Week 15 has a lot of us around here shaking our heads and wondering at the craziness that is the NFL. What a bizarre slate of results, including Indianapolis posting its first win, Green Bay picking up its first defeat and the Giants, Bears, Jets and Ravens all suffering bad losses in games they desperately needed to win.
But what did we learn from all this?
1. We learned that nobody, not even Timver, can survive three turnovers in a single quarter. The Broncos were actually dominating New England until three miscues in a row turned the game around and sucked the life out of Tebow's team. Not that we should walk away believing that this 41-23 loss to the Patriots proves Timmy can't win in the NFL: the margin for error for any team, including Denver, is pretty small when you're playing New England.
2. We learned that playoff teams in both conferences should be worried if a pair of now-borderline clubs actually make it into the post-season. Sure, it's still very unlikely either San Diego or Philadelphia will make the playoffs but, if they do, watch out. Both have the talent and the will to compete with even the best in their conferences and, if they do make it, they will be coming in red-hot and confident. If I'm a playoff team in the AFC, I do NOT want to find San Diego coming to town; if I'm in the NFC post-season, there are a number of teams I'd rather play than the Eagles in the first or second round.
In fact, I'll go out on the following limb: if the Chargers make the playoffs, I think they make it to the Super Bowl. With the way they're playing (and the ease with which they handled Baltimore), I can't see San Diego losing to any of the AFC's top teams.
I'm not quite so confident in the Eagles' chances (they do have the Packers and the Saints in their conference) but I still wouldn't want to face them in the playoffs.
3. We learned that a single loss to a struggling team can do a lot of damage to a team's feelings of invincibility. Green Bay looked awful losing to Kansas City with nothing clicking and their offensive line falling to pieces. Suddenly, we have to recognise that the red-hot Saints might just be the favourites in the NFC playdowns.
4. We learned how good it feels for us Canadians to hear the name of a Canadian university called out in the player introductions on Sunday Night Football. San Diego's defensive lineman Vaughn Martin played his college ball at the University of Western Ontario and it was a thrill for this writer to hear him say that name with pride early in the game. And, seconds later, when Chris Collinsworth pointed out that Martin had actually played the most snaps this season of any Charger defensive lineman and was a pleasant surprise for San Diego, that was just icing on the cake.
Now add in the fact that Israel Idonije, a defensive end from the University of Manitoba, scored one of the Bears two touchdowns in a loss to Seattle, and you'll know why Canadian NFL fans are feeling pretty good this morning.
5. We learned that Buffalo qb Ryan Fitzpatrick has got to shave that beard. Ever since he turned himself into Grizzly Adams, Fitzpatrick has been just grizzly for the Bills. Fitzpatrick's three interceptions sunk the Bills against Miami, sending Buffalo to its seventh straight loss.
6. We also learned the importance of a little bit of anger to the performance of a football player. Dolphin running back Reggie Bush was miffed that people questioned his ability to be the go-to back for an NFL team and figured a thousand-yard season was the way to prove himself capable. Needing 230 yards in his final three games to achieve that goal, Bush hammered the Bills for 203 yards on just 25 carries (that's 8.1 yards per carry, folks) and seems to have proven his point. Do you think he can pick up the last 27 yards in the next two games?
7. We learned that the Giants and Jets don't deserve to make the playoffs. Those were pathetic performances they turned in with the playoffs in sight. How do the Giants score just 10 against Washington? How do the Jets give up 45 to anybody?
8. And we learned that maybe there is some pride in Indianapolis. Tennessee doesn't seem to have expected the Colts to commit themselves so strongly to the run and paid the price. Donald Brown and the Indy o-line just ate them up and it might just cost the Titans a chance at the playoffs.