The midway point of the NFL season is upon us, which seems hard to believe. In this week’s installment of the Notebook, I discuss my MVP candidates, the possible end of a dynamic player, Cam Newton’s frustration with the officiating, another game ending in a tie and the Sunday night showdown between NFC East rivals.
Tom Brady: Yes, even though he missed the first four games due to that questionable suspension, Brady finds himself in the MVP hunt. In the four games that Brady did play, he was magnificent. He has thrown for 1,319 yards, 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has a passer rating of 133.9, a completion percentage of 73.1 and averages 9.8 yards per pass, which is essentially a first down. At 39-years old, he’s playing the best football of his illustrious career.
Derek Carr: The Oakland Raiders have been on the rise since drafting Carr three years ago. They are currently 6-2, including 5-0 on the road. A huge reason for that is Carr. So far in his third season in the league, he has thrown for 2.321 yards, 17 touchdowns and three interceptions. This past week, he became the third quarterback ever to pass for over 500 yards (513), four touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Raiders defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers behind Carr, despite committing an NFL record 23 penalties.
Ezekiel Elliott: Many believed that Zeke would be special coming out of Ohio State and then getting drafted by the Dallas Cowboys fourth overall with their stout offensive line. Zeke is living up to those expectations by leading the league in rushing at 799 yards to go with five touchdowns. If he is able to win the Rookie of the Year award (seems to be a runaway at this point) and league MVP award, he would join some rare and elite company. The only other two players to have accomplished that feat are Hall of Famers Earl Campbell (1978) and Jim Brown (1957). Zeke has helped lead the Cowboys (more on them later) to a 6-1 record.
Matt Ryan: With 2,636 yards, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions, Matty Ice is playing the best football of his career and has his team out to a 5-3 record.
Matthew Stafford: Going into the season, many wondered how Stafford would fare without Calvin Johnson, but Stafford has been brilliant, passing for 2,154 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions.
The end of Jamaal Charles?
Jamaal Charles has been one of the most dynamic players in the NFL since entering in 2008. Unfortunately for Charles and the Chiefs, injuries have not been kind. Charles has missed the better part of the last two seasons with knee injuries. Over a year ago, Charles underwent ACL surgery. He returned earlier this season, but was not himself. On Tuesday, Kansas City placed the star back on injured reserve, due to discomfort in the repaired knee. Dr. James Andrews, one of the best doctors in the world when it comes to repairing athletes, performed a minor surgery on Wednesday, but the severity of the injury is still unknown. Major knee injuries aren’t what they used to be with the advancement of medicine, but the future does not look bright for the 29-year old.
Cam Newton is fed up with the lack of calls he receives
The reigning MVP voiced his frustrations with the NFL on the lack of calls he receives after Sunday’s win over the Arizona Cardinals. In the game, the referees missed a call that saw Calais Campbell hit Newton below the knees. While he wasn’t flagged, he was fined $18,231 by the NFL. On Tuesday, Newton met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss how he feels about his safety on the field. The talk was said to be a “great discussion”. Newton said on Sunday that he doesn’t feel safe and that lesser hits are being called in favor of other quarterbacks around the league. First off, football is a dangerous sport, so nobody should feel save. Secondly, the quarterback is the most protected position on the field with all the rules. Newton has drawn nine flags since 2013 for late, cheap or low hits, which ranks him in the top-10 of quarterbacks to draw such penalties. Not every call will be made, but at some point Newton has to realize that defensive players are gunning for him.
Another tie in the NFL…
For the second consecutive week, an NFL game ended in a tie. That hasn’t happened since 1997.The Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals traveled across the pond to London, England only to travel back after a tie game. Once again, kickers played a major factor in the outcome. In regulation, Bengals kicker Mike Nugent missed an extra point, which would then lead to the game not going to overtime. With 2:13 left in the extra quarter, Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins missed what would have been the game-winning, 34-yard field goal. The NFL should look into the overtime rules and think of changing them, maybe to how college football runs overtime. Any solution that ends tie games is perfectly fine with me.
Finally, a good Sunday Night Football game
Week after week, the NFL pits two teams against each other in the primetime Sunday Night Football game on NBC. Unfortunately for the viewers, they haven’t been treated to quality games. Sunday night, we finally got a good game, this time between the NFC rivals Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. In the battle of the rookie quarterbacks, it was Dak Prescott who emerged victorious over Carson Wentz in what should be the first of many battles over the years. Dak rallied the Cowboys back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit and tied the game with 3:22 left when he found Dez Bryant in the end zone for a touchdown. In the extra session, it was all Dallas as they won the coin flip and marched right down the field. Prescott found tight end Jason Whitten all by himself in the end zone from five-yards out for the game-winning touchdown. He finished with 287 yards, the two scores and an interception. Wentz finished with just 202 yards and a touchdown. Elliott rushed for 96 yards. With the win, Dallas improved to 6-1 and now hold a two-game lead in both the NFC and NFC East. How bout them Cowboys?