Water Cooler Talk: Week 13
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:
[7-5] Titans 23, [5-7] Bills 17
1. It took a long time, but Chris Johnson is doing a heck of an impression to his old self. 23 carries, 153 yards, 2 touchdowns for the Titans star has Tennessee believing in their playoff chances.
2. Buffalo, at one point the story of the year in the AFC, flat out can't score anymore. Their points per game this season: 41, 38, 34, 20, 31, 24, 23, 11, 7, 8, 24, 17. That's an average of 30.1 points per contest over their first seven games, 13.1 points per over their last five. Uh oh, Chan Gailey.
3. After hosting New Orleans this Sunday, Tennessee finishes with three straight division games (@Indianapolis, Jacksonville, @Houston) down the stretch. This group has a decent shot at playing postseason football.
[5-7] Chiefs 10, [7-5] Bears 3
1. Matt Forte's knee injury might be the straw that breaks the camels back in Chicago. It was a novel idea to think they could eek into the playoffs where a freshly healed Jay Cutler would lead them to a deep run at Green Bay. Now without Forte to carry the load over the next few weeks, Chicago will be lucky to go better than 2-2 down the stretch.
2. Caleb Hanie (11/24, 0 TD, 3 INT) is impossibly bad and it's amazing to believe no one in that organization believe Donovan McNabb is an upgrade at this point. More amazing? The fact that Tyler Palko is worse. And no, I didn't forget to post Palko's stats. They don't matter. He's too bad to watch without feeling bad for the guy.
3. Hey Brian Urlacher, knock the Hail Mary pass down. It really isn't that hard, All-Pro.
[4-8] Dolphins 34, [7-5] Raiders 14
1. It's hard to believe how non-competitive Oakland was in this game. Down 34-0 in a December game with a playoff implications, Hue Jackson did not have his team prepared to compete. Letting Rolando McClain play days after he allegedly put a gun to a person's head doesn't scream focus to me. Neither does Richard Seymour getting ejected for throwing a punch in the second half. Come on, Raiders.
2. How about those red hot Dolphins? They are 4-1 over their last 5 games and have outscored their opponents 139-54 over that span. What a turnaround for a team that was dead at 0-7.
3. Oakland is now in 6-25 in regular season games on the East Coast since 2002. I'm not sure what kind f trip Green Bay is considered, but playing that team on Sunday is going to be a chore no matter what.
[7-5] Broncos 35, [2-10] Vikings 32
1. The Tebow Train rolls on. As per the new norm in the NFL, Tim Tebow wins on a weekly basis. The big difference between this game and his past performances? More throwing, less running, and not as much credit goes to the defense. Tebow eclisped 200 yards passing by completing 10 of 15 passes, only ran four times and led Denver to a 28-point second half. His defense, playing without star rookie Von Miller, was shredded at times by Viking rookie QB Christian Ponder. For the first time this year, Tebow's arm won a game.
2. Mario "Green" Haggan, filling in for Von Miller, returned an interception for a touchdown.
3. Christian Ponder made big mistakes with turnovers, but is showing promise as the year goes on. He has a little Tony Romo-lite thing going on with his arm, mobility, and improvisation in the pocket.
[9-3] Patriots 31, [0-12] Colts 24
1. Brady has thrown for 30 touchdowns, becoming the sixth player in NFL history to do that at least three times.
2. Rob Gronkowski had 2 TD receiving and 1 touchdown rushing for the Patriots against the Colts. Since the merger in 1970, no tight end had at least 2 receiving TD and a rushing TD in the same game.
3. The Patriots rarely lose in December, no matter their opponent. They're 38-5 in that month starting in 2001, tops in the NFL. And they're 19-1 at home in December, with wins in their last 18 games, since Gillette Stadium opened in December 2002.
[9-3] Steelers 35, [7-5] Bengals 7
1. I thought the game ended on Antonio Brown's punt return for a touchdown at the end of the first half to give Pittsburgh a 28-7 lead was the ball game.
2. This was the first time all season in which I felt Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was a non-factor. Even in earlier losses to Baltimore and Pittsburgh, he moved the football and gave his chance to win in the fourth quarter. Absolutely a step back for the kid.
3. James Harrison and his three sacks are rounding into postseason form.
[4-8] Panthers 38, [4-8] Buccaneers 19
1. The amazing rookie campaign for Cam Newton continues. Cam Newton rushed for three touchdowns Sunday, giving the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft the NFL single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. His 13 surpass Steve Grogan's 1976 mark of 12.
2. Tampa is 1-6 since their 3-1 start and have to be considered one of the NFL's biggest disappointments. Their 10-6 record of a year ago feels like a distant memory.
3. Tampa coach Raheem Morris is acting like a coach not comfortable in his job security. Sending defensive tackle home (literally off the sideline and out of the building) for an unnecessary roughness penalty is very odd. Benching the guy for a quarter or chewing him out in front of the team is one thing, but to embarrass the kid like that doesn't make sense. This coaching situation bears watching.
[7-5] Jets 34, [4-8] Redskins 19
1. Mark Sanchez now has 10 career fourth quarter or OT comeback wins in his three-year career. He may not always make it look pretty, but the guy wins a ton.
2. Give credit to New York's offensive line. The much maligned group kept the sack happy Redskin defense in check, opened holes for Shonn Greene's three touchdowns, and even showed some versatility in the wildcat formation.
3. Washington has lost 7 of 8 games and are expected to lose two starters -- tight end Fred Davis and left tackle Trent Williams -- for the remainder of the season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
[9-3] Texans 17, [7-5] Falcons 10
1. How about Taylor John Yates? While most NFL prognostigators gave the rookie out of North Carolina little chance for success, he did enough to lead his team to victory in his first start.
2. Chalk this up as a bad loss for Atlanta as they fight for a spot in the NFC playoffs. Matt Ryan had one of his worst days as a pro, his wide receivers were terrible, and the Atlanta defense allowed a 100-yard rusher for the first time in 15 games.
3. Gary Kubiak's decision to go for it on 4th and 1 from inside the ten yard line with the score tied at 10 in the 4th quarter showed just how far the Texan offensive line has come. The unit might be the best in the league at this point.
[9-3] Ravens 24, [4-9] Browns 10
1. That's more like it, Cam Cameron. 53 total team rushes. 204 yards for Ray Rice. It seems like every September and October this Baltimore team toys with the idea of airing it out, then swiftly switches back to pounding teams when the weather turns.
2. Winning for the third straight week without Ray Lewis (turf toe) has to give John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome hope that the team can and will survive his eventual retirement.
3. The schedule makers are doing Cleveland no favors. Their next game? A Thursday night affair in Pittsburgh.
[12-0] Packers 38, [6-6] Giants 35
1. How special has this Packers season been? They have yet to trail in the fourth quarter all year long.
2. Aaron Rodgers last minute drive just about sealed the MVP for #12. This guy is playing the quarterback position as well as anyone I can ever remember. To be honest, I thought New York's defense did a good job on him. His receivers dropped six passes. He had a pick inside his own 20-yard line. There was a pass rush in his face all night. His running game was nonexistent. Yet, he put up 31 offensive points and won the game.
3. How crazy has this Giants season been? Despite losing four in a row and not winning in over a month, they control their own destiny in the NFC East and could move into first with a win in Dallas on Sunday night.
[5-7] Cardinals 19, [7-5] Cowboys 13
1. Jason Garrett may have graduated from Princeton and backed up Troy Aikman, but he sure is stone stupid sometimes. Icing the kicker? Not calling a timeout with 26 seconds left? Just like the New England and Washington losses earlier in the year, this one is on the coach.
2. This Cowboy offense is night and day depending on how effective DeMarco Murray is. When he runs well, Romo and the weapons are unstoppable. When he doesn't, like on Sunday (12-38), they are very, very beatable. Romo was just 4-13 on throws 15 or more yards down field. Give Cards defensive coordinator Ray Horton credit for his game plan.
3. Kevin Kolb has 4 TD passes of 50 yards or more this year in 8 games. Eagles have 0 TD pass plays of 40 yards or more in 12 games.
[10-2] 49ers 26, [2-10] Rams 0
1. Ladies and germs, your 2011 NFC Champs! The only concern? It's looking like this team won't play meaningful game until the weekend of Jan. 14-15th when they probably host an NFC Divisional Round game. That's a long time to wait for something that matters.
2. Frank Gore is now the all-time leading rusher in 49ers history with 7,396 yards
3. The Niners are unbeaten in their last 10 home games vs. NFC West.
[9-3] Saints 31, [7-5] Lions 17
1. Jim Schwartz has to preside over the most undisciplined team in the NFL. 11 penalties, 107 yards. Brandon Pettigrew shoving a referee. And we don't even have to get into the nonsense that is Suh. This team has ability, but they are a long way away from learning how to harness it.
2. Drew Brees became the first quarterback in history to throw for 4,000 yards in the first 12 games of a season.
3. Matt Stafford can become a great quarterback, but he needs to cut down on the interceptions. He has a little Brett Favre in him, and I mean that in a good and bad way.
[5-7] Chargers 38, [3-9] Jaguars 14
1. Philip Rivers had no issues Monday night passing from the shotgun against the Jaguars. Rivers completed 14 of 15 passes from the shotgun, including two touchdowns and no interceptions.
2. Blaine Gabbert had success on throws of fewer than 5 yards downfield, passing for 169 of his 195 yards. However, he struggled on passes longer than 5 yards, completing only three, and his longest completion traveled 7 yards in the air.
3. Can San Diego get back in the AFC West race? History says yes. Best regular-season records in final 4 games since 2006: SD 19-1, NE 18-2, Bal 15-5, Ind 15-5, Phi 15-5