Ahhh…such an exciting week in football. Three games decided by one point, a 52-0 smack-down, some interesting upsets, and J.J. Watt continued to be an absolute beast. It’s weeks like these that remind us why we love writing about the game.
Here’s what we thought about week 13 in the NFL…
Detroit (34), Chicago (17) – Lions quarterback Matt Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson (a.k.a Megatron) had a great Thanksgiving at the expense of the Bears banged-up and talent-lacking defense. Fortunately for the Bears, Good Jay Cutler (quarterback) showed up, but his team’s defense just couldn’t stop the Lions. Cutler had to throw the ball a lot to receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery because Detroit’s defensive line only let them run for 13 yards. The Lions remain in the hunt for the NFC North title while the Bears play-off hopes are disappearing.
Philadelphia (33), Dallas (10) – The move down the I-95 corridor has worked out well for Eagles QB Mark Sanchez, who came out firing on all cylinders. Running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin put up some sexy numbers for the Eagles. The Eagles defense was probably the star of the game, limiting Cowboys running back superstar DeMarco Murray to 73 yards, and sacking Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo four times. This was a disappointing outing for the Dallas defense – they’ve given up 61 points and 891 yards in the last two games. Ouch. The teams play each other again in two weeks in Philly.
Seattle (19), San Francisco (3) – Seattle’s defense looked dominant in this rivalry game and the team seems to be getting into position to make another strong play-off run. There is drama surrounding the 49ers and their head coach situation for next season, as well as their play-calling on offense. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did not have a great game and missed a lot of his reads. (Learning moment: A read is basically the quarterback looking at the defense of the other team and making a decision what to do with the ball.) The 49ers were booed by the home crowd many times, which is never fun. They have a lot of talent on their team, but play in a tough division.
San Diego (34), Baltimore (33) – The Chargers were down by 10 points with less than 7 minutes to go in the game and were able to come out with the victory. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers made clutch plays under pressure and took advantage of the Ravens weak secondary, with wide receiver Keenan Allen giving him a helping hand on a few plays. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had a great game, but the Chargers defense made them kick field goals instead of getting touchdowns, which came back to bite them in the final score.
Buffalo (26), Cleveland (10) – On a day where both the Buffalo and Cleveland offenses struggled, the Bills defense proved they are the real deal. We had our first appearance by Johnny Football (Johnny Manziel), after Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer threw two interceptions and was subsequently instructed to keep the bench warm. Alas, Johnny’s run into the end zone for a touchdown wasn’t enough to help the team pull out a win.
Houston (45), Tennessee (21) – Let’s first recap what J.J. Watt did – his stats for this game read as two sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and one touchdown catch when he stepped in as a tight end. (We hope this sounds impressive to you – it should because it’s quite an accomplishment.) He also knocked Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger out of the game with a shoulder injury after driving him into the ground. Ryan Fitzpatrick was back at starting quarterback for the Texans since Ryan Mallet was lost for the season after an injury sustained last week. Fitzpatrick threw six touchdown passes against a Titans team that is having a really tough season.
Indianapolis (49), Washington (27) – Washington quarterback Colt McCoy started in place of the benched RG3. He did lead four scoring drives, but is still knocking off the rust. Washington’s secondary (safeties and cornerbacks) is a problem – for them, definitely not for opposing teams, whose wide receivers seem to run freely around the field. That allowed Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to finish the game with the most yards per attempt and second highest passer rating of his career, despite losing a fumble and throwing an interception in the beginning of the game. Tight end Coby Fleener has stepped up as one of Luck’s go-to targets.
Jaguars (25), New York Giants (24) – This game was “completely embarrassing” for the Giants – NFL.com’s words, not ours. Blowing a 21-0 lead, this was the Giant’s seventh straight loss, as they continued to struggle with football fundamentals and the loss of injured players. Eli Manning (Giants QB) had the chance to move the team into field goal range at the end of the game, but sadly had the ball stripped from him. The Jaguars showed some spunk, sacking Manning four times.
Minnesota (31), Carolina (13) – The Vikings blocked and returned two (two!) punts for touchdowns in this game – only the fourth time in NFL history this has happened. Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater played a mistake-free game, which was all they needed over the Panthers, who seem to be in a downward spiral. Quarterback Cam Newton is having a rough year and needs some more offensive weapons.
New Orleans (35), Pittsburgh (32) – The Steelers are like a box of chocolates this season – you never know what you’re going to get. This week they were one of those chocolates that you spit out after you try it. The game apparently wasn’t as close as the score makes it seem, although Steelers RB Le’Veon put up impressive numbers, much to the delight of his fantasy football owners. The Saints offense looked good – QB Drew Brees scored five touchdowns and had no interceptions on the day.
St. Louis (52), Oakland (0) – If you look up “butt whooping” in the dictionary, you might find a picture of this game. Oakland was unable to carry forward any momentum from their upset win against the Chiefs last week. They basically couldn’t get anything right. The Rams, however, were all fired up, putting up 21 points before the end of the first quarter. Rams rookie running back Tre Mason had some pretty runs, proving that he was quite the bargain in the draft.
Cincinnati (14), Tampa Bay (13) – Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton had an unimpressive first half – which can probably be explained because he had the flu and needed two IVs to play the game. He got it together enough in the second half to throw the game winning touchdown to wide receiver A.J. Green. The Buccaneers almost came out with a victory – they made a long gain that put them in field goal position with only seconds left on the clock, but Bengals coach Marvin Lewis grabbed an official and pointed out the Bucs had 12 men on the field. Rule refresher – you are only allowed to have 11 men on the field. This resulted in a penalty for the Bucs, which pushed them out of field goal range and added another one to their loss column.
Atlanta (29), Arizona (18) – This one had to be a self-esteem builder for the 4-7 Falcons as they knocked off the 9-2 Cardinals to remain atop the NFC South division. They came out ready to play and wide receiver Julio Jones had a career day. The Cardinals will not go as far in the play-offs (if they make it) with Drew Stanton at quarterback in place of the injured Carson Palmer. He was not helped by the fact that wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was out again due to his injury. The Cardinals starting running back Andre Ellington also left the game with an injury, which was especially bad news for a team that is lacking effective running backs.
Green Bay (26), New England (21) – Football purists loved this game. Everyone figured it would be close as the Packers are tough to beat at home – QB Aaron Rodgers hasn’t thrown an interception there in two years. He was up to usual shenanigans (and by shenanigans, we mean really excellent quarterbacking) on Sunday afternoon, especially when he threw a beautiful pass to wide receiver (and my fantasy football crush) Jordy Nelson right before the end of the first half. This play was the only time Pats CB Darrelle Revis really got burned all night. It was impressive that the Pats defense was able to hold the Pack to only 26 points, but it would have been nice to see their offense get their running game going. People are saying this could be a Super Bowl preview because both of these teams are hot, hot, hot!
Denver (29), Kansas City (16) – The Chiefs seemed off in this game, which was a big division loss for them. The Broncos defense harassed Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith all night. The Chiefs still have not had a touchdown caught by a wide receiver this season – their offense is limited. It was a cold, windy night at Arrowhead Stadium and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning does struggle in these conditions – he was held to a 50% completion rate, which is the lowest of his Broncos career. The big take away of the night was the effectiveness of the Bronco’s offensive line, which is helping the Broncos balance their offense between the pass and run game, which is vital for the play-off stretch as the weather gets colder. Broncos running back C.J. Anderson has stepped in for the injured Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman and over the last four weeks leads the NFL in rushing yards and yards from scrimmage.
Miami (16), New York Jets (13) – Both teams had their rough spots in this one. The Jets started strong, establishing their run game, which was another way to try to limit quarterback Geno Smith, who was starting this week after Michael Vick was benched again. The Jets only let Geno throw the ball 13 times – for good reason as his last attempt resulted in an interception that sealed the win for Miami. The Dolphins were able to bounce back in the second half despite a shaky game from quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins remain in contention for a play-off spot while the Jets are more likely in contention for the top draft pick next year.
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– Val and Michelle