Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 9:26 AM
HEY, FALCONS, NOBODY'S PERFECT BUT AT LEAST YOU'RE NOT THE ONLY NFC DIVISION LEADER TO GET BEAT!
Okay, so let's play a quickie game of NFL Week 10 "word association" and it goes like this when it comes to some of the league's super-power teams:
Houston Texans (8-1) - Now that's really "winning ugly".
Baltimore Ravens (7-2) - You really had to go ahead and do the "speed limit"?
San Francisco 49ers (6-2-1) - Fit to be tied but will that cost you a home playoff game now?
Atlanta Falcons (8-1) - Your "connection" to the 1972 Miami Dolphins has officially expired.
No doubt about it: The NFL Week 10 results were truly out-of-whack if you happened to be an NFC division leader as - first pointed out Sunday night by NBC's Bob Costas - none of the four division leaders in that conference won as the New York Giants, Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons each lost while the San Francisco 49ers played the NFL's first tied game in four years with that kooky 24-24 draw against 13-point underdog St. Louis - we warned you, three-team teaser players!
Maybe it was getting lonely at the top but check it out: The once-left-for-dead Dallas Cowboys could now enter their annual Thanksgiving Day just one game back of the G-men in the NFC East while - surprise, surprise - the Seattle Seahawks woke up this morning with the same amount of wins as the rival 49ers (that's now six apiece) and knowing that Seattle will host the Niners on the penultimate weekend of this 2012 season.
It's tighten up time, for sure, in the land of the NFC and so let's start our Jim Sez discussion with the last team in this league to finally suffer a loss:
NEW ORLEANS 31, ATLANTA 27 - By now you know all about that terrific late-game goal-line stand by the oft-overmatched Saints defense who stopped Atlanta three plays in a row from the N'Orleans one-yard line in this NFC South showdown affair but the bigger question today is do the Falcons really trust fifth-year QB Matt Ryan with everything on the line?
Ryan exited this tilt having thrown for a career-best 411 yards with three touchdowns and only one interception and so you may think us crazy for even asking this question but consider that Atlanta's 0-and-3 in playoff games in the Ryan Era and this loss now makes the former Boston College star just 2-7 SU (straight-up) in his career against the Saints.
Nobody's saying Ryan is the reason the Falcons finally lost a game this year but he did throw second- and fourth-down incomplete passes to TE Tony Gonzalez and WR Roddy White during the stand and later - with a mere 24 seconds left in this game - failed to hook up on a deep throw with White.
Maybe White did slow down and should have continued his route; maybe Ryan merely overthrew no matter what White did.
But here we sit with the Falcons nagged by "what-if" questions - and one of those questions should be what if Atlanta actually covered Saints TE Jimmy Graham (see 7 catches for 146 yards with two TDs)?
Maybe chasing perfection is - in the scheme of things - relatively unimportant to the here-and-now Falcons but you have to wonder if this November loss in the Superdome will shake this club's confidence a bit and possibly have folks questioning Ryan's credentials as we move closer to the post-season.
HOUSTON 13, CHICAGO 6 - Everyone was hoping for a real rock-'em, sock-'em Sunday Night game at Solider Field but the brutal/rainy weather conditions (to say nothing of the rotten field conditions that resembled a chewed-up garden) made this one nearly un-watchable even if the Texans stamped their mark on the league with a macho-tough road win.
The fact that Houston RB Arian Foster (102 yards rushing) carried it 29 times and shook off all kinds of hits from this ultra-physical Bears defense really spoke to his overall character but what we all discovered here is what happens all too many times 'round the NFL:
If you don't have a quality back-up at the quarterback position, you're sunk!
Glad that NBC game analyst Chris Collinsworth finally addressed that topic just as the prime-time game was ending because following the late first-half concussion suffered by Chicago QB Jay Cutler (who threw two picks and never did get a feel for the wet ball) reserve QB Jason Campbell was simply god-awful as he completed 11-of-19 passes for 94 yards but everything was dink-and-dunk stuff - yes, offensive coordinator Mike Tice has to take a "hit" for that too! - but why did the Bears ever think Campbell was a good choice to back up Cutler?
The former Washington/Oakland signal-caller couldn't be trusted here with this game in the balance - remember the Bears trailed just 10-6 in the fourth quarter - and cannot be trusted should he be the starter next Monday Night at San Francisco.
True, the Texans defense - starring former Bears DB Danieal Manning (one forced fumble and one pick off Cutler) - was magnificent on this dreary weather night and three cheers for Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips who continues to be one of the top two or three coordinators in this man's league but the fact of the matter is most NFL back-up slingers would have stirred their teams with at least one or two second-half rallies but Campbell was a real dud.
CINCINNATI 31, NEW YORK GIANTS 13 - Here's the sheer numbers when it comes to the Giants:
They have now scored just 33 points in all the past two weeks while losing back-to-backers to AFC North squads Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and they are practically writing the book on how to self-destruct on offense.
In this never-in-question road loss, not only did butter-fingered RB Ahmad Bradshaw lose two more fumbles - including one in the red zone that really changed the entire complexion of this game - but slumping QB Eli Manning was sacked four times and threw two terrible INTs including one flub job that was picked off at the Giants' 12-yard line.
During the game, Fox announcers Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick gave the G-men some alibi material while claiming Tom Coughlin's club was among the last four teams in the league not to have gotten to their bye week - the Giants, Minnesota, Seattle and Tennessee all get their byes this weekend but please note all three of the other teams headed to bye weekend all won! - and truth be told the aftereffects of "Sandy" has hung over the Giants franchise/family the past two weeks but losing by 18 points to a Bengals bunch that entered the tilt on a four-game losing streak is bad enough but never showing up at all is unacceptable.
The Giants keep having these rotten Novembers under Coughlin and nobody really can explain it but it's high time Bradshaw took a seat on the bench till he stops fumbling and maybe even "Easy" - that's Manning's nickname - has to do some major soul-searching prior to the November 25th prime-time home game against Green Bay.
Don't you think?
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have the Side/Totals of the NFL Week 10 Monday Night Game between the Kansas City Chiefs at the Pittsburgh Steelers plus get all the NCAA Football, NBA and NCAA Basketball Winners each and every day - so just climb aboard right now with America's #1 Handicapper. Check in with us on Game Days either right here online at or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winners and note the check-in times are after 1 p.m. ET for weeknight action and after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPDATE: THE NEW #1 IN THE BCS
Let's cut right to the proverbial chase with the new-and-updated BCS Standings: The 10-0 Kansas State Wildcats may be sitting pretty right now at #1 (they are .17 ahead of #2 Oregon and .27 ahead of #3 Notre Dame) and the BCS "experts" all are claiming that as long as K-State and Oregon run the table they'll play one another in this year's BCS Championship Game now that Alabama has been bopped from the top following last Saturday's epic 29-24 loss to Texas A&M.
Still, don't send out the title game invitations just yet:
We do believe the fact that Oregon wins against Stanford and at Oregon State and than a Pac-12 Championship Game victory will jump the Ducks past Kansas State who must continue to win by "margins".
Yes, the Big 12 team - which has a road game at Baylor this Saturday night, than a bye week and than a home game against Texas on Dec. 1st - does not have to play a conference championship game but keep in mind Notre Dame (10-0) is first in the current computer ratings and a double-digit win at USC on Thanksgiving weekend could catapult the Irish to a #2 spot and shake K-State from one of the top two spots if it's not careful.
As far as that six-year string of national titles for the SEC, well, it sure looks like history but the fact that 'Bama is #4 and Georgia is #5 in the current BCS Standings means there is still hope.
What, Kansas State might not lose at Texas; Oregon might not lose in Corvallis and/or Notre Dame might not lose that game at USC?
We'll bury the SEC when the time is right - but it ain't quite right just yet.
NOTE: Catch our NFL and NCAA Football Mid-Week Update in the next edition of Jim Sez.