Sunday, December 4, 2016

Week 13 NFL Notes

Eddie Lacy has had an “up and down” career with the Packers, rushing for more than 1,000 yards his first two seasons, then demoted to back-up for a few games last season for being “out-of-condition,” and this season sustaining an ankle injury in Week 6 against the Cowboys, which required surgery, and it is likely he will not see another snap this season. It is assumed that he will not be resigned by the Packers in the off-season. 

Since Lacy’s injury, Aaron Rodgers has been the Packers leading “rusher,” with 216 yards in the last 7 games. James Starks is the only “true” running back on the team who has started in the past, but in the 21-13 victory over the Texans he gained only one yard on four carries, and has only 142 yards on 61 carries, a putrid 2.4 yards-per-carry average. Ty Montgomery has gained 177 yards on 35 carries—a five-yards-per carry average—but he is a wide receiver, and has been more of a gimmick than a true running threat. 

Nevertheless, the Packers have somehow put together a patchwork running attack that, though near the bottom of the NFL, is still slightly better than what their defense has been allowing per game. Adding Seahawks’ reject Christine Michael to the line-up isn’t likely to improve things markedly (he gained only 19 yards on 9 carries in his first game as a Packer), and “trick” plays like wide receiver Jeff Janis’ run for 19 yards late in the fourth quarter is likely to be a style of play the Packers will be forced to depend upon. But for now, nobody is expecting anything from the Packers’ “running game,” which is probably its greatest “strength.”

The week that was:

Cowboys 17 Vikings 15 I’m obviously not a Vikings fan, but this is a case where I think they are on a downward spiral anyways, and I want to see someone beat the Cowboys. It has just been too “easy” for them this year, especially with a first-time starter and a rookie running back having the great fortune playing behind the best offensive line in football. The Vikings defense dominated the Cowboys for most of the game, until a fumbled punt at the 8-yard line in the fourth quarter allowed the Cowboys to score a short field touchdown; until that point, one scoring drive had been sandwiched in between five punts and two fumbles. A dose of “humility” for the Cowboys will have to wait another week.

Chiefs 29 Falcons 28 Alex Smith was surprisingly sharp, completing 21 of 25 passes for 270 yards, but he wasn’t the “difference” in this game. A Matt Ryan pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, and two needless two-point conversion attempts—the second one a pass that was intercepted and returned for the winning points—was the difference. This was another game in which the extra-point rule changes have created havoc.

Lions 28 Saints 13 Coming into this game, the Lions won their seven games by a combined 26 points, while their four losses have been by a combined 18 points. This game would have been no different if not for three Bree’s interceptions, a couple of dropped passes that could have been taken in for scores, and a busted coverage leading to a 66-yard touchdown catch by Golden Tate. Are the Lions “for real”? Games against the Giants and Cowboys still lurk; the Packers are two games behind them at the moment; even if the Packers lose next week against the Seahawks and drop three games behind, it is still “conceivable” that if the Lions lose to the Giants and Cowboys, and the Packers beat the Bears and Vikings, the season finale can still decide the NFC North title, since the Packers have already beaten the Lions in an early season matchup. 

Patriots 26 Rams 10 Jared Goff versus the “master” shouldn’t have been this close, but after the opening drive touchdown and a short-field score following a Goff interception in the second quarter, the Rams’ defense kept the Patriots out of the end zone.  But on offense, the Rams were doing what they usually do, not putting up much resistance against the opponent’s defense. 

Broncos 20 Jaguars 10 Paxton Lynch subbed for the injured Trevor Siemian in this game, and he was not good, and the Jaguars out-gained the Broncos nearly two-to-one. But bad teams always find a way to lose. In this case, the Broncos only needed 3 yards of offense to score 10 of their points (one on a pick-6, the other after a fumble), and a roughing the passer penalty on an incomplete third down pass led to their other touchdown. 

Bengals 32 Eagles 14 The Bengals led 29-0 early in the third quarter, and after that the Eagles didn’t have much choice but to allow Carson Wentz throw the ball to his heart’s delight, 41 times to be exact. Two touchdowns, three interceptions and a turnover on downs was the result, so we at least know what happens in that circumstance.

Ravens 38 Dolphins 6 When the Dolphins don’t play defense and can’t run the ball, the Ryan Tannehill returns to his “normal” self, becoming ineffective while throwing three interceptions when forced to make “plays.” On the other hand, Joe Flacco had by far his best game of the year, throwing for 381 yards and four touchdowns.

Bears 26 49ers 6 Colin Kaepernick did not “understand” why he was benched in the fourth quarter and the Bears leading 24-6. Through 3+ quarters, Kaepernick threw five-count-them-five passes, completed one for 4 yards. He was also sacked five times for losses of 25 yards, meaning the 49ers early in the fourth quarter had minus-21 net passing yards. The 49ers finished with 6 net yards passing; in case you are interested, the Broncos hold the NFL record for fewest net yards passing in a game with minus-53, back in 1967. 

Raiders 38 Bills 24 The Bills were handling the Raiders fairly easily for the first 35 minutes of this game, leading 24-9. Then their offense suddenly died, advancing a total of one yard on their next four possessions as Derek Carr and the Raiders sprang to life and scored 29 unanswered points over the next 25 minutes. 

Steelers 24 Giants 14 Le’Veon Bell had 35 touches for 182 yards—half the Steelers’ totals in both departments, as the Steelers’ stopped the Giants’ six game winning streak. With the Ravens playing at the Patriots next week, the Steelers at 7-5 have the upper-hand in the AFC North.

Cardinals 31 Redskins 23. Carson Palmer played efficiently for a change, keeping things simple and not throwing an interception; Redskins coach Jay Gruden believed it was just bad defensive play that allowed that him to do so, and he may have a point considering how erratically Palmer has been playing this season. Meanwhile, the Redskins, despite the loss, still have all winnable games left their schedule to make the playoffs, something which cannot be said about a disappointing Cardinals team.

Buccaneers 28 Chargers 21 The Buccaneers, after the Falcons loss, are now tied for first place in the NFC South. It would be mighty impressive for Jameis Winston to lead his team into the playoffs, especially with two games against the Saints, and one each against the Cowboys and the Panthers left to go.

Seahawks 40 Panthers 7 Cam Newton was held out for one play because of a dress code violation. Did the rest of the team show its "solidarity" with poor, put-upon Cam by playing like him the rest of the game?

No comments:

Post a Comment