By: Shawn Davis
The Giants played a masterful game against the Packers…and lost! But fret not, fans, if your team can win its last four games (with a home and away versus Dallas) they win their division. Crazy how things play out over the course of a season, right? As the past has shown, the G-Men play to the level of their competition – which can make for must-see-tv like Sunday’s game and also kick-the-tv games like that loss to the Seahawks a few weeks back. It happens!
The Saints, Packers and Patriots – offensively – move all over the field and it seems that the other team that’s playing them doesn’t even need to show their faces. It’s no coincidence that the quarterbacks leading these franchises ALL are on pace to break Dan Marino’s single season passing yards record of 5,082, set in the 1984 season. Drew Brees has 4,031 yards, Tom Brady has 3,920 and Aaron Rodgers has 3,844 yards and they all have four games left to play. If the Packers push for the perfect season, I think Rodgers will break it but I would not be surprised if the record survives…until Peyton Manning breaks it next year in his comeback “you all thought I wouldn’t have it anymore” season. I’m openly rooting for this to happen! On to the games:
Green Bay 38 @ NY Giants 35:
The Giants tied this WONDERFUL game late in the fourth quarter and left the Packers with 58 seconds to answer. Aaron Rodgers drove his team 68 yards in 55 seconds (on five plays) because he wasn’t interested in trying to win an overtime game on the road; a field goal is worth three points – the same disparity as the final score.
Next week: Green Bay hosts Oak (7-5); NYG @ Dal (7-5)
Detroit 17 @ New Orleans 31:
I won’t gush over the fact that the Saints outclassed the Lions, they did. I also won’t mention that the Saints should have scored in the high 40’s, ditto. The Lions are tearing from the seams as they aren’t mentally prepared to suit up for these games; they had 11 penalties which cost them 107 yards. So that’s the formula for success, just give New Orleans more chances to kill you.
Detroit has dropped five of their last seven games (after a 5-0 start) and they’re falling as swiftly as the Buffalo Bills.
Next week: Detroit hosts Minnesota (2-10); NO @ Tennessee (7-5)
Indianapolis 24 @ New England 31:
Don’t be fooled by the final score because the Patriots were on cruise control for most of the contest. They got up on Indy, big, but the Colts showed a pulse and scored some meaningless touchdowns. The race for imperfection continues for the visitor and the home team just keeps moving towards the playoffs.
Next week: Indy @ Baltimore (9-3); NE @ Wash (4-8)
Denver 35 @ Minnesota 32:
The Broncos are 6-1 since that Timothy Tebow guy took over the reins under-center. Something worthy of mention: The Broncos are 7-5 and hold the tie breaker over the Raiders, which means what? They’re a playoff team right now!
Second note: The scheme to beat the Broncos is to score a lot of points – because they aren’t built to rally – and that’s how you squash the Tebow magic, right? When the Lions defeated them, they put 45 on the scoreboard and the Broncos only managed to get 10 points in the contest. Well as you can see from the final score getting points was not a problem – AND Tebow beat them from the pocket with 202 yards (going 10/15 with 2 tds) while only rushing for 13 yards. This is serious! I think Willis McGahee has found the fountain of youth by rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown to have six games this season where he crossed the century mark on the ground.
Next week: Denver hosts Chicago (7-5); Minnesota @ Detroit (7-5)
Atlanta 10 @ Houston 17:
Is Matt Ryan having a bad year or is he just not as good as he seemed? I’ll go with the former as opposed to the latter because he’s much better than the things that have been written about him this season. He has 19 tds and 12 interceptions – and I’d like the turnovers to be lower but I can live with that when the Falcons’ running game hasn’t been consistent this year and he has to put the ball in the air. That’s the sole reason they drafted Julio Jones to pair with Roddy White, right?
Houston lost Andre Johnson to another hamstring injury but the two-back attack featuring Arian Foster (111 rushing yards and a td) and Ben Tate (41 rushing yards) set the tone for this game along with their stout defense. Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates played well – 12/25 with a td – and more importantly, didn’t turn the ball over. The Texans have won six games in a row and they better keep it up because…
Next week: Atl @ Car (4-8); Hou @ Cinn (7-5)
Tennessee 23 @ Buffalo 17:
…Chris Johnson is getting his legs back! While most running backs need a big hole created for them, he needs a sliver of daylight – just enough to squirt through – and he’s gone. Yes, it really is that simple and his 48-yard touchdown run proves it. He followed that with a 4-yard touchdown scamper as he ran for 153 yards on 23 carries. I’ve been watching the Titans closely over the last few weeks and their offensive linemen are mauling everyone in their path.
Tennessee isn’t great on offense, defense or special teams but they’re strong in all three facets; solid enough to challenge for the division if Houston falters. Bad news is that New Orleans comes to town next week but the Texans have to visit a strong Bengals team so they both could lose next week and the Titans still might have a chance to catch them. We’ll see.
The Bills have lost five in a row after starting 5-2, ugh.
Next week: Tenn hosts NO (9-3); Buffalo @ SD (5-7)
Kansas City 10 @ Chicago 3:
A reason why I NEVER knock an NFL player for holding out, complaining or anything else they need to do to secure fair contract: Matt Forte. Here you have one of the best running backs in the game, the most important piece of the Bears offense totaling 1,475 yards from scrimmage, a player opposing defenses HAVE to stop when the Bears are on the schedule…and the front office decides not to pay him. Earlier this season, Forte rejected a low-ball offer in order to get fair value once the season ends, carried this team (without giving the franchise any grief) and gets an MCL sprain in his right knee Sunday for his goodwill.
The injury is supposed to keep him out 2-6 weeks because surgery isn’t required but if I’m Forte, I’m not too sure if I want to put myself on the line without the security of a fair contract. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t come back at all.
Next week: KC @ Jets (7-5); Chi @ Den (7-5)
Oakland 14 @ Miami 34:
In a game they couldn’t afford to lose, the 7-5 Raiders played as if they were held at gunpoint, pun intended. Why was this game vital? Denver owns the tie-breaker and although they have the same record – the Broncos lead the division. Additionally, the Chargers woke up last night (against the Jags, I know, but they won) and the Raiders have to travel to Lambeau on Sunday; good luck with that.
Head coach Tony Sparano “coached good” and the Dolphins, although they’re 4-8, are a team no one wants to see on their schedule. I wouldn’t.
Next week: Oak @ GB (12-0); Mia hosts Philly (4-8)
Cincinnati 7 @ Pittsburgh 35:
So the Bengals have dropped three of their last four games and that’s bad. All four of those contests have been inside their division…and that’s terrible. Is there a silver lining? They beat the Browns, lost to the Steelers (twice) and the Ravens but are still a strong 7-5 team. This team is a year or two away from scaring the hell out of their big brothers in the division.
The Steelers just keep humming along, beating teams they should and sharpening their weapons for their march into the winter.
Next week: Cinn hosts Hou (9-3); Pitt hosts Cle (4-8)
Carolina 38 @ Tampa Bay 19:
Cam Newton rushed for a rookie-record 13th touchdown in a rout of the Buccaneers…and there’s nothing else to say about the game.
Next week: Car hosts Atl (7-5); Tampa Bay @ Jac (3-9)
NY Jets 34 @ Washington 19:
The cardiac Jets season continues with a crucial victory in Maryland and if I was Mike Shanahan I’d do everything in my power to find a way to trade players and picks to draft Matt Barkley or Robert Griffin III.
Next week: Jets host KC (5-7); Wash hosts NE (9-3)
Baltimore 24 @ Cleveland 10:
The Ravens continue to baffle me to no end by looking one-dimensional on offense one game and then looking dynamic the next. I was scared to pick the Ravens this week but they actually won the game for me. Ray Rice was great – rushing for 204 yards and a touchdown to keep me from breaking my remote.
Next week: Bal hosts Indy (0-12); Cle @ Pitt (9-3)
Dallas 13 @ Arizona 19 (OT):
All the griping coming from this game is about Jason Garrett icing his own kicker right before he – seemingly – made the game winning kick, which led to a miss on the one that counted. I understand that. What people aren’t talking about is that this game shouldn’t have come down to that, Dallas should have won by a touchdown. Secondly, the defense for the Cardinals is growing and they looked great against the Cowboys.
The ‘Boys are just where they want to be. They have four to go with a home and away game with the Giants as well as games against Tampa and Philly sandwiched in-between. These next four weeks have comedy written all over the place and I cannot wait to start laughing. Sorry, I already have.
Next week: Dallas hosts NY Giants (6-6); Ari hosts SF (10-2)
St. Louis 0 @ San Francisco 26:
Congratulations to the 49ers for clinching their division with FOUR GAMES to go in the season. I’m happy for their fans and Alex Smith. They haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown all season; talk about defense.
Next week: Stl @ Sea (5-7); SF @ Ari (5-7)
Philadelphia 14 @ Seattle 31:
Pouring more gasoline on a season that was over-hyped to begin with: The Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll and his blue crew made sure that it won’t be “sunny” in Philadelphia any time soon, BURN!
Next week: Philly @ Mia (4-8); Sea hosts Stl (2-10)
San Diego 38 @ Jacksonville 14:
Someone got the defibrillators out and placed them on the Chargers’ roster. Can someone blow away Jacksonville with an offer for Maurice Jones-Drew? Get him off this team. Please!
Why does Florida have three NFL teams? Jacksonville doesn’t draw enough fans and financial interest for them to be viable. The state is college football, first and foremost, and then come the Dolphins, Bucs and Heat. Mind you, even the fans at Heat games don’t arrive until the second quarter or later; they should have drafted Tim Tebow in 2010. Will their new owner, Shahid Khan, move them to Los Angeles in a few years? This remains to be seen, right?
Next week: SD hosts Buff (5-7); Jac hosts Tampa Bay (4-8)
I went 10-6 this week in my pick-league to fall to 18th overall (I was 17th last week) and I thought I was picking up momentum. I’d like to thank the Bears, Falcons, and Raiders, especially, for helping me plummet down the rankings.
Photo: Chris Johnson; zimbio.com