GameDay Decrees – Calm Before the Storm

The GameDay Decrees are back this week after being suspended, then appealing said suspension, then being denied said appeal, just to come back and still be suspended regardless. Week 10 served as a momentous set-up for what is bound to be an epic second half of a rather bizarre season. Parity definitely wasn’t on the menu this past week as there were only  six games won by seven points or less. There were also six blowouts, and six wins by the road teams. Of the five inter-conference games that were played last week, the NFC beat the AFC in EACH OF THEM. And there’s no surprise to why that is – the NFC simply has better teams right now. There are currently 10 teams in the NFC with winning records, while the AFC houses just six. And we’ve finally learned who the worst NFL team is as there is just one winless team remaining. And aside from Ambassador Kenny Ken Ken…no one is surprised who that is. Let’s get into it!

A LOSS, DESPITE THE WIN. Week 10 kicked off with another ride on the struggle bus as the Arizona Cardinals went to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in a penalty-stricken, mistake riddled Thursday night affair. It featured the typical Adrian Peterson fumble (then an Adrian Peterson safety), non-existent rushing attacks on both teams, a typical all-for-naught effort by the Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, and the expected heroics by first name Russell, last name Wilson. The only play worth watching over and over, and over and over and over and over again came early in the 4th quarter on 2nd down & 20-something, Wilson drifted left out of the pocket to look for someone open downfield. He attracted pressure in his face so he spun backwards, pump-faked a second defender into the air, then spun backward again and ended up 18 yards behind the line of scr– you know what. Fuck Russell Wilson. His Wayne Brady-Houdini ass continues to pull magic out of his hat to carry this Seahawks’ offense to victories. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will call a play just for Russ to take the snap and mid-play he decides, “nah fam, we doing this instead.”

The Seahawks ended up beating the Cardinals and improving to 6-3 on the season but late in the game, it became a costly win after all-world cornerback Richard Sherman fatally tore the Achilles that had been bothering him all season. Sherman’s ability, leadership, and overall presence on the field is a major blow to the ‘Hawks with Sherman set to miss the first game(s) of his career. Seattle simply cannot replace the void left by the staple on their veteran defense, but their short term plan to keep this unit formidable started this week with the re-signing of Byron Maxwell, who was a founding member of the Legion of Boom when he and Sherman both joined the Hawks back in 2011. Seattle will have to keep their streak going now that they sit one game behind the Rams in the NFC West.

And speaking of the West, the San Francisco 49ers are no longer winless, nor are they the worst team in the conference. They stepped all over the Little New York Giants who at this point probably are better off with Danny O’Shea as their head coach. 

HOW DOES BEN McADOO STILL HAVE A JOB?!?! HOW BRUH? HOW???

Sorry, this isn’t about him. The Niners got a serviceable outing from stand-in quarterback C.J Beathard and production out of their run game led by Carlos Hyde (98 yards). They converted 8 of 12 3rd down attempts which allowed them to keep drives alive and score a total of four TDs on the day. But the most important score of this game came midway through the 2nd quarter when Beathard dropped deep in the pocket and his backers successfully picked up the blitz. He heaved the ball downfield to speedster WR Marquise Goodwin, who ran a post route so straight it could have permed Pam Greer’s afro. Goodwin came down with the ball, shook off a Giants’ defender and walked into the endzone for the 83 yard go-ahead touchdown. This was Goodwin’s only catch of the game, but it was all we could have asked of him on Sunday. Just hours before kickoff, Goodwin and his pregnant wife lost their son due to complications of premature birth. And when Goodwin crossed the goal line he dropped to his knees to honor his son, and his teammates came to his support. 

The Niners may not win another game this season but I think I can speak for everyone when I say I am glad they were able to win THIS one. Prayers up to the Goodwin family!

MURPHY’S LAW. “Things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance to.” That is the only way I can explain what happened when the Chargers and Jaguars played on Sunday. If there’s anything in this league you can count on, it’s that Blake Bortles WILL hold this Jacksonville team back. And the Charges will, absolutely fucking will invent ways to lose a close game at the end. It’s like locking two clumsy bulls in a China shop…they’re gonna break everything they come in contact with if you let them. The circus acts began late in the 4th quarter as the Jags were marching downfield, down 3 points with under two minutes remaining. Bortles was flushed out of the pocket and decided to force a pass into triple coverage. It was tipped twice and eventually intercepted by Chargers’ Tre Boston, appearing to ruin Jacksonville’s chance at a comeback. Now we’ll switch to the Chargers, who had a three point lead, good field position, and the football with 1:51 on the clock at this point. All they needed to do was pick up a first down or not turn the ball over and they would be leaving Florida with the bag. But on the next play, rookie RB Austin Ekeler got the carry for some reason and coughed up the ball. Jaguars Tashaun Gibson fell on top of it, got up with the ball and returned it for a touchdown that would’ve given the Jags the go-ahead score. But once the play was reviewed, the referees somehow determined that Gibson was touched when he was down, despite there being zero video evidence that showed this, and the points were taken off the board. The Chargers compounded their miscues with two defensive penalties on the following drive to give Jacksonville even better field position to take the lead. Now, back to the Jaguars. After drawing an unnecessary roughness penalty IN THE ENDZONE, Jags’ WR Marqis Lee was unable to act like he’s been there before (because, well, he hasn’t) and decided to dance in front of the Chargers’ defenders, in which he was penalized 15 yards that took his offense further away from paydirt. But either way, the Jags still had the opportunity to at least tie the game if they could just hold onto the football and not do anything…stupid. That’s been their winning formula all season: tell Blake Bortles to just stay out of the way while their running game and defense wrecks shit. They treat Bortles like young Alan Parrish in Jumanji. All they ask of Blake while they are out for the night is please, pah-lease do not destroy the house for a few hours. And what does this treacherous MF do? He invites the squad over, cracks open an enchanted board game and before you know it, a gotdamn stampede is running toward the neighborhood Wal-Mart.It was 3rd and 25, and the Jags needed just 10 yards or so to be in comfortable field goal range. But Bortles decided he wanted to leave his imprint on the game and threw a Blake Bortles’ signed, sealed, and delivered duck into traffic and of course, the Chargers’ Tre Boston picked him off again. Now, back to the Chargers. This is about to be as quick as their next possession because they went three-and-out, and punted the ball right back to Jacksonville. The only way the Jags could get into field goal range [again] to tie this thang is if the Chargers gave it to them. And what happened next? You guessed it – Chargers’ Joey Bosa committed a roughing the passer penalty to put Jacksonville in FG range to tie the game and send it into overtime. We’re gonna keep it with the Chargers here, who got the ball in OT, but had it literally snatched from them when Philip Rivers’ gun-slinging mentality got the best of him. Rivers threw a pass along the left sideline to Kelvin Benjamin but – back to Jacksonville – the Jags’ AJ Boye ripped the ball from his grasps, and returned it all the way down to the Chargers’ two yard line, leading to kicker Josh Lambo exacting revenge against his former team. Lambo played for the Chargers from 2015 until this past September when – back to the Chargers – they cut Lambo in favor of Younghoe Koo, who is no longer on the team. All I know is somebody in the Chargers’ organization needs to be fired because their comedy of self-destruction is starting to not be funny anymore.

COME MARCHING IN. The New Orleans Saints proved to everyone on Sunday that they are indeed fo’real. And it wasn’t necessarily simply because they beat the Bills – it was HOW they beat the Bills. Nobody, and I mean nobody (not me, not you, not the good brothas here at TLA, nor the folks in the 9th Ward) believed this Saints team would travel North of the Wall and dominate a quality opponent. An opponent that was undefeated at home, mind you. Outdoors. In sub-40 degree weather. That’s about 4 degrees Celsius to the rest of the world that wisely uses a universal temperature scale. Anyway, us doubters thought the Saints would show chinks in their armor going up against a run-first, smash-mouth team. And it looked to be that way early on when Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy broke off a 36 yard run to give the Bills an early 3-0 lead. But that was the last relevant play the Bills ran the rest of the afternoon. Instead, it was the Saints run game that put record numbers on the scoreboard. They amassed 298 rushing yards as a unit, circling the wagon against Buffalo’s stout defense. The Saints were led by RBs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, who became the first Saints backfield duo to each surpass 100 rushing yards in a game since Reggie Bush and Deuce McCallister did it back in 2006. They dropped 47 points in the Bills, all by way of rushing touchdowns. Three by Ingram, one by Kamara, one by rookie Trey Edmunds, and another by Drew Brees, who looked more like Russeell Wilson on that TD run where he excessively and unnecessarily pump-faked the defense like D-Wade, then squeaked his way past the pylon. And speaking of Drew Brees, I can’t believe we spent 245 words talking about a Saints’ win and had not even mention the man yet. That’s because he didn’t have to do his typical heavy lifting. Brees threw just 25 passes for 184 yards and no TDs, which is usually the recipe for “Saints Lose on the Road” gumbo. If this season has taught us anything, it’s that “the usual” usually isn’t gonna happen. And the most unusual part about this whole season is the Saints defense, which went from the reason this team lost games to the reason this franchise currently sits at 7-2. Rookie corner Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley are locking shit down on the outside. Cameron Jordan and Alex Okafor are a handful up front, leading to a top-ten Saints’ defense in terms of scoring and yards allowed. This win streak New Orleans is on has placed them in the history books as the second team in the Superbowl era to win seven straight games after losing their first two.  Their schedule won’t get any easier, but it will indeed get warmer. Four of their final seven games are at home inside the Superdome. One of their remaining road games is inside someone else’s dome, and the other two will be played in Los Angeles and Tampa Bay. It’s highly likely these underdog Saints will continue to march their way past the competition, straight to an NFC South title.

 

MONDAY NIGHT NEWTON. Oohhhhh, Cam! Cameron Jerrell Newton proved to the entire country on the primetime tele that he is still one of the best signal callers in this league. He was reminiscent of his 2015-self who won the league MVP and led the Panthers to a Superbowl appearance. Rumor has it that Newton is at his best when he serves as a duel threat in both the run and passing game, and Ron Rivera must have gotten the memo. They got Cam out in space early and often, with several designed draw runs that gashed Miami’s defense as he tallied 95 yards on the ground. Although he had a few hurried, inaccurate throws, Newton was sharp in the pocket and spread the ball around to seven different receivers. He often audibled plays at the line on several instances, picking his spots and having his way whenever he decided to keep the ball in his hands. Newton finished with four touchdowns and played with the moxy and confidence necessary to get this Carolina squad back in the hunt for the NFC South division title. With all the injuries and ineptitudes of other veteran quarterbacks around the league, I admit it was a breath of fresh air to watch that black boy fly on the big stage.

P.S. when you win, you can wear whatever you want. Even this…

 

That’s all I got for this week, folks. Week 11 features a handful of games with playoff implications. It kicks off with the 6-3 Titans traveling to Pittsburgh to face the 7-2 Steelers in a battle that could very well be a rematch come January (both teams are leading their division and riding on four game winning streaks). The 7-2 LA Rams go to Minnesota to battle the 7-2 Vikings, with NFC legitimacy on the line. And on Monday night, the Falcons fly west to take on the Seahawks, as the winner of this matchup will greatly increase their chances of sneaking into an NFC Wild Card spot. Thank you black baby Jesus for giving us a slate of games this week that actually matter! Let me know what y’all think