Week 4 Review, TNF Preview

Posted: 10/13/2016 by levcohen in Football

Well, I guess I shouldn’t have eliminated the Bills after two weeks. Since I crossed them off my list of potential playoff teams, they’ve somehow managed to go 3-0 without stud receiver Sammy Watkins (IR, may return in six weeks or so). All three of the wins have been by double digits, and they have come against the Patriots (albeit with Jacoby Brissett at QB), the Cardinals, and the 3-2 Rams. There’s something kind of refreshing about the way the Bills are winning. They aren’t airing it out, as Tyrod Taylor has just 489 yards passing over the past three weeks, but they’re getting heaps of yardage on the ground, with LeSean McCoy racking up 330 yards and Taylor adding another 132 in the last three games. The Bills now get games against the Niners and Dolphins, so they should be 5-2. Will they make the playoffs? I still don’t think so. But I was certainly wrong to eliminate them so early. Denver barely stays in the top tier this week after a dispiriting home loss against the Falcons. I would have moved them out, but they were playing with backup QB Paxton Lynch. Let’s see how they play in San Diego tonight. The Steelers get elevated into the top tier. I’m convinced that the loss in Philadelphia was an aberration. I’m ready to eliminate the 1-4 Jets, as the loss of Eric Decker for the season just adds injury to what’s been a dreadful season. If the Chargers lose tonight, they’ll be 1-5, which would likely end their playoff hopes. But they’ve actually played well this season, so I’m leaving them off the list for now.

Top tier: New England, Minnesota, Denver, Seattle, Pittsburgh
Eliminated teams: Cleveland, Chicago, Buffalo, New Orleans, San Francisco, Miami, New York Jets

  • I mentioned LeSean McCoy above. How about this for a fun fact: ex-Eagles DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy, who have been pushed out of Philly in consecutive years, rank second and fourth in the NFL in rushing yards with 461 and 447 respectively. First on the Eagles? Ryan Mathews, with 146 yards on 3.3 yards per carry. Not great.
  • Something that should scare Cowboys’ haters: they look very similar to the team that romped to 12-4 two seasons ago. The offensive line is so utterly dominant that they can make any running back look good, let alone one as talented as Ezekiel Elliot, who has 546 yards and five touchdowns through five games. As for Dak Prescott, he’s not as good as he looks in this talented offense, but he does enough to win games  for his team, something that could not have been said about last year’s Tony Romo replacements. When Romo gets back, I fully expect the Cowboys to hand the reins back over to him (as they should). But regardless of who starts under center, the offense looks pretty darn unstoppable. Luckily for other teams, the defense still is very beatable.
  • We knew Greg Olsen was good, but this good? After another monster performance, this one on Monday Night Football, Olsen ranks fourth in the NFL with 516 receiving yards and is within three yards of first place. When announcers talk about Olsen, they call him a very good tight end who can do a little bit of everything. But I don’t think they’re giving him enough credit. He’s an amazing route runner, he has great hands, and he’s a tremendous blocker. He can do a lot of everything. The Panthers are 1-4, but it’s not because of Olsen.
  • Who’s the third best team in the NFC behind Seattle and Minnesota? I think it’s a wide open race. It could be the Packers, Cowboys, Eagles, Falcons, or Cardinals. And don’t sleep on a surge from the Panthers. I think that six of the seven teams I mentioned above will end up making the playoffs, especially since the Falcons now have a full three game lead over the Panthers.
  • I thought the Ravens were a mediocre 3-0 team. Now I’m convinced that they’re a bad 3-2 team. Even mediocre teams shouldn’t lose at home against the Redskins. The Ravens are now 1-2 at home after years of sustained home dominance. They’re only a game behind the Steelers, but the gap feels far larger than that.

Last week’s picks:
7-7 straight up… 39-38 for the season
6-7-1 against the spread… 37-36-4
5-9 over/under… 38-38-1

1-2 on upset picks… 7-12
1-0 on lock… 2-3.

Denver Broncos (4-1, 4-1 against the spread) at San Diego Chargers (1-4, 3-2):
Spread: Broncos favored by 3
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: Poor Philip Rivers. San Diego’s quarterback always does more than enough to get his team a victory, but the Chargers always find a way to mess it up. Two weeks ago, it was two costly fumbles. Last week, it was a dropped snap on a chip shot field goal that would have tied the game. The Chargers could easily be 5-0, but instead they have their backs against the wall with the champs coming in. This won’t be an easy game for Rivers, whose unheralded receivers now have to find a way to beat the best cornerback group in the NFL. Rivers always seems to find a way to put some points up, but he’s going to be under pressure all game, with Von Miller facing a subpar offensive line. On the other side of the ball, the Broncos will be without head coach and play caller Gary Kubiak (migraines), but they have the benefit of playing San Diego’s defense post Jason Verrett’s ACL tear. Verrett is one of the best cornerbacks in football, and the Chargers will sorely miss him against Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. On the positive side for San Diego, Joey Bosa had a very good first week, playing 27 snaps and making a big impact. He’ll have to do that again to take down Denver’s balanced and productive offense. Broncos win 20-14.
Broncos cover
Under

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