The season is nearing an end, and teams are starting to make a playoff push, which makes the last four weeks of the NFL season interesting, especially considering the fact that during the last two or three weeks are full of divisional matches now since a lot of them are pressing for division titles.
But the two most shocking wins Sunday had to be the Chiefs upsetting the Packers and the Colts finally getting win #1 against Tennessee.
Kyle Orton came in for Kansas City, along with Romeo Crennel taking over Head Coaching duties (interim basis) and the team suddenly became respectable. The defense played with emotion and held Aaron Rodgers to a humbling 6 of 17 for 59 yards, and he finished the day 17 of 135 for 235 yards, a passing and rushing TD. Kyle Orton on the other hand looked like the guy that Denver was hoping he would be in the beginning of the season, he was efficient, threw for over 200 yards, and didn’t turn the ball over. While they weren’t able to score TDs every time, they did enough to give their defense a chance to succeed. In the end, they pulled off the year’s biggest upset, beating the defending Super Bowl champions 19-14, and somehow made the “unstoppable” looking team, stoppable.
Elsewhere the Colts finally won their first game of the year, against the Titans, and while I never thought they’d go winless (Jacksonville, Week 17), I didn’t expect them to pull it off here. Orlovsky has finally won his first game as a starter, after posting an 0-10 record with Detroit and Indianapolis, and it seemed that Caldwell’s decision to replace Curtis Painter with him finally paid off. The Titans ended up sitting Hasselbeck down for multiple reasons (read, ineffectiveness) and Jake Locker almost brought the Titans back. The loss hurts the Titans in more ways than one, they fall to 7-7 and are now even further outside the playoff picture, and while you can consider this season a moderate success, it’s a disappointment that they won’t make the playoffs when they were on the verge of doing so.
Carolina upset Houston 28-13, and the Texans suddenly barreled out of that 1st place stranglehold they had in the AFC, losing potential home field advantage as New England climbed into first place. The Panthers move to 5-9 on the season, suddenly looking like the dangerous team that everyone thought would show up next year. Newton had a moderate day, only throwing for just under 150 and rushing for just over 50, as his defense forced 3 Houston Texans turnovers, and made TJ Yates actually look like a rookie. Houston still has Indianapolis Thursday and then Tennessee to close out the season, if they finish these two games with wins, they still have a shot at the #1 seed in the AFC and having the road to the Super Bowl go through them.
The biggest matchup of the day was New England at Denver, the hyped game between Tom Brady and Tim Tebow that seemed to go as planned…..until the Patriots broke away. After going up 16-7, the Broncos suddenly lost steam and kept turning the ball over, allowing the Patriots to outscore them 34-7 in the final 43 minutes. The Broncos are still holding onto the AFC West, and have Buffalo and Kansas City (which may end up being very important, I’ll explain later), if they can pull off one more win, they have a chance to get in with the 4th seed.
Other scores around the league: Seattle beat down Chicago to remain alive in the NFC playoff race, if they keep this up, other teams better not sleep on them as Marshawn Lynch is playing as well as any running back right now. While Chicago needs to consider sitting down Hanie for Josh McCown to see if he can provide a spark and keep them alive. Philadelphia still remains in the NFC East race as they squashed the equally inconsistent Jets 45-14, LeSean McCoy got back to productivity along with Michael Vick, as the Eagles went up early and stayed up. Buffalo lost another game, making it 7 straight losses now, New Orleans rolled over Minnesota’s hapless offense (Start Webb) and could possibly over take San Francisco for the 2-seed. The Giants struggled against the Redskins, opening the door for Dallas and the aforementioned Eagles, Detroit’s comeback win against Oakland marks them in the record books with the most 14-plus point comebacks in a single season.
The Cardinals overcame the Seneca Wallace led Browns to reach 7-7, and are suddenly, along with Seattle, back in the NFC playoff race, just waiting on Detroit or Atlanta to mess up.