1. Another week, another close win in the Georgia Dome. If the Saints don’t win in Atlanta in Week Sixteen, it’s hard to see the Falcons not entering the NFC playoffs as the top seed. Yes, a million things can still happen. The Falcons’ game in Tampa next week is massive.
The Falcons, though, still have the Panthers two more times. They own every tiebreaker imaginable. The Saints have the best chance (by far) to pass them and they’ll have to win in Atlanta to do it.
2. Every week, Jason Snelling makes a play that helps the Falcons win. This time the backup tailback shook three Packers defenders to gain ten yards on third-and-nine late in the third quarter. The Falcons scored a touchdown later that drive.
Those are the types of plays the Falcons make every week to extend drives. They give opponents such a small margin for error.
3. The Packers played well overall, but made two big mistakes. Aaron Rodgers’ fumble on goal line and coach Mike McCarthy’s failure to challenge a fourth down completion to Tony Gonzalez that looked incomplete. Against Atlanta in the Georgia Dome, that’s two mistakes to many.
4. What a gut check win by the Giants against Jacksonville. Down 17-6 at halftime and 17-9 after three quarters, New York’s pass rush took over. They did it largely with blitzes, which I didn’t think would be necessary against a banged-up Jaguars front.
The Giants’ offensive line and wide receivers need to get healthy to give the team a chance long-term. But a win like this should go a long way towards slowing down their midseason slump. They just need to survive this stretch until they get healthy.
5. Jacksonville’s terrible secondary showed up at the very worst time. Eli Manning carved them up in the second half and wound up averaging 9.4 yards per attempt. This could have been a season-changing win for the Jaguars to beat a quality team on the road.
6. If the Colts lose on Sunday night, the four AFC South teams will be only one game apart in the standings. Yep, the Texans aren’t out of it. It’s looking more and more that second place in the AFC East and North will nab the two AFC wild card spots.
7. The Steelers did a terrible job blowing a 13-0 lead in Buffalo, essentially giving the game away. The Bills couldn’t close the deal in overtime, but had no fewer than four plays in overtime that could have won the game for them. (Most notably, Stevie Johnson’s drop.)
Sometimes it’s better be lucky than good, and the Steelers can be very very good most weeks. But they remain a very up-and-down team that seems to struggle to maintain their level of intensity from week-to-week and quarter-to-quarter. It almost cost them dearly Sunday.
8. Jake Delhomme and the Browns did everything they could to give Carolina their second win, but the Panthers missed a field goal as time expired. The Browns seem much better than their 4-7 record, but they still find ways to lose most weeks. Or almost lose to Jimmy Clausen, which is a lot like a loss.
9. Stick a fork in the Redskins after their desultory 17-13 at home against the Vikings. Donovan McNabb threw for 6 yards-per-attempt against a badly struggling secondary. I continue to have doubts he’ll be Washington’s Week One starter next year.