NFL Week 13 Observations

NFL Week 13: Good, bad and ugly

Rod Mar, seahawks.com

Week 13 in the NFL is in the books. With that, we are now 75% into the season with 25% left (I'm good at math). Here are my observations:

The Good

-The Seahawks have gone from the #5 seed to the #2 seed in the NFC. Not only did they benefit from their 37-30 win over the Vikings, but the 49ers loss to the Ravens as well. They ran for 218 yards against the Vikings which is the most rushing yards they've given up since Week 1 of the 2015 season. I was just as impressed with their dance routine touchdown celebration.

-The Miami Dolphins were thought to be "tanking for Tua" when the season started. Since then, they've won three games and are in "danger" of falling out of the top five in the draft. They managed to dash any hope the Eagles had left of salvaging their season with a 37-31 win. They also had a play of the year candidate with a fake field goal. The formation itself was weird enough, but the punter throwing a touchdown pass to the kicker was pretty cool. Kudos to Brian Flores for not letting his team flounder.

-The Steelers beat the Browns 20-13 and are currently in the #6 seed in the AFC. Despite losing Ben Roethlisberger for the season and getting rid of Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, they're in the hunt. The game with the Browns was up for grabs at halftime tied at 10. That's when players say head coach Mike Tomlin drew up a new defensive game plan on the board. They credit him with saving the game. Tomlin was asked about it after the press conference and deflected the question. The class in which he carries himself and his ability to keep his team in contention year in and year out make him one of my favorite coaches. He's a coach of the year candidate in my opinion.

The Bad

-The Broncos were 3-8 and going nowhere fast when they hosted the 4-7 and underperforming Chargers. The game was tied at 20 after the Chargers kicked a field goal with 14 seconds left. After returning the kick to the 28, the Broncos were still about 40 or so yards away from field goal range. Drew Lock threw up a prayer and it was answered in the form of a pass interference call that set them up for the game winning field goal. The only good thing about this is that neither team will sniff the playoffs. Horrible ending decided by the refs.

-The Raiders may have pissed away their playoff chances with another dud of a performance. Though they outgained the Chiefs in total yards (332 to 259), they still lost 40-9. If I told you a team held the Chiefs to 259 yards and the final score was 40-9, you'd think they blew the Chiefs out. Well when you turn the ball over three times and set up the other team for easy scores, the result looks a lot different.

-The Cowboys lost 26-15 to the Bills on Thanksgiving. Despite their 6-6 record, they're still in the lead of the NFC East! The 5-7 Eagles and 3-9 Redskins still have a shot at winning the division! This division is like picking your favorite disease when looking at who you want to win it. I wish the NFL would disqualify the winner from the playoffs, or make them play one of the wildcard winners on the road.

The Ugly

-The Panthers came into their game with the Redskins with a chance to keep their playoff hopes on life support and managed to pull the plug. Not only did their once vaunted defense give up 248 yards rushing to a two win team, but their quarterback had perhaps the worse play of their season. On 4th&Goal from the three yard line with :27 left on the clock, Kyle Allen had a wide open receiver to his right. Instead, he decided to continuously drop back, got sacked for a loss of 23 yards and fumbled. And this is whom they are thinking of replacing Cam Newton with?

-Browns coach Freddie Kitchens decided to wear a "Pittsburgh started it" shirt earlier in the week of the rematch with the Steelers. The shirt was in reference to the infamous brawl at the end of their first matchup with their division rival. The Browns went on to lose 20-13 to the Steelers who were led by their third string quarterback nicknamed Duck. Kitchens wasn't a good hire to begin with and his seat should be hotter than fish grease by now given their 5-7 record.

-The Jags are now 4-8 and look like a mess after their 28-11 loss to the Bucs. They spent big money to sign quarterback Nick Foles in the offseason. Foles was hurt much of the season after the third play of the season and rookie backup Gardner Minshew took over. Foles has since come back, but was benched during the Bucs game in favor of Minshew who was named starter for the rest of the season. After all the trouble last season and the start of this season (including the trade of Jalen Ramsey), this team is a complete cluster-bleep.

Four games left in the season and no more bye weeks. It's time for teams to make their final runs into the playoffs. Buyer better beware because there are teams out there that can't sniff the playoffs and would love to play spoiler. I love seeing the teams that believe they're playoff bound get tripped up and/or eliminated by a team that'll most likely be picking in the top half of the draft. Here's when you know what your team will potentially look like in the playoffs, or what they may need to draft or sign in the offseason, or both. Either way, the stretch run is much better now that we get division games in Week 17, and there are several of those matchups that will keep us tuned in until the final whistle of the regular season.

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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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