By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Lover of Footballology (@colonelcomey)
1. Wes Welker is partying like it’s 2007.
There can’t be many happier men on the face of the earth than Welker these days.
After six years in New England where he went from guy-with-upside to the receiver version of Jim Brown, he had run his course. He didn’t believe in the coach, the coach didn’t believe in him, and he was doing all the dirty work without the glory (almost 700 catches, only 37 touchdowns).
And so, he went to Denver, where he’s taking fewer bone-jarring hits, scoring more touchdowns (six in four games) and playing for what looks like a challenger to his 2007 Patriots for the title of world’s greatest offense.
He’s even got a national ad campaign where his legs are getting chewed off – but don’t worry, it’s just special effects!
Ahhh. Feels good.
Through four games, Denver is doing exactly what Welker's 2007 Patriots did – scoring with such ease that any defensive deficiencies are merely a blip on the radar. Peyton Manning’s start is ri-goddam-diculous: 16 touchdowns, no picks, 1,471 yards. SORCERY!
The tale of the tape through four games:
| || 2007 NE|| 2013 DEN|
|Margin of victory||25||22|
The Broncos are putting up more offense, but aren’t winning quite as decisively; keep in mind that New England maintained those numbers through Week 12 before fading a bit, so there’s a long way for Denver to go.
And if they need advice on how to do it, they can get it from Welker, a.k.a. Mr. All Smiles.
2. Philip Rivers still doesn’t suck.
I wrote about Rivers in Week 2, when he silenced critics with a big effort vs. the Eagles, and he’s now playing well enough that he’d be a fairly easy pick for non-Peyton Manning-MVP through a quarter season.
The Chargers were expected to be an afterthought at best, but they are 2-2 thanks almost exclusively to Rivers, who has thrown 11 touchdowns to two interceptions; the last three weeks, he’s 91 of 113 – that’s 80.5 percent, which is just about impossible with the kind of downfield passing he does.
He hasn’t fumbled, has only been sacked six times, and has a 118.8 passer rating.
Of course, since he plays in the AFC West, and the Chargers are two games back of two teams thanks to shoddy D (25.5 PPG against), he’s lost in the shuffle.
But make no mistake – the best QB in the league from 2008-10 is back, and if it weren’t for a certain Papa John’s line cook, he’d be the frontrunner for MVP.
3. The battle for the “worst running attack” award is quite heated.
Six teams came into the week with rushing averages of under 3.0 a crack, which is pretty rare. How rare? The worst season average in the last six seasons prior was 3.1 by the 2007 Bears.
The bottom three teams after four weeks are all really, really bad – the Rams are at 2.64 after a 19 carry, 18 yard effort, the Ravens rushed nine times for 24 to match St. Louis at 2.64 and the poor Jaguars are at 2.31 after going 40 yards on 18 carries.
Considering the fact that the Ravens and Jaguars have Pro Bowlers in Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew, there’s got to be some interesting film study going on.
4. The instant replay system in the NFL needs to be changed ASAP.
Are you familiar with iPads? They’re these sheet-of-paper-sized devices that allow you to view all kinds of data formerly available only on VHS tapes. They are made by a company called “Apple.” Your 8-year-old has one.
So why doesn’t an NFL ref? Instead, they still have to trot over to a booth to watch a review unfold – or, in the case of Sunday night’s Falcons-Patriots game, not unfold. Bill Belichick challenged a call of a completed catch, and after further review ref Walt Coleman told us that the replay system was not working, so the play stands.
What? Meanwhile, fat men on couches everywhere could see the replay from several different angles … how can “the replay is broke” ever be a valid excuse? The NFL, at the very least, needs to have a referee in the TV booth looking at all the angles, and should probably be talking to the ref in a headset.
Later, with the Patriots clearly having rushed for what would have been a clinching first-down run inside 2:00, the spot on the field showed them short. Replay clearly showed that LeGarrette Blount had gotten the first down … but Coleman ruled otherwise – was the replay booth on the field fixed by then? Did he see all the angles?
The NFL needs to come up with a better plan that utilizes all the technology afforded to them. But in the meantime, check out Best Buy – pretty sure they sell iPads there.
5. And, finally …
Some quarter-season stat projections: Matthew Stafford 5,048 yards, 28 TDs, 12 INTs, Joe Flacco 676 attempts; Adrian Peterson 1,684 yards rushing and 20 TDs; Jamaal Charles 2,008 yards from scrimmage, 16 total TDs; Victor Cruz 104 catches, 1,700 yards, 16 TDs; Andre Johnson 132 catches (and no scores). …
You’ve got to hand it to Greg Schiano: dude sticks to his guns. Doug Martin’s line of 27 rushes and 41 yards was unprecedented – only six times previously had a running back had 27+ carries and 45 or fewer yards. He’s on pace for 400 carries.
Tennessee is 3-1, but with Jake Locker seriously hurt and their next three games against KC, Seattle and San Francisco the long-term prognosis isn’t so hot. …
Ben Roethlisberger’s attempts have gone up each week, from 33 to 37 to 41 to 51. Remember his rookie year, when his lines were on the order of 17-for-22 for 241 yards (and a win going away)? Those were the days.
L.C. Greenwood’s passing Sunday made a bad day even worse for Steeler fans; he leaves Mean Joe Greene as the last surviving member of the “Steel Curtain” front. He fell short of the Hall of Fame, but four Super Bowl rings is a wonderful legacy. …
The Eagles might be 1-3, but they’ve moved the ball in all four games against what’s a pretty tough schedule – with the NFC East up for grabs thanks to overall suckage, and all the offensive pieces still intact, they’re not a bad bet to take that division. …
New England is pretty scary at 4-0 – they’re still making little mistakes, but they’re also breaking in 14 rookies (14!) while still winning games. Maybe the AFC should just fast-forward to Patriots at Broncos in the championship game now.