What better way to spend a long holiday weekend than gorging on turkey, pie and leftovers and then taking part in the time-honored tradition of racing through crowds at department stores on Black Friday? You really can't get more American than that.
But in all honesty, this weekend provides us the chance to be with family and friends, something we should all be fortunate to have. In this technological age of social media, instant gratification and ever-changing lifestyles, we sometimes get so lost staring at our computer screens and smartphones we forget the importance of basic human interaction. Spending time this weekend catching up with loved ones, laughing and reminiscing about old times, is refreshing, and a good reminder of what's important in life.
So, Happy Thanksgiving, Madden fans. Now, here are some fresh ratings to go along with that apple pie.
Moving On Up
Jameis Winston tied the NFL record for most touchdown passes by a rookie last week with five. He's currently on pace to have the highest passer rating ever by a number one overall pick in his rookie season. Winston has taken tremendous strides since his horrid Week 1 debut. Bucs fans have a lot to be excited about. Winston is up two points to 84 OVR.
Chris Harper is up a point this week to 61 OVR. Now tell me this: Who is Chris Harper and what team does he play for? (Here's a hint: The answer isn't "Jeff".) Time's up. He's the undrafted rookie wide receiver for the New England Patriots, who will likely see significant playing time with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola sidelined with injuries. Is he another Belichick-diamond-in-the-rough? I'm sure Patriots fans are hoping so.
Moving On Down
Talk about adding insult to injury. Joe Flacco is down a point this week to 84 OVR. The nightmarish season for the Ravens continued last week when they lost their starting quarterback for the season. Seeing Baltimore near the top of the draft board just doesn't feel right. A little retooling in the offseason should have John Harbaugh's team right back in the thick of things next year.
Darrelle Revis took the money and bolted back to the Jets during the offseason, and for a while, it looked like a smart move. The Jets jumped out to a 4-1 start, nearly beating Revis's old team, the Patriots, in Foxborough. But the Jets have reverted back to being ... well, the Jets. The team has lost four of their last five, and their record isn't the only thing falling. Revis Island is down a point in the ratings to 95 OVR.
Amari Cooper is down a point this week to 84 OVR. Oakland's rookie wide receiver easily had the worst outing of his young career last week in Detroit when he had just one catch for four yards. The Raiders have dropped three-straight games, and if they are going to turn things around they'll need Cooper to step up his production.
Great Caesar's Ghost
St. Louis Rams wide receiver Wes Welker is down a point this week to 78 OVR. It's somewhat painful watching Welker play, knowing how great this guy was for the Patriots, and even the Broncos the past few years. Honestly, I'm just shocked he's still in the league. I feel bad for Welker, until I remember how he lost Super Bowl XLVI for my Patriots by dropping this catch.
Six bold predictions for Week 12
6.Marcus Mariota will throw for four touchdown passes against the Oakland Raiders, marking the third time this season he'll throw four touchdowns in a game. The Titans' season is a lost cause, so expediting Mariota's maturation process is goal number one at this point. There isn't much else to get excited about in Tennessee other than Mariota's future. Four touchdown passes should keep the flames of interest stoked for at least another week.
5. It's been a little over a year since the infamous one-handed catch from Madden cover boy, Odell Beckham Jr., virtually broke the Internet. The only way that play could've been more of an online sensation is if it was part of an Adele music video. OBJ has established himself as the best (and most watchable) young receiver in the game today. So far this season he already has five games of 100-plus receiving yards, including three in a row. The one big notch missing in his belt of accomplishments is a 200-yard game. I foresee him getting it Sunday against the Redskins and becoming the first Giants receiver to hit that mark since Plaxico Burress back in Week 4 of the 2005 season.
4. The New Orleans Saints shook things up during their bye week by getting rid of Rob Ryan, and you can't really blame them for making the move. The Saints rank last in the league in total defense, and not even the glorious, Santa Claus locks of Ryan could save him. New Orleans has been an enigma all season, winning three-straight games against the Falcons, Colts and Giants and then losing to the Titans and Redskins. It's hard to know which Saints team we'll see on Sunday, but I'm going to say the defense shows signs of life under Dennis Allen and helps New Orleans take one on the road in Houston.
3. After starting 8-0, the Bengals have lost two straight, and suddenly, things are interesting in the AFC North. At 6-4, the Pittsburgh Steelers still have a shot at winning the division, despite the rash of injuries they've endured all year long. This weekend, the Steelers travel cross-country to the Pacific Northwest to take on a Seahawks team fighting to keep their own playoff hopes alive. With one of the scariest passing attacks in the league, I like Pittsburgh to come away with the win.
2. The Arizona Cardinals were victorious last Sunday in their shootout with the Cincinnati Bengals, doing their best to keep pace with the undefeated Carolina Panthers. At 8-2, the Cardinals seem like a virtual lock for at least a first-round bye in the postseason. But that doesn't mean it'll be smooth sailing from here on out. There may be one or two mishaps along the way, and I think Sunday's game in San Francisco might be one. The Cardinals have not won in San Francisco since Week 1 of the 2008 season, which also happened to be the season they went to the Super Bowl. As great as the Cardinals are this year, I'll say the trend continues and San Francisco somehow manages to pull off the upset.
1. Tell me if this narrative sounds familiar: Young, talented quarterback takes the league by storm only to be brought back down to Earth by Bill Belichick and the Patriots in crushing fashion. Belichick and Brady feast on young quarterbacks like they're Thanksgiving turkeys. Belichick is 13-2 against quarterbacks making their first or second career NFL start, and only one of those losses came as Patriots head coach (Mark Sanchez in 2009). The Patriots have proven time and again that they can overcome injuries, but at some point, injuries catch up to even the best teams. I'll take Denver to end New England's winning-streak with a victory in Mile High.