Review and Preview : Week 15

football, news, week 15

Review

Monday: We reviewed my favorite week (almost) ever, Week 15.

Tuesday: Why a team has their “own” side of the field, and how to tell which side it is.

Wednesday: We learned what all of that waving during kickoff is all about.

Thursday: Postseason Prep, Part II! How the Playoffs Work.

Preview

Normal Girl Game of the Week

Patriots at Ravens, 4:25pm on CBS

The repeat of last year’s AFC Championship game may not have the same implications as it did a year ago, but it’s still going to be a pretty important game. The Ravens have somehow launched themselves into playoff contention, and the Patriots are still in the hunt for a first round bye. It should be a wild day in Baltimore!

Also on the Radar:

1. Once the Chiefs slipped, the Broncos all but locked up their top seed and first round bye in the AFC. Now, that spot is on precariously thin ice. The Broncos need to beat the Texans (which, let’s face it, should not be all that much of a challenge) to keep charging toward a week off in Round 1.

2. Cowboys at Redskins might seem like an easy win, but the Boys in Blue lost a heartbreaker last week (for them; for me, it was awesome) and are fighting for their lives in the NFC East. They can still realistically win the division, but they’ll need the Eagles to lose either this week (against the Bears) or next week (appropriately, against the Cowboys).

3. The Return of Rodgers?! Maybe. We should find out today. Miraculously, thanks to a LOT of help from the other teams in the NFC North (and a few in the NFC East, too), the Packers control their playoff destiny…at 7-6-1. Win and they’re in. Crazy. With games against the Steelers and the Bears rounding out the season it’s more than possible…especially if Rodgers is at the helm. However, much to the long-term benefit of himself and Packers fans everywhere, team doctor Pat McKenzie is notoriously cautious when it comes to player injuries. He won’t give the ok until Rodgers is 100% ready to be back on a football field.

At the Water Cooler : Week 15

football, games, week 15

Yesterday morning I woke up to a foot of snow and I thought the day probably couldn’t get much better than that. (I’m a notorious and unapologetic snow lover.) And when the Packers were down 26-3 come halftime I thought, “It’s ok. I have snow!” But then, in what can only be described as The Half of Football That Made Me Lose My Ever-Loving Mind, the Packers won. And Week 15 became the best week ever.

Let’s review, shall we?

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (Chargers won, 27-20)

I was at a Christmas party for the majority of this game. And when I turned the game on NFL Mobile during the drive home I fully expected the score to be Broncos A Lot, Chargers Not A Lot. Shocker of a loss for the Broncos – and at home, no less!

Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons (Falcons won, 27-26)

Consider this: last year, both the Redskins and the Falcons were playoff teams. After this game, the Redskins fell to 3-11 and the Falcons to 4-10. It’s a crazy, crazy league.

Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns (Bears won, 38-31)

It may not have been a flawless return to the field, but Jay Cutler’s first game back was a win all the same. Alshon Jeffrey helped.

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (Colts won, 25-3)

Well, I was wrong.

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (Dolphins won, 24-20)

And all the Broncos said, “Amen!” (This guy was probably saying something other than amen.)

Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings (Vikings won, 48-30)

In what we all thought would happen, the Vikings shellacked the Eagles – with Cassel and without Peterson. Of course!

Seattle Seahawks at NY Giants (Seahawks win, 23-0)

Don’t be surprised if the Seahawks find themselves back in NY for the Super Bowl come February.

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (Bills won, 27-20)

It was a good weekend for Florida State quarterbacks, former and current. EJ Manuel had a great game against the Jags.

San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (49ers won, 33-14)

It was a first-half-of-2013 kind of game for the Bucs.

NY Jets at Carolina Panthers (Panthers won, 30-20)

I would not want to be on the receiving end of a Mike Tolbert run. This guy is a mountain. He is all the mountains. He is the Swiss Alps, basically.

Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders (Chiefs won, 56-31)

Are you ready for some offense? The Chiefs may have put up 56, but they allowed 31 – 21 of those unanswered. That doesn’t say awesome things about the Kansas City defense.

Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans (Cardinals won, 37-34 OT)

This was a see-saw game – back and forth all the way. Until one untimely interception in overtime that gave the Cardinals the win.

New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams (Rams won, 27-16)

What happened, you guys? The Saints have a tough one up ahead too – facing the Panthers in Carolina. This division is far from decided.

Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys (PACKERS WON! 37-36)

This has been a “there are no words” kind of season for the Packers, but there really are no words for what happened in Dallas yesterday. Perhaps the Packers should play all of their important games at Cowboys Stadium¬†from now on.

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (Steelers won, 30-20)

Did we all see the part where the Steelers came out and scored 21 unanswered points to start the game? It was pretty much over after that.

Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions (MNF on ESPN)

Ravens, my closest hometown team once I move to Harrisburg in a few weeks, I’m begging you to send an early Welcome to Town! gift and best the Lions tonight. Remember that you are the defending Super Bowl Champions!!! You can do it!

What To Know : After Week 15

The Fine Fifteen of Week 15:

FIFTEEN: The number of points scored in the Raiders/Chefs game…scored entirely by field goals. I don’t even know.

FOURTEEN: The approximate number of times Brady Quinn had to clap to get the attention of his Center to try and get the ball snapped. The ball never did get snapped, but it was a pretty entertaining sequence nonetheless.

THIRTEEN: The approximate number of feet Knowshon Moreno had to have jumped into the air to clear Ed Reed on a spectacular hurdle. Really, it was something.

TWELVE: The number of carries Ray Rice had against the Broncos, for only 38 yards. Great defensive effort by the Broncos.

ELEVEN: Eleven-and-three, the amazing Broncos record (which, by the way, The Amazing Broncos kind of sounds like a circus side show, doesn’t it?) They’ve won 9 of those 11 consecutively, which is just amazing.

TEN: The number of hits Bucs QB Josh Freeman took from the Saints in an ugly 41-0 loss on Sunday.

NINE: Nine-and-five, the records of two AFC teams heading in opposite directions: the Ravens and the Colts. The Ravens are in the playoffs, but don’t look like a playoff team. The Colts need another win to make it into the playoffs, but their future looks blindingly bright.

EIGHT: Eight-and-six, the record of all three NFC East teams (Giants, Cowboys, Redskins) who are tied atop the standing and fighting it out for playoff contention.

SEVEN: All sevens for the Steelers – as in 7-7, their record – which means they need to win their game against the Bengals on Sunday to claw their way into the playoffs.

SIX: The number of consecutive games the freefalling Lions have lost, most recently at the hands of the woeful Cardinals.

FIVE: Five-Zero-Plus. That’s the number of points the Seahawks have scored each of the past three weeks, 50+ points. They’re only the third team ever to do so.

FOUR: The number of touchdowns the Patriots scored in a thrilling second half comeback effort against the Niners on Sunday night.

THREE: The number of shutouts in Week 15. I mean, WOW. Three shutouts in one week – especially the surprise 34-0 Atlanta put up over the Giants – it’s shocking.

TWO: The number of third downs the Cardinals converted. Out of twelve.

ONE: One-forty-seven, the number of yards Adrian Peterson needs in each of the next two weeks to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2105 yards. GO AP GO!

What To Know : Week 15

Oh gosh, guys. I really dropped the ball this week. Christmas shopping and freelance working and plain old holiday unproductivity got the best of me. But here’s a quick look at the weekend ahead – it’s a jam-packed one!

GAME OF THE WEEK: SO MANY to choose from. Seriously. Giants at Falcons? Amazing. Big litmus test for both teams. Niners at Patriots? Defense vs. Offense. New old dynasty vs. Old new dynasty. Love it. Packers at Bears for the NFC North? Classic. Colts at Texans? HUGE. But the game I’m most excited for (Packers game notwithstanding)? Broncos at Ravens. We’ll talk more about this in the Storyline to Know. Another one to watch? Steelers at Cowboys. Both are desperate for wins right now, and both have shown the potential to be thumbs-up good or thumbs-down terrible this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Dez Bryant, Cowboys oft-troubled wide receiver, will play with a broken index finger and risk permanent injury by opting to delay the surgery needed to fix it. The Cowboys probably need 100% Dez Bryant to have a legit shot at winning this game; I’m not sure that Broken Finger Dez Bryant will be the answer they need.

STORYLINE TO KNOW: Back to Broncos at Ravens. Peyton Manning has a career record of 8-2 against the Ravens. The Broncos are 0-5 against them. It’ll be interesting to see what a difference Peyton makes in the Broncos efforts, and interesting to see how the Ravens offense functions after the firing of Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron.

RECIPES TO MAKE:

buffalo chicken biscuits

dreamy peppermint sugar cookie bars

hot kale and artichoke dip

santa hat cheesecake bites

skinny funfetti dip