13 Things We Learned in Week 13 | December 6, 2012
There were plenty of thrilling games in Week 13, but the most important thing we learned was provided by none other than the much maligned Brady Quinn. It’d be wrong to comment too much on the deaths of Kasandra Perkins and Jovan Belcher, until the full facts have been established concerning Belcher’s state of mind. However, speaking as somebody who works in the mental health sector, I couldn’t help but be impressed with some of the words spoken by Quinn after the Chiefs played on Sunday. So, for the benefit of anyone who missed it….
1. “…in my head, I’m thinking what I could have done differently. When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it? When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth? We live in a society of social networks, with Twitter pages and Facebook, and that’s fine, but we have contact with our work associates, our family, our friends, and it seems like half the time we are more preoccupied with our phone and other things going on instead of the actual relationships that we have right in front of us. Hopefully people can learn from this and try to actually help if someone is battling something deeper on the inside than what they are revealing on a day-to-day basis.”
2. The NFC East Just Got Interesting
It’s fair to say that the East has been a tad disappointing this season; The Eagles have stunk the place out, Dallas have been desperately average, the Giants have been hit and miss, and the Redskins have managed to accumulate a fair few defeats despite the magic of RGIII. Now, following the Skins superb MNF win over New York (NB – I’ve no problem with most NFL nicknames but “The G Men” is frankly awful. Sounds like a gang in a crap cartoon), there are 3 teams within 1 win of each other.
Washington have been awesome since Mike Shanahan declared their season over. It’s proven to be an inspired piece of reverse psychology by the Redskins coach, they certainly have the momentum. The Giants are taking the phrase “blowing hot and cold” to the extreme, it’s more like “blowing boiling and freezing” at present. As for Dallas, I just can’t get excited about them. They scrapped by the Eagles on Sunday, but they still look accident prone and you often think the next botch is just around the corner. I think New York will pull out a strong finish and clinch the Division, but it’s going to make for fascinating viewing.
3. Drew Brees Has a Night to forget
Throughout the Saints somewhat disappointing season, the play of QB Drew Brees has remained high. That all changed on Thursday night in the Georgia Dome, as he was picked off a career high 5 times by the Falcons. Aside from the 5 interceptions, Brees’ timing was terrible all evening, as he repeatedly missed open receivers and overthrew passes. It all meant that the Falcons could claim a 10th victory of the season and New Orleans’ play off dreams were left in tatters. Brees has done far too much in his career for this to be called anything other than a blip. But it’s reassuring to know that even the very best can have an absolute stinker!
4. Momentum in Cleveland?
Every year there is a team (or 2) that have a decent run towards the end of the season and fans get all excited about the prospect for next time. It doesn’t always work out for the best – the Eagles won their last 4 in 2011 and look where that got them. But a bit of momentum is a great thing for a franchise. Teams like the Bills, Jets (more of them later) will be hoping for a strong finish, but it’s the Browns who may have the best scope to take some momentum into the off season.
2 wins against the Steelers and Raiders have certainly lifted the mood in Cleveland. This is a young and inexperienced team who are the product of an extensive rebuild. nobody seriously expected them to make a play off run this time, but there are signs of better times ahead in the shape of players like Trent Richardson, Josh Gordon and even Brandon Weedon. Plus they’ve got a young defence that are maturing together and putting up some strong performances. Next seasons AFC north could be a very close run thing.
4. Russell Wilson Makes a Statement
“Statement game” is a oft trotted out NFL cliche. Given that there are thousands of statements made about every NFL game ever, it seems a bit of a silly phrase. Nonetheless, I’ll play along and declare that the Seattle Seahawks had a “statement game” on Sunday in Chicago. We all know how formidable the Hawks are at home in front of the 12th man, but there were plenty of people doubting whether they replicate that form elsewhere. The defeat in Miami added fuel to that fire, but this weeks win over the Bears showed how far this team has come.
Russell Wilson had the game of his short NFL career, and engineered 2 late drives that belied his tender years. Many a QB has flopped against the Bears this year, but Wilson’s late strikes to Golden Tate and Sidney Rice were the clearest sign yet that Seattle are a force in the NFC. And they might even be able to win away in the play offs!
5. The Sanchez Era is Over ……….maybe
McElroy Time doesn’t have much of a ring to it, but the biggest cheer of the weekend was reserved for a certain Gregg McElroy, when he came on to make his NFL debut in place of the hapless (What is a “hap” anyway? And why is it a problem to be without one?) Mark Sanchez. McElroy was hardly flawless, but he did lead the Jets to the only touchdown of a turgid encounter with the Cardinals. It was a TD pass that my Nan could have thrown, but hey 6 points is 6 points.
Rex Ryan has turned back to Sanchez as his starter for this week’s game with the Jags, but it’s hard to see Sanchez as the future in New York. Maybe McElroy will get a chance to stake his claim, or maybe Tim Tebow will finally get a shot. Either way, the Jets could be looking for a FA signing in the offseason to take over the reigns. Given the soap opera environment that seems to surround the Jets, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Michael Vick in green next season!
As for Arizona? Well, if Ryan Lindlay is an NFL standard QB, then my Nan has got a pretty good shot at winning a SuperBowl!
6. Andrew Luck is Going to Dominate the NFL
The number one Draft pick actually had an error strewn game on Sunday. 3 picks and plenty of misses. But with the game on the line, he drove the Colts 75 yards for a game winning TD as time expired. His short pass to Donnie Avery didn’t look much, but the presence of mind shown by Luck was extraordinary as he escaped the pocket. Avery was actually the 5th choice receiver for the play and most QB’s would have only had eyes for the End Zone. But Luck was the Number 1 pick for a reason, and in that one play he summed up what makes him so special. To take this Colts side to the play offs would be a remarkable effort, they were many people’s tip to have the number one draft pick again next year. It looks like one top pick will be enough in Indianapolis.
7. The Leg is Back
I have to confess to being a tad worries about Greg Zuerlein, he’d missed a couple of kicks lately and there hadn’t been any of the massive kicks that had lit up the first half of his rookie year. My worries increased after he missed a 58 yarder in the first half against the 49ers, but luckily for Leg fans (!), Zuerlein bounced back in spectacular style with 2 50+yard efforts. Firstly to take the game to Overtime, and secondly to seal an epic victory. Remarkably, it was the first time in two hours and 29 minutes that a winner had been found between the Rams and Niners this season.
By contrast, San Francisco’s David Akers missed a much shorter game winning chance earlier in overtime and appears to be on borrowed time with the Niners. From All Pro to Skid Row in one year? That’s the life of an NFL kicker.
A fact proven by Charles Batch this week. 7 days previously, he’d looked lost against the Browns. But in Baltimore, he put on an exemplary performance as the Steelers upset the Ravens and kept themselves in the AFC North race. Batch didn’t just play as a game manager either, he made some superb throws and looked calm and composed in the pocket. Naturally, there were a few overthrows and bad decisions, but for a 3rd choice QB approaching his 40th year, it was a remarkable effort and his tears at the final whistle showed how much it meant to him. Big Ben should be back this week, and this was probably Batch’s last ever NFL game, but what a way to go out!
9. New England Win the East Yet Again
Ok, the standard of opposition in the AFC East is pretty mediocre, but it’s still a heck of an achievement for the Pats to win the Division nine out of the last years. This year, they’ve peaked at the right time after an iffy start. Combine one of the best QBs in NFL history with arguably the best set of receivers in the League and you’ve got the recipe for plenty of points. Question marks still persist over the Defence, but they’ve improved as the season has progressed. This week they contained the Dolphins successfully and should they best the Texans on MNF, they will have a great chance of having homefield advantage throughout the Play Offs. A trip to Gillette Stadium certainly won’t be on anybodies wish list for the New Year!
10. Brady v Manning in the AFC Championship?
Maybe, just maybe. Arguably the “Dream Match” in the AFC championship would be a match up of the 2 best QBs of the last decade. Few thought Peyton Manning would be able to reproduce his pre injury form in Denver. Arguably, he’s actually got better since joining the Broncos. Some of his throws have been from the very top drawer. This week against the Bucs he managed to locate Kwonshon Moreno despite the running back being horizontal on the turf. His TD pass to Demaryius Thomas was even better, and despite a ropey interception, Manning’s all round play was close to perfect. The Texans and Ravens may have something to say on the matter, but I’m sure most neutrals would love a Brady-Manning showdown to decide the AFC title.
11 & 12 Peterson Brilliant < Ponder Terrible
Ok, I’m cheating by lumping 2 points together, but you try coming up with 13 different observations from last week! Anyway, Adrian Peterson once again showed everyone that he’s a medical freak by running for over 200 yards in Green Bay. His awesome display was highlighted by a scorching 82 yard touchdown, complete with casual glances at the scoreboard to see where his pursuers were (Ans – Way behind!). But running backs are rarely kingpins – look at the recent SuperBowl winners and who their running backs were! To succeed in the NFL you need a good Quarterback, and Christian Ponder certainly isn’t that at present. A single figure QBR is rarely going to equate to success and Ponder is throwing in too many stinkers at present. This weeks performance was summed up by an interception in the EndZone that was so badly thrown that Mark Sanchez would have been embarrassed.
As good as Peterson is, it’ll count for very little unless Ponder can improve dramatically. It’s hard to see the Vikings making a run for the play offs from 6-6. Ponder started the season well, but unless he can find some of that form again, the Vikings may have to consider looking elsewhere in 2013.
13. Don’t Make Any Plans this Sunday!
To use another cliche, we’ve reached the business end of the season. All bar 2 of this week’s fixtures have Play Off implications. The pick of the games are Ravens-Redskins, Cowboys-Bengals, Bears-Vikings, Saints-Giants and the MNF showdown between the Texans and Patriots. By Tuesday, we should have a clearer idea of who will make it to the Play Offs…or maybe we’ll just be even more confused!
Player Of the Week: Brady Quinn – Emotions aside, Quinn had a great outing for the Chiefs on Sunday. 19/23 for over 200 yards and 2 touchdowns isn’t a monstrous stat line, but it represents a massive step forward for the long time back up. To play that well after the events of the previous day is a remarkable achievement. In fact, it was a remarkable effort by all the Kansas City team to produce tier best display of the season at such a sad time.
Flop of the Week: Ryan Lindley – 10-31 for 72 yards and a pick. Larry Fitzgerald play for this team! He can catch anything thrown in his vague direction. If Lindley starts this week, you’d have to question whether Ken Whisenhunt is trying to get fired. Meanwhile, the Kevin Kolb for MVP campaign is gathering pace!
Highlight of the Week – Even when RGII makes a mistake it turns to gold. 999 times out a 1000 his first half fumble against the Giants would have gone to the floor, rolled out of bounds or been picked up by a Giant. But this is RGII, so naturally his fumble flies into the arms of Josh Morgan, who took advantage of the confusion to gallop to the EndZone. I’m just glad I’m not picking Rookie of the Year this season!