Top 5 Games of Last Week (9/15/14 – 9/21/14)
It’s rare that the most anticipated game of the weekend lives up to the hype, but the Denver-Seattle game did just that on Sunday. Though there were injuries to many significant players Sunday, almost every game was worth watching. In scrutinizing today’s NFL, there are few things they get right, but one of them is parity.
#5. Indiana Hoosiers at Missouri Tigers
Amidst the 40 and 50 point blowouts on Saturday, the Indiana-Missouri game stood out. Trading scores for most of the game, Indiana and Missouri looked more evenly matched on the field than they did on paper. Indiana coach Kevin Wilson wanted his team to “play with their hair on fire,” and they did just that, driving down the field in the fourth quarter, down three points, to score the winning touchdown with 22 seconds left on the clock. Indiana fans, you’ve got to be happy about paying just $69.61 to watch your team beat the Tigers at home. Without a doubt, it’s the bang-for-your-buck game of the week.
#4. San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals
Raise your hand if you took the 2-0 Cardinals seriously entering Sunday? Uh huh, and now raise your hand if you take them seriously after Sunday’s comeback against the 49ers? Yeah, me too. The much maligned Cardinals backup Drew Stanton didn’t just sit on his laurels and let his defense take care of business; he had the fifth highest QBR on Sunday, ranking above the likes of Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson. WTF, right? The man who once ran out of the back of the Lions end zone to avoid a sack now steps into throws with confidence, and he made the 49ers secondary pay several times Sunday. Down 14-6 entering halftime, the Cardinals didn’t let the 49ers back into the end zone, winning 23-14.
#3. Dallas Cowboys at St. Louis Rams
All anyone can talk about in regards to Dallas is how much better their defense is playing this year. Please. This is the St. Louis Rams! Led by a third string quarterback and a league-worst receiving core. These Rams have passes land in their hands, drop them, and then push their QB on the sideline, blaming him (*cough* Jared Cook *cough*). The story from this game is not that the Cowboys matched the franchise’s biggest comeback ever; the story is that the Rams pressed the self-destruct button in a game they’d already won.
#2. Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles
Sporting the NFL’s top ranked offense, the Philadelphia Eagles just can’t seem to lose, even when they’re trailing by 10 points or more in every game this season. They find a way. The Washington offense, meanwhile, is much improved. Of course, when your offense is actually a threat to the opposing team, it tends to place your defense under the spotlight, meaning they have to make stops. Surprise, surprise – Washington’s defense is a a glorified sieve. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was kept on by the new coaching administration in Washington, but his defenses have struggled every season. Still, legal or not, his defense did manage to get big hits on Eagles QB Nick Foles, who stood strong in the pocket to deliver throw after throw nonetheless. It paid off, the Eagles winning a close one, 37-34.
#1. Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks
Retooled, renewed, and looking for revenge, I thought the Broncos would ride Manning’s arm to retribution. But for much of the game, the Broncos looked out of sorts and out of place. Manning was confused, Wilson confounded the Broncos D, and Marshawn Lynch ran over anyone that got in his way. But come the fourth quarter, as he so often does, Manning provided a spark for his team, nimbly dodging and weaving in and out of lineman to avoid pressure, Manning (yes, Manning) pushed the ball downfield, trusting his surgically repaired neck and arm to get the ball where it needed to be. It worked. The Broncos tied the game, but it wasn’t meant to be. The Seahawks won, 26-20 in OT. The ticket price for the best game of the week? An outrageous $349.o0 on average. Whoa.