What We Learned In Week 16 In The NFL:
- Colts go from first team on the clock to a playoff team
- Peyton Manning has Broncos in prime playoff position
- Giants might not be able to pull off late and post season magic again this season
- Jets and Tebow can’t stay out of the effing headlines
- Steelers blow opportunities after turnovers and chance at playoffs
Not a great start to the holiday season huh? Definitely not the first time Steeler Nation has had to watch a bad season and playoff hopes go up in smokes but sure doesn’t make it any easier. The Steelers put on their best defensive performance of the season yesterday and quite possibly the crappiest offensive performance in years at the same time. With one week left in the NFL season the AFC and NFC playoff picture is all but set and the Steelers have played themselves right off the list. It’s going to be an excruciatingly long offseason for sure but let’s not think about that now, let’s take some cheap shots first.
Remember when Bruce Arians retired? Yeah that was an interesting week. Now he’s got Andrew Luck and the Colts not exactly from worst to first but miles away from their position last season as they’ve locked up the #5 spot in the AFC playoffs. The Colts took a huge gamble letting Peyton Manning go in order to put all of their stock into Andrew Luck, Chuck Pagano, and Bruce Arians. Well that stock has so far paid enormous dividends as I’m sure most of the Colts fan base had prepared themselves for the “rebuilding” season or two in the hopes that it will all eventually work out for the best. Ain’t no rebuilding going on there, they’re retooled and recharged and ready to take on the AFC. With the way things are shaping up, they’ll most likely face the Ravens in the Wild Card round and the Colts can be a dangerous team. Sad sad irony that the Steelers are going to be watching Bruce Arians coach in the playoffs from home.
Speaking of Peyton Manning, the Broncos won their 10th straight game with a dominating victory over the Browns and thanks to the Texans blowing it against the Vikings are now tied for the #1 overall seed in the AFC. Personally, I think the Broncos probably have the best chance in the playoffs to knock off Tom Brady and the Patriots, especially considering the Broncos will most likely get home field throughout. Isn’t that what we all want anyway? We know the Broncos can lay the smack down on the Ravens again if needed and if we’re going to have to watch the playoffs without the Steelers in it, the only thing we can hope for is an early exit for the Pats and Ravens.
The Giants are having just as disappointing season as the Steelers and they fell to the Ravens yesterday making their road to the post season a bit more difficult. The Ravens held Eli and the Giants to 186 yards off offense and sacked Eli three times. The Giants fell out of the three way tie for first place in the NFC East and will need to win their final game against the Eagles along with losses by what seems like half of the NFC in order to earn a playoff spot.
So after the sports media spent the entire week talking about how awful the Jets have treated Tebow this season in limiting his playing time and not utilizing any of his “skills” and passing up on him to start after benching Mark Sanchez they decided to report that it’s a “near certainty” that Tebow will play for Jacksonville next season. And won’t that be great for him, he’s from there, he went to UF near there, and the fans will love it. Really? That’s how football decisions are made now? Ok. Now there are reports circulating that Tebow requested to be taken out of the Jets Wildcat packages after being upset that he was not given the starting opportunity. Wait a minute, the Jets had Wildcat packages? Let me say on behalf of NFL fans everywhere, Stop it! Stop looking for reasons to talk about Tebow. It’s getting really pathetic right now. Just stop it.
The Steelers gave the Bengals an early Christmas gift in the form of their first consecutive playoff berth in 30 years after the Steelers offense failed over and over again to capitalize off of the opportunities the Steelers defense created for them. The Steelers defense played out of their friggin minds from the first snap of the game and outside of not scoring themselves, gave the Steelers every friggin opportunity to win the game possible. The biggest defensive standouts from the game came from Lawrence Timmons, Cortez Allen, and Troy Polamalu. Allen caught 2 interceptions and forced a fumble to which the Steelers offense failed all three times to capitalize from. Troy Polamalu brought Steeler Nation to their feet with one of his signature plays timing the snap of the ball perfectly and bursting through both lines to sack Andy Dalton. Unfortunately, due to the outcome of the game, the story becomes bigger about the Cincy defense and their pressure on Ben and interceptions at key moments. The Bengals picked Ben off for an early touchdown and picked him off again with 24 seconds remaining to set themselves up for the winning touchdown.
Bengals fans can rejoice for the moment of their feat of earning back to back playoff appearances for the first time in 30 years but will most likely be bounced in the first round just like last year. The Steelers will play their final game of the season next week at home with nothing but pride on the line and will begin the arduous offseason with fans debating everything from Todd Haley’s future with the team to how the defense can get back to not only creating turnovers more but scoring from them as well. It’s not yet time to evaluate the season as a whole, there is still one game left to play and let’s hope these guys come out with something to prove and end the season with a win instead of yet another frustrating loss. Merry Christmas Steeler Nation, I hope you all enjoy every moment of it with your families. Bring it on Week 17!
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