Necessary Roughness, Week 3: Hello From an Alternate Universe Where the Panthers are Still Undefeated!
￼It’s hard to believe the soap opera that is the National Football League is already in Week 3 of the 2014 season. This week’s drama unfolded on Friday with an uninspired and uninformative press conference held by the league’s over-entitled commissioner, Mr. Roger Goodell. Not much can really be said about the event, because quite frankly, not much was said at the event. It was a very carefully choreographed song and dance that did little to quell the public’s perception of incompetence and unaccountability in the league office. At this point the NFL, specifically Goodell, has moved into self-preservation mode. They’ve essentially hired a task force of domestic abuse experts to help put a band-aid on this whole situation, with the fairly transparent intention of placating the media enough to get them off of their backs… but it backfired. The media did not get the answers they wanted, and as a result the league is under just as much scrutiny as it was last week. I’m not sure the NFL will be able to dig itself out of this hole for quite some time, but I am glad that a serious issue is being addressed. Sports are great, but they are even greater when they can help us evolve as a society. That, to me, is the light at the end of this long and often annoying tunnel.
Fortunately once Sunday afternoon rolls around the talking heads pipe down and we finally get to watch some football games. Ahhhh. Refreshing. The gridiron battles of the day did not disappoint, and excitement was abound league-wide. Upsets, come from behind victories, and good ol’ fashioned offensive shootouts… Week 3 had it all!
Unfortunately, my happiness was completely nullified at approximately 10:45 pm, when I realized my Panthers were not going to start the season 3-0. The stankin’ ass Steelers came to town and steamrolled us into oblivion. I’m not a happy camper right now, and writing this entry is honestly one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. I wouldn’t wish the pain I’m feeling right now on my worst enemy. I still believe the Panthers are the greatest team in the history of sports, and I hope that I somehow wormholed into some parallel universe where the Panthers are a flawed team with a wonky offensive line and a propensity for penalty-laden self-destruction. I’m hanging on to the thread of hope that on Sunday at 8:30 pm my reality was compromised by an alien force, and I was forced to watch a game that didn’t actually occur. Until proven otherwise, I will assume that in the linear timeline widely accepted as Earthly reality, the Panthers are still undefeated and beat the Steelers literally to death.
Since my trans-universal travel didn’t take place until 8:30pm, I was able to witness all of the day games and here’s what grabbed me:
Chargers/Bills: I really like San Diego. They won decisively last week against arguably the best team in the league, and this week they go into a hostile environment against a solid Bills team and pull out a win. Philip Rivers looks like he’s going to have a big year, and I don’t think it’s crazy to think the Chargers could win the AFC West when it’s all said and done. I still like the Bills, and coach Doug Marrone has these guys moving in the right direction. EJ Manuel wasn’t sharp Sunday, but the kid has potential and with New England scuffling a little bit at the moment, Buffalo is still in the hunt.
￼Cowboys/Rams: “Biggest comeback in franchise history.” Big deal. It was against the Rams and you gave up 31 points and 327 yards passing from a third string quarterback. I’m not impressed.
Redskins/Eagles: Probably the most entertaining game I saw. Foles and Cousins were practically in a boxing match, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see who would throw the knockout blow. There was even a real deal brawl in this one. What a game. Ultimately the Eagles got the win, thanks in part to a gnarly sideline catch by Jeremy Maclin. 3-0 start for the birds, and they are asserting themselves as the clearcut favorite in the NFC East.
Texans/Giants: Eli Manning looked like Peyton Manning, Victor Cruz looked like Tom Cruise, and Rashad Jennings went absolutely ballistic. Most importantly for the G-men, they won a damn game for once.
Ravens/Browns: Another really good game. I hated to see the Browns lose this one. I really like Brian Hoyer. But penalties and missed FG’s cost Cleveland the game. Big games for Steve Smith and Lorenzo Taliaferro for the Ravens, and they snatched away a victory in Cleveland.
Seahawks/Broncos: I wish this was the Super Bowl instead of the one that actually took place. This was a far better game, and even though they lost, I think the Broncos can come out of there feeling pretty good about themselves. They went into the toughest place to play in the league, and made that game competitive. Peyton was finally able to crack the code that is the Seahawks defense in the 4th quarter. By the time overtime started both defenses were completely gassed, and I really felt like whoever won that coin toss was going to come out with the W.
49ers/Cardinals: What’s the deal with the San Francisco team? They just look out of sync to me, and a shell of what they were the last two years. I expected the defense to take a step back this year with the suspensions, but the offense is really struggling too. And when is someone going to tell Arizona that they can’t keep winning with a backup quarterback? I love this Drew Stanton kid. Big time clutch plays against what most consider to be an elite defense. I like it.
Chiefs/Dolphins: I don’t know what to think about this Dolphins team. I thought they would win this game by a mile. They are at home, and we all know south florida is hotter than bad breath this time of year, so I thought the 0-2 Chiefs wouldn’t have a chance. Kudos to the Chiefs though. They needed a win in the worst way, and they got it. Nobody wants to start a season 0-3.
Patriots/Raiders: The Patriots won, but if there’s such thing as a moral victory, there’s got to be such a thing as moral defeat. The Pats offense was sluggish at best, and if they were up against any other team, they would have been boo’d out of the stadium. Belichick’s squad is stacked with talent, but they’ve really yet to click this season. They are lucky to be 2-1, and they better start getting things going ￼consistently or they might be in for a disappointing 2014 campaign.
Falcons/Bucs: Damn. Brutal.
Squaring off Monday night are the Chicago Bears, who are coming off a great road win against the 49ers, and a pretty solid Jets team. This one is in New York and I expect it to be a close game. Jay Cutler will be getting pressure from that nasty Jets front so he will have to get it to his playmakers, namely Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, in a hurry. The Jets need to clamp down defensively and limit their offensive mistakes and turnovers to win this one. My gut is telling me Chicago wins this one, 23-17.
As always, I hope everybody enjoyed their weekend and didn’t get sucked into an alternate dimension like I did. Trust me, it’s not a good time.