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 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 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 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.
With a new season on the horizon, the Astros have high hopes for 2024 after coming just one game shy of being in the World Series for three consecutive seasons.
If Houston wants to get back to the Fall Classic in 2024, they're going to have to rely on their pitching. Owner Jim Crane believes the club has 8 starting pitchers when Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. return mid-season.
Which allows several of the starters to move to the bullpen and provide even more depth. Add those guys to Bryan Abreu, Ryan Pressly, and Josh Hader and you have a recipe for success.
Check out the video above as ESPN Houston's Jeremy Branham goes through the entire staff and makes his case for the Astros having the best pitching staff in baseball.
You can listen to The Killer B's with Jeremy Branham and Joel Blank every weekday on ESPN 97.5 & 92.5 from 3 pm - 6 pm!