Week 10 is over. A week proved the "Any given Sunday" theory, and brought us some of the worst coaching. Yes, it was a great week for the NFL, but at last it's over. We can move onto bigger and better things, like week 11!
The glorious DirectTV NFL package is a great thing. The ability to watch any game you can imagine is a great one. Of course, when faced with choices like Bears-Raiders and Ravens-Bengals...sometimes you wish you were forced to watch Cowboys-Giants.
Yes, every single NFL game at the fingertips...and the game on the screen was Bears-Raiders. Its quite certain that no one besides fans of those 2 teams watched this game...and even fans were bored. When watching a game like this one, the mind slowly shuts down...it goes numb...after the 10th unsuccessful "swing pass on 3rd and long"...your mind starts to wander...and when you hear the words...
"Rex Grossman is entering the game."
"Fumbles the snap"
Well, you entire body just slips into a coma like state. And when the Raiders kick a field goal with only 4 minutes left...the rumbling in your head is "Crud, well that's an insurmountable lead."
And then when the Grossman philosophy of "F it, throw it deep" finally works...and then a fumble ices the games...well...surprise is the word that comes to mind, followed closely by relief.
During that sheer boredom that was the Bears game...I found myself longing for a simpler time. A time when rent, bills, taxes, jobs, and felonies did not exist...and more importantly a time when the Bears were always fun to watch...
And my mind floated back to the 80s.
All the turmoil and fuss of life didn't exist for me back then...and watching the Bears meant seeing Payton, McMahon, Dent, Singletary, Fencik, Suhey...all my favorites. And as I drifted in that magical, boredom induced coma...I remembered all the great comedies of the 80s...movies that shaped (god help us) the person I am today...at least in some way.
And then it hit me...like a ton of bricks...this week is 80s Comedies week. We'll drift along in a happier time for Bears fans, free of the "swing pass" and "naked screen"...free of players like "Benson", "Grossman" and "Tank".
Join me, won't you, for a jaunt down memory lane, as we review this week's games with a little help from the classics...
"Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac... It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!" - Carl Spackler (Caddyshack, 1980)
Is there a better Cinderella story than Derek Anderson and the Browns? Let's look at the facts...
The Browns keep winnings, despite the WORST defense in the league. Swiss cheese has fewer holes.
Anderson goes from nobody-backup-QB to borderline Pro Bowl QB.
Meanwhile, the Browns have Brady Quinn on the bench...what happens there?
If you had done a poll of people before the season started, you wouldn't get 5 people that would put the Browns down as having a winning record this far along. Plus, due to their high scoring offense, and terrible defense, their games are consistently among the most entertaining.
A far cry from last year, when I consistently called them the "most boring team in Football".
The Browns beat the Ravens back in week 4...and McNair threw for 300 in the loss!!!
Cleveland will get the win again...and McNair won't have the chance to throw for that many yards again...and neither will Boller. Browns win going away...and the Ravens sink deeper into the abyss...
"Oh. Uh, will you hold my wallet for me while I take the test, please? There's a thousand dollars in there... or maybe there isn't. Know what I mean?" - Emmett Fitz-Hume (Spies Like Us, 1985)
This line will make sense in a second...bear with me...
Due to some poor scheduling, the Falcons have managed to win a couple games...poor scheduling refers to the fact that Niners were on the Falcons schedule this year...and are slowly taking themselves out of the race for the 1st pick in the draft...
But meanwhile, at Louisville, Brian Brohm is having an up and down season...he was lights out under Petrino...and yes, it's been mentioned here before...but you don't think....
"Hey, Brian, Coach Petrino...yeah, I'm leaving for the Falcons....yep, I'm going to miss you too...yes, it won't be the same...uh, huh...well, yes, I know you came back...that's what I wanted to talk to you about...I have an idea..."
And a plan is hatched. Brohm pays OK, but not great for Louisville, and Petrino promises to take him with the Falcons first pick.
"...No, Brian, you're not getting it...look, maybe there's a thousand dollars in there...or maybe there isn't."
And yes, it's a stretch...and yes, it's a good old fashioned conspiracy theory...but you can the logic behind it...and it holds water. Okay, maybe just a little water...like Dixie cup size, but nonetheless...there is water there.
With the Saints nipping at their heels, Tampa gets a big division road win. The Bucs just have too much D for the challenged Falcon O right now. But a certain Louisville star smiles, as he watches his signing bonus increase.
"I don't know why they call this stuff hamburger helper. It does just fine by itself, huh? I like it better than tuna helper myself, don't you, Clark?" - Cousin Eddie (Vacation, 1983)
This quote was written for the Vikings...just a perfect fit. Don't get it? Jeez...let me explain.
Adrian Peterson = Hamburger Meat
Vikings offense = Hamburger Helper
Now do you get it? You're going to have to pay better attention than that....having to explain jokes really kills their effectiveness.
Watched most of the Vikings-Packers game last week...have this take away...
Everyone is quick to say that Tarvarius Jackson is a terrible QB...heck, it's been said many times in this very blog...but...
When the alternative if Brooks Bollinger? My god, that was ugly. Expected to see Vikings fans holding up signs that said "Tarvarius, hurry back, we're sorry!"
In the end though, this team is Adrian Peterson...and without him...well...um...yeah, they aren't good. Luckily, they have the Raiders coming to town this week...and well...they aren't good either.
For one week, the Hamburger helper gets by with out the Hamburger meat. Vikings get a win...in a game that makes the Bears-Raiders game look like a Cowboys-Niners clach circa the 90s. Meaning, this is going to be...well...Cousin Eddie describes it best.
"Okay, pork belly prices have been dropping all morning, which means that everybody is waiting for it to hit rock bottom, so they can buy low. Which means that the people who own the pork belly contracts are saying, "Hey, we're losing all our damn money, and Christmas is around the corner, and I ain't gonna have no money to buy my son the G.I. Joe with the kung-fu grip! And my wife ain't gonna f... my wife ain't gonna make love to me if I got no money!" So they're panicking right now, they're screaming "SELL! SELL!" to get out before the price keeps dropping. They're panicking out there right now, I can feel it." - Billy Ray Valentine (Trading Places, 1983)
Saints fans...are you panicking? After an atrocious start...then 4 game winning streak...then a loss to the winless Rams? It's one of those moments where you start thinking..."Were the last few weeks a dream?"
Houston fans....after a 2-0 start...things looked great...life was good...then Andre Johnson went down...and a 2-5 skid hit. Andre returns this week...does he give the team a huge boost? Is he what was missing from this team the last 7 weeks? The different between 4-5 and, say, 6-3? Or were those first couple wins just because they caught some teams by surprise?
It's enough to make your head spin and swell a bit...enough to think maybe, just maybe, you should sell.
But don't sell out on this team yet...it's on the move in the right direction. The return of Johnson is a huge boost for the Texans...but his first game back might not be enough to overcome the Saints...
The Saints get back on the horse...the Texans take their shots, but the Saints take a few more. Johnson will look good, not great, but good in his return. New Orleans gets the win.
"So the combination is one, two, three, four, five? That's the stupidest combination I've ever heard in my life! The kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!" - Dark Helmet (Spaceballs, 1987)
At least now we can all get into Norv Turner's luggage.
Flipped on the Monday night game, and was shocked to see Indy down 23-0 in the 1st quarter...but the thought that kept repeating in the brain?
"Indy will pull this game out."
And thanks to terrible coaching by Norv, Indy really should of won that game. Let's sum up...
In order to beat Indy, the Chargers needed to following:
Peyton to play one of the WORST games of his career.
The Colts to only dress 18 offensive players.
Freeney went out with an injury late.
A blown interference call on a gorgeous pass down the sidelines late.
A questionable replay call that took away a first down.
And 2 missed FGs by Mr. Automatic, Adam Vinateri.
Yep, great win for the Chargers. Except for the fact that the only reason the Colts had a shot late...stupid play calling.
With their heels on the End zone...why in god's name is Rivers passing? You have the best running back in the world...and you're passing?
For that matter, you have the lead in the 4th...and you have a QB with a 57.4 4th quarter QB rating...why are you throwing? You're playing the clock at this point, not the Colts. RUN THE BALL!!
Watching the whole 4th quarter, it was just amazing that the play calling was as bad as it was...the Chargers attempted 7 passes to 7 runs...yes, balance is good...but in the 4th, with the lead, RUN! Here's how those 7 passes went...
Fumble - TD Colts
Complete - 9 yards
Two turnovers and 4 clock stoppages! Yuck! Let's take a look at the time run off by the Chargers...
Drive 1 - 15 seconds
Drive 2 - 2 minutes 5 seconds
Drive 3 - 1 minute 21 seconds
Drive 4 - 1 minute 9 seconds
If you take those 7 passes above...and convert them to runs for NO GAIN...well...all of a sudden the Colts aren't in this game at all. And the Chargers cruise to victory. And yes, a win is a win...not disputing that at all...but what is up for debate...are the Chargers for real now? Or was this just a blip on the radar?
It was a blip.
Jacksonville takes advantage of being at home and the return of Garrard. Jags win...and bad coaching comes into play at some point...it's just a fact of life for Norv. And forever from this point, we have a new expression for bad coaching..."well, I guess we know the combo for his luggage."
"If the object of the game were to get the ball as close to the pins...without knocking any of them over...you would be champion of the world." - Uncle Buck (Uncle Buck, 1989)
Miami has been playing teams tough...and keeping games close...too bad close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. While they are playing teams close...they aren't really sealing the deal...yet here comes inconsistent Philly...just the team to help in a situation like this....
My little brother Jake has always been a little stubborn. He gets an idea in his head, and he's gotta do it. It's both an extremely admirable trait...and a really annoying one.
When he was about 8, he got an idea in his head about what he was going to be for Halloween, and no one was going to talk him out of it. He wanted to be John Candy. Not a character of his...he wanted to be John Candy. Now think about it for a second...he's not an actor that has a distinctive look or character.
Despite all of the family gently suggesting other costumes...come Halloween, Jake donned his John Candy costume (which consisted of a suit and a pillow to give him a pudgy stomach) and headed off to school. Upon his return, he was shocked and sad that no one knew what he was supposed to be....
So the question is...what are the Dolphins supposed to be? They were a Defensive team before, but their D has gotten old, and has lost its bite. They have no offensive playmaker...so they have no identity there. What are they?
Part of me would like to say that they reveal themselves in this game...shouting to the world "I'm frickin' John Candy"...but...there is some gnawing at me...like a rat gnawing on a giant mole...
Miami plays another close game...but the inconsistent Philly plays to their strengths, and the home crowd and sneaks out a win. Eagles win, but it's not pretty...Miami gets as close to the pins as possible.
"And the flowers are still standing!" - Peter Venkman (Ghostbusters, 1984)
Only 18 offensive players dressed for the Colts last week. They had receivers named Moorehead and Thorpe running routes for them...and a guy named Fletcher had 8 catches. But they still had a chance...
Cause Manning was still standing.
It was obvious that he wasn't completely on the same page as his receivers...just a guess, he doesn't get to practice with the scout team much...but he led the charge late, and with a little help from his sidekick, Addai, he almost led the Colts back....
But how many more injuries are they going to have to deal with? Offensive lineman are dropping like flies...Rob Morris is done for the season...Freeney is out for a month...Harrison...let's just say for the moment that all the Colts injuries are represented by this Twinkie here...
Despite the injuries, the Colts couldn't lose 3 in a row, could they?
No, they won't. The Chiefs are changing QBs...and are on the road...not a good mix. The Colts will get back on the horse, and get the win. Manning and his refugees get the win...but if they don't stem the wave of injuries...they could be on the verge of a collapse of biblical proportions.
"I want you to know that this marriage is not going to jerporadize my relationship with my pals! We're still going to go bowling every Tuesday night. We're still going to play cards every Friday night. And we're still going to wear each other's underwear every Sunday night. Nothing is going to change!" - Rick Gassko (Bachelor Party, 1984)
Ah, couldn't of said it better myself about these two teams. They both got a win last week...both snuck one out...but nothing is going to change.
The Bengals defense is still horrific...playing almost as well as a dead mule in an elevator...almost.
Arizona will continue to be the team that sneaks out a surprising victory at home...and then goes on the road and flops.
Any team that is led by Kurt Warner is going to have it's ups and downs...he's a far cry for his MVP days.
This is one of those games that could go just about any which way...but the Bengals are the pick here. Why? The offense is starting to show a little flash with the return of Chris Henry...and the Cards will fall victim to the inevitable Warner turnovers...and it will be enough for the Bengals to steal a win.
"They're not gonna catch us. We're on a mission from God." - Elwood Blues (Blues Brothers, 1980)
If they haven't done commercials for the Lions with Jon Kitna saying this in the huddle...well...then humor in this country is dead. Come on, it would be perfect...
Show a picture of the scoreboard, the Lions down a touchdown. Flash to the huddle...focus on Kitna as he starts calling the play...
Then the camera pans around the huddle, showing several worried faces...and finally one of the players snaps and says "we can't do it...they're gonna beat us!"
Then you hear Kitna say "They're not going to beat us..."
Camera flashes over to Kitna in Blues Brothers gear...
"...we're on a mission from God."
Get the Lions on the phone, this one needs to be made!
Great commercial aside, this is a huge game for both these teams. They are both coming off heartbreaking loses, and they both have a lot to prove.
The Giants need to prove they won't collapse like they did last year.
The Lions need to prove that this is for real.
Plus, both their schedules are brutal from here on out...so every game is going to be big.
There is a large part of me that wants to pick the Lions....but there is one stat that keeps leaping out at me...40 sacks allowed! Ouch! Kitna better have God on his side if he's going to get hit that many times. And the Giants...well, they have this thing called a pass rush...not a good mix.
The Giants pass rush is too much for the upstart Lions. New York gets the win, and unless Mike Martz sees the light, and realizes that he needs to protect his QB better...the Lions are going to be pass rushed right out of the playoffs.
"I was the last one left after the nuclear holocaust, eh. The whole world had been destroyed, like U.S. blew up Russia and Russia blew up U.S. Fortunately, I had been off world at the time. There wasn't much to do. All the bowling alleys had been wrecked. So's I spent most of my time looking for beer." - Bob McKenzie (Strange Brew, 1983)
This time last year, Favre felt like he was the last one left...
But now he's sitting on top of the NFC with a young team that is ready to win now, and will only get better in the next few years...
Unfortunately, looking over at the Panthers...you get the feeling that Steve Smith is having the same thoughts...looking around at the offensive team he's on, you don't blame him.
No matter who the QB is for Carolina, Smith won't do much damage at all against this defense. Not with the Duo they have on defense....no, not Bob and Doug...Al and Charles. That's a cornerback duo that will shut down just about any WR the league can throw at them. And with only Smith to worry about, they'll be more than up to the task.
The Pack gets the win, as the Panthers struggle to do anything. The offensive showing by the Panthers might be so bad it will make you puke, eh.
"You want my whooby?" - Kenny Butler (Mr. Mom, 1983)
The Jets are going to need a whooby after this one is over. Heck, they need one right now with the way things are going there.
Meanwhile, the Steelers just seem to get it done any which way. Doesn't matter if it takes 220, 221, whatever is takes, they make it happen. They run when they need to, they pass when they have to, their defense gets turnovers when they need them...just a well oiled machine.
And Big Ben is one of those QBs that you really appreciate when you actually watch him play. Man, he's huge...and yet nimble. His feet lead him to the right places, and his eyes are always looking down field...gotta love that in a QB. Plus, he's been great on my fantasy team this year...so there is that.
The Steelers get another win...which means the Jets get another loss. But hey, with the Rams winning, that means the Jets can set their sights on the number 2 pick!! Sorry, that shouldn't of been said so cheerfully...I'll try to tone down the sarcasm.
"Hey! I think our problems may just be solved. Ed McMahon. Think I just won a million bucks. Yeah, Irwin M. Fletcher you choose. Woo-wee! Oh, boy, I lost. Yeah. Sorry." - Fletch (Fletch, 1985)
Don't think Ed McMahon is going to bail out either of these teams...but at this point in their seasons...winning is really losing. Neither of there teams are making the playoffs...which is a major let down for all their fans that had high hopes entering the season...nope, now every win just moves them that much further back in the draft.
Can we talk about Alex Smith for a second? Wow, this guy is not good. Another #1 overall QB mistake. His career completion percentage is 51%...he's slightly better at completing a pass then I am at flipping heads on a penny. That's just sad.
So do the Niners have the guts to use the whole fist, and admit this mistake? Maybe take a different QB in the draft? Or sign one in free agency? Or are they going to do the whole song and dance about "well, we haven't given him the right weapons, and he's changed coaches..." Got news for you, he's been in the league long enough...he is what he is. A good QB makes those around him better...Smith does not.
The Rams get a win. Their offense actually has life and talent. The Niners...last we checked they were all breathing, so that's good.
"C'mon, it's Czechoslovakia. We zip in, we pick 'em up, we zip right out again. We're not going to Moscow. It's Czechoslovakia. It's like we're going into *Wisconsin*." - John Winger (Stripes, 1981)
Come on guys, it's just like Wisconsin...you can steal one in Seattle (aka Czechoslovakia) just like you stole one from Green Bay...just repeat after me, "It's like we're going into Wisconsin".
So last week, we had to suffer through the Seattle-San Fran game on National TV...but thanks to the Flex scheduling of Sunday Night Football...this game was removed from Sunday Night. Great, get rid of a game I actually want to see...and schedule a game that will be a blow out...awesome!! Thanks NBC!
Luckily, there is Direct TV...all I have to do is convince a friend to let me back in his house...
One of the annoying things on the Monday Night game...was the fact that they kept talking about how Seattle seems to have gotten it's groove back, and "with the way they are playing tonight, they have to be in the mix for the NFC crown"...um...
They were playing the Niners!! Three rocks, a twig and an acorn could stop that offense. And their defense has self destructed all year...the Niners AT HOME is not a game that says "Wow, look at how far the Hawks have come!"
No, the test for the Hawks...as it always is...will be when they go on the road. The road is where they tend to fall flat. If they can keep their high flying act playing this week and on the road? Then we can talk about how they've turned things around...until then...this is a team that lost to the Browns, and beat up on a near comatose Niners team.
The Bears change gears this week...and things start to click a little. Benson goes to the bench, and Peterson sees more time. Sexy Rex looks like he'll start, with Griese still banged up...will he have learned anything? Hey, at this point, anything new is good.
Bears steal a win in Seattle. And as I stare at the Bears playing in Seattle...with Rainer in the background...I wonder...why in the heck did I leave? I could have been there!! Ah, man, life is full of regret...but hey...at least I have my health! Good lord, what the hell is that on my toe? Oh, it's just a Cheeto...whew.
"Do you know what it's like to fall in the mud and get kicked... in the head... with an iron boot? Of course you don't, no one does. It never happens. It's a dumb question... skip it." - Rex Kramer (Airplane!, 1980)
Something tells me this Skins team knows what that feels like. A certain New England team showed them what getting kicked in the head with an iron boot felt like...they were so dazed they almost lost to the Jets...and still trying to shake off the grogginess they up and lost to the Eagles.
1-2 in the last three weeks is not good...seems like this team could use a little jaunt through the 80s as well...
Back during the time the Hogs ruled the trenches...
And Riggins plowed through bodies on his way to the end zone...
And Joe Gibbs was coach!
Wait a second...did it work? Did I transport us to the 80s! Oh, right...sorry...you can't fault a guy for trying...
The big task for the Skins...slowing down the Boys offense. So far no one really has been able to do that. They have lots of weapons, and can pass and run...and Romo seems to get better as the season goes on. They'll need to keep them under 20 points if they hope to steal this game...
...Because their offense is not really ready for primetime yet. They can win the low scoring defensive battles right now...but get into a shoot out...and this team isn't going to keep pace.
The Boys will score more than 20.
Dallas wins, and strengthens their hold on the division. The Skins wipe the mud from their face, rub the swollen spot on their head, and live to fight another day...you're thinking to yourself...."Surely this guy is joking." No I'm not, and stop calling me Shirley. Sorry, I had to do that one...
"In a way, each of us has an El Guapo to face. For some, shyness might be their El Guapo. For others, a lack of education might be their El Guapo. For us, El Guapo is a big, dangerous man who wants to kill us. But as sure as my name is Lucky Day, the people of Santa Poco can conquer their own personal El Guapo, who also happens to be *the actual* El Guapo!" - Lucky Day (Three Amigos, 1986)
And for some, El Guapo is a team that can't seem to lose, that scores at will, and is staring a perfect season right in the face.
Some might try to pass off this game as a trap game...big win, bye week...but it's not. This isn't a team that has trap games...not the way they play or act. They have a ton of talent, but they also bust their tails to do everything perfect...it's an impressive thing to watch.
The Bills will be in this for the first 5 minutes...and then they'll look up at the score board and see a plethora of points up there...and they don't even know what a plethora is.
The Pats get the win. The Bills...well they have a bright future ahead of them...it might not look like it during this game, but its there. This just isn't their lucky day.
"Incredible! One of the worst performances of my career and they never doubted it for a second." - Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller's Day Off, 1986)
The Broncos are 4-5...their defense is in the bottom 10 in the league...their rush defense is 2nd to last...their offense is averaging a measly 17 points a game...
Basically, since the point last year that Cutler took over, the Broncos are 6-8....yuck.
This team is built, assembled, directed and managed by one man...Mike Shanahan.
And this season is one of their worst in memory...and will most likely be the 2 year in a row they will miss the post season...
Has anyone started to doubt Shanahan yet? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
Let's look at the facts...
They last went to the Super Bowl (and won) in 1998. That was a team guided by John Elway, and Terrell Davis. Since those 2 cornerstones have left...the Broncos have slowly deflated.
Continuity is a great thing, it really is. The Steelers have shown that a millions times over...but staying on a sinking ship because of the continuity...well, that's just moronic. This team has made so many questionable moves over the last few years...lots of wasted draft picks... bringing in the Browns defensive line...rolling the dice on countless risky personalities....
And at the center of it all? Mr. Shanahan. The point that is being made is quite clear...let's take a look at this game.
The 4th best rushing team in the league...against the 31st rushing defense....that could be ugly.
Plus, the stout Titans D should beat up on a struggling Denver O...especially if Cutler doesn't play again.
Any gueses on who the guest is going to be in the booth? There should be odds and a pool on this...
Vince Young and the Titans go into Denver and overpower the Broncos. Titans get a big win, and continue the march to the playoffs. The Broncos? They fake being sick and stay home. Remember guys, the best way is to fake the clammy hands...just lick the palms.
Ah, there now, doesn't that feel much better?
Can't wait for Sunday now...Payton and the boys should put on a real show in Seattle. What? Benson? Oh, man, it's frickin' 2007? Man, what am I going to do with all these legos and GI Joes I have out? Well...hmmm...
The perfect way to end this is...
"I'm going to give you a little advice. There's a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball."
Be the ball...relax, let the excitement of the NFL wash over you. Sit down in front of the TV, with snack of choice and beverage of choice in hand...flip on the game, and just let the rest of the world drift away. Ahhhhhh....much better....
Author's Note: Many great movies were missed...this was not an exhaustive list...and everyone has a favorite line...so belly up to your keyboard, and apply that favorite line to a game of your choice...let's see how many more gems we can come up with!!
Of course, if my hearty jaunt through the 80s doesn't appeal to you, take a look at Dan in all his glory!