Tuesday, September 27, 2011

MVPs and LVPs: Week 3


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Buffalo Bills (The entire team, special distinctions go to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the defense):

I said last week that it might be time to start thinking that these guys are for real. This week definitely asserts that. As a Patriots fan, this game was hard to swallow, and it will be a long time before I forgive Chad Ochocinco for dropping that likely TD pass late in the fourth quarter, but I have to hand it to the Bills, they looked really impressive. It takes a lot to come back from a 21-0 lead, especially against the Patriots, but Ryan Fitzpatrick did just that, throwing for 369 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs to overtake and beat the Patriots 34-31, along with some phenomenal help from Fred Jackson, David Nelson, Stevie Johnson, and the rest of the Bills offense. It also takes a special defense to make Tom Brady look foolish, and the Bills picked him off 4 times, matching his total number of interceptions for the entire 2010 season (although much of that was Brady's fault). It was a well-played game by the Bills, who are now 3-0 and 1st in the AFC East, ahead of both the Patriots (2-1) and Jets (2-1), and was an exhilarating game to watch.

Torrey Smith (WR, Baltimore Ravens):

Another hard game to swallow for me, as Torrey Smith's amazing performance came at the expense of a 37-7 drubbing of the Rams. As a rookie, Torrey Smith had not made much of an impact as a member of the Ravens offense during the first two games of the season. In fact, before Sunday, he had never made a catch during a regular season game; Lee Evans had taken over the number two spot across from Anquan Boldin and occupied the speed receiver slot very nicely. Yesterday, though, Evans was inactive, and Smith made his presence known to the rest of the NFL. Smith caught 5 passes for 152 yards, the first three of which were all touchdown passes for 74, 41, and 18 yards, a total of 133 yards on TD passes alone. I liked Smith coming out of college, but never expected him to perform like this so early. I don't think the Ravens did either. If Smith can continue this kind of production, the Ravens may have found one of the most potent and explosive receivers in the NFL for years to come.

Darren McFadden (RB, Oakland Raiders):

I have to say, part of this comes from me having McFadden on my fantasy team. I was considering not playing him, since he was up against the Jets tough run-stopping defense, and playing Ahmad Bradshaw instead, as the Eagles defense seemed like a better matchup. I decided to play McFadden; in hindsight, I should have played both of them (and not Michael Turner instead of Bradshaw), but McFadden in particular had a beast of a day. He ran for 171 yards on 19 carries against the Jets defense for 2 TDs - that's an impressive day against any defense, but especially against one of the premier run defenses in the league. The Raiders won the game 34-24, but the real story here for me was McFadden. He currently leads the league in rushing yards with 393 after 3 games and has 84 yards receiving on 11 catches, and Mike Silver of Yahoo Sports makes a case that McFadden might be proving himself to be the best running back in the NFL not named Adrian Peterson. With the way other backs in the NFL are performing, it sure looks that way.

Calvin Johnson (WR, Detroit Lions):

Who would have thought that both the Bills and the Lions would be 3-0? I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but Detroit sure looked like a playoff-caliber team Sunday, coming back from a 20-0 deficit against the Vikings to win 26-23 in overtime. But the real player of the game was Johnson. He caught 7 passes for 108 yards and the only 2 TDs of the game for the Lions - he also caught a great catch that put the Lions in position to kick the game-winning field goal in OT. It seemed that whenever Matthew Stafford wasn't sure what to do, he would just throw it in Johnson's general direction and know that he would come down with a catch. It was a great win for the Lions, a horrible defeat for the Vikings (that's their third game in a row that they've lost after leading in the first half), and the Lions won for the first time in Minnesota since 1997.


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Minnesota Vikings (The entire team - no special distinctions):

It really makes one wonder when this statistic is thrown out: the Vikings have now become the fifth team in NFL history to blow three straight leads of 10 points or more. The only team to do it twice? The Minnesota Vikings. I thought the Vikings would be last in the NFC North this year, but this is sad. The Vikings are now 0-3, and there isn't much for them to do; a lot of people are pointing to the declining skills of Donovan McNabb as the cause, but even though he isn't looking good, there is plenty of blame to be placed on both sides of the ball. All they can really do now is pick themselves back up and hope that next week turns out better, because right now, things don't bode well for the rest of the Vikings' season.

Antonio Cromartie (CB, New York Jets):

I'm not saying the loss to the Raiders was Cromartie's fault. A lot of it had to do with the Raiders (especially McFadden) just playing really darn well. But after his monster game last week against the Jaguars, I had hoped the days of the bumblin'-stumblin' Cromartie were behind him. Instead, Cromartie was making mistakes all over the place - forcing penalties, flubbing kick returns, and just generally getting dominated by the Raiders. Darelle Revis is one of, if not THE, best corners in football, but a team is only as good as its weakest link. Cromartie needs to help support the Jets secondary (and especially Revis) by, at the very least, not making silly errors.

Tom Brady (QB, New England Patriots):

After two straight weeks on my MVP list, it's hard to put Brady here. But after his game against the Bills, it's hard not to. He threw 4 INTs, one of which was returned for a TD - that's equal to the total number of interceptions Brady threw throughout the entirety of last year (during the regular season). If you discount the interceptions, Brady had a good game (30 of 45 for 387 yards and 4 TDs). Much of the Bills' comeback win had to do with Buffalo playing great, but it's hard to believe that the Pats would have lost if it had not been for Brady's mistakes.

Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Line:

For a few seconds here, I'm gonna weigh in my thoughts on Michael Vick's comments about "being on the ground constantly." It was directed at officials (a quick tidbit: the Eagles have been the recipient of more roughing the passer penalties in the past two years than any other team in the NFC East - just sayin), but it also should be a shot at his offensive line. Despite their best efforts to upgrade, the O-line in Philly just looks shoddy and slow. They had four false starts in the last game alone, and have allowed Vick to be sacked 4 times in 3 games, not to mention all the times he's been hit after releasing the ball. They flailed in short yardage situations Sunday - when it's your job to move a defensive lineman just a yard off the ball so that the runner can get through, and you can't even do THAT, you have a serious problem. Vick has a right to be frustrated after getting a concussion, hurting his hand, and getting knocked down on almost every play. He's just pointing the finger at the wrong guys.

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