Monday 23 October 2017 / 03:21 PM

Airing It Out: Week 12

Game Of The Week:

You know that feeling when you see some guy zip into the parking lot in a flash red sports car and as his super hot girlfriend gets out you think to yourself, “What’s she doing with that dickhead?”

Naturally, to go with his Corvette is a chiseled body and George Clooney good-looks. You glance down at your man boobs and mutter something under your breath about a fiery crash and a telephone pole. Then you shove another donut into your fat face.

Of course, the car never crashes. And you’ve got strawberry filling on your chin.

This is how all non-Patriots fans feel about Tom Brady.

We all love to hate him. And the worst part of it is that his money, charm, and ability to make the ladies swoon are all in addition to what he does on the football field.

Whenever Brady makes a few errant throws everyone starts talking about him “being off this season”, but Brady doesn’t do off. He just does winning.

Since joining the Patriots in 2000 (a 6th round draft pick by the way) he has led New England to 10 AFC East titles, 5 Super Bowls (winning 3 of them) and 9 seasons with at least 11 wins (most likely 10 by the end of this year’s campaign.)

What else can the guy do?

Well, how about a stunning come from behind 34-31 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football?

And when I say come from behind, I mean come from behind. After New England gave up three first quarter turnovers, the Broncos were in the driver’s seat with a 24-0 lead. In a game that was billed as a battle between juggernauts, it was over before the teams headed into the locker room for halftime.

I wonder how many dummies turned this one off and went to bed early.

It was the largest halftime deficit of the Belichick/Brady era, against arguably the best team in football. But instead of panicking, the Pats came out after the break, marched 80 yards down the field, and scored a touchdown on a Brady to Edelman pass to make it 24-7.

In a role reversal, Manning and the Broncos offered up some turnovers of their own, giving New England short fields to work with as they mounted their comeback. Brandon Bolden ran in a 1-yarder for the Pats’ second score, and then Brady tossed two more TDs, one to Gronkowski and another to Edelman. Tack on a Gostkowski field goal, and Denver was looking at a 24-31 deficit.

Manning put up his worst numbers of the season, with just 150 yards and an INT. He did throw for two TDs, one being a clutch 9 yard floater to Demaryius Thomas to tie the game at 31 apiece.

Overtime was epic. After winning the toss, Belichick opted to kick and give Denver the chance to score first in order to have gusting winds at Gostkowski’s back.

New England forced Denver to punt on their first possession of OT, but the Patriots were unable to get the ball moving either. After flip-flopping possessions a couple times, it was looking more and more like we’d see our second tie of the day (Minnesota and Green Bay tied 26-26.)

But then the Broncos Special Teams made a critical mistake. When Ryan Allen’s punt touched back-up corner Tony Carter’s leg and the Patriot recovered, it was game-set-match. Gostkowski kicked the game winner and Denver was forced to think about what went wrong on the long flight home.

 

Performance Of The Week:

 

The performance of the week really belongs to Brady. It was the 38th game in his career with 3+ touchdowns and 0 interceptions (although he did lose a fumble), second only to Peyton Manning with 42. But let’s not talk any more about Brady. We all know he’s good. And yes, you’ve STILL got strawberry on your chin.

So, a true star receiver puts up big numbers when they’re the only real target out there on the field. And Josh Gordon is turning into this kind of star for the Cleveland Browns.

His team lost to the resurgent Steelers, and winning is the name of the game, but Gordon averaged 16.7 yards this week on 14 catches this week for a total of 237 yards and a touchdown.

Wide receivers are generally ranked by the number of 100-yard games they are able to amass, so to go over two bills is quite the accomplishment.

The Browns are still missing the X-factor that they’ll need to jump from less mediocre to mediocre, but at least Cleveland seems to no longer be horrible. That being said, they sit comfortably in last place where they always seem to be at this point in the season.

Biggest Upset Of The Week:

 

Many in the media are calling San Diego’s win over KC a shocker, but to me it wasn’t. If you read back to last week’s column this was my call for the Pick of the Week. That being said, any time you beat a (9-1) Chiefs team at Arrowhead, you’ve done good. Yes, I know it should be “done well” but the grammatical error is for cinematic effect.

Back when Kansas City was still undefeated, every time the Chiefs won yet another game the pundits said “yeah, but…”, implying that the team couldn’t really be as good as their record indicated. Now, after dropping two contests in a row, we’re going to see a major drop in the Power Rankings and even more naysaying.

But it’s not that KC is truly flawed. It’s that the margin for error really is that small. I’ve said this before, but I will say it again: by design, the talent is spread evenly (mostly) across the NFL. This is not the English Premier League, where the rich get richer and Norwich City will always be Norwich City.

So yeah, Philip Rivers was in top form as he threw for 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions and nearly eclipsed 400 yards (392). His final scoring throw went to Seyi Ajirotutu from 26 yards out with only 24 ticks left on the clock.

Kansas City was unable to pull off a miracle last second FG try and fell to San Diego 38-41.

Ironically, it was one of Alex Smith’s top performances this season as he threw for 3 TDs with 1 INT and nearly 300 yards. The Chiefs will look to stop the bleeding next week when the Broncos come to town looking to do the same.

Injuries From The Week:

The Chiefs lost two key defensive players in the first half in their loss to the Chargers and linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali left with an elbow and ankle injury respectively. Both players will undergo an MRI.

Three star defensive backs went down this week. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie hurt his shoulder for the Broncos. Antonio Cromartie of the Jets may have seriously injured his hip against the Ravens. And Darrelle Revis missed the second half of the Bucs’ upset over the Lions after pulling his groin.

RB Ryan Mathews of the Chargers left the game with a hamstring issue and another back, Zac Stacy of the Rams, left his contest early suffering from concussion-like symptoms.

What to Look Forward to Next Week:

 

Top to bottom, Week 12 is the tastiest schedule of the entire season. Even the Jags at the Browns promises to be competitive as Jacksonville looks for their third win of the year and try to salvage something out of their abysmal season.

There’s not enough bandwidth to talk in depth about all of the great games in store for football fans this week, so here’s a quick rundown:

Gobble-Gobble…on Thanksgiving Day there are THREE beauties. The Lions try to stay on top of the topsy-turvy NFC North against the Packers. The Cowboys need to keep pace with Philly when Oakland comes to Big D. And the Steelers battle the Ravens. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances, when Pittsburgh plays Baltimore you get a football game.

The Titans are currently in the driver’s seat for the final AFC Wild Card slot, but they’ll need a big win at Indy. When Miami visits New York you’ll also see two teams needing a win to keep pace if they hope to vie for the same Wild Card position.

If the Bucs want to keep winning they’ll have to beat a hot Panthers team in Carolina. And two teams who used to think that Kevin Kolb was the answer meet up when Arizona travels to Philly.

This week’s games are so good that Chicago vs. Minnesota is actually one of the most boring match-ups. Same goes for the NFC East classic NY Giants vs. Washington.

The Chargers will need another upset to keep their playoff hopes alive when Cincinnati comes to San Diego, and the Cardinals will be rooting for the Rams to knock off the Niners.

Surprisingly, the Broncos-Chiefs rematch is NOT the best game of the week, but it will be, as they said back in the 80s, totally awesome. One of these two once perfect teams will fall to (9-3) and a Denver win ought to give them the AFC West crown.

Century Link Field will be pumping and raring to go for Monday Night Football as the (9-2) Saints travel to Seattle (10-1) to battle the Seahawks for home field advantage in the playoffs. Both the Hawks and the Saints play much better at home, so the winner of this game could very well be the team that represents the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Week 12 prediction results: 1-1, I called for two upsets but only got one right. Instead of falling to the Redskins, the Niners pummeled Washington and made RGIII look like RGI.

Week 13, who’s gonna win:

Pick of the week: Seahawks 34 – 20 Saints

Percy Harvin will strut his stuff and show why Seattle gave up a first round pick to the Vikings to get him. He’ll run back the opening kick-off and score another long TD on a short swing pass taken to the house. The Hawks have been building up to something big, and this win over New Orleans will be. I’m a Seahawks fan from birth (I was born the same year the franchise was formed) and therefore extremely bias, but this is what is going to happen. Count on it.

Upset of the week: Chargers 31 – Bengals 28

Philip Rivers catches fire again as he outduels Andy Dalton on another last second TD toss.

Michael’s Scoop

Arizona has quietly emerged as one of the better teams in the NFL. They haven’t been (7-4) since Kurt Warner led the Cards to the Super Bowl. Yes, believe it or not, Arizona has played in a Super Bowl.

Carson Palmer is no Kurt Warner, but he’s been playing well, better than he has since he was tossing TDs to Chad Ochocinco and T.O. in Cincinnati. But can he keep it up for five more weeks and sneak the Cardinals into the post season?

Probably not, but he should make it exciting.

Arizona’s remaining schedule is not favorable. They have three divisional games against Seattle, SF, and St. Louis, and two other match-ups against potential playoff teams on the road at Philadelphia and Tennessee. The two key victories they absolutely need to come away with here are against the Eagles and Niners, as these two teams are in line for the same Wild Card slot.

In all likelihood the Cardinals will end up in the painful position of having a winning season but not making it into the playoffs, but there’s a reason they play the games on the field and not on a piece of paper. They’ll need to take it one game at a time, but also hope for the 49ers to slip up along the way.

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Michael Airhart

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