Tuesday, December 05, 2006

NFL Week 13 Review

The week wrapped up with an entertaining contest between two lackluster teams, with the Eagles getting the best of the perplexing Panthers.

Let's take a look at that game and review what else happened in a wild Week 13.

-Philly 27, Carolina 24
Philly 17-14
Wrong score but right team as I was one of the few people who called it like I saw it: Carolina is a mess and wasn't about to go on the road to hostile Philly and knock of the Eagles no matter who was lining up at quarterback. Jeff Garcia survived some hard hits and boos from the fickle Philly fans to throw for 312 yards & 3 touchdowns in his 2nd start in place of injured Donovan McNabb and the Eagles (6-6) held off the fading Panthers(6-6.) Carolina continued its stretch of horrible play, losing 4 of its last 6 to drop into a tie with 6 other teams, including Philly, for a shot at a wild card. This from a team that was a surefire Super Bowl contender at the beginning of the season.

Garcia found Reggie Brown for a 40-yard TD early in the 4th to tie the game at 24, then led a short drive after a Jake Delhomme (22-37, 269 yards, 2TDs, 3INTs) interception that culminated in David Akers' game-winning 25-yard field goal. The game was iced when Lito Sheppard intercepted Delhomme in the end zone with 25 seconds left to seal Carolina's 5th loss after holding a 4th quarter lead. The Panthers have also lost 4 games by 4 points or less this season. Not exactly Super Bowl material. Meanwhile the Eagles have come back from the depths of oblivion to be right in the thick of the WC chase thanks to a former 3-time Pro Bowl backup QB who was booed despite leading his team to a win. And they wonder why everyone hates Philly fans.

MY WEEKLY TOTAL: 9-7 Hey, with the kind of week it was I'll take a record over .500.


-Bengals wide reciever arrested for resisting arrest
Another week, another Bengals player arrested. This time it was rookie receiver Reggie McNeal, who was busted for resisting arrest after being denied entry to a Houston area club Saturday night. McNeal is a former Texas A&M quarterback who holds numerous Aggie records but he has been used sparingly in his first season as an NFL wide receiver, getting into two games but registering no stats. Which makes it interesting that he would have a case of beer balls and pull a "do you know who I am" when he was not allowed in the club The Red Door late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. McNeal was arrested after elbowing an officer in the chest when he was not allowed into the club, making him the 7th Bengal arrested this season. But he's got a long way to go to catch up to teammate Chris Henry, who tops the Busted Bengals charts with 5 separate arrests. Something tells me that if Cincy fails to make the playoffs on top of all the character issues with these players coach Marvin Lewis, a supposed high-character guy, will be on the hot seat in the off season. How 'bout a Gruden/Lewis swap?

-Former Bronco Braxton faces numerous charges after drug arrest
Former Denver Bronco defensive back Tyrone Braxton, who won 2 Super Bowls in Denver during the late '90s, was arrested after being busted with small amounts of coke & pot in his car in the suburban Denver town of Aurora. Reports also state the 41-year-old 1996 Pro Bowler was at a home in a gated community where sex was being arranged for him with a 21-year old woman by a 29-year old man. Braxton is married with 2 kids. Way to stay classy, Tyrone.

-Rams rookie tight end busted for assault after bar fight
When will these kids learn? St. Louis police report that Rams rookie tight end Dominique Byrd was arrested Monday after striking a bar patron in the face with a glass. Byrd was released after posting a $25,000 bond and faces charges of second & third degree assault and armed criminal action. Byrd is a 3rd round pick out of USC who has played in only 3 games with no receptions this season. Maybe he and McNeal can get a 2-for-1 rate on anger management classes & AA counseling.

-Strahan unapologetic for tirade against ESPN reporter
Injured Giants DE Michael Strahan showed his true colors when he refused to apologize for berating ESPN reporter Kelly Naqi after she inquired about his remarks regarding teammate Plexiglass Burress last week. The gap-toothed pitchman ripped Naqi when she asked Strahan if he had spoken with Burress after he questioned the receiver's lack of effort on an interception in the Giants humiliating loss to the Titans on Nov. 26th. "Am I going to apologize? No," Strahan told a New York radio station. "I don't think there's a reason for me to apologize. And if anybody's waiting for me to apologize and they're holding their breath, then I suggest they call a paramedic because it's not going to happen." How about apologizing for your team going in the tank or those idiotic Right Guard & Chunky Soup commercials you a-hole.

-Huizenga gives Saban the dreaded "vote of confidence"
Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga gave head coach Nick the Dic-tator Saban a vote of confidence that the tiny tyrant will be back for his 3rd year as Dolphins coach. Despite lofty predictions that Miami was about to knock the Pats from the top of the AFC East (hahahaha) the 'Fins have floundered to a 5-7 record, virtually assuring the team will not make the playoffs for the 5th straight season. Perhaps the only reason Saban's job is secure is that it was not him that signed gimpy QB Duante Culpepper, who has been a complete bust, playing in only 4 games and undergoing more surgery on his reconstructed right knee. But I give him one more season in South Florida before the former LSU & Michigan State boss retreats back to the cozy confines of college ball, where he can scream & bully young kids into doing what he wants them to do.


-Pats S Eugene Wilson placed on IR
The already paper-thin Pats secondary just got even skinnier when safety Eugene Wilson was place on injured reserve, ending his season. Although Wilson has only played in 4 games this season, one since Week 3, New England was hoping his recurring hamstring injury would heal enough to allow him to return for the stretch drive & playoffs. But his loss depletes the secondary of the 3-time champs for the third straight season, with S Rodney Harrison and DBs Randall Gay, Tebucky Jones and Mel Mitchell already on the shelf. To help offset the loss New England signed veteran CB Ray Mickens in hopes that an experienced player can come in and provide immediate help in these crucial final weeks of the season. But since the former Texas A&M standout has not played in the league this year it will be interesting to see what kind of contributions the 33-year-old can make.

-Bucs WR Clayton done for the year
Slippery-fingered receiver Michael Clayton's season is over after he suffered a knee injury in the third quarter of Tampa Bay's loss to Pittsburgh. Clayton has had 2 miserable, injury-filled seasons following his brilliant rookie campaign, and this year he has been plagued by dropped balls, bravado comments about being a top receiver in the league, and disappointing stats. Take a look at the numbers over the past 2 years combined compared to his first year in the league:
- 2004: 8o recs, 1193 yards, 7 TDs, longest catch- 75 yards
- '05 & '06: 58 recs, 728 yards, 1 TD, longest catch- 41 yards
Throw in the fact that he has about 26 drops this season, the latest on a sure touchdown pass in the 3rd quarter Sunday that would have made the score 10-7 Steelers, and the #15 pick in the 2004 draft has failed to live up to his lofty standards. The question here in the Bay area is how can a guy who looked like an All-Pro receiver in his rookie year regress to the point that he cannot even catch the most basic passes and seems to have turned into a prima dona head case? Answer: Chucky Gruden. For more evidence of the Chucky Effect look to 2005 Rookie of the Year Cadillac Williams.

-Broncos lose FB Sapp for year, but LB Wilson should play Sunday
Denver's loss to Seattle Sunday cost it more than just playoff positioning. Fullback Cecil Sapp, and outstanding special teams player and spark plug on offense, broke his leg in the 4th quarter and will be out for the rest of the year. Sapp, in his 4th year out of Colorado State, hurt the leg after returning a kickoff with 3:00 minutes to go in Denver's 23-20 loss. But the Broncs got good news when it learned standout linebacker Al Wilson has been cleared to practice following a scary neck injury suffered in a scrum for a fumble late in the game. Wilson lay motionless for 10 minutes and had to be carted off the field, but he has since had feeling return and was cleared by doctors to resume practicing despite lingering numbness in his upper arms & shoulders.

-Bills' LB Crowell also lost due to broken leg
Angelo Crowell, the Bills 2nd leading tackler, was lost for the remainder of the season when he suffered a broken leg while tackling LaDanian Tomlinson on the Charger's first possession of the game Sunday. Crowell is a 4th year player out of Virginia who took over for linebacker Takeo Spikes when Spikes tore his Achilles in Week 3 last season. Crowell had started all 12 games this year and registered 95 tackles.
Okay enough about players who can't hold their booze or will be spending the rest of the season watching games from their mansions. It's time to run down the Best & the Worst in my weekly look at the best bets for the Super Bowl & the #1 draft pick.



1.)San Diego Chargers (10-2)
Clearly the Chargers have proven themselves to be the class of the AFC after its 6th consecutive victory Sunday. Whether its coming from behind or braving the elements this team is focused and on track for possible home field advantage throughout the postseason. Anyone who wants to say the Mannings are better might want to take a look at Indy's sieve-like run defense and then imagine what MVP-to-be LaDanian Tomlinson (1,324 yards & 23 TDs rushing) would do to it in a playoff game. Yikes.

2.) Indianapolis Mannings (10-2)
The porous rushing defense cannot be overlooked now that it gave up 219 yards on the ground in the Titans come-from-behind victory Sunday. The Mannings are now dead last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (160YPG)
and with the emphasis placed on the run in the playoffs it will be hard pressed to find a cure for that fault in the next 4 weeks. Which begs the question: why the hell did Belichick stop running the ball in the second half of the Pats 27-20 loss to Indy back in early November?!

3.) The Pats (9-3)
Although it has been turning the ball over more frequently than Britney Spears has been spotted without panties New England is still finding ways to win and still possesses the best QB in the world. Despite a banged-up secondary and questionable play- calling from the Hooded Genius (see above) New England is still in the driver's seat for the AFC East crown and a home playoff game. Did I mention it also has the best QB on the planet?

4.) Baltimore Ravens (9-3)
The Ravens came back to earth a bit after losing to the Bengals 13-7 Thursday night, and that game exposed a weakness in the armor: the team has trouble scoring. It ranks 8th in the AFC in points scored, behind lesser teams like Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Jacksonville. That could be a problem in the postseason, especially if the notoriously tough defense doesn't live up to its own lofty standards. But considering Baltimore is currently the top-rated defensive team in the conference that shouldn't be a problem.

5.) Kansas City Chiefs (7-5)
There is currently a log-jam of 5 teams sitting at 7-5 , making it difficult to determine which will come out of the pack. But I like the Chiefs for 2 reasons: 1. RB Larry Johnson (1313 yards, 2nd in NFL, 13 TDs); 2.) with games remaining against Baltimore & San Diego it has a chance to improve its standings without relying on help from others. Plus like I've said before, KC does not lose at home in December. So it's got that going for it.


1.) Dallas Cowboys (8-4)
The Romo Express is chugging full speed ahead and the 'Boys are riding his poise & popularity all the way to the post-season. Left for dead when a loss to Washington dropped it to 4-4 Dallas has ripped off 4 in a row behind the newest Dallas folk hero. Will it last? Who knows, but even though Romo-mania is reaching dangerously obnoxious levels it's better than hearing about T.O.D. every week.

2.) Chicago Bears (10-2)
As I said in my wrap up yesterday this has to be the worst 10-2 team in the history of the league. The list of faults with the NFC North champs begins and ends with QB Rex Gross-man, as the former Gator keeps a long tradition alive of not being able to cut it as an NFL signal caller. Rex the Blunder Dog threw for 34 yards & 3 more interceptions in Sunday's win over Minny, bringing his season tally to 17, and if there has ever been a QB who had a more 'deer in the headlights' look I want to see him. Not the recipe for postseason success to be sure.

3.) New Orleans Saints (8-4)
The Saints are coming all right, finding the groove again after a mid-season swoon. After losing 3 out of 4 New Orleans has won 2 in a row, scoring more than 30 points in both games. But the best news of all might be that #2 pick Reggie Bush finally had his breakout game Sunday (168 total yards, 4 TDs.) Plus it recorded both wins with rookie receiver Marques Colston on the sidelines nursing a dreaded high ankle sprain. Sunday night's date at Dallas will go a long way to proving which team is a true contender in the weak NFC.

4.) Seattle Seahawks (8-4)
The big guns (Shaun Alexander & Matt Hasselbeck) are back and Seattle is peaking at the right time. With a cake schedule remaining (other than San Diego the 'Hawks will face Arizona, San Fran and the Yucs) a playoff berth is a near certainty, as long as those superstars remain healthy. And they don't throw the ball to Jerramy Dropsies Stevens.

5.) Atlanta Falcons (6-6)
I went with Vick & his Dirty Birds last week after the QB gave the fans the two-fingered salute and I'm sticking with them. There are currently 42 teams in the NFC at 6-6 or 5-7 (okay so it's only 7) but as I said last week with the potent running attack that Atlanta possesses it will be tough to keep it out of the postseason. Unless Vick goes postal and decides to run every play because his receivers can't catch.

Troy Smith/Brady Quinn Sweepstakes:

1.) Oakland Raiders (2-10) The Raiders actually had a chance to escape the basement when it faced the Texans Sunday. Instead it secured its place as the worst team in the league by losing to a team which had -5 yards passing. With 4 losable games left (@CIN, STL, KC, @ NYJ) it's going to be tough to knock this team out of the race.

2.) Detroit Lions (2-10) If any team can give Oakland a run for the money it's this sad franchise. Despite taking the Pats to the brink in a 28-21 loss Detroit secured a tie for the top (bottom?) spot. With dates against Minny, Chicago & Dallas remaining Oakland is going to have tough competition for #1.

3.) Tampa Bay Yucs (3-9) Tampa Bay got a lot of help when its stiffest competition (Houston & Cleveland) won this past week. And the remaining schedule (ATL, @CHI, @CLE, SEA) ensures it will stay in the hunt for the next draft pick Gruden can screw up (if he's still here.)

4.) Arizona Cardinals (3-9) What were they thinking? The Cards are trying to blow it by winning games, knocking off St. Louis this week. Damn that Matt Leinart. Then again Arizona doesn't need a top QB so obviously Leinart is doing his part to sabotage the pick. The schedule (SEA, DEN, @ SF, @SD) may keep the Cards in it 'til the end, though.

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