Over the last eight games we've gotten a glimpse of who each team in the NFL is. By no means do we know everything about everyone—in fact I'd say we really only know a fraction of what any of these teams are really about.
We know the good teams for the most part, and the bad teams as well. But there are a bunch of teams sliding along the middle of the scale who change every week.
For an example of that, you just need to look at last night's game. The Bengals were a hot team, Andy Dalton a red hot player who had proved his critics wrong.
Until he proved them right last night.
What do we know about the NFL?
Not as much as we think.
Aside from last night's game, there is a metric ton going on. As that's the case, I'll be breaking down the game at my own site AndrewGarda.com a little later. We'll focus on everything else here.
Where to start?
Let's start with what appears to be a hot-button topic for reasons I can't fathom.
Jonathan Martin is a whiny bitch
I don't think so, but I'm getting a shocking amount of responses like that on Twitter.
It's got to be hard for people to identify with a 304lb player who feels bullied. It doesn't compute.
"He's soft," they say. "He should have handled it like a man," they say. "How can a 304lb man get bullied," they ask.
For those not familiar with the situation, Martin left the Miami Dolphins this week to be with family and "get treatment."
We, as a society, can't quite wrap our heads around bullying. There is still a mindset that people, especially males, especially men (sorry MEN), should be able to just cope. It's teasing! How can that bother you!
People feel that a "real man" in a "man's sport" should have handled it himself or gone to the team (it seems he did) or just ignore it.
You know, because ignoring bullies and assholes always solves it and makes them go away.
I was told by one draft analyst that Martin (or whomever, we don't know the source of the stories) shouldn't have gone public. It should have been done in house and Martin is now going to be perceived as "soft" and it could ruin his career.
Further, someone else said that as he has all the resources the NFL and NFLPA offers to get help for depression or whatever, Martin should have been responsible himself and gotten help.
You know, because it's his fault his intelligence seemed to intimidate his teammates.
I can't wrap my mind around that. It's idiotic.
No less so than the Pro Football Talk commenter who said this:
And how much are you making per game? Probably as much as the average fan makes per year. So tell me how am I supposed to feel sorry for you? Your feelings got hurt and you took your ball home. I am sure Jack Lambert would have something to say about that!
He's right! Man up Martin!
Now, I get that the PFT comments are, as CHTV creator Aaron Nagler calls it 'a dumping ground for stupid.' But even that group of trolls down-voted the above comment. Unfortunately I'm hearing similar things all over the place.
Let me be clear on this. Anyone—ANYONE—can be bullied. Size, age, race, gender—that all means nothing. Everyone can be bullied.
Martin's responsibility, at the end of the day, is to himself. He's apparently getting that help. He allegedly went to the team to let them know what was going on.
But that's as far as his responsibility goes.
This isn't something that just started. This has been allegedly going on for more than a year.
We hear about rookie hazing (a totally different subject for another day). This goes beyond that and went on longer than that.
Making Martin out to be responsible for this is just stupid. I'm seeing a lot of stupidity in the last 24 hours from some people who, I have to be honest, I thought were much better than that.
Hamzah Abdullah goes HAM on the NFL
You can look up what "HAM" means on UrbanDictionary.com.
Rest assured he went HAM and then some.
You can read about it at Deadspin—Abdullah went on a Twitter rant about the NFL, concussions, player health and more. It's been deleted but the Deadspin article has most if not all of it in all the glory it had.
Abdullah made a lot of very salient points. The NFL didn't do enough to educate players about the dangers of the game when, according to some, they knew about them. That the NFL has not—and still doesn't—do near enough to help retired players. The guys who made the NFL the billion dollar industry it is today.
He even said that the NFL should do an exit exam—mental as well as physical—to make sure they leave the game knowing what is facing them as they hit retirement.
Of course all the cursing and yelling and general rage pretty much got the message lost. That happens pretty frequently.
Fair or not, a good message only reaches the most amount of people when its presentation is clean.
Even a well-intentioned, on point rant will get written off as just that: a rant.
Abdullah's message got lost, which is a shame because he had some real good things to say.
The presentation left a lot to be desired though, and made it easier to dismiss.
Which is a tragedy in and of itself.
So I had a decent week last week, going 9-4 and bringing my year total up to 70-50.
This week is off to a crap start because for some reason I trusted the Bengals. In fact, I actually think this is the first Thursday Night game I've botched.
Hopefully I'll get all the rest right.
As with last week, I'll put these in order of my confidence (I was not overly confident about last night).
Or lack thereof.
- Seattle over Tampa Bay: After stumbling last weekend away, the Seahawks come home and are probably ready to slap the pathetic Buccaneers. I am concerned about the lack of offense last week and the defensive lapses, but at home it should be fine.
- Green Bay over Chicago: No shock here as with Jay Cutler/Lance Briggs out the Bears are in trouble. I was really impressed with Jarrett Boykin last weekend and think he could have another good game here. I'm also interested to see how much Jordy Nelson is in the slot this week—and if he and Rodgers can continue to replicate deadly passes like the 76-yard touchdown I broke down earlier this week.
- Indianapolis over Houston: I was impressed with Indy's defense against the Denver Broncos and have no doubt they will hammer the Houston offense with equal efficiency. The loss of Reggie Wayne is big but shouldn't hurt a ton this week.
- Kansas City over Buffalo: I could see this pick going south. After all, the Chiefs have a bye week next then two games against Denver and one against San Diego. So they could be looking ahead. But the Buffalo quarterback situation is a mess so Kansas City should win this.
- New Orleans over New York Jets: As a Jets fan I hope I biff this, but after the defensive meltdown in Cincinnati, I can't see them slowing Drew Brees and company down. Nor can I see the offense keeping up.
- Dallas over Minnesota: Josh Freeman, Christian Ponder, does it matter? It's not even about the quarterback (though Dallas will have a field day) as much as it is the bizarre-at-times playcalling.
- New England over Pittsburgh: If the Steerlers defense comes hard and if the offense can run where Vince Wilfork used to be, the Steelers have a chance. Tom Brady is not good this year, but he's been good enough. I think he gets the job done.
- Carolina over Atlanta: Cam Newton and the Panthers offense is humming right now and the Falcons are misfiring. Defense, offense, nothing looks right. I'll take Carolina, at home with the chance to firm up it's bid for a Wild Card or maybe more.
- San Diego over Washington: Head coach Mike McCoy has the Chargers really moving the ball well on offense and quarterback Philip Rivers looks like his old self. Expect Washington to keep this close but ultimately for the secondary to let them down.
- Oakland over Philadelphia: Yes, Philly is that bad. The defense certainly is. The offense, with Nick Foles, is actually better than it is with Michael Vick right now so this is no lock. But Oakland seems just a bit better at home than the Eagles on the road.
- St. Louis over Tennessee: Again, not confident here because of how inconsistent these two teams are. Especially the play-calling in St. Louis (a Kellen Clemons fade pass to win the game? SERIOUSLY?) . But the Rams defense has looked really good lately and that should be the difference.
- Baltimore over Cleveland: Jason Campbell looked better than we expected him to, and the Browns' defense is solid but ultimately Baltimore just has a lot more weapons. Still, they've been underwhelming this year and it's a division game. Neither team is impressive, so I feel like the Ravens are just a bit less unimpressive than the Browns.
That's it for this week. Make sure you check out andrewgarda.com later for the Thursday Night Football recap and I'll see you all next week.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at FootballGuys.com, the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com and an NFL Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.