Thursday 24 August 2017 / 04:46 PM

Airing It Out: Week 7

Game Of The Week:

Remember when Geno Smith was the consensus pick to be taken number one overall in the 2013 NFL draft?

His draft stock tumbled to the extent that he didn’t even end up being the first quarterback selected (EJ Manuel, Buffalo, Rd1 Pick#16), and he fell to the Jets who picked him up in the 2nd round.

Few gave him much of a chance to thrive in New York, where Rex Ryan’s Jets seemed to be in complete disarray. From day one he was thrown into a quarterback controversy, only to cement down the starting job after Mark Sanchez was put on the short-term IR with a torn labrum in his shoulder.

Seven games into the season Smith has quietly put up pretty decent numbers for a rookie and shown poise under pressure in late game drives. Averaging 246 passing yards per game, while tossing 8 TDs, and running in 2 more on the ground (with zero butt fumbles), it is safe to say thus far that Sanchez may be heading out of New York when he gets off the IR. Or at the very least he’ll be looking at a pay cut and a clipboard.

Recent rookie phenoms such as RGIII, RW3, Tannehill, and Luck have raised the bar on first year signal caller expectations, but in the grand scheme of things rookie QBs generally need to be groomed and it’s looking more and more like Smith’s draft day plummet may have been unwarranted.

So how does this all lead into our Game of the Week?

Well, the Geno Smith led Jets improved to (4-3) this week after upsetting the visiting Patriots 30-27 in overtime.

The game ended with a bit of a wacky finish as Nick Folk missed a 56-yard game winning field goal attempt in overtime, only to be given a second chance after a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was assessed on Chris Jones of New England. Jones pushed a teammate in the back in an attempt to block the kick. A new rule this season, put in place for reasons of safety, makes this maneuver illegal.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick originally argued that the wrong call had been made, but later recounted and admitted that he had done a poor job of understanding the new rule and had indeed coached his special teams to utilize this strategy.

Even before regulation ended this game was a wild one, with both Tom Brady and Geno Smith each throwing a pick-six.

The Patriots seemed ready to cruise to another victory after leading the Jets 21-10 at halftime. But in the 3rd quarter the Jets roared back and took the lead 24-21 on a stunning 8 yard touchdown run by Geno Smith; where he broke a couple tackles and dodged another.

Late in the 4th, down by 3, the stage seemed to be set for Tom Brady to toss a last second game winning TD two weeks in a row, but New England’s drive stalled and they were forced to send the game into OT on a 44-yard Gostkowski field goal.

The Patriots remain atop the AFC East at (5-2), but the Jets are nipping at their heels at (4-3.) Currently the Jets are tied with San Diego for the 6th and final playoff slot.

 

Performance Of The Week:

 

The Performance of the Week goes to Andrew Luck as he led the Colts to an upset win over the undefeated Broncos to spoil Peyton Manning’s homecoming. “Upset” may not be the right word here as Indianapolis has now beat Denver, Seattle, and San Francisco (once considered the top 3 teams in the NFL), but nonetheless it was a huge win for Luck and the Colts organization.

The media circus surrounding the affair seemed to focus more on Jim Irsay’s Twitter account than the actual game, but Luck was unfazed by the hoopla and calmly threw 3 TD passes on 21/38 with 228 yards and no interceptions. Additionally, he ran into the end zone for a 4th score.

Biggest Upset Of The Week:

 

In week 7, picking the Game of the Week and the Upset of the Week was kind of like trying to identify which of Harrison Ford’s characters was more of a badass, Han Solo or Indiana Jones? It was an either/or scenario between the Broncos vs. Colts match-up or the Jets – Patriots tilt.

I went with the Jets’ win as the game of the week ultimately because of overtime. Sudden death overtime is just awesome. It is unfortunate that every game can’t go into overtime.

Again, the argument can be made that an Indianapolis win at home over anybody is hardly an upset, but with folks kicking around the idea of the Broncos running the table and going (16-0), we’ve still got to give credit where credit is due.

The Colts provided the road map (not that this is any huge secret) to beating the Broncos. #PutPressureOnManning. Don’t click on this; the hash tag doesn’t do anything.

Indianapolis sacked Manning 4 times, forced a fumble that was converted into a safety, and knocked Peyton’s arm during his throwing motion for an intercept.

This second turnover was the one that sealed the Broncos’ fate. After trailing 33-14, Manning led the comeback charge and had his team within 6 points at 36-30 with the ball and a chance to put together one more drive and take the lead.

On the first play of the drive Erik Walden hit Manning’s arm and Pat Angerer’s interception all but wrapped-up the game. Lucas Oil Stadium, which had gone quiet during the Broncos’ comeback, came back to life. With the Colts already in FG range, Adam Vinatieri booted in a 42 yarder to make it a 2-score game.

Denver was able to tack on one more FG and tried for a late onside kick, but when the kick failed, that was the ballgame.

 

Injuries From The Week:

Seriously, this week’s injury report is so long that it really should be a separate article. Quite a few big name players are out for the season following a rough and tumble week in the NFL, so let’s just recap:

  • Sam Bradford (QB, Rams) will undergo season ending surgery on a torn ligament in his left knee
  • Brian Cushing (LB, Texans) is out for the year with a broken leg and torn LCL
  • Reggie Wayne (WR, Colts) tore his ACL and is out for the season
  • Doug Martin (RB, Bucs) while the team has yet to confirm, it appears that Martin will not return in 2013 after tearing his labrum
  • Jermichael Finley (TE, Packers) is out of intensive care following a scary helmet-to-helmet collision
  • Jay Cutler (QB, Bears) has torn his groin and will miss at least 4 weeks
  • Lance Briggs (LB, Bears) suffered a shoulder fracture that will keep him on the sidelines for at least 6 weeks
  • Nick Foles (QB, Eagles) did not return after suffering a concussion against the Cowboys
  • Champ Bailey (CB, Broncos) appears to have re-injured the foot that kept him out of all but one game this season, it is unclear if he will miss any time

 

What To Look Forward To Next Week:

 

 

 

There aren’t a lot of marquee match-ups coming up in week 8, but there are a few noteworthy games:

 

  • If the Jets (4-3) are going to stay in line for a playoff spot, they’ll need to do it against the tough (5-2) Bengals. Cincy got off to a rough start this season, but after three straight wins they are starting to live up to expectations.
  • The Steelers have won two straight and can begin to truly salvage their season with a win this week over the Raiders.
  • Buffalo, hot off a big win at Miami, will try to crawl back to .500 at the Super Dome in New Orleans. The Saints are one of the top teams in the NFL, but the Bills are a team with moxie and I really think that their days may be numbered as the doormat of the AFC East.

 

Week 7 prediction results: Hey, I finally went 2 for 2. Kansas City stayed undefeated and the Jets were able to eek one out against the Patriots.

 

My predictions for week 8:

 

Pick of the week: Seattle 38 – St. Louis 0

 

The Hawks are going to run wild on the Bradford-less Rams. St. Louis’s defense will hold its own, but Seattle will score twice on defense.

 

Upset of the week: Browns 20 – Chiefs 17

 

It’s time to get rid of this last unbeaten team. Alex Smith throws 3 INTs as he reverts to his old self and the Browns squeeze out a nail biter.

 

Michael’s Scoop

 

There are certain franchises that seem to have some sort of natural mojo. Every team has its ups and downs, but some clubs stay up longer and down shorter. The Pittsburgh Steelers is one such franchise.

 

I hate the Steelers. I really, really can’t stand them.

 

Why?

 

Because they’ve been to 8 Super Bowls and won 6 of them. My team has been to 1 and we lost.

 

To who? The Steelers.

 

When Pittsburgh started the season (0-4) I was giddy with excitement. No fan base deserves so many championships. Have fun in the gutter boys!

 

But now, after 2 straight wins, the Yellow and Black appear to have come back to life. With remaining games against the Patriots, Packers, Bengals, and @Baltimore, the Steelers will probably not make it to the post-season, but it appears as though Ben Roethlisberger and a gritty running game will lead Pittsburgh out of the gutter and back into mediocrity.

 

The road back to “ordinary” continues as they travel to Oakland to face another storied franchise that finds itself in a bit of a rut.

 

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Michael Airhart

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