Week 8 ObservationsAdrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy now in dire team contexts. Doug Martin might be done for the year, Trent Richardson is in a timeshare with Donald Brown, Arian Foster is hurt, C.J. Spiller is hurt and sharing work, Ray Rice is plodding along for a subpar offense and even Matt Forte just lost his starting quarterback for at least a month.
Among first-round backs only Jamaal Charles and Marshawn Lynch are safely performing for quality teams and don't have to compete for carries. And Lynch just managed eight carries for 23 yards behind a bad offensive line against the Rams. In fact, there were only two 100-yard rushing games this week, one by Terrelle Pryor, the other by Andre Ellington.
I'm worried about Knowshon Moreno now who yielded some goal-line work to Montee Ball. If Moreno continues to see some goal-line work, all of the third-down work and most of the early down work, he'll be fine, but he's likely to lose a few scores, and the more the team plays Ball and C.J. Anderson, the more danger that one of them will show abilities Moreno doesn't have. Still, he's more reliable than all but a handful of backs.
RGIII is not a top-10 quarterback. I said he was top-five last week, but he looked terrible against a beatable Denver pass defense. That said, Denver's pass rush looked better, particularly Von Miller in his second game back, and the play calling was poor given the circumstances. But Griffin also missed open receivers and made poor decisions. Maybe he's a top-10 going forward, but his "turned the corner" game in Chicago now looks like it had more to do with the Bears terrible defense.
Along with the Bears, the Falcons are a bottom-10, possibly bottom-five, defense and you'll want to start everyone you can against them. Matt Ryan threw 60 passes for 300 yards, or five yards per attempt, and that's not even counting the four picks. Unless Roddy White miraculously gets 100 percent healthy soon, expect Ryan to be a poor man's Matt Stafford circa 2012 - tons of volume, poor per-play numbers, not many TDs the rest of the way.
Speaking of Stafford, I've dogged him a lot for his weak per-play numbers despite having Calvin Johnson and playing in a dome. But his throws on the team's final drive were as good as it gets, particularly the zipped 40-yard pass up the sideline to Kris Durham. His decision not to spike the ball and instead reach forward for the touchdown showed massive poise in a higher pressure situation as well.
Of course, the Lions should never have been in a position to win had Jason Garrett not given away so many points earlier in the game with ill-advised punts on 4th and short in plus territory. Garrett (and many other coaches) cost their teams every week, and while I hear them rightly excoriated for this on Twitter every Sunday, I've yet to see the mainstream media question coaches for these failures after games. In fact, you see the opposite - the media questioning coaches for correct decisions that don't pan out. If you're a Cowboys fan (not sure how anyone can be, but they are popular, so you must exist), your coach and also your local media - by enabling him - are letting you down. As I Giants fan, I don't mind, but you should be up in arms for those questions to be asked of Garrett post-game.
The Giants of course are now only two games behind Dallas and play them again at home. It's odd because as bad as the team's season's been, the only difference between them and Dallas is that sixth turnover (returned for a score) late in the fourth quarter of Week 1 while they were driving. Had the Giants keep going (as they had easily through out the second half), both teams would be 3-5. As it stands, if the Giants win the second matchup, they still have a good chance to catch up. The Eagles look done (though that can change), and the Redskins could re-group, but they're certainly a surmountable obstacle. The Giants were 300-1 two weeks ago to win the Super Bowl and 150-1 before the Eagles game, but most of the value's probably squeezed out of that prop now.
The cause for hope in New York is that the defense has actually been decent, owning a streak of 10 quarters without allowing a touchdown and nine without any score at all. (Both the Eagles and Vikings scores were on special teams). Getting Jon Beason at linebacker has helped, and Terrell Thomas (back from his third knee surgery) has been a boost to the secondary. The main problem has really be Eli Manning and the offensive line, and when the problem is Eli there's a chance of them going on a run should he figure it out as he has in the past. The schedule is not easy - four of their eight games are against Green Bay, Seattle, in San Diego and in Detroit.
How great is Charles Barkley - during the Chris Berman halftime interview, he joked about drinking 12 beers before playing golf.
The bookies and sharps got destroyed on Sunday with the six biggest favorites (Bengals, Saints, 49ers, Packers, Chiefs and Patriots) all winning outright and five of six covering ATS. They won some of it back Monday night on the Rams at least.
Speaking of which Zac Stacy looked great against a stout Seattle defense, but he sprained his ankle and couldn't force himself through it, a bad sign given that he was still warmed up and in the rush of the game. I wouldn't be surprised to see him miss some time.
I didn't really care once the Rams locked up the cover, but it was sad to see them fail at the goal line on a bad fade pass that had no chance to a receiver who was never going to win that one on one battle. A QB draw against the aggressive rush or at least a roll-out with some options would have been far better.
I'm not sure why Brady's struggling so much, and I expect him to play substantially better in the second half, if only due to basic regression. Even if he's not the Hall of Fame level guy anymore, there's no way he's more than a yard below league average (7.2 YPA). I'd guess 7.2 YPA the rest of the way, and with a fair number (300?) attempts, that's good for 2160 yards and probably 13-15 TDs. We debated whether we'd rather have him or Andy Dalton, and I initially said Brady, but don't think I'd bet on it.
It was nice to see the Bengals air it out so much Sunday. The Jets blitz a lot and leave their corners one on one, so why not take a shot with playmaking receivers, rather than running the ball into the teeth of a top-five run defense?
One thing that annoys me about all commissioner services is the inability to have your lineup auto-switch players when one is scratched with a pre-game injury. I had Mike Williams going Thursday night, and I had to wait until the last second to check whether he was playing. (Mercifully he's on the IR, so that's no longer a problem). Why in 2013 are we forced to sit by our computer or be somewhere our phone gets decent 3G reception when clearly we'd never start a guy who was hurt. Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS, etc. should really add an opt-in feature so you can go about your day without worrying about that crap. It's even worse in Yahoo!'s daily fantasy baseball leagues where you always have guys go off on your bench unless you commit to being around right before game time.
Another improvement would be for DirecTV to allow you to rank your games 1-9, and when Game 1 goes to commercial, it switches to Game 2, and back to Game 1 when its commercial ends. If both are on commercial it goes to Game 3. Hell, if all nine are on commercial, shut the damn thing off until one comes back. I realize advertisers wouldn't like that, but the red-zone channel has no commercials, either, and everyone's forced to watch that which gives you a disjointed experience of the games. (I have one TV on red-zone, also).
Curt Menefee's game breaks should begin with: "Here's something that happened 30 minutes ago you've already seen five times."