Tom Brady missed the first four games, but that shouldn’t stop him capturing the MVP this year. In four games, he’s been flawless:
1st: 73 percent completions
29th: 1,319 yards
1st: 9.84 yards per attempt
12 TDs, 0 INTs
1st: 92.9 QBR
1st: 133.9 QB Rating
Brady pitched a perfect game against the Bills on the road Sunday – 315 yards, four TDs, but after the bye, he’ll have his biggest test of the season: against the Seahawks at home. Later, he’ll have to face the Broncos pass defense in Denver.
The Patriots are on another level from the rest of the NFL, and it’s not particularly close. At 7-1, they seem to be the only lock for the Super Bowl.
Worst of all? At 39 years old, Tom Brady is showing no signs of slowing down. As we’ve chronicled before, that’s the age when many QBs go downhill.
PROTECT PALMER’S NECK
Last year, en route to being the runner-up for the MVP award, Carson Palmer was outstanding, passing for 4,671 yards and 35 TDs, he was 3rd in passer rating and perhaps most importantly, he was only sacked 25 times in 16 games.
If you’re looking to pinpoint Arizona’s troubles this year, look no further than the offensive line. The team’s had injuries, and the defense has had issues, but in just seven games, Palmer’s been sacked 24 times, 3rd highest in the league (Luck and Dalton are 1-2).
Arizona is playing a 1st place schedule, but getting back to the playoffs will mean helping the OL, and fast – the Cardinals have to play the Vikings (tied for 9th going into MNF) and Redskins (tied for 3rd) in the next month.
UGLY HALFTIME STREAK SNAPPED
The woeful Jets played as poorly as possible in the 1st half against the Browns, and trailed 20-7 at the half. Darrelle Revis was struggling with Terrelle Pryor. Ryan Fitzpatrick had 30 yards passing. And then came the hammer stat: The Jets were 0-69 all-time on the road when trailing by 13+ points at halftime.
But Fitzpatrick led the offense down the field on three straight drives, and the Browns offense sputtered. Two interceptions later, and the streak was over: Jets 28, Browns 20. Don’t look now, but the Jets – who can’t take properly – are 3-5 after two ugly wins in a row, and have two more winnable games ahead before a meeting with the mighty Patriots.
MOST EMBARRASSING OFFENSIVE LINE IN THE NFL
Andrew Luck is in this space weekly, and I promise you it’s not by design. But what happened to him Sunday is scary: He attempted 35 passes against the Chiefs, and was hit 12 times. Luck was sacked six times.
It gets worse: Coming into the game, the Chiefs were 2nd to last in the NFL in QB pressures, only ahead of the Bucs. How does this happen?
Kansas City’s Dee Ford, a 1st round pick in 2014, has had a quiet career so far, but he had a monster day against the Colts line: four QB hits, 3.5 sacks and three tackles for loss. Indianapolis lost the battle at the line of scrimmage, and Luck led them in rushing with 60 yards.
RAPIDLY IMPROVING CARR
Derek Carr’s 513 yards passing against the Bucs in a thrilling overtime win tied Phil Simms for the 10th highest total in NFL history. Here’s something quirky from his performance: According to ESPN, Carr had 71 yards passing negated by penalties. If not for the Raiders record-setting penalty afternoon … Carr would have topped Norm van Brocklin’s single-game record of 554 yards passing.
The Raiders are 6-2 and Derek Carr’s an MVP candidate.
TIES ARE THE WORST
I don’t want to sound like alarmist CHANGE EVERYTHING guy, but geez, ties in consecutive weeks? Is it time for the NFL to tweak overtime again? Last week’s Cardinals-Seahawks 6-6 tie, and Sunday’s Bengals-Redskins 27-27 tie is the first time since 1997 the NFL has seen ties in consecutive weeks. There has never been a season in NFL history with three ties since overtime was installed in 1974.
Is it just a blip? There have been a combined three missed field goals, all inside 35 yards, during the two ties.
I love college football’s overtime – it’s the greatest overtime in sports. Since the change to the current rules – each team gets the ball at the opponent’s 25 – there hasn’t been a tie since 1995. I’m not knee-jerk enough to think t he NFL needs to go there yet, but there’s no place for ties in professional football.
SCARED MONEY DON’T MAKE MONEY
At some point, the Eagles are going to have to take the leash off of Carson Wentz. Yes, he had struggles against Minnesota last week, but the Vikings have confused everyone.
Wentz was very good against the Cowboys – 32-of-44, hitting 74 percent of his passes. The problem? He only threw for 202 yards, or more importantly, a meek 4.1 yards per attempt. That’s the definition of dink and dunk. Wentz didn’t attempt a pass over 20 yards down the field.
Defenses are going to be aware of this and cheat up on the receivers. Safeties will creep closer to the line. And this penchant for short passes hurt the Eagles against Dallas – leading by seven in the 4th quarter and in field goal range, Philly threw behind the line, and lost yardage. The Eagles were pushed out of field goal range, and punted.
Late in regulation, with the game tied, the Eagles played it safe again, throwing short. But this time it was to the third string tight end, Trey Burton. He was hit and dropped the pass. Philadelphia punted. It lost in overtime.