Another week of not-so-flattering headlines were all the buzz for the NFL in Week 12. The Denver Broncos find themselves tied up in a ‘Spygate’ fiasco and a head coaching hot seat. Blows were exchanged in Houston, but the punishment surprised us all. The San Francisco 49ers kept their playoff hopes alive, but lost their best player in the process. These are the stories that you need to know about heading into this weekend’s games.
Throwing salt in the wound of a Denver Broncos team in the midst of another horrific season was the revelation of what has become known as “Spygate II.” The name refers to an incident in which Broncos videographer Steve Scarnecchia reportedly filmed a six-minute walk-through of the San Francisco 49ers when the teams played in London during Week 8. Though head coach Josh McDaniels was cleared of any involvement via NFL investigation, he was guilty of not reporting the situation immediately.
The league fined both the Broncos and McDaniels $50,000 a piece for violating league rules. Making the situation even more interesting is the fact that Scarnecchia and McDaniels were both on the staff of the Patriots team involved in the original “Spygate.” This may have been the final straw for McDaniels in Denver. Just hours after endorsing his coach, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen issued a letter to Broncos fans saying that he would “monitor” the situation in the team’s remaining 5 games.
Since arriving in Denver, McDaniels has made headlines by running off Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, trading Peyton Hillis for a 3rd string quarterback, reaching for Tim Tebow in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, having his name tied to a cheating scandal and going just 5-16 after his surprising and deceiving 6-0 start last season. It’s make or break time for the 34-year old.
In Sunday’s game between the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans, a dispute between cornerback Cortland Finnegan and wide receiver Andre Johnson turned physical, when the two players exchanged punches mid-way through the 4th quarter. Finnegan and Johnson were involved in an altercation on a 2nd down play, but were separated by officials. On the ensuing play, things escalated when Finnegan lunged for Johnson’s face and the two locked up. After both players managed to remove each others helmets, Johnson landed a couple blows before they were separated and ejected from the game.
A stiff punishment was expected to be handed down for the fight. However, to the surprise of many, Commissioner Roger Goodell handed out the proverbial “slap on the wrist.” Each player was fined $25,000 and will not face any suspension time. Goodell’s decision ruffled many feathers, as he fined Steelers linebacker James Harrison $25,000 this week for a roughing the passer penalty. Do you think it’s fair that two players exchanged punches and received the same punishment as a man who made a hard hit in the flow of the game?
Gore Out for Season
Monday night’s game against the Arizona Cardinals was a bittersweet affair for the San Francisco 49ers. On one hand, they kept themselves afloat in the NFC West division race by blasting the Arizona Cardinals 27-6. However, the team will have to make that playoff push without their best player after losing Frank Gore for the rest of the season with a fractured hip. Gore finishes the season with 853 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns.
While news of Gore’s injury is certainly a setback for the 49ers, their backup options leave the fans with some hope. Stepping into the starting role now is veteran running back Brian Westbrook, who diced the Cardinals defense for 136 yards and a touchdown on Monday. Rookie Anthony Dixon is also capable of making big plays, accumulating 54 yards and a score against Arizona himself. With the division in reach, the 9ers will need this 1-2 punch to replicate that kind of production in the remaining 5 games.
Week 12 Scores:
New England Patriots – 45, Detroit Lions – 24
New Orleans Saints – 30, Dallas Cowboys – 27
Cincinnati Bengals – 10, New York Jets – 26
Jacksonville Jaguars – 20, New York Giants, 24
Pittsburgh Steelers – 19, Buffalo Bills – 16
Minnesota Vikings – 17, Washington Redskins – 13
Carolina Panthers – 23, Cleveland Browns – 24
Green Bay Packers – 17, Atlanta Falcons – 20
Tennessee Titans – 0, Houston Texans – 20
Kansas City Chiefs – 42, Seattle Seahawks – 24
Miami Dolphins – 33, Oakland Raiders – 17
Philadelphia Eagles – 26, Chicago Bears – 31
St. Louis Rams – 36, Denver Broncos – 33
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 10, Baltimore Ravens – 17
San Diego Chargers – 36, Indianapolis Colts – 14
San Francisco 49ers – 27, Arizona Cardinals – 6
NFL Power Rankings Top 10
1. New England Patriots – Deion Branch is STILL juking Alphonso Smith.
2. New York Jets – There is no Fountain of Youth on Revis Island.
3. Baltimore Ravens – They’re winning…but where in the world is Anquan Boldin?
4. Pittsburgh Steelers – Did you see Steve Johnson blame God on Twitter?
5. New Orleans Saints – Does Roy Williams have Twitter?
6. Atlanta Falcons – The Saints are probably thinking “Any day now!”
7. Indianapolis Colts – They’re losing and it’s Peyton’s fault. I’ve been waiting to say that for years.
8. Chicago Bears – Julius Peppers reminded everybody that he is a freak athlete.
9. Philadelphia Eagles – Michael Vick is human after all.
10. Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rodgers needs a run game ASAP.
images via Yahoo