<span style="color: #6e8dcf;">Primetime Thoughts
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A game of inches indeed..
Falcons Lose Ground-It was a call which left many scratching their heads. On their second drive in overtime, Atlanta believed they had converted a third down only to be short a few inches at their own 29 yard line. Head Coach Mike Smith played with fire, had Matt Ryan hand it off to Michael Turner, and got burned as Turner was stopped in the backfield. New Orleans kicked the game-winning field goal moments later and padded their division lead. Smith put all the heat on himself, not wanting to give Drew Brees and the Saints offense back the ball. It's a bold call which will make you look like a champ, or a chump as it did Smith. I won't play armchair quarterback and unequivocally say they should've punted, although it'd be an easy route to take. Even with a first down, Atlanta had at least 35 yards to go before field goal range and their defense had just forced New Orleans into a three and out. But it's not a call that I will question Smith making.
Eagles Crash Landing-Never say never, but the Eagles'playoff hopes look as promising as a salad being consumed by Andy Reid. The latest fourth-quarter meltdown came against the Cardinals in a 21-17 defeat as John Skelton (who?) did what Kevin Kolb has failed to do for most of this season. Skelton gave the Cardinals offense a pulse and actually found Larry Fitzgerald early and often as Fitzgerald had by far his best game of the season with 7 receptions for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns. Barring a miracle finish, the Eagles will miss the playoffs, which may signal the end for Head Coach Andy Reid.
Romo Cowboys Up-While the Eagles continue to fade into a top-16 draft pick, the Dallas Cowboys are showing signs of life again, clobbering the Buffalo Bills, another fading team, 44-7. Tony Romo had as many incompletions as touchdowns, throwing for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns. DeMarco Murray continued his brilliant display of rushing with 135 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Murray's average of 6.7 yards per rush, not too shabby.
49ers Stifle GMen-The game was up for grabs at the start of the 4th quarter as New York led 13-12. Frank Gore had left the game with a knee injury. That would presumably leave the Giants in a prime position with Alex Smith forced to do the heavy lifting. Deemed a "Game Manager," Smith was efficient in San Francisco's 27-20 win in a battle of NFC division leaders. The 49er defense did their part as well, but let's give credit where credit is due. Smith has been labeled a bust as long as he's been in the league. While he is not putting up numbers that make fantasy football players act like schoolgirls, he has been reliable in crucial moments.
Patriots Blow Out Jets-It was a game the Jets had been looking forward to all week. At least that's what we were led to believe. Maybe it was the fact that Rex Ryan kept quiet for once, maybe it was the fact that New England's defense finally had a substantial lead to work with. Whatever the reason, the Jets simply got handled in a 37-16 stomping. Tom Brady had all the time he needed to dissect the Jets defense while Sanchez couldn't keep up. The Jets had their chances, but couldn't capitalize. As terrible as the Patriots defense has been this season, a Bill Belichick-coached team will make you pay. From Nick Folk missing a 24-yard field goal to Sanchez's pass being tipped and intercepted at New England's 25-yard line, any momentum the Jets appeared to be gaining was soon squashed.
Ravens Hungover Again-It appears the best time to play the Ravens is right after they defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers. For the second time this season, Baltimore fell flat on its face, this time losing to the Seattle Seahawks, 22-17. We've seen this before as the Ravens blew out Pittsburgh Week 1 only to lose to the Tennessee Titans. No one expected Seattle to pose as much of a threat and frankly, they didn't. It was the Ravens who did themselves in with two fumbles on kickoffs and terrible play calling once again. Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron is losing credibility by the day, as we've seen a tendency to completely forget about Ray Rice. Rice only had 5 carries, 5, for 27 yards. Zero in the fourth quarter and one in the third. Cameron managed to pull this off before against Jacksonville when Rice only had 8 carries. Simply maddening.
Broncos Win Again Despite Tebow-When you are told that the Denver Broncos only completed two passes, you're initial thought is probably something along the lines of, "They kept Tebow in the whole game?" or "Wow Tebow was that bad?" Forget even winning the game, which is exactly what Denver did, 17-10, as Tim Tebow went 2-8 for 69 yards and a touchdown to go with 43 yards rushing and a touchdown. The Broncos did amass 244 yards on the ground, but still. Two completions? Two? We know exactly what Tebow supporters are thinking, "Only Tebow could win a game with two completions!"
Texans Gaining Steam-People will likely overlook them given their lack of a competitive division, but the Houston Texans have the components to go deep into January and we're seeing it consistently. Houston kicked Tampa Bay to the curb, 37-9, as the Texans are now 7-3 on the season. Houston has what most lack, a balanced offense which can lean on either aspect. Arian Foster and Ben Tate are by far the best 1-2 punch running attack in the NFL. Tate managed 63 yards on the ground while Foster totaled 186, 84 on the ground. Matt Schaub continues to put up decent numbers even with out Andre Johnson. Imagine how much more potent the offense can be when its Pro Bowl Wide Receiver is healthy. Johnson has missed the last five games, but Houston has remained patient as its been able to win without Johnson, allowing Johnson's hamstring to fully heal. With a bye week coming up, Johnson should be ready to go Week 12. AFC, you've been warned.
Bears Nip Lions-The Lions fade continues as they have lost three of their last four, with the lone win coming against the Broncos. As for the Bears, still not sold on them, call me stubborn. As for Matt Forte, he should probably pay the man as he is all but the entire Bears offense. That and Devin Hester being counted on for a return touchdown here and there.
Colts Remain Winless-Now 0-10 after a 17-3 loss to the Jaguars, it looks as if the Indianapolis Colts have all but clinched the <del>rights to Andrew Luck </del>first pick in the draft. The Colts have a firm two game lead on the Rams and Dolphins, both with two wins under their belt. Frankly, I don't see a game on the remaining schedule where the Colts can come out on top.