The Superstorm has passed and now it’s cleanup time. One of the immediate blessings of the rampaging weather event was it knocked the presidential campaign from the top of the news.
Recovering from the storm will just take time, and some things will never be the same again. Recovering our politics will take revelation, and just about everything must change.
When words lose their meaning, we lose our way. When the law says this, but we’re told it actually means that, no wonder we can’t agree. It’s become impossible to know even how to figure things out, much less how we should fix them.
But enough about the Saints, Bounty-gate and Jonathan Vilma’s lawsuit, it’s time to get to the rest of the games in Week 9 of the NFL.
Cardinals at Packers - Here we have two teams on opposing ugly streaks, likely due to the same cause. The Packers are suffering from the injury bug across the squad and the Cardinals have lost their (largely minimal) offense for the same reason.
The difference is in the results. During last week’s poor performances, the Packers won and the Cardinals didn’t. Aaron Rodgers still has many more targets to choose from and he remains mobile and accurate.
For comparison, John Skelton threw it 52 times (out of 60 offensive plays) to nine different receivers against the Niners last week and did not make 300 yards. How is that possible in this era of the airball and open lanes down field?
The Cards could still make a game of it given their defensive ability, but it’s tough to take a chance on such a thing when Green Bay is the one at home.
Lions at Jaguars - Detroit may put up lots of yardage but they struggle to score and for an offense that relies…no, make that absolutely depends on so much passing, they suffer from a plague of dropped balls.
Jacksonville remains one of the lowest rated teams in the league, but they played pretty well on the road against the Packers last week, especially on defense, before coming up short due to a special teams failure.
Both teams are more apt to find a way to lose than win, so that leaves the question of which one finds that quirk most often this week? I say Detroit. Despite it all, I like Jacksonville’s defense better.
Panthers at Redskins - While the Shanahans are still on course for a well-below-par season (looks like another 6-10 finish to me) everybody’s taking away a completely different vibe from a losing team because of the outstanding play of RGIII.
But remember how it goes when you can’t blind people with your brilliance?
Carolina’s got an altogether different set of problems: the owner doesn’t want his coach (never did), the quarterback doesn’t want to play unless he’s winning, some really good running backs have disappeared, and what should have been a decent defense keyed by a strong pass rush has been worn down by the frustration of it all.
The Panthers have been in every game - well, except for when they hosted the Giants and got whipped by about 30 - so frustration is a completely understandable reaction to being 1-6. But that’s what losing teams do.
Since they are at home and Carolina hasn’t won on the road yet, I’ll take the Redskins. Both offenses have explosive potential and this just might be the week Cam Newton finds where he left his flint and short fuses. Odds are tilting a mite too high on that possibility, though.
Buccaneers at Raiders - Tampa Bay has finally got some offense going on, scoring over 30 in each of their last three games, and now that their defense, which is mediocre except against the run, has the pressure off, they can take some risks. That’s what they’re best at.
Oakland is still the caliber of team that will struggle to beat the bad teams and get embarrassed by the good ones. After the Bucs’ dominating performance at Minnesota last Thursday, it doesn’t look like Tampa Bay falls under that category any longer.
Young teams with a new coach often take half a season to get their personality straight. For what it’s worth, winning on the road last week against a good Vikings team is more than enough evidence to believe they can beat a weak one in similar circumstances.
Vikings at Seahawks - Seattle has two different teams. Their best one plays at home where they enjoy the advantage of the number one 12th man in the league.
Minnesota’s offense is best depending on Adrian Peterson’s capable legs because Christian Ponder is gradually becoming unreliable late in games.
If Percy Harvin makes a couple of big special teams plays, then I have to expect Minnesota to have the advantage but I’m not picking winners on the basis of many happy returns.
Steelers at Giants - What’s not to like? It’s not just Game of the Day, but also Game of the Week. If it was still October it would be the Game of the Month. (There’s only so many predictions I’ll make.) For your viewing pleasure we have two good, solid quarterbacks going against quality defenses.
Neither team is perfect, but then undefeated teams aren’t either. If Dwyer is able to run enough to control the clock and keep Manning from making some late throw that will matter, then I give the edge to Pittsburgh.
New York will no doubt be keying on that big guy, so it’s up to the other big one to make all the plays, which he usually does anyway. I’ll take Big Ben in a squeaker, but only if the Steelers promise not to drop the ball any more.
Cowboys at Falcons - This has all the makings of a football version of pinball, with both offenses going back and forth all Sunday night.
Not that anyone wishes them any ill or anything like that. We just expect Dallas to make the mistake on which the outcome will turn, and that usually goes in the other team’s favor. Admit it. You really do, don’t you?
If Tony Romo is ever going to reach his potential (and the clock’s ticking), then GM Jerry has got to find the man a decent running game.
Eagles at Saints - Somehow this game is being touted as some sort of desperation situation, but actually the onus is only on one team. New Orleans can afford to lose because just about everybody is coming back.
Relax because Sean Payton will return. What he finds then is an open question. Obviously the defense has tanked, but that’s a consequence of changing schemes which may not have been a wise move because you’ve got to have the personnel to match.
In the here and now, what weight can you give to the complete panic evident with Philadelphia? Does that mean they play great because their professional lives are on the line, or do they tighten up even more and throw any chance they have out with the joy they lost a long time ago?
These are the sort of questions Lucy Van Pelt once charged a nickel for, and that’s just a bit more than they’re worth. The Eagles need more of the real McCoy and less of Vick. Mostly they need more from an offensive line that has been the source of nearly all their troubles all season long.
My son has a phrase that perfectly describes Philadelphia’s season: Epic Fail. The same holds true for them this Monday night.