Before James Harrison takes out another Browns receiver, here’s a look at Sunday’s early quick slants.
1. The Texans won the battle Sunday 34-31 over Kansas City, but it’s
hard to see them winning the war. This looks like the worst defense of
the Gary Kubiak era, which is saying a lot. Now they have to win
without middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans for the rest of the season.
was so impressed by Matt Schaub and the Texans offense for their
comeback with virtually no margin for error. Houston has played four
home games this year and a third home loss would have been devastating.
Still, can they make a habit of such insane comebacks? This defense
isn’t playoff caliber.
2. Chiefs fans may kill Charlie Weis for calling a pass on
third-and-two when a first down could have essentially won the game.
Kansas City has won by making aggressive calls and Matt Cassel converted
a lot of third downs all day, so I can’t fault him for the call. It
just didn’t work.
3. Has there ever been a more immediate win-win trade than Deion Branch to the Patriots? Tom Brady found his old friend nine times for 98 yards, including New England’s final touchdown of the game and two key first downs in an overtime victory. Yep, Branch has caught as many passes for the Patriots as Randy Moss this year.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks saw big efforts from their two young starters. Mike Williams (yep, that one) caught ten passes for 123 yards. New starter Deon Butler had four catches for 47 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown.
4. Branch’s touchdown came after Tom Brady bought time in the pocket and Branch reversed his route to come back to Brady. That’s an example of their old chemistry making a difference. Brady has really improved his movement in the pocket from last year. This was a vintage win for a team that struggled in the fourth quarter of games last year.
5. The Saints and Eagles won despite their kickers. David Akers missed three kicks, but he will have time to turn things around. Garrett Hartley hooked a 33-yarder for New Orleans. Sean Payton may have to sign a veteran not named John Carney.
6. Kevin Kolb completed every pass he threw that traveled over 20 yards in the air. So much for his lack of vertical ability, not to mention Atlanta’s defensive improvement. I don’t think Philadelphia’s 31-17 win over Atlanta creates another quarterback controversy, though. The Eagles can be careful with Michael Vick before their bye, but I’d still bet heavily on Vick getting the job back when he’s fully healthy.
7. New Orleans finally looked like New Orleans again, connecting on vertical passes and throttling Tampa Bay 31-6. It’s a great sign they came out running in the game very successfully. Chris Ivory had 158 yards on 15 carries. With Atlanta’s loss in Philadelphia, the Saints are tied for the NFC South lead at 4-2.
8. The Bucs want “respect” but they’ve lost at home to New Orleans and Pittsburgh by a combined score of 69-16. Tampa could win eight games partly because of a soft schedule, but they have a long way to go. No shame in that; mediocre is progress.
9. Chicago’s offensive line and clock management continues to be laughable. The Bears blew a huge chance to open up some room in the NFC North in their 23-20 loss to Seattle.
10. The NFC West has rightfully taken a lot of heat this year, but it scored two big out of division games on Sunday. The Seahawks finally looked competent on the road, and the Rams won at home against San Diego. Maybe an NFC West team will win nine games this year.
11. The Chargers were Sunday’s biggest loser. They are 2-4, with all four losses coming on the road. For the first time, you couldn’t even blame special teams for this one. Their receiver group is banged up with Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd, and Legedu Naanee all hurt. New England comes to town next week with a chance to put their old nemesis in a huge hole.
12. The Packers have lost three games by a combined nine points and they have a score of important injuries. Those are the excuses. The reality is that the Packers don’t play like a smart, well-coached team. Kudos to the Dolphins for getting a huge road win to get to 3-2. That win looks even bigger with the Steelers coming to town next week before two more road games.