For your reading pleasure, pigskin passionistas, here are our over-magnified, jump-the-gun conclusions on seven big winners and seven big losers from the early games of Week 14. We even dive into a little college ball because, well, it is the Pigskin High Holidays and all, and it's the right thing to do.
Winner: Zygi Wilf, class act
On the day that America marked the 67th anniversary of the most traumatic event in the nation's history, one that launched the U.S. Marine Corps into its finest hour
, the owner of the Vikings dedicated the game ball to Brad Childress, in honor of the head coach's son, Andrew, who joins the Corps tomorrow.
On the field, Childress's Vikes held on for a 20-16 win over the Lions to move to 8-5 and secure their lead atop the NFC North. The remaining schedule is brutal – Cardinals, Falcons, Giants – but if the Vikings can win just one they're likely to lock up their first division title since 2000.
Loser: The Ford family, crass act
Detroit is the biggest social and economic sh*thole in the country, the city's once-proud auto industry is reduced to begging the rest of the country for a hand-out, and the Lions are the most embarrassing franchise in sports today – on the verge of the first 0-16 season in NFL history. The Ford Family is largely to blame for each and every disaster.
Winner: The Eagles
On a day built for New York's Nagurski Era attack
– cold and windy – the Eagles held the Giants without an offensive point for 59 minutes and 40 seconds to earn a solid 20-14 win over the defending champs and stay firmly in the playoff hunt at 7-5-1.
Loser: The prevent defense
In one of the most Herculean defensive efforts of the season, the Eagles held the Giants and their Stone Age offense
without a single point for 58 minutes.
Then they went into the dreaded "prevent defense" and allowed the Giants to quickly march 70 yards in six plays to score their only TD with 20 seconds to play. Had the Giants recovered the ensuing onside kick, they would have had a chance to pull out a miracle victory.
So we guess the question is this: When your defense has confused and shutout another team for an entire game, why change anything?
Winner: Aaron Rodgers
The Packers quarterback had perhaps the most productive day of his career, completing 19 of 30 for 295 yards with 2 TDs, 1 pick, a 104.2 passer rating – and a career high 9.8 YPA. He's in the top 10 in almost every major passing category this year.
Loser: Aaron Rodgers
A lot of good it did him Sunday, or has done him throughout the year. The Packers suffered a very bad 24-21 loss at home to Houston – a dome team from the South, no less. Rodgers has put up numbers as good or better as any his predecessor, Brett Favre, had ever produced.
But at 5-8, Green Bay looks like it will go on to suffer as many losing season in one year under Rodgers as it did in 16 years under Favre (one).
Winner: Big-time college football hypocrisy
There isn't a person alive who doesn't believe the BCS is the biggest bullsh*t scam in the history of sports – a system that purports to crown a true college football champion, but merely reinforces the corrupt status quo. It's like socialist economic theory: big, bad corporations have too much power – so the socialist's solution is to concentrate that power even further in the hands of a few government officials with tight ties to those big bad corporations.
That pretty much sums up the failed BCS: Like socialism, it's an untenable system that pretends to be working in the interest of the little people – in this case, fans, students, athletes, universities – but is really just working to fatten the entrenched elite.
Every year the BCS feeds at least one team a big, stinking sh*t-pie and, in true Hugo Chavez fashion, tells them it's porterhouse, caviar and champagne.
This year, the Longhorns are the team with the biggest – ahem – beef. They marched through the tough Big 12 this year with a near-perfect 11-1 record. The lone loss was a last-second, 39-33 defeat at Texas Tech – a team who was undefeated at the time, that boasts one of the best offenses in the country and that finished the year easily in the Top 10.
Texas even beat then-No. 1 Oklahoma in a neutral site game – and won by 10 points. Yet Oklahoma is the team playing for the national title, while the Longhorns sit there and stew over their big sh*t pie.
Winner: the NFC South
The division remains one of the toughest in football, as all four teams boast winning records, and all four teams remain in the playoff hunt, following the Saints' 29-25 victory over the Falcons.
Now the division gets a rare bit of national exposure, with 9-3 Carolina visiting 9-3 Tampa Monday night in a primetime game that may determine who gets the NFC's No. 2 seed and a week off before hosting a playoff game.
The smart money is probably on Carolina Monday night, as NFC South teams are now 23-2 at home this year. But whatever the outcome, it's heady days for the traditionally soft NFC South, a division that has produced just one champion ever (the 2002 Bucs).
Loser: The Big 12 North
The Big 12 South fielded three Top 10 teams this year (Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech), each of whom went 11-1 or better. The best the Big 12 North could produce was a disappointing 9-4 Missouri team – the Tigers got smoked like a Romeo Y Julieta Churchill
Saturday in the conference title game, falling 62-21 to Oklahoma.
Winner: The circa-2004 Colts
The early-season struggles of the Colts seem like a distant memory as Indy has now reeled off six straight wins following a 35-3 dismantling of the helpless Bungles.
The Colts looked a lot like the team we saw back in 2004 Peyton Manning has nearly flawless at home in the dome, completing 26 of 32 for 277 yards with 3 TDs and 0 picks; Marvin Harrison was on the receiving end of a 67-yard score and Dwight Freeney was in on two sacks.
The Colts are now 9-4, control their own destiny in the race for a wildcard spot and, with the way they're playing in recent weeks, are a threat to make a lot of noise in the playoffs. Though we guess that would make them a lot more like the 2006 Colts than the 2004 Colts.
Loser: the circa-2002 Bengals
The worst team in Cincy franchise history – and that's no small feat for this terrible organization
– was the 2002 Bengals, who went 2-14.
But at 1-11-1, the 2008 Bengals are likely set a new standard of ineptitude in a town that specializes in it.
Winner: Jeff Fisher
Tennessee wrapped up the AFC South title with a machine-like 28-9 win over the Browns and now boasts a league-best 12-1 record.
Fisher is already the only coach in franchise history to win more than 12 games in a season, with 13-3 campaigns in both 1999 and 2000. This year, he'll probably become the first coach in franchise history to win 14 or more games in a season.
Loser: Romeo Crennel
Looks like Cleveland's coach will be stalking the sidelines as the defensive coordinator with another team next season. His defenses have performed admirably, but the offenses in Cleveland have never got on track – no matter who's been at quarterback. The Browns have now gone three straight weeks without scoring a touchdown. That's virtually impossible to do in this day and age
, but Crennel's club has managed to pull off this ignominious accomplishment.