I’m the last person that has to tell you that New York has had it rough this week. Long Island is essentially an overgrown sand barge and got lit up in the southern coastal areas. Compared to the city, the power and water infrastructure is second class, and damage takes much longer to repair versus a metropolitan area. The social place hospitals have in society oscillate between maturity and immaturity in these situations. The hospital scene is part Disney movie, part college campus, part corporate office, and part locker room. Everyone else gets to turn inward to the basic things they need when things like this happen. We have to turn outward, put in more hours, in many cases precluding us from having any idea of what’s going on because we don’t watch the news. In many respects, I had only found out how bad things were this morning when I could finally turn on the news to watch it. Odd how you can be in the middle of it and outside the loop at the same time.
Stars and Gripes
In somewhat a return to the insanity of normalcy in medicine, I came across an attending of mine that also happens to be a huge Giants fan. Naturally, in a passive “how ’bout that game?” one has with these people in our lives, he mentions that an acquaintance of his actually had a heart attack and died while watching the Dez Bryant catch at the end of last week’s game. If four days of hurricane injuries weren’t enough to put things in perspective for me, that did, and perhaps the Cowboys can take from last week that they literally have the competition at their fingertips, only some more solid execution away from being a threat in the NFC. Rob Ryan fizzles Roddy and Julio with a game plan, and the Cowboys get healthy with big plays and jump right back in it. Cowboys 31, Falcons 24.
The New NFC West
With Arrowhead Stadium becoming host to little more than organized sub-riots on Scott Pioli, Oakland humming and hawing literally to the point where how bad they’ve been is simply accepted, and Norv Turner doing everything in his power to get fired, the Broncos have made themselves a nice cushion in being an above-average AFC team, which this year is going to get you 4-5 plays from a Super Bowl if things go your way. Behind the at-times ingenious play of Peyton Manning given his limitations is a coach who knows far FAR too much about having a QB with limitations in John Fox. Fox has set things up wonderfully for Peyton to grow, setting a foundation on defense in Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil, Champ Bailey, Wesley Woodyard, and Andre Goodman with cute role-players like Tracy Porter, and staying fantastically healthy on offense. Demaryius Thomas remains the key in the second half. If the Broncos have a receiver that can physically impose his will, it’s going to be easier than ever for Peyton to spread the ball around. After what I saw from the Bengals in a game they had to have against Pittsburgh, I can’t see them bouncing back and taking this one. Broncos 31, Bengals 21.
The New Steelers
Perhaps the Steelers themselves have been the hardest team to figure out this season. Bad losses against the Raiders and Titans are in a blender with what would be season-defining thrashings of the Bengals and Redskins. I think Pittsburgh is going to realize this season that relying on Ben Roethlisberger to dance around until someone gets open is only going to get them so far. This team needs linemen, and needs them now. You can have all the skill players in the world (and they almost do), but if you can’t dictate the line of scrimmage against the better teams in the league, you’re not going anywhere. The Giants have the answer on defense for a QB who thinks he can move around and not get licked. He wears #90, and he’s pretty f$#%ing good. Giants 30, Steelers 17.
The Ravens have had a few holes punched in their armor since their fiery start, and barely getting by the Browns at home on national television didn’t help the cause, but it’s really the same flaws they’ve had for three years now. Flacco has no touch in the intermediate passing game, the defense isn’t getting any younger, and Ray Rice can only touch the ball so many times. That being said, the Browns are very arguably a much better team coming into this game than the one that nearly got them the first time. I think Weeden takes a step back in this one. The Ravens have a job to do this year, and games like this aren’t going to get in their way. Ravens 19, Browns 13.
No team has left bigger skidmarks on their September start than Arizona, who have had the quietest 4-0 to 4-4 movement in the history of the NFL, quite literally as if the world watched and said “Yeah, that’s about right.”. What hasn’t been right is their run game, virtually nonexistent, and has rendered them incapable of controlling a game. Bad idea against the hottest offense in the NFL. Packers 41, Cardinals 13.
Tied with them in the standings, the 4-4 Seattle Seahawks are at a similar if not as cathartic crossroads. If their defense is for real, the front seven shuts down AP at home, and the back end turns over Ponder, who has no receivers that can overpower Seattle’s coverage. I need to see more of Seattle exerting the physical advantage they have over most teams before I can take them seriously again. Seahawks 21, Vikings 17.
Behind them in the standings the Detroit Lions get a chance to build momentum against a positively awful Jacksonville team that has benched its top draft pick, played hardball with its best player and lost hard and is set to undermine its quarterback sooner rather than let him grow. Good week to get a first-half lead and hold onto it, eh Matty? Lions 30, Jaguars 10.
So what’s the highlight of the week?
You got it. The current 5 and 6 seeds in the AFC squaring off. If Ryan Tannehill and Andrew Luck indeed square off, it will be the first time in NFL history that two rookie quarterbacks meet this late in the year with winning records. Tannehill has been a model athlete, using the tutelage of Joe Philbin to maximize what little talent the Dolphins have on the outside while using his own body to make up for the rest. Indianapolis has the future of the league in their hands, and have already built around him with versatile tight ends, ol’ reliable in Reggie Wayne, and some underrated running backs in Vick Ballard and Donald Brown. Miami does sport the better defense, but there’s just something about this game that screams “I’m Andrew Luck. I’m the future. You’re dealing with this today.”. Indy is suddenly 5-3 and can no longer be ignored Colts 23, Dolphins 17.
Chicago, Houston, Oakland, Washington
Steve thinks the Carolina-Washington game has “something about it”.
Very well. I’m taking Tampa-Oakland. Screams futility.