Week 15 NFL Roundup
Thursday December 13, 2012
Cincinnati Bengals @ Philadelphia Eagles
Cincy did what they needed to do to increase their chances of making it back into the playoffs for the 2nd straight year, for the first time since 1981-82. As it sits the Bengals are the last team in for the AFC and would play as the #6 seed. The Bengals had their scare entering the locker room at halftime down 10-13 but came out in the 2nd half and scored 24 unanswered points and shutting down the Eagles offense. Andy Dalton ran for a touchdown to give the Bengals a lead and sealed off a 34-13 victory with his 11th touchdown pass to WR A.J. Green. It was Green’s first touchdown reception since his consecutive streak was broken 4 weeks ago. The Bengals also go another solid performance from the Law Firm, Benjarvis Green-Ellis, who had 25 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals also scored on a fumble recovery touchdown, one of the 5 turnovers they forced against the Eagles. Cincy has a game lead on Pittsburgh who they play next week before finishing the season against Baltimore, giving them a great opportunity to improve their 1-3 division record and keep their destiny in their own hands.
Sunday December 16, 2012
New York Giants @ Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons made a statement against the New York Giants, just one week after a disappointing loss to the Carolina Panthers. For the first time in 16 years the Giants were shutout while Matty Ice was able to toss 3 touchdown passes in Sunday’s game in Atlanta. Ryan had 3 touchdown passes, 2 to WR Julio Jones and another to the ageless wonder TE Tony Gonzalez. Ryan finished the game 23-28 for 270 yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and was sacked just 1 time. For as hot as Ryan was, Eli Manning was ice cold throwing for just 161 yards with no touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Eli looked lost and the stout pass defense of Atlanta got the best of him. David Wilson had a coming out part last week to come back this week and crap the bed. He had just 55 rushing yard with 0 touchdowns and had just 3 more carries and 13 more yards than Kregg Lumpkin. It’s getting difficult to gauge this Giants teams who has lost 4 of its last 6 games and was shutout after posting 52 points up against New Orleans last week. With the loss the Falcons remain the top seed in the NFC and are close to clinching home-field advantage throughout but the doubters remain. The Giants are in a much more difficult situation after this loss because they gave up the division lead to the Washington Redskins and there 3 teams in the NFC East with an 8-6 record.
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
Jermichael Finley began the trash talk by singling out a Hall of Fame linebacker unable to play in the game and Brandon Marshall responded by daring the Packers to put him in one-on-one coverage. Green Bay is smarter than that and held Marshall to his 3rd lowest total of the year and locked up an NFC North title with their 21-13 win. Clay Mathews returned to the Packers and sacked Jay Cutler twice, bringing his season total against the Bears to 5.5 sacks. Rodgers connected with James Jones 3 times for touchdowns and is now 2nd in the league with 32 touchdown passes. The Bears Jay Cutler continued to gain fan appreciation with his diva-like antics, complaining on the sideline and holding his shoulder whenever he made a bad pass. Cutlers numbers against the Packers are dismal to say the best, but Chicago still has a good chance of making the playoffs as long as they can beat Arizona and Detroit on the road. As for the Packers, they are currently the 3rd seed in the NFC and that Monday night game against Seattle is really coming back to bite them in the butt.
Washington Redskins @ Cleveland Browns
Is there a QB controversy in our nation’s capital? Of course not, but the heroics of Kirk Cousins continued this week in Cleveland. After a 4th quarter comeback from Cousins last week in his replacement of phenom Robert Griffin II, Kirk got the nod once again this week. Griffin believed he could have started despite his knee injury but the Redskins and their staff thought giving him a game off was in their best interest. Riding a 4 game winning streak they let Cousins take control and he played admirably tossing 2 touchdown passes and 329 yards with just 1 interception. Leonard Hankerson had just 2 catches in the game, both of them were for touchdowns and he tallied 56 receiving yards. Rookie running back Alfred Morris ran the ball 27 times for 87 yards and 2 scores in a game against his childhood rival and fellow rookie RB, Trent Richardson. Richardson had 2 touchdown rushes of his own, the 9th and 10th of the year breaking Jim Brown’s franchise record of 9 rushing TDs in a season. Cleveland was on a 3 game winning streak but only one could continue and it was Washington beating the Browns 38-21. With that win and the New York Giants loss the Washington Redskins are 1st in the NFC East and have high hopes of making it into the postseason. As long as the Redskins beat the Eagles on the road and Dallas at home to close the season, they will make the playoffs.
Minnesota Vikings @ St. Louis Rams
The Minnesota Adrian Peterson’s did it again! All Day ran for 212 yards and a touchdown on just 24 carries and now has Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record in his sights. Peterson needs just under 300 yards in his final 2 games to break the record and at this point it seems very likely. Peterson is carrying his team on his shoulders as he has rushed for over 100 yards for the 8th straight game. In that 8 game span Peterson has rushed for more yards than QB Christian Ponder has passed for. He also has rushed for more yards in that time period than the Chargers, Falcons, Raiders, Jaguars, Cowboys and Cardinals teams rushing totals FOR THE YEAR. There isn’t a single running back in the history of the NFL who has rushed for more yards than Peterson during this current 8 game stretch, but is it enough for him to win MVP? Peterson has an uphill battle to make the playoffs playing in Houston and at home against the Packers which makes one wonder, can AP win the MVP even if his team doesn’t make the playoffs. I believe he should but the last player to do so was O.J. Simpson who rushed for 2000 yards in just 14 games. The Rams have a RB too, his name is Steven Jackson and on what may have been his last home game in St. Louis the longtime workhorse broke the 10000 yards rushing plateau. He is just 15th player to do so. The Vikings would be in the playoffs if the season ended now, too bad for them it doesn’t. If Peterson goes on to break Dickerson’s record, he is the MVP regardless and I expect the Vikings to officially change their name like I’ve been asking for weeks.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Miami Dolphins
The in-state battle between the Jaguars and Dolphins wasn’t enough to stir up any shed of interest from anyone outside of the panhandle. The 2-11 Jaguars made the trip south with former Phins QB Chad Henne at the helm after Blaine Gabbert was lost for the year. Henne did next to nothing besides finding WR Cecil Shorts 6 times for 101 yards. The game was tied at 3 a piece until Ryan Tannehill hit something called Jorvorskie Lane for a 4 yard touchdown pass. Tannehill would add another touchdown pass when he found Anthony Fasano from 2 yards out in the 4th quarter. The two would hook up for a successful two-point conversion as the Dolphins would go on to win 3-24. Reggie Bush rushed for 104 yards on 21 carries and broke the century mark for the first time since week 2 and just the 2nd time all year. He didn’t get into the end-zone but for a team that ranked near last in almost every offensive category Miami had a good time beating up on a bad team. They had a season high 26 first downs and controlled the clock for three quarters of the game. Jacksonville continues to struggle and at this point they are just going through the motions of another unsuccessful year, but with another loss in their final two games the Jags could set a franchise record for the most unsuccessful season since their first in 1995. Neither of these teams is going to make the playoffs, nor were they expected to.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints
The streaky New Orleans Saints were back at it in the bayou of NOLA welcoming their division foe, the Tampa Bay Bucs. The Saints started the season off 0-4 before winning 5 of their next 6 to get back to .500 through 10 games. They had a chance at playing their way into Wild Card contention but have lost 3 straight games and the last 2 QB Drew Brees has played dreadfully. Brees had thrown just 1 touchdown and 7 interceptions in his previous 2 outings and used the Bucs pass defense as his whipping boy. Brees got back on track and threw 4 touchdown passes on Sunday on the way to a 41-0 rout of the Buccaneers, their first shutout in 17 years. Brees now has a league leading 36 touchdown passes but it’s too little too late and the Saints are just playing for statistics at this point. With the win the Bucs and Saints both have 6-8 records and are just a game ahead of the Carolina Panthers who are currently in the basement of the NFC South. The Falcons have already locked up the division and both the Bucs and Saints are playing for draft position. Mark Ingram had a good day running the ball 14 times for 90 yards and a touchdown, while Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin seems to have hit that perennial rookie wall. Martin had just 16 yards on 9 carries and has just 200 yards and 1 touchdown on 55 carries in the last 3 games, all of which have been Tampa losses. Muscle Hamster, as he has been called, seems to have spent too much time running on the wheel and his 273 carries have caught up to him.
Denver Broncos @ Baltimore Ravens
The Peyton Manning show continued as the Broncos traveled to Baltimore and beat up on a Ravens team that was 9-4 coming into this game. Baltimore had lost just 1 game at home all season long until Manning and his new sidekick Knowshon Moreno dominated this old and injured defense. Manning had just 204 yards passing with a touchdown but has now beaten the Ravens 9 straight times, dating back to his years in Indy. A key play went down in the Ravens red-zone late in the first half. Baltimore QB Joe Flacco attempted to throw an out route near the goal-line but Broncos defender Chris Harris jumped in front of the ball and took it 98 yards for a touchdown. What could have potentially been a 10-7 game was now 17-0 Denver and the Ravens were incapable of bouncing back. Manning hit Decker for a 51 yard touchdown as the Gopher alumni hauled in 8 catches for 133 yards and a score. Knowshon Moreno had a big workload and for the 2nd straight week he rushed for over 100 yards. Moreno finished the game with 118 yards on 22 carries with a score, despite Jacob Hester’s best attempt at vulturing all short yardage work. Baltimore is in a tailspin and in their first game since firing offensive coordinator Cam Cameron the Ravens Ray Rice had his worst game of the season. Rice had just 38 yards on 12 carries and if it weren’t for TE Dennis Pitta this game could have been a lot worse. Pitta had 7 receptions for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns and if you take away his numbers, including targets, Flacco would have just been 13-30 for 129 passing yards and that terrible interception. Ouch. The two teams flipped positions in playoff seeding and the Ravens division lead is down to just 1 game.
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans
Coming into this game the Andrew Luck Colts technically still had a chance of winning the AFC South division, technically. Surprising the country the Colts found themselves traveling to Houston to face the 11-2 Texans behind just 2 games with their 9-4 record. The Colts rookie QB has been anything but lucky leading his team on 5 4th quarter comeback victories however the stars didn’t align for him in Houston. Matt Schaub found Andre Johnson early and often and the Texans biggest weapon in the passing game caught 11 balls for 151 yards and a touchdown. Arian Foster had a big game on the ground rushing for 165 yards but was unable to get into the end-zone for the first time in 4 weeks, but still leads the league with 14. The Texans defense blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown and J.J. Watt sacked Andrew Luck 3 times to tie San Fran’s Aldon Smith with 19.5 sacks on the year and just 3 behind the record. Watt also had 10 tackles in the game and forced a fumble for the 3rd straight game as the young man from Wisconsin tries to lock up the Defensive Player of the Year award. Luck connected with T.Y. Hilton on a 61 yard touchdown pass in the 2nd quarter to cut Houston’s lead down to 10-20. Another touchdown pass to Dwayne Allen in the 3rd made the game 17-23 and it seemed like maybe Luck’s late game heroics were happening again. They weren’t and the Colts didn’t score for the rest of the game, while Houston added two more Shayne Graham field goals making him 5/5 on the day. Despite Luck’s mediocre performance completing 13 of his 27 attempts for 186 yards and 2 touchdowns, he didn’t throw an interception and is just 74 yards from breaking Cam Newton’s rookie passing yards record set last year. Houston clinched the AFC South division for the 2nd consecutive year and hold a game lead on the Broncos for the top spot in the AFC and home-field advantage. The Colts are currently the 5th seed in playoff scenarios with a 1 game lead over the 6th seed Cincinnati Bengals.
Seattle Seahawks @ Buffalo Bills
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks traveled to Buffalo in hopes of beating a team on the road for just the 3rd time this season. The 8-5 Seahawks are coming off of an incredible win at home against Arizona blowing them out 58-0. They scored multiple times on defense and Marshawn Lynch had over 125 yards and 3 touchdowns. This week they didn’t have the help of the “12th man” the name given to the ferocious Seattle fans but they didn’t need them. For the second straight week Seattle had at least 50 points, scored on defense and had a solid outing from Lynch. They did allow Buffalo to score 17 points, Spiller breaking in from 14 yards out and Ryan Fitzpatrick hooking up with Stevie Johnson from the just outside the red-zone. Russell. Fitzpatrick was 21-38 for 217 yards, 1 touchdown and had 2 interceptions, 1 of them was returned 57 yards by Seahawks safety Earl Thomas for a touchdown. Marshawn Lynch had 113 yards on just 10 carries including a 13 yard touchdown but this game was about DangeRuss Wilson. The rookie had a mediocre game in the air throwing for 205 and a touchdown to TE Zach Miller but he added another 92 on the ground including 3 rushing touchdowns. It was almost unfair as it seemed like the Bills hadn’t game planned to stop Wilson’s fancy footwork and he literally walked into the end-zone multiple times. Buffalo is out of playoff contention and are 5-9 on the season after the deflating loss but the Seachickens have played their way into the 5th seed as of right now. That is likely where they stay unless they are able to beat San Francisco this week. They will have the 12th man on their side.
Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals
This battle between two 4-9 teams seemed like the underperforming Lions were going to come to town and beat up on a Cardinals team that had lost 9 straight after starting 4-0. Luckily for Arizona the gutless Lions did everything they could to ensure that Arizona’s losing streak would end. Matt Stafford was terrible completing just 24 of his 50 passing attempts for 246 yards with no touchdowns and 3 interceptions. The Lions are kind of like an old Eastwood movie: The good, Calvin Johnson had 10 catches for 121 yards on 17 targets; the bad, no other receiver had more than 3 catches or 36 yards; and the ugly, two of Stafford’s 3 picks were returned for touchdowns while the 3rd turned into points. The only offensive touchdown from the Lions came when Mikel Leshoure got into the end-zone but ran for just 55 yards in the game. Cardinals QB Ryan Lindley was given the start after more apathetic play from John Skelton and he managed to throw for 104 yards, no touchdowns and just 1 interception. Arizona has become a disgrace offensively but because of field position they were able to score. Beanie Wells had a 5 yard and 1 yard touchdown in the 1st quarter and ran a 3rd touchdown in from 31 yards out late in the 4th quarter to cap off a 10-38 victory. Wells had 17 rush attempts for 67 yards and 3 touchdowns after accumulating just 81 yards in his previous games since returning from injury. Detroit didn’t have a double digit lead in the 2nd half like they did in their previous 4 games, this time they jumped out to a 7-0 lead only to lose 10-38.
Carolina Panthers @ San Diego Chargers
Another riveting matchup between two underperforming teams in the NFL, but hey not everyone can be in playoff contention that’s just how it works. Carolina traveled to SoCal to play the Chargers in San Diego and it seemed like their gameplan was to have Matt Tolbert rub the Chargers face in the fact that they let him go last offseason. Ryan Mathews has not been very effective and added injury to insult leaving this game early. It would have been nice to have a player like Matt Tolbert behind him in the depth chart, instead they allowed him to get buried behind both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. With Stewart injured, surprise surprise, Tolbert was given an opportunity to vulture some of the goal-line carries from Williams. He would score 2 first quarter touchdowns and helped ensure that the Chargers would miss the playoffs for the 3rd straight season. Cam Newton hooked up with DeAngelo Williams for a 45 yard touchdown when the running back took a pass that was tipped at the line all the way to the house. Carolina had scored 21 points in the first quarter of the game and Philip Rivers and the Chargers were stunned. Rivers had a key fumble that led to Tolbert’s 2nd 1 yard rushing touchdown of the day. Steve Smith would catch a touchdown from Cam in the 3rd quarter to give the Panthers a 31-0 lead. San Diego would add an Antonio Gates garbage touchdown late in the 4th quarter to keep from getting shut out. Both teams are now 5-9 and although Carolina fans may have gotten a little more used to losing seasons, this loss for the Bolts ensures their first losing season since 2003.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Dallas Cowboys
The Steelers left for Jerry’s World after a disappointing loss to the San Diego Chargers last week, hoping to rejuvenate their season. Pittsburgh had lost three of its last four entering this game against a Dallas team that had won four of its last 5. There was question about whether or not Dez Bryant would be a viable threat in this game after breaking his finger last week. Bryant was cleared by team doctors and he scored his 8th touchdown in the past 6 games. Dez had 9 catches for 59 yards and a score while QB Tony Romo threw for 341 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. Big Ben Roethlisberger was having a good game until making a terrible mistake in overtime. Ben was 23-38 with 332 yards and 2 touchdowns until the two teams headed into overtime tied at 24. Roethlisberger would connect with Heath Miller for a 7 yard gain on the first play of overtime but his 2nd pass attempt didn’t fare so well. Looking for Mike Wallace along the right sideline, Big Ben tried to rope one in there and the Cowboys Brandon Carr stepped right in front of it. Carr would return the ball down to the 2 yard-line where Tony Romo would kneel towards the middle of the field to ensure that kicker Dan Bailey had a perfectly centered attempt to win the game. Bailey’s eventual game-winning overtime field goal was basically the equivalent to an extra point and after Carr’s interception the game was all but over. With the loss Pittsburgh has dropped 4 of its last 5 games and their playoff hopes keep fading away. The Cowboys were able to improve to 8-6 and are currently in a three-way tie with the Redskins and Giants in the NFC East, but Washington holds the tiebreakers.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders
Seriously? Sebastian Janikowski beat the Chiefs 15-0 improving the Raiders record to 4-10, dropping KC to 2-12. The End. Oh fine, Brady Quinn sucks and isn’t the answer at quarterback. Jamaal Charles is the definition of boom or bust running back and this week he was a bust, rushing 9 times for just 10 yards. Darren McFadden continues to confuse coming back after being pulled from last week’s game with an injury. McFadden rushed the ball 30 times for 110 yards leaving people to wonder “is he a starting running back in the NFL?” Carson Palmer also sucks and threw for just 182 yards and Oakland is wishing they could take back that trade they made with Cincy. These teams are terrible and there’s no wonder why the Broncos walked away with this division.
San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots
On a cold and rainy night in New England the San Francisco 49ers jumped to a 28 points lead in the 3rd quarter. San Fran jumped up 24-3 after Frank Gore recovered a Colin Kaepernick botched snap and ran it 3 yards into the end-zone. Tom Brady would throw a pass for Aaron Hernandez but it was picked off by Aldon Smith. The next play was a 27 yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree and the Niners found themselves with a 4 touchdown lead. Just as quickly as they had it, the Patriots took it away. Tom Brady and New England would score touchdowns on their next 4 possessions to tie the game. Then, just because this game didn’t have enough fireworks, rookie kick returner LaMichael James returned the ensuing kickoff 62 yards. The next play that followed was Kaepernick’s 2nd touchdown pass to Michael Crabrtree from the 38 yard-line. The offense finally fizzled out and both teams swapped field goals late in the 4th quarter but the Niners and Colin Kaepernick were able to hold off the Pats and stay in the 2nd seed in the NFC. With the loss the Patriots dropped from 2 to 3 in the AFC playoffs and are now a game behind the Denver Broncos. The move to Colin Kaepernick seems to be working in favor of the Niners right now as he threw for a career high 4 touchdowns Sunday night. Tom Brady had a rough night despite passing for 443 yards, he has just 1 touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez and threw 2 picks. One of those interceptions was almost returned for a touchdown by Carlos Rogers. Add a fumble by both Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley and New England turned the ball over 4 times, compared to San Francisco’s 2. The turnover battle may have been the decisive statistic yet again as New England was beaten at home 41-34.
Monday December 17, 2012
New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans
I’m not quite sure who is exactly responsible for picking out the Monday Night Football matchups but for this game to be the last true MNF game is ridiculous. The Titans have been terrible all year long and the Jets are the circus that they have become since trading for Tim Tebow. Mark Sanchez has done everything he can to get Tebow on the field yet the Jets refuse to let the QB they made a move for step on the field for anything more than a few wildcat plays. The only offensive play worth talking about was Chris Johnson’s 94 yard touchdown run, other than that he had 20 carries for just 28 yards. The Jets offense was inept once again and despite the Titans 14 penalties for 111 yards New York was able to put up just 10 points. Tennessee would win the game on Jake Locker’s 3rd quarter rushing touchdown but really the Titans won because the Jets refused to make a move under center. Sanchez had already thrown 3 picks on the day before somehow getting the team near the red-zone with less than 2 minutes to play. Sanchez floated a terrible pass off of his back foot into triple coverage that was eventually intercepted. New York still had a couple timeouts and were able to force the Titans to punt. Tennessee’s punter shanked the punt from his end-zone and gave the Jets the ball back at the 25. If there was ever a time for Mr. 4th quarter comeback to get into the game, Tebow should have rolled out there and made his miraculous game-winning play. Instead Rex Ryan allows Sanchez back on the field after throwing his 4th pick of the day and how is he rewarded? Sanchez fumbles the shotgun snap, Bilal Powell kicks it away from the QB, the Titans recover and the Jets lose 10-14 and their playoff hppes are crushed.