It's that time of the week: Let's pick some games, people.
Week 15 is the last stanza in the relatively calm section of the regular season. In other words, head coaches, front offices and fan bases won't take off on a Triple Lindy dive into full-scale panic mode until next week, when teams start getting eliminated for realz. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh and its stud running back are alive and kicking ...
The thing that impresses me most is the 313 touches without a single fumble.
Yes, Wes, Staubach is an all-timer. Easily a top-10 QB -- as detailed here -- and I agree with you that he has gotten the short end of the stick in this discussion. Perhaps most impressive is that he posted the NFL's highest passer rating in each of his last two seasons, then hung 'em up while still considered the best in the bidness. Not bad.
As for the only team Staubach ever played for ... The Cowboys have themselves a huge game against the Eagleson Sunday night. That's one of several solid matchups this week, with Broncos at Chargers and Packers at Bills not far behind. All predictions are below. And, as always, feel free to share your take on any game, team, player or football-related matter: @HarrisonNFL is the place.
Now, let's get to it!
OK, enough of Drama Central. Let's go over to New York. Yes, the Giants are in the midst of a painful season of their own. And, like in D.C., the quarterback and head coach have come under fire. But here's the difference: Whatever consternation/frustration there has been behind closed doors, we aren't seeing it play out in public. That was a unified Giants team walking all over the Titans last week. This week, with these two teams way out of contention, we'll place a vote for solidarity. Big Blue wins. #WASvsNYG
Here's your tacos-and-bananas stat from this game: K.C. has allowed two rushing touchdowns all year, the fewest in the NFL. Both of them came against Raiders, who have scored four rushing TDs this season, the fewest in the NFL. #OAKvsKC
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, it should be noted that analysts and broadcasters are constantly -- and, often, annoyingly -- asked to bring it with hard takes. Get passionate! Bang the table!! While that has never been my style, I will further say that this Hoyer-Manziel debate just doesn't move the needle for me. This is one situation where I can truly see the benefit of going in either direction. Sure, Johnny Manziel could provide a spark. Problem is, how long does that spark last? Does he know the offense well enough to change protections, plays, anything at the line? After all, Cleveland is in the playoff race. On the other hand, Brian Hoyer hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in a month (though he has logged seven picks). If it were up to me, I guess I'd go with Manziel, for the escapability factor. The Bengals haven't faced a quarterback like this since Cam Newton in Week 6 -- and he ate them alive. That said, the Bengals must win to maintain their AFC North edge. #CINvsCLE
Kidding. Guess I'm paid to "show my work."
Alright, well, considering how abysmal the run defense has been in Jacksonville this season (allowing 132.5 rushing yards per game, 28th in the NFL), I like Justin Forsett to pull a Le'Veon this week. That said, the Jags could do themselves a huge favor by actually corralling some throws from Blake Bortles. It's bad enough the guy is running for his life back there -- he's been sacked an AFC-high 38 times -- CATCH THE BALL! How many drops were there last week, Jags fans? (@HarrisonNFL) #JAXvsBAL
By the way, do you realize both of these teams have lost 11 of 12? Oy. #NYJvsTEN
Dallas wins the day, but not necessarily the NFC East. The Cowboys still host Indianapolis and finish the season at Washington (which is never an easy game). Meanwhile, the Eagles play at Washington and then finish in the New Meadowlands against the Giants. While I would give Philadelphia the schedule advantage ( Colts > Giants), you just never know with these NFC East games. Philly and Big Blue have split the past two seasons, while the Redskins shocked the Cowboys at Jerry World earlier this year. I like the Cowboys on Sunday because they'll have had nine days to rest, and when these teams faced off last time, the 'Boys had played a Sunday night game on the East Coast a few days prior. Also, teams typically don't do so hot the week after they face the Seahawks. Call it being beasted. #DALvsPHI