Tag:Oakland Raiders
Posted on: December 19, 2011 10:22 am
 

Suh: 'I made a mistake...and am moving past it'

Suh redeemed himself in Oakland Sunday after serving a two-game suspension. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh returned to the field against the Raiders Sunday after serving a two-game suspension for stomping on a Packers offensive lineman back on Thanksgiving day. Turns out, Suh has pretty good timing because he ended up blocking Sebastian Janikowski's game-winning field-goal attempt as time expired. (Granted, it was 65 yards -- and would've been a new NFL record -- but if anyone's going to make that kick it's Janikowski)

But after the game, Suh had more on his mind than that last play.

"I wanted to address this," he said, via CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter John Kreger. "It's something that I've dealt with and am trying to move forward with. I have apologized about it, obviously on my Facebook page, but also after the game.

"I made a mistake. The biggest thing for me is that I've dealt with and am moving past it, and happy to be back on the field with my team. The biggest thing for me is just wanting to sincerely move forward from it. … I’ve spoken to [Packers lineman] Evan Dietrich-Smith, and I feel we’re on very good terms. He’s a great guy."

So maybe Suh's time away from the game gave him a chance to reflect on what he had done and where his career might be headed if he didn't reevaluate his after-the-whistle behavior. And who knows, maybe we'll be saying the same about Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who will miss Monday's night's game against the 49ers while serving a one-game suspension for a Week 14 helmet-to-helmet hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.

For now, Suh is happy to be able to help his team win an important late-season game. He called the block a "great moment,"

"I put my hand up and it hit my thumb and I looked back and saw it twirling and that's when you see me run off and I take my helmet off," he said, via the Detroit Free Press. "I'm usually not that excited about things, but it's what you play the game for."

The Lions are now 9-5, the No. 6 seed in the NFC, and two games clear of the Seahawks, Bears, Giants and Cardinals with two games to go.

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

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 15: Good losses?

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.

Winners

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.

Losers

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


GIF O' THE WEEK

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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Posted on: December 18, 2011 1:52 pm
 

Jim Schwartz tweets pic of Raiders fans 'welcome'

By Will Brinson

The Oakland Raiders are known for having very ... passionate fans. They're enthusiastic, if you will.

And that enthusiasm was on full display towards the Lions team bus as the team rolled into the black hole for today's game against the Raiders.

We know this because Jim Schwartz tweeted the accompanying picture of a few Raiders fans firing off the one-finger salute towards the Lions bus as it cruised through the parking lot en route to the stadium.

What's interesting about this tweet, besides the obvious humor involved in Schwartz calling it the "Black Hole welcoming committee" is how it paints the Lions publicly. After all, they've been the "bad guys" for the last few weeks if you ask anyone around the NFL.

But maybe I'm reading too deep into it; there's a pretty good chance that Schwartz appreciates this sort of enthusiasm from fans towards the opposing team.


Follow all the Week 15 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

1 p.m. ET games: MIA-BUF | SEA-CHI | CAR-HOU | TEN-IND | GB-KC | NO-MIN | WAS-NYG | CIN-STL
4 p.m. ET games: DET-OAK | CLE-ARI | NE-DEN | NYJ-PHI


Posted on: December 14, 2011 6:15 pm
 

Keep an Eye on: Week 15's finer points

Palmer and Netwon face stiff tests this week. Suggs, meanwhile, has been a beast in 2011. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Lions vs. Raiders

A few weeks ago, Carson Palmer was throwing interceptions but still playing great football for his new team. Lately, Palmer has just been throwing interceptions. What’s changed?

For one, Oakland’s pass protection. It has been shaky the last two games, particularly when it comes to sorting out blitz pickups. Also, general protection on the right outside has been an issue. Even when the Raiders go with a six-man line – which they do frequently – Palmer knows that Khalif Barnes and Stephon Heyer don’t consistently move their feet well. Consequently, Palmer has started to anticipate, and even perceive, pressure. This makes him jittery in the pocket.

What’s interesting is that one of Palmer’s brightest shining traits earlier this season was how firm he was in the pocket even when there was pressure closing in on him. You’d think that the time away from football would have made Palmer more frenetic in the pocket, and that he’d settle down after getting more games under his belt. Instead, the opposite’s been true.


A lot of Palmer’s interceptions have come when he’s trying to force a play. He’s made some careless decisions outside the pocket and on third-and-long situations. That may partly be a function of not knowing his own personnel (no other quarterbacks have found Darrius Heyward-Bey as trustworthy as Palmer has).

Things won’t get easier this week. The Lions picked off Christian Ponder three times last Sunday and, with Ndamukong Suh back, have a pass-rush that Palmer can legitimately worry about.

Panthers vs. Texans

Cam Newton is facing his most difficult test yet. The sensational rookie has gone up against some good cover corners (Charles Woodson, who played exclusively outside against the Panthers in Week 2, Cortland Finnegan in Week 10 and Aqib Talib in Week 13). He’s also faced some aggressive pass-rushes (Ray Horton’s blitzing Cardinals in Week 1, Gregg Williams’ blitzing Saints in Week 5 and Gunther Cunningham’s tireless Lions in Week 11).

He’s yet to face a combination of both, though. That’ll change Sunday. The Texans’ pass-rush is as fast and relentless as any in football. Their four-man linebacking unit might be the only group capable of chasing Newton down. Behind them, Johnathan Joseph is not just a good cover corner, he’s a great corner period. Joseph is one of just three players in the league this season who appears to possess the skill set necessary for shutting down Steve Smith (the others are Darrelle Revis and Champ Bailey, though strong arguments could also be made for Ike Taylor, Corey Webster and Patrick Peterson).

What sets Joseph apart is his acumen for defending the deep ball. And it’s the deep ball that has set Newton and Smith apart (they’ve hooked up for a league-high 25 passes over 20 yards). Aside from in the Week 3 monsoon at Jacksonville, Newton has not yet faced a defense that could wipe Smith out of the equation with just one player. We’ll find out just how much the young quarterback has really grown as a progression passer this Sunday.

Chargers vs. Ravens

Ray Lewis is an icon. Ed Reed is perhaps the greatest free safety who ever lived. Haloti Ngata is unblockable. But the best player on Baltimore’s No. 3 ranked defense is Terrell Suggs. In fact, one could argue that Suggs has been the best player on any defense this season. We’ve highlighted him in previous Film Room posts, but not with an outright endorsement for his Defensive Player of the Year campaign.

Last week against the Colts, Suggs forced three fumbles and recorded his second three-sack game in 17 days. He has a career-high 13 sacks on the season. Great as he’s been rushing the passer, his impact has been larger in other areas. His dropping back into coverage to take away quick slants played a big role in Baltimore’s win at Cleveland two weeks ago. In all games this season, Suggs has been a demon against the run. His length and speed are critical in backside pursuit, and his leverage and sheer physical force have long made him the best playside run defending linebacker in the game. Right now, there isn’t a better all-around defensive player than the ninth-year pro out of Arizona State.

Suggs is in perfect position to make a late push for Defensive Player of the Year this week. He has a game on Sunday Night Football, where you can bet Cris Collinsworth will share with the national television audience many of the items we’ve covered here. That game happens to be against a Chargers team that, because of Marcus McNeil’s neck injury, is starting recently signed journeyman Jared Gaither at left tackle.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:01 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:47 pm
 

Coach Killers, Week 14: DeAngelo Hall is a statue

Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat.

By Ryan Wilson

DeAngelo Hall, Redskins

Back in Week 11, DeAngelo Hall suggested that the Redskins should cut him for his performance against the Cowboys. They didn't, but it sure seemed like he wasn't on the field for long stretches Sunday when Washington faced New England. And the few times he did make his presence known, it just made things worse.

The lowlight (in a day filled with them) came in the first quarter when Hall stood by (literally, he was standing two feet away and didn't move; it was as if he was trying to will himself invisible) as two teammates tried unsuccessfully to bring down Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (it was scene straight out of Gulliver's Travels). So instead of a 12-yard gain, Gronkowski rumbled for an extra 35 yards before Hall thought it wise to try to keep Gronkowski out of the end zone.

You can see the frame-by-frame hijinks here (or watch the moving-pictures proof below).


Want to see DeAngelo Hall pretend to be a statue? Then watch the video. It looks a lot like the freeze-frame above except that everybody else is moving. 

"DeAngelo Hall was guilty of poor effort, poor judgment and poor leadership," the Washington Post's Mike Jones wrote Monday. "[On the Gronkowski play] Hall said he thought the tight end was headed out of bounds, and maybe he didn’t want to get a penalty, but even a shove — not a head of steam blast -- could’ve helped. Instead, Hall turned and walked away."

It gets better. In the third quarter, Hall was flagged for holding, he disagreed, and thought it made sense to chuck the penalty flag up the field. He was flagged an additional 15 yards for being a d-bag. In one play, Hall had cost his team 20 yards of field position (and 35 more yards on the Gronkowski mishap). DeAngelo Hall: Your Washington Redskins team captain, everybody!

Ryan Succop, Chiefs

Kansas City isn't 5-8 because of kicker Ryan Succop. And Todd Haley wasn't kindly asked to leave Monday because of Ryan Succop. But what we're about to show you from Sunday's Chiefs-Jets game serves as a metaphor for Kansas City's season, which makes you want to laugh, cry and punch yourself in the face all at once.


Chiefs' kicker Ryan Succop failed in his onside kick attempt in the fourth quarter against the Jets. Was this the worst onside kick attempt ever? (Editor's note: unequivocally, YES.)

So that happened. To Succop's credit, he's the team's most consistent scoring threat this season, converting 18 of 21 field goal attempts, including 3 for 3 from beyond 49 yards. It's just that he struggles with distance control, particularly from 0-10 yards.

Silver lining: it's no longer your problem, Todd Haley!

Olindo Mare, Panthers

When Mare honked a 31-yard game-winning field goal in October, we gave him a pass because Cam Newton told us to.

“Whoever thinks this game came down the last possession is a fool,” Newton said at the time. “Offensively and defensively we had opportunities and we just didn’t finish it off.”

Week 14 Recap
Fair enough, and certainly wise words from the franchise's rookie quarterback. First-year head coach Ron Rivera also tried to be positive after Mare yipped the chip shot.

“The only thing I did for Olindo was I went and told him to keep his head up,” Rivera said. “He’s a heck of a football player and he’s going to get a chance to win football games for us and I believe that. We brought him in for a reason because we believe he can be our guy for the next few years.”

Yeah, about that…

The Panthers trailed the Falcons 24-23 with five minutes to go and the only thing between them and the lead was a 36-yard field goal. Again, a chip shot. Except that again, Mare somehow missed it.

"I haven't seen it. I don't need to see it. It didn't go in," Mare said, standing in front of his locker 45 minutes after the game. "Regardless of how good I think I hit it or how windy it was or whatever ... I've made kicks in windier conditions. I have no excuses. The only excuse is I just didn't do my job."

Rivera, presumably uninterested in pep talks, instead said "we will have to sit down and visit with him on [the miss]."

Worth pointing out: the Panthers led 23-7 before letting the Falcons back in the game. If Newton's “Whoever thinks this game came down the last possession is a fool" speech was ever relevant it was Sunday. It doesn't change Mare's failures, but it could be worse: he could be Ryan Succop (though Succop will probably have a job next week).

The Panthers signed Mare to a four-year $12-million deal before the season. Just a hunch: Mare isn't around for the life of the contract.

Carson Palmer, Raiders

Maybe Palmer wishes he stayed on the couch.
After Sunday's 1 o'clock games, we had Colts quarterback Dan Orlovsky penciled in here. His rough outing against the Ravens wasn't unexpected (in fact, he thought he'd play worse), but the loss dropped Indy to 0-13, and Orlovsky, who started seven games for the Lions in 2008, ran his career record to 0-9. (Detroit, you may recall, went 0-16.)

But Carson Palmer's performance against the Packers guaranteed him a spot in this week's Killers. Green Bay's defense forced Palmer into four interceptions, including one on the opening drive and another in the Packers' end zone. This is the same Green Bay defense, by the way, that ranks 24th in the league, according to Football Outsiders, and headed into Week 14 having allowed more total yards than that hapless bunch in New England.

Palmer, who the Raiders acquired after sending a couple high-round picks to the Bengals earlier this season, has been a disappointment. In seven games (six starts), he has nine touchdowns, 13 interceptions and Oakland is 3-4.

Sunday's loss not only put them a game behind the Broncos in the AFC West, it dropped them to ninth in the wild-card hunt (behind the Titans and Bengals).

"I just need to be more patient, take what they give me and try not to score 14 points on one drive," Palmer said after the game, according to the Oakland Tribune. "Take it one play at a time, take the shot if it's there, and if not, live for the next down, and I didn't do that."

No, no you didn't. Raiders head coach Hue Jackson, the man who orchestrated the Palmer trade, obviously has a lot riding on this.

"I'm disappointed in the four picks, and I told him so," Jackson said. "I think you have somebody who's pressing, trying to make plays for a football team. There were times we made some ill-advised throws and we've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball, and he knows that."

The Raiders are long shots to make the playoffs. They face Detroit, Kansas City and San Diego and there's no telling which team shows up. They're just as likely to go 3-0 as 0-3.

Marion Barber, Bears

The Power of Tebow compelled Barber to fumble.
Poor Marion Barber. He seems like a hard worker and a solid dude but he was in the wrong place at the wrong time -- twice -- Sunday against the Broncos.

We watched in horror as Barber ran out of bounds with 1:55 left in the fourth quarter and the Bears leading 10-7. Denver was out of timeouts; if Barber goes down in the field of play, the clock continues to run, Chicago runs the ball again on third down, and by the time the Broncos get the ball back, they'd have about 25 seconds to get into field-goal range.

Didn't happen.

(Aside: In the 1986 World Cup, Argentina's Diego Maradona scored a goal against England on an obvious hand ball -- well, it was obvious to everyone but the officials. It became known as "The Hand of God" goal. Different circumstances Sunday, but we're pretty sure The Hand of God played a part in the outcome.)

Barber is a seven-year veteran who knows that you have to stay inbounds. And yet he didn't. Our theory: The Hand of God pushed him out of bounds. And it was the Hand of God that knocked the ball out of Barber's arms in overtime, just as it looked like he was about to break off a big run -- maybe even a touchdown -- and end the Broncos' six-game winning streak.

It sounds ridiculous, we know. But there is no rational explanation for what happened Sunday. Or for the five Sundays before that. But that's the Power of Tebow.

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Posted on: December 11, 2011 6:38 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 9:27 pm
 

Packers hope to have Jennings back by postseason

By Will Brinson

UPDATE (9:23 p.m. ET): Greg Jennings' injury in Green Bay's 46-16 massacring of Oakland on Sunday turned out to be a knee sprain, and it looks like he could miss the rest of the regular season as a result.

At least -- Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has some quasi-optimistic quotes from Aaron Rodgers, who says that "hopefully we can get Jennings ready for" in time for the Packers first playoff game.

----
The Packers perfect season is hardly in jeopardy, with Green Bay currently throttle-jobbing Oakland at Lambeau. But there is reason for concern, as star wideout Greg Jennings was carted off to the locker room in the third quarter with a knee injury.

Jennings caught an eight-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers on second and 10 early in the third quarter Sunday and when he fell to the ground, two Raiders defenders landed on him and he began screaming loudly.

The wideout, officially listed as questionable to return with a knee injury, was taken to the sideline where he was evaluated by trainers.

After sitting on the bench for a few minutes with a towel over his head, Jennings was carted back to the locker room for further evaluation.

Although the injury initially looked like it might involve his ankle, the fact that Jennings couldn't walk back to the locker room on his own is disturbing for Green Bay.

The Packers have a pile of weapons on offense and there's no question that they can continue scoring without Jennings, but losing their top wideout would have a tremendously negative impact on the remainder of their season.

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 12:40 pm
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Week 14 NFL preview

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

The Steelers handled the Browns on Thursday night, but it was a bizarre game -- on today's podcast we break down Ben Roethlisberger's injury, how he managed to keep playing, whether the Steelers should be concerned, and if James Harrison is going to get fined and/or suspended.

Then we take a spin around the NFL action scheduled for Sunday, wondering if Oakland is a sleeper to take down Green Bay (no, really!), if Chris Johnson can keep running against the Saints, whether the Falcons are playoff-worthy, if Tim Tebow can take down the Bears, if Jim Schwartz can wrangle the Lions and whether we'd rather have Tony Romo or Eli Manning for the rest of their careers.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:28 pm
 

Keep an Eye on: Week 14's finer points

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Broncos vs. Bears
Perhaps after this Sunday’s game, Tim Tebow can help Bears right tackle Lance Louis pray for quicker feet. After seemingly stabilizing Chicago’s nightmarish right tackle situation over the past month, Louis, a converted guard, completely fell apart in the loss to Kansas City. He was culpable for most of Kansas City’s seven sacks and also had a holding penalty just outside his own goal-line. It was a performance that would have made even Winston Justice circa 2007 cringe.


It’s not like the Chiefs did anything complex against Louis, either. They didn’t stunt defenders near him or feign blitzes in his gaps. They simply lined players up mano-a-mano and won (Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and even lowly Tyson Jackson all got through; by the fourth quarter, Romeo Crennel was putting players on waiting list for reps at left defensive end/outside linebacker).

Things won’t get much easier for Louis this week. His Bears travel to Mile High, where they’ll meet rookie Von Miller, the AFC’s answer to Clay Matthews (assuming Miller returns from the thumb injury that sidelined him against Minnesota). Miller, in fact, has an even better burst than Matthews.

If Miller is unavailable, the matchup in the trenches will be more even but still tilted in Denver’s favor. The Broncos have gotten great play out of their defensive line in recent weeks, particularly inside with active tackles Broderick Bunkley, Marcus Thomas and, on passing downs, Ryan McBean. These three cause congestion that allows the speed of Miller, D.J. Williams, Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers to flourish.

Even with adequate pass-rushing resources, the Broncos are willing to manufacture pressure through design. They blitz Brian Dawkins a few times each game and, on some occasions, have surprised offenses by bringing Miller from the inside. At times, execution and assignment identification have been problematic for the Bears O-line. The Broncos will be eager to exploit that.

Packers vs. Raiders
The Raiders traded a bounty for Carson Palmer so that they could get away from the elementary, run-only offensive gameplans they used early in the year with Jason Campbell. Aside from a putrid outing at Miami last week, where Palmer played jittery in the pocket because of a justified lack of trust in his protection, the ex-Bengal has been much better than his numbers suggest.

That said, the Raiders need to return to a ground-only approach when they travel to Green Bay this Sunday. Their only chance to win the game is to shorten it. For the last two weeks, we’ve focused on how a quality four-man pass-rush in front of good, aggressive coverage could give a defense a chance to stop Aaron Rodgers.

Well, the last two weeks, Rodgers & Co. have had no trouble against the Lions and Giants, owners of arguably the two best four-man pass-rushes in football. It’s wishful to think that the Raiders’ front line, which is remarkably powerful but deprived of genuine edge speed, can dictate the action this Sunday.

It might be wishful to think the same thing about Oakland’s offensive line. That unit, even with frequently used sixth blocker Stephon Heyer, was unable to move Miami’s three-man front last Sunday. But ground-in-pound is Oakland’s best bet against the Pack. And last week was likely an aberration. The Raiders are athletic on the left side up front with tackle Jared Veldheer capable of exploding at the second level and guard Stefan Wisniewski possessing intriguing short-area mobility.

And they have a workhorse in Michael Bush. He was methodical and effective three weeks ago against the stingy Vikings, rushing for 109 yards on 30 carries. The week before, he toted the rock 30 times for 157 yards at San Diego.

The Packers front line is hard to move; B.J. Raji is a beast, and Ryan Pickett and backup Howard Green have nose tackle size at the end positions. But if you CAN move them, you’ll also move the clock. That, along with great special teams (which the Raiders have) might – MIGHT – be enough to sorta maybe kinda have some form of an outside shot at possibly coming close to beating the seemingly unbeatable Packers offense.

Ravens vs. Colts
For many fans, filling out the offensive line section of the Pro Bowl ballot can be challenging. Often it involves just clicking on whatever linemen hail from the best teams. If the running back is good, his offensive linemen must be good as well (so the thinking goes).

This is the kind of misguided logic that sends underachievers like Bryant McKinnie to Hawaii. (McKinnie made the Pro Bowl in 2009, even though he was benched at times down the stretch.)

McKinnie’s first season as a Raven has actually been much better than his last several seasons as a Viking. At 6’7”, 350-something pounds (give or take), the 10th-year veteran would not seem to be a great fit for Baltimore’s movement-oriented zone-blocking scheme. However, as it turns out, the zone-blocking scheme capitalizes on McKinnie’s natural size and also masks his timidity.

McKinnie’s built like a monster but plays like a milquetoast. He’s never exerted the explosive power or vicious hand-punch of an elite lineman. That’s been detrimental to his run-blocking. But in a system that has him move before making contact in the run game, McKinnie can get away with playing soft because his momentum, working with his sheer size, generates natural power. It’s physics.

Don’t vote McKinnie to this season’s Pro Bowl, though. DO, however, vote his teammate, Marshal Yanda. The 27-year-old right guard has drastically elevated his already-impressive game since signing a five-year, $32 million contract in July. In fact, lately, Yanda has been the best guard in all of football. He has great footwork and the rare ability to land multiple well-angled blocks on a single play.

As this week goes, he’s perfectly suited to dominate against a fast but undersized defense like Indy’s.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 14 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
 
 
 
 
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