Week 12 Snaps (cont.)
Even though the episode didn't cost him his job (for now), on my scorecard, Josh McDaniels lost no matter which way you look at the Broncos video-taping saga.
McDaniels clearly has been damaged in the eyes of Denver team owner Pat Bowlen for not reporting the taping violation when he first learned of it, a move that eventually embarrassed the Broncos organization and cost $50,000 in fines. The decision certainly calls into question McDaniels' judgment, and with a 5-15 record in his past 20 games in Denver, McDaniels doesn't need any more examples of poor decision-making than the ones he has already exhibited.
McDaniels also might be facing some dissent on his own coaching staff in light of the taping scandal. There was a FOX report Sunday that indicated McDaniels had not done himself any favors with his peers by fingering team video shooter Steve Scarnecchia. Even if Scarnecchia deserved the blame for his so-called rogue act, it doesn't help a coach's standing in his own building to throw staffers under the proverbial bus.
McDaniels also likely didn't endear himself to his former boss, New England head coach Bill Belichick. According to FOX, when McDaniels met with his coaching staff on Friday to explain the video-taping incident that had landed his team in trouble, he portrayed it as nothing like the practices that were discovered in New England in 2007.
"That was practiced, that was coached, that was worked on (in New England),'' said McDaniels, according to FOX.
Ouch. That one might leave a mark on the Belichick-McDaniels relationship.
And lastly, let's not forget that McDaniels and his Broncos lost the game against San Francisco in London last month, so there wasn't any advantage gained on any possible front.
Remember September, when the Chiefs had a running game and little else on offense? Those days are gone. Matt Cassel threw four touchdown passes in Kansas City's 42-24 win at Seattle, and of course, three went to the team's touchdown machine, receiver Dwayne Bowe, who now has 13 scores in his past seven games.
Bowe torched the Seattle pass defense for 13 catches for 170 yards, which accounted for almost 73 percent of Cassel's 233 yards passing. But it's not like Kansas City has forgotten how to run the ball, too. Jamaal Charles gained 173 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, with Thomas Jones contributing another 68 yards on 20 attempts.
If Kansas City can get Indianapolis to beat San Diego (5-5) Sunday night, the Chiefs' playoffs hopes will really soar. Kansas City would hold a two-game lead plus the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Chargers with just five games remaining.
We finally have the NFC West playoff race that we deserve. Seattle and St. Louis are 5-6, and yet tied for first place. The Rams hold the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of their 20-3 win over the visiting Seahawks in Week 4, but the teams will meet again Week 17 in Seattle.
San Francisco and Arizona (both 3-7) will square off Monday night in Glendale (can't wait for that kickoff), with the winner taking over third place, just a game behind the division's co-leaders.
This could be fun. In a slow-down-to-stare-at-a-car-crash sort of way.
If the fraud label fits, the Raiders might have to wear it. The Raiders were in first place in the AFC West two short weeks ago, but Oakland looks like a pretender in light of that 33-17 home loss to a so-so Dolphins team.
Losing 35-3 at Pittsburgh is one thing. But getting chewed up by a Miami team that was 5-5 and coming off a shutout loss at home is quite another. With the Chiefs winning big at Seattle to improve to 7-4, the Raiders are now 5-6 and starting to fade in the AFC West.
And don't look now, but Tom Cable's guys have to go to red-hot San Diego next week, where the Chargers will be looking to avenge their 35-27 loss at Oakland in Week 5.
Even worse in some ways for the Raiders, Cable's move back to Bruce Gradkowski provided no spark, and now Oakland looks as confused as ever when it comes to its quarterbacking. Going back to Campbell at this point will only continue the see-saw effect that Oakland has been engaged in for most of the season.
Maybe the Raiders should just let rookie receiver/return man Jacoby Ford play Wildcat quarterback. Good things happen when Ford has the ball.
Pretty triumphant return to the Miami lineup for Chad Henne (17 of 30, 307 yards and two touchdowns). But how come the third-year Dolphins quarterback -- and the rest of the team, for that matter -- can't produce at home? Miami is a remarkable 5-1 on the road, and just 1-4 at home.
Strange three weeks for the Steelers and their fans. Dismantled at home by the Patriots in Week 10. Routing a first-place Raiders team at home in Week 11. And then struggling to put away a 2-8 Bills team in overtime on the road, despite once leading Buffalo 13-0.
Pittsburgh (8-3) enters next week's divisional Sunday night showdown in Baltimore in position to win and compete for one of the AFC's top two seeds. But I'm still not sure who the Steelers really are.
The Ravens did what they had to do and took care of business at home Sunday against Tampa Bay, winning 17-10. Now the game of the season awaits 8-3 Baltimore: Next week's Sunday night showdown with visiting Pittsburgh, the team the Ravens must get past if they want to avoid going the difficult wild-card route for a third consecutive January.
Baltimore already won at Pittsburgh in Week 4, so a victory next week really represents the chance for John Harbaugh's team to grab a two-game lead with four games remaining. Steelers-Ravens trails only Colts-Patriots in terms of rivalry intensity, and I expect nothing short of one of the NFL's top three games of the year next week at M&T Bank Stadium.
I'm sure Jake Delhomme had a few things to prove to the Panthers, who last spring released him after seven seasons. But I didn't see any vindicating victory on his part in Cleveland's 24-23 win over 1-10 Carolina. Delhomme (245 yards, zero TDs) threw two interceptions and fumbled once.
All that proved was that John Fox and the Panthers made the right call when they let the turnover-prone veteran hit the free-agent market.
Even bad football teams have good players, and Carolina has found itself a legit play-maker in second-year running back Mike Goodson, who had his third consecutive impact game.
Goodson didn't make it a third consecutive 100-yard rushing day, but he had a team-best eight catches for 81 yards, and added 55 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. And, he simply will not be brought down on some runs.
It's got to be the nightmare that every Jets fan is praying doesn't come true: New York releases Danny Woodhead and then sees him come back to make the game-deciding play next week at New England, giving the Patriots the inside track to the AFC East title.
The way Woodhead has it going, it could happen.
There's not an AFC passing defense around, Jets included, that can shut down Tom Brady the way he's throwing the ball these days. Seeing No. 12 starting to pitch perfect games (158.3 rating) in late November is very bad news for the rest of the conference.