It's the most wonderful time of year, the holiday stretch of NFL football. Fans got the chance to enjoy gobs of turkey and Thanksgiving Day games and now we approach the New Year and teams position themselves for division wins, playoff byes and wildcard pushes. Let's take a look at this week's positioning.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-10)
It's bad when your starting running back is getting autographs from the opponent after you get drubbed by them. On the bright side, this season may spur some drastic changes that moves this franchise in the right direction and the rest of their opponents to finish the season have a combined record of 24-31.
31. Oakland Raiders (3-8)
One thing I can say about the Raiders, is that they have quietly become an abysmal team. After dropping four straight, the Raiders have lost by an average of 22 points per game. The defense has only recorded two turnovers in that stretch as well.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9)
The Jags got an inspiring win over the Tennessee Titans. Chad Henne (830yds, 7TD's-2INT's in 5 games) could be the answer in Jacksonville, but for now he is doing a good job as a stop gap at the quarterback position. Cecil Shorts continues to be a joy to watch.
29. Philadelphia Eagles (3-8)
The Eagles have lost seven straight (the most in the Andy Reid era) and face Dallas on Sunday Night Football. This has all the recipes for a Monday morning windfall of terminations. With Vick failing the pass the final stages of the league's concussion protocol, it looks as if Philly fans will have to settle in for the Nick Foles Show.
28. New York Jets (4-7)
After an encouraging win against the St. Louis Rams, you would expect the Jets to come out inspired against the divisional rival New England Patriots. However, despite 400 yards of total offense the Jets were embarrassed... once again... by the Pats and Head Coach Rex Ryan was outcoached... once again... by Bill Belichick. The Sanchez Butt-Sack is a new low for the franchise and Fireman Ed will be missed, or not.
27. San Diego Chargers (4-7)
Fourth-and-29 will not only mark the end of the Chargers season; but will be the most symbolic description of the Norv Turner-era, which should undoubtedly end at the end of the season, or perhaps week.
26. Carolina Panthers (3-8)
If the Panthers played every game on Monday night with Cam Newton, they would be undefeated.
25. Tennessee Titans (4-7)
The Titans lost to a lowly Jaguars team, then fired its offensive coordinator. But Chris Johnson has looked good as of late and despite some critics, in his past four games, Jake Locker has a 5-2 TD-INT ratio.
24. Arizona Cardinals (4-7)
The Cardinals continue their slide from first to worst, they never really smelled good to me. There is also a big vacancy at the center position. It continues to pile up in Arizona.
23. Cleveland Browns (3-8)
You can blame Charlie Batch all you want, but the Browns played a tough opportunistic style of defense (8 turnovers) that will be interesting to see if they build upon.
22. Buffalo Bills (4-7)
Despite a staggering road record in past seasons (12 out of last 14), the Bills have 16 sacks against the quarterback in away games this season.
21. St. Louis Rams (4-6-10)
The Rams seem to have quickly become "the team you should beat". Biggest mistake was waiving Brit Miller, but they still remain undefeated in the division (3-0-1).
20. Detroit Lions (4-7)
With Ndamukong Suh's recent attack on testicles, we will now call the Lions' defensive antagonist Ndongakick Suh. The Lions still remain the most undisciplined team in the NFL and will now dwell in the cellar of the NFC North because of it.
19. New Orleans Saints (5-6)
The Saints did a valiant job trying to save a season that was otherwise lost. Now they have the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football, a team who they derailed a perfect season just three weeks ago. This is a make or break game for the Saints season, so expect this contest to be a good'un.
18. Miami Dolphins (5-6)
The Dolphins continue to try and break into the playoff picture as quarterback Ryan Tannehill surpasses Dan Marino's rookie records. After a motivating win against the Seattle Seahawks, Miami will take their chances against the 49'ers and Patriots, twice.
17. Dallas Cowboys (5-6)
The drama playing on TNT is about the wrong subject matter. I believe I found what just may be able to replace the talent of Larry Hagman a.k.a. "J.R. Ewing". RIP
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6)
If the Steelers can get over Charlie Batch (20-34, 199yds, 0TD-3INT) in Big Ben's absence, they still have a shot at the playoffs. However, the recent streak of undisciplined play and turnover propensity isn't how neither a Rooney owned team nor Mike Tomlin system operates. I expect one of those two ships to be righted quickly.
15. Minnesota Vikings (6-5)
The Vikings took a lump from the Bears, Percy Harvin still out on the mend, and Jared Allen is now a marked man. This ride won't be easy for Minnesota as both Green Bay and Chicago look to cement spots in the playoff hunt and are licking their chops at Detroit and Minnesota. The Vikings must also travel to Houston to face the Texans in the second to last game of the season. Rough. Adrian Peterson continues to lead all rushers in yards (1,236), which is nothing short of extraordinary.
14. Cincinnati Bengals (6-5)
AJ Green (1,022yds, 10TD's) is asserting himself as one of league's top receivers and the Bengals are riding a three-game win streak perhaps right into a playoff possibility. If they continue their dominance against weaker teams, than they should snag at least three more games before the season's end.
13. Washington Redskins (5-6)
RGIII is beginning to run away with the Rookie of the Year argument. If he can manage to lead an otherwise above mediocre Redskins team into the playoff, he will have my vote for MVP.
12. Indianapolis Colts (7-4)
Andrew Luck is still nipping at the heels of RGIII in the Rookie of the Year campaign, however as of recent, his decision making and timely turnovers in critical moments have weakened his chances of winning, and Indy's chances of a playoff spot.
11. Seattle Seahawks (6-5)
The Seahawks would like to consider the 24-21 loss at the hands of the 5-6 Dolphins an aberration . They could have used the win at weaker team in their advantage as they now prepare to take on the three teams they already have losses to in order to win a playoff spot (San Francisco, St. Louis, Arizona). There is also a elephant with a syringe and a McDonald's straw sitting smack dab in the middle of locker room.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5)
Tampa Bay almost handed Atlanta its second loss of the season, but a late effort from Michael Turner and game winning extra point from Matt Bryant iced their hopes. Nonetheless, this shows how much the players have bought into Head Coach Greg Schiano and those victory play dives may have been intended for exactly what he stated. Play tough, all the way through.
9. Green Bay Packers (7-4)
The Packers were obliterated by the New York Giants, as the blueprint is now out on the enigma that is the Green Bay offense. Get to Aaron Rodgers. The truth will be told for the entire NFC North in the final weeks of the season.
8. Denver Broncos (8-3)
Clearly everyone now knows why the Broncos went out and signed Peyton Manning, but the Denver defense needs much more credit as it has held opponents to just 16ppg since the Week 7 bye.
7. New York Giants (7-4)
Color me stunned at the Giants performace against the Green Bay Packers last week. But can you really be shocked, thinking about the teams last two meetings? If the Giants are playing this way in November (1-5 midseason slump last season before winning Super Bowl) heading into December, that is a scary, scary thing.
6. Chicago Bears (8-3)
The Bears appear to have gotten back on track against the Minnesota Vikings as the offense showed up and protected quarterback Jay Cutler who was cleared to play after sitting out the week prior to a concussion. On the down side, the one bright spot on the offensive line, Lance Louis, will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn ACL after what appeared to be a dirty hit from Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. The line will be at a significant disadvantage in Lance's absence as the Bears continue to earn a playoff bye by winning the division.
5. San Fransisco 49'ers (8-2-1)
The Niners' are in the midst of a "quarterback controversy" that seems to be affecting everyone outside of the clubhouse. Alex Smith will be usurped - as of now - by second year; "Harbaugh guy" quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was selected in the second round of last year's draft by the Head Coach. Nonetheless, the 49'ers continue to win, the defense continues to hold teams to an average of 17ppg since the bye. It doesn't matter who the quarterback is if you defense barely allowes more than two touchdowns a game and has only surrendered 3 rushing touchdowns the entire season.
4. Baltimore Ravens (9-2)
The Ravens escaped with a win against a desperate San Diego Chargers team, but overcame a 4th and 29 to eventually win the game. In the drivers seat of the division and with Ray Lewis' return on the horizon, things are looking really good in Baltimore. The ability to pull out grinding wins on the road should prove beneficial for the Ravens down the road, no pun intended.
3. Atlanta Falcons (10-1)
Although it was a win, the Falcons looked very human in their narrow victory against a hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, the return of Sean Witherspoon to the defense and the emergence Doug Martin in recent weeks would give pause to that game as just a mere aberration. The Falcons still have much, much more to prove, but that isn't until the postseason.
2. New England Patriots (8-3)
With a rout at the New York Jets, the Patriots will more than likely begin to rest some its players in efforts to be 100% for the playoffs. Had the Gronk not went down late last season, we would be talking about the defending champion Patriots perhaps shaping up to cement itself as one of the best teams in NFL history. Not that still isn't in the discussion, the Pats are putting up crazy numbers (407pts, 4,794yds, 309-1st downs) as they lead the NFL in almost every major statistical category. The defense has now recorded 12 turnovers in three weeks, making the Pats appear to be nearly unstoppable. Just ask Rex Ryan.
1. Houston Texans (10-1)
The Texans continue to safely sit in the driver's seat as the best team in the NFL. The only blemish is being tied for giving up the 4th most receiving touchdowns in the NFL (19), but the way the offense is putting up numbers, (327 total points) it shouldn't be an issue. The Texans face the Patriots on December 10th that should clear up who the best offense this season will be.