Stewing Over Week 15: Everything You Know is Wrong
It was opposite week this week in the NFL. The Packers lost, the Colts won, Tebow lost, and Caleb Hanie looked like an NFL Quarterback. Well, almost everything was different. The Bears looked terrible and are officially out of the playoffs. As a side note, do you know what pisses me off? When analysts talk about teams like the Bears and say, “Wait, they’re not out of the playoffs yet.” And while this is technically true, it rounds to zero on the mathematical probability scale. Both the Falcons and Lions are a full two games ahead of the Bears and now the Seahawks would beat them in a tiebreaker. Also, the Bears got blown out by the Seahawks. What are the odds they’ll march into Lambeau against a pissed off Packers team and win that game? Right. Mathematically zero.
Anyway, onto the games.
Seahawks (7-7) def. Bears (7-7) 38-14
Dave: It seems like yesterday the Bears were 7-3 and a shoe-in for the playoffs. Now? They’re done and we get to start looking forward to next year and listen to guys like Tom Waddle talk about how the window on the Bears defense is closing. They need to resign Forte, a capable backup quarterback, hope Cutler is healthy, revamp the line, and get impact players at wide receiver. The worst part about this season? The Bears did just good enough to let Angelo and Lovie keep their jobs. How depressing.
Kevin: As Wilbon tweeted yesterday, that’ll be the last Bears game I watch this year. I’m so beyond caring at this point. Think back 4 weeks ago when the Bears were being discussed as Super Bowl contenders. And now they’ll miss the playoffs. Seems a lot like Illinois football. God my teams suck.
To re-hash: it’s inexcusable to have a back-up that can’t play (repeatedly, hello Todd Collins). It’s inexcusable that after the first game against the Raiders they didn’t go sign a veteran QB. Are you seriously telling me that Favre/Bulger/McNabb wouldn’t have been better? What’s better: an overly complicated offensive playbook that your QB can’t execute, or a new playbook with 15-20 basic plays that a veteran QB CAN execute? Smith, Angelo….thanks for ruining yet another season.
And of course it stings that much more because had we won 2-3 of these games we’d be in the playoffs. And Cutler would have been back in a couple of weeks to get ready for a playoff run. At least I could have enjoyed football for another month. But nope. Shut them all down. Go into next season with yet another OC and playbook, a crap o-line, an aging defense (who, by the way, continues to get exposed with hardly any pass rush beyond Peppers and absolutely terrible coverage guys), no NFL caliber WR’s, blah blah. I want someone to do a book on Bears pre-season headlines. I have a feeling that over the last 10 years you’d see a lot of the same basic complaints about personnel.
And you’re right, injuries (as well as timely special teams/defensive plays) saved Smith and Angelo for probably another season. And you know next year they’ll be in the playoffs so the train will keep on rolling.
Burner: I could only see this game as the score scrolled by on the ticker. At first it was close, I saw 14-14 and then the next time I saw the score it was 31-14. Wha? Poor Bears fans, they really gave you hope this year despite one of the toughest NFC Norths in recent memory. There aren’t many teams that can survive losing their stud QB and running back though. As for Lovie and Angelo coming back, that was probably going to happen anyway. Your ownership is far too cheap to shit can them with that many years left on their deals. But hey, look on the bright side, Mike Martz said he’d come back as your offensive coordinator, so at least you can look forward to Forte being underused after he holds out and Cutler getting hurt in somewhere around week 10.
Chiefs (6-8) def. Packers (13-1) 19-14
Dave: The one decent thing about this weekend? The Packers lost. Plus their entire line is hurt so there’s a possibility they’ll lose in the playoffs.
Burner: What a boring game. Who knew the league’s last unbeaten losing would be so dull? I think what happened here hinged on two things, the first was that Chiefs players were super excited to finally be free of Camaro Enthusiast and colossal a-hole Todd Haley. The second was that the talk of 16-0/19-0 had simply gotten too loud in Green Bay. I liked their approach of being willing to talk about it, instead of the usual robotron responses we get from teams, but its a tough thing to do, you get banged up and go into a game a little off against a fired up team and that’s all it takes.
The offensive line woes do make Green Bay look a little vulnerable, but Jennings will be back for the playoffs and they’ll have home field advantage throughout. It seems like everyone is suddenly very high on the Saints after they dismantled the Vikings yesterday (400 yds and 5 tds for Breesus). This mystifies me though, it’s like the people who get paid money to cover this sport cannot remember the fact that the Vikings are just god awful, I guess you can ignore a lot if it lets you reinforce the narrative you already have in your head. Also, the Vikings play in a dome and the Saints are simply not the same team when they’re outside.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs are shockingly still in the playoff hunt. Sure they’ll need total collapses by the Broncos and Raiders but it’s still possible. If they can win next week, their New Years day game against the Broncos will be huge. Call it The Revenge of Neck Beard! If Kyle Orton can knock the Broncos out of the playoffs I’ll have the biggest football boner I’ve had since the Rams won the Super Bowl.
Kevin: Neckbeard strikes again! Nice win for KC after firing the coach. Hey Bears management, take a hint!!
Lions (9-5) def. Raiders (7-7) 28-27
Dave: Wow. Stafford really looked good in this one bringing the Lions back from two touchdowns down and effectively wrapping up their spot in the playoffs.
Burner: This looked like it would have been a fun one to watch. The Lions won on a last minute TD pass from Stafford to Calvin Johnson and a blocked Seabass 65yd field goal attempt by none other than the NFL’s latest whipping boy Ndamukong Suh. I know no one cares about our fantasy teams but the Lion’s pointsplosion really helped out Dave’s and my teams this weekend in our league. Championship game here we come! The Raiders loss was also a nice little gift for the Broncos who maintained their hold on first place despite a loss to the Patriots.
Kevin: I hate both of these teams. That is all.
Patriots (11-3) def. Broncos (8-6) 41-23
Dave: I know we don’t want to talk about games in which the Patriots win but a Tebow loss? How’s everyone holding up? Did the city of Denver collapse this week? The Raider loss keeps the Broncos in the lead in the West so I imagine they can’t be that upset.
Burner: In retrospect it seems a little obvious that this would be the result of this game, but it sure didn’t look that way just after kickoff. The Orange Jesuses ran out and scored quick showing some unexpected 1st quarter Tebow magic. Then Brady went right down the field and answered with a score of his own. Then it went back and forth like that over the first quarter. The second quarter though, continued to be very non-magical for the Tebows (they have something like a -90 point differential since he became their starter, that number is not an exaggeration). First there was the Lance Ball fumble that turned into three points, which was followed by the Tebow strip-sack that turned into a Patriots touchdown. There was also a muffed kick return that turned into points in there somewhere too. That was more or less the game, after that the Broncos were never really able to keep it closer than two scores and the Patriots coasted to victory in a much more dull second half.
One of the things that baffled Kevin and I while we watched this one was why Denver kept going back to option plays. It was clear to us that the Patriots where more than ready for them. It seemed like every time Denver dialed up the option it would end in disaster (Tebow strip-sack) or a 0 yard run. Maybe it would have made sense if the other portions of the offense weren’t functioning, but Tebow was throwing well against a depleted New England secondary and McGahee was repeatedly gouging them for long runs. On a day when they were playing well with a traditional offense they couldn’t help themselves from going back to the gimmick and it hurt them.
They sky doesn’t appear to be falling here in Denver. Tebow threw well and ran for two TDs (we’ll just ignore that sack for a 29 yard loss he took in the 4th quarter) so he played pretty much his standard game. The blame will likely fall on the defense being unable to stop Brady and Aaron Hernandez, who seemed to be open all day long. That and all the turnovers, which can be mentally written off as an aberration.
Also, I can’t let Tebow’s post game press conference sartorial choice go by without comment. Look at this shirt, you don’t pick that shirt on if you’re trying not to look like Jesus. I wonder if its getting a little Single White Female-y at Tebow’s church these days.
Kevin: Burner and I chatted the entire game and I think we came to the conclusion that Tebow played well enough, but at the end of the day it’s the Patriots. They can drop 40+ on anyone, so who cares if their defense is the worst in the league. I think Fox and their OC is to blame a little bit here (in addition to the fumbles that absolutely killed any momentum they had in the 2nd quarter). They got too cute with the play calls, trying to surprise NE’s defense with some complicated option plays. Thing is, they were CRUSHING the Pats on straight HB dive/power plays. Why on earth change that up? Heck, even Tebow was making some down field throws he normally doesn’t make. I get that once you’re down the play calling has to change, but they were doing this in the 2nd quarter when they still had the lead. It’s sad the Tebow train had to end, but we knew it was coming at some point. At least this game was interesting until the 4th.
Eagles (6-8) def. Jets (8-6) 45-19
Dave: Okay, the Eagles really are still alive. They win the tiebreaker with both the Giants and Cowboys and are now only one game back. How crazy would it be if the Eagles made the playoffs? They were left for dead four weeks ago.
Burner: Couldn’t both these teams lose? It’s nice that the Jets playoff hopes took a hit, and the Eagles still probably won’t get in so… win/win?
Kevin: LOLOLOLOLOL, J-E-T-S SUCK, SUCK, SUCK!
Washington (5-9) def. Giants (7-7) 23-10
Kevin: Aside from the Bears, the Giants have to be the most frustrating team to root for. One week you’re playing at a Super Bowl level, the next you lose to the mighty Sexy Rexy’s. I think this might be Coughlin’s last hoo-rah.
Charges (7-7) def. Ravens (10-4) 34-14
Dave: Burner, can you explain this Chargers team? Every year they’re completely out of it and then they race back at the end of the year. How on Earth are the Chargers still in the playoff race?
On a side note it should be noted that if the Colts win another game that both the Vikings and Rams only have two wins. I can’t believe they won. What a dumb move.
Burner: I think the Chargers can be best explained by the fact that Norval Turner likes him his early season naps. Really though, I subscribe to the conspiracy theory that Rivers was hurt in someway early in the year and they kept it quite. Plus, they’ve been helped by the fact that their division has been consistently terrible for years and years, which always makes it a little easier to get back in it.
What I can’t figure out is the Ravens. How do they lose to a clearly inferior Chargers team? They keep talking about how critical home field advantage will be and then they give this gift (and possibly the division) to Pittsburgh. I know this though, they’ll be a lot of people in Baltimore rooting for the 49ers tonight.
Burner: I looked up the tie break for draft position and it is strength of schedule. The Rams had a really tough schedule this year, (AFC North, NFC East, and the 49ers twice) so Indy would need to go on a three game winning streak to bump the Rams into position, so I think the Rams will be spared the Luck dilemma. If Indy wins one more game (unlikely but possible) and puts Minnesota in position to draft Luck. (I’m not sure how their strength of schedule compares). I think the Vikings would jump at the chance to pair Adrian Peterson with “the best pro prospect in a generation.” Not to mention drafting a rookie quarterback is a good way to extend your coaching career, something that is likely to appeal to the dubiously positioned Leslie Fraiser.