Fri 12 Oct 2012
by Anthony Bertacchi
Minnesota Vikings vs. Washington Redskins
Okay so, in the interest of full disclosure let me first admit that I’m not a neurologist, nor am I a doctor of any kind. I couldn’t read an MRI or a CT scan with any degree of accuracy. However, my little brother could have seen that the hit to the head Robert Griffin III took isn’t something that people just bounce back up from. With the amount of awareness that concussions get these days this injury is something that the Redskins are really going to have to monitor. If the doctors tell Mike Shanahan that Robert Griffin III can play this weekend then by all means let him play. However, if they say that the chances of him getting another concussion are significantly reduced by sitting another week, then he should sit. While the NFL still has a gladiatorial aspect to things like broken arms and torn ACLs, the head is something that people don’t play with anymore. We’ve seen too many clips of Jim McMahon and read too many articles about Dave Duerson to think that it isn’t a real problem. The Redskins need to do what’s best for RG3, not what’s best for the Redskins. If they make him play it’ll only add to the already skyscraping number of lawsuits levied against Roger Goodell and the NFL.
For the first time in years the Redskins look like they have a quarterback that they can finally have on the team photo. No offense to Rex Grossman or Jason Campbell but they weren’t people that you save up money to go see. RG3 has the skills and charisma to be a fan favorite in Washington for years.
Still, it’s easy to say that Griffin should or shouldn’t play this weekend from my vantage point. Whether he does or doesn’t play doesn’t really affect me all that much. Sure, I’ll feel bad if he gets another concussion but, like any other football fan, I’ll forget about it after a few days. For Shanahan though, he’s in the near impossible position of choosing between salary and sympathy. If he plays Griffin, it gives the Redskins a big boost. Griffin already had a couple 300 yard passing games (2-0 in those games) while also rushing for over 240 yards. Yet, if Shanahan benches him, and they lose, the metaphorical hot seat for him gets hotter and hotter and he could be out of a job by the end of the year. They better hope Alfred “The Butler” Morris can continue the nearly 100 yard a game pace if they want to avoid going 2-4.
For the Vikings the game plan needs to be the same as the last five weeks. Give the ball to Adrian Peterson and as soon as the defense is worried too much about him get it to Harvin. That’s the formula that’s gotten them to this point. Right now Harvin is on pace for his first 1,000 yard season of his career and he already has a 105 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. They can still treat Ponder like Alex Smith 2.0 all they want but maybe this week they loosen the leash a little bit. The Redskins have given up over 328 yards passing a week on average so perhaps Ponder can go over 300 yards for the second time in his career. The game is in DC but that’s not a great thing for the Skins so far. They’re 0-2 at home while being outscored 31-14 combined in both fourth quarters. If the Vikings continue to pound Peterson throughout the game they should be able to exploit that 31st rank passing defense at the end of the game to keep them atop the NFC North for another week.
Green Bay Packers vs. Houston Texans
If you’re a Packer fan who are you the maddest at right now? Is it the defense that has given up over 800 passing yards over the last two games? Is it with Aaron Rodgers who’s thrown for less than 240 yards three of the last four weeks? Hopefully you’re not still mad at the replacement refs. I mean, they got fired because of that infamous play at the end of your game. Whatever hatred you had towards them has to die out a little considering your moment made them unemployed. At this point you’re basically yelling at a space heater for burning you. In all honesty you knew something like that was going to happen at some point, you just hoped it wouldn’t happen to you.
So, with that, the Packers travel to Houston to take on the undefeated Texans in what could be thought of as a needed win. It’s not a must win since we’re still in October but if they go 2-4, with three of those losses coming in the last four games, the panic button is getting hit quickly.
Right now the positives don’t look too great. Cedric Benson is out for 8 weeks and Gregg Jennings has been dealing with nagging injuries all year. Not only that, but remember that Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 21 times this year. That’s a problem when you’re going up against JJ Watt and company. Even with all of those problems the Packers are only 2-3 and their three losses have been by an average of 4.33 points. They’ve been in every game.
Now, on the other hand, the Texans have been great. They rank 6th in rushing, 4th in passing defense and 9th in rushing defense. The only thing they don’t rank in the top ten in is passing at 20th, yet they have people like Matt Schaub, Owen Daniels and Andre Johnson. Not only that but they have a lab created beast on defense named JJ Watt along with Jonathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson that hold teams to only 14.6 points per game (4th in the NFL.) The only problem that they have is the fact that their leading tackler, Brian Cushing, is out for the year after being hit low last week. Yes, they didn’t look particularly great against the Barnum and Bailey Jets but everybody has a bad week.
You want to believe that Aaron Rodgers is going to turn it around at a certain point but it’s hard to image that day being Sunday. If they played the Browns or the Raiders I could see a possible MVP performance, but not against this defense. Cushing may be down for the year but that defense managed to reload after losing both Mario Williams and Demeco Ryans to free agency. The Texans will find a way to hammer another nail into the coffin that has become the Packers season to this point. Good luck Rodgers, JJ Watt’s coming for you.
Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles
After five weeks you should have a god idea about who each team is. They’ll have identities and stick to them. For instance, the San Francisco 49ers run the ball and hit you as hard as a wrecking ball on defense. They have a particular set of skills that make them a nightmare for people. With the Lions it’s the fact that they can throw the ball all over the field. Don’t worry about them running the ball; they’re not going to do that. They’re going to throw whenever they have a chance and, honestly, if you had Calvin Johnson you’d do the same thing too. However, the Eagles don’t seem to make sense. They have a great running back, two upper level receivers and a quarterback who has the capability to be a nightmare for any team he plays. Yet if you look at the numbers they’re pretty average. They’re 13th in passing, 10th in rushing, 9th in rushing defense and 12th in opponent rushing. Not only that but they’ve only sacked the quarterback seven times this year (T29th in the NFL). Clay Matthews and JJ Watt both have more sacks than that by themselves.
Then you look at the Lions and wonder what happened to the exciting team that we saw last year. The defense was supposed to be elite with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley at defensive tackle and Calvin Johnson was supposed to be three times better then Jerry Rice. Instead, their Suh has a total of eight tackles, Fairley has three tackles and sack and Johnson… well okay he’s still really good. The only critique of him would be that he only has one touchdown.
The schedule hasn’t been that bad for the Lions. After all, they lost to the Tennessee Titans in a game that saw four special team touchdowns, two touchdowns in the last 20 seconds of the game and the Music City Miracle Part 2. You can’t really complain about the schedule when you let all of that garbage happen in one game.
A lot of people like Matthew Stafford but let’s understand that, right now, he has more interceptions (4) than touchdowns (3) and their leading rusher (Mike Leshore) has a total of 126 yards. To understand how bad that is I’ll give you Jamaal Charles, a running back for the Kansas City Chiefs. He has two games of at least 140 yards this year and again, it’s for the Chiefs, a team that got beat down by the woeful Buffalo Bills. That plane in Detroit needs to get straightened out quickly before it nosedives for good.
The game is in Philadelphia which will help the Eagles. It may not be the best home field advantage (ask Santa) but as of right now they’re 2-0 at home against both the Giants and Ravens. Both of those are quality wins no matter how you get them. Michael Vick may turn the ball over a lot (six interceptions and five lost fumbles) but the Lions don’t have an interception and only have three fumbles all year. Even if Vick throws it right to the Lions they might just bat it down out of confusion. In the end the Eagles seem to have had a four leaf clover on their backs this year and don’t be surprised if that continues this week. Because of the Eagles’ 9th ranked passing defense look for them to make life miserable for Stafford. Look for an interception or two from the Eagles defense and look for the Eagles to prevail in the end, probably by three points or less.
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