Blog Entry

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 15: Good losses?

Posted on: December 19, 2011 1:47 am
Edited on: December 19, 2011 10:33 am
Posted by Will Brinson

Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. New format! Same old sorting! Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 15 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

Are Good Losses Good?

You're not ever going to hear Aaron Rodgers or Tim Tebow admit this, but losing isn't always a bad thing. In the case of each, a loss on Sunday actually means significantly less pressure in the public eye over the next few weeks.

For Rodgers, there's no more chatter about whether or not the Packers can run the table. Granted, that was a side story to Tebow for most of the past few weeks but if Green Bay had beat Kansas City, the heat was about to be turned up with questions about resting players, playing stars, Mercury Morris' plethora of media appearances and much more.

The loss stinks, clearly. But now the week will be filled with questions like "Are the Packers in trouble?" and "Are the Saints the best team in the NFC?" (See: below). So a team that hadn't lost in nearly a year is suddenly going to get a free chip put on its shoulder? That seems smart for the rest of everyone.

As for Tebow, we all needed this. I love Tim Tebow's story. I love that my cousins' neighbors have a dog named Tebow. I love that my grandfather sends me newspaper clippings about Tebow's awesomeness. But my, um, God, that last week leading up to the Patriots game was just too much, you guys. We had media wars, Tebrews, preachers recanting TMZ quotes on Twitter and just generally all the other things you'd associate with the Apocalypse.

But now the Broncos lost and the Tebowagon gets a chance to tap the brakes, all while not giving up any ground on the playoffs (except to the Chargers who propped their playoff window open a little wider).

We (me, you, Tim) just need some time apart from Tebowmania. Hopefully we get at least a week.


It's a good thing Romeo Crennel didn't wear the traditional white shirt on Sunday. (US Presswire)

Romeo Crennel: We've been giving Crennel credit for his defensive schemes for a few weeks now, but Sunday's performance by the Chiefs -- a stunning 19-14 win over previously unbeaten Green Bay -- was absolutely worthy of the Gatorade bath he got after his first game as interim coach in Kansas City. The Chiefs shut down the Packers high-powered offense and Crennel parlayed the "you'd think it's obvious!" decision to bench Tyler Palko for Kyle Orton into a serious résumé builder for the offseason.

Reggie Bush: Look, I've ripped Reggie Bush left and right, especially considering his lack of success as an actual running back over the course of his career. But the dude is going HAMbone down in South Beach and Sunday's 203-yard effort makes him just the 40th running back since 1970 to rush for more than 200 yards on 25 or less carries. If you said you predicted Chiefs over Packers I might give it to you. If you predicted Bush rolling for 200 yards? You're a liar.

Skittles: Marshawn Lynch might've only averaged 2.1 yards per carry against the Bears, but he found the end zone twice and crossed the 1,000 yard mark for the season. The game was in Chicago which means it didn't rain rainbows all over Beast Mode when he dashed in the end zone. But has a candy ever gotten a bigger accidental brand boost from an athlete than what Lynch is giving those little sugar bombs during Seattle's sneaky playoff run?

Kyle Orton: Or, as I like to call him, "Senor Spoiler." Orton ripped the heart out of the Packers chance at an undefeated season and over the next two weeks, he's going to get a pair of shots to ruin some seasons. First there's Oakland in Week 16; a win in KC then and the Raiders are likely done. And then the ultimate revenge game against the Broncos, in Denver, on the final week of the season, against the guy, Tim Tebow, that de-seated him. There might be some major egg on John Elway's face if Orton pulls that "W" out.

Norv Turner: It seems impossible that Turner could save his gig, but that's mainly because the Chargers are dead-man walking when it comes to the playoffs ... or are they? After pummeling the Ravens on Sunday night, they've won their last three games and with losses by the Jets, Broncos, Titans, and Raiders they're suddenly one game back of a playoff spot.


Tom Coughlin: Just a week removed from taking over the NFC East with an impressive performance against the Cowboys, the target's back on Coughlin's back and it's bigger than ever. You can't watch Dallas dominate the Bucs on Saturday night and then lay a freaking ostrich egg at home against a division rival with four wins. Not if you want to make the playoffs anyway.

Our Souls: Bad news, you guys, because Tim Tebow lost. Naturally, that means that salvation will escape even the most penitent man (or woman). Or, alternately, it's a reflection of the fact that when the Broncos turn the ball over a bunch and hand Tom Brady short fields, the Patriots are really tough to beat. I'm going with the latter.

Santonio Holmes: Really Santonio? You're going to catch a touchdown pass, put the ball on the ground, stand on it and then do a dance mocking the Eagles who are in the middle of pantsing you right out of the playoffs? Really? It's kind of ironic that Charley Casserly compared Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson to Holmes on Sunday morning, considering they've both picked up embarrassing unsportsmanlike penalties now.

Oakland Raiders
: Take a look at the playoff picture. (Now back to me.) You realize that the Raiders, who choked to the Lions with a 99-yard drive to close things out, would be tied with the Broncos and Jets at 8-6 if they'd held off Detroit? Because they would be, and they hold the tiebreaker against the Jets and they're just one game back of the Broncos in conference record (5-5 to 6-4). Just close baby.

Ben Roethlisberger's Ankle
: No one's tougher than Roethlisberger, but did you see what happened to him against Cleveland? He probably doesn't have any business stepping on a football field for another week or so, especially without starting center Maurkice Pouncey. But with the Ravens getting paddled on Sunday, the Steelers are in the hunt for the top seed in the AFC and a division title, so Ben almost has to play. Poor ankle.

These Questions Go To 11

Who's protecting Aaron Rodgers? Excellent question.(Getty Images)

1. Should the Packers be worried?
Yes -- but not in the sense about caring over an undefeated season. They should be worried because even though they're still going to get the No. 1 seed in the NFC and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, there's concern about how the offense performed without Greg Jennings and bigger concern about the performance of the offensive line and defense. A bad game from Aaron Rodgers and they can be sent home by anyone.

2. Is Johnny Knox OK?
That's the word on the street. The Bears wide receiver was taken to the hospital after a backbending hit that required him to be carted off the field. Fortunately, he's expected to have surgery to stabilize his vertebrae and according to reports his prognosis is good for a solid recovery.

3. Can the Eagles really still make the playoffs?
Somehow, yes. A lot of things need to happen, but it's not that crazy. 1) Philly wins out (duh), beating. 2) Dallas loses out, against Philly and at the Giants. The Giants go 1-1, losing to the Jets and beating Dallas. If those things happen, the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants will all finish 8-8 and Philly will win the NFC East through tiebreakers. *cues up Gary Wright*

4. What about the Chargers?
YES, THEM TOO. And they have two options -- either the Chargers can win out and the Broncos can lose out and the Bolts win the division. That's the "easy" way. Alternately, if the Jets lose out (against the Giants and Dolphins) and the Bengals can go 1-1 (losing to the Ravens) and the Chargers win out, they can make the playoffs as a wild card. Hope springs eternal in December and whatnot.

5. Should the Bears have called someone?
Yeah, and I'll go so far as to say Brett Favre could've been that guy. Marc Bulger might've made more sense from a perspective of knowing Mike Martz offense, but maybe he wasn't interested. Whatever, Caleb Hanie isn't getting it done.

6. Are the Texans cool with T.J. Yates?
Cool's a relative word, because there's really no excuse for a grizzled veteran of a rookie like Yates to get baffled by a Panthers defense that's running on fumes. Carolina's D showed up big time in Houston, but Yates made some pretty critical mistakes in the 28-13 loss and if Yates ends up with more passing attempts than Arian Foster and Ben Tate have rushing attempts combined, Houston probably lost the game.

7. Why did the Raiders use single coverage on Calvin Johnson?
Honestly, I have no idea. Johnson's the best wide receiver in the NFL and he walked out of a 28-27 win with 214 receiving yards a pair of teeters. It's one thing to trust your cornerback in coverage late in the game. It's another thing entirely to just throw caution to the wind and give the Lions an easy opportunity at going 98 yards for the win, which is what Oakland did Sunday. On the other hand, Darrius Heyward-Bey is starting to look like he could actually be a No. 1 receiver at times. That doesn't help the defensive scheming but it's something, right?

8. Should the Ravens be worried about their road record?
Hell yes they should. Baltimore's been unstoppable at home, rolling to a 7-0 record. On the road they've rolled over for lesser teams like the Jaguars, Seahawks and Titans. And now the Chargers. If Pittsburgh wins on Monday night, it's going to be really tough for the Ravens to land anywhere other than the fifth seed in the AFC, which means they're going on the road throughout the playoffs. And that probably means that the Ravens will be sitting at home in February.

9. Did Jim Caldwell save his job on Sunday?
I know Bill Polian reportedly said all Caldwell had to do was win one game, and the Colts did that by beating Tennessee 27-13 for their first victory on the season. But come on -- this team's going to draft their new franchise quarterback in April in Andrew Luck and Caldwell's not the guy that's going to train him to be Peyton Manning 2.0. Polian can pay lip service all he wants but having Manning/Luck on your roster is like sitting on pocket aces in the hold 'em game of finding a coach who wants to work somewhere with a franchise quarterback.

10. Are the Saints the best team in the NFC now?
If Greg Jennings is guaranteed to be out, if Aaron Rodgers offensive line is completely shredded, and if the game's in a dome ... then maybe, yeah. Drew Brees is as hot as it gets right now (and it's the right time to be hot) and he's going to crush Dan Marino's record for passing yards in a season -- he needs just 305 to break it. And that's in two games, so it's broken. But if (when?) the Saints have to go to Lambeau for the NFC Championship Game, it's a whole different ballgame and the Packers will have a couple weeks to get healthy too. If the Niners can stay afloat, the Saints don't have those luxuries.

11. Should you jump off the Tebow bandwagon?
No you shouldn't have. As mentioned above, the Broncos made some critical mistakes that put the Patriots in a good position to win. The hype was so out of control that it was easy to freak out when New England started rolling. This is a game that Denver should've been more competitive in, but turnovers and a strong defensive performance from the Pats doomed them. They won't see the same sort of challenges against a tepid Bills team that gave up 200 rushing yards to Bush Sunday.

Worth 1,000 Words


This contest was over as of about 6:00 p.m. ET when dog-riding monkeys started herding sheep in Denver.

Award Watch Worth Watching

I'm tempted to open up the MVP race here, but let's get real: it's still Rodgers, despite Brees going ape smell. But how about Offensive Player of the Year instead? Typically speaking, this awards goes to "the most productive person on the team without the best record" or something like that, but I think Brees, if he breaks Marino's record -- and holds it -- is starting to lock it down. But you could make a great case for Calvin Johnson (gobs of touchdowns), Tom Brady and Rodgers too.

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Since: Sep 25, 2009
Posted on: December 21, 2011 1:51 am

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 15: Good losses?

If the Kyle Orton led Chiefs can knock off the Packers, the Drew Brees Saints damn well sure can too.  No team is unbeatable, and the Saints almost had the Packers all the way back in Week 1.  The Saints are a very good team, and this year with a home game they're very likely to play into the NFCC.

If the Eagles get in I can see them coming out of the NFC, they appear to be coming together and getting hot.  The one thing though for the Eagles is they are pretty injured, including Vick.  If a team needed a bye this year in the playoffs it's the Eagles.

Speaking of which, McCoy has been great but I wouldn't give him the MVP over say a Calvin Johnson, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers.  McCoy also does look a bit ordinary when Vick is out.  DCs have to put so much effort into stopping even a gimped Vick that it really opens things up for everyone else.  If they didn't all just turn the ball over like it was some sort of hot potato the Eagles offense would be mentioned with the Packers and Saints.  They roll up yardage and then turn the ball over (most in the league).  Heck against the Jets they go up 28-0 and then proceed to just hand the ball off to the Jets for several series in a row, going as far as not even fielding punts correctly.  That isn't the first time they've pulled that either, they are constantly trying to give other teams the ball.

Since: Aug 12, 2011
Posted on: December 21, 2011 1:27 am

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 15: Good losses?

How about a little love for the Seahawks???  While the playoffs are a long shot (either ATL or DET need to lose out and they need to win out), some credit needs to be given for their vast improvement.  7-7 record and they have beaten EACH of the other 3 teams in the NFC with the same record (albiet they did lose to ATL and play ARI again in week 17).  Injuries along the offensive line and the loss of Trufant have been handled in stride which is a sign of great player development via coaching.  Doug Baldwin certainly wont win any rookie of the year awards, but the undrafted WR out of Stanford has emerged to play a major role on offensive and special teams.  Beast Mode has been Beast Mode, but is that really the only story-worthy news from this team?  A major test awaits them this week as they host a very impressive SF team who still has plenty to play for.  10 straight games with a rushing TD vs a defense which hasn't surrendered a rushing TD all season.  Looking forward to it.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: December 19, 2011 7:23 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 15: Good losses?

Kyle Orton: Or, as I like to call him, "Senor Spoiler." Orton ripped the heart out of the Packers chance at an undefeated season and over the next two weeks, he's going to get a pair of shots to ruin some seasons. First there's Oakland in Week 16; a win in KC then and the are likely done. And then the ultimate revenge game against the Broncos, in Denver, on the final week of the season, against the guy, Tim Tebow, that de-seated him. There might be some major egg on John Elway's face if Orton pulls that "W" out.
Super stupid comments.  If Orton comes in and beats Denver, Elway has no egg on his face.  The guy was gone after the season was over anyway.  Denver wasn't going to resign Orton to do anything but be a backup.  The only way Elway has egg on his face is if Orton leads a different team to a Super Bowl.  Anything short of that means nothing.  Besides, Orton played himself out of that job.  I don't place 100% of the blame on him because the rest of the team was terrible as well, but he was extremely ineffective early in the year.

Since: Jul 7, 2008
Posted on: December 19, 2011 6:00 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 15: Good losses?

Crennel a winner? Right. Stop reaching

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: December 19, 2011 5:56 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 15: Good losses?

I know the one loss that didnt help anything was Green Bays loss.  Who cares they lost the perfect season.  look at the good it did for the Pats.  They lost their intimidation.  Every team now feels like they can beat them

Since: Mar 19, 2010
Posted on: December 19, 2011 5:55 pm

Just Maybe...

Since the Packers were short on running backs all the squaws had to do was cover & pin their ears back & go at LB. Also no play action really hurt Rodgers, along with several drops and penalties. Without an extra rusher they don't get much pressure on QB's, however the secondary has shown flashes of brilliance at times this season, even without last years #1 Eric Berry. Maybe Mr Shakespear really is the guy. Defenses do win championships & I'd hate to see Romeo go somewhere down the hiway. He's got these guys playing really well, no more players than he really has on D. And it has to be stated that Kyle Orton showed a helluva alot of poise for being in town barely long enough to go out to dinner. Maybe someone will take to him the Bristol or Jess & Jim's for a steak now. And maybe Cassel is a tradeable commodity now, or maybe he really is better than Haley would allow. I still think he's slow. Len Dawson said that there was no confusion getting the plays in to the huddle yesterday-likely because the "golfer" wasn't in the mix to micro-manage. Romeo said he let others handle the play calling, Muir and or Zorn. So just maybe if the Donkeys slip up at Buffalo next Sat, we can get an AFC Championship game in Denver in 2 weeks? This is Raider week so we don't have to lay a goosegg on em' again, but another shutout would suit me fine. As awful as they played for Haley, their playing that much better for the old Pros, Romeo, Emmit Thomas, Jim Zorn, etc. And as much as they've stunk up the place at times this year it's still hard to imagine that they're actually still alive for a playoff home game. But the Bills gotta knock off the Mules (no, that's purebred), I mean the Donkeys, and we gotta exorcise the ghost of Al D. once & for all. Sooooo.... and just maybe we can get another championship for Christmas in this terribly weak division. And just maybe I'll do a WC Fields and enjoy a shot of brandy that I always keep handy, in case I encounter a snake......which I also keep handy! Ya think maybe?

Since: Dec 21, 2007
Posted on: December 19, 2011 5:41 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posted on: December 19, 2011 5:16 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 15: Good losses?

You are aware that Green Bay is THE SMALLEST MARKET IN THE NFL BY A LOT, right?
Yes, which is where the historic franchise part comes in, because it trumps the fact that it is a small market by a mile.

Since: Dec 18, 2006
Posted on: December 19, 2011 5:08 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 15: Good losses?

good job

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: December 19, 2011 4:39 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 15: Good losses?

Congrats Todd Haley on a fine win.  Too bad you aren't in KC to enjoy it.

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