Thoughts from a slew of one-sided early games to start Week 9:
Worst batch of early games ever?
Don’t get me wrong, there was some great football, but there was literally no excitement. Almost every Sunday between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. ET, we have what seems to be an endless run of thrilling moments. This week, that didn’t exist. The average margin of victory in the first seven games of the day was 16.4, and that number would’ve been much higher if not for meaningless late scores from Tampa Bay, Washington, Buffalo and Cleveland. The closest game: Niners over ‘Skins by eight, which was the only one-score game on the afternoon.
Again, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun. Julio Jones made an unforgettable touchdown catch in a dominant performance. DeMarco Murray continued his coming-out party with the best rushing performance of the afternoon (139 yards on 22 carries). No quarterback was as lights-out as, um, Matt Moore. And the Jets were dominant again. Good stuff, just no dramatics.
Colts start to sprint away in the race for Andrew Luck
Life isn’t fair. Dolphins fans born after Jan. 13 1974 are well aware of this fact. But Dolphins fans hoping that they’d finally “luck” out and land their first franchise quarterback since Dan Marino by finishing dead last and picking first overall in the 2012 NFL draft were probably sorely disappointed to see their team somehow dominate the Chiefs to win their first game of 2011. And now Tony Sparano’s job is really in trouble.
Miami, which has led almost every week yet failed to win until today, crushed a first-place team on the road. Reggie Bush had his best game in teal, Moore was fantastic (147.5 passer rating) and Brandon Marshall played great amid controversy (causing many to wonder whether his spat with Vontae Davis lit a fire under the downtrodden team). That’s supposed to be a good thing, but it probably means the Dolphins are out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. While one win would probably still get the job done, it’s becoming clear this is a team that’s too good to finish 1-15.
Meanwhile, the Colts continue to look like a team that simply won’t win more than a game. At home, Indy was dominated by the Falcons to fall to 0-9, giving them a 1.5-game lead in the race for the top pick. Curtis Painter appears to be regressing and the defense isn’t competing at all. They’ve been outscored by an average of 29 points per game during the last three weeks.
St. Louis and Arizona are playing each other right now. Both are 1-6. After that game, there’ll only be two one-win teams left. Indy stands alone with zero victories, and unless they can “rally” to beat the Jaguars or Panthers at home in their next two games, it’s beginning to look as though they’ll have some serious decisions to make regarding Peyton Manning and what to do with one of the most talked about No. 1 overall picks in NFL history.
What happened to the Bills?
Time for a power shift in the AFC East. The Patriots are still the favorite (unless something unexpected takes place in their game with the Giants), but the Jets have once again emerged as their primary threat. Buffalo-New York was a throwback game. They threw back to 2010, when the Jets were a dominant defensive team and the Bills were, well, just bad.
The Jets won 27-11, but it was actually much more lopsided than that. At home and in their biggest game of the year thus far, the Bills were completely overwhelmed. Ryan Fitzpatrick looked like a journeyman out of Harvard. Despite somewhat decent final numbers, Fred Jackson looked like an undrafted 30-year-old out of some college called “Coe.” The defense failed to get enough pressure on Mark Sanchez and couldn’t stop the Jets on third downs.
They were just overmatched.
I guess that shouldn’t be surprising. Let’s face it, the Jets are the better team. Back in August, these were the kind of results we expected to see. Maybe the Bills are legit. Maybe they just had an off day. Or maybe they’re falling back to earth, destined to get squeezed out by the powerful Pats and Jets and miss the playoffs for the 12th straight year.