NFL: Week 15

By: Shawn Davis

With Week 15 coming to a close last night – there are two weeks left in the regular season and teams are making their playoff reservations while others seem to be perfectly fine viewing the postseason like the rest of us: from the couch! The Giants, Jets and Ravens came out on Sunday and played like their season was on the line and they all won in exciting fashion, especially the Giants. No wait…that was last week!

What was the poop-job that was on display by the New York Giants? So that’s how you reward your fans who sat in the cold on Sunday (coming off that exhilarating victory down in Texas last week)? They should’ve just handed out bags of feces to their fans as they crossed the ticket line to enter the stadium so they wouldn’t get their hopes up. I was guilty of being sucked in after last week and I had a feeling they would find a way to kill the momentum they bottled in the loss to Green Bay. I picked them to lose to the Redskins in my pick-league…and I won; with that said I was confused as to why they played THAT bad, additional kudos to the Redskins for their performance as they stepped in to the spoiler role and beat the Giants all over the field.

What else is there to discuss? I could understand the Jets getting plastered by the Eagles because they have the ability to explode at any time – which they did. I like the look on Rex Ryan’s face when his team is taking it on the chin. Regardless of that – and I’m a fan of Ryan – how could his defense just wither in the manner which they did? There are some things in the NFL that make me laugh while there are others that don’t make much sense – and yesterday provided ample servings of both.

The Baltimore Ravens were humbled by the Super Chargers of San Diego in a game that showed how helter-skelter the Ravens can be when their offense isn’t clicking. Flacco’s two interceptions proved too big to overcome, compounded by the fact that no one in the Raven’s secondary looked to cover Vincent Jackson or Malcolm Floyd, this game got ugly.

Let’s look at the playoff picture in both conferences:

NFC:

Green Bay, San Francisco and New Orleans have already punched their tickets to the postseason tournament. Atlanta and Detroit (both 9-5) are leading for two of the remaining three playoff spots. Oddly enough, the Eagles still have a shot at the division if they finish with an 8-8 tie with the Cowboys and Giants. Folks, this could very well happen; we could see Philadelphia make their way into the win-or-go-home games AND host a home game. Did I mention that I love the NFL?

AFC:

Things are solidified as it pertains to the AFC picture as the Patriots, Steelers, Texans and Ravens have all clinched playoff berths. As for the two remaining spots? Denver, New York (Jets), Cincinnati, Oakland, San Diego and even (long-shot) Kansas City has an outside chance of gaining entrance to the tournament.

Here’s the scoreboard: JAC 14 @ ATL 41; DAL 31 @ TB 15; MIA 30 @ BUF 23; SEA 38 @ CHI 14; TEN 13 @ IND 27; GB 14 @ KC 19; CIN 20 @ STL 13; NO 42 @ MINN 20; WSH 23 @ NYG 10; CAR 28 @ HOU 13; DET 28 @ OAK 27; NE 41 @ DEN 23; NYJ 19 @ PHI 45; CLE 17 @ ARI 20; BAL 14 @ SD 34; PIT 3 @ SF 20

Oakland had a great opportunity to get to 8-6 and tie with the Broncos for the division lead (since Tom Brady halted Tebowmania) but Detroit got an inside push as Sebastian Janikowski lined up to kick the (potential) game winner and Ndamukong Suh got his hand on the ball to block the attempt. The Lions rallied from behind (once again) as Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson showed poise to bring their team back to make sure that they wouldn’t suffer another devastating loss. Johnson had 214 receiving yards (with 2 tds) for the third-best single game receiving performance in Lions history.

Drew Brees continued his assault on opposing defenses – and the all-time single-season passing record of 5,084 yards held by Dan Marino – by passing for 412 yards with 5 touchdowns. Brees needs 304 yards to tie it and with two games on the schedule you can almost guarantee it will belong to him. Had Minnesota been competitive in the contest, Brees could’ve easily hit the 500-yard mark. You know it’s an offensive season for the ages when he could set the passing record and finish second in the MVP ballot (behind Aaron Rodgers), and two other quarterbacks could also break Marino’s record. Amazing!

Darren Sproles has been the best free-agent signing this season (and a huge reason San Diego hasn’t been consistent since losing him) with 1,404 all-purpose yards and is a vital component of the Saints attack. His contributions have added an element the Saints wanted from the running back he replaced, Reggie Bush. Although Bush has been overshadowed by Sproles, he has proven this season that he can be a feature back. He led the Dolphins with 203 rushing yards and a touchdown (on 25 carries) as they beat the Bills and has 1,295 all-purpose yards – with the bulk of those yards coming on the ground as he’s tallied 973 rushing yards with two games remaining in the season. The difference is 109 yards so to say Sproles is leaps-and-bounds better than Bush isn’t as accurate as the media makes it out to be. I just find that interesting. I think Miami has found the foundation of their offense for the next few years.

When the season began I thought the Arizona Cardinals would be a possible playoff team because they play in the NFC West and no one had a clue that San Francisco would be so good. John Skelton is 4-1 this year as a starter (7-2 for his career) and he played well in his relief of Kevin Kolb to help bring the Cardinals to 7-7 for the year. Not sold? Well they’ve won six of their last seven contests and have a chance of qualifying for postseason play. That’s not a misprint at all – it just took them over half the season (and a steady Skelton at the helm) to get them in position to finish stronger than they began.

Once the power decided to stay on in San Francisco last night, the home team went another game without allowing a rushing touchdown. That has to be a record or something, right? Fourteen games played – so far – and their defense has held up against all attempts at a rushing score. Impressive! The Steelers took the loss but it doesn’t knock them down any pegs on my list. They’re a good team but the 49ers took it to them. Had Big Ben been healthier, the Steelers take this game – in my opinion – so it’s not an indictment that they fell short. The 49ers have been playing well all season and winning last night just solidifies their 11-3 record.

The Colts get their fans to cheer by delivering the first win of the season.

Last week I went 8-8 on my picks so I’m not going to spend too much time crying about it (although I did earlier). I fell out of the top-20 so I’m just picking crazy outcomes for the next two weeks. I’ve got nothing left but my pride – and most of it was beaten out of me a few weeks/picks ago – but barely.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot that the Colts won…and the Packers lost. See you next week.

 

Photo: ksdk.com

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