I blame the government shutdown. I do that because, like a politician, I choose to not take responsibility.
Ok, fine. That was my fault. I had a job interview (wheeeee) and then a bunch of personal stuff to deal with so, ultimately, I just ran out of time.
But hey, we're back! Let's get to this thing then before my phone rings.
Thursday Night Lights
Oh, Eli, Eli, Eli.
We're going here? We're going to "Matt Schaub" some passes*?
— Katie Nolan (@katienolan) October 11, 2013
Let's put aside Manning for a second though, because while it's easy to pick on the Giants, it's the Chicago Bears who are more of a concern.
This is a game where the Bears offense should have dominated against a banged up Giants defensive line and didn't. It is an offense which completely disappeared after the first half, where it scored 24 of its 27 points and oh by the way an offense which is the first to score less than 30 points against the Giants all season long.
That list includes Philadelphia and Carolina, by the way. Those aren't good offenses, whatever the early narrative has been on the Eagles and Chip Kelly so far.
Where did the offense go in the second half? Were the Giants suddenly good defensively?
Or did the offense just take its foot off the gas?
In the first half, Jay Cutler threw 18 passes, 13 of which were completed for 179 yards. He threw another 18 in the second half, 11 of which were completed though for just 83 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown in the second half either (the offense managed just three points).
Part of it is that, yes the Giants defense suddenly played better. They were desperate and for a while, dug deep to find the heart they'd lacked for the last five weeks. It just was too little too late.
But the Bears' offense was a big part of the second half fade. The timing was a bit off between Cutler and his receivers, Matt Forte had issues (all night in fact) finding room to run against a defensive front which shouldn't have been a problem and in large part it seemed like the playcalling was more about not losing than winning.
They have the weapons to be explosive but are all too often way too conservative.
Add to that the slow bleeding by the defense and this game was a lot closer than it should have been.
Which leaves the NFC North wide open.
By the way, that last interception by Eli Manning?
I know it looked a bit overthrown, but that wasn't his fault. First of all, tight end Brandon Myers had his hands on it—not the fingertips,his hands—and let it squirt through. You can't do that (and maybe we see a reason he's been so invisible this season). It also looked like the timing was—yet again this season—off between the quarterback and his target.
I'm not the only one who saw something that seemed to indicate this wasn't Manning's fault.
That INT wasn't on Eli. The play was "All Go" from a 2x2 formation. Inside WRs supposed to run up seam/numbers, that's where Eli threw it.
— Donte' Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) October 11, 2013
Now, a lot of this is all supposition because none of us were in the huddle but this jives with what my gut said when I saw the throw. It wasn't overthrown so much as thrown to a specific spot at a specific time.
Stallworth and I could both be wrong and, let's be honest, many of Manning's interceptions are on him. It's important to remember though, that a quarterback isn't always the reason a ball gets picked off.
In the end, I'm left thinking this Bears team isn't as good as we thought they could or would be. And the Giants continue to be much, much worse.
So two weeks ago was a brutal stretch for me. Last week was a little better, but I was foiled by—among other things—my New York Jets beating the Atlanta Falcons.
As any fan can tell you, I'll take that and the 8-6 record for picks. Plus anything was better than Week 4 where I went 6-9. All told I'm at 42-35 so far which is not bad but not great either.
We've once again started off well with Chicago beating New York, which I and everyone else in the world called.
Here are the rest of my picks for the week (in order of how confident I feel about them).
Denver over Jacksonville: This really should be a no-brainer and the biggest question in the minds of Broncos fans should be "when do we pull Peyton?"
Seattle over Tennessee: I'd feel less good about this with Jake Locker at the helm (did I just type that?) but I'd still pick Seattle, especially at home.
San Francisco over Arizona: Colin Kaepernick is still looking for some of his 2012 swag but Frank Gore and the defense should get the job done.
Kansas City over Oakland: I really enjoy watching Terrelle Pryor and think the Raiders have found their guy—but this Chiefs team is just too much better from top to bottom.
Cincinnati over Buffalo: Three words: Practice. Squad. Quarterback. Also, potentially not having Stevie Johnson will hurt.
Houston over St. Louis: Not a Prime Time game against a stout opponent? Matt Schaub can do that.
Minnesota over Carolina: Matt Cassel gets one more start before the Age of Freeman is upon Minnesota. The biggest question here is whether Adrian Peterson will play as he is dealing with what appears to be a very serious family issue.
Dallas over Washington: This is almost a coin flip but the Cowboys offense looks very good and there is nobody in Washington's secondary for Romo to throw his signature "Matt Schaub" to.
Indianapolis over San Diego: The Chargers are playing better than we give them credit for offensively, but defensively they're still shaky. You can't be that against the Colts.
Green Bay over Baltimore: This will be a tough game. With no Clay Matthews and some question marks in the secondary, I think Joe Flacco moves the ball well, but the Packers offense is going to overpower the Baltimore defense.
Philadelphia over Tampa Bay: A battle of yuck and somebody has to win. I trust Nick Foles just a bit more than Mike Glennon and Greg Schiano.
Detroit over Cleveland: Calvin Johnson might not play and Cleveland is playing well. Ultimately though they have to rely on Brandon Weeden and that's not going to work out well.
New York Jets over Pittsburgh: There is a chance this game is a letdown, coming on a short week after an emotional Monday Night Football win in Atlanta, but I think the Jets are going to roll the Steelers, especially once you match up the terrible offensive line with the Jets' amazing defensive line.
New Orleans over New England: Never count Brady out, but to me even with Amendola back, this is an offense still struggling to find it's rhythm. The Saints' defense is solid too, so it's not going to be as easy to score points on it like it used to.
And that's it for this week. We'll be back again next week for my thoughts on that week's games as well as news and notes.
*Henceforth a pick-six will be referred to as a Matt Schaub because when you throw as many as Schaub has, you get to name it after yourself.
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