We’re going to do it a little bit differently this week, by highlighting FMQB’s “Games of the Week” right away! The reason is, after this week, 20 teams’ seasons will be over. This is going to be their last game for the next 8 months, and its results will stick with these teams until next September. I would like to start off by highlighting the significance of a few of these teams final game of the 2011 season.
Colts vs Jaguars: Normally this matchup would be the game of the “weak,” but this game actually has probably the most impact on NFL history as the Super Bowl will this year. Here’s why…As FMQB has mentioned numerous times, if the Colts get the #1 pick, Andrew Luck would be drafted and Peyton Manning would either play for a year and be traded, be benched for Luck, or be forced to retire early. In this one game, the Colts can preserve Manning’s legacy with a win and make sure that Luck ends up with some other team.
Broncos vs Chiefs: Or as I like to call it, the Revenge Game. Kyle Orton will be coming into this game with an incredible beef against his opponent. Not only was he benched for Tebow, Orton was straight up released by the Broncos. Will Kyle Orton be able to get revenge against his old team, prove Bronco fans wrong for wanting Tebow, and knock the Broncos out of the playoffs? I’m excited to find out!
Cowboys vs Giants: This is easily the game of the season. It’s a “win and you’re in” scenario, a chance to host a playoff game while the loser watches from their couch. The first matchup between these 2 teams went down to the final play of the game. Nothing else to say, but stay up and watch this game Sunday Night!
Bengals vs Ravens: Huge playoff implications in this one game. The Ravens need a win to hold onto the #2 seed, so they will pour it onto the Bengals. The Bengals need to win to clinch a playoff spot. If the Bengals lose, then the door opens up for the Raiders, Titans, and Jets. Depending on outcomes of those games, it’s basically a 4 team race for the final Wild Card spot.
Panthers vs Saints: Not much for playoff implications, if the 49ers win they lock up a first round bye. However this should be an exciting game. The Panthers are on FIRE the second half of the season, winning 4 of their last 5. Will the Saints keep Brees in to pad his record? Seeing the Panthers pull an upset on the road would be a true indication of where that team is going next year, and that’s nothing but up.
Chargers vs Raiders: This had the potential to be the AFC West playoff play-in game, but the Chargers got crushed last week. The Raiders need a win to have a shot into the playoffs, and these two division rivals should put on a good show.
Seahawks vs Arizona: Both teams are out of the playoffs, but one team has a chance to go 8-8 this year. After a 1-6 start for the Cardinals, and 2-6 for the Seahawks, this is quite an accomplishment. An improvement for both teams from last year.
Stat of the Week #1:
In Week 16, San Francisco’s defense gave up their first rushing TD of the season. Very staunch.
Stat of the Week #2:
Both the AFC West and NFC East could finish the season without a team with a winning record. Last year they made such a hullabaloo about the Seahawks doing it in the NFC West, but where are the naysayers now that the Cowboys or Giants are involved? Nowhere.
Stat of the Week #3:
Six teams have better road records than at home. Four of which are in or have a shot at the playoffs. A good road record could serve those teams well.
Stat of the Week #4:
Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 45 TD’s this year. Without being rested the final game, there would have been a legitimate shot to tie Brady’s record of 50.
Stat of the Week #5:
Through 8 games, Tebow had only been picked off 2 times. On Sunday alone he was intercepted 4 times.
Stat of the Week #6:
In his first year as a feature back (which people thought the Dolphins were crazy), Reggie Bush rushed for more yards than Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Cedric Benson, Rashard Mendenhall, and many others. In fact only 8 RB’s rushed for more yards than him!
Stat of the Week #7:
Adrian Peterson was 30 yards away from breaking 1000, Matt Forte was only 3 yards away. Most contracts have bonus incentives for hitting that milestone, that’s gotta hurt.
“Luck-y” Stat of the Week:
In the last 16 quarters of football, the Rams have scored 26 points, or averaging roughly 1.6 points per quarter in that span.
“Brees-y” Stat of the Week:
In the same timespan of 16 quarters, the Saints have scored 140 points, or roughly 8.75 points per quarter.
Maybe the Curse is Dead!
Last week, FMQB expounded on the glory of watching greatness in person, talking about Drew Brees. On Monday Night, Brees passed Dan Marino’s record for most passing yards in a season. After all the wacky predictions and hoping, it was very refreshing to watch somebody break a record that’s been standing for nearly 30 years. On top of that, it happened to a classy guy. My respect jumped for him even more after watching his locker room speech to his teammates (You can see his locker room speech here). I’ll end with throwing out some stats for you to revel in. Brees has thrown for at least 300 yards 12 times this year, breaking the old record of 10. Brees is the 1st QB to pass for 5000+ yds twice in his career. On Monday Brees passed Joe Montana on the all-time TD list. And the Saints are 218 yds away from total offense record set by 2000 Rams, would have over 7000 total yards!
This Year’s McGwire vs. Sosa:
Tom Brady is only 187 yards behind Drew Brees record, and will most likely break Marino’s record this year too! There is a shot that Brady can end up with the ultimate record this year, this is only if the Saints rest Brees since their #3 seed is pretty much locked up (unless the Rams somehow find the endzone) and the Patriots need to win to hold onto their #1 seed.
Who really deserves the MVP?
Aaron Rodgers: 14-1 record, 45 TD’s thrown, 4600+ yds
Drew Brees: 12-3 record, 41 TD’s thrown, 5100+ yds
You can really make an argument for either one. Rodgers didn’t break any records, but he only had 6 INT’s for his 45 TDs! Brees broke Marino’s record, had a better completion percentage than Rodgers, and was right with him with TDs. If they rest Rodgers and Brees gets 3 more TDs added onto his total, then I’m slowly starting to lean the other way and say that Brees should get the MVP. Although I hated it in 2003, I think this would be a year where Co-MVP’s may be warranted.
Screw Rookie of the Year, More like Best Rookie Ever:
I’m taking this logic from a few other columnists, but would like to re-iterate it myself. Not only does Cam Newton deserve the Rookie of the Year award. I think it’s safe to say that Newton has had the best rookie season in NFL history. People are going to argue that it’s not all about statistics, that Wins are big in determining strong rookie seasons. Ben Roethlisberger comes to mind, going 15-1 his rookie year before losing to the Patriots. Think of what a statistical powerhouse he is now, and think back to his rookie year. Remember how badly the Steelers had to hide behind him? It was eerily similar to Tim Tebow, where Roethlisberger might get 15 passes a game, a lot of it was done with his legs (although Ben’s first instinct was to extend the play for a pass, unlike Tebow). He was also leading an all-hall of fame team that would go on to win 2 Super Bowls. I think Big Ben is the only other legitimate argument over rookie of the century. But take a look at Cam Newton’s stats this year. Newton rushed for 674 yards (almost being the Panthers leading rusher this year) and a whopping 14 TD’s! He is second in the entire league in Rushing TD’s, and broke the record for most Rushing TD’s by a QB as a rookie. As a running back he would probably be in the running for rookie of the year. But wait a minute, Cam has another weapon, his arm. Cam has thrown for nearly 3900 yds, and will easily surpass 4000 yds on Sunday. This is the most rookie passing yards ever, beating out Peyton Manning and Sam Bradford (hey, he was good last year). And the Panthers relied on him heavily, asking him to throw 492 passes so far this year (that’s more than 5 playoff QB’s have thrown it). When all is said and done, Cam will run away with the award (he can set it next to his Heisman) and will go down as the best rookie season in NFL History. There’s a reason I had a Quota to talk about him each week! I would like to give props to AJ Green of the Bengals, and DeMarco Murray of the Cowboys. If it wasn’t for Cam, these guys would be up there too.
Playoff Predictions, Here is how Week 17 will end up:
The NFC is pretty set right now, with the only big change coming with the winner of the NFC East. In the Cowboys vs Giants game, I am predicting a gritty performance by Tony Romo, only to come up slightly short. Manning and the Giants win a tight one 27-24 and make it into the playoffs (saving Tom Coughlin’s job for one more season). Other than that, Packers lose their second game (although via resting players) to go 14-2 and the #1 spot. The 49ers don’t falter and take the #2, Saints win and stay at #3, Giants #4, Lions #5, Falcons #6. First round matchups will be Falcons at Saints, Lions at Giants.
The AFC on the other hand is extremely messy, and it literally all comes down to the Bengals vs Ravens game, which I think the Ravens will take. The Patriots will avenge their loss to the Bills and take the #1 Seed. Ravens win and will be #2. Houston stays at #3 even by dropping their 3rd straight game. Broncos fix their recent slump and beat the Chiefs for the division. Steelers are locked in at #5 in my opinion, but here we come to the final wild card spot. It’s down to the Bengals, Titans, Raiders, and Jets. I think that the Bengals lose to the Ravens, Titans beat the Texans, Jets beat Miami, and Raiders lose to San Diego. In this scenario, the Titans would sneak in. The only other legitimate shot I see is the Raiders winning in which case they would be the #6 team. I don’t foresee the Bengals or Jets making the playoffs this year. First round matchup would be Titans at Texans (Week 17 rematch) and Steelers at Broncos. Both home teams will lose.
Playoff Tiebreakers are so confusing:
Before the MNF game between the Steelers and 49ers, FMQB was trying to explain the significance of the game to FFMQB, and why each team needed to win. Trust me, it was confusing. Take a look at this line! The Titans have ways to make it to the playoffs if current Wild Card teams win or lose.
- a win + Bengals loss + Jets win + Raiders loss or tie, or
- a win + Bengals loss + Jets win + Broncos loss or tie, or
- a win + Bengals loss + Jets loss or tie + Raiders win + Broncos win
This is just strange to me because the Titans obviously need a win and a Bengals loss, I get that. But afterwards, there are scenarios that get them in that involve the Jets, Broncos, and Raiders and it doesn’t seem like it matters if those teams win or lose. For a better understanding of playoff scenarios for Week 17, check here.
A Fond Farewell:
I would just like to say goodbye to Steve Spagnuolo, coach of the Rams. You were the first coach I’ve been excited about as a Rams fan. Much better than the Martz years of late, Scott Linehan, the weird Joe Vitt and Jim Haslett interims. Coming in after the Giants Super Bowl win to bring your defense to a much needed club had me chomping at the bit for a revival of the team with a new defensive philosophy. You turned us around from 1-15 to a 7-9 ball club. I feel there’s a lot you have left in you, but a frustrating 10-37 record as head coach is going to limit your days. I would like to wish you well, and thank you for a brief glimmer of hope for a team that doesn’t bring their fans much of that.
Playoff Preview, What the Rams should do with the #1 Pick, and a Season recap for 20 teams looking in.