In what turned out to be a third straight convincing win for the Patriots, Tom Brady threw for 361 yards and 3 TDs against the Eagles. Brady has a 8-0 TD-INT ratio over the stretch, and the Patriots own a fairly comfortable two game lead (and 2-0 season record) over the second place Jets. With the Colts on tap this week, look for a fourth straight shellacking as the Patriots inch towards the playoffs. The aforementioned Jets halted a two game skid by beating the floundering Bills on a Santonio Holmes TD in the 59th minute. They earned the win, but the Jets trailed longer than they led at home against a team that was on the wrong side of a combined 79-15 point total against Dallas and Miami the last two weeks. Mark Sanchez found the endzone 4 times, but he managed only 180 yards and was a disappointing 50% passer against the league’s third worst opposing passer completion percentage defense. Good chance their season road record moves to 1-5 this week against the Redskins. The Bills now sit under .500 for the first time this year, and are effectively out of the playoff chase. Stevie Johnson belongs in the NBA where individualism is celebrated and encouraged. His “humor” was certainly a factor in the loss. The Dolphins put forth a valiant Thanksgiving Day effort at Dallas but were unable to win their fourth straight game of the year. In a pretty exciting back and forth contest, Dan Bailey won the game for the Cowboys on a game ending chip shot FG. I like their chances of getting that fourth win this week at home against Oakland.
In possibly the week’s most physical contest, the Ravens won the battle of the Harbaughs, at least temporarily halting the 49ers’ great run. With their toughest remaining regular season game out of the way, the Ravens are in the driver’s seat the rest of the way as long as they don’t lay another egg coming off an emotional win as they’ve done thrice already this year. I’m guessing they show up in Cleveland this week. Pittsburgh survived a scare against the outmanned Chiefs, but in that game, the Steelers’ flaws were on display yet again. If a team has a passable pass rush and can play pretty decent coverage, the Steelers are going to have a hard time putting together scoring drives. Kansas City owned them for most of the night and was a late INT away from giving the Steelers an inexcusable loss. I smell another tough contest this week when they host the Bengals who survived a scare of their own last week against the Browns. Trailing most of the game, the Bengals again got a key big play from AJ Green. The rookie made a highlight worthy 51 yard catch that set up the game winning kick in a game that saw Cleveland, again, fail to close out a potential win. They figure to be playing for draft position the rest of the way with four of their remaining five games coming against the Ravens and Steelers. Enjoy!
Ok, I guess the Texans just aren’t meant to make a serious run. Fresh of the season ending Schaub injury, replacement Matt Leinart suffered a broken collarbone and will also be sidelined for the remainder of the year. Their game against the Jaguars could have ended even uglier if Marcedes Lewis could have hung onto a potential TD pass that I’m fairly confident Mrs. Talbuc could have caught at least 8 out of 10 times. Enter TJ Yates, a rookie from North Carolina. Jake Delhomme was signed to be his backup, so Yates figures to have a decent leash. Expect the run game to remain THE key on offense, but they’ll get quite the test this week as Falcons bring the league’s second ranked run defense to Houston with them. For Jacksonville, Blaine Gabbert continued to look overwhelmed and was eventually replaced by Luke McCown. Jack Del Rio has been fired, the team is being sold, but the GM has been retained and continues to back the rookie. Look for more of the same ineptitude the rest of the way, starting this week against San Diego in what should be quite the Monday Night yawner. As expected, Tennessee got a win against the Bucs, continuing their yo-yo season of alternating wins and losses. Chris Johnson destroyed the Bucs in his biggest game of the year, rushing for 190 yards, although he was unable to reach the endzone for an amazing 9th time this season. Wrapping up the South, it’s another week later, and the Colts still suck.
This one looks like it’s coming down to two teams – Oakland and Denver. Surprising, considering the Chiefs and Chargers finished 1-2 last year. Oakland rode what seemed like 15 Sebastian Janikowski field goals to victory over the Cutler-less Bears. Oakland’s defense held Matt Forte well in check and forced three turnovers from Caleb Hanie. Making another start for the injured Darren McFadden, Bush ran for only 69 yards, but he did find the endzone for the third straight week. While they’ve yet to win by more than 7 since week three, a win is a win. This week’s trip to Miami has the potential to be one of the week’s best games. It only took until there were 4 minutes left in the first half for Tim Tebow to complete his first pass of the game last week. Way to go Timmy! The Broncos have now won 4 straight with Tebow at the helm and have to be taken serious as a potential playoff team. Amazing accomplishment for a team starting the league’s worst passing QB, and that’s saying a lot in a league where Mark Sanchez has a job. The carnival heads to Minnesota this week. San Diego officially sucks having lost their 6th straight game and unfortunately get to occupy my television Monday night. The Chiefs stomached four Tyler Palko turnovers Sunday night and are no doubt trying to accelerate recently acquired Kyle Orton’s readiness for game action. They’re going nowhere with either QB, but Orton should be able to make defenses play a little more honestly on the back end.
The tale of the two team race carries over to the NFC as well where the Cowboys and Giants are the only two teams still playing competitively in the East. I hesitate to use that term with the Giants after witnessing Monday night’s but kicking which saw them fall for the third straight time. They had no answer for Drew Brees, permitting 363 passing yards and 4 TDs in what looked like a practice game for the Saints. They allowed another 205 yards on the ground and aren’t exactly heading into this week’s matchup against the lossless Packers with the best momentum. Dallas, on the other hand, has now won four straight and will look to avoid a road letdown in Arizona before hosting the staggering Giants. Miles Austin is likely to finally return this week, and it will be interesting to see how this impacts Laurent Robinson’s snap count. Robinson’s two scores against Miami gave him 7 TDs in his last 5 games, making him nearly impossible to bench. The Patriots were the most recent team to embarrass the Dream Team in a one sided whopping that saw the style-over-substance DeSean Jackson benched for dropping routine NFL passes and Philly fans chant for Andy Reid’s firing. Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were torched for 361 yards, 3 passing TDs, and didn’t defend a single pass, let alone intercept one. Huzzah! The irrelevant Redskins won out west in a game that saw Roy Helu tally his first 100 yard game as a pro.
The week’s first game saw the undefeated Packers roll into Detroit and roll over the Lions. Green Bay was up 24-0 before Detroit finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. Aaron Rodgers threw only two TDs, but he spread the ball around to 9 different receivers. James Starks reinjured himself early in the game and was limited to only 4 snaps. His status for the Giants game is currently up in the air. In addition to keeping Detroit off the scoreboard for most of the game, they picked Matthew Stafford three times and held Calvin Johnson to a meager 4 catches for 49 yards. From what I’m reading, some folks think this is the week the Packers lose. Not me. New York is in a bad place right now, and this isn’t the spot for Green Bay to slip up. A big reason for Detroit’s lack of success in the Thanksgiving game was losing the resurgent Kevin Smith early in the game with an ankle injury. His status for this week is uncertain, but they need a healthy Smith if they’re going to continue this run. I can’t not mention Ndamukong Suh’s ejection. That was a pretty horseshit move by a guy who is, unfortunately, becoming known more for his dirty than dominating play. I love the guy’s talents but have no tolerance for undisciplined, immature/thuggish acts. Get it together dude. Ok, so there’s an obvious gap from Jay Cutler to Caleb Hanie. Oakland’s offense wasn’t exactly torching the Bears defense, but Chicago couldn’t get anything going on the other side of the ball. As bad as he played, they still only lost by 5 on the road to a division leader. I think the Chiefs defense was a bit of a mirage Sunday night and that they won’t shut Chicago down on the road. The Vikings dropped to 2-9 but kept the game a lot closer than it should have been for not having Adrian Peterson. Christian Ponder found Percy Harvin for a beautiful deep TD on 4th and 13 to cut the deficit to 3 early in the 4th. Can the game’s best 2-9 football team beat Tebow’s Broncos?
Now that was a lopsided performance. Drew Brees and the Saints did pretty much whatever they wanted against the Giants, throwing for 363 yards and 4 TDs. Talk about a season to remember. Brees is up to 3,689 yards and has a 27-11 TD-INT ratio through 12 games. If Rodgers doesn’t win the MVP, I think it will be Brees. Jimmy Graham was his usual mismatch self, turning 2 of his 5 receptions into TDs. They spread it around in the backfield again, as Ingram, Thomas, and Sproles each rushed for over 54 yards as part of an impressive 205 total on the ground for the game. As with Green Bay, I don’t see this week as a letdown spot for the Saints. I think the Suh-less Lions will fall to the Saints. The Falcons are only a game behind the Saints in the standings, but it seems like there’s a mile-wide gap between the two when it comes to play on the field. Atlanta seems slower this year, unable to put anyone but Indy away. They don’t matchup well with teams who don’t have to run the ball to be successful, so lucky for them that Houston’s working with their 3rd QB this week. Atlanta needs to win a game like this if they want to be a serious contender in the playoffs. This is becoming quite the theme – another week, another Bucs loss. This time, they stumbled and fumbled their way to a defeat that saw them go the entire second half without an offensive score. The four fumble affair was fittingly finished when Freeman bumbled the snap on a 4th and 1 deep in Titans territory. Can they snap the streak against Carolina? Hell, I’d hope so. Carolina got their 3rd win last week against the Colts, but that one was a contest throughout. As a Bucs fan, I don’t like how they match up with Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, and Steve Smith. Could be another long, disappointing afternoon.
For the first time in over two months, the 49ers increased the number in their loss column. In a game that played as well as it was advertised, San Francisco was, unsurprisingly, unable to keep up with Baltimore offensively. Alex Smith was held to under 150 yards, and the Niners, a true ground and pound team, managed just 74 total rushing yards. They held Ray Rice in check, which usually results in a win, but they were unable to turn Joe Flacco over at all and couldn’t flip the field on the Ravens. They’ll look to take out their frustrations on the Rams this week, a team who fell to a miserable 2-9 on the season. They put up a fight against the Cardinals, coming back from three unanswered third quarter scores to tie it up late. But yet again, they were unable to close the deal. Barring a huge letdown by Harbaugh’s Niners, this one’s going to get ugly Sunday. Arizona has won three of four, but they’re still a nonthreatening 4-7 on the year. John Skelton isn’t Kurt Warner, but three of their four wins have come with him under center. Patrick Peterson did it again, returning another long punt for a highlight worthy TD. If Von Miller isn’t the defensive ROY, Peterson will be. Seattle had a letdown against the Redskins, losing a 10 point fourth quarter lead to a middling Redskins team. Also lost in that contest was Sidney Rice for the season with an obviously serious concussion. Marshawn Lynch rushed for over 100 yards for the third time in four games, and doing so behind a beat up offensive line. Well done. Will they be the latest disgrace to Philly’s season? I say chances are damn good.
Best and Worst
Best Teams (Previous Rank)
1 – Green Bay (1)
Detroit didn’t even make them blink.
2 – New Orleans (2)
Destroying the Giants secured this spot for them.
3 – Baltimore (3)
A slightly more consistent offense is needed to get to #2 on this list.
Feeling pretty good about my top three; a trifecta I’ve had together all year. This next threesome could be sorted any possible way.
4 – San Francisco (5)
Despite the loss, they’re clearly a tough tough team.
5 – New England (6)
I’m still not a believer in that defense, but Brady is in one of his typical zones at the moment.
6 – Pittsburgh (4)
An offensive offensive line is causing this offense to stay stuck in neutral.
7 – Dallas (8)
You didn’t lose a possible letdown game against the Dolphins, now lather rinse repeat at Arizona.
8 – Oakland (NR)
I’ve got to get the Raiders on this list. Palmer is flinging it better than expected, and they’re winning without their best offensive player.
OUT – Detroit (7)
Worst Teams (Previous Rank)
1 – Indianapolis (1)
If you look up “suck” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of a hooker wearing a Colts jersey.
2 – St. Louis (2)
No excuses – bad team.
3 – Jacksonville (3)
New owner. New coach. Same shitty offense. Blaine Gabbert’s lack of cajones is the biggest story on that team in my opinion.
4 – Cleveland (4)
A near upset is still a loss.
5 – Carolina (5)
Might Tampa Bay be the cure for Cam’s ails?
6 – Minnesota (8)
A team that can run the ball and stop the run as well as they do has no business owning a 2-9 record.
7 – Kansas City (6)
Bah humbug, I’m calling that a fluke.
8 – San Diego (NR)
Your suckage finally bought you a well deserved spot on the shit list.
OUT – Washington (7)
This Week’s Predictions
Strongest wins (by more than 14)
Saints v. Lions
49ers v. Rams
Patriots v. Colts
Double digit dominance (at least 10)
Packers @ Giants
Just win baby
Bills v. Titans
Bears v. Chiefs
Jets @ Redskins
Falcons @ Texans
Vikings v. Broncos
Cowboys @ Cardinals
Upsetville – Getting Crowded
Seahawks v. Eagles
Raiders @ Dolphins
Bengals @ Steelers
Panthers @ Bucs
Jaguars v. Chargers