And we’re down to 1. The Houston Texas came in as favorites against the struggling Green Bay Packers, but Aaron Rodgers shushed everyone and threw six touchdown passes on a huge win. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons kept their undefeated (not the only team) status by beating the Oakland Raiders, just barely, 23-20.
It was easier to figure out why the Texans were doing so well, and what the Packers did to stop them. Houston had/have the best running game in the NFL, but Arian Foster, despite his two touchdowns, couldn’t get yards and first downs, finishing with only 29 yards on 17 carries. Without that to help Matt Schaub and give the Texans’ defense a lot of extra time off the field, Aaron Rodgers had enough to work with.
Rodgers was sacked only twice, while the Texans tried to figure out how to cover without Brian Cushing, out for the season. Rodgers was his MVP self, throwing for 338 yards and six touchdowns. Green Bay were never up by less than 7, and struck at the Texans every time they attempted a comeback. A team that looked like the best in the NFL for a couple of weeks lost it’s most important defensive, and suddenly need to regroup. Undefeated no more, but it’s hard seeing them lose their edge in the AFC South, probably the weakest division except for them.
The Falcons is a curious case. Matt Ryan has been efficient until now, but not amazing, or MVP-like in his performances. They’re very bad at stopping the run (allowing 143.8 yards per game) and get only 86.5 yards per game from their rushers, especially Michael Turner in a season that signaling he’s at that stage of becoming useless as a team’s #1 back.
Against the Raiders? Awful, awful offense. Only 286 yards, total. Only 45 yards on the ground, with Turner running for 33. Ryan threw three interceptions. The Raiders played a decent game on offense. But Carson Palmer threw one costly interception that was returned for a touchdown, and Matt Bryant connected with a 55 yard field goal to give the Falcons a last second win.
Numbers lie sometimes, or actually tell the truth. The Falcons aren’t an elite team, but so far, the right kind of mix – opponents, smart game management and simply making the right plays at the right time on offense and defense have been the difference between them and the rest of the NFL. That streak, in my opinion, will end in Philadelphia or at home against Dallas.