Epic Degrees of FAIL: The AFC

Chronicling just what killed each of the 10 AFC teams that didn’t make the playoffs, and how devastating that failure was in the end, from the least to the most.

The Break Heard ‘Round The World

New England Patriots — Now staying home despite an 11-5 record and recovering in a way no one expected after Tom Brady’s knee ligaments snapped in the opening game.  Done in due to losses acquired during adjustment period to Matt Cassel and an aging defense that gave in to division rivals, particularly Miami, once too often. Are low on the list because this was still Coach Hobo’s best work in the duress of losing his leader and star.

Bad Start Followed By Peaking Too Late

Houston Texans — Effectively destroyed thanks to Sage Rosenfels’ propensity to turn the ball over when it matters most.  Matt Schaub wasn’t doing great to start out, but Rosenfels handing a game to the Colts and having to rotate in and out while Schaub tried to find his groove ensured Houston would be a late bloomer.  Four game losing streak capped by that loss in Indy killed any hope in a division where the winner had a 10-game winning streak and the second place team enters the playoffs with a nine-game streak. At least you’re not finishing under .500 again, and you have a feature back in Steve Slaton.

Icarus Is Not A Model To Follow Here

Buffalo Bills – A 5-1 start against what turned out to be lamentably bad competition (of the teams they beat, only the Chargers made the playoffs), followed by a precipitous fall in which they lost 8 of their final 10, forgot Marshawn Lynch existed for the most part, and had to go to J.P. Losman in games that they stood a chance of winning thanks to Trent Edwards’ fragile constitution.

Cincinnati Bengals – No communication between Carson Palmer and his receivers when he was playing, he gets knocked out, team continues to suffer until its tie of the Eagles and belated discovery that Cedric Benson still has rushing skills. Oddly enough, defense not responsible for sucking more this year.  Continued fall back to reality from Wild Card finish two years ago complete.

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Red Zone: Getting The Point Across

(Video tip to Black Sports Online.)

Seahawks 34, 49ers 13 – Normally I would not lead with this because there were a litany of better games on, and I was saved from having to watch this travesty by the grace of my local Fox affiliate who rationally decided that no one in our little part of California wanted to watch the Niners get beat. However, it produced the most coherent yet quotable of coach rants from Mike Singletary, who is visibly and understandably frustrated with a quarterback who is responsible for 11 fumbles and 17 interceptions, a tight end that dogged it a bit and cost them 15 yards on a dumb penalty, and a defense that allowed a fullback, a fullback, to gather up 116 yards and two TDs on only four receptions.

Saints 37, Chargers 32 – Essentially, the Chargers stalled themselves early in London, which allowed Drew Brees and whatever mishmash of talent he has catching footballs to get up early and get a lead. 14 penalties for more than 100 penalty yards don’t help, especially when the defense has completely quit or doesn’t have enough to stop any sort of potent offense. The AFC West is slowly morphing into the NFC West, if you can believe it.

Panthers 27, Cardinals 23 – Kurt Warner got the Cards out to a 17-3 lead, but then Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith powered a Carolina comeback in Charlotte, prodded on by an amazing play where Smith looked like he had gone out of bounds on his way to the end zone, but his heel had not touched the sideline while his foot came down near it.

Cowboys 13, Buccaneers 9 – An ugly game in which Tampa Bay essentially got stopped in the red zone when they were able to mount drives, including the last failed drive with less than a minute to go. Brad Johnson threw one TD pass to Roy L. Williams, and if you have any Dallas players on your fantasy teams, I’d advise benching them until Tony Romo comes back.

Jets 28, Chiefs 24 – New York won in spite of Brett Favre as much as they did because of him. The Gunslinger threw three picks, making Tyler Thigpen look like a competent quarterback until Herm Edwards’ late conservative playcalling got int the way. Thigpen finished with two TD passes.

Giants 21, Steelers 14 – Something I’ll never understand about defensive coordinators: you go to all this trouble, if you’re Dick LeBeau, to develop good coverage and blitz schemes to use on Sunday, yet, after your team’s offense gives up and awful safety on a botched punt snap, you play prevent. Of course, when you play prevent, you give up a score, and Eli Manning hitting Kevin Boss to go ahead for good seemed utterly predictable. It would help if Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t spending half the game on his back.

Continue reading

The Red Zone: He’s Having So Much Fun Out There

Jets 56, Cardinals 35 – Loath to imagine the superlatives that sportswriters will ladel on Brett Favre following a 24-34 day passing with six TD passes (three to Laveranues Coles). Most of this was enabled by five turnovers by Kurt Warner, resulting in 34 2nd quarter points for the faux-NY Titans, one fewer than Arizona was able to scrape up in the 2nd half.

Chiefs 33, Broncos 19 – Larry Johnson runs all over the weak Denver D for 198 yards on the day, but this is the day where living dangerously via the play action pass can bite you in the butt: thrwoing picks, losing fumbles to a clearly talent-inferior team, yet one that gets revved up every time you come to town.  Mike Shanahan is now 3-14 when playing in Arrowhead Stadium; it is never a place where Denver can go an win easily, ever. (And if Kansas City were actually coordinated as a team, the score would have been that much more lopsided. There were three drives that KC should have scored touchdowns on; the first quasrter could and should have ended 21-0 or 24-0.)

Saints 31, 49ers 17 – The return of Deuce McAllister only makes Drew Brees more dangerous: Brees threw for 363 yards and three more touchdowns, torching the San Francisco secondary.

Panthers 24, Falcons 9 – Um, yeah. Like I said, Matt Ryan, meet a real defense, again.  Jake Delhomme hit Steve Smith for two TD passes and Muhsin Muhammad for one in the 4th to really ice it.

Jaguars 30, Texans 27 – Jacknsoville digs in when down 24-20, getting a score to go ahead and then kicker Josh Scobee pulls it out again after Houston forces overtime.

Browns 20, Bengals 12 – The less said about this game, the better, probably. It looked like a Cleveland win as soon as everyone shockingly discovered that Carson Palmer wasn’t playing in this cripple fight.

Continue reading

The Red Zone: Eddie Guns Misfires

Broncos 39, Chargers 38 – I’m a Denver homer and even I will admit that referee Ed Hochuli completely blew it. We shouldn’t have had that chance to win that game. That said, it was smart and ballsy to go for two after Jay Cutler threw it to Eddie Royal for the touchdown because it was playing with house money and because San Diego would be reeling from getting fucked over. These teams will be fighting for the AFC West crown, because Philip Rivers and that offense know how to close and come back. They wouldn’t have gotten to the AFC championship game if they didn’t. Cutler is still learning how to finish, and there could be some shaky times. But each offense looked really good for a half.

Patriots 19, Jets 10 – The game ended with the old Brett Favre that we’ve gotten used to: a late pick-off by Brandon MeriweatherMatt Cassel threw for 165 yards, didn’t throw any TD passes, but didn’t muck it up and while he’s not going to be raging up any fantasy rosters, he might stand a chance of getting the Patriots back to the playoffs.

Titans 24, Bengals 7 – How long is Marvin Lewis for this world of NFL coaching? He’s been undermined and this looks to be the worst team he’s ever fielded in his years in Cincinnati.  Kerry Collins, relieving Vince Young, threw for one touchdown and dispensed the ball to LenDale White and Chris Johnson to eat up yardage. Tennessee’s defense got lethal, and now they are in first place in the toughest division in football.

Bills 20, Jaguars 16 – What world is this we live in, with Buffalo starting 2-0?  Trent Edwards is looking like the starting quarterback they’ve been looking for (it helps if you have Marshawn Lynch to hand off to) by throwing a fourth-quarter touchdown against a tema that was in the playoffs last year.

Continue reading

The Red Zone: Week 1 Highlights

Patriots 17, Chiefs 10 – It’s all about Tom Brady probably being out for the season, and the Patriots’ chances riding on that — so much so that it overrode the game itself, where the Chiefs failed at a last second comeback. Now, it’s a question of whether Bill Belichick will stick with Matt Cassel or who he will bring in to take Brady’s place.

Eagles 38, Rams 3 – More notable for Donovan McNabb being good as we’re used to from him, with three TD passes. Here’s how lousy St. Louis is: Philly had three — count ’em — three receivers reach the 100-yard mark for the game.

Cowboys 28, Browns 10 – The Cleveland hangover from the pre-season is still there, and Tony Romo and Marion Barber basically tore it up, so much so that Felix Jones could get into the act late too.

Jets 20, Dolphins 14 – Brett Favre throws two classic Gunslinger TDs (one on fourth down when kicker Mike Nugent twinged his leg) and the New York secondary picks Chad Pennington in the end zone to seal the win.

Bills 34, Seahawks 10 – Two massive special teams plays, a punt return by Roscoe Parrish and a fake punt to a TD pass, help bolster a rout of the NFC West favorite.

Continue reading

Ill-Advised NFL Previews: AFC West

1) San Diego Chargers – Much like the Seahawks in the NFC West, the Bolts are head and shoulders above the rest of the division on both sides of the ball. I don’t need to go over who’s on this team in terms of the big stars; but let’s say it will be interesting to see what a full season with both Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson at the wideout positions in order to pump up Philip Rivers’ stats.  The stiff defense remains pretty much the same, and since Norv Turner got a team to the AFC championship game, I’m not sure I can mock him on that front any more, particularly when there was a good chance of him beating the Pats using a gimpy Rivers along with a combo of Michael Turner and Darren Sproles in the backfield. Obvious division winner.

2) Denver Broncos – I’m not even sure they should go this high. Pre-season games are known to lie and without Brandon Marshall for two or three games due to suspension, the receiving corps is particularly thin. Still waiting for the existence of a regular pass rush to emerge during the season, although it would be nice if the D-line makes it through the season unhurt. O-line is in a rebuilding year. I’ll believe Mike Shanahan’s promise that this team will make the playoffs when they actually do make the playoffs.

3) Oakland Raiders – This team may have too many running backs to go around, and they’re producing in pre-season, but you never know how that translates. If their offensive line keeps blocking, they’ll steal games and play spoiler for several teams, although I don’t believe any team paying Javon Walker that much money to be a #1 receiver will be landing a Wild Card.  Honestly, depending on the first couple of games, they could be a good candidate to finish second if JaMarcus Russell is anything resembling efficient, because Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden should be good enough to get some yardage.

4) Kansas City Chiefrs – Trade away your best pass rusher, get an injury-prone defensive stud in the draft, and still stuck with Brodie Croyle as your quarterback. It’s hard for me to hate the Chiefs like I should as a good Broncos fan, because their fans are stuck with Carl Petersen and Herm Edwards still running the show badly.

The Red Zone, Week 3 Early Games.

Reminder: Please join me over at Awful Announcing later this afternoon for the Dallas-Chicago live-blog. Pre-game thread will go up at 4 PM Pacific.

Pats 38, Bills 7 – If anyone would like to try and stop the Patriot offense at this point, any attempt would be welcomed. Four TD passes by Tom Brady, two of them to Randy Moss, another to Jabar Gaffney, and the other to Benjamin Watson. Buffalo got damaged, losing LB Paul Posluzny to injury and QB J.P. Losman on that note as well.

Colts 30, Texans 24 – At least Houston made it close, even without Andre Johnson available. Peyton threw one TD pass to Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai rushed for the other two.

Packers 31, Chargers 24 – The NORV! Effect continues. Do not doubt it. While Phil Rivers and Brett Favre matched for 3 TDs each passing, a Packer INT late helped, and while Fantasy Jesus got in the end zone on a pass, he was under 100 yards rushing yet again. I predict serious heat for the NORV! this week in the Whale’s Vagina.

Eagles 56, Lions 21 – Donny Mac took out his frustration and rage on the non-existent Lions secondary, throwing three TDs to Kevin Curtis, and one to Brian Westbrook (who got another two sixes running). God forgot to smile on Jon Kitna today.

Jets 31, Dolphins 28 – Chad Pennington gets two TDs with his arm and one on his feet. Leon Washington provides the other good one on a 98-yard kick off return. Ronnie Brown had 3 TDs to keep it close, but not enough, and Miami’s 0-3.

Steelers 37, 49ers 16 – Allen Rossum got the scoring started for the Steelers with a kickoff return to the house. Big Ben adds a TD pass, Najeh Davenport rushes to the end zone, and Pitt added an INT return for a pick six.

Ravens 26, Cardinals 23 – Kitna was forsaken because He smiled on Kurt Warner, whom Ken Whisenhunt inserted for Matt Leinart midway through. Warner brought the Cardinals back to tie the Ravens, but Baltimore kicked a last-second field goal for the win.

Buccaneers 31, Rams 24 – Please raise your hand if you had a) Tampa Bay starting 2-1 and b) you had St. Louis starting 0 -3. Now put it down, you liar.

Chiefs 13, Vikings 10 – This game turned into a slog until Damon Huard threw a 4th-quarter touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe for the winning score. Not pretty for any viewers, but Chiefs fans will take a win any way possible.