You don't need no stinkin' game recaps here, you can turn on the TV or go elsewhere for that. I'm here to tell you what happened that shouldn't have and what didn't happen that should have.
Week 14 had a little of everything; thrilling conclusions, blowouts, sun, rain, snow, wind, teams taking care of business and teams chocking under pressure too. With each week that passes the playoff picture gets a little clearer. Check back here tomorrow after the Monday night games and we'll give you all the playoff scenarios going into the last three weeks of the NFL regular season.
On to the games.
(7-6) vs. (5-8)
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Cleveland Browns (30) vs. Buffalo Bills (28)
Those ready to write the Indianapolis Colts off so quickly may have been a bit premature as they may have something to say about their playoff future after all. Peyton Manning was 25/35 with 2 TD's and 0 INT's as he got the Colts back into the win column. At this point, the Colts season basically hinges upon next week's game against Jacksonville.
As for the Titans, they have now dropped 5 in a row and at 5-8, their season is lost. Jeff Fisher is a lame duck at this point and Tennessee will try again next year as Vince Young will have a clean slate with a coach who wants to work with him.
(5-8) vs. (3-10)
Cleveland Browns (6) vs. Buffalo Bills (13)
Jake Delhomme was intercepted in this one with under four minutes left in the game at the Buffalo 32 yard line (surprise) and the Bills were able to run out the clock. This loss mathematically eliminates the Bills from contention for what can only be termed a disappointing year. Not is bad that ends bad however as the Browns have found a running back in Peyton Hills and a quarterback in Colt McCoy.
As for the Bills, they remind me a lot of the Detroit Lions. There is more talent here then people give them credit for and they two have found two players in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and wide receiver Steve Johnson.
(11-2) vs. (1-12)
Atlanta Falcons (31) vs. Carolina Panthers (10)
So much for a trap game. The Falcons have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the pack and are the class of the NFC. In our NFL Game Day preview post, NFL Scout Jayson Braddock said, "This is worst than David vs. Goliath, this is Mike Tyson in his prime against Screech from Saved by the Bell." That's pretty much how it turned out.
It will be pretty hard for the Panthers to not end up wit the 1st pick in the draft and Stanford's Andrew Luck (Cam Newton won't be the first) at this point. The question is, will Jim Harbaugh be coming with him or will it be Bill Cower or any number of high profile coaches out there searching for work. Their only risk of not having the first pick is if they played Carson Palmer and the Bengals in one of the last three games, but they don't.
(8-5) vs. (3-10)
Green Bay Packers (3) vs. Detroit Lions (10)
The headline says that the Packers lost Aaron Rogers to a concussion and had to play the second half with backup Matt Flynn, but frankly, they weren't doing any better with Rogers at the helm. The Bears loss to the Patriots still gives them hope, but at 8-5, they are clearly not the "world beaters" they were projected to be.
What kind of year would the Lions have if:
1) Calvin Johnson was correctly awarded a TD in their first game of the year, giving them win.
2) Their coach Jim Schwartz new how to manage the clock (see Jets loss)
3) Matthew Stafford was able play every week.
4) Drew Stanton didn't do the Dougie......
It's not unreasonable to think that this team would be a playoff team. I think we just might see that next year. Gotta get that monkey off their back and win a road game though. They have two more shots this year, in Tampa Bay and in Miami.
(2-11) vs. (10-3)
Cincinnati Bengals (23) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (7)
It's a shame that Carson Palmer sucks so much this year. T.O. and Ochocinco have definitely not been a problem on the team this year and if anything, they've held up their end of the bargain. When your QB consistently throws pick-sixes, it's hard to win.
The Steelers line backing core stuffs the run and rushes the passer like no other group in the league. No substituting on third down here, they just pin their ears back and rush. Say what you want about Big Ben, but the guy is a winer. Period. What he does off the field is his business. He could play for my team any day.
(8-5) vs. (5-8)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (17) vs. Washington Redskins (16)
You probably couldn't name the long snapper on even the team that you root for. You never notice them unless they screw up. Nick Sundberg's slightly high snap cause a missed game tying extra point and the With only 9 seconds left in the game, that snafu effectively meant that the Redskins conceded the game on that play. Ryan Torain had a crazy 158 yards in the 1st half but only ended the game with 172. The fact that the Redskins were only able to score 10 point sin the 1st half while Torain was on a rampage came back to bite them in the end.
The Buccaneers improved to 8-5 and stopped a two-game losing streak. It also was the fifth time this season that quarterback Josh Freeman has won a game with a fourth-quarter comeback. He hit Kellen Winslow for a 41-yard scoring pass with 3:47 to play. Watching the replay, all i could think about was Dan Fouts throwing that same pass to Winslow Sr. frustrating linebackers and secondaries for years. The Bucks have had a nice year, but last weeks loss to the Falcons may prove to be too much to over come.
(6-7) vs. (10-3)
St. Louis Rams (31) vs. New Orleans Saints (13)
Malcolm Jenkins returned one of his two interceptions off Sam Bradford 96 yards. This pick-six was especially costly because it gave the Saints a 21-6 lead when it appeared the Rams were about to pull within one score late in the second quarter. This single play changed the dynamics of the game and the contest really wasn't competitive after that.
The Saints keep their hopes of a division title alive as they play the Falcons in two weeks. pace with the Falcons giving them a shot for the division. The Rams at 6-7 have just as good of a shot to win that division as anyone else as they are tied for the division lead. It looks like if anyone can get to 8-8 in the NFC West, that may be good enough.
(6-7) vs. (5-8)
Seattle Seahawks (21) vs. San Francisco 49ers (40)
Here, read about this one yourself. I refuse to talk about two NFC West teams playing against each other. In short, at 6-7 and 5-8, both teams are very much alive.
(3-10) vs. (4-9)
Denver Broncos (13) vs. Arizona Cardinals (43)
Ok, so the Cardinals don't have a shot to win the NFC West, but the Jets still messed up by not resigning Jay Feely. You gotta love a kicker that acts like a football player and lifts weights and loves to make tackles on kickoffs. Feely had 5 FG's and ran for a TD (only the 4th time in the last 40 years that's been done by a kicker.) Rookie quarterback John Skelton, in his first NFL start, completed 15 of 37 passes for 146 yards with no interceptions and had at least four passes dropped. Hey, that's a better performance than anyone else has given them at the position.
The Broncos committed six turnovers, three of them interceptions by Kyle Orton, in their eighth loss in nine games, an uninspired debut under interim coach Eric Studesville (previous running backs coach.) Hey, I have an idea. Since the season is lost, why don't they let Tim Tebow play? You know, just for kicks! Let's see what the kids got! you know people will watch.
(7-6) vs. (9-4)
Miami Dolphins (10) vs. New York Jets (6)
I remember 1986 like it was yesterday. As an avid Jets fan I watched the Jets start off 10-1 and then after an embarrassing loss to the Dolphins (much like last weeks loss to the Patriots) they proceed to lose their last 5 games backing into the playoffs. At this point, I'd take backing in as the wheels look like they are falling off. You can't blame the defense as they only gave up 131 net yards in the entire game. Think about that, The Jets defense only gave up 131 yards on the day, the special teams didn't give up any big plays and the Jets still lost the game! This team is going no where fast unless Rex Ryan gets directly involved with the offense. He's a head coach now, not a defensive coordinator, and until he realizes that, the Jets won't amount to much.
My game ball goes to Dolphins punter Brandon Fields who punted 10 times for 500 yards! He boomed the crap out of the ball all day routinely flipping the fields and creating negative field position for the Jets. Oh, and this just in. Cameron Wake is good.......
(6-7) vs. (8-5)
Oakland Raiders (31) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (38)
If I were going to tell you that Darren McFadden was going to rush for 123 yards on only 16 carries and score 2 TD's and that Jason Campbell was going to throw for 324 yards with 2 TD's and 0 INT's AND that David Garrard was only going to throw for 159 yards you would think that Jacksonville put up a stinker. But Gararrd's 3 TD's and 234 yards on the ground was enough to have Jacksonville pull this one out.
The Jaguars can thank Garrard, Jennings, Jones-Drew and a huge defensive stand late for getting in position to clinch. There were six scoring plays of at least 30 yards in the game, including three by Oakland running back Darren McFadden.
The Jaguars stayed one game ahead of the Colts and can clinch the division title next week with a victory at Indianapolis and a loss by the Houston Texans. The Raiders lost for the third time in the last four weeks and are quickly fading from postseason contention.
(8-5) vs. (7-6)
Kansas City Chiefs (0) vs. San Diego Chargers (31)
The Chargers outgained the Chiefs 426 yards to 67. Kansas City had only five first downs.. That pretty much says it all. Brodie Croyle is now 0-10 as a starter. Matt Cassell should be back next week. With three games remaining, it will be interesting to see if the Chiefs are able to hold off the Chargers.
(10-2) vs. (9-3)
New England Patriots (36) vs. Chicago Bears (7)
The Patriots are the Mailmen of the NFL. They deliver in any kind of weather. Wow, was that impressive. Tom Brady threw for 369 yards and two touchdowns, and the New England Patriots locked up their eighth playoff berth in 10 years with a 36-7 pounding of the Bears on a snowy, blustery, bone-chilling Sunday. Lost in all the love for Brady and the offense has been the play of the defense which had been getting touched for much of the year. If the Patriots are going to be playing defense too, they are going to be hard to beat. And this was a rebuilding year!
The Bears need to keep their eye on the prize at the end of the tunnel. With Green Bay losing, they are still very much in the drivers seat. The Bears and Packers will face each other in the last game of the year. At the moment, that game is shaping up to possibly be for all the marbles.
(9-4) vs. (4-9)
Philadelphia Eagles (30) vs. Dallas Cowboys (27)
DeSean Jackson had 4 catches for 210 yards (that's sick) and LeSean McCoy had 149 yards rushing including running out the last four minutes of the game and the Eagles were just too much for the Cowboys. The Eagles win makes their showdown vs. the Giants next week one of the great late season games of the year.
It's nice to see the Cowboys not quit. Many people have an issue with Jerry Jones on the sidles late in game but if you saw him cheering on his team after they cut it to three points with about 4 minutes to play, I thought he was sending a great message; one of pride and determination. Their offense held up their side of the bargain last night but I don't think the defense has the talent on it that many claim they have. - Mike Cardano
Mike is the founder of Around the Horn Baseball & Xtra Point Football.
Monday Night Previews
Courtesy of NFL Scout Jayson Braddock
Jayson appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com.
(8-4) vs. (5-7)
Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans
Baltimore has all of the tools to go to the Super Bowl, they just don't play like they believe in them. They seem to play down to their competition and not put teams away. The problem with leaving teams close in games is that you can have a play like what happened against Pittsburgh cost the team a win.
Houston is in desperation mode and knows that if they can win the last 4 games of the season like last year, they'll have a great chance at winning the AFC South. They'll treat this game as their Super Bowl. They always hang around in games and Baltimore allows teams to hang around. Glover Quin and Jason Allen have stepped up in the secondary and this could be all the team needs to turn close losses into close wins. - Upset Alert Texans Win 27-21
(8-4) vs. (5-7)
New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings This game has been moved to Monday Night because of the blizzard in Minnesota. As a result of the Metrodome roof collapse, the game will now be played @ 7:20pm tonight @ Ford Field in Detroit.
The Giants have to keep pace with the Eagles. If they can get their duo of running backs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs going, it'll be hard for the Vikings defense to stop Eli with his receiving weapons coming back.
I don't know if Favre is going pull out another miracle start, the extra time until Monday night will probably help him, but regardless I don't see the Vikings pulling out the win. Minnesota was dominant against the Bills last week but this isn't the Bills front four they are facing. Adrian Peterson will have to stay on the field and be highly productive for the Vikes to have any chance. - Giants Win 27-24
Mike Cardano is the founder of Around the Horn Baseball & Xtra Point Football.
If you would like to ask Dr. Roto a question, call (646) 915-9367 on Friday nights at 10:00pm EST and ask your question live on the that weeks Fantasy Football 411 Podcast.
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