A Fan’s Notes from the Sixth 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 . . .
Super Bowl Contenders
After this week’s games, it sure looks like your favorites to make it to the Super Bowl in Houston would be the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots. Dallas traveled to Green Bay and went home with an authoritative 30-16 win, while New England’s Tom Brady threw for almost 400 yards and three touchdowns in his first home game since coming back from suspension.
Minnesota and Denver might have something to say about that, of course. We’ll know a lot more about Denver after next week’s Monday Night Football match-up of the Texans at the Broncos. Minnesota and New England have already crushed Houston, so if Denver can overwhelm them, we can consider the Broncos as qualified contenders.
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Kind of a Good Week for a Lot of Kinds of Texans
The Dallas rookies looked great again. Dak Prescott finally threw his first NFL interception, but it didn’t seem to bother him, as he capped the following drive by throwing for his third touchdown of the game. Ezekiel Elliott kept right on rolling, too, carrying the ball 28 times for 157 yards. The rookie running back leads the league in rushing, with well over a hundred yards more than second-best LeSean McCoy.
A couple of former Houston Cougars had good games, too. Rookie linebacker Elandon Roberts was second on the Patriots’ defense with 7 total tackles and several big plays as New England stifled Cincinnati 35-17. Quarterback Case Keenum played like Phil Simms in the Super Bowl, setting a Rams record with 20 completions in a row. Keenum finished the day 27-of-32 passing for three touchdowns, and with only a single interception and sack. Still, as Deadspin duly noted, the Jeff-Fisher-coached Rams found a way to lose the game by a field goal.
The Houston Texans almost ran out of runway taking off in their Sunday Night Football contest with their division rivals, the Indianapolis Colts. The Texans offense didn’t really get started until mid-way through the third quarter, and they needed a 3-play 52-yard drive in the last two minutes of regulation time to tie the game at 23 on a touchdown pass to the tight end C. J. Fiedorowicz. Houston ended up winning 26-23 on an overtime field goal from Nick Novak, who earlier in the game missed a point-after-touchdown. So far this season, the Texans look like a second-tier team, capable of winning their division but losing in the playoffs.
Houston’s win assured Coach Bill O’Brien of NOT winning the buffoon-of-the-week award again, but the honor stays in the house (NRG Stadium, as depicted above). Indianapolis Coach Chuck Pagano, most likely “aided” by his assistant coaches on the offensive side, chose to go for it on 4th-and-1 in the Red Zone, calling a pass play out of the shotgun formation, even though quarterback Andrew Luck is a very capable runner. Houston’s Whitney Mercilus tackled Luck for a sack–a turnover on downs. For that “big brainery,” Pagano wins the Coach Buffoon award.
Throughout the Sunday Night Football telecast, NBC ran commercials for the “comedy” series Superstore, another one of these network programs dripping with contempt for the kind of people who shop at Wal-Mart and Target. We live in an economically divided country, and you can see the division watching TV–even just the commercials. The advertisers mainly target the very rich kind of people who fly Qatar Airways to go shopping in Dubai, and who complain (like Jennifer Garner) about the bonus travel points on their credit cards. The rest of us are probably supposed to aspire to that elite lifestyle while we shop at “superstores.”
The Good News!
By now I think we are assured of enough baseball, football, and hockey to drown out what’s left of the worst presidential campaign in history. Hoorah for sports! Or, you could start reading my book:
Farewell to Football? An American Fan’s Examination of Conscience. Click here to order a copy in paperback or Kindle format.