or maybe not: Jason LaCanfora reported on CBS pre game that Chiefs GM Scott Pioli was offered a contract extension of two years before the season, but had not signed it. Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star and Peter King reported that was not true. Kansas City went out and again laid an absolute turd, and so thousands rejoice if this news is untrue. The Chiefs won an overtime game at New Orleans that they never led until the overtime field goal winner. They have not led at any point in regulation yet this year.
The only touchdown for Kansas City yesterday came on the extremely common “Blocked Punt picked up by the Punter topped off by Garo Yepremian Style Interception” Play.
AFC Is a Hot Mess: The Patriots have dipped to 3-3. Houston and Baltimore are the only teams at 5-1, and neither looks like they are playing their best ball and are now dealing with key defensive injuries as we head to the last ten games. San Diego is the only other team that can have a winning record, if they beat Denver at home tonight. If Denver wins, then there will be a seven way tie for the third best record in the conference. That means that the Jets, Bills, Dolphins, and Bengals are all in playoff position, with the Steelers, Colts and Titans a game or less back.
According to the Simple Rating System calculations through six weeks, 12 of the 16 AFC teams are below average. The NFC is 19-9 against AFC teams so far in 2012. Anyone, and I mean anyone, Browns fans, can get hot for a few weeks and be right in the playoff picture. The bar is going to be pretty low to get a wildcard spot in the AFC.
Robert Griffin III, at least as good as Steve Bono: Griffin matched Steve Bono for the second longest run by a quarterback ever. The immortal Steve Bono has now been caught from behind. I’ll let you judge which run was better.
Break Up the Browns and Jets: Shonn Greene, fantasy stud. Josh Gordon, touchdown machine. The Jets rolled over the Colts even without Antonio Cromartie’s two called back pick sixes. The Browns rallied to pull away from the Bengals at home for the first victory of the year. Handshakes all around in Cleveland and New York. You try to bury the Jets by the way, and look what happens.
Fourth and One Log
Very few entries this week, both because of some blowouts, more byes, and just fewer opportunities. “Gambling” still won the day, though.
1. St. Louis went on 4th and goal in the fourth quarter, down 10, and scored on a Bradford sneak to cut it to 3 points.
2. On the next drive, Miami ran a fake punt on 4th and 1 at their own 40, up 3 with 4 minutes left. They converted, and ran off more clock inside the two minute warning before punting back to St. Louis. The Rams tried a 66 yard field goal as time expired and missed, giving Miami the win. Perfect spot time wise, because a failure there likely means you get the ball back with time remaining, even if Rams tie it or take lead.
3. New England up 14-10, 2nd quarter, at the Seattle 6. Belichick opts for the field goal. New England eventually loses by a point. See, even Bill is not immune.
Other NFL Content from the Weekend:
Related: Tom Brady Smack Talk Backfires
Related: Wes Welker got jacked up by Brandon Browner of the Seahawks
Related: Baltimore 31, Dallas 29, Dez Bryant Drops 2-point Conversion [GIF]
Related: Brandon Gibson: Rams WR Makes Incredible One-Handed Catch
Related: Ronde Barber With a “Pick Six” That Somehow Never Hit the Ground
Related: Harry Douglas, on His Back, Caught a Pass That Bounced Off the Helmet of an Oakland Defender
Related: Chiefs Block Tampa Bay Punt, Then Chaos Reigns
Related: Carson Palmer Giveth (on a Pick Six) . . . Carson Palmer Takes It Back Away
[photo via US Presswire]