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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Evaluating the NFL: Week 12

The Thanksgiving games were pretty entertaining this year, or at least the early games were. The Lions moved the ball fairly easily against the Patriots for the early part of the game, but poor tackling and a couple unforced errors did them in. The Cowboys-Saints game was awesome, and should have been a huge upset if not for Roy Williams’ fumble late in the fourth quarter. Saints fans shouldn’t fret; this team looks to be back on track. Having Reggie Bush will help a lot. Here’s the rest of my recap of Week 12, and you’ll find my Week 13 picks at the bottom.

Throughout the year I’ve made some brash statements about a player or team being great or being terrible, many of them have proven me wrong. So let me own up to my mistakes here.

Matt Cassel: I was pretty hard on Cassel early, with good reason, because he couldn’t get anything going through the air. But maybe that’s because he wasn’t using Dwayne Bowe properly? The two have connected for seven touchdowns over the past three games, which is translating into a great statistical season for Cassel. It’s been against weak competition, but it’s not their fault they are in the AFC West. It’ll be tough for the Chiefs to hold off the Chargers and win the division, but as long as Cassel keeps doing what he’s doing, they have a fighting chance.


The Chi City Bears: I’ve killed the Bears on this blog, and a few weeks back I even made the prediction that they’d go 6-10. At 8-3, that’s making me look pretty bad. While I’m not buying into them being an elite team, it’s looking more and more likely that they’ll not only be in the playoffs, but will be in a position to have home field advantage. What I’ve come to understand is this: their defense, while aging, is smart, and after beating those once thought unstoppable Eagles and Michael Vick, I’m becoming a believer. The offensive line is holding up, for now, but I still see weaknesses, and I’m still not a fan of the Mike Martz offense, but it’s working. Perhaps the most overlooked factor of the Bears’ success is the re-emergence of Devin Hester as a return man. The Bears constantly have good starting field position, which is doing wonders for Jay Cutler and Co.

Matt Schaub (and the entire Texans team with the exception of Andre Johnson and Arian Foster): Ugh, this team. I can’t believe I was high on Schaub, because he’s clearly not very good. Head coach Gary Kubiak is not doing a good job, and if not for an impending lockout he would be fired. The Texans also have, in my opinion, the worst defensive unit in the NFL this year (this should NEVER happen). I just feel bad for their fans.

The Patriots: This team is playing great right now. Tom Brady should be a top-three MVP candidate, and even though the defense is young, they are coached by Bill Belichick, who could be the greatest coach in NFL history. (Have I done enough to jinx them, or should I go on?)

Matt Ryan: A direct quote about Matty Ice from my Week 1 column is, “He hasn’t done anything since his rookie year to show me that he’s ready to lead this team to an NFC South title.” Sorry Matt! No question that he’s ready, because he currently IS leading his team to an NFC South title. He really impressed me in that Green Bay game this past week. I never thought of him as mobile, but he showed great footwork in the pocket to extend plays. He passed the ball to receivers not named Roddy White, and most importantly was clutch on the final drive, which set up the game-winning field goal. Watch out for the Falcons in the playoffs, because I think they are the most well-rounded NFC team, but Packers fans shouldn’t be down after the loss. Aaron Rodgers looks like he could single-handedly take Green Bay to the NCF championship game, in what could be a rematch against Matt Ryan and the Falcons.

Quick hits

  • The Arizona Cardinals are borderline unwatchable. I noted Monday morning that perhaps the NFL was looking out for college students when they scheduled Cards-49ers for Monday night, considering its proximity to finals week. Who wouldn’t rather study than watch that? 
  • Nice under the radar win for the Giants, considering the amount of injuries that offense is facing right now. If they can tread water and grab a playoff seed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make the NFC championship or even the Super Bowl.
  • Has there ever been a more fitting name than Titans quarterback Rusty Smith? He’s awfully, uh, rusty. It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode when Jerry’s dealing with a library cop named Bookman. (Kramer: The library investigator’s name is actually Bookman? That’s amazing. That’s like an ice cream man named Cone!) 
  • Arian Foster is simply awesome. I don’t know what’s going to happen next year when Ben Tate is back from injury. I say they trade him for a cornerback or a safety, because Foster can’t be denied the ball. 
  • Steve Johnson, come on man!! He handled it nicely in the postgame press conference though, and this guy is going to be a force moving forward. Definitely a top-15 fantasy wideout if there is a 2011 NFL season. 
  • Raiders fans, this is earth, welcome back. 
  • If a team has to win the NFC West, I hope it’s the Rams, for the simple reason that everyone needs to watch Sam Bradford play football. He’s putting up huge numbers for a rookie despite the fact that he lacks any real depth in terms of receivers.

Week 13 Picks

PHI (-9) over HOU

Michael Vick is going to shred the Houston secondary. I don’t see this game being close at all.

STL (-3.5) over ARI

In case you missed it, Derek Anderson was seen laughing on the sideline down 18 points Monday night, and then flat out denied it after the game, which I thought was pretty funny. I’ll take the Rams.

NYJ (+3.5) over NE

Unless it snows, I’m taking my New York Jets to take down the Pats in prime time on Monday Night in Foxborough because, honestly, I don’t think New England is very good. There, I said it.

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