Dinero Talks: Week 6 Recap
October 21, 2015
By Tony Mejia
Did you hear the one about Pete Carroll returning to USC?
Maybe people are getting sentimental about that 30 for 30 documentary recalling the good ol' times, but he shot down any chance of that on Monday. Still, there it was, hot believable gossip. Those kind of stories pop up right about this time, when you've dropped two straight again, the latest a soul-crushing setback threatening to remove that cloak of invisibility at home.
Losing, especially when you've won big and weren't expected to fall off this soon, sets off chaos. See Fred Jackson's one-car crash on Tuesday. When it's going poorly, the universe piles on.
Maybe that's why Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor bickering as the Panthers celebrated a game-winning touchdown felt like the beginning of the end.
Carolina loss can still be late wakeup call
There have been whispers about behind-the-scenes drama, but those don't grow into noise without disharmony on the field. Despite opening the season as the Super Bowl favorite according to Sportsbook.ag (5-to-1), there was always reason to fear a Seattle meltdown.
Beyond the well-publicized Chancellor holdout, there has long been talk of disharmony between Russell Wilson and some of the others. Jealousy. They're trivial issues easily brushed off your shoulder when you're on top of the world. Marshawn Lynch signed a three-year, $31 million deal to return, but it's always felt like his playing future from now will be determined on a year-to-year basis. That he got banged up early and temporarily became unavailable week-to-week has made getting him going even more of a chore.
Adding new tight end Jimmy Graham sounded great on paper, but struggled to acclimate to a new system, especially since it required him to block so much. Top LB Bobby Wagner has been dealing with a strained pectoral muscle and missed Week 6.
Most important, center Max Unger and guard James Carpenter followed the act of tackle Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuinstan in departing for greater riches this past offseason. The Seahawks offensive line has made strides, but it's a work in progress.
So all that's probably why the Seahawks sit at 2-4 right now. Their wins have come at home against the LIons and Bears. The losses have been suffered at the hands of three current unbeaten teams (Packers, Bengals, Panthers) and the Rams, on the road against a divisional opponent. That's also the challenge that awaits them on Thursday night in San Francisco.
Nothing has gone smoothly, but you also don't want to lose sight of the fact the Seahawks have had all the issues highlighted above and haven't exactly been dreadful either.
Safety Earl Thomas revealed that on Greg Olsen's impossibly easy game-winning TD catch, Sherman made a mistake in not recognizing the signal everyone else picked up on. He was in the wrong coverage, which Chancellor, the defensive captain, understandably took issue with. Teammates are allowed to yell at one another, even though doing so publicly is always going to look awful. Frustration, like chaos spills over when you lose. It's at least healthy everyone still cares so much.
Over the course of the season, including the 2-3 start, the Seahawks have resided as the projected Super Bowl champion in VI's Power Poll, a projection that hadn't changed all season until this week. Green Bay now takes that designation and has earned it given its ability to overcome losing Jordy Nelson. Still, giving up on Seattle's run for redemption didn't come without much reflection.
This might just end up being the right time to get in on the two-time defending NFC champs, who are currently +200 at Sportsbook.ag to win the NFC West, 9-to-1 to win the NFC and 17-to-1 to win the Super Bowl. Because Arizona inexplicably lost a lead to the Landry Jones-led Steelers at Heinz Field, Seattle is only two games back of the division-leading Cardinals and won't face them for the first time until mid-November.
They could very easily get hot and win the division, but you get the feeling their resurgence has to start on Thursday night in San Francisco. A win there and at Tony Romo-less Dallas on Nov. 1 will get the Seahawks to their bye week at 4-4. They'll have five home games on the back half of their schedule, including that first date with the Cardinals coming out of their bye week.
The sky is falling, but it hasn't crashed down just yet. It should be telling to see what type of effort they put forth against the rival 49ers and a hot Colin Kaepernick they've managed to cool off for most of his career.
NFL Week 6 recap snapshot
Best games: 1. Packers 27 Chargers 24, 2. Patriots 34 Colts 27, 3. Broncos 26 Browns 23 OT
Worst games: 1. Eagles 27 Giants 7, 2. Dolphins 38 Titans 10, 3.Vikings 16 Chiefs 10
Best players: 1. QB Colin Kaepernick, 49ers: 16-27 340 yds 2 TD vs Baltimore, 2. QB Philip Rivers, Chargers 43-65 503 yds, 2 TD at Green Bay, 3. RB Chris Ivory, N.Y. Jets: 20-146 yds TD vs Washington
Best plays: 1. Pittsburgh WR Martavis Bryant took a short slant from Jones and went on an 88-yard wild ride through the Arizona defense, breaking a tackle and then running through and around everyone else to put away an upset of the Cardinals, . 2. Seattle WR Ricardo Lockette did his part to avoid Sunday's home upset, going up right over the head of Panthers DB Kurt Coleman to finish off a 40-yard TD off a flea-flicker thrown by Wilson. 3. Bengals WR Marvin Jones made a ridiculous over-the-shoulder 42-yard catch on a throw from Andy Dalton that seemed to drop from 50 feet in the sky despite being sandwiched by two defenders. It set up a 10-yard TD grab two plays later.
Best coaching jobs: 1. To keep his team locked in despite a healthy deficit against the two-time defending NFC champs speaks volumes about where Marvin Lewis has his team mentally. Dalton deserves a ton of the credit too, but Lewis has his Bengals poised and confident enough to trade blows and make plays against a fellow heavyweight. 2. Atlanta's Dan Quinn didn't have a healthy Julio Jones to lean on and saw his team play down to Washington's level. Still, they hung in there and twice took a lead in the fourth in a game they trailed through three quarters, finally winning in OT on a defensive play. Given how low the Falcons fell last season, winning a game like this was a huge step forward. 3. Pittsburgh's Tomlin gets credit for his gamble paying off, not to mention winning thousands of miles from home. It certainly helped the cause to have so many Terrible Towels being waved Qualcomm. Steeler nation dropped a key assist.
Worst coaching jobs: 1. Oh boy, Chuck Pagano might be serious that he doesn't want to coach again after his stint in Indy comes to an end. He's continuously having to take blame for blunders, and that fake punt debacle has got to be up there as one of the season's worst plays. WR/non-snapper Griff Whalen handed off to safety Colt Anderson on 4th-and-3 from the Colts' own 37 on a fake punt formation where they ended up off-set left by themselves in an attempt to get the Patriots to jump offsides. Sure, Pagano isn't entirely to blame for Whalen's ill-conceived snapping of the ball, but why he would choose to go to a gimmick and that point in the game was incomprehensible. Considering it was only 27-21 and set up a Patriots touchdown, it ended up costing Indy the game. 2. There's no question Arizona's Bruce Arians is losing sleep over the missed opportunity in Pittsburgh. The opportunity to feast on a third-string QB while moving to 5-1 was there for the taking in a dominant first half where the Cardinals simply couldn't gain separation despite out-gaining the Steelers 279-59. 3. Not to pile on Carroll, but it's his job to get a veteran defense on the same page. The immense miscue gets him a mention here.
Steam plays: Sharp money came in early on the Eagles/Giants going under on Monday night, which was a fluke of a win given all the turnovers. Going big on the Lions/Bears over was a strong winner. Losses came in on under calls in Denver/Cleveland and Cincinnati/Buffalo. The early push that came in on the Patriots and Jaguars also failed to yield a winner. In Dineroland, it was a profitable Sunday at 7-4, but like most, the Colts cover hurt.
Close calls and bad beats: Due to Pagano and the Colts helping the cause, New England was in prime position to cover the 9-10 points that most were laying on Sunday night. Andrew Luck got hot on the Colts final drive and navigated an 8-play, 85-yard drive that ended with a Whalen TD catch with just 1:19 left. Adding to the sting, Rob Gronkowski came up with the onside kick and seemed game to race down the sideline to break the hearts of Colts-backers but stepped out of bounds.
The Browns and Bears looked like it was headed under 42 for the better part of the afternoon, as Denver entered the fourth quarter up 13-7. The teams ended up combining for 26 in the fourth to set up OT in producing 49 points.
Despite leading 13-0 entering the fourth, the Vikings nearly fumbled away a cover laying 3.5 as the Chiefs scored 10 quick points to put even a win in jeopardy. The defense managed to hold up and a 10-play drive that helped cool off the KC offense culminated in a Blair Walsh 45-yard field goal that helped produce the 16-10 final.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco hit Kamar Aiken to close out a 14-play drive with a 2-yard score to pull within 25-20 with 5:14 left, bringing in the over of 43.5.
Key injuries: Steelers OT Kelvin Beachum (ACL/OFY), Steelers QB Mike Vick (Hamstring,out at least 1 week), Chiefs WR Jeremy Maclin (concussion, questionable), Broncos LB Shane Ray (MCL sprain, out 4-6 weeks), Titans C Brian Schwenke (Ankle/OFY), Bills WR Sammy Watkins (Ankle, questionable), Bills DT Kyle Williams (Knee, out), Texans CB Kareem Jackson (Ankle, doubtful), Chargers WR Keenan Allen (Hip, probable), Jaguars TE Julius Thomas (Rib, questionable), Titans QB Marcus Mariota (Knee, questionable), Jaguars WR Allen Robinson (Leg, questionable), Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (Sprained AC joint, questionable), Chiefs LB Mike DeVito (Concussion, questionable).
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA
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