Resident NFL expert Eoin Purcell is here with this week’s edition of ‘The Good, The Bad and The Crazy’ from NFL week eleven.
- Jonas Gray
It is probably fair to say that the Indianapolis Colts didn’t spend much time discussing Jonas Gray when they set out their game plan for the New England Patriots match. Gray is a former Miami Dolphin and Baltimore Raven who never made it passed the practice squad.
On Sunday night, in his fourth game for the New England Patriots, Gray produced 201 yards on 38 carries and a franchise record four TD’s. The term breakout night is banded about all too frequently, but for an undrafted free agent to have a night like this truly is breakout.
Gray is yet another example of Coach Belichcick and QB Tom Brady producing results regardless of who is playing. The Patriots have dominated the AFC for years with a string of so called cast off’s and lowly rated players, and Jonas Gray is yet another product of the Patriot system.
Gray’s incredible performance helped lift the Patriots to a 42-20 victory over one of their AFC rivals in Indianapolis’ home stadium.
- Leveon Bell
In a week that was full of dominant rushing performances, Pittsburgh RB Leveon Bell lead the way for his Steelers victory over the lowly Titans in Tennessee. This was far from the routine victory many people expected and it took 204 rushing yards on 33 carries and a 4th quarter TD from Bell to kill off the Titans.
Bell adds another dimension to the Steelers’ offence, which has shown itself to be explosive at times in the passing game with QB Ben Roethlisberger finding WR Antonio Brown with regularity. The Steelers know that they always have the option of pounding the ball with Bell coming out successful, as they did on Monday night.
- Mike Evans
Rookie Wide Receivers are taking over the NFL this year. The draft of 2014 looks like being remembered for players such as Kelvin Benjamin, Sammy Watkins, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and of course Mike Evans. Evans is huge for the WR position and in recent weeks he has started to show how he can beat opponents physically.
Lost in Tampa Bay’s poor play all season is the excellent play of Evans, and this past Sunday Evans helped his Buccaneers to a welcome victory over the equally awful Washington Redskins.
Evans had 209 yards and two TD’s in the 27-7 win on the road at Washington. This was just another in a string of strong performances by the ever confident receiver.
- Green Bay Packers
Although Arizona hold the top record in the NFC, Green Bay are the hottest team in the Conference. Green Bay are not only winning matches, but they are destroying all opposition who come in their path.
Following their 53-20 victory over the (now) 7-3 Philadelphia Eagles, players from the Eagles sideline have said that Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was laughing at the Eagles throughout the match. This match was supposed to involve two of the top teams in the NFC, and the Packers were actually laughing their opponents off the field.
This is the Packers’ second consecutive win where they scored 50+ points. The Packers scored through the air, on the ground, through their defence and through Special Teams. Only the New England Patriots look as dangerous as the Green Bay Packers at this moment in time.
- Denver Broncos
Yes, there are far worse teams in the league than the Denver Broncos that could be placed here. The Broncos currently sit top of the AFC West with a 7-3 record. The problem is that the Broncos have lost two of their last three matches, including an ugly 22-7 loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
Entering Sunday’s contest the Broncos had the best run defence in the league in terms of yardage allowed. Rookie RB Tre Mason proceeded to burn them for 113 yards. The real worry for Denver fans is the form of Peyton Manning.
Manning had a highly respectable 389 yards passing the ball. No sign for alarm there. The alarming issue is the nature of Manning’s passes. Manning’s arm strength has not been top class since his neck surgeries, but his passes are so accurate that it doesn’t really matter.
In the past three weeks Manning’s accuracy has been slightly off, resulting in two interceptions in three consecutive contests. The offensive line in front of Manning has looked more and more shaky as the season progresses, and maybe the added pressure is causing Manning to misfire. Whatever the reason is, the Broncos need to stop the rot quickly to save their season.
- Eli Manning
The good news for Peyton is that even his poor performance was not the worst QB performance in his family this weekend. Archie could probably have suited up and not been the worst Manning in Week Eleven as poor as Eli played.
Eli lead his New York Giants to a defeat where few would have said it was possible. The Giants lost 16-10, at home, to the San Francisco 49ers and the visiting team did nothing in this match. Manning had so many chances to deliver the killer blow in this game and each time he failed.
Manning finished the evening with five interceptions, and still his Giants only lost by six points. The fact that the 49ers dominated time of possession and forced five turnovers, and still only came away with 16 points tells you how poor they played. This truly was a match where the less terrible team came away with the win.
- Oakland Raiders
Don’t look now 2008 Detroit Lions but the 2014 Oakland Raiders may overtake you as the worst team in NFL history. The Raiders are currently 0-10 following a 13-6 loss to the San Diego Chargers. The Raiders have not won a game in over a calendar year since they beat the Houston Texans in 2013.
Good news for Raider fans is that they are in poll position to pick first in the 2015 draft. The bad news is that this is still only one player. The Raiders are still a lot of work away from becoming relevant in the NFL again.
- Saints fan steals ball from Bengals fan
For one New Orleans Saints fan watching his team slump to defeat again, at home, it was the final straw. Such was his unhappiness that he decided to impart some misery on an innocent travelling Cincinnati Bengals fan.
Following a TD catch, Bengals TE Jermain Gresham spotted an excited Bengals fan in the front row of the crowd. Gresham made his way over to the lady and tossed the TD ball in her direction as a memento of the occasion. The bitter, but quick thinking, Saints fan decided to foil this, showing Corner Back skills that Deion ‘Primetime’ Sanders would be proud of.
The Saints fan jumped in front of the lady, intercepting the toss and refused to return the ball to her no matter how much she begged and pleaded.
Game of the Week
For football purists, Seattles trip to Kansas City promised to be a mouth-watering clash. These are two old-school football teams who rely heavily on the run game and their defences to win ball games. Both teams are extremely effective at this style of football too. Both teams entered the contest with a 6-3 record, needing a win to stay in touch with their division leaders.
They both delivered big on the promise of run heavy football. Kansas City Chiefs stud RB Jamaal Charles ran all over the field, finishing the contest with 159 yards rushing and two TD’s. Back up RB Knile Davis added another score.
In the battle of the workhorse backs, Seattles Marshawn Lynch tried to keep pace with Charles and finished with 124 yards rushing but didn’t find the end zone. Seahawk QB Russell Wilson added 71 rushing yards of his own on both designed runs and improvised runs.
Leading by four points late in the fourth quarter it was the Kansas City’s defence which made the biggest plays, stuffing Marshawn Lynch three times to secure a 24-20 win, their 5th win in a row. Denver’s surprise loss at the hands of Rams means that the Chiefs now share top spot in the AFC West.
The loss for Seattle puts them to 6-4, chasing the 9-1 Cardinals in their division. The Seahawks’ best hopes of making the playoffs now is through securing a wildcard berth.
In a league which is now dominated by pass happy game plans, it is refreshing to see successful teams utilising the run game and strong defence so well. As long as Charles and Lynch stay healthy, both of these teams are still in the hunt for the playoffs.
Top 5/Bottom 5
- Arizona Cardinals (9-1) – It wasn’t pretty, but a win over one of your main rivals is welcome, however it comes. That’s what Arizona did to Detroit on Sunday.
- New England Patriots (8-2) – Two weeks on from beating Denver, the Patriots dismantled another ‘top’ AFC team, further cementing their spot as the AFC’s top dog.
- Green Bay Packers (7-3) The Packers put up 50+ points for the second straight week. There is no scarier team in the NFC right now.
- Detroit Lions (7-3) The Lions remain top of the NFC North due to a tie breaker, but they are wobbling recently. Can they hold on and make the playoffs?
- Kansas City (7-3) – Although the Chiefs trail the Broncos in the AFC West they have won five straight and are playing a style of football that is difficult to beat.
- Tennessee Titans (2-8) – The Titans pushed the Steelers to the limit, only to be outdone at the end, but it’s another confident performance from the Titans.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) – Ok so it was only a win against the Redskins, but Mike Evans was unplayable throughout. New game plan, just throw the ball in his direction.
- New York Jets (2-8) – The Bye week moved the Jets down one spot in the rankings thanks to Tampa’s win.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) – Jags fans should have enjoyed the bye week knowing it was impossible for their team to lose.
- Oakland Raiders (0-10) – A full calendar year without a win, it is going to be a long winter in Oakland.
Eoin Purcell, Pundit Arena
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