San Francisco 49ers 24 Arizona Cardinals 3- The Post Game Breakdown

The 49ers once again proved why they are indeed the class of the NFC West.  They make the leap to 6-2 after crushing the Cardinals in the “Big Toaster” by three touchdowns.

The game did start off promising for Arizona.  The fans were rowdy, causing the 49ers to burn a couple of timeouts and forcing some penalties.  We saw right off the bat what Arizona’s game plan was on their very first drive- quick sticks, screens, and overall some very high percentage passes.  Much to the despair of John Skelton and his team, the 49ers were on their game this night.  Alex Smith dissected the Cards completing 18-19 (95%) of his passes for 232 yards with 3 scores.  No quarterback has been this accurate since Kurt Warner’s historic day against Jacksonville in 2009 (when he hit on 24-26 of his passes for a stellar 243 yards and 3 scores).  Actually the only Smith incompletion on the night was a Delanie Walker drop, but I digress.  Circling back to the game, I saw a lot of good things on both sides of the ball for San Fran.  Their defense held Arizona to only 69 yards of offense in the first half, while they tallied up 212 yards.

Michael Crabtree made Patrick Peterson look bad in this game.  On his first TD reception, he plucked a perfect Smith pass right over the top of Peterson’s helmet.  On his second TD catch and run, he spun the second year corner around and sprinted right into the end zone.  He also blew a coverage that allowed Delanie Walker to eat up 23 yards.  Before you start thinking that I am picking on Peterson, I feel inclined to mention that I am simply pointing out one of the poor performances that the Cardinals turned in.  It is easiest to see in a star player like Patrick.  The Arizona offensive line also played very poorly, but at this point that is almost to be expected.  They blocked well enough for only 7 yards rushing, and surrendered four sacks.  Skelton did miss Fitzgerald running deep in the end zone late.  All and all, this was just a very poor performance turned in by Arizona.

As was pointed out on the telecast, this is the fourth game in five played that the 49ers have held their opponents without a TD.  You can make the argument that those four teams did not have great offenses, but I would tell you it does not matter.  It is hard to dominate NFL teams the way the Niners have been doing this year.  After their crushing defeat to the Giants, and Alex Smith’s poor play over the past two games, fans of this team may have been a little worried, but Smith redeemed himself tonight.  The Cardinals will head to Green Bay this weekend as the 49ers enjoy a BYE week next week.  So the impressive win for San Francisco unearths many more problems for the Cardinals.

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Monday Night Football: San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals- Pregame Breakdown

Very quickly, I am going to give my thoughts on tonight’s big NFC West divisional match-up.  The 49ers have won 7 of their last 10 games together.  This record dates back to the Kurt Warner era.  All time, San Francisco is up 24 games to 17.  These games are usually lower scoring street fights with a lot of hitting.  In contests like these, the obvious pick would be the team that can hit the other.  In this case, the Niners should have a leg up on an Arizona team that is quickly losing control of their season.  That’s right.  I’m picking the previously 4-0 Cardinals to slip to 4-4.  San Francisco will simply be tougher in a very physical game.

San Francisco 20, Arizona 13

Oakland Raiders 26 Kansas City Chiefs 16- The Post Game Breakdown

I don’t know about you, but I think that this game told us more about the Chiefs than it did the Raiders.  I watched this game in whole, and it reminded me of any typical Chiefs game this year; costly penalties, poor offensive execution (dropped passes, botched snaps, mental errors), and TURNOVERS.  Yes, the drum beats steady for the Chiefs- they cannot hold onto the football.  They are like the Eagles in the sense that if they could hold onto the ball a little better, then they could have a couple more wins.  Once again, the Chiefs get owned at home, and lose again at home to Oakland (that’s now 6 in a row in Arrowhead for the Raiders).

Brady Quinn went down early with a head injury and did not return.  It’s not like it was a major loss though.  When he left he was 2-4 for 1 yard with a pick.  A couple of big hits put on by the Raiders helped knock him out.  Actually, Oakland was able to get consistent pressure on both KC QBs.  It was an inauspicious start for the Raiders.  Carson Palmer threw a pick on the first play of the game, but the Chiefs were not able to cash in and turn it into points.  Kansas City still has not lead during regulation this season.  The turnovers have bogged them down, along with careless mistakes.

The Raiders were not perfect either.  I saw a couple of dropped passes by their wide receivers.  The offense was inactive at times during this game.  However, they were able to play well on defense, holding the Chiefs to 299 yards.   They did give up a garbage TD to Dexter McCluster at the end of the fourth, but were able to hold the Chiefs to 3 FGs all game.

So my final thoughts after this game are as follows: Can the Raiders contend for the division?  I understand that the Broncos look like they are taking off, and they own a head to head division win but with a few more wins, who knows?  I think that Oakland is in a better position to challenge Denver than San Diego is at this point.  The other thing I am thinking about after this one is this: will the Chiefs be able to clean up their turnovers?  It is fairly safe to say that they are pretty much dead in the postseason picture.  I do believe that if they can cut down on and eliminate turnovers (plus other mistakes) that they can maybe win 4 more games this season.  They may be able to pull a major upset in the future, but for right now the Chiefs need to find anything positive.  They now own the worst record in the NFL (along with Carolina and Jacksonville).  It is key that they find something to build off of for next year.  I believe that it is time for the Chiefs to do a little soul searching.  Maybe a win on Thursday night against the Chargers can help point them in the right direction.  Maybe…

Denver Broncos 34 New Orleans Saints 14- The Post Game Breakdown

The Saints got schooled.  Wow.  The Denver defense completely shut their aerial assault down while putting on a show while they had the ball.  Peyton Manning looked very sharp and Drew Brees looked flat.  This game really could have been even more lopsided than it was.  It’s fair to say that Denver let up at the end (as evidenced by a couple of Lance Ball runs on third down).  The Saints’ defense was absolutely bullied in this game.  Manning threw for yet another 300-yard game.  Meanwhile the Broncos ran wild like they did at times last season.  They galloped for 225 yards.  Come to think about it, 550 yards overall is nothing to shake a stick at.  It is arguable however, that the bigger story coming out of this one isn’t the effectiveness of a Manning driven offense, but the Denver defense smothering the Saints on third down.  Let’s take a closer look.

The Saints started off by going three and out.   Little did we know that this would be the first of six on the evening.  New Orleans was a pedestrian 1/12 on third down (8%) after converting over half of those situations.  Brees was able to extend his consecutive game with a touchdown streak to 50, but that was the only good news of the night.  For the most part, the Saints offense was very depressing.  They had only 14 first downs in the whole game (compared to the Broncos 29).  Brees was only 22-42 for 213 yards.  Once again, they had no running game to lean on.  This was simply not the offense we are used to seeing from the Saints.

I admire what Peyton Manning did tonight.  I can describe what happened throughout the game, but I will let the numbers speak for themselves.  Below I will list all 4 TD scoring drives for the Broncos.  Notice how quickly they take and how many yards they eat up.  The amount of plays differ, but these numbers are really incredible:

Drive #1- 11 plays, 98 yards in 4:38

Drive #2- 5 plays, 56 yards in 2:17

Drive #3- 11 plays, 93 yards in 5:30

Drive #4- 4 plays, 51 yards in 1:57

Notice how the longest drive was only 5 and a half minutes.  Talk about tempo!  Peyton Manning had his team up to the line of scrimmage and checking into the right plays.  As Peyton was doing his thing on the offense, the defense picked up right from where they left off in the second half against the Chargers.  The Saints were held to less than 20 points and 300 yards since Week 17 of the 2009 season.  The Broncos dictated the pace of this game from the gun and the New Orleans defense looked confused all night.  I saw an interesting factoid during the Sunday Night Football broadcast.  This Saints defense is the first one in NFL history to give up more than 400 yards in 7 straight games.

Wesley Woodyard played a great game, 9 tackles/4 assists plus a sack, a forced fumble, and an interception. Champ Bailey was on Colston for a majority of the game and he shut him down.  This Broncos’ defense is for real and combine that with Peyton Manning… look out AFC.  You may be looking at your conference champions!

New York Giants 29 Dallas Cowboys 24- The Post Game Breakdown

The Giants can breathe a very heavy sigh of relief after narrowly escaping the Dallas Cowboys in the “Big D” in a thriller. Tony Romo was up and down during this game throwing 4 INTs and one TD (he ran for another score).  Eli Manning did not throw a TD pass for the first time since Week 1 last year, snapping his 22 game streak.  In the end, the Cowboys could not overcome their 6 turnovers and they did fall in the end.

The game started with a bang, as Eli Manning hooked up with Reuben Randle for 56 yards.  This lead to a FG.  Next, Tony Romo threw his first of four picks to Stevie Brown.  This lead to another FG and a 6-0 Giants lead.  Tony Romo then threw another pick (Corey Webster).  The G-Men were able to turn this pick into points as they took a 13-0 lead early after his TD run.  Later in the quarter Dez Bryant muffed a punt and recovered it, only to fumble again.  Lawrence Tynes then kicked his third FG in the first quarter, putting New York up by 16.

Romo was not done turning the ball over.  He then threw a pick-six to Jason Pierre-Paul early in the second quarter.  With the game 23-0 Tony Romo had to respond.  Late in the second quarter Felix Jones scored a TD.  The Cowboys then added a FG.  So the score was not horrible at 23-10.  Dallas came out in the second half determined to tighten up the game.  They drove right down the field and Romo scored on a fourth and goal with a 1 yard TD run.  The score at this point was 23-17.  The Cowboys’ defense played determined after that, forcing an Eli Manning interception.  John Phillips caught the go-ahead TD pass late in the third quarter.

At this point in the game, the Cowboy comeback was complete.  The Giants rattled off 23 unanswered, then the Cowboys scored 24 in a row to take the lead.  The fourth quarter was a back and fourth battle.  The Giants kicked yet another FG and took a 26-24 lead.  Then a Felix Jones fumble allowed the Giants to add a fifth FG.  Credit Lawrence Tynes for making all 5 of his FGs in this games.  The Cowboys had time to drive down and try to take the lead with a full compliment of timeouts.  Tony Romo threw his fourth and final pick on fourth down to end that drive.  Dallas was able to force a three and out and a punt and then drove down the field.  Romo heaved up what looked like the game-winning TD pass to Dez Bryant with 10 seconds left, only to find out that Bryant’s left had had landed out of bounds.  Two incompletions later and the game clock expired.

To this point I have given a summary of this game.  I would like to point out that the Cowboys defense actually played one heck of a game.  They, as I said before, held Eli Manning without a TD pass.  For the most part, they blanketed Victor Cruz and kept the Giants to just 293 total yards.  It’s easy to say that the Cowboys really should have won this game.  They put up 434 yards on New York, but they did not have the benefit of a running game.  Romo passed for 437 yards, and Jason Witten had a career game receiving (18-167) but it wasn’t enough for Dallas to win.  For the fourth week in a row, the Giants find themselves on top and march into their Week 9 match-up against the Steelers with a commanding lead in the NFC East at 6-2.  However, they have a rough schedule coming up so in my eyes this division is still anybodies for the taking.  The Cowboys travel to Atlanta to take their best shot at knocking off the Atlanta Falcons for the first time this year.

At the end of the day, the Giants are winners of their fourth straight in Dallas, however I think the Cowboys did a good job in this game at exposing some of the issues that New York has.  This was a great game and I am sure that anybody who missed it can catch it on NFL Replay later this week.

Detroit Lions 28 Seattle Seahawks 24- The Post Game Breakdown

I’m happy to report that this should be the last game that I write about without the benefit of actually seeing it (barring a power outage, since I live on the east coast).  Matthew Stafford played brilliantly against a good defense.  Titus Young finally had a breakout game, of course now that Nate Burleson is out with an injury.  He posted 100 yards receiving (on the nose) along with 2 TDs.  Marshawn Lynch had an awesome game, and I am a little confused as to why the Seahawks did not run it with him a little more.  I really wish that I had gotten the opportunity to see this game.  It looked like a good one.  The Lions played one of their best games this season.  They may have been able to rescue their season with this win.  As for the Seahawks, they need to wonder about their defense.  First the 49ers run wild on them, and now Stafford amasses 352 yards.  Do I think Seattle is in trouble on defense?  Heck no, but I do think that they may need to take a look at what they have before taking on Minnesota at home next week.  The ‘Hawks need to play to their strengths from here on out.

I want to note that I will be posting breakdowns for the games between the Panthers and Bears, Raiders and Chiefs, and the Giants and Cowboys a little bit later.  I will get the chance to watch all of these games before the week’s end.  So stay tuned!

Indianapolis Colts 19 Tennessee Titans 13 (OT)- The Post Game Breakdown

I thought that this game was very big for each of these two AFC South rivals.  Coming into this week, I felt like both of these teams had a chance to make the playoffs.  Since the Colts were able to win this game (in what looked like a thrilling finish) they are in a better position than the Titans are.  This was the first road win the Colts have had since the Peyton Manning era.  I didn’t see what happened in this game, but I think that Chris Johnson played okay.  I did see how the Colts won the game in OT.  It was quite impressive; a double pass back to Vick Ballard for a TD.  The Colts have owned the Titans lately, winning 7 of their last 10 match-ups.  Andrew Luck look like he played well, snapping his streak of two games without a TD pass.  He also earned his first road win of his career.  The Colts picked up a nice win, bringing their record above .500 for the first time since 2010.  Meanwhile, the Titans have to prepare for an impressive 6-1 Bears team next week.

In this blog I will preview all NFL games and provide some weekly thoughts.