GameDay Decrees – Half Way Crooks

The GameDay Decrees are back! And around here, we fully support the inmates who run the prison. History shows when you do, Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins will prove not only that the prison industrial complex does indeed exist, but also that a black guy and a white guy can work together to accomplish a common goal once they recognize who the real enemy is. Please, wake up NFL players!!! But I digress. An eventful Week 8 of NFL action is in the books and we have a lot to get into. Of the 13 games played this past weekend, seven resulted in “blowouts” (wins by 10 or more points), and only five of the 13 games were won by the road teams. Not a single upset was pulled off, which is surprising the way previous weeks have gone with the favorites laying eggs and the underdogs giving us reason to pick the perennial bottom-feeders to somehow win their divisions. But before we get into Week 8’s storylines it’s only appropriate that we take time to acknowledge the accomplishments of both the teams and individual players who have made their mark so far as we sit at the mid-way point of the 2017 season. And if they don’t plan on maintaining their success down the stretch they should let us know right now that they’re shook…cause ain’t so such thing as half way crooks!

 

After 8 weeks of mind-numbing football (I mean that literally and figuratively. CTE is real, y’all!), here’s what we know:

The Patriots, Steelers, and Chiefs each sit atop the AFC at 6-2. The Eagles hold an outright lead over the NFC at 7-1, while the Vikings are on their heels at 6-2, Saints, Panthers, Seahawks, Rams each have five wins.

The Browns and the 49ers are just happy there’s no such thing as relegation in the NFL.

The gotdamn motherfuckin’ Buffalo Bills are the only AFC team currently undefeated at home. The Patriots are the only undefeated team on the road. And in the NFC, the Seahawks are the only team undefeated at home. The LA Rams somehow are the only NFC team undefeated on the road. I wonder why each pair of those teams play in the same division?

The Tennessee Titans are the only non-playoff team in the AFC from last season currently leading their division (tied at 4-3 with Jacksonville). The Seahawks are the only NFC playoff team from last year leading their division again this year. Give the ‘Hawks credit but this is largely in part because the Giants are hurting, Aaron Rodgers is out for the season, and the Falcons are still drunk from celebrating too hard during halftime of last year’s Superbowl.

Eagles’ 2nd year QB Carson Wentz and Texans’ rookie QB DeShaun Watson are leaders of the new school, as both are tied at 19 for the league-lead in TD passes. Panthers’ Cam Newton and Browns’ Di’Shone Kizer share the lead of 11 interceptions thrown, while Jacoby Brissett has been sacked a league high 29 times. I had a complaint about the OBVIOUS common thread between the two QBs who are struggling, but I’ll leave it there for now.

Steelers’ workhorse RB Le’Veon Bell is leading the league in rushing attempts and rushing yards. Teammate Antonio Brown leads the league in receptions, but another pair of teammates, Houston WRs DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller share the lead for TD receptions at seven. They can both thank Seattle’s Richard Sherman for that.

The Cowboys’ DeMarcus Lawrence leads the NFL with 10.5 sacks, Bills’ Micah Hyde leads the league with five interceptions.

Because kickers are people too, we have to show them love. Vikings’ Kai Forbath and Rams’ Greg Zuerlein are tied at 21 for the most field goals made this season.

The Texans lead the league in scoring at 30.7 points per game while the upstart Jaguars possess the league’s best scoring defense, giving up just 15.7 PPG.

And finally, the Seahawks lead the league in penalties while the Panthers have shown the most discipline by being the best at avoiding laundry on the field.

 

And now, we’ll get into the shit-show that was Week 8 around the NFL…

SACK ATTACK. Week 8 featured historical performances by three players who have wrecked havoc on opposing quarterbacks so far this year. We begin with the youngin’ – Chargers’ Joey Bosa – who brought Tom Brady down on Sunday for his 19th career sack. That may not sound like much at first, but when you consider Bosa has only played twenty games his ENTIRE CAREER, you’ll realize the kid is on a tear. Bosa has collected the most sacks for a player in his first 20 career games since sacks became an official statistic back in 1982. Next, we’ll go across the pond to Twickenham Stadium in London where Vikings’ Everson Griffen continued his assault on QBs this season when he sacked Cleveland’s DiShone Kizer late in the 4th quarter to add to his season sack total of 10. He has tallied a sack in every game this season so far and luckily for the other 31 teams, Griffen and the Vikings (who have won four straight games) are on a bye next week. Finally, we get to the ageless wonder, Mr. Julius Frazier Peppers. The Panthers drafted him back in 2002 at a time when I was a strapping young sixth grader and Peppers was torturing the likes of Tampa Bay QB Brad Johnson. And 15 seasons later, he’s still driving Buccaneers’ QBs crazy twice a year as Peppers notched his 151st career sack on Jameis Winston to move into 4th place on the all-time list, behind the likes of Bruce Smith, Reggie White, and Kevin Greene…all Hall of Famers.

CIRCLE THE WAGON. Sean McDermott’s Buffalo Bills are 5-2. They are the most refreshing surprise so far this season as they’ve been getting it done on both sides of the ball. Tyrod Taylor appears to have taken his game to the next step, having the third-best QB rating in the NFL at the moment. What’s more impressive is Tyrod has been getting in done without many explosive weapons in the passing game after the team traded away star WR Sammy Watkins at the beginning of the season. But don’t tell Tyrod that – last Sunday against Oakland he spread the ball around to nine different receivers. RB LeSean McCoy contributed another great day at the office, with 151 yards rushing including a 48 yarder he took to the crib in the 4th quarter to put the game out of reach. But their defense, doe?! They kept the explosive Raiders’ defense in check, allowing just two pass plays of over 20 yards. DB Leonard Johnson laid a perfect hit in the 2nd quarter to pop the ball free and it dropped straight into the hands of rookie LB Matt Milano who returned it 40 yards for a defensive touchdown. Despite not getting a sack the entire game, the Bills confused Raiders’ QB Derek Carr enough for DBs Trae Elston and Micah Hyde to both come up with interceptions to increase their team’s turnover differential to plus-10 – the best in the NFL. Now if the Buffalo faithful need any more reason to be optimistic that this season is finally, Finally, FINALLY! the year they make the postseason, they should consider this: The last 19 teams that led the league in turnover differential by season’s end made the playoffs. If coach McDermott & Co. can continue this formula for the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll have a decent chance to snap the longest active playoff drought in any major professional sport, having not made the playoffs since 1999.

JUJU ON THAT BEAT. The Pittsburgh Steelers have spent the past month addressing off field issues, mainly caused by their soap opera cast of wide receivers. The biggest question on the field was who will be (or who deserves to be) the much-needed 3rd option to get their under performing passing game going. That question was asked by 20 year old WR Juju Smith-Schuester who is the youngest player in the league.  Juju broke Sunday Night’s Primetime game in Detroit wide open when he and QB Ben Roethlisberger faced a split-safety coverage while stuck in the shadow of their own endzone. The two missed on a shot downfield earlier in the game when the Lions presented this pre-snap look, but this time the young WR wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. Juju broke free down the seam and Ben dropped the ball to him close to mid field. Juju outran the entire Detroit secondary for a 97 yard touchdown that propelled the Steelers to their 3rd win in a row, making sure both his roster spot and his bicycle would never be in jeopardy again.

 

COWBOYS AND INDIANS. The participants of this game alone should have alerted you off the rip who came out victorious in this one. Any time the word “America” is associated with anything, especially in competition, trust and believe they exhausted all their resources and privileges to make sure they had an advantage. The Cowboys AKA America’s Team made the first chess move here by snatching away their opponent’s identity. They convinced the whole country to call them “Red skins” thinking they are Indians, when in reality they are the natives, here on this land way before any Cowboys ever were! And did y’all notice they completely distorted their place of origin? They red-lined them into the cramped Washington D.C, which isn’t even considered a state, as if they don’t practice in Virginia and play in Maryland. The fix was already in, bruh. They Cowboys have won the last three meetings in this matchup, convincing the Skins they never had a chance to begin with. The ‘Skins were forced to surrender their corn and fried turkey recipe and in return Dallas fed it to RB Ezekiel Elliott all day long (33 rushes 150 yds, 2 TDs). What appeared to be a close game in the first half ultimately faded in the second, as Dallas held Washington to just six points in the final 30 minutes, improving to 4-3 on the season and dropping their oppressed division rival to 3-4. But for those seeking revenge on behalf of the indigenous, don’t give up hope just yet. The tribe from the midwest will invade Jerry’s World and are well equipped to take down the oppressor. It will be interesting to see how Dallas fares without Elliott, whose six game suspension is being upheld and he will miss action until mid December. If you ask me, this shit feels like some past due reparations.

 

FOR THE CULTURE. I’m feeling hella woke at the moment so let’s keep this thing going. Whoever created the schedule for Week 8 probably didn’t notice that the Panthers vs. Tampa Bay and the Texans vs. Seahawks games would include Cam Newton, Jameis Winston, DeShaun Watson, and Russell Wilson. It marked the first time since I’m-not-really-sure-when that two games on the same day featured starting black quarterbacks on each team. I’m trying to tell y’all! It probably smelled like Brut cologne and a Morehouse College dorm room every time the ball was snapped. I could hear Solange’s “FUBU” playing whenever a touchdown was thrown. This shit…is…for…US!!!

Neither Cam nor Jameis really played well as Jameis was sacked three times, threw three interceptions, and also lost a fumble. Cam and the Panthers came out victorious, but his struggles this season continue as he threw for just 154 yards and yet another interception. Newton’s 24 yard TD pass to Kelvin Benjamin was bittersweet as it helped put the game in the bag for Carolina, but it was the last pass the two would connect on together as the organization traded Benjamin to Buffalo this week.

It was the other matchup between rookie DeShaun Watson and the narc Russell Wilson that featured thee highest level of #BlackBoyJoy. This epic battle now holds the crown for Game of the Year thus far as two teams who pride themselves on defense instead relied heavily on their offense to take them up and down the field in this track meet. Watson and the Texans struck first when Watson hung in the pocket long enough for WR Will Fuller to get past both levels of Seattle’s defense. Watson threw a dime for a 57 yard TD bomb to take the lead. But later in the quarter Watson tried to force the ball late across the middle and telegraphed his throw. Seahawks’ Earl Thomas jumped in front of the receiver for the interception, and returned it 78 yards for a pick-six. After Texans regained the lead on a Lamar Miller TD run, Russell Wilson decided to leave his post and join in on the fun. He evaded pressure in the pocket and threw a 20 yard TD pass to some guy named Paul Richardson – an L.A. native who had himself a breakout game (6 catches 105 yds, 2 TDs). In the 2nd quarter, Watson showed off his speed by breaking off an 18 yard run to pick up a first down that ultimately lead to his 2nd TD pass of the day – a 20 yarder again to Fuller who was beating Seattle’s lockdown cornerback Richard Sherman like he owed him money. But Wilson and the Seattle offense responded with a 53 yard completion to WR Tanner McEvoy, which led to a game-tying 7 yard TD catch by Richardson. We were 21-all at the half. The third quarter served as the calm before the storm, producing just three total field goals – two by Seattle and one by Houston. Seattle held a 27-23 lead to start the 4th quarter and that’s when it got real in the field. Watson showed off his ability to know when to run and when to pass as he frequently escaped the pocket to make plays downfield. He extended a play earlier in the 4th to hit Fuller at the 2 yard line. Two plays later, Watson managed to pull all the tricks and the treats out of his bag when he was blindsided in the backfield, spun the defender off of him, kept his balance, and shuffled the ball to Miller who was wide open in the endzone for a 2 yd score to take the lead. But Wilson lead the ‘Hawks downfield on a 7-play drive highlighted by a 55 yard pass downfield to Tyler Lockett to get them in scoring range. I could not for the life of me comprehend: A. Where either the Seahawks or Texans defense was all day. And B. Why the HELL was either team falling for the play action fake when neither offense’s running back was a factor all game?! The leading rusher on both teams was…you guessed it…THE QUARTERBACKS! Anywho, Officer Friendly was able to capitalize on the big play with at redzone TD pass to TE Jimmy Graham to take a 34-31 lead with just under six minutes remaining. Seattle’s lead last a whole 48 seconds of game time because just two offensive plays later, Watson dropped a quick bubble screen off to DeAndre Hopkins and Hopkins cut upfield and outran ev-er-y-bo-dy on the field for a 72 yard touchdown, yet again on Richard Sherman’s side of the field. It felt like Sherman was hosting recording sessions for the Migos because I have NEVER seen this many slender brothas with dreadlocks run up and down his side of the hashmarks so many times. While Earl Thomas nurses his tight hamstring, gimme a minute to catch my breath…

Aight, bet. So now it was Wilson’s turn to answer with his team down 38-34. With 3 minutes remaining and the ball just past midfield, Wilson decided it was time to prove he could make plays with his feet two. He pulled of his patented spin move in the pocket, slipped away from two would-be tacklers and marched his way up field for a 21 yard gain. With yet anotherrrrrrrr play-action fake, Wilson dropped back in the pocket poised to take the lead. He wound up with confidence a fired a sideline pass directly into the hands of Texans’ CB Marcus Williams, who intercepted the pass and went out of bounds, appearing to have sealed the win for his squad. With under two minutes on the clock the Texans kept it on the ground and forced the Seahawks to use their final timeout before getting the ball back. Their gameplan should have been to make sure they never got the ball back, because Wilson has only lost six games on his home turf his entire career – Sunday was not one of those days. With 1:39 on the clock, Wilson dropped back the very first play of the drive and from his own 20, he heaved the ball almost 50 yards downfield to Richardson who went up and came down with the football to put Seattle in scoring range. Wilson connected with Graham yet again, who was wide open down the middle of the field for the go-ahead 18 yard touchdown. It’s unfortunate one team had to lose this game, but for the the losing team, this game will serve as a long term win for their franchise. When it comes to the quarterback position, Houston no loner has that problem. After trying out nine different QBs since coach Bill O’Brien took over in 2014, they have finally found their present and future at the quarterback position – Mr. Derrick DeShaun Watson – who has the entire football world on notice. He became the first QB with over 400+ yards, 4 TDs, and 50+ rushing yards IN A SINGLE GAME. It will be great to watch him grow as the season progresses and the games become more important. One thing I can say is Sunday must have been a roller coaster for Houston after watching their football team fall just short in a classic battle, just to watch their baseball team come up in the clutch in one of the wildest World Series games any of us will ever see.

Alright y’all…that’s all I got. I’m tired! Week 9 features a slate of games nobody wants to watch. There are only two games this weekend between teams with winning records (ATL-CAR and KC-DAL). Brock Osweiler gets what better be his final shot in the NFL as he makes the start for the Broncos in Philadelphia, while the Bills and Jets kick off the week’s action on Thursday Night Football in the first relevant AFC East game that doesn’t feature the Patriots. Let me know what y’all think.