ORANGE’S 3 CLOSEST NFL TEAMS COULD ALL BE PLAYOFF-BOUND
After the Dallas Cowboys’ pathetic showing against the ho-hum Tennessee Titans Nov. 4, the fans at AT&T Stadium were stirring with unrest, like there was something very wrong with the team.
Word around the Dallas area was that The King (owner Jerry Jones) was going to make a major move by either firing Head Coach Jason Garrett or replace offensive coordinator Scott Linehan because of the lackluster offensive performance the past couple of games.
Loyal fans were wondering why the Cowboys could score 40 points against Jacksonville and then falter tremendously against Washington and Tennessee the next two games.
Jones did fire offensive line coach Paul Alexander and his assistant Marc Columbo which must have shook up the entire staff as they prepared last week to play the defending world champion Philadelphia Eagles on national television Sunday night.
The Cowboys’ vaunted offensive line made holes for running back Ezekiel Elliott that a Mack truck could go through and the former Ohio State star chalked up more than 150 yards rushing.
And whenever Zeke gets more than 100 yards rushing, the Cowboys usually win because it opens the passing lanes for young quarterback Dak Prescott. Dallas led the entire game and won 27-20 and all of a sudden were tied for second place in the NFC East standings behind the leading Washington Redskins.
Speaking of the Redskins, they host the red-hot Houston Texans Sunday, who are riding a six-game winning streak after starting the season with three straight losses and are coming off a bye week.
It is the second-longest win skein in franchise history. The Texans are the first team since the 1970 New York Giants to start the season with three losses and then win six in a row.
The Texans are favored by a field goal and a Houston win certainly would benefit the Cowboys, who travel to meet the faltering Atlanta Falcons.
Defensive stalwart J.J. Watt examined his team’s situation. “To go from 0-3 to 6-3 is very difficult. There’s no magic potion,” he told the Houston Chronicle last week. “Our first two wins were in overtime. When you go through those, you learn to never give up hope.”
Seven of the nine games have been decided by seven or fewer points. The Texans won three and lost one that were settled by three or fewer points.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been playing with a partially collapsed lung, a broken rib and a bruised sternum.
When the Texans were 3-3, Watson averaged 36 passes per game and was sacked 25 times and knocked down an additional 65 times according to the Chronicle article.
Over the last three games Head Coach Bill O’Brien has developed game plans designed to keep Watson healthy by calling more running plays. As a result, the Texans lead the NFL with 274 rushes. In the last three games Watson has averaged 22.6 passes while the running game has netted 142.3 yards per game.
The hottest team in the NFL is the New Orleans Saints, who lost their season’s opener 48-40 to Tampa Bay and has won eight consecutive games since then. Since that first game the Saints’ defense has stiffened while the offense just keeps piling up the points.
The main reason for the potent offense is quarterback Drew Brees, who led the Saints past Cincinnati Sunday 51-14 with scoring drives on their first five possessions. The three touchdowns he threw in the first half moved him ahead of Brett Favre for second place on the career list.
New Orleans’ 45-35 victory over the previously undefeated Los Angeles Rams removed them from the shadow of the Rams and suddenly became then team to beat in the NFC.
The road to the Super Bowl appears to run through New Orleans.
KWICKIES…One of my favorite baseball players, Willie McCovey, died last week at the age of 80. During his career McCovey hit 521 home runs which tied Ted Williams for eighth all-time. His 18 grand slams remain an NL record.
Besides winning nine of their 10 games so far this season, the Kansas City Chiefs have the distinction of NEVER losing a coin flip this season.
And speaking of the KC Chiefs, their red-hot youthful quarterback Patrick Mahomes has already broken Len Dawson’s 50-year-old touchdown record as he keeps leading his team to victory.
Orange native Wade Phillips and head coach Sean McVay were among the 45 members of the LA Rams forced to evacuate their homes because of the wild fire that has been menacing their area for the past few days.
The 51 points the New Orleans Saints put on the Bengals in Cincinnati Sunday must have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back as defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was fired Monday.
JUST BETWEEN US…Last weekend was one in which several teams suffered upsets by teams nobody thought would win. Leading the parade was the New England Patriots who were mauled by the Tennessee Titans 34-10. It could have been a case of the pupil beating the teacher as Titans new head coach Mike Vrabel must have paid close attention to Head Coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia while playing for the Pats and came up with a brilliant game plan. The Buffalo Bills didn’t have a lead in any game for the past month yet had the New York Jets on the ropes 31-3 at the half, beating them 41-10. Replacing Hue Jackson must have inspired the Cleveland Browns as they soundly defeated Atlanta 28-10. And the Philadelphia Eagles have yet to cure their “Super Bowl hangover” as the Dallas Cowboys never trailed in Sunday night’s 27-20 win. The Eagles have only scored more than 21 points on one occasion.