Best of Times, Worst of Times

Fine Fifteen

1. Seattle (11-2). A Twitter follower asked me the other day if I liked my preseason Super Bowl champion pick (Patriots over Seahawks). Yes. Why, yes I do still like the Seahawks part of that equation. I’m not much bothered by a cliff-hanging loss to San Francisco in which the Seahawks held their archrivals to 19 points and 318 yards, on the road on a short week when the Niners had vastly more for which to play.

2. Denver (11-2). At some point the secondary’s going to be a true Achilles heel for this team. But celebrate the quality of this receiving corps. Wes Welker, Julius Thomas, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker all had a touchdown catch, giving them 10, 11, 11 and 8, respectively, for the year.

3. New Orleans (10-3). So what did we learn Sunday night, other than Marques Colston’s one of the great players of this era who we never talk about? Just this: No one’s winning a playoff game in New Orleans. Just not happening.

4. New England (10-3). Gronk gone. But you know what I’d be worried about? The defense—the one that allowed 494 yards to the Cleveland Browns at home, that surrendered a 391-yard passing day to Jason Campbell. Yup, that’s what would worry me.

5. Carolina (9-4). It makes no sense to settle for field goals in the Superdome. That’s the lesson offensive coordinator Mike Shula should take out of this game for 2014 and beyond (and perhaps for a January game).

6. San Francisco (9-4). So you say you want to see more offensive production out of Colin Kaepernick and friends? So would offensive coordinator Greg Roman. But when the D’s allowing 13.5 points a game over the last six, it’s a lot easier to get by without the fireworks.

7. Cincinnati (9-4). Tough call, where to put the Bengals right now. This is probably the best Cincinnati team since the Boomer Esiason days. Andy Dalton, with three games to go, is 25-16 in touchdown-to-interception differential; last year he was 27-16 for the season. The difference? He should throw for 4,000 yards this year for the first time, thanks to Marvin Jones giving him a legitimate second option at receiver.

8. Philadelphia (8-5). Antarctica’s Team.

9. Kansas City (10-3). I do not want to demean the victory in Washington in the least, but the Chiefs were playing Team Chaos Sunday. Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster, combined, would have been a gigantic load for any foe, though.

Talk Back

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

10. Indianapolis (8-5). Well, at least the Kenyan rugby player, Daniel Adongo, played.

11. Arizona (8-5). On Friday, after a week of little practice for Carson Palmer because of a bum elbow, coach Bruce Arians pshawed about any chance he’d miss the game against the Rams Sunday. “He’ll play,” Arians said. The Cardinals got the sore-winged Palmer’s best game of the year, 27 of 32 in a 30-10 win over St. Louis.

12. Baltimore (7-6). Maybe I overrate the return of Dennis Pitta to give Joe Flacco his security blanket back. But I don’t think so. Baltimore has three losable games left (at Detroit, New England, at Cincinnati), and Flacco needs all the receiving he can get with the running game still not out of the woods.

13. Detroit (7-6). Things are starting to trend downward after a 6-3 start; Detroit’s gone 1-3 in its last four, with seven Matthew Stafford turnovers in that time (two fumbles lost, five interceptions). The Bears can match the Lions’ record atop the NFC North with a win tonight. Of more concern to Lions fans is that Green Bay is still within striking distance.

14. Dallas (7-5). I probably have too much of a gulf between Dallas and Philly here. I just like the way the Eagles are peaking, and the Cowboys, on the road against a desperate team tonight, scare me.

15. Miami (7-6). Charles Clay is making me forget about Dustin Keller. That’s a versatile, promising tight end who has a great feel for the game.

The Awards Section

Drew Brees (top left; fastest quarterback to 50,000 yards), LeSean McCoy (top right; franchise record 217 yards) and Matt Prater (bottom left; NFL record 64-yard field goal) had historic days Sunday, while John Abraham proved he's far from washed up. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images :: Rich Schultz/Getty Images :: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images :: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Drew Brees (top left; fastest quarterback to 50,000 yards), LeSean McCoy (top right; franchise record 217 yards) and Matt Prater (bottom left; NFL record 64-yard field goal) had historic days Sunday, while John Abraham proved he’s far from washed up. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images :: Rich Schultz/Getty Images :: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images :: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Offensive Players of the Week

Drew Brees, quarterback, New Orleans. Peyton Manning needed 191 games to get to 50,000 career passing yards, the fastest to get to 50K before Sunday night. In Brees’ 183rd game, he got there, with a 30-of-42 night and 313 yards in the 31-13 rout of Carolina. Brees is fortunate, obviously, to have great receivers like Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham, but Sean Payton has the perfect low-ego trigger-man for an offense that’s next-to-impossible to stop in the climate-controlled ’dome.

LeSean McCoy, running back, Philadelphia. The best rushing day by an Eagle ever—29 carries, 217 yards, two touchdowns—was the vital piece of the puzzle in a loony win over Detroit in eight inches of snow at Lincoln Financial Field. And in so doing, the invaluable McCoy moved closer to the rushing title. He has 1,305 yards, and an 84-yard lead over Adrian Peterson—who limped off Sunday in Baltimore with a mid-foot sprain—with three games to play.

Frank Gore, running back, San Francisco. His 17-carry, 110-yard rushing day, against a defense that looked impenetrable Monday night against New Orleans, was the vital piece for the Niners in the narrow win over Seattle. The Niners played keepaway on a six-minute drive that resulted in a winning 22-yard field goal, and the big play on the drive was a 51-yard gallop by Gore, finishing intelligently by diving on the ground just shy of the boundary so he wouldn’t stop the clock. Smart, very valuable player for the Niners’ offense.

Defensive Players of the Week

John Abraham, outside linebacker, Arizona. Moved past Lawrence Taylor into ninth place on the all-time sack list with a three-sack, one-safety day in the Cards’ rout of the Rams. Abraham looks like he could easily give the Cards another productive season as a second rush alternative to Calais Campbell in 2014, and I hear he wants to play another one.

Junior Gallette, outside linebacker, and Cameron Jordan, defensive end, New Orleans. Saints score twice in a hurry in the first half to take a 14-6 lead. Panthers’ ball, and they’ve got to do something with it. Third-and-8. Loud. Big play for Cam Newton. So here comes Jordan, speeding around the right tackle and running right into Newton for a crushing 10-yard sack. A few Drew Brees snaps later, the Saints are up 21-6, it’s halftime, and this one’s over. Jordan had nine sacks in his first two seasons as a pro. He’s got 11.5 now, with three important games left … As for Gallette, he added three sacks against a line that had previously allowed just 2.6 sacks a game. Sunday night, the Saints got Newton five times, all of them by the pass rush crew that gives defensive coordinator Rob Ryan freedom to rush from lots of different lanes.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Finally!

One of the NFL's most stubborn records has fallen. Now that it has, are the floodgates about to open? FULL STORY

Matt Prater, kicker, Denver. It’s stunning, honestly, that the record for the longest field goal in history has stood for 43 years (Tom Dempsey, New Orleans, Nov. 8, 1970), and been tied three times but never bested. Prater finally got his shot, his first time ever trying a 64-yarder at any level of football, and drilled it at the end of the first half in what turned out to be a Denver rout Sunday.

Jeremy Ross, kick-returner, Detroit. An amazing day in the snow at Lincoln Financial Field. Ross returned a punt for a 58-yard touchdown and a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, looking like he was the only man who didn’t think the field was slippery. He’s the first Lion to return a kick and punt for touchdowns in the same game since Eddie Payton (brother of Walter) did it in 1977.

Coach of the Week

Dave Taub, special teams coach, Kansas City. A special teams coach couldn’t have a better day. Dexter McCluster returned seven punts for 177 yards—including a 74-yard touchdown—and Quinton Demps returned two kicks for 123 yards, including a 95-yard touchdown. Taub was a great kicking-game coach in Chicago, and he’s turning out to be one of Andy Reid’s best hires in Kansas City.

Goats of the Week

Dominic Raiola, center, and Matthew Stafford, quarterback, Detroit. Imagine being a Detroit fan, and seeing the Lions’ carelessness with the football ruin this team week after week. Okay, blame the weather for many of the seven fumbles by the Lions (five credited to Stafford), but down eight and trying to mount a drive to tie midway through the fourth quarter, there’s absolutely no reason for the center and quarterback to mess up a shotgun snap and blow the last chance at an important win. Stafford wasn’t looking, Raiola snapped it back, it bounced around, and the Eagles recovered and got an insurance touchdown. Ridiculous.

Rob Chudzinski, head coach, Cleveland. This is for leaving his team with no timeouts remaining in a very winnable game at Foxboro. The Browns stupidly burned two timeouts in the third quarter, then called the last one with 35 seconds left and the clock stopped after pass interference put the ball at the Cleveland 1 for New England. So when Cleveland, down 27-26 with a 2nd-and-10 at its 47 and 14 seconds left, completed a pass to Jordan Cameron for 13 yards, Jason Campbell could have used that timeout with eight or nine seconds left. Since he didn’t have one left, he was forced to spike the ball with two seconds left to stop the clock. Billy Cundiff’s 58-yard attempt was just short. Had Campbell been able to complete one more boundary pass, the field goal could have come from a manageable 48 or 50 yards. You just don’t burn timeouts like that.

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390 comments
toadworth
toadworth

Dear Peter:

Suck it.


Josh McCown

Mood_Indigo
Mood_Indigo

Frank Gore's greatness

Savor on

For one more season

willisdownsouth
willisdownsouth

If you actually watched a South Carolina football game, you can clearly see how teams game planned away from Clowney's side of the field. The SC DT Kelcy Quarles will be taken somewhere in the top 3 rounds, most likely because of the way teams double teamed Clowney. He also had a solid outing against Clemson. Not sure what's so underwhelming there.

aeb0507
aeb0507

Well peter King, you blew it again for the monday matchup. You like Tony Romp over Josh McCown....really

akdonner2
akdonner2

My question is why is shanahan even considered a great coach. He was terrible in Oakland and Washington and he was gifted 2 super bowls by elway and Davis. After elway retired the struggles began and slowly but surely, the broncos began to resemble what the redskins are and what the raiders were. Completely overrated coach.

RobertSmith
RobertSmith

Greg Bedard reports from Columbia, S.C. Clowney, the South Carolina pass rusher, has been on everyone’s radar all season


Including, apparently, the SC highway patrol.  At 110 mph.  If only his motor revved like that on the field.

RobertSmith
RobertSmith

In 14 games, NFL teams scored 88 touchdowns, the most on any day in the 94-year history of the league.


Was it the most per game?  Comparing it to 1960 when the league had half as many games is lazy.   A technically "true" statement that is nonetheless potentially misleading in the implications a reader might derive from it.

Sabahtwit
Sabahtwit

Shanahan played RG3 2nd 1/2 Seattle game and This Year bc of RG 3& OUT's INSECURITY about KC taking his job AND Snyder ENABLED him. It is pretty clear that Shanahan may be the HEAD of the Redskins, but RG3 is the NECK, and he makes the HEAD turn Anyway he wants it to. Please don't blame coach on this debacle.

BrianHayden
BrianHayden

I never thought I'd say these words, but "your link is to the wrong LaVon Brazill touchdown"

BillyG
BillyG

Tom Coughlin has been head coaching in the NFL for 18 seasons.He has won a playoff game in only 5 of 18 them.The 2 seasons he won the SB, he was either a 9-7 lousy division “winner” or a 10-6 wild card.In each of his 2 SB runs he was the beneficiary of some of the most fortuitous plays and calls of all time (including the playoffs leading to the SB).In his last 5 years he is 41-36 AND missed the playoffs 4 of the last 5 seasons…even though he is coaching one of the highest payroll teams, with one of the highest paid (although nowhere near best) QB’s.Two questions…1) should he be fired after this season (or graciously allowed to “retire”), and 2), is there any possibility he DESERVES to make the HOF?

srkusa
srkusa

The team to watch is the Patriots - last time they pulled these late game wins by playing the full 60 minutes they went all the way and won the super bowl. Best damn coached and quarterbacked team in the history of the NFL based on their consistent winning record over the last decade and their desire, determination and dedication to winning no matter who the opponent is - they do just enough and you can say they got lucky on some plays but let's not forget they capitalized on them!

DeeEmm1
DeeEmm1

Senator Murphy was clearly going to discuss Pokemon X and Y and the upcoming Z version. Get with the times Peter.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

The refs are spectacularly bad. Could there be a Tim Donaghy in the ranks? Just wondering if anyone else has had this thought. Because the kinds of mistakes being made are all but inexplicable. 

Stevo1
Stevo1

So, who is going to replace Shannie?   Can't imagine anyone decent taking the job.  Where's Joe Gibbs when we need him?  Again, that is.  And where will Shannie and his clone end up?  Hopefully out of football.  He never should have let RGIII on the field after the first half of last year's playoff against Seattle.  And he never should have let RGIII near the field until the 7th or 8th game this year.  He's done.

drudown
drudown

Although Edelman does not cite Ray Kroc for his paraphrase "when you’re green, you grow; when you’re ripe, you rot"…great quote.

Rama
Rama

Excuse me. The injury of the year award belongs to Aaron Rodgers. No comparison between an oft injured tight end, who Brady can win without vs Rodgers who is arguably the best player in the league.

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

So vicious hits that are legal in the NFL that end careers are OK....but fighting in hockey is "revolting". Very Costas-esqe of you Petey, keep riding that arbitrary-moral high horse! (For the uninformed, Bob Costas is the self-appointed moral compass of the nation)

blorjr
blorjr

The football gods got even with Tomlin for his actions in Baltimore .

cgladish
cgladish

Come on, no mention of the MLS cup at all?  An amazing game happened in front of an incredible crowd this weekend for the MLS championship, you figure there might be a sentence or two about it.

Paul_Conrad
Paul_Conrad

Peter King's plantation owner mentality is on full display with his attacks on Jadeveon Clowney.  King and his ilk profit off the free labor of college kids, and feel the need to trash any player who challenges the current billion dollar scam that is the NCAA's student athlete. Peter King is obviously protective of his income source. It's just too bad his nonsense "love of football" doesn't translate into much compassion for the people football exploits.

Frotoon
Frotoon

"a church-fart performance in the desolate pews at FedEx Field"

That's a tacky analogy. Low class.

RayIsBipolar
RayIsBipolar

Was Polamalu getting ran over by Chuck Clay for his 2nd TD vintage as well?

George
George

Niners 19 - Seattle 17


- Sea-hens exPOSED aGAIN!  Can't win on the ROAD!!

They laid an egg and lost the GAME!


The Super Bowl (if the hens even GET there!) is not being played in their noise-nest, but instead at a neutral site

 - where they will be exPOSED in the season finale!

;D

YinkaDoubleDare
YinkaDoubleDare

Really wish the Bears had found a way to retain Toub. It wasn't just Hester, the Bears were good at kick/punt returning in general with Toub, and were one of the top teams in special teams DVOA at Football Outsiders year in and year out.

granite.burner
granite.burner

No mention of the first game changing mis-call in the Patriots game.  That quick whistle while the player was still in mid-air took away a Pats' fumble recovery and gave Cleveland their first score.  Instead of the Patriots having their first drive in a scoreless game it gave the Browns three points and ensured that the Pats were behind before they ever got to call a play.  Blowing the whistle while the player is still upright shouldn't happen on an open field tackle, and this was an egregious example of why not.


LisaJDarln
LisaJDarln

I just want to point out that Brooks Orpik, although he is a hard-hitting, tough defenseman, is NOT an instigator, which you repeated several times. In fact, he has received only a handful of fighting majors in his career and none in the past five years. When a Pittsburgh Tribune Review reporter asked 15 Penguins players if fighting in hockey should be eliminated, only Orpik said yes.


RescuedfromESPN
RescuedfromESPN

Here's what I got with my algorithm:

1.DEN (.797)

2.SEA (.786)

3. NE (.713)

4. NO (.711)

5. CAR (.686)

bserious
bserious

The Patriots may well be, but they're not as overrated as people who try to get free advertising by putting links to their sites in a comment section.

blynder
blynder

@akdonner2

Denver fan here.  I think of Shanny as "flawed" like any human being.  He never did a good job with a defensive coordinator (although Haslett did have his moments) and he needed to either A) evaluate talent and be a GM or B) be a coach; and run the team.  He wasn't good  both.  I was surprised when Washington took RG III TBH; he didn't fit that mold of a Shanny QB and I think we're seeing that now.  Shanny wants an Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Jay Cutler type.  Certainly he did get "help" from Elway and T.Davis; but he also did some good stuff as the H.C. on those SB teams (finding and utilizing T.D., Shannon Sharpe, Rod Smith, Keeping Romo in line, working w/Alex Gibbs and keeping the ling going, etc.)  So I'll agree that he may not be "great" but he's certainly not garbage either.

GlennMiller
GlennMiller

@BillyG I would really like to hear what these "fortuitous plays" throughout the playoffs were.  And in case you aren't aware yet, the NFL is now a salary cap league.  Which means there aren't any "high payroll" teams.  You must be thinking of baseball, which means you have no clue what you're saying.  Coughlin has had success everywhere he has coached.  As far as your stat of missing the playoffs 4 of the last 5 years - why that arbitrary number of years??  How about this stat - Coughlin has won the super bowl in 2 of the last 7 years, which no other head coach can say.  You sound like a typical fan that never played football and really doesn't understand the game.  Go back to your mom's basement.

ILoveMyWife
ILoveMyWife


Sounds like Snyder is the one forcing RGIII down Shanahan's throat ala Bud Adams with Vince Young and Jeff Fisher.

RockOfGib
RockOfGib

@Rama I think he was talking about season-ending injuries. Rodgers isn't out for the year.

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

@Rama If he played for New England then yes it would definitely be injury of the year. Welcome to Bradyland - ahem - mmqb.com

russel.mcgee
russel.mcgee

@SemperFiDTM To compare the violence of any sport with the institutionalized thuggery of the NHL shows that NHL fans deserve the goons that put on the fights for them--but not in the playoffs for some reason. The fans are goons themselves.


JPM
JPM

And who appointed you?

drudown
drudown

@Paul_Conrad


Taken to its illogical conclusion, you conflate grown men receiving up to $50mm+ GUARANTEED to play a game as (ahem) some form of "slavery"? Sure, right. 


As for Clowney, he doesn't seem to display the zeal or will to excel this year that a GM and/or owner might see as a condition precedent to making him the #1 pick, i.e., in terms of a dispassionate risk/reward business decision analysis. 


Duh.

George
George

@Frotoon not if you're a latte-sippin' beer-suckin' no-neck who farts in church!

:D

Dr.RosenRosen
Dr.RosenRosen

@George First, I think your Shift and Caps-Lock key is broken causing random words to be capitalized for no reason.  Also, your period key is spitting out exclamation points.  You should contact IT and get that fixed quickly before you post again.  You don't want people to think you're an idiot typing nonsense.


Second, the 'Hawks are 5-2 on the road.  They lost both games by a total of 8 points.  I wouldn't call them "exPOSED" or POSED or whatever word you decide to capitalize next.  If you want to capitalize a word, call them GOOD.

Marima
Marima

Yep.  This conveniently gets left out in the 'Refs wanted the Pats to win' conversation.  Plus, on that PI call, how come no one mentions the all important fact that the defender never turned to look for the ball?  If he had ever attempted to turn his head, the flag most likely doesn't get thrown. 

ILoveMyWife
ILoveMyWife

Did you read the article? Peter King specifically mentioned that Orpik would rather there not be fighting. That way he can instigate with impunity.

Rama
Rama

With Rodgers in pain last week, he might get shutdown for the year. I hope Peter then would revise his statement.

ILoveMyWife
ILoveMyWife


Really? Peter's bias is way in favor of Peyton Manning over Tom Brady.

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

@JPM I appointed myself a commenter on this board. Just like you. Oh, and if you are really Bob Costas, I loved loved LOVED watching you wet your pants when you had Vince McMahon on your show.

sitefix
sitefix

Finally someone says it! How many times have the Pats been called for PI for doing exactly the same thing: not turning to play the ball? I can tell you: plenty. That's why that call was made.

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