Our Thoughts – 2015 NFL Week 1 Recap

Our Thoughts Week 1 2015

Screw pumpkin lattes. The only thing that makes the end of summer remotely bearable is the return of football. NFL marketing must be salivating because week 1 gave us some juicy headlines.

Val tried to limit the number of fun facts, but it was just so hard. We’ve bolded the one key takeaway for each game.

Here’s what we thought about week 1 in the NFL…

New England (28), Pittsburgh (21) – He can deny it all he wants, but there was no better way to kick off the 2015 season than a pissed-off Tom Brady! Tom now owns the NFL record for most wins with one team (161), breaking a tie with Brett Favre. He went 25 of 32 for 288 yards and 4 touchdowns. This was the Tom and Gronk show all the way. TE Rob Gronkowski became the first player in NFL history to deliver multiple games with at least three receiving touchdowns against Pittsburgh, and only four TEs in history have more touchdowns than he does (and he’s only 26 years old!).

The Patriots defense sure looks different than it did a year ago with Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Much to the chagrin of Pats fans everywhere, they bent but didn’t break. (Seriously guys, it’s not good for our hearts.) The Steelers defense on the other hand is under the direction of a new coordinator and needs an upgrade in their secondary. They’re going to be relying on QB Ben Roethlisberger to carry them while they get on the same page. They might also get a new kicker after Josh Scobee missed two field goals. “Headset-gate” almost became a thing when it became known that the Steelers’ coaches’ headsets were getting the Patriots radio broadcast in the first half. Turns out the Patriots were having headset issues as well, and the NFL issued a statement absolving the Pats of blame and noting the equipment is provided by the league, and the rainy weather caused issues.

Buffalo (27), Indianapolis (14) – Don’t let the final score fool you into thinking it was a close game. Buffalo’s defense dominated the Colts. Free agent acquisitions RB Frank Gore and WR Andre Johnson did not have an impact – Gore actually missed parts of the game with calf cramps and Johnson tipped a ball to be intercepted. WR T.Y. Hilton could miss 1-2 games with a bruised knee. While most people thought Bills QB Tyrod Taylor was an afterthought in the Buffalo QB competition this summer, he delivered a solid performance. We also loved his snazzy post-game shirt.

Green Bay (31), Chicago (23) – Same old story here – Aaron Rodgers is a really good quarterback. He benefited from the resigning of WR James Jones, who played for the Raiders last year and is familiar with the Packers’ playbook. (Remember, they lost WR Jordy Nelson for the year to an ACL tear in the preseason.) He would probably appreciate a better offensive line, though. RB Matt Forte was the star player for the Bears, who are still working out the kinks as they adjust to a new defensive scheme under head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

Kansas City (27), Houston (20) – This game was also not as close as the score indicates. QB Alex Smith, RB Jamaal Charles, and TE Travis Kelce were the stars of the show for the Chiefs. Smith led the team on five straight scoring drives in the first half. It didn’t go as well for the Texans, who benched QB Brian Hoyer for Ryan Mallett after he committed too many turnovers. Bill O’Brien won’t announce the starting quarterback for next week before game, and says you have to watch first snap to find out who it is (actually, you probably don’t – the decision will leak before then). It’s not a Houston game summary without “What J.J. Watt Did.” The reigning defensive player of the year had two sacks and six tackles for a loss.

Carolina (20), Jacksonville (9) – Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles looked more at ease with a year experience under his belt, but still didn’t deliver. The Jaguars also missed an extra point attempt – one of several missed in games this week after the rules were changed to make kicks longer 33 yard attempts this off-season. However, their defense had some stellar plays – coach Gus Bradley is trying to build a copycat of the defense he used to coach in Seattle. Carolina has a wide receiver problem – they need more dependable ones after losing Kelvin Benjamin to an ACL tear in training camp. Their strong defense helped them win this game. Another important injury to watch going forward for the Panthers is linebacker Luke Kuechly, who left the game with a concussion.

New York Jets (31), Cleveland (10)Johnny “Football” Manziel came in at QB for Cleveland after veteran starter Josh McCown left with a concussion and he will retain the starting job week 2 due to McCown’s injury. Manziel threw his first NFL touchdown, but then threw an interception and lost two fumbles. Bummer. The Browns totaled 5 turnovers, which the Jets converted into 21 points. It was a nice debut for Jets head coach Todd Bowles, as the Jets managed to put up more than 30 points (they didn’t manage to score 30 points in a game last year until the season finale).

St. Louis (34), Seattle (31) – Everyone is calling this an “upset” and “stunner.” I (Val) disagree – Seattle can’t stay on top forever and St. Louis has a defense with tons of potential. Seattle’s o-line is a weakness, and TE Jimmy Graham and QB Russell Wilson are still getting on the same page. There were actually two punts returned for touchdowns in this game (one by each team). Seattle scored 18 unanswered points in 8 minutes in the fourth quarter to take the lead. Then Rams QB Nick Foles led a tying touchdown drive to force overtime. Seattle kicked what appeared to be an on-side kick to begin OT, but it turns out the kicker just screwed up because the ball was supposed to go a lot farther down the field. The Rams took advantage and their defense helped win the game when they stopped Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch on a 4th down and 1. Rams players later said they knew all along the Seahawks would turn to Lynch to run the ball in that situation because of the backlash Seattle got after passing the ball in the infamous play that ended their hopes of a consecutive Super Bowl victory this past February. Even Marshawn Lynch’s momma was upset by the play calling.

Miami (17), Washington (10) – Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill did not have a good game; the Dolphins won thanks to a special teams touchdown. Free agent signing Ndamukong Suh did’t really show up on the stat sheet for Miami (he did make headlines for “accidentally” kicking off RB Alfred Morris’s helmet, but what’s new?), but Washington altered their schemes to avoid him, so it will help the Dolphins that teams are adjusting around him. Washington QB Kirk Cousins played more consistently then he did last year, so don’t expect any quarterback changes for the team…yet. WR DeSean Jackson is out 3-4 weeks with a pulled hamstring, which takes away the team’s deep threat.

Arizona (31), New Orleans (19) – Cardinals coach Bruce Arians calls aggressive plays to win. His QB Carson Palmer looked great in his return to the field following last year’s season-ending ACL injury. Saints coach Sean Payton is hearing criticism after a questionable call to punt when his team was down by 5 with 2 minutes to go. When Drew Brees is your quarterback and your defense is decimated by injuries, most people assume you’re going to go for it on fourth down.

San Diego (33), Detroit (28) – The Chargers bounced back from a 21-3 deficit thanks to beastly play by QB Philip Rivers and WR Keenan Allen. Lions QB Matt Stafford’s play declined in the second half after he took a hit and had to wear a sleeve over his arm. He says he’ll play next week, but rumor is this could be worse than it looks, so keep an eye on it if he’s your fantasy quarterback. A positive for the Lions was rookie RB Ameer Abdullah’s performance.

Denver (19), Baltimore (13) – The defenses controlled this game – there were no offensive touchdowns scored. Broncos QB Peyton Manning needed the Denver defense to bail him out as he adjusts to new head coach Gary Kubiak’s offense. You’ll be hearing lots of talk about how Father Time is catching up with Manning and his arm strength is deteriorating. It’s only week one, so too soon to overreact. Calm yo’ self. Neither team could get their run game going. Terrell Suggs is out for the year with a torn Achilles, which is a big hit for Baltimore.

Cincinnati (33), Oakland (13) – We just feel bad for the Raiders. Their debut under new head coach Jack Del Rio was underwhelming. To add insult to injury, QB Derek Carr bruised thumb in the first half and was replaced by Matt McGloin. Carr could play Sunday, but the team was hoping he’d have a chance to show improvement from year one to year two. Bengals TE Tyler Eifert had a breakout performance after dealing with injuries most of his first two years in the league.

Tennessee (42), Tampa Bay (14) – This game featured the first and second draft picks from this year’s draft, Marcus Mariota for the Titans and Jameis Winston for the Bucaneers. Mariota set a rookie NFL record with four touchdown passes in the first half of his debut. He finished with a perfect passer rating and was pulled in the fourth quarter because the Titans were so far ahead. Winston’s very first pass, on the other hand, was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. (The last quarterback this actually happened to was Brett Favre!) He was not helped by a shoddy offensive line, and certainly didn’t get any help from Tampa’s defense either.

Dallas (27), New York Giants (26) – This game was RIDICULOUS. The Cowboys basically spent the first 58 minutes saying, “Here Giants, you take this one.” The Giants seemed willing to oblige and then it went up in flames for them – no other way to describe it. Coach Tom Coughlin and QB Eli Manning are both taking the blame for bad calls that left Dallas with too much time on the clock and resulted in massive amounts of Manningface. Tony Romo then played lights out and threw the winning touchdown – after he picked up the fumbled snap. Cowboys WR Dez Bryant suffered a broken bone in his foot. He had surgery and will be out 4-6 weeks, which will definitely have an impact on Dallas’s passing game.

Atlanta (26), Philadelphia (24) – What a hard game for Eagles fans to watch after all the off-season hoopla surrounding Chip Kelly’s roster moves. The Falcons came to play under new head coach Dan Quinn and jumped out to a 20-3 lead. Their new offensive coordinator Kyle Shannahan has to love the toy he has in WR Julio Jones. The Eagles did storm back to take the lead and after the Falcons pulled ahead again, the Eagles kicker missed a potentially game winning field goal. QB Sam Bradford hasn’t played much the last two years due to injury, so he’s still got to get into game form. The Eagles run game was disappointing after signing last year’s rushing champ DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews.

Minnesota (3), San Fransisco (20) – Also a rough start to the season for the Vikings. The 49ers defense owned Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater all night. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson underwhelmed after missing almost all of last year due to suspension. Expectations were not high for the 49ers after a change in coaching regimes and many retirements on the defensive side of the ball over the off-season, but they impressed, especially NaVarro Bowman, who missed all of last year due to injury. RB Carlos Hyde also showed why the 49ers were ok with letting RB Frank Gore walk in free agency – he had 182 yards and two touchdowns. Also, the 49ers had red and black jerseys that didn’t match their helmets and we felt like they violated our eyeballs.

If you still can’t get enough, you should read the recap of Minnesota – San Fransisco game from the point of view of an Australian. He live-blogged the game since Jarryd Haynes, a famous rugby player, was making his debut for the 49ers. Full of gems like “Here’s the Hayne Plane! His first touch in the NFL. And… he drops it? Oh my goodness me, he drops it!” and “The kicker’s like a little Hobbit! A tiny little man! He’s a jockey! Ha. Top stuff, Walshy.”

You can still join our Weekly Pick ‘Em League on NFL.com. Even though you’ll be a week behind the rest of us, you can still catch up by making great picks throughout the season. It’s easy. It’s fun. It might get you some free prizes. So, what are you waiting for?

– (Mostly) Val and (kinda sorta with some help from) Michelle

Advertisements

Our Thoughts – 2014 NFL Week 17 Recap

Our Thoughts NFL Recap Week 17 2014

The last week of the 2014 regular season is now complete. With the exception of a few games with playoff implications, most games were eh. Some teams sat their starters and other teams were just playing for pride. That’s just how the cookie crumbles during week 17.

Yesterday our mom told us that sometimes she skims Snap posts and just looks for the parts where we mention her. Ouch. Understandable, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.

This week we’re bolding the most important takeaways from each game recap, in hopes that you retain some fun facts if you don’t have time to read everything. Mom – this is for you. (*wink wink*)

Here’s what we thought about week 17 in the NFL…

Baltimore (20), Cleveland (10) – The Ravens are playoff bound as a result of their win and San Diego’s loss to the Chiefs. The Browns did not make this one easy for the Ravens, who were without two starting tackles and need to get their act together if they want to have a successful playoff run. Undrafted rookie quarterback Connor Shaw started for the Browns as a result of Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer being out with injuries and he actually played better than Johnny Manziel did in the past two games. The Browns have a lot to think about in regards to their quarterback situation during the off-season.

Houston (23), Jacksonville (17) – Houston’s J.J. Watt did nothing but give those calling for him to be league MVP more support for their cause – he had three sacks and a safety. He became the only player to have two 20-sack seasons since the statistic was tracked. Coach Bill O’Brien can call his first season in Houston a success, despite not making the playoffs – he instilled a culture change and navigated through four quarterbacks in his starting line-up due to injuries. The Jaguars have to like what they see in rookie quarterback Blake Bortles and will look to upgrade the offensive line during the offseason.

Kansas City (19), San Diego (7) – If the Chargers had won this game, they would have made the playoffs. Instead, both teams are done for the season. Kansas City’s pass rush (the defensive linemen getting after the other team’s quarterback) was too much for San Diego’s offensive line to handle and San Diego’s run game struggled again with running back Ryan Mathews. The Chiefs managed to win with starting quarterback Alex Smith out due to a lacerated spleen. Ouch. Look for San Diego to focus on defense and their offensive line this offseason, with the Chiefs looking for more offensive weapons.

New York Jets (37), Miami (24) – This was a division game for two non-playoff bound teams, and Rex Ryan’s last game as the Jets head coach. He and General Manager John Idzik were let go on Black Monday. Jets QB Geno Smith posted a perfect passer rating of 158.3 – nothing like waiting until the last game of the season to play your best football. The Dolphins already announced that coach Joe Philbin will return after another 8-8 season.

Minnesota (13), Chicago (9) – The Vikings were able to close the season on a high note with a victory, while one can only assume the Bears were happy to be put out of their misery that has been the 2014 season. The Vikings have to like what they see in rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater while the Bears finish with a 5-11 record, their worst in 10 years. No one knows if quarterback Jay Cutler will be back for next season. The Bears owe Cutler a lot of guaranteed money, which will make it difficult to find a trade suitor.

Buffalo (17), New England (9) – The Patriots rested lots of their starters for all or most of the game since the outcome would not change the fact they are the top seed in the AFC heading into the playoffs. The Bills finish with a winning record (9-7) for the first time in ten years, and also earned their first victory at Gillette Stadium (they were 0-12 until today). The Patriots broke their record of 35 straight home wins against AFC teams, but Coach Bill Belichick is obviously looking ahead to having a healthy team in the playoffs.

Philadelphia (34), New York Giants (26) – The offseason has already begun for these two teams. Stories to follow for the Eagles include the quarterback position – Mark Sanchez is at the end of his one-year deal, and Nick Foles did not play as effectively compared to last year before his season was cut short by injury. The Eagles also need to upgrade their secondary. The Giants are going to take some time to determine the fate of their coaching staff – most expect head coach Tom Coughlin to return, because even after a rough season he has the benefit of the doubt with two Super Bowl trophies. Giants fans should be excited about the potential of rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. as he transitions into his sophomore season.

New Orleans (23), Tampa Bay (20) – The Buccaneers’ loss earned them the number one pick in the 2015 draft after they let the Saints come from behind to steal the victory. The Bucs seven-game losing streak to end the season just proved they have a lot of needs, including quarterback. The bright spot for the Bucs this season has been rookie quarterback Mike Evans, who will be a centerpiece of their offense going forward. The demise of the Saints defense this season has many questioning what types of changes will happen in terms of both players and coaches over the off-season.

Indianapolis (27), Tennessee (10) – The Colts playoff seeding (4th seed in AFC) was set regardless of the outcome of this game, while they only thing left for the Titans to find out was if they were still in contention for the first draft pick (they “lost” this battle – they will choose second behind the Buccaneers). The Colts sat some of their starters, including quarterback Andrew Luck, in the second half, rather than risk injuries before the playoffs. They will play Cincinnati next week at home. Expect the Titans to make a lot of changes in the offseason, but not to fire their head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, who is finishing his first year and will be given more time to turn the team around.

Dallas (44), Washington (17) – The Cowboys are building momentum heading into the playoffs. They became the 6th team to go 8-0 on the road since the 16 game season was established in 1978. Four of the previous five teams to do this advanced to the Super Bowl. Running back DeMarco Murray set the franchise records for rushing yards in a season (breaking the record previously held by Emmitt Smith) and wide receiver Dez Bryant broke the franchise record for touchdowns in a season with 16. The Cowboys host the Lions in a wildcard game next week, while the season ends for Washington and many questioning quarterback Robert Griffin III’s ability to develop into a successful quarterback in the league.

Carolina (34), Atlanta (3) – The Panthers took the NFC South division with this victory in Atlanta and a 7-8-1 losing record. They rode a four-game winning streak, relying on their running game and improved pass rush, to become the first team to repeat as the NFC South champions since the division realignments in 2002. The Panthers will host the Arizona Cardinals next week in the wild card game. Atlanta head coach Mike Smith was a victim of Black Monday. The Falcons defense and running game held this team back.

Denver (47), Oakland (14) – The Broncos secured the AFC second seed and a first-round playoff bye with their win over the Raiders. The Raiders didn’t stand a chance as Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was clicking with his receivers and running back C.J. Anderson scored another three (three!) touchdowns. Denver’s defense didn’t let the Raiders convert a first down until the second quarter. The Raiders need more offensive weapons for rookie quarterback Derek Carr, and will also be selecting a permanent head coach for next season. The Broncos now get a week to rest before they begin their playoff journey to avenge last year’s nasty Super Bowl loss against the Seahawks.

Green Bay (30), Detroit (20) – Green Bay claimed the NFC North and a first-round bye with the second seed for the playoffs, while the Lions will travel to Dallas for the wild card game. You could hear the panic from Packers fans when quarterback Aaron Rodgers aggravated his calf strain, limped off the field, and was taken to the locker room. The Lions closed a 14-point deficit in his absence, but he returned in the third quarter and led the team to victory. Oh, and this happened, and resulted in Lions DT Ndmaukong Suh getting suspended for the wildcard game next weekend:

Seattle (20), St. Louis (6) – The Seahawks rallied from a halftime deficit to earn the win and the first seed in the NFC playoffs. This means the road to the Super Bowl for NFC teams goes through Seattle, and their defense is in top form. It should be noted, last year they had to play higher caliber quarterbacks, while their current winning streak has included playing four second string quarterbacks. The Rams will head into the offseason looking to build on their underrated defense, as well as answer questions at quarterback as Sam Bradford hopes to return from another ACL injury that cost him this season.

San Francisco (20), Arizona (17) – Moments after the game, the 49ers released a statement confirming they and Coach Jim Harbaugh had agreed to part ways. Jim is expected to take the head coach position at his alma mater, University of Michigan, and become the highest paid college coach. In only four years with the 49ers, he took them to three NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl. With this loss and the Seahawks’ victory, the Cardinals slip from NFC West champs to a wild card seed and will head to Carolina next week for their first playoff game. They are being held back by play from their third-string quarterback, so while they were a hot postseason pick just a few weeks ago, they are now the underdogs, and their defense has slipped to allow an average of 500 yards each to their last two opponents.

Pittsburgh (27), Cincinnati (17) – Solid win for Pittsburgh to take the AFC North division and send Cincinnati to the playoffs in a wild card spot. The Steelers are keeping their fingers crossed that running back Le’Veon Bell will be able to play this weekend after he hyperextended his knee. The Steelers flew a bit under the radar this year but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finished the regular season tied with Drew Brees for the most passing yards in the league, and wide receiver Antonio Brown led the NFL with receptions and receiving yards. He is the only player in history to have at least five catches and 50 yards in all 16 games, and he’s done that in back to back seasons. On the Bengals side, wide receiver A.J. Green is undergoing concussion protocol and his availability for this week is up in the air. The Andy Dalton to A.J. Green combination is responsible for the most interceptions in the league since 2011. The Bengals finished last in the league in sacks this year, and their kicker is having problems making long field goals (over 50 yards), both things that could have an impact in the upcoming playoffs. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had this interaction with the Bengals player who tackled/injured RB Le’Veon Bell.

Today is Black Monday. Don’t know what that is? Check out our post on it here.

Here’s the schedule for Wildcard Weekend:

Saturday, January 3, 2015

NFC: 4:35 p.m. (ET) Arizona at Carolina (ESPN)

AFC: 8:15 p.m. (ET) Baltimore at Pittsburgh (NBC)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

AFC: 1:05 p.m. (ET) Cincinnati at Indianapolis (CBS)

NFC: 4:40 p.m. (ET) Detroit at Dallas (FOX)

Make sure you follow us on Twitter, so you’re prepared for Wildcard Weekend!

– Val and Michelle

Our Thoughts – 2014 NFL Week 16 Recap

Our Thoughts NFL Week 16 Recap 2014

Most fantasy football leagues ended yesterday. So if people seem weirdly upset today, give them a break. It just means that A.J. Green (Bengals WR) probably lost them their fantasy playoff game. #There’sAlwaysNextYear

(We’re not allowed to talk about Frank Gore or A.J. Green in our house right now. They are on Momma O’s naughty list this year.)

Here’s what we thought about week 16 in the NFL…

Jacksonville (21), Tennessee (13) – This was a battle of teams with only two wins each this season. Jax rookie QB Blake Bortles was playing through a foot injury, but managed to make enough plays to put the Jaguars on top. Jax needs to upgrade their offensive line this offseason – they let Bortles get sacked four times, which set the franchise record for sacks allowed in a season. With another loss, Tennessee stays in the running with Tampa Bay for the first draft pick next year.

Washington (27), Philadelphia (24) – This loss basically eliminated Philly from having any chance at making the play-offs as a wild card. QB Mark Sanchez threw an interception and lost a fumble – bringing his total to 13 turnovers in 8 games. He’s also getting sacked more than QB Nick Foles did because he holds onto the ball too long while he tries to figure out what the defense is doing. The goat of this game could be Philly’s kicker, Cody Parker – he missed two field goals, which would have given Philly the win, or Philly’s cornerbacks – the Eagles have allowed as many big plays down the field as any team in the league. Washington QB Robert Griffin III was un-benched after back-up Colt McCoy was lost with a neck injury and responded with his best game of the year.

San Diego (38), San Francisco (35) – We actually turned this game off when the Chargers were down 21 points and we were upset because both of us and Mom had put 49ers RB Frank Gore on our bench for our fantasy play-offs (based on his performance so far this season, that’s where he belonged!). Figures the guy had his best game of the season. In fact, despite the 49ers rushing for 355 yards, which was a franchise record, the Chargers came back to force OT and win by kicking a field goal that resulted from a fumble by the 49ers. The Chargers can now earn a wild card play-off spot next week with a victory over the Chiefs. Chargers QB Philip Rivers deserves credit for bringing this team back when he was playing without his leading WR and working with his fifth-string center.

Carolina (17), Cleveland (13) – Cleveland QB Johnny Manziel (aka Johnny Football) did not show any inspiring play before leaving the game with a hamstring injury in the second quarter. Cleveland’s offense seemed to flow more when Brian Hoyer came in to replace him. Panthers QB Cam Newton made some great plays in his return to the field after missing a week due to injuries he sustained in a car crash. He also called out Panthers fans as “classless” for cheering when Manziel got hurt. The Panthers will play the Falcons in Atlanta next week, with the winner of the game being crowned the NFC South champion and heading to the play-offs.

Detroit (20), Chicago (14) – The Lions were lucky to come out with the “W” in this one – QB Matt Stafford threw two red zone interceptions and there were lots of sloppy errors on their part. If they play like that next week against the Packers, they will not win the division and be slated in as one of the wild card seeds in the playoffs. Lions WR Calvin Johnson, a.k.a. Megatron, reached over 1,000 receiving yards for the fifth straight season, which is a team record. Bears QB Jimmy Clausen, playing in place of the benched Jay Cutler, looked surprisingly comfortable but would have looked even better if Bears wide receivers didn’t drop so many of the passes he threw them.

Houston (25), Baltimore (13) – The Ravens might have cost themselves a play-off spot with this loss. After we mentioned last week how QB Joe Flacco and new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak were a great match, they could not handle the Texan’s defensive plan, and it didn’t help that they lost two starting members of their offensive line. The Texans drew up a great game plan for quarterback Case Keenum, their fourth starting quarterback of the year due to injury, and who was unemployed until the Texans called him last week. Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson became the 10th player in NFL history to catch 1,000 passes. As for “What J.J. Watt Did” – he became Houston’s all-time franchise leader in sacks, and he did it in 20 fewer games than the previous record holder.

Miami (37), Minnesota (35) – The Dolphins squeaked by with a win with only seconds remaining in the game as they blocked a punt for a safety (2 points), but were still eliminated from the play-offs due to the outcomes of other games. Vikings rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater has shown growth over the season, and if the team can strengthen his offensive line, he could be even better next year. The Dolphins also announced that coach Joe Philbin will keep his job – there have been lots of rumors circling due to the Dolphin’s so-so record and drama under his leadership the past two years.

Atlanta (30), New Orleans (14) – In the cellar that is the NFC South, the Falcons kicked the Saints out of play-off contention, ensuring the winner of next week Atlanta/Carolina game with walk away with not only the division titles, but a losing record with only 7 wins. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan hasn’t been holding this team back but his performances have gone unnoticed with the team’s less than stellar record. While the dome in New Orleans used to offer the Saints an almost unfair home advantage, this was their fifth straight home loss of the season. QB Drew Brees and TE Jimmy Graham should be locked in a room together this offseason and forced to get their fung-schwei back together – more often than not this season, they have not been on the same page and it’s hurt the offense.

New England (17), New York Jets (16) – What a great rivalry game – and perhaps the last one with Rex Ryan as the Jets’ coach. Many assume he will be on his way out after another losing season. The Jets could use a decent quarterback – Geno Smith followed the same pattern of playing well but then had one or two critical mistakes that cost them the game. The Jets gave the Pats all they could handle, but in the end their win guaranteed them a first round play-off bye week. They became the first team in league history to do so for five straight seasons.

Pittsburgh (20), Kansas City (12) – Pittsburgh secured their trip to the play-offs with this victory, which left the Chiefs needing some help and to win some tie-breakers next week to make it there themselves. The Chiefs still need help at WR, while the Steelers defense is coming into their own. The Steelers game against the Bengals next week will determine the winner of the AFC North division.

Green Bay (20), Tampa Bay (3) – Despite being sick, QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers clinched a play-off spot with their victory and their game next week against the Lions will determine the winner of the NFC North division. On the flip side, with their 13th loss of the season, the Buccaneers kept themselves in contention for next year’s first draft pick.

New York Giants (37), St. Louis (27) – After a rough start to the season and being knocked out of play-off contention, the Giants finally look like they’ve decided to start playing football. The most exciting thing about the Giants overall this season has been rookie WR Odell Beckham, Jr. We can’t not mention the tussle in this game that got four players ejected. The Rams still have a long way to go and have been very inconsistent this season – they shut out opponents two weeks in a row but then let the Giants pile on 514 yards of offense in their own house.

Dallas (42), Indianapolis (7) – Didn’t see this one coming – the Cowboys jumped out to a 28-0 lead by halftime and never looked back, clinching the NFC East division title. League leading rusher RB DeMarco Murray played despite having surgery on a broken hand last Monday. QB Tony Romo also had his fifth game out of the last six with a passer rating over 129.0 (which is really good) and pushed him past Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers for the league lead. Colts QB Andrew Luck was pulled from the game in the third quarter once the Colts were so far behind. The Colts don’t have a running game and he missed his leading receiver T.Y. Hilton, who was out due to injury. The Colts offense was on fire the first nine weeks of the season before their bye, but since returning they’ve struggled and don’t have the momentum teams desire going into the play-offs.

Oakland (26), Buffalo (24) – Everyone still seems to be surprised when the Raiders win, but they are 3-2 over their last five games. (Maybe the win was karma for this kind act by the team this week.) While rookie QB Derek Carr doesn’t have much talent to work with on offense, their defense is feisty. Rookie defensive linebacker Khalil Mack is a star. The Bills are no longer in play-off contention with this loss, extending their NFL record for the team with the most years since a playoff appearance. They need a new quarterback – journeyman Kyle Orton is not the answer. He did bring the team within two points, but also threw two picks.

Seattle (36), Arizona (6) – The Cardinals have quarterback issues and have to hope that Drew Stanton is ready to return for the play-offs. This loss might have cost Arizona the NFC West division, as well as the top seed in the NFC, which would make them a wild card entry and force them to play their post-season games on the road. Seattle has been steamrolling its opponents over the last five weeks. Their offense is clicking and their defense is back to its suffocating self. They look just as good, if not better, then they did at the end of the last regular season before they went on to smother the Broncos in the Super Bowl.

Cincinnati (37), Denver (28) – Didn’t see this one coming either. The Bengals finally proved that they could win a big prime-time game. Thanks to the Broncos’ injury-laden defense, Cincinnati was able to run the ball up and down the field all night. Denver QB Peyton Manning did not look like himself, throwing 4 touchdowns. There was a lot of Manningface and now there are a lot of questions about his arm strength and the Broncos offense in general. The game had implications for more than these two teams – it gave the Pats the 1st seed for the AFC in the playoffs.

Thanks to our new email followers this week. If you would like to join them and experience the joy of The Snap in your inbox, enter your email in the box on the right side of the screen.

We wish you and your families the happiest of holidays! Don’t worry – we’ll still be Snapping and posting new content over the next two weeks. Let’s face it – we don’t know what else to do with ourselves when we have time off from work.

– Val and Michelle

Our Thoughts – 2014 NFL Week 15 Recap

Our Thoughts Week 15 NFL Recap

Oh, snap – we are so late on the week 15 NFL game summaries. Shame on us. (To be honest though, we’d feel worse if we weren’t off gallivanting across town attending football-related events that provide great content blog posts. I’m still reliving the Chung Changing Lives Open Mic Night and I can’t wait to write about a spectacular sports professional that I met last night.)

So even though you might have already written off week 15, we’d still like to give you a quick refresher so you know what’s at stake this weekend. THE PLAYOFFS ARE COMING, PEOPLE!

(Here’s the current playoff picture, so you know which teams are still fighting for a spot.)

FYI – There are two Saturday games this week. Yes, that’s weird, especially since the league is referring to them as special editions of Thursday Night Football. Whatever – that means more football, so I’m not complaining. In case you don’t have any plans, Philly plays Washington at 4:30 EST and San Diego plays San Francisco at 8:30 EST.

Here’s what we thought about week 15 in the NFL…

Arizona (12), St. Louis (6) – This was the Cardinals’ first Thursday win since 1948 and the first game in two years without a touchdown from either team. In this battle of the defenses, Arizona fared slightly better, despite losing QB Drew Stanton to a knee injury. Sounds like Stanton should be back for the playoffs, but with all their starting quarterback injuries this year, it speaks to the coaching job Bruce Arians has done.

Pittsburgh (27), Atlanta (20) – Unfortunately for the Falcons, they were without their star wide receiver Julio Jones. On the flip side for the Falcons, they play in the weak NFC South and even with a 5-9 record, can still win the division and make it to the playoffs. The Steelers seem to be gaining momentum and this was one of the few games where they had an even showing from both their offense and defense. Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger isn’t often mentioned with the names of other great quarterbacks, but he is quietly having a great season.

Baltimore (20), Jacksonville (12) – Blake Bortles, Jax’s QB, is still making rookie mistakes, but it’s not entirely his fault as his offensive line is not effective. Jax’s defense is underrated – coach Gus Bradley has them playing hard. The Raven’s defensive line had another strong game and their offense has benefited from the addition of former Houston coach Gary Kubiak as offensive coordinator. Baltimore needed this win to stay in contention to win the AFC North.

Buffalo (21), Green Bay (13) – Not many people saw this one coming. Green Bay’s high-powered offense did not look like themselves. Statistically speaking, this was Aaron Rodgers’ (Green Bay QB) worst game ever with a completion rate of 40.5%, a passer rating of 34.3, and a bunch of dropped passes by his usually reliable receivers. The Bills defense was impressive – their offense, not so much. Big playoff implications – this game might have cost the Packers the 1st seed in the NFC, and it kept playoff hopes alive for the Bills.

Carolina (19), Tampa Bay (17) – Backup QB Derek Anderson started for the Panthers with Cam Newton being side lined after a scary car accident this week. He got the job done, and Carolina’s defense handled the Buccaneers, who might have the worst offensive line in the NFL. It’s been a disappointing and tough first season for head coach Lovie Smith down in Tampa Bay. Just like we noted above with the Falcons, the Panthers also have a shot to win the NFC South with a 5-8-1 record.

Cincinnati (30), Cleveland (0) – This was Johnny Football’s (QB Johnny Manziel) first game as a starter and it did not go well – two interceptions, three sacks and no points on the board. I’d use the word pathetic, but I don’t know that I would have fared much better in his situation. The Bengals defense had a grand old time – they mocked Johnny by throwing up his “money-rubbing” celebration gesture every time sacked him. Bengals rookie running back Jeremy Hill rushed for 148 yards and 2 TDs. That’s a good day at work.

Indianapolis (17), Houston (10) – The Colts won the AFC South with this victory over the Texans. QB Andrew Luck was inconsistent and this was statistically one of his worst games. It doesn’t help that they don’t have a strong running game to turn to. Talk about having some bad luck – the Texans started the season with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, benched him for Ryan Mallet, who then tore a pectoral muscle that ended his season, and then went back to Ryan Fitzpatrick, who broke his leg in the second quarter of the game and is out for the rest of the year. The Texans had to turn to rookie Tom Savage, who had never thrown a pass in a regular season NFL game. As for what Houston defensive end J.J. Watt did, he had two sacks, a blocked pass, and two quarterback hits.

Kansas City (31), Oakland (13) – The Chiefs snapped a three game losing streak and got redemption against a struggling Raiders team that notched their first victory of their season against the Chiefs a few weeks ago. The Raiders do not have much talent on offense, and rookie QB Derek Carr took a beating from the Chief’s defense. As for the Chiefs offense, sometimes it’s hard to figure out how they get the job done – they are the only team in the league that has yet to throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver.

New England (41), Miami (13) – A close first half was followed by Patriot domination after halftime. Pats D looked good – linebacker Jamie Collins has been a beast lately and our boy, safety Pat Chung, got an interception. Miami QB Ryan Tannehill wasn’t the reason the Dolphins lost the game. With this win, the Pats clinched their 6th straight AFC East title.

(Did anyone see Gronk on Top Chef this week? He judged a sausage quick fire challenge. Hilarious.)

New York Giants (24), Washington (13) – Nothing too exciting coming from this penalty-laden game between two non-playoff teams, other than Giants WR Odell Beckham, Jr. doing more touchdown celebrations. Washington decided to start Colt McCoy at quarterback. Since things are never easy for the Redskins, he got injured and is out for the rest of the year. RG3 went back in the game, and well, they lost.

Denver (22), San Diego (10) – With this victory the Broncos won the AFC West title. However the Broncos suffered quite a few injuries, including QB Peyton Manning who was suffering from flu-like symptoms and had to leave the game to get treatment for a thigh injury. The Broncos are relying heavily on their run game, which is starting rumors that it’s necessary because Peyton’s arm strength is decreasing. Denver’s defense is surprisingly one of the best statistically in the league. The Charger’s offense struggled, and the absence of running back Ryan Mathews was felt. San Diego needs to win their remaining two games to have a chance to make the play-offs.

New York Jets (16), Tennessee (11) – This was battle of the 2-11 teams, also known as the battle for the first draft pick. There weren’t too many highlights from this game – it only got attention for the huge fight that broke out between the two teams. It started with some smack talk, escalated to a punch to Jets QB Geno Smith’s helmet and then all hell broke loose. Shame on you.

Detroit (16), Minnesota (14) – The Lions defense helped them overcome a 14-point deficit to stay alive in the race for the NFC North division title. QB Matt Stafford and the offense struggled. Vikings rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater started off on a roll, but then the defense got his number as he threw two picks and was shut out by halftime after helping put the first 14 points on the board. Special teams played a role in the outcome of this game – the normally reliable Vikings kicker Blair Walsh was 0 for 3 on field goals (the Lions blocked one and another was a “hail mary” from a long distance out as time expired). I’m sure you can do the math, but at 3 points a piece, even one of those field goals might have won the game for the Vikings.

Seattle (17), San Francisco (7) – This rivalry used to be a little bit more competitive, but the 49ers’ offense has been in a bit of a funk lately. Seattle made some good halftime adjustments in order to come back and shut-out the 49ers in the second half. This loss knocked the 49ers out of playoff contention and now everyone is talking about Jim Harbaugh losing his head coaching job.

Dallas (38), Philadelphia (27) – Two weeks after losing to the Eagles at home, Dallas reminded us that they are capable of comebacks and they shouldn’t be counted out just yet. After an early 21-0 Dallas lead, the Eagles put up 24 points to grab the lead, thanks to 3 running TDs and a field goal. The Cowboys rallied, making Eagles QB Mark Sanchez look pretty bad – he had 2 interceptions and 4 sacks. Dez Bryant (Cowboys WR) had 3 TDs and DeMarco Murray (Cowboys RB) had 2 TDs in this Sunday Night thriller. Fun fact of the week: The Eagles record against teams with a winning record is 2-4.

New Orleans (31), Chicago (15) – Bad Jay Cutler headlined this game. He was so bad that the team is going to bench him and start Jimmy Clausen in week 16. This was apparently shocking to Jay, who is making bank this year with a gigantic contract. Look for him to be traded this off-season to a quarterback-desperate team. Saints QB Drew Brees had a good game, propelling the team to first place in the weak NFC South.

We’ve got about 30 followers on Facebook and 30 followers on Twitter. This is significantly more than we had a few months ago and we’re so thankful for every one of you. Please continue to share the love and suggest that your friends like our page or follow us! We’re figuring out a special treat for one lucky follower when we hit 100 on either Facebook or Twitter. We have no clue what this treat is yet, but we’re sure it will be fantastic.

– Val and Michelle

Our Thoughts – 2014 NFL Week 13 Recap

NFL Week 13 Recap The Snap Blog

Ahhh…such an exciting week in football. Three games decided by one point, a 52-0 smack-down, some interesting upsets, and J.J. Watt continued to be an absolute beast. It’s weeks like these that remind us why we love writing about the game.

Here’s what we thought about week 13 in the NFL…

Detroit (34), Chicago (17) – Lions quarterback Matt Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson (a.k.a Megatron) had a great Thanksgiving at the expense of the Bears banged-up and talent-lacking defense. Fortunately for the Bears, Good Jay Cutler (quarterback) showed up, but his team’s defense just couldn’t stop the Lions. Cutler had to throw the ball a lot to receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery because Detroit’s defensive line only let them run for 13 yards. The Lions remain in the hunt for the NFC North title while the Bears play-off hopes are disappearing.

Philadelphia (33), Dallas (10) – The move down the I-95 corridor has worked out well for Eagles QB Mark Sanchez, who came out firing on all cylinders. Running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin put up some sexy numbers for the Eagles. The Eagles defense was probably the star of the game, limiting Cowboys running back superstar DeMarco Murray to 73 yards, and sacking Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo four times. This was a disappointing outing for the Dallas defense – they’ve given up 61 points and 891 yards in the last two games. Ouch. The teams play each other again in two weeks in Philly.

Seattle (19), San Francisco (3) – Seattle’s defense looked dominant in this rivalry game and the team seems to be getting into position to make another strong play-off run. There is drama surrounding the 49ers and their head coach situation for next season, as well as their play-calling on offense. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did not have a great game and missed a lot of his reads. (Learning moment: A read is basically the quarterback looking at the defense of the other team and making a decision what to do with the ball.) The 49ers were booed by the home crowd many times, which is never fun. They have a lot of talent on their team, but play in a tough division.

San Diego (34), Baltimore (33) – The Chargers were down by 10 points with less than 7 minutes to go in the game and were able to come out with the victory. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers made clutch plays under pressure and took advantage of the Ravens weak secondary, with wide receiver Keenan Allen giving him a helping hand on a few plays. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had a great game, but the Chargers defense made them kick field goals instead of getting touchdowns, which came back to bite them in the final score.

Buffalo (26), Cleveland (10) – On a day where both the Buffalo and Cleveland offenses struggled, the Bills defense proved they are the real deal. We had our first appearance by Johnny Football (Johnny Manziel), after Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer threw two interceptions and was subsequently instructed to keep the bench warm. Alas, Johnny’s run into the end zone for a touchdown wasn’t enough to help the team pull out a win.

Houston (45), Tennessee (21) – Let’s first recap what J.J. Watt did – his stats for this game read as two sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and one touchdown catch when he stepped in as a tight end. (We hope this sounds impressive to you – it should because it’s quite an accomplishment.) He also knocked Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger out of the game with a shoulder injury after driving him into the ground. Ryan Fitzpatrick was back at starting quarterback for the Texans since Ryan Mallet was lost for the season after an injury sustained last week. Fitzpatrick threw six touchdown passes against a Titans team that is having a really tough season.

Indianapolis (49), Washington (27) – Washington quarterback Colt McCoy started in place of the benched RG3. He did lead four scoring drives, but is still knocking off the rust. Washington’s secondary (safeties and cornerbacks) is a problem – for them, definitely not for opposing teams, whose wide receivers seem to run freely around the field. That allowed Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to finish the game with the most yards per attempt and second highest passer rating of his career, despite losing a fumble and throwing an interception in the beginning of the game. Tight end Coby Fleener has stepped up as one of Luck’s go-to targets.

Jaguars (25), New York Giants (24) – This game was “completely embarrassing” for the Giants – NFL.com’s words, not ours. Blowing a 21-0 lead, this was the Giant’s seventh straight loss, as they continued to struggle with football fundamentals and the loss of injured players. Eli Manning (Giants QB) had the chance to move the team into field goal range at the end of the game, but sadly had the ball stripped from him. The Jaguars showed some spunk, sacking Manning four times.

Minnesota (31), Carolina (13) – The Vikings blocked and returned two (two!) punts for touchdowns in this game – only the fourth time in NFL history this has happened. Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater played a mistake-free game, which was all they needed over the Panthers, who seem to be in a downward spiral. Quarterback Cam Newton is having a rough year and needs some more offensive weapons.

New Orleans (35), Pittsburgh (32) – The Steelers are like a box of chocolates this season – you never know what you’re going to get. This week they were one of those chocolates that you spit out after you try it. The game apparently wasn’t as close as the score makes it seem, although Steelers RB Le’Veon put up impressive numbers, much to the delight of his fantasy football owners. The Saints offense looked good – QB Drew Brees scored five touchdowns and had no interceptions on the day.

St. Louis (52), Oakland (0) – If you look up “butt whooping” in the dictionary, you might find a picture of this game. Oakland was unable to carry forward any momentum from their upset win against the Chiefs last week. They basically couldn’t get anything right. The Rams, however, were all fired up, putting up 21 points before the end of the first quarter. Rams rookie running back Tre Mason had some pretty runs, proving that he was quite the bargain in the draft.

Cincinnati (14), Tampa Bay (13) – Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton had an unimpressive first half – which can probably be explained because he had the flu and needed two IVs to play the game. He got it together enough in the second half to throw the game winning touchdown to wide receiver A.J. Green. The Buccaneers almost came out with a victory – they made a long gain that put them in field goal position with only seconds left on the clock, but Bengals coach Marvin Lewis grabbed an official and pointed out the Bucs had 12 men on the field. Rule refresher – you are only allowed to have 11 men on the field. This resulted in a penalty for the Bucs, which pushed them out of field goal range and added another one to their loss column.

Atlanta (29), Arizona (18) – This one had to be a self-esteem builder for the 4-7 Falcons as they knocked off the 9-2 Cardinals to remain atop the NFC South division. They came out ready to play and wide receiver Julio Jones had a career day. The Cardinals will not go as far in the play-offs (if they make it) with Drew Stanton at quarterback in place of the injured Carson Palmer. He was not helped by the fact that wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was out again due to his injury. The Cardinals starting running back Andre Ellington also left the game with an injury, which was especially bad news for a team that is lacking effective running backs.

Green Bay (26), New England (21) – Football purists loved this game. Everyone figured it would be close as the Packers are tough to beat at home – QB Aaron Rodgers hasn’t thrown an interception there in two years. He was up to usual shenanigans (and by shenanigans, we mean really excellent quarterbacking) on Sunday afternoon, especially when he threw a beautiful pass to wide receiver (and my fantasy football crush) Jordy Nelson right before the end of the first half. This play was the only time Pats CB Darrelle Revis really got burned all night. It was impressive that the Pats defense was able to hold the Pack to only 26 points, but it would have been nice to see their offense get their running game going. People are saying this could be a Super Bowl preview because both of these teams are hot, hot, hot!

Denver (29), Kansas City (16) – The Chiefs seemed off in this game, which was a big division loss for them. The Broncos defense harassed Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith all night. The Chiefs still have not had a touchdown caught by a wide receiver this season – their offense is limited. It was a cold, windy night at Arrowhead Stadium and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning does struggle in these conditions – he was held to a 50% completion rate, which is the lowest of his Broncos career. The big take away of the night was the effectiveness of the Bronco’s offensive line, which is helping the Broncos balance their offense between the pass and run game, which is vital for the play-off stretch as the weather gets colder. Broncos running back C.J. Anderson has stepped in for the injured Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman and over the last four weeks leads the NFL in rushing yards and yards from scrimmage.

Miami (16), New York Jets (13) – Both teams had their rough spots in this one. The Jets started strong, establishing their run game, which was another way to try to limit quarterback Geno Smith, who was starting this week after Michael Vick was benched again. The Jets only let Geno throw the ball 13 times – for good reason as his last attempt resulted in an interception that sealed the win for Miami. The Dolphins were able to bounce back in the second half despite a shaky game from quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins remain in contention for a play-off spot while the Jets are more likely in contention for the top draft pick next year.

Did you get a lot of Cyber Monday emails in your inbox this week? Did they put a smile on your face? Do you know what else would put a smile on your face? Getting The Snap delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our emails to the right so that you never miss a post! Trust us, with the playoffs coming up, you are going to want to stay in the loop.

– Val and Michelle

Our Thoughts – 2014 NFL Week 11 Recap

NFL Weekly Recap Week 11 The Snap Blog Football

There are weird weeks in the NFL and then there are weeks like this one. Crazypants would be a good way to describe Week 11.

We’d like to think that’s a good thing – keeps us on our toes.

Val is back and in top fighting shape, ready to rock your world with the “need to know” on these bamboozling games.

Here’s what we thought about week 11 in the NFL…

Miami (22), Buffalo (9) – Miami QB Ryan Tannehill made a lot of mistakes in the first half, but recovered nicely in the second to lead the Dolphins to victory. Bills QB Kyle Orton looked like an upgrade from EJ Manuel a few weeks ago, but the harsh reality is he is a back-up. The Bills are finding themselves in a quarterback conundrum if Orton or Manuel can’t get the job done.

Atlanta (19), Carolina (17) – Panthers QB Cam Newton is having a rough season – he threw two picks and was forcing throws. He did throw two touchdowns to put the Panthers ahead after a thirteen point deficit. However, the Falcons scored a field goal to win the game and a 4-6 record now puts them in first place in the NFC South.

Chicago (21), Minnesota (13) – The Bears won their first home game of the season with wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey dominating the Vikings defense. Both Good Jay Cutler and Bad Jay Cutler made appearances. Vikings rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater had a rough game. The electronic game clocks on the field also kept malfunctioning and the referees had to keep time on the sidelines. This did not make the coaches happy.

Houston (23), Cleveland (7) – Here’s what J.J. Watt did – caught Texans QB Ryan Mallett’s first NFL touchdown pass (Watt’s fourth touchdown of the year, the most in a season by any defensive lineman since 1948). He also caused a fumble, had a sack, and recovered another fumble. Now, he did get a flag for hitting the punter, one which led to a Cleveland touchdown. Ryan Mallet ran a lot of no huddle plays and looked comfortable in Coach Bill O’Brien’s scheme, more than likely from him time with him in New England. The Browns just couldn’t repeat their dominant performance from week 10.

Kansas City (24), Seattle (20) – This game had lots of play-off implications – Kansas City’s win combined with Denver’s loss put them in a tie for first place in the AFC West. The defending world champion Seahawks are going to be in a fight until the end of the season to just make the play-offs. Running back Jamaal Charles continues to carry the Chiefs as their wide receivers only gained 18 yards in this game (Jamaal ran for 178). Seattle’s defense didn’t have any QB hits or sacks – they are not performing at the high level they were last year.

Cincinnati (27), New Orleans (10) – Whiplash alert! This looked like a completely different Bengals team then the one from last week that was embarrassed by the Browns on Thursday Night Football. Bengals QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green both had stellar games. Cincinnati is now back in first place in the AFC North division after only two wins in the previous seven weeks. New Orleans has been known for their home field advantage but they have now lost back to back home games after winning eleven consecutive games in the Superdome. Neither their defense nor offense are living up to expectations.

San Francisco (16), New York Giants (10) – It’s amazing that San Francisco only won by six points when Giants QB Eli Manning threw five (5!) interceptions. 49ers pass rusher Aldon Smith returned from his suspension and made an immediate difference for their defense. The Giants new offensive coordinator’s play-calling is getting predictable. This loss basically eliminated them from play-off contention. Their bright spot is rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham, who made some crazy catches.

St. Louis (22), Denver (7) – Didn’t see this one coming. This is the fewest amount of points Peyton Manning has been limited to in a decade. Rams QB Shaun Hill took over starting duties after Austin Davis was benched last week. Rams rookie running back Tre Mason became the first running back to post 100 yards against the Broncos defense. It was the Rams defense that was the most impressive – they pressured Manning, deflected passes, and picked off two throws. Denver was the victim of a lot of injuries – tight end Julius Thomas left the game with an ankle injury, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders went out with a concussion, and they did not active their rookie wide receiver Cody Latimer, which left them with limited options. Wide receiver Wes Welker needed to step up but only caught four balls for 28 yards. The Broncos run game is in trouble with RB Ronnie Hillman having a foot sprain and Montee Ball reinjuring his groin.

Tampa Bay (27), Washington (7) – The Bucs may not have a lot of wins (only 2, as a matter of fact) but they do have rookie wide receiver Mike Evans. He had 209 yards and two touchdowns, and is the first rookie receiver to have three consecutive games of 100 yards and one touchdown since 1998. Washington QB RG3 had a tough game. He was sacked six times, and missed a lot of throws. Then his coach publicly called him out for his poor performance in his press conference, which created more drama in DC. Ouch.

San Diego (13), Oakland (6) – The Chargers had running back Ryan Mathews back from injury, which did bring life back to their run game. Their QB Philip Rivers hurt his knee and apparently has a bad rib injury. Many think Raiders rookie QB Derek Carr will be the best rookie QB of his class, but he’s being asked to carry an offense that doesn’t have much talent. Oakland has no ground game. What they do have is a superstar in rookie pass rusher Khalil Mack. The Raiders remain winless thus far this season.

Arizona (14), Detroit (6) – The Cardinals have the league’s best record at 9-1. Back-up Arizona QB Drew Stanton is the starter with Carson Palmer out for the year with a torn ACL. Arizona’s defense kept the Lions in check – they did not let Detroit wide receivers Calvin Johnson (aka Megatron) or Golden Tate have an impact on the game. The Lions only managed two field goals and were shut out in the second half of the game, and did not let Joique Bell get their run game going.

Green Bay (53), Philadelphia (20) – If you want to talk about home field advantage, check out the Packers: They have jumped out to leads of 30-3, 45-0, 38-3 and 42-0 in their last four home games. They have topped 50 points in consecutive games for the first time in their 93-year franchise history. QB Aaron Rodgers’ touchdown-to-interception is 31:0 over his last thirteen home games. Their defense has steadily improved since the beginning of the season. Eagles QB Mark Sanchez had a disappointing game after last week’s start against the Panthers. Neither team was able to establish their run game.

New England (42), Indianapolis (20) – The Patriots ran the ball for 234 yards – 201 of these came from Jonas Gray, who was promoted from the practice squad only a few weeks ago. He ran for four touchdowns – he became the first player to rush for as many touchdowns as the rest of the NFL in week 11. The Patriots defense limited Colts wide receivers to just ten catches. The Pats are averaging 40.5 points per game since they were embarrassed by the Chiefs in week 4.

Pittsburgh (27), Tennessee (24) – On a positive note for the Titans, rookie Zach Mettenberger (their third quarterback of the season) had a pretty good game. The real star of the game was Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell – he ran for 204 yards and one touchdown. He helped Pittsburgh come back from an eleven point deficit in the fourth quarter and burn the clock down to end the game.

Simply said, we need more Facebook friends. Come join our cult…er…we mean, like us.

– Val (and sorta-kinda-not-really-I-just-proofread-but-my-picture-is-in-this-post-so-I’ll-include-my-name) Michelle

2014 Season Team Profiles: Houston Texans

2014 PRESEASON TEAM PROFILES (4)

Team Name: Houston Texans

Division: AFC South

Stadium: NRG Stadium (Houston, TX)

2013 Record: 2-14 (This stellar record earned them the first pick in the 2014 draft!)

Head Coach: Bill O’Brien (2014), spent five years in New England and then two years as Penn State’s head coach after the Sandusky scandal, also has an interesting personal story

Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick (2014), Harvard grad also known as the Amish Rifle for his sick beard, proposed to his wife in front of a McDonald’s

 

3 Offensive Players You Should Know:

Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver (80) – If there’s a receiving record for the Texans, Johnson probably owns it. This is Johnson’s 11th year with the Texans, despite rumblings of trade talks earlier this year. He’s a pretty darn good receiver who is probably pretty frustrated by their QB situation.

Arian Foster, Running Back (23) – Foster was an undrafted free agent signed by the Texans in 2009. He owns a bunch of Texans rushing records, and when he’s not injured, he makes a lot of fantasy owners very happy. On a more personal note, he likes to write poetry and he’s a vegan.

DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver (10) – Drafted in 2013, he had a prolific college career. He certainly has a bigger role this year than he did last year, but hasn’t had the opportunity to shine yet. His role should increase over time, especially if Andre Johnson leaves the team.

 

3 Defensive Players You Should Know:

J.J. Watt, Defensive End (99) – What. A. Beast. Every week we like to include What J.J. Watt Did in our weekly game recap. Watt is one of the most disruptive defensive players in the league right now and judging by the 6-year, $100 million contract he signed in September, the Texans recognize that. He’s making a case to earn the MVP title this year, something usually given to offensive players. He’s also a nice guy:

Jadeveon Clowney, Linebacker (90) – The first overall pick in the draft, people had ridiculously high expectations of Clowney coming into the season. USA Today called him “by far the most freakish physical specimen” in the draft. He tore his meniscus in the first regular game of the season and has missed seven games so far.

Brian Cushing, Inside Linebacker (56) – Drafted in 2009, he had a stellar rookie season and it’s been a roller coaster ride ever since. He missed four games in 2010 after testing positive for a banned substance, had an outstanding 2011 season, tore his ACL and missed most of the 2012 season, and then missed most of the 2013 season due to injury.

 

What Happened This Offseason:

– The Texans fired Gary Kubiak as head coach before the end of the 2013 season and hired Bill O’Brien as his replacement.

– There was lots of quarterback movement in Houston. They traded Matt Schaub to Oakland, traded with New England for Ryan Mallett, and then signed the Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been their starter this season. Halfway through the season, there are rumors that Mallett could replace Fitzpatrick, who has had a mediocre performance so far in 2014.

– Running back extraordinaire Arian Foster was injured in 2013 and missed the second half of the season. He’s back this year.

 

Why You Should Cheer for Them: J.J. Watt. He’s one of the most dominant defensive players in the modern era and every week he seems to break some record or do something completely unexpected.

 

2014 Theme Song: So Fresh, So Clean (OutKast) – New coach. New quarterback. Fresh start. I would go as far as to say that the Texans are feeling so fresh and so clean.

 

The Last Word: It’s hard to expect miracles the first year you have a new coach and a new quarterback. It’s not a super strong division, which works in the team’s favor. You get the sense that they have the pieces for a really good team, it just might take some more time to put them together. The defense doesn’t seem to get the credit it deserves – it’s currently ranked in the bottom third of all defenses in the league. They lead the lead in some important stats, however, like takeaways (interceptions and forcing fumbles). If the offense would hold onto the ball better, their turnover differential would be near the top of the league.

 

– Michelle and Val