Week 14 was one of the craziest weeks we had seen in the NFL, yet somehow Week 15 seemed to top it (or at least equal it). We once again had a week of crazy games, calls, and comebacks. The excitement only grew with teams just a couple weeks shy of the playoffs. After a couple upsets, all of a sudden there are a couple teams that are primed for division wins who had an outside shot at the playoffs a couple weeks ago.
Matt Flynn’s Magic
Packers QB Matt Flynn was literally a wizard in the second half of Sunday’s game, casting a spell to make the Cowboys defense disappear…ok, any 4 year old that likes magic could do the same thing. The Packers started off so terribly, that yours truly changed the channel to watch the shootout between KC and OAK. I kept flipping back and at one point realized the Packers were making a comeback. They were down 26-3 at halftime, and then outscored the Boys 34-10 in the second half to win the game. Not to take too much away from Flynn, but this was abysmal by the Cowboys. First of all, one stop wins the game for them. Or one extra FG wins it. Or actually calling plays to run time off the clock wins it. As another columnist pointed out, from the point at which Dallas took a 26-3 lead, Dallas ran 23 passing plays and seven rushing plays. That’s only 1 run every 4 plays when you’re up by 23! As some readers might remember, I struggle when a team runs to burn timeouts, but that’s only when they’re up by less than a TD. This is ridiculous! On top of that, 1/3 of the passing plays were incomplete and stopped the clock. If only 2 of those 8 incompletions were runs instead, that’s 1:20 off the clock which also wins them the game.
What are the Packers Doing?
They are announcing today what Aaron Rodgers’ status is for Sunday, but you really have to stop and ask what the heck they’re waiting for? He’s been out for 6 weeks, and after the 3rd week he was pain free, plus it’s on his non-throwing shoulder. He’s also been throwing the ball and limited in practice for over 2 weeks. I get that there’s a danger in re-injury, but 2 or 3 years ago, Tony Romo had a broken collar bone and was only out for like 3 weeks. My prediction is that he returns this week, but is that because they’re magically in the playoff race again after the Lions epic stumble? You almost think if he came back earlier, the Packers would be a game up at this point.
Like the Call:
Mike Shanahan may truly be trying to get himself fired, but love the call at the end of the game. The Falcons were up by a TD when the Redskins drove and scored in the waning seconds. Down by 1, Shanahan opted to go for 2 (and the win) instead of taking the game into OT. He has nothing to lose (except his job), but he is at least showing his team that he believes in them. They didn’t convert, and lost the game, but coaches who don’t take risks lose the game (unless you’re up by 23, then you shouldn’t be passing).
Crazy Comeback #3:
In a game that I assume most of America wasn’t aware of, the Cardinals were battling it out with the Titans. Arizona was up 34-24 with 3 minutes left in the game. The Titans proceeded to kick a field goal, kick an onside kick, and score a TD with only 10 seconds left. The Titans had Arizona reeling, and with nothing to lose, I would have liked to see them go for 2 like the Redskins did, they lost the game anyway.
Last week, I exclaimed “can the Patriots ever lose if they’re down but with a chance to drive?” Well, it happened this week. The Dolphins scored with 1:15 left, and the Patriots had to drive 80 yards to score. If nothing else, I am ready to throw Tom Brady in as probably the greatest of all time at these drives with very little time left. They call it a 2 minute drill, but Brady often does it with half that time. Sure enough, he got them down to the 14 yard line, with multiple shots at the endzone. Except this time Miami intercepted the ball on 4th down to seal the win. Unbelievable story how the defender was picked up by the team on Tuesday, had to learn the playbook in 4 days, and wasn’t even playing his natural position. He broke up a TD pass that was in Amendola’s hands, and 2 plays later had the deciding pick. Cool story for an absolute underdog.
Kicking off Monday Night:
Monday night’s game between the Ravens and Lions ended up being a back and forth contest with lead changes. One of the downsides to being an obsessed football fan, is that I’ve seen so many bizarre plays and situations, that it can be tough to get excited about different plays. I definitely yelled as Justin Tucker barely squeaked in a 61 yard field goal for the win! It first looked like it would be wide, then it looked like it would be short, but it somehow made it right in the crook of the goalpost. That was about as dramatic as it gets.
Tough Guy of the Week:
Punters are all of a sudden getting in the mix and getting some press this year, but for hitting! Earlier, Pat McAfee of the Colts laid out a punt returner on a huge hit, and immediately after was called in for a “random” drug test. My tough guy of the week award goes to Kevin Huber, the punter of the Bengals. He got illegally blocked with a helmet to his chin. His jaw shattered and he cracked vertebrae in his neck. Yet he still jogged off the field and had no hard feelings for a player of a division rival. He got absolutely rocked! Can you imagine how bad it would be back in the day when kickers only had the single-bar facemask?
Rams Strange Season
With FMQB, I try hard not to write too much about my favorite team as I realize that not everybody is as interested as me in a 6-8 team. But I wanted to give a somewhat early season recap. It’s been a rough year, with promise shot down by our star QB getting injured early in the season. For all the Bradford haters, he had 14 TD’s and 4 INT’s, and is in the top 11 for passer rating. After he went down, I basically gave up on the season, but it has still been an interesting and strange year. For some reason, the Rams are winning games they have no business winning, and losing games against easy teams. The Rams have lost to the Falcons, Cowboys, and Titans this year, but have defeated the Cardinals, Colts, Saints, and Bears (all playoff teams). They also came 2 yards shy to taking down the Super Bowl favorite Seahawks.
Stat of the Week:
Despite him vehemently denying any December issues, Tony Romo is 0-2 in December this year
Stolen Stat of the Week #2:
Josh Gordon has 841 receiving yards in the past 5 games, and Cleveland has lost all 5
Stat of the Week #3:
Jamaal Charles (a Running Back) had 195 receiving yards and 5 TDs
Stat of the Week #4:
Last week, the Bears scored on every single drive vs. the Cowboys. The week after, the Packers scored on every single drive in the 2nd half
Stat of the Week #5:
For the 2nd straight week, a team kicked and recovered an onside kick in the 4th quarter, and then drove down and scored.
Quote of the Week:
“I hope I helped a lot of people’s fantasy teams, I know I helped mine!” Justin Tucker, Ravens Kicker. Funny because a lot of players dislike the fantasy aspect of the game.
We have a couple of very tight races going on for the playoffs right now, in fact, only 1 team has locked up their division (Colts). We only have 2 games left, and still 15 teams (nearly half the league) who are mathematically alive to win their division!
Easily the tightest race is in the NFC North, where three teams separated by one game: Chicago (8-6), Green Bay (7-6-1), and Detroit (7-7). With a crucial Week 17 Matchup with the Packers vs Bears, that game will decide the division winner. In the NFC South, the Saints and Panthers are tied at 10-4, meaning the winner of this week’s game basically decides that division. In the NFC East, Dallas has hurt themselves, but still controls their own destiny if they win out. The Eagles hold that spot at the moment. Even the NFC West isn’t locked up. If Seattle somehow stumbles, the 49ers take that spot.
The AFC is equally up for grabs. Denver hasn’t locked up the West yet, and if they lose just 1 game the Chiefs can nab that spot and the #1 overall seed. New England is actually in danger of not only losing their first round bye, but losing the AFC East in general if the Dolphins win out. The Ravens, who were 4-6 a few weeks ago, now also control their destiny if they win out and meet the Bengals in 2 weeks. They have a tough road against the Patriots and Bengals though.