FOOTBALL RECAP

NFL Week 11 observations: The good, bad and ugly

Case Keenum has the Vikings rolling. Vikings.com

There are still some questions left to be answered. Are teams like the L.A. Rams, New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles for real? Can the Buffalo Bills pick back up where they left off with the change at quarterback? Weekends like this make football addicting!

The Good

-The Minnesota Vikings are starting their backup quarterback Case Keenum and haven’t missed a beat. Credit their stellar defense and Keenum’s superb play for keeping the wheel rolling as they beat the Los Angeles Rams 24-7. The Rams entered the game with the league’s best offense and a good defense. Keenum and the Vikings made them look very subpar.

-The New Orleans Saints became the first team to start 0-2, and win 8 straight. Their 34-31 overtime win against the Washington Redskins was nothing short of a miracle. Down 31-16 with less than six minutes left, the Saints managed to tie the game thanks to a key stop on third and short, as well as an intentional grounding call that went their way. They may be legit contenders this season, and it’s mainly due to a much improved defense along with a commitment to the run.

-The Detroit Lions are now 6-4 following a 27-24 victory over the Chicago Bears. Averaging less than 90 yards rushing per game, the burden has fallen on quarterback Matt Stafford’s shoulders. After signing the richest contract in league history, many questioned whether or not Stafford was worth the money. If the Lions can get anything from the run game and defense, Stafford could lead them to the playoffs.

The Bad

-The Oakland Raiders lost to the New England Patriots 33-8 in Mexico City. Considered preseason contenders, the Raiders are now 4-6 and look like a run of the mill team. They have talent on both sides of the ball, but haven’t been able to put it together this season. In two years, they’re leaving Oakland for Las Vegas. Making such a move, it would be nice to have a winning team. But because they play in the AFC West, they’re still alive.-Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota threw 4 interceptions Thursday night in a 40-17 throttling at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Time of possession, total yards, and penalty yards were all similar. If the Titans are to be taken seriously, Mariota can’t have games like that, even if it is on a short week.

-The Kansas City Chiefs started off this year 5-0 with two early contenders for MVP. Following Sunday, they’re 6-4 after losing 12-9 to the 1-8 (now 2-8) New York Giants. Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s teams have been very good coming off a bye week. This time, it seems as if his team has stayed cold losing 4 of the last 5.

The Ugly

-The Green Bay Packers were shut out by the Ravens 23-0. The Ravens forced 5 turnovers (3 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries) in the victory. The Packers are now 5-5 on the season and have their franchise quarterback due to return towards the end of the season. His return won’t be needed if they keep playing this way.

-The Buffalo Bills thought it would be a good idea to start rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman instead of veteran Tyrod Taylor. Peterman went on to throw 5 interceptions in the first half and the Bills went to Taylor to start the second half, but were already down 37-7.

- What the hell was Pete Carroll thinking?!? The Seattle Seahawks coach went for a fake field goal with 7 seconds left in the first half down by 7 on the Atlanta Falcons’ 21 yard line. Considering they were getting the ball back after halftime, that was a bad move. That same field goal was the one they needed at the end of the game as they lost 34-31.

As the playoff picture becomes clearer and the season enters the home stretch, things will continue to be looked at with more scrutiny. A play here or there could cost a team a playoff spot (looking right at you Pete Carroll).

In more serious news, former Patriots and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terry Glenn died in a car crash on Monday. Former quarterback Drew Bledsoe called Glenn the best receiver he ever threw to. In a season filled with so many surprises and parity, this news hits hard as the season is in full swing. I watched Glenn from his days at Ohio State on through the balance of his NFL career. When I heard of his passing, I had to pull over. It’s hard watching a guy’s career from its infancy to its culmination, only to learn of his tragic passing following a car accident. We don’t know how much time in our lives we have until we punch the ultimate clock. Let’s try to spend it doing good and leaving this crazy world a better place.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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