• Blitz Picks 2015: Week Fourteen



    It's never a real NFL season until someone jumps on the Bucs bandwagon.

    The last quarter of the regular season is here. Let's just not tell the Giants about that analogy because they would just find a way to lose in Week 17 if we did. Usually, the NFL has tons of drama during the final month of the season, but this year is different. With catastrophes needed to open up more than a couple of playoff spots, the real tension is about the seeds.

    IT COMES IN THREES

    1) The Bengals are now the #1 seed in the AFC. They have won a lot of regular season games in the last five seasons. What kind of season do they need for you to consider them among the AFC perpetual elites like Pittsburgh, New England and Denver?

    RG: I've been pretty vocal about my feelings concerning the Bengals. Basically, I have been in agreement with the mainstream media in that they have to win something in the playoffs for me to take them seriously in the future. I've never been exactly specific in what type of win that is needed (or how many), but I do think we now have the information to give a plausible and impressive scenario. In short, they could erase everything with one win.

    Outside of the obvious one that would be a Super Bowl appearance, that respect is gained with a win over the New England Patriots or the Steelers in any context. Beat the king or the main rival in a pressure game. The playoffs are set in a way right now that the Jets, Chiefs and the Steelers are going to battle for the 6th seed. The Patriots are the third seed as of this writing. Now, I would love to have the guarantee that the Bengals would get their shot at either Pittsburgh or New England. That happens if the Steelers squeak in and the Patriots and Broncos keep pace with each other. The big match-ups that can send ripples through it all is the Denver-Pittsburgh game next week as well as Denver-Cincinnati the week after. The Pats could get back to the #2 seed if the Steelers are able to continue their playoff push with a big win.

    Sadly, the Steelers may not even make it. The Chiefs face the Browns, Raiders, Ravens and Chargers. Oakland is decent, but the Chiefs just forced Derek Carr into the worst fourth quarter of his career. The Jets face New England, but can beat the rest of their schedule. That's nothing against the Jets or the Chiefs, but no Steelers means a less chance of me being satisfied with the Bengals season. Yes, any playoff win gets them further down the road of elite status, but a win over the Chiefs or the Jets just doesn't ring as loud for me. Could we get the Steelers in the NFC playoffs this season in lieu of the NFC East winner? How great would it be for the Bengals to beat the Steelers in the Super Bowl?

    Anyway, one thing is sure. The Bengals remain the most complete team in the AFC this season. They absolutely need a win in the playoffs. There's no injury excuse this season. There's no bad match-up this season. They are better than anyone else in the AFC and they need to prove it. This year may be their greatest chance yet.

    BW: Without looking, can you name the last NFC team to beat the Seahawks in the playoffs? That would be the Atlanta Falcons circa 2012, the only playoff win to this point of the Matt Ryan era, who won his first game in his fourth try. I think it's also easy to forget exactly how close the Falcons were to beating the 49ers and representing the NFC in Super Bowl XLVII. And while the talk at the time was about how the Falcons finally took that next step and were on the brink, Atlanta responded by going 4-12 in 2013 and 6-10 last year.

    Nothing is guaranteed, and we have a perfect example in Atlanta as to exactly how quickly that star can fade. You've said it yourself, the Bengals are the most complete team in the AFC. New England is banged up, Denver has issues on offense, and Pittsburgh has defensive issues and may not even squeeze into the playoffs (of course they will find a way, but I'll play along...). The script would be perfect if they have to beat Pittsburgh or New England, but the script only won't matter if they get to a Super Bowl.

    You're absolutely correct, this is their best chance. New England and Pittsburgh have won Super Bowls. I won't let one down season tarnish Baltimore's rung at the top of the AFC, as they've won a Super Bowl. Denver has been to a Super Bowl. Bengal fans may think that one win over Pittsburgh or New England should be enough, but it's not. For Cincinnati to be considered among those teams, they need to make a Super Bowl run of their own. Joining that list isn't entitled, it's earned.


    2) The Texans are tied for 1st place in the AFC South. The Texans are doing it on offense with Brian Hoyer and DeAndre Hopkins and not much else. Should Bill O'Brien get credit?

    RG: I think what the Texans have gotten out of Hoyer has been pretty darn good. His raw stats are as follows: 4-3 record, 18 touchdowns, 6 picks, 61.2% complete and a 7.2 YPA. Overall, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and T.J. Yates have 25 touchdowns and ten interceptions with 3,291 yards passing. Those stats are roughly what Drew Brees and Cam Newton have done season. One of those guys is in the MVP talk.

    I have to admit that those numbers were better than I thought, but I just need a bit more time to start handing out coaching awards to The B.O.B. If they can beat the Colts on December 20 and make the playoffs with what is a ragtag bunch of QBs and no running game to speak of, then he gets a huge fist bump from me. If he does anything similar to this next season with similar names, then he is the real Quarterback Whisperer. I think J.J. Watt and the resurgence of their defense is the biggest reason for their .500 record, but I can be sold.

    So, sell me, Brian.

    BW: I'm not going to argue the defensive resurgence at all. For Houston to be successful, their defense is going to have to play a large part, especially since they're without Arian Foster. But why do we need next season to prove that O'Brien is the QB whisperer when we have last season to look back upon? A game...

    QB A: 59.8% completion percentage, 4.1 TD%, 3.58 INT%, 77.5 QB Rating, 6.5 YPA
    QB B: 63.1% completion percentage, 5.4 TD%, 2.6 INT%, 95.3 QB Rating, 8.0 YPA

    QB A is Ryan Fitzpatrick in his 9 seasons prior to going to camp O'Brien. QB B are his numbers from last year. Even this year, while Fitzpatrick hasn't been quite as efficient as last year, the grounds he gained have mostly continued in New York. But you don't need to hear that from me, I'll let Fitzpatrick explain it: "I probably learned more about football last year than I had the rest of my career in a single season in terms of being able to see the game from a different angle." That's a powerful statement considering Fitzy is currently working with Chan Gailey, a coach he also played for in Buffalo, and whom he has a great deal of respect for.

    When Bill O'Brien took over an impossible situation at Penn State, and despite the fact that he wasn't on the radar of most (any) fans, it took him all of 5 seconds to get us to buy in. What I saw in two years was a high character, high-demanding coach with great attention to detail. If he struggles, it's in his in-game management, but that's normal for a younger head coach. While that will continue to develop, his calling card has clearly been in his work with QBs. In his first year, he took an erratic walk-on in Matt McGloin, and in one year turned him into one of the best QBs in the Big Ten, and a current (and capable) NFL backup QB. I cannot begin to tell you how impressive that feat was and still is.

    When O'Brien finally gets his QB in Houston, look out. Maybe that guy is the same one he recruited to Penn State prior to 2013. O'Brien had Christian Hackenberg looking like a future top overall pick after his freshman season. After two years of struggles under former Penn State OC John Donovan, Hack's bloom has faded a bit. While it may benefit Hackenberg financially to go back to Happy Valley for one more season and attempt to rebuild his stock (depending on their new hire at OC) it may be a greater benefit for both parties if O'Brien, who now could easily target him in the 2nd round of the draft, comes calling once again.

    RG: Okay, I agree. If The B.O.B. can take a "David Carr'd in college" Christain Hackenberg and turn him into a quality NFL starter who plays in more than 60 career games, then I will call him the best Quarterback Whisperer of this era. I'll call him the G.O.A.T. if he can change his voice and do everything while impersonating "The Bobs" from Office Space.

    3) Is the NFC playoff race over? The NFC East has to be decided, but do you see anyone catching the Vikings or Seahawks?

    RG: Specifically, this question is: Can Tampa Bay or Atlanta catch the Seahawks or Vikings? At 6-6, the Bucs and the Falcons are the only two teams with a chance here. This is the time of year when it is always best to look at schedules first.

    The Vikings have a tough slate. They play against Arizona on Thursday and then they have the Bears, Giants and Packers. I think they should win two of the games somehow, but one win over the Bears or Giants is probably enough to get in at 9-7. The Giants should still have something to fight for, too, so it is not an easy task for them. Minnesota doesn't face either team and stands 5-3 in the conference with nothing but conference games remaining.

    The Seahawks are the fifth seed in the NFC. I say that will complete confidence. They face Baltimore, Cleveland and St. Louis before finishing against a Cardinals team they won't catch. In those first three games, Seattle may score more touchdowns with their defense than the defense gives up. They are 6-4 versus the NFC.

    I just don't think Atlanta can beat anyone right now. Matt Ryan seems to be struggling throughout the second half of the season. They have the Panthers twice, a team certainly capable of beating the Falcons with their back-ups. They also have the Jags and Saints. I don't seem them getting to anything better than 8-8 and that won't cut it.

    For the record, I think I believe in Tampa a lot more than Atlanta. The Bucs have the Rams, Bears and Saints before finishing with a Panthers team who will be resting guys for the whole final month. Tampa could finish 9-7 and do have 4 NFC games left. Their conference record stands at 5-3. Maybe we were all just 4 years too early to jump on the Bucs bandwagon.

    I don't think anything changes but seeding. Still, Tampa has a shot.

    BW: I'll confirm that the Seahawks are pretty much locked in as the 5 seed at this point. They've earned that trust. To find the 6-seed, I agree with you that schedules become important at this stage, but so does finding a team and a QB I can trust.

    Tampa has vaulted themselves into the discussion thanks to winning 4 of their last 6, including 2 all-important wins over the Falcons, giving them the tie-break advantage. Jameis Winston has been a bit inconsistent, but mostly solid for the Bucs, and while on one hand I'm waiting for the rookie wall to hit, this is no normal rookie in that he's played 14 games each of the previous 2 seasons at Florida State, and already has a load of big game experience. Lovie Smith is also a coach with a ton of playoff experience, so I don't see the Bucs fading to the pressure, and at 2 games back and with little expectation, they're playing with house money. Still, despite an improving defense, I think 8-8 is the most realistic expectation.

    Atlanta is interesting because they have the QB we should trust, but they've just not looked right since their 5-0 start. One reason, I think, is an over-reliance on Julio Jones. Jones leads the league in targets, and really, he should. If not the most talented receiver in the league, he's certainly in the top 3. However, Jones has never really been a big TD guy, mainly because teams will double team him in the red zone, and force Matt Ryan to look elsewhere. Enter Roddy White. Last year, Matt Ryan had 19 TDs and 0 INTs in the red zone despite only 2 of those TDs going the way of Jones. That's because he didn't feel the need to force the ball. It was White who led the Falcons in red zone targets last year, out-targeting Jones 14-12, and producing 6 TDs, all from within 5 yards. This year, they've already targeted Jones 20 times, twice as many as their second most-targeted RZ receiver in Devonta Freeman. Of those 20 targets, only 4 have resulted in TDs, and while none of those passes have been intercepted, the inability to find a secondary target has led Ryan to throw 4 RZ INTs this year. White, by the way, has only 7 RZ targets and 2 catches on the year for 1 TD. Early in the year, these problems were masked by the effectiveness of Freeman, but after 4 100 yard rushing games and 10 TDs through the first 7 weeks, Freeman has 0 and 1 over the last 4. With Leonard Hankerson, (9 RZ targets, 6 receptions, 3 TDs) now lost for the season, look for the Falcons to give noted Panther killer Roddy White one more shot. White has 7 or more receptions in his last 6 games against Carolina dating back to 2011, and in order to get to 9-7, while wins over Jacksonville and New Orleans are realistic, they'll also need to find a way at least once to take down the Panthers. With Josh Norman, whose passer rating against has finally exceeded simply throwing the ball away, perhaps the key to Atlanta's hopes lies in rekindling the Ryan-White connection.

    Will 9-7 be enough? Doubtful. The Falcons not only lose their tie-breaker to Tampa, they also lose to Minnesota based on a loss head-to-head in week 12. The Vikings have a tough schedule with road games against Arizona and Green Bay, and also will be without 3 of their top defensive players in Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr, and Harrison Smith for at least this week. They do get the Giants and Bears at home, which helps, but neither is a gimme, especially with the Giants battling for the NFC LEast. Minnesota probably only has to win 1 game to get in, putting the odds greatly in their favor.

    All of this makes that Bears loss to San Francisco all the more frustrating. With a game left against Minnesota, they'd have been in a really good position. Even as it stands, I thought the Bears looked pretty good on Sunday, and went way too conservative. Still, it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility for them to run the table against Washington, Tampa, Minnesota, and Detroit...


    FANTASY MINUTE
    BW: For many of you, the playoffs are starting this week. This includes the Football Pros dynasty league, where in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year following the offseason trades of Eddie Lacy, Antonio Brown, and Demaryius Thomas, the Toxic Avengers have earned the #1 seed with a 10-3 mark. Tubbs also earned a bye at 10-3, while this week's wild card matchups feature Biggie vs. Evan, and mikesteel vs. Packa.

    I talked last week about matchups to exploit involving kickers and defenses, which tend to be the two most matchup-driven positions in fantasy. Otherwise, don't overthink it. Play your best players regardless, and only use the matchup to break a tie.


    THE PICKS

    Thursday, Dec. 10
    Vikings at Cardinals, 8:25 p.m.- Are the Cardinals capable of putting nine men in the box while daring Teddy Bridgewater to beat them? I have a hunch that they can do that. The questions about the arm of the Minnesota quarterback will continue until he has a few signature wins against good defenses. This game is a perfect chance to do that. Simply put, Bridgewater doesn’t have enough pass attempts of over 20 yards down the field to even be ranked in PFF’s deep passing stats. That’s a problem for a guy who hasn’t missed very many plays. PICK: (ARZ 7-0)

    Sunday, Dec. 13
    Falcons at Panthers, 1 p.m.- I think I said something about the Panthers back-ups beating the Falcons. That may happen in a couple weeks, but I like that Cam Newton was able to pump up his MVP stats (now at 25 touchdowns) against the Saints defense in a game that they almost lost. I like that they came back even with the knowledge that they had the division wrapped up. Newton is now tied for 6th in the league in TD passes. Beating up on a feeble Atlanta squad should also help with his campaign. I still see way too people writing that they don’t have Cam #1 right now. I just don’t get it. Did those people see Ted Ginn drop three touchdown passes in New Orleans? PICK: (CAR 6-1)

    Redskins at Bears, 1 p.m.- Chicago is now 1-8 in their last home games. That one win was against the Raiders earlier this season. Even though the Giants have lost five games when they have had the lead with 2 minutes left, Chicago isn't far behind with 3 such losses. Long-time Bears fans should not like the Washington football team. They are the team that beat a favored Chicago team in the playoffs in what was Walter Payton’s last game. Payton still managed over 100 yards on 21 touches. They are the team that Wilbur Marshall was traded to. Since that January 10, 1988 playoff game, Washington has won 12 of the last 15 games in the series. The most recent win for Chicago was all the way back in 2003. Rex Grossman beat Tim Hasselbeck in at 27-24 showdown between two teams going nowhere. The real Bears victory might have been the last game in Soldier Field in 2010. That was the “Me’Angelo” Hall four interception game of Cutler. That game alone might have cost Dan Snyder a ton of money. PICK: (CHI 7-0)

    Steelers at Bengals, 1 p.m.- BW: Make no mistake, this game is not about the AFC North. Thankfully, it's also not going to be about former Raven Jacoby Jones' attempts to sabotage Pittsburgh's season (seriously, is there another reason he's been demoted to 3rd string punt returner, but hasn't been given his release? They don't trust him... MOLE!!!) Cincinnati has essentially clinched the division regardless of what happens on Sunday. The Bengals have two remaining opportunities to make a confidence-boosting statement heading into the playoffs—this week against Pittsburgh, and week 16 @ Denver. Plus, a win over Pittsburgh could go a long way toward keeping the Steelers at home come playoff time. The Steelers have won their last 8 December games, and need a win to keep pace in the AFC Wild Card race. Secondarily, I’m sure they would like nothing more than to sow the seeds of doubt into Paul Brown Stadium, just in case another opportunity arises in the same venue at some point in January. Much is made of Andy Dalton’s track record in big games, but Marvin Lewis is the only coach in modern history to be given 13 seasons by the same organization to win his first playoff game. Perhaps that’s why Tyler Eifert felt compelled to ask Santa for a Super Bowl ring. PICK: (CIN 6-1)

    49ers at Browns, 1 p.m.- The Most Likely to Finish 0-0 Game of the Week. In all seriousness, Blaine Gabbert stated that he hasn’t felt as healthy as he does now during any time of his career. I believe it. He showed nice legs (not National ad campaign legs, but enough for your local department store ads) several times in Chicago last Sunday. I make that same statement even when I don’t consider the ridiculous 44 yard touchdown run. Can we get the Chargers to move to Cleveland so they can play for a fan base who cares? With every San Diego home game turning into an away game, wouldn’t it make sense for them to get this pathetic version of a team from Cleveland? This Browns team may actually be worse than their 1999 team. PICK: (SF 5-2)

    Patriots at Texans, 1 p.m.- This is a game where the Texans need to try to kick the Patriots while they are down. They need to try every look and every fake they have been pocketing the whole season. If Bill O’Brien can beat Darth Hoodie here and then slay the Colts next week, that would be really impressive. As an aside: I know this is in the It Will Never Happen Department, but this would be a great chance to give Tom Brady a fake injury in order to preserve the Super Bowl run. Sunday proved that the Patriots really are down to Tom Brady, Danny Amendola and James frickin’ White. Give Tom the week off and let him come back with Gronk and others in Week 15. J.J. Watt is currently bench pressing Marcus Cannon in preparation for bench pressing Marcus Cannon. I’m just saying. PICK: (NE 5-2)

    Colts at Jaguars, 1 p.m.- Hey, Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson: My fantasy playoff game is this week. I had already clinched. That 212 point effort that you helped give a ton of points for doesn’t do anything for me if I lose this week. I get nothing if you don’t show up this week. No lobster. No shrimp. No turkey sandwiches. No peanut butter. It’s Ramen without water. That’s my “fantasy minute” for the year, folks. I know no one cares, but I just wanted to brag about the first 9 player, 200+ point day I have had in several years. By the way, did you know that Blake Bortles is 3rd in the league with 27 touchdown passes? PICK: (JAC 6-1)

    Chargers at Chiefs, 1 p.m.- BW: Kansas City’s renowned Elmer Fudd wed zone offense, led by that wasically tandem of Alex Smith and Andy Weid was at its absolute twickiest last week. Smith and WR Jewemy… I mean Jeremy Maclin teamed up for 2 TDs. The first was a 1 yard TD on a screen pass that Maclin caught at the 2. The second was a 13 yard TD that Maclin hauled in at the 16. The coach and QB that just last year led an offense through an entire season without a TD reception by a WR found a way to make their top WR account for 18 of the 14 yards necessary for those two scores. In a related story, Alex Smith extended his streak of passes without an interception to 305, just 3 short of Bernie Kosar in 1990-1991 for 2nd all-time. Good ole Andy and Alex- wewiting dah wecowd books. PICK: (KC 6-1)

    Titans at Jets, 1 p.m.- BW: The Jets proved last week that they are the current kings of New York. Last year, they proved they were the kings of all teams either currently or formerly named Titans. With that scintillating 16-11 victory, they cost themselves a potential shot at Marcus Mariota, and helped to solidify the suck for the duck campaign in Nashville. Mariota had his potential on full display in a 42-39 win over Jacksonville last week, passing for 3 TDs and adding an 87 yard score on the ground. In lieu of the pro bowl, would anyone else rather see a Titans-Jags rubber match during the bye week leading up to Super Bowl 50? PICK: (NYJ 6-1)

    Bills at Eagles, 1 p.m.- If you have followed this column for more than this season, you should know that I love revenge games. I know this one isn’t as fun as Chad Pennington, Matt Schaub or other revenge bowls of the past, but LeSean McCoy really has had this one circled for a long time. He might of given that away when he was calling his former coach a racist. He might have even given it away when he said he wouldn’t answer more questions about the Eagles before answering more questions about the Eagles. Anyway, I love games like last weekend for Philadelphia. I love when I see a huge middle finger being displayed to the national narrative. Plus, I love Chip Kelly’s comment about “seeing it through.” Well, "seeing it through" still counts if he is let go at the end of the season. If he doesn’t actually leave before the end of the season, then he “saw it through” no matter if he quits or gets fired. Basically, in the NFL, anything outside of pulling a Saban is all that is needed to satisfy the term “see it through.” PICK: (BUF 4-3)

    Lions at Rams, 1 p.m.- Can we have an honorable mention for “Most Likely...?” Are we just never going to have the conversation about how Jeff Fisher has never been that great of a coach? Is there some reason that I need to know about that precludes us from discussing this? He hasn’t made the playoffs since Barack Obama’s first year in office. This is going to be his 20th full year of coaching. He has five playoff wins and six playoff losses. Three of those wins came during the one Super Bowl appearance year. That season also featured his first playoff appearance after missing them for the first 4 full years of coaching. That kind of start would get someone fired in this day and age. He even was 1-5 as the interim coach. So, that’s two wins in the 18 other full years of coaching. Even if the Rams win out, he will have 14 years of 8 or less wins, including nine years of exactly 7 or 8 wins. He misses the playoffs 70% of the time. Does his mustache hide a microfiche holding the incriminating data needed to take down the NFL? BW: Sorry to butt in, but Rams OC Frank Cignetti was fired this week. You know, because Stache was thinking about the "best interest of the future of this football team." The fans of St. Louis, nay, Los Angeles, nay, the World shall never forget your selfless acts with the future of the organization at heart. Tales shall be told of your great deeds. Seriously, Stache?!?! I'm sure Jeff Fisher is a perfectly fine human being, but Stache? He's the worst...PICK: (DET 6-1)

    Saints at Buccaneers, 1 p.m.- Get ready to get on the Tampa Bay bandwagon. My dislike for the personal history of Jameis Winston is the only thing keeping me off this thing. I have my credit card out and I know that I have money in my account. I even get double points if I use it at this particular Amtrak station during the final 3 months of the year. For some reason, like the end of Can’t Hardly Wait, I am just not getting on the train yet. Yes, my dislike for Winston’s history is the Jennifer Love Hewitt of this scenario. By the way, we have not had a classic “love interest doesn’t leave” scenario at the end of a crappy-yet-watchable movie in a long time. PICK: (TB 5-2)

    Raiders at Broncos, 4:05 p.m.- There is almost no word (He threw some) that Peyton Manning is getting better right now. That’s exactly how it should be. Thus far, John Elway and Gary Kubiak are handling the situation beautifully. What will be very interesting is if the Broncos lose to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh during Week 15 and 16 and Peyton magically gets better. It’s hard for me to figure out if the Broncos are in a bad situation or not. I think they might be in a great situation. If Osweiler falters, they go back to Peyton. If Osweiler is good, they can claim that Peyton never got healthy enough to play, protecting his image a little. Then Peyton can finish his career with someone else. I expect it to be a lost season akin to Namath’s Rams year. PICK: (DEN 7-0)

    Cowboys at Packers, 4:25 p.m.- We might need to check to see if the Cowboys tampered with Desean Jackson in some way. We need to see how many payments to the Cayman Islands Jerrah has made in the last few days. That punt return on Monday was simply one of the most inexplicable and awful football plays I have seen in a long time. I mean, I don’t even expect that from the Browns. If Dallas wins this game to stay alive with the Packers running the same defense that Detroit ran against them while Matt Cassell’s 28 yard majestic bomb sails through the air in Dez Bryant’s waiting arms as Green Bay defenders dive out of the way, then there needs to be an investigation of some sort. A friendly inquiry, perhaps. PICK: (GB 7-0)

    Seahawks at Ravens, 8:30 p.m.- We are about five days away from the first batch of 1,358 stories (of 10,425 estimated before January 4th) about how the Seahawks are back. Matt Schaub has thrown a TAINT (Touchdown After INTerception, for those unfamiliar) in six of his last nine NFL starts. PICK: (SEA 7-0)

    Monday, Dec. 14
    Giants at Dolphins, 8:30 p.m.- BW: With only 4 weeks remaining, my dream of a 4-way tie at 6-10 in the NFC East is still very much in play. The Giants have now lost 5 games this year in which they were leading with under 2:00 to play. While that should lead us to believe that they’re better than their record, their defense has allowed more yards than every team not named New Orleans, and outside of Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., have a collection of offensive weapons that aren’t very good at football-related things. Fortunately for the Giants, the Dolphins haven’t fired anyone this week (yet), so that means this game should be in the bank. PICK: (NYG 5-2)

    Writer's Veto: RG:We have been pretty awful season. I am proud to say that most of it is my doing. At this point, it is either proof that the collective is better than the individual or that we just suck at picking the NFL. Well, I think it is time to either make a furious run or to crash into glorious flames. If we are going down, I think it is time to defy unanimous picks for the remainder of the season. If there is a fiery fall, let the flames be tall enough to light up the world. So, here goes. The Redskins will beat the Bears as John Fox's team finds a way to lose another game that they mostly dominate.

    LAST WEEK: 10-6
    SEASON: 118-74 (61%)
    WRITER'S VETO: 2-6, 5 abstain
    UNANIMOUS: 34-14 (70%)

    Comments 19 Comments
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      You crazy kids and your rock and roll music. Real men sing motets in Latin.

      Justin Tucker is the man.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      My music rules are it isn't music unless:

      1) Eazy-E is involved

      or

      2) There's a didgeridoo.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Also, happy Gale Sayers Day.

      Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of his 6 TD day at Wrigley versus the Niners.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      Also, happy Gale Sayers Day.

      Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of his 6 TD day at Wrigley versus the Niners.
      J7st one of those TDs last week would have been enough
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Thursday, Dec. 10
      Vikings at Cardinals, 8:25 p.m. (NFLN)

      Sunday, Dec. 13
      Falcons at Panthers, 1 p.m. (Fox)
      Redskins at Bears, 1 p.m. (Fox)
      Steelers at Bengals, 1 p.m. (CBS)
      49ers at Browns, 1 p.m. (Fox)
      Patriots at Texans, 1 p.m. (CBS)
      Colts at Jaguars, 1 p.m. (CBS)
      Chargers at Chiefs, 1 p.m. (CBS)
      Titans at Jets, 1 p.m. (CBS)
      Bills at Eagles, 1 p.m. (CBS)
      Lions at Rams, 1 p.m. (Fox)
      Saints at Buccaneers, 1 p.m. (Fox)
      Raiders at Broncos, 4:05 p.m. (CBS)
      Cowboys at Packers, 4:25 p.m. (Fox)
      Seahawks at Ravens*, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

      Monday, Dec. 14
      Giants at Dolphins, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
    1. Amy's Avatar
      Yay! The NFL has put together the Catch Rule Commitee:

      Bill Polian (former NFL executive)
      Ken Whisenhunt (coach/offensive coordinator)
      Jim Schwartz (coach/defensive coordinator)
      Joe Philbin (coach/offensive coordinator)
      James Thrash (former wide receiver with Redskins, Eagles)
      Tom Finken (former side judge)

      So, outside of Whizz, there's no one at all who, you know, strikes me as a good fit for this. Where are offenseive standouts? Where's Megatron? Where's Dez? Where's someone like a Welker?

      And why Polian? His yearly messups on the Compitetion Commitee are why we are here. Why put him (or anyone else from it) on it?

      #Mystified!
    1. ScottDCP's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
      Yay! The NFL has put together the Catch Rule Commitee:

      Bill Polian (former NFL executive)
      Ken Whisenhunt (coach/offensive coordinator)
      Jim Schwartz (coach/defensive coordinator)
      Joe Philbin (coach/offensive coordinator)
      James Thrash (former wide receiver with Redskins, Eagles)
      Tom Finken (former side judge)

      So, outside of Whizz, there's no one at all who, you know, strikes me as a good fit for this. Where are offenseive standouts? Where's Megatron? Where's Dez? Where's someone like a Welker?

      And why Polian? His yearly messups on the Compitetion Commitee are why we are here. Why put him (or anyone else from it) on it?

      #Mystified!
      I'm a little pissed that we aren't represented.
    1. ScottDCP's Avatar
      And I agree, it looks like a poorly constructed committee. Oh wait, it is a committee, by its nature it must be poorly constructed, ensuring ass-coverage for all involved in its erection. Can't wait for the statue.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      The NFL is now next level trolling. Impressive.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      I have an idea. Form a search committee tasked with finding Blandino's replacement.

      /hates the idea a guy who never officiated a damn thing on a field is in charge of NFL rule enforcement
    1. Amy's Avatar
      To be fair, as I was typing that before running out the door for grocery shopping, I think Bill Polian is an amazing general manager. He proved that with the Bills and with the Colts. However, I do not think he has had a good track record with the Competition Committee, and given how the catch rule has become the #1 fan bullet point about the failure of the current NFL office, I'd prefer people with a decent track record in those sorts of spots to be addressing it.

      Also, let's not forget that it was Bill Polian himself who started messing with what a catch was after the Pats mauled his Colts, 20-3, in the 2003 AFC Championship Game. Changing what the defense could do inside 5 yards (rather that having his coaches coach better) was the first step down the path that led to the Calvin Johnson rule.
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Here's a take so hot on ESPN dot com that it might actually melt your eyeballs:



      ...that starved for content, are we, World Wide Leader?
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Matt Kocsan View Post
      Here's a take so hot on ESPN dot com that it might actually melt your eyeballs:

      ...that starved for content, are we, World Wide Leader?
      Wait, so they're insinuating that the Patriots may have a bit of an edge in the postseason thanks to Brady's experience and 4 Super Bowl victories? You know, I hadn't thought of that angle before, but it does make some sense.

      ESPN is at the top of their game.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      {}

      I used to like ESPN dot com, too.
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Now I see an article about Russell Wilson by Bill Barnwell with more or less the same premise. I'm guessing one on Cam Newton is coming, too, perhaps others. So, it's a whole series of trite, and not just a standalone piece of idiocy.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Lions' tight end - their only decent blocking TE at that - Brandon Pettigrew has torn his ACL and is out for the rest of the season.

      No more Brandon Pettigrew Hat Tricks this year. Maybe next year he can make up for missed time. For the uninitiated, the Brandon Pettigrew Hat Trick consists of a Drop, a Personal Foul and a Pre-Snap Penalty. BP has been good for a HT in just about every game since 2010.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Brian Williams View Post
      Wait, so they're insinuating that the Patriots may have a bit of an edge in the postseason thanks to Brady's experience and 4 Super Bowl victories? You know, I hadn't thought of that angle before, but it does make some sense.

      ESPN is at the top of their game.
      Its stupid, because if you look at the AFC, the other 5 playoff starting QBs would be as follows:

      Ryan Fitzpatrick
      AJ McCarron
      Matt Hasselback
      Brock Ostweiler
      Alex Smith

      If the Patriots don't win the AFC, then that will be the biggest meltdown this year. And Patriots fans on other message boards have the cajones to whine about the injuries they've had this year.
    1. Amy's Avatar
      While I haven't whined about them, we have had a lot of injuries. A ton, but that's part of football. It has to be factored in to an assessment of the season, no matter how it turns out.