by Ryan Meehan and Coach Ryan
Week fifteen is now in the books, and the playoff situation is just as messy as it was seven days ago. The AFC is looking a little clearer, but the NFC is going to see one team that had a very good year walk home with their tails between their legs. Which is a really offensive thing for me to say, I know. By typing that, I have insinuated that all professional football players have tails. And that’s just wrong, because you know it’s only really like 75% of them, which is also an offensive thing to say. Are you not offended? Because if you aren’t, then I’m offended by the fact that you aren’t offended. Maybe we should all become monks. Enough of that, let’s see what transpired in week fifteen in the NFL.
Chargers 27, Broncos 20
You know what I learned here? I learned that you can’t trust anybody in the AFC at all. I learned that this had nothing to do with that “Any Given Sunday” crap, or Peyton Manning’s failure to perform in cold weather, or even these bizarre yet for some reason previously unmentioned statistics regarding Philip Rivers’ unspeakably good record in December and January with zero rings to show for it. This is all about the fact that the NFL moves in waves, and the AFC is at the bottom of the ocean right now. When we were young, it was the NFC which dominated. Joe Montana had everyone else’s balls in vice grip and made Jim Kelly, John Elway, and everybody else in the American Football Conference his bitch and there was no way around it. Then Elway had his way twice, and then of course Tom Brady came along and led a series of AFC powerhouses to numerous Super Bowl Championships.
But that’s all over now – The NFC is clearly dominant. How else could you explain the New York Giants winning two recent Super Bowls and the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints winning one? The turning point to me was Super Bowl Forty-One, ironically won by the same guy who lost Thursday evening. After the NFC shit out two of the worst Super Bowl teams ever (The XL Seahawks and the XLI Bears) they started getting down to business and aside from one good Steelers drive and Baltimore having one good half last year, they have been in complete control ever since. And this game was nothing more than a perfect example of that – Rivers and his great winter record completed twelve passes in this one, making for yet another confusing Thursday night matchup. If this isn’t proof that these Thursday night games need to stop, I don’t know what is. Thankfully, this was the last one of the season.
Falcons 27, Redskins 26
In a game with thunderous playoff implications (If you’re from India or Bangladesh and it takes you about twelve months to get your newspaper) I couldn’t help but notice one key stat from this one: The Falcons are so awful this year that they only won a game by one point in which the other team turned the ball over seven times. If you’re counting, that’s a half of an interception for every time you thought that stat was pathetic. But you probably aren’t counting, and I don’t blame you. It’s kind of amusing how quickly the sports media will turn on you these days. A couple of months back ESPN was riding the same Robert Gravy Train the Third horse that we’d seen an unspeakable amount of saddle attention to, but then at some point when it became obvious that there was no way the Redskins could ever become a playoff team they decided to flip the switch and pick apart everything that was wrong behind the scenes with the exception of Daniel Snyder. It’s a confusing mess and thank God they aren’t anywhere near the playoff race, because that would be an outright nightmare.
49ers 33, Buccaneers 14
Seahawks 23, Giants 0
Yours truly predicted a murder, and said individual was spot on with his pick. I even think that I included a picture of a…yep, I did. But for good measure, I’ve included the picture above just so I can make you aware one last time. That’s providing there isn’t a last time, and the Giants will score later on in the season. I’m not sure that either of those things are going to happen, as the Giants have now been shut out twice this season. Granted they’ve both been playoff caliber teams (other one was Carolina Week three) but when you can’t put a single point on the board, it says a few things about your squad. It says that you have given up on your coach, and you aren’t necessarily sure that he’s got a better chance of being there next year than you do. It says that with all of these read option guys enjoying huge success, a dude like Eli Manning could very easily not make the playoffs the rest of his career. But most importantly, it says that for sixty minutes you appeared soulless on national television. You announced to the world that even in defeat, you didn’t give a crap about your pride, and that’s what you can expect to see from the Giants unless some serious changes are made. It might be time for the Giants to seriously take a step back from Kevin Gilbride as OC or at very least demote him to quarterbacks coach, which is where he started with the franchise.
As for the Seahawks, well…everybody was right about them. They totally can’t play on the road at all, and certainly can’t hang on the East Coast or in the one stadium where they will need to win a road game from here on out. If you are going to question use of sarcasm as my weapon of choice here, David Spade would likely respond “Well, I certainly hope so, because I’m laying it on pretty thick…”. Richard Shermann made some kind of a mental note of what that visitor’s locker room looks like, and he’s going to do everything that he can to make sure he’s comfortable there when the NFC returns as the visitors in February.
Rams 27, Saints 16
Memo to Saints fans: Shit just got real. This is what the top forty will sound like when the bomb goes off. They are still nails at times and have a great passing game when activated, but it’s those times in between where they are struggling to look like they could look. New Orleans is having some of the same defensive issues that they did when they were 0-4 last season, and their backfield is looking like the same garbage fire as we’ve always known it to be. They want you to think that they are the team who crushed Carolina, but in reality they are probably more like the team who got dismissed by Seattle (which was supposed to be such a great matchup) or the team that lost this game. In other news – congrats to the Rams, who are looking really good despite the fact nobody’s mentioning that they are starting Kellen Clemens because their franchise guy is hurt. Although they have made great strides this year and beaten two playoff teams at home, both of those playoff teams are going to get totally butthoused in the first round and the main problem that the Rams have is every one of those NFC West teams is going to be in the NFC West next year. They are surrounded by heavy artillery, and that’s how they will meet their fate…And it’s rough because Bradford might be okay, but the NFL doesn’t have the patience to expect a lot out of them. They looked like a dominant home team that didn’t care less what their record was even though they were mathematically eliminated before the day started. In fact, they looked an awful lot like they did when they played the Colts…
Colts 25, Texans 3
There are no exciting statistics from this game. There’s nothing that really stands out that we can say is going to have an effect on how Indy will play in the postseason, we literally did not learn anything from this matchup. In a somewhat related story, I am looking into compiling an article about the declining condition of the Houston Astrodome.
Bears 38, Browns 31
I’ll be the first to admit that I thought the decision to start Jay Cutler on Sunday was a bad one and could give the Browns the edge. Although you can still debate whether or not Cutler should be the Bears’ starter going forward in the end the result still ended up being a Bears win. In a game that was dominated by turnovers and defensive touchdowns it was Cutler who was able to bring his team back from being down 7 in the second half to take care of the Browns 38-31. If you’re Cleveland you unfortunately are used to your team finding new ways to give up leads and lose games but with an offense that was as stale and boring as it was in this match up you can hardly expect to win. Outside of a late touchdown the Bears were able to completely shut down Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron with a defense that finally looked like Bears defenses of old. The Browns are a young team who still doesn’t know how to close out games and is lacking the winning attitude that is so crucial in the NFL. For Chicago they’ll go into next week sitting at 8-6 with their last two games at Philly and home against the Packers having huge playoff implications.
Cardinals 37, Titans 34
The Tennessee Titans went on a 17-0 run to tie this game up, and it was a valiant effort. still, I can’t get over the fact that the Cardinals are 9-5 and when it’s all said and done it probably isn’t going to matter. It’s almost sad. It almost makes you wonder if there is anyway that we could just rent the 6 seed in the AFC and give it to Arizona just this once. But rules are rules, and just like Tennessee was still a playoff contender a couple of weeks ago the Cardinals are going to have to hope for a miracle to make the postseason even though they could very well finish with ten wins. I’d like to recall my statement from a couple weeks back about Rashard Mendenhall and how he wasn’t worth the paper he was printed on, he had two TDs here and I have to eat my words. At least my words don’t taste like the nachos at the following event…
Bills 27, Jaguars 20
I’m disappointed in this game. Out of all the teams that aren’t necessary to follow because they are out of it, I like Jacksonville the most. I’ve made so many jokes at their expense, but after they lost their star wideout everybody on that team could have threw up the white flag and they didn’t do that. To see them lose to the Bills (who I have to bring up are indeed first in the league in sacks) does break my heart a bit. I wanted to see JAX win out just because it would throw people for a loop, and because it would expose a few dumb self-described “fans” as amateurs. Instead, we were left with this and I can only hope that they will beat the Titans next week at home. But enough pouting about this, neither of these teams are going anywhere soon so let’s move on…
Chiefs 56, Raiders 31
If the Alex Smith Experience has scored five touchdowns on you by halftime, you know you’re in bad shape. In Oakland’s defense, at least they’re used to it and they won’t miss being successful. I have to try to look at the bright side here for the Raiders, but there really isn’t one. For Kansas City, this is great news because New England lost. This may buy them a week off – But at the same time, if any team doesn’t want a week off it’s the Chiefs (we saw what happened when they did get one) and for some reason I still can’t trust them. There a lot of teams that can go yard eight times on the Raiders, so it doesn’t really trip my trigger. I just can’t stomach how much better shape they would be in if they hadn’t blown the San Diego game, regardless of the fact that they clinched a playoff berth with this one. And in week seventeen they will head out to SoCal to close out the regular season in a game that probably won’t affect their playoff seeding, but could definitely affect their momentum if they get ran out of that building. Even if their first team doesn’t play a single series…
Panthers 30, Jets 20
The Panthers had to struggle to make this one work, but they did and now they find themselves 10-4 and running shit like a boss. If they can pull off the win next week against the Saints in North Carolina, they are the NFC South Champions. They’d also have the chance to finish with a .750 winning percentage, a feat they’d likely accomplish since their last game of the year is also at home – at Tampa. It would also guarantee them a home playoff game, which is almost unheard of when you consider what was (or what wasn’t) expected out of this squad when the year began. This was the Saints’ division to lose, and just like that they may have ended up losing it to St. Freaking Louis. Carolina probably should have won this game by a lot more, but they got the W and that’s all that counts. The Jets on the other hand are probably never going to learn their lesson when it comes to anything. Actually I take that back – They will learn their lesson, it will just be seasons later. When it comes to retaining information learned in hindsight, the New York Jets probably have the same newspaper carrier I mentioned in the Falcons/Redskins portion of the wrap-up.
Dolphins 24, Patriots 20
This one is not all that surprising to me. We knew that the Patriots were going to have problems on the road playing a team that is not only fighting for their playoff lives, but was also depending on the Detroit Lions to help them out on a Monday night. Tom Brady completed 34 passes, but he needed to throw 55 to do it and his QBR was almost 35 points beneath what Tannehill’s was. But let’s be honest, New England doesn’t care about regular season games at this point. They’d like to have home field advantage but they can get to the Super Bowl without it. All they have to do is rely on a little more beef in the running game and Peyton Manning to bite it on cue like he’s done annually (with the exception of one season) and they don’t need to play in Massachusetts to play in New York. In fact, it might end up being a great warm-up for them. Or a cold-up. You get my point…
Vikings 48, Eagles 30
Packers 37, Cowboys 36
Oh, boy. We’re going to hear a lot about this in the next few days. The really hard part about all of this isn’t the fact that the Packers were starting Matt Flynn whom they already ditched once. It isn’t about how the Cowboys defensive starters are basically crotchless unitard wearing hitchhikers. And it isn’t even about how they had six scoring possessions in the first half and yet somehow still blew the game. This is all really about how the Cowboys knew that Philly had lost to Minnesota already and still didn’t have the urgency to make it happen. Up 26-3 at home when you head into the locker room and this is how you finish? Flynn is a decent QB, but 4 TDs in one half? Is anybody out there paying attention? Just so we’re clear, the O’s are the offensive players and the X’s are supposed to be you guys. Tackling is also encouraged, but apparently not all that necessary. Jason Garrett has about the same chance as keeping his job (even if they do make the playoffs) as I do becoming the world’s greatest snowboarding instructor. As for Green Bay, the real star here was Andrew Quarless. Even though anybody could have looked like he did on Sunday, he’s really stepped up as of late. It might just be due to lack of other real options, but whatever it is he’s for real. Cowboys/Eagles week seventeen four seed battle is still right on schedule. Wake me halfway through the fourth quarter. (I’m kidding, let me sleep)
Steelers 30, Bengals 20
Ravens 18, Lions 16
Baltimore faced a must-win situation here with the Dolphins taking out New England, and the Lions found themselves in the same bag. So something had to give, and it was the Lions which shouldn’t really surprise anybody. All that said, this was a bogus win for the Ravens and Miami must be hexa-pissed. I think a sixty minute stretch where Joe Flacco doesn’t score anything isn’t far-fetched, yet it still seems disappointing. What the hell was this game supposed to be anyway? Did anybody really think this was a fit ending to a week when they put this schedule together? I wish that I could use some cliché about how “both of these teams are actually a lot alike” but I can’t because they are not – they create separate vortexes (vortexi?) by with to drown themselves with bad outcomes.
Jim Schwarz is in the “Death Laser” Level 2 range. That means that when the first initial swipe comes through and the obvious ones go (Like Kubiak has already, and like Shanahan will do with or without his son here in a couple of weeks) then we look at the teams who either made it and brought nothing to the table or just barely missed it. This is your Jason Garrett and Jim Schwartz bundle of buttholes. These are the guys that had so much supposedly manageable talent and in the end couldn’t do jack anything with it. It’s almost worse to be in the second level because you pretty much know you’re not going to work again. Let’s just put it this way: You’d rather be Marty Schottenheimer than Art Shell. See where I’m going with this?
Bonus Comment of the Week
Jay Cutler won outside and Nick Foles lost in a climate controlled dome environment. So I guess the moral of the story here is don’t take anything I say too seriously.
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