Week 12 Wrap-Up: King of the Cassel

Tom who? It’s amazing the job that Matt Cassel (415 passing yards, 4 TD – one rushing, INT) has done this year to keep the depression in New England over Tom Brady’s injury to a minimum. To his credit, the games are a bit more exciting now and as long as they still make the playoffs, you have to give him props for playing his ass off and earning the big contract that is sure to come his way in the off-season. Anyways, let’s dive into the action that took place this weekend, starting with the big Patriots victory over the Dolphins…

  • New England 48, Miami 28: The second straight 400 passing yard performance from Cassel also paid dividends to the dynamic receiver duo, Randy Moss (8 catches for 125 yards, 3 TD) and Wes Welker (8 catches for 120 yards.) Over-shadowed by his team’s loss and the play of the opposing quarterback though, you can’t forget to mention the great effort from Chad Pennington (341 passing yards, 4 TD – one rushing, INT), who’s numbers were nearly as good.
  • Houston 16, Cleveland 6: You have to feel bad for the Browns and their fans at this point. Just when it seemed that Brady Quinn might start to turn this team around, they realize he has a broken his finger from last week’s game, but they start him anyways. He then proceeds to go out and play terribly and is yanked in the second half…so Derek Anderson comes in and plays just as poorly. You have to figure that head coach Romeo Crennel’s days are numbered in Cleveland, as Quinn was supposed to be his savior. On the other side of the ball, Houston didn’t play all that great either…but they didn’t need to. Wide receivers Andre Johnson (10 catches for 116 yards) and Kevin Walter (7 catches for 93 yards, TD) had solid efforts in the victory.
  • Buffalo 54, Kansas City 31: After four straight losses (including some offensive stinkers), I thought it might be sneaky to recommend the Kansas City defense at home this past weekend. If there was ever a time to ignore my advice, this would have been the time. Somehow the Chiefs give up 54 (!!!) points to Trent Edwards as he throws and rushes for a combined four touchdowns. For Kansas City, quarterback Tyler Thigpen (240 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT) continued his streak of valuable starts (from a fantasy football perspective at least), but it wasn’t enough to overcome his team’s complete lack of talent on the defensive side of the ball. Receiver Lee Evans (110 yards) and tight end Tony Gonzalez (10 catches for 113 yards, TD) put up solid numbers for their respective teams as well.
  • New York Jets 34, Tennessee 13: I have a feeling that this game meant a little more than the Titans simply losing their first game of season. Although my Patriots are looking pretty good these days, this game represented a changing of the guard at the top of the AFC. Tennessee has apparently forgotten what got them to where they are/were (the running game?) and was content with letting quarterback Kerry Collins throw the ball 39 times (granted, they had to throw it a the end as they were down a bunch), while they ran it a mere 11 times. The Jets running backs (Jones – 117 combined yards, TD; Washington – 84 combined yards, 2 TD) played well against what was supposed to be a tough Tennessee defense and barring a late season melt-down, the Jets are a near lock to at least make the playoffs (who’s excited about the thoughts of an all New York/Jersey Superbowl?! Not me.)
  • Baltimore 36, Philadelphia 7: Looks like Donovan McNabb may be on his way out of Philly after his benching this weekend. The Ravens apparently wanted to make people forget about their performance last week against the Giants as they intercepted Eagles quarterbacks four times on the day, including one which was returned 108 yards for a touchdown by Ed Reed. In case you were wondering, the Ravens running back you wanted in your lineup this week was Le’Ron McClain (88 yards, TD), not Willis McGahee or Ray Rice…obviously!
  • Dallas 35, San Francisco 22: Who has a bigger affect on the success of the team when he’s not playing, Tom Brady or Tony Romo? Early in the season, you may have said Brady, but now that Cassel is rolling and Romo has turned the Cowboys back into a contender, I think you have to lean the other way. Dallas is a completely different team with Romo (341 yards, 3 TD) under center and most importantly, he makes Terrell Owens (7 catches for 213 yards, TD) a happy man…which is very important if you want to win while he’s on your roster. As for T.O.’s old team, receiver Isaac Bruce (8 catches for 125 yards, TD) had a big game, but it wasn’t enough and it’s clear that the 49er’s still have some rebuilding to do before they can contend…even in the NFC West.
  • Tampa Bay 38, Detroit 20: If you thought it was bad to be a Browns fan these days, talk to a Lions fan or two (if there are that many!) After going up quickly 17-0 against the Buc’s, Detroit proceeded to give up 35 unanswered points! Along the lines of Brady Quinn and Donovan McNabb, quarterback Daunte Culpepper was benched midway through game for poor play. Unlike the others though, he was forced to return due to a concussion to the backup…must have been a proud moment! In the absence of starter Earnest Graham, who is out for the season with an ankle injury, running back Warrick Dunn (127 combined yards, TD) had a big game for Tampa Bay.
  • Minnesota 30, Jacksonville 12: The Jaguars can safely write this season off and demand a mulligan as the losses are piling up, with the latest being to Adrian Peterson (80 yards, TD) and the Vikings. As with the Titans, when the quarterback of a traditionally run-first offense passes the ball three times (3X) more than they run the ball, good things probably aren’t going to happen.
  • Chicago 27, St. Louis 3: Wow…the Rams are a mess right now. After quarterback Marc Bulger leaves the game with a concussion, backup Trent Green proceeds to throw four interceptions as St. Louis gets beaten pretty handily by running back Matt Forte (146 combined yards, 2 TD) and the Bears.
  • Oakland 31, Denver 10: Talk about a couple inconsistent teams! The Raiders got some big performances from running backs Justin Fargas (107 rushing yards) and Darren McFadden (52 combined yards, 2 TD), along with receiver Ashley Lelie (92 yards, TD…and yes, you read that correctly…Ashley Lelie) as they put a hurtin’ on the Broncos. Jay Cutler won’t be winning any MVP awards if he loses games like this.
  • Atlanta 45, Carolina 28: I was under the impression that the Panthers had a pretty good defense…but apparently the Falcons missed the memo as they man-handled them on Sunday. Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme finally broke the 100 yard passing mark, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a four touchdown day for Michael Turner the Burner (along with 117 rushing yards.) Receiver Steve Smith (8 catches for 168 yards) and tailback DeAngelo Williams (120 combined yards, TD) of the Panthers had big games as well…but again, they lost.
  • New York Giants 37, Arizona 29: In a preview of a potential NFC playoff game, it was the Superbowl champion Giants that came out on top as Kurt Warner-led Cardinals (and their complete lack of a running game) couldn’t keep up with the balance of New York’s offense. Eli Manning (240 yards, 3 TD) had a big day for the G-Men, while rookie running back Tim Hightower (21 yards, but 2 TD) had another less-than-inspiring game for Arizona (I see more “touchdown vulture” than “feature back” in his future.)
  • Washington 20, Seattle 17: Not much to say here except that a less-than-100% Clinton Portis (143 rushing yards) ran all over the Seahawks.
  • Indianapolis 23, San Diego 20: Not quite the barn-burner that I would have expected out of these two teams, but the outcome was fairly predictable. The Chargers continue to play like a team that has no idea who they are (luckily no one else in the division does either!) while the Colts are continuing to climb back into AFC contender discussion. Quarterback Philip Rivers (288 yards, 2 TD) built upon his league leading touchdown count, but it just wasn’t enough.
  • Pittsburgh 27, Cincinnati 10 (Thursday): Unless you’re a Steelers fan, you probably weren’t all that sad that you needed the NFL Network to watch the game live. As usual, the Bengals played poorly and their black-hole of an offense was bad enough to suck in the last remaining star, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, as he finished the game with a whopping 20 yards and successfully screwed one of my teams!
  • Green Bay 31, New Orleans 24 (projected): The Saints defense just isn’t good enough to stop the Packers, who seem to be a very balanced team these days with Ryan Grant running the ball well. With Reggie Bush not expected to play, I see Drew Brees throwing for a bunch of yards, but coming up a bit short.