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Winners, Losers & Wannabes – NFL Week 6

It was a special day for Tom Brady and the Patriots, and the rest of Boston, too. Matt Schaub and the Texans? Not so much. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Winners

Boston
Has there ever been a more dramatic, miraculous sports day in the same city? I don’t particularly like Boston sports but that was awesome. Of course, Tom Brady and Big Papi – the two most iconic Boston sports figures since Larry Bird – headlined both rallies.

Tom Brady
Speaking of Tom Brady, are we sure he’s getting enough credit for the Patriots start? Brady is surrounded by injured stars and amateur starters. Until yesterday, there was no running game. Yes, the offense isn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard, but they’re 5-1. I’m not sure there’s another quarterback in the league that could get more from less than Brady.

Playoff baseball
I boycotted last year’s baseball postseason because I was still devastated over the Phillies collapses in 2010 and 2011. I forgot how awesome baseball’s postseason atmosphere is. Since the Phillies won’t return to the postseason until 2034, I’ll settle for the thunderous crowd roars and fantastic pitching we’ve been treated to thus far. For the record, I was rooting for the A’s. Since that didn’t work out, I’m backing the Cardinals and a seven game series in the ALCS.

Nick Foles
Not a bad debut in the Chip Kelly offense for the second year player out of Arizona. Then again, Foles is undefeated in Tampa Bay (2-0) and completely defeated everywhere else (0-5).

Andy Reid
To all those Philadelphia people who cursed Reid as an awful coach I give you this: Reid is 6-0 with a team that went 2-14 a year ago. And you know why? Because Reid went back to the basics that worked so well for a decade in Philadelphia; strong defense, solid quarterback play, protect the football. In fact, if you look closer, Reid re-created everything he had with Jim Johnson. The Kansas City defense forces the most turnovers (18) and the team has the highest turnover differential in the NFL at 12, the next highest is 8. Most importantly, the Chiefs surrender less than 11 points per game, a staple of Jim Johnson’s bend-but-don’t-break mentality. Reid got away from the basics late in his Eagles career and it (rightfully) cost him his job. Going back to them has put him atop the AFC and in line for NFL Coach of the Year.

Steelers
Congrats, guys. It only took you a month and a half to get there.

Jaguars
For three quarters Jacksonville hung with the Broncos. Did it at any point feel like Denver was going to lose? No, but at least the Jags covered that ridiculous spread.

Carlos Beltran
Beltran was awesome in Game 1 of the NLCS, nearly beating the Dodgers by himself. If you don’t fully appreciate his game saving throw from right field go watch Carl Crawford’s attempt to do the same from left in Game 2. A World Series featuring Beltran and David Ortiz – two of the most clutch postseason performers of the last decade – would be a real treat.

Bill O’Brien
His call to go for it on 4th down in the 4th OT against Michigan was the call of the weekend. He claims he did it because he didn’t think his players had much left, which is probably true, but he also wanted the game to end on his terms. I love O’Brien. He’s perfect for rebuilding Penn State’s program.

Losers

Texans
The wheels have officially come off. Despite Arian Foster’s best game of the season, Houston found a way to lose… by 25… at home… against the lowly Rams. Matt Schaub isn’t the only one to blame here. The defense was horrible Sunday. Gary Kubiak’s had more than enough time with this team. His legacy to date: underachieving.

Ray Rice
71 rushes for 197 yards, 2.8 yards per carry, 2 fumbles lost.
Remember when Rice was a game-changer?

Atlanta Braves/Oakland A’s
Atlanta has failed to advance in the postseason in their last seven appearances, winning a total of four games over the last four series’. Oakland has failed to advance in six of their last seven playoffs. What’s worse, all six Division Series losses have been in five games, including two consecutive series losses to the Detroit Tigers.

Throwaways
Attention Brandon Weeden and Robert Griffin III: When you throw the ball away, throw the ball 20 yards further than you think necessary. For Griffin, this is the 2nd time in the last three games he was picked off because he failed to successfully throw the football away. For Weeden, well, let’s just say his horrific attempt to throw the ball away was perhaps the most unathletic play you’ll ever see from an NFL player.

Saints offense
As much fun as it is to see Rob Ryan in agony, Sunday’s last second defeat to the Patriots wasn’t his fault. Pin that loss on Sean Payton, Drew Brees, and the Saints offense. First of all, don’t give Tom Brady three chances to beat you. Play with fire and you’re likely to get burned. Second, you have Drew Brees under center. What the &#*@ are you doing running a naked bootleg on 3rd and 7 with a chance to clinch the game? Though Brees didn’t have a great game, he’s still a great quarterback. Let him win the game for you. Brady had an even worse game and he was able to rally himself and win the game.

Denver Nuggets
I forgot how bad Denver’s offseason was until last night’s preseason game against the Spurs. (Yes, I watch preseason basketball.) Last year, many were giving the Nuggets an outside chance of winning the West. A year later, they’re unlikely to even make the playoffs.

Wannabes

Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are good enough to compete with any team but bad enough to never beat those teams. Carson Palmer is a big reason why they can’t win those big games. With all the quarterbacks available in the 2014 draft, I think it’s time the Cardinals start assessing their draft position because Palmer is not going to get any better.

Bengals
Cincinnati is the worst good team this year. Just when you thought they’d taken care of business in Buffalo, the Bengals allow 14 unanswered 4th quarter points to a rookie quarterback who many of us didn’t know existed four days ago.

Dodgers
Big names and flashy play don’t work in the postseason, especially against the gritty, fearless Cardinals. (Then again, the Cardinals apparently forgot how to hit, so I could eat crow on this one.)

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. Andrew Luck – It’s unanimous at this point, right? (Uhhh, I wrote this on Monday. After his performance in San Diego, maybe it’s not so unanimous.)
2. Russell Wilson – Outdueled by Luck last week, but still the most exciting.
3. Colin Kaepernick – That completion percentage (55%) scares me.
4. Cam Newton – Needs to find consistency.
5. Jake Locker – Titans are an offensive mess without him.
6. Sam Bradford – Two great games in a row. Turning the corner, finally?
7. Robert Griffin III – Bad decisions. Bad throws. More ducks than spirals.

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