Tuesday, September 27, 2011

NFL Week 3 Thoughts

I know Naptime Huddle should reflect on the week’s games on Mondays, but the outcome of the Monday night Cowboys vs. Redskins game needed to be determined before I felt that a Week 3 wrap-up could be complete.  Therefore, let’s begin our bite-sized thoughts with that contest.

1.      Riveting Field Goal Battle!  Looks like my nephew, Eric, was right in picking this as a must–see game this week.  Especially if you like field goals.  There must be some nefarious allergen in Cowboys Stadium because both teams caught a severe red zone allergy.  Only the Redskins managed to score a touchdown from inside the 20-yard line.  The two teams combined for nine field goals; Dallas used six to hand the Redskins their first loss of the season.* 

2.      Topsy-Turvy Division Standings.  Glancing through the division standings after Week 3, there are few surprises:

a.       Coming off an incredible comeback win the second week in a row, the Buffalo Bills are in first place in the AFC East.  Anointed an “Unexpected Undefeated” by NH last week, the Bills earned that title by knocking off the heavily-favored New England Patriots 34-31 after being behind 21-0 to start the game.  Four interceptions of Tom Brady and a last second field goal got it done.  If they keep this up a clean record will no longer be unexpected.

b.      The Detroit Lions are only one game behind the NFC North leaders (the Green Bay Packers) and they show no signs of slowing down.  Incredible passing by QB Matthew Stafford and spectacular catches by wide receiver Calvin Johnson, capped by a clutch field goal by veteran kicker Jason Hanson, resulted in an electrifying win over the already weary Minnesota Vikings.

c.       The Indianapolis Colts are winless and at the bottom of the AFC South without Peyton Manning.  ‘Nuff said.

3.      Disappointment in Philadelphia:  The wheels aren’t quite coming off yet in Philadelphia, but the lug nuts are certainly getting loose.  The self-named “Dream Team” is having a nightmarish start after dropping to 1-2 with a loss to division rival New York Giants.  Giants QB Eli Manning made the much-touted Philly secondary look silly; Eagles QB Michael Vick left with a bruised right hand and it is unclear when he will return to the field. 

4.      Dead Team Walking?  The Tennessee Titans won their battle against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, but they may have lost the war, having lost Kenny Britt to a knee injury.  If Britt, the team’s star in the first two weeks, is done for the season, can veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck keep hope alive in Nashville?  Personally, I can’t imagine the Titans will roll over; Hasselbeck still managed to have a 300+ yard game without Britt.

5.      For Newton, Maybe Ugly is Beautiful:  I’m borrowing a phrase from my niece, Nicky’s Saturday post of our family’s chocolate cake recipe but it’s particularly apt for this week’s win by the Carolina Panthers.  Rookie QB Cam Newton’s first two games have been works of art from a statistical standpoint, throwing for over 400 yards in each game.  However, both games were losses.  On Sunday, Newton struggled to even hold onto the ball in a torrential downpour and had average numbers: he was 18 for 34 with only 158 yards.  All that matters is the final score, though, and Newton led his team on a flawless drive at the end to draw up a victory.

6.     Keeping the Bubbly on Ice:   And for the 1972 Dolphins, here are the remaining undefeated teams in the NFL: Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.

*In case you were wondering, the record for most field goals made by a team in a single game is 8, which was accomplished by Tennessee Titan Rob Bironas on October 21, 2007 against the Houston Texans. I couldn’t find a definitive answer, but Monday night's game might actually tie a record for most field goals made in a single game by the teams playing.