GameDay Decrees – Weak Six

The GameDay Decrees are here and if we weren’t scratching our heads after last week, then Week 6 has left us flat-out dumbfounded. You would think the more we progress through the season the more understanding we would have with what this season is becoming, but I have no idea what to make of the NFL right now. I’m more confused than Michael Corleone was when Clemenza advised him not to look away from people, but not to look anyone in the eyes either. Bruh, what does that even mean??? If one thing’s for sure, we can completely throw the concept of “home-field advantage” out the window. Eight of the 14 games played resulted in the road team winning. The road teams are even winning on Thursday Night now! Defense was played in New Orleans. Trevor Siemian led the league in passing. Up is down, down is left, none of it makes sense. After a week where we thought the true pretenders would go hide under a rock so the contenders could take the stand, the opposite happened. These phonies are disguised as winners worse than Nick Young in a Warriors jersey and it’s hard to tell which teams are legitimate. Back in 2015 there were five undefeated teams through six weeks. This year, there are NONE! There are only 6 AFC teams with winning records, three of which are just 3-2. There’s 9 winning teams in the NFC and of those 9, three of them reside in the NFC South. The NFL truly is wide open for whoever wants to stop bluffing and take the reigns over this thing. And if Guwop can settle down and turn his life around, so can your favorite NFL team. Let’s get into it.

NFC Supremacy. Week 6 began with a matchup of two 4-1 NFC teams – the Eagles and Panthers – both of which were riding their hot franchise QBs and their stellar defenses heading into this game. But it was the unstoppable force that moved the immovable object as the Eagles proved to be Superman Cam Newton’s kryptonite. Philly prevailed victorious as their QB, Carson Wentz AKA Mr. Third Down continued to impress in his sophomore season. He helped carry Philly’s offense past a physical Carolina team that pressured him early on when Panthers’ Julius Peppers strip-sacked Wentz on their first drive. Despite committing 10 penalties for 126 yards, the Eagles managed to make plays when it counted most. Wentz connected with ol’ reliable TE Zach Ertz, whose two catches on the day were both for touchdowns. As resilient as Wentz has been this season, it was Philly’s defense that made their imprint as they held Cam Newton in check down the stretch. They forced Newton into an inefficient 53 percent completion while throwing a career high 52 pass attempts. He seemed flustered down the stretch and struggled to connect with a receiver other than Christian McCaffrey (10 catches) or Kelvin Benjamin (9 catches). He often took unwarranted deep shots downfield and was out there forcing throws as hard as he forced that apology video to all the women he offended last week. After cutting their deficit to just five points in the 4th quarter, Newton either rushed his throw when he felt the blitz, or miscommunicated with Benjamin in reading coverage on a 3rd and 10 pass that ended up in the hands of an Eagles’ DB, ultimately ending the game.  After dropping to 4-2 the Panthers still look like a more-improved team from last year and should be optimistic that they still lead their division despite a disappointing loss at home. The Eagles on the other hand are still flying high, appearing through 6 weeks to not only be the best team in their respective division, but also the best team in their entire conference.

Winter Has Come for the NFC North. Playing quarterback in the NFL is hard, bro. It is without question the hardest position to excel at in all of sports. But the quarterbacks who play in the NFC North division specifically have had the most painful first six weeks of a season than any division in recent history. Each of the four teams has either had their starting QB get injured or has been forced to start their backup QB at some point this season. No, seriously. Chicago benched Mike Glennon for rookie Mitchell Trubisky two weeks ago. We know why that happened. Minnesota has played their THIRD STRING quarterback for half the season after Teddy Bridgewater (who was cleared to practice this week) went down last year, they brought in Sam Bradford and this year and he managed to get hurt again. Bradford was then replaced by Case Keenum. Detroit shoved Matt Stafford out on the field Sunday despite him injuring both his ankle and hamstring the previous week. Stafford was a shell of himself in New Orleans – lacking the ability to escape pressure and step into throws downfield. As a result Stafford was sacked five times, lost two fumbles, and threw three interceptions in a blowout loss. But the most impactful injury was suffered by THEE quarterback in this division, the water dancer AKA Arya Stark-back-in-Winterfell AKA Aaron Rodgers. He suffered a broken collarbone in the first quarter Sunday when Vikings’ LB Antony Barr rolled Rodgers into the ground. It wasn’t a dirty play at all, but the loss of Rodgers has made the North one messy division now that the best player on the best team is expected to miss the rest of the season. It’s starting to look like winner of this division could come down to who has the healthiest QB when it’s all said and done.  And based on that logic, at the current moment that guy appears to be (by default)…Mitchell Trubisky???

Baltimore Boys. Speaking of Trubisky, the rookie earned his first career win last week in Baltimore – a game that you couldn’t pay me to watch again. Both Trubisky and Ravens QB Joe Flacco can thank the kids from Charm City who served as the real playmakers that made this game interesting. The Ravens were threatening in Chicago territory late in the 4th quarter with a chance to take the lead. Mount Saint Joseph graduate Kyle Fuller defended a comeback route on the sideline that was deflected up in the air. Teammate and former Calvert Hall standout Adrian Amos came up with the football and housed that thang 90 yards for the score. With the Ravens down 8 points with just under two minutes remaining in the game, the other Mount Saint Joe’s product on the field turned the tide. Ravens’ Michael Campanaro caught a booming punt, raced toward the left sideline, and with a caravan of blockers escorting him downfield, Campanaro’s 77 yard touchdown return helped tie the game and send it into overtime. But it was the Bears who made the big plays in OT to emerge victorious as they leaned on RB Jordan Howard down the stretch. Howard broke off a 53 yard run downfield to put the Bears in FG range and Connor Barth sealed the deal with his 40 yard game-winner, Chicago’s second dub of the season. But we can all agree this game wouldn’t have been anywhere close to the thriller it turned out to be if it wasn’t for those boys born and raised in the self-proclaimed “Greatest City in America.”

 

The Curse is Real. Soooo the Cardinals beat the brakes off the Buccaneers on Sunday. It was bad. Like Charles Barkley tuuuuuurrble. Arizona was up 31-0 before Tampa even got on the board. Shit, it was so bad we were all convinced Adrian Peterson was still an elite running back. Jokes aside, shout-out to AP though for a great game (134 yds, 2 TDs), notching his 50th career 100-yard game and proving even if for a week, that he still has some gas left in the tank. But the biggest story from the Tampa-Arizona game is one that not enough people are focusing on. Ryan Fitzpatrick, the journeyman backup QB for the Bucs, is a gotdamn curse. Fitz saw action in this game after starting QB Jameis Winston left with an injury to his throwing shoulder. Doesn’t seem like a big deal on the surface, right? I mean, quarterbacks get hurt every day B. Except every team that has ever signed Fitzpatrick has lost their starting QB to injury. And if you have spare time in your life to waste tracking Fitz’s career, yes – that is indeed seven DIFFERENT teams! And to add insult to injury, it’s happened on nine different occasions. Rams’ Marc Bulger in 2005. Bengals’ Carson Palmer in 2008. Bills’ Trent Edwards in 2009. Titans’ Jake Locker in 2013 (damn…Jake Locker). Texans’ Ryan Mallett in 2014. Jets’ Geno Smith in 2015. Geno Smith AGAIN in 2016 when he got plucked in the jaw. And AGAIN that same season yo, the same season after Bryce Petty went down. And last but not least, this past Sunday when Winston went down. Just know that if you even touch Fitzpatrick, your season will end in injury. Now if Colin Kaepernick needs any more ammunition for his collusion case against the NFL, all he has to do is simply show that Tampa Bay’s upper management would rather knowingly curse their franchise QB instead of giving Kaep an opportunity.

The Curse is Cured. If the witchcraft and wizardy from above kept you in the dump, here’s a ray of light to boost morale. The Los Angeles MOTHERFUCKIN’ Charges are finally, Finally, FINALLY! winning close games. For a team notorious for losing close games in historic fashioned the last few years, the Chargers have put together back to back wins – most recently a victory over Oakland with a game-winning field goal as time expired. They were led by Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon who both contributed a touchdown each while playing turnover-free football. Credit the Chargers’ defense for keeping Marshawn Lynch in check and only giving up just six points the entire second half. They’re only 2-4 but with their first win against Oakland since November of 2014, the Chargers have a chance to NOT be alone in the basement of AFC West, at least for the time being.

No More Parties in L.A. We’ll stay in Los Angeles and will tip our hats to the 4-2 Rams, who are currently tied with the 2nd best record in the NFC. They went into Jacksonville and defeated the upstart Jaguars in a game many people picked the Jags to win. But it was the team from Westeros that emerged victorious thanks to their hot start. Returnman Pharoh Cooper took the opening kickoff back for a TD to get this party started. RB Todd Gurley continued to produce out of the backfield (116 yds) despite the struggles of Jared Goff and the passing game. They added another special teams touchdown late in the 2nd half when LB Cory Littleton broke through the line to block a punt and Michael Brown come up with the scoop-N-score to give LA a 10-point lead. Although they were added to Leonard Fournette’s unlucky list of teams he ran up and down on, LA’s defense still managed to lock the Jags down, notching five sacks on the day and allowing just a field goal in the second half. A Message to the good people of Los Angeles: you currently have a winning football team. If you truly claim to be a city that “only supports winners” then it’s time y’all start attending the Rams’ games.

Achilles’ Heel. Our last hope for at least one NFL team to assert their dominance this season came crashing down as the Steelers went into Kansas City (again) and dominated the Chiefs. KC failed to avenge last season’s playoff loss and was doomed from the start in this one when right out the gate, a bad snap went over the head of Alex Smith, resulting in a safety. Their struggles continued as RB Kareem Hunt was a non-factor for the majority of the game. Smith was brought back down to life with an average performance when compared to what he’d done the first month of the season. He didn’t turn the ball over but Smith was consistently inaccurate with his throws, missing receivers on plays he had been making all season. And Travis Kelce? He disappeared like Keri Hilson did after she decided to talk sideways about Beyonce. To put their ineptitude into perspective, the Chiefs came in averaging 32.8 points per game, the most in the NFL. They couldn’t even produce half of that, held to just 13 points on Sunday. By halftime the Chiefs had just six yards of offense and only one first down. Credit goes to the Steelers for rebounding from an ugly loss at home the week before to dominate the most complete team in the league. They looked like the old school Steelers – relying heavily on the run and playing stifling defense. They were carried by RB Le’Veon Bell (32 rushes for 184 yds) who appeared to get stronger by the run. Pittsburgh’s passing game still hasn’t become the prolific unit everyone thought they’d be but they were the beneficiaries of a fluke play late in the 4th quarter when Ben Roethlisberger under-threw WR Antonio Brown. The ball was deflected right into his hands and Brown ran the remainder of the field for a 52 yard TD to separate from the Chiefs. They closed out the game scraping the rust off the Steel Curtain when Deebo himself AKA James Harrison wrecked havoc on Kansas City’s last drive, pressuring Alex Smith into incomplete passes to end the game. As inconsistent as the Steelers have been so far this season, no one can doubt they are the most equipped roster on paper to take over the reigns of the AFC. It’s just a matter of if and when they put the pieces together offensively to match the production they’re getting on defense.

FINAL NOTES

  • The New Orleans Saints had their first game since 2011 where they scored 3 defensive touchdowns. Never thought the words “Saints,” “defense,” and “the” would ever be used in the same sentence.
  • The 49ers became the first team in NFL history to lose five games in a row by three points or fewer.

 

That’s all we got for this week, people. I’m sure Week 7 will be just as depressingly-exciting as there will be six matchups between divsional rivals, too much purple will be on the field in Minnesota, and the Falcons get a shot at revenge in the rematch of last year’s epic Superbowl. Let me know what y’all think.