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2012 NFL Week 15 Remix by Lloyd Vance

Posted by Lloyd Vance | Leave a comment »

The Seattle Seahawks (rookie QB Russell Wilson pictured) were one of many NFL teams making their push toward the playoffs in Week 15

(Philadelphia, PA) — Week 15 of the 93rd NFL Season is in the books and even though the NFL’s slogan for the 2012 season is “Back to Football”, it should really be “This is One Wacky Season!!” From week to week fans have no idea where the next upset, game-winning field goal, or team entering/leaving the playoff race will come from next.  Remember what former Colts head coach Tony Dungy said about professional football this time of the year, “NFL football is really still about December”.

The good thing was the National Football League helped provide a diversion from the tragic events in Newtown, CT that gripped the nation and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and survivors.  This week brought some Blowouts (Seahawks thumping the Bills up North in Toronto; Falcons dominating the NY Giants; the Saints ending the Bucs playoff hopes with a pasting; the Cardinals finally winning in a big way over the Lions; The Panthers sending the Chargers further into the Abyss and even the Raiders shutting out the Chiefs); Thankfully the ending of some ugly football (As Cardinals, Saints, Panthers, and Titans all got “W’s”), playoff clinching moments (Niners and Ravens); Thrilling finishes (Cowboys came back to win in OT over the Steelers; The Niners went to Foxborough and won a game no one gave them a chance to win  despite a great comeback by the Patriots); and Some teams staying alive with playoff hopes in their eyes (Bengals, Redskins, Cowboys, and Vikings).

With cries of “And Down the Stretch They Come” in the air.  By design or mere coincidence, “Parity” has caused almost every game in the final three weeks of this season to have playoff implications. It is now crunch time around the NFL and there is little time left to secure one of the league’s 12 coveted playoff berths.  Though the Falcons, Texans, Patriots, Broncos, Niners, Packers, and Ravens are all already in the playoffs, there are 14 teams still vying for the 5 remaining playoff spots up for grabs with two weeks left in the season.  Hopefully Week 16 of the NFL season will bring some much-needed clarity to a jumbled playoff picture, but we will have to wait-and-see as teams already out of the mix like the Carolina Panthers (5-9) are still playing hard.

In looking at the current NFL standings here’s the breakdown: The “Elite”, who are looking like they are ready for the playoffs – Falcons (12-2), Texans (12-2), Broncos (11-3), Niners (10-3-1), Packers (10-4), and Patriots (10-4); “Teams on the Cusp”, who are either in or close to the postseason  — Ravens (9-5), Colts (9-5), Seahawks (9-5), Redskins (8-6), Bengals (8-6), and Vikings (8-6); “Stuck in the Middle” inconsistent teams, who are caught in the NFL’s parity-filled middle and either need to join the playoff hunt or fall back – Giants (8-6), Cowboys (8-6), Steelers (7-7), Rams (6-7-1), Dolphins (6-8), Bucs (6-8), NY Jets (6-8), and Saints (6-8); The current glut of “Pretenders”, who are only a shade away from the league’s bottom rung – Chargers (5-9), Bills (5-9), Titans (5-9), Cardinals (5-9), Panthers (5-9), and Browns (5-9); and lastly the “Putrid” (i.e. These teams should just skip to the 2013 NFL Draft) – Lions (4-10), Raiders (4-10), Eagles (4-10), Chiefs (2-12), Jaguars (2-12)

As we move closer to end of the weeks that I like to call the “Championship Rounds” (late November and December), the 2012 NFL Season still has reminded me of the movie “Ground Hog Day”. As we are coming down the stretch, the National Football League’s streak of at least 5 new playoff teams for 16 straight seasons looks to be in jeopardy. Several 2011 playoff teams are either in or close to the dance (*Falcons, *Packers, *Niners, *Texans, *Ravens, *Patriots,*Broncos, Bengals, NY Giants, and Steelers). Right now only the Lions (4-10) and Saints (6-8) don’t have a shot at the playoffs.

This time of the year is the holiday season around the NFL and certain teams will either get a playoff “present” in their stocking or a “lump of coal” in the form of spending the playoffs at home.  The NFL should be happy though as parity has caused several playoff races to go down to the wire in particularly:

  • The AFC North crown where the Ravens are only 1-game up on the Bengals and the Steelers are right there too with two games left.
  • The NFC East where Redskins (8-6) have a tiebreaker lead over the Cowboys and NY Giants, who are also 8-6
  • The NFC wild card race where the Seahawks (9-5), Cowboys (8-6), NY Giants (8-6), Vikings (8-6), and Bears (8-6) are battling for the final two spots.

For fans there is nothing better than watching your team making a season cementing playoff run in December — NFL games were played on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday sending football junkies into a frenzy.  With 16 teams at .500 or better entering Week 16 and twenty-three teams still in the playoff mix, no one could have predicted the twists, turns, ups, or downs the 2012 NFL rollercoaster during this crucial week.

 

2012 NFL Week 15 Games

Thursday December 13
Bengals (8-6) over Eagles (4-10), 34-13

Sunday December 16
Broncos (11-3) over Ravens (9-5), 34-17
Saints (6-8) over Buccaneers (6-8), 41-0
Texans (12-2) over Colts (9-5), 29-17
Falcons (12-2) over NY Giants (8-6), 34-0
Dolphins (6-8) over Jaguars (2-12), 24-3
Packers (10-4) over Bears (8-6), 21-13
Redskins (8-6) over Browns (5-9), 38-21
Vikings (8-6) over Rams (6-7-1), 36-22
Cardinals (5-9) over Lions (4-10), 38-10
Panthers (5-9) over Chargers (5-9), 31-7
Seahawks (9-5) over Bills (5-9), 50-17
Raiders (4-10) over Chiefs (2-12), 15-0
Cowboys (8-6) over Steelers (7-7), 27-24 in OT
49ers (10-3-1) over Patriots (10-4), 41-34

Monday December 17
Titans (5-9) over NY Jets (6-8), 14-10

*** Home Teams were 8-8 in Week 15
*** A Hat Tip has to go to my PFWA colleague Alex Marvez, who pointed out the interesting factoid that the last 5 Super Bowl winners all lost in Week 15 of their Championship season

Next Man Up
Ravens WR Torrey Smith (concussion)
Chargers RB Ryan Matthews (broken clavicle — season)
Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (concussion)
Bills OLB Arthur Moats (ankle – I/R)
Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne (concussion)
Chiefs QB Brady Quinn (ribs)
Steelers CB Keenan Lewis (hip)
Niners DL Justin Smith (elbow)

Game Balls

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson  – Had another MVP performance (24 Rushes for 212 yds and 1 TD (84 yards) in his 4th career 200-yard game — 3rd most in NFL History — to help lead Minnesota to a huge road win over the Rams. Peterson is now 293 yards from Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson’s magical 1984 single season record of 2105 yards)

Honorable Mention
Niners QB Colin Kaepernick (Youngster went into Foxborough and ended the Patriots 13-game home December winning streak. Finished with passing numbers: 14-25, 216 yds, 4 TDs, 1 INT. Patriots NT Vince Wilfork said of Kaepernick, “He was poised, nothing fazed him”);  Texans DL J.J Watt (Was his old dominant self — 10 TKLs, 3 sacks, 3 TFL, 1 FF, and 4 QB hits — in Houston’s division clinching win over the overmatched Colts); Panthers QB Cam Newton (19-33, 231 yds, 2 TDs — For the 2nd week in a row, Newton looked like Super Man in a big win by the resurgent NFCS upstarts); Cowboys CB Brandon Carr (Made a spectacular interception and return in overtime to setup kicker Dan Bailey’s game-winning field goal); Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski (5 FGs for Oakland’s entire points in a 15-0 shutout win over KC); Texans WR Andre Johnson (Just another day at the office in another Houston victory — 11 Rec, 151 yds, 1 TD); Broncos WR Eric Decker (He better send QB Peyton Manning a nice gift this Christmas as he had 8 Rec, 133 yds, and 1 TD in another win); Saints QB Drew Brees (The former SB MVP was back in form in New Orleans’ shutout win — 26-39, 307 yds, 4 TDs, 0 INTs); Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson (His passing numbers were not great — 14-23, 205 yds, 1 TD — but Seattle scored 50 points again and he ran for 3 TDs); Packers WR James Jones (This week it was Jones’ turn to pick up Green Bay’s deep receiving corps as he produced 3 TDs)

Lloyd’s Lackey of the Week

Lions QB Matthew Stafford — Was abysmal in Lions’ bad road loss to the Cardinals. Finished 24-50, 246 yards, 0 TDs and 3 INTs including a Pick-6. In his defense he got knock around bad enough that the team gave him a concussion test. After the game Stafford said, “That’s about as bad as I can play”

Dishonorable Mention
Steelers WR Antonio Brown (Had a key fumble that led to a Dallas TD, ran out-of-bounds late when he shouldn’t have, and a had few drops); Eagles rookie RB Bryce Brown (continues to smear his play by fumbling the ball too often); Bears rookie WR Alshon Jeffery (A couple bad offensive pass interference penalties including one in the endzone that negated a touchdown along with some drops in loss to Green Bay); Bears QB Jay Cutler (Had another forgettable performance against the Packers and is now 1-7 for his Bears’ career against them with an 8:17 touchdown/interception ratio); Packers kicker Mason Crosby (missed FG’s of 43 and 42 yards in the Packers win over Bears. Now has missed a field goal in 6 straight games and is a dreadful 17 of 29 for the season — 58.6%);
Dallas Cowboys (I don’t care what the family of deceased player Jerry Brown requested, it sent the wrong message for on-reserve NT Josh Brent (charged with Manslaughter DUI in Brown’s death) to on the team’s sidelines vs. the Steelers. CBS analyst Boomer Esiason said of the Cowboys decision, “I think it’s the wrong move. It’s insensitive. It sends a really bad message.”); Patriots HC Bill Belichick (Somehow, the NFL’s version of Darth Vader always finds a way to P-off fans. In a close loss, Belichick down by 7 decided to unsuccessfully go for it on 4-and-1 from his own 12-yard line with 2:24 left on the clock); Seahawks HC Pete Carroll (Sure you scored 50 points again in a win, but did you really need to run a fake punt when you were up 30 in the 4th quarter)

Standings Breakdown

2 Teams ….12-2 — Falcons, Texans
1 Team …. 11-3 — Broncos
2 Teams …. 10-4 — Packers,Patriots
1 Team ….10-3-1 — Niners
3 Teams …. 9-5 — Seahawks, Colts, Ravens
6 Teams …. 8-6 — Bengals, NY Giants, Bears, Vikings, Cowboys, Redskins
1 Team …. 7-7 — Steelers
1 Team …..6-7-1 –- Rams
4 Teams … 6-8 — Saints, Dolphins, Bucs, NY Jets
6 Teams … 5-9 — Cardinals, Panthers, Bills, Chargers, Browns, Titans
3 Teams…..4-10 –- Eagles, Lions, Raiders
2 Teams …. 2-11 (AKA… The race for No. 1) — Jaguars, Chiefs

•How bad is the AFC right now as there are only 6 teams with a winning records after 15 weeks, as opposed to 9 NFC teams
•15 Teams with winning records includes the 2-loss Texans, who won the AFC South by thumping the Colts. And other strong playoff contenders [Falcons (12-2), Broncos (11-3), Niners (10-3-1), Patriots (10-4), and Packers (10-4)], plus some absolute surprises in the Colts (9-5), Redskins (8-6) and Bengals (8-6) who all have legitimate shots at the playoffs too
•16 Teams with losing records including surprises [New Orleans Saints (6-8), San Diego Chargers (5-9), Carolina Panthers (5-9), and Philadelphia Eagles (4-10)]
•Remember 11-5 (2008 New England Patriots) or 10-6 (Bucs and NY Giants in 2010) does not guarantee making the playoffs
•Right now I would not expect an 8-8 team (like the 2011 Denver Broncos) or a team with a losing record (like the 2010 Seattle Seahawks — 7-9) to make the playoffs

Division Leaders

AFC North — Ravens (9-5) backed into a playoff spot after the Steelers lost, but Baltimore has lost 3 straight. Only one game behind BAL are the Bengals (8-6), who have a crucial upcoming WK16 battle coming up at Pittsburgh (7-7). Finally the upstart Browns (5-9) came back to Earth after a bad home loss to the Redskins.

AFC South — The Texans (12-2) finally clinched this division by thumping the Colts in Houston. Despite the loss, Indy (9-5) still has a very good shot at a Wildcard berth. The Colts will look for revenge in Week 17 vs. Houston. After the top two are the getting-ready-for-April Titans (5-9) and Jags (2-12)

AFC West — Denver (11-3) now has the division wrapped-up and they are currently in the AFC’s #2 spot. After the Broncos are the struggling trio of the Chargers (5-9), Raiders (4-10), and Chiefs (2-12) — have the No. 1 pick right now

AFC East — The Division Winner, New England (10-4) one week after looking like the NFL’s best in a dominant win over Houston, lost at home to the improving Niners. Right now the Pats would be the AFC’s #3 and the road to SB47 would have to go through Houston. After New England are inconsistent NY Jets (6-8), Dolphins (6-8) and Bills (5-9).

NFC North — The Packers (10-4) continue to keep winning and they won the division again, but they don’t look like a juggernaut just yet. After the Packers are the Vikings (8-6) and Bears (8-6) who are both in the playoff hunt. In the basement are terrible Lions (4-10) who looked atrocious in losing to the Cardinals

NFC South — The Division Winner,  Falcons (12-2) got right back to work after a horrible loss to Carolina the week before as they smoked the Super Bowl Champion NY Giants. Looks like the NFC’s road to SB47 will run through the Georgia Dome. After Atlanta are the disappointing trio of the Bucs (6-8), Saints (6-8), and Panthers (5-9)

NFC West — The Niners (10-3-1) continued to show their “Road Warrior” heart as they went to Foxborough and defeated the heavily favored Patriots and are now the NFC’s No. 2 seed — starter Colin Kaepernick is now 4-1 at the helm. SF also lead the NFCW race by virtue of their 1.5-game lead over the scrappy Seahawks (9-5), who also keep winning. Ironically SF and SEA play in WK16. Lastly are the Rams (6-7-1) and Cardinals (5-9)

NFC East — This one is going to be a race to the end as the NY Giants (8-6) continued their up-and-down ways which has now caused a 3-way tie at the top with the Cowboys and Redskins, who are also 8-6. It will be interesting in the last 2 weeks of the season if the Redskins can surprise everyone and win this division. In the basement are the Eagles (4-10) who continue to move-up the 2013 NFL Draft order (now have the 3rd pick)

 

Streaks

Winning

Broncos — 9 games
Redskins — 5 games
Seahawks — 3 games
Packers — 3 games
Cowboys — 3 games
Vikings — 2 games
Panthers — 2 games

** Patriots had their 7-game winning streak snapped

** Browns had their 3-game winning streak snapped
** Colts had their 2-game winning streak snapped

** NY Jets had their 2-game winning streak snapped

 

Losing

Cardinals — 9 games
Raiders — 5 games
Lions — 6 games
Titans — 3 games
Bucs — 3 games
Bears — 3 games
Jaguars — 3 games
Ravens — 3 games

** Cardinals had their 9-game losing streak snapped
** Raiders had their 5-game losing streak snapped
** Saints had their 3-game losing streak snapped
** Dolphins had their 2-game losing streak snapped

 

Current 2012 NFL Playoff Picture after Week 15

AFC

1. Texans (12-2) — MIN, @IND — Division Winner

3. Broncos (11-3) — CLE, KC — Division winner

2. Patriots (10-4) — @JAX, MIA — Division winner

4. Ravens (9-5) — NYG, @CIN — Clinched playoff berth

5. Colts (9-5) — @KC, HOU

6. Bengals (8-6) — @PIT, BAL

In The Hunt:
Steelers (7-7) — CIN, CLE
NY Jets (6-8) — SD, @BUF
Dolphins (6-8) — BUF, @NE

Out: The Raiders (4-10), Jaguars (2-12), and Chiefs (2-12) are “officially” out and better start getting ready for 2013 NFL Draft

 

NFC

1. Falcons (12-2) — @DET (SAT), TB — Division winner

2. 49ers (10-3-1) — @SEA (SNF), ARI — Clinched playoff berth

3. Packers (10-4) — TEN, @MIN — Division winner

4. Redskins (8-6) — @PHI, DAL

5. Seahawks (9-5) — SF (SNF), STL

6. Vikings (8-6) — @HOU, GB

In The Hunt:
Bears (8-6) — @ARI, @DET
Cowboys (8-6) — NO, @WAS
NY Giants (8-6) — @BAL, PHI
Rams (6-7-1) –- @TB, @SEA
Bucs (6-8) — STL, @ATL
Saints (6-8) — @DAL, CAR

Out: Panthers (5-9), Cardinals (5-9), Lions (4-10), and Eagles (4-10) are “officially” out of playoff race and can now start getting ready for the 2013 NFL Draft

 

How 2011 NFL Playoff Teams are Faring
**Remember for 16 straight seasons there have been at least 5 new playoff teams**
*** Overall the 12 teams were a combined (7-5) in Week 14

AFC
Texans (12-2)
Broncos (11-3)
Patriots (10-4)
Ravens (9-5)
Bengals (8-6)
Steelers (7-7)

NFC
Falcons (12-2)
Niners (10-3-1)
Packers (10-4)
NY Giants (8-6)
Saints (6-8)
Lions (4-10)

 

Upcoming schedules

NFC

ARI (5-9) – CHI, @SF

ATL (12-2) – @DET (SAT), TB

CAR (5-9) – OAK, @NO

CHI (8-6) – @ARI, @DET

DAL (8-6) – NO, @WAS

DET (4-10) – ATL (SAT), CHI

GB (10-4) – TEN, @MIN

MIN (8-6) – @HOU, GB

NO (6-8) – @DAL, CAR

NYG (8-6) – @BAL, PHI

PHI (4-10) – WAS, @NYG

SEA (9-5) – SF (SNF), STL

SF (10-3-1) – @SEA (SNF), ARI

STL (6-7-1) – @TB, @SEA

TB (6-8) – STL, @ATL

WAS (8-6) – @PHI, DAL

 

AFC

BAL (9-5) — NYG, @CIN

BUF (5-9) — @MIA, NYJ

CIN (8-6) — @PIT, BAL

CLE (5-9) — @DEN, @PIT

DEN (11-3) — CLE, KC

HOU (12-2) — MIN, @IND

IND (9-5) — @KC, HOU

JAX (2-12) – NE, @TEN

KC (2-12) – IND, @DEN

MIA (6-8) — BUF, @NE

NE (10-4) — @JAX, MIA

NYJ (6-8) — SD, @BUF

OAK (4-10) — @CAR, @SD

PIT (7-7) — CIN, CLE

SD (5-9) — @NYJ, OAK

TEN (5-9) — @GB, JAX

 

Week 15 Leaders

Passing

1. T. Brady NE 443 yds (L)
2. S. Bradford STL 377 yds (L)
3. T. Romo DAL 341 yds (w) – OT
4. B. Roethlisberger PIT 339 yds (L) – OT
5. K. Cousins WAS 329 yds (w)

Rushing
1. A. Peterson MIN 212 yds (w)
2. A. Foster HOU 165 yds (w)

3. C. Johnson TEN 122 yds (w)

4. K. Moreno DEN 118 yds (w)
5. M. Lynch SEA 113 yds (w)
6. D. McFadden OAK 110 yds (w)

*** I am a happy  “Old School” football purist as all 6 leading rushers won, showing that running that ball still matters in today’s pass-happy NFL

Receiving

1. B. Lloyd NE 190 yds (L)
2. A. Johnson HOU 151 yds (w)
3. E. Decker DEN 133 yds (w)
4. D. Pitta BAL 125 yds (L)
5. C. Johnson DET 121 yds (L)

TDS

1. R. Wilson SEA 4 TDs (w)
1. C. Kaepernick SF 4 TDs (w)
1. D. Brees NO 4 TDs (w)
4. J. Jones GB 3 TDs (w)
(4 other players including Cardinals RB Beanie Wells had 3 TDs)

Records Breakdown

AFC

Baltimore 9-5 (Home: 5-3, Road: 4-2)
Buffalo 5-9 (Home: 3-4 — WK15 was in Toronto, Road: 2-5)
Cincinnati 8-6 (Home: 3-4, Road: 5-2)
Cleveland 5-9 (Home: 4-4, Road: 1-5)
Denver 11-3 (Home: 5-1, Road: 6-2)
Houston 12-2 (Home: 6-1, Road: 6-1)
Indianapolis 9-5 (Home: 6-1, Road: 3-4)
Jacksonville 2-12 (Home: 1-6, Road: 1-6)
Kansas City 2-12 (Home: 1-6, Road: 1-6)
Miami 6-8 (Home: 4-3, Road: 2-5)
New England 10-4 (Home: 6-2, Road: 4-2)
NY Jets 6-8 (Home: 3-4, Road: 3-4)
Oakland 4-10 (Home: 3-5, Road: 1-5)
Pittsburgh 7-7 (Home: 4-2, Road: 3-5)
San Diego 5-9 (Home: 2-5, Road: 3-4)
Tennessee 5-9 (Home: 3-4, Road: 2-5)

 

NFC

Arizona 5-9 (Home: 4-3, Road: 1-6)
Carolina 5-9 (Home: 2-5, Road: 3-4)
Chicago 8-6 (Home: 5-2, Road: 3-4)
Dallas 8-6 (Home: 4-3, Road: 4-3)
Detroit 4-10 (Home: 2-4, Road: 2-6)
Green Bay 10-4 (Home: 6-1, Road: 4-3)
Minnesota 8-6 (Home: 6-1, Road: 2-5)
New Orleans 6-8 (Home: 4-3, Road: 2-5)
NY Giants 8-6 (Home: 5-2, Road: 3-4)
Philadelphia 4-10 (Home: 2-5, Road: 2-5)
St. Louis 6-7-1 (Home: 4-4, Road: 2-3-1)
San Francisco 10-3-1 (Home: 5-1-1, Road: 5-2)
Seattle 9-5 (Home: 6-0, Road: 3-5)
Tampa Bay 6-8 (Home: 3-4, Road: 3-4)
Washington 8-6 (Home: 4-3, Road: 4-3)

 

Looking Ahead to Week 16

Saturday December 22
Atlanta Falcons (12-2) at Detroit Lions (4-10) 8:20PM ET (ESPN)

Sunday December 23
New Orleans Saints (6-8) at Dallas Cowboys (8-6) 1:00 PM ET (FOX)
Buffalo Bills (5-9) at Miami Dolphins (6-8) 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
San Diego Chargers (5-9) at New York Jets (6-7) 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
Washington Redskins (8-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-10) 1:00 PM ET (FOX)
Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
Tennessee Titans (4-9) at Green Bay Packers (10-4) 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
New England Patriots (10-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
Oakland Raiders (4-10) at Carolina Panthers (5-9) 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
Minnesota Vikings (8-6) at Houston Texans (12-2) 1:00 PM ET (FOX)
Indianapolis Colts (9-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-12) 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
St. Louis Rams (6-7-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) 1:00 PM ET (FOX)
Cleveland Browns (5-9) at Denver Broncos (11-3) 4:05 PM ET (CBS)
Chicago Bears (8-6) at Arizona Cardinals (5-9) 4:25 PM ET (FOX)
New York Giants (8-6) at Baltimore Ravens (9-5) 4:25 PM ET (FOX)
San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1) at Seattle Seahawks (9-5) 8:20 PM ET (NBC)

 

 

Lloyd Vance is the Editor for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Lloyd can be reached on Twitter (@lloydvance)

 

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