Maybe it’s the fact that Halloween is just around the corner, but Ryan Bradley can’t help notice that this season just keeps getting weirder and weirder. Week 7 of his NFL Diary.
Sometimes it seems each week of the season is getting progressively uglier. I guess it’s not hard to end a week with that impression when the Monday night game pitted the Vikings and Giants, two teams tripping over each other to see who could play worse football.
But the Vikings-Giants wasn’t the only sloppy game of the weekend and beyond that there were countless injuries to big name players, players given the boot from teams, and controversial penalties. Every year I say, “It’s been a weird season,” but somehow rather than the oddness beginning to feel normal, each new season continues to feel weirder than the last.
I try not to over-think where these columns go, where they ramble topically. The last few weeks have seen themes, and throughout the weekend I thought of other themes that might be apropos. But this weekend was just too weird. The Jets upset the Patriots on a controversial call and eventual field goal, the Bengals continued their roller coaster year, the Steelers got their second win, and Eli Manning didn’t throw an interception for the first time this season. What could I possibly write about?
The Dallas Cowboys beat the Eagles in a matchup of 3-3 teams in the worst division in football. The ‘Boys played without a running game, as they have gotten used to doing since drafting Demarco Murray, and without their best defensive player, DeMarcus Ware, which they are not used to doing. The Cowboys have won some ugly games since that loss to Denver, but as any team, coach, or player will tell you, a win is a win.
I want to believe the Cowboys can make a run in the playoffs, but it’s hard to believe in the offensive line, the defense, or their ability to stay healthy. If Jerry Jones isn’t regretting getting rid of Rob Ryan and keeping Jason Garrett, then he is most likely senile.
ESPN hailed the Giants’ Monday night win against Minnesota as a “Giant Leap,” which may be the single most over-hyped moment of the sports year. The Giants won their first game of the season against another one win team, whose quarterback had only been with the team for twelve days. If the Giants had lost, everyone in New York probably would have been fired.
Announcers said Peyton Hillis was a godsend. He rushed for 36 yards on 18 carries. The media wants so badly to be able to make the Giants sound less crappy than they are that they are stretching any shred of good news miles beyond its breaking point. The Giants have a couple more easy games, but the back half of the schedule is brutal.
The Bears’ hopes may have gone out the window when Jay Cutler went down. They lost to the Redskins, another team the media is desparate to compliment. Having to rely on Josh McCown is going to be rough, and the signing of Jordan Palmer may have Chicago fans hiding under their beds.
Houston heeded my advice and started Case Keenum, who showed flashes of brilliance and nearly upset the Chiefs. But Arian Foster left the game and Brian Cushing’s season is over. A bad year for the Texans is only getting worse. Keenum will be lucky if Andre Johnson stays healthy, so he at least has someone to throw to.
The Seahawks and Falcons let bad teams hang around (Arizona and Tampa Bay, respectively). The defending champion Ravens let the worst Steelers team in as long as I can remember beat them. And the “supposedly” good Dolphins let the identity-crisis Bills steal one.
Overall it was the kind of week that can only leave fans shaking their heads and muttering the tired mantra of “any given Sunday.” Sometimes it’s fun to watch the unexpected ups and downs of a season and sometimes it feels exhausting, even when it’s teams we don’t particularly care about. But like I always say when my five year old asks why I’m watching a game between two teams I don’t like, “It’s football and I like watching football.” Sometimes you can’t let it get anymore complicated than that.
Photo: AP/Patrick Semansky