Raise your hands if you watched at least a decent chunk of the Cowboys/Washington game. Alright now keep your hands raised if you wish you could have that time back. Oh wow, all of you! Now keep your hands raised if you think you could have done a better job than Matt Cassel last night.
I stopped counting after the first three ghost throws by Cassel in the first quarter because I knew where the game was going. I use the term ghost because I can only assume that is who Matt Cassel was seeing on those throws. Now before any Cowboys fans come at me with the whole “we won the game so it doesn’t matter what Cassel did”, while you did win the game you did so in spite of destructive play by Cassel, and it was 3-3 at halftime! He tried his hardest to make sure you did not win that game, exemplified by that ugly fumbled handoff he had. Sure you won that game, but if you have confidence in Cassel going forward then you aren’t watching the games. If the Cowboys had even an average QB, they would be my favorite to win the division.
The rest of week 13 was more exciting than Monday Night was. Did you watch that SNF game? That was fun to watch, well unless you were a Colts fan I guess. Either way, the Steelers could make some noise in the playoffs if they get there. They have the type of explosive playmakers that enable them to score with just about any team. The Bears lost a soul-crushing game to the 49ers. The Patriots lost consecutive games, but still appear to be the favorites in the AFC. The Panthers remain undefeated beating the Saints.
Here is my power rankings, plus some accompanying thoughts on them:
- Carolina Panthers: By the virtue of being the only undefeated team, they remain the top team in the power rankings. Hard to argue with if they keep getting W’s. They won’t be my pick to win the Super Bowl in all likelihood though. Congrats on clinching the division Sunday though.
- New England Patriots: Disregarding that Eagles game because they did not have Gronk, Edelman, and Amendola. All three of those guys will be back for the playoffs, so this Pats team will be dangerous come January.
- Arizona Cardinals: Still waiting to see a sustained run of excellence from this team. I still think they are arguably the most complete team in the NFC, if not the league.
- Cincinatti Bengals: They have a shot at clinching their division Sunday if they can beat the Steelers. Although if Pittsburgh plays like they did Sunday, that could be a tall task.
- Denver Broncos: Here is a fact that should surprise no one: When the Broncos actually have a QB who is healthy and not turning the ball over they actually look decent. I know Kubiak said they haven’t made a decision for this week, but I’m not sure how you go away from Osweiler.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: This may be a bit of an overreaction, but with the heights that offense can achieve the ceiling for the Steelers is the AFC title game right? They are averaging 35.8 points per game over their last four games. They probably can’t beat the version of this Pats team that will take the field in the playoffs, but they could probably beat the Bengals or Broncos. If not beat, then at least keep it close.
- Seattle Seahawks: Overreaction part 2: this is generally the time of the year that the Seahawks start to heat up and go on their run. Granted it does not help that the Cardinals can clinch the division this week, but they are without a doubt in play for a wildcard berth. Wilson has also been picking his game up as of late.
- Green Bay Packers: I mean… What have you seen recently that has impressed you? Like this is normally the time that the Packers are either hitting their stride, or are sitting at like 10-2 and reloading for the playoffs. They are at neither of those two points. They will be a playoff team barring a meltdown, but not many should have confidence in them going into January.
- Kansas City Chiefs: The chiefs have won six straight after starting 1-5, and you know what? It is not crazy to think they could win their last four games. This Chiefs is going to make a run at the playoffs.
- Minnesota Vikings: Did the Vikings just get blasted by the Seahawks? Yes. But there aren’t that many other defenses that can shut down AP like the Seahawks did. That is a plus going forward I suppose. They need Teddy Bridgewater to step up if they want to go anywhere this year.
Final NFL Thoughts for the week:
- Are we sure that the Panthers D is as good as we initially thought? They allowed 38 points to the Saints, 29 to the Packers, 26 to the Colts, and 17 to the Texans(w/out foster). The point of brining this up is that the Panthers D seems to ball out for poor teams. The problem is that in the playoffs there are not really any bad teams, especially if/when they clinch a first round bye. What if they play the Cardinals, who have a top 5 offense this year. This is an interesting case of analytics, which love the Panthers D, and the eye test, which says this could be the thing that sinks the Panthers in the playoffs.
- The NFC East has just barely pulled ahead of the AFC South for worst division in football. The AFC South champ should at least be 8-8, but the winner of the NFC East could be 7-9.
- Still cant believe the Packers won on Thursday Night. Unbelievable.
- The Bears, barring some miracle, are all but out of the playoffs. The need the Vikings to lose out, and they need to go 4-0 with some help from the other teams in contention. It isn’t impossible, but its improbable. A win over the 49ers would have gone a long way… but not much they can do about that now.
- The Browns are arguably the most dysfunctional organization in sports. What other teams are in the running(leave comments, or tweet me @TVG_5), and they don’t just have to be NFL teams.
non-NFL thoughts for the week:
- I think Alabama and Oklahoma will play for the college football national title, with Oklahoma emerging victorious. I don’t feel terribly confident in those picks, but what the hell! I also really do not want Derrick Henry to win the Heisman. It does not feel like he has been that player all year. I would have to pick Christian McCaffrey if I was given a vote, with D. Watson finishing second.
- Wow has there been a lot of movement in the MLB in the past week or so. After seeing the money thrown at David Price and Zack Greinke, I all of the sudden do not hate the contract the Nationals gave Scherzer. The Red Sox really needed an ace, and Price was just that. Greinke made an unexpected decision, but the money was probably just too much(I am on record somewhere, either in last week’s review or twitter saying that Greinke would take the $). It also helps that this team could have been in contention last year with a good rotation. Adding Shelby Miller now makes Arizona an interesting case for the playoffs next year.
- Cubs sign Zobrist, who can basically play anywhere they need him to, and deal Castro, the guy who ended up being the odd man out in the infield. It feels as if that was not their last move, so it will be interesting to see who else they sign(heyward?)
- The Warriors have a real shot at going 73-9, there I said it. It will be interesting to see how they play in games against the Spurs, Cavs, and Thunder, and the game or two after they break the consecutive wins streak, clinch a playoff spot, and clinch home field. Those will be trap games, especially in mid-April when they will be resting players for the playoffs.
- Go check out my piece from Monday on Bryce Harper, and look for another part to that dropping… whenever I have a few spare hours(so probably after finals week tbh).
Ted Van Green(@TVG_5)
Spark Sports NFL Analyst/Contributor