Snap Judgments for Week 15
Musings, observations and the occasional insight while watching the strange doings of a Week 15 that from start to finish I just didn't understand ...
• If the New York Jets go on to win the AFC East, they should at least have the decency to vote Bills quarterback
What in the world were the Bills doing having their turnover-prone backup quarterback rolling out to throw the ball from deep in his own territory with a three-point lead to protect and just under two minutes remaining? You know the rest. The predictable happened on the 2nd and 5 play from the Bills' 27. Losman was hit from behind by Jets safety
The last time we saw a game given away that improbably in East Rutherford,
• I suppose the 9-5 Jets feel incredibly relieved, having dodged a third consecutive loss and maintained at least a share of the division lead with their
The blowout home loss to the Broncos? Getting dominated last week at San Francisco? Making a Bills club that entered the game in the throes of a two-month death spiral look like the hungrier, more determined team on Sunday?
That was one tight bunch of Jets I watched against Buffalo, and that tenseness was on full display from Mangini on down to his grizzled quarterback
You get the feeling that nothing is going to come easy for New York from here on out. The Jets are headed to Seattle next week, with that 0-3 West Coast record of theirs, and then comes the Week 17 home showdown with Miami. I don't know if I can envision the two more Jets victories it's going to take to win this thing and put a happy ending on what has been a very bumpy, late-season ride for New York.
• I truly believe that a Jets loss Sunday would have resulted in Mangini coaching from the hot seat in the final two weeks, and he might still find his way into such a precarious position before the month is out. But it was going to be either Mangini or Buffalo coach
It's hard to blame Buffalo's frustrated fans. No playoff appearances since 1999, and now that they've slid from that 5-1 start to a desultory 6-8, the Bills are officially dead in the water. It's painful to watch Buffalo play these days. The Bills do whatever it takes to lose. No matter how good their situation may look at any one particular moment in a game, they'll do something to reverse their momentum (see their holding penalty on rookie
• Well, that ought to staunch the melodrama in Dallas for now ... and simultaneously crank it to life in New York. The Cowboys' 20-8 season-saver against the Giants on Sunday night flipped the script in the NFC East, big time. Now it's New York that looks like it has December problems, losing two in a row in the division and not running the ball with its usual authority, minus
New York clearly has work to do and two very challenging games on the horizon: at home against Carolina in Week 16 and at Minnesota in Week 17. Don't forget: The Giants haven't even wrapped up a first-round playoff bye just yet.
As for the Cowboys, getting
• Watching Sunday's action unfold, I was struck by just how many 2007 playoff teams have fallen upon hard times this season. Green Bay, San Diego, Jacksonville and Seattle all won between 11 and 13 games last season and went to the playoffs, but none will return this year. And you can throw Washington, 9-7 a year ago, into that same group.
In addition, two more teams that won a combined 29 games in the regular season in '07 are at least in jeopardy of missing this year's Super Bowl tournament. That would be New England and Dallas. By dropping to 9-5 with that overtime loss at Atlanta, Tampa Bay has become the eighth of last year's 12 playoff teams to be in jeopardy of missing a repeat trip.
That leaves only Tennessee, the Giants, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis as the 2007 playoff teams who appear assured of going back to the postseason.
• Credit to the Chargers, who came back late at Kansas City to somehow win a game they appeared to have little interest in. But as I watched Atlanta running back
• More and more I'm thinking Chargers general manager
And I say that having thought Turner was a good hire for San Diego in early 2007, in the wake of Marty Schottenheimer's ugly departure.
• Then again, I thought the same thing of fellow three-time NFL head coach
• What a brutal week for the Bucs. They were this close to having a hammerlock on the NFC South title Monday night at Carolina -- forging a tie in the fourth quarter -- and now they've lost back to back division road games in a span of six days and might have to fight for their playoff lives.
Oh, and about those 474 rushing yards that Tampa Bay's vaunted defense just allowed to the Panthers and Falcons? Maybe it's not the worst thing in the world that
• Bucs receiver
Smith is a fiery, emotional coach, and it appeared to me that he was definitely taking exception to one of Bryant's on-field decisions.
• You know who had to be crestfallen watching the Bucs come so close to pulling that Falcons upset in Atlanta, don't you? That would be Eagles fans. Philadelphia needs the Falcons to lose at least once in order for its dream of running the table and getting into the playoffs at 10-5-1 to come true.
• How ironic it is that New England was at Oakland on Sunday? It was at Oakland that
• With just 77 yards on 25 carries, barely 3 yards a pop, Redskins running back
• The Redskins will keep having problems in their locker room of the Portis sort as long as Washington owner
Portis is just trying the same act that used to work so effectively for
• Did you ever think you'd see
I know this much: His 21 carries for 73 yards, and three catches for 88 yards, including that 79-yarder, made a much bigger impact than anything Portis did in Cincinnati's upset of Washington on Sunday.
• Kicking field goals, by and large, will get you beat in the NFL. Take the San Francisco-Miami game Sunday. The 49ers dominated the Dolphins in first downs (24-11), total plays (79-42) and time of possession (38:13 to 21:47). But San Francisco kicked three
New Orleans is just 1-6 on the road this season, and don't forget, the Saints were the team the 1976-77 Bucs finally beat after losing 26 games in a row at the inception of the franchise.
• Do we have ourselves a quarterback controversy in Minnesota if
• I'll say it again: The Cardinals aren't anyone's idea of a tough draw in the NFC playoffs. They got just-happy-to-be-there written all over them in January.
• And while we're at it, Denver is the other likely western champion that doesn't scare anyone as the playoffs loom. The up-and-down Broncos basically were a no-show at Carolina on Sunday, despite being motivated by the fact that they could have clinched the AFC West.
• File this one as well under the what-were-they-thinking category? Titans head coach
And maybe an even stranger call was Fisher electing to onside kick with two seconds left in the first half, with Titans quarterback Kerry Collins then taking a knee for minus-1 yard to the Tennessee 41 on the ensuing play.
What was the point?
• I haven't researched this as thoroughly as I should have, but my growing sense is Houston is the kind of team that truly only plays up to expectations after it has systematically lowered those same expectations with disappointing early season losses.
In other words, the Texans are only dangerous after they've played their way out of things.
• But that
• I know
To look at Rivers' 28 touchdown passes, 3,515 yards passing, and just 11 interceptions, with a quarterback rating in triple digits, you'd think the Chargers would be 11-3 material this season.
• I'm sure you've noticed by now, but there's not many good teams that play games starting at 1 p.m. ET anymore. There were nine early games in Week 15, and other than the Titans and Colts, they weren't many big winners on display.
• Quite the non-crowd at the Chargers-Chiefs. Every time they showed a shot of the near-empty stands in Kansas City, it looked like Friends and Family day at Arrowhead Stadium.
Not that I don't understand. It was cold. And the Chargers and Chiefs owned a combined seven wins entering play.