NFL Watch List Week 2
Did you catch the Guardian’s liveblog of last Monday night’s Minnesota–San Francisco game? The British outfit was covering the game because it featured the NFL debut of Jarryd Hayne, an Australian ex-rugby league player who latched on with San Francisco as a kick returner and backup running back this past summer. His debut got off to a terrible start—he fumbled on his first touch of the ball—but it ended up being a serviceable performance, and the liveblog, by Aussie Matt Cleary, is well worth your time. Two takeaways:
- We need to make a change in the NFL lexicon and drop the phrase “he fumbled” in favor of “he grassed it.”
- It was hilarious and understandable to witness Cleary’s stupefaction at all the stoppages in an NFL game, especially to anyone who’s ever attended an NFL game in person and seen players standing around during the continuous TV timeouts. Given the fact that, according to—among many, many other stories—an article in The Wall Street Journal there are roughly 11 minutes of actual action in the 60 minutes of game time, moments like the following provided a welcome fresh perspective: “Righto. Where are we? Having another break. Is it halftime yet? Do they need it? No one’s sweating. Okay. Niners kick off … and the ball sails over the end zone and into the ether. And the Vikings have the ball. And … there’s another break. Top stuff.”
For this week’s top stuff, we recommend the following five games:
Thursday, September 17
Denver (1-0) at Kansas City (1-0)
Did you know they’re doing a Thursday night game every week this year? It’s true, and that means the NFL is on the dial three days a week—Thursday, Sunday, and Monday—until December, when the Saturday games kick in and the league gets a quorum on the week, four days to three. This Thursday’s installment features two AFC West rivals who each won their openers, and as of this posting, the Chiefs were favored by three points, despite Denver and their noted humorist (Peyton Manning creates Fake Media Injury Report) behind center, who is 6-0 against Kansas City as Broncos QB.
Sunday, September 20
New England (1-0) at Buffalo (1-0)
After downing Andrew Luck and Indianapolis 27–14 in their first game, the Bills were talking big this week, unafraid to provide so-called bulletin-board material for their next opponents, the rule-bending defending Super Bowl champion Patriots. “I hate New England,” said Buffalo safety Aaron Williams. To which everyone outside the northeast corner of the nation replied, “Get in line.” Also, not that anyone needs another reason to hate New England, but here’s a doozy: Tom Brady Endorses Donald Trump.
Tennessee (1-0) at Cleveland (0-1)
Here’s a (probable) matchup of two young quarterbacks, the Titans’ Marcus Mariota and the Browns’ Johnny Manziel, who were both much ballyhooed in college. Mariota produced a dream NFL debut last week, leading Tennessee to a 42–14 win over Tampa Bay and fellow rookie Jameis Winston, and was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts. Manziel, on the other hand, who is likely—but not definite at this point—to start in place of the concussed Josh McCown, struggled through his rookie season last year and is still searching for his first NFL win.
Seattle (0-1) at Green Bay (1-0)
The Seahawks travel to the intimidating Lambeau Field in search of their first win of 2015 in this rematch of last season’s incredible NFC championship game . Green Bay will surely have the memory of Seattle’s dramatic rally for a 28–22 overtime victory—and trip to the Super Bowl—fresh in their minds. It should keep them plenty motivated.
Dallas (1-0) at Philadelphia (0-1)
These longtime NFC East rivals are each coming off close games last week, as the Cowboys pipped the Giants 27–26 (though it’s probably more accurate to say the Giants gifted Dallas the win), and the Eagles fell to Atlanta 26–24. As of this writing, Philadelphia and former Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray were favored by 5.5 points. Side note: We’d rather hang out with arts-and-craftsy Tony Romo from the DirecTV commercial than real Tony Romo.