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NFL Games of Week 12 2013

The playoffs took a turn for the messy last week. I’m not taking remaining strength of schedule into account here but the AFC has the Jets & Dolphins at 5-5 followed by 6 teams at 4-6 with the Bills being at 4-7. There is a clear demarcation between the top-5 AFC teams and the rest of the conference, but you could easily argue that 9 teams are all in play for that last playoff spot.

The NFC isn’t quite as muddy but with the 49ers losing to the Saints last week & Arizona winning yet again, there are now 3 teams that are 6-4 along with 2 others that are 5-5. The Giants have won 4 straight to get to 4-6 and aren’t completely out of the picture just yet especially with their ability to sustain a winning streak. One other difference between the AFC & NFC is the division races. The NFC races are a complete mess outside of the West where Seattle seems have that division all but locked up. Maybe we’ll get a bit more clarity this week!

Both teams are 4-6 but going in opposite directions. Cleveand is 1-4 in their last 5 games while the Steelers are 4-2 in their last 6. The Steelers & Browns are seeded 10th & 12th respectively & one could move up significantly with a win here. The road isn’t easy for either but Cleveland can play big time spoiler here. The Browns schedule is brutal down the stretch so they could ruin Pittsburgh season with a win. By the way, the Browns cut Bobby Rainey earlier this season & he was picked up by Tampa Bay. It wasn’t a savvy move & despite Cleveland having QB issues, having a skill position trio of RB Rainey, WR Josh Gordon & TE Jordan Cameron all 26 years old & younger looks amazing!
Even with the loss & Chicago win, the Lions at 6-4 still hold the tiebreaker over the Bears so Detroit is still locked into the #3 seed. The Lions certainly have problems with consistency but last week’s game against Pittsburgh just had “trap” written all over it as Detroit was coming over 2 gut wrenching close wins over Dallas & Chicago. With that said, this might not be an easy game. Tampa Bay has won 2 straight and probably should have won 3 straight seeing how they probably should have beaten the Seahawks in Seattle. Over their last 3 games (MIA, ATL & SEA), the Bucs have outscored their opponents 87-74. The defense is pretty good & if Bobby Rainey can run like he did last week then Tampa can play a little ball control. This one could be tight.
Potentially a decent game for Green Bay although Minnesota can be tough & without Aaron Rodgers, who knows what could happen even if the game is in Green Bay? Minnesota is 0-5 on the road this season but the Packers are 0-2 without Rodgers under center. The North is just crazy. Detroit & Chicago play games they could lose & if the Packers win then all the teams are 6-5. Minnesota has no shot (currently the #16 seed) but could play spoiler here. There have been rumors that Rodgers might only miss 3 games. If that is true then this is the last game he misses and if Green Bay can go 1-2 in his absence and get to 6-5 then there is a chance. Green Bay’s remaining schedule is NASTY so they have a pretty steep uphill battle.
Three weeks ago I really thought San Diego was going to be a major player. At the time they were 4-3 & at some point held the #6 seed in the AFC. Then the last 3 weeks happen where the Chargers lose all 3 games by a combined 18 points, two of which were on the road. Before that run the Chargers had won 4 of 6 & had a lot of people worried. Winning at Arrowhead is no easy task but Kansas City has to be feeling a little bit down after having their perfect season go down in flames in Denver. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a trap game because it’s a home game, but San Diego’s defense is for real & they actually played Denver closer although the Broncos were on the road. I still think KC can win out but a win here puts SD at 5-6 & very much in the playoff hunt. There is a lot to play for and this should be an outstanding game.
Chicago isn’t a bad road team at 2-2 but this feels sort of trappy for me. The Bears at 6-4 were swept by the Lions so they can’t win a tiebreaker with them. Instead of the #3 seed the Bears are #8 behind both the 49ers & Cardinals. A win here keeps them on pace with Detroit but it also helps out their cause for a wild card spot. The Rams are very interesting. Kellen Clemens isn’t awful & St. Louis is coming off a bye and a win over Indianapolis 38-8 in Indy! The Rams are sitting at just 4-6 but their “best case” record is 7-3 so they’ve been in some tight games. The Rams can’t get in the playoffs with the division they play in but they can play spoiler. This is a must win for Chicago so a spoiler is exactly what St. Louis will try to pull off. Like the SD/KC or DET/TB games, this one will be really close & I won’t be surprised to see the Rams pull it out.
Even amidst of the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito controversy, the Dolphins are 5-5 and right in the thick of the AFC playoff race! It won’t be the easiest road to travel but certainly doable. Over the last few weeks, the Dolphins haven’t done a bad job although the loss to the Bucs hurt them badly as a 6-4 record would have them as the #6 seed. The Panthers are now really playing well & winning. At 7-3 and just a game behind New Orleans, the Panthers are in play for not only the NFC South but also the #2 seed. This is another one of those sneaky games where it might be closer than you think. Miami is at home & there has to be a little bit of a rallying cry in that regard. Just a huge game for both teams despite it being NFC v. AFC.
A heartbreaking loss for the Ravens last week pushed the current Super Bowl champions to 4-6. Amazingly enough that doesn’t push them out of the Wild Card just yet. They are still just 1 game out of the #6 seed and are currently the #11 seed. The team all the 4-6 squads are chasing is New York. A win here for the Ravens pushes them even with the Jets at 5-6. Let’s assume Miami loses. If that is the case then the #6 seed in the AFC will actually be a team with a sub-.500 record. The Jets of course are playing for the playoffs but are coming off a BRUTAL loss to the Bills in Buffalo. I don’t think things will get any easier in Baltimore. It sure does seem like a tiebreaking nightmare for all the AFC teams 5-6 after this week.
A meaningless game in every way possible. The Jaguars are 1-9 and currently the 16th seed in the AFC while the Texans have devolved into a complete disaster at 2-8 and the 15th seed after being the AFC South champions a year ago! What is somewhat interesting here is that both teams are all of a sudden looking for franchise QBs. The Jaguars were coming into the season knowing they had nothing with Blaine Gabbert & Chad Henne but the Texans are somewhat new to the idea after the demise of Matt Schaub. Oddly enough, a Jacksonville win would make Houston the worst team in the AFC! Who would have thought that? I guess you could argue both teams are playing for draft position?
I’m not sure how much national recognition this game is going to get (if any!) but it’s an under the radar game with a lot of playoff implications. Both teams are 4-6 so the winner is going to come out at 5-6. Assuming the Jets & Dolphins lose, it means one team will have a record good enough for the #6 seed in the AFC. It’s also an interesting story with the QBs. Tennessee is dealing with an injured Jake Locker forcing Ryan Fitzpatrick into the thick of a playoff chase. The Raiders signed Matt Flynn to be their future QB but Terrelle Pryor beat him out only to get injured which forced undrafted FA rookie QB Mike McGloin to become a starter! Given their division, the Titans have a great shot at getting that #6 seed & a win here would go a long way in securing it.
If Denver weren’t playing New England on Monday night this would definitely be my game of the week! With their win over the Titans in Tennessee last week the Colts pretty much locked up the AFC South & they are currently the #2 seed in the AFC because the Patriots lost to Carolina. Arizona is sitting pretty at 6-4, but due to tiebreakers they are the #7 seed in the NFC. Chicago & San Francisco are on the road this week as is Carolina. If those 3 teams lose & Arizona wins then the Cardinals could be the #5 seed in the NFC when the dust settles which would be amazing! As the #2 seed I think it imperative the Colts keep that seed. I think it gives them a GREAT chance to get to the AFC Championship game. Note also Arizona HC Bruce Arians was Indy’s OC under HC Chuck Pagano! GREAT GAME!
At 5-5 the Cowboys aren’t completely out of it. If they were to beat the Giants then they’d be right back in 1st place due to them owning the tiebreaker over Philly. On the other hand, the Giants are surging having won 4 straight & now stand at 4-6. A win here puts them at 5-6 & just 1 game behind the 6-5 Eagles for NFC East supremacy. Obviously with the Cowboys you are just looking for which way they’ll implode this season. Will it be here where they fall to 5-6 and 3rd place in the division? Dallas’s defense is brutal and I don’t think they are going to be able to stop the Giants at all. Despite his show of confidence this week, I don’t see how Jerry Jones doesn’t completely shake up the organization. This is a 7-9 team in the making.
There is A LOT going on here. At the end of the day for me this game is about Peyton Manning exorcising some demons. With Indianapolis, Manning simply hasn’t been able to beat Tom Brady & Bill Belichick. He has to know that historically that is going to cost him points in the greatest QB of all time debate. Even last year with the Broncos, Manning went into Foxboro and suffered a 31-21 loss to the Patriots. All time Manning is 4-7 against Brady including the playoffs but the Patriots have outscored the Broncos/Colts by 20 points over 11 games. That’s less than 2 points a game and while Manning has gotten Brady 4 times at home, he’s been to Foxboro 7 times with a 2-5 record. Manning has to get the final word. He can start this week.
At 3-7 this game is not really about Washington as they don’t really have any chance to make the playoffs. If anything the Redskins need to start playing well behind RG3 because it always seems like some type of controversy is surrounding the kid and his leadership abilities. Who knows? The 49ers all of a sudden seemingly have their backs against the wall. At 6-4, they are now a game behind Carolina for the #5 spot in the playoffs & if they lose this week, could actually get passed up by both Chicago & Arizona not to mention it could be entirely possibly they are tied with Dallas & Green Bay at 6-5! A win here makes it better but it looks like Seattle & New Orleans might have the #1-#2 seeds in some order & they are simply unbeatable at home. Steep battle for the 49ers moving forward.
The Saints got out of Atlanta with a 17-13 win this past Thursday night. As for as the playoffs are concerned, the Saints remain the #2 seed at 9-2, just a game behind Seattle who is 10-1 and on bye this week. It’s hard to argue with how good New Orleans is. The 9-2 record speaks & they are 6-0 at home. The season actually starts for the Saints now. The 6-0 record now means they are 3-2 on the road and 3 of their last 5 on the road against Seattle, Carolina & St. Louis. Assuming they beat St. Louis, at worst they have 4 losses. That’s 12-4, but it hasn’t all been roses. They won a close game at Buffalo then lost at New England. Hammer Buffalo at home then lose to the Jets on the road. Hammer Dallas but squeak by SF and Atlanta. Inconsistent winning but winning. CAR& SEA comprise 3 of their last 5 games.

November 23, 2013 - Posted by | Week 12

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