Week 13 winners and losers

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Nov 29, 2008



Here's our over-magnified, jump-the-gun conclusions on six big winners and six big losers from Week 13. (See our follow-up list of winners and losers from Sunday's late games here.)
 
Winner: Colts defense
On a day when Peyton Manning was un-Manning-like (125 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT), Indy gutted out a 10-6 win at Cleveland thanks to a defense that remains on a historic streak: they've allowed just 4 TD passes through 12 games. It's a truly remarkable Cold, Hard Football Fact here in the Golden Age of the Passing Game (the 1973 Dolphins hold the Super Bowl Era record, allowing just 5 TD tosses back in a 14-game season).
 
Loser: Browns quarterbacks
First, we learned that Brady Quinn will miss the rest of the season with a injury to his right index finger. Then Derek Anderson passed for just 110 yards on 26 attempts against the Colts Sunday. Then he got injured. And then his replacement, Ken Dorsey, went 0 for 3 with a pick.
 
At 4-8, the Browns have now confirmed that they'll finish .500 or worse for the 13th time in 16 seasons, a stretch that began with the end of the Bud Carson Era in 1990.
 
Winner: Old-school Bills uniforms
They sure look nifty, don't they?
 
Loser: Bills
They don't look very nifty, do they? As recently as Week 7, the Bills were 5-1 and alone in first place in the brisket-tough AFC East. Today they're 6-6, the only team in the division without a winning record. Even worse, they display all the smooth, creamy consistency of peanut brittle and lug nuts.
 
Last week the Bills hung 54 on the Chiefs in Kansas City. This week, they were held to a field goal at home in a 10-3 loss to the bad 49ers (4-8).
 
Winner: Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin
Last December, fans in New York were ready to run both the quarterback and the coach out of town (Coughlin had a 26 percent fan approval rate in Week 15 of the 2007 season). Today, they sit on top of the Big Apple and the NFL while leading the defending champs to an 11-1 record.
 
In a 23-7 win at Washington Sunday, Manning pieced together his first 300-yard game since Week 6 of the 2007 season and his highest total (305) since passing for 371 yards in Week 2 of the 2006 season.
 
Coughlin, meanwhile, is now 122-96 (.560) in his career (including playoffs). If the Giants win out on the way to the Super Bowl, as many expect they will, he'll be 129-96 (.573) and join our list of winningest coaches in NFL history.
 
Loser: The NFC East race
The NFC East has lived up to the hype of the best division in football: every team has a winning record through Week 13. But the race for the division crown is over with a month to play: the 11-1 Giants hold a three-game edge over the second-place 8-4 Cowboys, and the G-Men boast a 4-0 record in the division.
 
Winner: Tony Sparano
Few people had heard of Tony Sparano last December – with the exception of Miami executive Bill Parcells. Today, Sparano is overseeing one of the great single-season turnarounds in league history. Seven teams have gone 1-15 since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978. None have won more than nine games the following year.
 
The Dolphins are already 7-5 following their 16-12 win over St. Louis Sunday. And with very winnable games coming up against Buffalo (in Toronto), San Francisco and at Kansas City, 10 wins for the 'Fins are a very real possibility. Sparano could be a hot commodity for years to come.
 
Loser: Jim Haslett
The former Saints coach – perhaps unfairly canned following his post-Katrina 2005 season in New Orleans – got a shot at redemption when he replaced Scott Linehan in St. Louis back in Week 6. But his Rams are in the midst of a sorrowful six-game losing streak (2-10 overall) and have scored just 34 points combined in their last four games – a 1977 Buccaneers-esque 8.5 PPG. It's doubtful he'll ever land another head coaching job in the NFL.
 
Winner: Titans, Cowboys and Eagles
The three Week 13 winners combined to outscore the Lions, Seahawks and Cardinals 129-39 on Thanksgiving.
 
Loser: You
The three blowouts made for a thin gridiron gruel for football fans across the country on Turkey Day, while embarrassing the NFL with college-style mismatches such as Tennessee (11-1) vs. Detroit (0-12) and Seattle (2-10) vs. Dallas (8-4).
 
Winner: 1-AA quarterbacks from Delaware
Baltimore rookie quarterback Joe Flacco was tremendous in his team's 34-3 win at Cincinnati. He completed 19 of 29 for 280 yards, 9.7 YPA, 2 TD, 0 INT and a 119.9 rating. He has all the hallmarks of the offensive leader the organization has desperately needed for a decade.
 
Loser: 1-AA quarterbacks from Harvard
Cincy quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had another disastrous outing with the disastrous Bengals offense, completing 12 of 31 (38.7%) for 124 yards, 4.0 YPA, 0 TD, 0 INT and a 51.0 rating.
 
Fitzpatrick has yet to average 6.0 YPA in any of his eight starts this year for the 1-10-1 Bungles.
 
He actually averages more yards per rush attempt this year (6.4) than he does per pass attempt (4.8) and was Cincy's leading rusher against Baltimore, with 29 yards on three attempts – including a game-high 21-yarder.

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