Monthly Archives: October 2016

Movie Review: The Invitation

Image result for the invitation movie poster free useThere’s something very unsettling about The Invitation. From its pacing to its characters to its fancy dinner parties and extravagant setting, something just feels off, making it feel less helter-skelter and more controlled insanity. Every interaction is so dubiously awkward that there’s got to be something afoot. It is a horror movie after all.

The Invitation does all it can to invite you to the table and take you out of the comfort of your couch, bed or wherever you may be watching and for the most part, I have to say it succeeds. It accomplishes the feat of interactivity.

We’re left with Will, a man who’s in a disheveled and confused state when he receives an invitation from an ex-wife who he hasn’t seen or spoken to in two years. Will is understandably suspicious but decides to go with his girlfriend, Kira.

He hasn’t seen any of his old friends in 24 months and here they are in his former house. It’s just too perfect for Will’s liking, mostly because he’s a broken person. Will’s fear bridles the audience, giving them the same understanding of the circumstances. Everything is so out-of-place that Will, and hence we, become curious of everything.

Will, played by Logan Marshall-Green, is the film’s magnetic center. Nothing succeeds in this film without him. As an isolated, disturbed character skeptical of everything, he brings a tinge and perception of the story’s events that the audience otherwise would not have. With the point of view of any other character, the things Will notices seem like an overexaggeration, an extrapolation that isn’t there, but Will is a defensive person, for reasons that are later revealed in the script, allowing for the detective-like focus this movie prides itself on. Director Karyn Kusama’s narrative focus frames the evening’s events in a magnifying glass. There doesn’t seem to be a need for one but after a little time, you’re glad you have that magnifying glass around.

Consumed by paranoia and uneasiness, we’re in for a slow drag thriller from the beginning, The Invitation‘s pride and joy. It boasts its writing and exudes confidence in its seemingly unwavering tact for the imaginative. It is a thin line, the line between delusion and confusion. If you’re confused, you still have control of your sensibilities. If you’re deluded, you’re convinced there’s something there when all the other signs point to the opposite. By the middle of the film, Will and ourselves are completely deluded. We have become obsessed. There is something wrong here. We won’t accept otherwise. We, ourselves, have become deranged.

This is an impressive feat. Few films can imprint a schizophrenic mindset and this film gets very close to doing so. It is a testament to the film’s writing and the weaving of Kusama’s baton behind the camera.

But…

It devastates me to even write it. The Invitation may be too good for its own good because the final third can’t hold the narrative weight and talent that has been demonstrated thus far, collapsing under the task that it is now expected to complete. Up to this point, The Invitation has said, “Yeah, we’re that guy” like a trash-talking pool swindler. He has performed up to the goals he has set himself. That also means that he feels he has to outdo himself with each shot, climbing the metaphorical ladder towards absolute perfection. The rungs get farther and farther apart the more he climbs, so much so that he has to start jumping to reach them. The third act has arrived, the final bar meters away but it outstretches his reach and he falls down the side of the cliff.

The payoff, after all this build, is not remotely close to enough. This film, to this point, has been borderline hypnotic. There’s not much plot-wise going on but you don’t dare take your eyes off it. It is magnetic, attracting all sorts of psychological tortures to it. It is as if someone shut off that magnet.

The tension slowly erodes and when the payoff comes (far too late, by the way), it has lost a lot of its grip.

This film could have been great, 80’s material. The payoff really hurts the memory of the film after you watch it though and that can’t be ignored.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (HushGhostbusters (2016)BatmanFree State of JonesThe Running Man)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Jason BourneSuicide SquadBatman ForeverThe CrowHardcore Henry)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (UnderworldThe Do-OverX-Men: ApocalypseD-Tox/Eye See YouConstantine)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Underworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Independence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the ApesStonados)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for The Invitation: 71.

Logan Marshall-Green is a capable actor and Kusama clearly a deft hand at directing and yet with all that The Invitation offers, it wipes out in the clutch. It throws a lot of punches but disappears when those punches would have mattered the most. Still certainly worth a viewing and I’m more than likely to visit it again.

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2016-2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 6

1. Patriots (+0)

The Bengals were no match. New England remains the king.

2. Vikings (+0)

The Vikings had a bye and maintain their spot. They play Philly next week, another tough test.

3. Falcons (+1)

Atlanta nearly pulled off the trifecta and if it weren’t for a blatant pass interference no-call, Atlanta wins in Seattle. Their strength of schedule and competitiveness in those games moves them up a spot.

4. Cowboys (+2)

Elliott is a bulldozer and Prescott the perfect game manager. I believe in the Cowboys this year.

5. Seahawks (+3)

Seattle gets a big win over Atlanta, showing they can compete with the big boys.

6. Broncos (-3)

Back-to-back losses drops Denver out of the top five but remain a dangerous team.

7. Steelers (-2)

Pittsburgh has another drastic collapse, flailing against the Dolphins. Ben is now out. Unless they’re competitive against New England, they’ll likely be out of the top ten next week.

8. Raiders (-1)

Oakland falls to Kansas City but have accomplished too much thus far to fall out of my select group.

9. Chiefs (+2)

The Chiefs strength of schedule will likely kick them out next week but an impressive return from the bye week can’t be ignored.

10. Bills (+4)

LeSean McCoy is having a great year and the Bills defense has shown up the last few games. LeSean is hurt and unlikely to be himself next week. How will the offense respond?

11. Eagles (-2)

Wentz was hassled all game and lose an inter-divisional game to the Redskins. I can hear people talking jumping off the Eagles bandwagon already. The team has been competitive in their last two losses. I’m not concerned yet.

12. Redskins (+9)

I have not given the Redskins the credit that they’ve deserved. This week, I make up for that and they give me a reason to, topping Philly at home.

13. Packers (-3)

Green Bay falls to Dallas. Their stats were bloating going into this game, especially on defense. The Cowboys set the record straight. Rodgers is not himself this year. Don’t sound the alarm, but their playoff hopes are shrinking.

14. Bengals (-2)

Cincinnati is 0-4 in meaningful games (PIT, DEN, DAL, NE). Wins against sub-.500 teams will not get you to the playoffs.

15. Giants (+2)

The media and the Giants organization have been giving Odell Beckham Jr. an earful. He may have just saved their season.

16. Ravens (-1)

The Ravens are now 1-3 in meaningful games and on a three-game losing streak. They need to beat the Jets next week.

17. Rams (-1)

As I said in my sports report last week, the Ram defense is not what it was. Todd Gurley cannot carry this offense. With that said, LA showed on Sunday that they can find a way to put up points if they need to. They put up 28 on Detroit.

18. Lions (+0)

Detroit had a tough streak of losses to Tennessee, Green Bay and Chicago but have bounced back with wins over Philadelphia and Los Angeles. They have Washington next week.

19. Texans (-6)

Houston’s offense looked dysfunctional versus Indianapolis. Imagine how they’ll play against Denver next week. Osweiler has not demonstrated he’s worth that contract.

20. Cardinals (-1)

Arizona has to do a lot to redeem himself. Beating a limping dog like the Jets is a small step.

21. Dolphins (+2)

Miami torched Pittsburgh. An injured Ben certainly helped but Jay Ajayi’s historic rushing performance was something.

22. Titans (+0)

Tennessee might be the frontrunner of the AFC South. I’m not calling it but it could happen. They’ve got the Colts next week.

23. Panthers (-2)

Carolina suffers a fourth-straight loss. They have a bye now. Hopefully they can regroup.

24. Chargers (+6)

Finally get a win and against Denver. Let’s see if they improve now that they have the monkey off their back. Bad news: they play Atlanta on Sunday.

25. Saints (+4)

The Saints top the Panthers at home. Believe in Brees, New Orleans. There ain’t no defense to believe in.

26. Buccaneers (+0)

Tampa Bay has the tools on offense that they could be higher than this. Still waiting for them to demonstrate it.

27. Colts (-3)

A blow lead by the Colts against a team they manhandled for almost an entire 60 just isn’t gonna cut it.

28. Jets (-3)

They’re bad.

29. 49ers (-2)

Kaepernick looked better than Gabbert but the team doesn’t have the talent to compete.

30. Bears (+1)

Narrow loss to the Jaguars. Brian Hoyer doesn’t look like a backup quarterback at least.

31. Jaguars (-3)

They have all the reason to improve. They just don’t.

32. Browns (+0)

The Browns.

Biggest Climb: Redskins (+9)

Biggest Drop: Texans (-6) 

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Tim Sports Report for 2016 NFL Week 5

Top 5

  1. RB Ezekiel Elliott 15 carries for 134 yards, 2 TDs vs. CIN

2. QB Ben Roethlisberger 28/40 for 380 yards, 4 TDs, Fmb, 124.4 passer rating vs. NYJ

3. RB David Johnson 27 carries for 157 yards, 2 TDs vs. SF

4. WR T.Y. Hilton 10 receptions for 171 yards, TD vs. CHI

5. QB Tom Brady 28/40 for 406 yards, 3 TDs, 127.7 QBR vs. CLE

Worst of the Worst

5. QB Ryan Tannehill 12/18 for 191 yards, 2 INTs, 62.3 QBR vs. TEN

4. Cleveland is still Cleveland.

3. Rams D. Where are you? They’ve allowed 28+ points in four of six games this season.

2. Carolina continues implosion, drops to 1-4

  1. San Diego blows another one, misses field goal to force game into overtime.

Steelers Recap

The Jets of 2015 are gone. They were dismantled. The secondary is being torn apart. The d-line is doing all it can but it hasn’t been enough. The quarterback situation in New York is a mess. The Steelers beat them handedly in all aspect and had all the reason to.

Game of the Week: Cowboys @ Packers

I could easily pick Atlanta in my game of the week, facing Seattle on the road, but I’m taking Dallas vs. Green Bay. Dallas is a vastly different team from last year and I’m taking them in an upset at Lambeau.

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Movie Review: Hush

Image result for hush movie poster free useIn a year of abusively bad pieces, 2016 has offered some horror treats. That hardly justifies the year we’ve had to suffer through at the cinemas but at least it’s something. When you’re desperate enough, you’ll accept any respite.

Over the last few years as a film critic, I’ve gained an appreciation for the horror genre that I initially did not have, mostly because it is quite easy to stereotype the horror genre as a found footage, directionless and sometimes gory, sometimes plain uninteresting behemoth. Horror is the niche that has struggled the most in film as of late. There’s no John Carpenter or George Romero to keep it afloat, but that is not to say that the horror table is vacant. There have been some successes, though not nearly as many as there should have been.

With all that said, most of the highlights of 2016 cinema have come from this dish and they’ve tasted fairly well, too. The Witch, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Conjuring 2 and Don’t Breathe were all noteworthy and thus far all have a legitimate case to make the top ten best films of the year. Last I checked, 10 Cloverfield Lane still breaks my top five.

All of this goes to say that Hush should not have been a surprise to me. I should have expected more but I’ll be blunt when I say the horror genre has instilled some false hope in me more than a fair share of times, as has every other genre. I try to stint my anticipation to protect myself from disappointment.

Hush comes from the same vein as Don’t Breathe. It plays to our eyes, not to our ears. Our eyes show us a mute and deaf author alone in the woods. A killer on the loose becomes infatuated with her disabilities. Her helplessness intrigues him and he keeps her alive like a bird in a cage.

Maddie, our main character, lives in her own bubble, seemingly oblivious to the world around her. Unable to perceive sound or communicate with her voice, Maddie seems as pitiful as a lost puppy to both the killer and us as an audience. The killer can do all he wants whenever he wants. Maddie is completely incapable in this situation. These specific circumstances allow for a more complicated scenario and ambidextrous villain.

For one, our point of view in horror movies is normally skewed by all of the stupidity surrounding our character. Yes, living by yourself is dumb, especially when you’re disabled, but this loss of control can happen in any setting. The ability to choose is slowly tugged away from you like a thread pulled through a weave. We are paralyzed, unable to act.

Second, this murderer doesn’t want to kill Maddie, at least not right away. We see it early on as he slowly paces around the house allowing her to lock all the doors. He is stunned how clueless Maddie is. He loses interest in his first victim because of how distant and disconnected Maddie is. She is completely alone both in location and as a person and this second tidbit is probably what drives the killer to toy with her the most. He is alone, too. Where he has grown strong in his individuality, Maddie appears directionless and what’s worse, doesn’t have a compass. Our killer is both a psychopath and a man with some sense of value. He thinks so little of Maddie that he feels she isn’t even worthy of death. Instead, he cages her.

This is simple and developed all at once, a preliminary sketch and a developed blueprint. This conundrum is what I find most fascinating about Hush.

Director Mike Flanagan made headlines for his 2013 picture, Oculus. I have yet to see it but I’m certainly more likely to view it now. While I have no plans to see Ouija: Origin of Evil, that is Flanagan’s newest project. He may become one of the genre’s gargoyles.

It’s that Hush manages to accomplish so much with so little that attracts my attention as well. Few characters, small budget and none of it matters. They are numbers. This film isn’t about numbers. It’s about quality. Flanagan’s studious with his pen and perhaps more so with his director’s chair. It’s a mostly silent ride but one that you leave talking about.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ghostbusters (2016)BatmanFree State of JonesThe Running Man10 Cloverfield Lane)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Jason BourneSuicide SquadBatman ForeverThe CrowHardcore Henry)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (UnderworldThe Do-OverX-Men: ApocalypseD-Tox/Eye See YouConstantine)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Underworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Independence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the ApesStonados)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Hush: 75.

Hush thrills while leaving you short of breath at points. Like with Don’t Breathe, you can’t breathe. You can’t make a sound. You, like Maddie, can’t hear. All you can do is see and what Hush manages to offer is quite impressive.

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2016-2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 5

1. Patriots (+1)

Tom Brady is back with no rust to show from his absence. The Patriots are healthy. The Patriots are lethal.

2. Vikings (+1)

I’m still amazed that Minnesota has accomplished what they’ve accomplished without Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson. Truly an astounding feat.

3. Broncos (-2)

Denver missed Trevor Siemian on Sunday. Paxton Lynch showed his potential but made some youthful mistakes.

4. Falcons (+3)

Over Carolina. Over Denver. Not only that, they’ve set a franchise record for most points through five games (175). Can they beat Seattle on the road and complete the trifecta? If they do, it’s likely they find themselves at number one next week.

5. Steelers (+0)

Pittsburgh maintains its spot at five after a dismantling of the Jets.

6. Cowboys (+11)

I hate the Cowboys but the team is good this year. There’s no denying that. While a lack of competition is a valid argument, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have achieved. Elliott is the third rookie to have 130 rushing yards in three straight games. Despite how high I have them ranked, I see an upset in the forecast. I have Dallas beating Green Bay at Lambeau. If they do that, I’ll know for sure they belong in this conversation. They also have Philly the following week.

7. Raiders (+2)

Oakland is a peculiar team. They’re dead last in yards allowed and near the bottom in every defensive category. They’ve allowed over 2,200 yards and 150 points through five games. They’re only the fourth team to accomplish that in NFL history. They’re also the only one to accomplish it and still have a winning record. That might be because, according to my rankings, they’ve played two top-15 teams in five games. As the schedule hardens, I don’t know if this team will be able to overcome its defensive failings but thus far, they’ve found a way, somehow, and that can’t be ignored.

8. Seahawks (+0)

Bye. Seattle’s defense is at the top in ypg, but they also haven’t played a top-15 team yet. Let’s see how they do as the game heats up. They’ve got Atlanta, their first true test.

9. Eagles (+1)

They lost their first game because of a late fumble. Can’t penalize them for that, especially when two other teams in the top ten did so much worse.

10. Packers (-6)

I’m fed up with Green Bay. Lacy is the best player on offense right now. Not Rodgers, not Nelson and not Cobb. That pass attack needs to figure it out. Rodgers told us to relax and played well against Detroit, but let’s not forget that was Detroit. They struggled with the Giants, a team that just built their defense this offseason.

11. Chiefs (+0)

Bye. Steelers crushed them. They come back and face another flying offense, Oakland.

12. Bengals (-6)

They’ve faced three top-ten teams and haven’t beaten any of them. If you can’t compete when it counts, you don’t belong in the top-ten or the playoffs. Of course, Cincy knows about the latter all too well. I’ve said it for years. Cincinnati needs a receiver opposite of Green. Last year, Sanu showed he could be that guy. They chose not to re-sign him. Right now, they’re asking Brandon LaFell to be that guy. That’s laughable.

13. Texans (+0)

Hard to penalize a team as limited on offense as Houston for having troubles with Minnesota but another loss won’t be overshadowed.

14. Bills (+9)

Buffalo had a rough 0-2 start. They’ve won their last three. I see no reason why they can’t make it four against San Francisco. If they don’t, expect them to drop. Not much of an aerial attack in Buffalo with Taylor’s inconsistency and Watkins’ absence, but the defense has come together. They don’t have tough competition until the middle of the season. That’s when we’ll know who this team really is.

15. Ravens (+0)

Narrow loss to the Redskins can’t be skipped over. My concern with Baltimore’s stats and record thus far was strength of schedule. I might have been right about that.

16. Rams (+0)

The Rams have a tough schedule. 3-2 three weeks in, with this offense, regardless of competition, is a feat. That said, LA is middle of the road, nothing more.

17. Giants (+1)

The defense impressed against Green Bay but that very well could have been Green Bay’s recent ineptitude. On offense, it’s a battle of who sucks more, Eli or the run game.

18. Lions (+2)

They grab a narrow win against Philly. I want to see more before I jump up and down.

19. Cardinals (+0)

No points for a win over Blaine Gabbert. None.

20. Panthers (-8)

No Newton. No Panthers defense. No Panthers win. A loss to Tampa Bay at home is very unsettling.

21. Redskins (+1)

They sneak past Baltimore. DeSean hasn’t lit it up. Cousins is hanging in there. Not much to say here.

22. Titans (+3)

I picked Tennessee over Miami even though ESPN Pick ‘Em had that as an upset. I didn’t think it was. I was correct.

23. Dolphins (-2)

The Dolphins are drowning. Get it? Because they’re fish, they’re not supposed to drown? I’m gonna move on now.

24. Colts (+0)

I couldn’t tell you what this team did on Sunday. Probably because a win over Chicago does nothing to change my mind about them.

25. Jets (-11)

The Jets suck. Who knows where the 2015 team went.

26. Buccaneers (+4)

Tampa Bay gets some valuable points for a road win against the NFC champs, though at this point, it seems like a disservice to the term to call them that.

27. 49ers (-1)

They lose a point not for losing to Arizona but for letting David Johnson steamroll them. Kap starts on Sunday. Looking forward to it.

28. Jaguars (+0)

Bye. Jacksonville versus Chicago. Oh boy.

29. Saints (+0)

Bye. We’ll get to see if they got a defense over the last week. Probably not.

30. Chargers (-3)

They blew another one. How can you blow this many games in a row?

31. Bears (+0)

Here the Bears are likely to remain for the 2016 season.

32. Browns (+0)

Here the Browns are guaranteed to remain for the 2016 season. Last week, I said the Browns would start five quarterbacks this season. They started Charlie Whitehurst this week after Kessler was knocked out. Four down, one to go!

Biggest Climb: Cowboys (+11)

Biggest Drop: Jets (-11)

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Tim Sports Report for 2016 NFL Week 4

Top 5

  1. WR Julio Jones 12 receptions for 300 yards, TD vs. CAR

Fourth player in Super Bowl era to have 300 yards receiving in a game.

2. QB Ben Roethlisberger 22/27 for 300 yards, 5 TDs, 152.5 passer rating vs. KC

Sixth quarterback to have five touchdowns in five different games

3. QB Matt Ryan 28/37 for 503 yards, 4 TDs, INT, 142.5 passer rating vs. CAR

4. Bills LB Zach Brown 15 tackles, 13 solo, sack, two forced fumbles vs. NE

5. WR A.J. Green 10 receptions for 173 yards, TD vs. MIA

Worst of the Worst

5. QB Carson Palmer 23/36 for 288 yards, TD, INT, Fmb, 86.3 passer rating vs. LA

4. QB Matthew Stafford 23/6 for 213 yards, 2 INTs, 56.8 QBR vs. CHI

3. Jets D, where are you? 23 vs. CIN, 31 vs. BUF, 24 vs. KC, 27 vs. SEA

2. Quarterbacks knocked out: Newton, Palmer, Siemian

  1. San Diego drops another one. Chargers have led in final two minutes in all three of their losses.

Steelers Recap

It was a week after one of the worst games in Steelers history. The Steelers responded as we expected, or had all the right in the world to expect. Defiantly and confidently. Roethlisberger had one of the best games of his career against a team that had just picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick six times, one of the few teams to ever accomplish that feat. The defense held the Chiefs to 14 points. Cam Heyward had three sacks. The Steelers were back and showed their game in Philly was just that. One game, a memory soon to be lost in the deeper recesses of the team’s minds. Up against the struggling Jets next week, it’s impossible for me not to take Pittsburgh.

Game of the Week: Falcons @ Broncos

The best offense against one of the best defenses. If Siemian starts, I have to give the edge to Denver. If Lynch starts, it gets a whole lot closer. Either way, I’m taking Denver but not confidently. I think this game could go either way.

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2016-2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

We’re a quarter of the way through the NFL season, which means a more thorough Power Rankings post this week. Would’ve published earlier if I wasn’t working overtime. After Week 4’s Sports Report tomorrow, Power Rankings posts will be every Tuesday and Sports Reports every Wednesday. Happy reading!

1. Broncos (+0)

A quarter of the way through the season and Denver remains my top team. It’s a battle between Denver and Minnesota for the top defense in the league and while the offense is limited, it has got the job done thus far. 21st in yards per game isn’t a bright stat line but the stat that really matters on offense is points per game. Denver is fifth at 27.8.

2. Patriots (+0)

The Patriots lose to the Bills at home and I’m not discouraged. They lost with an injured third-string quarterback. Someone call the fire department. This team is third in rushing through four games without their best player, Tom Brady. Now they have Brady back. The Patriots don’t need the fire department. It’s everyone else that needs them.

3. Vikings (+2)

Minnesota is without Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson, their two biggest offensive weapons. When Bridgewater fell, I said this team could still contend for a playoff spot. When Peterson went down, I said this team could still contend for a playoff spot. They still can. Through four games, Minnesota has allowed 12.5 points per game and forced 11 turnovers. The offense has one. As long as the Vikings remain game managers on offense and allow the defense to do the heavy lifting, they will remain atop the NFC North.

4. Packers (+0)

Bye. As usual, I’m not going to raise or drop a team during the bye week but they won’t be here next week. Narrow wins against Jacksonville and Detroit and losses to Minnesota are not what we’re used to seeing from Green Bay. The offense is 29th in ypg. They’re 11th in ppg (25.0), but against stiffer competition, I’ve got to believe that number will drop. The Packers need to get out of their funk. They have the Giants, Cowboys and Bears for their next three games.

5. Steelers (+2)

A disastrous week in Philly was blasted into the atmosphere with a 43-14 desolation of a defense that had eight takeaways the week before. Antonio Brown is still unstoppable, the two-headed monster that is Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams has just gotten started and the offense is averaging 27 points per game. The secondary is weak and the front seven hasn’t gotten as much pressure as last year, though I think everyone knew those numbers would be hard to replicate for this squad. The fact is, this team can allow 500 yards of offense a game if they want. Their points allowed is what matters and right now, that number is 20, tied for 11th in the league.

6. Bengals (+0)

A.J. Green is a one-man wrecking crew in Cincinnati. The Bengals are great on offense or are they? They’re third in passing (291 ypg) but 24th in ppg (19.5), a number that’s got to change if they want to remain in the top ten. Their defense is still in the top half, but I’m unsure how long that will last, just as I’m unsure how long Dalton-to-Green can carry this offense. The rushing attack is 28th.

7. Falcons (+9)

Matty Ice is freezing the field. He leads the league in nearly every passing category: completion percentage (72.1), yards (1473), yards per attempt (10.52) and passer rating (126.3). Julio Jones is as good as ever and Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are starting their own one-two punch in the backfield. This team is averaging 38 a game. 38! I’m sure that’s an unsustainable pace but impressive nonetheless. The defense is still struggling but are making some improvements. They’re getting to the quarterback (9.0 sacks) and they’re 16th against the rush (102.3). They’re going to have to play their best football. They played Carolina last week and grabbed an upset win. Now they have Denver and Seattle on the road. Their performance against tough competition will say a lot about this team.

8. Seahawks (+4)

Seattle had a slow start to the season but have really bounced back in their past two games, totaling 64 points. Christine Michael in the backfield concerns me, as well as all the pressure the Seahawks have put on Wilson this year. They’re counting on him to be a top-ten master chief behind center. He’s certainly capable, but he’s got a weak offensive line in front of him. Jimmy Graham’s apparent return to form will certainly help, as will a reliable Doug Baldwin. The defense is the same. Second in yards per game (264) and third in points against. With Arizona falling apart, Los Angeles still discovering their identity and San Francisco in a complete rebuild, the West is Seattle’s.

9. Raiders (+0)

Da Raid-as! Oakland has a competitive team! Derek Carr has a bright future, as does the Oakland offense, third in ypg through four games. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree provide Carr with solid stars. Latavius Murray has carried the run game but a cast of characters has given Oakland a fifth-ranked ground attack. The Raiders are now the AFC’s Falcons. Fireworks on offense, a dormant volcano on defense that could have potential as the season goes on.

10. Eagles (+0)

Bye. Quite the run Philadelphia has had thus far. While they did play Cleveland and Chicago their first two weeks, two of the worst teams in the NFL, there’s no discounting their scourge of the Steelers. The 10 spot is probably a bit high for them but they’ve certainly impressed, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I look forward to how they do against tougher competition. Later in the season, they have these four contests: vs. ATL, @SEA, vs. GB, @CIN.

11. Chiefs (-3)

The team is four games into 2016 and Jamaal Charles has yet to play any role, let alone a pivotal one. I think that has always been my problem with the Chiefs. They rely on Charles a lot, perhaps more than any team leans on any one player. Without Charles, this team has an identity problem on offense. They’re 23rd in ypg and the points aren’t coming. Only Kelce and Maclin on offense. This isn’t a team full of weapons. It’s a team that lacks them. Given his injuries and age, I’m unsure if Charles is a long-term option. Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West have the tools but lack the big-play ability of Charles. The defense has a bright future, as it has for the last few years but I don’t know if it’s enough to carry this team through the season and into the playoffs.

12. Panthers (-9)

Lost. More than any other team in the NFL, Carolina looks like a team that’s perplexed as to where to go next. The dominant defense we saw last year hasn’t appeared yet. They’ve allowed 29.5 per through four. The good news is that the team’s first four games were their most difficult, playing Denver, San Francisco, Minnesota and Atlanta. That’s three top-ten teams in four weeks, a difficult task for any team. With that said, those games showed some serious flaws. Without Josh Norman, the corners are struggling in coverage. Injuries at the skill positions aren’t helping. Cam’s getting hit a lot. The offensive line hasn’t been there. They have a lot of questions to answer and they need to answer them sooner rather than later. Atlanta is running away with the South.

13. Texans (+0)

Osweiler. Miller. Hopkins. Fuller. This, in essence, is the entirety of the Texans offense. Four players. Not a wide range of threats, though Fuller has done very well in his rookie year despite the additional attention. The defense is fifth in yards against, though that number is sure to rise with J.J. Watt out for the season, a huge blow. Like they did in the Arian Foster years, Houston will rely on Miller to open space for the passing game and like the “name a quarterback” to Andre Johnson years, it’ll be a mostly two-man show in the air. If the defense plays to their potential, it won’t matter.

14. Jets (-3)

The Jets are likely to slide some more. As you’ll see in my sports report tomorrow, the Jets defense hasn’t shown up. In four games against CIN (23), BUF (31), KC (24) and SEA (27), New York has given up 105 points for a 26.3 average. That, compared to a 2015 squad that allowed under 20 a game, ain’t gonna cut it. They’re getting scorched through the air (26th against the pass) and Ryan Fitzpatrick is, well, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Matt Forte has certainly been a bright spot, as has the defensive line, but the play behind them has been anything but bright. Again, they won’t be here next week. They face Pittsburgh on the road, a team that’s likely to rain hellfire upon the secondary.

15. Ravens (+0)

It’s hard for me to get a read on Baltimore. A struggling Bills team earlier in the season, Cleveland and Jacksonville for their first three contests don’t reveal much, aside from the fact that the Bills were struggling and that the Browns and Jaguars are still bad teams. Baltimore’s stats are likely skewed because of these matchups. They lost by one to Oakland, a game that I think truly demonstrated where they are: not too far behind the pack. The run game is a concern for me but Flacco is doing his thing: winning football games.

16. Rams (+8)

Two road wins against Tampa Bay and a floundering Cardinals nest puts L.A. in the hunt with Seattle for the crown. Gurley has been quiet thus far, averaging a minuscule 2.6 ypc. That’s not a hit on Gurley. The guy needs help. Case Keenum, Tavon Austin and Brian Quick aren’t going to do much this year. Gurley is a second-year player behind an offensive line still in its growth spurt phase. To expect him to go top-five in rushing is ludicrous. The Rams D hasn’t been the citadel that it has been. Two road wins are nice, but it would be more impressive if those teams were top-15. Tampa Bay and Arizona aren’t.

17. Cowboys (+3)

Dallas will likely climb again next week. The Cowboys boast the best offensive line in the league. Elliot and Prescott have certainly benefited from that. Dallas leads the league in third down conversion rate. Elliot’s in the top-five in rushing. More impressive than the offense is the defense. 19.3 in points against.

18. Giants (-1)

The Giants spent on defense. It’s improved. 11th in ypg, 21.3 in ppg. The Giants did not spend on offense. They are 27th in ppg. There’s no reason that should be the case. 16 against the Saints defense? Once again, New York is struggling in the backfield. They haven’t had a top-ten rushing attack since 2010 and have struggled to be middle-of-the-road since then. Ben McAdoo needs to get Eli going. The ship sinks with the captain. Eli is sinking and so are the Giants.

19. Cardinals (-5)

Arizona is falling apart. Carson Palmer has played bad and is now concussed. David Johnson is a machine at runningback. The Arizona defense is holding but that’s not enough to make up for the deficit on the other side of the ball.

20. Lions (-1)

The Detroit offense is at minimal capable. There’s not much else to say, really. Still no running game. The defense can get pressure but not consistently. Stafford is still a gunslinger.

21. Dolphins (-3)

Miami will drop next week. I can virtually guarantee it. Without Foster in the backfield and a so-so defense, there’s not enough going right in Miami to warrant much attention going their way. They own the bottom of the AFC East.

22. Redskins (+1)

After winning the East last year, the Redskins find themselves on the outside looking in. As I expected, Kirk Cousins hasn’t been the Kirk Cousins from last year. Matt Jones at runningback has not worked. The defense is bad against the run, the pass and stopping opponents on third down (league-worst 57.9 conversion rate allowed).

23. Bills (+3)

After a stutterstep start, Buffalo has got the wheels turning. The defense has woke up. LeSean has his own set of wheels turning.

24. Colts (-3)

They let Cromartie and leading tackler Sio Moore walk. GM Ryan Grigson blamed his inability to craft a defense on Andrew Luck’s contract. It’s just a mess in Indy.

25. Titans (+0)

They’ve got some promise. Not playoff promise, but promise for the future. DeMarco has had a nice resurgence.

26. 49ers (+1)

When is it time for Kaepernick? I’ve got to believe that time is soon.

27. Chargers (-5)

As you’ll see on the sports report, San Diego has led in the final two minutes in all three of their losses. They blew another one. They’re the biggest chokers in the NFL right now. To add insult to injury, Jason Verrett is now out for the season. Season-ending injuries keep coming to San Diego.

28. Jaguars (+0)

They beat the Colts in a sloppy game in London. Not getting any points from me this week.

29. Saints (+1)

The Saints are still bad. Get a defense.

30. Buccaneers (-1)

Jameis had an off day and so did the offense. It was against Denver but without Doug Martin, the offense has noticeably lost a step.

31. Bears (+0)

Backup quarterback. Backup runningback. Backup football team.

32. Browns (+0)

How many quarterbacks is Cleveland going to go through? Spread is +5. I’m taking over.

Biggest Climb: Falcons (+9)

Biggest Drop: Panthers (-9)

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Tim Sports Report for 2016 NFL Week 3

Top 5

  1. QB Trevor Siemian 28/35 for 312 yards, 4 TDs, 132.1 passer rating vs. CIN

First quarterback to throw for 300 yards and 4 TDs without an interception in his first road start.

2. Vikings record eight sacks, pick Cam three times in road win against Carolina.

3. WR Marvin Jones 6 receptions for 205 yards, 2 TDs vs. GB

4. QB Aaron Rodgers 15/24 for 205, 4 TDs, 129.3 passer rating vs. DET

5. RB LeSean McCoy 17 carries for 110 yards, 2 TDs vs. ARI

Worst of the Worst

5. Cody Parkey misses three field goals, including potential gamewinner for Cleveland.

4. San Diego chokes away a lead again.

3. QB Carson Palmer 26/50 for 287 yards, 4 INTs, 36.0 passer rating vs. BUF

2. Steelers suffer worst loss since ’89.

  1. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 20/44 for 188 yards, 6 INTs, 18.2 passer rating vs. KC

Steelers Recap

I don’t want to talk about it. I really don’t. It was one of the worst Steelers games I’ve seen. The offense was lost and the defense confused and battered. I couldn’t even watch the whole game. The idea that an offense as talented as the Steelers couldn’t score even one touchdown against Philly is disturbing. I’m not in panic mode but if they suffer a second loss like that, it speaks to a larger problem that needs to be addressed.

Game of the Week: Panthers @ Falcons

Not a lot of games jump up from the schedule but this one does. Matty Ice is dropping some bombs. Carolina is on their heels, but will it play out that way? I got Atlanta in an upset.

 

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2016-2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 3

Late again. 😦

1. Broncos (+0)

Trevor Siemian’s historic performance against Cincinnati is a nice clipping to add to the Broncos vast collection. The defense remains stout.

2. Patriots (+1)

The Brady-less squad continues on, shutting out Houston in Foxborough.

3. Panthers (-1)

Carolina’s loss to Minnesota was definitely a surprise. They have a tough stretch to start the season but that can’t be an excuse for the defending NFC champions.

4. Packers (+3)

Aaron Rodgers told reporters and fans to relax before and he backed it up. He did the same once again. With that said, Green Bay let Detroit back in the game late. Can’t do that. This defense is still shoddy but their climb in the rankings is precipitated by the fall of many of my top ten teams this week.

5. Vikings (+4)

Mike Zimmer looks like a coach of the year candidate and the Vikings defense looks like a top-five squad. They punished Cam and the Panthers. The offense is average enough to score 20 a game. If the defense can continue this play down the stretch, this team is definitely capable of a playoff birth.

6. Bengals (+0)

Cincinnati just can’t compete with Denver. Still a top-ten ensemble.

7. Steelers (-3)

One of the worst losses in Steelers history. The worst Steelers loss since I’ve been alive. The worst since 1989. At the hands of a rookie named Wentz. The Steelers looked powerless on offense and even more so on defense. Another performance like that and I’ll be worried. It doesn’t get easier with Kansas City coming to town next week.

8. Chiefs (+3)

They tortured Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets on Sunday on both sides of the ball. The last time a quarterback threw six interceptions and no touchdowns was 1989. The man who did it later became a punter.

9. Raiders (+3)

Oakland tops Tennessee. Not a huge achievement but the Raiders have the potential to compete for a playoff spot.

10. Eagles (+9)

Huge win for Philly against a real talented team. They made the Steelers look not talented. Carson Wentz is a capable starter in a more capable system. Doug Pederson is looking like a coach of the year candidate.

11. Jets (-6)

Ryan Fitzpatrick will always be Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Fitzpatrick throws a lot of interceptions, especially in the fourth quarter. He is always reliable in that regard. Look, the Jets defense can get to the quarterback and I still think they’re capable of being a top-ten defense by season’s end but none of it matters if Fitzpatrick continues being Fitzpatrick. It makes you wonder if Bryce Petty might have been a better option. They have a corral of young quarterbacks. Perhaps getting one of them some playing time would have been a better option.

12. Seahawks (+3)

The defense is a consistent threat but I worry about Russ. Wilson can’t do everything and I don’t know how many hits he can take before he breaks. That offensive line is inexperienced and I don’t have total confidence in Christine Michael as a lead back.

13. Texans (-3)

I didn’t expect them to beat New England on the road but I did expect them to make it competitive against a third-string quarterback. They did not.

14. Cardinals (-6)

Based off these first three games, it would appear that last year was a career year for Palmer and we’re back to the old Palmer. The unreliable one. The offense is stilted and the defense is lost. They just lost to a team with a new offensive coordinator. It should have been a field day for them. Arizona needs to find themselves quick. Their schedule gets harder, not easier.

15. Ravens (+5)

I can’t ignore Baltimore anymore. Their competition has been weak thus far but their defense is back to what we’re used to seeing and Flacco doesn’t look like he’s lost a step from his season-ending injury last year. My concern is their one-dimensional offense. Not much of a run game (27th).

16. Falcons (+5)

Matt Ryan is having a resurgence. A serious one. The top fantasy quarterback is destroying any defense that comes to town. Question is, will that continue against Carolina? Also, the duo of Freeman and Coleman in the backfield has been fun to watch.

17. Giants (-3)

If Eli sinks, so does this team. Right now, Eli is sinking. Shane Vereen is done for the year and Rashad Jennings is injured. The defense is still trying to find itself. Between the Jets and Giants, it’s a fun time in the Big Apple.

18. Dolphins (-5)

I want to believe this team is ready for the next step up but they never give me a reason to believe that. Without Foster, the run game is now haltered and while I’m fascinated with the Tannehill-Landry connection, it’s not enough to carry an offense. The defense has a lot of pressure on it right now and in my opinion, too much.

19. Lions (-2)

Marvin Jones had a record day but getting blown out 31-10 in the first half is not the type of day Detroit was looking for. However, they showed some talent in coming back late. I will give them credit for that. Without Abdullah in the backfield, the Lions look to be without a running game. Again. They haven’t had a top-10 rushing attack since the last time Barry Sanders played football.

20. Cowboys (+5)

Many teams in the bottom half fell. Dallas was one of the few that haven’t. Dak Prescott looks solid through three games and Elliott looks to be worthy of his early first round selection. I’m still reluctant to put my full support behind an offense of rookies.

21. Colts (+1)

The Colts got a last second win. The defense is still bad, they still struggle on the run and Luck is still getting hit. Same old story in Indy.

22. Chargers (-4)

They choked another one. Rivers can’t get a break. The team’s leaders are breaking each week. Keenan Allen’s already gone and so is defensive captain Manti Teo. Melvin Gordon might be having a nice bounceback year but I struggle to see Travis Benjamin and Gordon carrying this offense. Rivers is the do-it-all guy again.

23. Redskins (+4)

A win on the road against the Giants looks nice. Of course, if the Giants had a run game, something tells me this would have been a different story.

24. Rams (+2)

That offense is bad. Gurley was not worth the high fantasy pick. Thankfully, I stayed away from him. There’s far too much pressure on him right now. Rams D gave up 32 points. A better overall performance against Tampa Bay but not the type of performance that’s going to justify a playoff spot.

25. Titans (+4)

Tennessee doesn’t look awful. That’s not saying much but they’ve been competitive. DeMarco Murray looks a helluva lot better.

26. Bills (+2)

Buffalo gets a win against a brutally struggling Arizona squad. LeSean had quite the day. What’s next? Foxborough.

27. 49ers (-3)

I’ll be honest. San Francisco didn’t do anything wrong this week. They just didn’t do anything right either.

28. Jaguars (-12)

I’ve picked the Jaguars three weeks in a row. Loss, loss, loss. This team’s setting up to be a disappointment, as always. I won’t be picking them next week against Indy.

29. Buccaneers (-6)

No Doug Martin hurts this offense. It’s Jameis to Evans. Not much else to talk about here.

30. Saints (+0)

Another loss but here they’ll stay for now. Get a defense, New Orleans. If you don’t, plan to suck for about a decade after Brees retires, minimal.

31. Bears (+0)

Loss to Dallas. Cutler injured. Langford injured. At least you got the Cubs, Chicago.

32. Browns (+0)

This was their chance to get a win. They messed up, obviously.

Biggest Climb: Eagles (+9)

Biggest Drop: Jaguars (-12)

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