What have we learned - Week 13
College football gave us some exciting games, even if Penn State wasn't playing. Oklahoma hung 60 on yet another team, but Oklahoma State was in it for most of the game. Texas blasted Texas A&M by 40, while Texas Tech had to come back against Baylor, of all teams. I wonder if these offensive explosions that are going on in the Big XII speak more to the absolutely atrocious defense the teams played. I watched a lot of the most exciting Big XII game of the weekend, Kansas-Missouri, and nobody could freakin' tackle! I get that the spread offense gets players in space, but when the teams actually had a chance to tackle, they failed. The best defenses in the top 10 are at Alabama, USC, and Penn State. I'll be very curious to see the Big XII team that plays (possibly) Alabama in the MNC. Will those dynamic offenses look pedestrian against teams that know how to play defense? In second-class conference news, Cincinnati won the Big East, and Boston College plays Virginia Tech for the ACC Championship. None of those teams deserve to play in a BCS bowl. I'm sorry, people like Woody!, but it's true. The only times Penn State has played in a BCS game is when they were 11-1, so I can't say I've said this before with regard to them winning the Big Eleven with an 8-4 record, but if they did, they wouldn't deserve it either. Maybe next week, when the bowl games are set (go UCLA!), I'll break down some of the college teams a bit more and demonstrate why Penn State got hosed. That's my whole point when writing about colleges, right?
Philadelphia 48, Arizona 20.
I watched one football game this weekend. This was it. Andy Reid seems to always figure out about this time of year that he needs to run the ball, and the Eagles do fine. McNabb is calm in the pocket, finds receivers, and doesn't get killed because he's not dropping back too often. Brian Westbrook piles up yardage, and they're able to destroy teams late because their opponents are worn out. And then, every September, Reid forgets that this was a good plan and spends two months getting his quarterback beaten up. Sheesh. The Eagles will need a bit of a miracle to make the playoffs, because they have to play their three NFC East competitors and Cleveland (okay, that should be a gimme, but who the hell knows), but if they play like they did on Thursday night, they might do it. And I know it was the Cardinals, but I'm talking about the game plan, not the opponent. Their game plan on Thursday will work against almost anyone. Arizona, meanwhile, will win the division but won't get out of the second round. They simply don't (wait for it!) run the ball enough. Still, the home playoff game they get in the first round should be fun, because it will be their first home playoff game since 1947 and the fans will be nuts.
DeSean Jackson update! 6 catches for 76 yards and 1 touchdown; 1 rush for 6 yards; 3 punt returns for 11 yards. For the season: 53 catches for 775 yards and 2 touchdowns; 14 rushes for 97 yards; 41 punt returns for 382 yards.
Turnovers: Cardinals 4, Eagles 1. Turnovers = loss? Kurt Warner threw two interceptions in the first quarter when the game was still in doubt, so yeah, I'd say so. 1-0.
Tennessee 47, Detroit 10.
Please, take Detroit off Thanksgiving. Apparently it might be coming in 2010 or '11, when the collective bargaining agreement comes up again. Hallelujah!
Turnovers: Lions 3, Titans 1. Turnovers = loss? Hell yes. 2-0.
Dallas 34, Seattle 9.
Seattle kicked a field when trailing in the third quarter 24-6. You're kidding me, right?
Turnovers: Seahawks 2, Cowboys 1. Turnovers = loss? For once, the Cowboys won the turnover battle and the game. 3-0.
San Francisco 10, Buffalo 3.
People in Buffalo (and on-line) are blaming Rian Lindell, the Bills' kicker, for blowing the game by missing two short field goals. The last time I checked, field goals were worth three points each, and the Bills lost by seven. You know, Buffalo, if you can't beat San Francisco at home with your playoff lives on the line, perhaps you should look elsewhere than the kicker if you want to blame someone.
Turnovers: 49ers 1, Bills 1. Turnovers = loss? It's a wash.
Baltimore 34, Cincinnati 3.
The one-win Bengals kicked a field goal to end the half when trailing 13-0. You have one win - go for the touchdown! In astonishing offensive news, the Ravens are lighting up the scoreboard with a rookie quarterback. A quarterback who played for a Division 1-AA school, I might add. Dang.
Turnovers: Bengals 1, Ravens 0. Turnovers = loss? The numbers don't lie!
Indianapolis 10, Cleveland 6.
No offensive played scored a touchdown in this game. What the hell, Payton Manning? The Colts have won five in a row, all by less than a touchdown. Man, that's living on the edge. And who will play quarterback for the Browns now? Both Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn are out. I honestly don't know. The fans cheered Anderson when he got hurt, by the way. That's classy!
Turnovers: Colts 3, Browns 2. Turnovers = loss? The numbers say no, but the only touchdown came on a fumble recovery for the Colts' win. 3-1.
Carolina 35, Green Bay 31.
This looked like an entertaining game. I should have watched some of it!
Turnovers: Packers 2, Panthers 1. Turnovers = loss? Looks that way! 4-1.
Miami 16, St. Louis 12.
This game, on the other hand, I'm glad I missed. Man, what a stinker.
Turnovers: Rams 3, Dolphins 1. Turnovers = loss? As usual with the Rams, yes. 5-1.
Tampa 23, New Orleans 20.
This was another entertaining game that I missed. Apparently it was played in a monsoon. Must have been fun!
Turnovers: Saints 3, Buccaneers 1. Turnovers = loss? One of the Tampa interceptions was a tipped ball that another dude plucked out of the air in his own end zone. Cool stuff. And yes. 6-1.
New York Giants 23, Washington 7.
I like how that, all evidence to the contrary, people claim you need superstars on your team. Who is New York's best pure receiver? Plaxico Burress. Where was he on Sunday? Somewhere nursing a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Good move, Plaxico! Did the Giants miss a beat? Not at all. Damn them!
Turnovers: Washington 2, Giants 1. Turnovers = loss? You bet! 7-1.
Atlanta 22, San Diego 16.
According to the GM of the Chargers, Norv Turner's job is safe. At 4-8, I wonder if Norv wants to coach the team anymore? LaDanian Tomlinson is clearly weakening, and everyone else is getting older, too. Man, they stink. Meanwhile, Matt Ryan continues to resurrect the Falcons. Who woulda thunk it?
Turnovers: Falcons 3, Chargers 0. Turnovers = loss? Surprisingly, no. 7-2.
Pittsburgh 33, New England 10.
The Matt Cassell honeymoon ended abruptly, didn't it? I watched some of the first half. What happened in the second half that turned this into a blowout? Wow.
Turnovers: Cheaters 5, Steelers 1. Turnovers = loss? Oh, I guess that's what happened. 8-2.
Denver 34, New York Jets 17.
R. C. Favre couldn't play defense, and the Broncos smacked the Jets around, mainly by using the guy who blocked for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones at Arkansas, Peyton Hillis. He was just slamming through their run defense. The first touchdown of the game was humorous - a bunch of Jets stood around watching the Broncos recover a fumble and take it to the house. Later, Thomas Jones appeared to go down, but he really just landed on the back of a defender. He got up (he wasn't technically down) and kept going. A bunch of Denver defenders stood around looking at him. It's equal-opportunity laziness!
Turnovers: Jets 2, Broncos 1. Turnovers = loss? You bet. 9-2.
Kansas City 20, Oakland 13.
The fake Oakland field goal that turned into a touchdown for Kansas City is one of the funniest plays you will ever see. Shane Lechler, the holder, tossed it between his legs, like a snap, and Sebastian Janikowski, not the most athletic dude on the planet, couldn't handle it and basically knocked it right to the Chiefs player. That's good stuff!
Turnovers: Raiders 2, Chiefs 1. Turnovers = loss? Sure! 10-2.
Minnesota 34, Chicago 14.
Another game I skipped, but the 99-yard touchdown pass was pretty sweet, mainly because absolutely no one touched Bernard Berrian before or after he caught the pass. That has to be the easiest longest-touchdown-in-NFL-history in NFL history.
Turnovers: Bears 3, Vikings 1. Turnovers = loss? That, and turning the ball over on downs at the Minnesota 1, setting the stage for the 99-yard touchdown. 11-2.
Houston 30, Jacksonville 17. Boy, I bet this game looked good for ESPN in August! An up-and-coming team against a tough playoff team in the same division! Ratings gold! That's why the NFL is awesome. Who the hell knows who's going to be good?
Turnovers: Jaguars 3, Texans 1. Turnovers = loss? I suppose. 12-2.
Well, I skipped last week, which means I'll have to go back and check the stats soon, but even if we skip that week, teams that turn the ball over less are still 110-31-1. That's pretty decisive!
Now, let's check out the turnover margins and how it relates to victory!
Tennessee: 12 turnovers, +13 margin, 11-1 record.
New York Giants: 11 turnovers, +10 margin, 11-1 record.
Miami: 10 turnovers, +10 margin, 7-5 record.
Baltimore: 16 turnovers, +7 margin, 8-4 record.
Chicago: 20 turnovers, +6 margin, 6-6 record.
Cleveland: 17 turnovers, +6 margin, 4-8 record.
Indianapolis: 14 turnovers, +5 margin, 8-4 record.
Carolina: 16 turnovers, +5 margin, 8-4 record.
Kansas City: 18 turnovers, +5 margin, 2-10 record.
Pittsburgh: 15 turnovers, +4 margin, 9-3 record.
Green Bay: 16 turnovers, +4 margin, 5-7 record.
Oakland: 16 turnovers, +4 margin, 3-9 record.
Tampa: 21 turnovers, +3 margin, 9-3 record.
Washington: 12 turnovers, +2 margin, 7-5 record.
Arizona: 23 turnovers, +2 margin, 7-5 record.
Philadelphia: 21 turnovers, +1 margin, 6-5-1 record.
Atlanta: 14 turnovers, -1 margin, 8-4 record.
New York Jets: 22 turnovers, -1 margin, 8-4 record.
Minnesota: 23 turnovers, -1 margin, 7-5 record.
New Orleans: 21 turnovers, -1 margin, 6-6 record.
San Diego: 16 turnovers, -2 margin, 4-8 record.
New England: 20 turnovers, -3 margin, 7-5 record.
Cincinnati: 21 turnovers, -3 margin, 1-10-1 record.
Buffalo: 23 turnovers, -4 margin, 6-6 record.
Jacksonville: 19 turnovers, -4 margin, 4-8 record.
Dallas: 21 turnovers, -5 margin, 8-4 record.
Seattle: 19 turnovers, -5 margin, 2-10 record.
Houston: 25 turnovers, -8 margin, 5-7 record.
Detroit: 23 turnovers, -9 margin, 0-12 record.
St. Louis: 25 turnovers, -10 margin, 2-10 record.
Denver: 23 turnovers, -11 margin, 7-5 record.
San Francisco: 28 turnovers, -13 margin, 4-8 record.
Next week: Will I have another snit? Only the Eagles know for sure!