Tebow a Dud, 49ers Studs and 8 Other NFL Lessons Learned Sunday
Upsets, blowouts, crashing back to Earth and soaring back above the clouds, Sunday of week 10 demonstrated the best of the National Football League -- why we all watch, why we all cry in victory and defeat and why they say "that's why they play games."
Through it all, Sunday provided an insight in what to expect (and what not to expect) heading into the final third of the NFL season.
Time to Panic in Philly...
... and not just short term.
Yes, at 3-6, the Dream Team's 2011 season is virtually kaput.
But bigger problems lie beyond this season. The DeSean Jackson saga has taken a turn for the worse with the wideout's benching Sunday. Michael Vick has looked less a $100 million man, more a tin man (TIN being Turnovers In Numbers, of course). The defense has more holes than the latest NBA Labor proposal. The entire coaching staff seems bewildered.
What looked like a budding dynasty has instead turned into a failed experiment.
Tebow Won't Cut It
Tim Tebow threw the football (cue LeBron) not once, not twice, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven times. Eight. Eight passing attempts for Tebow in Sunday's 17-10 win over the Chiefs.
Clearly, the Broncos have no confidence in Tebow. Even more clearly, Tebow has yet to give the Denver brass a reason to bestow upon him a true quarterback's role. Tebow completed just two of his eight attempts, and for the year is now passing at a lowly 44.8-precent clip.
How long until the Broncos are down big and need to pass to make up ground. What then, Tebow?
The Chiefs Are in Trouble
With back-to-back losses to the Dolphins and Broncos, things are looking way, way down in K.C.
The offense has scored just 13-combined points in the last two games and surrendered 48-total points to the opposition.
It would be easy to pin the blame here on Jamaal Charles' injury, but like the Colts and Peyton Manning, one injury cannot be an excuse to fold in the fashion the Chiefs have.
Residing in the AFC West means it really ain't over 'til it's over, but the Chiefs rush defense needs to make a stand. And quarterback Matt Cassel needs to throw for more than Sunday's 93 yards before Kansas City can even think about playoffs.
Buy the 49ers
If you haven't noticed, the 49ers have the second best record in football.
Until this week, it was easy to overlook San Francisco with the media's apparent refusal to garnish praise upon the red-and-gold, not to mention the team's ho-hum schedule.
But with Sunday's physical 27-20 win over the NFC-East leading New York Giants, the 49ers showed they aren't going away.
With the league's top rushing defense and a squad that, according to ESPN stats and information, leads the NFL in turnovers forced and turnover differential, San Francisco is playing disciplined, hard-nosed football and the rest of the NFL better take notice.
Sell the Bills
From 4-1 to 5-4, this Bills team has fallen from grace in a way one would expect of ... well, the Bills.
Momentum finally hit rock bottom for Buffalo Sunday in Dallas when the Bills were blasted 44-7. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who took great care of the football early this season, has tossed five picks in the last two games. Teams have run, run and run some more against the Bills -- the Jets ran the ball 39 times in week nine's win over Buffalo and the Cowboys ran 35 times Sunday -- and the Bills have had little answer. The same defense that came into Sunday's contest leading the league in takeaways failed to cause a turnover in Dallas.
Buried beneath the Jets and Patriots with outcomes growing increasingly worse, it may be just a matter of time until the Bills fold completely in a classic Buffalo fashion.
Buy the Bears
Did everyone forget the Bears were the second-half of last year's NFC title game? Chicago is here to remind those who didn't remember.
Quarterback Jay Cutler has thrown just two interceptions in the last five contests. Running back Matt Forte demands defenses to game plan specifically for his skill set. The defense is forcing turnovers en masse.
As a result, Chicago has taken over second in the NFC North and slid into first for the race for a wild card spot. Buy this disciplined, experienced Chicago squad.
Bob Costas' Glasses Look Ridiculous
Don't Trust the Ravens
Who are the Baltimore Ravens?
Are they the team that handled the Pittsburgh Steelers twice this season? Are they the team that has losses to the Seattle Seahawks and the Jacksonville Jaguars?
Since a week six win over Houston, Baltimore has looked shaky. The offense has struggled to find much rhythm, with hurler Joe Flacco tossing four picks to just three touchdowns in that span. The defense continues to put up top-10 stats, but has surrendered 64 points in the last three games.
The reason may be a lack of focus against poor teams, questionable coaching or a little bit of both. The only thing certain in Baltimore right now is nothing is for certain.
Pats Down, Never out
The blue print was simple: get pressure on Tom Brady, man up and get physical against New England's undersized receiving corp and the Patriots will fall.
Not so fast.
Against maybe the leagues best press-man coverage, the Patriots regained momentum and handled the New York Jets, 37-16.
The receivers got some decent separation, Brady made some Brady-esque throws, and the "no name" defense held the Jets offense in check.
Shame on anyone who doubted Bill Belichick. If we have learned anything in the last decade, it is to never count out New England.
2011 Will Come Down to the Wire
I can sit here and say buy this team, sell this team.
In the end, I'm just flapping my gums.
In the NFC, nine teams are either currently in the playoffs or just two games out, if the season would end today.
In the AFC, that number is 12.
In all, 21 teams still have a realistic playoff shot heading into week 12. Call it parity, call it sloppy football because of the lockout, call it a coincidence.
I'll call it darned good, darned interesting football.
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