On Saturday morning, I received word from the Twitter world that Raiders’ owner and NFL renegade Al Davis passed away. When I was younger and watching games on TV, I’d always see Davis in his luxury box watching the games. Of late, I didn’t see him often and when I did, he looked unlike the legendary figure with the slicked back black hair and white track suit. He just looked like an older person. All of our football heroes will eventually get old. There will be a day when I see Joe Montana on TV and wonder where my childhood went. But it’s going to happen.
Davis was the Raiders, more so than any player or coach. He was the face, the voice, and the heart of the team. The team assumed his against the grain persona. No team has assumed the spirit of their leader like the Raiders. While Davis is best remembered as the majority owner of the Raiders, he was also their head coach and general manager (and the young age of 33) from 1963-1965. He was hired as the commissioner of the American Football League. He wanted the AFL to become the superior professional football league and wanted to outbid the NFL for their best players. The league eventually merged with the NFL, but Davis was against it, thinking the AFL brand of football was more exciting. He resigned as commissioner soon thereafter.
But he was back in the league after buying a 10% stake in the Raiders. In 1969, he hired John Madden and the Raiders became one of the top NFL franchises in the 70s. The team won the Super Bowl in 1976, the first of three Super Bowl championships. While Davis became more infamous in recent years for his treatment of Marcus Allen and for not allowing his head coaches to, um coach, he’s one of the most important people in professional football history.
1. The Raiders did it for Al. To Al, it was about winning. It was, “Just win, baby.” And on Sunday, the Raiders did just that. They went into Houston and shut down the Texans’ running game, allowing Sebastian Janikowski to keep them close when they couldn’t score touchdowns. The Raiders took the lead for good early in the 4th quarter thanks to a Jason Campbell/Chaz Schilens catch and run touchdown. Both teams now sit at 3-2.
2. The San Diego Chargers beat the Denver Broncos to push their record to 4-1. But that wasn’t even close to the big story of the game. Not when you have the legend of Tim Tebow on the other side. Tebow replaced Kyle Orton to start the 3rd quarter and rallied the Broncos back late in the game to within five points, but a Hail Mary attempt was nearly picked off in the end zone to end the game. If Tebow can win some games, mothers and daughters may start watching a whole lot of Denver Broncos football.
3. The 49ers were favored to beat the Tampa Bay Bucs by just a point and a half at home. Usually, that means that the odds makers thought the Bucs were the better team, but the home field advantage would give the 49ers the edge. The 49ers only beat that spread by 43 and 1/2 points in a slaughter that was over late in the second quarter. They looked impressive to say the least, but I’m not about to jinx anything. Yes, I’m wearing the same shirt, shorts, and visor next week too.
4. If everything seemed to come easy for Mike Vick last year, it’s the reverse this year. Vick and the Eagles went into Buffalo looking to get back on track and came away with more frustration. Thanks to four Vick picks Buffalo was able to control the time of possession using a strong running game and a highly accurate passing game. The Eagles are now 1-4 and probably need to win nine of their last eleven games to make the playoffs. Maybe next year’s Eagles can be the Redeem Team?
5. The Atlanta Falcons jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the Green Bay Packers early Sunday Night. And then, they didn’t score another point. The defending Super Bowl champs scored 25 straight points to handle the Falcons fairly easily in Atlanta. Green Bay couldn’t run the ball all that well so they just decided to throw for nearly 400 yards. Their offense is scary.
6. Speaking of scary offenses, the New England Patriots handled their business against the New York Jets 30-21. The Jets were able to get to within three points in the third quarter, but the Pats put them away with a strong running game. BenJarvus Green-Ellis made Steven Ridley Fantasy Football owners sad by taking the majority of the carries, rushing for 136 yards and two touchdowns. The Pats face the Cowboys next week in what could be a shootout.
7. You mean all you have to do is give Adrian Peterson the ball and get out of the way? Over 70% of Peterson’s yards so far have come in the first half. And if you’ve been paying attention to Vikings’ football, they’ve had the lead in the first half in all of their games, and have had a hard time finishing. How about just keep giving the ball to Peterson? They did. Out of Peterson’s 29 carries today, 16 were in the second half. And yes, they got their first win.
8. Cam Newton has the Panthers’ playing close football, but they still only have one win to show for it. The New Orleans Saints got more than they bargained for in Carolina and had to fight off the Panthers late in the fourth quarter to secure a 30-27 win. By the way, if you ever think about putting a late hit on Steve Smith, think twice.
10. The 4-0 Detroit Lions host the Chicago Bears on Monday Night. A win by the Lions would keep them undefeated with a match-up next weekend against the 4-1 49ers. They would also have an outside shot at playing the Packers on Thanksgiving with both teams undefeated. But the Bears need this game. They can ill-afford to be three games back of both Green Bay and Detroit with both teams so hot. I still think the Lions win on the arm of Matt Stafford. But I also think Matt Forte has a big game as the Bears keep it close. Give me a Jay Cutler pick to ice the game.