Happy Tuesday, friends. After the shellacking that the Patriots put on the Texans last night, it’s time to take stock of both teams, since it’s likely that the Broncos will play at least one of them in the playoffs, and maybe both.
There were some noticeable things on display in the game that will be of interest to us in the coming weeks.
Here are five for each team:
Former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has affirmed the league's findings regarding the Saints bounty scandal, but has vacated all player suspensions. Makes total sense, right?
Tagliabue's statement, via NFL spokesman Greg Aiello:
Unlike Saints' broad organizational misconduct, player appeals involve sharply focused issues of alleged individual player misconduct in several different aspects. My affirmation of Commissioner Goodell's findings could certainly justify the issuance of fines. However, this entire case has been contaminated by the coaches and others in the Saints' organization.
Having reviewed the testimony very carefully, including documentary evidence that is at the center of the conflict, and having assessed the credibility of the four central witnesses on these matters, I find there is more than enough evidence to support Commissioner Goodell's findings that Mr. Vilma offered such a bounty (on Brett Favre).
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Well, we probably should have seen this one coming.
Entering last night's game, New England's three losses were by a combined four points, with five of their nine wins coming by more than three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Texans had been blown out by Green Bay in their one loss, and in November had barely squeaked by the Bears, Jaguars, and Lions. Houston had won four blowouts, but none since Week 7.
We're admittedly using hindsight here, but what happened last night doesn't seem so shocking when framed by those facts - especially considering that the game took place in Foxboro, in the cold.
New England (10-3) jumped all over Houston (11-2) with three touchdowns on their first three drives, and things never got closer in a 42-14 rout which made the Texans look like frauds, and the Patriots like prohibitive SB favorites.
* Although a Houston win would immediately place Denver ahead of New England in the race for playoff seeding, and their destiny in their own hands, a Pats victory wouldn't be the end of the world, either. Indy is still very much alive for the AFCS title, although if the Colts were to win their division and end up with 12 wins along with Denver, it appears (by consulting ESPN's Playoff Machine) Indy would tiebreakers over the Broncos and thus gain a higher seeding.
The Broncos have added tackle Paul Cornick to their practice squad; he replaces Darrion Weems, who had been signed to Dallas's active roster five days ago.
Cornick had signed with the LOLJets as an undrafted free agent out of North Dakota State, where he was named an All-American following his senior season.
Tony Dungy explains why Peyton Manning could never be a coach
Tony Dungy coached Peyton Manning for seven seasons in Indianapolis and gave him wide leeway to call the plays, run the offense and generally act like a coach on the field. But Dungy doesn’t think Manning could ever be a coach on the sideline…
“No, absolutely not, because he would expect that from everybody, and he doesn’t realize, everybody’s not Peyton Manning,” Dungy said. “Everybody doesn’t work that hard, everybody can’t be at that level all the time. It would frustrate him to death.”
Of course Peyton Manning isn't going to be a coach. He's got pizzas to sell--a lot of them.
Cam Cameron fired by Baltimore Ravens as offensive coordinator
Tired with the offense’s inconsistency and the lack of significant progression from quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens today let go much-maligned offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, according to team sources.
Clearly not an ideal way to head into the stretch run of a season, and while preparing for a game the magnitude of Sunday's looming visit from the Broncos.
Jason Cole says the inability of Cameron and QB Joe Flacco to coexist necessitated the switch, while Jamison Hensley says the firing of Cameron - who had been on a one-year deal - is sure to please Baltimore's offensive players.
Updated 2:01pm ET
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver's upcoming trip to Baltimore has loomed as a big game since the moment the 2012 schedule was released, but the showdown has become more crucial by the day.
Although the matchup will likely go a long way to determining who the AFC's number-two seed is, things have suddenly gotten desperate for the Ravens (9-4), who remain stuck on nine wins after yesterday's 31-28 loss to Washington (7-6). It was Baltimore's second consecutive loss, and things won't get any easier for them; after the Broncos, they'll host the Giants and then head to Cincinnati to close out the regular season.
Adding to the pain of having lost two straight nailbiters, the already banged-up Ravens lost two more of their best players to injury yesterday - an ankle sprain left Baltimore guard Marshal Yanda on crutches after the game, and Jeff Legwold says it could be a season-ending injury for the Pro Bowler. LB Jameel McClain suffered a neck injury that had him in serious pain, although X-rays were negative.
Here are the day's inactive lists. Enjoy the games - Washington knocked off Baltimore in overtime, handing the Ravens their fourth loss of the season, and putting them a full game behind Denver in the AFC playoff race. Thank you, Shanny!
Readers of this site are well aware that we collectively favor aggression on fourth down.
One or two yards to gain, anywhere from near midfield to the opposing goal line? Go for it.
Third-and-short from within that same area? Call your play with the intent to go for it on fourth if you fail, barring a loss of yardage on third.
Peyton Manning scores touchdowns--that's all he does. Putting the ball in the hands of your punter, or at the foot of your placekicker, provides said touchdown-scorer with fewer opportunities with which to score touchdowns.
It really is that simple.