As I was sitting down to watch the Eagles/Cowboys Sunday night game I almost said that we were due a good football game. What transpired Sunday afternoon had to be one of the worst weeks of football on television in a long time. Unless you were a fan of one of the teams running up the score (New England, Arizona, SF), I can’t imagine you had much fun sitting through any of those sloppy games. And, blowouts get boring too. In Philadelphia the regional games were GB/Detroit (a negative 4 on the ten scale), Pitt/Cincy (2 pick 6s and 58 minutes of slop), and Miami/NY (goodnight Jets’ season). I was waving the white flag. I’ve seen enough, Goodell. Did Cliff Lee sign yet? So, after all that I felt I was owed a good game Sunday night, but I didn’t say anything for fear of the jinx. It turned out to be the best game of the day. But, more on that later.
It was a strange week in the NFL. Starting with the roof failure in Minnesota and culminating with the Jets staff member tripping a Dolphin along the sideline we saw some things that you don’t encounter every week. Shocking move by the Jets coach and shocking that a roof can fail due to snow in Minnesota, but there would be some odd outcomes on the field as well.
One of the candidates for the worst game of the day, Packers vs. Lions, might have the biggest implications on the playoff race. It had the feel of a game where Green Bay was going to struggle for a while and then win ugly, but then Aaron Rodgers got hurt, Matt Flynn came in and the Packers looked like football’s version of the Seattle Mariners on offense. The loss damaged Green Bay’s playoff prospects, but the injury to Rodgers is what could really make the difference. Not only does Green Bay have to fight for their own life, but they still have New England, the Giants and Chicago left on the schedule. All games with big implications. If Rodgers’ 2nd concussion of the year causes him to miss time, it drastically changes the NFC playoff picture. Every Green Bay loss brings Tampa back in and helps whoever ultimately finishes 2nd in the NFC East.
Will the Jets have to beat Buffalo in the last week of the season to make the playoffs? Of the teams who didn’t look good, and who should have worried fans, I’d put the Jets at the top of the list. They are just a terrible offensive team right now, and not in the grind it out sense that they were in 2009. They can’t do anything. Run or Pass. And now they have back to back road trips to Pittsburgh and Chicago. This team could be 9-6 in a blink. We’re talking about sitting Sanchez (he was 17-44!), we’re taking away Rex Ryan’s genius grant. Trouble in New York. Shame.
Chicago is another team that has gotten no respect all year, and the doubters had their day on Sunday. New England, who seems to have a history of killing teams in the snow, throttled the Bears. I feel like there are teams like this in the NFL every year. They play the “no one respects us” card all season, but in the end, people are usually right. I think they were right about Chicago. They were right about Tampa this year. The Chiefs. You can go back to last year and say the Broncos. There are always team that take advantage of a couple breaks and an easy schedule. In the end they completely collapse, or they are locks to get hammered on opening weekend in the playoffs.
The overconfidence and optimism after a win over the Cowboys is something to behold. Driving back to my apartment after the game the talk on the radio is the Eagles are the class of the NFC. The Saints don’t exist. The Eagles win over Atlanta has reserved them a place with the rest of the afterthoughts. It isn’t surprising the fans have this initial reaction, it is just funny to listen to and imagine the fans in New Orleans and Atlanta saying the same thing. I think Eagles fans think they beat the Dallas team that was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender and not the team that was 4-8.
It was still a good win for the Eagles though, because with what was happening around the league it opened up the chance the Eagles could slip into the playoffs as a wild-card. The game became what is now a typical Eagles effort. Big plays on offense, Vick being asked to do it all, too many penalties, poor red zone defense, there was nothing new from the Birds on Sunday. I will say, though, there is one thing that has been hammered home for me in recent weeks.
Michael Vick can take a hit. I don’t remember this about Vick from when he played in Atlanta. Perhaps it was because you’d only see the highlights, or I remembered him getting hurt against the Eagles, but considering the amount of punishment he’s taken in the last month I am surprised he’s still in there. The offensive line did not play well against Dallas. Vick was sacked, hurried and hit for most of the night. Add that to the plays that breakdown, and to that add the plays where Vick is asked to run and take a hit by design. I think it is the biggest physical burden a QB is asked to bear in the league. And, even though he was hurt earlier this year, Vick is for now, managing it pretty well.