A Fan’s Notes from the Eighth 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 Playoff Division
I waited for the results of last night’s game between the Bears and the Vikings to start writing this, because Minnesota had been looking good as a front-runner on the road to the Super Bowl. In losing to the Bears, 20-10, their second straight loss, the Vikings seem to have come back to the pack, though, leaving the Dallas Cowboys the only clear-cut favorite to win the NFC.
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The Cowboys distinguished themselves with a dramatic win on Sunday Night Football, coming from behind to force overtime and then winning with a touchdown to cap a 12-play, 75-yard drive in overtime. Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott continued his amazing emergence as a star distributing the ball to his veteran stars, throwing to wide-receiver Dez Bryant to tie the game and to tight-end Jason Witten for the win.
In the AFC, the New England Patriots continued to breeze along, handily beating the Buffalo Bills, 41-25. Quarterback Tom Brady again threw for more than 300 yards, connecting for 4 touchdowns. He’s yet to throw an interception.
The Other Team in Texas
The Houston Texans beat the Detroit Lions in a contest that everyone over at Battle Red Blog agreed was not an exciting football game. The best that you could probably say was that the Texans had some balance in their passing attack, targeting tight ends 12 times for 10 completions and 94 yards, while targeting wide receivers 14 times for 8 completions and 85 yards. This may be Big Brain Bill’s Dinky Offense: Quarterback Brock Osweiler averaged 6.41 yards per pass attempt, compared to 9.5 for Tom Brady, who operates the grown-up version of an NFL offense. The Texans’ only “explosive” plays? Two 23-yard pass plays. In terms of really explosive plays, Houston is worst in the league with only TWO plays of 40-plus yards (compared to Atlanta, who lead the league with 14).
Oh, well, Houston won, to stay a game ahead of . . . Tennessee? Yes, that’s Tennessee at 4-4 and only a game back in the AFC South (Dinky) Division.
Coach Buffoon On the Sidelines at NRG Stadium
But after further review, it’s not Bill O’Brien, man of unending disordered passions, for screaming at his own coach on the sideline. No, it’s mild-mannered Jim Caldwell, who not only called for a fourth-quarter onside kick that failed and gave the Texans a short field but also failed to challenge a sketchy “incompletion” to DeAndre Hopkins early in the third quarter. Replay review showed pretty clearly that Hopkins caught the ball and then fumbled, and that a Detroit defender recovered the fumble. Oops! But at least the gentlemanly Caldwell spared us the obscene outburst on the sideline. Maybe we should call it the Serene Majesty Buffoon award this week?
Even though NFL football has a populist mass audience in the United States, you can tell that the real money in ownership–and thus the league offices–is with the global elite. Not only does the NFL now push a series of regular-season games played in London, they also advertise international soccer matches during football games.
The Good News!
Only a week to go until the election season is over–and the investigations and impeachments begin! 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.