This is the hard-hitting analysis you look for in football. This is week 15 of asinine analysis.
Thursday, December 11
Arizona Cardinals @ St. Louis Rams
The last time the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams matched up, Carson Palmer was helped off the field with a knee injury, opening the door for Drew Stanton for the rest of the season. I doubt the Rams can make it two quarterbacks sent to IR in as many games. But if they do, that would be it for the Cardinals. Their second-string quarterback is Logan Thomas, a rookie who has completed only one pass this season.
Stay tuned for the coin-flip, because you never know who coach Jeff Fisher will trot out there. Maybe he’ll sign Buddy Ryan just to troll Cardinals fans.
Sunday, December 14
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Atlanta Falcons
NFC South Breakdown #1:
With the Atlanta Falcons losing last week, they have the potential to grab the worst record for a division winner in a non-strike year by going 6-10. All they need to do is lose to the Steelers and win either against the Saints or the Panthers. Then the Saints and Panthers have to lose all of their other games, including against the Buccaneers.
So, really, it would be in the best interest of the Falcons to just avoid the record by winning against the Steelers.
Washington Redskins @ New York Giants
Once again, my Colt McCoy magic train has been derailed. After looking okay during junk time against the Indianapolis Colts, McCoy helped put up a doughnut against the St. Louis Rams before leaving the game with a neck injury. So you were right, sports pundits, RG3 will start again, by default.
Meanwhile the New York Giants won a game they were supposed to win last week against the Tennessee Titans, which is an improvement after losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Who knows if they’re supposed to win or lose this game against the Redskins?
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots
Only three months ago the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots were on somewhat unfamiliar paths. The Dolphins had decimated the Patriots, prompting speculation that they were in line for the AFC East crown. The Pats looked old, washed up and ready for the Brady-Belichick retirement tour.
Fast forward to today, and the teams are right where they should be: the Dolphins fighting for a Wildcard spot and the Patriots visualizing home field advantage for the playoffs. The universe is funny like that.
Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs
I guess I have to lay off the Oakland Raiders for a week. They beat the 49ers and are finally not the worst team in the NFL… at least this week. They are second worst, if you factor in points for and against, just ahead of the 2-11 Jacksonville Jaguars. I couldn’t even find a blooper in the game, at least, a blooper that didn’t involve 49er Colin Kaepernick.
Can the Raiders make it a whole two wins in a row? Against the Kansas City Chiefs? That’s as likely as the Davis family selling the Raiders.
Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts
I’m sorry to talk about J.J. Watt every week, but I can’t help it. I’m a fan of defense, and Watt keeps reminding me why with sacks, forced fumbles and touchdowns. But I’m also reminded how good Watt is every time I hear about Jadeveon Clowney being hurt and not playing. Watt is piling up Defensive Player of the Year numbers without the help of offensive lines giving extra looks to another defensive player on the Texans. Clowney was supposed to be that guy.
Now Watt goes up against one of the players who has probably knocked him out of MVP contention: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Beard McBeardly, aka Andrew Luck.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
I guess I can’t fault the Cleveland Browns for starting Johnny Manziel this week. It’s not like he can do any worse than Brian Hoyer, right? Riiiiiiight?
I mean, Kyle Orton took E.J. Manuel’s spot when the Buffalo Bills had a winning record and helped keep the team in contention. Manziel can do the same thing, right? Never mind that he’s a rookie and may need to be raked off the field after the Cincinnati defense gets through with him.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Baltimore Ravens
It’s a statement as old as the NFL: the problem is a shaky offensive line.
This is what the Jacksonville Jaguars are facing right now. They have a great rookie crew to score points. Now they just need a great offensive line to protect those players so that they can score points.
Against the Baltimore Ravens defense that is scary even without Ngata filling in running lanes, we expect the criticism to continue. Maybe they should consider — I don’t know — draft a few linemen in 2015.
Green Bay Packers @ Buffalo Bills
What can I say: Aaron Rodgers.
Aaron Rodgers? Well, Aaron Rodgers. Aaron Rodgers can’t Aaron Rodgers without Aaron Rodgers-ing Aaron Rodgers.
So the question remains: Aaron Rodgers?
The resounding answer is always the same: Aaron Rodgers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers
By not allowing defenses to play at the top of the game, the NFL has been consistently criticized for getting soft. They’ve been accused of coddling quarterbacks and receivers by throwing down fines and unnecessary roughness penalties. This has led some people to say, “Football players aren’t as tough as they used to be.”
Then we get news that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton got into a car accident, breaking his back in two places. And nobody is sure that he’ll miss any time. If that were me, I would be on bed rest for at least a month. That’s one of the many reasons why I’m not an NFL player.
New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans
It seems that the New York Jets are trying to lose in every way possible. Shutout? Check. Come-from-behind loss? Check. Blocked game-ending field goal? Check. Overtime loss? Just last week.
Now the Jets visit the Tennessee Titans, prompting the question, “How will they lose this time?” Maybe the game will end in a tie, because everyone hates a tie.
Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers
Don’t ever tell Peyton Manning that his offense looks pedestrian. He works hard to make his team look like it can blow anyone out of the water, losing only in the final minutes due to a faulty defense, and will scream at you to argue his case. Unless it’s the Super Bowl, of course.
In the same sense, don’t ever tell Philip Rivers anything, because he will scream at you. Or his coach. Or the refs. Or maybe even the mascot. I really hope it’s the mascot this game.
Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions
Good news, Vikings fans! Your team has playoff aspirations!
No, really. A lot has to happen, but the Minnesota Vikings have a chance to sneak into the playoffs through the backdoor. All the Vikings need to do is win out, have the Cowboys or Eagles lose out, have the Rams win out, dress up in Grimace costumes and invoke the spirit of Fran Tarkenton (or just call him on the phone for a pep talk), and they’re in.
Bad news, Lions fans! Your team can be knocked out of playoff contention!
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks
San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks. It was just last year that this was the matchup of the season. Two painful defenses, as in painful to other teams. Two mobile quarterbacks. Two tough running backs. Two strong fan-bases.
This year, Seattle has been keeping up appearances, but the 49ers look like they just came back from being marooned on a deserted island in the South Pacific all summer. It’s at the point now that coach Jim Harbaugh could be handing out his resume to rival team owners before kickoff.
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
That’s what I was screaming at my TV last week during the Philadelphia Eagles game against the Seattle Seahawks when Sanchez was sacked. It was so close to becoming the reincarnation of the butt-fumble. Okay, maybe I’m being too easy on what constitutes a butt-fumble. But I think Sanchez fumbling after his rump bounces off the face of a defensive player makes the cut.
Alas, no butt-fumble. But the Eagles do have playoff aspirations, and they look to move closer by beating the Dallas Cowboys again.
Monday, December 15
New Orleans Saints @ Chicago Bears
NFC South Breakdown #2:
The New Orleans Saints were blown out by the Carolina Panthers at home last week. That means that, even if they make the playoffs, they won’t be able to hide behind home field advantage. And yes, they do have playoff hopes. Like the Falcons, the Saints can go 6-10 and win the division, prompting more heckling — usually reserved for last-place teams — throughout the playoffs.
The Chicago Bears? Let’s just say that the Minnesota Vikings have a better chance of making the playoffs. No, really, the Vikings have a mathematical shot. The Bears have no shot whatsoever.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.