The Gameday Decrees are back and MANNN! A lot has happened around the league the last two weeks. We somehow made it home from the vacation the whole league took to Upset City in Weeks 3 and 4 as the NFL’s underdogs went toe to toe with the pre-ordained juggernauts. This past Sunday we watched last season’s Superbowl participants both lose after being favorites on their home field. We watched six teams who didn’t make the playoffs in 2016 pick up Week 4 wins, and each of them currently hold winning records. Week 4 presented us with 6 inter-conference battles (AFC vs. NFC), where the NFC went 4-2 in such games. We also saw two overtime games in New [Jersey] and in Arizona that seemed to benefit from the new OT rules. But let’s cut the nonsense. The theme from this past weekend was our first taste of Rivalry Week! This edition of the Gameday Decrees is dedicated to the division rivalry games that took place around the league, and trust when I say there was no love lost between these bitter adversaries. It was the equivalent of the Montagues vs. the Capulets. The Starks vs. the Lannisters. Bad Boy vs. Death Row. The National Anthem vs. The Dipset Anthem. And the only way we aren’t taking a knee is if we get to stand next to a thick chick in sandals while watching Shaft, clockin’ math. Let’s get into it!
Packers-Bears. Week 4 kicked off with NFL’s two oldest rivals battling on the national stage. It was a tough game to watch as Green Bay took advantage of Chicago’s comedy of mistakes. And when I say comedy, I mean the shit was hilarious. Like Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock tag-team roasting your homeboy’s haircut hilarious. After falling behind 0-7 early in the 1st, Bears’ QB Mike Glennon dropped back and patted the ball about 5 times too many. The pocket collapsed on his soul and he was strip sacked by the possessed man, Clay Matthews, who looks like he celebrated that play by sniffing a line or three. On the next drive, Glennon approached the line of scrimmage to audible but his center hiked the ball at his knee, and Glennon accidentally kicked it up field right to Packers’ LB Blake Martinez. Now at this point, all of us watching were pretty much laughed out. But nah, not ol’ Mikey. Glennon must have wondered how on Earth could this get ANY funnier, and he definitely found a way. He overthrew WR Markus Wheaton and instead found none other than Packers’ Ha-Ha (hahahaha) Clinton Dix – Glennon’s 3rd turnover in the half. It’s already hard enough stopping Aaron Rodgers on a weekly basis. But if you give that man multiple chances AND a shortened field, it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself in a deep hole. And Rodgers wasted no time chucking the ball downfield on the very next play to Jordy Nelson for a 58 yd gain, which set up Aaron Jones’ TD run to give the Pack a 21-0 lead over the Bears, skunking them before John Fox could spell “Trubisky.” The Bears decided they’ve seen enough from Glennon and they pressed the fast forward button on the timetable for Money Mitch, who will be the 3rd rookie QB to start a game this season. And the young gun will get the start next week on the biggest of stages – at home against division rival Minnesota on Monday Night Football! (As far as the Bears-Packers rivalry goes, Green Bay has won the last 3 matchups and leads the all-time series 95-94-6).
Lions-Vikings. The Lions emerged victorious after a defensive struggle in Minnesota that turned south for the Vikings in the second half once rookie running back Dalvin Cook fell to the turf with an ACL tear. Bruh, it has been ALL BAD in Minnesota ever since Prince died. Teddy Bridgewater goes down. Adrian Peterson leaves, Sam Bradford gets hurt, and NOWWW Dalvin Cook, who ranks 3rd in the league in rushing, is gone for the season?! No other team has been decimated by injuries the way the Vikings have and I’m not sure they can continue to weather the storm if they keep losing playmakers at this rate. To add insult to injury, Cook fumbled the football on the same play, setting Detroit up to go just 29 yards into the endzone for the go-ahead touchdown. It was yet another low-scoring affair between these two divisional foes, both who struggled to get anything going offensively. Without Cook on the field, the Vikings’ offense was one dimensional. QB Case Keenum came back down off cloud nine, completing just a shade over 50 percent of his passes for 219 yards. The Lions on the other hand weren’t much better as Matt Stafford (209 yds) was restricted from throwing the deep ball. But the positive takeaway from Stafford’s “struggles” if you want to call it that was he showed the patience and maturity of a top tier quarterback to take what the defense gave him as opposed to trying to force the issue downfield like he had done in the past, which often led to turnovers. And the difference this season is obvious- the Lions lead the NFL with a +9 turnover differential. Even though the Vikings lead this all-time series 71-39-2, the Lions have won the last 3 matchups and currently share the NFC North division lead with Green Bay.
Steelers-Ravens. Speaking of great rivalries, the NFL’s BEST rivalry added another chapter to its book as the Steelers and Ravens faced off in Baltimore with first place in the AFC North on the line. It was a pivotal matchup between two teams rebounding from head-scratching road losses against seemingly lesser opponents the previous week. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the hype. The Ravens came dressed in their all black Night’s Watch unis ready to put in that work, but their own funeral was the more fitting occasion. The Ravens’ offensive woes continued as it was virtually nonexistent for the fourth game in a row. King Crow Joe Flacco was ineffective, throwing two 4th quarter interceptions that killed any momentum they had down the stretch. Flacco has thrown an interception in 10 straight games, which is the longest streak in the NFL. Another reoccurring theme for the Ravens was their abysmal offensive line that resulted in Flacco being sacked 4 times; he was under constant pressure most of the game. When he did have time in the pocket his receivers couldn’t get open and any time they did get separation, Flacco threw an inaccurate pass. Or his receivers simply dropped the ball. I’m pointing at you, Mike Wallace. Baltimore’s offense is in a current state of shock, being outscored 70-16 the last two games. The Steelers on the other hand rebounded from the previous week’s road loss by grinding out yards via the run game. Le’Veon Bell returned to form (35 carries, 144 yds 2 TDs) and looked like the best back in the league again. Big Ben struggled to complete his prototypical deep ball, but their passing attack converted 7 of 15 3rd downs to keep drives alive and more importantly, keep their bend-but-don’t-break defense which is the 2nd best pass defense in the league, well rested on the sidelines. This is the Steelers’ 2nd consecutive win vs. Baltimore dating back to last season, and their first ever victory in Baltimore by more than 13 points.
49ers-Cardinals. Alright so I’m going to spare you all of the details from this bum fight that took place in Arizona. Long story short, the Niners and Cards spent the first 60 minutes exchanging field goals (8 to be exact). Robbie Gould and Phil Dawson were both out their putting in that work! Neither team really wanted to win this game so they dragged it into overtime. And that’s when the shit got really real! The 49ers marched downfield on an impressive drive which led to Gould nailing a 23 yard FG to give San Fran a 15-12 lead with just over 5 minutes left. But Carson AKA Cersei-with-the-Bieber-cut Palmer led Arizona downfield like he is supposed to, connecting with receiver Jaron Brown to get into Niners’ territory. Palmer then found John Brown in the corner of the endzone for a pass and catch that appeared to win the game, but officials ruled Brown’s second foot barely touched out of bounds. So on 2nd down, Palmer took to the air again with just 38 seconds left in OT. But this time he looked to the guy on his team with the surest hands IN THE LEAGUE…just some guy named Larry Darnell Fitzgerald, Junior, who went up to get the football
…and came down with the WIN! This was the Cardinals’ 5th straight win over the 49ers, despite San Fran still leading the overall series between these two teams, 29-23.
Bengals-Browns. In a battle of the winless, it was the Bengals who emerged victorious with their first W of the season by blowing out the Browns 31-7, their 4th straight win in Cleveland. Things appeared bleak for Cincy early on as they struggled to hold onto the football, but the Bengals got on the board first when Andy Dalton finally, Finally, FINALLY got on track with AJ Green, finding him in his usual habitat: wide open, butt naked, in the back of the endzone. The Browns were poised to answer as DiShone Kizer & Co. put together a solid drive but in typical Cleveland fashion, it ended with a tipped pass in the redzone that wound up in a defender’s hands. I’m disappointed that anyone expected anything BUT disappointment with the Browns this year. Real talk, this organization is where black men go to die. Kizer is stuck in a life that he hates but he can’t escape. And it’s only a matter of time before head coach Hugh Jackson falls (or is pushed by management) on his own sword. Didn’t y’all see what happened to Jim Brown? This dude spent so much time going insane in Cleveland he has convinced himself he is an ally of the Republican party. Miles Garrett better think twice before he returns from that injury. But anyway, after the turnover Cincy ensued to run up the score led by Dalton (286 yds, 4 TDs) who may have found a new security blanket in TE Tyler Kroft. Despite their inability to get their run game going, Giovani Bernard still managed to make in impact, breaking a short screen pass off for a 61 yd TD to bury the Browns. We all have to admit it was refreshing to see Dalton get back on track after a frightening start to the season. But I need to see more from him against a more formidable opponent before conceding his struggles are over. We’ve believed in Dalton before, just for him to let us down like Charlie Bucket did when he tricked his whole family into thinking he found the golden ticket on his birthday. He almost gave the good folks of Cincinnati AND grandpa Joe ol’ ass a heart attack.
Raiders-Broncos. Denver had theee perfect gameplan last week to defeat the high-powered Raiders. CJ Anderson led the way as the Broncos ran the air out of the ball by racking up over 140 yards on the ground, milking the clock and keeping Oakland’s offense on the sideline. Trevor Siemian didn’t put up John Elway numbers this week, but he didn’t have to – he made the necessary throws and most importantly he didn’t turn the ball over. Their defense continued to prove why they’re one of the league’s best, limiting Marshawn Lynch to just 12 yards and only giving up one big play the entire game. The recipe for success in Denver is apparent. For Oakland, their Achilles heel is almost just as obvious…but we will get to that in a sec. Their offense hasn’t quite found it’s groove and without Beast Mode balancing out their attack, the Raiders aren’t capable of erasing double digit deficits on the road like they could last year. Their receivers are once again leading the league in drops. But the urgent issue in Oakland right now is the health of QB Derek Carr which for the moment, appears to put their postseason hopes in jeopardy for the second year in a row. Carr has a fracture in his back that will keep him out for at least the next few games. Backup EJ Manuel was serviceable in Carr’s absence, but the issues this offense has is only cured by the outstanding play by the guy under center. We can’t expect Manuel to easily fill that hole left by Carr. Although the Raiders still lead the all-time series vs Denver 62-52-2, the Broncos have won the last two matchups at home against the Raiders. Hopefully Carr is healthy the next time these two teams face off in Week 12.
Titans-Texans. Does anyone remember a few years ago when then-Texans’ WR Andre Johnson snapped and starting beating on Titans CB and black Irishman Courtland Finnegan in the middle of the game?Yes, that. Well that clip is the spitting image of what happened last week when Houston broke their whole foot off in Tennessee. They put a 50+burger on the board as rookie DeShaun Watson played the best game of his young career, throwing 4 TDs and running one in. Watson was aided by a productive Texans rushing attack and a season-best 10 catches for 107 yards and a TD by receiver DeAndre Hopkins. As special as Watson’s performance was, the blueprint to his success was simple. Houston went back to just last year to Watson’s time in Clemson by allowing him to operate via both the rush-option and the read-option, getting him out in space and letting him make the same plays that resulted in his National Championship victory. Their swarming defense came up with four interceptions, one that Dylan Cole took back to the crib. The Titans on the other hand…I ’ont even know yo. Almost every team has had that one game this season where you take the film out in the backyard and just burn the tape, so I guess this was Tennessee’s one. However, I am convinced that Marcus Mariota is Derek Carr’s voo-doo doll. For real-for real, if you remember Week 16 of last season, Mariota injured his ankle the very same day Derek Carr broke his leg. And the health of these two quarterbacks was intertwined yet again this past Sunday as Carr injured his back just hours after Mariota injured his hamstring. But put all the witchcraft and wizardry aside – the Titans have to rebound quickly whether Mariota plays Sunday or not – they could potentially be the best or worst team in the AFC South by this time next week. The Texans are closing the gap on the Titans all-time as Tennessee holds just a one game lead in their 31 total meetings (Titans lead 16-15).
The Jaguars lead the NFL in sacks. They’re only one year (and one quarterback) away.
The Rams are 3-1.
The fucking Bills are 3-1.
Is Packers’ WR Davante Parker okay now? That boy needed some milk Thursday night.
The Chargers lost yet another game by less than one score. The curse is alive and real.
So much for Cam Newton’s struggles, eh? He did however transfer those miscues with him to the podium.
So much for the Patriots going 16-0. They officially have the worst defense in football.
The Jets finally won a game, in the most Jets-like fashion. Please go watch the highlights of how that game unfolded, its worth it.
Now that we’re a quarter of the way through the season, the next few weeks will show us which teams are for real and which ones are only here ‘cause it’s Sunday and they don’t have shit else to do. Week 5 features the Battle of the Winless Bastards as the 0-4 Chargers face the 0-4 Giants, but also the the only matchup this weekend between teams with winning records as the 3-1 Panthers visit the 3-1 Lions in the D. Will the NFL’s true contenders please stand up?! Let me know what y’all think.