Week 11 Judgements: Seahawks hold NFC edge

Clark Judge, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


It's time to start thinking about home-field advantage, mostly because it could decide who wins the NFC.
Neither Seattle nor New Orleans, the best two teams in the NFC, has a home loss.
In fact, the Saints haven't lost in their last 14 home games with Sean Payton on the sideline, and the Seahawks are 13-0 at home with Russell Wilson as their starting quarterback.
Follow the bread crumbs, people: Whoever gets the home-field advantage wins the NFC, and it could be determined Dec. 2. That's when the Saints and Seahawks meet in -- yep, Seattle.
Advantage: Seahawks.

2. Imagine the irony of the Saints' making it to Super Bowl XLVIII in Roger Goodell's backyard.
3. Finally, someone has a pulse in the NFC East, and would Chip Kelly please step forward? Dallas isn't the team to beat here anymore; Kelly's Eagles are.
4. The big winner in that Detroit-Pittsburgh game wasn't the Steelers. It was Chicago, which moved into a tie for first in the NFC North with Detroit ... despite not having Jay Cutler and star linebacker Lance Briggs. Green Bay made out OK, too, even though it lost again. What it didn't do was lose another game to Detroit, and hurry back, Aaron Rodgers. Your team can't win without you.
5. The New York Giants' Hakeem Nicks is in a contract year, but not a contract drive. He becomes an unrestricted free agent next March, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out what the Giants' next move is. Nothing. Hicks hasn't scored in 13 straight games.
6. Peyton Manning didn't win the game Sunday night. The Broncos' offensive line did. It kept Kansas City -- a team that entered Sunday with an NFL-high 36 sacks -- off their star quarterback, with Manning not sacked all evening. Dropped eight times in the previous three games and bothered by a high-ankle sprain, Manning had to wonder: How do I survive a furious Kansas City pass rush? We just found out. There wasn't one.
7. Here's how good Nick Foles has been: That 104.3 passer rating vs. Washington was his second-worst since taking over as the Eagles' starter this season.
8. And that, folks, is why Pittsburgh has no interest in moving Ben Roethlisberger.
9. Nope, that's no misprint. Those are the Arizona Cardinals tied with San Francisco at 6-4. Only now comes the hard part, with the rest of their schedule looking like this: Indianapolis; at Philadelphia; St. Louis; at Tennessee; at Seattle; San Francisco -- or three division leaders and the defending NFC champions.
10. Bet Tony Gonzalez is overjoyed that he returned to the Atlanta Falcons, instead of retirement, for this.
11. If Detroit makes the playoffs, look for Calvin Johnson to get MVP votes. No, that doesn't mean he squeezes Peyton Manning. What it does mean is that Johnson is what makes Detroit go, and Sunday's game was the proof: He had six catches for 179 yards and two TDs in a first half when Detroit led 27-20. He had zilch of everything in the second half where the Lions did not score.
12. Maybe Miami should petition the NFL for a change in divisions ... like anywhere in the West. Since 2000 the Dolphins hosted the AFC and NFC West 21 times and are 17-4 against them -- winning the last five and 10 of the past 11.
13. Stop if you've heard this before: Denver won another at home (Manning is 13-1 in regular-season play there since joining the Broncos) and is tied for first in the AFC West. But now we find out about the Broncos: Four of their next six games are on the road, including the next two at New England and at Kansas City.
14. The Giants are on a four-game roll, and that's great. But when people wonder how they got off the mat, the answer is simple: Quarterbacks. No, not theirs; the quarterbacks of their opponents. The Giants defeated, in order, Josh Freeman, Matt Barkley, Terrelle Pryor and Scott Tolzien -- a group that includes three third-stringers -- and, OK, so Barkley had to play because the Giants knocked Michael Vick out of the game. Nevertheless, the record speaks for itself, with opposing quarterbacks the past month throwing for no touchdowns, seven interceptions and a passer rating of 52.5.
15. Just a hunch, but Scott Pioli isn't on the field with NBC's Bob Costas if Sunday's Denver-Kansas City game is in Arrowhead Stadium.
16. There's something other than Derek Jeter's age that has people in New York concerned about the number 39. It's the total number of turnovers by New York's starting quarterbacks. The Jets' Geno Smith has 20; Eli Manning has 19, and New Yorkers aren't stupid. They know you can't win that way.
17. I like the Jets' addition of Ed Reed ... if he can play quarterback.
18. I don't care if USC interviewed Jack Del Rio. The Trojans should make interim coach Ed Orgeron permanent coach. Last time I checked they were 5-1 with him (including 5-0 in the Pac-12) and just knocked off Stanford. Moreover, they cracked the BCS Top 25 this week at No. 23. The Trojans responded to Orgeron. It's time USC recognizes it.
19. Stick a fork in Washington. The Redskins are done. Now the question: Is Mike Shanahan? He has a year left on his contract, but he's 24-34 in his four seasons. That, plus the dodgy play of quarterback Robert Griffin III since returning from a serious knee injury, make Shanahan vulnerable.
20. It's one game, but that should be enough to convince Oakland to keep Matt McGloin as its quarterback. Reason: He has something Terrelle Pryor does not -- an arm.

FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED
1. The Dec. 1 night game between Washington and the Giants isn't being flexed out -- but it is unfathomable why that one remains in primetime. The Redskins should be 3-8 after next week's loss to San Francisco, and the Giants are 4-6. The most logical switcheroo was a repeat of Denver at Kansas City, Part Deux, except NBC just had that matchup and has Peyton Manning on the network again this week at New England.

2. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith isn't the answer ... especially in games following Jets' victories. He's 0-5 after victories, with one touchdown pass, 12 interceptions and three fumbles. If this were Mark Sanchez, the New York media would skewer him. Smith deserves the same treatment.

3. Gary Kubiak doesn't see Case Keenum as the Texans' future quarterback. How else do you explain his pulling Keenum in the third period? It makes no sense, especially when your season is toast. We know what Schaub is all about. Keenum? Not so much. So play him. Kubiak said he wasn't confident Keenum was the best fit for the offense given the team's second-half adjustments.

4. The Philadelphia Eagles' defense is as good as its offense. It hasn't allowed more than 21 points since September. The Eagles allowed an average of 27.5 points per start in its first four.

5. Don't get cute on Pittsburgh. Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz missed the memo, trying a fake field goal from the Steelers' 10 when he had a fourth-and-5 and a 27-23 second-half lead. The play misfired, Pittsburgh regained the ball, then drove it 97 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Schwartz later said he didn't regret the move, adding, "They made the play; we didn't." That pretty much sums it up. It was a gutsy decision -- Schwartz also said no one could accuse him of being scared -- but it wasn't smart. In and of itself, it didn't cost the Lions the game. The Lions' offense in the second half did, and too many missed tackles on defense didn't help.

JUST ASKING BUT ...
When does Atlanta win another game?

Who knew fourth-stringer Bobby Rainey was the bell-cow running back the Tampa Bay Buccaneers needed?

What did Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau say to his defense at halftime?

Who wins the NFC North?

Who's the bigger disappointment -- Houston or Atlanta?

FIVE GUYS WHO HAVE SOME EXPLAINING TO DO

1. Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III. What in the world was that last pass? You don't throw a Hail Mary with 32 seconds left. I understand he was under pressure, but if you're going to throw the ball away, throw it out of the end zone ... not up for grabs. Horrible.

2. Houston coach Gary Kubiak. When he made the switch to Case Keenum he said he wanted someone to give him a spark. Well, Keenum did it even though he didn't win. And that's the point here: Houston is playing for next year, not this season. So let the guy play, and see what you have. Instead, Kubiak subbed Matt Schaub in the third quarter, and my only question is: Huh? You know what Schaub can do, which is why Keenum was in the lineup in the first place. Going back to Schaub now makes no sense.

3. Atlanta coach Mike Smith. I understand he has injuries, but what has happened. This is a team that was yards away from the Super Bowl last year. Now, it stinks, with no sign of a victory anywhere on the horizon.

4. San Francisco's Kassim Osgood. He's been a top special-teams player for years. So how does an accomplished veterain like Osgood miss Darren Sproles' signal of a fair catch? It wasn't just a stupid mistake. It was a costly one, launching the Saints to their game-winning drive.

5. Cleveland special teams coordinator Chris Tabor. One punt was partially blocked, leading to a Cincinnati touchdown. Another was snuffed and returned for a TD. That's two scores on two mistakes, and, OK, so the second was the first complete block in franchise history since a November, 1993, game vs. the Houston Oilers. And so linebacker Barkevious Mingo accepted responsibility for the gaffe, saying he blew a block. It still comes back to Tabor and a scheme that didn't work as it should.

NUMBERS THAT MAY MEAN SOMETHING

0 -- Calvin Johnson second-half catches Sunday at Pittsburgh

3 -- Defensive touchdowns in the Cleveland-Cincinnati game

3 -- Straight games where Tampa Bay has 140 or more yards rushing

4 -- Net passing yards for Washington in the first half

11-2 -- The record of home teams Sunday

2-4 -- Colin Kaepernick's record vs. winning teams

16 -- Tony Gonzalez seasons with at least 50 catches in each, joining only Jerry Rice (17)

19 -- Four-touchdown passing games in the NFL this season

22 -- Combined first downs for 49ers in last two games, fewest in consecutive contests
for San Francisco since 2010

31 -- Second-quarter points for Cincinnati, a franchise record

Minus-85 -- The New York Jets' point differential

267 -- Matt Stafford second-quarter passing yards

NEXT WEEKEND'S THREE BEST GAMES

Indianapolis @ Arizona
Dallas @ N.Y. Giants
Denver @ New England

  • Star QB Colin Kaepernick sacked by US anthem controversy, will 'continue to sit'

    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has landed in the center of a furor after his refusal to stand during the national anthem at a preseason game, unleashing a tidal wave of criticism and support. The 49ers' multi-million dollar signal-caller—whose agile play making and powerful arm helped carry his team to the Super Bowl in 2013—told the NFL.com in an interview that his refusal to stand for the anthem was in protest against social injustice. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told the publication after the 49ers fell to the Green Bay Packers in a preseason game on Friday night.

    CNBC
  • Tiger's dining room packed with new equipment

    The race to lock down Nike's two biggest stars is ramping up. Rory McIlroy laughed last week prior to The Barclays that his parents' house has become "inundated with golf equipment from different manufacturers,” and it sounds like Tiger Woods can relate. Speaking on Golf Central on Sunday, Notah Begay detailed a recent trip through Woods' Jupiter, Fla., home.  "I walked into his dining room and it was like going into a PGA [Tour] Superstore now that Nike's equipment line no longer exists," Begay said. "Every single manufacturer had sent equipment in there, and he's trying a variety of different things, trying to get a sense of where he's going to go from this point on." Nike signed Woods to be

    Golf Channel
  • Rex Ryan regrets ‘stupid decision’ to play Tyrod Taylor

    Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan opted to sit most of his first-stringers for Friday night’s preseason loss to the Washington Redskins. “I’m doing what’s best for our team,” Ryan told the team’s TV broadcast at halftime, per Mike Rodak of ESPN. “We want to show up at the starting game of the regular season.” Unfortunately however, starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was not afforded the same courtesy. Taylor played the first two drives of the game and went 2-for-5 with 11 yards passing. But the Pro Bowler took a beating, getting sacked on the first possession and taking another hard hit before being replaced by EJ Manuel about halfway through the first quarter. Afterwards, Ryan openly lamented

    Yardbarker
  • Ryder Cup 2016: Get to Know the U.S. Team's 8 Automatic Qualifiers

    The eight automatic qualifying spots for the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup team were finalized on Sunday at The Barclays, and we now know two-thirds of the team that will represent the red, white and blue at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minnesota, on Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker and Brooks Koepka all had spots locked up prior to The Barclays, but Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson and Barclays winner Patrick Reed all had to wait until Sunday to see if their spots were secure.

    Golf
  • ERS issue costs Grosjean, Haas possible points finish in Belgium

    Romain Grosjean was left frustrated after an issue with his energy recovery system (ERS) during Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix cost him a possible points finish. Haas Formula 1 driver Grosjean started 11th at Spa, but made a superb start to run as high as fifth in the early stages. However, the decision to pit just three laps before the race was red flagged combined with the ERS issue that cost him straight line speed dropped Grosjean outside of the points. The Frenchman enjoyed a strong final stint, but was unable to finish any higher than 13th for the American team. “Well, it was a very good start and a very good first lap. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any top speed in the beginning of the race,”

    MotorSportsTalk
  • Carlos Beltran's miraculous hair growth inspires Rangers in win

    With a little over a month to go in the regular season, the Texas Rangers have put themselves in exceptional shape to compete for a World Series title. At 77-54, the club holds an 8.5 game lead in the American League West, and midseason additions of Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran have strengthened an already solid lineup. The benefit of bringing in a 19-year veteran like Beltran is that he can find a way to inspire his teammates even when he’s not in the lineup.

    Big League Stew
  • WATCH: Young Argentine player shows off skills that would make Messi jealous

    Most of our readers likely aren't well-versed in the world that is Argentine club soccer. Because of the dominance of the European game, it's not the most popular league in the world, but it doesn't lack quality and is always exciting to watch. Soccer fans may know of clubs like Boca Juniors, River Plate. Maybe even Independiente, San Lorenzo or Racing, but the name Giovani Lo Celso or Rosario Central probably doesn't ring a bell for most. Well, he's a name you'll be hearing more of moving forward. The dynamic Argentine midfielder, playing for for Rosario Central on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, showed off some crazy skills on Saturday that his French club would likely describe as "magnifique."

    CBS Sports
  • Celtics’ Avery Bradley on defense: “Kyrie Irving, none of those guys scare me”

    Avery Bradley was first-team NBA All-Defensive team last season, and his coach Brad Stevens lobbied for him to get the honor. Bradley picks up guys full court, pesters, and plays physical — we can debate if he is as good defensively as his reputation, but guys like Damian Lillard think he’s tough to go up against. Bradley, for his part, says he has no fear going up against the best. Here is what he said to Tom Westerholm of Masslive.com. “I love the challenge,” Bradley said on Friday, making an appearance at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “I love going up against the best players. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care about getting embarrassed. I don’t care. Kyrie Irving, none

    ProBasketballTalk
  • Watch Bobby Wood score his first Bundesliga goal in his Hamburg debut

    Bobby Wood celebrates Hamburg’s opening goal against Ingolstadt. It’ll still be worthwhile checking on Fabian Johnson at Borussia Moenchengladbach, center back John Brooks at Hertha Berlin, the rebirth of Julian Green at Bayern Munich and injury comebacks of strikers Aron Johannsson at Werder Bremen and Terrence Boyd at newly promoted Leipzig.

    FC Yahoo
  • Colin Kaepernick Protests National Anthem Over Treatment of Minorities

    Kaepernick, who was making his return from injury Friday, maintains an active presence on social media and frequently retweets articles focused on the subject of police violence. Kaepernick, a five-year veteran, broke into the NFL in 2012, a year he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl. The 49ers issued a statement before Kaepernick's comments to NFL media were published, saying: "The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony.

    Good Morning America
  • Put down the pitchforks before coming near Gabby Douglas

    Erstwhile Olympic darling Gabby Douglas has been reviled on a level with Lyin’ Ryan Lochte — the swimmer who pulled a Brian Williams in an effort to wriggle out of an early-morning fiasco involving a boatload of alcohol, a vandalized Brazilian gas-station bathroom and a pissed-off guard he conflated with a robber holding a loaded pistol to his forehead. The 5-foot-2 artistic gymnast, a member of this year’s gold-medal-winning American “Final Five” and star of the 2012 London Games’ “Fierce Five,” has been slimed unmercifully on the Internet as “Crabby Gabby.” She’s been slammed for not smiling enough, for her hair not lying straight enough. Gabrielle Douglas did nothing wrong, her only possible failing being her overeagerness to make Americans proud. The anti-Gabby smear campaign shows how easy it is in these days of Facebook, Twitter and countless other social media for people to form virtual pitchfork-wielding mobs that savage fellow human beings, often anonymously.

    New York Post
  • Yahoo’s fantasy hockey position tweaks signal end of a very specific era

    Few things deepen your hockey geekery quite like playing fantasy hockey. For sports haters and the sports-oblivious, it’s probably bad enough to see grown adults wearing hockey sweaters out in public. What about when someone is obsessing (and sometimes muttering profanities) about a team that only exists to about 8-15 people? Still, this is the Internet, where niche obsessions can go really deep. Just fall down a rabbit hole about Star Wars extended universe if you want to get a taste. Us fantasy hockey nerdy dorks got some understandable but still sad news today: it appears to be an end of an era for Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Burns being considered eligible as both right wings and defensemen.

    ProHockeyTalk
  • Sports Illustrated's Best Photos from The Barclays

    Sports Illustrated's best photos from the first leg of the 2016 FedEx Cup playoffs at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, NY. 

    Golf
  • Kyle Larson gets first Sprint Cup win at Michigan

    Kyle Larson got his first points win on Sunday (Getty). Kyle Larson sprinted away from Chase Elliott on the race’s final restart to grab the first Sprint Cup Series win of his career at Michigan on Sunday. Elliott was the leader on that restart, which came with nine to go.

    From The Marbles
  • Dodgers break out Vin Scully masks for photo day tribute

    If it were anyone other than Vin Scully being honored, this unique tribute by the Los Angeles Dodgers might give us nightmares. Every member of the Dodgers current roster, coaching staff and front office appears to be included in the photos. By our count, which admittedly could be off a Vin or two, there are 105 extra Vins and one real Vin.

    Big League Stew
  • Prado's fourth hit of the game

    Martin Prado hits a hard grounder just past the diving second baseman for his fourth hit of the game

    MLB.com
  • Recruiting Roundup: Ohio State Adds Pair, Kris Wilkes, Paul Scruggs, Josh Carlton, Jahvon Quinerly, Syracuse Camp

    Ohio State added a pair of Class of 2018 recruits in Versailles wing Justin Ahrens and Cincinnati Princeton forward Darius Bazley who committed as a package. "We've been talking about it for a while, but it really got serious when they decided to offer me," Ahrens told 247Sports.com. "We put the two of us and Coach [Thad] Matta in a group chat and we asked when we could make it over there for a visit. Today was that day." The two had planned on a package to make it unique. "Darius and I called (assistant Chris) Jent and told him we were committing, but we told him not to tell Coach Matta," Ahrens told 247Sports.com. "We asked him if he could get Coach Matta out of his office and add some humor

    SNY
  • Arsene Wenger confirms deals for Mustafi and Perez are complete

    Arsenal has completed a pair of big-money deals with the transfer windows closing down,. Manager Arsene Wenger confirmed that the club has finished the transfers of Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez, two players they have long been linked with. He also confirmed the club was unlikely to sign any other players, unless new opportunities cropped up before the window shuts on Wednesday. “We have bought two players, Mustafi and Perez. We had to work very hard to get signings done,” Wenger said. “We have no plans for anyone else now.” Mustafi fills the most pressing need, helping patch up a back line ravaged by injuries. He is set to sign a five-year deal, according to the BBC and other reports. The

    ProSoccerTalk
  • Tennessee to wear helmet sticker for Pat Summitt

    The Tennessee football team will honor one of the university’s legends during the 2016 season. Vols coach Butch Jones confirmed Saturday that his team will have a commemorative sticker on their helmets to honor the late Pat Summitt. Summitt, the longtime Tennessee women’s basketball coach, died on June 28 from Alzheimer’s disease.

    Dr. Saturday
  • The Phillies pulled Jeremy Hellickson back from trade waivers

    CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that a team claimed Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson on trade waivers, but the two clubs were unable to work out a deal. As a result, the Phillies pulled Hellickson back from trade waivers, which means he’s ineligible to be traded for the rest of the season. Hellickson, 29, has had a nice bounce-back season after three poor years from 2013-15. He’s 10-8 with a 3.80 ERA and a 131/36 K/BB ratio in 154 innings. The Phillies could attempt to re-sign Hellickson in the offseason. It’s also possible the club makes a qualifying offer — estimated to be worth $16.7 million — so that the Phillies will at least get back a compensatory draft pick if Hellickson opts to

    HardballTalk
  • NHL says it isn’t bothered by Coyotes’ salary cap methods

    Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka is deftly playing the system when it comes to the salary cap to the point that some might accuse him of exploiting loopholes. If the NHL bristles as such tactics, they’re at least not showing it in public. In taking on the absolutely dead money of Chris Pronger and Pavel Datsyuk along with the possibly dead money of Dave Bolland, the Coyotes are getting to the cap floor while saving money in the actual cash they’re dishing out. The Score’s Ian MacLaren succinctly explains the savings they’re enjoying thanks to these clever trades: That’s how the league is viewing Arizona taking on the salaries of Chris Pronger, Pavel Datsyuk and Dave Bolland. The cap hits amount

    ProHockeyTalk
  • Check out the Minnesota Vikings' fabulous new stadium

    One of the most impressive things about the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium was how it looked on television. It looked, for the most part, like the Vikings and San Diego Chargers were playing outdoors. That’s not easy to pull off in an enclosed stadium

    Shutdown Corner
  • Report: Mo Williams considering retirement, could be waived by Cavs

    Shortly after winning a title with the Cleveland Cavaliers, veteran guard Mo Williams picked up his $2.2 million option for next season, choosing to take the guaranteed money on the table for him rather than test free agency at age 33. But he might not be with the Cavs this season — the Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s Joe Vardon reports that Williams is considering retiring from playing due to lingering knee problems, and the Cavaliers could waive him under the stretch provision in the coming days. Williams, 33, a 13-year veteran and former All-Star who played a supporting role in the Cavs’ 2016 NBA championship, is strongly considering retirement, multiple sources told cleveland.com. From Williams’

    ProBasketballTalk
  • Ruggiano to disabled list, Rivera recalled

    OF Justin Ruggiano has been sent to the disabled list and the team has called up T.J. Rivera from Triple-A Las Vegas, Terry Collins told reporters Saturday. Ruggiano exited Friday's game after the fifth inning with left shoulder discomfort. Collins said after the game that Ruggiano, who had injured his shoulder during his first game with the Mets, felt a sharp pain in his shoulder Friday night.  Collins also Saturday that Rivera has gotten some work in the outfield and could play there if he gets more comfortable.  Rivera has hit .314 in 11 games for the Mets this season. 

    SNY
  • Connor Shaw Weighs In On Twitter After A 'Cheap BS' Hit Broke His Leg

    If you haven’t seen the video of Bears quarterback Connor Shaw getting his leg snapped on Saturday afternoon…well, maybe don’t. Shaw himself was pretty upset about it, as well he should be. Shaw expressed his disappointment in a tweet Sunday morning, but he deleted it, so we can’t paste it in here for you to read for yourself.

    UPROXX