Week 14 Column

I know I said I would be on a hiatus this week but I don’t have an exam today and figured I should at least give you my views on what’s happening in the NFL this week since there were a lot of interesting occurrences. Just about every game is a “must-win” for teams who are on the verge of making the playoffs and with that, the more irrational and pessimistic fans get. I think it reached a new high this week. The Packers fans I’ve been dealing with are the biggest offenders. They lost a tough one to the Lions, without their starting QB, have a record of 8-5 and all of the sudden, “their season is over.” I guess no one saw that they are one game behind the 9-4 Bears who got demolished by the Pats in the snow. I could see the division coming down to the last game at Lambeau Field between the Bears and Packers as long as Green Bay can stay one game behind. Oh wait! The Packers have to play the Patriots and they’re unbeatable! OH NO OUR SEASON IS OVER! LET’S GIVE UP!!!11

If there’s one thing worse than arrogant know nothing fans it’s pessimistic ones who think their team is awful despite having a winning record. I think this year the phrase “Any Given Sunday” has lived up to it’s reputation with how many crazy things that have happened. The Packers are FAR from being out of the playoffs and the Bears fans shouldn’t panic either because, well, they are one game ahead and can definitely beat the Vikings and Jets in the upcoming weeks.

Back to New England, there’s the general consensus going around that they are “unbeatable” and while I think they are far and away the best team int he league, they definitely aren’t unbeatable. The Pats do gameplan better than almost any other team and seem to make perfect adjustments to beat whoever they’re facing. Definitely a scary thought for other AFC teams but I do not think any team is “unbeatable” in the NFL. Remember how everyone thought the Chargers were the best team in the league and would cruise through the playoffs last year? Look how that turned out? Oh, and I guess I should remind everyone of the 18-1 season but this team seems a little more capable of scoring at will than them so who knows? I guess the point I’m trying to make is that it’s stupid to say “This team is going to the Super Bowl, no question about it” right now. I mean, if you want to make predictions that fine but crowning New England and Atlanta as the definite Super Bowl teams right now is too premature even if they’ve both been the best in the league.

Speaking of the Falcons, let’s keep in mind that they still have one game against the Saints left. Oh yeah, the team that won the Super Bowl last year and are 10-3. The Falcons have beaten them in New Orelans, though so that gives them an advantage for now but the Saints have gotten tough wins on the road, I do think that they have just as much of a shot as the Falcons do at this point. Drew Brees is a little more inaccurate this season but he’s still getting it done when it matters the most and the Saints have pulled together a lot of clutch wins despite being on their 3rd string running back. However, I do think Atlanta is a better team but it seems that a lot of people have forgotten about the Saints being 10-3 with Atlanta being even better. Their matchup at the Georgia Dome will be very interesting if that’s what the division, and possibly the #1 seed comes down to.

I really do not understand the Eagles or Andy Reid at all. One week, he makes some of the worst coaching decisions ever and it makes me think that the Eagles are never going to win the Super Bowl because of it. The next game, he’s doing all the right things and the team actually looks like they could go all the way this year. The game against Dallas this week was that in a nutshell. For the entire game, the Eagles kept making stupid mistakes, Reid kept dialing up passing plays and only running the ball on end arounds and reverses. Then on their last drive, they did what you’re supposed to do; run the ball and chew up the clock and they won. LeSean McCoy is the kind of running back who is perfect for that offense and yet the Eagles didn’t use him until the last drive. Hopefully Reid now knows this so that could possibly be what gets his team to the next level. Hey, they just beat one of the better passing offenses in the league with basically two back-up starting corners.

Which team has had worse luck this season; the Redskins or the Texans? The Redskins lost to Tampa Bay on a failed extra point attempt which would have tied the game. The holder Hunter Smith couldn’t hold onto a wet football and the Redskins lost 17-16. I don’t think it can get any worse than that. Well, I guess it can. The Texans made a 21-point comeback to force overtime only to have Matt Schaub throw a pick-6 to lose the game. The Texans might have the record for number of losses on the last play of the game which is saying a lot given the organization has only been in existence for 8 seasons.  I guess this goes back to my earlier subject on pessimistic fans. I’ve heard Redskins fans say that they are the worst franchise ever and are done with the team. Remember that Chad Dukes rant I posted? I’ve seen mini-rants like that show up in the past 72 hours and well… all season. I guess I don’t blame them, though. When you have a lead for the entire game, blow a lead, drive down the field to possibly tie the game and then lose because of a botched PAT, I’d be steamed too. Add in that the fact that the Redskins should have had the lead because Graham Gano missed two easy field goals and were only leading the Bucs by 7 at the half despite Ryan Torain running it down their throats. Not to mention that they have to deal with ineptitude like this for 10 years. Ouch. Then there’s the Texans who have never made the playoffs in their teams existence and only have one winning season. Again, ouch. All I can really say is that at least they aren’t Lions fans. Almost every Sunday is a letdown for them.

Hopefully this is the end of all things Favre on ESPN. I swear, they should have renamed Monday Night Countdown “Monday Night Favre Watch” because that’s what 80% of the show was. I almost forgot the Monday night game was between the Ravens and Texans it was so ridiculous. I also heard that Sportcenter had the whole issue covered too. Not a lot of mentions of the amazing game that just happened or the Cliff Lee signing. Just more Favre. I get it that he’s arguably one of the best QBs of all time but we’re all just about sick of him and do not give a shit if he retires. If he had retired earlier without turning into a selfish egomaniac then I wouldn’t have minded it as much.

Should we get rid of division tie-ins in playoffs? There is a pretty good possibility of a 7-9 team from the NFC West making the playoffs this season which is pretty bad because the Bucs, Giants or Packers could be left out because of it. Not to mention that one of these teams gets home field advantage in the first game too. Someone on a forum I post on made an interesting point that the NFC West has sent the most teams to the Super Bowl in the past decade (4 times, Rams twice, Seahawks and Cardinals) but it should be noted that the Seahawks and Rams teams that went were great teams. The Cardinals are the only “NFC Worst” team in that bunch since they were 9-7 but it’s hard to compare any team in the west this year to them. The Seahawks and Rams are tied for the lead at 6-7 and neither have been that great this year. The Rams show a lot of promise for future seasons but have growing pains. They could be a great team once Bradford matures more and improve their offensive line. The Seahawks are so bi-polar it’s crazy. They either get blown out or are blown out. The Niners have to win out to even have a shot at the playoffs and just destroyed the Seahawks in a game where Alex Smith looked great. Do any one of these teams have an advantage at this point? Can anyone see any of these teams upsetting the potential #5 seed even with home field advantage? I seriously don’t but like I said earlier, anything can happen.

Best Team Performance: Patriots

You can count me as one of the people who thought this game would be more competitive than it was. Like I said, the Pats game plan better than almost every team in the league and they knew the Bears play in a defense that restricts big plays. What did the Pats to do counter this? Run a lot of screens and quick passes so that the Bears pass rush wasn’t much of a factor and they turned those screen passes into big gains. Then there was that one play before the end of the half where Deon Branch was wide open. Not sure what happened there. Also helps that the Bears tried to beat them through the air and it wasn’t working. I thought Forte would have gotten more than 9 touches in this game but they tried to do what they were doing all year and beat the Pats through the air and it didn’t work. I still think the Pats benefited from game planning better rather than the weather having a factor.

Runners Up: Cardinals, Saints, Falcons

Top 5 Offensive Players of the Week

1. Darren McFadden 16 car 123 yards 2 TD, 3 rec 86 yards TD

Still showing his full potential this year and it’s about time he did. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough for the Raiders to knock off the Jaguars this week but Run DMC did all he could and it should be mentioned that the often criticized Jason Campbell had a pretty good day, as well.

2. Ryan Torain 24 carries 172 yards

What’s weird is most of these yards came in the 1st quarter. Why the Redskins stopped giving him the ball after that is beyond me because he was bulldozing the Bucs defense for the entire first half. I could see him sticking around in Washington for at least another year.

3. Andre Johnson 9 rec 140 yards 2 TDs

A lot of losing teams had great offensive performances today. If Andre Johnson’s performance against the Ravens wasn’t enough to prove he’s the best wide out in the league then I don’t know what is.

4. Michael Turner 28 carries 112 yards 3 TDs

The three TD’s is what gives him the nod here. Turner’s been quietly great this season and he’s probably one of the most dangerous backs to face at the goal line since he’s capable of pounding it in there. He did that three times against Carolina.

5. Alex Smith 17-27 255 yards 3 TDs

It’s definitely a weird week when Alex Smith is on this feature even if it was against Seattle (one of the worst defenses in the league). A lot of people put Mike Singletary under fire when he elected to go with Alex Smith over Troy Smith (despite Troy winning more games) but it definitely payed off this week. The Niners offense needed a spark badly and they got it.

Runners up: Jonathan Stewart, Deon Branch, Tom Brady, Tim Hightower, Arrelious Benn, Matt Schaub, Joe Flacco, Maurice Jones-Drew, Rashad Jennings, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Hines Ward

Defensive Player of the Week: Lamar Woodley 5 tackles, 2 sacks, INT, TD

It was tough picking between him and Troy Polamalu but Troy’s a likely candidate for DPOY anyway so let’s have Woodley get the spotlight for this week. Great performance from him.

Runners up: Troy Polamalu, Jarius Byrd, Eric Moore, Cameron Wake, John Abraham, Kroy Biermann

Worst Team Performance: Chiefs

There were a lot of teams who had awful performances this week but I have to go with the team who got shutout and the running back which cost me my fantasy season. 3 carries and 1 yard for Thomas Jones. Thanks a lot, asshole. I think the Chiefs set a record for least total yards in a game with this showing which is what you would expect with Brodie Croyle at QB….and him getting lifted for Tyler Palko. Really shows how valuable Matt Cassel is to this team.

Runners up: Browns, Panthers, Bengals, Broncos, Bears, Jets, Vikings, Rams, Packers

Worst Offensive Player of the Week: Chad Henne 5-18 55 yards TD, fumble

The funny thing is that the Dolphins actually won this game because the Jets offense reverted back to it’s week 1 state. When you only complete 5 passes in a game then you kind of earn your place for this honor.

Runners up: Mark Sanchez, Carson Palmer, Seattle running backs, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, Brodie Croyle, Jake Delhomme, Kyle Orton

Surprise of the Week: Jay Feeley scoring a TD

The real shocker is what happened to the Metrodome but a kicker getting a TD is pretty surprising itself. Even more surprising was the Cardinals scoring 40 points on Denver. I didn’t know a lot about John Skelton coming into this game but he’s apparently good enough. About time that Wisenhunt starting running the ball more too since that’s what they should have been all year.

Runners up:  botched extra point, 49ers blowing out Seahawks with Alex Smith

Game of the Week: Raiders-Jaguars

What a thriller this was. Mini-comeback by the Jags and then a back-to-back scoring affair between both teams. The Raiders offense has been very mixed this year but they are very fun to watch when they’re on. Speaking of fun to watch, I love watching the Jaguars. David Garrard’s had a pretty amazing turnaround this year and it’s hard not to like Maurice Jones-Drew. Also, no one around my school gives a damn about them so therefore, I am rooting for them as my AFC team from here on out. To hell with the Ravens.

Runners up: Ravens-Texans, Cowboys-Eagles

Worst Game of the Week: Dolphins-Jets

As much as I like watching the Jets flop, I would have preferred watching the Bears getting blown out than this snorefest.

Runners up: Bucs-Redskins, Browns-Bills, Bengals-Steelers, Packers-Lions

Idiot of the Week: Sal Alosi

There were a lot of candidates for this but tripping a player while he’s running down the field, nevermind the fact that it’s on national TV and millions will eventually see it, is probably the dumbest thing you can do as a coach. Surprised the Jets only suspended and fined him instead of firing him. That’s just unacceptable.

Runners-up: Graham Gano, Darryl Washington, Jorrick Calvin

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