(Darrelle Revis, Rex Ryan photos courtesy of the New York Jets)
By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
OK, here’s the good news for the New York Jets: All they must do to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010 is beat Buffalo next week. Now, here’s the bad: All they must do to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010 is beat Buffalo next week. There’s absolutely no one who would enjoy keeping the Jets out of the playoffs more than Buffalo’s Rex Ryan, formerly head coach of Gang Green. Trust me, when he says, “We’ll give the Jets our best shot,” you better believe it. Me? I wouldn't be surprised if the Bills pull the upset.
2. So that’s what happens when Arizona loses Tyrann Mathieu. As I was saying, the balance of power in the NFL has changed. The Cardinals are the best team out there.
3. This is what should concern Seattle about that loss: It not only was at home, where the Seahawks hadn’t lost to St. Louis since 2004, but it was to a second-string quarterback.
4. I know it sounds illogical, but that defeat will help … yes, help … Carolina in the long run. The burden of blowing an unbeaten season is off its shoulders. Now the Panthers can concentrate on what’s important. And that’s January.
5. Guess we know what Carolina’s Ron Rivera does with his starters next week.
6. That’s the second straight week Carolina cornerback Josh Norman lost the coverage battle with an opposing receiver, and that's a mild concern. But there’s a bigger issue with Carolina’s defense, and that’s the loss of slot corner Bene’ Benwikere.
7. Kansas City’s Andy Reid should push the Panthers’ Rivera and Arizona’s Bruce Arians for Coach of the Year. All Reid’s done is win nine straight after losing five in a row … AND his best player.
8. This just in: Matthew Slater, not Steve Harvey, will host next year’s Miss Universe pageant.
9. Good thing referee Clete Blakeman’s overtime call isn’t subject to appeal by Judge Richard Berman. It would’ve been tossed for leading the witness.
10. Let’s just cut to the quick and line up Arizona and Carolina for the NFC championship.
11. Shame on the Pittsburgh Steelers. You can’t beat a fourth-string quarterback who’s been out of the game two months? And you can’t beat an undermanned team missing its top defender, top running back, top quarterback and top wideout? The Steelers were the team nobody in the AFC wanted to meet. Now they may not have to.
12. Now we know how valuable ... or invaluable ...Odell Beckham Jr. is to the Giants. Translation: They're lost without him.
13. I thought Drew Brees was supposed to be suffering from plantar fasciitis. If I’m Denver, I put in a call to his physician.
14. Hard-to-believe stat: Arizona has more touchdowns (57) this season than punts (54).
15. Maybe, just maybe, Johnny Manziel is beginning to get it. I know, he makes a better running back than quarterback. But the guy’s shown something the past two weeks that's worth another look in 2016.
16. Go ahead and exhale, Chuck Pagano. Your defense just bought you a little more time.
17. Not sure which Manning had a worse weekend -- Peyton or Eli.
18. “We’re finding ways to lose and not finding ways to win,” Miami coach Dan Campbell said after the Dolphins’ latest loss. Someone remind him that’s happens with bad teams. They find ways to lose.
19. Sorry, but I must have missed Cam Newton’s Superman impersonation.
20. That’s OK, I caught Atlanta owner Arthur Blank dabbing afterward. Yes, dabbing. And I liked that better.
21. Check that, on further review, I liked Andy Reid’s dabbing more. What in the world has gotten into these guys?
22. Wait a minute, two Jason Witten targets? You gotta be kidding. Scott Linehan, report to headquarters.
23. That does it. The Dolphins should start looking for another quarterback. They’re going nowhere with Ryan Tannehill, and here’s the evidence: In 12 of 15 games this season, they failed to score 20 points. A year ago, they averaged 24.3 per. Check, please.
24. File this one under Be Careful What You Wish For: Since firing Andy Reid in 2013, the Philadelphia Eagles are 26-21 under Chip Kelly, with one playoff appearance. Reid is 30-17 in Kansas City and just clinched his second postseason berth.
25. You gotta like Minnesota's momentum going into the season finale at Green Bay, but what you can't like is the site. The Vikings lost eight of their last nine at Lambeau, and the Pack is going to need something to hold serve. Plus, there's this: Minnesota is 0-3 vs. Green Bay under Mike Zimmer.
SUNDAY’S HALL OF FAME
(Matt Ryan photo courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons)
Atlanta QB Matt Ryan. He struggled lately, but not on Sunday and not vs. Carolina. Despite suffering an early rib injury, Ryan threw for 306 yards and did what nobody else this season could -- beat the Panthers, an opponent that punished him and his teammates 38-0 just two weeks ago.
Miami WR Jarvis Landry. Not only does he make catches like Odell Beckham; he just became the first receiver in Miami history to have 100 catches and 1,000 yards in a season.
Houston QB Brandon Weeden. He did what he hadn't done since 2012: Win. That makes him 1-11 over his last 12 starts.
Baltimore QB Ryan Mallett. He does more than just throw for a career-high 274 yards after a few days of practice with Baltimore. He drops one of the hottest teams in the game, too, and makes himself the favorite to back up Joe Flacco in 2016.
Arizona LB Dwight Freeney. Signed in midseason, he produces three of Arizona's nine sacks -- including eight vs. Aaron Rodgers. That's not only seven sacks for Freeney this year, it's $500,000 ... and counting ... in bonuses.
New Orleans QB Drew Brees. No one knew for sure if he’d play until this weekend because of his foot injury. But play he did, throwing for 412 yards and three touchdowns.
St. Louis C Tim Barnes. The Rams don’t win unless he makes two fumble recoveries on the Rams’ game-clinching drive.
SUNDAY’S HALL OF SHAME
(Ben Roethlisberger photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers)
Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger. No touchdowns and two interceptions vs. a depleted Baltimore team? Really? Really? Let’s just call this one as it is: Big Ben and the Steelers' passing game stunk.
Baltimore LB Courtney Upshaw. His offsides penalty nullified a 101-yard Jimmy Smith interception return and turned what should’ve been a 27-10 lead into a 20-17 game. Lucky for Courtney his team held on.
Miami C Jamil Douglas. His quick snap on fourth-and-goal caught everyone – including quarterback Ryan Tannehill – by surprise and brought the curtain down on another Miami loss. “It was my fault,” said Douglas. That’s something he got right.
Green Bay RB James Starks. Keep on fumbling, and you’ll find yourself nailed to the bench.
Anyone with the Jacksonville defense. Congratulations, guys. You just got buried by a quarterback playing on one leg.
N.Y. Giants QB Eli Manning. No OBJ, no chance. Manning seldom looked worse than Sunday, with a season-high three interceptions. It marked the second time in the past five weeks he had three picks in one game ... only this one came with a catch: One interception was returned for a TD and another led to one.
THIS WEEK’S CANTON NOMINEE
N.Y. Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. He’s tied with Vinny Testaverde for most TD passes (29) in a season in Jets’ history. He has 13 touchdowns and one interception in his last five games, all wins. And he just beat the New England Patriots. IK Enemkpali, take a bow. If he doesn’t break Geno Smith’s jaw in training camp, all of this might not have happened.
SUNDAY’S HALL-OF-FAME QUOTE
“It’s about damn time.” – N.Y. Jets’ coach Todd Bowles on Sunday’s defeat of New England.
1-10 – Tampa Bay’s record over its last 11 games in December
4 – Safeties allowed by Miami this season
4 – Baltimore quarterbacks the past six weeks
5 – Darrelle Revis interceptions, his most since 2009
6 – First-half offsides or neutral zone infractions by 49ers
8 – Straight games with five or more receptions for Baltimore’s Kamar Aiken. Excuse me … Kamar Aiken?
8 – Sacks of Aaron Rodgers
13 – 400-yard games for Drew Brees in his career
43 - Passing touchdowns allowed by New Orleans this year, an NFL record
108 – Johnny Manziel rushing yards
500 – Adam Vinatieri career field goals
2010 – Last time the Jets had a five-game winning streak