Monday 21 August 2017 / 06:47 AM

Airing it Out: Week 8 – Big Ben's day

The Titans’ rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger took some time out of his busy schedule last week to post a series of “awesome” selfies on his social media platforms:

 

A photo posted by Zach Mettenberger (@zachmett7) on

Perhaps he should have focused more on preparing for JJ Watt and the Texans’ defense and less on looking pretty for the camera.

Houston returned to the win column with a convincing 30-16 victory over the struggling Tennessee Titans, in part due to their ability to force Mettenberger into two turnovers in his first NFL start.

But “selfie celebration” controversy aside, the LSU product actually fared quite well in his inaugural outing under center.

Mettenberger threw for 299 yards and 2 touchdowns with 1 INT. His second turnover coming on the strip sack that led to JJ Watt’s now infamous taunt:

All things considered, Mr. Selfie looks like a promising replacement for former first-round pick Jake Locker, a player the team has all but given up on due to his career-long inability to stay healthy.

Then again, one game in this league doesn’t mean diddly-squat.

Team on the rise

I’d like to use this space to talk about Buffalo. The Bills have won two in a row and are hot on the heels of the Patriots in the AFC East after dropping the Jets by 43-23.

But after watching Pittsburgh demolish the Indianapolis Colts it’s hard to deny that the Steelers are one of the hottest teams in the league right now.

(An honorable mention shout-out goes to the NFC North leading Lions. Detroit has won three straight and mounted a stunning 22-21 comeback win over the Falcons in London after spotting Atlanta a three touchdown lead.)

On Sunday Ben Roethlisberger became the first player in NFL history to throw for 500 yards on more than one occasion and his 6 touchdown passes set a franchise record.

Much of Big Ben’s success through the air comes from the continued development of WR Antonio Brown. Brown, who hauled in 10 catches for 133 yards and two scores, is rapidly elevating his game to solidify himself as an elite receiver. Only three pass catchers have more touchdown receptions on the season and Brown is second in total receiving yards (852) behind T.Y. Hilton.

To keep the train rolling they’ll need to defeat the Baltimore Ravens at home next week on Sunday Night Football.

Team on the Decline

The Chargers were never close this week in Denver as the Broncos easily cemented their AFC West lead with a 35-21 victory over San Diego.

And while it may not be fair to penalize a loss to what is now the most heavily favored team to win the Super Bowl too much, two defeats in a row following a 5-1 start is certainly enough a demise to warrant a little worrying in SoCal.

Philip Rivers and company will need to get back on track next week in Miami, but the game will be far from a gimme. After starting off slow, the Fins have won back-to-back games.

Then again, Miami hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record all season long (officially New England was 0-0 when the Dolphins upset the Pats in the season opener).

Commentary Box Sports Top 10 Power Rankings

Rank 1 – Broncos     —

I certainly wouldn’t bet against them.

Rank 2 – Cardinals     Up 1

There are two teams in the NFL with just one loss. The Cardinals are one of them after dropping the Eagles 24-20.

It will be interesting to see how Arizona fares over the second half of the season now that they are clear-cut favorites to win the NFC West.

Rank 3 – Cowboys     Down 1

With just three teams in the Top 10 winning this past weekend, Dallas is able to stave off a major plummet down the rankings. Sure, they lost in overtime to the lowly Redskins and their third-string quarterback, but as long as DeMarco Murray continues to chase the record books this is a team to be reckoned with.

And let’s not forget that this team was riding a six game win streak heading into week 8.

Rank 4 – Eagles     Up 1

Sure, Philly lost this week, but it was a close game to one of the NFL’s best teams. Indianapolis was blown out by the Steelers.

Rank 5 – Colts     Down 1

Every team is allowed an off week. They should enjoy an easy rebound game on Monday Night Football when they visit the struggling New York Giants.

Rank 6 – Patriots    Up 3

The Pats have won four in a row and just dropped 51 points on the Chicago Bears.

Guess who’s coming to town next week?

Manning vs. Brady in a rematch of the AFC Championship. It will be impossible to hide my football erection for this one.

Rank 7 – Seahawks     Up 3

Seattle’s 13-7 win over the Panthers was less than convincing and they needed a last-minute drive to get it done. But a road win is a road win, especially for a team that had lost two straight.

Dismiss all the locker-room mumbo jumbo and trade rumor garbage floating around the internet these days. There’s no turmoil in Seattle, they’ve just got too many injuries and can’t seem to curtail their penalty problems.

The Seahawks are going through a bumpy patch and not sitting on the edge of a precipice.

Rank 8 – Lions     New to List

Detroit kicked the game-winning field goal this week under wild circumstances.

Matt Prater missed the 43-yard attempt but the Lions were flagged for delay of game, negating the play and giving them a second shot from 5 yards back.

From 48, he nailed it, sliding Matt Stafford and company into first place.

Rank 9 – Chargers     Down 3

The Chargers are falling down the rabbit hole. They’d better grab on to a Dolphin or two next week and pull themselves out before their hot start is fully erased.

Rank 10 – Packers     Down 3

Green Bay’s defense looked helpless out there against the Saints, giving up 44 points and forcing zero punts.

Fell out of the top 10: Ravens

For the record, the Bengals are pounding on the door, trying to get back in to the Top 10. They’ll get a chance to build off this week’s victory against the Jags in week 9.

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