Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, December 1, 2014 at 12:00 AM
OUR NFL WEEK 13 WRAP-UP REPORT:
THE PACKERS SNAG A WIN IN SUNDAY’S
MARQUEE MATCHUP BUT OTHER HOME
TEAMS TAKE A HOLIDAY TUMBLE …
MORE NFL WEEK 13 NEWS/NOTES:
WILL THE CARDINALS EVER WIN AGAIN? …
THE COLLEGE GRIDIRON UPDATE:
WE WEIGH IN ON THE “TOP FOUR”
Not everyone was happy to be “home for the holidays”.
Just ask the Kansas City Chiefs, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens – there’s three playoff-hopeful teams that won’t fondly remember their Thanksgiving weekend home tilts.
The $64,000 question now is just how will those losses affect those teams – interestingly enough all three of these AFC teams will be going on the road for their Week 14 games this Sunday – but we’ve gotta declare the Green Bay Packers as the weekend’s “biggest winner” even if QB Aaron Rodgers and Company managed to put up a mere field goal in the second half of that 26-21 win/cover against the 3-point underdog New England Patriots.
Hey, Rodgers did throw for a whopping 368 yards and hard-charging RB Eddie Lacy chipped in another 98 yards rushing but go ahead and ask Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy and he’ll tell you he saw way too much of PK Mason Crosby who nailed field goals from 32, 35, 33 and 28 yards as red-zone failures almost doomed Green Bay (9-3) on this final Sunday in November.
Still, the Packers played a heady game against QB Tom Brady and friends – Green Bay controlled the ball for 36:35 (it almost only seemed more while watching this game) – and when you can convert 10-of-17 third-down plays against a Patriots’ defense that entered the game after allowing 9, 20 and 21 points in its last three games then you did a few things right.
The bottom line is on a holiday weekend when both Arizona (9-3) and Dallas (8-4) lost games they were favored to win, the Packers beat the toughest foe left on their regular-season schedule … check this out:
Green Bay’s remaining 2014 regular-season games are as follows:
Home to Atlanta next Monday Night, at Buffalo, at Tampa Bay and home to Detroit.
Hmm, everyone was talking about New England’s seven-game win streak heading into this past Sunday’s game in Lambeau Field but it’s the Packers who could be eyeballing an eight-game SU (straight-up) winning streak when all the dust settles and a 13-3 mark almost assuredly would get Green Bay the numero uno seed in the NFC.
Now see why they were the “biggest winners”?
Meanwhile, let’s briefly touch on those aforementioned home teams that tumbled in NFL Week 13 play on Sunday:
BALTIMORE (7-5) – From the you-have-nobody-but-yourself-to-blame department, we bring you the Ravens who led all game long until San Diego QB Philip Rivers pitched a one-yard scoring strike to WR Eddie Royal with 38 seconds left in the Chargers’ 34-33 win.
The Ravens blew a 30-20 lead with 6:13 left even though QB Joe Flacco threw for 225 yards with two TDs and 0 INTs and even though RB Justin Forsett against exceeded the 100-yard rushing mark (24 carries for 106 yards) for the second time in a week.
Let’s face it:
John Harbaugh-coached teams don’t normally lose these types of game – especially at home – and now we’ll stay tuned to see if there’s a hangover effect in Miami this weekend.
Maybe this Ravens’ defense is, indeed, a tad overrated.
PITTSBURGH (7-5) – Go ahead and give partial blame for this 35-32 home loss to 3 ½-point underdog New Orleans on the right/throwing hand of Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger who threw for 435 yards (many in garbage time) but aired two critical interceptions.
Roethlisberger whacked his hand against the helmet of New Orleans LB Curtis Lofton late in the first quarter and he spent the better part of the next 2 ½ hours attempting to shake out the pain from the limb but what we want to know is how come the Steelers’ defense couldn’t get a grip while allowing four different touchdown drives that covered 79-or-more yards – the tackling was pathetic and the Steelers’ downfield coverage was abysmal.
And did you notice that Pittsburgh collected just one sack of Saints’ slinger Drew Brees (5 TD passes) and didn’t pick ‘em off once – and Brees has been chucking INTs left-and-right this year!
KANSAS CITY (7-5) – Just how costly was the Chiefs’ never-in-the-game 29-16 loss to Denver on Sunday night?
Well, for starters, KayCee fell to third place in the AFC West with a 1-3 mark in divisional play (having been swept by the Broncos this year) and they’ve now been chucked into the also-in-the-hunt teams with similar won/loss marks and the sked still includes road games in Arizona this Sunday and at Pittsburgh in Week 16 along with home tilts against Oakland and San Diego.
Maybe you can dump some of the blame for this no-show loss on head coach Andy Reid who’s forever being praised for this team’s work when either coming off a bye week or extra prep time – remember the Chiefs had not played since that ugly 24-20 loss in Oakland two Thursdays ago.
Reid had his offense throw the ball right out of the starting gate instead of allowing the team show it’s “true colors” and following a quick and empty game-opening possession there were the Broncos to pounce with an 8-play, 74-yard touchdown drive capped when QB Peyton Manning connected with WR Demaryius Thomas on a neat 23-yard corner route.
The crux of the matter is the Chiefs then surrendered another first-quarter TD and trailed 14-0 faster than you can say Hank Stram and thus it all but eliminated KC’s best player the rest of the way as RB Jamaal Charles wound up rushing the ball just 10 times (for 35 yards) along with four receptions worth 24 yards and even NBC game analyst Cris Collinsworth posed the question mid-fourth quarter that maybe the Chiefs shouldn’t have gone away from him so quickly just because they found themselves in an early hole.
Pin this loss partly on Reid and partly on an O-line that couldn’t protect QB Alex Smith – he was sacked six times in all but hit a bunch and maybe if Charles was rushing the ball 20-to-25 times then Smith wouldn’t have to be re-upping his life insurance policy today!
In other Week 13 News/Notes …
You can pretty much kiss the Tom Coughlin Era goodbye at year’s end – the inexplicable 25-24 loss in Jacksonville “featuring” follies galore by QB Eli Manning and Company should be the icing on the cake of what’s been a sorry season for the 3-9 Giants who now have lost seven in a row …
And memo to the Arizona Cardinals:
Nice try, but you guys are going nowhere fast with QB Drew Stanton running the show in Carson Palmer’s absence.
No doubt Arizona head coach Bruce Arians and his “next man up” approach sounds good in theory but Stanton’s been exposed the past couple of weeks and Sunday’s 29-18 loss in Atlanta proved the career backup is a mere imposter.
Okay, we know he didn’t have injured WR Larry Fitzgerald and – for most of this game – didn’t have the services of do-everything RB Andre Ellington who suffered a first-half hip injury and never returned to the field but Stanton’s phony numbers – see 24-of-39 for 294 yards with one TD and 2 INTs – ain’t fooling us.
The question now is can the Cards win another game as their sked says home to Kansas City, at St. Louis, home to Seattle and at San Francisco.
Got a feeling the mouthy Arians would “sign for” 10 wins right now and a wild card berth.
And now hear this …
My handicappers and bloggers have everything all mapped out for tonight’s NFL Week 13 tilt in the Meadowlands between the Miami Dolphins at the New York Jets and you can get the Side & Totals winners when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or right here online at www.jimhurley.com.
Go ahead and close out a great Jim Hurley Turkey Shoot with Dolphins-Jets plus get all the basketball action all week long!
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT
Hey, whatever you do, please don’t dare suggest there is a “dominant” team in our midst when it comes to the right here/right now College Football season.
We know that the College Football Playoff rankings – out Tuesday night for the penultimate time before getting its final announcement come 12:45 p.m. ET this Sunday – will feature Alabama at #1, Oregon at #2 and Florida State at #3 but we have little doubt that there are 10-to-15 teams in the country that on the right day could beat any one of these “super-powers” but we will salute the Oregon Ducks for a job well done this past weekend as Heisman Trophy now-runaway frontrunner QB Marcus Mariota threw for 367 yards and 4 TDs and rushed for another 39 yards and two scores in that 47-19 Civil War win at Oregon State and hope you caught ‘em high-hurdling that one defender that was left in the dust!
As far as ‘Bama – sure the Crimson Tide got “mission accomplished” with its 55-44 win/cover against 10-point pup Auburn in the latest edition of the Iron Bowl but this is Nick Saban’s worst defense in six or seven years in Tuscaloosa and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
The Tide’s a good team in an overrated SEC and – dare we say – won’t make it to this year’s inaugural CFP championship game … trust us.
As far as #3 Florida State, it’s SOS time as in “Same Old Story” as QB Jameis Winston helps dig the Seminoles a big first-half hole and then fights his way out of it.
The four-INT outing (three of the picks thrown in the first quarter alone) didn’t stop FSU from stealing a 24-19 non-cover win against 7-point dog Florida but follow our little theory for just a moment here when it comes to Florida State:
If this was the “old system” in place – re: The Bowl Championship Series utilized between 1997-2013 – then there would be zero doubt that an unbeaten power conference team such as 12-0 Florida State (a 4-point fav against Georgia Tech in this weekend’s ACC Championship Game) would be landing one of the berths in the BCS title game but here the committee’s doing everything in its power to nudge the ‘Noles right out of the playoff picture and what do they tell Florida State if/when it loses this weekend to G-Tech?
“You’re outta here”!
Wait, then why should all those other one-loss teams have a crack at playing for all the marbles come January 12?
Finally, we believe – as do most of the TV talking heads who checked in last Saturday night (see ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit and Todd Blackledge) that TCU will garner the #4 spot in this week’s rankings and gotta agree simply because Baylor was so darn vulnerable in its 48-46 non-cover win against four-TD dog Texas Tech.
Heck, even a 17-to-20 point win there by Baylor would have had us backing the Bears, but not now.
So, who might swing a “power play” on this final week of action?
Heck, the only answer we come up with is … Baylor. After all, the Bears (10-1, 7-1 in Big 12 play) could make an 11th-hour plea if they whip visiting Kansas State this Saturday night in Waco.
If Baylor beats K-State – let’s say – 48-14 – then look for ‘em to squeeze into that fourth spot ahead of one-loss TCU (10-1, 7-1) and ahead of potentially one-loss Ohio State (11-1, 8-0 in Big 10 play) which gets Wisconsin in this Saturday’s conference title game while playing with a third-stringer at quarterback.
Finally, hope you noticed that six of the top nine teams in this latest CFP standings failed to cover the Las Vegas pointspread in their Thanksgiving weekend games … only #1 Alabama, #2 Oregon and #5 TCU “got the cash”.
NOTE: Catch more College Football Notes plus our Heisman Trophy Watch List in the next edition of Jim Sez.