Here are my week 13 NFL re-caps, random thoughts, & opinions:
GREEN BAY 27 FINAL
- The Packers defense controlled most of the game while Aaron Rodgers was his usual efficient self. CB Charles Woodson should be in the conversation for defensive player of the year. TE Jermichael Finley is emerging as a go to guy for Rodgers. On the flip side, The Ravens once-powerful passing attack is lack-luster as of late. Joe Flacco (15-36, 137 YDs) has struggled, and the team hasn't done a good job of developing the young WR's and getting them involved in the offense. The Ravens must now win all remaining games to even have a shot at the playoffs.
NY Jets 19
BUFFALO 13 FINAL
- The Jets got back to what they did earlier in the season; ran the ball well and played great defense. Limiting any team to 194 total yards is impressive. The Bills kept it competitive; playing tough defense of their own. But, they don't have a good enough running game to win close games like this. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a starting QB. If they don't believe Trent Edwards is their future QB, then they should draft one in April.
NY Giants 31 FINAL
- It was nice to see the Giants playing with pride and intensity. Not sure where that's been the past eight weeks. They need to play every game like this instead of waiting until their backs are against the wall and players get benched. The offense struggled, but made enough big plays when it counted. Credit this game to the defense, which saw several new starters shut down the running game and force Tony Romo & company to be one dimensional. When your QB has to throw the ball 55 times, more often that not, it's not a recipe for a win. On the flip side, the Cowboys, despite a career game stats-wise by Tony Romo, must now endure all of the December swoon talk and face a red hot Chargers team this week. Good luck. The NFC East is STILL wide open.
NEW ENGLAND 21
MIAMI 22 FINAL
- It is official. The Patriots "dynasty" is over. The Dolphins were down 14-0 in this one mid way through the second quarter, and fought and clawed their way back to win. The underrated Dolphins defense gave up a lot of passing yards, but buckled down when it counted. The end zone interception by CB Vonte Davis was huge. Chad Henne proved he is the right choice at QB for the Dolphins; hitting a career high 335 yards; picking the offense up when the running game wasn't able to get going. On the flip side, the Patriots simply wore down in this one as the game went on. They have some nice young talent on both sides, but the veteran players are starting to show their age. Tom Brady hasn't been quite 100% this season. Are his best years behind him? WR Wes Welker just might be the best player on that team right now.
ATLANTA 7 FINAL
- The injuries caught up to the Falcons in a big way in this one. They couldn't get the running game going, and the offense turned the ball over three times; all leading to scores. Regardless of who is at QB, they need to get other receivers involved in the offense aside from Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. When you're not even throwing the ball anyone else's way, it's going to make it pretty easy for opposing defenses to game plan against you. On the flip side, the Eagles weren't spectacular but took advantage of all the short fields they had as a result of Falcons turnovers. Michael Vick had his first significant team impact all season.
NEW ORLEANS 33
WASHINGTON 30 FINAL - OT
- This game was a dogfight from start to finish. The Saints once-again pull out another late-in-the-game score to remain undefeated. Drew Brees had to throw the ball 49 times in this one because of the struggling running game, but he got the job done. The defense, which had played well most of the season, now has to be a concern. They made Jason Campbell looked like Doug Williams in this one; letting him complete nearly 80% of his passes for 367 yards. Devin Thomas is quickly emerging as Campbell's go-to-guy. The Redskins are no slouches and will be tough competition for anyone who plays them the rest of the way. But, they must find a way to win games like these. They have played hard the past couple games and taken it to good teams, but they have zero wins to show for it.
PITTSBURG 24 FINAL
- The Steelers have now lost four straight; three of which were lost in the 4th QTR due to late scores by the other team. The Superbowl Champs look very ordinary on defense. While I realize Troy Polamalu is a big loss, there is no excuse for the total collapse we've seen from this defense. Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski outpassed Ben Roethlisberger in this one. Gradkowski passed for 308 yards and 3 TD's. Louis Murphy had his breakout game as well. Kudos to the Raiders for beating the Superbowl Champs on the road and continuing to play hard. The Steelers have now lost to two AFC West teams, and neither of those teams is the Chargers. Wow.
KANSAS CITY 13
- A Chiefs team that had been playing hard fell apart completely. Matt Cassel was putrid; completing only 10 passes all day. He was eventually benched. When you have to bench a QB you're paying $60 million to, you know things are bad. The Broncos early-season formula for success resurfaced in this one. They ran the ball well, and played stingy defense. Kyle Orton didn't have to do much. This game was over in the third QTR.
JACKSONVILLE 23 FINAL
- The Jaguars defense finally showed up; contributing 3 INT's and 2 sacks to this victory. Maurice Jones-Drew did a nice job running out the clock late in the game. Losing Matt Schaub to injury for most of the game hurt the Texans. They need a better back-up QB than Rex Grossman. Schaub did come back late in the game and almost led them to a comeback, but the defense failed late in the game when they couldn't stop the Jags from running the clock out. Gary Kubiak will be gone after this season.
INDIANAPOLIS 27 FINAL
- Chris Johnson has a good day for the Titans, hitting 113 yards rushing. Vince Young was above average. But, the Titans blew too many red zone scoring opportunities in this one. The defense did tighten up in the second half; holding the Colts to 3 points, but weren't able to compliment that with any scoring from the offense. The Colts defense deserves the credit for this win. They bent, but didn't break; holding a red hot Titans team to just two TD's; one of which was late in the game when it didn't matter. Peyton Manning wasn't at his best, but did enough in the first half to give the Colts a lead they would never relinquish.
- The Bengals got back to their winning formula; running the ball well and playing great defense. It wasn't pretty, but it was effective. Cedric Benson got 36 carries in this one for 110 yards. That's how you wear down a defense and control the clock. Not pretty, but very effective. On the flip side, as much as I admire Matthew Stafford's toughness, the kid shouldn't be playing right now. He's in obvious pain with that injured shoulder, and if he takes the wrong kind of hit, his career will be over before it begins. The Lions aren't going anywhere. Let Stafford heal from his injury before starting him again!
ST. LOUIS 9
CHICAGO 17 FINAL
- At some point, Steven Jackson has to get tired of being the only significant contributor on offense. The Rams have no scoring threat at QB, WR, nor TE. That has to be addressed in the offseason. The defense played well, but when the offense can't score TD's, you won't win too many games. On the flip side, Jay Cutler struggled; completing only 8 passes. Yikes. But Matt Forte finally showed up and played the way most fantasy owners envisioned he would play earlier in the season.
TAMPA BAY 6
CAROLINA 16 FINAL
- A good defensive effort by the Buccaneers went to waste in this one. Josh Freeman had 321 yards passing, but failed to get the ball in the end zone and threw five picks. Ouch. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. That's what I get for picking the Bucs to win it in an upset. Carnell Williams and Antonio Bryant had nice games, but the turnovers were killers. On the flip side, Jonathan Stewart had a nice day; hitting 120 yards rushing. Matt Moore and the WR's didn't have to do much.
SAN DIEGO 30
CLEVELAND 23 FINAL
- Philip Rivers was a beast in this one; hitting 373 yards passing on just 25 attempts. He averaged over 20 yards per completion. Antonio Gates cracked the 150 yd mark in receiving yards. On the flip side, Brady Quinn got it going in the 4th QTR, but by then the game was out of reach. WR Josh Cribbs was the leading rusher. That's not good. The Browns need a new RB, some more WR's, a TE, a revamped O-line, D-line, LB's, and a new coach this offseason. I don't see how they keep Mangini around.
SAN FRANCISCO 17
SEATTLE 20 FINAL
- Perhaps no team out there is more confusing to me than the 49ers. They finally get their passing game going (Smith - 27-45, 310 yards); then their defense disappears when the game is on the line. Alex Smith had over 100 more yards than Matt Hasselbeck, so don't blame the QB for this loss. Hasselbeck won the game for the 'Hawks on a key late 32-yard completion which set up the game winning field goal. Can anyone tell me what's happened to the 49ers running game? Anyone????
ARIZONA 30 FINAL
- Just went I start to give the Vikings their due credit, the team completely falls apart. They couldn't get their running game going, which is more than a shock to me. Percy Harvin was the leading rusher with 22 yards. Huh? Yeah, I don't get it either. Brett Favre threw 2 INT's and seemed indecisive at times. On the flip side, the Cardinals played exactly the way I thought the Vikings would; dominating at the line of scrimmage and completely shutting down the running game. The pass protection was outstanding. Kurt Warner had all day to throw. It's like the teams switched identities. Wow.