* Bill Belichick usually doesn’t come out on the wrong end of coaching and personnel decisions, but the team’s choice of taking only 3 QBs into training camp, when one of those 3 was going to miss the first quarter of the season, finally cost the Patriots a game. Jacoby Brissett can hardly be held accountable, as his thumb injury should have kept him out of the game entirely. Brissett still threw for more yards than Blaine Gabbert is averaging per game, mind you, but nearly half of his 205 yards came on a short pass that Julian Edelman took for 90 yards. Brissett was badly limited, and Rex Ryan delighted in beating up on a crippled Patriots offense. (His team still only managed 16 points despite all that field position, so clearly firing Greg Roman fixed everything)
* A cottage industry has popped up around Ramsplaining - trying to make sense of the 3-1 record held by the Los Angeles Rams. The Ringer, Football Outsiders, FOX Sports, and the Washington Post all take a stab at it.
* None of them seem to be able to Ramsplain why Greg Robinson is still a starting player.
* One thing I’ve seen mentioned to a surprisingly small degree is the fact that the official who made the blown fumble recovery call in CLE/WAS was Sarah Thomas, the NFL’s first female full-time referee. I’ve only really seen that connection made on some fan blogs and other smaller outlets. The NFL has remained very on-message in their description of the play and lack of overturn, but that’s par for the course for all blown calls, really. Still, it would not be a good look to have one of the most egregious blown calls in recent memory be the thing that fans associate with Sarah Thomas, so I don’t doubt the NFL is taking extra care with this one. Not that I blame them, as one look at certain Twitter hashtags reveals how a certain class of people would abuse a woman that makes the same kind of mistakes that Jerome Boger does every year.
* The NFL’s TV ratings are down from a year ago, prompting all sorts of hand-wringing from broadcast networks and advertisers. In a Rasmussen poll, a third of respondents said they were less likely to watch NFL games because of the protests led by Colin Kaepernick. That doesn’t fully explain away the drop, however.
* Also not helping ratings: if you feel like the “No Fun League” nature of the NFL has been peaking, you'd be right. Unsportsmenlike conduct and taunting penalties are way up from previous seasons. The NFL’s new rule for ejections upon a player receiving two unsportsmanlike penalties appears to have the officials looking extra closely for calls to make. Players are feeling targeted. In typical NFL fashion, players and coaches are unclear on where the lines are supposed to be, and the league doesn’t seem to be overly concerned with clarifying. (Thanks to garion for contributing the link)
* The next round of NFL TV deals will go into effect in 2022. The NFL has made some noise that they intend to start retaining some control of online broadcasting rights. Between that and ratings maybe no longer being in continued growth, the next TV deal negotiations might be one of the biggest stories in the league that few see coming.
* While Brock Osweiler’s numbers this year haven’t been an exact carbon copy of Blaine Gabbert’s like a year ago, they’re still not good: 61% cmp, 5 TDs, 6 INTs, 237 yds/game, 74.8 passer rating. The INT rate of 4.1% is of particular concern, worse than any passer except for FitzTragic and Jameis Winston.
New England at Cleveland: The return of Brady! But is he still Tom Brady? He’s 39, what kind of condition is he in? Don’t you think this has “upset” written all over it? I mean, I’m taking New England, but you totally shouldn’t.
Atlanta at Denver: The league’s top scoring offense faces the league’s 5th stingiest defense. Denver isn’t even sure what QB will start for them, but Atlanta still comes in as 5.5 point underdogs. Matt Ryan is playing some of the best football of his life, and Julio Jones is exactly the beast we thought he was. But how will they stand up against that Denver defense? I’m taking the underdog Atlanta, not that I think Atlanta is necessarily better in general, but Denver is due to drop some games, and Atlanta’s offense has enough firepower to not be completely stifled by the Denver D.
Buffalo at Los Angeles: Rex Ryan’s big win against the Patriots cooled his hot seat for a week, but now they travel out west to face the 3-1 Rams. The Rams have not managed to get Todd Gurley going at all this year, and Buffalo’s stout run defense (yielding only 3.6 per carry) isn’t going to make it any easier. These are two teams that I don’t really have any faith in, but someone’s going to win, and I’ll take Buffalo on the road. Los Angeles can’t get too far away from .500 on their way to 7-9.
Cincinnati at Dallas: I don’t know what to think of Dak Prescott yet. He’s played well so far, and unlike some of the other young QB who are throwing short passes at an alarming rate, Prescott is doing most of his damage at intermediate range. No doubt he’s helped by that offensive line and the league leading rusher in rookie Ezekiel Elliott. Really it brings to mind the classic Dallas offenses, where Emmitt Smith would pound the ball an ungodly amount of times, and then Aikman would throw intermediate routes (but not a lot of deep bombs) over the crowded-up defense. Over on the other side, Cincinnati is 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, but 30th in passing TDs. They’ve been moving the ball between the 20s, but settling for a lot of field goals. They’ve also been turnover happy, but with their defense even more takeaway-happy. Dallas has been great at protecting the ball, though (0 INTs for Dak so far), so unless Cincinnati’s offense kicks it up a notch, Dallas should grind it out here.
Tampa Bay at Carolina: Oh boy. The NFC South is not the most pathetic division in the NFL only because the AFC South exists, and even then, only because they have Atlanta. The other 7 teams between the two divisions have all given up more points than they’ve scored, including the 3-1 Texans, and there’s six 1-3 teams between them. Carolina will probably be turning to Derek Anderson at QB, which as history has shown us can swing the team to one of two extremes. They’re also still missing Jonathan Stewart. Tampa Bay is missing Doug Martin, and Charles Sims is questionable and not certain to play, so we’re likely to see lots of backup running backs, and a pair of QBs trading interceptions. I’m taking Hurricane Matthew to spare us from having to watch this at all. But if the game happens…. I guess Carolina, although Tampa has this cool thing going where they score 30+ points one week and 7 points the next, and this would be the next 30+ point week. So there’s that.
Week 4 Results
Certis: 4-1 <== f*ck
Rat Boy: 3-2
*Legion*: 2-3 <== god damn it
Season to Date
Certis: 12-8 <== muh lead!
Rat Boy: 11-9