Monday, November 16, 2015

NFL 2015-16 Week 10 Review

The NFL's week 10 began with a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Paris attack, which was rather moving (other than Thursday's game between the Jets and Bills, which took place before the attacks, of course). The French flag was shown on the video boards, while some NFL stadiums even displayed the French flag on the field. Ravens long snapper Morgan Cox came out with the French flag, and many fans showed signs of solidarity with the French following the horrific attacks on Friday. Here is a link to that story:

NFL stadiums' touching tributes to French terror attack victims by Chris Chase, November 15, 2015:

The moment of silence was not smooth across the board. In Green Bay, one fan apparently yelled out a derogatory comment towards Muslims. To his credit, Aaron Rodgers addressed this in the postgame conference. Here is how he responded (link to the article below):

“I think it’s important to do things like that. We’re connected—a connected world [with] six degrees of separation. I must admit that I was very disappointed with the fan who made the comment. I thought it was really inappropriate during the moment of silence.  

It’s that kind of prejudicial ideology that, I think, puts us in the position that we’re in today.”

Aaron Rodgers addresses fan's 'inappropriate,' 'prejudicial' comment during moment of silence by Chris Chase and Micah Peters, November 15, 2015:

Not a bad response from Rodgers. Good on him to address some apparently ignorant comment by a disrespectful fan. 

As for the results in each game, here goes:

(Thursday) Buffalo 22, NY Jets 17 - The Jets had a good chance to grab a solid hold of second place all by their lonesome with a victory against Buffalo. Okay, maybe that is not as good as first place, but the way that this season is going, it might have helped to propel them to a playoff spot. Instead, the Bills were amazing, taking a huge 22-3 lead, and then holding off the furious Jets rally, preserving a 22-17 victory. Now, the two teams are tied for first, with the Bills holding the tiebreak advantage, at least for now. Also, the Dolphins are only a game behind these two teams. So, while the Patriots seem to have the division in hand with a four game lead with seven games remaining, the race for the wildcard in this division is extremely heated, and will only pick up as the weather cools down in the next few weeks.

Detroit 18, Green Bay 16 - I start the Sunday games with this one, since it had been so long since the Lions had managed to defeat the Packers at Lambeau Field, which was something I definitely did not expect. The Packers lost their first, and so far only, game at home this season, while the Lions won only their second game of the season. It's hard not to wonder what is going on in Green Bay, and if this signifies real problems at the core of how the franchise operates right now, or if this is just some kind of temporary bump in the road before they right themselves and get back into it. This was a terrible loss for the Packers, who had not lost to the Lions at Lambeau Field since way back in 1991.

Carolina 27, Tennessee 10 - The Panthers remained perfect by gritting through a tough win in Tennessee. The Titans were hanging tough, keeping the game close well into the second half. But the Panthers defense, one of the elite units in the league, held them at bay. Slowly but surely, Carolina's offense was able to produce points to add some cushion at first and then, eventually, to put the game out of reach for the Titans. The Panthers upped their record to a perfect 9-0, and although they are hardly the flashiest team, they are getting the job done.

Miami 20, Philadelphia 19 - The Eagles held a 16-3 lead early on, and I thought that this was on the way to being another embarrassing route for the Dolphins. Boy, was I ever wrong! Miami battled their way back, and the Eagles suddenly looked helpless towards the end. This was an important game for the Eagles, who were trying to keep pace with the division leading Giants, but it was an absolute must win for the Dolphins, if they hoped to stay relevant in the AFC playoff picture. With the win, the Dolphins recover from last week's embarrassment, and remain on the heels of the Bills and the Jets for that Wild Card spot.

Washington 47, New Orleans 14 - The Saints defense is truly terrible! They have been carved up worse than a turkey on Thanksgiving the last few weeks. True, they won against the Giants, but they lost to the Titans at home, and got whipped in Washington. It is easy to assume that their season is done, after they had begun to look solid and like they were making a real push for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay 10, Dallas 6 - I think the Cowboys season is done now. Down by three and a half games at the time being to the division leading Giants, and by two games to both Philadelphia and Washington, it is just hard to imagine how they will get back into this thing. Even if they start winning, they would have to get very lucky, and hope that all three other teams start losing a lot.

Chicago 37, St. Louis 13 - Another surprising result here. The Bears are really coming on lately, with a big road win at San Diego, followed by a solid road win in St. Louis this weekend. It was a tough contest, too close to call, early on. But the Bears kept putting points up on the board, and the Rams did not. A promising season for the Rams seems to be ending in disappointment, while a season that seemed disastrous for the Bears is suddenly looking a whole lot more respectable, all of a sudden.

Pittsburgh 30, Cleveland 9 - Well, this is what you would expect in this game, right? The Steelers played quite well, particularly offensively. Ben Roethlisberger came into the game after an injury to Landy Jones, and he performed very capably. The Browns misery this season continues with another tough loss, and the playoffs have been out of reach for them for quite some time now.

Jacksonville 22, Baltimore 20 - Any hope that the Ravens might rebound and become a contender this year ended with this loss to the Jaguars at home in Baltimore. Jacksonville had lost some relatively close games early this season, where they were supposed to sow some improvement. But the London victory against Buffalo some weeks ago, and this big road win at Baltimore, really should provide some enthusiasm for the future of this franchise. As for the Ravens, it is time to start thinking about next year, since this one has been a huge disappointment for them.

New England Patriots 27, NY Giants 26 - This was the big showdown between two teams that met not once, but twice in fairly recent Super Bowls. For the Giants, a victory against the Patriots would have increased their lead in the NFC East and re-energized their entire season, while a loss would be crushing. For New England, a victory against the one team that has broken their hearts more than any other in recent seasons would allow them to gain peace of mind, as well as to keep their perfect record intact. It was a back and forth game, and Eli Manning was having an incredible day through the first half. Still, it continued to be a back and forth contest. But the Giants had an opportunity late in the fourth quarter, and Beckham had what appeared to be a touchdown catch at first, which would have given the Giants a lead of at least five points, with the option of going either for the extra point, or a two-point conversion. But the ball was knocked out of his hands right at the end, and it was not ruled a touchdown catch, which it initially had been. That allowed the Patriots the chance to win it with a field goal, and although it was a 54-yard attempt, New England placekicker Stephen Gostkowski was able to seal the deal in the final second, literally, allowing the Pats to steal a win, and earn a small measure of payback against their longtime tormentors.

Minnesota 30, Oakland 14 - The other side of the Packers collapse is just how strong the Vikings have been coming on as of late. They took the early lead, watched the Raiders storm back and tie it up, and then they wore Oakland down the rest of the way, earning a solid road win on the West Coast, and moving ahead of the Packers in the NFC North, by virtue of Gren Bay's shocking three-game slide.

Kansas City 29, Denver 13 - Like the Packers, the Broncos seem to be falling apart after their undefeated start. Kansas City was essentially dominating the game from the outset, and the Broncos never really did rally to make it a tight contest. How bad was it? Peyton Manning was benched, that's how bad. Yes, Denver's defense still looks like one of the better units in the league, but they have allowed a lot of points in the last two consecutive weeks. Denver still owns a three-game lead in the AFC West, and will probably win it. But they are starting to more closely resemble the team that lost immediately in last year's playoffs, more than they resembled a Super Bowl contender. Not a good game for the Broncos.

Arizona 39, Seattle 32 - This, to me, was one of the biggest shockers of the weekend so far. Yes, the Seahawks have hardly looked like themselves this season, but I, like probably most people, assumed that they were about to explode into relevancy and, just like they did last year, start to take over the NFC West. It would require beating the Cardinals, but since they always beat the Cardinals, and since they so rarely ever lose at home, that was almost a given. Except that it was not such a given. The Cardinals jumped out early and built a solid lead, but you knew the Seahawks were going to come back. And they did, even taking the lead. But the Cardinals themselves responded towards the end with a couple of touchdowns at key moments, and stole a game that seemed on the verge of slipping away. The Cardinals, rather shockingly, now own a three-game lead over both Seattle and St. Louis, and seem to have the NFC West locked up. That, of course, was the situation last year, too, and they lost eventually. The difference is that the three-game lead last year had come before they met Seattle even once, and they lost both of those meetings, as well as others. This time, they earned the three-game lead specifically by beating the Seahawks in Seattle, and there will only be one more meeting between the two teams and that will be in the comfortable confines of Phoenix. What a job by the Cardinals!

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