Who Fed It And Who Ate It: Week 13
This week's slate of games had some funny outcomes, such as the New York Giants upsetting the Chicago Bears and the Tennessee Titans making a come from behind win over the New York Jets. Plus, the drama earlier in the week that led to the Kansas City Chiefs releasing running back Kareem Hunt after video surfaced of a physical altercation with a woman in a Cleveland hotel. The notables leaving this week...
The Ass Kicking of the Week was handed out by the Seattle Seahawks in a decisive victory over their division rival, the San Francisco 49ers. Not much else to add here. The Niners are persevering through a season once full of promise as the injuries gut the roster, especially the starting lineup. Seattle, on the other hand, are now on a 3 game win streak, and while the division crown is out of play after the LA Rams won it, the Seahawks are very much a player in the wild card race. They are currently sitting in the 5 spot, which would put them against the Dallas Cowboys in AT&T Stadium in the first round of the playoffs. Who are you taking, the home team who has bouts of inconsistency, or the visitors who are all too familiar with the bright lights and pressure of the NFL postseason? Even with a high powered field of contenders in the senior conference, does one completely ignore the Seahawks, the fairly recent 2 time NFC champion and Super Bowl XLVIII winner? One would do so at their own peril.
The losing streaks the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers, while differing in length, could cost each of them playoff trips. Close to a month ago, the two above named teams faced each other in a high profile interconference contest on Thursday Night Football. The result was a blowout result for the Steelers. No alarms sounded in Charlotte because many of the Thursday games have been lopsided affairs in favor of the home team, and this game was at Heinz Field. The red flags are waving like mad now, as the Panthers have yet to taste victory since November 4. As of this post, Carolina is on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. And their recipe of demise, as it always seems, are on the losing end of the turnover battle. It is no shock that a team so sensitive to giveaways and takeaways see a direct correlation to their fates and fortunes based on ball security. They've went 0-4 in the turnover battle, the Panthers have gone 0-4 as a result. If they don't clean up their act, they will be staying home in January, which could trigger wholesale organizational changes as new Carolina owner David Tepper looks to put his imprimatur on his team. Meanwhile, the Steelers are on a small 2 game losing streak, but there is more to this little drought than meets the eye. First of which, this could easily be a three game winless run, as Pittsburgh were the beneficiaries of a collapse by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The losses to the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers not only chip away at their lead in the AFC North, but could play into tiebreaker problems if the Steel City Stalwarts' swoon continues. Where the Panthers are left fighting to get back into the fight in the NFC, the Steelers may not get the chance in the AFC. Pittsburgh holds a half game lead over the Baltimore Ravens in their division, while holding a game and a half edge over four other junior conference teams (Denver, Indianapolis, Miami, & Tennessee). While not every team in the playoff hunt will run the table, the Steelers need to ensure they control their destiny.
The Green Bay Packers fell to the Arizona Cardinals 20-17 for the first time in the history of Lambeau Field. Shortly after, the Packers decided to dismiss head coach Mike McCarthy from his duties. There are some who believe that this particular loss is a benchmark nadir for this franchise. Seeing the fact that this is the Cards' first victory in the state of Wisconsin since 1949 and their first win in Green Bay since 1947. The result puts the Packers at 4-7-1, which for all intents and purposes, seals their fate in missing the playoffs for a second consecutive year. With transcendent quarterback Aaron Rodgers still under center, this performance by Titletown in 2018 has been deemed unacceptable, and team CEO Mark Murphy exercised his authority to sack McCarthy in the midst of his 13th season. While his most recent seasons were underwhelming, McCarthy has etched his name into the annals of one of the NFL's storied franchises. He leaves the Pack with a record of 125-77-2, the second most wins in franchise history, trailing only the original Packer legend, Curly Lambeau. He joined Vince Lombardi and Mike Holmgren as the only coaches to bring home the Lombardi Trophy with his Super Bowl XLV triumph in 2010. He also led Green Bay to the postseason nine straight seasons, an incredible feat, especially in the free agency era where teams can rocket out of nowhere to a deep playoff run then fade back into obscurity just as fast. But the writing was on the wall, as they say. All parties involved were ready for a change, whether they were willing to admit it or not. We shall see who Murphy will hire to maximize Rodgers' fading prime years.