Lightsabers. Wookies. Jedi.
You knew this was coming; the obligatory, Star Wars themed Madden Ratings article. Some of you may be super fans of the franchise, others just casual fans. It's entirely possible, too, that you don't care about the new movie, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", which is perfectly fine.
Wherever you fall on the fandom spectrum, one thing is clear: Star Wars mania is in full swing this weekend. So grab some popcorn, enjoy the flick and then finish off the weekend with some Week 15 games.
Oh, and if you don't want to see "Star Wars" there's always "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip". Boy, those chipmunks just can't seem to stay out of trouble, can they?
Let's get to the ratings.
Moving On Up
Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack had 5 sacks last week against the Denver Broncos, including three in the fourth quarter. The guy was an unstoppable force. (Get it, "force"? Yeah, whatever...) His five sacks tied the franchise single-game record set by Hall of Famer Howie Long back in 1983. Mack is up two points to 95 OVR.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. did something remarkable last week: He held on to the ball! The receiver had two catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns. It was just the third 100-yard receiving game of Ginn's career, and his first since Week 2 of the 2009 season. He's up two points to 80 OVR.
I'll be the first to admit that I've given Eddie "Don't Call Me Jabba" Lacy a hard time this year. I thought for sure his career was headed down the Trent Richardson path, but thankfully, Lacy has battled through his issues and worked his way back into the team's good graces. He's rushed for 100-plus yards in three of his last four games, including a season-high 124 last week against Dallas. He's up a point to 85 OVR.
Moving On Down
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is down a point to 97 OVR. Seriously, what has happened to the Falcons? They've lost six-straight games and haven't won since October. It's hard to believe this team started out 6-1. Their shutout loss last week in Carolina was so bad that the Falcons' official Twitter account tweeted this out. I guess it's better to laugh than cry, right?
Great Caesar's Ghost
At long last, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has arrived. That's a big deal, I think. How about you, Ron Swanson, are you excited?
Six [Star Wars themed] bold predictions for Week 15
6. To kick off these Star Wars themed predictions, let's start in the black hole. This Sunday, Aaron Rodgers makes his first career start in Oakland against the Raiders. Rodgers went to college right down the road at the University of California, Berkeley, and there was even trade talk years ago that had Rodgers going to Oakland in exchange for wide receiver Randy Moss. (I think Packers fans are happy that trade never happened.) Green Bay has won three of their last four games, but Oakland is coming off a big upset win in Denver. I like Oakland to take down the Packers.
5.Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has failed to rush for at least 70 yards in back-to-back games for the first time since Weeks 14-16 in 2013 (missed Week 15). Not surprisingly, the Vikings have gone 0-2 the past two weeks. Peterson is the heartbeat of this offense, and if Minnesota wants to get back on track, they'll need the 2012 MVP to step up his game. This weekend, the Chicago Bears come to town, and Peterson has five-straight 100-plus yard rushing games against his division rival. Peterson will go AT-AT on the Bears and stomp his way to 250 yards, carrying his team to victory.
4. I predicted last week that Cam Newton would become the first quarterback ever to have three five-touchdown games in a four game span. That didn't happen, even though Newton was on fire against the Falcons. This week, I'll double down on another quarterback to make history and say Russell Wilson throws for five touchdowns for the third time in four games. Wilson has been on a tear lately, and even though Newton has all but locked up the MVP award, Wilson should at least garner some consideration. The Seahawks quarterback has 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last four game. Seattle was left for dead a month ago, and now, they seem like a legitimate threat in the NFC once again. Wilson makes history Sunday as the Seahawks continue to build momentum towards the postseason.
3. Here's an amazing stat: No Alabama quarterback has won an NFL start since 1987, almost 30 years. The last Bama alum to accomplish that feat was Jeff Rutledge, who led the New York Giants to a 20-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles during the 1987 season. The hope out of Cincinnati among Bengals players and their fans is that AJ McCarron will end that losing streak this weekend. McCarron replaced an injured Andy Dalton during last week's home loss to the Steelers and played admirably. With the Bengals sitting at 10-3, they'll need McCarron to step up if they want to remain near the top of the AFC playoff picture. With a well-stocked offense, the Bengals should be able to pull off a few more wins to secure the division (and, hopefully, a first round bye). I'll say the force will be strong with McCarron as he throws three touchdowns against the 49ers in a win.
2.Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount is out for the season. What else is new, right? Every week Patriots fans have to worry about who will succumb to the injury bug next. Hopefully, the Patriots can secure the AFC's top seed in the next few weeks and rest some key players. This week, they should do just fine against the visiting Tennessee Titans, although their Week 13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles proved nothing is guaranteed. The last time Tom Brady faced the Titans at home was Week 6 of the 2009 season. He threw six touchdowns in that game, the last time he accomplished that feat. I'll say Brady goes for six again on Sunday. Oh, sorry, we're doing Star Wars themed predictions. Umm, the Jedi Master goes for six touchdowns. (And, yes, Belichick looks like Emperor Palpatine).
1. The Philadelphia Eagles have won two in a row and are still in the thick of the things in the NFC East. This weekend, the Arizona Cardinals come to town for a Sunday night showdown. Arizona is on a seven game winning-streak, but I'll boldly go where no prediction has gone before (sorry, wrong sci-fi reference) and say the Eagles take down the Cardinals.