NFL Week 8 Recap: How'd They Do? Gaining while Resting Edition

The Ravens and Browns must be pretty pleased. While resting on their bye week this weekend, both AFC North teams' divisional standing benefited from losses to both the Steelers and Bengals. The Ravens got pushed into first place in the division by the Steelers loss in New Orleans, while Cleveland and Cincinnati swapped places in third and last place after the Bengals dropped their fourth straight game. Who would have thought?

Needless to say, we had another interesting week to enjoy. What better time to improve your How'd They Do post? If you remember, I modified it last week to focus more on the coming games - this time, I will combine the ideas into a new post. Don't hesitate to let me know in the comments if you like the changes or if you would rather go back. Remember, feedback is always welcome. So lean back, relax, and enjoy the ride!


Pittsburgh's Next Three Opponents

 

1.

The Name: Cincinnati Bengals

When we meet: Next Week (Week 9)

The Game: 14-22 at home against the Miami Dolphins

The Standout: Morgan Trent (2nd year CB) - 11 tackles (9 solo), 1 INT, 1 Pass defense

Promising: Offensive Line - allowed no sacks and just 3 QB hurries on 38 attempts, while blocking for an average of 4.1 yards per carry.

Look the other Way: As usual, Carson Palmer - 17/38 (44.7% completions for 156 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, when one of the TDs was almost an interception

What happened: The Bengals decided to switch it up. Instead of going for their usual slow start only to put up points in garbage time, they came out the gate firing - scoring the first TD of the game and being up 14-6 in the second quarter. But after that, they just stopped. No consistent running game and an awful Carson Palmer ensured that the Dolphins got enough time to score field goal after field goal and finally putting away the game with a Ronnie Brown TD in the 4th. Palmer then iced it with an interception in the last 3 minutes. The Bengals have now lost four straight games, and have dropped to last place in the AFC North. Even the Cleveland Browns, one of the teams that beat Cincinnati in recent weeks, are ahead of them. That's all you need to know about this year's Bungles.

Next Week's opponent: The Pittsburgh Steelers

What to look for: Despite their inverse records, this game will be a good one; AFC North games always are. Ben Roethlisberger, coming off a forgettable game against the New Orleans Saints, will face yet another injury-ridden secondary with a creative defensive coordinator. That last part could spell trouble for the Steelers, but hopefully the coaching staff and the offense have learned from last week's mistakes. Still, I maintain that Pittsburgh will need to rely on its running game to win this one. Mendenhall has not been effective against the Bengals in his career so far, but Cincinnati's rush defense has been considerably worse this season - dropping from 7th last year to 23rd this year and allowing over 120 yards/game. If the Steelers can win the battle in the trenches, they should win the game.

Last Game against the Steelers: Nov. 15, 2009 - Bengals 18, Steelers 12, in Pittsburgh

The Standout last time: Bernard Scott, KR - returned 5 kickoffs for an average of 41, a long of 96, and a TD

Prediction: Steelers 20 - Bengals 10

 

2.

The Name: New England Patriots

When we meet: In Two Weeks (Week 10)

The Game: 28-18 at home against the Minnesota Vikings

The Standout: BenJarvis Green-Ellis - 17 rushes, 112 yards (6.6 y/c), 2 TD; also 1 rec for 11 yards

Promising: Brandon Tate (2nd year WR) - 3 receptions, 101 yards, 34.0 avg., 1 TD

Look the other Way: Wes Welker - Targeted 5 times, 3 receptions for 24 yards (a 8.0 average)

What happened: New England improved to an NFL best 6-1 record, but as I predicted last week, the attention was on Brett Favre. Sacked in the fourth quarter, Favre suffered a cut on his chin that required eight stitches. But back to the actual game. The Patriots continued a pretty impressive trend, running the ball successfully with backs no one had on their ticket. Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, two young, former undrafted free agents, are a major reason why the Patriots keep running the ball despite an elite quarterback. Additionally, returner Brandon Tate was utilized in the passing game and promptly responded with the best game of his young career. I think you all share my dislike for New England, but you have to give props to how they continuously pull young talent out of their behind to help Tom Brady win games. Minnesota made it a game in the 4th quarter with a TD pass from Favre replacement Tavaris Jackson, but Brady promptly responded with a scramble and improvised throw to Tate - 65 yards and a TD later, New England had put the game out of reach.

Next Week's opponent: Cleveland Browns

What to look for: The trick bag. As I said last week, the tricks Eric Mangini pulled against the Saints in week 6 were pretty impressive considering they came before, and not after, their bye week. With an extra week to prepare, let's see what Mangini can do against his former mentor, Pats coach Bill Belichick. Simply put, New England is an elite team right now and should be able to overwhelm the Browns in defense and passing offense. For the Browns to win, two things need to happen: Josh Cribbs should be utilized in as many ways as possible, and Peyton Hillis, with an extra week to rest his sore thigh, needs to have a big day against a mediocre New England rushing defense.

Last Game against the Browns: October 7, 2007 - New England 34, Cleveland 17, in New England

The Standout last time:Tom Brady - 22/38 (57.9% completions), 265 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, not sacked

Prediction: New England 28 - Cleveland 17




3.

The Name: Oakland Raiders

When we meet: In Three Weeks (Week 11)

The Game: 33-3 at home against the Seattle Seahawks

The Standout: Jason Campbell - 15/27 (55.6% completions), 310 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 120.9 QB rating

Promising: Darrius Heyward-Bey - 5 receptions, 105 yards (21.0 avg.), 1 TD; also 1 rush, 30 yards

Look the other Way: 3rd down percentage: 5/17 for just 29%. Also red zone TD efficiency: 1/4, 25%

What happened: Holy cow, the second lopsided win in a row by the lowly Raiders! Alright, maybe I should stop calling them that. Pretty impressive on all parts. The offense produced 545 yards with a nice balance of passing and rushing. At the same time, the defense held Seattle to just 162 yards, allowed just one third down completion all day (out of 16), and sacked Matt Hasselbeck 8 times. The time of position was also lopsided, as Oakland held the ball for over 12 minutes more than Seattle. And all of a sudden, criticized players start to contribute. Heyward-Bey, victim of ridicule all through last year, had what seemed like a break out game, Jason Campbell, already the victim of a benching this season, threw for over 300 yards, Richard Seymour contributed 2 sacks, McFadden had his second consecutive 100 yard game... the list could go on. Heck, until midway through the fourth quarter this game was a shutout. Don't call Oakland contenders just yet, but what they have done so far this season is definitely impressive.

Next Week's opponent: At home against the Kansas City Chiefs

What to look for: Two surprising teams? Sounds good to me! Oakland's offense has been firing on all cylinders in the past two weeks, so let's see if the Chiefs' middle-of-the-pack defense can contend with that. On the other hand, the Chief's running game has been their major strength so far this season - behind the double-headed monster of Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles, Kansas City ranks first on the ground so far with an astonishing 190 yards/game. Success for Oakland will depend on whether they can hold this duo to a low average, their only chance to win the battle of possession time. The Chiefs have won 7 in a row in Oakland against their divisional opponents. Let's see if that streak can last.

Last Game against the Chiefs: Oakland 10, Kansas City 16 in Oakland

The Standout last time: Jamaal Charles - 18 carries, 103 yards (5.7 y/c), 1 TD

Prediction: Kansas City 17 - Oakland 13






Pittsburgh's Last Three Opponents

 

1.

The Name: Miami Dolphins

When we last met: Last Week (Week 7); won 23-22

The Game: 22-14 away against the Cincinnati Bengals

The Standout:  Dan Carpenter (kicker) - 5/5 on field goals, 1/1 on extra points

Promising: Winning the time of possession battle - 33:29 to 26:31

Look the other Way:  Cameron Wake - after a dominant start into the season, he had just 1 solo tackle and 0 sacks

What happened: For the second week in a row, the Dolphins scored 22 points. In the past two weeks, kicker Dan Carpenter has made 10 field goals, and is responsible for 32 points, an impressive 73% of Miami's 44 during that span. As mentioned above, Cincinnati got off to a slow start, but once its running game got rolling they were just fine. The defense failed to record a sack, but came away with one interception and should have had a second one when Safety Chris Clemons tipped a pass in the end zone right into Terrell Owens' hands. The most impressive part about this win: The Miami Dolphins are now 4-0 away from home this season, and look to be more than just a bottom feeder with a talented if aging running back corps and a young QB that has some dangerous targets to throw to.

Next Week's opponent: Away against the Baltimore Ravens

What to look for: Can the Dolphins keep their impressive road streak alive? Baltimore is 3-0 at home so far, but come off a bye week after a last-minute OT win at home against the Bills. In that game, Baltimore's supposed weakness - the secondary - crumbled for the first time this season, so look for the Dolphins to attack the Ravens deep with Marshall and underneath with Bess. Both have been pretty impressive this season. The other match ups are pretty clear; we know the Dolphins won't run against the Ravens and the Ravens will have decent success in both phases on offense. So it comes down to whether Chad Henne, a pretty good but so far not stellar QB, can beat a Ravens' secondary that should have had some time to get Reed acquainted with his teammates again.

Last Game against the Ravens: Wild Card Weekend, 1/04/09 - Baltimore 27, Miami 9 in Miami

The Standout last time: Terrell Suggs - 7 tackles (all solo), 1 Sack, 1 INT (returned 44 yards for a TD)

Prediction: Baltimore 24 - Miami 22




2.

The Name: Cleveland Browns

When we last met: Two weeks ago (Week 6); won 28-10

The Game: Bye Week

Next Week's opponent: New England Patriots

What to look for: (copy & paste from above) The trick bag. As I said last week, the tricks Eric Mangini pulled against the Saints in week 6 were pretty impressive considering they came before, and not after, their bye week. With an extra week to prepare, let's see what Mangini can do against his former mentor, Pats coach Bill Belichick. Simply put, New England is an elite team right now and should be able to overwhelm the Browns in defense and passing offense. For the Browns to win, two things need to happen: Josh Cribbs should be utilized in as many was as possible, and Peyton Hillis, with an extra week to rest his sore thigh, needs to have a big day against a mediocre New England rushing defense.

Last Game against the Patriots: October 7, 2007 - Cleveland 17, New England 34, in New England

The Standout last time:Tom Brady - 22/38 (57.9% completions), 265 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, not sacked

Prediction: Cleveland 17 - New England 28


 

 

3.

The Name: Baltimore Ravens

When we last met: Four weeks ago (Week 4); lost 17-14

The Game: Bye Week

Next Week's opponent: Miami Dolphins

What to look for: (copy & paste from above) Can the Dolphins keep their impressive 4 game road winning streak alive? Baltimore is 3-0 at home so far, but come off a bye week after a last-minute OT win at home against the Bills. In that game, Baltimore's supposed weakness - the secondary - crumbled for the first time this season, so look for the Dolphins to attack the Ravens deep with Marshall and underneath with Bess. Both have been pretty impressive this season. The other match ups are pretty clear; we know the Dolphins won't run against the Ravens and the Ravens will have decent success in both phases on offense. So it comes down to whether Chad Henne, a pretty good but so far not stellar QB, can beat a Ravens' secondary that should have had some time to get Reed acquainted with his teammates again.

Last Game against the Dolphins: October 19, 2008 - Baltimore 27, Miami 13 in Miami

The Standout last time: Terrell Suggs - 7 tackles (all solo), 1 Sack, 1 INT (returned 44 yards for a TD)

Prediction: Baltimore 24 - Miami 22


 


Upset of the Week

 

The Name: Green Bay Packers

The Game: 9-0 away against the New York Jets

The Standout: Mason Crosby (kicker) - 3/4 field goals (missed from 45 yards), accounted for all of the Packers' points

Promising: Tramon Williams (CB) - 5 tackles (4 solo), 2 Pass Defenses, 1 INT, 1 Forced Fumble

Look the other Way:  Third Down Completion Percentage - 2/14 or 14%

What happened: So Green Bay is riddled by injuries, they go to play the red hot Jets having won 5 in a row in New York, and Aaron Rodgers has a very pedestrian game while the rushing game nets just 81 yards. Be completely honest, considering all these factors, how likely was a Packers win? It's gotta be extremely low. But alas, the defense steps up big time and forces the first shutout in this young NFL season. Heck, needing only 9 points to win a game? Pretty good! Germany almost scored that many in the world cup against England and Argentina... but I digress. Sorry Josh. As I said, Rodgers had a very pedestrian game, but Mark Sanchez outdid him by throwing 2 interceptions and not getting the offense going whatsoever. The numbers across the board actually look better for the Jets (including yards on the ground and air as well as time of possession), but Green Bay dominated in one category: While they forced three turnovers, New York couldn't come up with a single one. That's how you win the game! Oh, and by scoring more than the other team, which doesn't seem all that difficult when that number is a big goose egg. Impressive.

Next Week's opponent: At home against the Dallas Cowboys

What to look for: Two preseason favorites to win the NFL suddenly look at very different scenarios. Dallas, at 1-6 flat-out desperate, needs to win this game to even have the slightest chance at a playoff spot. Green Bay on the other hand would have liked a better record than 5-3, but will probably take it considering the ridiculous amount of injuries this season. Let's see how John Kitna, coming off a 4 INT performance after replacing the injured Tony Romo, will do against a Green Bay secondary that sports effective ball hawks in Nick Collins and Charles Woodson. If he can throw for more TDs than interceptions, the Cowboys might take this one.

Last Game against the Cowboys: November 15, 2009 - Green Bay 17, Dallas 7, in Green Bay

The Standout last time: Charles Woodson - 9 tackles (8 solo), 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 Forced Fumbles

Prediction: Green Bay 21 - Dallas 20

 

 

And, of course, your German word of the week: aufholen (say: ouf-hole-in) - to catch up

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