Heading Into The Home Stretch

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Eagles 20, Giants 14 – The most irritating aspect of this result is the “Plaxico factor,” as if everyone wants to call the Giants “distracted” by the lack of their soon-to-be former franchise wide receiver.  They weren’t distracted. Philly just played better because they didn’t have to commit a safety to defending Burress (and Domenik Hixon dropped an easy deep ball that should have been six early.)  Philly is always dangerous in December even when we think they’re out of it, and Brian Westbrook’s 100+ rushing yards and 2 TDs (one rush, one receiving) certifies his status as top-flight back again. Now, Andy Reid, why do you wait until so late to play ball like this?  Back to the Giants — they are still a Super Bowl contender and should be an NFC favorite — their receiving corps just needs a couple games to get used to life without Plax.

49ers 24, Jets 14 – The Giants’ co-residents in the Meadowlands do not have depth in the secondary, and it cost them against a San Francisco team that is playing hard and playing better under Mike SingletaryShaun Hill looks respectable enough at QB to win games (although if the Niners really want to think out of the box, they have a former blue-chip QB playing fullback in Michael Robinson) and the New York Bretts’ playoff chances are going to come down, fittingly, to the game against the man he displaced on Gang Green.

Dolphins 16, Bills 3 – The Fins, like the Jets and Pats, are deadlocked at 8-5 after the man displaced from Jersey/B, Chad Pennington, threw a touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano and led drives for three FGs.  The defense did the rest, and let J.P. Losman do some of the work for them by being his lousy self. How good an idea does playing in Toronto, in the dead of winter, look now?

Steelers 20, Cowboys 13 – When Tashard Choice is the most dangerous weapon on the field in a defensive struggle (he had more than 150 all purpose yards), why is Tony Romo trying to hit Jason Witten or Terrell Owens when the checkdown to the RB would seem to get more results? Bad offesnsive play-calling gave this game away to the Steelers, who are more than happy to take ugly wins on defense to cover up Bruce Arians’ curious obsession with ineffecitve five-wide sets on offense.

Ravens 24, Redskins 10 – It was out of reach when after Ed Reed picked off Jason Campbell on the first series and then recovered a fumble on the very next one for six. The tone had already been set, and after a series of back and forth punts for the better part of the rest of hte half, the late touchdowns were superfluous.

Vikings 20, Lions 16 – That was likely the best shot at avoiding 0-16 the Lions had because Daunte Culpepper didn’t look horrific and they were playing tight with a Minnesota team that has never looked right with Gus Frerotte under center. When Frerotte got hurt, then we saw Tarvaris Jackson come in and throw 8-10, with the finishing TD pass to Visanthe Shiancoe.

Cardinals 34, Rams 10 – A walk-over win for Arizona, which means the NFC West is theirs. Enjoy losing in the first round of the playoffs, guys. St. Louis isn’t even worth writing about at this point, except to note: remember how it seemed like Jim Haslett was gonna have the interim tag taken off after he notched two wins out of the gate after Scott Linehan was fired? No one talks about that anymore.

Bears 23, Jaguars 10 – Same old story for the Bears: if they’re scoring, it’s through the tight ends Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen, who both caught TD passes from Kyle Orton, or via RB Matt Forte.  Of course, they also get help from their defense, who helped make the Jags look like more and more of a joke. This team has turned on Jack Del Rio and he’s not getting them back.

Colts 35, Bengals 3 – Yawn. Three TD passes for Peyton Manning. Cincinnati is still terrible.

Titans 28, Browns 9 – Double yawn. Kerry Collins throws two TDs, Chris Johnson and LenDale White both run for one each, the Browns have completely broken down in all possible ways and their coach will be looking for a defensive coordinator’s job in a little under a month.

Saints 29, Falcons 25 – Aerial shootout, leavened by solid running games.  Having Reggie Bush back matters for Drew Brees, as the two hooked up and Bush combined with Pierre Thomas for more than 100 yards rushing. This wasn’t a game that would dissuade anyone from thinking that the Falcons are still surprisingly good, though. Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and Roddy White are still putting up good numbers, and their lines on both sides will get them into the playoffs.

Patriots 24, Seahawks 21 – Tough play and resolve as Matt Cassel leads a drive that ends with Sammy Morris scoring the game winning touchdown, however, the Seneca Wallace-led Seahawks were ahead for much of the game and showed promise with the Iowa State product behind center, if it should come that after next off-season.

Broncos 24, Chiefs 17 – After falling behind 17-7, it turned into the Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall show, as the two hooked up for two scores and got one step closer to winning their awful division.

Chargers 34, Raiders 7 – Apparently a visit from Oakland is still good for what ails you, no matter how bad the Norv-rot is down there. 3 TD passes from Philip Rivers, despite the fact that the Bolts don’t really run any more to open up the pasing game.

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