Another week done and we’re a quarter of the way through the 2017 NFL season already. This week saw some very unexpected results and a rather disappointing game at Wembley Stadium in the second of the NFL London 2017 games as the New Orleans Saints beat the Miami Dolphins 20 – 0. I did a recap of my day in London for the game in another post so which included my thoughts on the game so won’t bore you with it again here.
With only two games left to play in the NFL London series for 2017, I’ve decided I’ll just have a look at those four teams’ games as we get ready to see them play live at Twickenham at the end of October.
Cincinnati Bengals 31 – 7 Cleveland Browns
I suppose I should start with my team, the Cleveland Browns. It doesn’t take much looking past that scoreline to see that they still suck! In my opinion, they are going backwards and getting worse as the season goes on. I’m genuinely struggling to see where a win is coming from this season and I’m starting to think that head coach Hue Jackson might not be in a job before the end of the season is upon us. I’m all for giving a guy and his team around him a chance but it’s a cut-throat business and if they keep regressing, as I think they are at the minute, I can see him gone. I’m trying hard to stay positive about the rebuild and that it’s going to be something like 3-5 years before they’re even shooting for an 8-8 season nevermind a playoff spot, but when you see them going backwards week after week it gets difficult.
QB Kizer is still struggling and I don’t see any progression from him yet. Is this still to be expected? Probably, and when he’s not getting much help from his wide receivers downfield it makes him look worse than he probably is. I’d love to see more 2-TE sets involving TE’s Seth DeValve and David Njoku with RB Duke Johnson in the backfield as those guys all seem to have the better hands and can actually catch passes. Njoku is looking good in the redzone as well and is a big threat there and Duke can run the ball well also.
Perhaps a controversial thing to say so early in the season but I’d like to see Kevin Hogan start at QB instead of DeShone Kizer. Hogan might not be a fashionable option but he’s by far the better QB of the two and is responsible for the only Cleveland points in the two games he’s played in. He came on for Kizer during the still baffling migraine incident against the Ravens in week 2 and moved the offence really well to put them in position to put 10 points on the board and then came on at the end of this game against the Bengals and moved the offence well again and got them in position to allow the brilliant Duke Johnson to get his much-deserved TD.
So there we go, Mr Armchair Coach here has sorted the Browns personnel problems, all except for the wide receivers who just all suck. Kenny Britt had a couple of nice catches but on the whole, he sucked again with plenty of dropped catches – he was targeted 8 times and only caught 3, not a great return for the $30+ million he’s being paid. Hue Jackson did kinda admit that he was only playing due to injuries on the team. I’d start Rashard Higgins and Ricardo Louis and let them play and learn then get Kasen Williams involved as much as possible. These guys need to play and be looked at for the future just as much as a QB does.
As for the defence, well, they got owned by the newly coordinated Bengals offence. I doubt it will happen this season as Greg Williams has stated that he has no one else who can play deep, but I’d love to see Jabrill Peppers playing up closer to the line of scrimmage where he can get more involved in the game and help make an impact as he’s a very good player perfectly suited to doing that.
San Francisco 49ers 15 – 18 Arizona Cardinals
Wow, this was a barnstormer, huh? Nothing but field goals up until the overtime period when the legend that is Larry Fitzgerald popped up to snag a good pass from Carson Palmer into a busy endzone to get the hard-fought W.
It looks pretty obvious that the Cardinals have no running game and are missing David Johnson massively. They’ve been so one-dimensional without him. Their passing game, however, looks pretty good, which is a relief as they have no option. The Carson Palmer to Jaron Brown connection looked really good this week as Brown caught 8 of his 12 targets for 105 yards and a 13.1 yard average per catch. RB andre Ellington looks better in the passing game than running in that offence as he snagged 9 of 14 for 86 yards.
It shows that the team are so dependant on the passing game as Carson Palmer is second on the passing yards list so far with 1,282 yards, one spot behind Brady who has passed less but completed nearly the same number.
The offensive line allowed Palmer to be sacked another 6 times this week totalling 17 on the season, which is the most allowed on a QB so far. I guess it could be expected seeing as he has dropped back to pass the most of any QB this season due to the total lack of a running game.
It would appear that the Cardinals are on for another disappointing season of mediocrity and with the LA Rams stepping things up on offence, they could struggle to keep up with them on the scoreboard.
Detroit Lions 14 – 7 Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are still having to play with what could be described as their 3rd choice QB after the injuries to Teddy Bridgewater before the season started and Sam Bradford a couple of weeks ago. Case Keenum has stepped in and had the game of his career last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he led them to a 34-17 win. This week, he played well again but not to the level as last week. He completed just above half of his passes for 219 yards with no TD’s and no INT’s. He looked composed in the pocket that was well held for the most part by the offensive line but he was sacked twice for a loss of 22 yards. It would have been more was it not for his awareness on a couple of occasions to get out of Dodge.
Rookie RB sensation, Dalvin Cook was on for another great game until he got injured in the third quarter. The injury is said to be a torn ACL which has finished him for the season. I’m proper gutted about this as he was one of my favourite players coming out of the 2017 draft, and I couldn’t wait to see him play at Twickenham on October 29th when the Vikings take on my Browns.
Whenever there’s an injury to a player it’s not good news and takes a little something away from the spectacle that is the NFL, but this one is particularly disappointing for me as he’s such a good player to watch.
The play he was injured on was shaping up to be another good run by him but it looked like he caught his foot in the turf as he was about to make a cut to go past a defender. It didn’t look like much at the time but is obviously a huge deal.
Without Cook in the game, the Vikings running attack seemed to fade with Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon just not being on the same level as Cook.
The defensive unit was good and got to Stafford a good number of times which included taking him down six times for sacks – this front seven is a formidable force backed up by a good secondary!
The game was close as the Lions defence is also shaping up to be a good unit, the difference was the brilliant Matt Stafford who is clearly one of the best at his job, but also the fact that RB Ameer Abdullah finally showed up and turned on a performance that we’ve been waiting for for a long time now. He has great skills but just hasn’t seemed to be able to use them for some reason – injury aside. He ran the ball 20 times for 90 yards and a TD.
A tough close game that could have gone either way but resulted in a Vikings loss and a 2-2 record.
LA Rams 35 – 30 Dallas Cowboys
Well, there’s not a lot I can say about this game with any authority or personal opinion, to be honest. That’s not because of the nature of the game or the result etc. but rather because I watch the games via the GamePass app and, to be blunt, it’s the biggest pile of steaming shite I’ve ever had the misfortune to subscribe to.
Even though this game is the cover image for their app and is the Game of the Week on their app, it is “blacked out” in the option that I usually watch these none-Browns games.
So, because of the companies total ineptitude, I haven’t had a chance to watch this great looking game yet.
All I can say is that it looks like RB Todd Gurley is back! He looks to have had a stunning game with a combined 215 yards and 1TD. QB Jared Goff looks to have had a good game as well by completing 21 of 36 passes for 255 yards and 2TD’s. It also looks like the offensive line has gelled as Goff was only sacked once and Gurley must have had some nice holes to run through to get all those yards. But I wouldn’t know because the European GamePass is so appaling right now. The sooner they get rid of this app development company the better!
Title image: Michael Ainsworth / AP