Russell Wilson, Meet Geno Atkins; Lions Running In Place; For Better or Worse, Greg Hardy Is Back
1. I think, considering the state of Seattle’s interior offensive line, it might save time for everyone to just have Geno Atkins line up next to Russell Wilson in the Seahawks’ backfield Seattle barely escaped with their lives, at home against Detroit, on Monday night, in large part because their entire offense became Russell Wilson running in circles Benny Hill-style for 12 seconds then throwing a strike downfield. On the road, against the Bengals front four, that’s a recipe for disaster.
2. I think I’m not going to sit here and rip an NFL GM who has more football knowledge in his pinky finger than I will ever house in my brain (says the guy who is about to rip an NFL GM), but this is an appalling stat in regards to Detroit’s anemic running game: Since 2010, the Lions are the only team in the NFL to spend three first- or second-round picks on running backs (Jahvid Best first round in 2010, Mikel Leshoure second round in ’11, Ameer Abdullah second round in ’15). From 2010 to ’14, the Lions have finished 23rd, 29th, 23rd, 17th and 28th in rushing. Four games into this season, they’re dead last with 47.0 yards per game and 2.7 yards per carry; looking at those numbers, you’d expect a human-sized hamster wheel was involved. Yes, a rushing attack needs more than a good running back, but in a league in which teams are regularly plucking capable runners in the late rounds or off the streets, that’s not a good look for Martin Mayhew.
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3. I think no one swung from the pro-Greg Hardy camp to the anti-Greg Hardy camp based on some crappy rap video he did or his poor choice of metaphors and misguided shots at an opposing quarterback. I mean, really, this whole thing either offends you or it doesn’t.
And absolutely, he’s good at football. And, yes, as one man he only accounts for approximately 2% of that roster, and in all likelihood every team has at least one player, probably more, who has done something awful or tasteless or offensive. But boy, if I’m a Cowboys fan, I’m taking an extra-long shower after spending an afternoon cheering him on.
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4. I think I have some friendly advice for the folks who run the scoreboard and sound at Mile High. It’s inspired by Ian Eagle’s It’s Thomas! calls on Westwood One every time Demaryius Thomas made a catch in that Broncos-Chiefs Thursday nighter; anyone who has had a three-year-old in their house over the past 15 years couldn’t help but think of this.
So, Mile High should just have the first four seconds of this queued up any time Demaryius makes a play. Ah, hell, just play the whole thing.
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5. I think, while the Eagles’ record is 1-3, the only thing that really matters is the Chip-O-Meter (brought to you by this Man on Couch). This week, I’m doing it. I’m putting Chip Kelly smack dab in the middle of the Spurrier-to-Jimmy scale. Here’s the thing: The Eagles made a ton of changes in the offseason, and you can use the excuse that, with the abbreviated offseason workout time and with a new quarterback coming off a torn ACL and doing little work in the preseason, it was going to take them a little while for these guys to jell. We’re past the quarter point of the season. That excuse is out the window. This one could go either way, starting this week.
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6. I think I think some things about college football…
a. I know Marcus Mariota is really good, but what in the name of Dennis Dixon is going on with Oregon? I know, I know, the defense can’t stop anyone. But the last two home games: a 42-point loss to a good Utah team and a loss to a Washington State team that’s, well, not as good as Utah.
b. Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines are probably the second-best team in the Big Ten, which… well, looking at that conference, it isn’t as impressive as it used to sound.
c. How bad is Kansas? Consider this. The Jayhawks’ money line against Baylor, according to Vegas Insider’s consensus, was +84,500. (If you don’t know gambling parlance, that means if you put down $100 you would have won $84,500). I mean, when you lose to Rutgers you know your program is in dire straits. But Baylor was a conference game. At home.. Yeesh.
d. Baylor is averaging 64.2 points per game through five games. That’s more than 89 Division-I men’s basketball programs averaged last season.
e. Pitt has the country’s most unfortunately named kicker: Chris Blewitt.
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7. I think, while you’re counting down the hours to kickoff, you should spend some time with The MMQB Read of the Week. Well, two of them this week. (Three if you count the eighth item).
First is Jenny Vrentas on the family of ESPN’s Ed Werder, who seem to be the nicest frickin’ people going through some of the worst health battles imaginable. Look, it’s Sunday, you’re getting excited for some football, I will forgive you if you don’t want to read this today. They’re inspiring folks, but this story is going to make you feel feelings. It’s a bummer. But at the very least, bookmark it and come back to it Tuesday evening or something.
The other is Tim Layden’s epic on Jim Brown.
At the start of his tenure with the Browns, Belichick brought Brown back to the franchise and into the meeting room with his running backs. The result was disastrous. “It was embarrassing,” says Belichick. “They had never heard of Jim, didn’t know who he was. I mean, this was f---ing Jim Brown, the greatest football player in history. That was my mistake. After that I made sure to educate the players ahead of time, to explain who Jim was, show them some highlights.”
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8. This is where I’d normally give you some FanDuel picks for Week 5. I think I won’t be doing that this week.
If you aren’t familiar with the scandal that hit Daily Fantasy Sports, we wrote about it as part of our larger look at the DFS industry (a piece for which I served as story editor; the New York Times broke the big DFS story earlier this week.)
I’ve played FanDuel for five years, but for now, I won’t be playing it—and therefore won’t be writing about it—until the DFS industry gets this whole thing sorted out. That starts this week. I hope to be back at it soon.
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9. Twelve-plus things I think about Sunday’s 12 games:
a. Vs. Denver, at Green Bay, at Cincinnati. Did Andy Reid run over the schedule maker’s dog? The Chiefs have a chance to recoup their season when they host the Bears this afternoon.
b. The narrative with Andy Dalton will always include the question, Whatever, can he do it in January?. But this afternoon will be a good litmus test for whether or not Dalton has turned a corner. Granted, the last two games were both at home, but since Kam Chancellor’s return the Seahawks D has been as good as any in the NFL.
c. Remember all that stuff I wrote about the Chiefs’ schedule (it’s two paragraphs above this one, if you’ve lost your bearings). Well, the Falcons are the complete opposite. You can fault a team for winning the games on schedule. But jeez, after facing Brandon Weeden and Ryan Mallett the last two weeks, Atlanta gets four teams that currently have losing records in its next five games. The other game is today, against 2-2 Washington.
d. Lovie Smith wins at Raymond James Stadium as head coach of the Bears: two. Lovie Smith wins at Raymond James Stadium as head coach of the Bucs: zero. That’s 0-for-10 at home. We’ll see if the 11th time’s a charm when the Jaguars come to Ray Jay.
e. Forgive me for speaking ill of Drew Brees, but to my (barely trained) eye that was a whole lot of smoke and mirrors in last week’s win over Dallas. Less we’re going to go bombs-away and there’s nothing you can do about it and more pick plays (sorry, “rubs”) and horizontal concepts. The Eagles surely got a good look at it last week. On the road, this could be a long one for the new-look Saints.
f. I’m not sure what kind of curse we’re dealing with, but clearly something paranormal is going on with anyone touching a football thrown by Joe Flacco. I’m a big believer in Flacco and Marc Trestman (whatever that’s worth), but I’ll be fascinated to see how this team moves the ball today.
g. Alright Todd Gurley, the seal has been broken. Sick front four aside, I can’t see a scenario in which the Rams are competitive in Lambeau without Gurley having a big day.
h. Don’t look now, but the Bills are suddenly short on playmakers (LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, Sammy Watkins). Though I’ll be more interested to see what Rex Ryan and Dennis Thurman cooked up in the lab to show Marcus Mariota. Very good test for the rookie.
i. Everyone has spent two years looking for reasons to not buy into the Cardinals. Last week, a home loss to the Rams, was one. Today they head east to face a desperate Lions team, but they catch two breaks: (1) The Lions come in off a short week after playing Monday night, and (2) Despite being in the Eastern time zone the game doesn’t kick off until 4:05, making it a normal body clock game for the Cards.
j. Football’s a funny game, Suzyn. You can’t realistically look at any NFL matchup and say, “this team has no chance.” But I can’t figure out how the Cowboys are going to beat the Patriots, even at home. You figure New England, coming off a bye, will score at least 20 points, probably 30-plus. On the other hand, you have a Cowboys offense that, without Dez Bryant, can’t exploit New England’s one glaring weakness: a lack of cover corners.
k. I don’t think the Raiders are going to win this game (I mean, they might, I just think it’s less than likely), but I’m really curious to see what their offense can do in this one. The offensive line has been solid, one of the more underrated front fives in the NFL, and on Sunday they face the best pass-rush unit in the league. The Carr-to-Cooper connection up against Talib and Chris Harris. This is a fun one.
l. I keep holding out hope that Colin Kaepernick (and therefore the 49ers) will figure it out and get back on track. Realistically, this might be their last chance. The Giants have had issues defending the pass, with a patchwork secondary and no pass rush to speak of. If Kaep has some time Sunday night, maybe he starts setting his feet again, maybe he starts delivering accurate passes again. (Hey, it could happen.)
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10. I think, at 12:58 p.m. ET, you should turn your volume all the way up and press play…