And then there was one.
The ranks of the undefeated has become a lonely one for the Carolina Panthers, as their only partner in crime – the New England Patriots – lost their first game of the season. At 12-0, the Panthers are the first team to get this far without a loss since the 2011 Green Bay Packers, who went on to win thirteen games before losing their first game.
Aside from the Panthers continuing their impressive start to the season, this week was quite interesting with the Browns losing a heartbreaker on MNF, Romo breaking his clavicle again, Green Bay still looks kind of off and what may possibly be a quarterback controversy in Denver. Let’s break down the week that was.
PHI 14, DET 45
Philly is in a free fall that may get Chip Kelly fired if it continues through the end of the season. Their recent struggles are only magnified by the terrible NFC East, where they’re only one game back from first place. Detroit is having a nice surge but they dug a hole too big to climb out of. It’s still nice to see the pressure off of Jim Caldwell; he should be focusing on getting his team prepared instead of answering questions of whether he’ll be fired or not.
CAR 33, DAL 14
You know when you see a car crash and you can’t help but look at the destruction. That was the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. On top of putting up a terrible performance, Tony Romo re-fractured his clavicle and is out for the year. Carolina is steamrolling through teams and making me believe they can go undefeated. But that may prove more of a curse than a blessing.
CHI 17, GB 14
Don’t look now but Jay Cutler is quietly playing well. The funk that Green Bay found themselves in before a victory in Minnesota seems to be unresolved and now they find themselves trailing the surging Vikes in the NFC North with Chicago creeping up behind them thanks to a solid season by Cutler.
MIN 20, ATL 10
When you think about identity, you think of a belief of who you are. The Vikings have one with Adrian Peterson having a renaissance year and Teddy Bridgewater playing game manager (no, it’s not a bad word). That’s the opposite of what Atlanta has, who doesn’t know what kind of team they are and their flaws are exposed even more with Matt Ryan’s atrocious turnovers. Talk about two ends of the spectrum.
STL 7, CIN 31
Who ever questions the Rams desire to win can kiss Jeff Fischer’s a**. Those are his words, not mine, but judging by the effort they put up against the Bengals, it’s a hard question to ignore. The once dark horse to win a Wild Card spot Rams have settled into their usual place of non-playoff aspirations late in the year. The Bengals won a game they were supposed to win, good for them.
NO 6, HOU 24
Boy, did Houston did a number on the Saints, who were held touchdown-less for the first time since Drew Brees arrived. It looks like the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era may be coming to an end, which is a damn shame. The now surging Texans are vying for a playoff spot due to a terrible AFC South.
SD 31, JAX 25
San Diego finally won a game against a team they should beat.
BUF 22, KC 30
Just when you think the talented Bills team is ready to take a step towards relevance, they lose back to back games. Winners of five straight, the Chiefs are another one of those surging teams who are back in contention for one of the last two Wild Card spots. We’ll see if they can complete the comeback after a terrible 1-5 start to the season.
MIA 20, NYJ 38
The Jets finally put up a performance worthy of the talent on this team. It does help when Fitzpatrick plays a clean game and has Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker on the outside. The Dolphins continued their up and down season with another down week.
OAK 24, TEN 21
The Raiders finally got out of their midseason funk with a win over the offensively challenged Titans. Both of these teams are young but the Raiders are just better – which isn’t something I’m used to saying.
NYG 13, WSH 20
It seems that when people expect the Giants to be good, they’re bad, but when people write them off, they’re Super Bowl winning road warriors ala Mad Max. Nothing, not even the great Tom Brady can beat them. The only thing that seems to get to them is expectations and this has set up the Redskins in first place in the NFC East with the other teams fall apart.
ARI 19, SF 13
How ugly was this game? Well it got the refs from this game kick out of their next game on MNF. Yellow was the theme of the game and filibuster-like explanations dominated the screen. The Cards barely beat the Blaine Gabbert-led 49ers, which isn’t saying much but this isn’t the BCS – style points don’t count here.
PIT 30, SEA 39
Seattle isn’t known for being an offensive juggernaut, but the Steelers defense sure made them look potent. Russell Wilson tossed career high five touchdown passes while making the Steelers defensive backs look worse than the Little Giants. It doesn’t matter how great Big Ben and his trio of stud receivers are, if their defense can’t play better, they won’t make it far in the playoffs. The Seahawks finally won a tough game; this might prove to be the turning point in their season.
NE 24, DEN 30
The snowy mountains of Mile High served as the background for the first defeat in the Patriots season. A game that was filled with questionable calls, injuries (on the Pats side) and a hefty amount of snow was thoroughly entertaining up until that last C.J. Anderson TD run to clinch the victory in overtime. New England was lucky not to lose Gronk for the season after a bad looking injury in the fourth quarter. Their Super Bowl hopes are still alive.
BAL 33, CLE 27
You gotta feel bad for Cleveland Browns fans. After hanging in there with the Ravens all night long and setting up their kicker for a 63-yard field to win the game, they lost on a block field goal return for a touchdown. Wow. Let this serve as a cautionary tale for other coaches who try to kick a late field goal – practice recovering for a blocked field goal return. Just like every other Sunday, the ball just didn’t roll the Browns way.