Water Cooler Talk: Week 12
Let's be honest with each other here. Most of you don't have the time to sit through every snap of every NFL game each weekend. Trivial things like having a family and a job tend to get the in the way. Sure, you can look at the highlights and box scores of the game, but is that enough to get you through a week at the water cooler? It might be. Or it might be enough to get you laughed out of the office.
For the rest of the season I'll give the reader three talking points about every game played outside of Philadelphia (I'm assuming you're all caught up on Andy Reid needing to do a better job). Steal my thoughts as your own if you want to sound smart. But make sure to take all the blame yourself if something I say turns out to be dumb.
Without further ado, Water Cooler Talk:
[11-0] Packers 27, [7-4] Lions 15
1. Aaron Rodgers (22/33, 307, 2-0) is so spectacular that a day like this actually brought his season quarterback rating down a few pegs.
2. Ndamukong Suh has got to be kidding me. His head stomping and stepping on an opponent proves what we already have come to know: Suh is a dirty player. He can have his meetings with Roger Goodell, do car commercials, and come off as articulate as he wants. It doesn't change the fact that the league needs to suspend him to teach a lesson.
3. Matthew Stafford is turning the football over way too much in Detroit. Nine interceptions over the last three weeks is unacceptable. His finger injury, causing him to wear a glove like an old Kurt Warner, isn't enough of an excuse for poor decision making. If he doesn't protect the football, Detroit won't make the postseason.
[7-4] Cowboys 20, [3-8] Dolphins 19
1. The Cowboys improved to 28-15-1 on Thanksgiving. Romo is 5-0 on the holiday; he missed last year's game -- which Dallas lost -- with a broken collarbone.
2. The best word I can use to describe these Cowboys: tough. They win close, they win ugly, they win anyway they have to. At some point we may have to start taking them seriously as a major NFC threat.
3. Matt Moore managed to keep Miami in the game, but he didn't make it look pretty. Miami's surge has shown potential coaching candidates a few things. These Dolphins have ability in many spots on defense, as well as playmakers on offense. Better coaching and a star quarterback could have this team as a contender very soon.
[8-3] Ravens 16, [9-2] 49ers 6
1. In the first ever battle of NFL head coaching brothers, John defeated Jim in the Harbaugh Bowl. As in many family units, the older brother got the best of the younger brother.
2. Baltimore's defense is playing it's best football since Rex Ryan left to become a head coach in New York. New defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano is using many of the same blitz overload tactics that Ryan installed, but weren't carried on by his successor, Greg Mattison. The result? A pass rush, lead by Terrell Suggs, that battered and bruised Alex Smith from the opening snap.
3. The rest of the AFC should be afraid if Baltimore can secure home field advantage in the postseason. Baltimore has won all six home games this season and 15 of 16.
[7-4] Falcons 24, [2-9] Vikings 14
1. Percy Harvin had a 104-yard kickoff return that did NOT go for a touchdown. It was the longest non-scoring return in NFL history.
2. Matt Ryan completed 27-of-34 passes in the Falcons win over the Vikings. His completion percentage of 79.4 is the highest in a single game by a Falcons QB with at least 30 attempts.
3. Atlanta had more first downs, total yards, yards per pass, yards per rush, less penalties, held the ball longer, converted more third downs, more sacks, more tackles for loss, and more quarterback hits. As you would expect, they never trailed on the scoreboard.
[7-4] Bengals 23, [4-7] Browns 20
1. Cincinnati tied the NFL record for most wins (3) when trailing by 10 or more points at halftime with four other teams, including this year's Lions.
2. Marvin Lewis called A.J. Green, who's 51-yard last minute catch set up the game winning field goal, "the best first-round pick I've ever been around." That's lofty praise considering that Lewis coached on the 1996 Ravens with first-round rookies Jonathon Ogden and Ray Lewis.
3. Only 48,260 showed up at the 65,000 seat stadium to see a game with playoff implications.
[6-5] Titans 23, [4-7] Buccaneers 17
1. That's the Chris Johnson we have come to expect over the years. Twenty three carries for nearly two hundred yards is the kind of production Mike Munchak's team needs.
2. What a terrible season (12 TD/16 INT) for Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman. He has taken more than a few steps back from his great 2010 campaign. Let's not forget that it takes years to evaluate a quarterback, not just one season.
3. Tennessee seems to get it done year after year with a cast of no-names on defense. Their five leading tacklers on Sunday were the following: C. McCarthy, A. Ayers, J. Babineaux, J. Casey, and J. Jones. Who?
[3-8] Carolina 27, [0-11] Colts 19
1. Cam Newton's 10th rushing touchdown puts him in rare company. He is the first quarterback with at least 10 rushing touchdowns since Daunte Culpepper had 10 in 2002. Newton is just the seventh player whose primary position was QB to have at least 10 rushing scores in NFL history. The other six: Steve Grogan, Kordell Stewart, Tobin Rote, Johnny Lujack, and Billy Kilmer.
2. Indianapolis is 0-11 for the first time since 1986. The Colts produced just 1 yard in the first quarter, drawing boos from the home crowd, and had only 142 total yards at halftime.
3. The Colts road to 0-16 includes the following: @New England, @Baltimore, Tennessee, Houston, Jacksonville.
[4-7] Cardinals 23, [2-9] Rams 20
1. Patrick Peterson tied the NFL single-season record for punt return TDs in a season. He's the first player to have four returns of 80 or more yards in a season.
2. With his 228-yard performance Sunday, Arizona's Beanie Wells became the franchise's single-game rushing leader. He passed luminaries such as LeShon Johnson, John David Crow, and Otis Anderson.
3. Steve Spagnuolo is now 10-33 as Rams head coach.
[6-5] Jets 28, [5-6] Bills 24
1. 3rd QB since 1999 to throw for at least 4 TD in a game in which his completion percentage was below 50 percent. The other two? Trent Edwards and Peyton Manning.
2. Buffalo averaged 32.8 points per game during their 4-1 start. They are averaging 16.2 points per game since. Their turnover differential was +11 during the hot start, -7 during their swoon.
3. Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson mocked both Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes during a touchdown celebration. He topped his day off by dropping crucial late minute touchdown opportunities.
[8-3] Texans 20, [3-8] Jaguars 13
1. Houston suffered another quarterback loss Matt Leinart fell in the 1st half to a broken collarbone. Rookie T.J. Yates is now the lead man for Gary Kubiak's offense. Yates completed 8 of 15 passes for 70 yards in relief of Leinart, doing just enough to help the Texans beat the Jaguars. Houston led 20-10 at halftime, but managed just 47 yards and two first downs in the second half.
2. Arian Foster scored his 30th touchdown in his 31st game, putting him in the top five for TDs scored in 31 games to open a career. The other names on that list: Edge James, Clinton Portis, Curtis Martin, Larry Johnson.
3. The Jaguars' quarterbacks were either sacked or under duress on 19 of their 49 dropbacks (38.8 pct), the highest single-game percentage for the Texans' defense this season. Not surprisingly, Jags rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert stunk out loud again and was benched in the second half.
[7-4] Raiders 25, [7-4] Bears 20
1. Caleb Hanie was just the fourth quarterback since 1986 to make his first start with his team riding at least a five-game win streak. Here's how they all fared: Haine- loss, Bill Musgrave ('96 Broncos) - loss, Jason Garrett ('93 Cowboys) - win, Doug Flutie ('86 Bears) - win.
2. Oakland, as usual, excelled in the kicking game. Sebastian "Sea Bass" Janikowski Janikowski made field goals of 40, 47, 42, 19, 37 and 44 yards to break a team record. Canton bound Shane Lechler controlled field position all game with a 49.2 yard net average, pinning Hester and the Bears inside the 20 on three of five punts and booming the team-record 80-yarder over his head.
3. The game ended when Hanie botched a spike play with 4 seconds left at his 46. Instead of immediately spiking the ball to stop the clock, he took an extra step back and hesitated, leading to a game-ending intentional grounding call.
[4-7] Redskins 23, [4-7] Seahawks 17
1. Washington snapped its longest losing streak since dropping the first seven games of the 1998 season.
2. Seattle was flagged nine times, while Washington had 10 penalties in a game that was chippy throughout and required the teams to be separated during the coin toss.
3. Rex Grossman completed 10 of 13 attempts for 167 yards, and two touchdowns when the Seahawks rushed five or more defenders on Sunday. Grossman entered the game having thrown two touchdown passes in his last 51 attempts against an added pass rush this season.
[6-5] Broncos 16, [4-7] Chargers 13
1. On Sunday, Tim Tebow ran for 67 yards, and his 22 carries set the record for most rushes by a QB in a game since the merger. The Broncos gained 147 of their 208 rushing yards on option plays, including 5.4 yards per rush using the option.
2. Perhaps the best thing about Tebow's game isn't his running prowess or "clutchness," but his ability to rarely ever turn the football over. He has suffered just two turnovers all year, one interception and one fumble. Both of those turnovers came in the Detroit game, his lone loss this year. He has a clean slate, zero turnovers, in Denver's five victories this year.
[8-3] Steelers 13, [4-7] Chiefs 9
1. Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet, who attended Kansas State, threw the ceremonial first pass
2. Steelers safety Troy Polamalu left the game with "concussion like symptoms" in the first half. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year's head hit an offensive lineman's knee and he crumpled to the turf, where he lay while trainers came out to check on him.
3. The Tyler Palko experiment in Kansas City just isn't working. 18-28, o touchdowns, and 3 interceptions just won't cut it in the NFL. That being said, Dwayne Bowe's lackluster effort on the game deciding drive didn't help the kid as he tried to pull off the upset.
[8-3] Saints 49, [6-5] Giants 24
1. Jimmy Graham caught two passes on throws at least 15 yards downfield Monday, including a touchdown. Graham is tied for the sixth-most receptions among all receivers on such throws this season and leads all tight ends.
2. New York's defense gave the team no chance to compete in this game. Brees and Co. could have easily put up 60+ points if they wanted to last night. The Giants defensive line or pressure him Monday, as he was only under duress on 2 of 27 (7.4 percent) dropbacks when the Giants sent four or fewer rushers. Brees capitalized with three of his four passing touchdowns against such pressure.
3. Eli Manning completed 21 straight passes at one point, one shy of the NFL record.