Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, November 28, 2011 at 9:33 AM
Wanna know something funny about the state of the NFL?
There were nine quarterbacks starting in Week 12 games that were not opening-day starters and yet when a fuss was made on NBC's post-game show Sunday Night following Pittsburgh's sticky 13-9 non-cover win against Kansas City (more about that in a moment or two) not a peep was made about Denver QB Tim Tebow - heck, he wasn't a starter when this current campaign all swung into action!
However, the recent high-profile losses of Houston QB Matt Schaub and Chicago QB Jay Cutler and even Kansas City slinger Matt Cassel all have come under scrutiny the past 48 hours or so simply because both the Bears and Chiefs don't look anything like their old selves with the likes of Caleb Hanie and Tyler Palko running the show in Chitown and KayCee, respectively.
Don't you agree?
Meanwhile, Tebow Mania continues to sweep the NFL nation as the Broncos (6-5) went deep into overtime - like 14 minutes and 31 seconds into the extra 15-minute session - to secure their fourth consecutive win and now Denver's a delicious 5-1 SU (straight-up) and 5-1 ATS (against the spread) with Tebow in the starting role.
Hey, the 37-yard game-winning field goal by PK Matt Prater made all the late-night highlight reels but it was Tebow and the threat of his runs that really kept the San Diego Chargers' defense on its collective heels in that drive that started on Denver's 43-yard line following a field goal miss by SD's Nick Novak - and the Bolts kicker can point the real finger of blame at head coach Norv Turner who called for a wide run on third down that lost four yards and thus pushed the FG attempt back to a 53-yard.
Brilliant stuff, coach, and we would have fired you right on the spot!
When the dust settled on Denver's latest Tebow-led win, the lefty quarterback had compiled 143 yards passing and 67 yards rushing - nothing to write home about, we know - but no doubt his option moves allowed for RB Willis McGahee (23 carries for 117 yards) to flourish and whether you mock this offense or not the fact remains Tebow keeps winning and the Broncos believe in him.
It's on to Minnesota and the chase to catch Oakland (7-4) atop the AFC West.
In other NFL Week 12 News & Notes ...
As stated a moment ago, the quarterback situation in Houston just got a little bit crazier over the weekend. In short, the Matt Leinart "Era" didn't last so long!
Leinart wound up on the sidelines with his left (passing) arm in a sling following a shoulder/collarbone injury suffered in the second quarter of the Texans' 20-13 win/cover against 6-point home underdog Jacksonville. The thought process was that Leinart would play out the regular season for the Texans (8-3) with Schaub supposedly back in time for the playoffs but those dudes are down now and so welcome to the T.J. Yates Era ... or maybe the Brodie Croyle Era ... or maybe even the Brett Favre Era. Nah!
Houston won - and maintained its two-game lead over Tennessee (6-5) in the horrid AFC South - on a day when RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate combined to rush for only 91 yards and how about the fact that Gary Kubiak's club finished with 9 first downs, a 2-of-15 success rate on third-down plays and nearly as many penalty yards (80) as rushing yards (88).
Did someone utter the phrase "survive-and-advance"?
Finally, the Steelers survived that aforementioned Sunday Night clash with the Chiefs in Kansas City even though Pittsburgh didn't record a touchdown in the game's final 40 minutes and 53 seconds - it helped that KC wide-out Dwayne Bowe made zero effort to catch or knock that that final ill-fated Palko pass that wound up being the lefty's third pick on the night as Pittsburgh DB Keenan Lewis made the game-sealing theft.
So, the Steelers (8-3) stay in step with Baltimore even though the Ravens (also 8-3) hold that all-important tie-breaker thanks to the season series sweep. And one thing that the Pittsburghers had to like in the four-point win at Arrowhead Stadium was so many young folks stepped to the fore following that first-quarter head injury suffered by S Troy Polamalu (he never did return) and hats off to S Ryan Mundy who registered 11 tackles including eight solo stops - as the defensive assembly line never runs out of good players for the Steelers!
Now, let's take a look at the NFL Week 12 Monday Night Football Preview ...
NEW YORK GIANTS (6-4) at NEW ORLEANS (7-3) - 8:35 p.m. ET, ESPN
It's all about mood swings in the NFL: The host Saints come into this prime-time affair quite upbeat following a pair of pre-game divisional wins against Tampa Bay and Atlanta - while the visiting Giants are back to their soul-searching mode after back-to-back close losses to Philly and San Francisco and you know that all the New York City tabloids are filling up with talk about yet another second-half-of-the-season free-fall for Tom Coughlin's club.
Well, if the Giants wish to turn around their sagging fortunes, QB Eli Manning (18 TDs and 9 INTs) must stay sharp behind a reshuffled O-line that will be missing LT Will Beatty while the Saints must get QB Drew Brees (23 TDs and 11 INTs) some time to set up and throw against a NYG defense that's tied for most sacks in the NFL (31).
One X-factor at work here:
The Saints actually rank eighth in the league in yards-per-carry average (4.6 yards per carry) and the bye week allowed former Heisman Trophy winner RB Mark Ingram extra time to rest some bumps/bruises ... might he get 25-or-so pops here right up the gut against a quick Giants D-line? Stay tuned.
Spread Notes - The NY Giants have failed to cover five of their last six games following a 3-1 ATS start. Note the Jints are 27-14 vig-wise away dating back to the start of the 2007 season. Meanwhile, New Orleans is 6-4 against the odds overall this 2011 season but the Saints are just 6-9-1 ATS in non-NFC South games the past year-and-change.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL UPDATE
Hope you checked out our Jim Sez columns late last week - we told you that the Dayton Flyers (5-1) was a "team to watch" in the Thanksgiving week/weekend Old Spice Classic in Orlando and they did not disappoint: The Flyers won the title thanks to wins against Wake Forest, Fairfield and Minnesota with Sunday night's dominant 86-70 triumph over the 5-point favored Minny Golden Gophers the best showing of 'em all.
Note that Dayton drilled 12-of-27 triple tries in that title game affair - Minnesota, meanwhile, shot just 7-of-18 from trey-land - as five players finished in double figures for Dayton including star G Kevin Dillard (19 points, 10 assists and 7 steals) and F Chris Johnson (18 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists).
Dillard won the tourney's MVP award in what basically was a showcase tournament for a team that could make a big national splash this season.
Note that eight of Dayton's next nine games are at home beginning with Wednesday's tilt against Buffalo.NOTE: Catch our next Jim Sez with College Football updates and College Basketball action too.