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Week 12 Judgements: Tebow unorthodox, efficient under center

by | CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist
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1. With every Denver win, I remember what Miami's Mike Pouncey said after Tim Tebow's first victory: "Hopefully critics will get off of him and stop talking about what he can't do and start talking about what he can do." What he can do is win. The guy is 5-1, but you know that. What you might not know is that he's 3-0 vs. the AFC West, with every victory on the road. He's also tough, charismatic and a leader who doesn't take unnecessary chances and who protects the ball. In six-and-a-half games, he has one interception. One. How come nobody talks about that? All I know is that Denver seems to have rallied around the guy, and so what if he's not the perfect passer. He gives the Broncos something they were missing ... which is hope.

2. We rip Brett Favre when he tries to hang on. Then, when he tries to stay away, we suggest he come back. C'mon, people, you can't have it both ways. Let the man go. I know Houston needs a quarterback like the Dow needs a bump, but Favre is not the solution ... and we know it. The Texans said they'll probably stick with third-stringer T.J. Yates, and, yeah, I think they can make it with him ... or Kellen Clemens ... or Roger Clemens. They have the league's best rushing game and its best defense, which means they have resources to bail out their next quarterback. Moreover, they have time on their side. I know, I know, they draw Atlanta and Cincinnati the next two weeks, and a split might be the best of all worlds. Nevertheless, I still like their chances to win the division, and here's why: Because time is running out on runner-up Tennessee, which meets New Orleans ... in Tennessee, no less ... in two weeks. Maybe the AFC South won't be decided until the season finale between the Titans and Texans, but it's in Houston ... and the Texans already beat these guys 41-7 in Tennessee.

3. Did I say defense? The Texans have a takeaway in every game and an interception in their last 10, just another reason Houston doesn't have a problem -- not yet anyway.

4. Now that, people, is why I worry about Chicago with Caleb Hanie. He doesn't have to win games; he just can't lose them -- and throwing three first-half interceptions is not what I have in mind. That's as many as Jay Cutler had in his last six starts.

5. Here's why the Jets can run the table: Only one of their last five opponents has more than four wins, and that's the Giants, whom they play Dec. 24. But the Jets must improve on Sunday's performance. Yeah, it was nice to see them come from behind, but they got lucky ... and they got lucky against a team that's crippled and falling apart.

6. At least Stevie Johnson didn't blame his latest misadventures on God. Nope, that drop of a potential game-winning pass ... that stupid penalty for mocking the Jets ... that mindless poke at Plaxico Burress ... yep, that was all Stevie. "A stupid decision" was how Johnson described his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and I'd say that sums it up. It not only led to the Jets' next touchdown, it cost the Bills valuable momentum they gained just before the half. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

7. So I guess this means that when Chargers' Nick Novak is pissed off, he really means it. The tape does not lie.

8. Detroit's Ndamukong Suh deserves more than a two-game suspension. What he did was wrong; how he explained it was worse. "His explanation is crap," Green Bay offensive lineman T.J. Lang said. Apparently, Suh agreed, reversing field to apologize in a prepared statement after he was called out by nearly everyone, including his own team. That was Suh's attempt at damage control -- and after he called a meeting with the commissioner to explain why he's not the dirty player people think he is. Suh's explanation should not sway the league office. This guy doesn't get it. So make him sit ... and make him sit a long time.

9. This is what makes New England's 38-20 rout of Philadelphia so impressive: Tom Brady completed passes to only four receivers. You heard me. Four. Yet he still threw for 361 yards.

10. Sorry, but seven LeSean McCoy touches in the first half isn't how you beat New England. I thought we covered this in Baltimore with Ray Rice. When you have the NFL's leading rusher -- and when you have Tom Brady on the other sideline -- you give that running back the ball. He gains the yards, you move the chains and Brady stays put. What's so hard to understand?

11. The more I see of the Cowboys' Laurent Robinson the more I can't comprehend how he failed to make San Diego's roster this summer.

12. This is how bad it's gotten in Indianapolis: People there are calling for Dan Orlovsky, the guy who quarterbacked the 0-16 Lions in 2008.

13. Two weeks after he's held out of a loss to Arizona, DeSean Jackson drops two touchdown passes, sits down, then says he and coach Andy Reid "have a good relationship." Just one question, DeSean: If that's the case, why did Reid bench you in the fourth quarter?

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14. OK, a win is a win is a win, but that was an uninspired performance by Pittsburgh. The more I watch Pittsburgh the more I'm convinced Baltimore wins the AFC North.

15. Tweet of the day comes from Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay. "0-11, bottom line, and the bottom line is the bottom line. I want the anger this should bring because if u r not pissed, u r asleep." Forget the anger, Jim. Think of the quarterback it will deliver.

FIVE THINGS I LIKE

1. Bill Belichick vs. the Eagles. He's 4-0, including the playoffs, winning 10 of his last 11 vs. NFC opponents on the road.

2. A.J. Green's leaping catch and run to set up the Bengals' game-winning field goal. When Green was at the combine last February, an NFC general manager said he could step in the league then and be one of its top six or seven wide receivers. He was right. In one draft, the Bengals landed a franchise quarterback and wide receiver. Nice.

3. Kansas City's Kyle Orton starting in Denver in the season finale. Hey, why not? You honestly think the Chiefs have a chance to pull the upset with Tyler Palko? Please. Nope, this is all about Tebow-Orton.

4. An Arizona running game. When he was hired by the Cardinals, coach Ken Whisenhunt swore he'd develop a legitimate running game. It's taken five seasons and an injury to his starting quarterback, but those 228 yards by Beanie Wells make me think Whisenhunt may live up to his promise.

5. Chris Johnson's 190 yards rushing. All I can say is: It's ... about ... time.

FIVE THINGS I DON'T

1. Philadelphia at home. The Eagles are 1-5 this season and lost eight of their last nine home games. Memo to Andy Reid: This is not how you win the popular vote.

2. Detroit without Jahvid Best. I told you before the season I worried about the Lions at two positions -- quarterback and running back. Injuries at either spot could cripple their playoff chances, and this just in: The Lions are 2-3 without Best, 2-4 if you include the game (San Francisco) where he was hurt. The Lions lost rookie Mikel Leshoure before the season, thinning them at a critical position. The question was: What would happen if Best was hurt? You're beginning to find out.

3. Todd Haley's chances to survive this season. I like Haley, and he's done the best with what he has, but what he has now is a killer of a schedule. Next week he's at Chicago. Then he goes to the Jets. Then it's Green Bay, Oakland and Denver. Find a losing team in there because you can't. Their combined record is 37-18. So now find a Kansas City victory in there. I'm waiting.

4. San Diego's conservative play-calling on its last series. The Chargers ran three times after getting to the Denver 35, including a Mike Tolbert plunge on third down that lost four yards. That's OK if you have Sebastian Janikowski, but Nick Novak already missed a 48-yarder. So this time he misses a 51-yarder.

5. John Elway on Tim Tebow. Elway was a great quarterback. He's not a great diplomat. In short, he needs to clam up when it comes to Tebow. I know he's not Elway's idea of a quarterback, and I have no doubt he's not the quarterback anyone there has in mind for the future. But he's 5-1 and has Denver in the middle of a playoff race. So why question how he's winning? The guy has a unique set of skills, and someone will develop a package to make the best use of them. Wait a minute, somebody has: John Fox's Broncos.

FIVE GUYS WHO HAVE SOME 'SPLAINING TO DO

1. NFL schedule makers. A week ago, they had San Francisco travel three time zones on a short week. That's a competitive disadvantage, and it showed in the 49ers' 16-6 loss in Baltimore. Now, they have Philadelphia going three time zones in the other direction to play Thursday in Seattle. Huh? What part of this do these guys not get? IT'S A COMPETITIVE DISADVANTAGE, PEOPLE! It's wrong, it's unfair and it should stop next season.

2. Philadelphia coach Andy Reid/offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. Essentially, whoever was responsible for the play-calling at the New England 5 when the Eagles were set up first-and-goal, trailing 21-10 late in the second quarter. You have the league's leading rusher on the field with one of its most erratic passers. So what do you do? Yep, call three passes. Sorry, but I don't get it. It makes no sense to me. Reid later said it's because New England's opponents had success throwing on the Patriots, but opponents don't have LeSean McCoy and Vince Young in the same huddle.

3. The guy manning the Chargers' cannon. Nick Novak misses a 48-yard field goal, and the cannon goes off. Yep, it's been that kind of a season in San Diego.

4. Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman. It's fourth-and-1 at the Tennessee 25, 46 seconds remain and Freeman is in the midst of what could be a game-winning drive. Except he isn't. He pulls a Philip Rivers, fumbling the snap, and the game ends, just like that. "It was just a mess," Freeman said of the play. "We just keep shooting ourselves in the foot." Please don't repeat that to Stevie Johnson.

5. Referee Jeff Triplette. Apparently, he's the only guy in America who thought the Chargers and Broncos were involved in a playoff game. At the beginning of overtime, Triplette announced that both teams would have one possession, which is fine if you're playing a playoff game. He later corrected himself, saying it was sudden death. Yeah, for some more than others.

JUST ASKING ...

 What's happened to Sam Bradford and the Rams' offense?

 Who's to blame for San Diego's collapse?

 Does Andy Reid survive this season?

  Do either the Jets or Giants make the playoffs?

 Do the Chiefs win another game?

NUMBERS ON THE WALL

3 -- Times Cincinnati rallied from 10 or more points behind to win

4 -- Career-high Mark Sanchez touchdown passes

6 -- LeSean McCoy first-half carries

6 -- Lost fumbles in Tampa Bay-Tennessee game, including four by Bucs

10 -- Cam Newton rushing TDs

22 -- Tim Tebow carries, the most for a quarterback in one game since at least 1950.

119 -- Tom Brady regular-season wins, tying him with John Unitas

MY TOP FIVE

1. Green Bay

2. New Orleans

3. Baltimore

4. San Francisco

5. Pittsburgh

MY BOTTOM FIVE

32. Indianapolis

31. St. Louis

30. Jacksonville

29. Minnesota

28. Cleveland

NEXT WEEKEND'S THREE BEST GAMES

 Atlanta at Houston -- Texans running out of QBs, but not hope.

 Green Bay at N.Y. Giants -- Last stand for Big Blue?

 Detroit at New Orleans -- Don't like Brees? So Suh him.

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