Tuesday, December 11, 2012

JC's Take: Stars, Goats & Notes From Week 14 of the NFL

Team of the Week: Dallas Cowboys
-For the second week in a row, a NFL team had to deal with a horrible tragedy less than 48 hours before their game on Sunday. And for the second week in a row, that team went on the field Sunday and pulled out an emotional victory. The Cowboys came back from down 9 midway through the 4th quarter to pull off a 20-19 win in Cincinnati. It was a game the Cowboys needed to stay alive in the Playoff race. You could see the emotion from the Cowboys players before, during, and after the game. Cameras caught players crying just going through sprints and runs in the early pre-game. But Dallas came up with a strong defensive effort, shutting down a good Bengals offense. And the Cowboys did just enough on offense to get them the win.

Game of the Week: Washington 31  Baltimore 28 (OT)
-There was a time when a back-up QB would have never stood a chance coming into a game against the Ravens defense. But rookie QB Kirk Cousins came into a pivotal game late for Washington, lead the Redskins down the field to tie the game and helped Washington win 31-28. It is a big win for the Redskins, who remain a game out of the NFC East and Wild Card picture. The injury to Griffin will hurt the Redskins if he is out for an extended period of time. But Washington is showing signs of a team others will be fearful of in the coming years. As for the Ravens? We will get into them later.

The "You'll Never Guess Who Is #1" 3 Stars of the Week
3. David Wilson
-David Wilson has struggled mightily in his rookie season in the NFL. He fumbled on his second carry in his NFL career and has had a tough time seeing the field ever since on offense. Wilson started doing well on kick off returns, building his confidence back up. And when Ahmad Bradshaw went down with an injury in this week's game against the Saints, Wilson stepped up big time and had a hell of a game. Wilson returned a kickoff 97 yards for a TD. He added a 6 yard and 52 yard TD run to help seal the game for the Giants. He went for 327 all purpose yards in the win. Great to see the guy finally have a big game.

2. Kirk Cousins
-Cousins had some big shoes to fill when he stepped into the game late to replace an injured RG3. But Cousins didn't look phased at all. He came into the game and lead the Redskins on a game tying touchdown drive, including a QB draw to convert a two point conversion. And as pointed out on Twitter, at least he didn't pull a Gus Frerotte and run his head into the wall. Then he took the Redskins down the field in OT and got them in position for a game winning field goal. It keeps the Redskins Playoff hopes alive.

1. Adrian Peterson
-If the Vikings somehow make the Playoffs, Adrian Peterson would get my vote for MVP if I had one. I would consider voting for him even if they didn't make the Playoffs. Peterson has actually come back as a better football player since his ACL injury. Here are his yardage totals from the past seven weeks: 153, 123, 182, 171, 108, 210, 154. Without AP, the Vikings offense would be a laughing stock. That's why he deserves consideration for MVP.

The "These Guys Definitely Didn't Use Their Heads" 3 Goats of the Week
3. Chan Gailey
-I never thought I would say this as a Bills fan, but I actually would rather have Dick Jauron back at this point. Gailey coached scared this past week against the Rams. He picked out of going for a 52 yard field goal late and burned a timeout in the process. He thought it was only from 50. 2 FREAKING YARDS IS THAT BIG OF A DIFFERENCE??? He had poor clock management and play calling to go along with it. How can you continue to say you are progressing when your 15-30 in three years?

2. Arizona Cardinals
-I hate to say it, but it looked like the Cardinals didn't even show up for Sunday's game against Seattle. They barely looked like a team that could survive a game against a High School team. The defense, which had been the lone bright spot of the team, just looked like thy quit knowing their offense couldn't score any points. Larry Fitzgerald deserves a raise for surviving this season. How the hell did this team beat the Patriots, in Foxboro????

1. Jason Brent
- I don't want to get too much into this tragedy. But Brent deserves the #1 spot this week because he did one of the stupidest things a human being could ever do: He got behind the wheel of a car drunk. I don't know why people do it. EVERYBODY does it once or twice. I have and I know others have. Its dumb and stupid when you think about it after. But Brent has to now live with the fact that he took someone's life because of his dumb mistake and will probably never play an NFL game again. If you are a young kid reading this, don't ever drink and drive. Ever. Nothing good will ever come of it.

Other Week 14 Notes
-Is it time to panic in Baltimore? The Ravens lost their second game in a row. This time, it was in over time to the Washington Redskins. And for the second week in a row, the Ravens let a back-up QB beat them. Last week it was the old and immobile Charlie Batch. This week it was the back-up rookie Kirk Cousins. The Ravens injury plagued defense was once again shredded. And they just fired Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron in the middle of a Playoff race. The good news for Baltimore is that both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati lost, allowing them to keep their two game lead in the AFC North with three games left. But their next three games: vs Denver, vs NY Giants, at Cincinnati. Despite two of those games being at home, it isn't out of the realm of possibility to see the Ravens lose all three. Joe Flacco hasn't done enough to show he is the elite QB he says he is and deserves a big contract. Baltimore went from a team that looked like they would get a 1st round bye in the Playoffs to a team that still might not get in the Playoffs, and even if they do, could easily be one and done.

-The Atlanta Falcons may be the #1 overall seed in the NFC, but is any team in the NFC really afraid to face them in the Playoffs? Forget the fact that Matt Ryan has never won a Playoff game. The team, despite their record, has not looked that great this season and they looked beyond awful in this week's loss to the Panthers. Atlanta has played a lot of close games this year against bad teams and had to pull out late wins. They almost lost to the likes of Oakland, Arizona and Kansas City. When teams find ways to shut down the Falcons passing game, they have no answer for it. Michael Turner is all but done as a featured running back in the league. And you never know what kind of effort you will get from the defense. After looking great last week against the Saints and picking off Drew Brees five times, they were shredded by Cam Newton in the air and on the ground this week. Looking at the current teams in the NFC Playoff Picture, the only team I would pick them over would be the Chicago Bears. And I could still be talked out of that. Atlanta has some things to figure out before the post season comes around.

-I guess this week must have been the "Win One For Your Coach Who Will Be Fired" Week. Both the Chargers and the Eagles pulled out big wins on the road. Amid reports that Coach Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith would be fired at the end of the year, the Chargers went into Pittsburgh and dominated the Steelers in every aspect of the game. Ben Roethlisberger was shut down completely before putting up some stats late after the game was out of reach. The Eagles won their game against Tampa Bay after a Nic Foles TD pass to Jeremy Maclin as time expired. That loss crushed any of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers remaining Playoff hopes. I don't think either of those wins are enough to save either coach's job, but they were probably nice feel good wins for those guys, It shows that the players won't quit on their coach and they have all of their respect. Both those teams could have packed it in, but they went all out for their soon to be fired coaches.

Random One Liners
-If the Jets somehow make the Playoffs, will Fireman Ed make a triumphant return?

-Only 8 touches for C.J. Spiller. I think a 12 year old could out coach Chan Gailey.

-Could a late season Bears collapse cost Lovie Smith his job?

-If the Browns fire Pat Shurmur, it will be a bad step back for a franchise on its way up.

-Likewise, if the Raiders stick with Carson Palmer at QB, they may not win a game next season.

-If you ask me, Calvin Johnson has finally broken the Madden Curse.

The Embarrassingly Bad Bottom 5
28. Carolina Panthers
29. Oakland Raiders
30. Arizona Cardinals
31. Kansas City Chiefs
32. Jacksonville Jaguars

Three Games I'd Like To See Next Week
NY Giants vs Atlanta: Possible NFC Championship Preview
Denver vs Baltimore: Possible AFC Championship Preview
San Francisco vs New England: Possible Super Bowl Preview

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

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