Here are five things to love about the NFL from Week 14 of the regular season:
One. The Bears and Cowboys. What is there possibly love about the Seahawks’ opponent in Week 9 (Cowboys) and their opponent next week (Bears)? They both lost on Sunday, leaving the door cracked ever so slightly for the Seahawks to make a late playoff push. This is putting an entire herd of horses before the proverbial chart, of course, but it’s out there so there’s no harm in hoping (typed with fingers and toes crossed that the Seahawks don’t trip over the Rams tonight). At 5-7, the Seahawks can finish 9-7 by running the table against the Rams, Bears, 49ers and suddenly red-hot Cardinals (5-1 in their past six games) – if the Bears and Cowboys continue to struggle. Mike Sando at ESPN.com has crunched some scenarios and offers this flickering assessment.
Two. Aaron Rodgers, and that buzzsaw of an offense he directs for the Packers. His team remained undefeated this season (13-0) and ran their winning streak to 19 games in a row with Sunday’s 46-16 drubbing of the Raiders at Lambeau Field – where there was a whole lot of leapin’ goin’ on. Rodgers, meanwhile, tied Brett Favre’s single-season club record for TD passes (39) and he’s got three more games to play.
Three. Rob Gronkowski. This guy seems to have weekly reservations. But the Patriots’ tight end caught two more TD passes on Sunday. That’s 15 for the season, and that would be a league record for a tight end – in a league where Tony Gonzalez, Kellen Winslow and Ozzie Newsome have long been the gold standard at the position, but never did what Gronkowski has done.
Four. The Texans. Down to their third option at QB (T.J. Yates) and playing much of the season without one of the league’s best receivers (Andre Johnson) and their best defensive player (Mario Williams), the Texans are champions of the AFC South. Sunday, Yates threw a 2-yard TD pass with six seconds to play, capping an 80-yard drive in a 20-19 victory over the Bengals.
Five. Tim Tebow and Eli Manning in the fourth quarter. Each spun their respective magic again on Sunday. Tebow was being smothered by the Bears, until he wasn’t. He led scoring drives to tie the score at the end of regulation and then win it in overtime – Tebow’s sixth second-half comeback in his seven wins as the Broncos’ starter. While Tebow did the heavy magic, Matt Prater did the heavy kicking – with a 59-yard field goal to tie the score with 3 seconds to play and then a 51-yarder for the game winner. Manning, meanwhile, helped the Giants snap a four-game losing streak by erasing a 12-point deficit in the final four minutes with TD drives of 80 and 58 yards. Manning’s TD pass in the rally was his 14th in the fourth quarter, tying a league record set by Johnny Unitas and equaled by his brother, Peyton.