In CBCSports.ca's weekly chatter, the guys discuss their comeback player of the year, the tight battle in the NFC East, the sliding Chicago Bears, and the impressive victory by the 49ers in New England.
After coming off serious injuries, Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson are both having remarkable seasons. Which one of these two greats would you give the comeback player of the year to?
Hats off to Manning, but what Peterson is doing is out of this world. When he tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee last December, we heard the usual "it takes two years to recover fully from this kind of injury" and "he may never be the same." Instead, Peterson and his freaky "newborn baby"
knee are within striking distance of Eric Dickerson's 28-year-old single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards. Incredible.
There really isn't a wrong answer to this one as both have been fantastic, but Peterson gets my vote. It's mind-boggling that someone who suffered such a tough knee injury could come back like this. He's averaging just under 130 yards rushing per game
. He already does hold the NFL record for an eight-game stretch in a single season with 1,313 yards so you have to think Eric Dickerson's 1984 benchmark is at risk. Peterson does have his work cut out for him, he needs 294 yards in two games. That's going to be a challenge against the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers, games the Minnesota Vikings need to win to have a shot at an NFC wildcard berth.
Tony Care: Peyton Manning has had an incredible year and can lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl. But, like my colleagues, I have to go with Peterson. Considering the devastating knee injury he suffered in Washington last year, it's remarkable he's only 293 yards away from Dickerson. What's been impressive, and a good sign you've recovered from knee surgery, is Peterson's ability to run away from defenders. In the last two weeks, against Green Bay and St. Louis, Peterson has reeled off consecutive 80-plus-yard TD runs. Folks, you're not supposed to do that less than a year removed from surgery.
The battle for the NFC East title couldn't be tighter. N.Y. Giants, Washington and Dallas are all 8-6 with two games remaining. So which team will win with the division?
Jesse Campigotto: You can make an argument for all three. Washington has won five in a row, currently owns the tiebreaker and has home-field advantage against Dallas in their Week 17 showdown, but will RG3 be able to play the final two games after sitting this week with a knee injury? New York has easily the best point differential, but the Giants just got whacked by Atlanta and are only 2-3 in the division, which could hurt them in a tiebreaker situation. Dallas has the momentum of three straight wins, but has been outscored on the season and has a pair of tough games remaining (home to New Orleans, at Washington). In contrast, the Redskins and Giants both still get to play Philly, which should be an easy win.
Jason Davidson: Tough one, but I am going to say the Cowboys win the division. It's been an emotional couple of weeks for this team and they've been able to eke out a pair of crucial wins. They have the New Orleans Saints at home this weekend then they head to Washington to take on the Redskins in a game that could very well decide the division. Dallas will have revenge on their minds after the Redskins took it to them on Thanksgiving Day. The Giants are in pretty tough with a visit to Baltimore to face the Ravens on Sunday, and after what happened to the G-Men against the Falcons in Atlanta, I'm not convinced this team is playoff bound. The NFC East likely comes down to the Cowboys-Redskins tilt in Week 17.
Tony Care: I really would love to take the Cowboys here, but they have to prove to me they can emerge from a winner-take-all game victorious before I can make that kind of prediction. I'll pick the Redskins to win out, including Week 17 against the Cowboys, and win the division. Remember, too, that the Giants, who were embarrassed by the Falcons 34-0, still have a chance to make the playoffs. Wins over the reeling Ravens and lowly Eagles will secure a wildcard spot for the defending Super Bowl champs.
The Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens, two teams cruising a month ago, have both lost three straight games. What has been the more surprising meltdown?
Jesse Campigotto: I think Chicago's. After crushing Tennessee 51-20 on Nov. 4, the Bears had parlayed their ball-hawking defence and relatively easy slate of opponents to a 7-1 record. But the D has regressed, the schedule has gotten tougher, and suddenly Chicago has lost five of six, including Sunday's home loss to Green Bay that dropped the Bears to 8-6 and clinched the NFC North for the Packers. Sure, Chicago's defence wasn't likely to maintain its breakneck pace of turnovers all season, but I don't think anyone saw this coming. Still, don't count out the Bears. They finish the season with road games at Arizona and Detroit, who are a combined 9-19.
Jason Davidson: The Bears. After a 7-1 start, this team has stalled. Jay Cutler has been mediocre at best and it just confirms my belief that he is not a bona fide No. 1 quarterback in this league. The fans at Soldier Field made their feelings known, booing their team during Sunday's loss to the Packers, who subsequently clinched first place in the NFC North. Brian Urlacher's hamstring injury has clearly hampered the defence which seems a lot more vulnerable. Perhaps getting away from the windy city will help these guys as they wrap up the season with a pair on the road against the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions. Sneaking into the playoffs is still a possibility.
Tony Care: Chicago. The Ravens' slide is more predictable. The Bears were on quite a tear because their defence was creating turnovers, and scoring at an incredible pace. Sure enough, when died down, other parts of the club were exposed. The offensive line, a sore spot for the last couple of years, remains a weakness and QB Jay Cutler continues to get pounded. Defensively the Bears aren't bad, having giving up 23, 21 and 21 points in the last three games, but are allowing big plays at the wrong time.
The San Francisco 49ers nearly let a 28-point advantage get away in New England but held on for the victory. Regardless, how impressed were you with this win?
Very impressed. Sure, San Francisco was probably lucky to recover seven of the eight fumbles in the game, but the 49ers really showed something by taking a 31-3 lead on the Patriots, then having the strength to finish off the Pats
after blowing the lead. The thing I like best about the Niners (besides coach Jim Harbaugh) is their balance. They're among the best teams in football on both offence and defence, and you've got to figure their special teams (excellent last year) will improve after a slow start. The other most balanced teams are Denver, Seattle and, to a lesser extent, Green Bay and the Giants. They'll all be dangerous come playoff time.
Jason Davidson: It's nice that they recovered and got the win, but you can't forget the fact that they blew a 31-3 lead. To me those are clear signs of cracks in the foundation, but at the same time it's a credit to the Patriots' explosive offence. Tom Brady threw the ball 65 times for well over 400 yards. Colin Kaepernick did show some tremendous composure after the Pats tied it up, hooking up with Michael Crabtree for what turned out to be a game-winning 38-yard catch and run touchdown. I'll reserve judgment on the 49ers' potential until Sunday night when they head to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. If they can win there, that's a huge statement.
Tony Care: I was impressed with the defence, especially when it rebounded from four consecutive scoring drives allowed. This unit could've easily packed it in. Tom Brady was ripping it apart, and fatigue was setting in. But after receiver Michael Crabtree gave the 49ers a seven-point advantage with just over six minutes left, the defence forced a punt and a turnover on downs deep inside the Pats' zone. This allowed the 49ers to close out the game. Another reason this victory was so noteworthy is the Patriots hadn't lost a December game at home since 2002 prior to Sunday's defeat.
Back to accessibility links