“We cannot obtain the victory ... over evil and the devil by halves.” — Pope Francis (possibly talking about the Patriots)
Bad news, all ye who loathe the Patriots: There’s nothing standing in the way of New England and another appearance in the Super Bowl. It’s only Week 3 and one conference is already decided.
Even if Andrew Luck stops turning the ball over, the Colts’ defense isn’t going to stop anyone. The Ravens, which almost knocked New England out of the playoffs last year, are 0-3. The Steelers already got crushed by New England in Week 1 and now are without Ben Roethlisberger for at least a month. They might not even make the playoffs. The Broncos? Surely we can stop believing in Postseason Peyton Manning now that he has half the arm he did when he was the laser-rocket armed Peyton Manning (who still let everyone down in the postseason). The Bills look like the only other competitive team in New England’s division ... and they gave up 40 at home to the Patriots a week ago.
So what team in the AFC could possibly thwart New England’s march to another Super Bowl? The Bengals? Andy Dalton, Marvin Lewis and the Bengals? My god. We’re doomed.
But could it really happen?
The Bengals' defense is equal to or better than New England’s. Cincinnati is also sixth in the NFL in scoring. Its offense at least has a chance to keep up with New England’s—and A.J. Green would give the Patriots’ Revis-less secondary major problems. Then there’s Dalton, of course. The big red mark on this team. The one thing they can’t overcome.
But through three games, Dalton is on pace for a career year: 42 touchdowns, five interceptions and 4,618 yards passing. That's what the NFL experts call "ELITE." Could the Bengals—the Cincinnati Bengals?!—really be the only team with a remote chance of keeping the NFL’s Evil Empire out of another Super Bowl? It seems like that’s where we are. Yikes.
What cruel irony that the soul of the NFL hinges on the postseason performance of Andy Dalton, a man with no soul. Pray for America.
Quote of the Week
“If you relax, I’ll be looking for new people. Put your foot on their throat.” — Bruce Arians, Cardinals head coach, to his team at halftime with a 31-7 lead over the 49ers. The Cardinals went on to win 47-7.
This is the kind of thing you imagine coming out of Bill Belichick’s mouth all the time. Because Belichick looks and acts and talks and dresses like someone who takes pleasure in beating others. But Arians? He’s talkative. He’s friendly. He dresses with some panache. Yet he is capable of telling people they’ll lose their jobs if they don’t further humiliate an already-defeated opponent.
Bruce Arians is the nice neighbor that shocks everyone when the police find 20 bodies buried in his backyard. And that’s what makes him far more interesting than Bill Belichick. Arians' bloodlust is unexpected. He is the fresh, positive face of psychopathy the NFL so desperately needed.
(By the way, I give 3-to-1 odds that someone will get offended by Arians’s statement and demand an apology.)
Stat of the Week
Jimmy Clausen threw for 68 yards against the Seahawks. That seems bad. “That’s bad,” you’re thinking. “Very bad.” Is it, though? Are we not told all the time that the sign of a great quarterback is putting his teammates in position to have big days? Because while Clausen had just 68 yards passing, the Bears offense enabled Chicago punter Pat O’Donnell to put up 477 yards of punting. That’s more yardage than A.J. Green or Adrian Peterson had on Sunday. And it’s all thanks to Clausen. It’s why Clausen will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day the same way he made it to the College Football Hall of Fame: if he drives himself there and walks inside.
This Week’s Horrible Fantasy Team That Crushed Your Team
Josh McCown, QB, Browns — 28-for-49, 341 yards, 2 TD, INT
Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons — 193 total yards, 3 TD
Joseph Randle, RB, Cowboys — 105 total yards, 3 TD
Rishard Matthews, WR, Dolphins — 6 catches, 113 yards, 2 TD
Rueben Randle, WR, Giants — 7 catches, 116 yards, TD
Gary Barnidge, TE, Browns — 6 catches, 105 yards, TD
Press Conference Questions Someone Should Have Asked
Chip Kelly: “Are you a genius again, or did you just beat the Jets?”
John Harbaugh: “Were you going to tell anyone that, like your brother, you’ve also apparently quit coaching in the NFL?”
Jim Tomsula: “Are you upset that the temp agency placed you with the 49ers?”
Reader Twitter Question of the Week
Does it really matter? Look at Cam Newton in his postgame press conference.
He wants to get calls in a professional football league? He’s clearly not even old enough to dress himself.
A Random Number of Random Things
1. If you ever played sports on any level, or if you ever even read one of those awful motivational cat posters, you have heard that you can do anything if you just work hard. This is wrong. In fact, it’s an outright lie. Watch this.
Do you think you could ever do that—jump six feet in the air on a dime while sprinting horizontally—if you just worked really hard? If you do, if you really believe that, your brain clearly is just one of the (many) limitations that you will never overcome, no matter how much effort you give, no matter how much you dream and strive. In many things in life, you either have it or you don’t. The sooner you admit that, the better. Happy Monday.
2. Now it’s time for the semi-regular section on a guy who’s not in the NFL: Tim Tebow. In Week 3 action, the following players STARTED at quarterback: Luke McCown, Josh McCown, Brandon Weeden, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Clausen.
And then there was the usual mix of semi-awful “regulars”: Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Blake Bortles, Ryan Mallet ... is Colin Kaepernick on this list now? Sure, Colin Kaepernick. And Michael Vick is now on the way.
How does Tim Tebow not have a job, even as a backup or third-string QB, in a league where guys like this are starting quarterbacks?
“Lol. You think Tim Tebow is a good quarterback. Everyone! This guy over here thinks Tim Tebow is a good quarterback!”
Nope. Being good obviously is not the bar for playing quarterback in the NFL. A full third of the starters every week are not even competent quarterbacks. Thinking Tebow deserves a job in the NFL doesn’t mean you think he’s good. The bar for being in the NFL is not that you’re the next Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Ben Roethlisberger. It’s that you’re the next McCown. Tim Tebow is as good as a McCown. Heck, lots of people are as good as a McCown.
We can’t all be a Le’Veon Bell. But we can all shoot for McCown. Let that be your dream, kids.
3. What a huge game for Michael Vick on Thursday night. If he plays well and the Steelers win, he will have officially ended the season of the rival Baltimore Ravens. And hundreds of thousands of Steelers fans will find themselves very forgiving. But if he doesn’t play well and and the Pittsburgh falls to 2-2? A whole bunch of Steelers fans may begin dredging up the past. Good luck, Mike! You have three days to prepare for a game with a city’s entire worldview in the balance.
4. Brandon Weeden is now 5-17 in his career as starter, but yesterday’s loss—unlike many of his previous 16—wasn’t all on him. The Dallas defense lost that game, giving up 39 points to the Falcons. You have to like how the Cowboy D stepped up and made their new quarterback feel that the entire weight of a lost season isn’t on him. That’s a good locker room. Are there bad players in that good locker room? Sure. Lots. But the Cowboys stopped being about winning things decades ago. They’re good people and that’s all that matters. Or did you not listen to the Pope?
5. We say thanks to the troops and teachers and firefighters pretty frequently in this country. And that’s good. But we should take the opportunity to thank fantasy football #experts, too. As fantasy football #experts, they know everything about fantasy football and no doubt now win millions of dollars each week thanks to the rise of daily fantasy sports. They probably have entire rooms filled with giant checks! They could easily retire and just live like kings off of their daily fantasy winnings. But, no, each week they still share their #expert fantasy #analysis with us, the hopeless idiots who—unlike them—just guess at which players will have big days. Thank you, fantasy #experts. Thank you for what you do. You are true public servants.
6. Brandon Marshall called this “probably the worst play in NFL history.”
So it’s interesting to learn that when the Jets acquire new players, part of the new employee orientation is not learning the history of the team.
7. J.J. Watt tweeted out a photo of himself on the field yesterday with Mario Lopez, AKA A.C. Slater from “Saved By The Bell,” and the hashtag #WhereIsKellyKapowski. Tiffani Thiessen, AKA Kelly Kapowski, then posted an Instagram of herself holding a “Men’s Health” with Watt on the cover. Social media can be pretty cool. But here’s my thing: Watt was born in 1989. “Saved By The Bell” aired from 1989 to 1993. So Watt is a big fan of a show that was on from his birth to the age of four? No way. Watt is a FRAUD “Saved By The Bell” fan. Watt is a liar and a fake. That’s a fact. And if he’s half the man that A.C. Slater is, he will admit it to the world. Are you Screech or are you A.C., J.J. Watt? Are you Screech or are you A.C.? It’s the question every man must answer.
8. Colin Kaepernick threw two pick-sixes in the first 5:57 of action on Sunday, the quickest any NFL quarterback has done so since records were kept. At one point in the third quarter, he had five completions to his team and four to the Cardinals. Arizona defensive back Tyrann Mathieu said after the game that San Francisco’s “passing game has been simplified so much, it was easy for us to anticipate routes.” Uhhhhh ... Mathieu, you moron. Why would you say that? You still have to play the 49ers again this year. Now that they know you know their playbook, they’re going to add a third play.
9. It’s nice to see Robert Kraft finally making a move on someone a little closer to his own age.
I think these two guys can really last. I just hope they don’t cheat.
10. This image is terrifying. Warren Buffett being an Ndamukong Suh fan is terrifying.
A violent, merciless monster with the support and backing of a billionaire? This is the story of the origin of countless super villains. And we already have Robert Kraft funding Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Who is there to save us?
Andy Dalton? The Red Rifle?
To quote Cam Newton: “Jeez.”