A Bar with a View
Posted Oct. 22 at 01:28 AM
A quick whirl around the league at the highlights and lowlights of the games I paid the most attention to on Sunday…
General observation: Is there anything more annoying than seeing struggling, demoted wide receivers finally make a play – and then ruin any kind of feel-good moment by immediately drawing a stupid penalty? Yes, Devery Henderson and Ashley Lelie, who drew flags for unsportsmanlike conduct after making big receptions, I’m talking to you. Act like you’ve done it before this season, even though to this point you haven’t.
Patriots-Dolphins: I went out to a local sports bar for Sunday’s games, which used to be a regular occurrence and now I manage maybe once or twice a year. It’s interesting for a lot of reasons, like not having control over what you see (largely depends on where there’s an open table) and not getting audio for most of the games. For example, I had no idea why Tom Brady was put back into a game that was 42-21 in the fourth quarter, after being lifted earlier. Later on, hearing Bill Belichick’s explanation (“Another turnover for a touchdown and it would have been a 14-point game”), I still had no idea, but anyway. As he threw his sixth touchdown pass on the day, and second to Wes Welker, my friend, who coincidentally was facing both players in our fantasy league, said, “I’m quite sure when God created alcohol, this is why He did it.”
As for the game, on one side you have the Patriots, who have won all seven games by at least 17 points. On the other you have the Dolphins, who in the space of five days traded away their No. 1 wideout, placed their week 1 starting quarterback on injured reserve, and lost their starting running back to injury. The Patriots schedule gets tougher almost by default, but they might clinch their division by week 9, and (if they beat the Colts) homefield advantage about a week later. The Dolphins are headed to London for next week’s game. Perhaps they’ll elect not to come back.
Cardinals-Washington: I know Anquan Boldin played quarterback way back when, and I’m all for trick plays every now and again. But when you’re trying for a game-tying two-point conversion in the final minute, is that really the time to bring out a kooky play with a wide receiver throwing a pass? It sure didn’t look like Arizona knew what was going on with the play any more than Washington did. Unusual stat lines in this game: Boldin caught 8 passes for 29 yards, which gives him a ridiculous 10 points in PPR leagues – not counting his 2 TDs. Clinton Portis, on the other side, rushed a Bettis-esque 18 times for just 43 yards, a measly 2.4 per carry – and 2 TDs.
Final note: I haven’t seen the numbers, but it appears teams are recovering onside kicks semi-regularly this season. The Cardinals and Texans both had chances to win thanks to recovered onside kicks on Sunday; the Bucs recovered one too. Bad enough you can’t feel confident as a fan with an 8-point lead in the final minutes; now even 9 or more isn’t safe. Of course, even 21 isn’t enough for Bill Belichick, so….
49ers-Giants: Remember all the way back to week 3, when the Giants were 0-2 and Tom Coughlin was about to be fired, and the 49ers were 2-0 and were considered a darkhorse NFC championship contender? Five weeks later, and the Giants haven’t lost and the 49ers haven’t won, and both looked the part on Sunday. I mention this for several reasons. One, two games is way too early to make any kind of assessments about how good or bad a team is. Two, five weeks from now we could be talking again about how bad the Giants are (although I doubt it). And three, the 49ers have spent a lot of money on their team the past couple of years, and I’m not sure where it’s getting them. Their offensive line isn’t very good. Their receivers can best be described as inconsistent. Trent Dilfer looked pretty bad, and yet nobody was saying, “Well, if Alex Smith hadn’t gotten hurt, we’d be 4-2 right now instead of 2-4.” Even Frank Gore looked sluggish (although it might have something to do with that line). I know the Niners have had some injuries, but wow – you wouldn’t have figured they’d only have one decent fantasy option (and even Gore has been a disappointment).
Then there are the Giants, who suddenly can do no wrong – and probably aren’t too thrilled about having to go play in London next week. There are some flaws here: Their three running backs put together, for example, aren’t nearly as good catching the ball out of the backfield as Tiki Barber; both Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward let balls clang off their hands, Ward both dropping a touchdown and being responsible Eli Manning’s interception. Other than that, though, their pass rush is suddenly the league’s best (incredible sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery, and touchdown by Osi Umenyiora on Sunday), their offensive line is playing extremely well, and all of their stars (including 33-year-old Amani Toomer) are on top of their games. The Giants defense probably isn’t still available in your league, but if it, or Toomer, are still out there, pick them up.
Steelers-Broncos: When something looks too good be true, sometimes it is. You can’t make lineup decisions on such nuances (“I’m going to bench Willie Parker this week, because I have a feeling the league’s 2nd-ranked rushing offense is going to put up sub-par numbers against the 32nd-ranked rushing defense”), but games like this – Parker rushing for a so-so 93 yards and no scores, while Ben Roethlisberger throws 4 TDs against the league’s No. 1 pass defense – are a reminder that the obvious result isn’t always the one you get. Not to mention, it used to be a given that the Broncos running game would roll up big totals against virtually every opponent, especially at home. Not anymore. They miss center Tom Nalen, for one. And then, maybe there are so many teams running variations of the zone-blocking system these days (Houston, Green Bay, Carolina) that the novelty and unfamiliarity for defenses around the league has worn off. Certainly none of those teams are tearing up the league with it right now.
Watching games in a bar has a lot going for it. For one thing, I don’t have to worry about my son wanting to watch “Noodlebug.” But apart from that, I personally don’t have 8 TVs, so it’s nice being able to see big plays in all the different games simply by turning my head, and reacting to other people. It’s nice being served a beer by a bartender in a tank top while behind her shoulder there’s a sign that says “No tank tops.”
Most of all, it’s nice being able to just watch the games without feeling compelled to follow along on my laptop, checking various box scores and injury reports, checking my fantasy teams, etc. Sometimes it’s nice that the computer is a long way away, and I’m just watching football.
Andy watches as many games as he can each Sunday. If you do the same, feel free to add your own observations from the previous day’s games below.
Posted by Moishe Steigmann | Oct. 22 at 05:59 AM
Unless, of course, you're at a bar with wireless... Thanks for all your comments and articles. "Most of all, it’s nice being able to just watch the games without feeling compelled to follow along on my laptop, checking various box scores and injury reports, checking my fantasy teams, etc. Sometimes it’s nice that the computer is a long way away, and I’m just watching football."
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