Thanksgiving was more interesting for the food than for the games, it would seem. Green Bay toyed with the Lions for a half, before Detroit had an inevitable collapse. Dallas pulled one out in the final seconds that really wasn't as dramatic as it seemed. And the night game was fairly disappointing for the most part, as the defenses dominated and Alex Smith was sacked nine times, rendering him unable to lead any kind of scoring drive in the 4th quarter. The rest of Week 12 wasn't much better.
Here are the standings for Week 12:
I gambled on St. Louis and Tampa Bay; both failed me. But I did get Denver right. I also missed on Seattle and San Francisco.
Here are the Rankings for Week 12:
1.) Green Bay (11-0) [no change]
For weeks now, many observers had pointed to the Thanksgiving day game against Detroit as one of the season-defining games that the Packers would play. As far as I'm concerned, we missed on that one. It didn't "define" anything. It did show that the Packers have no discernible competition after 12 weeks, which is no different than what the previous 11 showed. San Francisco's loss to Baltimore, especially the way it occurred, doesn't bode well for anybody's chances of beating the Packers either. At this point, any loss the Packers sustain will look like a tremendous upset by a team that stood no chance of winning. And whiny James Jones contributed nicely. More of that and less whining, please and thank you.
2.) San Francisco (9-2) [no change]
To be honest, I'm not sure how to justify leaving the Niners where they are, despite the beatdown that Baltimore put on them. I guess what I'm going with is that they're still better than the other teams below them. Well, Baltimore is decidedly better, but like hell am I vaulting them over the other teams that won when they can't beat Seattle or Jacksonville.
3.) New Orleans (8-3) [no change]
As expected, the Saints went out and scored a bunch of TD's on the Giants. It's looking like they're a solid choice to win the NFC South and host a Wild Card game. I'm not sure they can beat out SF for a first-round bye, and we all know the Packers are going to be the #1 seed, barring some really stupid crap. Drew Brees played well, as did Darren Sproles. It might even be said that the addition of Sproles has made Brees better. Hard to believe, but possible!
4.) Houston (8-3) [no change]
I'm not sure how much longer this lasts, since they're on their 3rd string QB and have brought in Kellen Clemens and Jake Delhomme in recent days. The consensus appears to be that the Texans are a mortal lock to make the playoffs, but once they get there, they're going out like New Orleans did last season. I don't think that changes unless Matt Schaub comes back. And since the likelihood of that is either small or non-existent....
5.) Pittsburgh (8-3) [no change]
An extremely disappointing win for the Steelers on Sunday against KC. Aside from a TD throw by Ben Roethlisberger, the offense looked anemic all night and couldn't get much accomplished. The defense saved the day with a late INT, but this win should be viewed as more of an escape than anything else. It's hard to see how Pittsburgh comes off a bye and performs like that. It makes no sense, honestly. I guess they're looking forward to...the Bengals, who they already beat in Cincinnati? *facepalm*
6.) New England (8-3) [no change]
Thankfully, Tom Brady played like everyone knows he can, and the defense did enough to not screw up a win. If Philly had won that game, I would still be screaming profanity at them. The Patriots should easily run the table and sew up the #1 seed in the AFC. I don't see how any other team can outrun them at this point, as the schedule and their own internal consistency lead me to believe that the Pats are best-suited to win out.
7.) Baltimore (8-3) [+2]
I guess I'm not surprised, necessarily. Baltimore gets up for good teams (e.g. Pittsburgh, SF, Houston) and lays down against crappy teams (Seattle, Jacksonville, Tennessee). I'm not sure how this works out for them down the stretch. We'll see.
8.) Oakland (7-4) [+2]
Barring some incredibly stupid play down the stretch, Oakland should win the AFC West. Other people might be buying into ...that other guy in Denver, but I'm not. Carson Palmer is a prototypical QB and has played like one in recent weeks. Once he got into a groove, which took a couple weeks, he's been quite good. And when Darren McFadden returns, this team only gets better. They have a strong QB and (eventually) a two-pronged rushing attack that combines elusiveness (McFadden) with bruising between-the-tackles smashing (Michael Bush). Sounds like a surefire combination for winning in the playoffs. Now, will their defense hold up?
9.) Dallas (7-4) [-]
Sometimes I'm a homer. But this time, I've got a good reason: the Cowboys are leading the NFC East, and both the Giants and Eagles lost in Week 12. Sure, the Redskins won, but does anybody expect that ragtag group to do anything else besides spoil down the stretch? The addition of DeMarco Murray has been a godsend for the Cowboys, along with Tony Romo's increased aplomb for avoiding the big mistake. He seemed to forget that somewhat on Thanksgiving, as he threw two bad INT's, but given the result, I'm fine with them.
10.) Atlanta (7-4) [-]
I didn't think Atlanta was done; they just needed to win the games they should and be more competitive in general. So far, they've done that, and now they're back in the playoff race. It looks like they're going to get a Wild Card, as they still have a healthy QB, unlike Detroit and Chicago. Can they challenge for the division? I'm not sure, as they're down one game and already lost to New Orleans. Then again, stranger things have happened.
Speaking of Detroit and Chicago, they're the teams that fell out of the Rankings this week. It should come as no surprise, as Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler are both injured (Cutler to a greater degree, obviously, since he's out) and both teams lost in Week 12. I think Detroit can still win a Wild Card, but Chicago's chances are significantly more grim. One break in their favor is the schedule; assuming they can finish ahead of Atlanta, we could see three teams from the NFC North in the playoffs. Also, we could see three teams from the AFC North in the playoffs. How nutty would that be?
That's all for this week. See you next week!