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NFL Week 12 2009

By: Nick Popyack

[Have a comment? Click the title of this article and go crazy!]

       After a wild week in the NFL, there are plenty more great games to go around, but there’s something that the league did that I think needs to be addressed. It all happened last Monday, after a close game between the Titans and the Texans. After the final kneel-down, Vince Young turned around and high-fived the official requesting the ball. This was fine. I have no problem with officials being recognized as human beings, as their errors are just that: Human. However, the league released a statement, meticulously dissecting the act and classifying it as pure accident. This irritates me. The league is taking itself way too seriously ever since Roger Goodell became Commissioner. It starts with banning a few ‘inappropriate’ touchdown celebrations and escalates to fining Chad Ochocinco $20,000 for faking a bribe. Seriously, it was one dollar, and there are cameras galore all around the stadium. Ochocinco knew he’d be seen, and was clearly joking. But there are more ways the league is trying to take away the laughter; Sheldon Brown was fined for wearing a Halloween mask prior to the holiday when running out of the tunnel. I mean, come on! Let the players play and let the entertaining parts remain entertaining. And don’t fine someone for imitating the Captain Morgan pose! Ridiculous. Here’s week 12.

Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions
[Thursday 12:30]

       Wow. I was only kidding last week when I said the Lions-Browns game was the best game we’d see all week; it might have been the best all year! Though they were going against one of the worst defenses in the league, it’s a great sign for Lions fans. At least, it’s a good sign for their offense. Matt Stafford rallied his team that was down by three scores by throwing for five touchdowns. It seems the Lions bagged a keeper, though he doesn’t look able to play on the Lions’ one nationally televised game this year. He and Calvin Johnson, their best offensive players, haven’t practiced this week, and it seems that the main reasons the Lions won their second game won’t be ready for the annual Thanksgiving game. The injuries aren’t only on the Lions sideline; the Packers lost Al Harris and Aaron Kampman for the season in their win over the 49ers. However, I think a unit that shut out Detroit the first time around shouldn’t have much trouble stopping an injured Detroit offense.
Green Bay Packers

Oakland Raiders @ Dallas Cowboys
[Thursday 4:15]

       Something has to be done about the Thanksgiving games. The last time either Detroit or Dallas had a competitive game was in 2005. That’s no excuse for NFL Network, however, as they haven’t had a competitive Turkey Day game yet [And by competitive, I mean decided by eight points or less]. The NFL is constantly thinking up different ways to bring in more money, one of which was giving NFL Network subscribers Thursday and Saturday Night Football games, but if they keep on ending up with lopsided results, people will stop watching them. Enough of that, let’s talk football. In a game that surely surprised everyone, the Raiders beat the Bengals with ten points in the last minutes of regulation. This might just be seen as a fluke, but then you look at the Cowboys, who have scored a total of 14 points in their last two games. This statistic is certainly scary for Dallas fans, who know that Tony Romo has choked in the last month or two of the regular season since he entered the league. The Raiders, one of the laughing stocks of the league for years, may have a chance to beat the Cowboys on national television. However, even with their recent change of quarterback, their passing game still pales in comparison the Dallas’s.
Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants @ Denver Broncos
[Thursday 8:20]

       And I thought this game would be between two teams that haven’t won for over a month. No, the Giants managed to pull out a win in overtime against the Falcons, though you can tell they aren’t the same team that’s been dominating the league for the last two years. Eli Manning can no longer be blamed for their poor performance; after all, he’s only on the field during the offensive snaps, and the secondary has been hurting New York. Their offense took a hit today as well, as Ahmad Bradshaw, part of their two-headed rushing attack, has been ruled out for the game, meaning the Giants will likely be passing the ball. The Broncos might not be, seeing as their quarterback is coming off of an injury. Whichever defensive line makes their presence felt will win this game, so I’m going with the Giants.
New York Giants

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons
[Sunday 1:00]

       It’s a good thing I didn’t act upon my hunch about the Bucs last week. After the first quarter, they couldn’t get anything going. I still like Josh Freeman, and I think he’s going to be a good quarterback. However, he isn’t getting a lot of help from the rest of his offense, and his defense is putting him in a position where he’s being asked to pass the ball a lot. That should have been the case for the Falcons as well, as their top runningback, Michael Turner, was injured two weeks ago, but they took their remaining players [In this case, player] and did their best, almost coming away with a win. This week, they look like they’ll finally get Jerious Norwood, their second string runningback, on the field for the first time since mid-October. This should help Matt Ryan and the Falcons dominate the Bucs.
Atlanta Falcons

Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills
[Sunday 1:00]

       Give Terrell Owens the ball and good things are going to happen. That’s what he’s been saying for years, right? Well, he didn’t disappoint his team last week, though they did that for him. In his best week of the year by far, T.O. caught nine passes for 197 yards and a touchdown, while his team only managed 15 points and lost to the Jaguars by a field goal. It’s a shame Owens doesn’t play on their defense, which is second worst in the league against the run. This looks really good for a Dolphins team that runs an average of 33 times a game, and they’re on ten days of rest.
Miami Dolphins

Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles
[Sunday 1:00]

       After finally scoring more than 17 points in a game, the Redskins are back to their old ways. They could only muster two field goals, and the two they missed ended up costing them the game. As if scoring points was hard enough for them, it’ll be even harder, as their new starting runningback is Rock Cartwright, who started the season as fourth on the depth chart. They’ll be relying on Jason Campbell more than ever now, which would be a good thing if they could just protect him long enough. Campbell has been sacked 29 times, tied for third most in the league, and the Philadelphia defense is tied for second in the league with 30 sacks. If Campbell has enough time to throw a deep ball, the Eagles will lose, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, so their underachieving secondary will catch a break this week.
Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams
[Sunday 1:00]

       Remember the good old days when the Colts had the worst rushing attack in the league? The Cardinals took over, then the Chargers, the Texans, and I think the Browns might have gotten in the mix as well. The first few teams were excused because they could still move the ball through the air, and the Browns were excused because… Well, come on, they’re the Browns. Now it’s Seattle’s turn, and they managed to get four rushing yards against the Vikings last week. You didn’t read that wrong: Four. With the help of a negative nine yard rush by Seneca Wallace, the Seahawks managed to rush for just as many yards as wins the Rams will have this year [if you carry over from last year, that is]. One of those wins should have been this week, after Seattle allowed Brett Favre to complete 22 of his 25 passes, but then the bad news came: Marc Bulger is out three to six weeks with a broken leg. However, this might be good news, as Kyle Boller, a former starter, is up next. With a strong running game and a new quarterback, I think the Seahawks are in for a surprise.
St. Louis Rams

Carolina Panthers @ New York Jets
[Sunday 1:00]

       Like last week, the Panthers will face a run-oriented team. Heavily run-oriented. Ok, fine: The team that runs the ball the most [35 times a game] and passes the least [27]. There, I said it. The Jets have cut back on the passing because of their rookie quarterback, Mark Sanchez. In their last two games, Sanchez has thrown two touchdowns against a whopping six interceptions. This doesn’t look good for the Jets, as they’ve recently found ways to lose, and the Panthers are fifth in the league facing the pass. Factor in a Braylon Edwards dropping crucial passes, a struggling defense, and Carolina on ten days of rest, and I think we have ourselves a winner.
Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals
[Sunday 1:00]

       Congratulations, Cleveland Browns. You proved like many teams before you that I know nothing about football. After I declared them the worst team in the league, they go out and score 37 points, taking the game down to the wire. Ok, enough praise. Now it’s bashing time. How do you blatantly push a receiver down on the last play of the game with the game on the line? Then, with a quarterback that hasn’t thrown a pass all game going under center, how do you call a timeout, allowing the quarterback that’s thrown for four touchdowns already in the game to throw for another? Bad teams find a way to lose games, that’s all I can say. And while the defensive back shoving the receiver down isn’t a reflection of the entire team, it is a reflection of a defensive coach that failed to discipline his team enough. While the Browns ran wild over the poor defense of the Lions last week, they’ll find it much harder to duplicate their offensive success against their division rival Bengals. They’re likely to get Cedric Benson back this week, too, so look for an offensive field day in Cincy. And though they lost last week, you better believe Andre Caldwell isn’t going to fumble another kickoff [or even field one, if it was my decision] for a long time. Cincinnati will sweep their division.
Cincinnati Bengals

Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans
[Sunday 1:00]

       On offense, you have two very similar teams in this matchup. Neither team can run the ball, but why would they when they’ve had such success passing the ball? On defense, however, you’re looking at two different teams entirely. Both may have similar numbers when it comes to yards gained, but then we see the money shot: Points allowed. The Colts are only allowing 15.7 points per game, less than the Steelers, the Vikings, the Bengals, the Ravens, and, yes, less than the Patriots. In Indianapolis’s case, their offense is keeping the opposing teams throwing the ball, and their secondary has had the final say, which looks to be the case this week. However, they were very close to sending their last game against the Colts into overtime, so don’t put it past them to do it this week. In the end, though, I’m going with Peyton Manning.
Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers
[Sunday 4:05]

       As painful as it was for Steelers fans to watch their team struggle against a two-win team like the Chiefs last week, it’s a promising sign for Kansas City fans. Todd Haley might not have played in the NFL, but he sure knows how to draw up pass plays, and the addition of Chris Chambers has increased the productivity of their offense immensely. After only three games with the Chiefs, he’s already gained the second most yards on the team, averaging just under 25 yards a reception since his arrival. It’s good to see struggling teams show promise. However, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of promise for this week against the Chargers. LaDainian Tomlinson is back and has scored five touchdowns in his last four games, adding to San Diego’s versatility. I’m not betting against the San Diego offense.
San Diego Chargers

Jacksonville Jaguars @ San Francisco 49ers
[Sunday 4:05]

       I really don’t know how the Jaguars are 6-4. They’re in the bottom half of the league in points scored and points allowed, and yet they’re set for a wild card spot if they keep it going. The best thing the Jaguars have going is the power of the hyphen, as their top two offensive players are Mike Sims-Walker and Maurice Jones-Drew. Sims-Walker is emerging as a legitimate threat, and Jones-Drew leads the league with 13 rushing touchdowns. While the 49ers have had an offensive surge under their new [old] quarterback Alex Smith, they have yet to win a game decisively, and lost the rest. Their unwillingness to run the ball [Tied with a league low 22 rushes a game] will be their downfall once again.
Jacksonville Jaguars

Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings
[Sunday 4:15]

       It’s not all Jay Cutler’s fault. You might be saying to yourself, ‘But Nick, he missed at least three different receivers on deep passes that would have surely gone for touchdowns last week!’ Well, yes, he did, and those were his fault. However, he’s not the one calling the plays, which ends up being a lopsided 22 rushes to 38 passes a game. It’s not his fault Matt Forte, after a promising rookie year, has rushed for only 516 yards in 2009. He doesn’t have the luxury of passing to a Reggie Wayne, Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson like the other top passers do. His best receiver came into the league as a cornerback, so don’t blame Cutler for everything. Just a few things. For instance, when the Bears lose on Sunday, it won’t be because Jay Cutler isn’t good enough. It’ll be because the Vikings are on a roll and nobody can stop them.
Minnesota Vikings

Arizona Cardinals @ Tennessee Titans
[Sunday 4:15]

       This game is a difficult one to pick. On one hand, you have one of the best passing attacks with Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. On the other hand, you have the best runningback in the league currently, Chris Johnson, and a quarterback that’s turned the ball over only twice in his four starts, all of them wins. The Cardinals are leading their division, easily the weakest of the entire league. The Titans are on an unprecedented four win streak after an 0-6 start. This game is really making me think. The Titans have a more mobile and therefore versatile quarterback, while the Cardinals have a former MVP under center. This is certainly a game that will go down to the wire, so I’m going to take the team with more aerial firepower, though it wouldn’t surprise me if the Titans win their fifth straight.
Arizona Cardinals

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens
[Sunday 8:20]

       With the entire division losing last week, this Sunday Night game has a little added significance. Both teams are fighting for wild card spots in an AFC race that’s incredibly close. On the Pittsburgh sideline, you’re looking at Ben Roethlisberger coming off of a concussion and Troy Polamalu’s status unknown. Without Polamalu, the Steelers have gone 2-3. As far as Roethlisberger goes, he says he’s ready to play, but I have a stat that might make him a little more wary to step onto the field. The last time Roethlisberger had a head injury [2006, I believe, after his motorcycle accident], he missed a game, and in his next three starts, he threw no touchdowns and seven interceptions. This bodes well for a Baltimore defense that hasn’t allowed more than 17 points since they had their bye four weeks ago. I expect them to have more success in the red zone against the Steelers, and, though they lost three times to the Steelers last year, they’ll pull one out this week.
Baltimore Ravens

New England Patriots @ New Orleans Saints
[Monday 8:30]

       If this game doesn’t end up being twice as exciting as the last few nationally televised games have been, I’m asking for my money back. In this game, the top two offenses will go head to head, and I couldn’t be more excited. The undefeated Saints have had ten good weeks, but I’m not entirely convinced. Their recent close shave with the Rams was enough to make me reconsider picking the Saints for this game, and the Patriots have been completely overpowering [albeit one poor fourth down non-conversion]. In all honesty, this game is too close to accurately call. You’re going to have split decisions no matter where you turn, so I’m just going to pick the sixth ranked defense [Patriots] and enjoy the game.
New England Patriots


Recap:
Green Bay Packers
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Atlanta Falcons
Miami Dolphins
Philadelphia Eagles
St. Louis Rams
Carolina Panthers
Cincinnati Bengals
Indianapolis Colts
San Diego Chargers
Jacksonville Jaguars
Minnesota Vikings
Arizona Cardinals
Baltimore Ravens
New England Patriots

Last week’s winner: Tie… Kavik and Nick [13]

Season totals:

Nick: 103
Kavik: 100
Pat: 95


Fantasy Football: The story of Team Nate Kaeding [3-8]

Dropped WR Antonio Bryant and Cowboys D/ST for RB Jason Snelling and Bengals D/ST. This week was one of my more triumphant ones, due mostly to my runningbacks, who earned 67 points alone. I earned the most points out of all the teams this week, further proving my excellent waiver-wire-scanning ability. I won, 125-93.

For those of you unfamiliar to my blog, I post every week on Eaglesmix and my Facebook page. Thanks for your support! Follow me here:

http://www.new.facebook.com/pages/Nick-Popyack/158180878321?ref=ts



This week’s unfounded rumor: In response to the league releasing a statement denying an official purposely giving Vince Young a high five after the final kneel-down in the Monday Night game, the NFL will officially change their name from the National Football League to the No Fun League. After this year, touchdown celebrations will be completely banned, as will cheering from the fans, athletic butt slaps, and smiling too much. Look out, Hines Ward.

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