Greetings, readers! Week 3 was a doozy, wasn't it? I literally cannot remember a week in the NFL that has more severely tested my fandom. Even the playoffs aren't as rough as this. So many games went opposite to what I was expecting. Now that it's Tuesday, I can't say I'm really angry about what happened. The funny thing about this week is that my team actually won! Yet the other results were so damaging to my ego and pretension that I know something about this game that I was nearly despondent by the time Baltimore's game-winning field goal went ...above? the uprights.
So with that said, I'd like to make an "official" statement: Given what happened in Week 3, I obviously know very little (if anything) about professional football. I'd like all the readers to keep that in mind from here on out. I've tried to keep these Rankings objective and to impart some knowledge for the last couple years that I've done it here. After this week, I'm no longer certain that I should be doing this, since I'm just a fan, and not a particularly knowledgable one. But I'm not a quitter, so I will at least finish out this season.
I guess the takeaway from all this is that none of us are experts, especially me. So this column will be less serious from now on, I think. They're just one guy's view of the NFL and not meant to be taken too seriously.
OK, now that that's done with, there are a TON of stories to cover. I'm going to try to keep these short so this entry doesn't look too inflated, but with everything that happened, I'm not sure how it'll go. Bear with me, readers!
First off, there was a game last Thursday. I remember most of it, I think, but I have to admit it got overshadowed by some of the crazy stuff that went on Sunday and last night. The Giants went into Carolina minus four starters (including Bradshaw and Nicks) and absolutely beat down the Panthers. Now, this might seem obvious, but I sure as hell didn't see that happening. I have to give some credit (oh, how reluctantly!) to Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin. They were ready to play and they took out some frustration on the Panthers. Cam Newton played pretty terribly as well. I have a feeling some of that was forced. Perhaps even most of it.
To Sunday, and the first stunning result: San Francisco headed to Minnesota and got trapped. I usually have trouble buying into the notion of the "trap game"; if a team is really as good as they and everyone else say they are, then the "trap game" is an illusion created by outside influences. What actually happened, of course, is that the 49ers played poorly and the Vikings capitalized on that. Watching Christian Ponder run through the middle of the 49ers' defense was pretty stunning. So for everyone who jumped on the 49ers' bandwagon and calling them the best team in the league, I think we should probably back off. In case anyone is wondering, I asked last week how far this run would go. As it turns out, it went two weeks, and that's that. Now, they could start another run...but they have to play better first.
There were three overtime games early on Sunday. Based on the commentary at the top, I don't think anyone would be surprised that all three of them went contrary to how I picked them. The Jets, Chiefs, and Titans won, spoiling the early part of my Sunday. These results dovetail into another topic I wanted to mention, which is the Saints going 0-3 to start. According to a stat I heard on TV (I forget the exact source, my bad), the Saints' chances of making the playoffs are ~3% now. Teams that start 0-2 have it bad enough, but 0-3? Forget it. As far as the Jets go, they're 2-1 but are now missing Revis for the rest of the season. Their division is kind of a mess at the moment. The Titans and Chiefs are still at the bottom, but at least they've got some confidence and a win under their belts.
One nice surprise was that I picked Arizona to beat Philly. I got that one right, at least. It's one of the few feathers in my cap after a disatrous week. Arizona's defense was fairly unstoppable, knocking Michael Vick around all day and forcing a fumble that turned into a TD after a couple solid blocks. Another surprise was that Kevin Kolb was up to the challenge again and didn't wilt under the pressure. I'm not completely sold on the Cardinals yet, though. Their win against the Patriots was a little fluky and I don't see Kolb as being even a "good" QB. I realize that most QB's have been quite inconsistent and that even the "elite" ones have had games where they looked as bad or worse than the bottom-third at their position. Still, Kolb wasn't considered a great QB before the season and the results haven't done much to change that perception. As usual, it comes down to solid playoff performance. The Cardinals are in the driver's seat at the moment thanks to San Francisco slipping, but they still have a long way to go.
Finally, the last two games of Week 3, and the two worst endings. Baltimore won late on what appeared to be a missed field goal. It went above the upright, which by rule results in a made field goal. But looking at it from the views that were on NBC, I'm not sure it actually went ABOVE the upright and not just to the side of the top. With the win, Baltimore is now 2-1 and leading the AFC North. Last night, Seattle won on what has to be the most controversial call of the last 3-5 years. Russell Wilson threw a pass to the end zone with no time remaining and appeared to be intercepted. Somehow, Seattle receiver Golden Tate got a hand on the ball, which led one of the officials on the field to call simultaneous possesssion and a Seahawks victory. The rule for simultaneous possession states that the offensive player gets credit for the catch. So in this case, Tate got one hand on the ball and apparently caught it. This ignores the fact that he pushed off quite visibly before the "catch" was made, and the appearance that the Packers DB in the area actually brought the ball in with both hands to his chest. I think that while there was no indisputable visual evidence that the Packers DB had the ball secured, to give the TD to Seattle reeks.
Now, I can only assume and speculate at this point because I don't really know the mindset of the officials on the field. But, seeing as the game was played in Seattle and the crowd was going crazy at the time...well, you can draw your own conclusions, readers. In case it wasn't clear from the previous sentence, I do think that the Seattle crowd had at least some bearing on the call. And I think the Packers were clearly jobbed, even though the outcome of the play was unclear.
I think that's everything from Week 3 that I wanted to mention. Readers, I want to know what you thought of these stories, so please share your opinion in the comments!
Here are the Rankings for Week 3:
1.) Atlanta (3-0) [+1]
Matt Ryan + one of the league's best defenses = 3-0. If I wasn't already painfully aware of how little I know, I'd be surprised.
2.) Houston (3-0) [+1]
Matt Schaub + one of the league's best defenses = 3-0. But not quite good enough to top the Rankings yet.
3.) Arizona (3-0) [+2]
Not quite sold on the QB situation. That said, Darnell Dockett and that defense are making plays.
4.) Baltimore (2-1) [+4]
Better to be lucky than good, huh? Joe Flacco may not be elite yet, but he's 2-1 so far.
5.) NY Giants (2-1) [-]
Here come the Giants roaring back into the Rankings. Let's see how it carries over in Philly on Sunday night.
6.) San Francisco (2-1) [-5]
Minor slip or something more? We'll see, but no definitive conclusions. They head east to take on the Jets in Week 4.
7.) Cincinnati (2-1) [-]
The Bengals are down a tiebreaker but are looking sharp with consecutive wins. A.J. Green has to be one of the best WR out there.
8.) Chicago (2-1) [-]
A statement win, perhaps? Tied with Minnesota at the top, the Bears head to Dallas with an overrated offense vs. an overrated team. You can guess which is which.
9.) San Diego (2-1) [-5]
Like Denver, the Chargers flopped hard against Atlanta. Is it the start of their usual swoon in KC?
10.) Philadelphia (2-1) [-4]
Is Vick's play a concern yet? After next Sunday night, it just might be.
That's all for this week, see you next week.
Three Games to Watch (Week 4):
Cleveland @ Baltimore (Thursday, NFL Network)
San Francisco @ NY Jets (Sunday, FOX)
Carolina @ Atlanta (Sunday, FOX)