Week 12 NFL Recap: I Promise It’s Not Exclusively About The Patriots

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An unbiased blogger could write 5,000 words on that Sunday night game alone.

A hardcore Patriots ballwasher like myself could write 25,000 words. But I’ll try to limit it to a few hundred.

  • The Patriots have done fine over the past 12 years while only having a couple seasons where a single running back was really the featured, go-to back. This team doesn’t have to rely on Stevan Ridley so much that they should keep running him out there with his fumble issues. I agree with some people on Twitter who said it’s ineffective to punish Ridley by benching him for parts of the game after he fumbles. I say you stay away from him entirely unless the other guys—Vereen, Blount, Bolden—get hurt. If he hasn’t learned the proper way to hold ball at this point, it might never happen.
  • Any chance we can get a Patriots game in the near future that doesn’t cause our blood pressure to spike to dangerous levels at the end of the game?
  • Yes, I was one of the many people getting ready to crush the refs for the non-call on the obvious pass interference that should have been called in overtime against Quentin Jammer on that incompletion to Kenbrell Thompkins.
  • And I know it’s easy to pick on Brady for all the whining and tantrums he throws on the field, but at least the two times he’s done it the past two weeks it’s been completely justified.
  • If the Great Carolina Screwjob of 2013 didn’t happen, the Patriots would probably be controlling their own destiny for the #1 seed in the AFC.
  • Knowshon Moreno had 224 rushing yard. This helps prove my point that if the Patriots had to choose one dimension of their defense to be terrible and/or completely injured, it would be run D over pass D. The Patriots score enough points when fully healthy that teams aren’t going to beat them by running 40 times. That’s why Aqib Talib’s health continues to be the most important subplot to their Super Bowl hopes.
  • If you read my picks column last week, you know I was expecting my friend who passed away one year ago to pull an “Angels In The Outfield” and help the Patriots win. I was hoping for a Brady eight touchdown game so that it would be obvious higher powers were at work. Instead we get the most epic comeback in franchise history complete with wacky fumbles, mysterious clock malfunctioning issues and a ridiculously lucky bounce of the ball in overtime that won the game for New England. I’ll let you decide if the Patriots had some “help”.
  • And at the end of the game, Chris Collinsworth was calling it a miraculous win…just sayin’.

Whose Loss Was Worse? NFC North Version

I know technically Green Bay’s game ended in a tie, but let’s assume it was a loss because then I can write this section where I say all the NFC North contenders lost on Sunday and let’s figure out whose loss was the most pathetic.

  • The Packers played to a tie at home against the 2-8-1 Minnesota Vikings. But we know these four straight games without a win are almost entirely because Aaron Rodgers is out. If he comes back for Green Bay’s Thanksgiving game like people are speculating, they might still have a chance to make the playoffs. At 5-5-1, the Packers probably have to go 5-0 for a chance to get in. I don’t think that they’ll get it done.
  • The Bears lost by 21 at St. Louis, who came into the game with a 4-6 record. Three of Chicago’s final four games are on the road, where they’ve struggled this year. Nobody knows Jay Cutler’s status, and they might not be that much better with him healthy. That defense is bad, specifically the run defense that gave up 258 yards to the Rams on Sunday.
  • And then there’s Detroit, the team that seemingly looked like the cream of the crop in the North coming into week 12. They were the only team with a healthy #1 QB and they’ve beaten the Bears twice. But they lose at home to a two-win Tampa team? At 6-5, they’re going to have to win out to guarantee a division win. This loss was the worst of the three considering the health that Detroit has compared to its rivals.
  • The most obnoxious thing in all of sports is a tie in football. Now looking at standings, specifically Green Bay’s record compared to the other teams pushing for a wildcard spot, requires the tiniest amount of thought to compute where the Packers currently sit.

Let’s Talk Coaches, Shall We?

  • Is Greg Schiano playing himself out of the unemployment line? Five weeks ago did you think anything short of a miraculous Super Bowl run would save his job? Not saying he’ll definitely get another shot with this team, but he must be at least making the owner think twice about firing him.
  • Two teams who I think should fire their coaches in the offseason but most likely won’t are Dallas and Atlanta.
  • I’m not saying Dallas just because they almost blew a 15 point lead in New York yesterday. Their consistent 8-8ness and end of game meltdowns could be reason enough to get rid of Jason Garrett, but when you see two players fuck up something as fundamental as making sure to touch the opposing receiver at some point when he’s on the ground to end the play, it’s a solid proof point that the team isn’t being coached well enough (and it’s example #550 of them not being disciplined enough). It’s just time to make a change.
  • And here’s what I saw from Mike Smith on Thursday: With about three minutes left and the Falcons trailing by four, Smith decided to go for a 52 yard field goal from the New Orleans 35 yard line on 4th & 15. Regardless of the fact that the kicker missed it, you’re assuming you’ll get the ball back even though it’s Drew Brees playing quarterback for the other team…AND YOU’RE 2-8 SO WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE? It’s simply Mike Smith being conservative, play-it-safe Mike Smith, a philosophy that doesn’t seem to translate to Super Bowl success in these times. Look at how quickly things changed in Carolina when Ron Rivera grew a nutsack. When you have an offense designed for a high-scoring passing attack, you should have an aggressive mentality (regardless of that passing attack missing the indispensable Julio Jones right now). Time for Matt Ryan and company to try things out with a more aggressive coach.
  • As far as who will win Coach of the Year, here’s how I’m guessing it’s going to turn out (not necessarily how I’d vote): 1. Sean Payton, 2. Andy Reid, 3. Ron Rivera.

Keep The Current Playoff Format, Please

  • The NFL wants to add at least one more playoff team for each conference, and yet if the season ended today, the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Tennessee Titans would be in as the #6 seed. And they’d be taking on an Indianapolis team that’s been outscored by 57 points in their last six games. I think the playoffs have enough mediocre teams already (something Cincinnati seems to prove every year).

Let’s Empty Out The Notebook

  • By my count, only four of the 13 games that have been played so far this week have ended with one team winning by more than a touchdown. Nailbiters across the board in week 12, including two OT games and last-drive wins by San Diego, Dallas, Carolina and Tennessee. One of the best Sundays of football in a long time.
  • The NFL has officially been NBA’ified. Players and coaches yell for a flag after every play. Fans focus more on if a call or non-call was correct than on the actual game itself. Cam Newton was rewarded for flopping in a big way when he was lightly touched while running out of bounds with less than two minutes left in the 4th quarter. It seems like star treatment by the refs is a real thing after we watched Jason Campbell get hit similar (but worse) to how Drew Brees was hit by Ahmad Brooks in week 11 and no flag was thrown.
  • Kansas City finally joined the rest of the AFC contenders in suffering key injuries. They were easily the luckiest team from a health standpoint in the AFC to this point, but losing Tamba Hali and Justin Houston is huge. If those guys miss games, the Chiefs will be a weak wildcard team instead of a possible division winner.
  • I know Seattle’s happy with Russell Wilson, but part of me thinks their GM is already getting his sales pitch ready for Matt Flynn. I want to see Flynn signed to a three-year deal by Seattle in March, then see them trade him to Oakland in April of 2015, and then see him starting for Green Bay later that year. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.
  • One of the announcers in the Jacksonville-Houston game said, “It becomes less of a big play than it already is.” I spent five minutes trying to figure out what that possibly means but my head started throbbing.
  • The “just use my instincts, no research” philosophy for making picks went OK this week. I’m 7-6 going into Monday’s game (only 3-2 in my confidence picks this week). It’s a good thing too because I was one more failed week away from going exclusively to either my girlfriend’s picks or a true coin flip for each game.
  • I believe underdogs were 10-3 against the spread this week. Incredible.

Due to Thanksgiving, the week 13 picks will probably come on Wednesday.

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