The second half of the season is officially underway and teams are beginning to make their playoff push. There were several blowouts during the early games but the later games made up for the lack of excitement. Carson Palmer finally made a real start, Tim Tebow continued to be the beat-buddy for the NFL and critics, and the 49ers are still blazing hot. With another amazing Sunday in the books, the NFL entertained while other leagues continue to meet (yes that's an NBA jab).
In a rematch of Super Bowl XLII, the Giants faced the Patriots. After starting the season off with big offensive numbers, Tom Brady has slipped into very average play as well as the Patriots as a whole. The Giants defensive line was swarming to Brady despite only recording one sack on the Pro Bowl quarterback. Through the first half, both teams played jaw breaking defense and made it clear that they were there to claim the victory on the day. The second half is when the teams began posting numbers on the score board and after both quarterbacks had settled, they too posted numbers in the stat line. Tom Brady tossed for 342 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. The self titled "elite" quarterback Eli Manning had 250 yards and 2 touchdowns on the day. The fourth quarter want down to the wire as the Tom Brady had an opportunity to take the lead late in the game and connected with Rob Gronkowski for a 14 yard touchdown. With 1:36 remaining in the game, Manning had an opportunity to put together a game winning drive for the Giants to take the lead and possible victory. Manning put together an 8 play, 80 yard drive, and connected with Jake Ballard for a 1 yard touchdown throw. It seems as if the Patriots are going backwards and now at 5-3 they have a long road ahead of them. The New York Giants continue to coast away with the NFC East and are 6-2 and have a key matchup with the San Francisco 49ers (7-1) next week.
The Sunday night game showcased two of the AFC North's finest as the 6-2 Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the 5-2 Baltimore Ravens. Back in week 1, the Ravens blasted the Steelers 35-7, so this was a game that the Steelers marked on the schedule. During that game Joe Flacco looked like the all-pro and Ben Roethlisberger looked like the chump. The hype was built for Sunday and both teams delivered. The game started as a defensive battle as both teams could only put field goals on the scoreboard and the Ravens lead the Steelers at the half 9-7. In the second half both teams aimed for touchdowns and the game opened up for both squads. During the forth quarter, Roethlisberger lead his team to a comeback and they were rolling. Big Ben had 330 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception on the night. He targeted his young, speedy receivers as Antonio Brown had 5 catches for 109 yards and Mike Wallace had 4 catches, 68 yards, and 1 touchdown. Trailing by 4 points, Joe Flacco and the Ravens had to put together their 2-minute offense and 92 yards to score a touchdown. Flacco turned heads as he was sharp on the drive and calm. Flacco connected with Torrey Smith for the go ahead touchdown for 26 yards. Flacco ended the night with 300 yards and 1 touchdown and sealed the 23-20 Ravens win. Flacco has been up and down this year but he is getting the job done. The Ravens now own the tie breaker between the two teams and are now 6-2 and tied for first place in the division.
Who Am I?
Once again it's time for another trivia question and this week should stump some but not all. In case you are wondering, in "Who Am I?" I take on the role of an NFL player, current or retired, and give you his stats which will make you think a little while you continue reading. Here's a hint, he is an all-time top 20 rusher.
Throughout my career I rushed for 11, 695 rushing yards for a 4.6 yards per carry average. I also added 2, 384 receiving yards. I scored a total of 74 total touchdowns and I only made the Pro Bowl one time. I am the most known unknown running back. Please can someone tell me who I am?
It's safe to say that Jim Harbaugh will win the Coach of the Year award at the end of the season because the 49ers are 7-1, lead the division by a landslide, and they are in position to get a first round bye in the playoffs. Sunday wasn't any different as they went on the road to face the Redskins in a game that they had in the bag from the start. Alex Smith had another good game as he threw for 200 yards and a touchdown. Frank Gore added 107 rushing yards and continued to be the workhorse for the 49ers. Shanahan is clearly not an effective head coach anymore and the Redskins have now lost four consecutive games and are 3-5 on the season.
Still winless on the year, the Colts faced the Falcons in Indianapolis and this game wasn't much different from any other game. On the first two drives for the Colts, they turned it over and they paid for it as the Falcons capitalized on the blunders. Julio Jones returned from his injury and had a huge day. The rookie had 3 catches for 131 yards and 2 touchdowns. Near the end of the game Curtis Painter was replaced by Dan Orlovsky; whether the move is permanent is yet to be seen. The Falcons won 31-7. The Colts will be picking Andrew Luck in April.
The Chiefs rebounded nicely after a rough start but they declined on Sunday as they faced the winless Dolphins. Everything went Miami's way as both Matt Moore and Reggie Bush had good days. Moore was 17 of 23 for 244 yards and 3 touchdowns and looked very sharp throughout the day. Bush made good plays all around and had 142 total yards and 1 touchdown. The Chiefs are not a good football team but had been playing good football. They must rebound next week against Denver if they don't want to fall behind.
The Buffalo Bills had a wake up call from Rex Ryan on Sunday and they got the message. Fitzpatrick received the long term extension but didn't smell like money against the Jets. He reeked of sweat and tears as he was smacked around all day. With only 191 yards and 2 interceptions, he could not lead the Bills to victory. Sanchez had a nice game with 230 yards and 1 touchdown as he lead his squad to a 27-11 blowout. In a tough division and conference, the Bills are going to have to play at the high level they were once playing.
I'm not sure if the Texans are a Super Bowl contender but they have stated their case several times this season. The Browns need an overhaul in talent, especially at quarterback. Colt McCoy was awful again on Sunday with 146 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Houston was without Andre Johnson again but the running game was present. The Texans rushed for a total of 261 yards and 3 touchdowns. Arian Foster had 124 of those yards and 1 touchdown. With the 30-12 loss, the Browns fell to 3-5 on the season .The Texans could be really special if they play up to their potential.
The Cowboys have been up and down this season and Sunday was an up for them. The Seahawks on the other hand, not much competition for anyone this year. Romo brought his "A" game to the field as he threw for 279 yards and 2 touchdowns. The rookie phenom DeMarco Murray continued to play well with 139 rushing yards on the day. Tavaris Jackson played terrible with 3 interceptions and the Seahawks will be looking for a quarterback in the draft. After polishing off the Seahawks 23-13, the Cowboys are 4-4 and in second place in the NFC East.
In a NFC South showdown, the Buccaneers traveled to New Orleans to face the Saints. After the Saints Halloween trick last week against the Rams, they got back on track. Drew Brees was on point with 258 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Bucs didn't make many splashes in the short offseason and it is showing now. They have very average talent and most teams are not surprised by the young team. Josh Freeman had 281 yards and a touchdown but that wasn't enough to take down the high powered Saints. With the 27-16 victory, the Saints are sitting comfortably in first place of the division.
The new Bengals have been playing with purpose this season but they faced a tough matchup with the Tennessee Titans. Andy Dalton continues to impress as he had 217 yards and 3 touchdowns. A.J. Green also impressed with 7 catches and 83 yards. The Titans started with a 17-7 lead at the half and Hasselbeck was leading his troops nicely. After the slow start, the Bengals won 24-17 and are now 6-2 in the crowded AFC North.
Tim Tebow was abused in this game but he pushed through as always. He may not be a great quarterback but he is a football player. Willis McGahee entered the game injured and had an amazing game. He rushed for 163 yards and 2 touchdowns. Palmer showcased an up and down game with 332 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also delivered 3 interceptions on the day that were huge in Denver's comeback win. With 124 passing yards, 117 rushing yards, and 2 passing touchdowns, Tebow finished the day with the 38-24 victory.
In the battle of the bottom feeders, the Rams faced the Cardinals in a matchup for last place in the NFC West. Both teams entered the game at 1-6 and with the expectation of not winning many games, this was their Toilet Bowl. Bradford suited up for the Rams but Kolb was out for the Cards. The key player of the game was clearly Cardinals rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson. With 1 interception already on the day, Peterson added his second punt return touchdown of the season with no time remaining to give the Cardinals the 19-13 win. Both teams are still terrible.
The defending Super Bowl champs Green Bay Packers faced off against the San Diego Chargers in a barn burner. Phillip Rivers has been off this season and he was off on Sunday. He had 385 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions which 2 of those were returned for touchdowns. Despite the struggles, the Chargers battled back and challenged the Packers to the wire. Rodgers put together another good game as he threw for 247 yards and 4 touchdowns. He connected with 7 different receivers and 4 of those caught the touchdown passes. After capping off the Bolts 45-38, the Packers are undefeated at 8-0.
Monday Night Preview
The 4-3 Chicago Bears and the 3-4 Philadelphia Eagles are set for an NFC matchup and both are in position to be fighting for a wild-card playoff spot. The Eagles opened the season anointed as the "dream team" per Vince Young and their play reflected every bit of a nightmare. The Bears have been led by Matt Forte as he is the workhorse for the Bears. With both teams having playmaking defenses, this game is lining up as an exciting matchup.
Michael Vick and LeShawn McCoy have been the offense for the Eagles this season. Vick has made plays this season, both good and bad. He has 11 touchdowns on the year but he also has 8 interceptions and 8 fumbles which 3 of those resulted as lost fumbles for a total of 11 turnovers. McCoy on the other hand is known as the closer and he has played his role exceptionally well. He is forth in the NFL with 754 yards and could very well lead all rushers when the night is over. They will look to lead the Eagles to their forth win of the season.
How good is Matt Forte? He leads all running backs in total yardage this season with 1, 091 yards; that's a 155 yards per game average. He also has 3 touchdowns to go along with those numbers. Forte is also in a contract year and he is earning his keep unlike Chris Johnson and Peyton Hillis. The Bears defense may not be what it once was but they still have Brian Urlacher. His tackle numbers are way down but he has 3 interceptions and 4 passes defended. The Bears defense will have a challenge on their hands to shutdown the Vick and McCoy show.
Look for both quarterbacks to struggle and rely heavily on their running backs. Cutler won't have to do much as Forte will lead the offense. Expect the Bears defense to force turnovers and set the offense up with good field position. Vick will play hard as usual but will have too much to overcome. My prediction is that the Bears will play well under the lights on the road and coast away with a 27-17 upset.
The defending Super Bowl champs Green Bay Packers took on the San Diego Chargers and it was a barn burner. Phillip Rivers started the game
Who Am I? (Answer)
So, who am I with career numbers of 11, 695 rushing yards, 4.6 yards per carry average, 2, 384 receiving yards, 74 total touchdowns, and a Pro Bowl appearance? I'm Fred Taylor, former running back of the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots.
Fred Taylor is number 15 on the all-time leading rushing list with 11, 695 yards ahead of John Riggins, Corey Dillon, O. J. Simpson, Warrick Dunn, and Ricky Watters. He is ahead of some Hall of Fame players but there is still the debate of whether he will be inducted someday. Taylor was plagued by injuries, played for a small market team, and never made the Super Bowl. If not for the injuries, he would be much higher on the list. Will he be inducted into the Hall of Fame? He should be but it's up to the committee.
"Worst Luck" Race
Who are the top 5 teams in position to land the highly coveted Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck in the 2012 NFL Draft.
1.) Indianapolis Colts, 0-9
2.) St. Louis Rams, 1-7
3.) Miami Dolphins, 1-7
4.) Seattle Seahawks, 2-6
5.) Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-6
Week 9 had early blowouts but the later games were exciting and showcased some of the better matchups on the day. The Panthers, Lions, Jaguars, and Vikings were on byes. The Panthers, Vikings, and Jaguars all have rookie starting quarterbacks. Cam Newton and Christian Ponder look promising with solid football teams. Blaine Gabbert, not so much. He has to improve in the second half of the season. The Lions have a chance at the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and it is well overdue. The AFC North is very tough. The Bengals and Ravens are tied for first place at 6-2 and the Steelers are 6-3. I still have the Steelers winning the division. The Browns are need a quarterback because Colt McCoy is terrible. He's not the only Colt that stinks because the Indianapolis Colts are in position to finish 0-16. They're only 7 losses away. The Texans have a strong running game and that should lead them to the AFC South division title. I don't think they will go far in the playoffs though. The Titans could save $17 million of Chris Johnson's $30 million if they cut him before March 1. Doubt they will do it though. The Jets are on the rise thanks to their defense. The Patriots look baffled and they will fight for the playoffs this year. The Bills are a bad football team that was playing good football. They need to rebound and fast! The Dolphins finally got a win and they may squeak out 2 more if they're luck-y. The Chiefs are another bad football team playing good football. The Raiders are falling by the wayside. Tim Tebow plays with his heart but he doesn't have much skill though. The Chargers have to get Rivers on track.
The NFC has the defending champs and they are good! The Bears need to pay Forte. The 49ers are playing lights out football. Pete Carrol needs to focus on the draft and get some talent in Seattle. The Cardinals and the Rams are bottom feeders. The Saints are good but they are no longer invincible. The Buccaneers are overrated. The Falcons are catching wind to fuel the fire. Vick needs to limit the turnovers in order to lead his team to the playoffs. Eli Manning is proving that he is indeed elite as the Giants are 6-2 and lead the NFC East. The Cowboys have a nice road ahead of them and should make up ground for the bad start. The Redskins need to fire Mike Shanahan. Yeah I said it! Last but not least, has anyone ever noticed that NFL Network's anchor sounds like Kermit the frog? It's funny and annoying at the same time.
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