Impressions from Week Twelve of the 2015 NFL Season

Yeah.

PHI @ DET

Philadelphia at Detroit

  • (Watched, correct)

Mark Sanchez is not a valuable quarterback to have in the NFL. I feel bad for anyone who thinks he’s even worth back-up status. Sure, his defense didn’t help his cause, but even with a good defense last year, he only went 4-4.

Detroit suddenly looks like a complete team again. All they had to do was fire almost everyone in the upper management. Calvin Johnson is also still elite.

CAR @ DAL

Carolina at Dallas

  • (Watched, incorrect)

I did not expect Tony Romo to play as poorly as he did. On the other hand, there wasn’t a lot open for him to play well with. Lots of replays showed every receiver not open… at all. Romo looked alone. And the running game wasn’t very effective either. Now, he’s out again, so Dallas will continue to lose every game until he returns.

At the beginning of this season, I said I didn’t think Cam Newton was a top 10 quarterback. By the halfway point, I still wasn’t ready to put him up there. Now, I’m willing to throw him a bone. I would probably put him on the same tier as Jay Cutler. And if that seems like an insult to you, you probably haven’t seen how well Jay Cutler has played this season. He just doesn’t have as complete a team as Newton does. Nevertheless, they’re now the only undefeated team in the league. If they can stay healthy, they’re favorites to play in the Super Bowl this year.

CHI @ GB

Chicago at Green Bay

  • (Watched most, incorrect)

I have a confession to make: despite the fact that I said I was “iffy” on this match-up, I was actually about 99% confident Green Bay would win this one. Turns out my almost fluke feeling turned out to be the right call.

Aaron Rodgers has 24 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions. However, he only has a 60% completion rate and a 6.9 yard per attempt average. His numbers still look great, but he hasn’t been playing well as of late. Once his offense has to rely on the pass, the team just seems to falter. Whether this is because of bad play calling, a lack of wide receiver experience, or an inconsistent running game has yet to be established, but whatever it is, Green Bay no longer looks like a dangerous playoff threat.

And Chicago could actually vie for a playoff spot.

BUF @ KC

Buffalo at Kansas City

  • (Watched most of fourth quarter, correct)

Alex Smith might be the best game manager in the NFL. Hasn’t thrown an interception in nearly 300 pass attempts. With his defense playing very well, Kansas City has won 5 games in a row. I’m not entirely confident that he’s capable of leading a team over a defensive juggernaut, but nevertheless, Kansas City is making a push for the postseason.

I feel bad for Buffalo fans. They went 9-7 last year with Kyle Orton and E.J. Manuel starting. Their defense was fantastic. Now with Rex Ryan running the show, their defense has suddenly become inconsistent and flaccid, despite finding what looks to be a good starting quarterback in Tyrod Taylor. I don’t think they’re gonna go far this season.

STL @ CIN

St. Louis at Cincinnati

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Jeff Fisher should be fired. Probably the GM, too, for fucking up a golden opportunity of a lifetime with, like, six 1st round picks from the RG3 trade.

NO @ HOU

New Orleans at Houston

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Remember when Houston was at 2-5 and people were calling out Bill O’Brien as another failure in the “Belichick-coaching tree”? How does he look now after a 4 game winning streak and with a punishing defense?

Remember when New Orleans was 4-4 and on a 3 game winning streak and people were under the assumption that they were good? How do they look now after a 3 game losing streak and with a defense that lets everyone score 100 points on them a week?

I don’t think Sean Payton’s going to survive as head coach after this season.

TB @ IND

Tampa Bay at Indianapolis

  • (Did not watch, correct)

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SD @ JAX

San Diego at Jacksonville

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another edition of “Never trust the AFC South.” With the exclusion of the now surging Houston and Indianapolis teams, Jacksonville and Tennessee remain as two of the worst teams in the entirety of the NFL, despite what their records may say (though still not pretty). Last week, San Diego was on the road against a determined Jacksonville team determined to catch up to Houston and Indianapolis in the division. They took this determination and let San Diego walk all over them. San Diego hasn’t walked all over anyone this season.

Same ol’ Jacksonville. Gus Bradley should be fired.

MIA @ NYJ

Miami at New York

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

I sure do know how to pick an upset, huh?

I drastically underestimated FitzMagic and his sore, red thumb. I also drastically overestimated Miami’s… everything. I was under the impression that Miami would be able to take advantage of New York’s struggling defense. As it turns out, New York actually looked better without Revis. Who would’a thunk it?

Lesson learned: unless Miami’s up against the lowest of the lows, they aren’t doing anything.

MIN @ ATL

Minnesota at Atlanta

  • (Watched, correct)

Let me reiterate: I don’t understand why Atlanta got as many votes to win as it did before this game. Are people really still under the impression that Atlanta is good? Or were they worried about Minnesota’s embarrassing loss to Green Bay? I wasn’t worried about this game at all. I was [probably overly] confident in Minnesota winning this game easily.

Interestingly enough, people are starting to question whether Matt Ryan should remain the starter of Atlanta’s offense; to which I say, “Are you insane? Of course he should.” Matt Ryan isn’t a bad quarterback. Everyone has down years. Some people are pointing fingers at Kyle Shanhan, the offensive coordinator. Looking at his track record, there seems to be a correlation:

His offenses tend to start out well, then eventual befuddle down into the bottom 10 in the league. RG3 had a great rookie season. Then he followed it up with a 2013 campaign that was nothing less than complete shit (though that could also be blamed on rushing in too early from an ACL tear). In 2014, he coached a Brian Hoyer-led Cleveland team to a 7-4 record, then skidded into an offensive mess, lost the next 5 games, and Hoyer even lost his job to both Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw. Now, Hoyer’s enjoying a (now) successful season as Houston’s starting quarterback. Matt Ryan was a Pro Bowl quarterback last season and started 5-0 this year. Now he’d be lucky to even be ranked within the top 10 quarterbacks in the league after dropping 5 of his last 6. Frankly, Ryan’s been inconsistent all year. It’s truly a head-scratcher.

Whatever the case, hopefully for Atlanta they can work out their offensive struggles for next year. They certainly have a shit-ton of potential. Potential that Minnesota is already showing.

NYG @ WAS

New York at Washington

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

New York’s offense kinda sucks, especially their running game. BUT OMG DID YOU SEE ODELL BECKHAM’S AMAZING CATCH?!

Shut up.

It doesn’t matter if you have an amazing wide receiver if the other receivers are dropping balls into the hands of defenders. Or have no running game. Or have no offensive line. Or have no passing defense. New York is just… ugh. They’re almost St. Louis levels of inconsistency.

Kudos to Washington, though. Despite what everyone believed to be a disastrous season for them turned out to be pretty okay, for the time being. They’re first place in the division with a chance to further stomp Dallas into the ground next week. That should be a fun game.

OAK @ TEN

Oakland at Tennessee

  • (Did not watch, correct)

The second round of “Never trust the AFC South” went without a hitch. Oakland won and I wasn’t surprised. I was surprised as to how close it was, but nevertheless, Oakland is far superior to Tennessee.

ARI @ SF

Arizona at San Francisco

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Man, you just do not mess with San Francisco’s defense at home. It’s a rowdy group.

Unfortunately, this game was subject to poor officiating. It looked as though both teams were getting some bad blows, though the most controversial came from a roughing the passer call on Carson Palmer that… frankly wasn’t roughing the passer whatsoever, which ultimately let them continue their final touchdown drive. Ho-hum. The NFL needs to get its shit together. I feel bad for San Francisco. They could’ve actually upset an 8-2 team with you-know-who as a starting quarterback.

PIT @ SEA

Pittsburgh at Seattle

  • (Watched, incorrect)

There were a few questionable calls in this game, too, like Richard Sherman kinda pushing off to get his first interception of the season. Though, it wasn’t enough to give either team a legitimate chance, as Roethlisberger was massacring the Seattle secondary all game, and Pittsburgh’s secondary can’t cover/tackle for shit. An ugly defensive game by both sides.

Seattle’s offensive line is starting to get something going now. Russell Wilson has only been sacked 6 times in the last 3 games and their running game has ranged from okay to amazing with Thomas Rawls starting. They look like a good team again. That secondary is still a concern, though. Carson Palmer, Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, and even Nick fucking Foles have had good games against it.

Pittsburgh has the same problem, except worse. Fix the secondary. It looked like it did in Week One against New England. It was hard to watch.

NE @ DEN

New England at Denver

  • (Watched, incorrect)

I am 10-2 when picking Sunday Night games. Those 2 losses came when picking against Denver. Maybe I should stop picking against Denver on Sunday Nights.

I will be honest; the end result of this game made me furious.

O-ffic-i-a-ting. Call me a New England-apologist all you want, but I really felt like the refs had it in for New England in this game. Every chance of a “ticky-tack” call was made against New England, while nothing other than incredibly blatant fouls were called against Denver. There’s shit-tons of evidence of bad non-calls all over Twitter, too. And, of course, people were all too happy to see New England get their “comeuppance” for “cheating all of those years.” Those refs may have been those people.

Officiating aside, it was still a good game plan by Gary Kubiak; run the ball at a defense without Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower. It worked. Brock Osweiler didn’t make all the throws, but he made the throws when he had to. His defense also helped greatly with providing him many chances to do so… and help from the officials.

Okay, okay. I’ll quit it with the officiating.

At the end of the day, one has to see it like this: New England was defeated under these conditions:

  • Without their two (Pro Bowl-quality) starting linebackers.
  • Without their two starting wide receivers.
  • Without a consistent offensive line.
  • Without their starting running back.
  • Without their starting tight end (fourth quarter onwards).
  • In Overtime.

Denver beating New England can be summed up like a mammoth defeating a tyrannosaurus with its legs chopped off. It’s a sweet victory, but you can’t help but feel like you took advantage of its injuries, so it doesn’t feel as sweet. Oh, and seven zebras ganged up on the tyrannosaurus and beat at its eyes until it was blind.

Okay, okay. I’ll seriously stop.

BAL @ CLE

Baltimore at Cleveland

  • (Watched, incorrect)

Cleveland:

s-l300

  • Week Twelve Pick ‘Em record: 8-8
  • Overall Pick ‘Em record: 103-73

NFL Pick ‘Ems (Week Twelve; 2015)

Never say never, but I don’t think I’ll ever be this late with picks again. With time against me, I’ll simply make my picks with a very brief entry as to why.

BUF @ KC

Buffalo at Kansas City

  • Favorite: Kansas City (via NFLPickWatch.com)

Kansas City’s on a roll and Buffalo’s inconsistent.

Winner: Kansas City

STL @ CIN

St. Louis at Cincinnati

  • Favorite: Cincinnati

I don’t even need to explain this one.

Winner: Cincinnati

NO @ HOU

New Orleans at Houston

  • Favorite: Houston

Like with Buffalo at Kansas City, Houston’s on a roll and New Orleans is inconsistent.

Winner: Houston

TB @ IND

Tampa Bay at Indianapolis

  • Favorite: Indianapolis

Tough choice, but I think Indianapolis has a bit of “Save Pagano’s job” magic going on right now.

Winner: Indianapolis

SD @ JAX

San Diego at Jacksonville

  • Favorite: Jacksonville

San Diego this year is the Jacksonville of 2013. They may not win another game.

Winner: Jacksonville

MIA @ NYJ

Miami at New York

  • Favorite: New York

Miami’s a bad team, but I’m choosing them to upset a struggling New York defense (now without Darrelle Revis).

Winner: Miami

MIN @ ATL

Minnesota at Atlanta

  • Favorite: Minnesota

More people are picking Atlanta than I would’ve expected. It baffles me.

Winner: Minnesota

NYG @ WAS

New York at Washington

  • Favorite: New York

Another tough choice, but I like Tom Coughlin late in the season.

Winner: New York

OAK @ TEN

Oakland at Tennessee

  • Favorite: Oakland

The tides sure have turned for Oakland. Once heavy favorites against Minnesota, now they’re light favorites against Tennessee.

Winner: Oakland

ARI @ SF

Arizona at San Francisco

  • Favorite: Arizona

Lol.

Winner: Arizona

PIT @ SEA

Pittsburgh at Seattle

  • Favorite: Seattle

Much like Arizona at Seattle a few weeks ago, I like Pittsburgh to test the Legion of Boom and succeed.

Winner: Pittsburgh

NE @ DEN

New England at Denver

  • Favorite: New England

A likely defensive battle, I trust Tom Brady more than Brock Osweiler.

Winner: New England

BAL @ CLE

Baltimore at Cleveland

  • Favorite: Cleveland

Joe Flacco, Justin Forsett, and the entire 2012 defensive line-up aren’t starting for Baltimore.

Winner: Cleveland

Quick Picks: Thanksgiving Games (Week Twelve; 2015)

PHI @ DET

Philadelphia at Detroit

  • Favorite: Detroit (via NFLPickWatch.com)

Philadelphia has lost 2 in a row against teams that aren’t exactly heavyweights by league standards. Tampa Bay is improving, but Miami’s been poorly inconsistent. Last week’s brutal, one-sided loss to Tampa Bay caused a typhoon of turmoil for Philadelphia, causing a firestorm of reports and gossip about whether or not Chip Kelly and the Eagles were on each other’s last nerves. One thing’s for sure: if Philadelphia keeps losing, Kelly’s head coaching job likely won’t last past this season.

Detroit’s recent activity has been the opposite. After starting 0-5, they’ve won 3 of the last 5, with a 2 game winning streak against Green Bay and Oakland. They seem to be clicking more as a team, even if they aren’t exactly in playoff form. That might just be enough to keep them from dropping a game at home against a currently featherless Eagles team.

Both teams have a variety of problems, but with Mark Sanchez starting and Philadelphia’s defense fresh off a blowout performance, I think Detroit will make it close enough to win through in the end.

Winner: Detroit

CAR @ DAL

Carolina at Dallas

  • Favorite: Carolina

This might be the toughest pick I’ve had all season. Carolina has had a piss-easy schedule all season and Dallas is one of the more complete teams as long as Tony Romo is the starter. Wouldn’t you know, Tony Romo is starting. Decisions, decisions.

On one hand, Carolina has shown to perform well due to an ultra-balanced offensive attack of pass and run. That’s easy with Cam Newton as your quarterback, but nonetheless. The receivers aren’t great, but Greg Olsen is a reliable target and the offensive line is performing very well. Then you have the defense, which has consistently held teams to under 23 points, so offense isn’t entirely needed. They’re also pretty good with takeaways and sacks. They’re 10-0 for a reason.

On the other hand, Dallas is also a very good team. Their record is 3-7, but they’re 3-0 with Romo. Dez Bryant is healthy, Terrance Williams benefited from having Romo back, Jason Witten is still Jason Witten, and that Dallas offensive line. It’ll definitely be a fun game to watch, and their defense doesn’t slack, either. I only wonder how they’ll respond to Carolina’s ground game onslaught.

For the sake of taking chances, I thought long about every scenario possible. In conclusion, I feel more comfortable picking Dallas at home with a healthy Tony Romo than I am with Cam Newton and the Carolina defense. It’s a stretch, but I think it can happen.

Winner: Dallas

CHI @ GB

Chicago at Green Bay

  • Favorite: Green Bay

If this were 2014, or 2013, or 2012, or 2011, or whenever else, I’d pick Green Bay at home no question against Chicago. Now, I’m a little iffy. Chicago has shown that they aren’t exactly a team one can push around, even Green Bay. They’ve improved their play considerably since last season, especially defensively. I really like Chicago’s chances here, but ultimately, it’s still Green Bay’s division, and they showed that against Minnesota on their own turf last Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers’ offensive line has struggled since Denver clobbered them on Sunday Night Football. It was only until last week that the running game could get going, even if Rodgers still faced an enormous amount of pressure. His receivers are lacking, with James Jones and Randall Cobb the only real threats (and Cobb has been inconsistent) in the passing game. I feel this game will be a defensive one, with the turnover battle being a key factor. I expect a lot of sacks and a few interceptions from both sides.

One of the true “rivalry games” in the NFL, it should be a lot more competitive this game than it was in the last few years. I wholly look forward to it, and I’m confident in Green Bay to sweep Chicago in the division.

Winner: Green Bay