NFL Week 8 Recap

Now that a wild and crazy Week 8 is in the books, Will and Derek are back with their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including some less depressing Browns/Seahawks talk, an assessment of the Lions, Derek lashing out at those who have wronged him, and Will celebrating a Monday night to remember in Cleveland.

colt

Derek: The Browns have defeated the Raiders! How would you describe your feelings? Happy? Relieved? Something else?

Will: I suppose happy, but it’s a weird happy. The Browns looked…okay in this game. Hoyer’s stats (19/28, 275 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT) were actually pretty good, but he threw at least one should-be interception and misplaced a few other balls. The running game was ineffectual at best: 39 yards on 25 carries. The good news is that the defense only allowed 13 points, including a touchdown with seven seconds left.

The more I think about it, the happier I think I should be. The Browns are 4-3, have won three of their last four, and have Tampa at home last week. Browns fans are weird. The team has already matched last year’s win total, yet we want more. Perhaps the Cavs’ expectations are leaking across sporting boundaries.

Same question to you: The Seahawks beat the Panthers, but it took a last-minute drive to make it happen. Can anything be taken away from this affair? Do you feel better or worse than you did a week ago?

Derek: Oh, I feel much better.

I guess I’ve been a little spoiled lately. I forgot how, when your team is fighting for a playoff spot, you don’t really care how the wins come. It could be the luckiest win imaginable, and it’s still a win.

Last year, it was all about style points. Close wins at St. Louis and at home against Tampa Bay were viewed as losses by many fans. If the Seahawks couldn’t make easy work of Tampa at home, just how were they supposed to win the Super Bowl?

Sunday, I found myself in a world where the Seahawks were coming off two straight losses and there was a new distraction in the news every five minutes. Almost any win would make me feel better, no matter how bad it looked. Doesn’t 4-3 seem so much less gloomy than 3-4?

Plus, Cam Newton’s constant prancing and first down signals made it an enjoyable victory in the end.

newton2

I wouldn’t really say I’m satisfied. Some of the same problems persist. There were stupid penalties and missed opportunities. James Carpenter committed a false start on the final drive. Tharold Simon (who actually finished the game!) dropped an interception. Michael Bennett had Newton smothered for a safety but couldn’t finish the job.

There is one thing I’m extremely satisfied with, though: the change in Newton’s body language by the end of the game.

newton3

The Browns are 4-3, but (barely) in last place in the AFC North. All of the AFC North teams have looked like crap at various times this year. They’ve also looked very good at various times. What’s your forecast for the remainder of the Browns’ season? Can they win the division?

Will: Great question; tricky question. The Bengals lead the division, but have a negative point differential. The Steelers scored a million points against the Colts, but got blown out by the Browns. The Ravens are my choice to win the division, but it really could be any of these teams.

I could see the Browns winning at least four more games (perhaps Tampa, Houston, Atlanta, Buffalo, Carolina), but the Browns and the NFL in general never seem to function predictably. I would be happy with an 8-8 year, as they’ve had two non-losing seasons since 1999.

Derek: How scared of the Cardinals should I be?

Will: Honestly, I have not paid them any attention all year, but, I mean, they’re really good, right? Their only loss was to the Broncos, who look like the class of the league. You should certainly be more scared of them than the Rams and Niners, so I suppose the answer is “about as scared as you are of a buffalo that’s like 50 feet away but might charge at you.”

What do you make of the NFC West? Is Arizona the favorite now? Are the Niners anything? Will the Rams ever find happiness? Will the city of Seattle get sucked into a giant rumor vortex?

Derek: I think Arizona has to be the favorite, as much as it pains me to say so. The Cardinals have a Patriot-like ability to be immune to injuries this season. Someone will go down — whether it be Carson Palmer, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Patrick Peterson — and everyone declares them to be done. Yet they’re 6-1 and in that aforementioned Broncos loss they were in Denver, Carson Palmer didn’t play, it was still 24-20 at the end of the 4th quarter, and Logan Thomas saw meaningful action at quarterback. No team would have won that game. (Well, unless they had Colt McCoy.) Bruce Arians has to be Coach of the Year at this point.

The 49ers are a huge wild card. They’ve looked awful at times, but they looked pretty awful at times last year, too. They’re also playing without key defenders like Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman, and Glenn Dorsey. They could get healthy at the right time and destroy everyone.

The good news for the Seahawks is they still have five divisional games remaining. The bad news is those five games come in the final six weeks of the season, with only  a week 14 game at Philadelphia interrupting their tour of the NFC West. Sadly, those NFC West games tend to be rather physical affairs, and even if the Seahawks emerge victorious, that’s a lot of punishment to take in consecutive weeks. Plus the bye week will have been ages before, in week 4. I continue to think the schedule-makers were not kind to the Seahawks.

(I’m also absolutely terrified of the prospect of the Seahawks winning the #5 seed, then having to travel to New Orleans for a wild card game. Very eerie similarities to the Beast Quake game.)

The Rams are clearly suffering from what I like to call The Curse of Torry Holt. Ever since Holt said the Seahawks didn’t have the mental toughness to win close games after the 2004 season, the Rams haven’t been to the playoffs once and have consistently been one of the worst teams in the league. During the same stretch, Seattle won the NFC West five times, the NFC twice, and the Super Bowl once. So take that, Torry. You need some … some more … mental … fingers.

Torry-Holt-Finger-Pic

I’m not listing all of the Rams’ injuries here, but we can add Jake Long now. I also need to pour one out for fellow Appalachian State alumnus Brian Quick (plus 49ers’ center Daniel Kilgore) who is also done for the year. Way to go, Torry Holt. This is all your fault.

We both predicted the Lions would steamroll the Falcons. They looked pretty lethargic for most of the game, then managed to pull it out in the end. Do you think the Lions are for real?

Will: No, just because they’re the Lions. Like, they might win the division and make the playoffs and stuff, but I can’t see them winning a playoff game because they’re the Lions. Chalk this up to my Rust Belt sense tingling.

What do you think? Are they anything?

Derek: When they’ve looked good, they’ve looked really good. The prospect of a healthy Calvin Johnson running around with Golden Tate seems more terrifying each week. The thought of a healthy Reggie Bush is also terrifying, because that would mean the universe is passing its ultimate sentence on humanity and there is nothing left but agony and entropy.

Despite all of this potential terror, like you said, they’re the Lions. I’ve fallen for their tricks too many times before. I’ll believe they’re for real one second before they win the Super Bowl, and not a moment before.

Let’s talk about failure. Who’s your pick for the next coach fired, and who looks like they’re going to have the #1 overall pick next year?

Will: The Raiders have an honest chance at going 0-16. I don’t think they will, because it’s really hard to lose every game and you just need one week with a crazy punt return to eke one out.

The coach has to be Atlanta’s Mike Smith, right? I think most of the new coaches will make it to the end of the year, and Smith is one of the few veteran coaches whose team sucks this year. They were winning and had the ball in London, and they managed to crap it away. They’ve lost five straight, and that’s with an actual NFL quarterback.

And, Falcons owner Arthur Blank recently said, “You’re up 21-0. There’s no way you lose that game — just no way. There’s nothing else I can say.” He said that on the record, on purpose, to a newspaper. I hope Mike is renting.

Onto the weekly awards! Who is your Most Hungover Fan Base?

Derek: It’s absolutely the Bears. As Bane taught us, there can be no true despair without hope. Bears fans had so much hope before the season. They were so close to winning the NFC North last year. The combination of Cutller-Forte-Marshall-Jeffery-Bennett should be unstoppable. If Cutler could just stay upright and healthy…

Well, Jay Cutler has been healthy, and the Bears have still had some ugly losses. But none of those losses were as bad as what the Pats did to them on Sunday. They scored 31 points in the second quarter, and three touchdowns in less than a minute.

If the Raiders had done something like this, then it wouldn’t be so bad. They’re the Raiders. No one has any expectations for them. But the Bears have expectations, which they have failed to meet ever since their surprising Week 1 home loss to the Bills.

If middle school math class taught me anything, it’s expectations2 + failure2 = alcohol consumption2.

Who’ve you got?

Will: I choose you, Dallas Cowboys fans. Everyone was worried about a DeMarco Murray injury and then Tony Romo goes down and oh god what’s happening Brandon Weeden is playing football. Romo came back and tried to lead the game-winning overtime drive, but alas, he could not defeat Colt McCoy.

This game was the best thing on Cleveland Twitter yesterday. Colt McCoy vs. Brandon Weeden!? We used to believe in at least one of these guys for at least a game or two. It was great fun cheering them both on.

How say you for Gentleman of the Week?

Derek: I believe a gentleman is a philanthropist. A gentleman uses his resources to help when he is in a position to do so. And that is why I must direct your attention to the selfless behavior of one Geno Smith.

Mr. Smith finished Sunday’s game with five passing yards and three interceptions. I’ve never seen such generosity! Mr. Smith went above and beyond to make sure the fans of the Buffalo Bills had something to smile about. He didn’t have to. No, he could have shown some semblance of competence and tried to help his team when the game. That’s what most people would do.

Not Geno Smith.

Mr. Smith put his career on the line with a performance that Bills faithful will remember for a very long time. I applaud you, Mr. Smith.

As we approach the holiday season, let us remember Geno Smith’s example. Give generously. Then go on with your day.

I understand you’ve chosen a different Gentleman of the Week, Will?

Will: I decided that whoever won this Weeden/McCoy matchup wins this award, so cheers to you, Colt. This game was proof that there is a god and he wants me to be happy. I love football.

Also, Colt was involved in the NFL’s strongest stance yet against domestic violence:

Derek: You’d have to be made of stone to not be moved by that.

That’s it for this week’s recap. Good day.



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