By BRAD DEGNAN
Weather and wacky finishes seemed to be the theme this week in the NFL. There’s just three games left in the regular season and only one team has clinched a playoff berth. The Jets are trippin’, the Raiders are flippin’ and the Patriots are showing no sign of slippin’. The Falcons have the best record in the NFC and the longest winning streak in the NFL and no one seems to notice. A complete collapse in Minnesota and a record streak comes to an end. Let’s peel back the layers from week 14 to see what happened and take a look at some huge games next week with lots of playoff implication.
We have to start off with the statement game of the season thus far; Patriots at a blustery and snowy Solider Field in Chicago. The game was supposed to be a test and a low scoring contest. It was neither. By the time the Bears left the field for the warmth of the locker room at halftime the scoreboard read 33-0. Both teams are cold weather clubs, but only the Patriots looked it. Tom Terrific was unfazed by the elements while Jay Cutler was bothered both by the weather and the Patriots defense. New England had its fifth straight game with no turnovers. This is how you win championships and with their eighth playoff appearance in the last ten years they are now the leader in the club house for Lombardi.
Another AFC East team seems to be imploding before our very eyes. The Jets lost their second straight division game this one at home to the Dolphins. The last two games the Jets have put up a daunting nine points. Is it me or does Sanchize look like a quarterback from Southern California in the cold? If he struggles this December like last, they’re in big trouble. Two of their last three games the Jets travel to Pittsburgh and Chicago, both cold weather and at least one a must win for them to reach the playoffs.
The Jets’ strength and Conditioning Coach has been suspended the rest of the season (including the Playoffs) for tripping Dolphin’s gunner Nolan Carroll while covering a punt. The play was reminiscent of a Woody Hayes moment.
Jay Feely had the best week ever. The Cardinals kicker banged home five field goals, including a 55-yarder, in addition to scoring a touchdown on a fake field goal attempt. Fantasy owners of Feely rejoice.
The Buccaneers and Redskins game didn’t have the weather that the Patriots and Bears had to deal with, but it was a down pour and Donovan McNabb struggled. Washington’s kicking game also struggled with the wet field. Kicker Graham Gano missed two field goals of 24 and 34-yards. The Skins looked as if they were going to tie the game in the waning seconds though with a simple extra point. The snap however slipped through holder Hunter Smith’s hands; as did the game. Washington is a real mess, but at least they’re not the Cowboys.
Speaking of the Cowboys; how can you justify going up to the quarterback who just beat you and ask him to autograph your glove. Tashard Choice did so by explaining it was for his nephew. The Cowboys continue to amaze.
Of all the games outside, exposed to Mother Nature, there was not one that was worse than the Green Bay Detroit game, which of course was played in Detroit, in a dome. Sure Aaron Rodgers was knocked out of the game with his second concussion of the season, but come on? Unless you’re a Lions fan this game sucked.
Keeping with the weather theme, Minnesota received the fifth largest snowfall in state history over the weekend causing the Metrodome’s roof to collapse. The Vikings’ game against the Giants was then moved to Detroit where all hope of a home field advantage was nonexistent as the freeloading spectators at Ford Field were more interested in doing the wave than watching the football game. This game also saw the end to a true “Iron Man” streak for most consecutive games started by a quarterback. Favre’s’ streak stands at 297. The Vike’s may have to play next week’s game at the University of Minnesota, which is outdoors. If this happens don’t expect #4 to lace ‘em up.
The Jaguars pulled off another victory and are in the driver’s seat for the AFC South. The Raiders squandered a huge day by Darren McFadden who had nearly 210 combined yards and 3 touchdowns, two of which were over 50-yards. The Jags are winning but don’t be surprised if there is a collapse either before the postseason or in the first game they play of the post season. Jacksonville’s point differential is minus 36. No other playoff bound team is close to the negative. That is if you don’t include the NFC West where all four teams are in the negative. Can you believe one of those teams may host a playoff game?
It’s week 15 next week, and as mentioned there are some huge games. The battle for the AFC South takes place in Indianapolis as the Jaguars try to extend their lead to two games over the Colts. Philly travels to New York to face the Giants, these teams have identical records with the Eagles beating the Giants earlier this season. Jets @ Steelers as mentioned just might be a “must win” for the Jets. Will Aaron Rodgers play as the Pack travels to New England? And don’t forget the big Cowboys and Redskins game, woo hoo.That’s all for this week folks and sorry for all the stats. Talk to ya next week.