Life’s Bounces

Fine Fifteen

1. Seattle (10-1). Tough call for No. 1. Seattle, New England, Carolina, Denver and New Orleans in contention. There is no runaway. This week it’s Seattle. Could be the most rested Monday night game ever in a week. Saints (11 days off) at ’Hawks (14 days off). With the suspension of Walter Thurmond keeping him out the next four games, and the groin injury to Brandon Browner keeping him out at least that long, Seattle will need Byron Maxwell, a third-year dime back from Clemson, to step up in the next four weeks. No problem! ’Hawks just have Drew Brees, Colin Kaepernick, Eli Manning and Carson Palmer on the horizon.

2. New England (8-3). I like a team that, in a short week, can forget the bitter, focus on the now, have an absolutely pathetic half of football, believe a win is still in reach, and reach it. Having Tom Brady helps.

3. Denver (9-2). Trent Dilfer came up with a good stat about Brady having more passing yards into the wind Sunday night than Peyton Manning had in all four quarters. Let’s see. Manning has three straight potential cold and/or windy games coming up (at Kansas City, Tennessee and San Diego at home), and could have playoff games in January in Denver, Foxboro, Kansas City or Cincinnati, and the Super Bowl is on the first Sunday of February in New Jersey. Manning might have to go 6-0 or 5-1 in cold weather to win his second Super Bowl.

4. New Orleans (9-2). No team has it tougher over 21 December days starting next Monday: at 10-1 Seattle, 7-3 Carolina at home, at 5-6 St. Louis, at 7-3 Carolina.

5. Carolina (8-3). Seriously: The Panthers could be No. 2. Seven-game winning streak. Nobody wants to play them now. Pretty mysterious game coming Sunday: Bucs, with their three-game streak, coming to Charlotte.

6. San Francisco (6-4). Talk about a lucky break. When Seattle travels to Candlestick for a game the Niners have to have in two weeks, the Seahawks will be without their second and third corners, and, presumably, San Francisco will have Michael Crabtree back.

Talk Back

Have a question or comment for Peter? Email him at talkback@themmqb.com and it might be included in Tuesday’s mailbag.

7. Arizona (7-4). Cards 5-2 in their last seven. Niners 5-2 in their last seven. Look it up: Arizona’s playing more consistent football on both sides of the ball in the last month.

8. Kansas City (9-2). Denver coming to town Sunday. Division on the line. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston in MRI tubes today. Remember the optimism of three weeks ago? Vanished.

9. Indianapolis (7-4). Talked to an influential Colts guy a few days ago. “The guy we really miss is Dwayne Allen,” he said. That’s the tight end who was one of the best rookies in football last year, drafted to pair with Coby Fleener in two-tight-end sets and star individually. Bruising blocker and sure-handed receiver. That, plus the loss of Reggie Wayne, is killing this offense.

10. Philadelphia (6-5). Kudos to Mike Vick for saying the other day he couldn’t justify pulling Nick Foles to return himself to the starting lineup. Everybody can see that, and often the incumbent quarterback can’t.

11. Cincinnati (7-4). The bye week’s a time to re-adjust the load for the running backs, Jay Gruden. Gio Bernard has 4.4 per rush, BenJarvus Green-Ellis 3.3. Bernard’s a true threat, and I’d like to see him get more than 9.5 carries a game.

12. Pittsburgh (5-6). All the defensive players interviewed post-game said things like they wanted to make Dick LeBeau proud, or they felt like LeBeau was a father figure they’d been disappointing this year. Not over the last three weeks. Steelers 3-0. Steelers 87, Foes 48. Pittsburgh’s 5-2 since the dreadful 0-4 start.

13. Detroit (6-5). Lions make too many mistakes for a team that talks like it can be a January impact player.

14. Baltimore (5-6). Pretty sure Geno Smith learned how to spell “embarrass” Sunday.

15. (tie) San Diego (5-6). Hat tip to Antonio Gates. Here’s a basketball player at Kent State who took a flyer on football because he was the size-speed type of athlete to be a good tight end. Good call. Sunday in Kansas City, Gates became the fourth tight end in NFL history to pass the 700-catch and 9,000-yard plateaus. He now has 701 receptions and 9,006 yards. Don’t want to bum him out, but Gates needs only 600 catches to pass Tony Gonzalez.

Dallas (6-5). Cowboys come off the canvas to save their season in New Jersey, thanks to a late Tony Romo drive and big days from Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. Biggest stat on the Cowboys’ side: Dallas is 4-0 in the division. That’s a huge potential edge heading into the final five games.

The Awards Section

Tom Brady added another highlight to his Hall-worthy career (top left), while Matthew Stafford had ball security issues (bottom left). Knowshon Moreno (top right, 224 yards) and Josh Gordon (bottom right, 237) had career yardage days. (Stephan Savoia/AP :: John Leyba/Getty Images :: Paul Sancya/AP :: Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Tom Brady added another highlight to his Hall-worthy career (top left), while Matthew Stafford had ball security issues (bottom left). Knowshon Moreno (top right, 224 yards) and Josh Gordon (bottom right, 237) had career yardage days. (Stephan Savoia/AP :: John Leyba/Getty Images :: Paul Sancya/AP :: Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Offensive Players of the Week

Tom Brady, quarterback, New England. The wind became a prominent part of last night’s game when the Patriots chose to defend in overtime, but Brady looked as if he was playing in a light breeze in the Patriots’ incredible second-half and overtime comeback. Brady managed a respectable 6.9 yards per passing attempt despite the elements (4.2 for Manning), and had 274 of his 344 yards after the half. His experience kept the team composed when it looked like all was falling apart, and the Patriots came back from the break to embark on five straight Brady-led scoring drives.

Knowshon Moreno, running back, Denver. Rarely has a 200-plus-yard rushing game been this overshadowed, but Moreno’s efforts Sunday night shouldn’t be overlooked. The Broncos fed Moreno 37 times for those 224 yards, and why not when it seemed as if every Moreno carry was good for an automatic six yards at least? Moreno’s day wasn’t padded by one or two monster runs; he had a long of 18, which just shows how consistently the revived rusher gashed a Patriots front missing Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo for solid gains.

Josh Gordon, wide receiver, Cleveland. He had the best individual day in the league—14 catches, 237 yards, one touchdown—in a 27-11 loss to Pittsburgh (but I won’t penalize him for a coverage off-day by Joe Haden). The Browns have to be thrilled they didn’t get serious with any of the teams that inquired about Gordon before the trade deadline.

Adrian Peterson, running back, Minnesota. A classic Peterson-carries-the-Vikings game (32 carries, 146 yards, one touchdown) in the first tie of the season.

Defensive Players of the Week

Von Miller, outside linebacker, Denver. He was player of the week in the first half alone at New England as the Broncos built a 24-0 lead in Foxboro after 30 minutes. He ran a fumble back 60 yards for the first points of the game. Two plays later, Miller strip-sacked Tom Brady, leading to the second touchdown two plays later. For the half, he had two sacks, four tackles and the TD. And now everyone can stop asking, “What’s wrong with Von Miller?”

Troy Polamalu, strong safety, Pittsburgh. One of the best individual plays by a defender all season helped keep the Steelers in the AFC playoff race Sunday. The Steelers were nursing a 10-3 lead late in the first half on a gusty, frigid day in Cleveland, and Polamalu smashed into the center of the Cleveland line on a run blitz. He bounced off two linemen, and running back Chris Ogbonnaya came through a gap with the ball. Polamalu tackled Ogbonnaya, ripped the ball away while he was doing it, and then recovered the strip. Amazing. Classic Polamalu. Pittsburgh’s Shaun Suisham kicked a field goal before the half, and the Steelers were in command.

Special Teams Players of the Week

Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback/quick-kick punter. Pittsburgh. Play of the day. Fourth-and-18, Cleveland 29, midway through the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger in the shotgun. Takes the snap. Pooch-punts the ball toward the left pylon on the goal line. It bounces. Emmanuel Sanders sprints down. Downs it at the Cleveland 1-yard line. The fifth punt of Roethlisberger’s NFL career was a thing of beauty. In his other job Sunday, he threw two touchdown passes.

Justin Tucker, kicker, Baltimore. On a frigid day (20 degrees wind chill) kicking in a 26-mph crosswind, Tucker, the most efficient kicker in NFL history (minimum 50 made field goals) converted on field goals from 30, 26, 33 and 53 yards in the 19-3 rout of the woeful Jets. For his career, the University of Texas kicker is 54 of 59, a conversion rate of 91.5%. A generation or so ago that was a good kicker’s PAT percentage. (Think I’m kidding? Chris Bahr of the Raiders was 27 of 33 in extra points in 1981.)

Coach of the Week

Todd Bowles, defensive coordinator, Arizona. The Cards were in mourning when defensive coordinator Ray Horton left in the offseason to take the same role in Cleveland, but Bowles has done a terrific job molding his beliefs to the talent in-house … and to new acquisitions John Abraham, Matt Shaughnessy, Yeremiah Bell, Jerraud Powers and Tyrann Mathieu. In the Cards’ four-game winning streak, the defense has allowed 239, 274, 235 and 292 yards. Arizona’s a force, and the defense and special teams are very big reasons.

Goat of the Week

Matthew Stafford, quarterback, Detroit. Four interceptions against the Bucs, the third with the Lions driving for a potential 11-point lead. Detroit lost to the previously 2-8 Bucs. A bad day for the young gunslinger.

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257 comments
fatt41
fatt41

Peter,

I've been an avid reader of MMQB for a long time and really enjoy your insight and bits of life stories that you share with all of us. I really found the insight into Dan Dierdorf's history interesting. I will be honest with you when I tell you Dan was never a favorite for me on football broadcasts. I always found him a little too insightful and it seemed as if he tried to hard to be an insider to the public. I do have to admit I always enjoyed reading about He and Conrad Dobler's long time feud though. I think you have given me a little different perspective on Dan just with a couple of lines of information that I was unaware of about his life.You do a great job of giving us a different perspective in just a few paragraphs. Keep them coming and keep the beernerdness going strong

BbchAt-Fifty
BbchAt-Fifty

When Seattle travels to SF Seahawks corners will  have to check Crabtree. That's fine. SF corners will have to deal with PH and GT on the other side. Good luck with that.

gary41
gary41

The Cardinals have had a good defense for several years, thankfully made no worse by changing DC's, but the big difference in the last 4 games has been the play of Carson Palmer.  He has finally stopped throwing interceptions and playing like he is supposed to play.  Arians has made some adjustments and now the Cardinals are competitive in the NFL west.     

LeBP
LeBP

Peter King and his obsession with Jets bashing-- pathetic.

PaulinMA
PaulinMA

Pete left USC in shame and went to Seattle as the new hero. And now it appears players are 'stretching the rules' in Seattle - how can anyone be surprised?  

HorizontalGophers
HorizontalGophers

Peter - Can you give us an update on the photographer fight during the post game handshake between Manning and Brady? The left that guy threw was as anemic as a Geno Smith pass. The funny part is from the angle of the pic on this site it looks like it was taken by the punchee. 

noly972
noly972

I agree with John Mullen; singing the national anthem isn't supposed to be a performance of a pop song, it's an homage to the USA. How about a little respect for a change.

ReamTeam
ReamTeam

Boo Peter.  You are the Miley Cyrus of football reporting.  Last week you focused on the no call in the Panthers game, which was bad, but, you are neglecting the emergence of a mature Cam Newton.  Last night was another legendary comeback by The Tom Brady, but, a blurb would have sufficed.  I used to read every word of every sentence of every page, but, recently you are too predictable.  Dig deeper into the other stories of the NFL beyond the pop culture headlines you provide no real insight on.  Much more interesting narratives are abound around the league. 

afinta
afinta

I don't know - I think Milliner is looking better every week. Reed made a mess out of that touchdown throw...

mahaloluinoa
mahaloluinoa

Your weekly PK gratuitous plug for Bing, brought to you by the EvoShield fine family of products.

Scramble
Scramble

" Very bad call on the Muhammed Wilkerson low hit on Joe Flacco. Not a foul—not when he’s tripped into the quarterback by a Baltimore lineman."

So what's that like 100 non calls and one bad call, what's your problem.

Scramble
Scramble

" Ref Ron Winter in the Saints-Falcons game missing both a facemask and blow to the head call on Akiem Hicks against Matt Ryan."

 Looks like they are going to start treating Matt Ryan like they have always been treating Joe Flacco. 

StevedeKater
StevedeKater

Good grief, Peter!  Oswald's gun was not "disguised as curtain rods".  That's just plain stupid to say that!  The rifle was wrapped in a package that Oswald simply told his co-worker were curtain rods.  Good thing you are not a real reporter!

DennyCrane
DennyCrane

Must really hurt PK to see his hero, PM, fold like a cheap tent in a windstorm in another high pressure game. 24-zip at the half to a big fat 1 in the loss column. But PK is already manufacturing the excuses; funny how PK declares Tom a better passer in the wind yet Collingsworth was gushing over the accuracy of PMs throws in the high wind.

JoshuaBrickman
JoshuaBrickman

So regarding m above and UMass football, my son goes to UMass and they bus students for FREE to the games.  They are building a new stadium.   Just like UConn the 1st few years when they switched to D1 they will struggle, but when the new stadium is built the investment will bring in more money which of course is the answer to your question.

Mike26
Mike26

Two things:

1 - Another day, another substance-related suspension.  This is nothing new and clearly won't be the last.  PK will still consider them the "cool, hip, young" franchise and just ignore the rest of reality that is the Seahawks.  I mean, you have to - Richard Sherman went to Stanford!  That means his idiotic mouth on the field must be clever and learned, right?  

2- The game last night wasn't a classic.  It was ugly, disjointed, etc.   Yes, it  was cold and windy.  And?  Since it was Manning and Brady, it was "a terrific competition between two greats".  If it were Henne and McGloin, Collinsworth and Michaels would have been yawning and ridiculing the teams throughout.  Whatever.  Let the mass media continue to slobber over these two - they'll both be done in another 2-3 years.  (By then, the Seahawks will have had another 5-6 suspensions to gloss over!)

csanders1
csanders1

r. Cam Newton is so impressive, physically, in the pocket. What a weapon. So hard to bring down, and to catch.

-- because God forbid you imply that he is impressive in any other way in the pocket

rschmetzer
rschmetzer

The Gumble/Dierdorf team has been my favorite CBS teams for several years now.

Mike26
Mike26

The Texans have NOT lost 10 straight (yet) - not until after the Patriots game this coming Sunday.  Assume much PK?  LOL!

usurper
usurper

Parcells buy you a dinner every time you praise Jeff Ireland? You seem to single him out for more praise than all the other GM's combined. Shameless, biased, and pathetic.

Jon8
Jon8

The guy who writes this column (I refuse to mention his name because I find it offensive) mentions Dan Dierdorf's induction into the Hall of Fame, but not his winning the Hall's Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award, joining only Madden, Len Dawson and Frank Gifford as Hall of Fame/Rozelle Award winners! I will miss Dierdorf's candor!!

Let me get this straight, Tramaine Brock, flunks out of the big school, Minnesota, where he has a full-ride, and ends-up at the only small-school that would take him, and this is somehow an inspirational story of how a guy from a small-school can make it in the NFL? I don't think so Sonny Jim!

evileyefleagle
evileyefleagle

When you're arguing in favor of Ron Wolf's induction, Peter, you should go beyond his Packer days and remind your audience that he was the brains behind the "genius" label that Al Davis temporarily wore.

RonPacker1
RonPacker1

One thing I think I think: If John Wooten and Harry Carson are just learning that the n-word is spoken casually in NFL locker rooms, I think the rock they have been under must be named Gibraltar.

joe6647
joe6647

Itll be interesting how Mannings numbers will look the last month of the year, playing in cold weather

thedon923
thedon923

Gosh Mr. King. Why don't you just give the Pats-Broncos players every freaking award this week

Mike26
Mike26

@BbchAt-Fifty IF PH and GT are eligibile.  IF they're eligible.  That's never a given in Seattle...

gary41
gary41

@LeBP What is pathetic is how reserved Peter King has been with comments about coaching staffs, as he depends upon them for access.  He offers excuses and alibis well past the point of common sense.  The Jets are a textbook case in how to make mistakes in finding a QB.  

jshawaii22
jshawaii22

@PaulinMA 

wonder if it has anything to do with Washington's new open Pot laws, and the fact (I lived there for 20 years) that it sucks 9 months out of the year, weather wise, and smoking dope passes the time.   Browner got busted for Pot.  Probably WTIII, to.   Wouldn't surprise me if they are roommates.  

js

Mike26
Mike26

@noly972 You're talking to many of the same people "entitled" to talking on their cell phones wherever, whenever, however long = including airplanes in the next 2 years.  Airlines can't wait to devise 3-4 more fees for cell phone usage, including calls.  

mahaloluinoa
mahaloluinoa

@ReamTeam  Don't dishonor Miley by comparing her to PK.  Has Miley ever swiped a foul ball from a small child?

Mike26
Mike26

@afinta Everyone but Reed himself knows it's over....

SportPage
SportPage

@DennyCrane Never mind that it's a team game and fumbles fueled both the Broncos big first half and the Patriots big second half. Or that the Broncos had another huge miscue at the end of the game after Manning led a masterful drive to send the game into OT.

George
George

@DennyCrane

What planet have YOU been living on?   peter king (purposely refuse to capitalize) 

is a citizen of and a proven total shill for all things Boston / New England / Brady / PIOLI! / NY / East Coast.  

And when no-neck pk wants a little "strange" -  he sexts Favre on his phone.


Feel free to hate on Manning - I like him but after last night my theme song for PM is 

"The old Gray Mare"

 - but "PM being pk's hero?"  ....   swing and a miss, Denny.

djmakson
djmakson

@JoshuaBrickman As a Massachusetts taxpayer, I wish I can share your optimism.  The idea to move to Gillette to attract Boston area alumni has been, well, unsuccessful.  Rentschler Field is in Hartford and Hartford isn't Amherst.  Do you really see an alumni group unwilling to support their school in Foxboro, heading out to Amherst on Saturdays?  

BigSchtick
BigSchtick

@Mike26 One thing

"rest of reality that is the Seahawks"

Really" You might want to look around the league. A player suspended for weed. Shocking.

Mike26
Mike26

@Jon8 Brock had behavioral issues in addition to his academic issues too.  Just sayin'.....

Mike26
Mike26

@jshawaii22 @PaulinMA If they're too stupid to put aside their selfish desires for just about 10 years they could be set for life financially and smoke the rest of their lives away.  Zero sympathy for those idiots.

BTW, Seattle players have been doped up/smoking dope long before pot was legal...

JoshuaBrickman
JoshuaBrickman

The other option was to go the Boston University route and just cut the sport.  If they were do that and invest in other sports and programs at the school I would be fine with that.  I guess they chased the money.....

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