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Winners, Losers & Wannabes – NFL Week 13

With a beatdown of the Saints, the Seattle Seahawks are far and away the clear-cut favorites to represent the NFC in New York come February. Is there anyone in the NFC to challenge the Hawks? (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Winners

Seattle Seahawks
Listen to what Russell Wilson says before a game. Watch him play. Listen to him after a game. He’s nearly perfect in every facet of being a franchise quarterback. I can’t think of a single quarterback I’d rather have for the next 10 years. Not even Andrew Luck.  Speaking of the Seahawks, with their win over New Orleans essentially sealing home field, is there anyone capable of marching into Seattle in January and toppling the Seahawks? The Saints proved they’re no match for Seattle outdoors. The 49ers are a shell of themselves at Century Field, losing by 29 and 26 in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The NFC North? Not a chance. The East? Funny. I guess the Seahawks are NFC Champions. Unless…

Carolina Panthers
…If there’s one team capable of going to the Northwest and clipping the Seahawks, it’s the east coast Seahawks; the Carolina Panthers. Though they lack the big names and national attention, Carolina’s defense is every bit as physical and dominate as Seattle’s. The Panthers don’t rely on their offense to win games. That formula has proven successful in the postseason. I’m not saying I think the Panthers would win, because Seattle at home is just a different beast than any other team in the league, but if one team could go to Seattle and steal a win in January, it’d be a team with a superb defense and a superstar quarterback capable of turning the game with a few great plays.

Philadelphia Eagles
It wasn’t pretty, but the Eagles got a big win to not only keep pace in the NFC East, but to stay within reach of the Wildcard if the 49ers were to struggle down the stretch. Though the offense stunk for most of the 2nd half, I actually feel better about the Eagles now than I did a week ago. They didn’t play well and still beat a playoff caliber team. Sure, Carson Palmer did his thing and aided the Eagles’ cause, but credit the defense for making the Eagles early lead hold up. Now, do I consider the Eagles a playoff threat to the conference’s elite? No. Not even close. Let’s just enjoy being a part of the playoff conversation and not get carried away.

Josh Gordon
Last two games: 24 receptions, 498 yards, 3 touchdowns.

The Starters
If you like the NBA and need a daily podcast to entertain you and keep you up to date on NBA happenings, I highly recommend NBATV’s “The Starters.”

Baltimore Ravens
I can’t comment on the earlier Thanksgiving Day games because I missed all but the 2nd half of the Dallas game. But let’s give a big round of applause to the Ravens. Those black on black uniforms are the best in the league. I wish the Eagles didn’t pair their black jerseys with white pants. Also, the AFC can’t be thrilled about the possibility of the defending champs sneaking into the playoffs. The Ravens are one of those teams that are just built to win in January.

Boston Market
You know where I ate Thanksgiving dinner? Boston Market. I’m not a turkey guy so I got half a rotisserie chicken. It was awesome. And the fountain soda was perfect. (Fountain soda makes or breaks a restaurant for me. The combination of syrup and carbonation has to be just right. I always have 2-3 go-to spots that I know have their act together. My goal in life is to single-handedly keep the soda industry afloat, even if it means going to war with Michelle Obama.)

Trent Richardson
Richardson was benched this week but stuck it to the man by posting his 2nd best per carry average of the season; 5 rushes, 19 yards, 3.8 YPC. Take THAT, haters.

Green Bay Packers
If Aaron Rodgers returns HEALTHY in Week 14.

Losers

Green Bay Packers
If Aaron Rodgers sits out Week 14, likely ending Green Bay’s season.

New Orleans Saints
As I mentioned in my weekly picks last Wednesday, I thought Monday night’s showdown in Seattle meant more to the Saints. A loss Monday all but guaranteed the Seahawks home field throughout the NFC playoffs. The Saints are an absolutey great team indoors but their offense really struggles in cold weather. All three losses have come outdoors this season for New Orleans.

Pain & Gain
I’ve never turned off a Mark Wahlberg movie before the hour mark. Not even “The Lovely Bones.” But “Pain & Gain” was so painfully dumb and excruciatingly boring I had no choice.

NFL Officials
There were some bad moments in Week 13. The close of the Redskins game was laughably bad as the officials ruled a 1st down and then ruled it was 4th down AFTER an incompletion on what would have been 3rd down. The Eagles game was also full of blown calls, as Bruce Arians was all-too-happy to point out to the NFL. I understand these guys are human, but football games are impacted waaaayyy too much by the zebras.

AFC
Look around the NFL and you’ll notice a disturbing difference between the two conferences. The NFC is flush with young franchise quarterbacks. By my count, only two to five teams lack a quarterback they can build around for the next 3-4 seasons. (Minnesota, Arizona and then depending on how you feel about Jay Cutler and Sam Bradford, the Bears and Rams. You could also throw Tampa Bay in there if you wanted.) Conversely, in the AFC, only the Colts and Ravens are absolutely set for the next half-decade, and the Ravens are only locked into Flacco because of his contract. Sure, the Broncos, Patriots, Steelers, and Chargers are set now and for the next two to three seasons, but Manning, Brady, Roethlisberger and Rivers can’t play forever.  Even excluding the aforementioned six, there are ten teams in quarterback limbo in the AFC compared to four or five in the NFC.

Pierre Garcon
He was the Giants MVP Sunday night. Garcon dropped some crucial passes to extend drives and casually let a Giants defender rip the football from his arms to clinch the victory for New York. Robert Griffin III is an entitled whiner but at least he tries at all times. The same couldn’t be said for Garcon Sunday evening.

Alabama
I know the field goal kicking unit isn’t made up of top tier athletes, but go check out some of the horrific angles ‘Bama players were taking on that epic play. Unlike everyone else, I don’t hate Nick Saban. I celebrate greatness. Saban is the best coach in collegiate sports. I guess even the great ones don’t pay close attention to kick coverage on missed field goals.

Hometown Writers
A guy at philly.com finished off a piece titled, “Eagles’ brand of football reminiscent of recent Super Bowl winners,” with the following quote: “Talent-wise, there are better teams in the NFC, but if I were the Seahawks or Saints, I sure as hell would not want to draw the Eagles in the playoffs…” I mean seriously. Give me one reason the Seahawks, Saints, Panthers or even 49ers would shutter with fear over the prospect of meeting the Eagles in the postseason? Is there one? I stopped reading philly.com on a daily basis two years ago because Eagles writers were either so clearly for Andy Reid or viciously against him, with no in between. In the very brief Chip Kelly era, there’s way too much cool aid drinking going on at local newspapers to take anything written about the Eagles seriously.

Wannabes

Ohio State
You play in the Big 10. Congrats on not losing for two years. Winning the Big 10 is equivalent to winning the Atlantic division in the NBA, where the Raptors are currently in 1st place at 6-10. I like Urban Meyer but I’d rather see the one loss SEC champ in the title game over the unbeaten Buckeyes.

Mike Tomlin
Don’t lie, Mike. You knew what you were doing when you casually stepped onto the playing field as Jacoby Jones approached. I can get behind the move if you own it, but lying about it is weak. Also, does anyone else get excited every time they see the replay just hoping Jones annihilates Tomlin? I mean just bull rushes him out of nowhere. Wouldn’t that be awesome? No? That’s just me?

Chicago Bears
For what feels like the ninth season in a row, the Bears started hot and have drastically faded over the season’s second half. Sunday’s loss to a hapless Minnesota team was brutal. I’ve never heard of a coach settling for a 47 yard field goal on 2nd down. For those of us dumb enough to watch this one, overtime was a clinic on how not to win football games. Both coaches were afraid to throw the football once they were within 50 yard field goal range.

St. Louis Rams/New York Giants
Legit playoff teams don’t take the first half of the season off.

San Diego Chargers
Legit playoff teams don’t take the second half of the season off.

Atlanta Falcons
Stop trying to win, Atlanta. If I’m the Falcons, I’m trying to nab that top pick and sell it to the highest bidder. There are supposed to be a plethora of quarterbacks in the 2014 draft. If Atlanta gets a top pick, they could potentially turn that pick into a treasure chest of future riches like the Rams did with the number two pick in 2012. Winning now does not improve Atlanta’s future.

Young QB Rankings

(Let’s face it, the biggest story/stories driving the league right now is the play of young quarterbacks. Since it’s such a big deal, I’ll be sure to rank the top seven after each week starting right now. There are no real criteria other than they must be within their first five years in the league.)

1. Russell Wilson – At this point, Wilson is probably the best QB in the NFL not named Rodgers, Brady, Manning, or Brees, right?
2. Cam Newton – His mechanics still break down at times, often leading to missed opportunities or turnovers, but this much we know; when it matters most in the 4th quarter, Superman will deliver.
3. Nick Foles – Multiply Foles’ interceptions by any number you want and the product will still be zero. BAM.
4. Andrew Luck – Luck needs help. His completion percentage has dipped below 60% for the season, a no-no for elite quarterbacks.
5. Colin Kaepernick – Rediscovering Anquan Boldin in recent weeks has certainly helped Kaepernick. The return of Michael Crabtree should help even more.
6. Robert Griffin III – Get well and maybe we can talk. Griffin was bad Sunday night.
7. Mike Glennon – Sorry, Mike. Didn’t mean to jinx you like that. In your defense, that was the NFL’s top defense that embarrassed you. So chin up.

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