NFL Week 8 had six teams enjoying their bye weeks, all of whom boast winning records. This was a problem to the many fantasy football players around the world, as a quarterback dilemma presented itself with some of the league’s elite signal-callers unavailable. Like many others I bought into the hype surrounding the Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow, who had produced “heroics” in the fourth quarter of the Week 7 game against the Miami Dolphins to dispel (albeit briefly) the memory of his frankly repugnant first three quarters.
Critics suggested instead the heroes of last week’s game could arguably be some of the other players on Denver’s roster. The stellar work to recover the onside-kick after the Demaryius Thomas touchdown, the impressive Daniel Fells diving catch for the 3-yard touchdown, and eventually the boot of kicker Matt Prater to secure the 18-15 victory in overtime. Adding to that, all of this was against the win-less Miami Dolphins, who have failed to close out a game all season.
Week 8 would provide a much truer test as the Broncos hosted the Detroit Lions at Invesco Field at Mile High The Lions were enduring a two-game skid, but their ferocious front seven had set about a mission to expose the young Broncos quarterback. This prompted the media to dub the contest a “good vs evil” clash, as the snarling, trash-talking, but nevertheless talented Lions defence, embodied by intimidating, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh would oppose the deeply religious Tebow and his fledgling Broncos offense.
When the game was over, the events seen stimulated the same media to provide us with the almost anticipatory “I-told-you-so”. The Broncos succumbed to a 45-10 loss and Tebow was nothing short of horrendous. His stats, although not exactly great, probably flattered him slightly. He completed 18 of 39 passing attempts for 172 yards and a touchdown, most of which came when the game was well beyond The Broncos. Tebow had the ball stripped out of his left hand and scooped up for a touchdown, threw a diabolical interception to Lions’ corner Chris Houston, which was returned 100 yards for a score, and was sacked a total of seven times.
On Monday, Denver coach John Fox told journalists he wasn’t ready to commit to Tebow as his quarterback for next Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders. However, since then he has announced the team plans to stick with the former Florida Gator. Analysts have been quoted as saying the leash for Tebow has become much shorter, as fans at one point called for him to be put in the game may become repulsed by repetitions of what they saw Sunday night. Tebow’s high draft selection position may be one of the reasons he isn’t being allowed the usual amount of leeway given to young quarterbacks. Should he be benched, it is likely the Broncos will turn to third-stringer Brady Quinn.
Elsewhere, the Baltimore Ravens came from way behind as Ray Rice scored a career-high three touchdowns to defeat the Arizona Cardinals 30-27. Olindo Mare missed a 31-yard chip shot for the Carolina Panthers which“““““““““ would have sent the game to overtime in a 24-21 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Running back Steven Jackson led the St Louis Rams to a monster upset of the New Orleans Saints 31-21. The Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger through for 365 yards as the Steelers picked up a huge win at home against the New England Patriots. The “Dream Team” Philadelphia Eagles silenced critical Dallas Cowboys defensive co-ordinator Rob Ryan with 34-7 beat-down. In the Monday game, a botched snap turned fumble in the dying embers of the game by San Diego Chargers QB Phillip Rivers sent the game with the Kansas City Chiefs into overtime, with a Ryan Succop field goal giving the Chiefs the win 23-20.
Suck for Luck?
Andrew Luck, the Stanford University quarterback, is widely projected to be the number one overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft. According to the ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, at this point in time it isn’t even close to being debatable. In 2010, Luck was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year and was unanimously selected to the All Pac-10 First Team. He would have been eligible to be drafted in the 2011 NFL draft, where he was projected also to be the number one pick, but chose to spend another year at Stanford. Luck continues to wow scouts and has caused widespread discussion as to which of the NFL’s most terrible teams will be in position to draft this highly-touted star and be in a great situation at the quarterback for years to come.
I will address the teams who are deemed the most likely at this point to draft high come next summer.
Indianapolis Colts (0-8)
The Colts continue to be putrid, illustrated by their 27-10 whimper loss against a mediocre Tennessee Titans on Sunday, not to mention the humiliation last week against New Orleans. This team simply cannot operate without Peyton Manning, although one has to wonder how many of these games Manning would have been able to win anyway. With Manning probably able to return by the end of the season, it is interesting as to what path they take with the pick. Former Head Coach Tony Dungy has said that Luck should be drafted regardless, and the team should look to trade Manning, which would appear to be an abrupt termination to the tenure of a quarterback who from the looks of things has carried a franchise on his back for some time, even getting them a Super bowl victory.
Miami Dolphins (0-7)
I honestly thought Miami were going to come through on Sunday against the New York Giants. The Dolphins inability to close out games has been their downfall in recent weeks, and the eventual collapse in the 20-17 loss to Eli Manning and the Giants has been par for the course. The quarterback situation though needs some Luck in the worst way. Starter Chad Henne went down earlier in the season but it is highly doubted that anyone viewed him as the answer. Matt Moore has been brought into a tricky situation as his replacement, but he too can’t possibly be seen as anything more than a stop-gap. The Dolphins, unlike the Colts, would have zero motivation to do anything other than draft the Stanford QB.
Seattle Seahawks (2-5)
As shown in the pitiful switching out of the two-headed QB monster that is Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst on Sunday in the 34-12 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle is a horrible mess at the position. The bizarre thing was they decided to go into the season this way. With the division as weak as it is (despite the emergence of the fantastic 49ers) you would have thought the Seahawks would have had a much better plan to seize control of it. In Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin they have a couple of decent receivers who can move the chains, and it isn’t a wonder that some of their fans are secretly hoping that their team is in position to draft Luck next year.
Denver Broncos (2-5)
After my dissecting of the Tim Tebow performance this Sunday, I don’t think there is any further need to explain why Denver badly needs to look into a drafting a quarterback next year. One thing to note is that Denver legend and Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway has probably had Luck targeted for quite some time, and no matter what position the Broncos are drafting in, look for Elway to do all he can to ensure the securing of his fellow Stanford alumni.
Honourable mentions go to the St Louis Rams (1-6) and Arizona Cardinals (1-6). The Rams have invested heavily in the currently injured Sam Bradford, so would possibly look to ransom the pick should it fall to them, whereas the Cardinals would be susceptible to simply drafting Luck, as the Kevin Kolb experiment looks to at this stage have been a disaster and could possibly result in him and his coaching staff out of the door come the end of the season.