NFL Week 13 Observations

From: Josh Salter –

It was business as usual for the New York Giants yesterday, as they went into Landover, MD and crushed their rival, the Washington Redskins, 23-7.

Amid numerous distractions stemming from WR Plaxico Burress and his self-inflicted gunshot wound on Friday night, the Giants matched the Redskins’ emotion to start the game (Washington inducted the late Sean Taylor into the Ring of Fame prior to the game) and completely outplayed Washington in every facet of the game.

Washington dared Eli to beat them through the air and that’s exactly what he did. On a cold, rainy day, and without a healthy contribution from the running game, Eli was calm, cool and collected and tossed for over 300 yards and a TD.

On defense, DC Steven Spagnuolo put together the perfect game plan and limited RB Clinton Portis to just 22 yards on the ground and frustrated QB Jason Campbell all afternoon. The Giants moved to 11-1 and within striking distance of both the NFC East title and home field throughout, while the ‘Skins’ playoff chances are on life support.

Carolina got back on track with a 35-31 win over the Packers in Green Bay. It took one heck of an afternoon from RB DeAngelo Williams, who finished with four TDs, but in the end, the Packers couldn’t get it done on defense and allowed Carolina to go down the field for the GW TD with less than two minutes remaining in the game.

The Panthers stayed atop the NFC South moving to 9-3 and setting up next week’s big showdown with the 9-3 Buccaneers, while the Packers, last year’s runner up in the NFC, moved to 5-7.

Green Bay just hasn’t been able to overcome key losses to their defense. The trading of former second round pick DT Corey Williams has backfired, as GB has not been able to control the line of scrimmage, and the loss of LB Nick Barnett has been devastating as well.

The Cowboys were able to move to 8-4 and keep their playoff hopes alive and well with a 31-9 thrashing of the Seattle Seahawks on Thanksgiving Day. A few positives from that game: Tony Romo tossed three TDs and DE/LB DeMarcus Ware and the defense were swarming all afternoon.

A few negatives were that RB Marion Barber only managed 32 yards before leaving with a dislocated pinkie, and Ware appears to have escaped a serious knee injury. His availability this week when they face the Steelers will be crucial to the team’s success.

On to the AFC, and this is why they play the game. Who had the Jets falling to the Broncos? That’s right, probably no one outside of Denver. A week after getting rolled by the anemic Oakland Raiders, the Broncos headed into the Meadowlands and beat the Jets soundly.

Shanahan had his team more prepared and out coached Mangini badly in this one. The Jets still hold a one-game lead in the AFC East, but it appears those Super Bowl predictions after last week’s thumping they gave Tennessee were very premature.

And a little north of there, the Steelers headed into New England last night for a rumble with the Pats. It was a close game at the half (10-10), but after the intermission, the Steelers took complete control of the game and buried New England 33-10.

If the Steelers remain healthy, they’re my pick for the AFC representative in the Super Bowl. They’re very balanced in all facets of the game, and when you have a defense as good as they do, you’ve always got a chance.

On the other side of the ball, after throwing for 400 yards in consecutive games, QB Matt Cassel came back to earth. He was held to just 169 passing yards and was forced into four turnovers. The Pats now look to regroup and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Sitting at only one game out of the AFC East, they’re still very much alive with four to go, but their margin for error is very little.

And lastly, the San Diego Chargers. This is by far the most disappointing team in the NFL. They were completely outclassed, out coached and out played yesterday by the upstart Falcons at home.

And in RB Michael Turner’s homecoming, he out-rushed Tomlinson 120-24. The Falcons moved onto 8-4 and kept their playoff hopes still very much alive while the Chargers, falling to 4-8, have about as realistic shot of coming back as do any of the three major American auto companies.

And for those of you still seeking answers as to why this team is so bad, there’s only one reason: coaching. Norv Turner just doesn’t inspire anything in his players and that’s why they always look flat coming out of the gates.

The loss of Merriman was big, but not big enough to make a top ranked defense look like on of the worst in football. In New York, they lost both Osi and Strahan and have managed fine. And the reason for this is coaching and creating schemes to allow your players to be successful.

The Chargers’ coaches lack in this area (game planning) and that’s why they’re the most talented, underachieving team this league has ever seen.

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