CAM’T OR WON’T: As people begin to believe ‘Superman’ isn’t invincible, Newton himself is struggling in a sophomore slump. Photo courtesy Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

This week’s edition of NFL Notes was delayed a day by the NLCS Game 7. However, each week the NFL storyline changes. If each play is a verse, each week is a chapter, and each season a book. As with any good story, the trends change and new plots develop. But, it’s important to look beyond the score box when taking a peek at each NFL week. Here are some things that stuck out this past week.

Any Suggestions

People are making light/fun of Cam Newton’s “suggestion box” sound bite and, personally, I don’t get it. If anything, people should be making fun of that outfit he did his press conference in.

Kidding aside, the only thing wrong with Cam’s comments is it seemed as though he was out of control. Drafted first overall to be the face of the franchise, he has automatically been placed into a position of major leadership. So for him to, A, not take more responsibility for the loss and, B, be looking to others for guidance was extremely weak.

It’s easy to be the nice guy when things are going well for you, but the real test of character comes in times of adversity. Newton is now realizing that the weight of an entire franchise, fairly or unfairly, have been put squarely on his shoulders and, so far, he is crumbling under that pressure.

So if Newton wants a suggestion, I’d say stick to the script the Panthers PR team gives you. I always applaud players for speaking their mind, but in this case it’s not helping anything.

 

MAN DOWN: When Gabbert went down with injury, Jaguars fans learned, in fact, the quarterback play could get worse. Photo courtesy Bob Self/The Times-Union

Things Go From Bad to Worse in Jacksonville

Name two Jaguars. Good. Now, name two Jaguars not named Maurice Jones-Drew and Blaine Gabbert. If you can’t, you may want to do some research, because it looks like the two of them won’t be playing next week and possibly longer.

For Jacksonville, the news makes an already crappy season all the more crappier. They were actually winning on the road in Oakland before the Raiders came back to squeak by in an overtime victory. And, in case you haven’t checked, the Raiders are AWFUL. Even on the road, Jacksonville probably should’ve won the game.

There’s no doubt that wins will be hard to come by, especially with the possibility that MJD is done for the season. Still on the docket are the Packers, Texans, and Patriots, and those are just the REALLY good teams. The fact of the matter is I would be downright shocked if this team got more than 2 wins this season. And, if they do, I’ll probably chalk it up to the enhanced parity in the league I’ve already talked about in weeks past.

Here’s the good news: they have one win. That means they can’t go down as the worst team ever. But while they’re already better than the 2008 Lions, finishing like the 2009 Rams isn’t out of the question.

The flip side to every bad season is you can get a super-nice draft pick. Unfortunately for the Jags, they’ve already had one of those the past two years and their picks — Gabbert and Justin Blackmon — have done next to nothing so far. Who knows, though; maybe third time’s the charm.

Records Aren’t Everything

If you asked yourself who was currently the most powerful team in the NFL, you almost surely would look at team records. So Houston and Atlanta must be the best in the league, right? Well, not so fast.

Football isn’t like any of the other professional sports, and we’re seeing that more this year than ever before. With only 16 games in a regular season, the effects of every mistake and mental error increase exponentially. If a major league closer blows a save, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to redeem himself. If a wide receiver drops a touchdown in the end zone, he may have just cost his team one sixteenth of a season. For a closer to do the same, he would have to blow TEN games.

Are the Falcon’s fifty percent better than the Patriots? Absolutely not. In fact, they may not be better at all.

A lot of it has to do with the divisions. Playing each divisional opponent twice means over a third of each season you’re going to play  the same guys. The Patriots have two fewer wins so far than Atlanta, but the division they play in has two more wins. The Patriots account for a little more than a quarter of their division’s total victories while the Falcons are responsible for over half.

My points is you shouldn’t get hung up on records when measuring a team’s strength. It’s a part of the reason the last two Super Bowl champions have won only a little more than half their games.

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NOTES: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure you give him a follow @bclienesch for NFL updates and other shenanigans!