Well fans, it’s that painful time of the season. It happens every year, so we need to prepare for it, fight through it, and remember that it’s only one week.
That’s right, it’s the bye week of the Oakland Raiders. The team as a whole has given asinine analysis a constant stream of football fodder so far, so it’s only fitting that the team would honor its bi-annual tradition and fire their coach, Dennis Allen. Who else are you going to blame when a team blows its cap space on Pro Bowl players from 2009? The general manager? Nah.
But let’s not dwell on the Raiders, as there is plenty of real football to be played in Week 5!
Thursday, October 2nd
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers
It seems that the Minnesota Vikings have finally figured out how to replace Adrian Peterson: use two running backs like Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon. With their powers combined, they may just have the talent of Purple Jesus. Maybe they should get rings, like in the cartoon “Captain Planet.”
Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers gave a reporter some sass last week when one of the big questions coming into the game was about how dating Olivia Munn may be affecting his game. I’d just like to tell you all, it wasn’t me. I would have given Rodgers a high-five and moved on to some game analysis.
Sunday, October 5th
Chicago Bears @ Carolina Panthers
It took a few weeks, but Smokin Jay Cutler, who “doesn’t smoke, bro,” finally reared his ugly head by throwing two interceptions to seal the loss for the Chicago Bears. That was against the Packers, a defense that doesn’t usually put fear into the hearts of quarterbacks. The Carolina Panthers defense? Now that’s a defense I would give the ball up to before getting crushed by a blitzing defensive lineman.
But the Carolina Panthers have their own problems. Cam Newton, known as a running quarterback, can’t run. That means he has to throw the ball, and the only player who seems to be able to catch it — rookie Kelvin Benjamin — is usually triple-covered because defenses don’t have anything else to worry about besides Cam Newton not running the option.
Cleveland Browns @ Tennessee Titans
It seems that the Cleveland Browns are finally able to utilize Johnny Manziel’s talents: try to confuse everyone and hope something good comes from it. Who but Johnny Manziel would you believe has the brass to argue with his head coach about being taken out of the game? Carson Palmer wouldn’t even go that far.
Now the Browns face the Tennessee Titans, who could probably use Johnny Manziel after the Charlie Whitehurst Show. Pre-game trade? Johnny Manziel for Bishop Sankey? I wouldn’t dismiss the idea entirely, even if it is only a trade best left to fantasy football leagues.
St. Louis Rams @ Philadelphia Eagles
The roster of the St. Louis Rams is looking less like an organized football team and more like a gym class pick-em team whose team captain forgot to wear his glasses. The starting quarterback seems to shift week after week, and the receiving corps usually gathers the same number of yards together in a games as Calvin Johnson does himself. Even starting running back, the job that was Zac Stacy’s last season, is up for grabs on paper. They have four of those. That’s almost half a team. Maybe the Rams should run them all out there and really try to give “ground-and-pound” a new meaning.
That may be all the Rams need to take on the Philadelphia Eagles, who finally showed us that their run defense isn’t all that good. Neither is their own running game. Considering how all their points came from defensive plays and special teams last week, maybe the Eagles as a whole just aren’t as good as everyone thought.
Atlanta Falcons @ New York Giants
Really, Falcons? You couldn’t stop the Vikings? Bean bag chairs would have given Asiata and McKinnon a tougher time. Believe that. Have you ever tried to step on one? I almost twisted my ankle. Of course, any reason I would have to step on a bean bag chair would make no sense, but we’re not talking about things that make sense. We’re talking about the Atlanta Falcons defense.
The New York Giants don’t make any sense either. All of a sudden, Eli Manning woke up and remembered that his team usually has a tight end on the field, and kept throwing it to him until the Giants had defeated the Redskins. Maybe this week will be Peyton Hillis’ turn. Why? Because it doesn’t make any sense.
Over/Under on plays that won’t make sense in this game: 18
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints
A strange thing happened last weekend. I was watching the end of the Buccaneers game against the Steelers. Why? Because it was the only game with time left before the later games. You think I wanted to do it? So I was watching, and the Buccaneers had the ball with 40 seconds left after stopping the Steelers deep in their own territory. Game over, right? No. The Buccaneers miraculously drive down the field for a touchdown, a touchdown that went to Vincent Jackson, who was on the team I was playing against in fantasy football. The Buccaneers won, and my opponent ended up winning by 4 points. So the moral of the story is… I don’t know.
What I do know is that I still don’t believe in the Buccaneers. Up against the New Orleans Saints at home? I believe in them even less so.
Baltimore Ravens @ Indianapolis Colts
It seems that Steve Smith Sr.’s reunion with the Carolina Panthers went off without any trash-talk or bloodshed or hurt feelings. Smith merely gave the old “Look at what you gave away” showcase that many exes have done before. Smith even caught a little alley-oop tip in stride, giving the Ravens the aura of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Colts return from having two bye weeks in a row and hope to retake the crown of the AFC South. Oh yeah, they had a couple exhibition games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans too, but it was only to stay fresh.
Buffalo Bills @ Detroit Lions
There are quite a few people wondering why the Buffalo Bills would sit E.J. Manuel for Fat Dave Grohl, which is why I have taken it upon myself to explain it. Fat Dave Grohl would probably have taken over quarterback duties earlier, but when it seemed that the Bills could end up being owned by Jon Bon Jovi, Fat Dave Grohl was a little apprehensive. Sure, he’s backed up some great acts like Tenacious D and Queens of the Stone Age, but those were projects. It’s different when you’re backing up one guy. Now that the Bills ownership is set, Fat Dave Grohl is excited to play because he’s the headline act.
Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford showed that he really is in shape by running for a touchdown last week. It was a refreshing break from seeing Stafford hoist the ball up to his go-to receiver. That go-to receiver happened to be Golden Tate III this time, as Megatron had a flat tire. Or whatever Transformers need to move correctly.
Houston Texans @ Dallas Cowboys
What a difference a not-so-horrible quarterback makes. Ryan Fitzpatrick is doing it all. He’s not giving up games right away. He makes defenses work for their interceptions. He’s also apparently a force to be reckoned with in the locker room, as he rallied the troops with one of the loudest, most grammatically incorrect speeches I have ever heard in football. Normally I wouldn’t pay it any mind, but this is a Harvard graduate we’re talking about. We deserve Gettysburg Address-caliber speeches, not the ramblings of my drunk neighbor.
Now is the time they really need a speech like that as the Houston Texans defense is set to take on Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys. This can be really, really good for the Texans if they get the turnover-prone Romo, or really bad for them if they get the “Take this, DeMarco, I’m outta here” Romo.
Over/Under on touchdowns scored by J.J. Watt: 1
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Jacksonville Jaguars
I haven’t been this excited for the Jacksonville Jaguars since… well, ever! Blake Bortles looks good! Sure, he’s a fresh rookie with no running back, throwing to a bunch of other rookies, but it’s exciting! It’s at least more exciting than last year when Maurice Jones-Drew would just keep running into overloaded boxes whenever the Jaguars had the ball.
Unfortunately, the Jaguars have to play the Steelers, who just lost to the Buccaneers. By the look of coach Mike Tomlin’s chin at the end of that game, there is going to be hell to pay. It was seriously growing to Bill Cowher proportions.
Arizona Cardinals @ Denver Broncos
This game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Denver Broncos should be the highlight of the week. Two teams coming off a bye week. Two quarterbacks in Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer with a ton to prove (or three, if Drew Stanton plays.) Two wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Larry Fitzgerald struggling to get their season going. Two improved defenses that prey upon a passing game.
This is the type of game that never has to worry about a broadcasting blackout and could even cause bars in San Francisco and Kansas City to at least show it on one television screen, way off in the corner by the kitchen. I’ve watched games in worse conditions.
Kansas City Chiefs @ San Francisco 49ers
In case you only saw the box score of the Chiefs game against the Patriots, yes, Jamaal Charles is back to his usual self as the top rusher/receiver/mascot of the Kansas City Chiefs. But maybe that’s giving the Patriots defense too much credit. They allowed the Raiders to move the ball into field goal range three times the week before.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers are struggling to keep any sort of locker room dissent under wraps. Jim Harbaugh would have been better off not commenting on Deion Sanders and the anonymous sources squawking about how no one likes Jim Harbaugh. It’s like he was doing an adult version of, “Nu uh!”
Over/Under on times broadcasters question Harbaugh’s ability as a coach: 4
New York Jets @ San Diego Chargers
The New York Jets are getting a steady stream of ridicule again, about the same things as last year. “Geno Smith can’t play quarterback” is a repeated phrase. “Fire Rex Ryan” has been said for the past four years. But really, did anyone think the Jets were going to beat three NFC North powerhouse offenses in a row? They came close, and that’s progress in itself.
Now the Jets play the San Diego Chargers, who don’t have a running game that they can put up against the only thing the Jets are really good at: stopping the run. Maybe the Jets can trade Chris Johnson to them for a quarter of Philip Rivers, just so the Jets can get a taste of what they’re been missing for seven years: a solid starting quarterback.
Cincinnati Bengals @ New England Patriots
What reporter worth their weight in pencils and note-pads could possibly think it was smart to ask Bill Belichick if he would bench Tom Brady for Jimmy Garoppalo? I wouldn’t even ask that as a joke. It’s like asking Joss Whedon if he’s going to replace Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man with the guy that holds the boom microphone because of the movie, The Judge. Things happen, but you don’t give up on your stars for whoever is hanging around at the time eating donuts.
Unfortunately, Tom Brady may want to sit this one out, as the Cincinnati Bengals defense is fresh and hungry after their bye week, and have already chewed up the Ravens, Falcons and Titans. Okay, so the Falcons have the only relevant offense in that grouping, but they’re miles apart from the Patriots offense. They have a quarterback and a couple of legitimate wide receivers, and that usually spells more success.
Monday, October 6th
Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Redskins
Redskins, we hardly knew ye. It’s been a tough season for you and your fans, both on and off the field. There have been some minor successes mixed in with painful failures, injuries, and even a South Park episode thrown in for good measure. But let it be said that you have heart and stuck it out through the beginning of this season and, for a brief moment against Jacksonville, showed once again that there was potential.
But now we’re back to reality, and reality has a cruel joke this week: a Monday night game against the Seattle Seahawks. The words “public humiliation” won’t do this game justice.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.