Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NFL Homage: Week 14

Peter King, long-time Sports Illustrated writer, has a column titled Monday Morning Quarterback or MMQB. This is speculative hearsay as I have never read it. But that is the rumor. Similarly, Gregg Easterbrook, short-time ESPN.com author, has a column titled Tuesday Morning Quarterback or TMQ. This is factual, as I have seen the links to it, but have never read it. Supposedly TMQ is an homage to MMQB where, in both, the author summarizes the goings-on of the previous NFL week of games. Well, in the Sports Pinata, each week I will be writing a post about the previous slab of games, call it an homage to an homage as I am copying the idea, but as I have never read either man's work, don't know if I will be copying ideas. Let's hope not. On to week fourteen.

I owe Brad Childress an apology. Every week prior to his firing he would come to the microphone before games and say, "If Brett Favre is healthy, he will play. He gives us the best chance to win." Slightly paraphrased, that was the message. And every week, after seeing Favre throw a terrible late interception and get thrown down with another injury, I would call Brad Childress a liar. How could Favre give the Vikings the best chance to win?? Well, Brad. I'm sorry. You were right. I watched the Vikings play the Giants last night in Detroit and it was clear. You were right. THAT was why Childress kept saying what he said each press conference. Sorry, but now I know.

Tavaris Jackson starting wasn't the only story from last night's game. Eli Manning started his 100th consecutive game! He's never missed a start in his entire career! This guy is amazing.

Okay, but seriously, the Giants played the Vikings in Detroit and it wasn't even the craziest weather-related story of the weekend. Sure the game was pushed back a day and relocated because of some insane snow fall, but they still played inside. Somehow the New England Patriots managed to put up 36 more points in a dismantling of the first place Bears while the snow was coming down. The yard lines on the field were not even visible throughout the game. Apparently the Pats didn't need them.

If snowfall isn't your cup of tea, we also had a Jets - Dolphins game in a downpour where a punter was the game's best player. Miami punter Brandon Fields made sure his team won the field position battle. Not only did he average over 56 yards per boot, but he punted 10 times! I have no Elias Sports Bureau at my disposal to study such statistics, but this has to be one of the few times in football history a punter has accumulated over 500 yards of kicks in one game. He constantly switched field position for the Dolphins, allowing them to escape with a victory on a day their offense scored one touchdown and gained 131 total yards. Talk about winning ugly.

In other ugly news, Quentin Tarantino has a new movie coming out. Also, the games in week 14 had a theme to them. For the most part, they were all blowouts or offensively challenged. It was hard to find more than a couple well-played, reasonably high scoring games. Some were the result of the weather. Others were because of injuries to key players (see: Packers, Green Bay) but many more just had NFL players playing poorly. Here's week 14's best of the worst: the stars who sucked.

Quarterback - Aaron Rodgers. The number one fantasy quarterback on the season, by a comfortable margin, could get nothing going up until the moment he was knocked out of the game. He ended with 46 yards passing and a pick before leaving with a concussion. Rodgers killed many fantasy playoff dreams on Sunday, perfectly illustrating the unpredictability of fantasy football.

Running Back - Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles. On Sunday, Peterson was ready to go, hoping to be receiving hand-offs from Brett Favre. On Monday, with Tavaris Jackson behind center, the Vikings offense could do nothing. The Giants completely shut down the explosive Peterson, limiting him to 26 total yards. Meanwhile, on Saturday Jamaal Charles signed a brand new five-year $32.5 million contract. On Sunday, he too came up small in a game where his team needed him. The Chiefs ended up getting stomped by their division rival Chargers, lowering their lead to just a single game for the AFC West title. Charles ended with 49 total yards and, like the entire Chiefs roster, was not able to get in the end zone.

Wide Receiver - Calvin Johnson and Dwayne Bowe. Both Johnson and Bowe were casualties of the ugly Sunday we had in week 14. Johnson's Lions scored just 7 points but squeaked out a victory. Bowe's Chiefs, as previously mentioned, were shutout. Johnson fared slightly better than his counterpart, gaining 44 yards receiving and totally 5 fantasy points, while Bowe ended with under 10 yards from scrimmage, netting a dreaded zero for his owners. After being on fire for two months, Dwayne Bowe now has 3 yards gained in his last two games combined.

Tight End - Chris Cooley. Antonio Gates missed yet another game. His fellow NFL tight ends picked up some of the slack. A number of the top guys had nice games. Chris Cooley was not one of them. 22 yards gained in week 14 was Cooley's lowest yardage output of the season. He wasn't even targeted until a large chunk of the game had progressed. The Redskins were relying heavily on a tremendous day from Ryan Torain running the ball, but could have used Cooley to get in the endzone. Instead, they squandered another winnable game.

D/ST - Bears. The Chicago Bears are supposed to be the classic, rough, cold-weather defense. They breathe heavily, showing the cold in the air, yet wear short sleeves and have no fear in their eyes. That Bears team didn't show up to play on Sunday. To be fair, they may have retired a couple decades ago. But this current Bears team had been having a great season up until Tom Brady took the field. They should expect a nice rebound performance next week when they play against Tavaris Jackson and the Vikings, wherever the game ends up being played.

The New England Patriots are the lone team to have clinched a playoff berth. This, along with the many division games still remaining in the final weeks should set up so that all the best players are still trying their hardest in the fantasy playoffs. Perhaps the scheduling tweak worked to prevent resting players, or, more likely, it has just been one of those seasons.

I still don't have a Super Bowl match-up guess I am confident in.

This has been week fourteen's NFL homage to an homage.

(Same image used as previous NFL Homage posts)

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