Week 3 has begun with a win by the Kansas City Chiefs over the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football and while the story right now is the return of Andy Reid to Philly and how Kansas City is legitimate (more on that in a moment), maybe it should be the utter collapse of the Eagles.
With that in mind, let’s jump right into our Friday look at Thursday’s game.
Thursday Night Lights
Has a team ever fallen from “grace” as quickly as the Eagles have?
In Week 1 they were an unstoppable offensive juggernaut, running 53 plays in the first half.
Stunned, media members wondered whether anyone could slow down new head coach Chip Kelly’s offense. There were murmurs about sustainability and conditioning but mostly we just gawked at the speed of the offense.
Two weeks later we’re gawking at the speed of the offense for much different reasons.
This week, the Eagles ran 66 offensive snaps. The whole game. The week prior against the San Diego Chargers? 59 offensive snaps.
What’s the difference?
Well largely, they ran into two teams with actual secondaries. If there’s one thing we learned when the Green Bay Packers trounced Washington last, it’s that they don’t have anyone in the secondary who can cover. They sure don’t have anyone who can cover the likes of DeSean Jackson.
The Chargers’ defense isn’t as bad as it’s ranked right now (dead last in the NFL), especially since the offense discovered how to stay on the field for a sustained drive. And we know the Chiefs’ defense is legit.
Both featured front sevens that can get into the backfield as well, especially against an offensive line which continues to be average on a good day.
Expect this to continue against the Denver Bronco next week, even without Von Miller and Champ Bailey.
This could change with a different quarterback or a better offensive line, but right now neither of those things are in the offing.
I still maintain that Kelly’s offense can work in the NFL. It will just take time.
The other issue with the Eagles is the atrocious defense.
You can’t stop Philip Rivers with that shady San Diego offensive line? You’re giving Alex Smith the underneath routes all night?
You’ll get beat every time. The Eagles’ biggest issue has been their defense but it doesn’t get the attention because we’re all still wrapping our head around the slow down on the offense.
But the defense may be the bigger issue.
On a sidenote, Kansas City’s defense is tremendous but I still hesitate to buy into the offense. Alex Smith is a solid quarterback—always said he could be more successful out of San Francisco than it in—but he’s never going to stretch the field.
If a team (say, Denver) gets an early lead and builds, the Chiefs are in trouble.
I can see them making the playoffs but have no doubt they’d see an early exit. They have a very good schedule, with the Broncos, Texans and Colts their biggest speed bumps.
It won’t be that easy in the playoffs.
So I’m not all in on them, at all.
So That Happened
It’s rare to see a trade during the NFL season. It just doesn’t happen.
Even more rare is a trade involving a big name player.
So Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 draft pick was huge.
Looking at the macro view of the trade, it’s a win for both sides.
The Colts get to stop dithering about when it comes to the running back position. Richardson should look great when he has a passing game to pull stacked fronts and in turn, that should help with keeping linebackers from trying to tee off on Andrew Luck due to the offensive line issues.
On the Browns side, while it sucks to lose Richardson, this is a team rebuilding (again). Head coach Rob Chudzinski is’t a big running back guy and it’s clear that he is going to shift things on the offense to be quarterback driven.
This did not come as a shock to at least one former player.
— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) September 18, 2013
So if that’s the case, is it worth keeping Richardson around when you can get Jim Isray to overpay for him?
Now the Browns have two first round picks for next year in what looks to be a pretty quarterback rich draft class. They can move up, they can stand pat (at this point it sure looks like they’ll be a top three pick, right?) or trade out and get more picks to fill the large number of offensive holes they have.
It’s going to be a rough season for Browns fans, but that said, you have to look forward to the idea that you’ll get a clear vision of the future soon.
Meanwhile, enjoy this as it seems relevant again.
And with that out of the way, let’s move on to my picks. So far I’m a “not bad/not great” 20-12, mostly because of a crappy Week 1.
Let’s see if we can improve that. I’m already up one by choosing Kansas City over Philly.
Seattle over Jacksonville: Do you actually need an explanation? OK. Jacksonville is bad. Sorry Jags fans.
Denver over Oakland: Manning has been overcoming offensive line issues his whole career. Losing Ryan Clady sucks but it won’t change much.
New Orleans over Arizona: Arizona has a decent defense and offense but the Saints’ defense is playing well and they have more weapons on both sides of the ball.
Dallas over St. Louis: This season had a lot more promise for the Rams a few weeks ago, but they’re struggling. The defense isn’t playing as well as it should and Dallas has the offense to overpower it.
Minnesota over Cleveland: Minnesota will show Cleveland the advantages of having a stud running back.
Detroit over Washington: Washington has an awful secondary. Detroit has a tremendous passing offense. Do the math.
San Diego over Tennessee: The Chargers offense is starting to roll and the defense played better in Week 2 and Tennessee
Green Bay over Cincinnati: This could go either way but the Packers offense is rolling right now and as good as Cincy’s offense is, Andy Dalton actually holds it back.
Houston over Baltimore: Baltimore is sliding along, not playing horribly but not impressively either. Houston has it on both sides of the ball and will win this one, though it will be closer than it should be.
Chicago over Pittsburgh: Chicago’s pass rush against the remnants of the Steelers offensive line? Yowch.
San Francisco over Indianapolis: Sorry Colts. You get an angry Niner team coming off a national television butt whupping. Enjoy Trent Richardson though!
Tampa Bay over New England: YOUR UPSET SPECIAL SPECIAL #1 Tampa needs a win like nobody’s business and New England is as weak as you’ll see them. This smells of upset.
New York Giants over Carolina: Someone has to lose here. More to the point I’ll take Eli over Cam in a close game every day.
Miami over Atlanta: YOUR UPSET SPECIAL SPECIAL #2: Miami’s defensive front is no joke and the Atlanta Oline has issues. Meanwhile, Ryan Tannehill is playing some of the best ball in the league and nobody knows.
Buffalo over New York Jets: While people are trying to build this into some sort of EJ Manuel/Geno Smith referendum (and should remember the guy the Jets passed on Manuel for was Sheldon Richardson, NOT Geno) the sad truth (for Jets Nation) is that Manuel has far better weapons than Smith has. That’s going to be the difference here.
And with that we’re done for the week – I leave you with the awesome and hilarious Louis CK who I still say has his name backwards.