Week 1 may not have revealed much about the identity of our eventual Super Bowl winner, but it certainly did shine some light on the future team of Matt Barkley. A bright, searing hot spotlight of shame and misery, in fact. And unlike last year, when the consensus (just me) preseason favorite, Washington Redskins, bowed out of the race early, four of my preseason top six look “alive” and “well” – if those are, in fact, the proper words. Let’s see what this race looks like heading into Week 2:
Honerable Mention: Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Stats: 11-20, 196 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT, Injured in 31-34 loss to LA-Monroe
Breakdown: Well, that was a fun season for Arkansas…two games and they’re pretty much done. The Hogs were leading 28-7 with Wilson in the game, so it’s not like the loss goes on him. Still, an injury and a big upset is enough to knock him down quite a ways. We’ll see if he can be healthy enough to get back in. A big outing against Alabama would certainly do the trick.
Stats: 19-28, 252 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT in 69-13 W over Florida A&M
Breakdown: Florida A&M, huh? That’s…impressive?
Fourth Prize: Geno Smith, West Virginia
Breakdown: Playing NC State in Week 1 as opposed to some tiny directional A&M school must have been stressful. Bye week for Smith and West Virginia.
Stats: 18-20, 310 YDS, 4 TD in 51-13 W over Georgia State
Breakdown: Oh no, I can feel myself being sucked into the Tyler Bray Hype Machine! Must…resist… Second Prize: Logan Thomas, Virgina Tech
Stats: 15-23, 212 YDS, 2 TD, 1 Rush TD in 42-7 W over Austin Peay
Breakdown: If I’m Logan Thomas, I’m the biggest Robert Griffin fan in the world. Everytime a hot-shot mobile QB blows up the NFL, even for a season or two, the rest of the league decides they need to get their hands on one as well. This bodes well for Thomas’ draft stock, no matter how crappy he may be in real life. (Same goes for Geno Smith)
Grand Prize: Matt Barkley, USC
Stats: 23-30, 187 YDS, 6 TD, 1 INT in 42-29 W over Syracuse
Breakdown: 187 YDS on 30 attempts is a bit too Joe Flacco-esque to say Barkley had a “good” game, but 6 TD’s is a pretty solid way to make up for it. Since Barkley has a career Y/A of around 8.0, we’ll give him a pass for this one. He’s still got a big blue ribbon pinned on his chest.
I listed a whole bunch of them last week, but I felt compelled to narrow in on Georgia’s Jarvis Jones after the clinic he put on against Missouri. Prior to the game, some clown from Missouri told reporters that Georgia played “old man football.” This was not a smart decision, as the Georgia fans quickly took to chanting “old man football” after the Bulldogs had taken the lead. That chant quickly changed to “Grown Man Football” after Jarvis Jones eviscerated the Missouri offense. Jones had 8 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a pass breakup, and a key interception that effectively ended Missouri’s hopes. Grown man football, indeed. I don’t expect Jones to go above Barkley or one of the other QB’s, but monsters like him are game changers in the NFL, and he’ll certainly be worthy of whatever pick he ends up being. Even #1.
Last Game: Won 24-17 at New York Giants
Current Starter: Tony Romo (22-29, 307 YDS, 3 TD, 1 INT, 129.5 QB Rating)
Breakdown: Beating the Giants on the road is a pretty clear indicator that you’re NOT going to be getting the #1 pick. New York Jets
Last Game: Won 48-28 vs. Buffalo Bills
Current Starter: Mark Sanchez (19-27, 266 YDS, 3 TD, 1 INT, 123.4 QB Rating)
Breakdown: If the Jets were to have any shot at the Sweepstakes, they needed to accrue some bad losses. You know, like losing to the crappy Bills. Clearly, the Jets just aren’t focused on winning. San Diego Chargers
Last Game: Won 22-14 at Oakland Raiders
Current Starter: Philip Rivers (24-33, 231 YDS, 1 TD, 0 INT, 102.0 QB Rating)
Breakdown: If you’re not as bad as the Raiders, then you don’t belong on this list. Washington Redskins
Last Game: Won 40-32 at New Orleans Saints
Current Starter: Robert Griffin (19-26, 320 YDS, 2 TD, 0 INT, 139.9 QB Rating)
Breakdown: It doesn’t take a genius to see that Robert Griffin is a sliiiiiiiight upgrade over Rex Grossman. Thus, the Redskins are no longer a candidate to lose 14+ games and waste another high pick on a QB. What kind of world is this, where the Redskins have a bright future? I don’t like it. We’re not unpacking our suitcases… Seattle Seahawks
Last Game: Lost 16-20 at Arizona Cardinals
Current Starter: Russell Wilson (18-34, 153 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT, 62.5 QB Rating)
Breakdown: They lost to the freaking Cardinals! THE CARDINALS! Still, as terrible as the loss is, it’s not wise to take Seattle seriously as a Barkley candidate. Consider this a “courtesy listing” for such a horrendous performance. That’s not a good start, but keep going… (Part I)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Game: Won 16-10 vs. Carolina Panthers
Current Starter: Josh Freeman (16-24, 138 YDS, 1 TD, 0 INT, 95.5 QB Rating)
Breakdown: What are we to make of Tampa Bay’s Week 1 victory? On the one hand, it was the 6 win Panthers, so one shouldn’t be too optimistic. On the other hand, Josh Freeman avoided his typical 4 turnover day and the defense wasn’t “Rookie difficulty on Madden” bad. So, I guess that makes them not good enough to be good, but not bad enough to be bad? Does that sound right? We’ve got a guy, still…
Last Game: Lost 13-34 vs. New England Patriots
Current Starter: Jake Locker (23-32, 229 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT, 89.2 QB Rating)
Breakdown: OK, so they got crushed by the Patriots. Hey, it happens to everybody (except against the Giants in the Super Bowl). The main thing is that Locker didn’t totally suck and that his arm didn’t totally come off his body. It only came off a little. Cincinnati Bengals
Last Game: Lost 13-44 at Baltimore Ravens
Current Starter: Andy Dalton (22-37, 221 YDS, 0 TD, 1 INT, 65.3 QB Rating)
Breakdown: Unlike the team below them, we don’t know anything about the Bengals’ Sweepstakes chances. Yeah, they got beat like a red-hea…like an Andy Dalton, but it was at Baltimore. This loss was pre-determined before the beginning of time. Let’s see what Cincy does in the coming weeks before we definitively declare them contenders.
Last Game: Lost 10-16 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Current Starter: Cam Newton (23-33, 303 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT, 83.3 QB Rating)
Breakdown: I don’t know what to say about a team that can’t score on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Maybe instead of being the “surprise playoff team,” this season, they were really shooting for “surprise winner of all the draft picks they would get for trading the Barkley pick.” They’re certainly on pace.
St. Louis Rams
Last Game: Lost 23-27 at Detroit Lions
Current Starter: Sam Bradford (17-25, 198 YDS, 1 TD, 0 INT, 105.1 QB Rating)
Breakdown: Big upgrade week for the Rams, who nearly went out and got themselves an upset win over the Lions. Sam Bradford looked like his old self, the defense forced a bunch of turnovers – all in all, this looked like a professional football team for the first time in a year. Unfortunately, that’s not quite what we’re looking for here at Sweepstakes HQ.
If Andrew Luck were in this draft, we’d try harder…
Kansas City Chiefs
Last Game: Lost 24-40 vs. Atlanta Falcons
Current Starter: Matt Cassel (21-33, 258 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT, 72.5 QB Rating)
Breakdown: Hold on, I’m checking to see if there’s some league rule requiring the Chiefs to embarrass themselves Week 1 every year. (Checking. Checking. Checking.) OK, apparently there is no rule…the Chiefs are just voluntarily playing the role of Ned Stark to open the season. So should we take them serious as Barkley candidates? Not so fast. First and foremost, the Chiefs got hammered by a playoff team, which is amateur stuff for true Matt Barkley contenders. Secondly, they played without either Tamba Hali or Brandon Flowers. Basically, they have to overcome a major upgrade to their team and a schedule that includes two games against Oakland. Not going to be easy. As always, though, Matt Cassel is in the house.
Last Game: Lost 28-48 at New York Jets
Current Starter: Ryan Fitzpatrick (18-32, 195 YDS, 3 TD, 3 INT, 66.5 QB Rating)
Breakdown: I am this close to giving Buffalo “outside contender” status. I mean, they really showed me something this past Sunday! Not just in losing to the Jets, but in allowing their punchless offense to score 48 points and in making Mark Sanchez look like pre-injury Chad Pennington (the injury before the injury before the injury bef…). And if that weren’t enough to pique your interest, the Bills really showed their commitment by getting Fred Jackson hurt! This could be the start of something very special for them.
That’s not a good start, but keep going… (Part II)
Last Game: Won 20-16 vs. Seattle Seahawks
Current Starter: ??????????????
Breakdown: Well, I’m about officially done with predicting the Arizona Freaking Cardinals. They start John Skelton and pull fat guys from the stands to play offensive line, and STILL win! Against the Seahawks! Now, they have no choice but to play their best QB, which will only hurt their chances at getting back in this race. Tough, tough blow to their Matt Barkley odds. Not insurmountable, but tough.
Last Game: Won 26-23 (OT) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Current Starter: Christian Ponder (20-27, 270 YDS, 0 TD, 0 INT, 105.5 QB Rating)
Breakdown: The second of my preseason “Favorites” to notch a devastating and horrific win, the Vikings very well may be in more trouble than the Cardinals. The case for Minnesota heading into this thing was a diminished Adrian Peterson and an unsalvageable QB situation. But then Christian Ponder threw the ball well and Adrian Peterson revealed he was actually from Krypton and his father looked exactly like Marlon Brando. So, what’s the case for them now? I’ll tell you this, if Christian Ponder doesn’t go back to sucking, the Vikings will have no chance at Barkley.
The (Outside) Favorites
Last Game: Lost 21-41 at Chicago Bears
Current Starter: Andrew Luck (23-45, 309 YDS, 1 TD, 3 INT, 52.9 QB Rating)
Breakdown: Is it feasible they lose enough games to win this thing. Eh, I guess. Is it even remotely likely? Probably not. There was a 100% chance that Luck would struggle at various points in his rookie season, and no one should be shocked that Sunday was one of those points. Chicago’s defense is solid, as always, and the Colts’ early deficit forced Indy to lean a bit too heavily on him. Make no mistake, Luck will have some great games and the Colts will win at least a few of them.
That having been said, this is a really bad team, particularly on defense and on the offensive line. Half the time, rushers were in the backfield so quickly you’d swear they had to be offsides. It’s going to be a struggle to do much positive if that doesn’t get addressed
(By the way, if ever there was a perfect team for Jarvis Jones, the Colts would definitely be it. Perfect scheme, should get a high pick, doesn’t need a QB.)
Last Game: Won 23-26 (OT) at Minnesota Vikings
Current Starter: Blaine Gabbart (23-39, 260 YDS, 2 TD, 0 INT, 96.1 QB Rating)
Breakdown: So, let’s start with the positive. Blaine Gabbart wasn’t awful! In fact, he was borderline good! Seriously, this is the first time I’ve ever looked at a Jacksonville Jaguars box score and didn’t think, “wow, Gabbart killed them.” So that’s the good news. The bad? The Jags still lost. To the Vikings. Perhaps someday we’ll understand how the Jaguars lost this game – it makes very little sense – but for the purposes of the Matt Barkley Sweepstakes, let’s just call it “manna from heaven.”
Last Game: Lost 14-22 vs. San Diego Chargers
Current Starter: Carson Palmer (32-46, 297 YDS, 1 TD, 0 INT, 94.2 QB Rating)
Breakdown: I wasn’t totally sold on the Raiders prior to Monday night, but I am now. Darren McFadden made it through the entire game and Carson Palmer played as good as he is physically capable of playing and the Raiders STILL lost. This is a bad, bad football team.
Last Game: Lost 16-17 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Current Starter: Brandon Weeden (12-35, 118 YDS, 0 TD, 4 INT, 5.1 QB Rating)
Breakdown: Part I: It seemed like Ryan Tannehill would be the gold standard of bad quarterbacking in the NFL, but Brandon Weeden refuses to go quietly into the night. He knows – not thinks, knows – he’s the worst starting QB in the league, and he’s on a mission to prove it. Message received, Brandon Weeden. You win.
Part II: It seemed like Leslie Frazier would be the gold standard of bad coaching in the NFL, but Pat Shurmur refus…
Last Game: Lost 10-30 at Houston Texans
Current Starter: Ryan Tannehill (20-36, 219 YDS, 0 TD, 3 INT, 39.0 QB Rating)
Breakdown: Just because Brandon Weeden stole the show doesn’t mean you should forget Tanne-suck. Remember, this guy is in the Rex Grossman Zone as well. And another thing, Browns fans, the Dolphins didn’t even make a game attempt at winning their first game. What were you doing? Trying to beat the Eagles? Miami didn’t bother with that sort of thing; they just went out there and got hammered from the get-go.
Trust me when I say that the Miami Dolphins are EASILY the least talented team in football. I know the Browns are bad, I know the Raiders are bad, but it would shock me if Miami won more than 2 games. Matt Barkley, how do you feel about aqua?
Games Matt Barkley Might Want to Watch This Week
Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills – Oh man, this should be a thriller. Both teams were blown out in Week 1, and it’ll likely be panic time for whichever one loses in Week 2. To me, this is a more important game for the Bills. A loss here would give them two bad losses to open the season, which is a huge headstart in this race. It would also evoke an awful lot of demons that put this team in a tail spin.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals – As is normally the case, the Battle of Ohio is a key landmark on the route to the #1 pick. For Cleveland, a loss here would be par for the course. For Cincinnati, though…well, if they lose this one, it might be on!
Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts – Oh my goodness! So many bad games! Honestly, I feel bad for the Vikings, in a way. It’s just not fair for a Matt Barkley contender to open up with Jacksonville and Indianapolis. They already blew the first one (by winning) and there’s a solid chance they’ll blow this second one (by winning). It’s doubtful they could recover from that.
Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins – No matter what, one of “The Favorites” is going to get a win here. Sweepstakes Game of the Week.
Be sure to check out other great articles at It's Boris Diaw Time!.
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