Week 11 Column

Seeing how there were a lot of boring/uninteresting storylines this week, I’m going to focus this column more on where teams stand now in the middle of the season. I’m basically trying to avoid repeating myself with the constant recaps. Before I do that, there’s a few issues I want to get out of the way.

First is the awful officiating that’s been going on for the past few years and it seemed to hit a new level of ridiculousness in the Raiders-Steelers game. Steelers were penalized 14 times and a lot of them were absolute jokes. The most egregious call was on James Harrison’s “roughing the passer” which negated a Pittsburgh interception return for a TD. Good thing that call didn’t change anything important. Also, there were some terrible pass interference calls in the Seahawks-Saints game as well and there were plenty of other calls I could go on forever about. My biggest problem with officiating in the NFL is how many refs are forced to make a judgment call because the rules in the book are too ambiguous for them to determine what is legal and what isn’t (see helmet-to-helmet hits and pass interference calls). As much as I would like to blame the refs, their job isn’t easy and there’s too many times where they have to make a quick judgment call and no matter what they say or do there’s going to be people wanting their heads at the end of the day. The NFL seriously needs to address this problem in the off-season. Whether it’s by finding more competent officials or re-interpreting the rules. I just don’t want to see a game like the mess that happened in Pittsburgh on Sunday where it seemed like every other play was a personal foul call.

In other news, Brad Childress was finally fired as the Vikings head coach. It’s too bad it had to come when they were 3-7 or they may have had a decent shot at the playoffs. Minnesota isn’t that different from how they were last season but Childress lost control of that team and they fell apart. The inmates run the asylum in Minnesota and no one has stepped up as a leader of that unit. Brett Favre had more influence on the team than Childress did and he wasn’t the one calling the plays. Childress doesn’t deserve all of the blame but the Vikings were going nowhere with him and his poor game and clock management wasn’t helping matters either. Lezlie Frazier’s first act as head coach was to announce that Favre will remain the starter…he must be looking for an early exit too.

Speaking of coaches who are on their way out, why hasn’t John Fox been let go of yet? I thought starting Brian St. Pierre, a QB who has only thrown 5 passes in his career and was only on the team for two weeks, was going to be the final straw with him. Apparently the Panthers don’t care if they let Fox continue to make the organization look like a joke since they didn’t invest a lot of money in this season anyway. Fox has every right to do this but the organization have the power to get rid of him and I think it’s best they do it sooner rather than later.

Top 5 Teams

AFC

1. Patriots 8-2 It’s hard not to put them at the top since they own victories over the Steelers and Ravens. You could say that the Jets are the one thing standing in their way but aside from the Browns game, they have been more impressive than the Jets for most of the season.

2. Jets 8-2 People keep calling them a “lucky” team with how they’ve won their last few games but good teams know how to finish out games no matter who their opponent is. Like the Pats, they find weaknesses in their opponents and exploit them. Just like they did with the Texans pass “defense” this weekend.

3. Ravens 7-3 So close to being 8-2 but they got back on track with a relatively easy win against Carolina. Sure the secondary is a cause for concern but Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are making big plays when they matter and it’s been a huge key to them being where they are.

4. Steelers 7-3 Rebounded well after a tough loss against the Pats by crushing Oakland.

5. Jaguars 6-4 Honestly, I can’t give it to the Colts or the Chiefs right now as odd as that sounds.  The Jags have won 3 in a row (granted, in close games they could have lost) and have a game on the Colts. How long they will hold this spot remains to be seen.

NFC

1. Falcons 8-2 Pulled away from the Rams this week and they are making the most of their light road schedule because we all know how good they are at home. It will be scary if they get home field advantage in the playoffs.

2. Eagles 7-3 So, they proved me wrong again and got an impressive win against a strong Giants defense. That game would have been less tight if they would have run the ball more since the Giants didn’t have an answer to LeSean McCoy. Conversely, the Eagles D shut down Ahmad Bradshaw and picked off Eli three times. Having the Giants in the rear-view mirror is nice, too. Even nicer since 1/2 of their receiving corps is on the shelf now.

3. Packers 7-3 Demolished the Vikings and completed a sweep of them for the year. Gives them a big upper hand in the division since they have the Bears at home later in the year.

4. Saints 7-3 Brees has been on fire the last few weeks and that generally isn’t good news for opponents.

5. Bears 7-3 Their defense continues to get the job done and their offense is playing well enough to win so you can definitely consider them legit contenders for now with the state the NFC is in. Better competition gives the edge over Tampa Bay…..for now.

Best Team Performance: Packers

You could say it’s their most important win of the season since they beat Minnesota in convincing fashion on the road. Now they wont have to deal with the Vikings anymore. I would say that they control their own destiny the rest of the way but they will have to travel to Atlanta next week and then Foxboro later on. Yikes.

Top 5 Offensive Players of the Week

1. Ben Roethlisberger 18/29 275 3 TD, 3 car 55 yds TD

Another big day for Big Ben and it seems like he keeps finding new guys to throw to every week. Hines Ward goes down and Emmanuel Sanders being the newest one the last couple of games.

2. Steve Johnson 8 rec 137 yds 3 TD

He’s been impressive week after week but he pulled out one hell of a performance in the Bills comeback win over the Bills this week. Not even Leon Hall could cover this guy.

3. Greg Jennings 7 rec 152 yds 3 TD

Caught 7 of 9 passes thrown his way and turned three of them into TDs. Asher Allen has absolutely no chance covering him on Sunday.

4. Maurice Jones-Drew 23 car 133 yds, TD, 3 rec 87 yds, fumble, INT

Yeah, those turnovers look ugly but he was the main reason the Jags won that game and his 75 yard catch and run was amazing to watch.

5. Philip Rivers 15/24 233 yds 4 TD INT

Continues to make the most of having limited targets to throw to and his name keeps coming up in MVP conversations. I could see him competing for that but I wouldn’t call him the MVP just yet. Offensive Player of the Year and a top 5 QB in the league? Absolutely.

Runners Up: Drew Brees, Joe Flacco, Mike Goodson, Santonio Holmes, Mark Sanchez, Mike Vick

Defensive Player of the Week: James Harrison 5 tackles, 2 sacks, INT, forced fumble

Hard not to give it to him with a performance like that. Him and Clay Matthews will be neck-and-neck for the Defensive Player of the Year.

Runners Up: TJ Ward, Mario Williams, Julius Peppers, Justin Tuck, Patrick Willis, Jonathan Joseph

Worst Team Performance: Bengals

I know the Niners got shutout but the Bengals choked away a 31-7 lead in one half and were outscored 42-3 in that process. That is something unheard of. We also saw a display of Carson Palmer’s great ability to lead his team from behind. Yep, love seeing my claim still reign true, haha.

Runners Up: 49ers, Raiders, Vikings

Worst Offensive Player of the Week: Frank Gore 12 car 23 yards

You know how Frank Gore was one of the bright spots in this dismal season for the Niners? That’s all he could muster up against one of the league’s worst run defenses.

Runners Up: Brian St. Pierre, Any Lions running back, Shonn Greene, Darren McFadden

Game of the Week: Colts-Patriots

Cliche, but this game always delivers. Of course, we have the Patriots and their prevent defense to thank for this game getting interesting but they were able to capitalize on almost all of Peyton Manning’s mistakes, and there were more of them than usual.

Runners Up: Texans-Jets, Bills-Bengals

Surprise of the Week: Browns forcing 6 turnovers and losing

It’s somewhat remarkable that any team manages to do this. I still like watching the Browns but they clearly have a long way to go.

Worst Game of the Week: Raiders-Steelers

Nothing worse than having a blowout game constantly interrupted with penalties with awful personal foul calls. Thankfully, I didn’t have to watch this suckfest.

Idiot of the Week: Vince Young

Mostly because I didn’t want to feature that Raiders-Steelers game again. Young probably cost himself his season with his little outburst after the Titans loss to the Redskins. Titans elected to put him on the IR with a torn tendon in his thumb. Probably meaning that Fisher is done dealing with him and just wants to get through this season with Kerry Collins or even better, Rusty Smith! I guess I should give some props to the Skins defense for buckling down this week after getting humiliated on Monday night.

Runners up: Richard Seymour, John Fox, Asante Samuel


 

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