Tuesday Morning Double-Back

It’s Tuesday Morning somewhere. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be able to offer you this expert analysis of last week’s action, now would I? And wouldn’t you just be crying yourself to sleep tonight without it? I know, I know. It’s okay. It’s Tuesday Morning…somewhere.

Thanksgiving Proves Being Home For The Holidays Is Best

The Lions proved it, as they thoroughly manhandled a Packers team that seems absolutely lost without their star QB on the field. The Lions haven’t had such a prolific day of running the football as a team (211 total yards on the ground) since Barry Sanders was in their backfield.

The Cowboys proved it, although in less convincing fashion, letting a lesser Oakland team stay in the fight down the stretch. They still looked in control for most of the game and, more importantly, are keeping pace with the Eagles in what will be a tightly contested race for the NFC Least divisional crown. A crown that will sit crooked and be chipped up and generally ugly, but a crown nonetheless.

Finally, the Ravens proved it, in a game that came complete with questionable calls, a coach ruining a kickoff return (Mike Tomlin should be fined, nothing more, but future infractions should warrant suspensions and losses of draft picks) and, in typical Ravens-Steelers fashion, it all came down to a barely missed two point conversion that would have most likely forced overtime. Instead, the Ravens got the win and, going forward, are probably favorites to box out a crowded group fighting for the last wildcard in the AFC.

Nothing like being home for the holidays.

Panthers Keep Winning, Saints Lend A Hand

Not to say the Saints helped the Panthers dominate a Buccaneers team they should have dominated, but by losing to the Seahawks, it makes the division race oh so interesting in the NFC South. The Panthers and Saints play twice in the last four weeks, and each game should be the most closely watched that week. Either way, who’s going to go into Seattle and beat this Seahawks team? Russell Wilson hasn’t lost at home in his nearly two years in the league. I’m starting to think he’ll go into 2014 maintaining the streak.

The Factory Of Sadness Needs Prozac

The best form of anti-depressants in the Browns’ case would actually be winning football games on a consistent basis. Since the team returned to the league in 1999, they’ve average a depressing five wins per season, have started more QBs than any other team in the league over that span, and have almost yearly rotated out their front office, coaching staff and jettisoned chunks of past drafts that were essentially broken promises to a fan base that deserves so much more.

I mean, the Jaguars? At home? Are you kidding me?

Brandon Weeden?

The AFC East In A Nutshell

The Patriots: You never know which team will show up, but you always know they’ll find a way to win or to come damn close. How they do it is a mystery, especially to the Texans’ Antonio Smith, who had to resort to calling the Patriots cheaters and using the “spy” word when he mentioned how the Pats’ adjustments were a little too spot-on in overcoming a 1st half deficit. Or, you know, the Patriots just may be the best coached team in football. That could be a possibly too, Antonio.

The Dolphins may not be playoff bound, but whenever we beat the Jets in their own stadium, it feels like a playoff win to me.

The Jets are going nowhere. Rex Ryan is going somewhere.

The Bills? I think they wanted to lose. I don’t know how else to explain what happened at the end of that game.

In a nutshell: The Patriots are the Patriots, the Dolphins are looking up, the Jets are looking for a new head coach and about 40 new active roster spots, and the Bills are looking for a way to take their superior talent and turn it into a competitive football team.

The Colts Close The Deal

But will they close anything else once the playoffs begin? They’re the biggest mystery in the NFL right now.

The Titans, on the other hand, are not. They’re simply an average team. Average teams don’t win the games they have to win.

Adrian Peterson, The Manimal

Thanks to the glory of NFL Redzone, I got to catch the overtime period between the Vikings and Bears. I relish every opportunity to see Peterson play, the man is about half a step away from being the next evolution of humanity. He proved it once again, in a crazy back-and-forth, by putting the offense on his back and willing them to victory.

Yeah, Matt Cassel hit a few key passes here and there, but you could put me back there and get the same results when the defense is scared to death of the run.

Adrian Peterson is the best running back in football, and one of the three best ever. I’d put him third behind only Jim Brown and Barry Sanders.

Bruce Arians, Stop Whining

Questionable calls are a part of the game. Always have been, always will be. These refs are human beings, and they make mistakes. Half the time, the mistakes are just perceived that way by the fans rooting for the team that was penalized. But, every now and again, a crew just blows a call. It’s never pretty, but it happens.

If Bruce Arians and all the other coaches who have made official grievances to the league’s head of officiating actually think they’re making a difference, they’re wrong. The NFL already reviews their crews on a weekly basis, and acknowledges their mistakes whether or not a coach or a player complains to them about it.

So, stop whining. And if I’m running the NFL, I’m removing the option for coaches to forward these complaints on the basis that ‘Hey, we already know, we don’t need the tap on the shoulder’.

But that would just cause more whining. Nobody wants that.

The Eagles beat the Cardinals, by the way. Big win. Nick Foles is 19-0. As in, 19 TDs, 0 interceptions. The Eagles just may have found their solution at QB. Now it’s time for the Philadelphia media to stop badgering Chip Kelly about his QB situation. Immediately.

The Broncos and 49ers keep my Superbowl pick alive

The Broncos did so more convincingly against a Chiefs team that kept it close up until the last drive, beating a superior opponent, but the Rams have been known to give the 49ers a struggle. There was little struggle in the 23-13 win on Sunday. Do I think the 49ers are Superbowl bound? No. But I also don’t think there’s a team in the NFC that can come as close to competing with Seattle at their best than San Fransisco can.

I feel the same way in regards to the Broncos having to potentially face the Patriots again. New England are to Denver what San Fransisco are to Seattle.

Bengals Vs Chargers: Incredibly Boring, Extremely Sterile

You take these two teams at face value, and you’re expecting a 38-35 shootout. But nooo, instead the wrong Chargers team (or the right Bengals defense) shows up and takes all the fun out of it. Hell, at least the Bengals actually won. They could be an X-factor in the playoffs, if they step up and play the kind of football they’re capable of. A big if.

Robbery.

Now, there’s no way of knowing if that debacle at the end of the Redskins game actually changed the outcome. The Redskins still had to score, go into overtime and score again, all the while stopping the Giants from doing the same. But what happened at the end of the game was an absolute embarrassment, one that the league is at least acknowledging as such. Not that it does much to console the Redskins, who are playing for pride and had another piece of it ripped away by people who weren’t even wearing Giants jerseys.

Weekly Awards

They’re baaaack.

QB Of The Week: Ryan Tannehill. Hear me out, before you accuse me of homerism. The only thing the Jets have going for them is a defensive front seven that was, according to many pundits, going to make short work of a patchwork Dolphins offensive line. They did, too. Only, Tannehill showed the sort of poise and confidence in his and his receivers’ abilities to not be rattled by the pressure, constantly taking hits (as he has all year) while making some big plays. Plays that changed the outcome of the game after a slow first half that ended 6-0. I’m really starting to believe in this young man.

RB Of The Week – The Manimal. No contest.

WR Of The Week – Josh Gordon. If the Factory of Sadness needs a small pick-me-up, they’ll find it in Gordon, who became the first WR in NFL history to post back-to-back 200 yard games. This kid has a bright, bright future. Expect the Browns to trade him between now and the 2014 draft.

Offensive Line Of The Week: Seattle Seahawks. The Saints defense still aren’t a mirage, as I mentioned when I wrongly picked them to win this game. Their pass rush is fierce; but the Seahawks offensive line, now completely healthy, is far more fierce.

Defensive Performance Of The Week: Philadelphia Eagles. Not overtly dominant, but when the Eagles offense stalled in the 2nd half, this unit kept them in the game and made sure the Cardinals’ sometimes potent offense remained flaccid.

Boy, reading that back to myself…last time I use the word “flaccid” on this blog, I promise.

Goat Of The Week: Joe Haden. During the week, Joe discussed the Browns’ need to keep playing strong, not for the playoffs but because it was their job and that they were being paid to do that job. Nobody paid Haden to be absolutely embarrassed on a double-move by Cecil Shorts, who then caught an easy TD to seal the game for the Jaguars. That one has to sting.

Coaching Performance Of The Week: Mike Tomlin. Here’s a guy who’s willing to step on the field to help his team win.

All jokes aside, this goes to the Patriots, who have the best group of spies, infiltrators and double-agents in the league and have been using them to be the only active dynasty in football since Drew Bledsoe was “hurt” and Tom “Agent T” Brady was inserted into the lineup.

All jokes honestly aside, I’ll give this to Chuck Pagano, who oversaw a defense that made sure the Colts’ stagnant offense wouldn’t cost them the most important game of their season so far.

What’s Next?

If the NFL can find a way to hype the Thursday night game between the Texans and Jaguars, I’ll not only be shocked, I’ll write Roger Goodell an apology letter for everything negative I’ve ever said about him.

There’s going to be a bunch of games played on Sunday. Many of them will have playoff implications. Some will be enjoyable nail-biters, others will be enjoyable blowouts.

But once the 4:00 games are over, nobody is going to care. The Saints and Panthers are playing Sunday Night.

I actually expect the Bears-Cowboys game on Monday Night to be one hell of a matchup. Looking forward to it, with or without Jay Cutler on the field.

Final Thoughts

Will robots one day replace refs? Yes.

Will a robot one day replace Warren Sapp? We can only hope.

It looks like I’m going to make the playoffs in both fantasy leagues. Oh happy day.

Adrian Peterson is my spirit manimal.

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