BIRD FLU: For the first time this season, the Atlanta Falcons war machine sputtered enough for Chris Ivory and the Saints to run right by. Photo courtesy Chris Graythen/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.

Nobody’s Perfect

Well, those damn ’72 Dolphins can pop the champagne again.

Atlanta fell to New Orleans and became the last team to see that zero in the ‘L’ column disappear. And, quite frankly, the timing couldn’t have been any better. The practices before Week 10 became the point where the Falcons started to acknowledge what an accomplishment it was that they were still undefeated. Roddy White even said the club had the “pedigree” to go 16-0, although I’m not sure how ancestry plays a role.

And then? Boom. Down goes Atlanta. On the road. To the team they’ve played second fiddle to in the NFC South for a long, long time.

But according to White, the Saints didn’t earn it. In fact, the Falcons wide out believe they GAVE New Orleans the victory, which was very thoughtful of them. I wonder if that counts as their Christmas present.

The fact of the matter is Atlanta didn’t give away a victory any more than any other NFL team that has lost a game (so, everyone except, again, those ’72 Dolphins). You think there were missed opportunities? Of course there were. There would’ve been missed opportunities had you WON the game. This is the NFL, buddy. It’s like war, in a way: it’s chaotic, violent, and nothing ever goes according to plan.

If you want a perfect game, go watch baseball.


STAYIN’ CLASSY: There are only three certain things in this world: death, taxes, and upset Philly fans. Photo courtesy Elsa/Getty Images

Are You Happy Now, Philly?

Of course you’re not. Because Philly fans are like small children: they don’t know what they want but are sure they aren’t getting it.

All season long we’ve heard the groans as they beg for Nick Foles to come in and take over for Vick. This, of course, comes after the fan base demanded McNabb, only the best quarterback to done a Philly uniform, be benched for Kevin Kolb, then had no problem waving Kolb goodbye for Vick.

When it comes to their quarterbacks, the Eagles’ fan base has serious commitment issues. And they found out Sunday, as Foles came in for an injured Vick, that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. In fact, it was much, much browner. Foles had two turnovers, both of which were returned (or recovered) for touchdowns and ultimately explained the difference in the final score.

Foles wasn’t any worse than Vick in his worst games this season, but that’s beside the point. The point here is that Foles’ performance proves what I’ve been saying all along: the problem isn’t the quarterback, it’s everything AROUND him.

I’d venture to say there are maybe no more than two or three quarterbacks currently in the NFL that could have even marginal success with the Eagles as they’re currently assembled. Needless to say, a rookie third-round quarterback from Arizona isn’t one of them.

The Ties Have It

I can’t get enough of all the “kissing your sister” comparisons in the wake of the 49ers-Rams tie. Have people seen soccer? That sport’s apparently rife with incest!

The factor of the matter is, despite the scoreboard, there WERE winners and losers on Sunday.

The winners? St. Louis. A season on the brink of possibly yielding another Top 5 selection in next year’s draft, and they go across the country (or halfway across) and stand toe-to-toe with a legitimate Super Bowl contender. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, especially when you consider the success they had running the ball. San Francisco was THE best run defense in the league and Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson gashed them for more than 150 yards.

The losers? Well, the other guys, obviously. The hunt for a playoff berth and home field advantage is too preciousĀ  to squander even one game. At 6-2, Sunday’s match for the Niners was by no means a must-win, but it was definitely a SHOULD-win. The good news is I think the division is still pretty safely theirs, but if this tie costs them the opportunity to possibly play the NFC championship game in northern California, you can best believe this team will be kicking themselves.

As for the fans, I’ll toss them in the winners’ pool, as well. Ties and their ramifications can be icky to dealĀ  with, especially when it comes to standings (define irony: a tie game determines a tiebreaker), but it’s nice to see every once in a while. If we were having a handful of ties every season, I’d say we have a problem. But one every four years isn’t so bad.


DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS: Houston is now 8-1, tied for the best record in the NFL, and arguably the best team in the league right now. Photo courtesy Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

10 Weeks In, I Still Like My Super Bowl Pick

I say that with a bit of hesitation.

Yes, I picked the Texans to lift the Lombardi trophy in February and, yes, they appear to be every bit as good as I anticipated they would be.

But that fact alone scares me a little. If Super Bowls were won by the teams that SHOULD win them, the Patriots would still be a dynasty and Tom Coughlin would be at home yelling at kids who run on his front lawn. As I said in reference to Roddy White above, nothing goes according to plan in the NFL, and I can’t wait for Indianapolis or Seattle or some other okay-but-not-great team to ruin this for me.

Still, I’m sticking with Houston. This team is incredibly dynamic. What I mean by that is they don’t have just one path to victory. Any aspect of their team, from Matt Schaub to Arian Foster to J.J. Watt (I’m sorry, J.J. SWAT) and that defense, can have an off game and the Texans still have a good chance at coming away with a victory.

Even when Atlanta WAS undefeated, I was saying the Texans were the best team in football. Their tough, resilient, and they have every attribute you look for in a Super Bowl-winning team. More to the point, though, they are very, very good at adapting to however the game unfolds. That resiliency and flexibility is what will get you through the playoffs.

As for the games BEFORE the playoffs, I’m not concerned. Not one bit. Have you seen this remaining schedule? Jacksonville, Detroit, Tennessee, New England, Indy (twice), and Minnesota. If Houston finishes any worse than 13-3, I’ll be shocked.

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!