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Fan Notes from Around the League

I always have mixed feelings about the New England Patriots’ bye week every year. On one hand, it deprives me of my favorite three hours of the week and leaves me with no valid excuse for getting out of apple picking or pumpkin carving or stoop sales or whatever else my girlfriend wants to do with her autumn afternoons. On the other hand, though, it’s a chance for the Patriots players to get some rest and it allows me that rare week of simply enjoying football for what it is without the stress, anxiety, and profanity that always accompanies watching Pats games. New England’s bye week also allows me to finally get my money’s worth out of DirecTV’s Superfan package; all I had to do yesterday was turn to the Red Zone Channel and let Andrew Siciliano’s massive ears fly me to wherever the action was.

While I was able to catch all of the early games, the latter part of Sunday afternoon found me at a farmer’s market, where I had to walk around pretending everything looked and tasted better than the exact same things you can pick up in the grocery store for half the price. Luckily, I was able to take at least a few notes before getting dragged out of the house and thrown into the depths of hell an Organic Wonderland.

Now I'd be lying if I said I was paying tremendously close attention to any of these games, as yesterday was one of those perfect fall Sundays for which naps on the couch were invented. But hey, it's New England's bye week, right? Yesterday was probably the last Sunday nap I'll get for a while, so I had to enjoy it while I could.

Notes on Week 7 after the jump.

  • I know that one of the Cardinal Rules of Manliness is that a man in his boxers and socks is a man at his absolute worst – but I watched all the games yesterday in my boxers and socks and I’m OK with it.
  • Cam Newton is really fun to watch. I’m not yet ready to accept him as my Lord and Savior the way much of the media has, but I’m really enjoying what has been a remarkable rookie season thus far.
  • I had the opportunity to draft Matt Forte in my fantasy draft. I took a flier on Felix Jones instead. Genius.
  • I've heard griping from people about the amount of pink you see on the field during the month of October. I, for one, always enjoy seeing players decked out in pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's a great gesture by the NFL and anything that helps promote cancer awareness is just fine by me.
  • I was watching Sound FX on NFL Network yesterday before all the games started, and one of the players they had mic’d up was Andy Dalton. It seems like he already has the respect of his teammates and has been exhibiting solid leadership skills. Looking forward to seeing him develop.
  • I don’t think that Roy Williams will go down in history as the bust he deserves to be. It seems that a well-placed pass bounces off his hands every game.
  • The Detroit Lions’ front 4 is absolutely dominant. Very happy that the only way New England will see them this year is in the Superbowl.
  • The Dolphins’ MVP through 7 weeks is Matt Carpenter. Eek.
  • Speaking of -I think it’s time to start rooting for the Miami Dolphins to win some games.  I know it’s always hard to gauge how a player will transition between college and the NFL, but I’d rather play it safe and keep Andrew Luck out of the AFC East.
  • I think I’ve said this before, but I really want a specific explanation of what constitutes Roughing the Passer. I honestly don’t think that the referees have any idea and it’s basically just a series of judgment calls at this point.
  • I realized yesterday that there are people out there whose sole job is to scan the crowds for attractive females that cameras can cut to coming back from commercial breaks. Somewhere along the line, I made some poor life choices.
  • I'd also like to think that part of those people's job description is also to catch important people picking their nose.
  • Yes, Tim Tebow. You’re emotional and you’re a leader. We get it. Step 2: complete some passes.
  • That was an amazing final drive, though. Gotta give credit where credit is due.
  • 99% of the time, the number of camera angles and high-definition close-ups that are now available to us is a phenomenal thing. That other one 1% where it's not so great? Watching Matt Ryan’s ankle get snapped in half in crystal clear slow motion. No thanks.
  • Can't believe that Ryan was back out there a short time later. I consider myself tough when I stub my toe and don't immediately drop to the ground in agony. Football players are just carved out of granite.
  • The nonsense that was the Cleveland vs. Seattle game made me even more grateful to be a Patriots fan.
  • Thanksgiving is already my favorite day of the year, but getting to watch the Packers play the Lions is going to make it that much sweeter.
  • Philip Rivers may have the worst throwing mechanics of any quarterback in NFL history.
  • Speaking of Rivers -nice clock management to close out the game there, Phil.
  • I’d love to see a blind taste test that puts a $9.99, organically grown, chemical free, holistic Swami-blessed apple up against the apple I stole from Stop & Shop on Tuesday by hiding it in an economy-sized tub of pre-made buttered popcorn.  I bet 90% of the people I had to deal with yesterday wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
  • It’s hard not to root for Matt Cassel.
  • If the NFL were summer camp, Kyle Boller would be a perennial contender for the "Best Attitude" Award. Little guy just won’t give up.
  • It’s amazing how boring football games in which you have nobody on your fantasy team playing can really be.
  • To put it as cleanly as possible – Rob Gronkowski is having one helluva bye week.
  • Quite a few bright spots from Christian Ponder yesterday. He’s still a little raw, but he has great fundamentals.
  • Poor St. Louis. They just can’t catch a break.
  • The famed Manning face was sporting a fairly massive zit last night.
  • All in all, yesterday was one of the uglier Sundays of football I can remember. It’s clear that without the Patriots around to maintain order, everything just goes to hell.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of those bye weeks where the Patriots were able to create some separation within their division, courtesy of a less-than-stellar day from the San Diego Chargers, but it still came at the perfect time for this team. Everyone definitely needed a break after what was undoubtedly two back-to-back killer weeks of preparation. The big question marks coming into this week will be how effectively Chad Ochocinco has used this time off to get himself up to speed with this offense, whether or not our defense can continue gaining ground, and how close Jerod Mayo is to returning to action. While we won’t know for sure until Sunday, I’m hopeful that this bye week was not only an opportunity for the Patriots to get healthy, but also a chance to make some positive strides forward as a team.  It’s also always good to have some extra time to prepare for what is sure to be a tough game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hopefully, New England will be able to keep up the momentum they built off of their huge comeback win against the Cowboys, come into a great week of practice ready for a very physical game on Sunday, and start coming together to play their best football down the stretch.

And hopefully, I’ve seen my last farmer’s market of 2011.