by Ryan Meehan
Week twelve began on Thanksgiving day and ended at the Superdome on Monday night. As we thin the herd, several teams expected to be contenders are now out of contention: I have to believe that Tampa Bay and Buffalo are in that group of teams. I also think that the Chargers are as well, but we’ll address that in depth here in a couple of moments. Let’s take a look at the Week Twelve action.
Packers 27, Lions 15
Green Bay is 11-0. For the first time since this whole “undefeated” talk has began, I saw Aaron Rodgers crack a smile about it during the press conference, but he wouldn’t say it he just said, “Maybe when we’re 14 or 15 and 0 then we can start talking about what you were talking about…” In other words, it’s on his mind he just doesn’t want to jinx himself. Bet you didn’t see this one coming, but there was another Ndomakung Suh bullying incident in which Suh was ejected and than tried to play everything off as if he didn’t just attempt to stomp somebody’s chest while they were lying flat on the ground. His postgame quote was “Well, the man upstairs knew what my intentions were…” So basically what you’re saying is since Jesus is also aware that you’re an asshole it’s okay? I don’t get that one.
Cowboys 20, Dolphins 19
If Dallas really is ready to take the next step, they shouldn’t have needed all sixty minutes of this game to win by one point. But by winning, they put the Giants in a really tough spot heading into Monday night against the Saints. I’m just going to sit here and listen to every whiskeydick Cowboys fan sit here and tell me that because they’ve beaten a couple of weak teams that now they’re going to slide by the Packers untouched and easily win the NFC. It’s going to be a lot of work, a lot of work they aren’t used to because of their lack of workload up until this point. If they do get to the postseason they’re going to be looking around for the Redskins to beat up on and they’ll soon find that teams like the Redskins aren’t going to be there.
Ravens 16, 49ers 6
Alex Smith panicked a lot here, but you’d panic too if you saw Terrell Suggs running full speed at you all night. Since this was the Ravens’ weekend to not show up, I expected the 49ers to win here, but they couldn’t get into the endzone once and looked very frustrated. Frank Gore’s numbers were not good, and they had to have a huge game from him in order to have any shot at winning. Baltimore had eight sacks but for some reason I could swear it felt like at least twice as many. I did think that it was odd Ray Lewis didn’t play when he said he felt about 85%. Perhaps a little bit earlier in his career he may have played, but Ray’s getting up there in football age. The Ravens remain undefeated at home this year.
Cardinals 23, Rams 20
Beanie Wells had 228 yards on 27 carries and DE Sam Acho had two sacks and a fumble recovery, but it was just enough to cover up a rough performance by John Skelton in which he went 12 for 23 and threw two picks. Patrick Peterson tied an NFL record for number of punt returns for touchdowns in a single season with four. It’s hard to say where the Cardinals will go from here…They have to take a look at getting better position players to surround Kolb with, and they might want to see about picking up a free agent or two to beef up that secondary a bit.
Panthers 27, Colts 19
Man, this is a rough time to be a Colts fan. You had to figure that if one of the games left on their schedule was winnable, it was this one. But, they blew this game as well as DeAngelo Williams scored two touchdowns. Carolina getting the running game going on 2012 is going to be the difference between them being a 4-12 team and them sneaking in at 9-7 as a wild card. If they can get Jonathan Stewart AND Williams going like they did in this game, they might actually have a shot at competing next year. But until then, they have to ride this season out knowing the best they can is .500. Of course in order to do that, it would mean winning six straight which I can’t forsee happening.
Falcons 24, Vikings 14
Atlanta is 7-4 and right in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt. It’s doubtful they’ll catch the Saints, but they may sneak in with the Giants and the Lions playing such crummy football. And the Bears lost too this week, so the Falcons are in very good shape. Matt Ryan 27 of 34 for 262 yards, and Roddy White has another big game as well. Michael Turner only averaged 3 yards a carry Sunday, but he’s got to be awfully exhausted by this point in the season and that’s going to happen. Where do I even start with the Vikings? I know it wasn’t exactly supposed to be their year, but Ponder has to get Shaincoe more involved with the offense and get him more touches. He has to be that second receiver they so desperately need now that Sydney Rice is in Seattle.
Raiders 25, Bears 20
Much like Alex Smith on Thursday, Caleb Hanie panicked on Sunday against the Raiders. He threw three interceptions in the first half and from there he just lacked the confidence that it takes to be a starter in the NFL. He looked better in the second half, but still not great. I still refuse to buy into the Raiders being this good at 7-4. They’ve won a lot of games that could have gone either way in a shitty division and Carson Palmer still has possessions where he looks like a below average quarterback. Looks like the AFC West will come down to “good vs. evil” after all. As for Chicago, it seems a little out of balance that Marion Barber would get more rushing yardage than Matt Forte. Sure Forte got more carries, I just figured that when he dropped himself on his head after that touchdown celebration a few weeks back that he’d still have a couple screws loose but he really had it together. Bears just got behind early, just another example of how the team that makes the fewest mistakes loses 98% of the time. Cool stat here: Sebastian Janikowski had six field goals, a franchise record.
Bengals 23, Browns 20
Cincinnati should have won by more than three here. Anytime Colt McCoy goes 16 for 34 you’ve got to have a bad day to only win by a field goal. Thank God this game didn’t end up going into overtime. The Bengals definitely aren’t a contender now, not after this game and not with Baltimore and Pittsburgh ahead of them at 8-3 in that division. They will get there, and they made great strides this year, but it’s games like this where they need to score 47 points and send a serious message to the two teams I just mentioned that they aren’t fucking around.
Texans 20, Jaguars 13
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for Houston, Matt Leinart injured his shoulder in Sunday’s game against the Jaguars. They still won the game, but now they’re in a tough spot because they literally have to stay on the phone until they can get someone to come down there and save their ass. There’s already been some Brett Favre related talk, I hope those are just rumors with no validity whatsoever. As for now, they are stuck with T.J. Yates and Kellen Clemens. One thing for the Texans to look at might be the fact that the Grey Cup was also Sunday, so maybe they could start shopping the CFL for a guy to sign to a deal for the remainder of the season. Does anybody else think Blaine Gabbert looks like a hockey player? What’s with all of the mullets in the NFL this year? Is there going to be a Great White concert? I certainly hope not, that would be a huge security risk.
Jets 28, Bills 24
I’m going to get made fun of for saying this, but I saw a lot of things I liked in Mark Sanchez during this game. He seemed to be more animated than usual. Putting the team on his back, he led the Jets for one final drive that essentially eliminated the Buffalo Bills from playoff contention. There was an awkward moment here when Stevie Johnson from the Bills caught a touchdown pass and then basically mocked the whole Plaxico Burress situation in which Burress shot himself during his endzone celebration. Johnson was flagged 15 yards for excessive celebration, and then on the ensuing kickoff the Jets ended up with great field position, scoring a touchdown. Whoops.
Patriots 38, Eagles 20
At this point, would you expect anything less? I wouldn’t. The New England Patriots are going to the Super Bowl. I’ve been saying it for weeks and I’ll say it again right here. Save maybe the Steelers, there’s no other team in the AFC that is going to be able to slay that dragon. Another great day for Gronkowski, just extremely solid play from New England. And they pace themselves so well: They were losing this game 10-0 right out of the box, and then they just shut the Eagles down. As for Philly, Vince Young did look good early but with that new $100 million contract Vick got he could have won this game by sixty points and not earned the starting job. He threw for four hundred yards and it literally made no difference whatsoever. Speaking of jobs, Andy Reid is a dead man walking. I respect the organization for not firing him during the season, but I think the Monday after week seventeen he’s gone for good.
Titans 23, Bucs 17
With Peyton Manning out, you probably would have expected the AFC South race to be kind of boring. But it’s proved to be anything but that, as the Texans are providing the news cycle with plenty of injury-related drama, and the Titans continue to win close games. Chris Johnson FINALLY began to earn his money as he got 190 yards on 23 carries. Maybe if he’d done that since the beginning of the season instead of acting like a little whiny bitch Tennessee could be 9-2 and it would be Houston who was up shit creek. That one thing alone might end up costing them the postseason berth they were so desperately seeking when they signed Matt Hasselbeck. But then again if your plan for getting to the postseason was Matt Hasselbeck, maybe you shouldn’t be headed to the playoffs anyway.
Redskins 23, Seahawks 17
Fantastic. I actually have to sit here and type the fact that Rex Grossman looked good. To be honest, he looked even better than that: He looked to be playing the best football I’ve seen him play since college against a Seattle defense whose secondary is a bit suspect. Marshawn Lynch made his case for getting the fuck out of town again with 111 yards, and wide receiver Sydney Rice suffered a concussion and did not return. Not a lot to say here because this game had no implications on what will transpire in six or seven weeks from now. Looking at the remainder of these teams’ schedules, they each have the opportunity to play spolier but that’s about it.
Broncos 16, Chargers 13 (OT)
I don’t know that God is rigging these games so that Tebow will win them, but I’m one hundred percent certain that God hates the Chargers. This is Norv Turner’s last year as a professional head coach. His constant inability to get his players to play smart football during crucial moments in the game shows that no one is listening to him anymore, and I’d be surprised if he ever had their full attention to begin with. They’ve now lost six straight and may lose some national airtime next year because of it. Now the Broncos have been getting a lot of attention because of Tebow, (and rightfully so as they’ve won 5 of their last 6 and they were playing horribly before that) but I think the Broncos defense has been massively overlooked throughout this stretch. Von Miller is a stud even though he’s got the Eric Dickerson goggles going on in 2011. And let’s not forget it takes a whole team to win, no matter who you are.
Bonus comment: I didn’t see it, but apparently there was a moment in overtime where Cahrgers kicker Nick Novak was taking a piss on the sideline, shielded by a couple of the special teams guys. And that happens all of the time, but in this case CBS went to a direct shot of him doing it which I’m sure someone got an email about Monday morning. Bonus Bonus comment: He still missed the kick.
Steelers 13, Chiefs 9
Saw a lot of similarities between Tyler Palko and Caleb Hanie: Both very young, inexperienced quarterbacks who at times looked very good but will require a little more time before we can fairly pass judgment on their skill set. Arrowhead used to be a tough place to play but it isn’t exactly as damning as it used to be. And it shouldn’t be for the Steelers, who are defending AFC Champions and shouldn’t be intimidated playing anywhere. There was this weird “You’re getting old, Meehan” moment for me where Al Michaels mentioned that Hines Ward was no longer the Steelers’ number one receiver, and that he might really be third or even fourth on the depth chart by this point in his career. That was hard for me to listen to, and it goes to show how fast life can happen. Total turnovers by Palko = Four.
Saints 49, Giants 24
New York is pretty much toast. I didn’t ever claim they would even be close in this game, we all know the Saints are great at home and the Saints know the Saints are great at home. Brandon Jacobs did a little endzone dance which I’ll address here in a second, but is HIS PARTICULAR CASE it wasn’t okay. Here’s when it’s not okay: When you’re getting lit up. Being in someone else’s stadium (enclosed) generally doesn’t help either. Drew Brees made sure that the rest of the Giants were aware who was winning, throwing five touchdowns and smearing their defense all over the turf. Saints still don’t have a running game that’s worth discussing, but if they end up facing a team like the Packers in the NFC Championship, they might not need it.
Bonus Comment: In Jacobs’ case, I have to think that his motivation for doing this is that he will do whatever to get out of playing for a coach he hates and a team that doesn’t like him. This might just have been his way of saying he wants it to be over since they don’t appear to be getting the hint.
Comment for the week:
One of my favorite things to watch on a Sunday is Bob Costas’ take during halftime of the Sunday Night game. I’m a huge fan of his broadcasting work, and am a firm believer that baseball would be much better if he was commissioner. But Sunday night he decided to bring up the Stevie Johnson situation that went down, and how inexcusable it is for some of these cats to be doing their endzone dance in a close game. Then he basically issued a challenge to all NFL coaches saying that one of them needs to set an example by suspending a player from the next week’s game if he does this and it costs his team a touchdown on the other end. And for once, I disagree with Costas because shouldn’t be a team issue, it should be an NFL issue.
I have a better idea: Why doesn’t the league start using reverse psychology with these guys since what they are doing doesn’t seem to be working? It would seem to me that if you just let them do their endzone celebrations (which is what the fans want – to an extent) you’d give them a chance to enjoy scoring a touchdown in the NFL without constantly worrying about having their kicker be backed up to his own twenty on the very next play. Then, they may even stop doing it because the thrill would be gone.
Now, if the celebrations are too long, you throw a delay of game flag and penalize them 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff. But it’s just five yards. The whole team doesn’t have to suffer because of the actions of one jackass. I guess another reason this whole thing pisses me off is there’s no consistency with how this has been called at all. I see guys in one game spin the ball lightly out of their hands, get fifteen, and then in the night game some guy does a cartwheel AND uses the ball for a prop and they don’t flag him. It’s just another example of why this rule is bad for the NFL.
Week Thirteen Picks coming Thursday. Stay Tuned!
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