Last week we had three undefeated teams and all lasted to be undefeated. Let’s recap the Cardinals, Falcons and Texans wins.
Cardinals 24 Dolphins 21 OT
This was an aerial affair and the Dolphins took an early lead of 13-0 at the half. But that stingy Cardinals defense we keep talking about cracked down in the second half. The Dolphins second half and overtime looked like this: Missed FG, Punt, INT, Punt, Punt, Fumble, Hartline TD, Fumble, Kneel, and INT. The Hartline TD was a bomb Arizona didn’t prepare for but otherwise Arizona shut down the Dolphins. This allowed them to rally and win the game.
Two of their three touchdown drives started with the defense stopping the Dolphins and giving the Cardinals the ball on their 42 and 49. The OT field goal drive? The offense started with the ball on the MIA 47. We’ve seen this offense stagnate quite a few times but if they keep getting the ball on short fields they’re going to win the field position game.
This was the Falcons being the Falcons. Atlanta is tough to beat at home, and Cam Newton is quickly learning why. Aside from the Cam Cam Juice Newton drank at half time, he couldn’t manage to topple the Falcons in the second half.
With the Panthers up 28-27 and two minutes to go, the Panthers played prevent defense hoping to run out the clock on Matt Ryan. Normally, I don’t suggest testing Matt Ryan’s football IQ, but today was a quiz, and he passed. He bombed a deep pass down the middle to Roddy White after being packed up on his goal line (bad call by the refs as the Panthers’ player to touch the ball was on the goalline and therefore a touchback, but that’s neither here nor there.) Then, Matt Ryan passes to Tony Gonzalez and Hugh Douglas, both slants, where the Panthers allowed both players to run out of bounds. And when you let the opponent perfectly manage the field, they’re going to beat you.
On the positive, Jake Locker is alive after the hit he took from Quin, and Chris Johnson ran for 141 yards on 25 carries. Also, for about 20 minutes (2nd quarter til the Manning interception of Hasselbeck in the 3rd Quarter) Houston looked beatable.
The lag in ability can be linked to the same reason the Broncos lost to the Texans, abandoning the hurry-up offense for particular drives. The Houston offense has an aggressive O-Line that loves to block the other team into oblivion. In the hurry up, they wear down the D-Line and Schaub’s ability to go to Johnson, Daniels, Foster, or spread the ball leaves the secondary wishing the game would end. To quote an analyst “They’re really good at running the ball, they’re really good at throwing the ball, they’re really good at stopping the run, and they’re really good at stopping the pass.” Sounds like a good combination.
So the question is who will be the last undefeated team?
Arizona has a trap game when they go to Minnesota in week 7, then host SF, and follow up at Green Bay, a bye and then at Atlanta in week 11. We here at NeutralFan see a week 8 loss to SF.
Atlanta has trap games next week at Washington, week 8 at Philadelphia, and Week 10 at New Orleans. We see them losing to Drew Brees in the Superdome week 10.
Houston has an interesting schedule (starting week 5): at Jets, Green Bay, Baltimore, Buffalo, at Chicago, Jacksonville, at Detroit, at Tennessee, at New England, Colts, Vikings, at Colts.
Can they run the table? Of course they can, just like one of the other two teams could (since Atlanta plays Arizona,) but Baltimore, at Chicago, and at New England are very losable games. Green Bay doesn’t have the defense to stay in a game (think Seattle game, but with an offense, and real refs) but Baltimore has a very stout defense. We’re calling a week 10 loss to Chicago, but we could easily find ourselves in Foxboro come December 10th asking who the Super team is 2012 Houston or 2007 New England.
So there you have it, Houston showed outlast Atlanta by a couple of hours as the last undefeated team.