We’re getting to that sweet spot in the NFL season, Thanksgiving day football, coaches and coordinators dropping like flies, teams solidifying their playoff stature while others crumble. Whether your team falls in the former or latter category, it’s an interesting time of the season. Let’s take a look around the league, shall we?
Peyton Manning broke the record for most passing yards of all time, breaking Bret Favre’s previous record of 71,838. All smiles then right? Not hardly, Peyton struggled mightily thereafter, throwing four interceptions and getting benched for Brock Osweiler. What’s worse is that after the game it was revealed that Manning has a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot. Oh, and the Broncos were annihilated, losing 29-13 to the Kansas City Chiefs (it was worse than the score indicates too). Peyton is definitely out this week against Chicago and will be re-evaluated after that. Despite having no allegiance to Denver, I’ve defended the Broncos all year and will continue to do so. Their defense is stacked but was without DeMarcus Ware and Aquib Talib, two of their best players. Assuming these guys get back on the field this will be a very tough defense to face as the year goes on, as defense becomes ever so important. Plus, Andy Reid after the bye is like Chick Fil A on Sundays, lights out. Concern for the Broncos is definitely legitimate however, their health is key and they have to get in an offensive rhythm when Peyton returns. In reality, this will probably come down to Peyton’s health and his effectiveness when he gets back on the field, whenever that may be. Brock Osweiler was a second round pick and only 24, who knows, maybe he can play?
Somehow, some way the Lions beat the Packers. This is less about the Lions winning and more about the Packers losing. The Packers have a laundry list of offensive woes: lack of a running game, poor line play, and Randall Cobb’s inability to step up the way he was expected to. It’s just uncharacteristic of them to go three and out the way they are doing so often. With the Vikings playing so well, the Packers may be fighting for a wild card spot this year instead of enjoying their typical first round bye.
Rex Ryan returned to New York to face his old team in an emotional Thursday night game. Ryan prevailed as the Bills beat the Jets 22-17. The Bills and Jets have very similar styles but the Bills were the more physical team and were able to force turnovers, giving them the advantage in a hard fought game.
Rob Ryan, on the other hand lost his defensive coordinator job as the hapless Saints defense allowed 47 points to Kirk Cousins and company. Yeah, that will do it. The Redskins are now 4-5 and right in the thick of the pathetic, and I mean pathetic, NFC East race.
The Eagles are also 4-5 except they seem to be trending down instead of up as they endured a sickening loss to the Miami Dolphins who were just asking to lose the game. The Eagles are a mess, Sam Bradford wasn’t well protected at all and it cost them. Slammed to the ground in the third quarter he suffered a sprained shoulder on his non throwing arm while also coming away with concussion from the thud. Jason Kelce looks lost. Miles Austin and Riley Cooper combined for over 90 snaps while each failed to receive a single catch. Mark Sanchez threw an excruciating fourth quarter interception. Chip Kelly seems to be overmatched and this team is just simply not that good. They aren’t even fun to watch and Philadelphians are truly over this team, despite being alive in the division race. Can you blame them? It’s one of those “even if they win the division how far can they really go?” type of deals. I still want the Eagles to finish strong and make a playoff push because you never know what could happen, but for now one would be naive to have any real expectations for this middling, injured, uninspired group.
Bill Belichick is one of the best, (if not the best, coaches of this generation, but he always struggles with Tom Coughlin and the Giants and this Sunday was no exception. However, while trailing, Tom Brady in classic Tom Brady fashion drove the team down the field and set up Stephen Gostkowski for a cold blooded 54 yard game winner that took the life right out of Metlife Stadium. Unfortunately for the Pats, Julian Edelman suffered a leg injury and his return this season is in question which comes right after losing Dion Lewis for the year. The Patriots are known for overcoming these kinds of losses so while it is indeed a loss, history suggests they’ll be just find going forward. On the other hand, despite losing the game the Giants probably aren’t too disappointed. They almost knocked off the best team in the world and are still in first place in their division while getting a bye week to fix things up. Not saying they’re going to or should win the division but until another team consistently gets going, they should be relatively confident about their playoff chances.
The undefeated Bengals are now defeated, losing to the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. Not necessarily a reason to abandon ship for the Bengals, every team has a hiccup at one point in the season or another. The Texans are now tied for first with the Indianapolis Colts who were on bye in the AFC South. The Colts have been disappointing all season so it’s actually pretty reasonable to expect this to be a real competition for the rest of the season, with the Texans having a legitimate shot to win the division.
Everyone knew the Arizona Cardinals were a good football team, but a lot of people were unsure if they were that good. The answer to that question is yes, yes they are as they secured a clutch win in one of the hardest places to play on earth, Seattle. The Cardinals look like they are the real deal and a real contender that’s built for the long haul, watch out.
Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are the leagues best QB-WR combo and it’s scary. The Steelers beat the Browns and are 6-4 and currently stand in good position to compete for a playoff spot. In reality, with the ever unstable condition of their quarterback, it’s really week to week with this team.