NFL Week 13 Ups & Downs
Alright guys, I tried not to be biased. I tried to hold this in for as long as I could, but it can’t be denied now. My Bucs are playing winning football. By now, even if you’re not a fan of the team, you have noticed, right? They started the season 3-5 through the first eight games. Since then, they have won 4 straight games, including impressive wins in KC (AFC contenders), and at home against the Seahawks (NFC favorite?). But the most impressive win might be against the Chargers in San Diego. In that game, they lost two wide receivers and a tight end within the first half of the game. They rallied together, and under the leadership of Winston, came back to win the game. The defense has been MUCH improved (through the last three games they have only allowed 14.3 points to the Chargers, Seahawks and Chiefs). However, there are a lot of games left to be played and a Sunday night football game in Dallas looms in two weeks.
How can you not love this story? There are a lot of storylines in sports that make us love the road to the game, more than the game itself. Few surpass that of Eric Berry’s. Diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma, Berry has been back in the league for a bit. Although the emotional return of Berry may have passed, I would argue that Sunday was his biggest play since he has been back. With the Falcons scoring the touchdown to take the lead in the 4th, Quin decided to go for two in order to extend the lead to a 3-point lead. Berry picked off the pass and returned it 98 yards for two points and the lead. Later in discussing the play, Berry said he cried “before, after, and during”. Did I mention Georgia is his place of birth and Atlanta is the place where he had chemotherapy? Quite the story.
This team has quietly been winning often. On Sunday, they took one of the hottest teams to the woodshed. 38-6 is quite an impressive victory margin. The Ravens boast one of the leagues' best defenses, tied for 2nd in the NFL in interceptions with 14, and 12th in the league in sacks at 28 on the season. The Ravens defense has also only allowed 73 yards per game on the ground, a full ten yards less than the 2nd place team. With a defense that good, the offense can get away with not scoring much, which is exactly what the Ravens do. They only average 21.3 points per game, which is the lowest of the assumed “contenders.” However, they somehow continue to get the job done. New England on Monday night should prove to be the exact test needed to see just how good this team is.
Look, I don’t know if his first head coaching job could have gone any worse, but it sure seems like he got dealt the worst hand possible. At the beginning of the year we couldn’t have forseen the drastic decline of Revis, nor the atrocious play of Fitzpatrick (We knew he wasn’t great, but this bad?) Forte looked okay for the first half of the season, but now he is starting to show his age. Bowles made another mistake by not letting Fitz know he was benched for the rest of the season. Although a lot rests on his shoulders, scenarios like the defense didn't give him much to start with. Bowles shouldn’t have this job by years end, but I do believe he will get another job elsewhere, and he deserves at least that.
The game on Sunday against the Raiders reminds me of the famous coach meltdown by Dennis Green (former coach of the cardinals). He said, “They are who we thought they were, and we let them off the hook.” The Raiders definitely are who we thought they were, and the Bills truly did let them off the hook. The win would’ve put the Bills into elite company as one of the few teams that beat the Raiders all season. Instead, they let it slip through their fingertips. Up 24-9 in the 3rd quarter, the Bills allowed the Raiders to storm back and win the game 38-24. In the first half, the Bills controlled the tempo by rushing the ball and, owned the line of scrimmage. Then, after halftime, it disappeared. The Bills are still in decent shape for a wildcard berth, but don’t have what it takes to compete with the big dogs of the AFC.
Set aside the whole flag thing (which I won’t even address). He just wasn’t very good at Soldier Field on Sunday. He finished the day 1 of 5 for 4 yards and got sacked 5 times. The weather conditions were definitely rough in Chicago, but there’s no excuse for being THAT bad. The 49ers and Kaep will part ways this season, and Kaep may not have a ton of options as to where to go. Not sure any team wants to put up with the publicity that the whole kneeling thing brings. They didn’t put up with Tebow, why should they put up with Kaep?