Sunday, December 15, 2013

NFL's Week 15 Locks

So the NFL has hit Week 15 and the wildness of last week's 100-plus touchdown eruption may not have been matched but there were a number of jaw-dropping finishes heading into crunch time.   What stood out from Week 15 -


The Packers may have to rethink Aaron Rodgers - Matt Flynn led the biggest comeback since the Patriots wiped out Denver's 24-0 lead; down 26-3 Flynn exploded the Packers to five touchdowns marred by a missed two-point try.   Flynn has thus done what Aaron Rodgers has never been able to do - lead a comeback win for the Packers.   Given the Packers' uneven play this year Flynn is more than justifying usurping Rodgers as Packers starter.

The Dolphins are becoming the AFC East rival the Patriots have generally lacked - A rumor began circulating that the Patriots, banged up all around, may bring back Donte Stallworth for their stretch run, a good idea given how Stallworth fits the offense and has given it a deep threat it hasn't really had since he was lost for the balance of 2012.   They can doubly use Stallworth to help a receiving corps that isn't weak but nonetheless can use such help after seeing the Dolphins pull off the win, a win that puts Miami on a path for a winning season and perhaps the playoffs - though one can wonder if the Dolphins are ready for a playoff run right now.

Where is the run doing much good for the Patriots? - Over and over I hear the criticism that the Patriots abandon the run too early and that criticism was made after this game - this even though the Patriots outrushed the Dolphins 96 yards to 81.   Nowhere in any of these games can I find any area where the Patriots would do better running the ball, especially with Stevan Ridley having proven untrustworthy between fumbles and reported insubordination with the coaches - curiously a common thread in the Belichick era among such players as Ty Law, Asante Samuel, Brandon Meriweather, and Richard Seymour.  

The Saints may be in trouble - New Orleans' road woes of recent were on display in St. Louis again and they have to go to Carolina next week with the Panthers wanting revenge after last week's rout.  

The Seahawks remain the favorites - Not even in 2005 have the Seahawks ever looked this powerful.  

The Favrelous Favreness Of Fitzpatrick - A pick-six by Ryan Fitzpatrick put the Cardinals up 34-17, yet the Tennessee Titans nearly topped everyone else.  Fitzpatrick made a hell of a run to redemption as the Titans scored 17 points in the final five minutes to force overtime - and then Fitzpatrick suddenly became Brett Favre; he threw another interception in overtime, setting up the Cardinals' winning field goal.   Steve McNair was the heart of the Titans because he had the heart of a lion; the 2013 Titans have shown more fight than many championship teams, heart McNair would be proud of.   And why they're 5-9 instead of 10-4 is simple - Fitzpatrick has legitimate talent, has numbers, makes plays, yet never seals the deal.   Would the Titans be 10-4 or close to that if Jake Locker was still playing?  I cannot fathom that they wouldn't.  

Kirk Cousins needs to be the future of the Redskins - With RGIII proving a one-shot wonder, Kirk Cousins showed exactly why Griffin ought have no future with the Skins.   Cousins came into the game basically cold and damn near pulled off the win over the Falcons.    The death of the read-option should dissuade anyone who thinks Griffin III should remain starter.

The Rams will become a contender - Reaching 8-8 may not be achievable; nonetheless the Rams have actually shown signs of getting better in Jeff Fisher's second season there.  

The Vikings showed something - Matt Cassel pulled one of the shockers of the weekend by crushing the Eagles by three scores; coming with Adrian Peterson out, it shows the Vikings aren't the one-trick pony most assume they are.

For the Chiefs, now comes the hard part - The Chiefs are in the playoffs in Andy Reid's first year; now comes the hard part - they need to win a playoff game for the first time since Joe Montana's final playoff win in 1993.   The last time the Chiefs were even competitive in a playoff game was 2003 against Peyton Manning's Colts.  

The Jaguars are a legitimate threat for 2014 - It took a horrific first half of the season for the Jaguars to learn the lessons needed to learn; it's now showing even though they're only 4-10.   Clearly players are buying into the program and it's beginning to work.

Houston may win the Suck For Johnny race - It seems foregone that the Houston Texans - twenty years after the earthquake that turned out to be the end of the Houston Oilers - will have the #1 draft pick, and quarterback is the glaring need for a squad with genuine talent.   One wonders how likely it becomes that Johnny Manziel becomes Houston's next starter.

The not-ready-for-primetime-Bengals - Facing a game that would put them to the next level, the Bengals faltered again.   The Bengals remain a talented team with real promise, but they haven't gone another level.

The Lions are not getting better - We may now see the upper management of the Lions blown up after a hideous loss to a pathetic Ravens team that needed six field goals, one of them a 61-yarder, to outlast a Lions offense that didn't show up at all.   Matthew Stafford's three picks were atrocious and kept the Ravens alive in the AFC North while costing his team in a suddenly-crowded NFC North race.

It was an ugly ending to what was an amazing NFL weekend.

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