(6-6) JETS 19, (4-8) BILLS 13
- The Jets did what everyone has done to the Bills all year long, which is to run all over them. The Bills rank last in the league in yards/rushing attempt against, and playing this game in Canada didn’t seem to help. The Jets rushed for 249 yards, led by Thomas Jones’ 109 yards on 23 carries.
-If the NFL wants to get Canadians excited about the NFL, this game probably will make them want to stick with curling. Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick COMBINED to complete 16 passes for 202 yards. Sanchez was sacked 5 times.
-The Jets may have the #1 pass defense in the league, but the Bills had a nice amount of success running the ball on them, averaging over 5 yards per on 21 rushing attempts.
-Back to back wins have somehow put the Jets back in the playoff race. At 6-6, they trail the Patriots by just a game in the AFC East, and are part of a 4 team lump that sits a game behind the Jaguars for the final wildcard spot.
(5-7) BEARS 17, (1-11) RAMS 6
- The Bears fumbled 6 times in this game, but only lost one of them. When you consider that recovering a fumble is supposedly a completely random occurrence, the Bears are very very lucky that they didn’t have a disastrous number of turnovers that may have caused them to lose at home to the Rams, which should have resulted in everyone getting fired.
- The Bears ran 38 running plays versus 18 passing plays. So they traded a “game manager”, Kyle Orton, and 2 first round draft picks so they could throw the ball 18 times against the 1-11 Rams. I see. Seriously with each passing week this Cutler trade becomes more and more ridiculous.
(9-3) BENGALS, (2-10) LIONS
- The Lions actually led this game 7-0 at the end of the 1st quarter, thanks to a 54 yard Stafford to Cal Johnson TD pass.
- Cincinnati averaged an anemic 2.7 yards per carry, and Ced Benson, who has been injured for most of the second half of the season, carried the ball 36 times. Larry Johnson only had 2 carries. Does it not maybe make sense to NOT have your stud running back, who has been banged up, carry it 36 times against a team like the Lions? When you’ve got backups like Larry Johnson who can lighten the load?
- Both teams had a receiver over 100 yards. Calvin Johnson had 123, and Chad Ochocinco had 137 yards and a TD. And put a sombrero on after the TD.
- Matt Stafford completed 42% of 26 pass attempts, got picked off twice, once for a TD, then hurt his shoulder again.
(8-4) CARDINALS 30, (10-2) VIKINGS 17
- Usually, when a defense starts to fall off, the run defense is the first thing to go. That seems to be happening with the Vikings. This defense was previously impermeable to the run, with the Williams Wall rendering opponent’s running games completely ineffective. Not so in this game. The Cardinals averaged a healthy 4.5 per on 25 carries.
- Meanwhile, it was the Cardinals, who rank 23rd in the league in yards/rushing attempt against, who were impossible to run on. The Cards and their seemingly ordinary run defense held Adrian Peterson to just 19 yards on 13 carries. It’s the 5th game out of the last six that AD has been held under 100 yards. He went thru a similar stretch at the end of his rookie year, when he followed up a 296 yard day against the Chargers with just 305 yards in his last 6 games, an average of just 50 yards per game.
- Kurt Warner seems like he’s just fine. He returned to the lineup and completed 69% of his attempts for 285 yards and 3 TDs. FitzBoldin combined for 15 catches, 231 yards, and 3 TDs.
(9-3) CHARGERS 30, (1-11) BROWNS 20
- The Chargers won, but this game really exposed some problems, on both sides of the ball. Averaging 2.8 yards per carry against a Browns defense that gives up 4.5 per on average is not encouraging. Giving up 5.2 yards per carry against a team that averages only 3.7 is not encouraging. Letting Brady Quinn throw 3 TDs against you is not encouraging, and neither is giving up 16 points in one quarter to the Browns, even if you are up 27-7 when it happens.
- A big game for both teams’ tight ends. Antonio Gates caught 8 passes for 167 yards, and Cleveland’s Evan Moore, playing in his first NFL game ever, caught 6 for 80 yards.
- Another oddity was that there were 4 TD passes thrown to running backs. Jerome Harrison had 2 for Cleveland, while Darren Sproles had 1 for SD, and Mike Tolbert rumbled 66 yards on a swing pass for the Chargers.
(12-0) COLTS 27, (5-7) TITANS 17
- Tennessee outgained the Colts 375-358. The Titans ran for 142 yards. Still, they lost by 10 points. How is that even possible? Well, for one I challenge you to find a team that’s better in the red zone on both offense and defense than the Colts. When they get it inside the 20, they score TDs, and they make it really hard for the other team to do the same. The Colts have scored 39 TDs this year to just 19 by their opposition. They have attempted only 5 field goals all year of less than 30 yards.
- A big reason the Colts offense is so good at getting in the end zone is Joseph Addai. Before this year started the dude was radioactive at both of my fantasy drafts. Nobody wanted him. Shit, I took Brian Westbrook instead of him. Now he’s got 12 TDs this year. He had 2 in this game. Some people know how to get in the end zone and he’s one of them.
- Over the last 3 games, Peyton Manning has been looking Pierre Garcon’s way a lot. Garcon had 6 catches for 136 yards, and in the last 3 weeks has 17 catches for 307 yards. By comparison, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark combined have only 247 yards in that same period. For almost a month now, this offense has run thru Pierre Garcon.
(6-6) DOLPHINS 22, (7-5) PATRIOTS 21
- I know it’s nice to have a balanced offense and all that, but let’s consider something here. The Patriots averaged 12.1 yards per pass attempt in this game, and only 3.8 per rushing attempt. Wouldn’t it make sense to do like they used to do when they were dominant and just throw the ball all the time? Why are they running it 25 times? Why is Randy Moss only touching the ball twice? Belichick just seems to be getting really squirrely lately. Like he has absolutely no faith in his defense and he’s got to make all sorts of weird decisions now because of it.
- Example, late in the first half the Pats have 4th and 1 from the Miami 6. Sammy Morris runs for no gain. Ball goes over on downs, and of course the Pats end up losing by 1. Had they just kicked a field goal they would have won. This decision is wrong on many levels. One, no reason not to take points in the first half. Two, if you are feeling froggy and you want to go for it, you’ve got sooo many people in that offense to put the ball in the hands of, why are you giving it to Sammy Morris?
- Who knew that the Dolphins could beat the Patriots by not only not running the Wildcat once, but throwing it 52 times? Credit to Tony Sparano, who actually must have watched the Pats get dismantled by the Saints in a game that exposed to everyone that they can’t defend the pass.
- Big games for a couple of wide receivers. Davone Bess had 10 catches and 117 yards for Miami, while Wes Welker had 10 for 167 for New England.
(8-4) EAGLES 34, (6-6) FALCONS 7
- A chilling vision of how bad the Falcons would be without Michael Turner. Yes, Matt Ryan did not play, but Chris Redman wasn't glaringly awful, going a acceptably ordinary 23 of 44 for 235 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs against one of the league's better pass defenses. The Falcons ran for only 61 yards on 22 carries though, as Jason Snelling and Jerrious Norwood were both ineffective.
- Michael Vick celebrated the relinquishing of his status as sport's #1 pariah (Hello Tiger Woods!) by running for a TD and throwing for another, his first 2 meaningful contributions to the Eagles' season, with the happy coincidence being that this performance came in his return to Atlanta.
(7-5) GIANTS 31, (8-4) COWBOYS 24
- When these teams met in Week 2, the Cowboys ran for 251 yards against the Giants. This time, 45 yards. Dallas is second in the league in yards per rushing attempt, but couldn't manage 2 yards per carry in this game.
- It's traditional to blame the Cowboys perennial December failures on Tony Romo, but Romo had a great game, completing 41 passes for 395 yards and 3 TDs.
- Jason Witten has been virtually invisible most of this year, but he had his second straight game over 100 yards. He was omnipresent in this game, catching 14 passes for 156 yards.
-Miles Austin is breaking out a midseason slump. His 104 yard effort in this game gives him 17 catches for 249 yards in Dallas' last 2 games, compared to 14 for 177 in his previous 4 games.
- Dallas lost this game because of breakdowns that allowed big, game changing plays. One came on Brandon Jacobs', who is not exactly known as a big play receiver, 74 yard TD reception, the other on Domenik Hixon's 79 yard punt return for a TD.
(7-5) JAGUARS 23, (5-7) TEXANS 18
- Rex Grossman came on in the first half for an injured Matt Schaub, and was promptly intercepted on this first pass attempt. Rex went 3 of 9 for 33 yards before Schaub was re-assembled and put back on the field.
- I'm thinking this is the end for Gary Kubiak as Texans' coach. There is way too much talent on this team to be 5-7. They drafted all these supposedly talented defensive players, and they can't stop either the run or the pass. Oh, and the verdict on the great Mario Williams vs. Reggie Bush debate from the 2006 draft, they both were overrated. Mario has only 6 sacks on the season exiting week 13. This from a guy who had 14 in 2007 and 12 in 2006.
- Jacksonville continues to stubbornly hang on to that last playoff spot in the AFC despite playing to half empty houses at home. Do the Jags draft North Florida demigod Tim Tebow with a 1st round pick next year, even though they know he is not worth a 1st round pick? I think they might. Remember, this is the team that drafted former Arkansas quarterback and cocaine aficionado Matt Jones as a wide receiver with their first round pick a few years ago. If they did that to gett Matt Jones, I think they will be willing to take a flyer on Tebow. No matter what they get out of him on the field, it might be the only thing that saves NFL football in Jacksonville.