Ladies and gentlemen, it was a bad week to play in the AFC North. The Browns managed to choke twice against the Lions, the Bengals gift-wrapped Oakland a win, the Steelers inexplicably lost to the Chiefs and sustained injuries to both of their top 2 QBs, and the Ravens lost a close one to the still-perfect Colts. Some of these collapses were more epic than others, but all were impressive. Obviously, the Browns and Bengals took the spotlight by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in truly remarkable losses. The Browns blew a 21 point lead and committed an obvious pass interference with no time left that lead to the game-losing play and the Bengals fumbled a kickoff with 20 seconds left. If there were stats for the biggest failures within the same state, these two teams would hold every one. Between their bad years when they both were on the blooper reels and this sunday when they both held leads, they are kings of the fail.
As much as I pretend I would like to talk about the Steelers loss to the Chiefs, I really don’t want to. The Steelers aren’t contenders and there is nothing to talk about with the Chiefs. The biggest story out of this game to me is that Dennis Dixon was thrust briefly into the national spotlight. Anyone else remember when he was the Heisman front-runner but tore his ACL, and then proceeded to play on his torn ACL for another game? This guy had it all. He was likeable, tough, monumentally talented and he was a double-threat. I do not know if it would translate to the NFL, but anyone who watched his college games would want to see him play at the very least. Well, except Steelers fans who want to see Ben.
The only other game I thought was worth talking about was the Monday nighter with the Titans remaining perfect with Vince Young at the helm. True, they got some help from Kris “Anti-Clutch” Brown, but give an 0-6 team credit for not giving up and pulling themselves inexplicably back into the playoff picture. I wouldn’t pick them to make it, but they are at least in the picture. The Texans remain in the top 5 for most underachieving teams and “most likely to not be a sleeper once picked as a sleeper”. They are like the Chargers in the Drew Brees days. A very good team, who everyone thinks could succeed but just cannot quite do it. They have a superstar (LT and Andre Johnson respectively), an under-the-radar QB, and no clutch-time performances to bring them to the next level. Next year, Texans fans, next year.
Honestly, most of the other games last week were mediocre, but I want to talk Matthew Stafford. Last week he officially became a franchise QB. When he got absolutely hammered on the Hail Mary and limped off the field he was a man, but when he came back in he became a legend, at least as far as this decade’s Lions are concerned. He has always had the physical tools, but when he went out there for the last play, he proved that he was more than a big arm (I’m looking at you Jay Cutler). He is a leader and, in my opinion, has already lived up to his #1 pick. Yes, he still throws tons of picks, as you saw on Thanksgiving when you weren’t stuffing your face, but as he gets more experienced he will limit them. I see Stafford as a combination of Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler. Take the leadership of Rodgers, the arm of Cutler, and the losing-but-not-his-fault of Rodgers. Not at all a bad combination. Detroit finally has someone to look for not named Barry Sanders.
Speaking of Barry, there is one last thing I want to touch on before turning to the Thanksgiving games. Chris Johnson is giving m flashbacks. He is not quite as flashy as Barry was, but he reminds me of him. He can make you miss, he can run away from you with ease, he can catch the ball, and he can take a hit and keep going. He is giving Adrian Peterson a run for his money as the best back in football, and I would even say he has surpassed him. In comparison to Adrian Peterson, he has an inferior offensive, less of a threat at QB to keep people out of the box, fewer fumbles, and more yardage. Peterson is the more physical back, but while he breaks more tackles, it does not lead to more yardage than Johnson, and it results in more fumbles. The only thing Peterson does than Johnson cannot is just flat run someone over, but why run someone over when you can just as effectively go around them? If I was drafting for a fantasy draft next year, i would take Johnson #1 in a heartbeat. Keep in mind he is the league’s leading rusher for a 4-6 team without any other big time threats on offense. Seriously, he is among the most underrated backs in the NFL, and it is not as if no one talks about him. He is just that good.
Thanksgiving Day Games
The Packers just curb-stomped the hapless Lions, but that is not the storyline here. Why is Matt Stafford playing hurt on short rest? Why? Would the Yankees put CC on the mound if he was hurt and the team was way below .500? NO!!!! You do not risk this, Detroit. Your future is seriously hurt and you just threw him to the dogs like Ivan IV (look it up). It did not even rally work, as he threw 4 picks and just got destroyed by an excellent GB secondary that is missing Al Harris. Keep your future safe, Detroit, do not play him if he is hurt.
Dallas was clearly better than Oakland but there was really no surprise there. The only thing I really have to say about the game is that it is hilarious that the Raiders appear to have built themselves for the Hail Mary pass. A strong-armed QB in Russell and fast WRs to get down the field is all you need and the Raiders have built themselves perfectly for it. It makes sense because they have to throw so many of them to try and win games. It is called Hail Mary for a reason: it is only a prayer. Just funny that the Raiders appear to have built their team to be successful on Hail Mary plays. Too bad they are never in range of a Hail Mary to win it.
In Halftime Show news, CBS had a supermodel on. Cool, I guess. I just know that FOX will never have one on because Terry Bradshaw might try to pull something.
The New York Giants have resumed their freefall in Denver by not scoring a touchdown and just generally getting outworked by the Broncos. I still do not know if the Broncos are legitimate or if they are simply another inconsistent team, but they sure looked good on Thursday night. Whether it was the Giants offense sucking or the Broncos D, I do not know, but the defense looked pretty good. The Broncos are in the driver’s seat for a playoff berth, with 2 games against KC and a game against Oakland remaining. I like their chances of making the playoffs, but I am just not sure what to think about their chances in the playoffs.
TURKEYS OF THE FALL
The New Jersey Nets– Ok maybe it was just too easy to pick on an 0-14 team but so far they have looked horrible. If they prevent the record, it will be in Sacramento, but expect to see them break it.
The Cleveland Browns– I could make any number of Cleveland jokes, but instead, I will give them hope. Brady Quinn could be really good. He could be a fluke too, but Cleveland wouldn’t be too disappointed if he was. They are used to it.
Turkey- This is not even a way of making fun of Turkey, I just have it on the brain. I am going to go have some now.
That is all for this edition. As finals draw nearer, it will be a bit harder to get into the detail I would like, but we will do our best to keep it up. Thanks for reading.