All season long, Around The NFL's Marc Sessler will offer up his laundry list of heroes and villains from the week that was.
Let's get down to it:
1. Our Boy Brock: Starring in the game of the year, Brock Osweiler did more than just earn his second win as a starter against the Patriots on Sunday night. The fourth-year Broncos passer feels destined to go down as the answer to the trivia question: "Who got Peyton Manning benched?" What we've seen for two straight weeks is a Broncos attack with a suddenly lively ground game and just enough through the air from their young leader. In the snowy Denver night, Osweiler finally hit Demaryius Thomas for 36 yards down the sideline -- their first connection in 13 targets -- before drifting this pretty scoring pass to Andre Caldwell to forge a Broncos lead with the clock ticking away:
2. Matty Ice Age: No, not Matt Ryan, who currently operates as a Turnover Robot 2.0 for the dwindling Falcons. Forty-year-old Matt Hasselbeck is our subject after guiding the Colts to back-to-back wins. Andrew Luck's backup is 4-0 on the year and played his best game yet in Sunday's takedown of Tampa Bay. Despite zero help from Indy's ground game, Hasselbeck sat back and flung it to T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief, hitting his wideouts for a combined 209 yards and two scores off 14 grabs. His increased chemistry with Colts playmakers is only helped by Hasselbeck's on-field smarts and poise. Score one for the blue hairs.
3. Wilson Wings It: Seattle's big win over the Steelers came with a terrible fee: The loss of playmaking tight end Jimmy Graham. That didn't slow down Russell Wilson, though, as the 'Hawks passer ripped through Pittsburgh for five touchdowns and 345 yards -- both single-game bests. Plenty of this had to do with a Steelers defense littered with issues (more on that below), but it was promising to see the Seahawks get hot as Wilson hit throws of 80, 36, 22, 21 and 16 yards. Graham caught four passes in the win, but his 55 yards per game and measly two scores all season project out to career lows as a starter. Luke Willson is a capable fill-in and Wilson proved Sunday that Seattle's passing attack can be more diverse than many believed.
4. Fill-in-the-Blank Chiefs Running Back: Think back to when the Chiefs were 1-5 with Jamaal Charles ruled out for the year. Minus their All-Pro running back, this Alex Smith-led outfit was a candidate for football's most boring watch: Little through the air and maybe nothing on the ground. Instead, Kansas City's backfield depth has saved this attack, with Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware rotating in to punish opponents. With Charles on the field, Kansas City averaged 109.8 rushing yards per tilt. During the team's five-game win streak, though, the Chiefs are pounding teams for 152.6 yards per outing. Throw in a big day from Jeremy Maclin on Sunday and the Chiefs loom as one of the AFC's most intriguing challengers heading into December.
1.*Pittsburgh's Phantom Secondary:* The pass rush of the Steelers has been frisky, but their weakness is obvious. Pittsburgh can't stop quarterbacks from piling up massive numbers through the air. Before allowing Wilson to set career marks on Sunday, the Black and Gold inspired the Browns to briefly name Johnny Manziel their starter after the club-hopping field general ripped Pittsburgh for 372 yards in Week 10. When the Steelers' offense is healthy and humming, they can play with anyone -- and win -- but this pass defense is a candidate to put Pittsburgh's season on ice.
2. Zebra meltdown: After watching Cardinals wideout John Brown draw a flag for illegal touching on a play that should have been called an incompletion, officiating guru Mike Pereira of FOX Sports admitted, "I don't know what to say anymore." He speaks for all of us. Pereira shines as one of television's on-air code-breakers paid to explain a weekly barrage of nonsense from the NFL's flock of zebras. Listen to Pereira unpack the madness that unfolded in San Francisco:
3. Hubris Pouring out of Rams Central: Jeff Fisher has been full of hot takes on the mic in recent weeks -- shredding NBC's Rodney Harrison, baffling us with the Case Keenum debacle and creating a false-flag argument on Sunday over the "effort" of his players. He doesn't read Heroes & Villains, so we're safe from his vitriol, but Fisher, at some stage, must be held accountable for a team that, well, STINKS. Fisher remains convinced that he can win in '15 with an offense from 1971. It's not a good week for Fisher or his wannabe-detective play-caller Frank Cignetti, who refuses to put his well-documented search for missing L.A. teen Regina Jane François on the backburner. "Frank's completely lost track of reality," a Rams source told Around the NFL on Monday. "He charted another Sunday red-eye to LAX, while mumbling about some mountainside hideout south of the city. 'That's where she is, I know it,' Frank told us. Man, Fisher's red-hot peeved. He can't believe his hand-picked OC would rather operate as a city gumshoe than call plays. It's gonna get real ugly here in January. I can promise you that."