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Fact, Fiction and Farce Heading into NFL Week 15

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2015

Fact, Fiction and Farce Heading into NFL Week 15

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    Fact: If a doctor makes you sign a waiver before taking a medicine, you may want to avoid taking that medication. 

    Fiction: The Texans are the AFC's best team.

    Farce: Roger Goodell's handling of the bounty scandal. 

    It has already been a wild NFL season, and we are just getting to the good part! This is going to be a hectic end to the regular season and an unpredictable postseason. 

    We want you to be prepared, and this slideshow will help you accomplish that as we identify what will prove to be fact, fiction or an all-out farce about ten burning topics percolating around the NFL. 

The Arizona Cardinals

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    Verdict: Farce

    Following their 58-0 blowout loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Arizona Cardinals should be suspended as a team for conduct detrimental to the league. 

    It was as ugly a performance as I have ever seen. The Cardinals coughed up the ball eight times, which was only two fewer than their total first downs for the game. 

    The quarterback play they received from John Skelton and Ryan Lindley was shockingly inept, and it is amazing either quarterback is in the NFL at all. 

    It was a total team disaster. Now, somehow, someway this team must try to find a way to finish the season without further embarrassing themselves or the league. That's how bad it is. 

    The Cardinals shouldn't be hoping for a win, but simply just to avoid looking like a high school team trying to play in the Super Bowl. What a stunning change of events for a team that started 4-0. 

It's Wise to Fire Your Offensive Coordinator After Week 14

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    Verdict: Fiction

    As a fantasy owner of Ray Rice, I'm ecstatic that Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron got the ax, but this is still a baffling move. 

    The problems that are plaguing the Ravens' offense this year are similar to the problems that it had last season under Cameron: the offense is insanely inconsistent, Joe Flacco still looks terrible at times and Ray Rice is wildly underused. 

    Cameron should have been fired this past offseason, not 13 games into this season. This is a panic move. 

    Yes, the Ravens' offense has been slumping, but they are kind of stuck with that at this point. It's not like they can put in a new offensive system. They will have to have newly appointed offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell call plays from the same playbook, and he is going to have to learn how to do this on the fly. 

    While Caldwell has ample NFL experience, he has never called plays in the NFL. 

    I agree with the Ravens' decision to junk Cameron, just not now. This decision should have been made last offseason, or at the very least, in this upcoming offseason. 

Nick Foles Is Worthless

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    Verdict: Fiction

    Quarterback Nick Foles has been thrown into a terrible situation for a rookie, and not surprisingly, he had looked terrible.

    Well, Foles has made nice strides the past two weeks, where he has a combined 632 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

    The guy clearly has the arm to make it in this league, and his decision making and ability to read defenses is rapidly improving. He is also making those improvements behind a poor offensive line and a team that has nothing to play for this season. 

    Foles still takes some needless sacks, and he suffers from some erratic throws, but he is proving a knack for finding big plays, and he is showing that he can develop into a viable starter in this league. 

Doug Martin Will Be a Week 15 Fantasy Star

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    Verdict: Fact

    Rookie Doug Martin has been a wildly inconsistent fantasy player this season, but rejoice Martin owners, he is going to go off in this pivotal fantasy-playoff week. 

    He will be facing a Saints defense that has struggled all year. 

    The Saints have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs of any team in the NFL, and they are dead last in yards allowed per rush. 

    Martin had solid success against the Saints in Week 7 as he tallied 85 yards and a touchdown. He will better that number this time around.

    At that point in his career, that was Martin's second-most prolific rushing total and he did that on just 16 carries. Martin is a far bigger part of this offense now, and he will get more touches and consequently more production. 

    Martin will top the 100-yard mark for the second straight week, and he will get at least one touchdown. 

Terrelle Pryor Needs to Get an Extended Look

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    Verdict: Fact

    The Raiders' season has turned into an absolute disaster. The team is regressing in every way. The only way to salvage any bright spots from this dismal effort is to gauge which players are worth keeping and which are worth junking. 

    To that end, there is not another player where this is more important than Terrelle Pryor

    Pryor's athleticism is off the charts. His size to speed ratio is unreal. He can outrun most defensive players and anyone but defensive linemen are going to bounce off of the 6'4", 233-pound quarterback. 

    Who knows if he can run an offense on the NFL level, though? And that is the question the Raiders must begin to find out. 

    Carson Palmer has had a decent season, and the problems of the Raiders cannot be pinned on him. He has performed admirably in a bad situation, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be benched for the better of the team—and finding out what Pryor is capable of, and giving him this experience, is for the better of the team. 

    There is no doubt that Pryor belongs on the NFL field; it is just a matter at which position. It is time to find out, and that mandate should go from the top down in Oakland. 

49ers Are Locks to Win NFC West

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    Verdict: Fiction

    It has been fair to consider the 49ers locks to win the NFC West all season. Sure, there was the weird moment in time where the Cardinals were 4-0, but that came quickly crashing down, and the Seahawks emerged as the only team with any kind of shot to pass the Niners. 

    However, the Hawks were limited by the fact that this team couldn't win on the road, and it was easy to write them off. 

    Seattle's road woes were only confirmed when they picked up a Week 12 loss in Miami as they came off their bye. However, they followed that up with an impressive victory over the Bears in Chicago the following week.

    They embarrassed the Cardinals at home last week to leave them just 1.5 games back of the Niners, and that could be a half-game lead in the blink of an eye. 

    Seattle will have to face its road issues this week as it takes on the Bills, but its defense and running game should carry them to a victory there. 

    Meanwhile, the 49ers have to travel to take on the Patriots—and New England is rightfully favored in that one (more on that matchup later).

    If both the likely outcomes happen there, that will leave Seattle just a half-game back while they host the 49ers in Week 16. Seattle has not lost a game at home all season, and they will finish the season at home against the Rams. 

    It is hard to believe, but the Seahawks could end this season at 11-5 and as the NFC West champs. 

Bryce Brown Is Eagles' Best Running Back

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    Verdict: Fiction

    Bryce Brown looked like the second coming of Jim Brown over his first two starts while rushing for 347 yards and four touchdowns on just 43 carries. 

    Then he was completely stuffed this past week by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he gained 12 yards on six carries. 

    Now, Brown's success looks more like a product of the offensive line, and a player with fresh legs running against battered and bruised defenses. 

    Combine his poor performance last week with the fact that he fumbled a combined three times in the previous two, and there is absolutely no reason for the Eagles to think they should let LeSean McCoy go in favor of Brown. 

The Atlanta Falcons Are Elite

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    Verdict: Fiction

    You can't be an elite team in the NFL and struggle this badly in the ground game. 

    Atlanta sits at 11-2, but that sexy record is inflated by an easy schedule, and it has largely masked the gaping holes in this team. 

    The Falcons are 28th in rushing yards gained and 23rd in rushing yards allowed, and that doesn't even tell the whole story. The Falcons have forced poor opponents into throwing to beat them, and as a result, it has helped them keep their total rush defense down. 

    The Falcons are 31st in yards allowed per rush.

    This all came up and bit them this past week as they were outgained on the ground against the Panthers to the tune of 195 yards to 35 in an ugly loss.

    The NFL has increasingly become a passing league, but not to the degree where it is possible to be this poor in the ground game and still expect to succeed in the playoffs. 

The Patriots Will Beat the 49ers

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    Verdict: Fact

    Half of this game is going to be amazing, and that will be the half when the Patriots have the ball. This will feature the 49ers' amazing and well-balanced defense going against the Patriots' amazing and well-balanced offense.

    The other half could get ugly. The 49ers, while trying to bring along youngster Colin Kaepernick, are a running team. However, the Patriots are solid against the run.

    They are eighth in rushing yards allowed and an even-better seventh in yards allowed per rush.

    This is going to force the 49ers into passing down situations, and that will allow the Patriots to scheme and force the inexperienced Kaepernick into mistakes.

    New England's pass defense has been bad, but they are eighth in the NFL in opponents' interceptions thrown percentage. They will force Kaepernick into a couple of picks.

    All of this is going to put too much strain on the 49ers defense. If any team gives Tom Brady and the Patriots offense too many chances, they are going to get beat, and that is exactly what will happen here as the Patriots will win 27-17. 

Adrian Peterson Is the Real MVP

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    Verdict: Fact

    Not one of the three letters in MVP is there to represent the word quarterback. It seems obvious, but it is obviously forgotten.

    The last five winners have all been quarterbacks, and the winner this year will probably be a quarterback. 

    ESPN's Mike Sando highlights a panel of ESPN experts that voiced their opinion on the MVP. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady received all of the votes for first and second. 

    SI's Peter King is also taking Peyton Manning, and in most instances, the guy mentioned for third is Aaron Rodgers

    Now, all of these quarterbacks are having great seasons, but they are not as valuable to their team as Adrian Peterson is. 

    What Peterson is doing in context of returning from his massive knee injury is beyond the realms of reality, but it is nearly just as amazing when taken in context of just this season.

    He has rushed for 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns at an average of 6.0 yards per carry. He also has 38 catches and 211 yards receiving. He has a legitimate shot at breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards. 

    To break the record, AP is going to have to average 168.3 yards per game over the final three, which is a lot to ask, but over his last seven games he is averaging just over 158 rushing yards per contest. 

    Now, these stats are impressive, but that is not all of Peterson's case for MVP. Peterson is carrying the Vikings. 

    Christian Ponder got off to a nice start this season, but he has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league; and since Percy Harvin was lost for the season due to injury in Week 9, the Vikings have lacked any big-play threat other than Peterson. 

    Despite the defense being able to focus in on Peterson, he is still averaging over a half yard more per carry than the Vikings are per pass. 

    Everything AP is doing this year is hard to believe. 

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