Closing the Chapter on the 2015 NFL Season

2015 NFL Season Sumary

It’s in my nature to always have something to look forward to, which is why I immediately started a countdown to 2016 training camp after the Patriots lost to the Broncos in the AFC Championship. Don’t get me wrong – I was still experiencing rage and disappointment from the game (the type that only spoiled New England fans can really understand at the end of a season that doesn’t result in Tom Brady lifting the Lombardi), but I knew it was time to move on, even knowing that Peyton Manning still needed to face off against Cam Newton.

It doesn’t seem right to move onto 2016 without a recap of the some NFL season highlights. Here’s what we thought of 2015…

It was a good year for:

  • Cam Newton and the Panthers – They almost had a perfect season (15-1), but we’re guessing that a Super Bowl win would make everything good for this gutsy team from the NFC South. They spent the whole season with a chip on their shoulder, trying to ignore the haters who pointed to the difficulty (or lack thereof) of their schedule as the reason for their success. Cam is a front-runner for MVP.
  • Kirk Cousins – He won the starting QB position in Washington this year and gave us the best soundbite of the year with his fired-up, “You like that?!!”
  • The Houston Texans – This may seem like an odd choice because they were decimated by the Chiefs during wildcard weekend this year after winning the pathetic AFC South. However, they did give us one of the best Hard Knocks seasons yet and I think they deserve some praise for that.
  • Aaron Rodgers – The season may not have ended the way he wanted, but the guy had not one, but two spectacular Hail Mary catches this year. He’s an exciting player to watch.
  • The Bengals’ half-time monkey – Why doesn’t this happen at all football games? SOMEBODY PLEASE EXPLAIN!
  • Women in the NFL – We’ve still have much ground to cover when considering the involvement of women in the old boy’s club known as the NFL. However, seeing Jen Welter as an intern pre-season coach for the Cardinals and Sarah Thomas as the first full-time official felt like small victories and we’ll take what we can get. With the Bills promoting Kathryn Smith to become the first full-time assistant coach in the league earlier this month, hopefully this will be a sign of more female hires to come. Have we figured out the domestic violence issues linked to the sport? No, but hiring women into higher-profile positions and hearing rising sports world stars like Katie Nolan call people out seems like a good start.


It was a bad year for:

  • Injured players – Yes, everyone gets injured in the NFL. However, there were a lot of “big names” that went on injured reserve or missed a significant number of games due to injury, upsetting fans and fantasy football participants everywhere. A lot of these “big names” were quarterbacks, including Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, and Joe Flacco. (Personally, all I can think about is how things would have been different if the Patriots didn’t have so many significant injuries. Sweet Jesus, it would have been great to see Roger hand the Lombardi over to Mr. Kraft and Brady.)
  • Officials – You couldn’t pay me enough to be an NFL official. The job is too stressful and the stakes are too high for something that is not full-time employment. The officials seemed to go through a rough patch in the middle of the 2015 season. Mistakes are understandable, but it was the size of the mistakes and how much of an effect they had on game outcomes that made them so newsworthy.
  • Catching – No one knew what exactly justified a catch this year. Expect this to be a topic addressed by the rules committee for 2016.
  • FanDuel and DraftKings – These two daily sports fantasy companies started out having a good year and then seven states declared that activities on these sites were a form of gambling. While there is certainly a lot of money to be had in the fantasy world, every day new hurdles seem to pop up and everyone wants their piece of the pie.
  • Rams fans in St. Louis – Can you imagine having your football team taken away from you? That’s what happened when Stan Kroenke and his mustache decided to follow the big money and move the team back to LA. Read these fan reactions and tell me you don’t feel bad for some of these people.

Other things worth mentioning:

  • Moving the extra-point line back – The NFL moved the PAT (point after touchdown) line from the 2-yd line to the 15-yd line this year. Kickers still made the majority of their PATs, but it did add an interesting twist to the game and we didn’t hate it.
  • Concussions – The NFL recently announced that diagnosed concussions rose 32% this season (including preseason and training camp), with a 58% increase when only considering regular-season games. The movie “Concussion” kept the topic in the headlines, highlighting this as a significant problem the NFL will have to contend with in the long term.
  • Shame on you – The Falcons lost a 2016 draft pick and president Rich McKay was suspended after the team was found guilty of pumping in sound noise during home games in 2013 and 2014. Browns GM Ray Farmer was suspended and the team was fined after a sideline texting scandal. The Browns and the Bills had to suspend coaches after alleged assault incidents.
  • Color rush uniforms – The NFL experimented with color rush uniforms and some of them were just hideous. We were not fans. Please don’t do that again.
  • Deflategate – Believe it or not, it’s not over yet, as the NFL’s appeal of Judge Berman’s ruling will be held on March 3. I think I speak for all of us when I say, just drop it Roger.

How will you remember the 2015 season? What do you think 2016 will bring us? Comment below to let us know.

– Michelle



Our Thoughts – 2015 NFL Week 10 Recap

Our Thoughts NFL Weekly Summary 10 2015

Chances are that you don’t care about week 10 in the NFL since week 11 has already started, but we could never forgive ourselves if we didn’t share a video of a monkey riding a dog during halftime.

Seeing as though that monkey video is at the bottom of the post, you may as well skim some of our other game recaps. After all, this was a really weird week in the NFL and we would hate for you to still be questioning why you had so many incorrect picks in Weekly Pick ‘Em.

Here’s what we thought about week 10 in the NFL…

Buffalo (22), New York Jets (17) – Bills coach Rex Ryan was victorious in his return to MetLife Stadium to play his former team. It was an ugly game in the rain with turnovers, missed snaps, dropped passes, and questionable play calls. Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had an off-game, but part of that could be due to the fact he had torn ligaments in his thumb (he had surgery last Friday for that injury). Bills QB Tyrod Taylor had a rough night but was able to rely on his run game to pull through. However, Taylor’s fashion game was on…

Interesting tidbit – The NFL is conducting color blindness tests after this game. Both teams sported Nike’s new “Color Rush” uninforms (all green for the Jets, all red for the Bills). Colorblind fans couldn’t tell the difference between the two uniforms, especially with the Jets green against the playing field. For those of us that could, it looked like a bunch of Christmas elves running around on the field.

Detroit (18), Green Bay (16) – The Lions tried their best to let the Packers win (2 missed PATs, 1 failed on-side kick), but instead won their first game in Green Bay since 1991 (a quarter of a century!) after the Packers missed a 52 yard field goal on the last play of the game. Green Bay’s offense is struggling, having scored less than 20 points in three games, and got booed by the home crowd. Ouch. Their WRs dropped a lot of passes and their starting RB was demoted this past week. This popular pre-season Super Bowl pick team is on pace for their worst statistical year of QB Aaron Rodgers’ career.

Jacksonville (22), Baltimore (20) – The Jaguars broke their 13 road game losing streak, which dated back to 2013, on a field goal as time expired. Initially, the Ravens sacked QB Blake Bortles as time ran out, but they were called for a facemask penalty. Since a game cannot end with a defensive penalty, the Jags got one more shot at field goal. To add insult to injury for the Ravens, the NFL released a statement on Monday saying the Jags should have been penalized for a false start penalty that would have negated the field goal and resulted in a Baltimore win. Ravens QB Joe Flacco is doing the best he can with his depleted group of offensive players.

Miami (20), Philadelphia (19) – The Dolphins can thank their defense and some pure luck/Eagles mistakes for this win. Their offense struggles to be productive, and they tied a NFL record by giving up a safety for the third week in a row. Their go-ahead touchdown bounced off an Eagles player’s helmet. Eagles QB Sam Bradford left the game with a sprained AC joint and concussion. Backup QB Mark Sanchez came in the game and missed a lot of chances to win this one for the Birds. Bradford’s injured shoulder is not his throwing shoulder, but he is expected to miss next Sunday’s game as well as Thursday’s game.

Cleveland (9), Pittsburgh (30) – Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was supposed to be the back-up QB as he deals with a mid-foot sprain. However, QB Landry Jones was carted off with an ankle injury so Big Ben stepped in and had his way with the Browns, who have not won in Pittsburgh since 2003. The Browns had trouble with their run game, blocking, and racking up penalties. The Browns have decided to start Johnny Manziel at QB for the remainder of the season – at 2-8 they need to see if he has the skills to be their quarterback of the future.

Chicago (37), St. Louis (13) – St. Louis’ offense is basically plays that feature RB Todd Gurley or gadget plays with WR Tavon Austin. After the Rams fell behind by two scores, they let QB Nick Foles start throwing the ball to play catch-up. It didn’t go so well. On Monday, coach Jeff Fischer announced that Foles was being benched in favor of backup Case Keenum in an attempt to spark the offense. Kudos to the Bears for getting the most out of the talent on their roster, and continuing to mess up game picks for those of us still saying “well, they’re the Bears/Jay Cutler, they’re going to lose” as we pick against them incorrectly week after week.

Dallas (6), Tampa Bay (10) – That’s 7 games lost in a row for the Cowboys since QB Tony Romo was injured (Romo is expected to return next week). WR Dez Bryant missed some key plays that would have helped the team. The Bucs managed to score a touchdown with 54 seconds left after a rough game for rookie QB Jameis Winston, who threw two interceptions and a goal-line fumble.

Carolina (27), Tennessee (10) – The undefeated Panthers became the first team since the 1989-1990 Bears to rush for over 100 yards in 20 consecutive games. While QB Cam Newton got in trouble for #Bannergate last week, this week he’s being criticized by the Titans for too much dancing in celebrating his touchdowns. Cam says if teams don’t like his dancing, they should keep him out of the end zone. Touché. (We’re surprised their isn’t more criticism for his cropped pants, but that’s besides the point.) The Titans defense is underrated, but QB Marcus Mariota needs more weapons on offense.

New Orleans (14), Washington (47) – What a beat down by Washington. After more sideline arguments by players and coaching, cue more stories on a change of coaching regime in New Orleans by next season. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan didn’t make it past Monday; he was let go as the team starts its bye week. The Saints became the first team in NFL history to allow 4 touchdown passes and no interceptions three weeks in a row (vs WAS, NYG, TEN). The Saints defense let Washington QB Kirk Cousins throw for 324 yards, 4 touchdowns, and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Kirk was able to give a game ball to his father – this was the first game he was able to attend all season while he fights cancer.

Minnesota (30), Oakland (14) – The Vikings handed the ball off to RB Adrian Peterson as much as they could, and it worked well as he ran for 203 yards as the Vikings won their fifth straight game. With the Packers loss, this puts them in first place in the NFC North division. The Vikings are fortunate to have a strong defense to back second year QB Teddy Bridgewater as he continues to develop. Raiders QB Derek Carr has already matched his rookie year total of 21 touchdowns.

Kansas City (29), Denver (13) – The good news for Broncos QB Peyton Manning is that he passed Brett Favre to become the all-time passing yards leader in NFL history. The bad news is he was unable to break Favre’s all time regular season wins record – he was benched in favor of Brock Osweiler as the Chiefs blew out the Broncos. Manning had a really rough day; his first pass was intercepted, and it would be his first of four interceptions on the day as he finished with a 0.0 passer rating. (Not a typo.) Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said there is no QB controversy and Peyton will start going forward as long as he is healthy. Kubiak took the blame and said he should have made the call to sit Peyton, who is dealing with foot and rib injuries. The Broncos announced Monday that Peyton is dealing with plantar fasciitis, and will not play next week, perhaps longer. Peyton can’t entirely be blamed for the loss – the Bronco’s o-line, run game and route running did not play up to par. The Chiefs defense has picked up steam as the season has continued, and helped their team pick up a victory that will be critical in the contest for a play-off wild card spot.

New England (27), New York Giants (26) – “I feel like I’m going to throw up.” Those were Momma O’s words after this game, where the Giants led in the 3rd quarter, and twice in the 4th. In the last 1:47 of this game, Pats QB Tom Brady drove his team down the field and set kicker Steve Gostkowski up to kick the game winning 54 yard field goal with one second left on the clock. Yes, slightly stressful for Pats fans. It was not Brady’s best day; these two teams always play each other tough (see Super Bowls XLII and XLVI). Giants WR Odell Beckham scored an 87-yard touchdown, which is the longest touchdown allowed by the Patriots since Bill Belichick became coach in 2000. After that play, Super Bowl hero cornerback Malcolm Butler kept Beckham in check to the tune of 3 catches for 17 yards on 11 targets. Pats TE Rob Gronkowski had a 76-yard touchdown of his own. Bad news for the Pats is that WR Julian Edelman broke a bone in his foot and will miss the next 6-8 weeks. The Giants also announced WR Victor Cruz is heading to IR following calf surgery; he has not played in any games this year. Rest assured, Momma O recovered from the game just fine as her post-game rant included “I hope Roger was choking” in reference to Commissioner Roger Goodell being in attendance at this game.  Just venting a little Post-Deflategate frustration.

Arizona (39), Seattle (32) – If Panthers QB Cam Newton wants to have a dance-off, we have a candidate: Cardinals back-up QB Drew Stanton. Check out his moves as RB Andre Ellington was scoring the go-ahead touchdown for the Cardinals…

As far as the football game went, it was a great one. The Seahawks came back from a 19 point deficit, and then managed to convert two Arizona fumbles into two touchdowns, which gave them a 4 point lead. That lead didn’t last – in fact, in all five of Seattle’s losses this year, they’ve given up the lead in the 4th quarter.  Aside from those two big fumbles, QB Carson Palmer had his way with Seattle’s secondary with the help of WRs Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald. We’re used to seeing the Seahawks play at such a high level after their last two Super Bowl appearances, but that’s a standard that is hard to maintain in the NFL. This was a division game they needed to win to start closing the gap between themselves and the Cardinals, and it didn’t happen. Realistically, barring injuries or a Cardinals collapse, they’re looking at a race to a wild card spot at best if they can get their act together.

Houston (10), Cincinnati (6)  – The Texans came off their bye ready to play! After QB Brian Hoyer left the game with a concussion, backup TJ Yates came in and threw the only touchdown of the night to WR DeAndre Hopkins, who has excelled this season despite the Texans’ carousel of quarterbacks. The Texans defense has not surrendered a touchdown in 10 quarters, and forced a 4th down fumble on the Bengals last drive to seal the win. Bengals QB Andy Dalton and Co. had a tough night. Texans defender J.J. Watt, who had one sack of Dalton, said “Our goal was to come out here and make the Red Rifle look like the Red Ryder BB Gun. I think we did that tonight.” Not going to disagree, J.J. The Bengals had a tough time swallowing their first loss of the season and apparently this statement upset Dalton, who said it was an insult to the integrity of the game. If you don’t want your opponents to be able to say things like that about you, then beat them. It’s all ok Andy – your team wrangled up some exciting halftime entertainment.

OK, one more monkey video. Sorry, we’re not sorry.

What does Soneil324 know that the rest of us don’t? Apparently, he’s got some insider info regarding NFL games. He widened his lead this week in our pick ’em league and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Other than that, not much movement in the top 5. Here are this week’s standings in our Weekly Pick ‘Em league.

Weekly Pick 'Em 2015 - Week 10

– Val and Michelle

Our Thoughts – 2015 NFL Week 9 Recap

NFL Week 9 Summary 2015

Have you guys seen the DirectTV NFL player commercials? You know, when normal Peyton or Andrew or Tony has DirectTV and a weird/creepy version of each dude has cable.

I feel like the weird/creepy versions of these guys would have skipped our Snap reader survey.

Don’t be like Arts and Craftsy Tony Romo. Click here to complete our Snap reader survey.

Here’s what we thought about week 9 in the NFL…

Cleveland (10), Cincinnati (31) – Bengals QB Andy Dalton threw 3 TDs to TE Tyler Eifert as the Bengals remain undefeated. Browns QB Johnny Manziel was playing in place of the injured Josh McCown. He struggled to make his reads but wasn’t helped much by his supporting players on offense. The Browns defense held their own for the first half of the game, but couldn’t stop the Bengals run game from running out the clock. Coach Mike Pettine says McCown will start again when he is healthy.

Miami (17), Buffalo (33) – Bills QB Tyrod Taylor and his snazzy press conference attire returned after missing two games with a knee injury. Bills WR Sammy Watkins had a career day – 168 yards and a TD, and RBs LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams both went over 100 yards from scrimmage. The Bills defense still let Miami QB Ryan Tannehill throw for over 300 yards and RB Lamar Miller had 141 yards from scrimmage. Miami interim coach Dan Campbell is still learning about in-game management. The high after their first two blow-out wins is gone after two consecutive losses that have the Dolphins’ record in their division at 0-4.

Green Bay (29), Carolina (37) – The Panthers stopped a comeback by the Packers with a goal-line interception of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. Carolina’s defense pressured Rodgers all afternoon and didn’t let the Packers get their run game going. Even though Rodgers put up 376 yards and threw for 4 TDs, the Packers weren’t in sync until the second half. Panthers QB Cam Newton is getting the job done with lesser known offensive skill players. Of course, he’s also getting criticized for “bannergate.” A Packers fan living in NC hung a “North Carolina Cheesehead” sign, which Newton saw during warm-ups and removed to protect his “house.” The fan wanted to keep the banner for his man room, so he reported the theft to stadium police. Cam’s teammates are supporting him, but the Panthers are going to replace the banner for the fan.

St. Louis (18), Minnesota (21) (OT) – The Vikings managed to hold Rams rookie RB Todd Gurley in check and under 100 yards for the first time in more than a month, and now are in a tie with the Packers for first place in the NFC North division. QB Teddy Bridgewater did suffer a concussion after taking a late hit, but is expected to be cleared to play next week. The hit created some entertaining coach-TV analyst beef.

Washington (10), New England (27) – The Pats are still on a roll despite a lack of healthy offensive linemen. The big news coming out of this game is the loss of breakout star RB Dion Lewis for the season due to a torn ACL. Washington QB Kirk Cousins can’t be entirely blamed for this loss – his receivers dropped a lot of passes like they were hot.

Tennessee (34), New Orleans (28) – Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota returned from a knee injury and led his team to a win in OT in their first game under interim coach Mike Mularkey. Their success was due in large part to a better blocking scheme that did not allow Mariota to get sacked. What a great idea. Saints QB Drew Brees managed to put up plenty of yardage against a Titans defense that was missing two of its starting CBs, but the Saints couldn’t get their run game going. The Saints defense continues to disappoint.

Jacksonville (23), New York Jets (28) – The Jets escaped with a win to break a two-game losing streak. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick played through his injured thumb ligaments. However, their run game wasn’t very effective and their defense hasn’t been the strength it was in the first few weeks of the season. The Jags had several chances to win this game, but penalties and turnovers in the last 6 minutes put the game out of reach. They have to be disappointed with how TE Julius Thomas is playing after giving him a lot of money this off-season.

Oakland (35), Pittsburgh (38) – Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams took over lead back duties from the injured Le’Veon Bell to the tune of 170 rushing yards and 55 receiving yards, plus 2 touchdowns. WR Antonio Brown had 284 receiving yards. That’s not a typo. The bad news for the Steelers is QB Ben Roethlisberger is going to miss some time after spraining his foot. The Raiders can no longer be viewed as an easy match-up by opponents. QB Derek Carr and his crew of WRs, plus RB Latavius Murray, are making plays every week.

Atlanta (16), San Francisco (17) – For a team that started off hot this season, the Falcons didn’t look so great on Sunday. They were upset by the 49ers, who benched their starting QB Colin Kaepernick in favor of Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert was surprisingly solid and won the starting job for week 11 when the team returns from their bye week.

New York Giants (32), Tampa Bay (18) – Despite some bad decision-making by QB Eli Manning, the Giants kept their lead in the NFC East with this win. Giants DE Jason Pierre Paul and his oven mitt made a return to the field and seemed to be in good shape (except for the whole “missing a few fingers” thing). QB-WR bromances were in full display – Eli and Odell Beckham Jr. connected for 105 yards and Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston (who has been steadily improving) connected with WR Mike Evans for 152 yards.

Denver (24), Indianapolis (27) – The undefeated Broncos fell this week. This was the Colts first game with their new offensive coordinator and they were able to make plays against Denver’s top ranked defense. The Colts stopped the Broncos ground game, overcame their own injuries on defense, and took advantage of two interceptions thrown by Broncos QB Peyton Manning, as well as injuries and penalties against Denver’s defense. DeMarcus Ware missed the second half of the game after re-aggrevating a back injury (and will miss another 2-4 weeks). CB Aqib Talib poked Colts TE Dwayne Allen in the eye and has been suspended for one game. (Seriously, dude? Talib, you’re better than that.) Peyton Manning fell 3 yards and 4 points shy of setting new NFL records for career passing yards and quarterback wins. Andrew Luck is going to miss an undetermined amount of time with a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle. Ouch. What’s crazy is that he suffered the injury in the fourth quarter, and continued to play, even throwing a TD pass to Ahmad Bradshaw. QB Matt Hasselbeck will start in Luck’s absence – he won the two starts he made earlier this season when Luck missed time with a shoulder injury.

Philadelphia (33), Dallas (27) (OT) – The Cowboys have lost 6 games in a row since QB Tony Romo broke his clavicle. QB Matt Cassel didn’t have a bad night, finding WR Cole Beasley for two TDs and WR Dez Bryant also coming up with a TD. The Eagles brought an effective run game to Dallas, evenly splitting snaps between RBs DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. As a side note, the non-football story in this game was the criticism the Cowboys received for letting Greg Hardy play after photos from his domestic violence arrest surfaced.

Chicago (22), San Diego (19) – “It’s pretty sickening…but we are what we are, and right now, that’s 2-7 on a five game skid.” Those words belong to Chargers QB Philip Rivers, and that pretty much sums up his team. They’ve been decimated by injuries at almost every position, with Monday night’s addition to IR being WR Malcolm Floyd (who planned to retire after this season). Rivers somehow manages to put points on the board and basically keep his team in games and currently leads the NFL with 3,034 passing yards. Bears QB Jay Cutler is quietly having a solid season under new offensive coordinator Adam Gase, taking advantage of San Diego’s injuries to lead his team to a comeback win.

Here are this week’s standings in our Weekly Pick ‘Em league.

Weekly Pick 'Em 2015 - Week 9

– Val and Michelle

Our Thoughts – 2015 NFL Week 8 Recap

Our Thoughts - NFL Week 8 2015 Game Summaries

Before we get into the juicy goodness that was week 8 in the NFL, we’re going to start out with a shameless request for help. We recently set up a four-question survey for our readers. If you have two minutes (we swear, that’s all the time it would take), it would mean a lot to us if you could answer the survey questions and tell us how we can improve The Snap. You will have our eternal gratitude and could possibly be rewarded with another picture of Michelle in a mascot costume. Click here to complete our survey.

I guess we can also take this opportunity for apologize for skipping week 7 game summaries. Val was still in Europe (“I don’t know how the NFL can expect people in Europe to consistently watch games with the time difference unless they’re in London”) and she does the heavy lifting on these posts. Michelle was in DC cheering on (and carb loading) with Snap Super Fan Laura, who ran the Marine Corps Marathon with our friend Caroline. Doesn’t Laura look good after running 26.2 miles?

Marine Corps Marathon 2015

OK, that’s enough with the non-football stuff. Let’s get down to business.

Here’s what we thought about week 8 in the NFL…

Miami (7), New England (35) – We’re trying not to get ahead of ourselves here, but it might be easier to just copy and paste the following sentence in every New England game summary the rest of the year: Tom Brady is a beast. The AFC Player of the Week continued his revenge tour with 4 TDs against a tough defense. Pats RB Dion Lewis and his shifty spin moves continue to be a lot of fun to watch. The Dolphins lost defensive end Cameron Wake to Achilles injury that will keep him out the rest of the year.

Detroit (10), Kansas City (45) – After a rough start to the season, the Lions fired their offensive coordinator last week. Things didn’t look too much better as the offensive line struggles to block and QB Matt Stafford continues to struggle with his decision-making. WR Calvin Johnson (a.k.a. Megatron) did become the fastest player in NFL history to reach 11,000 receiving yards. The Chiefs defense is better than their 3-5 record would indicate.

Tampa Bay (23), Atlanta (20) (OT) – The Falcons lost this game in OT despite another great game from WR Julio Jones and QB Matt Ryan. The Bucs were able to score 20 points off Falcons turnovers. Bucs rookie QB Jameis Winston continues to show more improvement as the season progresses. The Bucs defense stepped up – in particular rookie Kwon Alexander was recognized by the team for his performance (11 tackles, interception, fumble recovery), which came only two days after his younger brother was killed.

San Diego (26), Baltimore (29) – Both QBs, the Ravens’ Joe Flacco and the Chargers’ Philip Rivers deserve credit for anything they’re able to accomplish on the field with all the injuries their teams have suffered. The Chargers will be without their main weapon WR Keenan Allen for the remainder of the season after he lacerated a kidney. The Ravens lost WR Steve Smith for the rest of the year with a torn Achilles. Smith planned to retire after this season, but rumors are starting he doesn’t want to end his career being carted off the field. We’d love to see him come back to finish his HOF career on a high note, in part for the entertainment value. A few plays before his injury he passed Cris Carter for 10th place on the all-time receiving yards list.

Minnesota (23), Chicago (20) – Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater was not very consistent in his play, but led the Vikes to 10 points in the last 5 minutes for the win (it was his 5th career 4th quarter or OT comeback for a win). Besides having the services of RB Adrian Peterson, he’s being helped by the play of rookie WR Stefon Diggs, who is probably getting snapped up in fantasy leagues after having 80+ yards in the last four games. Bears QB Jay Cutler is quietly having a solid season under new offensive coordinator Adam Gase. He’s also been helped by the return of WR Alshon Jeffery. The bad news for the Bears is RB Matt Forte left the game with a knee injury, and could be out for a while.

Arizona (34), Cleveland (20) – This game looked like it was heading for an upset when Cleveland took the lead and the Cardinals fumbled 4 times. Then Arizona and QB Carson Palmer found their groove and put up 27 unanswered points. The Browns are hurt by their lack of a run game. QB Josh McCown took another big hit and will be out this upcoming week.

Tennessee (6), Houston (20) – Football is a tough business. To the surprise of many, Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired on Tuesday, not even making it through two full seasons in Tennessee and leaving with a record of 3-20. Mike Mularkey has been named interim coach. It’s hard enough to adjust to life in the NFL, but rookie QB Marcus Mariota (who sat out Sunday with injury) will now have to adjust to a new coach and system going into his second year. This was the type of dominant defensive performance people have been expecting from the Texans all year – they had a franchise record 7 sacks! J.J. Watt had 2.5 sacks, 8 QB hits, and a forced fumble.

New York Giants (49), New Orleans (52) – There are a few ways to look at this game: Stellar QB play by Drew Brees and Eli Manning or terrible defensive performances that allowed a total of 101 points. Brees’ 505 yard, 7 TD performance tied an NFL record for most TDs in a game. Manning passed Joe Montana to move into 10th place all-time in passing TDs. Neither team is out of the play-off race yet.

Cincinnati (16), Pittsburgh (10) – The Bengals are 7-0 for the first time in franchise history, despite having trouble handling the Steelers’ young defense. They sacked Bengals QB Andy Dalton 3 times and forced 2 interceptions. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger returned after missing several games and got off to a great start. However, the Steelers lost star RB Le’Veon Bell for the rest of the year with an MCL injury, which will have a huge impact on their offense going forward.

San Francisco (6), St. Louis (27) – The Todd Gurley show continued this week. The Rams rookie RB had his fourth straight game with at least 120 yards. The other big story to come out of this game was the concrete slab that caused an injury to 49ers RB Reggie Bush. 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick did not have a good day. In fact, it was a “we’re benching you for Blaine Gabbert in week 9” kind of a day. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with Gabbert, he has a 5-22 record in the NFL.) Niners coach Jim Tomsula said two weeks ago that there was no quarterback controversy, but watch the video below and you might understand why some people think Kaepernick is regressing.

New York Jets (20), Oakland (34) – The Raiders have been the butt of jokes for years, but there is optimism QB Derek Carr and rookie WR Amari Cooper are turning things around under the leadership of new head coach Jack Del Rio. Shout out to 39-year-old CB Charles Woodson, who currently leads the NFL in interceptions. The Jets encountered some QB issues – Ryan Fitzpatrick tore ligaments in his thumb. He’ll need surgery, and it will be able to wait until after the season. Geno Smith (he who missed the first few weeks of the season after being punched in the jaw by a teammate) came into the game before he was injured and Fitzpatrick had to come back in to replace him for a few plays. As of Wednesday, both players were able to participate in practice and the plan is for Fitzgerald to start this upcoming week. The situation bears watching as the only other QB on their roster is Bryce Petty, who the Jets were hoping could use this year to red shirt.

Seattle (13), Dallas (12) – Even though QB Matt Cassel had WR Dez Bryant back from injury, the Cowboys offense couldn’t capitalize on the strong performance by their defense as well as several miscues by the Seahawks. They managed only four net yards in the 4th quarter and remain winless since QB Tony Romo broke his clavicle. A positive sign for the Seahawks was that their troubled offensive line did not allow a sack of QB Russell Wilson. A scary moment during the game was when WR Ricardo Lockette was knocked out cold and had to be taken out on a stretcher. Don’t know about other people, but it certainly brought up some uncomfortable feelings for us. It was definitely a reminder of how violent the sport is and made us wish we liked baseball more.

On a lighter note, Dez Bryant has a pet monkey now. His name is Dallas…because what else would you name your monkey when you play for the Cowboys?

Green Bay (10), Denver (29) – What a game for Denver’s defense, their run game and QB Peyton Manning as they handed the Packers their first loss of the season. It looked like the offense put their bye week to good use in continuing to adapt to head coach Gary Kubiak’s offense. Manning tied Brett Favre for most wins by a QB in NFL history (186). The Packers couldn’t get much going – their WRs were held to 37 yards, and QB Aaron Rodgers passed for only 77 yards and was sacked 3 times – which speaks to the talent of Denver’s defense.  Green Bay doesn’t have a strong run game, and they are feeling the impact of being without WR Jordy Nelson this year. Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips threw some shade at Green Bay over Twitter and probably got away with it more than most coaches could.

Indianapolis (26), Carolina (29) – The drama continues for Indy after they had a bizarre rainy game full of turnovers (on both sides) against the perfect Panthers. Injured QB Andrew Luck is facing some serious adversity for the first time in his career and his performance probably didn’t help Pep Hamilton, the Colts offensive coordinator who was fired after the game. Despite a 3-5 record, the Colts remain in first place in the AFC South. Carolina is one of four teams that remains undefeated – the Patriots, Broncos, and Bengals are also in that club.

Buffalo had a bye week, but they have made headlines by contributing to the great “Is a hot dog a sandwich?” debate.

Aaaaaand here are this week’s standings in our Weekly Pick ‘Em league.

Weekly Pick 'Em 2015 - Week 8

Before we end this post, we’d like to give a well-deserved shout-out to Momma O, who recently won our family’s survivor league. The woman says she has no clue what she’s doing, but her results say otherwise.

– Val and Michelle

Our Thoughts – 2015 NFL Week 6 Recap

Our Thoughts - NFL Game Summary Week 6 2015

Val’s still in Germany and Michelle is still confused by the Colts botched fake punt from Sunday Night.

Yup, that pretty much sums up our lives this week.

Here’s what we thought about week 6 in the NFL…

Atlanta (21), New Orleans (31) – The Falcon’s undefeated start to their season was brought to a halt by their division rivals. Saints TE and all-around good guy Ben Watson had a career-night, with one TD and 127 yards. Falcons fans shouldn’t panic yet – the team has RB Devonta Freeman, who continued his hot streak in this game with two more TDs, as well as one of the easiest remaining schedules in the league.

Cincinnati (34), Buffalo (21) – The Bengals remain undefeated after their o-line kept Buffalo’s dominant defense from collecting any sacks of QB Andy Dalton. Both teams suffered some injuries in this one. Bengals LB Vincent Rey went out with an ankle injury. Bills WR Sammy Watkins sprained his ankle and watched the rest of the game from the sideline. Backup QB EJ Manual didn’t do anything that will lead the Bills coaches to consider starting him in place of injured QB Tyrod Taylor when he is ready to return, as was rumored to be the case prior to the game. The biggest loss was at the post-game press conference, where Tyrod and his snazzy attire did not make an appearance.

Denver (26), Cleveland (23) (OT) – The Broncos managed another win with a lot of support from their defense as the offense continues to struggle. QB Peyton Manning threw 3 interceptions, but was fortunate strong play by the o-line opened the running game and the defense put points on the board with a pick six. The Browns defense actually played well, but their offense couldn’t get it together. They somehow managed to force OT, and even when they ended up within field goal range, they actually lost 18 yards when QB Josh McCown got sacked twice.

Chicago (34), Detroit (37) (OT) – The Lions got their first win of the season! QB Matt Stafford bounced back pretty well from being benched last week. He got better protection from his o-line and got WR Calvin Johnson (a.k.a. Megatron) involved with some deep throws. The Lions still turned the ball over, and the Bears were able to put up 18 points from their turnovers in the second half. Bears QB Jay Cutler was helped by the return of WR Alshon Jeffery, but still threw an end zone pick and left plenty of points on the field for Chicago.

Houston (31), Jacksonville (20) – Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins stole the show with 148 yards and 2 touchdowns. QB Brian Hoyer played for the Texans after Ryan Mallet was benched last week, and was helped with strong play from a healing RB Arian Foster. J.J. Watt only showed up in the stats with two tackles, but he basically wreaked havoc chasing Jaguars around in the backfield. JAX QB Blake Bortles already has thrown more touchdowns then he did all of last year, but once in a while makes a mistake that makes you just want to do a palm slap on your forehead. He threw an interception at the goal line before half time and threw his 6th career pick six.

In other news, the Texans picked up Charles James II after he was cut from the Ravens this week. James and his fancy socks were the unlikely star of Hard Knocks this summer.

Kansas City (10), Minnesota (16) – This was the first game for KC without RB Jamaal Charles, who tore his ACL last week, and it didn’t look good. The Chiefs have now gone over four quarters between the last two weeks without scoring. It didn’t help the offense that leading WR Jeremy Maclin left the game with a concussion. KC’s defense did have a strong game – the kept Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson in check to the tune of only 60 yards. The Vikings needs better play from second year QB Teddy Bridgewater, who has only thrown 3 touchdowns over 5 games.

Washington (20), New York Jets (34) – The Jets scored 17 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter to wrap this one up. Washington has a lot of injured players right now – 6 of their 7 inactive players for the game are starters. The Jets took advantage with RB Chris Ivory lighting the Washington defense up for 196 yards and a TD. Brandon Marshall because the first Jets WR in 47 years to go over 100 yards receiving in 4 straight games.

Arizona (13), Pittsburgh (25) – Cardinals QB Carson Palmer threw for 421 passing yards, but they didn’t convert to points, and 3 turnovers doomed the team. Steers back-up QB Michael Vick started the game, but only managed to put up one passing yard (not a typo) over the first half. He was evaluated for a head injury, and then left the game after tearing his hamstring, which will probably sideline him for next week. Third-string QB Landry Jones entered the game and led the Steelers to 5 straight scores.

Miami (38), Tennessee (10) – Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell made his coaching debut. The former player is the complete opposite in demeanor of prior coach Joe Philbin – loud and outwardly energetic. The defense seemed to benefit most from the change as they dominated the Titans (made easier when Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota sprained his MCL, the center broke his leg, and the right tackle got benched) and in Mariota’s first 22 drop-backs, sacked him 5 times and hit him 8. Ouch. Miami QB Ryan Tannehill is still playing inconsistently; he got a big contract extension this past summer and needs to make the leap.

Carolina (27), Seattle (23) – Wow. Most people didn’t see this one coming. Panthers QB Cam Newton led back to back touchdown drives to beat the Seahawks for the first time in his career (he lost first 5 tries), in Seattle nonetheless. He struggled in the beginning (he could really use some more playmakers on offense to help him out) and at one time the Panthers were down by two scores, but he threw for 162 yards in the fourth quarter and the game winning touchdown with 32 seconds left. That touchdown to TE Greg Olsen happened when there was a miscommunication in Seattle’s secondary and he was left uncovered. On the bright side for Seattle, RB Marshawn Lynch looked good after fighting through injuries the past few weeks, and TE Jimmy Graham had his best game of the season. However, now the Seahawks are 2-4 after blowing another fourth quarter lead, which has happened in all 4 of their losses. Bottom line – take Carolina seriously, allow yourself to question Seattle.

San Diego (20), Green Bay (27) – Chargers QB Philip Rivers set franchise records by throwing for 503 yards and 43 completions on 65 attempts, yet the Chargers still couldn’t pull out the W. He and WR Keenan Allen were on fire until Allen left for the fourth quarter with a hip injury. He led the team down the field in the last two minutes but Green Bay held them at the 3 yard line to secure the win. Even the Packers players were impressed by Rivers’ performance. The Packers bye week now comes at a good time because they are struggling with injuries on both sides of the ball.

Baltimore (20), San Francisco (25) – Don’t think many predicted Baltimore would start the season at 1-5, but here we are. Their offense has been decimated with injuries. WR Steve Smith went for 137 yards and a touchdown – with fractures in his back, and 3 months away from retirement. No other Baltimore receiver had more than 40 yards in the game. The 49ers defense held Baltimore to 77 rushing yards and QB Colin Kaepernick took advantage of the Raven’s leaky secondary to throw for 240 yards and 2 touchdowns.

New England (34), Indianapolis (27) – No game this week had more build-up than this rematch of the AFC Championship game from last year that triggered the Deflategate incident. Pats fans hoping for a blowout win had to settle for a 7-point win (jeez, no wonder everyone outside of New England hates Pats fans) that was secured by a dominant second half, despite injuries to key starters. Everyone is talking about the Colts’ botched fake punt, which was probably the most mind-boggling thing we’ve seen on a football field in a long time.

New York Giants (7), Philadelphia (27) – There were 7 turnovers in this game (4 for NYG, 3 for PHI), and 21 penalties. With the win and a 3-3 record, the Eagles now own first place in the always entertaining NFC East division. The Eagles underrated defense played a great game, they dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and their running game is finally clicking into gear. There’s concern about QB Sam Bradford though, who threw another three interceptions. Giants QB Eli Manning came out hot, going 10/10 for 87 yards and a touchdown, but then went 13/27 for 123 yards and two interceptions the rest of the game. The Giants also have a lot of injuries and are hoping to get some key playmakers back over the next few weeks.

Aaaaaand here are this week’s standings in our Weekly Pick ‘Em league.

Weekly Pick 'Em 2015 - Week 6

– Val and Michelle

Our Thoughts – 2015 NFL Week 5 Recap

Our Thoughts - NFL Summary Game Recap Week 5 2015

Soooooo maybe you’re wondering why we’ve only posted game recaps the last few weeks.

Well, it certainly wasn’t the plan, but life has been crazy and they have been all that we can manage at the moment. What, you say, can be so demanding that we don’t have time to keep the masses (ok, slight exaggeration) of Snappers entertained and informed with a variety of content?

Well, for starters, Val is currently in Germany. Legit excuse if I’ve ever heard one. The 6-hour time difference is really killing our vibe and funky internet connections have made football research a challenge. Let’s not even talk about the fact that she can’t watch NFL games from her hotel room. (She is enjoying the glass bottled water and abundance of tomatoes and cucumbers though!)

Michelle is feeling the side effects of having a “busy season” at work the same time as football season. Too much busy, not enough football. She’s also been traveling (but it was only to Parsippany, NJ, so let’s not even act like it’s a competition).

(Side note – since Val was busy being an international traveler this past weekend, Michelle had to give Momma O the fantasy football rundown. Apparently she “does not answer questions fast enough” and is unable to adequately anticipate Momma O’s questions. Sources have listed her status for this weekend as Questionable.)

We recognize that there is more to life (and certainly more to The Snap) than just game recaps, so please stick with us. Believe it or not, we’ve got some big Snap plans. For right now, they’re for us to know and you to (eventually) find out.

Anyways, here’s what we thought about week 5 in the NFL…

Indianapolis (27), Houston (20) – Colts QB Andrew Luck sat out again this week and let 40-year-old veteran Matt Hasselbeck, who had checked into the hospital earlier in the week for a nasty bacterial infection, lead the Colts to a win. Fun fact – all of the Colts’ points were scored by players over the age of 32, which is considered old in the NFL. Colts WR Andre Johnson finally came alive with 2 TDs against his former team. The Texans still can’t decide on a quarterback, starting with Ryan Mallett, who was injured and then sulked when replaced by Brian Hoyer. At this point, we think the team should put in J.J. Watt at QB and see what happens. At 1-4, they’ve got nothing to lose.

Chicago (18), Kansas City (17) – The Chiefs are in a bad spot with a 1-4 record and the loss of RB Jamaal Charles for the rest of the year with an ACL injury. He was their best offensive weapon, and the team struggled to move the chains once he left the game. The Chiefs defense did better as this was the first game of the season they did not allow their opponent to score more than 30 points. Two claps for you. They got a lot of pressure on Bears QB Jay Cutler, who had a terrible first half yet somehow managed to win the game on a touchdown pass to RB Matt Forte after he fumbled the snap.

Seattle (24), Cincinnati (27) (OT)The Bengals are legit. QB Andy Dalton looked good, TE Tyler Eifert continues to make the Bengal’s offense look good, and WR A.J. Green had a fun match-up against CB Richard Sherman. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson made some questionable decisions and now there are whispers about whether last year’s Super Bowl contender will be able to win the NFC West again. They better hope the Cardinals lose their momentum.

Washington (19), Atlanta (25) (OT) – Atlanta came very close to losing their undefeated record, but a Washington QB Kirk Cousins pick six in OT sealed the win for the Falcons. Washington’s defense played a great game, keeping WR Julio Jones in check for only 67 yards and the Falcons out of the end zone until the final quarter. Good thing Atlanta has RB Devonta Freeman, who ran for 157 yards and his 8th touchdown of the season. QB Matt Ryan led a touchdown drive that put the Falcons in the lead with less than a minute to go, but Cousins got his team in field goal range to force OT. He does need to decrease his amount of turnovers.

Jacksonville (31), Tampa Bay (38) – Tampa Bay and Coach Lovie Smith earned their first home win in 11 tries. RB Doug Martin led the team with 3 touchdowns, which helped rookie QB Jameis Winston not have to throw the ball so much to play catch-up, which has resulted in many interceptions over the first few weeks. Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles had a great game, but did not get much in the way of protection from his o-line. He was sacked 6 times. Ouch.

New Orleans (17), Philadelphia (39) – The Eagles won by more than 20 points despite the fact that QB Sam Bradford threw two interceptions in the red zone. He was helped by the best performance Philly’s o-line has had all year, which showed in the productive run game they were finally able to establish with RBs DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. We noted it in our week 3 summary and it happened again – Saints coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan were seen arguing on the sidelines again. While we surmised that probably meant the end of Ryan’s time in the Big Easy, at least by the end of the season, there are rumors swirling that Sean Payton could be sent on his way out if the organization is looking for a rebuild. Saints QB Drew Brees didn’t appear on the injury report this week but it’s unclear if he’s fully healed from his shoulder injury.

Cleveland (33), Baltimore (30) (OT) Browns QB Josh McCown had an excellent day, becoming the first quarterback in franchise history to throw for 300-plus yards in three straight weeks. Johnny Football who? It was Cleveland’s first win in Baltimore since 2007. Speaking of Baltimore, the 1-4 Ravens seem to be bitten by the injury bug, finishing the game without their top receiver, running back, tight end, outside linebacker and defensive end, in addition to losing three cornerbacks and another receiver.

St. Louis (10), Green Bay (24) – The Rams defense gave Aaron Rodgers all he could handle, and he threw his first interception at Lambeau Field in 1,043 days. He had two picks on the day, as well as a fumble. The Packers defense is highly underrated and forced four interceptions as well. In the “punters are people too” category, Rams punter Johnny Hekker might be the best at running a fake punt in the league. He was a high school quarterback and threw a 20 yard toss on a fake punt to convert a fourth down. In his career, he is 6 of 8 for 99 yards with a 155.7 passer rating.

Buffalo (14), Tennessee (13) – Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor didn’t have a stellar game, but after taking a big hit and having to leave for a play, he came back into the game and threw a 46 yard pass to set up the winning touchdown. Buffalo is still being called for a lot of penalties. Taylor may miss this week with the MCL sprain he sustained. If he can’t start, backup EJ Manual will get the green light. Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota impressed against a Rex Ryan led defense. He was the team’s leading rusher and passer. He could use more weapons on offense to help him out. On this week’s Tyrod Fashion Update, we can see that he went with a different color palette and less aggressive patterns.

Arizona (42), Detroit (17) – The Lions remain the last defeated team in the league (0-5) after the Cardinals forced 6 turnovers, 5 of which came in the first 35 minutes (3 Stafford picks and 2 RB Ameer Abdullah fumbles). After DET QB Matt Stafford’s third interception, he was benched for backup Dan Orlovsky. Detroit Coach Jim Caldwell says Stafford will remain their starting QB, but he’s in a tough spot with a leaky o-line and a weaker defense than last year that he was able to rely on to help out in keeping the team in games. Cardinals QB Carson Palmer was on fire – he had his second best career passer rating of 154.2 on Sunday and has great weapons on his offense. Through the first 5 weeks, the Cardinals have a 100 point differential (that means they’ve beaten their opponents by 100 points combined), which is the most since the 2007 Patriots record-breaking year.

New England (30), Dallas (6) – Despite getting sacked 5 times in the first half, Pats QB Tom Brady continues to make it look easy. As we’ve seen the last few years, the Patriots defense is once again starting look better after a few games into the season. For not having any big names, the Patriots running backs are stronger than expected, led by Dion Lewis, the best under-the-radar pickup during the off-season. The only bad news for the Pats is that they’ve lost their starting left tackle Nate Solder (he protects Brady’s blind side) for the rest of the season due to a torn bicep. As far as the Cowboys go, QB Brandon Weeden didn’t have his best week, which has earned Matt Cassel the starting job for week 7 when the team comes back from their bye.

Denver (16), Oakland (10) – The Broncos were held out of the end zone until an interception was returned for a touchdown by their defense, which continued its dominance. In fact, 10 of the Broncos points were scored off turnovers. Broncos QB Peyton Manning had not played in a game without his offense scoring a touchdown since 2003. He threw two interceptions, both of which were picked off by Raiders CB Charles Woodson, who turned 39 last week. Manning and Woodson entered the league together in 1998, and it was the first time Woodson had intercepted Manning in his career. He became the oldest player to record multiple interceptions in a game, and moved up to 6th on the all-time interceptions list.

San Francisco (27), New York Giants (30) – This was a surprisingly exciting game for two (let’s be honest) mediocre teams. Giants QB Eli Manning had a rough first half, but redeemed himself in the end, finishing with 441 yards and 3 TDs, keeping the G-men in contention for the lead in the weird NFC East. 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick had his best game of the season, but struggled near the end of the game.

Pittsburgh (24), San Diego (20) – The Steelers managed to eek out a last-minute win against the Chargers after using the wildcat formation and letting RB Le’Veon Bell score a TD instead of going for a field goal which would have sent the game into overtime. Backup Steelers QB Michael Vick had a good night, making plays when it counted. Chargers TE Antonio Gates was back from his suspension and had quite the night – he moved into third place for all-time tight end receiving yards and become the second tight end to record 100 TDs. The other headline coming out of the game was the NFL admitting that game officials failed to correct a significant clock error. Whoopsie.

Here are this week’s standings in our Weekly Pick ‘Em league. Soneil324 continues to dominate the league – holding strong in the number one spot with 5 more correct picks than the next highest Snappers. Can anyone catch him? Guess we’ll have to wait and see!

Weekly Pick 'Em 2015 - Week 5

Also, something that’s totally unrelated, but worth mentioning – If you haven’t signed up for Lenny, the newsletter from Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, you should definitely do that. This week’s edition featuring a great op-ed from Jennifer Lawrence about pay equality. We also loved How Sports Gave Me Swagger, a piece by director Gina Prince-Bythewood, where she declares, “Swagger is the belief that we belong in any setting. […] Badass has no gender.”

– Fraulein Val and Michelle

Our Thoughts -2015 NFL Week 4 Recap

Week 4 2015 - NFL Summaries - The Snap

Ladies and gentlemen, we’d like to have a moment of silence for the first head coaching casualty of the 2015 NFL season. Joe Philbin, thanks for the memories and best wishes on your future coaching endeavors.

We would also like to take this opportunity to have a moment for all of the NFL kickers out there who are struggling to make the extra point. Here’s to hoping you do better next week, if you’re still employed.

If you’re short on time, we’ve bolded the most important takeaway from each game.

If you’ve got lots of time, you should make a drinking game out of this post. Take a shot every time we tell you a kicker missed a kick. Take two shots when we note that said kicker is now unemployed.

Here’s what we thought about week 4 in the NFL…

Baltimore (23), Pittsburgh (20) – This game was a classic division rivalry game and actually cost the Steelers’ kicker his job. After missing two field goals in the final three minutes of the game, which would have sealed the win for PIT, the Steelers cut K Josh Scobee after trading for him from the Jaguars in August. This means the Steelers are now on their fourth kicker of the year after losing their first two to injury. Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field is one of the toughest stadiums to kick in (lots of wind), but Ravens K Justin Tucker had no problem kicking the game winning field goal in OT and save the Ravens from a 0-4 start. The Steelers were in control most of the game, but missed QB Ben Roethlisberger and couldn’t utilize their full playbook with Michael Vick under center.  The Ravens were lucky to leave this one with a W – they’re running out of people to for QB Joe Flacco to throw the ball to. WR Steve Smith fractured his back and will be out for at least a week, leading the Ravens to trade the Rams for another WR to supplement their depleted WR corps. Additionally, it will put Steve Smith and his retirement tour hit list on hold.

New York Jets (27), Miami (14) – This game was part of the NFL’s international series, taking place at Wembley stadium in London, England. The Jets and their 350 rolls of toilet paper owned this game. Miami’s head coach, Joe Philbin was fired on Monday, a victim of the team’s slow start. The Dolphins defense continues to disappoint with the big name players they have – their defensive line has yet to register a sack this year.

Houston (21), Atlanta (42) – The Texans have now benched their starting QB in half of their games this season. Brian Hoyer was sent in to replace Ryan Mallet in the third quarter after the Texans fell behind 42-0. They scored their 21 points in garbage time. Can anyone say hot mess? Texans RB Arian Foster played for the first time this season after sustaining an injury in training camp, but did not have a big impact. J.J. Watt still manages to pad his stats – he deflected two passes, had three tackles for a loss, and a sack. To the dismay of fantasy owners (including our mother), Julio Jones was placed in bubble wrap on the sideline by the third quarter when the outcome of the game was no longer in question. Falcons RB Devonta Freeman did his fantasy team owners a solid for the second week in a row by scoring three touchdowns, and now leads the NFL in scores. The Falcons look like a completely different team than last year under their new coaches.

New York Giants (24), Buffalo (10) – The Bills committed 17 penalties, the second most by any team in a game so far this year and looked like a different team than the one that put on a clinic in Miami last week. QB Tyrod Taylor missed RB LeSean McCoy and WR Sammy Watkins, who both missed the game due to injury. The Giants offense had a good first half and slow second half, but in combination with all of Buffalo’s penalties, it was enough to win the game. Despite the loss, Bills QB Tyrod Taylor continues to school all other quarterbacks on post-game press conference style.

Oakland (20), Chicago (22) – While other kickers are job hunting this week, Chicago K Robbie Gould hit a 50 yard field goal with 2 second remaining for Da Bears to notch their first win of the season. QB Jay Cutler returned from injury in a typical performance – some ups, some downs. Raiders QB Derek Carr performed well, but Oakland had trouble getting its run game going. Coach Jack Del Rio is getting criticism for going for the go-ahead field goal with two minutes left instead of a touchdown, giving the ball back to the Bears with plenty of time on the clock to get down the field for their own field goal after the Raiders hadn’t been able to stop the Bears all day.

Kansas City (21), Cincinnati (36) – The Bengals are now 4-0, with QB Andy Dalton getting praise for playing with more confidence and making clutch plays. For the first time in his career, he has had a passer rating of more than 100 for four straight games. It helps that he has a good run game to rely on, plus the services of WR A.J. Green. The Chiefs offense doesn’t look so bad – QB Alex Smith is taking advantage of having a legit WR in Jeremy Maclin. However, the Chiefs defense has given up more than 30 points in each of the last three games, which is the worst for the franchise since 1987. All of the Chiefs points came from field goals – their kicker Cairo Santos went 7/7. He will probably not be on the unemployed kicker list this week. 

Jacksonville (13), Indianapolis (16) (OT) Colts QB Andrew Luck missed his first NFL game due to the shoulder injury he sustained last week. Backup Matt Hasselbeck stepped in and got the job done, despite drops by WRs and RBs and another uninspiring performance by RB Frank Gore. The Jaguars didn’t score again after half time, even though they had the ball five times within the final 8 minutes of regulation and overtime. In another tale of this being a rough day for kickers, their kicker missed two field goals in the game (if you’re doing the mental math, yes, those points would have won them the game).

Carolina (37), Tampa Bay (23) – TB had 5 turnovers, including 4 interceptions by rookie QB Jameis Winston, who has had your typical rookie up and downs to start his NFL career. In another tale of kicker woes, TB rookie K Kyle Brindza was booed by the home crowd when he came on to the field to attempt an extra point – he’s missed 5 of 7 field goal attempts this year, and later in the game missed a PAT. He’s now unemployed. Carolina QB Cam Newton continues to hold the team together offensively without any big playmakers to help him out.

Philadelphia (20), Washington (23) – The Eagles lost several players to injuries during the game that were not able to return, which did not help them. In what seems to be a pattern of “a bad day for kickers” around the league, Philly’s kicker, signed this week to replace their injured kicker, missed a field goal, as well as an extra point attempt. Yes, those missed points would have helped Philly take the lead. QB Sam Bradford had a slow start before putting together two touchdown drives. Philly needs to get their run game in gear, and needs their o-line to improve. Last year’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, signed from the Cowboys in free agency, has only 47 rushing yards so far this year. Washington QB Kirk Cousins managed to put together a game winning touchdown drive, but didn’t get help from the ground game and had to throw the ball more than the coaches probably would have liked.

Cleveland (27), San Diego (30) – Browns QB Josh McCown had a great game, tying the game with a touchdown drive and two-point conversion with two minutes remaining. The Browns defense just could not stop Chargers QB Philip Rivers and RB Danny Woodhead, who had a career day. The Chargers managed to win despite injuries leaving them with only two starting offensive linemen, two healthy WRs, and two CBs by the last quarter. Rivers set rookie K Josh Lambo up with a 39 yard field goal with two seconds left on the clock to win . . . and he missed. But, the Browns had committed an off-sides penalty, so Lambo got a second shot from 5 yards closer. The rookie sailed it directly through the uprights. He will not be joining the “unemployed kicker” club this week.

St. Louis (24), Arizona (22) – Will the real St. Louis Rams please stand up? This looked like the team that everyone talked up all summer, earning the Cardinals their first loss of the season. Rookie RB Todd Gurley showed everyone why he was a top 10 pick of this year’s draft, despite missing most of his last college season with an ACL injury. He ran for 136 yards in the second half alone and had the smarts to burn time off the clock at the end of the game rather than score and give the ball back to the Cardinals with time left on the clock. St. Louis’s defense hit Cardinals QB Carson Palmer 9 times, forced 3 fumbles, deflected 6 passes, and intercepted Palmer in the end zone. This is the best defense the Cardinals have faced so far, so no reason to panic in the desert.

Minnesota (20), Denver (23) – The Vikings almost got into field goal range at the end of the game, which would have forced OT, but Denver’s defense strip-sacked Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater with less than a minute remaining. Denver’s defense is for real, and probably the main reason why the team is 4-0. They sacked Bridgewater 7 times! Denver QB Peyton Manning will be in the Hall of Fame one day, and while he’s still playing well enough that most teams would trade for him as their starting QB in a second, his arm strength is not what it used to be.

Green Bay (17), San Francisco (3) – The 49ers did a decent job at holding Aaron Rodgers in check, but unfortunately for them, the Packers defense did a better job at doing the same to SF QB Colin Kaepernick. His o-line didn’t protect him; he was hit on more than half his dropbacks and sacked 6 times. The Packers effectively stopped the 49ers run game, and when Kaepernick had to throw the ball he was often holding onto it too long, missing receivers, and just making some bad decisions. 49ers players and coaches were visibly frustrated on the sidelines.

Dallas (20), New Orleans (26) (OT) – Cowboys backup QB Brandon Weeden is holding his own in Tony Romo’s absence. He tied the game with less than two minutes remaining, but then Saints QB Drew Brees led a two-minute drill and set his kicker up with a 30 yard field goal with 12 seconds left . . . which the kicker missed. The game went into OT, where it only took a few seconds for Brees to throw his 400th career touchdown pass. During this game Brees also reached 5,000 career completions (Brett Favre and Peyton Manning are the only other quarterbacks who have done this). Brees’ shoulder appeared to bother him more as the game continued, but he still led his team to their first victory of the season.

Detroit (10), Seattle (13) – The big story line coming out of this game was a missed penalty call that would have given the Lions a chance to score at the end of the game. Seahawk (and recent holdout) Kam Chancellor batted the ball out of Megatron’s hands around the 1-yard line. The ball subsequently went into the end zone, where Seahawk LB K.J. Wright batted the ball out of the end zone, which is apparently illegal. The NFL VP of Officiating said that it was an officiating error and now people are questioning why this type of call isn’t reviewable.


Here are this week’s standings in our Weekly Pick ‘Em league. If you’re disappointed in your performance so far, just remind yourself that you are not an unemployed NFL kicker being blamed for a team’s loss. Not so bad now, is it?

Weekly Pick 'Em 2015 - Week 4

– Val