NFL Week 13 Column

With only four weeks left in the season, I’ve heard some pretty ridiculous things being spouted off after this week’s batch of games. “This game proves the Patriots and Jets are the best teams in the AFC.” “The Bears/Ravens/Bucs/etc. will all lose in the first round if they make the playoffs.” “The Jets are frauds.” “The Colts are hopeless, Jags will win the South.” “Eagles are still the best team in the NFC.” “The Patriots are unstoppable.”

See what I mean, everyone’s claiming things right now when there’s still plenty of football left to be played. Sure, you can say that the Pats are the best team in the league right now after that beating they gave the Jets but does it make the Jets frauds that they lost that game? No. Yes, they have struggled against weak opponents but they are still a 9-3 team and one game out of first place. Let’s wait to see how they play the Steelers before we rule them out already. Are the Ravens done because of losing to the Steelers? Absolutely not. Same with the Chargers being two games out even after choking to the Raiders. Still plenty of important games left for every team.

We have similar things going on in the NFC. Falcons and Eagles sitting at the top with the rest of the division starring down. Oh wait, then there’s the 9-3 Chicago Bears who BEAT the Eagles last week. We can forget about them though since they lost to the Lions, right? Wrong. Yeah, the Bears have made the most out of an easy schedule despite not winning pretty but you have to give them credit for being 9-3 and getting wins against Philadelphia and Green Bay in that process. Their defense is as legit as they come and Jay Cutler has taken a lot of steps towards improvement this year. We will definitely find out if they are “frauds” or not since they are going on the road to face New England, Green Bay and Minnesota in the next few weeks. Should be very interesting.

Onto the actual games, I was a bit surprised that Fox decided to make the Cowboys-Colts game the one most of the nation got instead of the Falcons-Bucs since they did flex it. Either way, they’re lucky the former was a great game. I’m pretty surprised that Jason Garrett’s been this successful given how much I’ve disliked his playcalling but he’s actually done a fine job. I was surprised when I saw that this was the first game Tashard Choice had more than 10 carries and he made the most of it with a 100 yard game and a TD. It took Marion Barber getting injured to realize that he is the best RB on that team. Felix Jones is a great back but I see him more as a change of pace back more than an every-down back like Choice can be. He is a lot faster and is showing that he’s capable of carrying the load while Felix was struggling despite getting 23 carries. Hopefully this sends a message to Garrett to use Choice more, let Felix have 10-15 carries while Barber sits on the bench.

Question everyone is talking about after this game is “What the hell is wrong with Peyton Manning?” Well, there’s only a few QBs who can succeed with their best TE missing, no running game and a banged up offensive line and there’s a lot who call Peyton the best in the game so he should be able to overcome it, correct? Turns out not since he’s struggled a lot. 8 interceptions in his last three games and 4 of them were returned for picks. It’s crazy to think that the Colts might make the playoffs this year and while that’s possible, it’s hard to count them out with how the AFC South looks. They are still only one game behind the 7-5 Jaguars despite this 3 game losing streak and have a home game against them left. So, while I definitely wouldn’t say the Colts are looking like Super Bowl contenders, I don’t think it’s fair to rule them out of the playoffs now. These turnovers obviously have to stop, though. As well as the defense learning to stop the run.

The Falcons-Bucs game definitely lived up to the hype and the Falcons were able to win despite Matt Ryan not having his best game. It think that’s more of a statement to the Bucs, though considering that their secondary is playing great despite a barrage of injuries. It’s getting even worse now that Aqib Talib and center Jeff Faine are done for the season. You could say the Bucs playoff hopes are looking bleak but the three of their remaining games are against Washington, Detroit and Seattle..all winnable despite the injuries and the Bucs were able to halt Matt Ryan even with Corey Lynch playing free safety. Definitely says something about the coaching of the team. So don’t count out the Bucs just yet. The Falcons are still rolling, though. I saw them giving the Saints a run for their money this year and they aren’t proving me wrong one bit.

Is Brett Favre’s career done? One would think after getting drilled in the Bills game and the Vikings winning big despite him being out. Lezlie Frazier still says that he’s “hoping he is ready to go.” Why? Tavaris Jackson killed it! Except for the part where he threw 3 interceptions but had a solid game, nonetheless. I still say that win was mostly Adrian Peterson and the defense. Oh, and Sidney Rice. You can tell they really missed him, too. T-Jax may have given the offense a spark and he didn’t keep him out of the game so I guess that’s something.

Josh McDaniels was fired yesterday which means the Broncos will be on the books for three coaches next year. Hilarious. What’s even more hilarious is how badly he’s managed to run that team into the ground in the matter of two years. There was trading the two best pieces of his offense in Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall for starters. Then there’s the numerous trades he’s made throughout the years. One included him trading up to draft Alphonso Smith only to trade him a year later. Who did he trade to get Smith? A first rounder, who did that end up being? Earl Thomas. Oops. Then there was the whole trading Peyton Hillis and a 6th rounder for Brady Quinn thing this spring. Hillis is killing it for the Browns while Quinn hasn’t played a down this year. Oops. Of course we can’t forget who he took with the picks he got in the Cutler trade.

He took Robert Ayers with the first rounder who has been a decent linebacker but it’s bad when guys like Clay Matthews and James Laurinaitis were taken shorty after. Then he traded the 3rd rounder to the Steelers for their 2nd and 4th round picks who he selected Robert Quinn and Seth Olsen with one of which was cut earlier this year. Who did the Steelers take with that 3rd rounder? Mike Wallace. McDaniels could have told Brandon Marshall to get lost if he had Wallace on the team. Oh, and the Bears used the 5th rounder they got from the Donks to draft Johnny Knox. Oops. Then there’s the whole trading up to get Tim Tebow thing. If the new Broncos coach doesn’t like him then there’s even more picks wasted. OOPS! So, the sooner they got rid of him the better because he would rival Matt Millen with how badly he was running the Broncos into the ground. I did think the timing was odd, though since stripping him of roster control would have been a better idea. Wait, you’re telling me giving a coach complete roster control despite only having one year of coordinator experience isn’t a good idea? NO WAI.

Okay, one last bit before I go onto the rankings. Ravens/Steelers was just about what I expected which was a low-scoring affair. No matter how good either team’s offense is it always ends up that way. The Steelers were able to shut down the run and force Flacco to make things happen which worked early on and then the Troy Polamalu fumble happened. Pittsburgh has seen the Ravens enough to know how to beat them and know that if they can get in Flacco’s face late in the game then it would equal to success. James Farrior did just that and it was on the game-winning play. I still agree with Harbaugh’s decision to go for it there because there was still over 30 seconds left on the clock. Would Cundiff make that kick there? Probably but it’s still too risky to possibly end the game there. Going for the first down and get a  shorter field goal was the smarter play. Unfortunately it didn’t end well.

Best Team Performance: Patriots

If winning 45-3 after the opposing coach shit talks you wall week isn’t making a statement then I don’t know what is. So much for that Game of the Week!

Runners-up: Raiders, Giants

Top 5 Offensive Players of the Week

1. Tom Brady 21/29 326 yards 4 TDs

Hard not to give it to him after a performance like that. Still making a strong case for him winning the MVP.

2. Aaron Rodgers 21/30 298 yards 3 TDs

Then there’s another QB who’s in the running for that award and he had another strong game to impress the voters. Let’s hope I never have to see those Packers throwbacks again, though.

3. Reggie Wayne 14 catches 200 yards 2 TD

Maybe the Colts would win more games if him and Manning weren’t the only ones on the offense who looked like they care 60% of the time.

4. Chris Ivory 15 car 117 yards 2 TDs

Considering this guy was undrafted and is now basically the everydown back for the Saints, it’s making me start to believe that you can find running backs almost anywhere and you don’t need to spend big money on them.

5. Jay Cutler 21/26 234 yards TD

Cutler’s pulled together a lot of great games the past few weeks and making the people who were saying he was awful last year eat their words. The mental mistakes are still there but there’s a lot of production to go along with it this time.

Runners up: Marshawn Lynch, Danny Woodhead, Adrian Peterson, Drew Brees, Jamaal Charles, Knowshon Moreno, Maurice Jones-Drew, Brandon Jacobs, Darren McFadden

Defensive Player of the Week: Sean Lee 2 tackles, 2 INT’s TD

Drayton Florence of the Bills was going to get this at first but Lee basically did the same thing and it was crucial to his team winning so he gets the honor.

Runners-up: Tamba Hali, Troy Polamalu, Joe Haden, Abram Elam

Worst Team Performance: Titans

To basically spare the Redskins and Jets since I think both teams have been mentioned here before. The Titans are just a mess in so many ways right now that I could see them losing out. Remember how the Randy Moss acquisition was supposed to put them in first place? He’s dropped numerous passes and only has five catches in 4 games. The revolving door at QB probably has a lot to do with it too. I don’t see Kerry Collins lasting that much longer in this league.

Runners-Up:  Jets, Cardinals, Redskins, Dolphins

Worst Offensive Player of the Week: Derek Anderson 9/20 93 yards, INT

Earned himself a seat on the bench after another bad performance and wasn’t let back into the game when Max Hall got hurt. Instead, rookie John Skelton took over. That’s how bad Derek Anderson is.

Runners up: Chad Henne, Chargers running backs, Titans receivers, Mark Sanchez, Kyle Orton

Surprise of the Week: Raiders crushing Chargers

and at home, nonetheless. I really thought the Chargers were going to win-out and this brought an abrupt end to that. What’s even more surprising is that Jason Campbell actually looked like he had a hold of that offense and did well at managing the game plus making some plays with his feet. Then there’s the Raiders running backs who ran for over 200 yards against what was the best defense in the league. I mean, the Chargers struggling this year is nothing new but them dropping a home game to a Raiders team that seemed to be fading is pretty surprising.

Game of the Week: Cowboys-Colts

Tough decision between this and the Raiders-Bucs but this was a very exciting game and as I said earlier, Fox is lucky that this lived up to it’s hype.

Runners up: Falcons-Bucs, Steelers-Ravens, Saints-Bengals

Worst Game of the Week: Dolphins-Browns

I had to watch this from beginning to end and man, these are two bad offenses. I can not understand why Dan Henning hasn’t been fired yet because his dumb playcalling has got the Dolphins in a huge hole. The defense is good enough to win games but it doesn’t matter when the offense can’t move the ball. Oh, and Henne kind of sucks. Especially since the running game isn’t getting it going but I think Henne’s playcalling has a lot to do with that.

Runners up: Giants-Redskins

Idiot of the Week: Pat Simms

When a team lines up on offense on 4th and 2 with less than a minute left down by three it usually means they are going to do a hard snap count to draw the defense offsides and get a first down. I’m going to assume the Bengals didn’t run this through in practice because Simms fell for it despite everyone in the stadium seeing it coming. Saints score a TD on the next play. Nice work. What was even dumber was Ron Pitts’ calling of it. “Brees tried to draw the defense offsides and I think  a Saint moved.” Uh-huh. The offense would definitely commit a false start in that situation.

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