Green Bay at Buffalo
Green Bay picked the wrong day to have their worst game of the season. Going into the game, Green Bay had never won a game in Buffalo in five previous tries. They extended that streak to six. Aaron Rodgers just may have had the worst game of his career. Rodgers finished the game with a un-Rodgers like 17-of-42 for only a 185 yards and two interceptions. Going into the game, he had thrown only three picks for the entire season!
I watched a good portion of that game and Rodgers was lucky he didn’t throw two more. His accuracy was awful to say the least. Credit has to be given to the Bills' defense who were able to put consistent pressure on Rodgers while their secondary did an outstanding job in coverage.
The loss coupled with Detroit’s win over Minnesota now takes Green Bay out of first place in the NFC North. Though Detroit and the Packers are tied with 10-4 records, the Lions hold the advantage courtesy of their win over Green Bay early in the season. Detroit also hold the advantage with their division and conference records.
Going forward, Green Bay has to win out, which includes a home game versus the Lions in two weeks. Because of the other tie breakers, they also have to hope the Lions lose at Chicago next week.
The win for Buffalo was big. It not only kept them alive for a possible wild card spot but gave then a huge dose of confidence for the future.
Being a native Buffalonian, I read the Buffalo News on a daily basis and there are certain columnists who know nothing about football who keep attacking Buffalo Head Coach Doug Marrone and quarterback Kyle Orton on the jobs they have done. Plain and simple, Doug Marrone has done an outstanding job this year! He doesn’t yet have a top roster but has kept the Bills in most games with their hard play. His game plans have been excellent.
While Kyle Orton may not be good enough to win a championship, he is plenty good enough to get a team to the playoffs and perhaps win a playoff game. The alternative is to use second year man E.J. Manuel who has proven he is not a starting NFL quarterback. Why these few naysayers continue to try and look smart while at the same time looking stupid is beyond me. They should be more than happy that Marrone and Orton are part of the Bills' organization. Those two give the Bills their best chance to win.
The turnaround of the Cowboys is one of the bigger stories if the year. A little less than a year ago, people were criticizing Owner/GM Jerry Jones for staying with Head Coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo. Jones decision has turned out to be brilliant as the Cowboys, baring a collapse in the final two games are heading to the playoffs as a “hot” team. Dallas still has a tough game versus the Colts next week but then close out against the hapless Redskins.
While the Cowboys are in the driver’s seat, they still don’t have a lock on the NFC East. If the Cowboys lose to Indianapolis and beat Washington while Philadelphia wins out, the Eagles will win the division because of the tie breakers (better division record). This makes next week’s home game versus the Colts very important. A win doesn’t lock up the division, but a loss may knock the Cowboys out of a playoff spot.
San Francisco 49ers
Sunday’s loss to Seattle eliminated San Francisco from playoff contention. It also may have sealed the fate of 49ers' coach Jim Harbaugh. The soap opera in San Francisco has been running for over a year, and the divorce between the team and Harbaugh will most likely happen in about two weeks, if not sooner.
The interesting part of the story is where does Harbaugh end up? As I wrote a few weeks ago, I think it is highly unlikely that a “trade” for Harbaugh ever happens. There are just too many outside variables in the equation.
The bigger question is does Harbaugh stay in the NFL or go back to college football? People close to Harbaugh tell me that Jim wants to remain in the NFL. If that ends up being the case, I’m told that he also wants more authority when it comes to personnel decisions. He just may be able to get that wish.
The only NCAA alternative is Harbaugh’s alma mater, Michigan. While many in Ann Arbor would love to see that happen, I think that as every day passes, the probability of that happening is less and less.
NCAA Division III playoffs
This Friday evening, Mount Union and Wisconsin-Whitewater square off for the Division III National Championship. While that normally isn’t big news, what is fascinating is that one of these two schools has won the Division III title every year since 2005. This game will mark the ninth time in the last ten years the two schools have played each other in the Championship game. Whitewater has won five championships and Mount Union has three in that period.
The domination of Division III football by these two schools is something that we don’t see in any other NCAA Division and is a testament to how well these programs are run. What makes this game even more interesting, is it may be the last time at least in the near future that these two schools play each other for the Championship.
This will be the last game with Lance Leipold as head coach of Whitewater. He has already been hired as the next head coach of Buffalo and he is taking his two coordinators with him. That means that the next Whitewater coach will most likely come from outside the program. That, alone, could slow down the momentum of this powerhouse program.
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