NFL Week 14 Recap: 5 Things I Think
1- Injuries continue to be the defining, overarching story of the 2017 NFL season
There were a ton of new injuries yesterday, but we’re mostly focused today on the loss of Carson Wentz. The young stud QB who had led the Eagles to a 10-2 start and the top spot in the superior conference was lost for the season to a torn ACL on Sunday. He wasn’t just winning on the field though. Wentz was winning with his Prince Harry looks, his fun style of play, and the influence he seemed to effortlessly exert as Philly went from a 7-9 team trying to recover after Chip Kelly decimated the roster to the top team in the league. Injuries are a part of football and maybe this year is no different, but it sure feels like we have had to deal with a lot of high profile losses. This week three more QBs will make their first start of the year because the guy ahead of them went down. That brings the total to 53 different starting QBs. Ouch. That is to say nothing of the host of other players we have been deprived of watching play other positions.
What an awful year for NFL injuries.
Odell Beckham Jr.
— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) December 11, 2017
2- I love everything about football in the snow . . . except the football game itself
To hear Scott Hansen from NFL Red Zone tell it, you would think that every single member of the football viewing public was clamoring for the broadcast to forego updates from all the early games and just focus in on the visual spectacle that was Colts-Bills from Orchard Park, NY. I actually saw a tweet where someone asked 506sports.com (the experts on broadcast football) why CBS didn’t just ditch its other games for the snow game. I agree that it was a sight to see; the type of thing that you see that makes you immediately insist that everyone in the room stop what they’re doing and look at the screen. They were literally playing in a blizzard with inches of snow on the ground and thick, lake-effect snow flakes blanketing everything in site. Because it was Buffalo there was a hearty crowd of spectators more than happy to watch through such conditions—it made for a compelling scene for sure—, but once you took it in, you were left with some mostly-terrible football. Players couldn’t get any footing; special teams were impossible; passing was hopeless. It was fun to see for about two minutes, but I wanted to watch 2017 football, not 1917 football.
3- If Pittsburgh keeps falling behind, their luck is going to run out eventually
Since their bye week, the Steelers are undefeated but have really struggled at times despite being favored in every contest. They have trailed at some point in four of their last five games, falling behind by double digits in three. Good teams definitely have to learn to win close games; it’s a collective skill just like so many other qualities that we ascribe to the league’s elite squads. However we would be hesitant to call a team “good” if we knew that it fell behind behind 10-0 at Indy or 17-0 at Cincy. Last night against Baltimore it looked like the Stillers had figured something out as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Then the offensively-challenged Ravens proceeded to out score them 31-6 leading to an 11-point fourth quarter deficit. Once again, they pulled the game out because they have silly skill players, but at some point you dig a hole too big to climb out of. Case in point . . .
4- It’s time to talk seriously about the Jags
The worst beating the Steelers took this year was at the hands of the Jaguars who intercepted Big Ben five times on October 8th in Pittsburgh. I don’t think Roethlisberger has another 5-pick game in him this year even if they do face Jacksonville in the playoffs, but the Jags have shown that they will take the ball away and, if they get a lead, they will reduce their opponent and the game clock to powder on the strength of a rugged running game. Yesterday a road-weary Seattle team found out how much you don’t want to have to chuck it against the Jaguar defense. Much respect for DangeRUSS and the boys for fighting their way back into it after falling down 24-10, but forcing mistakes has become a way of life for the Jags to the point we have to stop calling it a weekly fluke. They just win ugly.
5- I don’t think Cleveland fans want our sympathy, but they have it at this point
I live in a Green Bay household so I certainly wasn’t cheering for the Browns yesterday, but I thought their match up with the Brett Hundley quarterbacked Packers looked like the last best chance for Cleveland to get a win this season. When they took that 21-7 lead into the fourth quarter, it seemed like nothing short of Aaron Rodgers knocking out Brett Hundley and slipping into his uniform like some sort of Hollywood ploy was going to stop the Browns from getting the victory. Obviously, I underestimated the Brownies. They fired their GM this week which isn’t exactly a stability move, but the committed themselves to coach Hue Jackson who the players seem to genuinely believe in. I really thought this would be the year that Cleveland showed some progress with all the defensive players they have drafted in recent years, but it simply hasn’t played out that way. No team had ever opened 0-13 in consecutive seasons, but the bar just seems to keep going lower and lower. The light at the end of the tunnel may be that the Browns possess Houston’s first round pick in 2018 which means they get to pick twice in the top ten. Good luck, Cleveland!