Week 11: Norv Turner, Springtime for Tebow and the Thanksgiving Dinner Power Rankings!

Broncos 17, Jets 13- I watched the Republican debate on Tuesday and learned two things, the first being that Newt Gingrich somehow knows what an electro-magentic pulse is and thinks it’s a threat to America; and the second is that Tim Tebow is the NFL’s equivalent to Ron Paul. Think about it, a wildly outside-the-box player who comes off as a laughable option until you’re two hours into the contest and the opposition is still too perplexed to offer any solid defense to what he’s doing.  The traditional playbook doesn’t apply to anything he does, so even the most formidable opponents have their strengths mitigated by a complete lack of experience and while that unconventional style is good enough to get him some wins, ultimately neither has a snowball’s chance at winning the big one. I like this analogy too because it suggests that Rex Ryan is some sort of bizarro Rick Perry, which makes sense seeing as both would love nothing more than to deport Mark Sanchez right now.

Falcons 23, Titans 17- Apparently, when you play fantasy football, you’re supposed to pay attention to bye weeks when you put your team together or else you end up having six players on a bye at the same time, as I somehow managed to do this past week. To compensate, I picked up Titans receiver Damian Williams, who had a bunch of targets and yards last week against Carolina. How did young Damian fare this week? Oh he just had the worst game of any receiver all season according to Football Outsiders. He was targeted 11 times and caught exactly one of them, for 16 yards. Oh and in the same game Nate Washington got all nine passes thrown at him for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Moral of the story: pay attention to bye weeks and never trust anyone named Damian to do anything but ruin your life. Who names their kid Damian anyway? Especially if you’re black? You’re right there at Damon, which is a cool name, and instead you opt to sentence your child to a life of awkward first impressions and jokes about being Satan’s offspring.  If I miss the playoffs because of that hands-less underperformer, I’m going to hang myself off the roof of LP Stadium mid-game while screaming “IT’S ALL FOR YOU DAMIAN!” …Too much? Got it.

This weekend marked the opening of “The Jake Locker”, in which Jeremy Renner stars as the gutsy but inaccurate quarterback who seeks to stop the Titans playoff hopes from exploding. Chris Johnson (played by Anthony Mackie) co-stars his inept partner who spends the entire film complaining and running five feet before falling down and watching the season blow up in his face.

While we’re at it, let’s check out what else is playing in theaters around the league this season:

Tyler Perry’s Meet the Ryans is a laugh-out-loud comedy in which Kevin James plays four different characters- Rex Ryan, his Viking brother Rob Ryan, Matt Ryan and Ryan Mathews as they each try to make the playoffs despite being part of overrated and lackluster teams until they all comically fail and crush the hopes of the fans who were gullible enough to believe in their talents.

Dr. Strange-call or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Logic and Start Loving the Flacco Bomb: This dark comedy tells the tale of insane offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who has convinced himself that the only way to beat the other team is by launching a full scale aerial assault regardless of the consequences. Meanwhile, his colleagues and staff desperately try to convince him to use a ground game before he causes a full-scale AFlaccolypse.

Punch Drunk Lovie: Lovie Smith (Anthony Anderson) can’t let a little thing like Caleb Hanie get in the way of his plan to ruin his team, one awful decision at a time. Go deep on third-and-one instead of handing it off to Matt Forte? Of course. Fake a punt for no reason whatsoever? You bet. Call timeout, then challenge an obvious play, then lose another time out. Consider it done! Norv Turner and Andy Reid give it two thumbs up!

The Producers Part II: Springtime for Tebow: John Elway and John Fox are a pair of down and out stars relying on little more than Luck to get their franchise back to its former glory. To do so they unveil a player so offensively inept that they’ll have nowhere to go but up…or so they think!!

Lions 49, Panthers 35- Matt Stafford successfully pulled the reverse-Phil Rivers on Sunday. He started this game terribly, ending the Lions’ first two drives with an interception. But after his second pick, which took place with 8:35 left in the first quarter, Stafford went 24-27 for 298 yards, no interceptions and five touchdowns. It also didn’t hurt that Kevin Smith came out of absolutely no where to put up 201 yards of offense and three touchdowns of his own.

Packers 35, Bucs 26- I get that the Packers offense is amazing and all, but attempting two surprise onside kicks, as the Bucs did, isn’t really the way to get it done against the world champs, especially when your kicker apparently sucks at them. The second one was especially misguided because it came when the Bucs were down just two; their first attempt failed miserably; and it probably wasn’t going to surprise the Packers since there were less than five minute left in the game and, yanno, they already tried one earlier in the game.

Kellen Winslow, who is not, in fact, a soldier, had an eventful game, catching nine passes for 132 yards but dropping a game-tying two point conversion, getting called for pass interference that negated a touchdown and tipping a ball that was intercepted on the Bucs final drive.

Dolphins 35, Bills 8- The month of November has been tremendously kind to the Dolphins and they’ve capitalized on their soft schedule. Their defense hasn’t given up a touchdown yet in the month and Matt Moore has actually looked sharp, completing 70% of his passes for 8.39 yards per attempt and six TDs to just one interception. Granted, they played the Chiefs, Redskins and Bills over that stretch but hey, any port in a storm right?

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s average pass attempt went just four yards, yet he improbably managed 17 incompletions. On third down, he two threw picks, fumbled a snap and failed to pick up a single first down.  Enjoy that $60 million contract Buffalo.

Raiders 27, Vikings 21- The Raiders did everything in their power to keep this game from being a blow out.  Despite looking like the far better team, they kept the Vikings in the game by taking 12(!) penalties, playing sloppy defense and apparently refusing to convert third downs in the second half. The Raiders are entertainers first and football players second.

Cowboys 27, Redskins 24- On 3rd down, Tony Romo was 8-13 for 160 yards, seven first downs and three TDs, good for a 144.2 quarterback rating. On all other downs, he averaged 5.5 yards per attempt, gained just six first downs, took four sacks and had a QB rating of 77.0. The man is incapable of consistency.
After the game DeAngelo Hall, who surrendered two touchdown passes in coverage said, “I can’t point a finger at anybody but myself. The way I’m playing right now, they need to go and cut me.” That has to be the feeblest attempt at reverse psychology on record. I have no doubt that DeAngelo Hall would love nothing more than to spend the next six weeks in the Cayman islands instead of freezing his ass off trying to un-fuck every self-immolating plan that Rex Grossman and Kyle Shanahan fire up.

Eagles 17, Giants 10- The fact that the Eagles won this game didn’t come as all that much of a surprise to me. Andy Reid seems to always pull a big win out of his M&Ms-filled pocket just when it looks like his tenure as head coach is in jeopardy, but the way the Eagles won was certainly a bit of a shock. The d-line and (gasp) linebackers had their way with the Giants all night, totaling 10 hits on Eli and six tackles-for-a-loss. In a related story, I think we can all finally say with confidence that Brandon Jacobs officially sucks. His 12 carries for 21 yards led to the implosion of the Giants offensive game plan and let the Eagles front seven focus almost exclusively pressuring Eli. All you need to know about Jacobs came on third and one in the second quarter when the 6’4” 265 pound Jacobs was stopped dead in his tracks by little more than an arm tackle from Akeem Jordan. That stop was notable for two reasons, one being that it showed just how soft of a  runner Jacobs really is, and two because it was the first time the Eagles defense stopped a run on third-and-short ALL SEASON.  It’s like Jacobs, DeSean Jackson and Peyton Hillis are in a Mexican stand-off for which free-agent-to-be will make the feeblest attempt at securing a huge contract. I’m hoping for a Reservoir Dogs-esque outcome.

The recalcitrant Jackson did finally make some big plays on Sunday at least, although he had a 50-yard catch called back because he reacted to his big play by acting like Alonso in the final 10 minutes of Training Day. While he led the Eagles in catches, he wasn’t Vince Young’s primary target all night. No, that title belonged to former University of Florida receiver Riley Cooper who was targeted TWELVE times after going all season without a single catch. While he turned in 75 yards and a touchdown, five catches on twelve attempts isn’t exactly a great day at the office. The only justification for using him so frequently is that Cooper’s experience catching ankle-high passes from Tim Tebow for four years in Gainesville left him uniquely suited to deal with Vince Young’s aerial imprecision. Either way, after Steve Smith’s 10 target game a week ago to go with Cooper’s 12 verse the Giants, it’s clear that the Eagles desperately need both of their star receivers, Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, out on the field because plan B is running your offense through either a guy with a shredded knee who has 10 catches all year or a slow, converted lax bro with five catches all year.

For the record, this win changes nothing for the Eagles. All it does is delay the inevitable demise of a flawed team whose fate was determined weeks ago. Honestly I wish they’d just get their seventh loss over with so we can all end this Schiavo-ian state of adjourned conclusion.  Does that make me a disloyal fan? Possibly. Do I think it’s warranted? Probably. Am I going to keep asking myself questions and giving equivocating answers? PERHAPS.

As for the Giants, well they’ve got quite a bit of work to do now that they’re tied with the Cowboys for the NFC East lead and face the Saints and Packers the next two weeks. If they can’t recalibrate their o-line, get Ahmad Bradshaw healthy, and maybe get Mario Manningham to do something other than master building off “e-l-i” in Words With Friends, they’re going to be fighting for a wild-card spot in Week 17.

Ravens 31, Bengals 24-

The Squid Scarf: for the fashionista who loves scarves but hates their warmth, style, and lack of tentacles.

German chef Roland Trettl unveiledan array of outfits made of food at a Berlin museum. His

Pictured: The Maryland version of a graduation cap

designs included an octopus being worn as a scarf, a suit made partially of bacon (Christmas list!!!!), a hat made out of lettuce and this chocolate-covered nightmare fuelYour move, Gaga.


In other bizarre recent news, a young couple got engaged last month in the middle of the Occupy protests in Zuccotti Park. I don’t know if they set a date yet, but you know their wedding song has to be Rihanna- “WE FOOUUUND LOVE IN A HOMELESS PLAAACE!”

Seahawks 24, Rams 7-
We’re mere hours away from Thanksgiving, which is just fantastic. I feel it is my duty and privilege to guide you through your feast by unveiling the official Thanksgiving Dinner Power Rankings:

  1. Inside-the-Turkey Stuffing- Whoever first came up with the concept of shoving stuffing inside of a hollowed out turkey skeleton was a fucking lunatic…and a genius! Nothing makes me feel more like a cannibalistic psychopath than reaching deep into cooked turkey’s insides and pulling out a big gob of mush and devouring it ravenously. Obviously, I use a spoon to get the stuffing out because I’m not a wild savage, but I must admit to having just the slightest urge to shove my fists in to the turkey like it’s a boxing glove. If I just ruined your Thanksgiving dinner, I apologize. But keep reading or else I’ll find you and punch you with my 18-pound turkey gloves.
  2. Turkey Leg- Nature’s meat lollipop! The fact that spiders have eight legs and turkeys have only two is far and away the most compelling argument against Intelligent Design.
  3. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy- Growing up, my Mom made mashed potatoes using just potatoes and milk which, sorry Mom, is disgusting and borderline unethical. What a flagrant abuse of power and resources. The first time I had garlic mashed potatoes I almost had a seizure. Garlic mashed potatoes are incredible.
  4. Sweet Potato Casserole- I’m making sweet potato casserole this year for the first time and I’m a little nervous. The ingredients are so delicious and the recipe so easy that it almost can’t turn out bad. It’s like a #5 vs. #12 game in the first round of the NCAA tournament though- if you win, it’s not impressive, but if you lose, you’re an embarrassment to your family and you ruined the whole holiday…or something. I’m worried that I’m going to crack under the pressure and inexplicably throw Pringles and chocolate chips in it.
  5. Biscuits- Abandon all hope ye who tackles the biscuits too early in the meal and ruin everything by filling yourself up. I know this because every year I make the mistake of inexplicably carbo-loading before the turkey is even carved then silently berating myself for the next forty minutes.
  6. Out-of-the-Turkey Stuffing- While still delicious, it’s the popular but slutty step-sister of the stuffing family.
  7. Corn- If it’s on the cob, corn jumps up four spots in the power rankings, but corn on the cob is in season for about six days a year in the Mid-Atlantic. Serving canned or frozen corn on Thanksgiving disgraces the legacy of Native Americans and ensures that they died for nothing.
  8. Green Bean Casserole- Unless you’re an Iron Chef, green bean casserole ends up being little more than an impoverished, uncreative and stringy alternative to sweet potato casserole.
  9.  Cranberries- Ugh. I hope whichever pilgrim brought a bushel of cranberries to the first Thanksgiving died of tuberculosis minutes later.

Browns 14, Jaguars 10- Maybe if America agrees to stop acknowledging the existence of these two teams they’ll just go away.

49ers 23, Cardinals 7-  John Skelton went 6 of 19 for 99 yards and three picks and Arizona didn’t cross mid-field until late in the third quarter. The Cardinals in the first half- 21 plays, 52 yards, one interception, one lost fumble, two first downs, five punts. Farewell John Skelton, we hardly knew ye. Oh except when you torched the Eagles.

Bears 31, Chargers 20- Up 11 with a minute and a half left to play, Lovie Smith decided that his 99% win probability just wasn’t good enough, conjured up his drunk, Madden-playing alter-ego, and decided to try a fake punt. In the worst case-scenario of that play-call, you turn it over (which they did), give the Chargers great field position and forgo burying the Chargers deep down the field and thus forcing them to drive all the way against your excellent defense, score, recover an onsides kick, and score again in 90 seconds, all with no timeouts. In the best case scenario, you pick up the first down and force your franchise quarterback and his freshly broken metacarpal to go back out on the field for another half-dozen plays. Then again, we’re talking about turning the ball over to 2011 late-game Philip Rivers, which meant that his ensuing interception was inevitable, so maybe Lovie just wanted to give his defense the chance for as many return yards as possible. That interception, by the way, came after Rivers tried to throw the ball out of bounds and…didn’t. It’s ironic since Rivers is the best quarterback in the league at comically throwing the ball 30 yards out of bounds. I think next week he might literally try to throw it out of the stadium the first time he feels pressure.  And why were the Chargers out of timeouts with two minutes to play? The short answer is because Norv Turner is their coach. The long answer is because Norv Turner opted to call timeout with three minutes remaining in order to decide whether Matt Forte fumbled the ball or not, sacrificing a timeout when the only penalty for being wrong was…a timeout. Then, after looking at the replay which pretty convincingly showed that Forte did not in fact fumble, he STILL threw the challenge flag…and lost another timeout. You know how people get court-ordered breathalyzers installed in their car after they get a DUI? Is there any way Roger Goodell could mandate a pre-challenge or timeout breathalyzer for Lovie Smith and Norv Turner?

It’s becoming abundantly clear that the Chargers can’t win when their quarterback throws interceptions, the Bears can’t lose when their QB doesn’t. Now the Chargers offensive line has been crushed by injuries- Pro Bowler Kris Dielman is out for the season, Marcus McNeill and Louis Vasquez have been hurt as well, but maybe it’s time we downgrade Phillip Rivers’ star status. Unlike his fellow first round picks in 2004, Eli Manning and Ben Roesthlisberger, Rivers has struggled mightily when his offensive line couldn’t protect him. Say what you will about Eli and Ben, they’ve both weathered some pretty brutal times on offense and been able to stay competitive, Rivers meanwhile, has played like the MonStars are stealing his talent early in the fourth quarter of every game.

I find it gloriously appropriate that Cutler’s injury occurred while attempting to tackle a cornerback after he threw an interception. Now, the Bears will likely need to win at least three of their remaining six games with Caleb Hanie at the helm. Hanie’s experience is limited but he actually did a pretty solid job when he came in at halftime of last season’s NFC championship game. Facing the Packers’ intense pass rush and great cover corners, Hanie went 13-20 for 153 yards, no sacks and two forgivable interceptions. If he can come close to that production again, the Bears should be able to overcome Cutler’s injury on the strength of Matt Forte, Devin Hester, their defense and, perhaps most important, a reasonably easy schedule. In the back of my mind though I’m kinda rooting against him in hopes that they bring in Brett Favre, if only to prove how much of an NFC North slut he is.

MNF: Patriots 34, Chiefs 3: This picture from KSK might be the greatest application of Photoshop ever: You knew it was going to be tough replacing Matt Cassel with Tyler Palko, but Chiefs offensive coordinator Forest Gump Bill Muir wanted people to know just how tough it was via a rambling and completely unnecessary metaphor:  “It’s like a pair of shoes you wear every day, your favorite shoes. Then all of a sudden the heel falls off and you have to wear another pair of shoes. Maybe the new shoes are of equal value, but they just don’t seem to have the same fit. Eventually, they will.”  If Matt Cassel is supposed to represent the pinnacle of footwear than I assume Bill Muir has a closet full of Tevas, clogs and 30-year old Chuck Taylors.

What is Chris Berman’s obsession with showing highlights from 50-year old NFL games? He took a solid 45 seconds out of his “Fastest Three Minutes” to show clips from three different Cold War era contests that were only tangentially related to anything that happened on Sunday (or any Sunday since the LBJ administration). TICK TOCK, CHRIS. How else am I going to get day-old, four-second game highlights narrated by a blustery, pun-spewing man who nearly suffocates himself every time he hits the eighth word of a sentence? I guess he just shows the grainy Bart Starr-Y.A. Tittle footage each week so that he can have at least some highlights that viewers at home haven’t seen 20 times already.

Finally the Peyton Hillis Award nominees for Underachieving Fantasy Stars Who Should Be Forced To Be Force Fed Johnny Cake and Given Small Pox on Thanksgiving:

Willis McGahee- 18 yards, 1 fumble
Shonn Greene- 10 yards
Fred Jackson- 17 rushing yards
Chris Johnson- 12 yards
Wes Welker- 22 yards
Beanie Wells- 33 yards, 1 fumble
Mario Manningham- 4 yards
Brandon Marshall- 5 yards
Ryan Mathews- 37 yards, 1 fumble

And the Victor Cruz Award nominees for Insufferable Fantasy Overachievers Who Beat Your Team and Ruined Thanksgiving Forever:

Nate Washington- 115 yards, 2TDs
LaGarrette Blount- 107 yards, 1 TD
Torrey Smith- 165 yards, 2 TDs
Chris Ogbonnaya- 115 yards, 1 TD
Kellen Winslow- 132 yards
Jabar Gaffney- 115 yards, 1 TD
Patriots defense- 3 points against, 3 INTs, punt-return touchdown





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