What the hell was that? Week 15 in the NFL has just about come and gone and if anything, the NFL Playoff Picture became more convoluted than it was entering the week! How did that happen? Taking a look at the NFL Tie-Breaking Procedures doesn’t really help because there are so many teams still mathematically alive. The number of combinations and permutations of playoff possibilities is just too long to list. With just two weeks to go, by my count 21 of the 32 NFL teams are still in the playoff hunt.
The AFC West in particular is a complete mess with the possibility of everyone finishing at 8-8. Talk about parody. Whoa. I know this is what the NFL wanted but geeze. Looking at the standings in this division is like looking at an Escher painting. The Chiefs play both Oakland and Denver to finish out the year and I think if I do the math correctly, if the whole division ties, the Chiefs win! (Someone please double check me on that….)
- The two games on Thursday and Saturday were clunkers, but the Atlanta Falcons crushed the Jacksonville Jaguars (41-14) and the Dallas Cowboys trounced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31-15). Both Atlanta and Dallas control their own destiny.
- With the snowflakes falling, Reggie Bush had a career-best 203 yards rushing in a (30-23) Miami Dolphins win over the Buffalo Bills that made interim head coach Todd Bowles’ debut a success. Nice story I guess but neither of these two teams are playoff bound. That Ryan Fitzpatrick contract extension looks like a whiteout in Buffalo at this point. I can’t recall see a team create such a self imposed urgency to sign someone to a multi-million dollar contract that no one else wanted?
- The Chicago Bears just can’t win a game without QB Jay Cutler and RB Matt Forte. If anyone in the Bears front office doubted how much Forte deserved to be paid before, it’s pretty clear now that they’ve had to play without him. The Bears without Cutler and Forte look much like the Colts playing without Peyton Manning. As for the Seattle Seahawks, they kept their playoff dreams alive with a (38-14) win and are now a top a four team logjam at 7-7 on the outside of the NFC playoff picture looking in.
- The Carolina Panthers parlayed a 21-0 first half lead into a (28-13) win over the AFC South Champion Houston Texans. It’s hard to see the Texans doing any real damage in the playoffs with a third string rookie quarterback. It’s a shame because with Matt Schaub and Mario Williams, they probably had a shot to do something special.
The Tennessee Titans suffered a (27-13) crushing defeat to the Indianapolis Colts in their quest for a playoff berth. Peyton Manning Dan Orlovsky threw for 82-yards, one touchdown pass and a key block on an 80-yard TD run, leading the Indianapolis to their first win of the season. It will be interesting to see what happens the last two weeks as Indy plays the Texans and Jaguars and the Rams who have just two wins play the Steelers and 49ers. Just looking at the schedules, it’s not so farfetched where it ends up that the Colts actually don’t end up with worst record. If someone cold explain to me why after 14 weeks the Colts decided to win in Week 15 I would appreciate it? What was the point? Are they crazy? Maybe Bill Polian likes Matt Barkley more than Andrew Luck? I would suggest that Luck wait two more weeks before buying any real estate in Indy because the Colts don’t even know how to lose correctly!
- In losing (19-14) to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Green Bay Packers lost their chance at a perfect season, but they may have lost more than that too. Green Bay offensive lineman are dropping like flies and if they are going to defend their title, they will need to get healthy. Interim Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel made a change at quarterback playing Kyle Orton and it paid off for both him and the team. If the Kansas City finishes with a flurry, both Crennel and Orton my find themselves with permanent jobs next year.
- The New Orleans Saints might very well be the best team in football at the moment as they are firing on all cylinders. After their dominating (42-20) victory over the Minnesota Vikings, Drew Brees is now just 304 yards from breaking Dan Marino’s single-season record with two games still to play. To me the diminutive Darren Sproles is the key. Brees spreads the ball around to so many people that the defense has no idea where to look. Enter Sproles who is hard to find behind the offensive line to begin with, and they use him in the running game and out of the backfield on passes masterfully. If New Orleans can keep Sproles healthy for the playoffs, between his third down prowess and effectiveness in the kick return game, he puts them over the top as my number one team, ahead of the Packers. Adrian Peterson returned to the lineup for Minnesota but without much fanfare. AP averaged 6-yards per carry with 10 for 60 but 39 of those yards came on one play.
- The New York Giants gave up their strong hold on the NFC East and didn’t look very much like playoff team in losing to the Washington Redskins (23-10). After the game Giants safety Antrel Rolle called out his teammates labeling some of them as “soft” for not practicing during the week because of injuries. Justin Tuck took exception to Rolle’s accusation and the NY airwaves will certainly be on fire this week over the topic. If you’re a Redskins fan, your team beat a dreaded rival, but there isn’t much to look forward to in Washington that I can see.
The Cincinnati Bengals kept themselves in the playoff hunt with a win over the hapless St. Louis Rams (20-13). Rookie A.J. Green had six catches and topped 1,000 yards for the season but besides that the Bengals weren’t really anything to write home about. The Rams started former New York Jets QB Kellen Clemens, who wasn’t even in the league this time last month. He was signed by Houston when Matt Schaub went down, spent one week there and was released. St. Louis picked him up and he was thrust into the starting lineup because of injuries. How does a guy go from not being able to make an NFL roster to two teams wanting him and becoming an NFL starter in one month? Although the Rams only converted 2 of 13 third downs, it wasn’t all Clemens fault and he actually may have worked himself back into the league having a decent day going 25 for 36 for 229-yards, 1 TD and 0 INTs.
- The Detroit Lions rallied from 13-points down late in the 4th quarter to beat the Oakland Raiders (28-27) as the dynamic duo of Matthew Stafford and Charles Johnson played pitch-and-catch on a 98-yard scoring drive culminating with a dramatic 6-yard TD hook up. At 9-5, the Lions now have a two game lead in the Wild Card race with two games left to play and the Raiders at 7-7 are left in a dog fight in the AFC West. I’m not sure what the Raiders defensive plan was late in the game, it was hard to tell what type of coverage they were playing. I thought I heard the field microphone pick up someone in the defensive huddle call out, “Cover-2 but don’t cover Calvin Johnson.” DOH!
- The Arizona Cardinals won their third overtime game in their last seven games (20-17) as a Patrick Peterson 32-yard punt return, a John Skelton to Larry Fitzgerald 32-yard pass and a Jay Feely 22-yard field goal was enough to do the trick against the (4-10) Colt McCoy concussed, Seneca Wallace lead Cleveland Browns. God I miss Brian Sipe and the Cardiac Kids.
The New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos game was billed as a matchup between Tim Tebow and Tom Brady. Tebow ran for 93-yards with 2 TD’s and was 11 for 22 for 194-yards without turning the ball over. Brady and the Patriots offensive machine however were just too much, winning this one (41-23). It remains to be seen if the Patriots who have won another AFC East title can win in the playoffs by simply outscoring teams. Everything I know about football tells me that they won’t be able to do that, but they sure look good when Brady has the ball in his hands.
- LeSean McCoy gets the headlines in Philadelphia’s (45-19) blowout win over the Jets as he ran for three TD’s and set two Philadelphia Eagles team records. The story here though, besides Marv Albert’s Brain Fart, is that the New York Jets killed themselves with a plethora of turnovers never really giving themselves a chance. The Jets did close the gap to 28-13 by half time after a few Philadelphia gifts in return and started about midfield in the 3rd quarter after a quality opening kickoff return, but they just couldn’t stand the prosperity. At 6-8 believe it or not the Eagles still have a chance to repeat as division champions. As for the Jets, they actually still control their own destiny and can guarantee themselves a playoff spot with wins over their roommates, the Giants on Christmas Eve followed by the Dolphins the last week of the season.
- The San Diego Chargers absolutely raped the Baltimore Ravens. The (34-14) margin of victory isn’t even indicative of how lopsided this game was. The Chargers sacked Joe Flacco six times and Flacco could actually be seen looking at the pass rush over his shoulder and running away at times as if he was in a jail cell and some “friends” were chasing him.
This entire week of football was like a strange dream. The Colts won (why did they do that again?) I read that the Packers were unbeatable and they lost. Neither the Giants nor the Jets who had so much to play for and have to square off next week in possibly a loser go home game played with any heart. And finally, I listened to Rodney Harrison (now there’s a genius) on the NBC pregame show say that the Ravens would be the number one seed in the AFC, and then they got their butts kicked!
I guess why that’s why they say “Any Given Sunday.”
The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at TheXLog.com. You may email Mike @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.