Thursday 17 August 2017 / 05:40 AM

Airing It Out: Week 4

Game Of The Week:

So hey, it’s a former face painter’s dream. My own weekly NFL column! And if I understand it correctly, it seems like they’re going to pay me for this. Brilliant.

I totally understand that I can’t pick my favorite team’s match as the game of the round every week. Really, I get it. But seriously, the Seahawks’ come from behind win over the Texans in Houston was epic, and there wasn’t another game on the card that came even close.

Denver certainly put up the performance of the week as they thrashed Philadelphia, but overall the game was a laugher. Chip Kelly’s Eagles were dead in the water long before Manning led the Broncos to their first 50 point game in the history of the franchise.

Back to Seattle and Houston.

The Texans completely owned the first half as JJ Watt and his defense totally dismantled the Hawks offense. Russell Wilson couldn’t get any sort of passing game going, and apart from Marshawn Lynch entering ‘Beast Mode’ for a smashing tackle-busting 43-yard gain, the Seahawks’ offense was abysmal.

On the other side of the ball Matt Schaub picked apart the Seahawks’ secondary and threw for two first half TDs. Schaub made the Legion of Boom look more like the Legion of Whom? And by the end of the fourth quarter he’d thrown for 355 yards, snapping an 11 game streak for the Seahawks in not allowing a 300-yard passer.

Down 20-3 at halftime, the Seahawks seemed to be looking down the barrel towards their first loss of the season.

The league’s number one defense heading into the game came out with a new attitude in the second half and held the Texans scoreless for the rest of the game, but the Seahawks offense simply couldn’t get moving against the Texans’ relentless pass rush and they found themselves down 20-6 with just eight minutes left in the game.

Russell Wilson finally put together a long touchdown drive, held together mostly with long scrambles on broken plays, which brought the Seahawks to within one score at 20-14.

The Seahawks defense had one last chance to get the ball back for their offense, but instead Richard Sherman took the game into his own hands, taking back an unwisely thrown Matt Schaub pass, 58 yards for a pick-six to tie the game.

The Seahawks went on to win the game on a 45-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka in overtime to go to 4-0 for the first time in Seahawks history.

 

Performance Of The Week:

The performance of the round goes to Drew Brees. The Saints are quietly sneaking back into the picture as one of the league’s top teams, and Drew’s hot hand is certainly a big reason why.

Against a previously undefeated Dolphin’s team, Brees threw for 413 yards on 30-39 passing, with 4 touchdowns to keep New Orleans unbeaten.

It wasn’t just his stat line that impressed. Brees was sharp out there, throwing crisp, accurate passes, and made his yards statistic look easy.

I think there’s little doubt now that the Saints will snatch back the NFC South title from the Atlanta Falcons.

Biggest Upset Of The Week:

The Cleveland Browns have had two winning seasons in the last 15 years. They’ve pretty much been consistently awful ever since Bernie Kosar retired. Yeah, that Bernie Kosar.

By the way, Bernie isn’t doing so hot these days either. He was arrested on Sunday for drunk driving. He reportedly told the officer on the scene that he only “appeared” drunk due to all the concussions he’d received during his playing career. Sure, take it easy boozy.

Then again, if I’d been a Browns fan for the past decade, I’d probably be hitting the sauce every Sunday as well.

Anyhow, I’m not trying to imply that every win for the Browns is an upset, but knocking off the division rival Bengals who were ranked #5 in the preseason power polls most certainly is, especially with Brian Hoyer starting only his second game at QB after taking over for Brandon Weeden. Hoyer’s performance was solid, throwing for 269 yards and 2 TDs on the day.

Perhaps after all these years the Browns are finally off the snide? For the time being, let’s not count on it. When the Browns beat a playoff team, it’s an upset. End of story.

 

Injuries From The Week:

Multiple reports state that Vince Wilfork, the stalwart defensive tackle for the Patriots, has torn his ACL and will miss the rest of the season. This is a huge blow for New England as the veteran run stopper is the anchor for their entire defensive line.

Jake Locker of the Titans suffered a hip injury after taking a pair of hits against the Jets. It’s too early to judge the severity of the injury, but he could be out 4-8 weeks. This in an untimely exit for Locker, as he is having the best season of his career to this point.

The Seahawks narrowly escaped a huge scare as sack leader Michael Bennett was carted off the field on a stretcher with a lower back injury. Tests came back negative and Coach Pete Carroll told reporters that he will be fine, but might miss next week’s game at Indy due to the muscle pain in his back.

What To Look Forward To Next Week:

Some of the games to look forward to next week:

The Bills visit the Browns in a match-up of two teams that nobody expected to be (2-2).

The Bengals need a win big time to avoid falling to (2-3) on the year. Cincinnati came into the season with high expectations, but they’ll be facing an uphill battle as Tom Brady is starting to develop chemistry with his young receivers and the Patriots will want to remain unbeaten.

The Lions, tied for first place with the Bears in the NFC North, travel to Lambeau Field to take on Aaron Rogers and the Packers. Green Bay is off to a rough start at (1-2), but coming off the BYE week they will be well rested and this historic divisional rivalry is sure to be a battle.

At home against the Eagles, the Giants will attempt to avoid going to (0-5). Giants safety Antrel Rolle predicts that his side will go (12-0) for the rest of the season. Chip Kelly needs to win before Philly boos him back to Oregon.

My predictions for round 5:

Pick of the week: Lions 28 – Packers 24

With the addition of Reggie Bush, this could be the season that Stafford and Megatron finally topple the Packers in the NFC North.

Upset of the week: Jaguars 14 – Rams 13

Yes, this is a flyer. I don’t think the Jags will actually win their first game on the road, but the Rams have disappointed thus far this season, and perhaps the return of Blackmon from suspension will open up single coverage for Cecil Shorts.


Michael’s Scoop

One team to watch out for is the San Diego Chargers. Philip Rivers has been on a tear, and if he keeps it up we might just see the Chargers sneak into the playoffs this year as a Wild Card team. They beat a solid Cowboys team 30-21 in round 4 and Ryan Matthews seems to be finally living up to his promise as well. Their win-loss record of (2-2) is not overly impressive, but they are playing a lot better than had been expected.

The only problem is that the Chargers play in the same division as the undefeated Chiefs and Broncos, and they’ve got to play each of them twice.

But stranger things have happened.

The funny thing is, back when the Chargers were stacked and favorites to win the AFC and head to the Super Bowl they ended up underachieving year after year. Perhaps they perform better playing the role of the underdog? The Chargers (1992) are in fact the only team in NFL history to ever start out a season (0-4) and make it to the playoffs (11-5).

Maybe the Chargers exist in some sort of bizarro universe?

Check back next week for chitchat on week 5.

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Michael Airhart

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