The Chargers continued to roll through Decembers like Tiger Woods through the extras in a "Girls Gone Wild" tape with a one-sided destruction of the Titans on Christmas. Darren Sproles and LT combined for 5 TDs and Vince Young threw, dropped, fumbled, kicked, and lost the ball all over the field, killing the Titans' playoff hopes in the process. On the positive side for Tennessee, Chris Johnson galloped for 142 yards and a TD, giving him a real chance at a 2,000-yard season next week.
Atlanta 31 Buffalo 3
Matt Ryan was excellent, throwing for 250 yards and 3 TDs; Brian Brohm was not, throwing for just 149 yards and 2 INTs. And that, ladies, and gentlemen, is all you need to know. Roddy White benefited from Ryan's good game, racking up 8 catches, 139 yards, and 2 TDs, possibly earning himself a 2nd straight Pro Bowl invite in an otherwise lost season for the Falcons. Let the Atlanta bandwagon for 2010 start filling up now.
Cincinnati 17 Kansas City 10
The Bengals rode Cedric Benson (29 carries, 133 yards) and a late Carson Palmer-to-Chad Johnson TD pass to victory over the Chiefs, securing the AFC North division in the process. Now Cincy can spend the next week deciding whether or not they want to play their starters next week, beat the Jets, and make for super-entertaining sports radio in New York the following Monday from all the whining Jets fans, or rest everybody, let the Jets win, and then face them again in the opening round of the playoffs so they can beat them and create super-entertaining sports radio in New York from all the whining Jets fans.
Cleveland 23 Oakland 9
It took all season, but the Browns seem to have finally figured out a winning formula: give the ball to Jerome Harrison and let him do his thing (39-148-1), and tell everybody else to just stay the fuck out of the way. You could say this is good news for Eric Mangini's job, but with Czar Holmgren coming in, it's a sure bet that he's going to clean house and Mangini will be forced to go back to South Park, Colorado to hang out with Kyle, Stan, and Kenny next season.
Green Bay 48 Seattle 10
The Pack used big plays on offense (423 total yards; 97 yards and 2 TDs from Ryan Grant), and terrible plays by Matt Hasselbeck (4 picks) to route the Seahawks and clinch a playoff berth yesterday. The Packers seem to have finally gotten their offensive line issues figured out and will be a tough matchup for anybody in the NFC playoffs. And if Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews don't win NFL Defensive Player and Defensive Rookie of the Year Awards, then the awards should be done away with. But that might just be the Packer fan in me talking.
Houston 27 Miami 20
The Texans jumped out to a 27-0 halftime lead behind Matt Schaub's 247 passing yards, and then predictably shit the bed in the 2nd half as Miami almost came all the way back behind Chad Henne's gutsy performance and Schaub's Russell-like performance. In the end, though, Houston did just enough to hold on for the win, keeping themselves slightly in the playoff hunt and cutting Miami's playoff throat in the process. I almost wish Houston would make the playoffs just so we could all watch them melt down in their 1st-round matchup on a national stage.
New England 35 Jacksonville 7
It was a vintage 2007-ish Tom Brady performance, as he went 23-26 for 267 yards and 4 TDs in the Patriots' division-clinching win over the Jags. Wes Welker did the heavy lifting with 13 catches for 138 yards, and Randy Moss reaped the benefits, catching 4 passes for just 45 yards but 3 of the catches for TDs. New England looks to be hitting their stride at the right time, but the real test will be when they meet somebody on the road in the playoffs, if they make it that far. I would comment on the Jags' performance yesterday, but I don't even remember them actually being on the field.
Tampa Bay 20 New Orleans 17 (OT)
After crusing to an early 17-0 lead, the Saints completely fell apart and then fell in overtime to a downright bad Tampa Bay team. When Drew Brees goes 32-37, you should never lose, especially to the Bucs, and I'll come right out and say that this loss signals the end of the Saints as a serious contender for the title this year. In the last few weeks, they have choked in big moments, not a good sign when you're heading to the playoffs as one of the big favorites. Don't be surprised to see them lose in their first game in the postseason. Good to see the Cadillac getting back in gear after almost 2 years in the shop, as he ran for 129 yards and a TD.
Carolina 41 NY Giants 9
In the last game at the old Giants Stadium, the G-Men sent it out in style, getting their candyasses kicked up and down the field for 4 quarters and almost certainly sealing Bill Sheridan and Tom Coughlin's fate for next year. Jonathan Stewart run over, around, and through the defense for 209 yards and a TD, finally living up to the standards I set by making him my keeper pick in my fantasy league (hey, better late than never). The Panthers might have also found their QB of the future, as Matt Moore once again outplayed a much more high-profile counterpart, going 15-20 for 171 yards and 3 TDs.
Pittsburgh 23 Baltimore 20
Ray Rice's monster 30-carry 144-yard effort was wasted by Joe Flacco, who once again gagged on it in a big moment, allowing the Steelers to keep their playoff hopes alive with a slim win yesterday. That being said, Baltimore can still clinch with a win next week while the Steelers still need a lot of help, but it doesn't bode well for the Ravens' chances when their QB continues to spit the bit when the game is on the line. They might want to work on incorporating the Wildcat this week so they can ensure that Ray Rice handles the ball in key drives and Flacco can sit on the sideline and breathe into a paper bag.
Arizona 31 St. Louis 10
The Cardinals cruised to their first 10-win season since the Byzantine Empire behind the 313 yards and 2 TDs from Kurt Warner and the complete lack of talent of the Rams. With not much to play for next week, it will be interesting to see what approach Arizona takes with their starters, although playing against the Rams for 4 quarters is pretty much the equivalent of taking the week off so maybe they'll be OK.
San Francisco 20 Detroit 6
Frank Gore picked up 152 total yards and a TD on 32 touches, securing a 1,000-yard season and a win for the 49ers against the turnover-riddled Lions. Drew Stanton threw 3 picks and lost a fumble for the Lions and was so bad that he made Daunte Culpepper's 7-12, 51 yard, 68.4 QB rating day look solid by comparison. The 49ers will look to get back to .500 for the season next week; no word yet on what coach Mike Singletary will take off if they manage to win.
NY Jets 29 Indianapolis 15
Leading 15-10 in the 3rd quarter and with a chance to go up 12, Indy coach Jim Caldwell decided it was finally time to make a decision this season and it ended up costing his team the game and their perfect season. He removed Peyton for Painter and the rest was history as the Jets proved they could beat up on a team's 2nd unit and got the win they needed to move back into the playoff driver's seat. I don't want to sit here and debate if it was the right or wrong move, but the fact is, if Caldwell wanted to rest his guys, why wait until late in the 3rd quarter? One more TD and you've probably got enough of a cushion to win, and as Herm Edwards taught us, YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!!!!!!! Peyton looked none to happy to be on the sidelines for the loss and will probably not be inviting Caldwell to participate in his next commercial shoot.
Philadelphia 30 Denver 27
The Eagles dominated every aspect of the game except the TO margin and ended up making this game much closer than it should have been, despite McNabb's 322 yards and 3 TDs. In what could be the most shocking moment of the NFL season thus far, Andy Reid managed to properly manage the last few minutes of the game, running the clock down as much as he could to allow David Akers to kick the game-winning field goal and leave the Broncos with no time to do anything. Bravo, Andy. Bravo indeed.
Dallas 17 Washington 0
Romo went 25-38-286-1 as the Cowboys did what they had to do to beat the Redskins and lock up a playoff berth. It wasn't pretty and it sure wasn't watchable, but it got the job done.Jason Campbell made a case to keep his job next year as he not only threw for 199 yards, but led the 'Skins in rushing. Granted that was with just 13 yards, but what are you gonna do? The season can't end quickly enough for the Redskins and all those who are unfortunate enough to have to watch them on a weekly basis.
Minnesota 20 Chicago 10
In a battle of the overrated and severely overrated QBs, Brett Favre will do just enough to help his team not lose in the cold and manage to play nice with Brad Childress before he is removed late in the game so Tavaris Jackson can get some reps taking knees to run out the clock. Jay Cutler will throw 3 picks and move that much closer to throwing 30 for the season, a number that a fellow gunslinger like Favre can truly appreciate. Something tells me when this season is done, we'll see the both of them out on some remote field tossing the pigskin around in their Wrangler jeans and Hot Topic zip-up hoodies.