Some mid season wins may pave the way for a couple of potential playoff teams
- I guess it is a positive feeling to feel disappointed in the Rams after week 9. This team has come a long way in a year. At this point last year we are already trying to figure out who the Rams quarterback is going to be the rest of the season. They played the Vikings tough for the first three quarters but Teddy Bridgewater became a bit too much for the Rams D to handle. Unfortunately the only reason the Rams were able to force overtime is because Bridgewater went down after a questionable play forced him in former Rams superstar Shaun Hill into the game. The Rams did a good job of getting the lead in the first half but made no adjustments in the second half which caused the Vikings to force the Rams into six straight punts. The game came down to failed coverage on special teams allowing the Vikings to ram Adrian Peterson down the field to get into easy field goal range for Blair Walsh. I know there is still a half season left but this was a must win game. If the Rams wanted to have a shot at the playoffs, they are going to have to step up their game immensely if they want to gain ground while holding off the Seahawks and Saints.
- The Packers fall to the Panthers was the first back to back loss Aaron Rodgers has suffered in five years. That is a heck of a stretch for any team. I mean, teams like the Browns, Lions and Rams are surprised when their teams can win two games in a row. The Panthers used to be in that category but this season the Panthers are again proving they are the best team in the NFC. The Packers defense has completely fallen apart allowing 24 points in a single quarter of football. The Panthers defense can play tough for the first three quarters but have trouble slowing down the top QBs in the fourth quarter. The Packers were able to score 22 points in the second half and make it an interesting game before Rodgers threw a game ending INT. The Panthers are not beating lower tiered teams to go undefeated. The Colts, Eagles, Seahawks and for mentioned Packers are all formidable foes, the type of teams Carolina will play in the playoffs. By the time January rolls around, this will be a battle tested team.
- Last week, I wondered if the Colts attempted comeback against the Panthers was enough momentum to get them over the hump. Taking down the undefeated Broncos convinced me the Colts are back. Indianapolis was able to completely shut down Denver’s run game and also force Peyton Manning into throwing two interceptions, the last one sealing the deal. The Colts had the perfect game plan for the wily Broncos: Keep them off the field. The Colts held the ball for nearly 40 minutes and it wasn’t a wasteful time of possession either. The Cols were able to score 17 unanswered and even when it looked like Manning was mounting his comeback, the Colts kept to their offensive game plan to be able to take the lead. If the Colts keep this up, the AFC South is not as open as it was a week ago.
- The Oakland Raiders played with something to prove in Pittsburgh but just couldn’t come away with the win. Ben Roethlisberger was able to shake of the rust in time to injure his foot and go down for another extended period of time making this win that much more important. The Steelers gained a game on the Raiders in the playoff standings which is important because there upcoming schedule looks like this: after a game against the Browns, the Steelers face Seahawks, Colts, Bengals and Broncos. How would you expect Landry Jones to fair against the defensive powerhouses that Seattle and Cincinnati will bring to the table. The Raiders back half fares much better; they only play two games against teams with a winning record. This is a game that could have honestly gone either way, it just so happened that time ran out for the Raiders. Next year I’d imagine Oakland might be able to take the division if they continue to play at such a high level. Teams like this only get better with time.
- Last week I questioned how good of an idea it was to put Philly and Dallas in the Sunday night game. Denver/Indy or Green bay/Carolina, even St. Louis/Minnesota are looked like better game on paper with more post season implications on the line. The Cowboys are done for the season and the Eagles will need some help to overtake New York, so why this game? Well anyone who watched this game will tell you that no matter what the circumstances or what’s on the line the NFC East will always play each other tough. Both Matt Cassel and Sam Bradford played well, the run game was strong and this was about as hotly contested of a game as possible. The two teams literally matched each other point for point right up until the Cowboys couldn’t get a chance to match the Eagles in overtime. Whenever the team of the NFC East play each other, they look like they can take on anyone. Even the Eagles have me thinking maybe, just maybe they finally came together as a team. The next three games are against the Dolphins, Buccs and Lions. This may be the perfect stretch for Philadelphia to find their way.