Who Fed It And Who Ate It: Week 12
Ah, Thanksgiving weekend. The time when we get ready for both the coming holidays but also the home stretch of the NFL season. The more interesting components on this day may not be playing past the regular season, but they are each worthy of notice.
The Cleveland Browns (yes, those Cleveland Browns) enjoyed a wire to wire victory over the Cincinnati Bengals to not only break a long road drought, but also post two wins consecutively. One narrative that may be lost over time once the 2018 season becomes a memory is the lovable underdogs the Browns became to many football fans. As the Browns have been putting the pieces together, their support has transcended beyond the famed Dawg Pound. And those pieces are coming together quicker than anticipated, possibly due to the dismissal of head coach Hue Jackson a scant three weeks ago. Since then, the Brownies have went 2-1, highlighted by the 35-20 thrashing of their cross-state rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals. The score does not do what Cleveland did to the Bengals justice, as the Browns reeled off 28 straight points to open the scoring. That's right, the once woebegone Browns were shelling Cincy by four touchdowns! Another story from this has been the production of rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. Since the purge of coaches that dumped Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, replacement OC Freddie Kitchens has witnessed his gunslinger put up gaudy stats. In those three games, Mayfield is 65/88 for 771 yards, with 9 touchdowns and 1 interception, giving him a shining 129.5 passer rating, while only being sacked twice. If Mayfield can do this on a consistent basis, then the Jersey of Shame may finally be retired. This win not only gives Cleveland two wins in a row for the first time since 2014, they also snap a 25 road game losing streak that began in 2015. This could be a turning point for this franchise, one that has been lost since their revival in 1999. Here's hoping that is the case.
The Ass Kicking of the Week was administered by the Los Angeles Chargers, as they would pick apart the Arizona Cardinals, 45-10. The Chargers are living in a hell of their own making. The StubHub Center, a soccer pitch, is the Bolts home until the Rams' new palace in Inglewood where they are co-tenants, a venue that is a haven... for Chargers' opponents. Yet despite all the turmoil, the Chargers have remained competitive. All you have to do is witness their 8-3 record, which puts them right into a wild card spot and only one game behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West. However, the Chargers do not get much respect for their record in part to who they've beat and who they've lost to. 7 of their 8 wins have come against struggling teams, while 2 of their 3 losses have been by the Chiefs and Rams. All the Chargers can do is play their schedule, nothing more, nothing less. If they get the wins, they're still in. Upon reflection, given the fact that opposing fans overtake their home field, does winning the division even matter right now? Guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there.
The San Francisco 49ers are cutting ties to second year linebacker Ruben Foster due to his second domestic abuse arrest since his employment with the team. The Niners are having a miserable season thanks to a litany of injuries have stripped down their starting lineups of top talent. But there are some lines that owner Jed York, general manager John Lynch, and head coach Kyle Shanahan cannot tolerate being crossed. And Foster, a first round draft pick despite character concerns coming out of college, crossed it with his arrest for domestic abuse battery for the second time since being drafted. The first arrest went nowhere, as no charges were filed. But York, Lynch, and Shanahan are not going to allow a player to string them along, regardless of that player's talent level. The 49ers should be commended for actually having the guts to admit their mistake, not excoriated for drafting Foster in the first place. And rest assured, some other team in the NFL will roll the dice to bring Foster in, figuring the reward is worth the risk. But for the 49ers, who are already rebuilding, opted not to build their foundation on rotten wood. Kudos to the 49ers organization and a hope that Foster takes this as a wake up call and gets his life together before it costs him his career and much more down the line.