Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NFL 2007 Week 12: AFC Edition

AFC EAST: The Eagles were so damned close, I could taste New England's defeat, but those plucky Pats were able to pull it out. In truth, they've looked somewhat beatable over the last couple of weeks and they're primed for somebody to take them out. Philadelphia showed that, even with an average secondary, Moss can be covered. While that leaves other guys open, eliminating that huge play threat did a lot toward keeping it close. Buffalo, though they have looked fairly good at times, showed how overrated a .500 team that they were. Giving up 36 points to the Jaguars' offense really shouldn't happen. Losman gave up three turnovers, which were the clear difference makers in the game. Now he's benched and, once again, Trent Edwards will step into the role. Neither of these guys has performed all that well over the long haul, and I don't see what it's helping to keep this revolving door quarterback policy going. Were the Jets ever bad on Thanksgiving. Playing at Dallas on that day is hard for every team (although that didn't stop Ron Dayne and the Broncos from running sixty yards in overtime for the win...go Broncos!), but their performance this year was one of the worst I've seen. Less than 200 total yards and only two first downs. Which team is winless? I'm not going to try and say that Miami is playing well, because they're clearly not. But they have lost so many of their games by a field goal, they seem like a victim of bad luck as much as anything; the Jets are victims of bad play. The Dolphins didn't stink the league up any worse than the Steelers did last night, and Pittsburgh is number one in their division.

AFC NORTH: What a stinkfest it truly was in Pittsburgh last night. I'd be afraid of malaria if I'd played on that field. It seems hard for me to believe that the 3-0 final was the lowest NFL points total in sixty years, but the two teams showed just how lousy you have to play to reach that milestone. I'm going to finally admit it: the Browns are a good team. They have the third most points in the league, and are proving week after week that all their young offensive threats have become a team. They don't want to be like the Lions, though. They have to get more strength on defense in every capacity if they want playoff hopes in the coming years. There game against the Texans this week, before the season, would have looked like one of the worst games of the season. Now, it may be a preview of a hot playoff matchup in the coming years. The Bengals have finally come out of their pit, albeit far too late. They slapped a declining Titans team all over the field, finally showing the offense that they always promise and finally not destroying themselves on defense. They might do just well enough to screw themselves out of a good draft pick. Baltimore's defense has clearly declined. Age may be the only major factor, but they often look lost on the field this year. The Chargers may promise a lot of offense, but they haven't delivered. 22 points in the second quarter will just about wrap the Ravens up, though. If Baltimore is going to win any games with the offense they have, the defense has to make some semblance of respecability, and they haven't now for weeks.

AFC SOUTH: The Thanksgiving matchup between the Colts and the Falcons looked interesting, for the first ten minutes. When Atlanta was up 10-0, it seemed like Indy still hadn't recovered from the Patriots game, but then they kicked the Falcons' asses all over the place. After the first quarter, it was far from interesting. Jacksonville continues to play very strong going into the final part of the season. Still only a game back from the Colts, they have every opportunity to win the division. I've often scoffed at their offense, but they're getting quality performances from David Garrard and both running backs every week. If they can keep putting points on the board as they have been, they'll be a very difficult wild card game for anybody. Tennessee has fallen farther than anybody except the Ravens. It was only a few weeks ago that they were in contention but, based on how they're playing right now, I have a hard time believing that they'll win two more games. The Texans may actually overtake them. They're playing inconsistently but, like the Browns though to a lesser degree, they're making it work with what they have. Matt Schaub and the receivers are playing great and, if they can get a reliable running back and some stronger line players, they could be right there in the hunt next year.

AFC WEST: It was a nice one week stint, but I can no longer talk about the Broncos first here (except that I just did). The Chargers looked anemic for 45 minutes, but all it took was one ridiculous quarter to take the game. How the Ravens allowed 22 points in a quarter the way this year's Chargers are playing is beyond me, but it keeps San Diego in first. In almost every one of Denver's losses this year, the defeat can be attributed to one or two direct events. They haven't played that poorly (given their injury problems) at any point this season, but some bad decision inevitably takes them down. This week, it was kicking to Deven Hester...over and over again to the tune of two touchdowns. He had more return yards than the rest of the team had combined yards. That's pathetic and there's no reason Denver should have let the game go. On the plus side, Cutler ran an excellent option pitch to Andre Hall for a touchdown; it was a great play and why the Broncos are such fun to watch. Not so fun to watch was the bowling shoe of a matchup between the Chiefs and the Raiders. The Raiders actually had a good game, but it was against the Chiefs, so it's pretty hard to gauge. KC has lost four in a row and they're playing like it. Who cares, anyway? Both teams suck and are worthless to watch play.