Well, the early games weren't very good this Sunday. There was one game that was worth a crap and the rest were just plain crap. That's what parity in the NFL is worth, I guess. The later games had some more excitement around them, which is always nice after half an afternoon of shitty football games.
Cincinnati Bengals 34 Philadelphia Eagles 13
Well, last week it seemed Nick Foles was the answer to the Eagles quarterback quandary...not so much this week. Of course if we are being completely fair, and why wouldn't we be completely fair, Andy Dalton looked as bad as Foles. Dalton won the game though, which makes him a winner and causes us to forget he got sacked six times, threw an interception and led the Bengals to a horrifying 249 yards against the Eagles defense. The Bengals went with the whole, "we won the game and don't care how" mantra after the game, which is all well and good except it ignores the fact they can't play like this and expect to win a playoff game. The Eagles committed five turnovers and when I asked the question last week whether the win against the Buccaneers saved Andy Reid's job it was probably a bit premature. Reid had to win out at the very least to save his job. 221 yards from the offense and a defense that was constantly put in a bad position isn't going to save Reid's job. Foles wasn't sharp, but he is also a rookie. I tend to give rookie quarterbacks more of a pass for having bad games, unless they are hyped up as the second coming of the greatest quarterback ever. So I still have hope for Foles. I do not have hope for Andy Reid. Regardless of whether he is a good coach or not, his time in Philadelphia is probably done. The Bengals didn't do well offensively, but they ran the ball effectively and they got turnovers. Who knows, maybe that will help them win a playoff game this year? I still think the offensive needs to protect Dalton better and put up more yards to win a playoff game, but as I have said before, at least we are talking playoffs for the Bengals now.
Atlanta Falcons 34 New York Giants 0
Well, the Falcons certainly bounced back pretty well. I want people to write off the Giants again and start questioning whether they are a solid team or not after this loss. Then the Giants will win their next two games and win a road playoff game and all will be forgotten. The Falcons were pissed about losing to a bad Panthers team last week and so they seemed to be very focused for this game. The Falcons defense played very well against a pretty good Giants offense, which should be the story of the game, but the focus is probably going to be more on the Giants offense failing to play well more than it will be on anything the Falcons did to cause that. I know the Falcons offense looked really good and Julio "Gregg Easterbrook Thinks I'm a Diva For Some Reason" Jones had an excellent day. At this point, I'm not going to defend the Giants' offensive performance, but the Falcons were pretty motivated and the Giants have to do better than this. If the Falcons can get a third wide receiver, like Harry Douglas, going along with the running game giving the Falcons anything maybe, just maybe, they can win a playoff game. That's what this year is all about of course. Getting three turnovers and having the ball for 35+ minutes will win plenty of games. I've about given up trying to understand the Giants. One week they look very good and the next week they look like shit. Maybe someone smarter than me can figure it out.
Green Bay Packers 21 Chicago Bears 13
This is the game Jay Cutler haters will point to when saying how Cutler is overrated. The Bears had 190 total yards of offense, did not convert a third or fourth down, only one wide receiver caught a pass and Cutler was harassed for a good portion of the day in getting sacked four times. These two teams combined for 18 penalties and 195 penalty yards. The Packers seem to be winning some ugly games of late. Aaron Rodgers' offensive line didn't do much to help him, he was sacked three times, but he still had a good game throwing the football. The Packers still don't have any semblance of a consistent running game. They have tried Alex Green, DeJuan Harris, Ryan Grant, and James Starks at that position this year and none of them have looked great. Maybe the Packers should give John Kuhn some more chances to show he could be a running back. I'm joking...I think. I'm not a big fan of snap judgments, so I'm not sure what to say about Cutler. Part of me wonders if he is more injured than he is letting on or he just hasn't looked great over the past couple of games for another reason. For a team with no running game and a shaky defense, the Packers are still 10-4 and I'm not betting against them when it comes to playoff time. Well, maybe I will, I'd have to see the matchup they draw, but you understand my hyperbole.
Washington Redskins 38 Cleveland Browns 21
As many times as I have been passive-aggressive in criticizing Mike Shanahan for believing he is an offensive genius, I have to admit he had Kirk Cousins ready to play this game. Cousins looked really, really good in this game. If Robert Griffin wasn't such a great quarterback then I would point out this is the very problem I had with drafting Cousins. He's better than a fourth round draft pick and by choosing both Cousins and Griffin, Shanahan created a quarterback controversy when that wasn't necessary. I've been hard on Shanahan but he has done a hell of a job drafting players over the last couple of years. Cousins committed only one turnover and had a really good game against a pretty good Browns defense. The Redskins defense did a really good job of stopping Trent Richardson and forcing Brandon Weeden to throw the ball and get pressure on him. Richardson did have two touchdowns, but only had 28 yards rushing in this game. I still think the Browns may be on the right track, though I'm not sure Pat Shurmur is the head coach to keep the Browns on the right track. Washington was 7-15 on third down and while I also knocked the Redskins for spending big money on Pierre Garcon and medium-sized money on Josh Morgan, this game showed me to be wrong about that as well. They combined for 10 catches and 125 yards. I think it is a bit early to crown Cousins as an NFL-caliber starting quarterback, but the Redskins at worst have an above average backup quarterback to their franchise quarterback, Robert Griffin. That's how Mike Shanahan designed it when he drafted both of them this year I guess.
Minnesota Vikings 36 St. Louis Rams 22
Adrian Peterson is a beast. He's had a great year, but I still don't know even if he runs for 2200 yards this year if I would vote for him as Comeback Player of the Year. He played 75% of last year, so while he did technically "come back" from an injury, I feel like a player has to miss more than half of the previous season in order to win the Comeback Player of the Year award. Not that it matters since it is just an award. Maybe he should be in the MVP race. Considering Christian Ponder still didn't look very good, Peterson is the MVP of the Vikings. Minnesota is 8-6 right now. Where would they be without Adrian Peterson running for 200 yards in every game? I'm guessing that record could easily be reversed with minus at least one win. Christian Ponder threw for an epic (for him) 131 yards, didn't commit a turnover and the Vikings defense got two turnovers. It would probably help Ponder if he had some receivers to throw the ball to. As far as the Rams go, they are 6-7-1 now and getting closer and closer to 7-8-1 which is close to the .500 record Jeff Fisher is known for (in my somewhat delusional head). Sam Bradford threw for 377 yards and had four receivers with 50 or more yards receiving. His only interception was returned for a touchdown and he was sacked four times. I know Peter King wants the Rams to be a major player in the NFC West, but I'm not sure they are quite at that point right now.
Miami Dolphins 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 3
Yep, it's official that Chad Henne is not the answer in Jacksonville. Is there a third option available for the Jaguars at quarterback? Being fair, the Jaguars have no running game. So criticizing any Jaguars quarterback is slightly unfair since the top two running backs on the depth chart are injured. Of course, being less unfair, the Jaguars quarterbacks aren't very good even if they had Maurice Jones-Drew at running back. Ryan Tannehill was incredibly efficient and it helps him that Reggie Bush ran the ball well. The Dolphins defense isn't terrible either, but it helps they were up against a Jaguars team that simply isn't very good. At this point, the Dolphins need to be thinking about the offseason and I can't see how they aren't going to try and acquire a wide receiver in the draft. Tannehill needs more targets in the passing game. Tannehill would have been the leading rusher for the Jaguars. I'm still up in the air about Tannehill and whether he really can be the quarterback the Dolphins think he can be, but if he gets to play the Jaguars every week then he could end up in the Hall of Fame. I feel bad for Jaguars fans...assuming there still are any.
New Orleans Saints 41 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0
Well, it does appear Drew Brees is back. Not that he went anywhere of course. It does also appear all that talk about Josh Freeman learning so much from his underwhelming third year was all bullshit. Freeman looked terrible throwing four interceptions and helping the Saints offense out way too much when they probably didn't even need help. It was just over a month ago that Peter King was really singing Freeman's praises, but he hasn't looked incredibly good since that time (neither King nor Freeman have). The Saints probably aren't making the playoffs this year, but they ensured the Bucs definitely aren't making the playoffs. The Saints ran the ball very well and it seems their offense runs backwards. Once the passing game is thriving, it allows room for the running game to get going. A few years ago I thought it was sort of silly that sportswriters would talk about how the Saints have a three-headed running attack and talk about how they were actually a good running team. Mostly, I blame Peter King for saying things like this of course. Yeah, the Saints did run the ball well, but they weren't a very good running team if the passing game isn't going. They run the ball well because they throw the ball well. As maligned as the Saints defense has been, if they could play like they did against the Bucs in every other game then the Saints would be a Super Bowl contender.
Denver Broncos 34 Baltimore Ravens 17
I thought the discussion about Jim Caldwell taking over playcalling duties from Cam Cameron to be funny. Caldwell was a head coach in the NFL and at Wake Forest University, yet there were people concerned he couldn't call play as an offensive coordinator? Where was this concern for Caldwell's ability when he was in charge of coaching the Colts during Peyton Manning's prime? I don't know if he is at fault for this loss, but I don't know if Cam Cameron's play calling was the biggest issue the Ravens have either. The Ravens ran into the buzz saw that is the Broncos team. Peyton Manning is red hot, Knowshon Moreno is running for 100 yards in a game, and the Broncos defense is creating turnovers. 1-12 on third down isn't going to beat very many teams, especially a team on a roll like the Broncos are. The Ravens scored most of their points at the end of the game once the outcome was decided. At this point, the Broncos look like the best team in the AFC and it is kind of scary to think of a Peyton Manning team with a dominant defense. It's not like Peyton had a dominant defense under Caldwell in Indianapolis. The Broncos defense can create turnovers and give Manning a short field. Now let's see how all of this translates to the playoffs.
Houston Texans 29 Indianapolis Colts 17
I'm not going to pick on Andrew Luck because he didn't commit turnovers, but he was 13-29 on the day with 186 yards passing and was sacked five times. I know Luck has had comebacks and his play is better than his statistics look, but this was his third straight game with a completion percentage under 50%. He hasn't had a completion percentage over 60% over the last five games. I know there is more to playing quarterback than having a high completion percentage, but for a guy who gets bragged about in terms of being accurate he isn't really all that accurate. Yes, he is a rookie, but he's not being treated like a rookie and I think Robert Griffin has had a more impressive season. That being said, the Texans won because they have a great defense and they controlled the game by running the football. When the Texans run the ball and Andre Johnson is getting a lot of targets then Houston is tough to beat. J.J. Watt, Peter King's choice for "Person of the Decade" had three sacks and six tackles for loss in this game. He was unstoppable. Of course this came one week after the Patriots completely shut Watt out on Monday Night Football. So it would have been nice for Watt to have a sack or two against the Patriots. I have a feeling the Texans are going to get another shot at the Patriots before this season is over. I also have a feeling the Colts are in the process of building something nice, but I still wouldn't give Chuck Pagano co-Coach of the Year. I'm an asshole like that.
Seattle Seahawks 50 Buffalo Bills 17
What the hell has gotten into the Seahawks? Are they "peaking too early," if there is even such a thing as that? Is Russell Wilson the new Tom Brady? Part of what has gotten into the Seahawks is they played a bad Bills team this week. This Bills team has trouble stopping the run, which just so happens to be the thing the Seahawks do the best. Seattle ran up 270 yards on the ground in this game and Russell Wilson ran for three touchdowns. Wilson was pretty good through the air too, throwing for 200 yards, but the Seahawks are on a roll right now. The offense is clicking and the defense caused three turnovers. It has been three weeks since Peter King stated the Seahawks may end up going 2-3 without their starting cornerbacks and the Seahawks are 3-0 in that time. I'm pretty sure he won't be reminding us of this bold prediction. As for the Bills, I'm thinking Chan Gailey has to be getting his walking papers at the end of this year, right? At least C.J. Spiller got 17 carries in the game, but that's only because Fred Jackson is out for the year. Ryan Fitzpatrick was replaced by Tyler Thigpen and the fans in Toronto started chanting for the Blue Jays. Naturally, the Bills are looking to extend the series of home games in Toronto, since the idiots behind this deal can't figure out when the fans not only start cheering for the other team, but start chanting for the local baseball team then it is probably better to play home games elsewhere.
Arizona Cardinals 38 Detroit Lions 10
So apparently the key to the Cardinals winning football game is to not even need a quarterback to win the game. The Cardinals got short field position and took advantage of four Lions turnovers, including three Matthew Stafford interceptions. Since I bash him being drafted by the Cardinals, Michael Floyd was the leading receiver for the Cardinals with a whopping 37 yards. If the Cardinals could just figure out how to not need a quarterback and still win football games. The Cardinals scored 38 points with only 196 yards of offense. The Cardinals defense scored two touchdowns off Matthew Stafford interceptions, which brings us to what is wrong with the Lions. I'm not sure there is anything wrong with the offense other than Stafford committed turnovers that led to good field position and points for the Cardinals. Of course that could be like saying nothing is wrong with the Chiefs other than they don't have a good quarterback. Calvin Johnson had 121 yards receiving and no other Lions receiver had more than 36 yards receiving. Me thinks it could be a good idea to keep the #2 receivers healthy somehow or find another receiver to complement Johnson. The Lions defense also needs to do better than they did in this game. They were playing a terrible Cardinals team which committed 8 turnovers last week and they didn't force one turnover in this game. The Cardinals offense was reeling and the Lions couldn't do anything to change the momentum of the game early by getting a turnover. They only sacked Lindley once too. This was a team loss for the Lions and losing to the Cardinals is probably their worst loss of the season. The good news is it can only go up from here.
Carolina Panthers 31 San Diego Chargers 7
I didn't catch the name of the announcer calling this game, but he loves Jarrett Johnson. Loves him. He said the following about Jarrett Johnson:
1. He's never seen a linebacker with the skill set of speed and power that Jarrett Johnson has.
2. The Ravens defense isn't what it used to be because they let Jarrett Johnson go this past offseason.
Johnson is a good linebacker, but let's rein it in a bit. San Diego is a dumpster fire and their offensive line isn't very good. Rivers was under pressure most of the day, getting sacked six times, and fumbling three times. His offensive line is just so beat up he doesn't seem to have time to look down the field to throw a pass. Meanwhile Cam Newton hasn't thrown an interception in six games and that's pretty impressive. I hope Andrew Luck or Rpbert Griffin aren't held to the standard that Newton was held to earlier this year. Sometimes I think it is forgotten that even a second year quarterback is going to have rough games and hasn't even come close to seeing the type of defenses he will see during a season. The Panthers beaten up offensive line managed to push the Chargers around on offense and there were too many turnovers and penalties by the Chargers. It's hard to win the game when your defense can't stop the opposing offense and your offense can't get anything going due to turnovers and penalties. If Norv Turner is around next year I will be shocked. I wonder if Ron Rivera is in the process of saving his job. While Rivera is getting late season wins during the easy part of the schedule I hope Carolina ownership remembers it was partly Rivera's fault the Panthers are 5-9 instead of 9-5. Really, they would be 14-0 if they just had Jarrett Johnson.
Dallas Cowboys 27 Pittsburgh Steelers 24
Wait, so it is December and the Cowboys are still winning games? That ruins the entire narrative about Tony Romo's career. Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception in overtime that was returned to the one yard line and even Jason Garrett couldn't screw up the game-winning field goal at that point. Romo played a turnover-free game and had a running game to help him out in the passing game, which is always nice. So the Steelers aren't in good shape at 7-7 now are they? I probably think of the Steelers as some sort of super-human team that can withstand anything, but they have had injuries to their running backs all season and Ben Roethlisberger even missed a few games. It's been a tough year for them. Roethlisberger didn't get very good protection from his offensive line and ended up getting sacked four times. The knock on Roethlisberger is that he holds the ball too long, but he needs better protection than he gets. Of course the Steelers have had injuries along the offensive line as well. Back to the Cowboys...maybe they are turning around the "they can't win in December" narrative and this is their year to play well in December and make the NFC Championship Game. If they do fail to make the NFC Championship Game then it will definitely be Tony Romo's fault and not because the Cowboys offensive line didn't play well for him and he didn't have a running game to help him out, that's for sure. Ask Ben Roethlisberger, it is easy to win games without a running game.
Oakland Raiders 15 Kansas City Chiefs 0
119 total yards of offense for the Chiefs. 119 yards. That's ridiculous. The good news is they didn't give up any touchdowns. The bad news is the Chiefs had 119 yards of total offense. I'm going on a limb and saying Brady Quinn won't be the Chiefs starter at the beginning of next year. I know, I know, it's a huge risk to say that, but I'm pretty confident I am right. It also doesn't help that Dwayne Bowe is on injured reserve now. The Chiefs seem to have few weapons in the passing game without Bowe. The Raiders had two healthy running backs in this game (and it was their first and second string running backs nonetheless!) and not surprisingly ran for 203 yards. It's almost like having a fullback and a guy named Jeremy Stewart getting 20 carries in a game isn't an effective way to run the football. It would have been nice to see the Raiders get the ball in the end zone, but they won the game, so perhaps I shouldn't be so picky. Carson Palmer, who by the way was traded for a first and second round draft pick while Robert Griffin was traded for three first round draft picks (think about that), had an okay game but I look forward to the offseason when he refuses to play for the Raiders and threatens to retire. Perhaps the Raiders will trade Palmer to the Jaguars for four 1st round draft choices and make it a trifecta of NFL teams who have been misled since 2005 into thinking that Carson Palmer is still a franchise quarterback.
San Francisco 49ers 41 New England Patriots 34
Michael Crabtree, he of the Easterbrookian "Crabtree Curse" that not-so-amazingly no longer exists said about this win:
"We can win a shootout," Crabtree said. "Whatever it takes, that's our
motto. ... We feel like we can do anything, sky's the limit."
Not really. This really wasn't a shootout and was more an example of the 49ers blowing a 31-7 lead where the vaunted 49ers defense couldn't stop the Patriots offense. So it was a big win for the 49ers but this wasn't a shootout. This was the 49ers getting a huge lead followed by the 49ers nearly blowing that huge lead. Kudos to the win, there's no excuse for almost losing this game though. The Patriots had 520 yards of offense and were killed by four turnover in this game. If these two teams play again, I would have my money on the Patriots. The 49ers did a great job coming out and controlling the football with the running game and Kaepernick did a pretty good job of not making mistakes, though he did throw one interception which was more of a punt than anything. That was a really badly thrown ball, but it ended up in a touchback. The Patriots reminded us why their offense is so well thought of by making a furious comeback and very nearly winning this game. If the Patriots defense could have held at the end then perhaps I would be talking about how Brady and the Patriots are becoming unstoppable on offense. Instead we have Michael Crabtree talking about the 49ers winning shootouts when they were just fortunate to have built up such a large lead to where they could hold on. The 49ers did a good job of scoring in the fourth quarter when they needed to, but the only reason this could have been a shootout is if the 49ers blow a big lead.