Scattered stats and thoughts regarding Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season…
Baltimore 31, New England 30
Adjusted Yards per Play: 8.28 – Baltimore, 5.92 – New England
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Baltimore 38.44, New England 32.56
1. I’d like to start off by saying that Baltimore should be playing a marquee team on Sunday nights every week; when I eventually oust Roger Goodell, that will be the first change I make to the schedule. The following statement is one made with no research and may not actually be true, but I’ll say it anyway: no other franchise over the past five years has played more consistently entertaining games than the Edgar Allan Poes. They’re the perfect foil for any great team: they’re always ready to play, always prepared, always give max effort, and they’re good enough on both sides of the ball to hang around against any style of team but not dominant to the point where they can actually pull away. The result the past couple of weeks has been a couple of highly entertaining games involving the Ravens: a one-point loss to the Eagles and last night’s one-point win over the Patriots. Here’s betting that this Thursday night’s matchup with the Browns will be another instant classic! Okay, maybe not, but at the very least, consider this a heartfelt thank-you, Baltimore, for always delivering in big games.
2. If I may delve into strategery-related material for a moment: New England lost this game mainly because of their stubborn insistence on running the ball against a Ravens defense you might have heard has been pretty good against the run the past fifteen years. Seemingly every first down was a handoff to Danny Woodhead or Stevan Ridley, who would then plow into a wave of purple shirts and sometimes get two yards if everything went right. Never mind that Tom Brady was getting eleven yards AT WILL whenever he threw a curl route to Brandon Lloyd outside. Before you get all up in replacement refs’ grills, Darth Hoodie, you may want to get up into the grill of Josh McDaniels and tell him to HAVE TOM BRADY THROW THE DADGUM BALL. (If you actually want to win, that is. I myself am more than happy to watch the Pats lose heartbreaking game after heartbreaking game. It’s so beautiful, I tear up just thinking about it).
3. Finally, let’s give a nice round of applause to the Baltimore fans for coming up with the loudest “BULLS—” chant in the history of the universe. It was so deafening, it got an old pro like Al Michaels to giggle like a schoolgirl and acknowledge it TWICE in a minute’s span (“No seven-second delay here!”). Let’s see how Philadelphia fans respond next Sunday night to another city stealing their Most Profane Fans mantle; I have a feeling they’re going to come out with renewed vigor, if you know what I mean…
Houston 31, Denver 25
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.48 – Houston, 4.80 – Denver.
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Houston 30.09, Denver 26.06
Quick Thought: If he didn’t already learn his lesson Monday night against the Falcons, Peyton Manning finally got it through that big forehead of his yesterday that it’s not a good idea to fall behind by 20 going into the fourth quarter and then try to start running some offense. The first three quarters count too, big guy! Houston’s really good, by the way.
Atlanta 27, San Diego 3
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.16 – Atlanta, 1.61 – San Diego
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Atlanta 29.92, San Diego 6.44
Quick Thought: Today in Completely Unsustainable Statistical Trends: the Falcons are a ridiculous +10 in turnover differential so far. Thanks, AFC West! Obviously, they’re not going to win the turnover battle by at least 3 every week (unless they’re the spiritual successor to the ’83 Redskins) but regardless this defense is for real. Why exactly does Mike Nolan get tossed around from team to team as the proverbial Hot Potato Defensive Coordinator? Everywhere he goes, he turns his defenses into strong units. Perhaps he is a closet nudist who walks around the team facility during odd hours of the day in his birthday suit and his co-workers can’t stand to be around him for an extended period of time as a result? POSSIBLY.
Arizona 27, Philadelphia 6
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.44 – Arizona, 2.51 – Philadelphia
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Arizona 23.70, Philadelphia 11.30
Quick Thought: Recovering all three fumbles in the game was a little lucky for the Cardinals, but hey, it was the Eagles! Kevin Kolb isn’t going to average over seven Net Yards per Attempt every week, but it looks like just hitting Larry Fitzgerald deep a couple of times a game will be good enough to win a lot of weeks; their defense has just held two of the best offenses in the league to ONE combined touchdown between them. Pretty good.
Cincinnati 38, Washington 31
Adjusted Yards per Play: 8.33 – Cincinnati, 5.28 – Washington
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Cincinnati 34.51, Washington 27.91
Quick Thought: I’m aware Andy Dalton played pretty lights-out himself, but consider me the president of the Mohamed Sanu for Bengals Starting Quarterback 2012 campaign. Did you see this throw?!?! You probably did because it was awesome and on all the highlight shows, but still! In more under-the radar news…LAW FIRM FUMBLED!!! I don’t know what to believe in anymore…
Dallas 16, Tampa Bay 10
Adjusted Yards per Play: 2.61 – Dallas, 2.56 – Tampa Bay
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Dallas 12.30, Tampa Bay 10.06
Quick Thought: Another hearty SCREW YOU to Dallas for completely dominating Tampa Bay’s offense all game and then letting the Bucs march down the field on their last possession so they could get a field goal to cover the spread. Well done! Of course, such a result was fitting for my picks yesterday, as I’ve gone 3-12 so far in Week 3. No, seriously, look it up. Next week, I’m just going to try to pick every game incorrectly and see what happens; I can only assume I’ll go 11-5 that way. I don’t get football.
Chicago 23, St. Louis 6
Adjusted Yards per Play: 3.72 – Chicago, 1.21 – St. Louis
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Chicago 17.80, St. Louis 5.01
Quick Thought: Through three games, this looks like the best Bears defense since the 2005-06 crew that carried a rookie Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman to the playoffs. Will they have to do the same for a 29-year-old Jay Cutler? Special hat tip to referee Jerry Hughes for referring to the Rams’ home city at one point as “St. Louie.” You made a powerful friend in Dick Stockton, Jerry! Use that connection wisely.
Buffalo 24, Cleveland 14
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.06 – Buffalo, 3.17 – Cleveland
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Buffalo 25.30, Cleveland 13.59
Quick Thought: Some over-enthusiastic Buffalo media outlets were dubbing this tilt “The Battle of Lake Erie.” Never mind that Bills-Browns should probably only be described loosely as a “skirmish” or “disagreement” at best. Such a headline does a great disservice to the original Battle of Lake Erie – only one of the most important naval battles of the War of 1812, my friends. Those who cannot remember the past and all that. Also, calling an event in 2012 “The Battle of Lake Erie” makes it seem like Lake Erie is something someone would actually want. I’m pretty sure if I walked through downtown Cleveland and shouted “Hey guys, I’m taking over the lake, it’s mine now,” the response would be, “Thank you!”
Kansas City 27, New Orleans 24 (OT)
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.19 – Kansas City, 5.14 – New Orleans
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Kansas City 27.53, New Orleans 21.66
Quick Thought: Let the record show that Romeo Crennel did his very best to try and lose this game even though his kicker sucked it up and bailed him out. With two minutes left, down by three, with the ball inside the Saints’ 35, the Chiefs…played for the tie? WHAT? Then on the game-clinching drive in overtime, Romeo was actually going to punt on 4th and 1 from the Saints’ 44 and had to be talked out of it. “Oh, Jamaal Charles has only rushed for 225 yards today, there’s no way we could pick up ONE YARD AGAINST THE WORST FREAKING DEFENSE IN THE LEAGUE.” I’m sorry, the Chiefs are still screwed, probably even moreso than the Saints.
NY Jets 23, Miami 20 (OT)
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.03 – NY Jets, 4.13 – Miami
AY/P Projected Point Totals: NY Jets 22.74, Miami 23.31
Quick Thought: The definition of a Pyhrric victory for the Jets, who look like they’ve lost Darrelle Revis to a torn ACL and had Mark Sanchez turn things around enough in the 4th quarter and overtime to ensure that people didn’t focus on how he played like dog crap in the first three quarters. THE PEOPLE DEMAND TEBOW AND THEY DEMAND HIM NOW. Also, let’s give a round of applause to Joe Philbin for joining Jason Garrett as the two worst coaches in the league at icing kickers. At least you didn’t ice your own kicker, Joe; he just missed two of them on his own!
Oakland 34, Pittsburgh 31
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.36 – Oakland, 5.90 – Pittsburgh
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Oakland 25.44, Pittsburgh 29.50
Quick Thought: Thank God Darrius Heyward-Bey seems like he’s avoided serious injury after that vicious helmet-to-helmet hit he got from Ryan Mundy yesterday. Said Mundy: “We don’t play like that. We don’t try to injure people or anything like that.” Of course not! Why would anyone think differently?
Minnesota 24, San Francisco 13
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.00 – Minnesota, 2.67 – San Francisco
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Minnesota 21.71, San Francisco 11.06
Quick Thought: Naturally, the one week I cave in and pick the Niners against the spread, they finally decide to throw some turnover regression to the mean into their gameplan and turn Christian Ponder into Fran Tarkenton. I KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT FOOTBALL.
Tennessee 44, Detroit 41 (OT)
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.18 – Tennessee, 6.66 – Detroit
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Tennessee 26.93, Detroit 43.77
Quick Thought: If someone can come up with a counterpoint to this, I’d love to hear about it, but I can’t remember a crazier game just off the top of my head. Just to start off, did you see the Nate Washington touchdown catch in the fourth quarter? It looked like he was going to be the meat in a Lions secondary sandwich…until the Lions secondary stopped playing for reasons that only make sense to them. You also had a kickoff return and fumble return just in the last half of the fourth quarter and 1020 total yards of offense. Just with that alone, you’ve got a wild one. Then mix in the Music City Miracle, add two touchdowns in the last twenty seconds (one of them a Hail Mary) a la the Bears-Browns game in 2001, then have the loser ultimately fail in overtime on a 4th-and-1 quarterback sneak that nobody on the offense thought was actually going to be run. To top it all off, the Lions ended up averaging 6.66 Adjusted Yards per Play. Of course they did. For sheer entertainment purposes, I’m calling this the Game of the Year early.
Jacksonville 22, Indianapolis 17
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.91 – Jacksonville, 5.76 – Indianapolis
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Jacksonville 26.65, Indianapolis 30.86
Quick Thought: Cecil Shorts III is currently the man with the most British-sounding name in the NFL; the only person who could have beaten him out would have been Terriun Crump if he had stuck with the Bears this preseason. Also, both of these teams are really bad.