NFL Wrap-Up: Week 14 North Divisions

Everybody say it with me... Ben Roethlisberger is the toughest quarterback in football!!

Nash Herringtonby Nash Herrington

Be sure to check out all of our NFL Week 14 coverage at our NFL Wrap-Up page!

The Packers dominate and clinch the top spot in the NFC, the Ravens and Steelers keep pace with each other in the AFC, the Bears collapse and the Lions barely hold on (literally) in week 14!

AFC North

(Thursday night game)

Cleveland Browns  3

Pittsburgh Steelers  14

That was supposed to be it, that was the end of any legitimate shot the Steelers had of making a superbowl run.  Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger left this game in the 2nd quarter with a horrific injury that looked like it should have ended his season.  Backup Charlie Batch took over the QB duties with a 7-3 lead, but the offense looked stagnant and Steeler fans everywhere knew their superbowl run was over……  But then in the second half, Roethlisberger (16/21, 280 yards, 2TD) limped back out on the field to lead his team over the hapless browns and lifted the spirits of the Steeler Nation.  Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown had a breakout game, catching 5 passes for 151 yards including a 79 yard catch and run for a touchdown.  The Steelers' defense had another dominant day, holding the struggling Cleveland offense to just over 300 total yards and only one field goal, consistently getting pressure on QB Colt McCoy and forcing two turnovers.  This game should have been a blowout early, but fumbles by TE Heath Miller and WR Hines Ward in the redzone on consecutive second quarter drives killed Pittsburgh's momentum.

As for the Browns, it was more of the same as this team continues to struggle to score points.  There doesn't look to be any light at the end of the tunnel as Cleveland faces the Arizona Cardinals next week (Arizona is on a 3 game winning streak) and then face the Ravens and Steelers to finish the season (both are currently 10-3).  As of this week, the Browns would have between the 4th and 9th pick in the 2012 draft.

The Steeler win keeps them on pace with the Ravens, Patriots and Texans at 10-3 and all but seals their place in at least the top wildcard spot, where they would face the Denver Broncos in the first round.

 

Indianapolis Colts  10

Baltimore Ravens  24

It should be a safe bet that Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs is the defensive player of the year and he showed it again against the winless Colts.  Suggs had another multi sack day, racking up three in addition to his five total tackles as the defense had another dominant day.  In a bit of a surprise, the Ravens' offense bucked recent history and had a decent day against a bad team.  Quarterback Joe Flacco went 23/31 for 227 yards and two touchdowns while running back Ray Rice added 149 total yards and a score.  The Ravens still have some turnover issues (1 interception, 1 fumble) that they need to fix if they expect to make a deep run in the playoffs.

With the win the Ravens keep pace at 10-3 to remain tied for the best record in the AFC with New England, Pittsburgh and Houston and currently hold the #2 spot and a first round bye in the playoffs.

 

Houston Texans  20

Cincinnati Bengals  19

Uh oh Bengals fans, your cindarella story is starting to slip away.  The Bengals gave away this game (and their playoff position) in the second half.  After the Bengals offense had to settle for field goals on multiple occasions and a 13 point lead going into the half, the Texans slowly chipped away at their lead finishing the game with a six yard touchdown pass from rookie QB T.J. Yates to Kevin Walter with only two seconds left to finish the comeback.  The Bengals defense had an opportunity to seal the game earlier in the fourth quarter when defensive tackle Geno Atkins picked up an Arian Foster fumble and nearly returned it for a touchdown but instead fumbled the ball at the 5 yard line and the ball was recovered by the Texans, Houston would go on to kick a field goal and make this a six point game.  The Cincinnati defense did force 4 turnovers and had 5 sacks on the day, but if you don't win the stats don't matter.

With the loss the Bengals are now 7-6 and as of this week would be out of the playoffs.

 

NFC North

Oakland Raiders  16

Green Bay Packers  46

The Packers' defense had a pretty good day against the Raiders offense, but in the end, the focus is on Aaron Rodgers as he continues his MVP campaign leading the team to an undefeated record.  The defense had only one sack on the day but forced five turnovers including four interceptions and a fumble return for a touchdown.  Rodgers went 17/30 for 281 yards and two touchdowns, those are decent numbers but not the same spectacular numbers that he had at the beginning of the season.  Ryan Grant had 85 yards rushing and two touchdowns including a great 47 yard scamper in the first quarter.  Kicker Mason Crosby had a nearly perfect day going 4/4 on field goals and 4/5 on extra point attempts.

With the win, the Packers stay perfect at 13-0 and clinch the top playoff spot in the NFC.

 

Chicago Bears  10

Denver Broncos  13

Bears running back probably won't lose his job after this game……but he should.  I know Barber had over 100 rushing yards and a touchdown filling in for the injured Matt Forte.  But two horrid plays by Barber in the fourth quarter and overtime once again allowed the Broncos to pull out a comeback victory.  On second and 10 with two minutes left in the game and a three point lead, Barber inexplicably ran out of bounds stopping the clock and allowing the Broncos to eventually get the ball back with about a minute left when they should have only had 20-30 seconds to try and tie the game.  Then Barber fumbled in overtime on a run that put the Bears in field goal range for kicker Robbie Gould.  Those mistakes in all likelihood has probably officially knocked the Bears out of the playoffs.

 

Game of the Week

Minnesota Vikings  28

Detroit Lions  34

The Vikings deserve to have one more chance at winning this game.  After replacing rookie quarterback Christian Ponder in the 3rd quarter after his 4th turnover, backup Joe Webb led the Vikings on an improbable comeback.  With his team on the 1 yard line and enough time to run one play, Webb was sacked and fumbled the ball which after a mad scramble to recover, the Lions finally fell on the ball and the game was over.  But what was later showed on replay was that the refs missed a BLATANT face mask penalty on DeAndre Levy when he forced the fumble, the Vikings should have gotten another chance, would they have scored the winning touchdown?  We'll never know.

The Lions actually started a game on fire this week, jumping out to a 21-0 lead in the firsst quarter and going into halwtime up 34-14.  Quarterback Matthew Stafford was efficient (20/29, 227 yards, 2 TD), the defense forced six turnovers and scored two touchdowns, but allowed 269 yards rushing including a 65 yard touchdown run by Webb for the touchdown.  The Detroit defense will be happy to get the suspended Ndamukong Suh back from a two game suspension next week because right now the Lions don't look like a viable super bowl contender.

For the Vikings, Percy Harvin continues to emerge as one of their best players (14 touches, 109 yards, 1TD) and Toby Gerhardt (22 touches, 109 yards, 1TD) is still filling in well for Adrian Peterson.  Minnesota has potential, but haven't been able to put all the pieces together yet.

With the win, the Lions improve to 8-5 and currently hold the #6 playoff spot in the NFC.

The Vikings fall to 2-11 and as of this week would have the #2 overall pick in the 2012 draft.

 

Co-Offensive Player(s) of the Week

Ryan Grant (Green Bay, RB) – 85 yards, 2TD

Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh, QB) – 16/21, 280 yards, 2TD

Grant had a solid day on the ground with two touchdowns and Ben showed that he is what makes the Steelers offense tick.

 

Defensive Player of the Week

Terrell Suggs (Baltimore, LB) – 5 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles

Suggs keeps up his bid to be the defensive player of the week, this guy is rediculous.

 

Standings

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens 10-3 (Currently hold the #2 spot in the playoffs and a bye)

Pittsburgh Steelers 10-3 (Currently hold top wildcard spot)

Cincinnati Bengals 7-6

Cleveland Browns 4-9

 

NFC North

Green Bay Packers 13-0 (Clinched top spot in the NFC playoffs)

Detroit Lions 8-5 (Currently hold second wildcard spot in NFC)

Chicago Bears 7-6

Minnesota Vikings 2-11

 

Check out the games from the NFL South Divisions.

Check out the games from the NFL West Divisions.

Check out the games from the NFL East Divisions.

 

Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS