The NFL season is four weeks old. With a quarter of the season gone, we finally have enough information to draw some reasonable conclusions about NFL 2012 without sounding like reactionary Week 1 morons. (The Cowboys are unstoppable!)
Here are 10 things we know.
1. The Falcons and Texans are really good.
How good? Really good. I already said that. Try to keep up. We may be just a few weeks away from speculation about a Falcons-Texans Super Bowl receiving terrible ratings. Who wants to watch a Super Bowl that doesn’t feature a Manning, the Patriots or the Packers? No one other than a hundred-million people or so. Lame.
2. The Cardinals will win at least four games.
Could they win five? Maybe. Possibly even more. I ran the numbers and they could win a max of 16 in the regular season. It’s unlikely, but believe it or not, they will not go worse than 4-12.
3. Packers fans are going to complain about officials FOREVER.
All fans complain about officials. All fans believe the officials hate their team and have it out for them. This despite zero evidence supporting that belief. But the Packers have legitimately been victim to horrible calls in back-to-back weeks with two different referee styles: replacement and regular. Packers fans will stop complaining about these past two weeks in about 2062. It will be extremely annoying. But you’d do the same in their place.
4. The Bills have a fairly awful defense.
So far this season, they have given up 48 points to the New York Jets and allowed two New England Patriots running backs to rush for more than 100 yards. Bill Belichick didn’t even know he had two running backs until this week. If Jets QB Mark Sanchez can just hang on to his job until Week 17, he gets to play the Bills again then.
5. The Jets want to be the 49ers when they grow up.
The 49ers have a great defense, a quotable, high-energy coach and a two-quarterback system that works. If you go to the dollar store and ask for the San Francisco 49ers, they will give you the New York Jets.
6. Andy Reid and Norv Turner will make it through the season.
The perpetual hot-seat sitters are both 3-1. Contract extension time?
7. The Lions are back.
They have a suspect defense, no running game, awful special teams, and are 1-3. And Calvin Johnson hasn’t even fallen prey to the Madden Curse. Yet.
"I think big things need to change," said kicker Jason Hanson after Sunday’s loss. "There's no excuse for us giving up touchdowns and not covering. I can kick the ball, Nick [Harris] here can kick the ball. We need to do a little bit better; we can cover better, and all special teams need to get their act together because we're good, but we're garbage right now. We're killing our team."
Getting called out by the kicker. A new low for the Lions' organization.
8. The Saints are playing the way Roger Goodell hoped they would.
Would the Saints be any better with their suspended players and coaches? We can’t know for sure. If they were winning, would Goodell find new evidence to suspend other players? We can know for sure.
9. The Romeo Crennel hire was not a good one.
The Chiefs' three losses have been by an average of 17 points. While one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure, if the first man is the Cleveland Browns, you can bet the trash will remain trash regardless of the owner.
I mean, just … RG3! He’s the most amazing thing to ever happen to football! But it is going to be pretty awkward when he loses the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year to Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein, aka GZ1.
Quote of the Week
"Get the f--- off our field!”
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons, yelling in the direction of the Panthers’ sideline after Matt Bryant’s game-winning field goal.
Whoa, Matt Ryan. Whoa. No need for the potty mouth. And you’re only 27 years old. At this rate, by age 77, you’ll be the world’s angriest old man, with a lawn full of land mines awaiting intruder neighborhood kids.
“I accidentally kicked my ball into old-man Ryan’s lawn. I can see it over by the pile of white sticks.”
“Those are human bones, Tommy. Just let it go. Your parents can get you a new ball.”
Stat of the Week
If Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes had made his post-icing kick to beat the Eagles, Andy Reid would have been tarred and feathered by 68,000 Eagles fans. (The tar being Cheez Whiz and the feathers being Reid’s own walrus mustache hairs torn from his face.) But the stats back up Reid’s decision. Since 2001, kickers have hit on 81 percent of field goals when no timeout is called and 76 percent when kicking after a timeout.
Granted, it’s doubtful Reid called timeout with those stats in mind. It’s more likely he suddenly realized he had a timeout left and that the game was about to end, so he panicked and used it. Just as many couples vow to never go to bed angry, Reid refuses to end a game with all of this timeouts and challenges. It’s a life promise he and clock management made when they were very young.
Misleading Stat of the Week
The Chiefs outgained the Chargers 353 yards to 293. Kansas City also had 25 first downs to San Diego’s 19. If the Chiefs can just limit their turnovers to a number they can count on one hand, they’ll be keeping games within three scores in no time.
This Week's Horrible Fantasy Team That Crushed Your Team
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills: 22-for-39, 350 yards, 4 TD, 4 INT
Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots: 22 carries, 106 yards, 2 TD
Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots: 148 total yards, TD
Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins: 12 catches, 253 yards, TD
Andre Roberts, WR, Cardinals: 6 catches, 118 yards, 2 TD
Craig Stevens, TE, Titans: 2 catches, 24 yards, TD
Photos of the Week
Press Conference Questions Someone Should Have Asked
Aaron Kromer: “At 0-4, are you concerned about your chances of getting another interim interim head-coaching job?”
Tom Coughlin: “Your team has been very inconsistent so far this season. Has to be pretty exciting considering their track record, right?”
Ron Rivera: “How awesome would it be to have RG3 as your quarterback?”
Reader Twitter Question of the Week
@djgalloespn If Ryan Fitzpatrick is so smart, why does he keep throwing the ball to the other team?
— Meesh (@HockeyMeesh) Sept. 30, 2012
Ryan Fitzpatrick is so smart, it would be foolish of us to question him. The likely explanation is that we simply don’t understand what he is doing. He’s probably playing football on a theoretical level. Perhaps there is string theory involved, and while we see the Bills as awful, they are dominant in many other dimensions. I know imagining the Bills as good makes your head hurt, but it’s just because you’re not intelligent and can’t process it.
ELITE Quarterback of the Week: Kevin Kolb
Is Kevin Kolb ELITE?
The evidence for him: His team is undefeated, he is paid like an elite quarterback, he has a 97.6 quarterback rating and you can’t spell KEVLAR without KEV.
The evidence against him: He was beaten out by John Skelton, he is Kevin Kolb, and you can’t spell KOLBASI (a sausage that gives you bad gas) without KOLB.
Five Things I Think I Think I Think I Can Think
1. The Panthers are now 1-3, three games back in the NFC South, and have a long, uphill trek to make it to the Super Bowl. Since center Ryan Kalil is the one who put the Super Bowl ad in the paper, he needs to step up, back up his words and make some plays. I’m not a football X's and O's guy, so I’m not sure exactly how a center would do that, but surely a player with only a minor impact on games wouldn’t make such a grand boast. Cam Newton needs to get out of Kalil’s way. Figuratively. Not literally, or then the ball would just be snapped onto the ground.
2. Nice work by Chris Johnson having a big rushing week the first week everyone gave up on him and benched him in fantasy football. Expect a 10-yard game next week, followed by a 240-yard game, then back-to-back-to-back single-digit games followed by an NFL record 400-yard rushing game after he has been waived in every fantasy league. His fantasy position shouldn’t be RB. It should be Troll.
3. It was strange to watch a golf tournament with putts being conceded all over the place on the same day NFL football was on. Would NFL coaches concede putts? Not a chance. That’s why I’m proposing Greg Schiano for 2014 Ryder Cup coach. Let’s see Sergio Garcia finesse a chip onto the green with John Daly bearing down on him. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
4. Unless you are a Buccaneers fan, and attendance figures suggest almost no one is, you had to pull for Billy Cundiff to hit the game-winner for the Redskins. If he had missed, his career would assuredly be over. Even worse, he probably would have had to deal with Mike Shanahan’s kid screaming at him in the hall.
5. The long-term survival of the Jaguars' franchise has to be in serious doubt now. Yes, they haven’t had a blackout in several years. That’s true. But the fact that they couldn’t fill every seat -- including the tarp-covered seats -- for Sunday’s game against the Bengals is simply unacceptable. Not that the Bengals are a draw. They are not. Even in Cincinnati. But the game was called by Ed Hochuli. Failing to pack the house to see the return of an American hero is a national disgrace. Jacksonville’s next home game should be played in Los Angeles.
How They Spent Their Bye Week
Steelers: Realizing that their losing record isn’t nearly as bad as another team’s losing record.
Colts: Reading obituaries.
Replacement refs: Wondering how the regular refs blew that call in the Packers game.