NFL Direct Snaps: Kansas City Chiefs Complete Improbable Run to AFC West Crown
What if I told you that of all the great quarterbacks that have come out of the University of Southern California in recent years, the one having the most success was a bench warmer?
You wouldn't have believed me, right?
Well believe it friends. Matt Cassel has lead his team to an AFC West title while his fellow USC quarterbacking brothers can't stay healthy and throw to team-oriented receivers in Cincy, display a lack of consistency in New York, and sit on the bench in Houston after blowing repeated chances in Arizona to become the starter, respectively.
You may also not believe that the New York Giants are in danger of missing the playoffs, or that the Atlanta Falcons failed to clinch home field advantage in the NFC on a night in which the defense contained Drew Brees.
I guess you can say that seeing is believing.
Here now is what I believe to be the good, the bad, and the ugly during Week 16, based on what I saw.
Five Things That Impressed Me About Week 16
1. The Kansas City Chiefs
Behind the excellent playing of the aforementioned Matt Cassel and the power running of Jamaal Charles, a division title in Kansas City became a reality on Sunday.
Cassel seemed to show no ill-effects of the appendectomy that sidelined him two weeks ago, throwing for 233 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Add to that the fact that the Chiefs controlled the ball for 40 minutes and you have all the ingredients for a 34-14 blowout of the suddenly helpless Titans and a division title few saw coming.
2. The New England Patriots
It is impossible for me to hand out one individual accolade when this was clearly a team effort.
Tom Brady set an NFL record for consecutive passes thrown without a pick, the two-headed-monster of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead continues to amaze, and the defense forced seven turnovers.
Suffice to say, the Patriots played like they deserve the number one seed in their conference.
Two weeks after suffering a concussion, Rodgers provided the spark that ignited the Packers, throwing for 404 yards and four touchdowns in an absolute annihilation of the Giants at Lambeau.
Not to take anything away from what Matt Flynn accomplished last week, but imagine the shape the Packers would be in had Rodgers played even half as well as he did on Sunday, last week had he played?
However, if you look on the bright side, the Packers control their own destiny, and could clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Bears next week.
4. Jerome Simpson
In the process, he helped erase the Chargers from the playoff picture and allowed Carson Palmer to be more poised in the pocket as he almost registered a perfect passer rating.
5. Drew Brees
While it's true that Brees threw two costly interceptions late, he came through when it mattered by masterfully executing a 90-yard drive which culminated in a game-winning touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham.
The drive served as a notice to the Falcons that Brees isn't quite ready to relinquish both his NFC South and Super Bowl crowns just yet.
5 Things that Depressed Me About Week 16
1. Governor Edward Rendell
I glad he's not my Governor, and I pity my poor father who has to deal with his shenanigans.
Yes, football is a sport that is sometimes played in sub-zero temperatures and extreme cold, but is it worth risking the safety of the players and the fans in dangerous weather for a football game?
Here in Rhode Island, I was coming back from dinner at my aunt's house and she lives about ten blocks away from me. The visibility was extremely poor, and the roads were slippery.
In short, it was ordeal to get back home.
Since Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter had already declared a state of emergency for the city, it didn't make sense to play the game.
Rendell's anger represents that of an angry Eagles fan who's upset he can't watch his team play on the day they were scheduled.
He further embarrassed himself by referring to this country as "A bunch of wussies" and implying that the Chinese are beating us at everything.
What the governor fails to understand however, is that it was not Armageddon if the Eagles couldn't play Sunday night.
What's wrong with the game being played tonight when chances are good that the roads are much safer and that people will have less of a chance of being stranded?
In a battle between football and keeping safe in the midst of a blizzard, the choice is obvious.
I think the Governor can understand that.
2. David Buehler
It boggles my mind that Buehler was able to kick a 53-yard field earlier in the Cowboys-Cardinals game, but in one fell swoop cost his team a tremendous comeback by missing a PAT.
Disappointment has defined the Cowboys season, and this is just the icing on the cake.
3. The Giants Defense
It also boggles my mind that a defense which such talented personnel such as Justin Tuck, Osi Uminyora, Barry Cofield, and Kenny Phillips, under the direction of a heady coordinator like Perry Fewel, can be this bad.
The Giants have surrendered 73 points in the last two games, causing their playoff hopes to hang by a thread.
According to WFAN in New York, owner John Mara has called a meeting tomorrow with Tom Coughlin in which they will try and hash out a solution to the problem. It could also be a meeting that will decide Coughlin's immediate future.
4. The San Diego Chargers
Another year, another Chargers disappiontment.
While playing in their coldest game in years, San Diego played flat. Vincent Jackson set the tone early by fumbling a reverse handoff at his own one-yard-line.
From there, running back Mike Tolbert was carted off the field, and Phillip Rivers threw a costly pick that led to a touchdown by the Bengals in the fourth quarter.
Once again, the Chargers proved that a slow start coupled with a strong finish leads to certain heartbreak at the end.
5. Ryan Fitzpatrick
The difference between Ryan Fitzpatrick in Foxboro and Ryan Fitzpatrick in Buffalo is like night and day.
The Ryan Fitzpatrick I saw in September in Foxboro made smart decisions, and put his team in a position to win.
The Ryan Fitzpatrick I saw in Buffalo, Sunday threw three interceptions, fumbled twice, and accounted for five of the seven turnovers the Bills committed.
The Patriots defense is hardly a juggernaut, and Fitzpatrick is an intelligent quarterback, so I guess you can just chalk this up to a bad day.
1. It's amazing what toys can do these days, my cousin's Christmas present was a Mickey Mouse doll that mimics her movements and sings and dances. In my day, it was just a doll.
2. I got the Wii Fit Plus for Christmas, and yesterday it told me I'm overweight and have poor balance. Oh well, I might as well put it to good use.
3. I believe Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh when they told Peter King that Luck was relishing the college lifestyle and that he might stay in college with the threat of an NFL lockout looming.
4. If Governor Rendell wants to shoulder the blame to anyone else besides the NFL, he should blame NBC. The game could have been moved to 1 PM, but anytime a network could lose a potential windfall from ad revenue, it is always unwilling to cooperate. Thus, any chance of an early start to the Eagles and Vikings was slim to none.
5. If you were put Danny Granger, Kobe Bryant, and Hedo Turkolu on a team that played the Celtics every night, the team would win every time. The reason being is that those three guys always kill the Celtics in the clutch.
6. So the Yankees are interested in Manny Ramirez, eh? You can have him. Why don't you sign Jim Edmonds while you're at it too!
7. A safe and happy New Year to all of you. May 2011 bring happiness!
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