Brock vs. Peyton, and the latest Browns misery: NFL Week 12 Recap

NFL Recap Header

wild and crazy Week 12 has come to a close, so Will and Derek are back with their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including the Beast Incarnate Brock Osweiler, Seattle beating Pittsburgh, the Browns Brownsing, the NFC East replacing the AFC South in the NFL’s basement, the Gentlemen of the Week, and the Most Hungover Fan Bases.

AP Photo/Jack Dempsey

AP Photo/Jack Dempsey

Will: BROCK OSWEILER! BROCK OSWEILER! BROCK OSWEILER! I don’t have a question, but discuss.

Derek: My client, BA-ROCK, OSWEILER, conquered the Patriots’ undefeated streak! I’m enjoying this. The Seahawks have played the Broncos in the preseason every year since 2011, so I watched Osweiler play a few times before last week. He looked like crap in most of them, but in this season’s game he looked way better. I guess three seasons as a second-round pick backing up Peyton Manning will do that for you.

We can’t get too excited, because Osweiler didn’t win the game for the Broncos the way Manning used to. He was 23-42 for 270 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Enough to win of course, but C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman probably deserve more credit. The thing is, Osweiler can totally buy in to Gary Kubiak’s system in a way Manning never could. It’s time we start imagining a world in which Manning is standing on the sideline watching Osweiler.

The Broncos are better with Osweiler at quarterback … right?

Will: Absolutely. It seems heretical to say, and it would have seemed even more so a year ago, but it’s true. He’s in a walking boot as he deals with a tear in his left plantar fascia — the ligament that runs from your heel to your toes — and that may be the least of his problems. It was just a few months ago that “Peyton Manning can’t feel his fingertips” was a headline. A doctor told him then, “Don’t count on the feeling coming back.” He’s still as smart as any quarterback who’s ever played, but I think being able-bodied is an important prerequisite in a contact sport. Call me crazy.

Without peeking and with a gun to your head, how many of the seven New England Patriots who caught passes Sunday could you name? It turns out that Gronk’s thought-to-be ACL injury is just a bruise, but won’t injuries catch up to the Pats at some point?

Derek: Hmm. Without looking, I’d say Gronk, Brandon LaFell, Scott Chandler, Brandon Bolden, and James White. I missed Keshawn Martin (I’ve read about him!) and Asante Cleveland. I don’t know who that is. Since I’m in an embarrassing amount of fantasy football leagues, I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence if I wasn’t somewhat familiar with the various high-risk low-reward receiving options in the Patriots’ offense. It’s fair to say I’d have no idea who Bolden and White were under different circumstances.

Oh yes, the injuries definitely have to catch up at some point. They arguably already have. That’s three straight games without a dominant Pats victory — practically an eternity! Gronk looks to have avoided a major injury, but he could miss a game or two. He’s one of the few players who has the same injury effect as a quarterback. Without him, their offense takes a big hit. Luckily for them, they’ve got one of the coldest teams in the league coming to town next week. Things might not be looking great, but the Eagles can fix that up in a hurry.

While the Eagles look to be in the tank, how about the Packers? They lost at home to the Bears on Thanksgiving, and now travel to Detroit on Thursday night to play the suddenly resurgent Lions. Are the Packers in trouble?

Will: It sure looks that way, don’t it? Their receivers, who I’ve just learned include guys named Jeff Janis and Ty Montgomery (my deep-dive fantasy knowledge isn’t on your level), can’t seem to get open. Aaron Rodgers, in very Manning-esque fashion, reportedly lost feeling in the fingers on his left hand during their Thanksgiving loss to the Bears. The defense has been better of late, allowing 17, 13, and 18 points in their last three games, but we’re still talking about a team that’s lost four of five.

I’m still hesitant to write them off. Perhaps the memory of LeBron dragging a MASH unit of a Cavs team to the Finals is still too fresh in my mind. That said, Rodgers hasn’t been at his best for the past couple months. He threw 11 touchdowns and completed over 70 percent of his passes in the first four games. Since then, he’s gone over 60 percent just twice. A beatdown of the Lions would restore some faith, but the Panthers and Cardinals have both leapfrogged them among NFC favorites.

Sticking with that conference, Doug Baldwin caught three touchdowns and Jermaine Kearse caught two for the Seahawks. Is it just because I don’t pay the NFC much mind, or are all of their receivers (except Jimmy Graham) fairly anonymous and/or interchangeable? It feels like they have a different leading receiver every week.

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Derek: Yeah, since the Seahawks are content with not passing if at all possible, picking the Seahawks receiver that does well is a crapshoot. It could be Graham one week (may his patella tendon rest in peace), then Baldwin, then Kearse, then Tyler Lockett, and so on. Long-haired Canadian Luke Willson will take over for Graham, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the leading receiver at least one game before the season is over. Even he has had his moments in the past.

I’m just excited that the Seahawks offense is finally starting to show some signs of life. They’re doing their end-of-season turnaround that’s become a staple since Russell joined the team. They’d be the sixth seed traveling to Minnesota if the season ended today. And wouldn’t you know it, the Seahawks travel to Minnesota this Sunday. As a Seahawk fan, I’m sort of required to hate the Vikings. But I’ll cover that when we make our picks on Friday.

Will: How do Ben Roethlisberger’s 456 passing yards make you feel about the Seattle secondary?

Derek: Not great. That’s the most passing yards the Seahawks have ever given up, which is pretty alarming considering some of the bad defenses the Seahawks have had over the years. It wouldn’t have shocked me if you told me before the game that the Steelers would set that record, but I would have been shocked knowing they set the record with Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant largely held in check. I thought Richard Sherman would struggle with Brown and Bryant would absolutely feast on Cary Williams. Turns out Seattle was tired of seeing people feast on Cary Williams, as he was a healthy scratch. Sherman and DeShawn Shead did as good of a job on Brown and Bryant as one could have hoped.

It was a little weird seeing Markus Wheaton get 201 yards and DeAngelo Williams get 88. There’s a trivia question I’ll be shocked by in 10 years.

I’ve waited long enough out of respect, but it’s time. The Browns had a very … Brownsish loss last night. Your thoughts? Did you have any feelings at all? And now that Josh McCown is out for the year, is it time to press the Johnny button again?

AP Photo/Ron Schwane

AP Photo/Ron Schwane

Will: There weren’t many feelings, which is the frightening part. I was at the game, seated behind the end zone into which the Ravens took back the game-winning touchdown on a blocked kick return. I didn’t — couldn’t — react for what may have been 5 or 55 seconds. I just stood there with my mouth open like a dumbass. I later cobbled some thoughts together, which focused on a poor little bastard who went to his very first Browns game. An excerpt:

As for that young man taking in his first Browns home game, I wish I could tell you that there’s nowhere to go but up. I wish I could tell you that this is as bad as it gets. I wish I could tell you that there is a sunrise for every set. I wish I could tell you that. But Browns fandom is no fairy tale world. There isn’t much to do but hope for better. But if you do that, be warned: There is little reason to believe that better is coming any time soon.

When you’re comparing being a Browns fan to Andy Dufresne getting raped in Shawshank…yeah, that’s not great. And now Austin Davis is starting at quarterback! Whatever. I can’t bother getting mad anymore. It’s impossible to tell who will be around next year — on the field or in the front office — so I’m not going to get too attached to anyone. The Browns are a never-ending “Hard Times” promo.

In lighter news, should we redirect our scorn for the AFC South toward the NFC East? Are we tacitly allowing the East Coast Media Elite to brainwash us re: the crapitude of that division?

Derek: Absolutely. The AFC South scorn was well-deserved, but the NFC East has usurped them with some good ol’ fashioned incompetence. The Redskins are in first place! The Redskins! Man, I hope the Seahawks can get the fifth seed and play whoever wins this division in the playoffs. Unless it’s the Giants. I want no part of the Giants in any playoff game until the end of time.

Staying in the AFC South, things seem to really be looking up for two of their teams. My man Matt Hasselbeck is undefeated as a starter this year, while the Texans have been good enough that their Week 14 game with the Patriots flexed the Seahawks-Ravens game out of Sunday Night Football. If the season ended today, both would be in the playoffs. How much of an apology do we owe them? Could either win the Super Bowl?

Will: Pffft, no. I have a hard time breaking out of my preconceived notions. They still suck in my shining eyes.

Buying the Panthers as Super Bowl contenders yet? Or the Vikings? Or the Bengals?

Derek: Yeah, I guess. It’s too late in the season to dismiss them. I wouldn’t wager on any of those teams, but they can’t be ignored anymore. That is, of course, assuming none of those teams suffer a crippling injury before the playoffs. It seems to happen every week, so here’s hoping they avoid the Angel of Injury from here on.

Let’s hand out this week’s hardware.

Gentlemen of the Week

Derek: It’s time Matt Hasselbeck got his due. It was a sad day for me when the Seahawks cut Hasselbeck in favor of Tarvaris Jackson before the 2011 season. I’ve grown to respect Jackson, but Hasselbeck was in Seattle for 10 years and started most of them. He was my guy for a long time. I’ve really enjoyed his Gentlemanly resurgence this season. I’m nearing the point where if the Seahawks can’t win the Super Bowl, I hope it’s the Colts. I don’t particularly like them, but I’d love to see him get a ring before he retires. If only he could have gotten one in Seattle.

Will: Sure, let’s go with him. His success has me thinking that the Browns didn’t go old enough with their quarterback choice this season. If Josh McCown was good at 36, and Hasselbeck is good at 40, why not kick it up another couple years? What’s Brett Favre doing? Is Elway definitely retired? Joe Namath? HARD TIMES.

Most Hungover Fan Bases

Derek: Oh, definitely Browns fans. That loss was horrible. Can you confirm?

Will: /dies

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