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Saturday, December 05, 2009

FOOTBALL TALK-What to make of Week 12

FOOTBALL TALK-By David Ortega for Football Reporters Online

What to make of Week 12

Packers are looking like Post Season bound….
After losing to the Buccaneers in week eight and falling to .500 in the standings, the Packers have reeled off three straight wins to move back into the playoff picture. One of the biggest reasons for the turnaround has been the play of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has been efficient completing over 70 percent of his passes and even more effective throwing six touchdowns during the winning streak and passing for over 300-yards in each of the last two. The Packers have a big matchup on Monday night against the Ravens and there's no question Rodgers and the passing game are going to be key.

Should we be talking about the Chargers?…
The Chargers have now rattled off six straight wins and sit atop the AFC West at 8-3 and no one is talking about them; but they should. This season Philip Rivers has been the quiet leader in San Diego and one of this year's best fantsay quarterbacks. His 19 touchdowns and 2,900-yards passing rank him among the elite, but he is not alone. The Chargers also boast a pair of the league's premiere pass receivers and fantasy studs with wideout Vincent Jackson (49 receptions, 7-touchdowns) and tight end Antonio Gates (59 receptions, 827 yards). With a formidable lineup the Chargers offense has become explosive this season ranking 3rd in scoring and 9th in passing this season. We may not be hearing much about the Bolts at the moment, but you can bet come playoff time this fantasy squad will be making plenty of noise to be heard.

More fantasy Notes

With so much attention being paid to a former Packer's quarterback (Favre), maybe fantasy owners should be directing more of their attention on the current one. Aaron Rodgers has been one of the hottest arms over the past several weeks. In his last three starts Rodgers has thrown six touchdowns with no interceptions and passed for 881 yards (293.6-yards per game). In the same stretch he has averaged 25 fantasy points per game.

For those not keeping up with current events apparently the Seahawks have found themselves a pretty good ball carrier with 2nd year running back Justin Forsett. The former Cal Bear has quickly stormed onto the fantasy scene with two 100-yard rushing games in his last last three. He is averaging 122-yards per contest and also has four touchdowns to his credit during the span. Forsett has become a fantasy stud, but with Julius Jones set to return fantasy owners will have to be cautious before buying what Forsett is selling.

NFC South Wrap Up Week 12

           NFC South Wrap Up Week 12
By Rafael Garcia
Sr. Contributing Writer
Southeast Region Football Reporters Online
New York Jets 17 Carolina 6
Somehow some way Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme finds a way to get the ball in the hands of his opponent. Sometimes he does that a little too often, like he did Sunday when he threw four more interceptions and was a miserable 14-34 for a mere 130 yards. He looked about as lost as a kitten in a dog pound. He got absolutely no help from his running game either as DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for 75 yards on 25 carries. There was also the problem of 11 first downs to go with 179 yards of total offense and three sacks of Delhomme. Head coach Jack DelRio is already on the hot seat and must now decide if its time to bench his quarterback. Then add the fact that Delhomme broke a finger which will make the decision easier. He had a passer rating of 12.7 and appears to have lost all confidence in himself. He now has 18 interceptions and that is his career high for a single-season. The worst part is that alot of his picks have resulted in scores too. When they had an oppotunity to score they could not. They had just intercepted Jets QB Mark Sanchez and Delhomme quickly hit Steve Smith in the end zone for a touchdown. Jets head coach Rex Ryan did not believe it was a catch and challenged the call. He would wn and the Panthers would have to settle for a field goal. It has been a season to forget for Carolina and Delhomme and it isn't over yet. The question is not whether Matt Moore will start next week. The question is will Delhomme ever get his job back. Speaking of jobs, what about DelRio? Can he last the season and if he does will he be here next year. Highly unlikely at this point so please stand by. One thing is certain and that would be that this team has to make alot of changes if they hope to compete next year.
Atlanta 20 Tampa Bay 17
It has not been a kind season for either of these teams. The Falcons had high expectations coming into this season but were 5-5 coming in. The Bucs, playing under new head coach Raheem Morris, have had one of those years you already want to forget. Still they have played hard for their coach and rookie QB Josh Freeman is showing that he can be an NFL quarterback. On this day he was sacked six times but was 20-29 for 250 yards and two touchdowns. His counterpart Matt Ryan was hurt early when his foot was rolled on and he could not return. Also injured for the Falcons were running back Michael Turner, linemen Harvey Dahl and Sam Baker, The question is when will they return because they are so key to the Falcons success. So Chris Redman came in and saved the day when he hit Roddy White for the winning score with 23 seconds left. The Bucs had a chance to win but like usual found a way to lose it. Atlanta finds itself still in the playoff hunt but will need to keep winning and get some help from the rest of the NFC. The Bucs find themselves at 1-10 and need help badly. They could only muster 13 first downs and had just 73 yards on the ground. Penalties continue to haunt them and they added eight more on Sunday. They appear to have their quarterback of the future and have Cadillac Williams in the backfield. They will need to shore up the offensive line to protect Freeman better and their defense needs to improve dramatically. Redman was not bad in going 23-41 for 243 yards and no picks with two touchdowns. Tony Gonzalez is the only thing they have to count on as he addded nine catches for 83 yards. The Falcons are still in the playoff hunt but need teams like Philly and Green Bay to lose as well as continuing to win themselves. Three of the last five games are at home where they are 5-0 this year and one of those are against Philadelphia. They also go to the Jets and Tampa where they have a good chance to win those games if they are healthy. If Ryan and Turner do not return soon it won't matter because Atlanta needs them if they have any chance at making the postseason.
New Orleans 38 New England 17
Wow would be a word to describe this Saints offense I would say. Another could be explosive or plain and simply terrific. It was the showdown of the week and it was not supposed to disappoint. Drew Brees against Tom Brady is all the billing you needed to sell this one but it was Brees who made the statement. He was as accurate as you can be and finished 18-23 for 371 yards and five touchdowns. It was the first time a quarterback has thrown for that many scores against a Bill Belichick defense. They had no way of stopping Brees especially in the second quarter when he threw three scoring passes to three different players. Yet, as much as the offense has done the real story is the improvement of their defense. Darren Sharper sent Brady to bench for good with one of two picks the D had and the Pats looked lost and confused. It was a sight to see when Brady walked off the field each time he was stopped. He had a look on his face rarely seen during his career. His offense could not move the ball and his ground game did not help. They got two touchdown runs from Laurence Maroney and that was all they could get. Brady was harrassed and knocked around the whole game. So now the Saints are 11-0 like the Colts and are looking to run the table. It is games like this that can define a season and the Saints can use this win to propel them all they way to the Super Bowl. Saints receivers had a ball as Marques Colston had only four catches but that was good enough for 121 yards and a touchdown. Devery Henderson chipped in with only three catches but he finished with 116 yards and a nice 75-yard strike from Brees. So with their offense in sync and their defense playing ferociously the Saints have a good chance of running the table. Of course we all know that will be a moot point if they end their year the same way these Pats did when they went 16-0 only to lose to the Giants in the Super Bowl. Now we will see if they can win out and with games at home against the likes of Dallas and Tampa and roadies at Washington, Atlanta and Carolina, an undefeated season is looking better every week. I have a question for all of you. Give me a reason for Brees not getting the MVP this year.

AFC South Wrap Up Week 12

                AFC South Wrap Up Week 12
By Rafael Garcia
Sr. Contributing Writer
Southeast Region-Football Reporters Online
Tennessee 20 Arizona 17
When we last saw Vince Young and Matt Leinart on the big stage it was 2006 in the Rose Bowl. It was an epic battle between two of college football's best players and it came down to the final drive. On that drive Young would basically will his team down the field and he finished it off with that run into the end zone to give Texas the national championship over USC. Fast forward to this past Sunday and these two guys were at it again in Nashville. Cardinals starting quarterback Kurt Warner was ruled out and Leinart got his chance. The Cards came in at 7-3 in the NFC West and were looking to pad their lead. The atmosphere was electric before game time and a slight misty rain bothered no one in attendance. The Titans struck first when Rob Bironas hit a 52-yard field goal to give Tennessee a 3-0 lead. It was 6-3 at the half and both teams went into the lockeroom not knowing the drama about to unfold. In the third quarter the teams traded punts and then the Titans got the ball with 3:56 to go. On first down Young went deep to Bo Scaife but the pass was incomplete. So now it was second and ten and the play was a left tackle run to Chris Johnson. He went left, trying to navigate through the crowd and then popped out by the sidelines. A defender tried to get him and he sped up a bit then side stepped another and then he was gone 85 yards for the score. It was the third touchdown run of 85 yards or more this year for Johnson and no one has ever done that in their entire career. He ended up with 154 more yards to tie the NFL record of 125+ yards in six straight games. The record he tied was held by the great Eric Dickerson in the same year he ran for an NFL record 2,105 yards. In fact, Johnson is ahead of Dickerson's pace for that year. He continues to make it look easy as he piles up the yards. Still he was not the story on this misty day. It was 13-3 and it looked like Tennesse had another victory in the bag but Leinart had other plans. He remembered that day in the Rose Bowl and did not want to go out like that again. He got help from LaRod Stephens-Howling on the ensuing kickoff when he blew past the coverage by Tennessee and ran 99 yards to make it 13-10. So the stage was set for what looked like a fantastic finish. In the fourth the Cardinals were in position to take the lead and they drove 79 yards on nine plays and did just that. Tim Hightower ran it in from six yards barely touched and Arizona was up 17-13 with just over 12 minutes left. The teams once again traded punts and then Tennessee got the ball wth 4:37 left and a chance to take the lead. On third and nine Young hit Kenny Britt on a beauty of a pass that was good for 51 yards. When Britt caught the ball he fell on the turf untouched so he decided to get up and get some more yards. As he got up he was hit from behind, the ball came loose and the Cards recovered it at their own 30. All they had to do at this point was work the clock and the Titans four game winning streak would be over. Instead they went three and out and had to punt the football back to the Titans. The punt should have been returned but instead return man Kevin Kaesviharn let it go and it was downed at the one. So here were the Titans, 99 yards away from a wining touchdown, with a quarterback that had not been known for these kinds of situations. After a seven-yard completion to Britt on first down Young missed his next two passes. It was fourth down and time was not on their side when Young lined up in the shotgun. He threw a pass to Britt that was too high and too close to the defender but Britt reached over the defenders head and made a great catch to keep the drive alive. They were able to move the ball into Cardinals territory but were faced with another fourth down and one wondered if this was the end. Needing just four yards Young hit LaVelle Hawkins for 13 yards and it was now first down at the Arizona 31. There was about 30 seconds left  and it was third and five from the 26 when once again Young came through. He hit Jared Cook for 17 yards to the nine and the whole stadium now held it's collective breath. Three plays later it was fourth down again at the nine and hope had all but run out for a comeback. Six seconds left and an entire stadium stood together to see if another miracle could happen in Nashville. Young got the snap and stepped back but had to come up in the pocket to avoid the rush. It looked like he decided to run when he threw the ball sidearm into the end zone. It felt like time had stood still for just a few seconds as I turned away from the play. A second or two later all I heard was the cheeering and yelling of victorious fans. When I went back to the field to see the replay all I could do was shake my head. Everyone that was a Titan fan was laughing with utter joy. What seemed impossible had just materialized before a crowd of 69,143 rabid fans. The real story though was Young himself especially on that last drive. He started at his own one-yard line and never once did Chris Johnson touch the ball. It was an 18-play drive that will not be forgotten anytime soon. Young has been known for not being able to move the football. For not being able to stay in the pocket long enough to make a play. On this day he became an NFL quarterback that runs through his progressions and he had a career-high 387 yards passing. He was 27-43 wth no picks and only had eight yards rushing. What we witnessed on this day was the maturation of a quarterback that can now become a deadly weapon. Five straight wins with five more to play and the possibility of the playoffs. After the game he spoke like a grown man and praised his players and coaches. He still has a ways to go but if Young continues to improve like this the skys the limit. They go to Indy next week looking to end the Colts undeafeated season and looking for a sixth straight win. If they can puul this one off 10 wins in-a-row is not out of the question.
Indianapolis 35 Houston 27
When the season began it was known that Texans head coach Gary Kubiak needed to get this team over the hump and to the playoffs. He had the talent and had been given time to get this done, but after the last two years of getting close nothing but the playoffs would do for this franchise. So after 10 games they stood at 5-5 with the Colts coming to town. They had underacheved to this point an were looking to knock off the undefeated Colts. They jumped out to a 14-0 lead after one and were ahead 20-7 at the half but knew that would not be enough against this team. The one thing the Texans wanted to do was finish the game. They have had so many heartbreaks because they fail to play four quarters consistently. The third quarter was relatively quiet except for a Colts score when Peyton Manning hit Reggie Wayne from four yards out to cut the lead to 20-14. Now it was time to get nervous if you were a Texan fan because they had been here before. So many times before this team has found a way to lose and they neded this win badly to keep Indianapolis from clinching the division while trying to improve their own playoff position. The thing is the Colts have been making a habit of this comeback stuff recently. They had trailed in the fourth quarter in the last four games and now it was five. Peyton time was fast approaching and Houston knew it. So at the start of the fourth he went to work and at the 8:24 mark he hit Dallas Clark for a six-yard touchdown and just like that it was 21-20 Colts. Now came the test as the Texans got the ball and needed to score but Matt Schaub was off and his pass was picked off by Clint Sessions and he ran it back 26 yards to make it 28-20. With the wind about out of their sails Houston went back to work but to no avail. Schaub gave the game away when he fumbled the ball and the Colts recovered. Later the Colts would score again when Chad Simpson ran it in from 23 yards to put the game away. Houston scored a meaningless touchdown with 18 seconds left to end the scoring. Now the Colts will host the hot Titans next week as the division champs. The question is will they play to their potential or will they let up giving Tennesse a chance at a sixth consecutive win? As for Houston, well they are about done and out the door. The playoffs are now a longshot after such a good start to the season. The question here is will Kubiak's job still be his at seasons end after another disappointing year? Can the Texans right their ship in time to save his job? With the luck this team has had in recent years it looks like they will be starting from scratch next season.
San Francisco 20 Jacksonville 3
Speaking of inconsistent teams with jobs on the line takes us to the Jags and their season of hope. They too have a head coach who's job is in question and this game did not help. Coach Jack Del Rio started this year like Kubiak, win or bust. His team is another that has not been able to put four quarters together for a win. On this day they made 49ers QB Alex Smith look like a number one draft pick as he was precise and accurate all day. He threw two touchdown passes while going 27-41 for 232 yards. He is showing more and more why he was the top pick in his draft as he matures. The Jags got a good day from QB David Garrard as he went 25-36 for 307 yards but no TD's. They have been outscored by west coast teams by a margin of 61-3 and if things don't get better quick it will be curtains for Del Rio. His team had more total yards, more rushing and passing yards. They had more first downs but it all added up to three points. In the red zone they were not a factor going 0-4. Second place was a lock for this team a few weeks ago but now they have the "red hot" Titans in their rear view mirror. Adjustments must be made in hopes of getting to the playoffs but even if they do the Jags just keep being one of those teams tat cannot get to the next level.

Jets Hold On for 19-13 Win

(photo By Bill Menzel)

by TJ Rosenthal for Football Reporters Online

The Jets survived a late scare when QB Mark Sanchez left with a third quarter knee injury to hold on 19-13 against the Bills in Toronto. The win moves Gang Green to 6-6 and into playoff contention, with 1-10 Tampa Bay and the banged up 6-5 Falcons up next. Any hopes of a playoff run will be dampened though, if Sanchez is out for any extended time.

The Jets took control late in the second quarter. Down 10-9,  Braylon Edwards (3-45yds 1TD) hauled in a tough 13 yard throw in traffic and stretched over the goal line with 2:58 left in the half. The play was ruled down at the one but head coach Rex Ryan challenged it and the call was overturned. 16-10 Jets. This made up for a key drop by the former Cleveland Brown, wide open, on a long throw from Sanchez in the first quarter.

Still up 16-10 in the third, Sanchez then hurt his knee on a third down dive for a first down. He had worked with Yankees manager Joe Girardi this past week on sliding, after aggravating the knee on a scramble last week in the 17-6 win against Carolina. The play however called for an aggressive attempt in order for the Jets to keep possession, not a slide. QB Kellen Clemens took over the rest of the way, and was shaky at best. The career backup fumbled a snap and got stripped on a third down roll out inside the Jets twenty. Luckily the Jets recovered. Clemens did however make a key third down throw to the outside in the middle of the fourth quarter to WR Jerricho Cotchery. The completion led to K Jay Feely's third FG of the game, a 37 yarder to put the Jets up 19-10 with 7:00 left.

 Bills K Rob Lindell answered with a 32 yarder to cut the Jet lead to 19-13 with just under 5:00 left. The Jets then went three and out, leaving the season in the hands of the defense. Prior to Thursday night, the defense had twice given up game winning scores on the final drive in 2009. In Toronto, the D answered the call. DE Sean Ellis, who was active all night, put the Bills in a quick hole on their final drive with a key first down sack. On second down, the Bills went for it all down the right sideline, but CB Darrelle Revis, who held hot WR Terrell Owens to just 31 yards, intercepted the Ryan Fitzpatrick bomb to put the game away. Revis has now shut down star wideouts Andre Johnson, Marques Colston, Randy Moss twice, Steve Smith, and now Owens twice. LB David Harris also had a stellar game with 11 tackles and a forced fumble that led to points.

Thomas Jones who finished with 109 yards on 25 carries, iced it on the ensuing drive with a 25 yard run with just over 2:00 to go. The Jets torched the league's 32nd ranked rushing defense with a combo of Jones and rookie Shonn Greene (11-59yds).

The win allows the Jets the right to believe again; To rally around the truth that they are back in the playoff hunt. Jacksonville is 6-5 and the club that Gang Green is chasing for the sixth and final spot.  The big key over the next ten days, will be whether Sanchez can respond from the second straight knee injury in two games. During the post game press conference,  Sanchez admitted that "in the heat of the moment I was just trying to advance the chains." The team will conduct more tests on Sanchez's right knee over the coming days. As of Friday morning they are calling it a mild knee sprain. If the Sanchise is hurt, really hurt, the Jets may be in trouble. The latest Jet drama comes while they escape dire straits with two straight solid wins in five days.


Darelle Revis vs Terrell Owens: Revis island owned TO. 31 yards was all Owens could muster up. Three deep throws to Owens, led to two incompletions and a game ending pick for the leagues top corner.
Thomas Jones vs Bills Defense: We said Jones needed 100 yds and a TD in order for the Jets to win. He didn't get the TD but went over 100 which meant the Jets were running downhill in the second half.

Unsung hero?:  We asked for someone outside of the usual suspects to step up. Shonn Greene, Brad Smith, perhaps Danny Woodhead. Greene had 59 yards, Smith made some nice plays, Woodhead tripped on a screen and failed to look up on an early throw to him. Sean Ellis was the difference maker. Getting pressure all night in a game where the Jets had to have pressure so speedy Lee Evans would not have the time to expose CB Lito Shephard downfield. Shephard also played great , jumping short routes all night , almost coming up with some big picks.

follow TJ Rosenthal on twitter@ thejetreport

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