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 12 in the NFL was no ordinary NFL Week. There were Thanksgiving Day games that only happen once each year and that makes it different but more importantly this week's games told us a lot about what teams were ready to stand up and represent themselves in a meaningful way, what teams have been frauds, what teams are likely to fade down the stretch, and what teams have already packed it in.
You will notice to the right of each team name there is a number in parenthesis. That number represents that teams previous weeks rank based on the Xtra Point Football NFL Net Points Power Rankings. If you click on any of the numbers it will take you to last week's Power Rankings. Check back tomorrow to see this week's Power Rankings after the San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals game this evening which completes Week 12.
The Thanksgiving Day Thursday games seem like a long time ago now, but they were Week 12 games. To refresh, The Lions hung tough for 3 quarters and then collapsed as the Patriots simply had no give-up. Over the years, the Pats have shown that they don't take any opponents lightly and rarely lose games when they are supposed to win.
The Cowboys showed that the past two weeks was not a fluke however that Saints showed that they are not about to give up their title as Worlds Champions just yet and proved that a healthy New Orleans team is going to be a tough out.
The Jets won again confounding people around the league and as they seem to impressively keep finding ways to win while impressively playing the majority of the game. My personal opinion is that they are one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL right now and more likely than not to have a great playoff run as they have not really had any impressive performances yet and I think that those are still to come. Either that or their luck will run out and they will start to lose some of these games. The Jets finish the year with one of the toughest schedules in the league having to play the Patriots (9-2), Dolphins (6-5), Steelers (8-3), Bears (8-3) and much improved (2-9) Bills so wit won't take long to find out Rex Ryan and his bunch has been a fraud.
Cincinnati needs to clean house and start over.
On to Sunday's games.
(8-3) vs. (2-9)
There are a lot of woulda, coulda, shoulda's in sports but with 10:30 left in overtime, when Stevie Johnson got behind the Steelers' secondary, and had a 40-yard pass hit him right in the chest on the run while he was 2 yards into the end zone, who didn't think the game was over. The Bills had their third straight win slip right through Johnson's hands. The Bills are 2-9, but don't tell that to the Dolphins, Jets and Patriots who all still have to play them. At this point in the season, the Bills are clearly playing like one of the better teams in the NFL and not one of the worst as their record would indicate.
As for the Steelers, if Rashard Mendenhall is going to run for 151 yards, they will be pretty tough to beat.
(2-9) vs. (4-7)
After rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen drove the Panthers to Cleveland's 25, completing a beautiful sideline pass to Brandon LaFell with five seconds left, Jake Delhomme had to figure that the team that discarded him was going to beat him too. And then it happened, DOINK, the ball hit the left upright on the game winning field goal attempt. Delhomme had seen John Kasay make that game winning kick 13 previous times. Kasay is one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history and he just doesn't miss those. That's what happens when you only have one win.
The Browns got away with one, but they were probably due as they've snatched defeat from the hands of victory a few times themselves this year.
(5-6) vs. (5-6)
The Texans stopped a four-game losing streak and Arian Foster had a great game but the Texans didn't prove anything to anyone shutting out Rusty Smith and the Titans. Smith was rusty (no pun intended) and even the Texans secondary was able to create three turnovers.
Jeff Fisher has one foot out the door, Vince Young is gone for the season and the Titans are in a tail spin. Kerry Collins had better get healthy quick or the Titans season will go down the tubes in a hurry.
(6-5) vs. (7-4)
With 3:15 to play Eli Manning threw a 32-yard pass to Kevin Boss fiving the Giants the lead and then the best pass rushing front four in football took over and sealed the game with three straight sacks. Nice comeback for the Giants who were outplayed badly in the 1st half.
The Jaguars almost pulled on out of the fire again, but when you play so many close games, a few are bound to go against you.
(4-7) vs. (5-6)
Brett Favre scrambled for a first down on a third-and-8 play right before the two-minute warning sealing the deal for the Vikings yesterday. Now, if he's only done the same thing against the Saints in last year's NFC Championship game, they would have earned a trip to the Super Bowl. Unless there are some monumental collapses in the NFC, even if the Vikings run the table their season is done.
The Redskins just don't have the horses this year and to be frank, at 5-6 have had a pretty good showing to date.
(6-5) vs. (5-6)
Just three weeks ago the Raiders were the talk of the NFL as they seemed relevant again, but after their bye week they've looked like the Jamarcus Russell Raiders.
Kudos to Tony Sparano, Chad Henne and the Miami Dolphins who everyone has already written off for not giving up on the season.
(7-4) vs. (5-6)
Seattle has now lost four of their last five games and is in jeopardy of not winning the awful NFC West. The loser of the 49ers vs. Cardinals is out and the best of the rest will duke it out.
The Chiefs looks like they've righted the ship but they have the Chargers in the rear view mirror coming hard. It's more likely than not that only the division winner makes it to the playoffs in the AFC West meaning they may be only able to lose one more game the rest of the way.
(5-6) vs. (3-8)
Kyle Orton continues to provide epic passing numbers in Broncos losses. A losing record combined with trading Peyton Hillis and Jay Cutler away for a box of donuts and now Spygate II will likely be the demise of Josh McDaniels and the Broncos will probably look a lot different next year.
Sam Bradford had his first 300 yard passing game and the kid is well on his way to an All-Pro career. Congrats to the St. Louis Rams on clearly making the correct draft choice. There's a lot to look forward to in St. Loius and it's not out of the question that they can win their division this year. As a matter of fact, at this point they are probably the favorites.
(7-4) vs. (8-3)
I've said all year that the Bucs were winning games against the lesser teams in the league. They were able to hang in there but in the NFL, unless you win the game, no cigar.
It's a little troubling that the Ravens offense is struggling so much. Coming into the season, the addition of Aquan Boldin and a few other new faces combined with the maturity of Ray Rice and Joe Flacco had them as one of the AFC Super Bowl favorites. Perhaps they still are, but they haven't convinced me (yet).
(7-4) vs. (8-3)
Not so fast. Michael Vick for MVP, Eagles are the best team in the NFC. What happened to all that? I have to be honest, I think the Eagles have a better team than the Bears, but I feel like I say the team the Bears just beat was better every week as Chicago has become the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL.
The turf didn't help the Eagles in this one as they are put together for a fast track. That said, the Bears played well enough to win and are probably pretty happy being 8-3 and getting no respect.
(6-5) vs. (6-5)
The Chargers seem to have Peyton Manning's number these days. If you were thinking like I do that the defense seems to know some of Manning's audibles, you may be correct as Chris Collinsworth seemed to suggest the same on last nights telecast. The Chargers are making their move as it appears that they will only get healthier from here. One can certainly make an argument that unless they have more special teams breakdowns, that they will run the table and finish 11-5.
I wouldn't get too down on the Colts. There is no reason that they still can't win their division and reports are that they will get as many a six of their injured players back by week 14-15. Manning is going to have to make some changes to his signal calling however if he ever plans on getting past the Chargers in the AFC.
(7-4) vs. (9-2)
Great game with two of the premiere NFC teams squaring off. Matty Ice is now an unbelievable 19-1 at home. If they keep winning it looks like they will get all their playoff games at home, so that bodes well for the Falcons going forward.
Green Bay fell a game behind the Bears with this loss and the Bears have already beaten them once. Everyone assumed that the Packers would win this division but a Wild Card fall back slot is no guarantee as the (Eagles or Giants), (Falcons or Saints), and Buccaneers will all be fighting for the spots.
Monday Night Football Preview
(3-7) vs. (3-7)
Why can't they use flex scheduling for Monday Night Football? If they could, this one definitely would have been changed. These two teams are bad, but the sad part of it is that both of them are alive and well in the NFC West divisional hunt.
San Francisco has a ton more talent than Arizona, but they have played down to their opponents, almost all year. This game begins and ends with how well Troy Smith plays. All he has to do is manage the game and make a few throws for the 49ers to pull out the win. - Mike Cardano
Mike Cardano is the founder of Around the Horn Baseball & Xtra Point Football.
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