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.

Friday the 13th. Triskaidekophobes' worst nightmare. It's silliness. Like believing in the Texans as Super Bowl contenders.

So how did the Texans go from toppling the 10-1 Patriots one Sunday, to having the 4-8 Broncos humiliate them the next? That is what mediocrity is all about, Houston Texans style. Imagine how ugly it would have gotten had the Broncos not had to deal with the intimidation factor of playing under a closed roof on a gorgeous autumn afternoon. There was a surprising number of no shows for an 8-4 home team off of two quality wins. Coincidence? Certainly not entirely. Ticket holders who opted to stay away joined essentially the entire team in no-showing.

With their record 8-5 the odds still favor the Texans making the playoffs. Winning two of the remaining three games does the job (and secures other one of those cute little AFC South Champion banners!). Of course, the odds favored the Texans not trailing 31-3 at home at halftime to a Broncos' team that hadn't scored more than 24 points in any game all season. Winning one to finish 9-7 could mean a Wild Card. Yippee!

They are only three point underdogs at Tennessee Sunday. If the Texans' feeble pass rush can't pick it up the Texans' D figures to be D-stroyed again. Ryan Tannehill's career revival with the Titans has been astounding. What reasonable person would have believed that entering this game Tannehill would be playing better quarterback than Deshaun Watson over the last month? Defending Derrick Henry's power running is a big problem, and that has made Tannehill devastating in the play action passing game. Good chance the Texans will need to score more than 28 points to win. They last did so eight games ago in their 31-24 victory at Kansas City. The Titans look like the better team right now, but week to week in the NFL who knows.

As I put it on the radio show earlier this week, in an either or scenario which would you prefer: the Texans do win their division, maybe win a wild card weekend home game, and if they do then take a shot at not getting crushed at Baltimore again. OR…the Texans lose twice to the Titans, lose in Tampa, tumbling from 8-4 to an 8-8 playoff miss and Cal McNair decides to fire Bill O'Brien?

Tough spell for Astros

Given that Oakland wasn't a possibility, Gerrit Cole picking the Yankees is the Astros' worst case scenario. If you're thinking nine years 324 million dollars is nuts, of course nine years is crazy long, but the Yankees are a money printing machine. Forbes magazine estimate for 2018 had the Yankees generating roughly 300 million dollars more in revenue than did the Astros.

Another bottom line: with Cole the Yankees are markedly better, without him the Astros are markedly worse.

The Astros are in a payroll bind, hence the trade Carlos Correa rumblings. In isolation, trading Correa would be dumb. Yes he has proven brittle. But Correa is also super-talented, 25 years old, and for two more years in Major League Baseball terms, dirt cheap. Trade Correa for what? A desperate play to escape the 13 million dollar anvil that is Josh Reddick's 2020 contract? Offered for nothing in return the Astros have no takers for Reddick. As a must take in a Correa deal, Reddick would drive down the return the Astros could get.

The Astros would be seeking a cheap, multi-years team-controlled stud young starting pitcher for Correa. They're not getting one for him. Guys like the Dodgers' Walker Buehler, the Cardinals' Jack Flaherty, the Braves Mike Siroka, the Indians Shane Bieber, those teams wouldn't swap their guy for Correa straight up. They'd laugh at an Astro offer of Correa and Reddick. Reds' starter Luis Castillo's name has been thrown against the wall. He's had one really good full big league season. At 27 years old, Castillo isn't eligible for arbitration until 2021. Why would the Reds trade him for Correa who can walk as a free agent after the 2021 season? Mets starter Noah Syndegaard? Probably not available, and he can become a free agent the same time as Correa.

It's always easy to burn someone else's money, but the Astros' best play is keeping Correa and swallowing the Reddick 13 mil if necessary, rather than taking 70 cents on the dollar back in a trade. Jim Crane and his partners can make back any loss in profit margin during this Astros' window of excellence by cutting costs when the next rebuilding time comes around and/or by selling the team down the line for several times the 610 million dollars they paid to buy it.

Buzzer Beaters

1. If you can get a ticket, UH-Oklahoma St. at Fertitta Center is the place to be Sunday afternoon. 2. The NBA has captivated very few around here so far this season, but the relentlessness of James Harden's scoring pace (37.6 points per game) is stupefying. 3. Absurd actual phobias: Bronze-Somniphobia, fear of sleep Silver-Cherophobia, fear of happiness Gold-Arachibutyrophobia, the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth


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