Paymon called it last week with his code orange games. Things definitely went awry, especially for one division. We saw some mighty teams fall in what should have been easy matchups. And with that, we start the mid-section of the season.
#1. Take That Vegas
At one point last week, the Redskins were 14.5 point favorites over the Rams. Let's not forget, this is the NFL, which means "No Funds League" if you use Vegas odds when betting on games. Coming off big wins against the Cowboys and Eagles on the road, the Redskins lay an egg at home against the hapless Rams. Being a long time fan of the Skins, I can tell you that this is normal. I told people in my office last week that this is a game the Skins always lose and had several of them remind me on Monday about that revelation. A few things I take away from this game. Josh Brown is one of the best free agent acquisitions the Rams have had for a while. The Redskins came down to earth as soon as they had a few turnovers. Vinny Cerrato should publicly apologize for forcing the team to keep Durant Brooks as their punter, since he wasted a draft pick on Brooks. Offensive linemen should bat down passes instead of thinking they are Jerry Rice. And, Richie Incognito should be a professional wrestler and not in the NFL.
#2. Gun-Slinging (Sorta) in the Wild West
How important is special teams play to a football team? Just ask the Cardinals who pulled a minor shocker at home against the Dallas Cowboys. There is no need to look further than the Cardinals' opening play and their closing play of the game. J.J. Arrington started things off with the proverbial punch in the nose, with a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Later, Sean Morey and Monty Beisel combined to block a punt and claim the ball in the end zone for a TD in overtime to seal the victory. These two plays served as the end-caps for a game overstocked with turnovers and ugly play. Another observation I had refers to what T.O. cried about in a previous press conference. He wanted the damn ball. But, in three of the last four games, he has 8 catches for 120 yards and 1 TD. Marion Barber had 11 for 128 and a TD in this game alone. Note to T.O.: Get open, and you'll get the damn ball...and cozy up to Brad Johnson too.
#3. Is LT Finally Going to Shut Up???
I could see it before the game even started. A pouty LaDainian Tomlinson boo-hooing over a loss to the Patriots, claiming, "They cheated!!! Belichick is a bad bad person!!!" (Queue crying baby sound effect). It was nice seeing them pound the Brady-less Patriots like a team that's missing their All-Pro QB. Ok, that sounded redundant, but I'm sure you all know what I mean. Phillip Rivers got his groove on throwing to his over-sized receivers. The smaller Patriot DBs showed their weakness. Matt Cassel showed us why he's never been a starting QB. I think this is just further proof that since Tom Brady went down, the AFC is anybody's game.
#4. The New York Football...Midgets???
Not quite, but what are we to think? Did the Browns come to life, or did the Giants finally come back to earth? Derek Anderson spent the last few weeks barely holding Brady Quinn off from the starting QB job. Last night, Anderson restated his case as the outright starter in Cleveland. Eli Manning threw three picks (one of them a Pick-Six) to a set of Browns DBs that the average fan couldn't name a single member. Amazingly, sans the "Soulja", the Browns looked a lot like the team that went 10-6 last season. Braylon Edwards shook off some of that dust to give Anderson a hand, and once again looked like he's the next big thing at WR. Furthermore, the Giants lost their first road game since week 1 last season. If I was to point out a trend for this week, it's that three quarters of the NFC East needs to pick themselves up after some shocking losses and once again prove that they are the best division in the league.