Yes, I am a die hard Houston Texans fan. Yes, I am extremely biased. But YES, J.J. Watt is the best player in the NFL. Watt scored another touchdown on the offensive side of the ball in what continues to be an MVP season in his fourth year. He already has a Defensive Player of the Year Award in his trophy case, and he may very well bring home another. His play has the Texans, not even a full year removed from a 2-14 season that ended with FOURTEEN consecutive losses, at .500 and in second place in the AFC South by just one game.
There have been some interesting moves off the field before Week 12 has even started. Adrian Peterson was suspended for the remainder of the season for not even attempting to cooperate with the NFL in regards to the child abuse accusations earlier this season. LeGarrette Blount was released by the Steelers for basically being a little cry baby. Seriously, the dude gets pulled over with Le’Veon Bell for being high as hell and doesn’t get released, he should be happy he still had a job. Instead, he threw a temper tantrum and stormed off the field because he wasn’t given any touches while Bell was setting Pittsburgh Steelers’ records rushing for over 200 yards. Ben Tate was released by the Cleveland Browns. As a Texans’ fan, I knew this was a bad deal. Tate had one good season, and it came running behind an offensive line that sent THREE players to the Pro Bowl. Other than that one year, Tate couldn’t stay healthy and any Texans’ faithful could tell you he wasn’t made to be a featured back. Lastly, Jason Avant was actually released by the Panthers for questioning their play calling at the end of the Falcons game. No one on the Panthers clearly reads Wayniac Nation, because I have been questioning how Ron Rivera has a job for awhile.
This week, the Wayniac Nation Power 5 has a new sheriff in town. Last week the Denver Broncos reigned supreme, but an upset loss to the giant-killer St. Louis Rams knocks them from number one this week. Despite an impressive victory against last week’s number four team (the Detroit Lions), the number two Cardinals will not be making the expected jump to the king of the NFL. No, this week’s number one wasn’t even in last week’s Power 5, but when you are lead by the scorching hot Aaron Rodgers, you can be expected to make a jump like that. Their defense is clicking, their offense is unstoppable and their special teams is even joining in the fun. The Packers are playing on a different level than anyone else right now.
Week 12 Wayniac Nation Power 5: 1. Green Bay Packers, 2. Arizona Cardinals, 3. Denver Broncos, 4. New England Patriots, and 5. Kansas City Chiefs.
The Steelers and the Panthers are the last two teams have a bye week before the final quarter of the season starts next week. Before we head down that final stretch of the 2014 season, there are a few big games to keep an eye on this week. Let’s face reality, folks, even if there weren’t I would still lie and say there were.
1. The Undefeated Ryan Mallet Era has begun.
The Cincinnati Bengals roll into Houston for what is turning out to be a pretty big matchup. The Bengals currently sit atop the AFC North, a division that first and last place are separated by one game! This was supposed to be the year the Bengals clicked and took advantage of a division in their down year, but every one is over .500. This has not been the case as Andy Dalton has struggled and stars A.J. Green, Gio Bernard and Vontaze Burfict can’t stay on the field.
The Texans and Bengals are a bit of a rivalry as they have met twice in the last three years in the playoffs. The Texans have rose victorious both times, and Ryan Mallett, the only undefeated starting quarterback in the NFL, looks to keep that streak alive. Arian Foster returns from injury, but Alfred Blue proved to be a reliable back-up. If MegaWATT can continue his rampage and get the Texans to 6-5, they are going to be in serious playoff contention, sitting one game behind the Colts with two games against Jacksonville and one at home versus the lowly Titans.
2. Is Drew Stanton for real?
Drew Stanton led the Cardinals to an impressive victory at home against the Detroit Lions’ number one defense in the NFL and got me one game closer to winning my bet with Kid Robot. Still, there is a big difference between playing at home and playing against the twelfth man in Seattle. At 9-1, the Cardinals have shown they have more ways to win a game than most other teams, whether it be from an all out Andre Ellington rushing attack, timely passing by whomever is the QB at the helms or tight, clamp-down defense.
The Seahawks dropped yet another winnable game last weekend against the surging Kansas City Chiefs. The Seahawks are currently tied with the 49ers at 6-4, three games behind the Cardinals. Seattle has two games left against Arizona, so they must take at least this home matchup to stay in contention. But can they? The Cardinals don’t need much of a lead to win once their stingy defense hunkers down, and the Seahawks offense has struggled of late outside of Marshawn Lynch. Russell Wilson has to get the pass game going again and make this team not so one-dimensional. The Cardinals secondary will certainly make that a daunting task.
1. What’s left for the Vikings?
People have to understand that AP’s season-ending suspension has less to do with what he did to his child and more to do with what he did as an employee of the NFL. There isn’t an inkling of remorse for what he did to his child(ren) and then, when he has an opportunity to redeem himself, explain himself and apologize, he blows off everyone. My readers know full well how I feel about Goodell and his punishment style that is more in line with Around the Horn scoring than a fair and well thought out system(if you forgot, you can read it here), but he is in the right here. AP needs to learn his lesson.
That leaves the Vikings without their star running back and an up-and-down rookie quarterback. Their big play, next Percy Harvin-like player, (Cordarelle Patterson) is apparently a bust. Yet they are still pretty darn competitive and at 4-6, are not completely out of it.
That’s what makes this a big trap game for the Packers. Rodgers and Jordy Nelson may be the best tandem in the NFL, and along with Eddie Lacy rumbling and tumbling through defenses at will, they have thrown up 108 point over the last two weeks. If they think they can sleep through Minnesota before Week 13’s matchup with they Patriots, they could leave with an upset loss like they did in New Orleans.
Game of the Week: Detroit Lions at New England
Matthew Stafford has one bad game and all of a sudden the Lions are terrible. How about the fact that the Lions number one ranked defense allowed Drew Stanton to go for 300-plus yards and two big touchdowns to Michael Floyd? How about the fact that Peyton Manning went out and made two costly turnovers and couldn’t beat the Rams? Does that make the Broncos any less of a contender?
This is a huge statement game for the Lions. Stafford haters will be hinging on every long ball hoping for a turnover to say I told you so. The problem is that Tom Brady and the red-hot Patriots are what stands in the Lions way. The Patriots have reeled off six in a row. The last two wins have come against first place teams and this week AND next week are against two MORE first place teams. This is an equally huge game for the Patriots as the Brady/ Rodgers showdown in Week 13 is going to be epic. If the Patriots win this game, they are once again the team to beat in the AFC.
Survivor Pick of the Week: Seriously, how is your survivor pool still going? It’s simply amazing, but here I am with a duty to fulfill. The pickins must be slim, so you are looking at lower-half teams. That being said, I think the Rams have another surprise in them. The Chargers have been reeling and the Rams defense is somehow still competitive. Rivers will probably drop 250 and two touchdowns, but Shaun Hill may have just enough for another upset.