The teams have put themselves in position where any loss would seriously
damage their postseason hopes. None more so than this week when the Jets play
the lowly Chiefs in what seemingly is the easiest game remaining on their
schedule, and the Giants go against the Cowboys in a game that will go a long
way in deciding who will win the NFC East.
1. Packers (12-0) (Previous Rank: 1) –
Green Bay’s pass
defense is dreadful, but Aaron Rodgers makes every opponent look just as bad.
2. Saints (9-3) (2) –
Jimmy Graham has emerged as one of the
best tight ends in the league.
3. 49ers (10-2) (3) –
Alex Smith has proven that if you sell
out against the run, he’s a halfway-decent quarterback. I think that’s a
4. Patriots (9-3) (4) –
Most of it came in garbage time, but
you should never be happy when your defense allows Dan Orlovsky to throw for 353
5. Ravens (9-3) (5) –
It’s a good thing rookie Torrey Smith
stepped up because Lee Evans (three catches in five games) has been a complete
non-factor in Baltimore.
6. Steelers (9-3) (6) –
Pittsburgh must have a deal with the
NFL that they will play on Thursday night, but only if it’s against a terrible
team. They play the 4-8 Browns on Thursday and here’s who they have played the
past five years: 2010 – Panthers (2-14), 2009 – Browns (5-11), 2008 – Bengals
(4-11-1), 2007 – Rams (3-13) and 2006 – Browns (4-12). Their only loss came to
Cleveland in 2009.
7. Texans (9-3) (7) –
Who would have bet Houston’s
quarterback depth chart would have looked like this: Tyler Yates, Jake Delhomme,
Jeff Garcia in Week 14.
8. Cowboys (7-5) (8) –
Laurent Robinson (seven touchdowns)
has been a savior for Tony Romo with Miles Austin reinjuring his hamstring. But
Austin is expected back for the showdown with the Giants on Sunday night.
9. Broncos (7-5) (18) –
Further proof that God is on Tim
Tebow’s side: Christian Ponder throwing an interception that set up Denver’s
winning score against Minnesota.
10. Jets (7-5) (14) –
Winning late in games, late in the
year has become a staple for Rex Ryan’s teams.
11. Titans (7-5) (17) –
After costing them earlier in the
season, Chris Johnson’s emergence is keeping Tennessee in the playoff race.
12. Lions (7-5) (9) –
With trips to Oakland and Green Bay
left on the schedule, Detroit faces a must-win against the Vikings without
13. Falcons (7-5) (10) –
If they miss the playoffs they will
look back at the loss in Houston to a third-string quarterback with disgust.
14. Giants (6-6) (15) –
The “New York Moral Victories”
seemed pretty pleased after losing a tight one to the unbeaten Packers.
15. Bengals (7-5) (11) –
Have struggled against top-level
competition with their best win coming at Tennessee.
16. Bears (7-5) (12) –
What’s next, their star receiver gets
hurt? Oh wait, they don’t have one.
17. Raiders (7-5) (13) –
Carson Palmer trade means Oakland
can’t lose division to Tim Tebow, at least not without looking really foolish.
18. Seahawks (5-7) (22) –
Safety Earl Thomas is one of the
better young players in the game that you never hear about.
19. Chargers (5-7) (19) –
If anyone can have a six-game
losing streak and still make the playoffs, it’s San Diego.
20. Dolphins (4-8) (23) –
Could Miami’s resurgence actually
save Tony Sparano’s job?
21. Eagles (4-8) (20) –
What was worse: DeSean Jackson
dogging it in the loss to the Seahawks or Andy Reid’s attempt to blame the NFL
Network for portraying it badly?
22. Panthers (4-8) (25) –
At 32-years-old, Steve Smith is
second to Wes Welker in receiving yards.
23. Cardinals (5-7) (26) –
One team that could gain momentum
for next year by finishing the season strong, especially for Kevin Kolb.
24. Chiefs (5-7) (27) –
Kyle Orton injured his thumb on his
first play in a Kansas City uniform. Maybe they should have avoided a
25. Buccaneers (4-8) (16) –
Josh Freeman has taken a step
back this year, but is still a huge improvement over Josh Johnson.
26. Bills (5-7) (21) –
C.J. Spiller was impressive in his
first start since Fred Jackson went down for the season, but Buffalo still lost
its fifth straight.
27. Redskins (4-8) (24) –
Never thought a Mike Shanahan team
would be 31st in the league in rushing offense.
28. Vikings (2-10) (28) –
Why does Minnesota seem inclined
to rush back Adrian Peterson for meaningless games?
29. Rams (2-10) (29) –
It would have been a surprise had
they not been shut out (26-0) by San Francisco.
30. Browns (4-8) (30) –
So, it wasn’t all Eric Mangini’s
31. Jaguars (3-9) (31) —
Even a stingy defense has suffered
too many injuries to remain competitive.
32. Colts (0-12) (32) —
I doubt Archie Manning would
publicly say Peyton and Andrew Luck “wouldn’t be great together,” unless his
injured son also feels that way."THE BERGEN RECORD
SULLIVAN: GIANTS-COWBOYS WILL BE LIKE A HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT
Like two fighters staggering in the late rounds, the Giants and Cowboys come
out of their respective football corners reeling from recent events. The Giants
have lost four straight. The Cowboys dropped an overtime heartbreaker to
Arizona. The Giants’ injury list continues to deepen. The Cowboys still are
taking questions on last weekend’s clock mismanagement.
GIANTS' NOTES: SPRAIN FOR PHILLIPS
Yet as the week draws closer to Sunday night’s nationally televised game,
none of those concerns matters.
This still is a heavyweight fight.
If there’s always an undercurrent of hatred between two longstanding NFC East
rivals, the NFL’s scheduling machinations have managed to ratchet up this year’s
required animosity. Two of the season’s final four games are between these
teams, including the finale New Year’s Day in New Jersey. The Cowboys are
clinging to a one-game lead in the division, and the Giants are their only real
threat. No one else is getting into the ring – Philadelphia and Washington were
counted out long ago — which is why Sunday’s game is so loaded with playoff
And as highly anticipated as any contest on the weekend card.
“Our playoffs start now,” is how guard Chris Snee put it. “That’s how you
have to look at it. We know what’s at stake. Everyone is aware of what’s going
on and the circumstance we put ourselves in by not being able to win some of
“But heads are up. We’re not down by any means. We know that we’re still in
it. If we take care of our own business, hopefully we’ll be playing in
The Giants (6-6) need the game more than the Cowboys (7-5), but that hasn’t
softened the attitude in Dallas. In separate conversations with area reporters,
both even-tempered coach Jason Garrett and his mini-me, quarterback Tony Romo,
did their best to downplay both the rivalry with the Giants and the critical
nature of the outcome.
Yet other talk out of Dallas wasn’t quite as
friendly, with ESPNDallas reporting that Cowboy cornerback Mike Jenkins referred
to running back Brandon Jacobs as a bully and Dallas defensive end DeMarcus Ware
suggested Justin Tuck’s real reason for calling Cowboys Stadium a dump is that
he really wants to play for Dallas.
That sort of manufactured drama isn’t necessary this week, not when you have
two combatants weighted with the desperation. Both need to escape their own
histories of melting down when the stakes are highest. The Giants know they are
dangerously close to repeating the second-half mistakes of the last two seasons,
when losing streaks obliterated promising first halves and knocked them out of a
potential playoff berth. The Cowboys know they are viewed as a team more prone
to damaging themselves than being hurt by opponents. Last week’s clock-debacle,
icing-timeout fiasco is just another in a long list of examples.
Come Sunday night, one of those trends will end. Welcome
desperation." Read more...
Excerpt: "Sprain for Phillips
Kenny Phillips confirmed Wednesday that he has a sprained MCL, but said he
has not been ruled out for this weekend in Dallas.
"I mean I haven’t been told I’m going to miss a game or miss anything, so
right now I got a positive attitude that I’ll be playing," the safety said.
There was speculation earlier in the week that Phillips could miss several
games. Phillips remains unsure when he will return to practice, but did some
running and stretching on the side Wednesday. He had microfracture surgery on
that same knee in 2009 to repair an arthritic condition.
‘Chase is Chase’
LB Chase Blackburn hopes to make the Giants believe it was a mistake not
bringing him back sooner.
The former special teams captain enjoyed an impactful return Sunday with five
tackles on defense, another two on special teams and an interception of Aaron
"That’s what I’m trying to prove," Blackburn said.
Count Tom Coughlin among those impressed.
"Well Chase is Chase," Coughlin said. "He said he had his bags packed for
quite a while before he actually got the phone call. But he comes in, it’s like
he never left." Read more...
THIN BLUE LINE: PETRUS AND NEW FACES HAVE TALL ORDER OF BLOCKING WARE
Excerpt: "Mitch Petrus talks faster than Tom Coughlin attempts to shoot down injury
inquiries and Eli Manning tries to run from controversy.
When reporters crowded his locker Wednesday, the newest starting left guard
for the Giants could not hide his excitement: not just to speak about stepping
up after being thrust into action against Green Bay three days earlier, but his
Petrus had just finished his daily workout in the weight room, and as part of
his usual routine, he chugged two cans of protein replenishing drink while
In the midst of his overly-enthusiastic interview, Petrus made a point to
assure the media these were not energy shakes he was downing.
"I’ve got enough energy," Petrus said with a laugh. "I don’t need extra."
The Giants certainly need Petrus, and not only against the Packers, but going
forward as the offensive line fights to hold its ground and maintain success
despite a whirlwind of change in the way of sudden injuries, all of which have
the potential to be season-ending.
Left tackle Will Beatty was the first casualty, with surgery to repair a
Then there was the stunning news involving blocking tight end and reserve
tackle Stacy Andrews, who was hospitalized the night before Sunday’s 38-35 loss
to Green Bay because of blood clots that traveled to his lungs.
Beatty and Andrews have been placed on injured reserve.
Yet their absences were just the precursor to the medical mystery that has
enveloped starting center David Baas, who was ruled out against Green Bay at the
eleventh hour because of severe headaches, prompting the Giants to turn to
second-year pro Petrus in his place." Read more...