This has truly been a strange year in the NFL. Granted, every year is strange in the world of professional football. We have teams that start out smoking hot and finish the season 6-10. We have others that start out 1-4 and scratch and claw their way into the playoffs. This season, however, seems to be more of a mystery than ever — particularly in the AFC. The Packers are the clear-cut favorite to win the NFC and the Super Bowl at this point, but what about the rest? With the AFC up for grabs, here’s a look at the teams that are in the hunt. We start with the least likely to play in Indianapolis on Feb. 5 and end with the most.
Maybe the spirit of Al Davis was truly guiding the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
The Raiders beat the Texans in Houston 25-20 thanks to a Michael Huff interception on the final play of the game. Houston was at the five yard line and had an excellent chance to score, but Huff stepped in front of receiver Jacoby Jones to pick off Matt Schaub’s throw.
Beating the Texans as a road underdog was already a major accomplishment for the 3-2 Raiders. Winning the game on the final play with only 10 men on the field is even more impressive. Maybe this was Al Davis paying his team back for their Sunday tribute.
You can see a video of the play at NFL.com
This week, our LBS Week 3 Prime Time Preview takes us to Houston for a crucial match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans, as they battle for bragging rights in the Lonestar State. Last week’s Game of The Week proved to be a good one, with Randy Moss making a ridiculous catch but the Jets coming out on top, 28-14, over New England. I know, I picked the Pats to win. It’s the best game of the week for a reason people so cut me some slack.
For starters, the Texans are exciting to watch if you’re like the casual fan and love to see an up-and-comer. They seem to get better and better each year and may finally make the playoffs when all is said and done in 2010. Their offense is one of the most explosive in the NFL and Andre Johnson is one of the game’s most exciting players. More importantly, the Cowboys should be playing with incredible urgency. If they fall to 0-3, their chances of making the playoffs are extremely slim. It’s a must-win for Dallas or their fans will start to crucify them, especially with this year’s Super Bowl being held at The House that Jerry Built.
Icing the kicker can have a tendency to look like an unnecessary waste of time when a game comes down to a last-second field goal attempt. On Sunday, we were given a prime example why the practice is so common. The Washington Redskins and Houston Texans played to a 27-27 tie through regulation and the Texans ended up taking the game 30-27 in an exciting overtime.
After the Texans opted to punt instead of trying a 52-yard field goal with their first possession of extra time, the Redskins drove the ball to the Houston 34 and were in place to try a 52-yard field goal of their own. Mike Shanahan made the decision to try the kick rather than punt and Skins kicker Graham Gano drilled the field goal. It appeared Shanahan’s squad had improved to 2-0 on the season.
The only problem with that is Texans head coach Gary Kubiak called time out to ice Gano at the last possible second, nullifying the kick. You can guess what happened on the second field goal attempt. It went wide right and the Texans took over.
What seems like an annoying practice turned into a brilliant coaching move for Kubiak, as his squad drove the field and put Neil Rackers in position to drill the game-winning kick — a 35-yarder.
Oh yeah, and Matt Schaub threw for 497 yards. Couldn’t get to 500? What a bum.
We’ve all heard the maddening stories of the NFL combine and interviewing process leading up to the NFL draft. They ask you off the wall questions, measure everything on your body including your choade hair count, and they proceed to bombard you with tests to see if you’re fit to bang into people a couple hundred times on Sundays.
Despite all the wacky stories that have come out from the combines and interviews, I’ve never once heard of a team asking a player to break dance, which is what Alan Branch says he was asked to do. Branch was appearing as a guest on Fox Sports Radio with Sean Farnham and John Fricke when he said this:
The thing that got me was I used to break dance with a bunch of my friends back in high school so I told the coaches that’s something I like to do and they didn’t really believe me. So they cleared out the room a little bit and I actually wound doing a little bit of break dancing right in front of all the coaches…I believe it was the Houston Texans.
I guess with the hundreds of interviews, it’s hard to keep track. If it was the Texans staff that asked Branch to break dance, it makes me wonder what secret talent they asked David Carr to show off before they drafted him.