Two more weeks.
That’s what most football fans are thinking about because most football fans won’t be seeing their team go to the playoffs. Two more weeks of excitement, or misery, depending on playoff hopes. Is there a chance your team makes the playoffs, or the first pick of the 2015 Draft? These are the questions that will get many of us through the next two weeks.
This is week 16 of asinine analysis.
Thursday, December 18
Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Due to injuries, Charlie Whitehurst may not just be the third-string quarterback of the Tennessee Titans. He may be the only quarterback. Jake Locker lasted a handful of plays last week before being placed on season-ending injured reserve, which was surprising. Usually he lasts a game or two before breaking down. Zach Mettenberger may or may not be healthy enough to suit up. That means Clipboard Jesus is the quarterback by default. Not just the starting quarterback, but the second and third-string quarterbacks as well. Maybe Bishop Sankey will be the emergency quarterback for the Titans, since he hasn’t been doing much as a running back this season.
See, Jaguars? Compared to the Titans, you’re like a Pro Bowl team! Hopefully this game will showcase what we hope your future will be.
Saturday, December 20
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins
Don’t worry, Eagles fans. Your team isn’t out of playoff contention just yet. Sure, after giving that game away last week against the Cowboys, you probably shouldn’t be in playoff contention. But one bad game doesn’t make a season. It takes multiple bad games.
Luckily, a game against the Washington Redskins probably won’t give the Eagles three losses in a row. Then again, Robert Griffin III has been hard at work trying to remember how to play at quarterback. You know, like how to hang onto a football before crossing the end zone plane. He’s stopping tweeting and Facebooking and everything! This NFL career is serious business now!
San Diego Chargers @ San Francisco 49ers
In case there was ever any worry, the San Diego Chargers will not be leaving San Diego after this season. While the city has not decided to give the team a new stadium yet, they also have not decided to expand their convention center to make Comicon an even bigger event. And that’s the problem with San Diego. They actually think about the decision between having their streets crawling with two different types of costumed fans: those decked out in cosplay, and those painting their bodies in yellow and blue.
Okay, both of those descriptions can refer to either Chargers fans or Comicon attendees. So why not just have both?
Sunday, December 21
Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears
Despite loads of talent and potential, the Chicago Bears continue their dreadful season. You’d expect Bears fans to revolt against their team. But a nice story about a Bears fan defending team chairman George McCaskey from unruly Saints fans offers a glimmer of hope that fans don’t totally despise their team. Then again, if that fan knew who McCaskey was, he may have shoved the chairman himself. And if McCaskey had been Jay Cutler, things could have gotten really violent.
Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions are poised to either take the NFC North title or get passed over for a wild card spot. It wouldn’t be a season if the Lions didn’t send us on this roller coaster ride.
Baltimore Ravens @ Houston Texans
In my eyes, this game between the Ravens and Texans is the game of the week, the game that should be played across the nation and in certain foreign countries. Why? Because defense, that’s why. This is a game where teams get dirty, and maybe even bloody. This is the sort of game that should be played in a mix of rain, snow and hail, and temperatures so cold you can see the breath of the players. This is the sort of game that end 10-7 after a field goal in overtime. This is football.
Have I mentioned how much I love watching defense?
Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints
Congratulations are in order for the New Orleans Saints. With their win against the Chicago Bears last week, the Saints have made sure that the NFC South will not send a division winner to the playoffs with a 6-9-1 or 6-10 record, and will not be the worst division in the history of the NFL. As long as they beat either the Falcons this week or the Buccaneers next week, they will at least tie for the worst division winner at 7-9 or allow the Carolina Panthers to eke out a slightly better 7-8-1 record.
Who said ties are always a bad thing?
Cleveland Browns @ Carolina Panthers
Johnny Manziel detractors — like me — have been labeled “haters.” I’ve heard everything from, “You’re just jealous” to “You want him to fail” to a stream of obscenities in a Texan accent. I’d be lying if I wasn’t jealous of an NFL quarterback, and you can curse at me all you want, but I never hope for anyone to fail. I just have an opinion about how players may fare in the NFL, and when supporters sound loud and insane, they make others that disagree sound loud and insane by default.
So when I shrug in that “I told you so” manner after Johnny Manziel’s debut (10 completions for 80 yards, 2 interceptions, and 13 rushing yards) had him running for his life, there is no joy in my mind. It was expected, like the sun setting or gravity or the Browns looking for another quarterback next year.
Green Bay Packers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Aaron Rodgers called some of his passes “stinkers” last week against the Buffalo Bills. That’s respectable, taking responsibility for losing a game when you have Super Bowl aspirations. However, it should be noted that calling his passes “stinkers” disrespects the passing abilities of lesser quarterbacks.
For instance, this game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If Aaron Rodgers throws “stinkers,” then what does Josh McCown throw? Irradiated two-tailed mutant skunks?
Kansas City Chiefs @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Say what you will about Alex Smith, but never say that he loses games. Smith may not win games by driving down the field in the final seconds of a game with deep passes, but he sure doesn’t lose them. Just look at the game against the Raiders last week. Game management, baby! Trent Dilfer doesn’t apologize for his Super Bowl ring, and neither will Alex Smith when his day comes.
Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, is the exact opposite. He doesn’t manage a game. He plays it, for better or for worse. Considering he has two Super Bowl rings, it’s arguably for the better.
New England Patriots @ New York Jets
Well, it’s official. The New York Jets aren’t the absolute worst team in the NFL, which is both good and bad news. It’s good news because it shows that the team still has a bit of pride, no matter how much we mock them. It’s bad news because this means the Jets will once again be out of contention for a high-profile draft pick like Marcus Mariota.
You’d think a game against the Patriots would help the Jets’ cause. But considering Bill Belichick’s dealing with his Northeast rivals, I wouldn’t put it past the Patriots to let the Jets win in order to really hurt the draft order and make Gang Green do something silly, like draft Jameis Winston.
New York Giants @ St. Louis Rams
The New York Giants may not have much going on in the win column, but last week was a statement game. They stated, “Well, at least we’re not the Washington Redskins” by dragging out a win. That’s how important rivalry games become, no matter what the two teams’ records are. They can both be terrible, but it all comes down to “Who is worse?” in the battle for pride.
Unfortunately, that question may not be answered favorably by Giants fans when their team takes on the St. Louis Rams, probably the best worst team of them all.
Buffalo Bills @ Oakland Raiders
The Buffalo Bills beat Aaron Rodgers! I know, I did a double-take on that myself. But it just proves that defense still has a place in the NFL. This is the second high-octane offense that the Bills tripped up. The first was Peyton Manning and the Broncos. The Bills lost that one, but any game in which Manning doesn’t throw for 300 yards and five touchdowns is a defensive victory these days.
So by that gauge, the Bills should not only shut out the Raiders this week, but some how hold them to negative points. Or at least negative total yards. Stranger things have happened… this season.
Indianapolis Colts @ Dallas Cowboys
Apparently, Andrew Luck is a really nice guy on the field. Instead of trash-talking defenders, he compliments their skills, and congratulates them on sacking him. Not sarcastic congratulations, either, like I would do. “That would have been an awesome sack, guy, but I had already completed a touchdown pass. Whomp whomp.” No, Andrew Luck’s congratulations are genuine, to the point that it’s driving defenders crazy.
The Dallas Cowboys? Well, it’s time to see if Joseph Randle can steal the running show now that DeMarco Murray did what every single fantasy football manager knew he would do: go and get himself injured.
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals
Of course this would be when the Cardinals play the Seahawks for what may be the NFC West division champ-crowning game. The Seahawks are fresh off of a convincing win over the 49ers, showing that their defense hasn’t grown soft. The Cardinals are fresh off of making Ryan Lindley their starting quarterback after Drew Stanton’s injury. That’s right! Ryan Lindley, who won a whole game in 2012 and didn’t lose the game against the Rams.
Maybe that’s what it takes to beat the Seahawks. Don’t do anything to lose, like throw the ball, or run the ball. Let your defense do the scoring. It’s probably a safer game plan these days.
Monday, December 22
Denver Broncos @ Cincinnati Bengals
In case you didn’t know, Peyton Manning is up in years for a football player. He may not be in Brett Favre territory yet, but he’s getting close. We were reminded of that when Manning seemed to be hobbling around like my grandfather on the golf course because, as Gramps said, “I refuse to rent a cart. That’s not part of golf, *expletive*!” I’m sure Manning would respond the same way if someone mentioned that he can get a ride on and off the field.
No matter how old or beat up Manning is, he is bound to put up more of a fight than the Bengals saw last week with Johnny Manziel. This is still a game the Broncos have to win to get a bye week. Manning can take a nap next week when the game doesn’t mean anything.
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.