KNEECAPPED: Just when it seemed the Giants were finally the consistent team they’ve been telling naysayers they are, the Falcons came sweeping by and knocked them back down. Photo courtesy Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A fumble. A blown call. A clutch touchdown. Every week the action in the NFL forces the headlines around the league to change. To evolve. A cold team becomes a hot team. A hot team slips up. Someone one is one game closer to the playoffs and someone is one game closer to their season being over. These are the weekly notes on the trends and other happenings from around the league after every weekend.

So Much For That Early Christmas

It’s all anyone wanted to talk about. What a spectacular week of games we had on our hands. So many playoff implications, so many potential playoffs previews. Maybe even a Super Bowl preview or two!

Whatever. It didn’t happen.

The Falcons were supposed the ones in trouble against a Giants team whose coach said they had to win out to make the playoffs. Instead? A 34-0 Atlanta shutout.

Baltimore doesn’t ever lose back-to-back games, so losing back-to-back-to-BACK? They certainly weren’t going to roll over and die. Except they did, losing 34-17 to Denver in a game where most of the Ravens points came in garbage time.

New Orleans had a prayer of a chance of making the playoffs, but their opponent, Tampa Bay looked to have better odds. A clash of divisional rivals clawing to stay alive. What actually happened? A 41-0 shellacking courtesy of the black and gold.

The only two games that really actually lived up to the immense expectations of Week 15′s schedule was the Pittsburgh-Dallas game and the San Francisco-New England game. And here’s the crazy part: if there was one good match up people thought might turn out to be a letdown, it was the Niners-Patriots game. Instead, New England came back in a stunning rally that lead to a final half-quarter of can’t-miss TV.

Obviously it really doesn’t make a difference one way or the other. Nevertheless, it’s pretty ironic that the one week that was being billed as a super-week of sorts for NFL games turns out to be one of the least contentious of the season.

 

NOBODY’S HERO: Seemingly over his teammate who died while he was allegedly drunk behind the wheel, Josh Brent was on the sidelines giving pointers to his teammates that are still with us. Photo courtesy Tom Pennington/Getty Images

No Job For a Cowboy

Sunday’s Steelers-Cowboys duel was a throwback match to the glory days of the NFL. So leave it to America’s team to throw an unexpected distraction into the mix.

Spotted on the sidelines was inactive defensive tackle Josh Brent. Yes, the Josh Brent who flipped an SUV, killed his teammate, and is now facing manslaughter charges. That guy was just “one of the guys” Sunday afternoon.

Are you kidding me? No, really. Are you effing kidding me? Here’s a guy who not only made a conscious decision to drive intoxicated when he could easily afford a taxi or one of the MULTIPLE car services both the league and the team offer, crashed the car, and then, by multiple witness accounts, appeared to be none-too-concerned about his friend and teammate laying on the ground.

And then, on top of it all, Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett said that they were “surprised” to see him there. Are you kidding me? No, REALLY. Are you EFFING kidding me? Jerry Jones, the most hands-on, constantly-interfering owner in the league had no clue the one Cowboy that spent last Sunday in handcuffs was going to be on the sideline? HIS sideline?

It disgusts me. It absolutely disgusts me that a franchise can not only fail to admonish but actually embrace a man that killed one of his teammates. NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal said he had a hard time expressing “faux outrage” on the matter, and that’s all right, because I’m plenty outraged for him.

To not immediately ban Brent from all Cowboys facilities until the case works its way through the courts was, at best, in poor taste and, at worst, an indictment of just how morally-lacking this franchise is.

Jerry Jones himself is trying to have it both ways. First he says he had no idea Brent would be there and that he was there because his teammates asked him to be there. Then he says he was welcome because they were following the footsteps of Jerry Brown’s mother who said she had forgiven the man. Then, to go completely against all of that, its reported that Brent probably won’t be coming to future games.

There’s a lot of he-said, he-said going on in Cowboy country right now, but one thing’s for sure: there’s a massive sign over this franchise’s head right now and it reads “Not Getting It”.

Week To Weak

One of the new go-to clichés in the NFL is that the league is such a “week to week league”. In other words, what appears to be true one weekend can complete change the next. Then, a week later, it could, of course, all revert back to the way we originally thought it was.

It may be sorely overused, but the Patriots this weekend were as good of proof of this theory as anything this season.

Last week, they welcomed in a hot Houston team and dismantled them as if they were a Division II NCAA punching bag. They didn’t just rout the Texans, they put on a clinic. For sixty minutes, Houston, then tied for the best record in the league, appeared to be shells of themselves, a dummy squad for the Patriots to practice again.

Then, THIS week, in another primetime game, the Patriots LOST at home. To a team with a worse record. In a shootout. Against the second-best defense in the league, no less. On paper, it just didn’t seem logically possible. Then again, very little about what’s gone on in the NFL this season has.

The point here is that we can really only take a single result with a grain of salt. The Steelers this weekend lost to the Cowboys who previously were run over by the Redskins who previously were outmatched by, yes, the Steelers. The Dolphins on Sunday dominated the Jaguars who previously upset the Colts who previously edged, you got it, the Dolphins.

It’s a maddening season, and I’m not talking about the legendary coach.

 

MARK-ED FOR DEATH: The Jets season will officially end in two weeks thanks to an embarrassing loss to the Titans. Photo courtesy Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Hopes Jettisoned

And finally, we end Week 15′s notes with an obituary. Rest in peace, the 2012 New York Jets.

It’s been a long, tumultuous ride that the media has gobbled up like a fat kid with a cookie tin all season. It started with ESPN broadcasting live from Jets training camp before the season. Remember that time? When gang green was so optimistic and full of life?

Well, what started on ESPN also ended on ESPN Monday night. Sticking true to form, the Jets played ugly, ugly football. The result? They lost to a 3-9 Titans team. An upset? Sure. Surprising? Not with the way this season has gone.

I’ll miss it all, the highs and the lows. The time they traded for Tebow so he could run shirtless in the rain when he wasn’t riding the pine. The day Shonn Greene scored about half of his fantasy points for the season. That game where Greg McElroy came in and reminded people what borderline competent quarterback play looked like.

That was just another thing the Jets didn’t get Monday night as Sanchez threw four picks and finished with a completion percentage under 50%. His leading receiver? Tight end Jeff Cumberland, an 2010 undrafted free agent out of Illinois.

We could say we’re surprised, but are we really?

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NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure to give him a follow @bclienesch for NFL updates and other shenanigans!

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