What We Learned by Alex Larsen

Welcome back to the weekly recap of the NFL games over the weekend. This blog will hit on 32 points – one for each team in the NFL. The writing is biased, of course, but not blinded. So continue to enjoy the banter, insight, or whatever you want to call this – this is What We Learned.

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Nothing is to be expected any longer. Forget what you know, and focus on what you see. Eli Manning is a two-time Superbowl champion. Forget about it. He’s winless, now. Ray Rice is an elite running back. Forget that. He had 34 total rushing yards Sunday. The Lions are overhyped. Forget that, too. They’re tied for the NFC North lead. The AFC West is clinging to the days of Elway or Tomlinson or the Black Hole. Forget all about that. The top two NFL teams hail from the AFC West.

 

If you think you know something, question it. If you question something, know that you do. Don’t accept anything that people feed you – filter everything. (Yes, that includes this writing.) Statistics don’t lie – they are incapable of lying. They can be used to mislead you, confuse you, or manipulate you. The intention is in the person representing them, though. Don’t hate the numbers. Don’t bring players down to nothing more than numbers. Use your head – think about what you’re being told. If someone says the 49ers are Superbowl favorites, look at the numbers. And look at how they’ve been playing. It’s not impossible, but it’s not a favorite. If you hear that the Dolphins are overrated, look at their record. Better yet, look ahead to their soft schedule. Don’t think it’s a soft schedule? Good – then you’re questioning even me.

 

That’s the moral takeaway for this week. Everything that is ever said comes from a person with a worldview. Don’t let someone else’s worldview superimpose itself over yours. Think with your own head, get your own facts, and stick to your guns. The Bible is the only infallible truth we have available; everything else is man-made and corrupt. The Bible is your filter, and everything must go through it.

 

Even football. There are morals, ethics, and half-truths all over the field. Watching the game and checking the results gives us a clearer picture of how things really are. We learn things every time we get involved. This weekend was no exception. This is what we learned…

 

 

  1. Let’s open with New York. The worst team in New York isn’t wearing green this season – it’s in blue.  The Giants are not a bad team, at least not on paper. On turf, it’s a different story – an embarrassing story.
  2. Da Bears are tied atop the NFC North. Cutler is throwing more TDs than INTs, and he’s as shocked as you and I.
  3. Cam Newton may or may not be Superman. The jury’s out on that one. He’s no scrub at quarterback, though. 242 yards and 3 touchdowns is a good day, no matter who you are.
  4. The Vikings seemed in a daze Sunday. Blown coverage and silly mistakes cost Minnesota a chance at even competing. Cassel’s play really did not do enough to hush the belief that Josh Freeman will get the nod next week.
  5. Green Bay walked out of Baltimore with a win for the first time in almost four decades. It came down to Mason Crosby, which is terrifying for fans, but it worked.
  6. Baltimore did not play like defending Superbowl champions. Recording more penalties than first downs through the first half should be enough indication of how they played. The offense never even got to a sputter, and yet they’re only a game back in the AFC North.
  7. The Lions are strong – and surprisingly so. After years of seeing Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and the powerful defensive line fall short of expectations, the bar has been dropped. Because of that, Detroit is shattering expectations so far. Knock on wood.
  8. The Browns – yeah, Cleveland – is tied for second in the AFC North. After trading away Richardson, the Browns picked it up. So much for tanking.
  9. It took extra time to make it happen, but the Bengals are sitting at the top of their division. Cincinnati is making plays, at the hands of Andy Dalton. Dalton is entering the make-or-break phase of his career, and so far he’s making it.
  10. Buffalo starts their backup quarterback, Thad Lewis out of Duke. He gets hurt. EJ Manuel down, Thad Lewis down – enter Matt Flynn. Seriously, Flynn is making more money doing less work than 99% of the country.
  11. Oakland is in trouble. Not because they’re terrible, per say, but because their division is home to the top two teams in the National Football League.
  12. One of those teams is the Kansas City Chiefs. Undefeated after six weeks. Andy Reid is a quality coach. The stars are in place – Alex Smith, Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles – the offense is really only missing one piece: a tight end. Tony Gonzalez, the longtime Chief currently stuck in Atlanta, could be brought it. Should be brought in.
  13. The other team atop the standings is the Denver Broncos. It’s Peyton to Welker/Thomas/Thomas/Decker/Moreno. Really, that’s all there is to it – it’s not that complicated.
  14. The Jaguars put up a fight against Denver. Most people were surprised, but the result made sense; one team stays to undefeated, the other stays to winless.
  15. The Steelers did two things very reminiscent of the Steelers on Sunday – they got a turnover and won a game. The two seemingly simple facts are deeply tied to one another. Pittsburg feeds off of turnovers, and had not gotten one yet this season. Or gotten a win, either.
  16. The Jets are not great, but they aren’t the Giants. New York is a media driven market – and the Giants are the butt of the jokes this season… *cough* Sanchez *cough*.
  17. The Eagles are 3-3, with a real chance at making the playoffs. Too early to say for certain, obviously, but the Redskins and Giants are not playing postseason football. Dallas and Philadelphia are vying for that spot.
  18. Tampa Bay is winless, but not assumed to be lousy. Freeman’s out, and suddenly head coach Greg Schiano is confident that the Bucs are going to get good. He has nothing to lose – so why not stick his neck out there?
  19. The Texans are struggling, and it isn’t all on the quarterback. The fans disgustingly cheered as Schaub left with an injury, but Houston is not getting better any time soon.
  20. St. Louis, shockingly, is 3-3. Shockingly only because they were not expected to win games. Again, don’t believe the expected.
  21. The Titans are stuck somewhere around neutral. They’re not good enough to make that step, but not bad enough to bomb. Room for improvement, but foundation to build on, too.
  22. Seattle is still a threat – and still waiting for Percy Harvin. Once he’s back, Seattle could really pull ahead in the standings.
  23. The only team standing in Seattle’s way is New Orleans. The Saints are tough – high-powered offense, strong enough defense. Who Dat nation sees another run coming.
  24. Tom Brady is clutch. Stephan A. Smith (ESPN’s First Take) said he will no longer call Aaron Rodgers a “baaaaad man” after seeing Brady take the Patriots seventy yards for a game winning touchdown with less than a minute on the clock and no timeouts. This is the stuff legends are made of.
  25. Arizona lost a close game, and Larry Fitzgerald took responsibility. He took the heat to himself, blaming his fumble. Obviously the team isn’t solely hanging on his success, but he manned up and admitted he fell short.
  26. San Francisco may be back on track. They are playing well, winning games, and seem to have confidence across the team. Could it be a fluke? Of course. Or it could be a sign that Harbaugh and Co. are going back to the big one.
  27. RG3 and Tony Romo – not exactly a showstopper combination. One threw for about 250 yards, the other only 170. However, Romo (Mister 170) got the win. It’s the return man, Harris, that carried the ‘Boys over the ‘Skins, though.
  28. The Redskins are still waiting for their quarterback to do what he did last season, which may never happen. Some seasons are flukes or anomalies and that’s the end of it. Time will tell if Washington is holding out for nothing.
  29. The Colts failed to score a touchdown on primetime television. Any critics of Andrew Luck – especially those who believed that Indianapolis should have held on to Peyton – are foaming at the mouth today.
  30. Philip Rivers is on his way – fans are backing him this season. He’s winning games, but the Chargers are trailing the Chiefs and Broncos by three games. Tough division, maybe not a tough enough team.
  31. The Falcons needed a bye – things were getting ugly, fast. Coming back, Atlanta has to show quickly that they’ve fixed the problem. If not, the cries for Gonzalez to KC will likely become too loud to ignore much longer.
  32. The Dolphins took a week to hit the beach. Benefits of living in south Florida.

That’s it – what we’ve learned this weekend. You may have learned something else, something more, or something opposite. Good for you – using your head and finding out for yourself. That’s the goal, after all. Question and understand the things you can, and believe that which you cannot. Just know what you can, and never worry about the things you don’t yet.

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