This is the second time in a matter of days that a Rich Eisen tweet has led a post, but man is it ever worth it. The long, grueling grind of an NFL season is mentally and physically taxing for both players and fans. Even in the frosty outreaches of Alaska on a bitterly cold Sunday morning, one fan is prepared to take an inebriated power nap before supporting his Ravens tonight from afar.
Rich is right, he’s an inspiration to us all, especially with 16 games on New Year’s Day in a few weeks.
So with that let’s shed the foggy cloud that lingers from Saturday night, and prepare ourselves for another Sunday marathon. We can’t decide what’s more exciting between the ongoing playoff races, and the Kellen Clemens sighting we’ll get in St. Louis.
Everyone should be familiar with the routine by now in Week 15. Lock your doors, and give the kids an early Christmas present to keep them occupied for the next 12 hours.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
With matchups against the Patriots and Jets over the final two weeks, at least the Dolphins will be motivated by their chance to play spoiler, or to possibly effect the playoff seeding. But today’s game is a painfully meaningless one between two meaningless franchises this season, one that started out red hot, an one that’s been irrelevant since Week 1.
So for Dolphins fans, it’s time to look even more towards the future, and perhaps at the opposite sideline for an example of what not to do during a rebuilding phase. As Dan Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel notes, the rumors regarding Miami’s head coaching vacancy are already rampant, but finding a capable head coach isn’t nearly as difficult or important as finding a franchise quarterback.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was awarded that title earlier this year, a decision that could be a crippling mistake.
Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears
The Bears’ defense may be ranked 10th in the league against the run, but they’re still ranked 21st with 4.4 yards per carry.
That’s not a favorable number against a bruising power running back like Marshawn Lynch who can wear down defenses with his ability to bounce off of defenders. Lynch has 374 rushing yards over his last three games.
Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans
The Texans injury/sickness black cloud of bad luck has now claimed its first coach, leaving the Battle Red Blog to wonder what the people of Houston did to piss off our football overlords.
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
The real Chris Johnson has only partially stood up this year. He’s slouched over in his chair, with poor and unhealthy posture.
Johnson torched two poor run defenses (Buffalo and Tampa Bay) for 343 rushing yards between Weeks 12 and 13, but then he had a paltry 23 yards on 11 carries last week against New Orleans, and their run defense that’s better but still rather average.
The good Johnson should return again this week against a Colts front seven allowing 144.4 yards per game, but over six career games against the Colts he has only 408 rushing yards.
Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs
As expected, Kyle Orton will start despite being listed on the injury report after breaking his finger on his first snap as a Chief.
This game will likely be over quickly, but with the exception of a drubbing at the hands of Miami in Week 9, the Chiefs have actually been respectable at home recently, losing three of their last four games at Arrowhead by a point differential of a touchdown or less. That includes a four-point loss to Pittsburgh, and a three-point win over San Diego.
To avoid being the latest upset or near-upset victim, the Packers need to contain a large, strong man named Tamba Hali who made life difficult for Tom Brady earlier this year.
New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
Washington Redskins at New York Giants
Today Rex Grossman will be the latest quarterback to run from the clutches of Jason Pierre-Paul, who is fifth in the league with 12.5 sacks. It’ll be the same Jason Pierre-Paul who was indifferent about football even during his junior year of high school, and finally getting him onto the field required a coach stakeout at his car.
Osi Umenyiora is out, but Pierre-Paul will be flanked by Justin Tuck today, his fellow defensive end who was listed as questionable due to a toe injury.
Cincinnati Bengals at St. Louis Rams
As mentioned, with both starter Sam Bradford and backup A.J. Feeley injured, Clemens will start for the Rams today, and it’ll be just his second start since 2007. That alone could make this one of the most unwatchable games of Week 15, which is a pretty tough title to own after two prime-time games that finished with a combined score of 72-29.
In a lost season, the Rams will likely make the logical decision and shut Bradford down for the year too, which will allow St. Louis to compete with Jacksonville for the title of most unwatchable team.
Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders
There wasn’t much optimism around the playing status of Lions safety Louis Delmas. No there’s none after he didn’t make the trip to Oakland.
The other two Lions whose statuses will be determined later today prior to game time are defensive ends Nick Fairley and Willie Young.
Cleveland Browns at Arizona Cardinals
As backup John Skelton prepares for another start, but Cardinals should be seriously considering admitting their mistake with Kevin Kolb and cutting him before he’s due to receive a bonus in March. They won’t, but they should.
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
Aside from their physical stature, Doug Flutie had a lot in common with Tim Tebow, from his playing style, to the doubters that surfaced because of it.
So the Boston Herald’s Ian Rapoport thought Flutie would have a good grasp on Tebowmania, and what it means to be a polarizing figure at quarterback.
”Anything that’s unconventional, anything that’s not by the book . . . they’re just slow to change and adapt in the NFL. There’s so much money at stake that they don’t want to take risks,” said Flutie. ”So they view guys like me, or TimTebow as big risks.
”The way I look at it, why can’t people just enjoy the kid for what he is,” Flutie went on. ”He’s finding ways to win, it’s not always pretty. It makes them competitive, why can’t you just enjoy it?”
New York Jets at Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles run defense has improved since a staggeringly awful start to the season, but it’s still a very middle-of-the-packish unit that’s allowing 115.1 rushing yards per game (18th). That number could get worse quickly today against the Jets and Shonn Green, a team and a player that’s built to run when the temperature begins to drop.
It’s nota coincidence that Jets thrive on the ground in December and January. It’s done by design, and Manish Mehta of the New York Post told the story of Anthony Lynn, the team’s running backs coach who survived a near fatal accident involving a drunk driver, and has now guided the Jets to a rushing attack that’s averaged an incredible 166 yards per game in December and January during Rex Ryan’s tenure.
Baltimore Ravens at San Diego Chargers
It’ll likely be far too little, far too late, but Philip Rivers has finally played like Philip Rivers over the past three weeks, a stretch that’s seen three of his four interception-free games this year. A Ravens defense likely boosted by the return of Ray Lewis will have to deal with a Chargers offense that’s scored 88 points since Week 12.