Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 14 in the National Football League!
– The win may have not looked pretty against a below average team in Cleveland but a win is a win and the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to roll as we are now three weeks away from the playoffs beginning. It hasn’t looked pretty in the process nor dominating but the Steelers have now rolled off 8 wins in their last 9 games making them the hottest team in the NFL sans the Green Bay Packers. This team looks to taking a slight edge as a potential AFC favorite as we get closer to the playoffs.
– Whether or not Peyton Hillis returns to the Cleveland Browns won’t be their biggest off-season storyline yet whether or not Colt McCoy is their starting quarterback will be. I believe he is but he needs more weapons because the Cleveland offense isn’t putting him in the best of lights right now. Decent quarterback, ton of potential, just needs to tap into it.
– The Bengals gave it their all and tried their best to play spoiler but came up short this Sunday. One thing I noticed in this game that is positive for the Bengals is that A.J. Green is a future elite wide receiver and you can see that in his rookie year. I believe he will be discussed in the likes of Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald in a couple of seasons.
– Detroit needed to make a statement today that they were a playoff caliber team and despite winning they did not prove that in the slightest. The Lions have been struggling just as much on the field as they have off of it & needed that win to give them some confidence so they could carry for the rest of the season. I did not see a team that is ready to make a turn yet and prove to be a dangerous team come playoff season.
– Minnesota made a game of it but they are in desperate need of their offensive leader Adrian Peterson. I’m starting to be skeptical based on their record if we will ever see Adrian Peterson suit up for the rest of this season. If not no worries, there is always backup QB Joe Webb to take the carries.
– Speaking of making a statement the New Orleans Saints failed to do the same as well in Week 14 as they barely beat the fading Tennessee Titans. The Saints needed to have a decisive victory to prove that they are an elite team that can knock off the Packers and have failed to do so yet again. They are winning but not decisively like Green Bay has, New Orleans and the Giants (if they make the playoffs) are the most dangerous teams to knock off the defending champs.
– Do you write off the Titans yet? I’m not sold on that until we see how they do in Week 15. But one thing is for sure, you need to win 10 games in the AFC to make the playoffs this season.
– “The Dream Team” living up to their self given nickname in Week 14 as they put the boots to the Dolphins as they continue to play for nothing but a hope & a dream. LeSean McCoy had the crazy statistic of Week 14 as he carried the ball twenty-seven times and only rushed for thirty-eight yards. No matter what, Andy Reid is still getting fired, even if they finish the year 8-8.
– Farewell Tony Sparano. I look forward to Bill Cowher becoming the head coach for the Dolphins next season.
– Rex Ryan stated when the Jets were 5-5 that “every game was a playoff game from here on out” and they are playing like it as they have gone 3-0 in their last three games & becoming the favorite for the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs right now with three games to go. New York has one of the easiest schedules for the rest of the season and I don’t see any reason why they should not make the playoffs at this point. Will they be dangerous like they have in years past, that I am not sure yet.
– Farewell to Todd Haley, very surprising firing to be honest. Would’ve figured he received some sort of pass after the injuries they were dealt to this season. Guess it might have been more then meets the eye in Kansas City.
– New England is the best team in AFC as right now in Week 14. For them to keep that title they need to beat teams like the Washington Redskins convincingly. They failed to do that in Week 14 as their flaws are continuing to be showcased against weak teams in the final stretch of the regular season. If they get a first-round bye I will be shocked if they make the AFC Championship Game at this point.
– Washington’s offense showcased the flaws of the New England defense to the rest of the league. If the Redskins can just barely beat them imagine what a team like the Ravens, Steelers or even the Texans may be able to do. It was a great job by the ‘Skins in making it interesting all the way to the end.
– Atlanta wants to be in the playoffs they proved that to me and the rest of the league today as they came from behind to beat the Panthers this week. At one point I thought we were getting close to putting the “nail in the coffin” on the Falcons but they came back from a pretty good deficit to live for another day. This could be the momentum the Falcons need to carry them for the final push in the regular season.
– Is the wear & tear of the NFL starting to get to Cam Newton? He hasn’t been as dominant in recent weeks and I’m wondering if we could see his flaws being showcased now by the professional defenses in the NFL. You know what they say, time shall tell.
– Don’t know what to say about this Jaguars/Bucs matchup except that Maurice Jones-Drew is a beast. He has had another terrific season that people just don’t realize because he plays for Jacksonville. How he hasn’t demanded a trade to a contender at this point in his career is baffling.
– Could there be a chance the Bucs don’t bring back Raheem Morris next season? I guess only if a Bill Cowher or Jeff Fisher wanted to coach there; I consider him in the same boat as Todd Haley. He is in the hot seat for sure next season.
– The “Suck for Luck” campaign has now reached 13 straight losses! They are getting closer to clinching the #1 pick for the 2012 NFL Draft! Oh and its official, in case you thought it was already but Peyton Manning is done for the season. I am officially shocked.
– Baltimore gets the win and improves to 10-3 on the season. They are still my AFC favorite to make the Super Bowl and are playing very well lately whether it is against good teams or bad teams. I’ll be interested to see if Joe Flacco ever takes the leadership role on this team though.
– If you thought the “cat was out of the bag” on the Green Bay Packers last week then you were wrong as they took it too playoff contender the Oakland Raiders. Green Bay gets a convincing win and now sets itself up to clinch home field advantage next week. The only major concern right now for Green Bay isn’t their schedule for the rest of the season but the health of Greg Jennings.
– I think it’s safe to say that the Oakland Raiders are starting to fade back to where I predicted they would be fading to, yet gave them credit, six weeks ago right? They looked good for that short while but that short while has come and gone. If they want to play in January they need to start acting like it now. I’d almost consider Hue Jackson on the hot seat at the end of this season if they don’t make the playoffs since it is Oakland…
– I feel like I am repeating myself since Denver keeps doing the same thing week after week but damn Tim Tebow is clutch. You have got to give the guy credit for what he continues to accomplish this season. He may never accomplish anything else after this season for the rest of his career but people will always remember the “Tebowmania” that has swept the NFL for the 2011-2012 season as the Denver Broncos currently lead the AFC West with three games to go.
– They have been hit with a slew of injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte & their chances of playing in the playoffs this season will be a miracle at best for the moment. Tough break for the runner-up in the NFC Championship game last season; with that being said is Lovie Smith on the hot seat? Hey look at this way, Todd Haley was fired and the Chiefs made the playoffs last season but have been held back by major injuries as well, think about it.
– In the last five games the San Francisco 49ers are 2-3 despite winning the NFC West and being at one time an easy guess for a first round bye in the NFC playoffs. That has all changed in recent weeks and the Niners flaws are continuing to be showcased by the rest of the league. They are a division leader but they are being led by Alex Smith, the Texans may have more faith in T.J. Yates then San Francisco has in their former #1 overall pick.
– Arizona continues to play well and win when Kevin Kolb isn’t their QB or getting the most reps. Maybe the Cards need to rethink their franchise’s game plan of Kolb being their quarterback. Things just haven’t worked in Kolb’s favor at all in 2011.
– I love how the Chargers have come back from the dead and have looked like the Chargers team we typically remember the last two weeks. They are sitting at 6-7 currently and are still in the playoff mix & should not be counted out just yet. They very well could shock the world and make the playoffs whether it is by Wild Card position or dare I say the AFC West. Stay tuned.
– Man the Buffalo Bills really have disappointed me this season. They are a bad case of a team having two seasons in one season as they started off strong (5-2) and have ended up horrible (0-7) with a record of 5-8 on the season. I really believed this team could have shaken things up in the AFC East and now I’m starting to wonder if they ever will with Chan Gailey as their head coach or with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their quarterback.
– I believe that based off of momentum from the last two weeks, the New York Giants are the 2nd best team in the NFC right now and that is with a record of 1-1 in those two games. They are playing very well, came close to beating Green Bay, defeated Dallas after being behind by 12 with a short time to go and are now atop the NFC East. They needed these two games to set the tone and are looking towards a decent playoff run come January, watching out for the Giants.
– What can you say about Dallas? They had their opportunities but they just did not get things done. Would it shock you if Jason Garrett gets fired during the off-season?
– I can’t believe it either but at least for now the Seattle Seahawks are still in contention to make the playoffs. They have had a great stretch the last couple of games with Marshawn Lynch living up to his “beast mode” nickname in those last 5 games. Seattle has played well down the stretch this season and while I don’t see them making the playoffs (shocking I know), they have a lot to look forward to next season if they can get an actual NFL QB under center.
Join Bower, “The Sweet Nasty” Chris Cause & myself every Sunday for more NFL & Fantasy Football talk over at www.wheelhouseradio.com!
Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday at www.wheelhouseradio.com.
Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site.
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