Week 12 in the NFL: The Romo question and how the Packers got their groove back

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Two out of three ain’t bad, at least that is what we can say about the Thanksgiving games this year. However, before getting to those games and the rest of this past week in the NFL, I want to address my thoughts on the Dak Prescott/Tony Romo situation in Dallas.

The thinking is, Dallas has no choice but to trade Romo this off-season. As to where is anyone’s guess. Cowboy owner Jerry Jones will ask for all he can for the now often injured gunslinger who, if he can stay healthy, could improve many teams.

Cleveland has the most to offer and could use him while he grooms an understudy. Denver might have the least to offer given they will draft much later than Cleveland, but could offer Romo the best shot at another Super Bowl run. Then there are any of a number of teams somewhere between those two teams that might go after him. One interesting idea could be the Packers trading for Romo after they land a boat load for Aaron Rogers who some are now saying may have worn out his time in the Green Bay locker room.

Tony Romo isn’t suiting up for games this season, but the Cowboys are winning.
Tony Romo isn’t suiting up for games this season, but the Cowboys are winning.

If I am Jerry Jones, I hold firm to what I want, take nothing less, and if I do not get it, I bring Romo back knowing he is my back up quarterback — and here are two words that explain why: Colin Kaepernick. What does the 49er signal caller have to do with all of this? Plenty.

Dak Prescott is just a rookie, and much like when Kaepernick took over for the injured Alex Smith in his second year, Prescott can do no wrong. In Kaepernick’s case, it had a lot to do with his natural talent and skill set the league was not ready for and the timing of him taking over just as San Francisco was getting ready to take off after years of struggling. It is not that different in Dallas

The NFL has a way of figuring you out. Many players become great, but only a few remain great. The only way to remain among the best is to continue to grow as a player. This requires more than just getting in the weight room and working out. It means endless hours of voluntary film study, working on flaws your own coaches see in your game, and expanding your game. A quarterback who does not do this does not remain relevant for long and this is why I mention Colin Kaepernick.

Dak Prescott will be figured out. There may come a time he does not have Ezekial Elliott chewing up yards on the ground. He may find himself playing behind an injured line that does not protect him so well. He may have to do without a couple of injured starting wide receivers or a defense that gives up 30 plus points a game. These are the times he will have to rise up and improve his play. He cannot do that if he becomes more like Colin Kaepernick than say Russell Wilson.

Maybe Jerry Jones knows the answer to these questions already. My guess is, he doesn’t. No owner knows what a rookie thrust into the lime light will do with his off season until it comes around. Just think Michael Vick, or worse, Johnny Manziel.

A team as loaded as Dallas does not have a window of opportunity for long. If Jerry Jones trades Tony Romo, they could become next year’s Minnesota Vikings with one or two key injuries. If he keeps Romo, they could also miss the opportunity to build an even stronger team filled with more depth across the board. It is a nice problem to have, but with a rookie calling the shots, a gamble. Keeping Romo does nothing to the Cowboy salary cap because Prescott has no leverage. Jones can keep both on the roster, but then he risks stunting Prescott’s improvement and creates a quarterback controversy in the process. But then this is Dallas and controversy is Jones’ middle name.

Now, let’s look at the past week.

Detroit 16 – Minnesota 13

No one saw the Lions being in first place at this time of year, but here they are, at the top of the NFC North and they seem to be gaining confidence in themselves with each passing week. However, they are not scaring anybody because they seem to thrive on nothing but close games. By beating the depleted Vikings with a last second field goal, Detroit controls their own destiny. Getting some extra time off before their next game should also be an advantage. Let’s see how they respond before we take them too seriously. As for the Vikings, well the Sam Bradford trade should help their fans forget another bad trade, Herschel Walker. Maybe next year they will trade for a guy named Romo.

Dallas 31 – Washington 26

This looked to be a game played by two teams suffering from a Sunday hangover until the fourth quarter saw an explosion of points. With the home win, Dallas continues to show they have no intention of slipping or falling to the pressure that comes with ten straight wins. Washington should still feel good about their chances at the playoffs. If they continue to play as they have, they should be a wild card team and a threat against anyone they face, even Dallas.

If all else fails Rams fans can be entertained by the cheerleaders.
If all else fails Rams fans can be
entertained by the cheerleaders.

Pittsburgh 28 – Indianapolis 7

Just when Indy showed signs of coming to life and making a playoff run, their luck runs out. In this case, it was Andrew Luck and a concussion. While it is great the league plays closer attention to player safety and has their league wide concussion protocol to protect players, it might be really nice if they dropped Thursday games all together so guys have a full week to recover.

Maybe Luck would have still missed the game, but at least the team would have had a full week to ready a game plan. The Steelers are back on an up swing, but when you play the Browns on a Sunday and then a Luckless Colts on a Thursday, it’s hard to tell if Pittsburgh is any good or not.

Atlanta 38 – Arizona 19

Another game in which the Falcons look like the real deal and are ready to make a deep playoff run. However, I am not buying this blowout over the Arizona Cardinals because next week, Atlanta is liable to produce a clunker. All I know is the Cardinals have flown south for the winter and if they are wise, they won’t return north until they have a new team.

Baltimore 19 – Cincinnati 14

Normally, 19 points is not enough to win in the NFL. However, whenever a team is playing a team from the state of Ohio, it is usually enough for a win. Fortunately, the Ravens play four games a year against the Ohio based stinkers, which should give them four wins right out of the gate. Unfortunately, they also have to play real teams the rest of the year, which is why they are struggling to keep their heads above water. For now, they are still neck and neck with Pittsburgh. I hope they are wearing their floaties because they will need them from here on out.

The Rams need running back Todd Gurley to start chewing up more yards per game.
The Rams need running back Todd Gurley to start chewing up more yards per game.

New Orleans 49 – Los Angeles 21

Don’t be fooled by number one pick Jared Goff’s three touchdown performance. It was only five touchdowns short of being enough to beat the New Orleans Saints and their patchwork of a defense. As long as Todd Gurley is only racking up 50 yards of rushing each week, the Rams are destined for life in the slow lane in Los Angeles. The only question left for the Rams is who coaches this team next year? Is Ray Malavasi alive?

Miami 31 – San Francisco 24

The good news in San Francisco is they traveled across country to play an early game and only lost by seven points. The bad news is, despite his huge numbers, Colin Kaepernick might have won the game for them had he not been in mourning over the death of Fidel Castro. At least SF kept pace with Cleveland and could still stumble their way to the number one pick in next year’s draft. The Dolphins, while never impressive, seem to find ways to win and are now clearly in a position to earn a wild card spot.

Tennessee 27 – Chicago 21

I guess this is a good thing for the Titans because with the win, their young team becomes more accustomed to winning. This is the type of game a young up and coming team could easily have dropped by not taking their opponent seriously.

As for the Bears, what else can be said? It’s been a lifetime since the Super Bowl Shuffle and all that is left of this season is to do the Toilet Bowl Flush and begin what now seems like a constant unclogging process. By now, one would think their stomachs are empty from all the losing, but I guess they have more to unload.

Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers
Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers

San Diego 21 – Houston 13

This game proves the NFL is a lot like real estate. All that matters is location, location, and location. Since the Chargers are in the AFC West, they sit in last place with no shot at the playoffs this year, even though they are a better team than Houston. However, the Texans play in the AFC South which is somewhere between the SEC and a local JuCo league in terms of talent. Perhaps next year the Chargers won’t gag away as many games as they have this year and we can be talking about how the first place Chargers having revitalized the dormant NFL fans of Los Angeles.

Buffalo 28 – Jacksonville 21

Nothing Rex Ryan does is ever pretty. Have you seen the genetics he inherited? That said, a win is a win and for Buffalo, it must feel good to see their Bills remain relevant going into December. Do they have enough left in the tank to make the playoffs? Who knows? However, for Rex Ryan, what’s more important is have they done enough to land him another extension?

As for Jacksonville, they have no idea what it is like to win. They just need a new coach and GM and maybe another 53 players before that can become a reality. Maybe Santa comes through for them this year.

New York Giants 27 – Cleveland 13

The good news is, if the Browns had played their cross state rivals the Bengals this past week, they would have only lost by a point. Still, to only lose by fourteen to a playoff bound Giants squad while you convince Brian Sipe to play quarterback for you is a moral victory. I really want to see the Browns win just once this year. It’s not because I am a fan of them so much as I want to see if another NFL team will commit mass suicide when they lose to this hapless bunch.

Tampa Bay 14 – Seattle 5

No, this was not an minor league MLB game. It was actually a football game that Seattle decided it could do without. After losing to the Buccaneers, Seattle all but handed home field advantage over to the Dallas Cowboys and in the process looked lost on offense.

Tampa Bay made two first quarter touchdowns hold up and remained alive in the hunt for a wild card spot. This is not what a Pete Carroll coached team normally does this time of year. Now it remains to be seen if this is a more accurate reflection of a team that benefits from playing in a horrible NFC West or one that will strike fear into the hearts of any team they face in January.

New England 22 – New York Jets 17

The Jets did all they could to tell Roger Goodell, aka Roger Goodsell, “Up yours,” after he yanked them from prime time for not being worthy of quality football. All they did was come within a very late New England touchdown from pulling off a huge upset.

Since their bye week, New England has not been the same team. While the defense stepped up for a change, the Patriots now have to be worried about the health of Rob Gronkowski. Fortunately for them, they are running away with the conference and in a few short weeks should secure home field advantage at which time Gronk will be given time off to heal for the post season.

The Raiderettes are chearing for a winning team once again.
The Raiderettes are chearing for
a winning team once again.

Oakland 35 – Carolina 32

After blowing a 17-point half time lead in just the third quarter, Oakland remained in first place in the AFC West with a late field goal that should seal the fate of the defending NFC champions. The Panthers are simply paying the price for their failure to show up for the first month and a half of the season.

This team is suffering more than a Super Bowl hang over as their defense is a mere shadow of what it was a year ago. The Panthers just do not have the ability to rely entirely on their offense to climb back into the playoff hunt. They can now start thinking about retooling for next year while Oakland enters December atop the best division in the NFL. What a difference a year makes.

Kansas City 30 – Denver 27

For two teams that like to brag about their defense, this game offered up plenty of offense as well as a questionable coaching decision to turn it into a great game.

Instead of having to sit through a 10-7 bore fest, both the Broncos and Chiefs provided fans with enough thrills to show why they are two teams who could make deep playoff runs. The only problem is, with Denver opting for a late field goal from afar rather than punting to ensure at least a tie, the Chiefs managed to make Denver pay for their mistake in judgment, and kicking leg, to kick a game ending field goal.

The victory keeps Kansas City a game behind Oakland and one ahead of Denver, but the loss places Denver in 7th overall, just behind Miami, for the final playoff spot. However, with five games left, both of these teams should finish with a shot at the Super Bowl.

Monday Night Prediction

This past summer, all the experts saw this as just another game in which Aaron Rogers and the Green Bay Packers showcased why so many picked them to go to the Super Bowl. Now they are trying to keep from falling into the toilet bowl of disappointment and keep what little hope they might have for the playoffs alive. The fact that a rookie led Philadelphia Eagles have played much more inspired football up to this point should trouble anyone left playing in Green Bay.

This game is the beginning of next year for both teams. How many guys on the Packers, including Aaron Rogers, wants to be in Green Bay next year? Now that they have been pretty much eliminated from the post season, how much fight is left in the upstart Eagles? Finally, given the lack of importance this game has on the playoffs, why the hell are we forced to choose between this game or a replay of something better on the NFL Network?

The Packers Defense showed some grit on Monday Night Football
The Packers Defense showed some grit
on Monday Night Football

Philadelphia 30 – Green Bay 24

••• •••• ••••• •••• ••••

Editor’s Note: The Green Bay Packers won Monday Night Football, 27-14. Aaron Rodgers and his new best friend, wide receiver Davante Adams, put on a show of agile accuracy that upstaged brute force five times, two of which produced touchdowns.

But Rodgers’ other best friend, Jordy Nelson, came up with a 4th quarter catch that extended a drive that led to the final field goal of the game for the Packers. And it was a 4th down with five yards to go, when the Packers were still two scores ahead of the Eagles.

Apparently Green Bay figured out how to close out games.

Photos by Claudia Gestro unless otherwise noted
Top photo: Screen shot from YouTube of Tony Romo giving his support to Dak Prescott