by Ryan Meehan
Week thirteen is usually around the time where my least favorite sports cliché gets overused to the point where it makes me want to pull my hair out and throw back an entire bottle of Windex. The phrase “If the playoffs started today” seems to bother me more than any other tired sentence fragment we’ve all heard a million times. I have to admit – I do use this phrase from time to time, and you’ll read it in the piece below. But what gets me about it is whenever people use it – the playoffs don’t start that day. The playoffs start when the regular season is over, and until that cow gives milk it’s all speculation. Like I said I’m guilty of it as much as everyone else is, but with four weeks left in the season there’s a lot that can happen. That stated, we are starting to see the playoff picture get a little clearer with every passing day. Let’s take a look around the league and see what happened in week thirteen of the 2014 NFL season.
Lions 34, Bears 17
Thanksgiving Day football kicked off with Matthew Stafford throwing for 390 yards against one of the worst secondaries in the league, and he very well might still be hitting receivers if they hadn’t called the game. I’m aware that the Lions are having some problems running the football. Thankfully for them, they are now ranked 1st against the rush, so that helps them balance out the pace of the games they play in. Cutler didn’t look that bad when he was on, but still threw his trademark two interceptions. As my buddy Paul Lange would say “Same old Jay”. It’s becoming a trend, and if you’re a Bears fan and you are pissed at the way he’s playing think of how the rest of us who own no emotional stake in the games they play in feel every time we have to sit through him stumbling across the field before throwing another pick. Chicago is one of those teams where they have so many needs on their draft wishlist they should probably go old school and just pick the best player available. If they pick by position, it could take a decade or more to build that franchise, and if they do that the guys who they would need to hang onto (such as Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall) will have long retired. The Lions have to buy into the old mantra of “one game at a time”, but I just can’t see them overlooking that week 17 game against the Packers. That one’s for all the marbles, and to make matters worse it’s in Wisconsin. Detroit would cruise if they were in half the divisions in football, but because of where they are at in the North division it’s not going to be so easy.
Eagles 33, Cowboys 10
Even though I’ve been bred to hate both of these teams, I will root for the Eagles in the two times a year these teams play each other until the day I either die or become cryogenically frozen. As much shit as I toss in Mark Sanchez’ general direction, if you take out the first three quarters of the Green Bay game he has played very well. I have to be honest, I do take great pleasure in seeing the Cowboys bite it in the manner which they did. That franchise goes out of its way to be on TV every Thanksgiving, so when they lose it’s nothing short of hilarious. In two weeks these two teams play again in Philly, and to be brutally honest with you I don’t see the result being all that different. It’s a Sunday night game too, so if Romo is feeling the pressure a few blocks away from his condo in Arlington he’s in for a real treat when he has 70,000 drunk fans who have never seen their team win a Super Bowl screaming in his face during the number one rated program on television. That could get out of hand fast, and I am seeing a lot of the same holes in the Cowboys’ defense that I am seeing in Denver – They give up a lot of big plays and their corners take huge risks by abandoning man coverage. It’s time we start to give the Eagles props for being 9-3 and now in control of a division that most sportswriters were handing to the Cowboys six weeks into the season. They’ve suffered a major injury that has turned them into the Van Halen of the NFL, and they’ve made it work without cranking out any product that’s on par with “When it’s Love”. That’s some shit right there, so when Foles gets back from rehab this defense can step up and the Eagles could be a late round threat in the playoffs. Hell, they’d get a first round bye if the season ended today. (See, I did it. I hate myself…)
Seahawks 19, 49ers 3
I understand that Chicago Bears fans are struggling with their quarterback situation as well, but at the moment Colin Kaepernick makes Jay Cutler look like Otto Fucking Graham. 121 yards passing and a QB rating of 36.7? No thanks. This is why I have such a hard time accepting the whole “defense wins championships” argument. The 49ers have a good defense, but right now the 1977 Pittsburgh Steelers could be out there and they’d still be staring up at Arizona wondering what the fuck happened to their Super Bowl contending team. 49ers CEO Jed York can’t figure that out either, but he did issue a public apology on Twitter after the game which should only elevate the frayed relationship he currently has with Jim Harbaugh.
I know it seems like I’m picking on the 49ers a lot as of late, but can you blame me? No non-49ers fan hates this more than I do – Remember I had this team in the big game February 1st. To end on much more positive note, I would like to acknowledge that the Seahawks played one hell of a defensive football game in this one. They were pretty passable as far as red zone offense, got penalized a lot, and overall they settled for four field goals where they should have scored at least two touchdowns. But my hand to the Lord that was one of the best defensive football performances you can expect a team to put on the field. Richard Sherman talks some serious trash but if you’re going to rack up two picks on the road against a bitter division rival, you can pretty much say whatever you want even if you are talking to a cardboard cutout.
Colts 49, Redskins 27
This was hardly shocking – The Redskins are already looking ahead to next year, and the Colts has the AFC South on Lockdown and are already printing shirts for their first home playoff game. This was basically a warm-up game for their postseason run, and although their defense didn’t play fantastic like they did in the Bengals game they were backing off because they knew Andrew Luck had plenty of ammo. Not much to see here, at least nothing out of the ordinary. I told you the Colts would cover, and I was right.
Texans 45, Titans 21
The Texans are finally starting to play well, but due to the current clusterfuck caused by the teams that make up the AFC North – it’s yet another case of too little, too late. They’ll be able to remedy that situation in the offseason by determining the direction that team will be headed in offensively, and I’m assuming watching a lot of film on Andrew Luck. Tennessee is a bad team for sure, but it was mildly impressive that the Texans were able to come within a touchdown short of a 50 spot against anybody given their early season struggles. As for Texans fans, I do think it’s a bit humorous that all of a sudden Ryan Fitzpatrick is your Bearded Beauty. When he was eating his own farts and got benched in lieu of Ryan Mallet, nobody wanted to sing his praises at all but now it’s a different story. NFL fans have very short memories sometimes. What was I writing about again?
Bills 26, Browns 10
Look, we knew this wasn’t going to be a shootout. And I had pretty much figured that coming off last week’s unscheduled Monday Night blowout against the Jets, Buffalo was going to be pretty stifling on defense for at least the first forty minutes of the game. They had three takeaways and by the end of the game they had forced the Browns to bench Hoyer in favor of Johnny Manziel, which I’ll get to in a second. These two teams now find themselves with the same record, and the Bills are showing no signs of quit. Although we know very well that the Patriots will win the AFC East, the fight for second between the Dolphins and the Bills may very well be the most intriguing playoff match-up in the NFL that you don’t know about. As for the Browns, this could end up being the game that does their hope for a playoff bid in. I heard something absolutely ludicrous come out of Tony Dungy’s mouth on Football Night in America (which is turning out to happen a lot more as he gets older, I might add) where he said he thinks the Browns should start Johnny Football next week. My father says that perhaps he was instructed to say that to sell the drama, and I certainly hope he’s right because that’s insane.
Chargers 34, Ravens 33
Of all of the games this week that weren’t taking place in Green Bay, I thought that by far this one was the most interesting. The Chargers were down ten points with just four minutes left, and still managed to pull one over on the Ravens in Maryland. I have my doubts about Baltimore’s defense, and the end of this game is where having a player like Ray Lewis would make all of the difference. They can’t be worried about anything like that anymore though, it’s go time and that division ain’t for quitters. Flacco could certainly take a bit of a cue from some of the other quarterbacks in the league that can manage the game better the last time they know they will have the ball. Chargers at the moment look more convincing than Kansas City does, but that’s a week-to-week war.
Jaguars 25, Giants 24
The Giants were due for a win, having lost six games in a row and facing countless questions from the New York media with regards to what the 2015 Giants will look like. The Jaguars were just what the doctor ordered, and for a majority of this game it appeared as if the Giants were eating it up. They were up 18 points in the second quarter, and appeared to be well on their way to scoring about 35 by the time it was all over. But a late turnover by the Giants (stop me if you’ve heard this one) proved to be too much for them in the end. I don’t have a whole lot to say about the Jags because I’m not too familiar with what they do, and I don’t plan on learning.
Bengals 14, Buccaneers 13
Andy Dalton got off to a very rocky start in this one, and it looked for a second as if Team Firecrotch was going to blow an easy W against one of the most disorganized teams in the entire league. The Bengals have been blessed with a very unique gift, and that gift was the week six tie against Carolina. Because they didn’t lose that game, they are now that extra non-loss above every other team in that AFC North traffic jam. That means if Kansas City can’t get their shit together, they might be able to nab that second Wild Card slot without needing to win that division. They’re first in the AFC North, and they can only afford to tank one of their remaining four games in order to win the division.
Rams 52, Raiders 0
When you’re on the road and the home team cranks out 28 points in the first nineteen minutes and another ten before halftime is over, it might not hurt to put some points on the board so the plane ride home isn’t one filled with dead silence and a lot of guys wondering what the hell they are going to do with a communications degree three months from now. I can’t help continue to think about what the future holds for the Rams. I understand that Oakland is terrible and that this is hardly an achievement, but the Rams are slowly becoming a really good football team. Their divisional predicament is going to play a very big part in wheat their five year plan will eventually look like, and that’s too bad because they are much better than their 5-7 record would indicate.
Saints 35, Steelers 32
The Saints got lucky here because they ended up seeing the Steelers team that takes a week off every now and again, the same team that prevents itself from becoming an elite AFC squad. They were able to pull it together in the second half, but New Orleans getting up early allowed them to control the pace of the game very well. This is their formula for winning ball games, so it’s no surprise that once they returned to this approach they’d be successful. Drew Brees had five touchdown passes, which reminds you of the fantasy darling he’s been the past few years when the Saints have had such success. I haven’t lost all faith in the Steelers yet, and they did mount quite a comeback.
Vikings 31, Panthers 13
The Carolina Panthers are a bottom five football team at the moment. They were down 28-6 at halftime, and couldn’t get any pressure inside on Minnesota. The Vikings blocked two punts, and I have to think that with the Bears floundering at seemingly every turn they have to feel pretty damn good about themselves heading into 2015. The rest of their year is shot but if they win 3 out of their last four they finish the season at .500 ,and that’s more than I can say that any of us expected out of the Vikings with or without Adrian Peterson. My God Carolina is a bad team. Poor attitude is starting to creep into every facet of their game, and that’s where the glaring special teams errors are coming from. There’s going to be a lot of teams pillaging that roster in the offseason for sure.
Falcons 29, Cardinals 18
As much as it pains me to say it, I am starting to think that the Arizona Cardinals are this year’s last year’s Kansas City Chiefs. There is a school of thinking that believes Atlanta had to step it up because by this point in the day they already knew New Orleans had won, but the bigger story to me is why Arizona can’t put up the numbers on offense to justify their 9-3 record. I think right now as much as I don’t want it to be true, Drew Stanton is in way over his head and doesn’t have a whole lot of offensive weapons at his disposal. If they end up somehow missing the playoffs I will be very disappointed, and given the fact that their upcoming schedule isn’t easy combined with the fact that they missed it last year 10-6 -That’s a very legit possibility.
Packers 26, Patriots 21
In a game we had all felt might be very close, the Packers ended the Patriots’ 7 game winning streak by taking out New England at home. They did something that was very simple, yet sounds easier than it looks – They kept hitting Brady. They never laid off the pressure and blitzed like crazy, and on the road that rattled Tom Terrific to the point where he wasn’t able to get out of there with a win. Aaron Rodgers was good…but not great. If you missed this contest live (like I did) don’t fret…I have a strange feeling we are going to see this game again.
Broncos 29, Chiefs 16
Once again, the Chiefs’ scoring issues have resurfaced. Not like they ever went anywhere to begin with – I think that when they dropped a 43 spot on New England in the Monday Night game we were all aware that it wasn’t going to be a weekly affair. Pretty crazy to think that the Broncos still almost scored 30 in a game where Peyton Manning only had 179 yards passing, huh? Not really. That’s because now they have figured out how to run the football, the only thing that will keep them on pace with the Patriots for this playoff run is to keep CJ Anderson healthy. Hell, he almost had a bigger day than Peyton did.
Dolphins 16, Jets 13
I didn’t see a second of this game, but it’s no reason to put Miami on my shitlist just yet. The Jets love the spoiler role – or at least I’m assuming they do…I’m finishing the rest of this piece on my phone. The Dolphins probably were due for a poor offensive showing, and are very weak in enough areas where I’m not all that surprised they barely pulled this one out. Or I’m completely stunned. Who knows? Either way, I’m going to to bed. Good night!
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