Sunday 20 August 2017 / 12:52 AM

Airing It Out: Week 8

Game of the Week:

When DeAngelo Hall ran back a pick-six off Peyton Manning to put the Redskins up 21-7 in the second quarter, it looked like Washington were well on their way to capturing this Game of the Week slot by knocking off Denver and handing the Broncos their 2nd straight loss.

Nope. Thud.

The real Broncos came out to play in the 2nd half; they ended up turning the tables and whipping the Skins 45-21 after putting up 38 unanswered points.

Um, yeah, that’s not the Game of the Week.

So we head to Ford Field in Detroit where the Lions and the Cowboys combined for 41 points in the 4th quarter in an instant classic.

Matthew Stafford threw for an impressive 488 yards with a TD and 2 INTs, but it was his head’s up play with 12 seconds left on the clock that gave his team the victory.

Following a 44-yd Dan Bailey FG that put the Cowboys up 30-24, the Lions were given one last chance to pull off the comeback. They’d have to drive 80 yards in 1:02, with no timeouts.

With a 17 yard pass to Calvin Johnson, a 40 yard strike to Kris Durham, and another 22 yarder to Johnson, the Lions were down to the 1 yard line with the final seconds of the game ticking off the clock.

Stafford rushed his team up to the line to spike the ball and stop the clock. However, he saw that the Cowboys were out of position, simply waiting for the ball to be clocked as well. So, in a move made famous by Dan Marino, Stafford opted for the fake spike and instead dove over the pile for the game-winning touchdown.

It was an incredibly gutsy move, as a failed attempt would most likely have run out the clock. After the game Stafford recalled: “I was yelling that I was going to spike the ball, but their linebackers were just standing there.”

Monday morning message from Monte Kiffin to the Dallas linebackers? Don’t just stand there.

This is the kind of win that can swing the pendulum of momentum for the rest of the season. The Lions (5-3) are still alive in their quest to win the NFC North for the first time since 1993. Wow, 1993. Back then they had another “best in the NFL” player lining up at a skill position: Barry Sanders.

Performance of the Week:

From the Game of the Week comes our Performance of the Week, although Performance of the Year might be a more fitting moniker. In the highly anticipated Calvin Johnson vs. Dez Bryant showdown, Megatron piled up a dazzling 329 yard receiving performance that left him 7 shy of Flipper Anderson’s 1989 NFL record (Anderson’s mark included overtime).

Lions teammate Nate Burleson probably put it best after the game: “He’s a living legend.”

What makes Johnson so difficult to stop is the fact that not only is he open when he’s open; he’s open when he’s not open. How can you cover a guy that routinely goes up and makes a circus catch amid perfect coverage?

Amazingly, Megatron was able to amass this ridiculous tally of yards while only finding the end zone once in his 14 catches. Nevertheless, it isn’t often that a game can be completely taken over by a wide receiver, and it is safe to say that on Sunday Calvin Johnson single handedly broke down the Cowboys’ defensive game plan.

Bryant may have got the last laugh, however, as his sideline temper tantrum will undoubtedly score more YouTube hits than Calvin Johnson’s dominating outing.

Biggest Upset of the Week:

Tough call to make this week as Buffalo, Washington, and Miami all went up big early against New Orleans, Denver, and New England, only to surrender dozens (literally) of points in the 2nd halves of their respective games to each lose by double digits.

Three beautiful upset contenders flew out the window to be lost forever.

Cleveland played a gritty game in Kansas City and was within a FG with 2 minutes to go, before they turned the ball over on downs. But the Browns never led in this contest, and if you don’t win, you don’t get the upset.

As a side note, the once promising Jason Campbell had a strong outing, throwing for 293 yards with 2 TDs and no interceptions, including a gorgeous 47 yard scoring bomb to Josh Gordon on a flea flicker.

One final monster upset was narrowly averted on Monday Night Football as the St. Louis defense completely manhandled Seattle’s O-line, and Zac Stacy ran wild with 134 rushing yards against a Seahawk defense that has been stout against the run.

With Sam Bradford out for the season, Kellen Clemens started at QB and played well considering the situation, but he was never able to get the Rams’ offense into the end zone and St. Louis lost a heartbreaker 14-9 after being stopped on 4th and Goal from the 1 on the last play of the game.

So really, that leaves us with only a couple options here:

We’ve got Oakland over Pittsburgh or the New York Giants over the Eagles.

I really can’t in good conscience award an upset to a squad that was victorious over a team with a losing record.

Even the now (4-4) Cardinals by all rights should have beaten the spiraling (2-5) Falcons.

So that’s that. We’ll roll with no upsets in week 8 and hope for some upset magic next week.

Injuries from the Week:

I’m happy to report that we’ve got a fairly short injury round-up this week:

  • RGIII injured his “other” knee when he was leveled by Broncos lineman Terrance Knighton in the pocket, but he appears to be OK.
  • Michael Vick re-aggravated his hamstring and had to leave the game against the Giants late in the 2nd quarter. It doesn’t look to be overly serious, but if Vick can’t stay healthy we may be seeing the 2nd coming to the end of his career.
  • Dolphin’s receiver Brandon Gibson could be out for the year with a torn patella tendon. He left the game after scoring a touchdown on his only catch of the game.
  • New England’s injury woes continue as right tackle Sebastian Vollmer screamed in agony after his leg was twisted up on a running play. He left the stadium in an air cast, so it may be serious.

What to Look Forward to Next Week:

Week 9 is very similar to week 8 in that we may not have a slate full of big name match-ups, but there are quite a few games where both teams could really use the win:

  • Without question the top week 9 clash is between the Bears and Packers on Monday Night Football. If the Bears can pull out the win they will force a 3-way tie for first place in the NFC North. (Lions are on BYE)
  • The Cowboys need to pull out a win against the hapless Vikings to allow the NFC East to have at least one semi-respectable team. At the end of the 2010 season the Seahawks made waves for being the first team to make the post-season with a losing record (at 7-9 they won what was then called the NFC Worst, but then went on to upset the Saints in the Wild Card Round), and Dallas seems poised to repeat this feat in 2013. NFC Least anyone?
  • Even after all these years it’s a classic. The “old” Browns, AKA the Ravens, visit Cleveland to go up against the “new” Browns. What’s different this year is that the “new” Browns have got a shot. Both teams need the win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Week 8 prediction results: 1-1 last week on my predictions, although I am tempted to give myself zero points since I called for a 38-0 shutout by the Seahawks in St. Louis. Then again, the Browns kept it close in KC, so I guess it all evens out.

My predictions for week 9:

Pick of the week: Oakland 21 – 17 Philadelphia

Oakland gets back to .500 with this win. They’ll still be in last place in the AFC West either way, but a (4-4) record at the midway point of the season would be a huge step in the right direction for the Raider Nation.

Upset of the week: Bills 20 – Chiefs 17

Almost identical to last week’s upset pick, except I slid the Browns out of there and added the Bills. It’s the NFL; Kansas City’s got to lose eventually. Why not make me look like a genius in the process?

Michael’s Scoop

This isn’t much of a scoop, but midway through the season the Atlanta Falcons are done. A team that was up 24-14 on the Niners at halftime of the 2012 NFC Championship are now well on their way to not only miss the 2013 playoffs, but to do it in embarrassing fashion.

To be fair, they are not the first team to add an aging running back in the hopes of getting one more, huge season from a player past his prime. In defense of the Falcons’ front office, they are neither the first, nor the last, to head down this oft-misaligned path. Not that the Falcons’ demise is the fault of Stephen Jackson.

Atlanta’s previously unimaginable (2-5) start is just the beginning. They face a brutal schedule in the second half of the 2013 campaign.

The Falcons go up twice against the rising Panthers and then have match-ups against the Seahawks, Saints, and 49ers as well (three teams with a combined record of 19-4).

Oh, and they also play the Packers and the Redskins. The Redskins are probably the 2nd most disappointing team in 2013 after the Falcons, but they’ve still got playoff caliber talent.

Their schedule rounds off with a chilly December trip to Buffalo, where the up and down Bills ought to be able to take advantage of the sub-zero temperatures against the “Dome” boys from Hot-lanta, and a visit to Tampa against their NFC South rivals. The Bucs may be (0-7), but they are probably the best (0-7) team in the history of the NFL, and one can never predict the outcome of divisional games.

All in all, it’s not completely unfeasible that the Falcons go winless for the rest of the season, and I certainly don’t see them winning more than 2 or 3 of these games.

There are murmurs that Tony Gonzalez ought to be traded for a draft pick to give him a shot with a contender. Didn’t this already happen once? Oh yeah, he was traded away from the now (8-0) Chiefs. Sorry Tony, plenty of Hall-of-Famers never went to the Super Bowl. This isn’t Pee-Wee, not everybody gets a trophy.

 

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Michael Airhart

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