NFL: Week 10

By: Shawn Davis

I am going to go out on a bridge and say that I applaud the Kansas City Chiefs for fighting as hard as they did last night. With that said we all know the main story that’s being pulled from last night’s 16-13 Steelers victory: Ben Roethlisberger’s right shoulder injury.

Reports say the injury is “significant” and Roethlisberger could be out for weeks, which is devastating as they have the Ravens twice in the next three games (with a trip to Cleveland sandwiched in-between). Byron Leftwich is more than capable of leading the Steelers’ offense to respectability for the next few weeks but they’ll need Roethlisberger back if they want to make some waves in the knockout games.

Sunday’s slate:

HOU 13 @ CHI 6: If the final score was shown to most football fans after knowing the game was in Chicago, in the rain, and there was a clear turnover edge to one of the teams, I would bet a great deal that the majority of those same fans would be certain that the Bears were victorious. That didn’t happen did it?

As someone who thinks the Texans are good, not great, I feel they needed to turn the page on the beating they took a few weeks back from the Green Bay Packers. They have, by winning their last two versus the Ravens and Bills but this was another game in the national spotlight that millions of eyes (and fingers) would be paying clear attention to.

I’m someone that likes scoring, big plays and aggressive play-calling. I don’t want to watch a field-goal exhibition because they bore me and force me to drink mojitos (I always look for excuses to consume them) when I shouldn’t but this was a game that was so much more than one that only featured a single touchdown. It was a chess match of physical and machine-like run-blocking by the Texans with opportunistic defensive plays from both clubs. I was hooked from the opening kickoff.

Surprising to me was how inept the Bears were on offense – and that was before Jay Cutler left the game with a concussion. They have a lot of things to get in gear on that side of the ball whether it is he or Jason Campbell taking the snaps.

DAL 38 @ PHI 23: I’m not even going to lie and make it seem that I paid attention to most of this game…I didn’t; I wanted to though. Philadelphia Eagles fans wanted Nick Foles and now they have him. Good luck behind that offensive line, young man.

STL 24 @ SF 24 (OT): If this game was played under replacement officials the internet would have disintegrated over the fact they forgot to put 70 seconds or more back on the game clock. Regular officials have been back for weeks now – and this egregious error is being swept under the rug to cover the turds they left on the field with their clock (mis)management. Was the stadium timekeeper drinking with the tailgaters?

I make a lot of jokes in my weekly pick column about games ending tied but I really dislike that any professional game could actually end without a clear winner.

NYJ 7 @ SEA 28: The Jets could not muster a single touchdown on offense, not one. As it pertains to passer rating, Mark Sanchez has ranked 28th, 27th, 23rd and 30th since he was drafted. I could be wrong but that’s not a great indication for extended success. It’s time…

NYG 13 @ CIN 31: The Bengals stopped their four game slide by defeating a Giants team that’s doing their annual second-half swoon that will undoubtedly lower expectations, get their fans against them, encourage media-types to call for Tom Coughlin’s job, local columnists will write one or twelve (over) critical pieces on Eli Manning and his demeanor, everyone will forget – because they’re lazy – that they do this shit EVERY YEAR and will regroup to be a team that NO ONE wants to see once the knockout games begin. Don’t believe me?

In the nine years Coughlin has been coach they’ve always had a winning record in the first eight games of the year but have failed to have the same level of success in the second half of every season. Why? Who knows, but all I know is they like to play with world against them; they thrive in that type of environment.

Maybe the Giants are throwing games intentionally to get everyone off their scent. Let’s see how confident opposing teams will be when facing the defending champs in December. Uh, yeah they are defending champs. They want everyone on television, with a column, writing a blog, and especially the screaming heads on the five million NFL pre-game shows to forget about them. I won’t.

TEN 37 @ MIA 3: This is one I did not see coming. The Titans shocked the Steelers a few weeks back on a Thursday night so maybe I should have looked a little closer here. With the way the Dolphins have competed the last few weeks, I certainly thought they would win. Chris Johnson (126 yards on 23 carries with one touchdown) had other plans and let the league know that he isn’t on his way out of football just yet.

DET 24 @ MIN 34: I’m not sure there are many athletic superlatives that can adequately document the season Adrian Peterson is having after his knee exploded about 46 weeks ago. Sunday’s output of 171 yards on 27 carries (with two touchdowns) and that majestic 61-yard run has to put him in the middle of the MVP conversation; to hell with the Comeback Player of the Year (he should have that already sent to his home) because he’s carrying a team that’s been a first-half surprise. In a game the Vikings absolutely needed to have, Peterson was the man.

What a game for Christian Ponder, right? After playing Vikings fans into a deep slumber the last three weeks, he responds by going 24-for-32 with 221 yards and two touchdowns in a game, like I said above, that the Vikings couldn’t afford to drop. They are 6-4 but are viewed as a team that’s not as good as their record suggests. We will find out their identity once they return from their Week 11 bye because they have a home-and-away series with the Bears with a visit to Lambeau field sandwiched in the middle. I’ll be watching.

BUF 31 @ NE 37: Football fans in Western New York deserve better than this and I’m glad their home team looked the Patriots square in the eye and actually made this a contest. I don’t know that the answer is for a Bills’ team that still seems to be enveloped in the malaise of last season’s disastrous slide. Ryan Fitzpatrick looked good last year, got the big contract, and has not played up to his end since.

What does the great city have to look forward to? Another rebuilding project, it seems. I hope that I’m wrong.

ATL 27 @ NO 31: This game surprised most of the football universe; I have no idea why. Since Drew Brees arrived in New Orleans, he is 11-2 against the Falcons; the numbers don’t deceive here. So many people were caught up in the fact the Falcons entered the game untarnished while the Saints were (and still are) scratching to sniff a scant hope of a playoff berth that they ignored the big brother-little brother aspect this series contains. I don’t like the Saints defense but regardless of their record I’m not sure there is a team that I enjoy watching play more; they make every game a viewer’s choice.

In the event they rise up to win four or five in a row they will rue that Week 3 loss against the Chiefs.

SD 24 @ TB 34: The worst throw of the season has to go to Philip Rivers. Wait, I retract that because he completed a perfect pass…to cornerback, Leonard Johnson, who returned the gift 83 yards for a touchdown. Does Rivers get credit for that touchdown pass?

The Buccaneers have won four of their last five games while averaging 35 points per contest and they have been solid on defense as well. At 5-4 they are definitely looking to challenge for the wildcard, and it will be tough, but they’re coming on in the second half of the season to make things interesting. Josh Freeman has 18 touchdowns versus 5 interceptions – after last season when he had 16 touchdowns with 22 interceptions – yet is getting no attention this season; he’s a good story and is being overlooked. I’m paying attention.

DEN 36 @ CAR 14: Peyton Manning was fantastic with 301 yards and a touchdown completing 27 of his 38 passes. What wasn’t fantastic was the terrible slide he took that put him in harm’s way.

OAK 20 @ BAL 55: How do you judge this game? I have no clue but it’s one of the reasons why the Ravens seem like fools gold one week, dominant another and asleep at the wheel the next. Funny thing is they could have scored into the sixties…easily.

IND 27 @ JAC 10: Andrew Luck is NOT a legitimate MVP candidate, please with that! He’s a good quarterback and along with Reggie Wayne – have the Colts at 6-3. That is legit.

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