Tuesday, December 13, 2011

NFL Week 14 Recap

Arguably the best game of the season occurred at the tail end of week 14. I didn't pay any attention to the MNF game - so the Cowboys/Giants gem that took place on Sunday Night capped a solid end to the week 14 games. A lot of people are going to make a lot of hoopla about how the Giants are back and the Cowboys inevitably choke every close game. They'd absolutely be right. From 1960 - 2010 the Cowboys have blown two games in the fourth quarter after being up by 12 or more. This year alone the Cowboys have conquered that feat on three separate occasions. Strong work all around. Are the Giants ready to take control of the division and run away with it? Probably Not. Check out more first class analysis on this week's game after the jump...
We went an average 8-8 this week in the picks. Couple of lucky wins, some bad breaks - just a normal week in the NFL when it comes to gambling.

Back to the Giants/Cowboys game - two plays stood out to me. The first was the failed 3rd down attempt under 2 and a half mins left that Tony Romo and Miles Austin could not connect on. Within the first 10 yards of the route, Austin created about 3 yards of space between him and Giants CB Aaron Ross. The lack of coverage prompted this tweet from Eagles RB Lesean McCoy. Unrelated, I know. Anyways, Romo lofted the ball up - but instead of making the catch and waltzing in for an easy TD - it appears that Austin actually veered away from the ball... Maybe he lost the ball in the lights? Perhaps his hamstring injury hampered his route running? Or maybe he had money on the Giants? Who knows - but it looks like this ball should have been caught.

The second play that kind of irked me was the timeout that was called by Giants coach Tom Coughlin literally a fraction of a second before the game-tying field goal was attempted. Anyone who was watching - just knew there was no way Cowboys K Dan Bailey was going to hit the second attempt. Of course, Jason Paul Piere, a legitmiate monster, blocked the attempt and the Giants held on for the victory. But the overarching message here is that coaches are getting so cute with their timeouts and 'icing' the kicker routine. To me, icing the kicker is such a bush league move. In no other sport can their be so much pressure built up and then at the last second can a coach decide to deflate an entire arena. No one is paying top dollar to watch a coach stand by a referree and call a timeout. Did it work for the Giants and get them the win? Probably. But we're also probably headed for a game in which the outcome is decided by a coach 'calling a timeout' vs. a kicker making a 50-yard field goal. Just seems like an issue that should be fixed sooner than later.

I'm glad I had the Fantasy bye this week in two of my leagues. Sucks to lose players for the season - which is what happened to Cowboys RB Demarco Murray when he broke his foot and suffered a high ankle sprain in the first half. Also, Calvin Johnson was held to a whopping 3 reception and 29 yard performance. I'm hoping that my guys are just saving their best performances for week 15 and 16.

When looking at the league landscape - there is the Packers and then there is everyone else. Feels like I've been saying that every week. This week we have six teams that boast a 10-3 record (Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Texans, Saints, and 49ers). Two of them (Steelers and 49ers) will meet on MNF this week. As we come down to the home stretch of the season it will be a lot of fun to see how things shake out in each division as well as the wild card spots. Without further ado - here's an updated prediction on how things will work themselves out:

Projected Playoff Picture:
AFC East: New England - As long as Tom Brady keeps a cool head, they'll be alright
AFC North: Baltimore - tiebreaker over the Steelers helps - good test against Chargers coming up.
AFC South: Houston - already clinched with T.J. Yates.
AFC West: Denver - If Tebow does it again this week against the Pats - should he garner MVP consideration?
AFC Wild Card: Pittsburgh - hopefully Big Ben won't be sidelined for too long
AFC Wild Card: Jets - feels like they're turning it on at the right time.
Left Out: Bengals, Titans, Raiders, Chargers

NFC East: Cowboys - I just can't seem to hop off their bandwagon no matter how hard they try to push me off.
NFC North: Packers - Will they rest the starters after the Greg Jennings scare?
NFC South: Saints - my pick for second best team in the league.
NFC West: 49ers - already clinched with Alex Smith.
NFC Wild Card: Falcons - control their own destiny - better no eff things up against the Jags on Thursday night.
NFC Wild Card: Lions - only because someone has to win the Lions/Raiders game this week.
Left Out: Giants, Bears, Seahawks, Cardinals

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