NFL Week 7 Recap: 5 Things I Think

1-Inconsistent NFL teams, I judge thee!

Every year in the NFL there are teams that surprise and teams that disappoint. We always spend the first couple months of the NFL season separating the wheat from the chaff and making determinations about what teams are “good” and what teams are “bad.” The picture is much clearer now than it was back in September, but there are still some teams that we are mislabeling. I’m ready to make some definitive statements about a few of these teams now that we have seen nearly half the schedule (bold, I know). Geographically challenged Carolina isn’t very good, but they were sitting in the top 5 of the power rankings even after losing at home to Philly last week. The Rams are pretty good, even though the public keeps underestimating them (as evidenced by the gambling lines we see each week). Pittsburgh, New England, Minnesota, and Seattle are solid. San Fran, Cleveland, Indy, and the Giants suck. I’m still too chicken to assign a concrete designation to the Jaguars, Cowboys, Falcons, and Bills, but I do have my suspicions.

2- Joe Thomas is kind of a generic name, but that man is unique

In the 2007 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns had the third overall pick and drafted a highly touted offensive tackle by the name of Joe Thomas. Over the last 10 years he has been their best football player and has stuck with the franchise through thick and thin. On Sunday he suffered an injury to his left triceps that ended his season and the Browns went from bad to worse. The last time anyone else started at LT for them was the final game of 2006. Joe played more than 10,000 consecutive offensive snaps; always excelling, never whining. I have used this space the last two weeks to bemoan the injuries that have plagued us this season, but I have yet to mention an offensive lineman. I wish everyone could be the pro that Joe Thomas has been. We wish you a speedy recovery, #73.

3- Zebras are people too

I don’t think that Marshawn Lynch is an idiot, but I think the guy has poor judgement and a temper. You can’t run out on the field and make contact with an official. I know we all hate the zebras and think that they suck, but the truth is they are super important. Our confidence in these full-time-but-seasonal employees to be beyond reproach and above intimidation is what makes the competition compelling. The minute that we stop believing that the officials are neutral and that they are trying to enforce an impossible rule book, this game becomes professional wrestling. It’s a tough job that the rules committee seems to keep making even tougher and it’s absolutely thankless to boot. If the refs are doing their job well, we never notice they are even out there. Give ’em a break, Marshawn.

4- Diva wide receiver demands trade in turn of events that shocks no one

On Sunday Pittsburgh WR Martavis Bryant got fed up with his minor role in the Steeler offense and demanded a trade. He ran down a teammate on his way and established himself as “next” in a long line of Steel Town wideouts with an attitude problem. In the era of Big Ben, they have definitely been a passing team, but, ironically, the mind is always drawn to an image of smashmouth football when the iconic Steelers are invoked. I guess that’s why it’s so weird that we have this developing thread of disgruntled pass catchers. Plaxico Burress. Mike Wallace. Martavis Bryant. Even all-pro Antonio Brown has had his dramatic episodes. Their division sucks and they’re gonna win it going away, but, as Chris pointed out to me, you have to wonder about the leadership there.

5- Tom Brady deflated all the footballs before Sunday Night Football last night (I assume)

I need a favor. Can someone reading this in the Atlanta area please let the Falcons know that the game started? Thanks. Seriously though, what the f$#% was that? As fans we put way too much stock into the emotion of the game. Players are people and, therefore, emotional beings, but most of what they do is born of practicing a skill over and over. Professional athletes will tell you that, by and large, once you step out there, the training and preparation take over. Having said that, I still wanted Atlanta to “play mad” last night and they just didn’t. They play in a division of teams that all have issues, so I am not as willing to write them off as Chris, but they have some soul searching to do. And I will happily take this opportunity to crow about a correct prediction I made back before the season started. Atlanta got throttled in that highly anticipated rematch, just like I said they would.