Forget about Marshawn Lynch’s Beast Mode beat-down of the New York Giants, or Aaron Rodgers’ six-touchdown dissection of the Chicago Bears (OK, more on that one in a bit). There’s only one story that matters after the Week 10 weekend: The Cleveland Browns are in sole possession of first place in the AFC North!
It’s the first time they’ve been alone atop a division since September 24, 1995, back when Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” was the number one song in the country and Se7en was terrifying its way to the top of the box office. The last time the Browns were in this position, Drew Barrymore was flashing David Letterman and Newt Gingrich was named Time‘s “Person of the Year.” Newt Gingrich!
Of course, it didn’t end well – the Browns finished 5-11 and Art Modell (BOOOOOO!) moved them to Baltimore. Hopefully, things turn out better this time around. So in the interest of not jinxing the poor people of Cleveland, let’s just get into this week’s Winners and Losers.
Winner: Fake Andy Reid
How many Andy Reids does it take to snag a victory in Buffalo? The answer is two, but for a while, it looked like Kansas City might need a third. The Chiefs were down 10 going into the fourth quarter before Jamaal Charles went to the house on a 39-yard run and, following a Bills fumble in K.C. territory (because Bills), Alex Smith lowered his shoulder to give the Chiefs the game-winning TD.
But let’s talk about the real MVP: fake Andy Reid. His perfect depiction of real Reid was the highlight of the day. Everything from the Wilford Brimley mustache to the rain-resistant poncho is reason enough to call this man a winner – even if he is holding what appears to be some sort of restaurant menu.
Loser: The New Orleans Saints (and the Entire NFC South)
The Saints and 49ers gave us the weekend’s most entertaining game (unless you’re a Lars von Trier fan, in which case you were definitely feeling Packers/Bears and Seahawks/Giants), a back-and-forth battle that went into OT – but not before Jimmy Graham caught what would have been the game-winning Hail Mary at the end of regulation.
Of course, the catch was rightfully called back after Graham was caught pushing off, and the Saints lost on a Phil Dawson knuckler in overtime. It was a respectable way to lose. This is not why we are calling the Saints “Losers.”
After the loss, the Saints still lead the putrid NFC South with a 4-5 record. That means there’s a chance a team with a losing record could sneak into the playoffs – ahead of teams like the Seahawks, Cardinals, Niners, Cowboys or Eagles. This is a travesty and sadly, yet another example of why I hate this current playoff system.
Winner: Michael Vick
In the upset of the day, the Jets stopped the Steelers’ all-out air raid (and three-game winning streak) thanks to a whole bunch of turnovers and – credit where credit’s due – the ageless Mike Vick.
Starting in place of Geno Smith, Vick threw for 132 yards and 2 touchdown passes, not gaudy numbers by any stretch (Ben Roethlisberger threw for 343 yards and 2 TDs, but also tossed a pair of picks), but enough to get the job done. Vick also ran for 39 yards, making him the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for 6,000 yards in their career. Whatever your opinion of Vick, there’s no doubt that he’s changed the quarterback position – quite possibly forever. Yesterday was a good reminder of his impact on the game and for that, we tip our hats to Mr. Vick.
Loser: Mike Mitchell
Look out below! With the game out of reach and the Jets taking perfunctory kneel-downs, Steelers safety Mike Mitchell decided to spice things up by leaping over New York’s O-Line. This was much to the displeasure of center Nick Mangold, who gave Mitchell a back body-drop for his transgressions, and Jets coach Rex Ryan, who was caught on-camera shouting “Fuck You” towards the officials and the Steelers as the clock ran out.
Afterward, the play was the subject of much consternation by both sides, and while, yeah, it was ridiculous, I didn’t mind all that much – at the very least, it was the most entertaining thing to happen to the Jets this season.
Winner: Rogue Hawk
Meet Taima, bad-ass Augur Hawk and Seattle mascot, who gives so few fucks that he (?) must be named a “Winner” this week. Taima ignored his handler’s flight path and found himself a nice seat on top of some guy’s head to witness ELI FACE and all its glory. Keep doing you, Taima.
Loser: The NFL, the Dallas Cowboys and Football in General
Where to begin with this one? How about the London chaps who took the Cowboys’ name literally? Or that one of them is wearing a fanny pack? Or maybe the fact that, in this one crowd shot alone, you can see “fans” representing the Dolphins, Pats, Steelers, Bengals, Jets, Cowboys, Bucs, Packers and Giants? London sure seems ready to support a team – too bad it’s not the Jaguars. But, really, can you blame them?
Winner: The Always Relaxed Aaron Rodgers
It only took one half of a professional football game for Aaron Rodgers to instill his chill will on the Chicago Bears, as he led the Packers to a 55-14 victory over their fast-fading divisional foes. Rodgers threw for 6 touchdowns in the first thirty, tying Daryle Lamonica’s record of TD passes in a half from 1969.
A 6-3, the Pack still sit one game behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North, but if last night’s game taught us anything, it’s that the relaxed Rodgers may be the best Rodgers yet. With Arizona now likely riding with Drew Stanton for the rest of the season and the Eagles going with Mark Sanchez for at least the next six weeks, the Packers may be the team to beat in a wide-open NFC.