A Fan’s Notes from the Fifth Week of the NFL Regular Season.
The road to the Super Bowl is long, winding through 17 weeks of the regular season (R), and then a narrowed field navigates a month-long playoff tournament. Every team imagines they are on their way to Houston, host to this year’s Super Bowl . . .
Contenders and Pretenders
The Vikings dismantled the Texans, clarifying that Minnesota is a real Super Bowl contender this year, and that Houston will probably be just good enough to lose a Wild-Card Playoff game.
Elsewhere in the AFC, New England, Pittsburgh, and Oakland (!) all stand at 4-1 and look good, while Denver fell to 4-1 because they had to start a rookie quarterback. These will probably be your playoff teams, and as I mentioned, the Texans will put in their one-and-done playoff appearance.
In the NFC, Dallas kept on winning with their rookies (see below), while the Eagles finally lost but still look like contenders. The Vikings and Falcons look like maybe they will be the elite NFC teams, and the West still has to sort itself out. I’d love to see Case Keenum lead the Rams to the playoffs, but he’s fighting against “Coach 8-and-8” Jeff Fisher.
Texas Rookies-of-the-Year of the Week
Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott kept up the good work as Dallas soundly beat the Bengals, 28-14. They accounted for all of the Cowboys’ scoring, as Elliott rushed for two touchdowns (and averaged 8.9 yards per carry!), Prescott carried one in himself, and threw for the fourth touchdown. The quarterback lost his first turnover of the season, a fumble, but he still hasn’t thrown an interception (to put that into perspective, Houston’s quarterback has already thrown seven). The Cowboys are 4-1 and leading their division, and their biggest problem may well come when Tony Romo is healthy enough to return and Jerry Jones has to make a decision (ugh!).
As I commented on Battle Red Blog, we could probably give this award to Coach O’Brien for
the rest of the year: “Big Brain Bill . . . sarcastic, dismissive, and so far, only marginally successful. Just the epitaph an ambitious NFL coach wants!” Now firmly in charge of both game-planning and play-calling, Big Brain Bill couldn’t come up with a plan to get his receivers open (quarterback Brock Osweiler seemed to be guessing, and thew a lot of contested balls into coverage against the Vikings), and his primary running back, Lamar Miller, averaged 2.5 yards per carry on 8 carries (compare that to the Cowboys’ Elliott, who has the benefit of running behind the NFL’s best offensive line, while the Texans have . . . Derek Newton).
We can give the NFL and its sponsors a break this week, and look to CNN for a real toxic media milestone. In its replays of the 2005 video of Donald Trump smuttily bragging about his predatory sexual advances toward a TV personality, endlessly looped to hype up the ratings for the dispiriting and ugly “presidential” debate on Sunday night, CNN chose to “mainstream” a couple of profane words in what will most likely become precedent-setting. While such language is common enough in certain kinds of “music,” and perhaps in some locker rooms (though many athletes have risen up to claim otherwise on social media), it still makes our media that much more toxic when one of the major cable news networks decides that such language is OK for prime-time broadcast. To apply one of the keynote questions of my book Farewell to Football? couldn’t CNN “judge for themselves what is right?” Or is this what they think is right?
Tuesday Night Tedium: Just Baseball Tonight, with No Threat of Political Debates!
Farewell to Football? An American Fan’s Examination of Conscience. Click here to order a copy in paperback or Kindle format.