Please excuse any typos you may see in this week’s edition of First and Goal. I guzzled so much turkey and stuffed so much stuffing into my face that I can hardly type. Then again, nothing gets me over my holiday feast drowsiness like talking about the NFL, so let’s get down to the league’s biggest stories from Week 12.
FIRST AND GOAL
The four biggest stories in football this weekend. As always, use the comments section below to answer my questions!
THE DENVER BRONCOS – NOT JUST TIM TEBOW – ARE IN THE PLAYOFF PICTURE
I’ve had enough of the “Tebow Leads Broncos” headlines. Yes, Tim Tebow has made the plays he’s needed to make when the game is on the line. But you know what? So have a ton of other Broncos – and none of them are getting any credit. The Broncos have won five of their last six games, and in those five wins, Denver’s D has held opponents to 15 points per contest while racking up 16 sacks. Linebacker Von Miller has 5.5 sacks on his own in that five-game span. On offense, running back Willis McGahee has averaged over 5 yards per carry in those same five wins – and was not even on the field during the Broncos lone loss in the last month. I’m not doubting that Tebow has helped spearhead the turnaround in Denver, but there is plenty of praise to go around, and it seems like only one player is getting it. What do you think: Who really deserves the credit for the Broncos recent winning ways?
TEXANS PASS ON PASSING
For the second game in a row, the Texans lost their starting quarterback to a season-ending injury. And I still like their chances to reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Hear me out. In the past, Houston would win and lose by the pass. If they could air it out and light up the scoreboard, the Texans usually won. If they were shut down, their defense would cave and the team would get blown out. But this year, Houston has discovered the beauty of defense. The Texans are first in the league in yards allowed and second in points allowed. Meanwhile, on offense, Houston has the 3rd best running game in the league behind the revived Arian Foster and his back-up, Ben Tate. Winning with running and defense is new in Houston, just like a playoff appearance would be. What do you think: Does the new formula for winning in Houston mean they can still make the playoffs even without their top two quarterbacks?
THESE COACHES WON’T NEED SEAT WARMERS THIS WINTER
Heading into the season, both San Diego and Philadelphia had made the playoffs in five out of the last seven years. This year, it doesn’t look like either will make it to the post-season. So who’s to blame? It might be two renowned coaches sitting on the proverbial hot seat. In San Diego, this would be the second straight season without a playoff appearance for Norv Turner. Things are worse in Philly, where Andy Reid has steered his “Dream Team” into cellar of the NFC East. Most coaches in the league would be thrilled to have the talent in place that Turner and Reid enjoy, so all of the losing has fans wringing their hands. It might be time for a change in both cities. What do you think: Are the coaches to blame for the lack of production in San Diego and Philadelphia?
Every week, I find the four biggest stories in the NFL. Every week, I glaze over another Packers blowout…even though they still haven’t lost and we’re past Thanksgiving. Is that just because I’m a Bears fan and I don’t want to hear about how great Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are? Possibly. But I also think it’s because Green Bay has learned how to win so easily, it doesn’t even look like they’re trying anymore. The Packers have outscored their opponents by 155 points so far this season. It’s like watching the BCS #1 take on a D-III school full of freshman. The Pack has to go to New York this week to play the Giants, probably their last real challenge of the season. After that, it’s a coast to the finish line. I don’t think it’ll be surprising if Green Bay runs the table, the only real drama left is whether or not they can repeat as Super Bowl champs. What do you think: Can the Packers go undefeated throughout the regular and post-season?
HEROES AND ZEROES
Who excelled and who came up short this week. Nominate your own in the comments below!
Sebastian Janikowski, K, Oakland Raiders: 6-for-6 FGs (four between 40-49 yards)
Terrell Suggs, LB, Baltimore Ravens: 3 sacks, 3 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons: 27-for-34, 262 yards, 3 TDs
Caleb Hanie, QB, Chicago Bears: 18-for-36, 254 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INT
Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills: 8 catches, 75 yards, 1 TD…BUT, he had a major unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and two even more major drops on the Bills final drive
Ndamukang Suh, DT, Detroit Lions: ejected for kicking a defenseless opponent…on Thanksgiving Day…that is not the spirit of the holidays, Mr. Suh