NFL Week 11: Turkey and Tragedy

Peter Koehler

Though many of us will look back at this Thanksgiving with memories of heartburn, small talk with extended family, spending some quality time on the couch, and more heartburn, three teams will look back on the Thanksgiving games and wonder what could have been. These three teams of course are the Detroit Lions, the Dallas Cowboys and the laughing stocks of New York, the Jets. All three teams were fringe playoff contenders that had a chance to reinsert themselves right back into the hunt for a wild card spot with a win, or in Dallas’ case, at least make things interesting for a couple more weeks before inevitably choking in

late December.

In the case of the Lions, they were playing for their season. The sad thing is that they unquestionably outplayed the Houston Texans. If you’ve turned on ESPN since Thursday, the over-under on times you’ve heard about Jim Schwartz’s blown challenge is somewhere around 9.5, but that was only one way in which the Lions handed the game to the Texans. In the fourth quarter, the Lions were twice in field goal range on a third down, only for J.J. Watt to sack Stafford out of field goal range both times. What about Jim Schwartz settling for a 47-yard field goal in overtime or just this trend of coaches settling for long-ish game winning field goals in overtime in general?

Last I checked, anything past 35, let alone 45 yards is far from easy and the risk of trying to eat up another 10 yards and potentially committing a turnover is far outweighed by the fact that you’re taking a risky field goal that gift-wraps the other team with great field position if you miss

it. I probably just ate up more of my word count than I wanted talking about this Lions game because realistically with their brutal schedule they weren’t making the playoffs anyways, but c’mon man!

The Cowboys’ loss was less egregious because, though they did themselves in with a horrifically sloppy second quarter, they do score some points for clawing back in the second half and making a game out of it when 99 percent of America had already pronounced the Cowboys dead and let the tryptophan take over. A win here would have been huge for the ‘Boys, but now their NFC East hopes are gloomy, especially with Washington’s emergence and New York’s big win, but they still have more than a fighter’s chance at the wild card. We might only have to wait until next week for the Cowboys to play themselves out of contention though, where a home loss against the abysmal Philadelphia Eagles seems

absolutely Cowboys-esque.

For the New York Jets, there’s really only one thing to sum up their season. They are who we thought they were, which wasn’t much. When your team’s only supposed strength is not turning the ball over and you turn the ball over five times, it’s game over. The 2012 Jets are a lot like the 2011 Broncos in that if they get down more than 10 points, it’s done. The 2011 Broncos of course made the playoffs, and maybe it’s time for the Jets to roll the dice with Tim Tebow, but Tebow has no chance of turning water into wine with Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens, Clyde Gates and Stephen Hill at wide receiver. That’s considering how little damage he could do with his arm with the far superior combination of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on Denver.

The Jets weren’t the only AFC team that blew a realistic shot at the last wild card spot with a loss this week. Buffalo, Tennessee and San Diego all proved with their sub-par outings that dropped them to 4-7 that they probably weren’t ever worthy of playoff discussion. Miami is now the only survivor of the 4-6 teams, hanging on to a close home win over Seattle that they tried to give away. The AFC division leaders, New England, Baltimore, Houston and Denver are now all but locked in, and it’s essentially a four team race between Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Miami for the two extra playoff spots.

Still, none of those four teams pose too much of a playoff threat should they get in and arguably the more intriguing storyline is who is going to wrap up the one and two seeds.

The NFC, however, is a bit more interesting where only Arizona, Carolina, Detroit and Philadelphia are out of

contention. Once again, let’s hear it for week 12 Monday Night Football and that

unfortunately meaningless matchup.

With Seattle, Tampa Bay and Green Bay all losing, to say the wild card race is wide open would be a massive understatement. With a pretty favorable schedule, it’s still fair to say the Packers are in all likelihood getting in the postseason one way or another. Between Dallas, Washington, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Seattle, however, who are all 6-5 or 5-6, it’s pretty much the first one to 10 wins gets in. Otherwise things are getting mighty ugly with tiebreakers and

onference records coming into question.

Things are definitely starting to get real in the NFL, just in time for us to spend Sunday afternoons in Case Library monitoring the internet when we should be

doing work.

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