JC’s Top Rope Report: NFL Week 14 Review

I’m sorry to disappoint those of you who want a 3,000 page report on Tim Tebow. It isn’t in the cards. Instead, it is our weekly review of NFL Action.

Team of the Week: New York Giants
-The Giants had many doubters heading into this week, with me being one of them. I just didn’t see how the Giants went into Dallas on Sunday night and pull off a win. Well, I shouldn’t have doubted Eli Manning. Eli lead another 4th quarter comeback that gave the Giants the lead. Then Jason Pierre-Paul, who has been a beast for the Giants all year, blocked a potential game tying field goal by Dan Bailey that sealed the victory for the Giants. The win gave the Giants 1st place in the NFC East. They now control their own destiny in the NFC East. Win out and the Giants are in the playoffs. After the Redskins at home this week, the Giants have the Jets “on the road” even though the game is in New York, then host the Cowboys to end the year. Even if the Giants lose to the Jets, they can still get in with a home win against Dallas. The Giants still have some flaws, specifically in their secondary, but this was a much needed win for a team that was losers of four straight heading into Sunday night.

Game of the Week: New York Giants 37  Dallas Cowboys 34
-These two put on a great shootout Sunday night. It was an entertaining back and forth affair. Even when the Cowboys went up 12 in the 4th quarter, you just knew the Giants still had a chance with the talent they have on offense. Is it time for another Romopocalypse in Dallas? On 3rd down with just over 2 minutes left, Romo over threw a wide open Miles Austin that would have sealed the game for the Cowboys. Instead Dallas gave the ball back to the Giants, and the Giants drove down the field to take the lead. Then Tom Coughlin iced Dallas kicker Dan Bailey, and it worked. Bailey made his first kick, but his second one was blocked. Can’t ask for a more dramatic ending. The game exposed flaws in both teams. Both secondaries had a couple blown coverages that lead to wide open WRs on deep TDs. This game had the most riding on it out of all the Week 14 games, and it delivered with some good football and drama at the end.

Dog of the Week: Marion Barber, RB, Chicago Bears
-In a way you have to feel bad for Barber. With the Bears having the ball with under 2 minutes left against Denver, and the Broncos having no time outs, all Barber had to do was stay in bounds. On 2nd down, Barber ran to the outside. You could tell he was trying to fall before going out, but Barber was pushed out before that. It gave the Broncos more time than they should’ve had, and the Broncos got into field goal range. Then Barber appeared to have found a hole in overtime and was ready to walk into the end zone, but Elvis Dumervill got enough of Barber to strip the ball away from him. Everyone wants to talk about Tim Tebow, but if it wasn’t for Barber’s gaffes, the Bears win this game. Barber had a good game, running for 108 yards and a touchdown in place of injured Matt Forte. But Barber will be remembered as the guy who lost the game for the Bears, and possibly killed their playoff chances in the process.

Other Week 14 News and Notes:
-I said last week that I liked the Jets chances of getting the last Wild Card spot in the AFC. Well, now the Jets control their own destiny. The Jets whooped the Chiefs on Sunday and saw every other team competing with them for the last Wild Card spot lose. The Titans lost a close one at home against the Saints. You have to commend the play of Titans rookie QB Jake Locker in that one as well. The Bengals lost in the final seconds to the Texans at home, and the Raiders looked like a JV team against the Packers. The Jets schedule isn’t easy: at Philadelphia, home to the Giants and at Miami. The Jets could just as easily lose their next two games if the Eagles play like they did against Miami. But the Jets offense continues to improve every week as Mark Sanchez continues to quiet his critics. The Jets know how to win in late December and I still think they get in, but it may come down to the final week of the season.

-Meanwhile, you have to think the Bears chances of landing a Wild Card spot are diminishing in the NFC. Without Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, the offense has managed to score 13 points in two games. A Bears team with those two stars beats the Broncos Sunday. They easily beat the Chiefs at home two weeks ago. The Bears defense is doing their part, but they can’t play offense. The Lions escaped a potential devastating loss to the Vikings which saw them blow a 3 touchdown lead. The Lions were also helped by a missed facemask on the final play of the game. The Falcons came back from 16 down to beat the Panthers in Carolina. Matt Ryan finally woke up and won that game for them. The Falcons and Lions now control their own destinies as far as the playoffs go. Both have tough games left. Atlanta has to go to New Orleans in two weeks. The Lions, meanwhile, go to Oakland, then host San Diego before going to Green Bay, with the Packers likely looking at a potential 16-0 season.

-Two more coaches were fired on Monday: Todd Haley in Kansas City and Tony Sparano in Miami. Sparano’s firing isn’t surprising. The Dolphins started 0-7 before winning 4 out of 5, but they looked awful in their loss to Philadelphia. The writing was on the wall for Sparano before the season started, when the Dolphins were openly talking to Jim Harbaugh before Sparano was even fired. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross will want to make a big time hire, but with GM Jeff Ireland supposedly staying, that would eliminate guys like Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden who would like to bring in their own personnel guys. If I was a betting man, I would say Jeff Fisher ends up in Miami. Todd Haley getting canned in Kansas City is a bit more surprising. It seemed possible after the Chiefs slow start, but then the Chiefs won four in a row. But then they went back to their old ways, losing another 4 games. Haley was also difficult to get along with if you are to believe some people. His hot head was evident at times on the sidelines. Scott Pioli is a Bill Belicheck disciple, so you might see someone from that coaching tree take over. Josh McDaniels? Doubtful, but can’t be ruled out. Kansas City is a place where I could see Brian Billick ending up for some reason.

Hey I’m Just Askin…
-Has Tampa Bay just quit on Raheem Morris?

-Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham?

-Is there anyone tougher in the NFL than Ben Roethlisberger?

-Can Alex Smith really lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl?

-Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning? Why can’t the Colts have both?

-Maybe Aaron Rodgers can make me look like a star WR too?

AFC PLAYOFF PICTURE
1. Houston Texans  10-3  vs Carolina
2. Baltimore Ravens  10-3  at San Diego
3. New England Patriots  10-3  at Denver
4. Denver Broncos  8-5  vs New England
5. Pittsburgh Steelers  10-3  at San Francisco
6. New York Jets  8-5  at Philadelphia
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7. Tennessee Titans  7-6  at Indianapolis
8. Cincinnati Bengals  7-6  at St. Louis
9. Oakland Raiders  7-6  vs Detroit

The big game this week is New England/Denver. A Broncos win gives them a shot at the 3 seed and the possibility to avoid Pittsburgh in the 1st round. The Jets have a tough match-up at Philly, which gives the Titans and Bengals a chance to catch-up to the Jets if they stumble with a couple of easy match-ups.

NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE
1. Green Bay Packers  13-0  at Kansas City
2. San Francisco 49ers  10-3  vs Pittsburgh
3. New Orleans Saints  10-3  at Minnesota
4. New York Giants  7-6  vs Washington
5. Atlanta Falcons  8-5  vs Jacksonville
6. Detroit Lions  8-5  at Oakland
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7. Chicago Bears  7-6  vs Seattle
8. Dallas Cowboys  7-6  at Tampa Bay

All of the NFC Playoff contenders have relatively easy match-ups this week except San Francisco. Detroit going to Oakland may be tough, but not if the Raiders keep up their horrid play. Look for the Packers to clinch the conference this week.

COACHING HOT SEAT!
With Jack Del Rio, Todd Haley, and Tony Sparano already fired, who might be next? Lets take a look.

1. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams
-After all of the progress made last year, it is disappointing to see the Rams struggle this year. Injuries have a lot to do with it, as well as a brutal schedule. Unfortunately Spags will probably take the bullet for the team. It is an intriguing job, with Sam Bradford at QB and a high draft pick coming.

2. Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
-It seems like Morris has just lost the trust of his players. They were blown out in Jacksonville, and they were the first team to give up over 30 points to the Jags, an it wasn’t just 30, it was 41. The Bucs were another team that showed promise last year but couldn’t build off of it. I don’t know who might want the Bucs job due to ownership issues. Expect a young coordinator.

3. Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts
-Sure, the Colts struggles have to do more with Peyton Manning than Caldwell, but if the Colts finish 0-16, you almost have to fire Caldwell. It is inexcusable to go a full season without a win. The Colts job is an attractive one, with the Colts having the #1 pick and Peyton Manning. Could Bill Cowher end up in Indianapolis? It is something to think about.

4. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
-Turner is doing everything he can to save his job in the last couple weeks. Two big blowout wins over lesser teams. This week will be telling with Baltimore coming to town. There were rumors of Turner’s departure being imminent at the end of the season, but if the Chargers win out, does it save Turner’s job?

5. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
-Reid is being thrown under the bus in Philadelphia. They got a nice win in Miami, but they need to beat the Jets and Cowboys coming up for Reid to feel really safe. This season was suppose to be a big one in Philly, but instead it’s been a big disappointment.

Three Games I’d Like to See Next Week
New England Patriots vs Denver Broncos: Brady vs Tebow. It’s every TV network’s dream.
Baltimore Ravens vs San Diego Chargers: Can the Chargers keep up their December magic?
Pittsburgh Steelers vs San Francisco 49ers: Will either team score a TD?

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

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