Last week Peter reviewed the precociousness of every NFL player, got angry he Tweeted out his phone number and some of his followers actually called the phone number (though he isn't angry when his followers read his stories), and did not agree with Bill Belichick keeping Rob Gronkowski in the game to get injured on a PAT. This week Peter forgoes all of the NFL drama for NFL suspense and compares Von Miller to J.J. Watt to see which defender is a better player. I fully expect Peter to write a weekly MMQB spin-off very soon called "Keeping up with J.J. Watt." Maybe Peter will stop writing his Tuesday mailbag so he can write "Keeping up with J.J. Watt" on a weekly basis.
Prelude to a diss: In the last 52 weeks, the Packers have met the
Giants three times. Green Bay has allowed 35, 37 and 38 points, and an
average of 419 yards a game, and nine Eli Manning touchdown passes. Time
for defensive coordinator Dom Capers to figure out a way to cover the
Giants deep. Time for Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews to heal. Time
for a shaky line to protect Aaron Rodgers. Time for GM Ted Thompson to
find reinforcements for the line.
Is this a reference to "Prelude to a Kiss," which depending on your age, is a Duke Ellington song or a bad romantic comedy with a pre-plastic surgery Meg Ryan and a pre-I-marry-women-half-my-age-and-just-give-off-a-creepy-vibe-in-my-personal-life Alec Baldwin? If this is a reference to that, then I say "Where the hell is Ted Thompson supposed to find reinforcements for his offensive line now that the trade deadline is passed and it is Week 12? Are there magical offensive line reinforcements available to the Packers that no other NFL teams know about?"
Now we enter the cruel month of December
It's going to be a long December. Maybe this year will be better than the last. Probably not.
(And if Green Bay doesn't wake up after that five-alarm fire of a loss
Sunday night to the Giants, the Packers might give away the five seed.)
The Packers lost a game! Quick everyone panic and write the Packers off and then eventually write a column in mid-January about how "everyone" wrote the Packers off! Do it, now!
In the AFC, we're going to sleep through the playoff race, because it
looks like it'll be 7-4 Indianapolis, 6-5 Pittsburgh and 6-5 Cincinnati
fighting for two spots, and the way things look now, none is a threat to
the AFC elite.
The only threat to the elite can come from the people. Never forget this. The people must rise up, park in front of stop signs and then hope the police officer lets you off the hook because he recognizes you.
But there is an interesting subplot in the AFC, which Ray Rice raised
to me last night, before getting on a giddy Ravens charter to return
home from the impossible 16-13 overtime win at San Diego.
know what kind of medicine the Steelers will put Ben Roethlisberger on
this week,'' Rice said, "but they're going to give him something."
Really? Peter needed Ray Rice to bring this point up to him? He wasn't aware of this sub-plot before Ray Rice raised this issue? So Peter didn't at all think the Steelers need to get Ben Roethlisberger back healthy so they can make the playoffs? Ray Rice brought this up and Peter was like, "Oh, that's right. The Steelers probably should work on making sure their starting quarterback is healthy so they don't have to play a 38 year old third string quarterback!" I wouldn't say this is a sub-plot in the AFC, but a very major plot. The Steelers are contenders for the Super Bowl with Roethlisberger and contenders to go 7-9 without Roethlisberger.
Pittsburgh-Baltimore, the rematch, Sunday at The Big Crabcake. (I think
that's Chris Berman's invention, so I'll give him naming rights.)
Please don't give Chris Berman any kind of validation.
does anyone think the Steelers stand a chance of winning in Baltimore
without Roethlisberger, who missed his second game with a dislocated
first rib (last week's column explains how dangerous that injury can be, and typically the injury would take more than a month to heal) Sunday?
I'm just glad Ray Rice brought this little subplot up though or else I wouldn't have thought about Roethlisberger's importance to the Steelers without Rice's help. Help me Ray Rice, do the Packers Super Bowl hopes lie in whether the offensive line can protect Aaron Rodgers or not?
Now for the NFC. It's bizarro world. Here's how I handicap the six-team race:
1. Washington (5-6). The 'Skins and Bucs are playing the best among the
contenders, and if Washington can win one of the next two (Giants
Monday, Ravens to follow), the last three weeks (at Cleveland, at
Philly, Dallas) are manageable. How great would it be to see Robert
Griffin III in a Wild Card game at Soldier Field, getting chased through
the snow by Urlacher and Briggs?
It would be great only if they were chasing each other with snowballs after having just gotten finished building a snowman. How precocious!
2. Tampa Bay (6-5). Watching the Bucs the last month, I keep thinking no one wants to play them.
This is ignoring the fact the Bucs barely beat a 2-win team two weeks ago and lost to the Falcons on Sunday. But yes, no one wants to play them. They are unbeatable right now...even though they lost this weekend and came really close to losing the weekend before that.
5. Minnesota (6-5). Can Adrian Peterson play quarterback?
With Peterson, all things are possible.
So here's how I see the Wild Card round on the first weekend of January:
NFC (Byes: Atlanta and San Francisco): Green Bay at the Giants (Saturday night, NBC), Washington at Chicago (early Sunday, FOX).
AFC (Byes: Houston and New England): Cincinnati at Baltimore (Saturday afternoon, NBC), Indianapolis at Denver (late Sunday, CBS).
I repeat: Andrew Luck at Peyton Manning.
"Here are my purely speculative guesses at what the playoffs are going to end up looking like. Now let's spend time discussing the narratives I have just so conveniently placed before us to discuss."
I am reminded of a quote Bill Parcells uttered every other week in the four seasons I covered the Giants for Newsday in the '80s: "Sometimes God is playing in these games."
This reminds of a quote I just made up: God doesn't give a shit about sports and you are stupid for thinking he does.
Adam Schefter broke the news last night just after the Seahawks' charter
lifted off from South Florida to go home from a loss at Miami: Seattle
cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner were handed four-game
suspensions for violating the league performance-enhancing drugs policy...Seattle's December: at Chicago, Arizona, at Buffalo, San Francisco, St.
Louis. Looks like 3-2 with Sherman, 2-3 without him to me.
When the Seahawks go 4-1 over this stretch we will read Peter King just absolutely flabbergasted the Seahawks were able to do this. The Seahawks exceeded his expectations...no, OUR expectations. See "everyone" had the Seahawks written off based on Peter's pure speculation of their record without Sherman and Browner.
Impressive thing No. 2: Alex Smith was an ally, not a disgruntled
employee, throughout the game. "It's got to be tough,'' said Kaepernick,
"but Alex is so good to me. Our relationship is still the same as it's
been. Every time I came off the field, he'd say to me, 'Did you see
this?' Or, 'Did you see that?' Alex is a great guy.'' Apparently.
Alex Smith is probably used to being benched, not being wanted by the 49ers and then getting prepared to jump back in the lineup when he is called. He's had to be pretty flexible in his time with the 49ers. So he's learned to be a great guy.
The hidden advantage in the choice Harbaugh made is that now he knows he
can win with two quarterbacks. One more mobile with a stronger
downfield arm, weapons Harbaugh had on display in the Dome; Kaepernick
completed throws of 26, 40 and 45 yards. The other is as efficient and
smart a player as a coach could hope for, in Smith. I mean, who has a
backup quarterback leading the league in completion percentage, with a
rating over 100?
Who has this? The 49ers, that's who has it. This situation will work out well as long as Smith doesn't make waves if he gets benched or if Kaepernick doesn't make waves if he gets benched. So as long as both quarterbacks are happy with the situation, this is an embarrassment of riches at the quarterback position. Now, if Kaepernick comes out next week and struggles and gets benched for Smith, who is to say what will happen after that? So for now, it is an embarrassment of riches.
If Hines Ward were still a Steeler, he'd make running backs Rashard
Mendenhall, Chris Rainey, Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman (six fumbles
at Cleveland Sunday, four recovered by the Browns) walk around the
facility lugging a football tight to their chests. An eight-TO day?
I don't care what Hines Ward thinks.
Until I saw Rice's incredible fourth-down conversion, I thought the play
of the day was Stevie Johnson's strip and recovery late in the fourth
quarter on Colts safety Tom Zbikowski after Zbikowski picked off Ryan
Fitzpatrick. Smart play for Johnson, who had to aim for the strip and
make the strip, all while being stiff-armed by an amateur boxer, which
Zbikowski has been.
So this play would have been less impressive if Zbikowski had not been an amateur boxer? I'm just wondering what being an amateur boxer has to do with holding on to the football.
If the last six weeks of the 2012 season play out similarly to the first
10, the defensive story of the season could well be two sophomore
defensive players: Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Broncos linebacker
Von Miller. Their play has been so outstanding that the question might
not be which deserves the Defensive Player of the Year award, but are
either worthy of the MVP? I asked Neil Hornsby of ProFootballFocus.com
to break down their play to try to answer those questions:
MVP? I just wonder why J.J. Watt wasn't a Vice-Presidential candidate this past year!
But yes, let's compare Watt and Miller as if they play the same position on defense and have similar defensive responsibilities.
Playing Time: Watt has played 89 percent of Houston's defensive
snaps and Miller 90 percent for Denver. Watt has been so dominant that
teams have had to start game-planning just to stop him.
And that would be a first obviously. No other defensive player has ever been game-planned around.
I'm going to skip the rest of this because it tells us what we already know. J.J. Watt is very good at swatting down passes at the line of scrimmage and Von Miller is a fantastic pass rusher.
In Summary: Many players on defense are having great years, but
no one is as far ahead of the competition as J.J. Watt and Von Miller.
Just as Darrelle Revis did in the early part of 2011, they are
redefining what's achievable at their positions. Who's better? Flip a
Ah yes, after a statistical summary of each player it comes down to a coin flip for Peter to decide which player is better. Why wouldn't a coin flip be the best determining factor? It seems appropriate.
3. Houston (10-1). I appreciate the fact that their defensive
leaders -- Connor Barwin, to me on Thursday -- says they're ticked off
about giving up 983 yards in five days. They should be. But to play 10
quarters in five days and win both games deep in overtime ... that
erases any negative in my mind.
It erases any negative in Peter's mind because he dutifully ignores the fact the Texans have given up 983 yards and were taken to overtime by two teams whose combined record is 9-16. It's not like the Texans were playing playoff teams or anything. They played Jacksonville and Detroit. I think any reasonable person should be a little bit worried about the Texans defense after the last two games, even knowing Detroit has a pretty good offense.
5. Atlanta (10-1). At the risk of sounding like a broken record:
Michael Turner's output Sunday in the 24-23 win at Tampa: 16 touches, 30
yards; Jacquizz Rodgers' output: 12 touches, 79 yards. I keep thinking
I'm watching a different game than the Atlanta coaches.
Peter does realize Jacquizz Rodgers is the size of a hobbit, right? Maybe 12 touches in the running game is all they want to give him in order to maximize his effectiveness. Rodgers is 5'6" and 196 pounds. Maybe the Falcons are concerned about wearing him down before the playoffs.
9. Tampa Bay (6-5). The more I see the Bucs, the more I think
they might do what the Giants of 2007 or 2011 did -- get hot late and
get on a January run that could take them very far. Not saying I think
this will happen. Just saying it wouldn't surprise me if the Bucs were
the NFC's sixth seed and made some big noise.
Peter isn't saying the Buccaneers are like the 2007 or 2011 Giants. He is saying he sees how they could get the sixth seed and "make some noise," which I take to mean go on a playoff run. Of course this may not happen, but Peter sees how it could happen. He isn't predicting it of course and in his list of NFC playoff teams from this MMQB he doesn't include the Buccaneers as making the playoffs. So Peter wants this prediction of the Bucs "making noise" on the record, but he doesn't want to put his money where his mouth is and predict they will be in the playoffs. He has Tampa Bay as the 9th best team in the NFL from his power rankings and the Buccaneers remind him of the 2007 or 2011 New York Giants, but he also doesn't believe they will make the playoffs. So which is it?
14. Indianapolis (7-4). If the Colts go 2-3 in December, they're likely a playoff team.
It's the Irsay Bowl! Ladies and gentlemen, get your narratives ready.
Coaches of the Week
Jim Harbaugh, head coach, San Francisco.
Harbaugh proved last week he's got some Bill Belichick in him. As a
coach, you have to be able to tune out the majority of the public and
the media and even some in your own organization who think you're making
a mistake if you firmly believe you're doing the right thing and you
trust in your players to know you're doing the right thing. Such was the
case when he chose Colin Kaepernick as his starting quarterback over
Alex Smith, who was playing at a Pro Bowl level.
I'm not going to argue that Colin Kaepernick hasn't played well, but he has started two games in his NFL career. It's a bit early to start with "Harbaugh made the right decision in choosing between Alex Smith and Kaepernick" talk. Using this logic, doesn't this mean Harbaugh screwed up by allowing Alex Smith to start 9 games this season over Kaepernick? If Kaepernick is the better quarterback, shouldn't he have been the starter this entire year?
Let's give it a rest with the idea Harbaugh made a great decision. It's been two games and he looks like a genius now, but a lot of decisions look smart using small sample sizes. If Harbaugh was really smart and believed he was doing the right thing then he would have started Kaepernick from the first game of this season.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
For two men so
inextricably connected in Cincinnati Bengals history, it's notable that
the first time Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton met was on the field at
Paul Brown Stadium Sunday.
How is it notable this is the first time these two quarterbacks have met? Andy Dalton has been in the NFL for under two years and the Bengals and Raiders play in different AFC divisions. When were they supposed to meet prior to this?
The extent of their conversation after the game went something like this, per Dalton:
Dalton: "Stay healthy."
Palmer: "You too. Good luck."
Yep, that seems like it would only interest Peter. Otherwise, it is pretty uninteresting.
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 12:
a. The Washington offensive line, which I have criticized often. Great
job enabling Robert Griffin III to make his magic. What a treat a rested
Griffin and his mates will be against the Giants, at home, next Monday
It's going to be such a treat. It's going to be like going into a Starbucks for a cafe mocha with a double shot of expresso while being double-parked and walking in the Starbucks to find there is no one in line to annoy Peter while he eavesdrops on their conversations.
h. Jay Cutler. If we define "value'' in "Most Valuable Player'' as
someone whose loss would totally deflate and screw up his team, then
Cutler has to be in the running for the award.
If we defined it that way then about 50 players in the NFL would be in the running for this award as well. Any decent starting quarterback would be in the running. Can you imagine the Colts without Andrew Luck? He's an MVP candidate! The Buccaneers without Josh Freeman? MVP candidate. So yes, the "valuable" in MVP does mean that player's loss would screw up his team and totally deflate them, but this goes for a lot of other players as well as Cutler. I'm not saying Cutler shouldn't get MVP consideration, but quite a few players if removed from a team would deflate and screw up that team. How would the Broncos do without Peyton Manning starting for them.
m. Chad Henne, for leading a Jags win, their first at home this year.
He'd have to royally mess up to not be the Jacksonville quarterback
heading into the 2013 offseason.
Wow. My opinion, as of right now, is that the Jaguars would royally have to mess up if Chad Henne is their starting quarterback heading into the 2013 season. There are still five games to be played, but at this point the Jaguars have screwed the pooch if they have Chad Henne as their starting quarterback without drafting a quarterback in the first three rounds of the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft.
2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 12:
b. Rex Ryan's logic after the 49-19 loss to New England Thursday. He
tells his coordinators he doesn't want them to play Tim Tebow, then says
Tebow (two broken ribs) was "100 percent available." I'm not getting
that. Wonder if Woody Johnson is.
I'm getting it. It seems Rex Ryan didn't want Tim Tebow on the Jets team and he doesn't want to get into the "Play Tebow" discussion, so he tells his coordinators he doesn't want Tebow playing while pretending to the media that Tebow could play so other teams have to game plan for him.
g. Catch the easy interception, Asante Samuel. But I can't kill Samuel
too much, because he played hurt down the stretch when his Falcons
desperately needed him.
Peter can't kill Samuel too much, which is why he is calling out Samuel publicly in his nationally read column...because he doesn't want to kill Samuel too much.
h. Josh Freeman's overthrow of a wide-open Mike Williams.
How dare Josh Freeman make one bad throw. This was the only bad throw by a quarterback that affected a game on Sunday, obviously.
3. I think the league overreacted, and that's putting it mildly,
by censoring Rich Eisen's interview with Oscar favorite Bradley Cooper
and yanking it from Eisen's Thanksgiving special on NFL Network. "The
segment was pulled because the movie included content related to
gambling on NFL games," the statement from NFL Network said.
Remember that Peter is the same guy who tried to sell us on the idea the NFL wouldn't intrude on Andrea Kremer's new injury research and investigation show (as featured on the NFL Network) about how concussions affect current and past players. I didn't believe at the time and I don't believe now the NFL won't censor what Kremer says on that show in any way. Peter wasn't so sure though and seemed to try to sell us on the idea the NFL would "oversee" what was said, but was giving Kremer journalistic freedom to report what she finds or to interview whoever she wants to interview. The NFL is going to be all up in that show and want to censor any material they deem to be speculation or without basis.
8. I think the Steelers, normally among the smartest two or three
teams in the league in player personnel, need to answer this question:
Why are you backing up a perennially beaten-up quarterback with Byron
Leftwich, a very slow 32-year-old quarterback, and Charlie Batch, a
I'm guessing this is because they were hoping Ben Roethlisberger would stay healthy and they wouldn't have to use either Batch or Leftwich. Not to mention, the Steelers were probably relying on the fact Leftwich is serviceable as a backup and had been with the Steelers for a few years already. Really good backup quarterbacks aren't exactly in long supply and the Steelers didn't use a draft pick on a backup quarterback this past year. They thought it was worth the risk to not pay for a different backup quarterback and Leftwich would succeed better than a 23 or 24 year old quarterback would. Perhaps they were wrong.
Isn't it logical to think that, among starters in the league, Ben
Roethlisberger has a better-than-average chance of needing a replacement
during the year?
Why would this be logical? Roethlisberger has never played less than 12 games in a season and had missed six starts over the last three years. It's not like he has missed half a season recently. Maybe it is logical to think he would need a quality backup, but that's what the Steelers thought Leftwich was.
But Steelers football czar Kevin Colbert needs to find someone so Pittsburgh won't have two old and/or slow backups.
Batch probably doesn't need to be the third quarterback on the roster, but pretty much any time an NFL team is down to their third quarterback they aren't going to have a very good chance of winning games with that quarterback. So I don't really agree with Peter regarding Batch. He is probably as good of an option as a third quarterback as most NFL teams have.
10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:
b. Controversial: Mike Florio says he was bored by Lincoln. I have to carve out three hours, and soon, to see it.
I've heard the same thing. It is a Steven Spielberg film which means it will be long and heavy-handed, so there is a chance it isn't very good. Just read the book "Team of Rivals" and there is a chance you would be more entertained. I've been down on Spielberg since the interminable "War Horse" was released and I haven't really enjoyed one of the movies he has directed since "Minority Report."
c. Black Friday. One of the lightest traffic days of the year, because I
had to drive quite a bit Friday. Can't figure that one out.
Again, this isn't incredibly hard to figure out. Most people are shopping, at work, or avoiding going out because of the long lines at stores. It tends to be a day when not a lot of people are driving along highways for these reasons.
i. Florence Norman has been born.
She was just born? I'm not sure I have heard a child under the age of 25 who isn't from Europe named "Florence." I don't hate the name, it's just an interesting name to me. At least they didn't name their daughter Pearl or Ethel.
One piece of advice, Flo: Don't listen
to a word your grandfather says about rooting for the Yankees. It's the
wrong thing to do.
Yeah, just go with the Flo on who to cheer for in baseball. Make your own decision.
(See what I did there?)
The Adieu Haiku
Looks like I misjudged the lad.
Chiefs sound good, Alex?
Yeah, the Chiefs would try to sign Alex Smith. That's a typical Chiefs move. I'm sure the Chiefs sound good to Alex Smith, but I'm not sure Alex Smith should sound good to the Chiefs.