by Ryan Meehan
Week fourteen began on a cold Thursday night in Soldier Field, where the Dallas Cowboys would eventually post their first winning record since 2009. A fan at this game was stabbed nine times in the back and there was no arrest made, so you can make up your own Jay Cutler joke there. The story took an interesting turn the next day when the Tribune spoke with an eyewitness who told them that the reason the attacker stabbed the victim was because he said something positive about the Packers. Just enjoy the goddamn games people. This is nothing to stab anybody over, and it also should be mentioned that the guy had a great point. Crazy all around. Sunday brought us some craziness as well, and while some teams were eliminated from playoff contention others got new life and new seeding. Let’s head on over to the funny farm and see what kind of insanity took place in a very busy week fourteen.
Cowboys 41, Bears 28
It seems like every time that a team mounts an unsuccessful comeback like this one, I end up reading about how “I really have to hand it to them for not giving up” and how they “almost had it”. I don’t personally know Jason Garret, but I am aware that every single coach in the league runs some form of a prevent defense when they’re up four touchdowns heading into the fourth quarter. Jay Cutler threw for 341 yards, and Tony Romo threw for 205 – Who would you rather have with the game on the line? And if you want to cite the running game and the fact that DeMarco Murray went absolutely apeshit on a top ten rushing defense, so be it but if the Bears knew that’s the kind of game it was going to be you’d think Matt Forte would rush for more than two yards a carry. He’s a two-time Pro-Bowler (his most recent visit being last year) and instead of giving him the ball at key points early in this game, the Bears panicked and left it in Cutler’s hands. By the time it began to work, it was already too late and Jason Garrett had it times out so it would be impossible for them to lose. The Cowboys on the other hand rebounded from a very public humiliating loss to the Eagles on Thanksgiving Day by improving to 6-0 on the road this year, a feat that will be put to the test next Sunday against Philadelphia in a game that I can not wait to watch. I still don’t think this game proves a whole lot in terms of what we didn’t already know, but Dallas may end up spoiling a playoff berth for a team that would beat them 6 games out of ten. Thankfully for them, that’s not how the NFL works.
Ravens 28, Dolphins 13
This essentially eliminates Miami from any realistic expectations they had to make the postseason. The loss drops them to 7-6 and everyone in the AFC North would have to die in the same earthquake in order for them to sneak in. Speaking of the AFC North Baltimore just advanced to 8-5 by winning this game, but more importantly getting the taste of that awful Chargers loss out of their mouths. That’s what this game was really about and the Ravens made it happen. Even after all of these years, the Baltimore Ravens still seem like a boring team to me. They could run an entire four quarters of trick plays and I’d still be in the other room knitting.
Colts 25, Browns 24
Man, the Browns almost had this one. Coach Ryan must be fuming at the fact that they were really just a few short steps away from pulling this off, but they kept it closer than I thought they would. I know the defense scored 14 of their points, and I know that Brian Hoyer played very poorly in this game. But all of these people crying about not starting Manzeil in this game are out of their minds. That being said, it is time to start him now. Hoyer had his defense score 14 points for him and he still lost. As for the Colts, this was not Andrew Luck’s finest hour by any means. He threw 29 incompletions in this game, and two of them were picks. If the Colts want to hang with the Denvers and the New Englands, they can’t have offensive outings like this one.
Panthers 41, Saints 10
The New Orleans Saints should be deported. Not only is this their fourth home loss of the year in a building where their fans adore them, but they just lost at home to the Panthers – a team whose offense is riddled with anklebiters and windowlickers. That city lives and breathes the Saints, so it’s crazy to think that the fans are to the point where they might be bailing on that team but it may have already happened. I also have a beef with New Orleans because even though they started a huge fight in this game, nobody peed on Cam Newton in a fight that he was involved in. Technically he started it, with his unbelievably somehow-stupider-every-time Superman move. I think in most cases you want to do what’s respectful to other players on the field because there are kids watching, but I also think I just said that having never seen anyone piss on Cam Newton before. If I knew what that looked like, my morals could be out the window instantly depending on how awesome it is. All that spoken and told, he did go in there and beat them by 31 at home, but regardless of where the Panthers are at that’s a Saints loss before it’s anything else. There are a lot of French speaking people in that area who are going to be pricing Pelicans jerseys to be given as Christmas gifts.
Steelers 42, Bengals 21
Believe it or not, this game was very close for some time. The Bengals main problem is crisis management. When something goes wrong, they completely panic and lose themselves in the process. As soon as that handoff was fumbled, this game headed in a completely different direction. This is the perfect example of why Andy Dalton might never truly be an elite quarterback. There are some days where Dalton looks like one of the smartest players in the league, but then he breaks a fingernail and acts like his case worker’s going to get a great parking space for the rest of his life. You have to credit the Steelers though…they played well and once again no interceptions for Big Ben. Hell, they’d be in first place right now if the greatest sport in the world wasn’t satisfied with a result where you watch a game for four hours and nobody wins. If the Bengals get in because of that tie (And it’s still looking like they might) I maintain that is super weak and should also be looked at by the competition committee along with the division winner hosting games discussion. Right now it looks like the Steelers belong there, and Cincinnatie clearly does not.
Lions 34, Buccaneers 17
Detroit is keeping pace with Green Bay for that key week seventeen matchup against the Packers by racking up win after win. Matt Stafford had an 133.3 QB rating, and if he played in any other market we’d see him on every cereal box at the grocery store. He’s just a really, really solid quarterback and he continues to win games for the Lions. They are also ranked first at stopping the run, a key component of teams that are looking to be of playoff caliber. They are at home against Minnesota next (and although the Vikings are playing well that’s a winnable game) then at Chicago (who can’t do anything correct) before the showdown at Lambeau. They are in good shape at the moment, so dark horse alert for sure. I’m not going to sit here and type things about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Children are starving in Africa for crying out loud.
Texans 27, Jaguars 13
This was pretty much as scheduled, nothing we didn’t already know here. Arian Foster looked like the Arian Foster we all love but wonder where he goes some weeks, with 127 yards on 24 carries. Fitzpatrick was average, hence strengthening a theory I have which states Fitzpatrick is average. He didn’t even throw the ball twenty times, so they must have leaned on that running game pretty heavily. The Texans are above .500, but in all likelihood they will probably miss the postseason. Jacksonville is bad again, but in other news bricks are heavy and Jim Nabors probably doesn’t mind sitting on plunger handles.
Vikings 30, Jets 24 (OT)
Here again, I have to give the Vikes props for tallying another win onto the end of a lost season. Although they probably shouldn’t have let the Jets make it close, Jarius Wright scored on an 87 yard touchdown pass in overtime to seal the deal for Minnesota. I have my eye on the Vikings and the Rams to really surprise some people next year, and if this means teams like San Francisco and the Bears will take their place as division doormats so be it. I’m not saying Teddy Bridgewater is the next Roger Staubach, but this is exactly what ownership wants to see for a team in transition. They are playing conservative at times, but liberal enough to break open with big plays when it counts. It’s hard to fathom that all of this has happened without the aid of their star running back. What was his name again?
Giants 36, Titans 7
Well, well, well…Isn’t it nice to see so much fire out of a team that’s played so terribly as of late? I suppose this is the best you can hope for, but “too little, too late” doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about this win as a fan. I will say this much: The way that the Giants played these two teams over the past couple of weeks had led me to the conclusion of a theory I had been working on: I actually think right now the Titans are worse than the Jaguars, and are the worst team in the league that doesn’t play in Oakland. Of course, this is fucking completely useless information and that’s what makes these wrap-ups so tedious towards the end of the year. None of the teams I’ve mentioned in this paragraph are going to make the postseason this year OR next, so you’d be better off researching how to fix a payphone by this point in the piece.
Rams 24, Redskins 0
I understand that both the Redskins and the Raiders are the American football equivalent of a diarrhea milkshake. Neither one of those teams have any offensive credibility, and could easily be piloted by sea otter who would make less money and produce the same results. But something should be said for the fact that the Rams have now pitched two straight shutouts, and could technically still finish over .500. This one was particularly disturbing because they were able to pull it off on the road, and I think speaks volumes about where the Redskins are currently at as a franchise. Also, I don’t see what the big deal is in Washington…As far as I’m concerned there is no quarterback controversy: Griffin is pretty much gone, and everybody else on their roster who has ever taken a snap is garbage. Where’s the argument there? From this point forward I am buying the St. Louis Rams. I didn’t realize this about the Raiders game until Ben pointed it out last week – Shaun Hill went 13 for 22 in that game and they still won by 52 points. So they are obviously doing something right, and even though the division they play in is going to be difficult to get out of alive for a while they are definitely on the right track. Go Rams.
Broncos 24, Bills 17
Although not an offensive display of fun-filled television, the Denver Broncos are now 7-0 at home this year, thanks to a game in which Peyton Manning did not throw a single touchdown. The only reason that’s possible is because of a cat named C.J. Anderson, who could end up being the X-Factor on a team full of them if he plays his cards right. The Bills really had no shot to win this one, their defense held the Broncos to a manageable amount of points but it wasn’t enough. I could see the Bills making the postseason in 2015-16, but I could also see them finishing 4-12.
Cardinals 17, Chiefs 14
Arizona got back on track again with a solid yet close win against a team that we have all been sold is of quality structure. Truth is, I don’t value this win any more than a win over a Buffalo or a Cleveland. The Chiefs are still very average on offense and Alex Smith might never throw for 293 again in his life. Drew Stanton was pretty bad – 15 for 30 for 239 – and the Cardinals may have snapped their two game losing streak but they’ve hardly got their shit together again. I would say it’s impressive that they’ve gotten to ten wins, but I’m sure tormenting them with pats on the back for having ten wins probably doesn’t sit well with that group after what happened last year. I want the Cardinals to be successful as hell, and I’d love to see them get a great playoff seed. But if we’re being fair and bagging on the Chiefs for failure to score points, I have to take some shots at Arizona because right now they are not very good on that side of the ball.
Raiders 24, 49ers 13
There were a lot of people that had believed San Francisco’s recent struggles were a result of growing pains caused by Colin Kaepernick’s immaturity. But on Sunday, the 49ers performed poorer than Kirk Cameron’s new movie “Saving Christmas” as they dropped what you would have to think was a gimme game in Oakland. After the game Raiders linebacker Sio Moore called Kaepernick a “chump” on Instagram, so this Bay area rivalry has now reached the intensity of a middle school aged catfight. Just when I thought that nothing could top the stupidity of Kaepernick and his crummy attitude, a guy on a 2-11 football team started talking shit about one of his opponents on a website that eleven year old girls use to compare selfies. Excuse the cheap joke here, but if you’re using anything called “Instagram” you had better be a drug dealer. As for Kaepernick, he is reminding me a lot of the spoiled pop star that Justin Bieber became after he discovered how much money he could make when his parents weren’t stealing it from him. Once likeable and very nice to the media, he’s now a surly young man with a bunch of tattoos that thinks every question directed at him is the dumbest thing ever thought up. He’s a mess, and the rest of that team is going underwater with him.
Seahawks 24, Eagles 14
The Seahawks of last year very well may be back. Wilson looked very good in this game, and Seattle handed the Eagles their first home loss of the year. But offense set aside, the Seahawks were crippling on defense and held Mark Sanchez to 96 yards on ten completions. What was the one knock everybody had on the Seahawks during their championship season last year? That they couldn’t win on the road. I get that they are only 4-3 on the road this year, but this was the biggest game out of all of their road games and they beat a really good team doing it. I’m convinced that their defense is as dialed in as any defense over the past twenty years. I’ll take this group of guys over the 2000 Ravens any day of the week? The team Tampa fielded a couple years after that? Forget it. What we are seeing is virtually the same team who held the guy who had the greatest NFL regular season ever to eight points in the Super Bowl. That’s where my money’s at for a while.
Patriots 23, Chargers 14
The Patriots once again mastered that creep pace they have when they took it to the Chargers in San Diego on Sunday Night Football. The Chargers did play well in this game, but once New England got up and they started with the torture management they never looked back. It almost looks like somebody took the live footage and edited it to use in the 2AM broadcasts they do where they cut out all of the boring parts. It’s a flawless production. Tom Brady could be one of the greatest film directors of all time after he retires from football. One thing I did notice in this game is that Antonio Gates does not have the same drive to be explosive as he once did. He’s obviously not the number one any more, but it almost seems like at times he’s bitter about that fact. New England did take a while to get going, a concern but they still played a hell of a game.
Packers 43, Falcons 37
Does anybody even play defense anymore? The Falcons certainly don’t, as evidenced by their new defensive strategy. For those who aren’t familiar with the revolutionary setup, this is how it works: The defensive line fails to get pressure on the quarterback giving him all day to throw the ball, and then exactly two and a half seconds into the play both corners abandon man coverage no matter where the receiver is at. As you can imagine, this would be something that even that Mettenburger kid from the Titans could exploit to no end. So if you put that in front of a guy like Aaron Rodgers, obviously he’s going to eat it alive right away. I’m really thinking that the NFC is shaping up towards seeing the Seahawks and Packers face each other in the playoffs. And that’s great news for us, because that’ll be a hell of a game to watch. Julio Jones from Atlanta played out of his mind, but I just can’t stop thinking about how the Falcons are missing a gigantic chunk of what it means to be a good football team in the absence of a good defense. Kind of sums up that whole division doesn’t it?
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