After losing Godwin, Antonio’s rash gesture puts Brady in trouble, short of receivers. Green Bay the big favorite in Afc. Roethlisberger greets the Pittsburgh crowd by beating Cleveland on Monday Night
Monday Night which meant more than anything else as Big Ben Roethlisberger’s last home game with the Steelers, able to beat Cleveland 26-14 with a devastating TJ Watt (4 sack) and the races of Najee Harris, the future of the franchise. Baker Mayfield, aka Mr. Intercept, will go under the knife to have surgery on his left shoulder, perhaps putting an end to his disastrous season. Pittsburgh theoretically still alive for the playoffs, but a miracle is needed. That is Indy’s defeat with Jacksonville.
The certainties of life
As Benjamin Franklin said, there are no certainties in life other than death and taxes. Had he been born a few years later, they should have introduced him to Antonio Brown. When you think you’ve seen them all, from freezing feet, to the battle for the use of the helmet he likes, to the false green pass, the receiver amazes you. Half strip on the sidelines, undershirt and gloves thrown to the public, and many greetings to Tampa. But now he’s in trouble. Why think of winning 3 playoff games, one of which most likely at Lambeau, to get to the Super Bowl, without Chris Godwin and the aforementioned, becomes unthinkable. Also for Tom Brady. Maybe … Yeah, because the calm with which he sliced the defense of the Jets (incredibly capable of committing suicide by calling the wrong scheme on the fourth down due to a communication error between the offensive coordinator and qb …) was goosebumps stuff. A robot. But, as his wife Gisele historically said after Wes Welker’s drop that cost the Pats a title, “Tom can’t throw and receive the ball in the same action.” Well, after all he is not human, why limit him?
And then off to Aaron. Rodgers has the mvp in his pocket, because those who vote prefer qb and because they deserve it. The numbers are incredible: in the last 10 games against NFC North he has thrown 34 td and zero interceptions. The Packers are the first team in NFL history with 3 consecutive seasons of at least 13 wins. The Rodgers-Davante Adams duo are the most devastating in the league. They are clearly favorites to arrive in LA on February 13th.
Chase, my no Chevy
National Lampoon’s Vacation is a cult film for lovers of the genre (short digression: for those of a certain age, thinking that Christie Brinkley, the Ferrari girl, is about to turn 68 is a blow to the heart). But the Chase we’re talking about is not the Chevy actor, but Ja’Marr. With Joe Burrow he forms a couple second only to that of Green Bay. Cincy returning to win the division is news. But the most beautiful is to think that he has a bright future ahead of them with those two. Of course, they could spare themselves the heartbeat of that absurd quarter down played to the hand, saved only by a penalty. Otherwise we would be here to insult analytics again …
Remember the Titans
Let’s stay on the Hollywood theme. And let’s admit: before the start of the season we had not forgotten them, but we did not think they were racing for the playoffs with Derrick Henry who would (as happened) pay for the many kilometers ground. Instead Mike Vrabel deserved the title of coach of the year. They have a super offensive line and a great defense. If Henry returns for the postseason, now that they have the bye in their pocket (he’ll just have to beat Houston on Sunday) they’ll be a terrible customer to anyone.
Cowboys, what a disappointment
It would take John Wayne. The Duke, he was a real cowboy. Those with the star on the helmet are a perennial disappointment. Whenever you think it’s the right time, they collapse. Arizona was in free fall, yet he scrambled them at AT&T, despite the final comeback attempt. Zeke Elliott looks like a ghost, Dak Prescott looks like a fish out of water. And it can’t just be Coach McCarthy’s fault.
On Sunday there will be many games with the owners who will remain at rest, in positions acquired or in any case with very little to play to risk the bones of those who will take you forward in late January. But the calendar gives us a night playoff (Nbc chose that game for Sunday Night): Raiders-Chargers. Whoever wins is inside, whoever loses is outside. Taking Indy’s victory over the Jags for granted (but have you seen them in Foxboro? Unpresentable. And some doubts emerge about Trevor Lawrence, even if obviously he deserves a second chance given the mess with Urban Meyer), he remains in fact the last place to be played in the Afc. Unbelievable that Vegas is at this point after everything that has happened, from the Gruden scandal to Henry Ruggs III. Equally simple in the NFC: if the 49ers beat the Rams they are in, otherwise they pass New Orleans as long as they win in Atlanta. With Green Bay sure of the bye, the rest is just positioning and opponent to face in the first round. Coming second can make a difference as it crosses with San Francisco or Saints, much more affordable than Cards or Cowboys (yes, despite everything …)
Players of the week
Ja’Marr Chase in attack hands down: 11 receptions, 266 yards and 3 td. In defense Robert Quinn of the Bears, able to beat the season sack record of the franchise with 18, exceeding Richard Dent’s 17.5. In a team that has had phenomenal pass rusher like Steve McMichael, Dan Hampton, Brian Urlacher, Mike Singletary or Wilber Marshall, that’s no small feat.
Super Bowl of the week
Despite everything we remain with Chiefs-Packers. But if we are calm on Green Bay (as much as we can be in football, especially in the Covid era), there is some perplexity on KC, especially thinking of the Titans, given that Josh Allen after having made the phenomenon with the Pats was disastrous with the Falcons.
January 4 – 4:17 pm
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Tampa, Brown-shock, strips and leaves the field (and team). Steelers, Big Ben says stop