by Ryan Meehan and Coach Ryan
On Sunday CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora confirmed on Sunday morning that Seattle Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond will begin serving a four game suspension next week for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. As previously mentioned, this seems to be an issue in the Seahawks secondary. This is what I want to know – That mysterious middleman between every team and the league that makes all of these A samples disappear and makes all of these B samples show up negative – Does Seattle just not have that guy’s number? Seriously, with all of the crazy stuff that you DON’T hear about players getting away with, you’d think there would be more damage control there. It’s turned into a total free-for-all. As a matter of fact, when you go to everyone’s favorite search engine and type in “Seahawks CB suspended”, a window pops up and says “Look, we’re only Google…What do you want from us?” But there was plenty of news on the field as well, so let’s see what transpired in week twelve of the NFL season…
Saints 17, Falcons 13
This one was a little too close for comfort, as the Saints usually need more than 17 points to close the deal on any given day of the week. That’s usually because you don’t get always rely on the other team to hand you the game. True to form, the Atlanta Falcons put together a final drive that put their entire season in a nutshell: It was excruciatingly long, devoid of the one big play they needed so desperately, and didn’t end with them scoring an entire point. They were an interception or a fumble away from NFL Films just having to take shots of that drive and splice it with fans that are wearing paper sacks over their heads to come up with their year end piece. Then they’ll package it up and sell it to Falcons fans for twenty dollars. Come to think of it, maybe this world isn’t so full of injustice after all.
I want to point out here that Drew Brees did not play in a manner that I would consider to be fantastic by any means. 22 for 33 for 281 in Mid-November is not the type of game that will allow for him to have to prepare a Hall of Fame speech five years after he retires, and in week thirteen he will face the motherload. But the Saints are in good shape for that matchup – they have to understand that the league put the game up there and there isn’t a damn thing they can do about it. Their main focus right now has to be getting healthy over the next week and then making sure they get their best shot at having head to head in case the Seahawks finish with the same record that they do. I’m going to try not to get into that one too much in the wrap-up, because I have plenty on that for the week 13 preview.
Programming alert: The Week 14 game between the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers has just been moved into primetime and will air on NBC’s Sunday Night Football that weekend at 8:20PM/7:20PM CST.
Buccaneers 24, Lions 21
This is your weekly bullshit alert: Ignore everything that I had previously said about the possibility that the Lions could be a postseason threat. They’ve lost to two straight teams with a losing record, and in the process made every writer like me who’s been singing their praises look like a slobbering, blithering moron. This is what happens when you get jacked on a team that doesn’t deserve it and isn’t playoff proven. Thank God the Bengals didn’t play this week, I’d be totally out of luck with all of my bandwagon hopping crap.
This scares me because not only did the Lions lose to a team that has struggled this year – they did it at home. That means it’s hard for me to decide who to pick when they face the equally struggling Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving. The Bucs did look better, but it’s too late for them to save face or their coach’s job.
Packers 26, Vikings 26
Does this mean since there was no outcome that I don’t have to write about this? I can’t believe that tie games in the NFL are still a real thing…What am I suppsoed to say here? What are sportscasters supposed to say here? Dubs made a great point about ties: Ties are God’s way of saying that neither team deserved to win. And I’m fine with that explanation, it’s just that I would hope that God would have better things to do than have opinions about either of these teams and what a disappointment they have both been. The Packers were destined to not make the playoffs regardless of Rodgers being out, simply based on the fact that they aren’t structured they way they were in the Super Bowl XLV run. The Minnesota Vikings were destined to not make the playoffs because in a quarterback driven league, not having a QB that you can rely on easily snowballs into a serious problem.
Texans 13, Jaguars 6
The Texans started Case Keenum, and less than 169 yards and sixty minutes later, they still didn’t have a touchdown to show for it. But I don’t want to talk about the Texans anymore – We know what’s going on there…You know what? As much as we all pelt Jacksonville with verbal tomatoes, they get my game ball of the week. It’s totally uncharacteristic of me to give credit to a team that has less than no shot to make the playoffs, but I have to totally respect a team that had nothing to play for and still went out ther and got it done. They’re missing their best player due to a very public set of personal problems, and previously had only one win to show for their first ten games. In the immortal words of Jim Valvano: Don’t give up, don’t ever give up. HELL YES.
Chargers 41, Chiefs 38
It still seems kind of weird that the Chiefs were able to score more than 27 points when they needed to, but I’m not panicking about this game. I briefly wonder why (or how) their defense was able to allow Philip Rivers to look like he did right around the same time that he was making the Giants look stupid for wanting Eli instead. There were eight lead changes in this game, which would seem to return us to the AFC West during the same era I just spoke of. But don’t let this fool you, the Chiefs losing two in a row is something that is not going to sit well with Andy Reid. He’s probably super pissed about this and I would too if there was any question about possibly running up the score against a team that is supposed to be amongst the AFC elite.
Panthers 20, Dolphins 16
The Dolphins were up 16-6 in this one, and it looked as if they had finally cracked the code as to how to beat the Carolina Panthers. Tannehill looked really good in the first half, and
Both of these teams couldn’t convert on third down for shit, and although the Dolphins lost Carolina has won seven in a row…I don’t really have much to say about this game, Carolina needs to start better on the road but that’s always hard. Their true test is going to be these upcoming games against New Orleans. That’s where we’ll find out if they are really for real.
Steelers 27, Browns 11
Just a few short weeks ago the Browns looked like a team on the rise while the Steelers looked liked they were in a free fall. Unfortunately for Cleveland those roles have definitely switched. As as happened in almost every contest since the return of the Browns in 1999, the Steelers dominated the game making almost unbearable to watch going into the second half. Ben Roethlisberger continued to own the Browns improving his record against Cleveland to a staggering 15-1.
The last two weeks the Browns have come into division games with confidence and walked out with the Dawg Pound tails between their legs. To make matters worse the Browns lost quarterback Jason Campbell to a concussion bringing in Brandon Weeden to an onslaught of boos from the home fans. At this point in the season it looks like the Steelers are able to the stay in the playoff picture as Cleveland once again goes forward with questions at quarterback and is hoping to get through the season without any more major injuries. Although Campbell hasn’t been lighting it up lately the team just seems to play deflated when he’s in there and one must wonder if they can win more than another game or two the rest of the season. Next up for the Browns are the Jaguars who suddenly have won two out of three while the Steelers head to Baltimore in what will be a huge game as far as the Wild Card goes.
Rams 42, Bears 21
Not to boast, but I totally called this. Like I’ve stated plenty of times before, the Rams are way better than their record would have you believe. Plus you have to figure that because of the level of play that they are used to in the NFC West, their record is going to be a little skewed because there just simply isn’t enough wins to go around. If the St. Louis Rams were in the NFC East, they’d be laughing at the rest of those teams. Zac Stacy is really having one hell of a season. He’s pretty much their only option (Other than in this game, you’re not usually going to get a lot of 65 yard touchdown runs out of Tayvon Austin – although he has had one hell of a month…but I digress) but the Rams are rolling along and I love it. The Bears are a puzzle I don’t want to figure out. I’m so tired of their unpredictable play, especially when you consider that their fanbase is the most predictably upsetting and drunk group of sad people on the face of the earth. They got straight up worked right out of the gate, and they deserve it because they aren’t very well practiced and they play sloppily – like a team that is asking to lose.
Ravens 19, Jets 3
Since there is no possible way for both of these teams to lose, I guess I’ll settle with this result. Geno Smith strutted off the field after a passer rating of 22.3 after this one, and the Jets are once again a broken home. Which is fine with me, but now we have to listen to all this talk about how the Ravens are back on the right track. And I’m telling you right now all of that is pure noise. If Baltimore had their shit together, they would have easily racked up 30 points in this one and they couldn’t even break twenty. They’re still awful on the ground, and if they are going to have to rely on Flacco for a solid performance like they have been doing it’s not going to matter if they sneak into the playoffs. Depth is becoming a real problem for them, and with every passing week that they don’t play the Jets it’s getting harder and harder to cover up.
Titans 23, Raiders 19
The Titans are your 6 seed in the AFC. Which disproves atheism because there is something up there, and sometimes that something really, really loves to mess with us. Oakland isn’t going to win any games where they only put up 353 yards of total offense, so it’s back to the drawing board for them.
Cardinals 41, Colts 10
While I might not be bailing on the Chiefs, it’s high time for all of us to admit two things: 1) The Arizona Cardinals are for real; and 2) Maybe the Colts are nearly as good as we thought they have been tricking us into thinking they are. There’s a very “illusionist” thing going on right now with Indianapolis, and maybe the man behind the curtain was Reggie Wayne. You have to almost know that’s it, because I can see no other reason that the Colts have gotten blown out by two consecutive NFC west opponents. Or maybe…
Maybe we’re not giving the Cardinals enough credit where credit is due. I think Carson Palmer is playing in the wrong era. He’s the guy who would have been a great sports icon in like the 50s or 60s. America would have seen that he was a dick, raised him and then when they thought he was going to call, he would have upped the dickery to a level that nowadays would be almost unimaginable. Carson Palmer is the type of dude who would decline a kid’s autograph request and then mention that the kid’s lucky he talked to him at all. Then he would get back in his model T and the kid would go “Wow!” and then head home to bed early so that he could get up in the morning and do his paper route. (Envision this in black and white and it makes a lot more sense. Trust me)
Arizona is not 7-4 and they dominated time of possession in this game. Palmer again didn’t throw a single pick, and their defense was brutal. Watch the hell out for the Arizona Cardinals come playoff time – They’re second in the league at stopping the run. There’s a lot of experience on that team and they are ready to take the next step. While they might not be a better team than San Francisco, they’re playing a hell of a lot better at the moment and that’s shaping up to be one badass week seventeen matchup.
Cowboys 24, Giants 21
I love watching the Giants games with my Dad, so when I got off work when there was five minutes left in this one I was stoked to walk into my parents’ basement to find out that the Giants had just scored and converted a two point conversion to tie the game at 21. It seemed too perfect – Big Blue appeared to have all of the momentum in the world going, they gave the ball back to Dallas and then 3rd down came quickly…but something wasn’t right. My mother had this amazing roast going on upstairs along with some applesauce sprinkled with cinnamon, secretly hoping that this game wouldn’t go into overtime. (Love you Mom!)
But as the Cowboys slowly placed themselves where 80% of the teams in the league would have shut them down, the Giants would just as soon given up every single 3rd down conversion necessary for Tony Romo to sneak away from the crime scene with a win. You know your team is in bad shape when they are playing “Right Now” by Van Hagar over the loudspeakers at home.
To be completely honest with you, if the Eagles don’t win this division I have no opinion on whoever does. There was a call that actually went in our favor towards the end of the game that left me feeling a little bit embarrassed. It was the wrong call and made the NFL look bad. Dez Bryant made a sure catch around the 5 and they said that it was incomplete. So when we lost, I felt we deserved it and I didn’t complain. Plus, I ate a ton of applesauce.
Patriots 34, Patriots 31
So, if you fell asleep or are a fan of “The Walking Dead” on AMC you probably tuned this game out. After being up 24-0 at halftime, the Broncos looked like zombies coming out of the second half. Denver blew this game. They were owning the Patriots and had the crowd booing the Pats with every 3rd down stop.
But as he’s done so many times in his storied career, Peyton Manning choked and couldn’t get everybody on the same page. It was so bad in fact that when New England won the toss in overtime, they elected to defer because the Broncos were so impotent on offense. The point? Just about any way you look at it, Tom Brady owns Peyton Manning.
And one more thing, Trinidon Holliday is probably done returning punts for the Broncos. The fumbling thing has become a game changer for opposing teams, and they just can’t afford to have it happen anymore. When Tiki Barber had fumbling problems with the Giants years ago, they kept putting him out there because running back was the only position he played. With a “utilities guy, you don’t have to do that. You can just simply say “no more punt returns for you” and that’s the end of it.
49ers 27, Redskins 6
This game (much like the Patriots Broncos matchup) was sold to us so that we could believe that it was about the two quarterbacks. And much like we didn’t want to buy it in that game, this one ended up making us believe in truth in advertising. Colin Kaepernick is solid, and that throw he made to Anquan Boldin where he basically hung the dude out to dry but still completed the pass may have been the best throw I’ve seen all year. But at the same time, the remainder of the game left me thinking that he is painfully average and that if he were REALLY great, they’d be a whole lot better than 7-4. On the other hand, Robert Griffin in my mind is never going to be the leader of an NFL football team. The reason why there were questions coming out of that locker room about his leadership is because there ARE questions about his leadership. And that’s why the Redskins are 3-8 and looking at having a two-time Super Bowl winning coach worried about losing his job.
Bonus Comment of the Week
Meehan: What’s that Duran Duran song… “Too Much Information” where they talk about the oversaturation of media? I saw a great example of this on ESPN’s website: They actually have the forecast for games that are played in domed stadiums. This is the equivalent of Al Roker and his stapled stomach telling you what the weather is going to be like in your kitchen tomorrow. My apologies to people who live in tents.
Bonus Comment of the Week #2
The middle of the AFC is a complete mess. At this moment, you’ve got the Titans, Jets, Steelers, Ravens, Chargers all vying for the sixth spot. And raise your hand if you want to see any of those teams play in the postseason. If the playoffs started today Tennessee would be the sixth seed, and most likely the first out.
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