Monday, December 7, 2015

NFL 2015-16 Week 13 Review

(TNF) Green Bay 27, Detroit 23 - Green Bay was flirting with a fifth loss in a six game span, they really were. Detroit seemed on the verge of an unlikely fourth straight win, and more serious looks as a playoff contender in the NFC. Then, the Packers pulled off a stunner that earned them the tough and necessary road win, allowing them to keep pace with the Vikings for the NFC North division lead, while the Lions saw what slim hopes they had effectively end with this defeat.

NY Jets 23, NY Giants 20 (OT) - The battle of the two New York/New Jersey franchises was likely decided in the final quarter, when the Giants, close to the end zone and with a chance to go up by 13 with a chip field goal, instead opted to put the game away with a touchdown. The thinking was that the Jets would be pinned deep in their own territory, so it would be a relative win-win for the G-Men. Bad move, and it proved costly, as the Jets intercepted the ball on 4th and 2. Instead of giving the Giants a valuable 13-point lead that likely would have been enough to carry this game, the costly mistake allowed the Jets to get back in it, and they were eventually able to tie it and force it into overtime, where a field goal and stellar play by the defense in clamping down on the Giants offense won the game, keeping the Jets very much alive for playoff contention, and setting the Giants hopes for the playoffs back considerably with yet another stinging loss.

Cincinnati 37, Cleveland 3 - Any thought that the Browns would be particularly motivated to play extremely well following the Monday Night debacle was extinguished early. The Bengals made sure of it, as they played like championship material yesterday, showing the killer instinct and putting their cross-state rivals out of their misery pretty quickly. This one became a laugher before too long, and the Bengals now look again like serious contenders for home field advantage.

Tampa Bay 23, Atlanta 19 - This game was indicative of how the season has gone for both teams. The Falcons looked promising early this season, racing off to a 5-0 start, and standing at 6-1 just a few weeks ago, before completely falling apart and quickly dropping out of the playoff picture. They are not out of it yet, but this game, if any, really showed that it is just a matter of time. Atlanta earned an early lead, and Tampa Bay, a team that got off to a miserable start and looked in serious contention for the first pick in the draft, are instead playing like a real contender, having won five of their last six now. With the comeback victory, the Bucs now move ahead of the Falcons in the NFC South, and are making a serious run at a playoff berth, while the Falcons have fallen out of relevance.

Arizona 27, St. Louis 3 - The Cardinals continued their hot streak, as they seek to legitimize their accomplishments and their almost assured division title this season with a resounding 27-3 win on the road against the hapless Rams, who have now lost maybe like fifty games in a row, or something like that. Okay, maybe they are not quite that bad, but the Rams sure have looked terrible for the last month and a half or so, and they hardly even put up a fight against Arizona yesterday. The Cardinals move their record up to 10-2, and are still in contention for home field advantage, and are in strong position at least for a playoff bye.

Seattle 38, Minnesota 7 - While the NFC West surely belongs to the Cardinals, who themselves enjoyed a blowout road win yesterday, the NFC West looks like they have two of the top teams in the NFL at the moment, as the Seahawks still look suspiciously like a championship caliber team right now. They not only took care of the likely playoff bound Vikings in Minnesota, but they made it look incredibly easy, dismantling Minnesota from beginning to end in an absolute romp. For the second time in three games, Vikings fans watched their beloved team get simply dominated, first by the Packers, and now by the Seahawks. They hardly look like the potential division champs that they once did, although the playoffs still seem likely...for now.

Buffalo 30, Houston 21 - This was a definite setback for the Texans, as it ended their winning streak and knocked them back down to .500, although they surely had to feel better while watching the Colts get romped in Pittsburgh. As for the Bills, that home field advantage is particularly valuable in December, and they remain in serious playoff contention with this victory.

Miami 15, Baltimore 13 - The Dolphins ended two streaks yesterday: their own losing streak, and the Ravens winning streak (the only one that they have been able to muster so far in this squandered season). No, they will not be going to the playoffs, but they stopped the bleeding and earned a tough victory against a team that is better than their record indicates.

Tennessee 42, Jacksonville 39 - The Jaguars were looking like playoff contenders their for a while. But two hugely disappointing losses in the last couple of weeks have effectively knocked them out of playoff contention. The Titans looked hungrier, more willing to do whatever was needed to earn a valuable victory, and to keep their positive momentum alive, while the Jaguars look down and out, as if the season were already over.

San Francisco 26, Chicago 20 (OT) - This was a massive step back for the Bears, who needed the win to remain in serious playoff contention, especially with the Vikings showing signs of potentially imploding. Chicago fought hard, and seemed to be in position. But the 49ers, to their credit, were able to stay with them, as the game went into overtime. Once there, it was San Francisco that came up with the game ending touchdown to win it, earning their first road victory of the season, and handing Chicago a stinging defeat that might prove fatal to their playoff chances.

Denver 17, San Diego 3 - Pretty much what you would expect out of this one. The Broncos dominated, but did not explode offensively. The hapless Chargers found their potentially explosive offense grounded, producing only a mere field goal to show for their efforts. The Broncos moved into the playoff bye and better positioning for home field advantage with a valuable victory, especially given New England's second straight loss, while the season continues to be a fail for San Diego.

Philadelphia 35, New England 28 - Like the Packers, Broncos, and Bengals before them, the Pats ended their incredible undefeated start and began a losing streak, dropping their second game in a row yesterday. New England's miscues on special teams proved costly, and the hapless Eagles, who were flirting with the effective end of their playoff hopes, instead found a way to stun the Pats and keep their playoff hopes alive with a rather shocking road win at Foxboro.

Carolina 41, New Orleans 38 - The Saints fought hard, and pushed the Panthers to the brink. But in the end, Carolina came up with the goods, rallying late for the winning touchdown, as Newton found Jerricho Cotchery in the end zone with just over a minute to go in the game. The defense held, thus preserving Carolina's perfect record, extending it to 12-0. New Orleans, in the meantime, have lost far too many in a row to be considered serious contenders now, while the Panthers, for now, continue to their perfect season.

Kansas City 34, Oakland 20 - Kansas City continued their remarkable turnaround with a solid road victory at Oakland that all but officially ends the Raiders hopes for a playoff berth. The Chiefs have now won six in a row, as they march on towards what is feeling more and more like an inevitable playoff appearance. This loss for Oakland, however, was particularly devastating, as they still have not qualified since their Super Bowl season in 2002.

(SNF) Pittsburgh 45, Indianapolis 10 - The Steelers and Colts looked like they were locked in a close battle early on, but Pittsburgh opened the floodgates at some point, and the rout was on. Indianapolis took a major step backwards in their quest for another division title and playoff berth, suffering their worst blowout loss since last season's AFC Championship Game fiasco. In the meantime, the Steelers cemented their legitimacy as a playoff contender.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors

Golden State 114, Brooklyn 98 - The Warriors extended their record start by beating the Nets in Brooklyn yesterday, although it was a tougher than expected win. They owned a 17-point lead at one point, but then allowed the Nets to make a comeback, and threaten to become the first team to knock the Warriors off this season. However, the Warriors responded like the champions that they are, doing what they needed to and hanging on to the win. Now, they are 22-0. Wow! What else can you say, or think, but simply to be impressed and amazed with what they continually manage to do on the basketball court. Unbelievable!

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