by Ryan Meehan
The 2013 NFL regular season is now over, and just twelve teams remain standing in their quest for the Lombardi trophy. This year we saw just about everything, from locker room behind the scenes stuff going public all the way to teams completely coming out of their shell and shining such as a Carolina or an Arizona. Parts of this won’t be very long, and on Friday we’ll go over the only eight teams next weekend whom you need to be concerned with. So let’s take a short look at how it all went down. This was week Seventeen in the 2013 NFL Season.
Panthers 21, Falcons 20
This was a very strange game because at the beginning of the first half, both teams looked like it was 2012 again. The Falcons showed some of the same unexpected urgency that we saw throughout the San Francisco game last week, and the Panthers looked like the same struggling and confused squad we saw just a year ago. D’Angelo Williams broke off this huge run, but then fumbled at the Falcons’ ten. Luckily for the Panthers, Matt Ryan threw a pick almost immediately and surrendered all of the momentum. But then in the second half, Atlanta looked decent again and Carolina obviously still has a few cracks in them – Cracks that they don’t want to admit they have like not being able to have safeties pick up routs against dominant receivers, not enough 3rd down conversions to give their defense adequate rest, etc. They should be fine, because they get a week off to figure out how to fill those very crevices. As for Atlanta, this is why Mike Smith is NOT getting fired. The Falcons have been mathematically eliminated for some time now, and in their past two games they’ve played very well. Granted they lost both, but he could be in much worse shape if they felt like they couldn’t trust him. (As opposed to just saying that they can’t)
Packers 33, Bears 28
The way they were making it sound; Aaron Rodgers was dealing with too much arm strength this weekend and I thought for a second Buck was going to say he could overthrow the Taliban. (Editor’s note: Which is funny, because I thought that somebody from this rivalry had already been selected to do that. Wasn’t this the Mike Tomczak/Dan Majikowski war drama that we were supposed to get? The one with the Ukranian subtitles?) But in the end, it mattered not who held the ball for the Bears. Rodgers would throw to a wide open Randall Cobb into what had to be some of the worst coverage ever. I realize the idea is for him to go short there, but still you left one man back and if Aaron Rodgers trusts him – why shouldn’t you? You don’t bring in ALL the safeties there, but this ended up being a game that came down to that play. Hell of a way to go out for the Bears, but if you’re not going to tackle sympathy ain’t available like free table scraps. I’d rather see Green Bay with Rodgers healthy anyway. He’s more appealing than watching the Bears trying to take anybody down any day of the week. Cutler drops to 1-8 against he Packers in a Bears uniform so as you can imagine it looks like his fault – But it isn’t…
Titans 16, Texans 10
This went along as scheduled. Like I said, Houston wasn’t about to let the opportunity to get that pick slip away and they didn’t. AFC-S up for grabs but at the moment neither of these teams are who I expect to make a dent. I don’t expect Munchak to be fired though. What was he supposed to do? The more pressing question is: Will Chris Johnson even be there to help him? I say no – Johnson wants to be on a contender and he has the upper hand in that negotiation process because there ARE contenders who need him. Houston gets to do whatever they want. They need depth pretty much everywhere and priority one should be doing whatever it takes to make Andre Johnson and Arian Foster happy. Because otherwise, you start wonder if those same contenders I just mentioned could need those guys as well.
Steelers 20, Browns 7
The Steelers needed the Chargers, the Dolphins, and the Ravens to lose here, otherwise they’d be stuck at 8-8 and out of the playoffs. But they are just a .500 team – they lost some real stinkers over the course of this season – but their schedule was pretty ragged as well. I still don’t think next year they’re a 10-6 team again…They might be for one year but as far as deep playoff runs for Roethlisberger, I’m going to say with about 75% certainty that those days are over. Their future is in Lavon Bell for sure, and that’s a team only succeeds when running the ball well anyway so look for the way team is ran to change significantly next season. The Browns missed the playoffs, something nobody saw coming.
Giants 20, Redskins 6
in a way it’s kind of devastating. My pops and I have pretty much come to the realization that we’re going to be in rebuild/reconstruct for a while, and with that comes the collective realization that the rebuild/reconstruct phase of the NFL is a long and painful one. It’s going to be a process that holds a lot of coaching changes so the inmates may end up running the asylum for awhile, but we can manage it better than other franchises in the league. Long next couple of years for the Giants. It could be much of the same situation in Washington, who didn’t think much of the Giants’ secondary Sunday when they made Kirk Cousins throw the ball 49 times. He only scored six points, but the Redskins have bigger problems. Won’t know enough about how deep it will really go but here’s a hint: Snyder ain’t going anywhere.
Bengals 34, Ravens 17
Andy Dalton had his problems in the first half of this one, but was able to hit AJ Green and make up for it. Baltimore looked very slow coming out of the gate, and never really recovered. But let’s be honest, that’s the type of quarterback that they have, and a team that played over its head last year. The term “played over their head last year” is a perfect way to describe the Ravens, and it’s the reason that they probably won’t win another one anytime soon. But whatever way you look at it, that’s 121 million dollars that didn’t even get you to the first round, so big ups to Cincinnati on a good, solid win – Ugly done got it done. How often do you throw four picks and clobber the spread? You do if the other guy is Joe Flacco and he threw three. Bengals should roll next week at home.
Colts 30, Jaguars 10
Damn. So Indy did show up after all – maybe this is a team that just won’t go down without people knowing that as long as the AFC South is toilet humor they’ll be in the playoffs a good majority of the time. From here, they will get to host Kansas City at home, and that will not prove to be a game they can win by 20. It’s going to be a different world for them, and aside from Jacksonville – KC is the one with the most recent tape on Indy. Either team could win that game on Saturday.
Jets 20, Dolphins 7
If you felt a tingling sensation at around 3:15 PM CST, that was all that’s right with the world slipping into a Snuggie because Miami and Baltimore got eliminated several minutes from each other. Geno Smith…Hmmm…It’s hard where to go here – Clearly the guy’s got heart, but with this news that Rex Ryan will return to snort hoagies off of the weight benches you have to wonder – is this a good idea? I hope for Geno’s sake it works out – but I think those two are going to butt heads because one of them is a shithead, and that’s guy’s name is not Geno Smith. Dallas and the Jets have a lot in common with each other – they both seem to be cool with not going to the playoffs over the past two years.
Vikings 14, Lions 13
Cry me a river – I couldn’t care less about this game. Frazier I kind of feel sorry for, because he didn’t have the talent – but Schwartz did and he totally blew it. The Lions can compete for a playoff spot next year if they can get somebody in there who will manage their pool of good players who can’t get out of each other’s way, and do it effectively. If someone goes up there to Minnesota and gets everybody thinking on the same page, it likely won’t matter and this same time next year there’s going to be a lot more purple down in Cabo San Lucas for New Years’ Eve. Because as the old man at your local hardware store will tell you – “Life ain’t fair, kid…”
Patriots 34, Bills 20
New England got a huge day from LeGarrette Blount, and also got a huge day on special teams from LeGarrette Blount. I have to really hand it to Tom and the gang, even with all of those injuries they are 12-4. And when it came to the chart regarding who could really bitch the most if it came down to it, New England was the one that you could accept the most. Blount and Edelman seem like the most unlikely NFL stars, but they have been utilized well by Brady and they did it again against the Bills. Brady punted in this football game – that’s how rough it is up there. I really have to hand it to the fans of these two teams as well – anybody going to attend a game like this where the weather is just freezing is a tall order. It will be freezing in Denver three week from now as well, will New England be there to suffer through the chill with them and beat them yet again?
Saints 42, Buccaneers 17
There wasn’t much the Saints could do here at home to mess this up. You had a doormat in Tampa (who although they had overachieved in a couple of games this season knows they are about to lose their coach) coming in already knowing that two of the teams in this division were going to make the playoffs. There was no way you were going to beat Brees at home, comfortable and ready to put up 42. New Orleans has a tough task next week – they have to head up to Philly and put one on the Eagles who are very hot at the moment.
Broncos 34, Raiders 14
Peyton Manning had three touchdown passes in the first half, and his final total on the season tallied 55 TDs which have made the Denver Broncos the most explosive offense in the NFL. The Raiders didn’t have much of an answer, and Peyton got in some nice target practice en route to a 13-3 finish. Denver has three games left, and if they’re not thinking that they may falter. Having too much of the “one game at a time” mentality really can have an adverse effect on being smart. They’ve already suffered a huge injury and don’t need another one. Congrats to PM on a great season.
Niners 23, Cardinals 20
The Cardinals had already arched a massive comeback, but had to know that Tampa was getting housed by New Orleans. So by the time Arizona had came back from being down 17-0 to tying the game at 20, they simply didn’t have it in them to stop the final San Francisco drive. The real tragedy of all this is that now I don’t get to give my speech about how they were going to miss at 11-5. They still finished 10-6 and it was an amazing thing to see them get so close to the postseason, but to be honest if they would have dragged the same attitude they carried around in the first half of this one into the following week then I’m sure that it wouldn’t do the playoffs justice, so maybe they aren’t there. San Francisco draws Green Bay which is going to suck for them because that game will be in Wisconsin and Rodgers is ready for them. They should still win, but it’s not going to be easy.
Chargers 27, Chiefs 24
I have to hand it to San Diego, they shocked the hell out of me with this late run. When Philip Rivers talked to NFL Network after the Denver game and said they could win out and finish 9-7, I laughed. But then I thought about it, and they really put their noses to the grindstone. So you have to hand it to them even though they don’t have much of a shot next week. The Chiefs didn’t play their first team, and Alex Smith didn’t even dress. If I’m a Chiefs fan I worry about the Ryan Succop thing because you have to remember how many 2 or 3 point wins KC has this year. That field goal is crucial, and he’s very inexperienced. He could really let it get to his head in a place like Lucas Oil Stadium.
Seahawks 27, Rams 9
The Seahawks getting homefield was crucial for them because it is such an advantage. They really have that defensive strength that scares teams into overthinking their offenses. Overthinking usually ends up in failure, such failure that the Seahawks are so good at exposing. Either way by the time it gets whittled down to four per conference, it’s not going to be easy for anybody…It will be a little easier on Seattle.
Eagles 24, Cowboys 22
Well this is the game that I had been sayintg two months ago was going to be flexed into the Sunday Night game, and low and behold I was right. And just on schedule, the last remaining playoff spot would be determined by Kyle Orton and his mullet. I thought it was real funny in the dialogue that Michaels was trying to start was about how Jerry Jones expects Romo to be ready in May “at the latest”. Think for a second about why that might be a funny quote the day before New Years’ Eve.
Anyway, the game was not what I expected out of the Eagles. I honestly thought that the Eagles could have played with more explosiveness in the second half, and that they would eat the Dallas defense alive. And then when it didn’t happen I still knew the Cowboys would blow it, so I wasn’t that worried. Philly has a lot of work to do. The Saints will be in their house on Saturday night and it’s not going to be pretty if the Eagles can’t keep their defense off the field. I expected Philly to come with 35 or possibly forty points because of the Chicago game and I didn’t see it. So I do worry about the Eagles a little bit…Or at least as much as a Giants fan can anyway…
What the playoffs are going to look like
Next Week’s Wild Card round will look like this:
6) New Orleans Saints (12-4) at 3) Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) SAT 7:10PM CST on NBC
5) San Francisco 49ers (11-5) at 4) Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) SUN 3:40PM CST on FOX
Bye Weeks: Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers. Seattle plays lower remaining seed.
6) San Diego Chargers (9-7) at 3) Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) SUN 12:05PM CST on CBS
5) Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at 4) Indianapolis Colts (11-5) SAT 3:45PM CST on NBC
Bye Weeks: Denver Broncos, New England Patriots. Denver plays lower remaining seed.
This is where it gets real, so bookmark your boy and head on back here this coming Friday to check out what we’ve got in store for the playoffs this year.
Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.