Tuesday, December 18, 2012

JC's Take: Stars, Goats & Notes From Week 15 of the NFL

Game of the Week: San Francisco 41  New England 31
-This game was nowhere close to being the game of the week. At one point, the 49ers were up 31-3 on the Pats in the cold and rain in Foxboro. But, you can never let Tom Brady and Co. back into the game. New England came roaring back and tied the game in the 4th quarter. But the 49ers answered with a good kickoff return and a TD less than a minute later. Bill Bellicheck then decided to go for it on 4th and 3 inside their own 30 late, and they failed yet again on Sunday night. It was a gutsy move, but it shows you don't trust your defense to stop the 49ers. Colin Kapernick continues to play well and has brought new life into this 49ers team. They are more dangerous with him under center. The 49ers are still my pick in the NFC to reach the Super Bowl.

Team of the Week: Atlanta Falcons
-Last week they were embarrassed on the road by the last place Carolina Panthers. This week they had the team that embarrassed them in the Playoffs last year coming into their building. So how do the Falcons respond? By blowing out the Giants and shutting out a very good Giants offense. And they scored 34 points on a Giants defense that has also played well all year. Atlanta made a statement. Many people, including myself, questioned whether or not they were a team to be scared of as the #1 seed in the NFC. I still have some questions, but they showed they won't be any pushover with their win over the Giants.

The "Adrian Peterson and 2 Other Guys" 3 Stars of the Week
3. Kirk Cousins
-Kirk Cousins may be auditioning for a starting role next year. Cousins played well in relief of RG3 Sunday against the Browns. Cousins threw for 329 yards and 2 TDs in the win. Great job by Mike Shanahan finding this guy late in the Draft. I would expect Cousins to start next week against the Eagles as well. I wouldn't trade Cousins if I were Washington, but some desperate team in need of a starter might make a big move to try and get him.

2. Russell Wilson
-For some reason, NFL scouts still like to use height as a determining factor when it comes to if a QB can succeed in the NFL. Drew Brees pretty much disproved that theory, and Russell Wilson is continuing to do so as well. Wilson has lead the Seahawks to two straight 50 point outings and will more than likely lead them to the Playoffs as well. Despite being under 6 feet tall, and being a rookie, Wilson is showing he has a future as an NFL QB. Wilson threw for a TD this week and also ran 3 in to the end zone. Seattle is going to be a tough out in the Playoffs.

1. Adrian Peterson
-24 carries, 212 yards, 1 TD. I'm just going to start posting Peterson's stat lines in this spot and pretty much nothing else. If I had a vote for MVP, AP would get mine. Without him, could you see the Vikings winning more than 3 games? No. He slightly edges out Manning for me.

The "Almost Slammy Award Bad" 3 Goats of the Week
3. Jay Cutler
-Once again, Cutler's immaturity showed on the sidelines of this week's game against the Packers. After throwing a terrible interception, Cutler just started complaining on the sidelines to coaches. Its not even as if it was in a calm matter. His over reaction to it showed. Cutler has also had a maturity question to him, and maybe it is just the frustration of the Bears collapse getting to him, but things aren't looking good in Chicago. I've never been a fan of Cutler, and you have to wonder if his act is growing thin in Chicago.

2. Roger Goodell
-The commissioner has been having a bad couple of weeks. First his Bountygate suspensions get over turned. Then he suggests expanding the Playoffs to either 14 or 16 teams per conference. That is just a bad idea, especially this year. Just look at the AFC. The Jets would be in the Playoffs if the season ended today. And the either seed would be an 8-8 or 7-9 team. There's no need to expand the Playoffs. Not having as many teams in it makes it more special when you do make it.

1. Anything Kansas City Chiefs Related
-The Chiefs were shutout by the Oakland Raiders Sunday. A Raiders team that has been TERRIBLE on defense all year. They put up only 119 yards of offense and had only seven first downs. Jamaal Charles only had 10 yards on 9 carries. I didn't think the Chiefs would be good this year, but this is beyond bad. Romeo Crennel is probably gone. They have looked terrible on offense no matter who was QB. The Chiefs are in a full blown rebuild mode and you would probably expect a lot of changes in KC.

Other Week 15 Notes
-Does anyone in the AFC North actually want to make the Playoffs? At this point, it doesn't really look like it. The Bengals took advantage of a bad Eagles team Thursday night, but it took them until the second half before they finally woke up. Pittsburgh fought back against Dallas, but Big Ben threw a bad interception in overtime. And the Ravens have lost three in a row and look like a team without an identity. Obviously, next week's game between the Bengals and Steelers is huge. If the Bengals win the Steelers are out of the Playoff hunt. A month ago I would have favored the Steelers. But they have looked awful the last two games, and were just blown out by the Chargers at home. Right now I am picking the Bengals, and I don't see myself changing that pick. As for the Ravens? They get the Giants who are just as desperate for a win as the Ravens are. Lose that game, and the Bengals win, and Cincy/Baltimore is for the AFC North in Week 17. Whoever wins this division will get the 4th seed. I think all of these teams would beat the Colts at home, but they will get slaughtered by the Texans and/or Pats in the next round.

-Speaking of another close division race, lets look at the NFC East. Two weeks left and the Giants, Redskins, and Cowboys are all tied up at 8-6. Washington beat Cleveland with backup QB Kirk Cousins. Dallas held on late to beat the Steelers. And the Giants were absolutely destroyed by the Falcons. You expected the Giants to make their late season run sooner or later, but they haven't been able to put together a string of good games. They beat the Packers and Saints but then look terrible against the Falcons. As I've already mentioned, the Giants have a tough one next week against a desperate Ravens team. They finish the season with Philly at home. Washington goes to Philly and the Cowboys get the Saints at home. Week 17 sees the Cowboys going to Washington, which could be for the division. The Saints have been hit or miss all year. I could see them dropping 40 on the Cowboys but also giving up 50. My pick? Washington and the Giants win out. Redskins would win the division in that scenario. And as I said, I wouldn't want to see RG3 in the Playoffs.

-Lets take another look at the NFC Wild Card with 2 weeks to go:

Seattle  9-5  6-4  vs San Francisco, vs St. Louis
Minnesota  8-6  6-5  at Houston, vs Green Bay
Chicago  8-6  5-5  at Arizona, at Detroit
Dallas  8-6  5-5  vs New Orleans, at Washington
NY Giants  8-6  7-4  at Baltimore, vs Philadelphia

I think Seattle wins out. With the way they have been playing, I think they will beat the 49ers next week. But San Fran gets Arizona at home to close the year, so they will win the division. Chicago has two winnable games, but they are also on a losing streak and I really don't know if I can trust Jay Cutler at this point. As I said, I think the Giants win out. Dallas loses in Washington. Adrian Peterson has been playing great for the Vikings. But Houston can wrap up the #1 seed in the AFC next week with a win, so they will be going all out in that one. I think the Bears find a way to put everything together and win out as well. That means the Giants and Bears both finish 10-6. The Giants would hold the tiebreaker edge in that one. Giants would be 8-4 in the conference, Chicago would be 7-5. And it is tough to bet against Eli and the Giants in the post-season.

Random One Liners
-Tom Brady doesn't get a penalty for spiking the ball like a cry baby?

-How the hell did the Lions give up 38 points to Detroit?

-Okay, maybe Chad Henne can't be a good stop-gap QB for the Jags.

-The Chargers Under Norv Turner in 2 Weeks: Beat Pittsburgh on the road, get destroyed by Carolina at home. Best of luck in your future endeavors Norv.

-And as a Bills fan, hopefully I can wish Chan Gailey the best in his future endeavors by the end of the year.

The Fab Five
1. San Francisco 49ers
2. New England Patriots
3. Houston Texans
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Denver Broncos

The Bad Bad Bad Five
28. San Diego Chargers
29. Philadelphia Eagles
30. Oakland Raiders
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
32. Kansas City Chiefs

Three Games I'd Like To See Next Week
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh: Winner has inside track at last AFC Wild Card spot.
NY Giants at Baltimore: Two teams desperate for a win.
San Francisco at Seattle: Both teams are rolling. Should be a fun game.

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

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