Browns Lose, Seahawks Lose, IS HOPE LOST? – NFL Week 11 Recap

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A wild and crazy Week 11 has come to a close, so Will and Derek are back with their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including the extent to which hope is lost, the humanity levels of Rob Gronkowski, the favorites to win it all, the team the Oakland Raiders will beat, the Gentlemen of the Week, the Most Hungover Fan Bases, and the first ever anti-Gentleman of the Week.


Derek: What’s the mood after the Browns’ loss? Would you say its closer to disappointment or “here we go again”?

Will: The mood is ennui. This game was not fun, at all. Hopes were high, though there was concern among fans that a game against a 4-5 team led by a quarterback making his first career start was exactly the type of game that the Browns lose. And, well, yes, they did just that.

So it’s a bummer, but hope remains. They’re still 6-4, they’re still in the thick of the division race, and Josh Gordon is back. Also, between Gordon and the Kevin Love-Kyrie Irving ‘twirling mustache’ handshake, Cleveland sports figures have birthed a bunch of marijuana-related jokes, which only lifts spirits.

Derek: Are you willing to defend Brian Hoyer? Did he complete 40% of his passes because he’s not good or because the Houston defense (J.J. Watt) played well enough that they would have disrupted any quarterback?

Will: Watt is an absolute monster; seeing him live made that very clear. He ruins most every offense he comes across. That raises the question, then: Why did Hoyer throw the ball 50 times? The Browns weren’t running it especially well, but they have stuck to the ground game all season. They have run it 324 times this year, second-most in the league.

That said, Watt and the Texans destroyed the running game, too. If you take out a 35-yard Isaiah Crowell run, the Browns amassed just 25 yards on 24 carries. I’m not sure if there was anything the Browns could do against Houston. Again, this game was not fun.

It’s tough to defend Hoyer right now. Apologists will point to the Browns’ injuries and lack of skill position talent and say that he has played well given the circumstances, and that’s true, but man oh man he didn’t look good Sunday.

Josh Gordon’s return will be the most telling sign. If Hoyer can produce points throwing to Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel, then he should look good with a Pro Bowl wideout on the field. Fingers crossed, I suppose.

Let’s shift to your Seahawks. They lost in Kansas City, 24-20. I did not watch this game, but the box score suggests it was a tight battle. What happened out there, and how is it sitting with you?

Derek: I feel like I’ve seen this movie before. Much like losses to Dallas and St. Louis, you can pinpoint just a couple of plays that would have changed everything. In Dallas, it was allowing the Cowboys to convert on 3rd and 20 on the winning drive. In St. Louis, it was those two crushing special teams plays.

On Sunday, the Seahawks couldn’t convert two short fourth downs trailing by four late in the fourth quarter. They came away with no points facing 4th and goal from the Chiefs’ 2-yard line. They got the ball right back, then faced 4th and 1 from the Kansas City 35 and couldn’t convert. Then they got the ball back yet again, still trailing 24-20, and managed minus-8 yards in four plays on their final drive of the game.

I’m trying not to channel my inner Jeremy Hill, but I have to say I didn’t really think the Chiefs were the better team. Jamaal Charles was an absolute stud, and the defensive line looked good, especially after Max Unger went down again. Other than that, I can’t say I was super impressed. Alex Smith threw for 108 yards, for crying out loud.

The Seahawks outgained the Chiefs 372 to 298. The Seahawks had no turnovers, but the Chiefs had two. The Seahawks had the ball for 35:57, while the Chiefs had it for 24:03. How did they lose this game?

There are answers, of course. The Seahawks had to settle for two short field goals (from 24 and 27 yards) in the red zone. They committed eight penalties for 50 yards (the Chiefs had three penalties for six yards). As mentioned, they came up short on the two biggest plays of the game. Still, it’s a frustrating way to lose.

My opinion on the Seahawks future is bouncing back and forth between two completely opposite yet equally justifiable views.

First, there’s the pessimistic view. The Seahawks just haven’t looked that good, even in their wins. I keep saying I think they’ll bounce back, but they keep giving me underwhelming performances. I’m beginning to wonder if the 2014 Seahawks season is heading down the the same path as the Percy Harvin era and the final season of Dexter: I defended them for as long as I could, but it eventually became impossible. The Seahawks aren’t quite there, but I’m thinking about it. Let’s just hope the season doesn’t have anything comparable to Dexter‘s abominable series finale.

The optimistic view calls back to something I mentioned before. The Seahawks have six games remaining, and five of them are NFC West games. The remaining schedule: vs. Arizona, at San Francisco (Thursday night), at Philadelphia, vs. San Francisco, at Arizona (Sunday night), vs. St. Louis. They control their own destiny more than a 6-4 team generally would. It’s going to be tough to get to 10-12 wins, but if they can get there, they’ll be a very dangerous team.

I’d also like to point this out: The 2-8 Buccaneers are closer to winning the NFC South than the 6-4 Seahawks are to winning the NFC West. I hate everything.

In other news, the Packers and Patriots are destroying everyone. If they met on a neutral field next Sunday, who would win? Are those two the clear favorites in your mind?

Will: I’m inclined to say yes, though there are a lot of red herring favorites over the course of an NFL season. Remember when the Chargers were a shoo-in playoff team?

That said, I do think Green Bay and New England are the clear favorites, with Arizona still lurking. If the Pats and Packers played on a neutral field, I would favor New England. Rob Gronkowski is an animal — like, an actual animal, a rhinoceros crossed with a horse or something — and no team in football can adequately cover him. Tom Brady is not done after all, and in classic Patriot fashion, some Jonas brother ran for 199 yards and four touchdowns Sunday.

The biggest reason I back New England is their defense, specifically the cornerback tandem of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Revis looked especially good against Indianapolis, and Browner should improve as he gets more reps with his new team. Few teams have two top-flight corners, and that could separate the Patriots come playoff time. We saw Seattle pull this very trick with their secondary last year.

Who do you like in that huge hypothetical matchup? Is there any other team you’d throw into the conversation?

Derek: I like Desmond Howard to have a big day.

But seriously, I think the Pats would win, because they seem to be a more complete team. We’re not too far removed from the Packers’ defense getting shredded by the suddenly lifeless Saints. The Patriots, with the exception of an oddly close Thursday night game against the Jets in Week 7, have looked pretty much flawless ever since the infamous Chiefs drubbing in Week 4.

You’re right about the red herrings, though. The Patriots received that aforementioned drubbing and everyone thought they were done, and the Packers were so shaky that Aaron Rodgers had to take us to school.

Unfortunately, it seems like the only team that has consistently won is … gulp … the Cardinals. Even so, I imagine most would rank them behind the Pats and Packers. How are they 9-1 and still under the radar? I’d pick both New England and Green Bay (and a few others) to beat them on a neutral field. Yet they’d still find some way to win. How are they pulling this off? I need answers.

Reversing field to the dregs of the league, the Redskins had two weeks to prepare but still lost by 20 at home to the previously 1-8 Buccaneers. Is it time to press the Colt McCoy button?

Will: I mean, they could, but what is pressing that button going to do? Colt’s a great kid and I love him to pieces, but I’m afraid he is not an NFL starter.

I suppose starting McCoy could preserve Robert Griffin III and save him for next season, and that might be worth it if he is still seen as the franchise player. Or, this team might just be bad and should take a good long look down the roster to see who’s worth keeping.

Speaking of apparently hopeless teams, the Raiders are now 0-10 having lost at San Diego. Do you see any reason to believe they can steal one? Could they actually go winless? Is it rude to root for this?

Derek: I see a huge reason to believe they could steal one. It’s practically glowing on their schedule. But I’ll get to that later.

In regards to whether we should root for this, I think it’s acceptable. Lots of time and resources have been put into mocking failure. I wouldn’t oppose anyone who wants to see it.

I’m personally not rooting for it, because I was able to witness the historic 2008 Detroit Lions. The novelty of a winless team isn’t as alluring because it’s already been done. If there had never been another 0-16 team, I would be rooting for it 100%.

I also don’t have anything against the Raiders. They’ve been putrid for nearly a dozen years. I feel pity for them, even though they’re a former Seahawks division rival. The main reason they suck is because of stupid things done by previous regimes. If those people were still running the show, it would be kind of fun watching them drown in their own incompetence. That isn’t the case, though.

While we’re on the subject of failure, what do you take away from the Broncos’ loss to the Rams?

Will: It’s certainly shocking, but I still consider the Broncos an AFC contender. You pointed out a couple weeks back that the Rams vacillate between awesome and atrocious, apparently at random, so maybe this was just one of their good games and Denver was unlucky.

Denver’s injuries are certainly cause for concern. If Julius Thomas, Montee Ball, and/or Emmanuel Sanders are out for a while, then suddenly the Bronco offense isn’t so scary. Their defense has played well, but they’re at their best when they have the lead and Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware can focus on destroying quarterbacks. It’s tougher to do that when you’re behind or in a tight game.

Derek: Now that you’ve set me up, let’s get back to that game the Raiders are going to win. Check out their remaining schedule:

raider sked

See the glow?

raider sked glow

That’s right, the vacillating-between-awesome-and-atrocious-apparently-at-random St. Louis Rams! The Raiders will have extra time to prepare since they’ll be coming off a Thursday night game. There’s a decent chance they’ll get two to four quarters of the atrocious version of the Rams. It’s Week 13, which seems like a week in which the Raiders are destined to excel. It’s early, but at the moment I love the Raiders in the “We’re Both Moving to Los Angeles Next Year” Bowl.

Now, let’s move on to our Gentlemen of the Week. I’m going with San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks. He gave up his starting spot. For the good of the team, I’m sure. He’s a modern-day Charlie Conway.

Also, here’s my first ever anti-Gentleman of the Week:

Will: Shrewd! I didn’t even realize we were allowed to have an anti-Gentleman of the Week, but if anyone has ever deserved it, it’s that Saints fan ripping the ball away from a lady Bengal fan. Kudos to you for bringing this to the fore, for a gentleman never ceases in his quest to rid the world of rudeness.

My Gentleman of the Week is someone whom we discussed earlier: J.J. Watt. He’s just so damn good.

That is the end of my analysis.

Derek: On to our Most Hungover Fan Bases! The Redskins are the choice this week, for reasons I think we’ve already covered. We were just entertaining the notion of starting Colt McCoy when both RGIII and Kirk Cousins are healthy. Read this. Fans chanting for Colt and a healthy dose of dysfunction? The fine people of Washington D.C. have a bottle of Scotch nearby.

Will: I can confidently rule the Browns out of this discussion, as they couldn’t even inspire adequate alcohol abuse Sunday. For shame.

I’m going with the New York Giants, who may soon have a booth reserved in the Hungover Fan Base Tavern. Eli Manning, who should legally change his first name to “The Much Maligned Eli,” threw five interceptions in the G-Men’s loss to San Francisco. They weren’t all his fault, but my god, five interceptions.

In regular season NFL history, there have been 188 instances of a quarterback throwing five interceptions in a game. Eli is now the proud owner of two such outings. His father Archie has two more, and Peyton has one as well. The Manning Family: Responsible for 2.7 percent of all five-interception games in NFL history.

A gentleman is nothing if not a family man. Well done, Eli. Tough break, Giants fans.

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