Is it just me, or does this happen every year?  Teams that have battled all season to put themselves in position to make the playoffs come up small in the final game or two.

Look at the Eagles – they lost to a 3-win Washington team led by a quarterback their coach doesn’t want and a wide receiver the Eagles didn’t want.

And how about the Baltimore Ravens?

Houston is no tomato can, but Houston with Case Keenum at quarterback?  He wasn’t even on the roster in September.

And the Buffalo Bills must be kicking themselves after watching a number of teams ahead of them falter only for them to lose to the woeful Oakland Raiders.  Hard to believe, but I bet it happens again next year.

Like I said, it happens every year.

This Week’s Sucked And Won

Steven Jackson, RB (ATL).  It almost seems like the Falcons are looking for an alternative to Jackson as their every down back.  He carried the ball 4 times for just 9 yards on Sunday, and caught just one pass for 14 yards, a shockingly low output on a day when his team put up 400 yards of offense.

I wouldn’t normally review a bench clearing brawl in any sort of glowing terms, and I don’t endorse how the Giants and Rams tried to rip each other’s heads off on Sunday, but I will point out that the coaches of those two teams, Tom Coughlin and Jeff Fisher, nearly always have their teams ready to play, and almost never have teams that have quit, even when their playoff chances have long since been over.  You could see the proof of that on Sunday, as both of those teams, despite having “nothing” to play for, were ready for an all out war.

Shocking realization of the week

The doormat Oakland Raiders have discovered their home field advantage.  They’ve won 3 in a row at home, and haven’t lost there in a month and a half.

I was somewhat skeptical earlier this year when the Pittsburgh Steelers brought 36 year old James Harrison out of retirement in a desperate attempt to bolster their defense, but maybe it was just crazy enough to work.  Harrison had 7 tackles and 1.5 sacks this week (giving him 5.5 for the season) and you have to believe his uber-Steelers persona has helped the Pittsburgh defense find its mean again.  If you doubt it, ask Alex Smith, who absorbed six sacks and 8 quarterback hits on Sunday.

This Week’s Great But Lost

Frank Gore, RB (SF).  I kind of feel like this season may be Gore’s swan song, or close to it.  Saturday he carried 26 times for 158 yards and a touchdown.  How many more days like this could Gore have left?  Not many.

One argument that the Cleveland Browns mishandled the Johnny Manziel situation:  what does Cleveland do next year?  They haven’t gotten much of a look at Manziel, and what they did see was terrible.  By contrast, the Raiders, Jaguars and Vikings all got lengthy chances to appraise their rookie quarterbacks and all three have shown enough to warrant going into next season with them firmly entrenched as the starter.  But the Browns?  Who knows what they plan to do.


“One day I’m going to win that thing.” – Jets coach Rex Ryan, reiterating his belief that he will win the Super Bowl (just maybe not with the Jets).

“He has no respect for himself, and one game is freaking terrible.” – Bears WR Brandon Marshall, on Lions C Dominic Raiola getting a one-game suspension for stomping on a player’s legs.

“What will happen, will happen, and what won’t happen, won’t happen. I work at the pleasure of the organization and I will let them have the floor on that.” – 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, declining to speculate on his job security.

“You’re doggone right I’ll be watching that.  Every punt, I’m looking over there. If we score a touchdown, I’m looking to see if the Chargers scored a touchdown. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t going to be watching that scoreboard like a hawk.” – Ravens WR Torrey Smith.  The Ravens’ playoff hopes hinge on a Chargers loss this week.

“I got harassed a few times last year. I expected that. But this year?  I told him, ‘Find a new joke.’ ” – Chargers LB Manti Te’o, dismissing any ongoing snickers about his “imaginary girlfriend” in college.

“I think we are building something great here. He is the right guy for this team, and we are building something. . .I didn’t put out any feelers.  I did not talk to Harbaugh.” – Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, announcing his retention of head coach Joe Philbin.

“Thank you for asking.” – Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch’s answer to every question following Seattle’s win over the Cardinals.  The media hate this guy; I freaking love him.

Featured image via Patrick Smith/Getty