Tuesday, December 8, 2009

NFL Week 13 Thoughts

A Truly Great Week

"Sports Hate" is a phrase ESPN writer Bill Simmons coined which refers to certain players that as a fan you just loathe. There may or may not be a reason for it but either way you just hate that player with every fiber of your being. You want them to fail and feel a sense of pure joy when they fall flat on their faces or choke in a big game.

I have a lot of Sports Hate and when it comes to the NFL 99% of it is directed at Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger. I just can't stand them. That's why this weekend was so glorious.

First we had Big Ben and the Steelers lose to the East Dillon Lions aka the Oakland Raiders and then Old Man Favre finally showed his true colors and had an interception riddled game against the Arizona Cardinals. Add a Jets win, the premiere of the Jersey Shore, the Penguins-Avalanche game on Thursday night and the fact I got paid on Friday and you have yourself a solid week.

Back to Favre and Roethlisberger.

Favre who was being discussed as a possible MVP candidate threw 2 interceptions on Sunday night and never really looked comfortable in the pocket. He was forcing throws and making bad decisions and I have to say it was a real pleasure to watch. Usually the broadcasters verbally blow Favre every game but against the Cardinals they didn't have much to say. Could it be that Brett is returning to his old self and that the magic is gone? Let's hope so.

As for Ben well all I really need to say is that he was outplayed by Bruce Gradkowski. Pittsburgh native and perennial scrub Bruce Gradkowski went into Heinz Field and played the best game of his life while Ben played well but not great. The Steelers have now lost 4 in a row and are fading fast in the AFC Wildcard picture. I really hope this streak continues as although I loved Pittsburgh while I was there I still have tonnes of Sports Hate for Big Ben and wish him nothing but the worst in his future endeavors. Maybe if he spent lest time hosting Monday Night Raw and more time playing football his team wouldn't be struggling.

A Win is a Win

The Saints 33-30 win in overtime against the Redskins may not have been a pretty win but it is still a win. It took Shaun Suisham missing a 23 yard field goal and Devry Henderson forcing a fumble on an intercepted pass and running it in for a touchdown for them to get the job done but the fact remains that they are 12-0.

A game like that makes you wonder if the Saints are a team of destiny. They should have lost that game about 15 different times and yet when push came to shove they won it through bend but don't break defense and the great second half play of Drew Brees. Some people will call it a fluke and say that the Saints are lucky to still be undefeated but as the old saying goes, "you gotta be lucky to be good."

As for the Colts well they did what they always do and that's beat the Titans. Peyton Manning had a great game and Joseph "Live and Let" Addai provided a few touchdowns on the ground to show the fans and coaches that he still has a pulse.

I was really hoping for a Tennessee win so they could run the table and make it into the playoffs but it seems like that scenario is no longer possible. They could still make it in but they would need some serious help.

The End of An Era?

On Sunday the Steelers lost to the Raiders at home and the Patriots lost to the Dolphins on the road. I can't remember the last time both teams lost in the same week and I certainly can't remember a time when either team looked so vulnerable.

The Pats and Steelers have consistently been 2 of the best teams in the league for the past 5 years and yet now they seem like 2nd tier teams. They have taken a backseat to the Saints and Colts of the world and no longer have that swagger about them as if they are untouchable and will never be beaten.

In New England Tom Brady and the offense are clicking as both Moss and Welker have over 1,000 yards receiving but the defense is looking pathetic. Going into the season Pats fans knew the secondary would be the weak point of the team but this is getting out of hand. Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo looked like Jerry Rice and Troy Brown out there as they were getting open and making plays all game.

As for the Steelers their usually stingy defense has looked vulnerable this season as they have consistently given up big plays in the 4th quarter costing them games. I knew Troy Polamalu was a big part of that secondary but I guess I never fully understood his impact until he got hurt and the Steelers went from scary to timid.

I love the fact both these teams are losing as I am not of fan of either of them. I used to like Brady a lot until he started buying into the hype and acting like an arrogant prick instead of the humble guy that won the SuperBowl in 2001. Also there is noting better than watching Bill Belichick dressed as a homeless man looking angry on the sidelines, pure comedy.

Playoff Picture

Here are the NFC teams that would make the playoffs if the season ended today:

New Orleans
Green Bay

Mathematically only the Giants and Falcons still have a chance to make it in but with Michael Turner and Matt Ryan out you can pretty much count out Atlanta. As for the Giants their defense finally showed up on Sunday against Tony Romo but it might have been too little too late. I have no faith in this team and no belief that they will catch Dallas or Philly.

As for the AFC:

New England
San Diego
Denver Jacksonville

Tonnes of teams still alive in the picture but most can be tossed out right now. The Jets, Titans and Texans while all still mathematically alive are done. The Steelers still have hope but if they lose 1 more they are out and I no longer trust that defense to stop anyone (they have lost to the Raiders and Chiefs this season, not good). That leaves the Ravens and the Dolphins with hope to make it in.

I don't like Baltimore's chances as their defense has been suspect all year and they boast the worst cornerbacks in the whole league. These guys couldn't cover Andy Reid and Rex Ryan let alone actual NFL receivers. I have hope for Miami but I don't see them making the playoffs without Ronnie Brown. They need him to run the Wildcat and without the Wildcat in their offensive plans they become predictable and easier to plan for.

I see the playoff picture staying pretty much exactly as it is now and after next week these spots could pretty much all be set with a number of teams getting a chance to clinch next week.

Fantasy Goat of the Week

In a must win game for the Ravens Joe Flacco played one of the worst games in his career throwing for only 137 yards and 3 INTs. I needed a big win out of Joe in order to keep my spot atop my division but alas he decided to take a big shit all over my chances and ruined everything for me.

Honorable Mention: Dallas Clark who had only 25 yards receiving with 0 TDs.

Quick Thoughts

- I must have heard the word concussion mentioned about 900 times on Sunday. I understand it is a topic of conversation right now across the league but I mean there are still games that need to be talked about.

- How you miss a 23 yard field goal is beyond me. In 1st year all the guys on my floor would go out and kick field goals outside our residence and I think we missed about 5 from within 25 yards all year combined as a floor. Just embarrassing.

- Really interesting piece by Peter King on the lack of sack production by young players in the league. Not one of the pass rush specialists drafted in 2008 and 2009 has cracked 10 career sacks. Chris Long currently leads with 8. By the way for all the Jets fans out there Vernon Gholston the #6 overall pick in 2008 has yet to record a sack in 25 career games. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

- The Patriots have won only 1 road game all season and that was on a different continent.

- The Matradee Pierre Garcon had a career day on Sunday with 6 catches for 136 yards. How about that nickname? Thats a Sports Informer original pass it on.

- Here is my bold prediction of the year. The Green Bay Packers will be the NFC representative in the SuperBowl. Count on it.

- Is it possible that the Raiders won't take a quarterback with their 1st round pick this year and let Bruce Gradkowski lead the team in 2010? With Al Davis as the owner anything is possible really.

- Jason Campbell is going to be a great free agent signing for a team in the offseason as once he gets his pieces around him he should flurish.

- What a return for Michael Vick to Atlanta. The fans showed some real class and gave him a great ovation when he scored that touchdown. Not so much when he scored the 2nd one. By the way I don't know if you say this but when Vick scored the 1st touchdown he went to throw the ball into the stands but hit the field goal net. Fullback Leonard Weaver went and picked up the ball and made sure it went to a fan wearing a Vick jersey. Thought that was pretty cool.

- Josh Freeman looking like Jake Delhomme on Sunday with all those interceptions. I still don't get how the Bucs managed to rack up 469 yards of total offense and score only 6 points. It's mind bottling.

- Clay Matthews is going to be a solid linebacker for years to come. Great pick by the Green Bay Packers.

- You have to give credit to the Minnesota Vikings for their drafting over the past 2 seasons. In the cases of both Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin many people felt they were too immature for the NFL and would cause problems off the field. Seems to be working out quite well for the Vikings these days.

- Mark Sanchez needs to learn how to slide. The plan is to win games over a long period of time not be out of the league by your 5th year.

- Forget Darren Sharper, Elvis Dummerville and Jared Allen. The Defensive Player of the Year needs to be Patrick Willis. He is an absolute beast on the field and is the definition of a game changer.

- The Jets currently have the #2 defense in the league and the #1 rushing attack. This is a great combo as it means they can stop their opponents and control the clock yet why do I not trust them to beat Tampa Bay this week?

- Not NFL related but needs to be mentioned. If you haven't seen it already make sure you check out Jersey Shore on MTV. This might be the greatest thing to happen to television since they first introduced color. Just trust me and check it out.

Random YouTube Video

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