Week 13 already and a host of teams still had a chance of making the post season in what has been one of the closest and most unpredictable of seasons that I can remember. The big game is still to come with The Patriots playing the Jets for what looks increasingly like home field advantage to the winner however several of the early season favourites and perennial playoff contenders will now have to hope for a bit of help to maintain expectations.
Overall things went largely as expected however two teams who have been plagued all year with misfortune suffered again and could end up sitting January out.
The big casualties were Indianapolis and San Diego who both came up short in games they were expected to win. The Colts to be fair have an excuse given their injury list and the fact Dallas have improved a bit under Garrett, but the Chargers who are in probably the second weakest division in the NFL looked pretty awful against an improving Oakland Raiders who look like having their 1st winning season since their last trip to the Super Bowl in Jan 2003.
Norv Turner must be tearing his hair out at the lack of concentration his team showed especially on special teams and even after giving up 251 yards rushing last night the Chargers defense are still 5th overall against the run and 2nd against the pass. On Offense they are no 2 for passing and its only their running game ranked 19th which pulls them down the rankings. They now trail the surprise team of the season the Kansas City Chiefs by 2 games with 4 to play, and they meet next Sunday in a game which could effectively end their season. A loss to the Chiefs could see Norv Turner join the ranks of the Unemployed.
The story in Indianapolis is a little different with the Colts who despite Manning being uncharacteristically generous with the ball have at least showed some battling spirit having lost 3 of their 4 recent defeats by 3 points or less. Ironically these defeats included a loss to the Chargers but also losses to Philadelphia and New England, which are hardly a disgrace. They have 3 divisional games left so their destiny remains in their own hands, however a loss to the Jags in two weeks time will mean they miss out on the post season for the 1st time since 2001.
The seasons other big surprise team the St Louis Rams overcame the dismal Arizona Cardinals coming back from 6-0 down to score 19 unanswered points. They could make the post season by default given the NFC West is so poor and the division could easily be won 8-8.
New Orleans 34, Cincinnati 30
Chicago 24, Detroit 20
Green Bay 34, San Francisco 16
Jacksonville 17, Tennessee 6
Kansas City 10, Denver 6
Cleveland 13, Miami 10
Minnesota 38, Buffalo 14
NY Giants 31, Washington 7
Oakland 28, San Diego 13
Seattle 31, Carolina 14
Atlanta 28, Tampa Bay 24
St. Louis 19, Arizona 6
Dallas 38, Indianapolis 35 (OT)
Pittsburgh 13, Baltimore 10
- Colts, Chargers falter; Favre injured (seattletimes.nwsource.com)