Coach’s challenge: when a coach throws a red flag to challenge the ruling on the field. A coach gets two challenges per game, three if he wins the first two, but loses a timeout if he loses the challenge. (From Wednesday’s post.)
Normal Girl Game of the Week
Panthers at Saints, SNF on NBC
There are about a hundred different ways I would overstate this matchup, but in the end, it’s comes down to this: first place in the NFC South is up for grabs, as is an all-important divisional win. The 9-3 Saints did not have an easy week. After coming off of a huge loss in Seattle they got home even later than normal for a Monday nighter due to cross country travel delays. The 9-3 Panthers, on the other hand, are coming off a win, and are looking to do what no one thought they would be able to do at the start of the season: take control of the NFC South. It should be a fantastic way to end the weekend.
Also on the Radar:
1. The last AFC wildcard spot is still very much up for grabs. Two teams are 6-6 (Dolphins and Ravens) and each division has a 5-7 team (Jets, Steelers, Titans, Chargers). A quick reaction might hand that spot to the defending Super Bowl champs, but that might be hasty. Their last “easy” game is this week against the Vikings. After that, they face the Lions, Patriots, and Bengals. Yikes.
2. The NFC East is still a mystery as well. It doesn’t look quite as bad as it once did, but all three teams at the top (Eagles, Cowboys, and, somehow, Giants) have a shot to win the division. They don’t play each other this week, but they do each face a formidable foe: the Eagles play the Lions, the Cowboys play the Bears, and the Giants play the Chargers. The Cowboys might have the best chance to win and take the division lead away from the Eagles should they lose against the Lions, and if the Giants lose against the Chargers in San Diego they are almost definitely out of playoff contention.
3. It pains me to say this…but the NFC North might be worse than the NFC East at this point. Don’t let the 40 points Detroit put up on a bedraggled Green Bay team fool you: no team in this division has their act together. With the Lions and Bears both facing decent competition from the NFC East, one would think this weekend might open the door for a Packers team playing a woeful Falcons group. However, that one may not have witnessed The Massacre on Turkey Day…by the Lions. Even if Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler both returned to add a spark to their prospective teams, it still feels like it would be too little too late. This division will be
ugly undecided until the end.