- DJ Gallo, ESPN.com
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There are still eight weeks left in the 2012 NFL regular season. But for some teams, the season is already over. Just ask Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. Despite having a team quarterbacked by RG3, who was thought not so long ago to be the hope of the earth, Shanahan said the Redskins are now building for the future in light of Sunday’s loss to Carolina.
“When you lose a game like that, now you’re playing to see who, obviously, is going to be on your football team for years to come,” he said. “Now we get a chance to evaluate players and see where we’re at.”
Shanahan’s comments are probably easy to swallow for Redskins fans, who have been spoiled with not one but two playoff appearances since 1999. They have to understand that not every season can be one of glory.
On the other hand, the NFL of 2012 is one of parity, and it was only a season ago a 9-7 team won the Super Bowl. So with half the season left, which losing teams should focus on 2013 and which should still try to win this year? Glad you asked.
Jets (3-5 -- 2 games out of first, 2 out of wild card)
Being two games out with eight to play isn’t hopeless. But there’s very little positive to find with the Jets. It might be time for Rex Ryan to turn the page on 2012 and predict a Super Bowl championship for next year.
Bills (3-5 -- 2 games out of first, 2 out of wild card)
The Bills need to keep playing hard. Anything can happen. For example, last year Buffalo finished the season with a 1-8 stretch. That can’t happen from this point. There are only eight games left.
Titans (3-6 -- 4.5 out of first, 2.5 out of wild card)
There’s probably a temptation to feel disheartened and to want to quit after a 51-20 home loss. The Titans should not fight that feeling.
Jaguars (1-7 – 6 games out of first, 4 out of wild card)
Blaine Gabbert on Jacksonville’s ineptitude against the Lions: “Come on, that’s pathetic for an offense to have 12 plays in the first half and be 0-for-4 on third downs.” Maybe. But the Jaguars made it to third down all four times, meaning they didn’t turn it over on first or second down. Progress. They can build on this.
Bengals (3-5 – 3 games out of first, 2 out of wild card)
By finishing strong, the Bengals can go 8-8 or even 9-7, right on target for the annual “Eh, I guess it could have been worse” justification that has kept Marvin Lewis in town for 10 years. So … go for it.
Browns (2-7 -- 4 games out of first, 3.5 out of wild card)
The Browns need to go for it. Now that they’re under new ownership, everyone is playing for his job. Plus, Brandon Weeden will turn 30 next season. The window of opportunity is closing on this team.
Raiders (3-5 -- 2 games out of first, 2 out of wild card)
Halloween has come and gone. That always means it’s time for the Raiders, and Raiders fans, to think about next season.
Chiefs (1-7 -- 4 games out of first, 4 out of wild card)
Many fans think bad teams aren’t trying hard enough. That’s simply not true. Athletes are proud. They don’t want to be embarrassed. Yet the Chiefs are getting embarrassed, so they need to stop trying. Getting crushed is easier to take if you can tell yourself it’s simply because you’re not doing your best. Matt Cassel needs to tell himself that he meant to throw the ball to the opposing team. That’s what it looks as though he’s doing, so it’s not as though anyone will doubt him.
Eagles (3-4 -- 2 games out of first, 1 out of wild card)
Andy Reid and Michael Vick likely need a playoff berth to keep their jobs. If not, 2013 could find them in Cleveland, where longtime Eagles vice president and Reid contract-extender Joe Banner is now CEO. We’ve already covered the Browns, but the threat of Reid and Vick is further justification for them to try to win now. Cleveland sports fans have suffered enough. Andy Reid would just be piling on.
Cowboys (3-5 -- 2.5 games out of first, 1.5 out of wild card)
Go for it! Throw on every down! Give us constant shots of Jerry Jones! America demands to be entertained!
Saints (2-5 -- 5.5 games out of first, 2 out of wild card)
The Saints should forget about 2012. I’m pretty sure that’s a quote from Roger Goodell.
Panthers (2-6 -- 6 games out of first, 2.5 out of wild card)
The Panthers predicted a Super Bowl in the preseason, so they can’t take a mulligan and focus on next season. That’s what the Jets and Eagles do. The Panthers need to get their own act.
Cardinals (4-5 -- 2.5 out of first, 1 out of wild card)
They’ve lost five in a row, yet they are only a game out of the playoffs. Everyone should be embarrassed by this. Maybe the whole NFC should focus on next season.
Rams (3-5 -- 3 games out of first, 1.5 out of wild card)
St. Louis has lost three in a row. That exact sentence forced the St. Louis Cardinals to concentrate on 2013. It should do the same for the St. Louis Rams.
Redskins (3-6 -- 3 games out of first, 2.5 out of wild card)
Shanahan says this team is done for 2012. Why question him? He is being paid a lot of money by Dan Snyder. That guy doesn’t make mistakes.
Quote of the Week
“I think the biggest thing for me is if you go out and make a play and get booed, I know I’m in your heart.” -- Mario Williams, on returning to Texas.
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I know you love me because you boo.
How do I love thee? Let me count the boos.
I care enough to show you my middle finger.
You can read this and all of Mario Williams’ other thoughts on love in his new Hallmark Hate/Love Collection greeting cards.
Stat of the Week
Andrew Luck’s 433 yards against the Dolphins set a rookie record for passing yards in a game. The previous record was held by Cam Newton. Clearly the Colts should trade Luck now while his stock is up.
Misleading Stat of the Week
Despite putting up 251 rushing yards and four touchdowns against the Raiders, Doug Martin’s final three runs netted minus-14 yards. This means that he has peaked and that if you have him in fantasy football, you should release him.
This Week’s Horrible Fantasy Team That Crushed Your Team
Carson Palmer, QB, Raiders: 39-for-61, 414 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT
Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions: 16 carries, 70 yards, 3 TD
Isaac Redman, RB, Steelers: 151 total yards, TD
Golden Tate, WR, Seahawks: 4 catches, 28 yards, 2 TD
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: 6 catches, 102 yards, TD
Brandon Myers, TE, Raiders: 8 catches, 59 yards, 2 TD
News Conference Questions Someone Should Have Asked
Mike Tomlin: “How often do you discuss late-game decision-making with Les Miles?”
Mike Smith: “Has Mercury Morris egged your house yet?”
Leslie Frazier: “Adrian Peterson averaged 10.7 yards per rushing attempt, and Christian Ponder averaged 2.8 yards per pass attempt. What?”
Reader Twitter Question of the Week
@djgalloespn Doug Martin?
— Mike Chamernik (@mcx1110) November 5, 2012
Good question. Important question. I have no idea.
But I did some research and it seems he played college football at a place called “Boise State.” All I know of that place is what I have heard on the Internet over the years, which is that this “Boise State” would stink if it played an SEC schedule. Yet Martin is on pace to rush for nearly 1,600 yards as a rookie in the NFL. SEC defenses must be really good!
Where Martin came from isn’t the only reason he’s opening eyes, however. Or even the main reason. It’s really his name. Did you know that “Doug” is one of our least athletic names? Think of one athletic person you know named Doug. You can’t. In fact, there is only one Doug in the baseball, basketball and pro football Halls of Fame combined -- old-timey NFL defensive end Doug Atkins. There hasn’t been a star Doug in America’s three major sports in decades.
When Doug Martin runs, he carries the weight of all the Dougs. He is a dougspiration.
ELITE Quarterback of the Week
Is Andrew Luck ELITE?
Evidence for him: Teams sucked just to get him; he’s 5-3 as a rookie; and he just set the record for most passing yards in a single game by a rookie quarterback. Also, you can’t spell PLUCKY without LUCK.
Evidence against him: RG3 was already established as the greatest quarterback of his or any other generation weeks ago. Luck will always be an afterthought. Also, you can’t spell MUCKLUCK, a boot worn to walk through slush and mud, without LUCK.
Five Things I Think You Might Think We Thought
1. The Titans lost to the Bears at home, 51-20. Three weeks ago, Tennessee beat the Steelers, who just beat the defending Super Bowl champions on the road. Therefore, using the transitive property, we could say: Titans > Super Bowl champions. This is why the transitive property is dumb and why you should always invite high school math teachers to join your fantasy football league.
“Really? You’re drafting Victor Cruz? I mean, the Giants lost to the Steelers, who lost to the Titans. Nate Washington is probably the better pick. Transitive property and everything.”
“I can’t argue with that.”
“Cool. Just a reminder: We have a $100 buy-in this year.”
2. The Redskins are not protecting RG3. Last week they had him play wide receiver and now they put him in a faux leather helmet. IRRESPONSIBLE.
3. It’s time. Enough is enough. Larry Fitzgerald and Adrian Peterson’s talents are being wasted by the lack of talent around them. They need a quarterback before their primes are over. It’s painful watching them play with Kolbs and Skeltons and Ponders. They should secede from their current teams and start their own franchise. Instantly, they would have more talent than half the teams in the league and become the destination for top free-agent quarterbacks. They could be a team full of superstars. They just should make sure not to put their team in Los Angeles because the Dodgers and Lakers have shown recently that L.A. might not be the best city for a team composed of stars.
4. Last week, we covered how elections are affected by how the home team does in the week before voting. If the home team wins, the incumbent gets a 1.5 percent boost and vice versa. Here are Sunday’s results from our biggest battleground states:
Ohio: Browns and Bengals lost.
Florida: Jaguars lost, Dolphins lost, Buccaneers won.
It really isn’t fair for an incumbent to have his future in the hands of the Browns, Bengals, Jaguars, Dolphins and Buccaneers. Unless you are in favor of term limits. In which case, these teams essentially give them to us.
5. This week, Matt Hasselbeck joined a long list of quarterbacks who have made embarrassing tackle attempts. He ran in the general direction of his interceptor, then sort of just tumbled to the ground. Do quarterbacks practice “tackling” like this? I have to assume they do because they all look the same.
Hey, kids, do you want to learn to tackle like a real NFL quarterback? Here’s how!
Step 1: Throw an interception.
Step 2: Stand there for a few seconds with a disappointed look on your face.
Step 3: Continue standing there, assuming one of your receivers will tackle the returner.
Step 3: As the return man makes his way down the field, begin jogging in his direction in an annoyed manner, as though it is a chore that you have to participate in the attempt to tackle the man you threw the football to.
Step 4: Increase your speed to 40 percent of maximum as the returner nears.
Step 5: When the runner makes his move on you, immediately have your knees buckle.
Step 6: Begin falling to the ground, with your arms pulled in tight so as not to injure a shoulder in a legitimate tackle attempt.
Step 7: Hit the ground and roll. Lift a leg slightly in the air in a half-hearted attempt to trip the runner.
Step 8: Slowly stand up and hope no one saw that.
How They Spent Their Bye Week
Patriots: Causing in-flight disturbances.
Jets: Learning new swears.