Top 5 Games of Last Week (11/10/14 – 11/16/14)
For about the past four weeks, this column could’ve been a Top 10 list with no significant drop off between games. This week marked the first notable downturn in quality of games.
#5. Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals
I haven’t given the Cardinals their due this year, and so I’m giving them the five spot to recognize their cumulative excellence. Yeah, this wasn’t the fifth best game of the week, and this wasn’t even the Cardinals finest performance, but once again, they got the job done – and that’s with Drew Stanton, a second-string QB. A couple things to remember from this game: first, the Lions kicking woes continue, with Matt Prater clanging a field goal off an upright – I’m convinced Lions kickers are cursed after watching Prater go from All-Pro last year to Joe-Schmo this year. Second, backup QB Drew Stanton and the Cardinals offense beat the best defense in the NFL, in spite of the Lions defense ranking first in PPG, YPG and Total QBR. If the Cardinals can secure home field advantage for the playoffs, it might not matter who their QB is. The rest of the team is that good.
#4. Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs
Every time you think the Seahawks are back to playing at last year’s Super Bowl winning level, they lose like this. The close games used to be their trademark victories, but this year, they’re coming up short. Are they simply getting unlucky so far, and their results in close games will improve in the final six games of the season? Maybe. You could ask the opposite of the Chiefs, who are now 7-3 and tied with the Broncos for first place in the division. Are they simply getting lucky in close games?
#3. New Orleans Pelicans at Cleveland Cavaliers
With Kevin Durant out, this game featured the best player in the game (LeBron) versus the second best player in the game (Anthony Davis). There, I said it. Davis’ play so far this year has put him head and shoulders above Chris Paul, my pick for fourth best player in the NBA. Unfortunately for Davis, it wasn’t just him against LeBron; sure, LeBron did plenty, ending the game one assist shy of a triple-double. But it was Irving’s 27 second-half points and Love’s 22 points that took the Cavaliers over the top, securing a 118-111 victory at home. They haven’t done in consistently yet, but the Big 3 are starting to mesh.
#2. Mississippi State Bulldogs at Alabama Crimson Tide
Somehow, after losing 25-20 to Alabama, Mississippi State only fell to number four in the rankings. Actually, the voters got it right, but since they haven’t so far this season, I was surprised they did this time. Perhaps the Bulldogs second-half comeback influenced them. Down 19-0, the Bulldogs took over in the second-half, scoring 20 of the 26 points and coming up just shy of a W.
#1. Florida State Seminoles at Miami Hurricanes
If you’re a Florida State fan, you’re overdue for a heart attack (if you haven’t had one already). Once again, the Seminoles found themselves trailing, this time by 16 points. And once again, they came back, scoring the final touchdown of the game with 3:05 left to play to take the lead for good, 30-26. A couple things about the Seminoles: Jimbo Fisher said at half time that he wasn’t worried about the Hurricanes’ lead; his team just needed to sharpen things up and play their game in the second half. Plenty of coaches say this, but I’ve never heard anyone sound so genuinely unconcerned. Hey, it makes sense: Fisher’s team has been down before. When it comes to Winston, he might simultaneously be the least likable player in college football and its best quarterback. No one else plays NFL style ball in college at his level. No one. NFL scouts will have their hands full this offseason trying to evaluate him, that’s for sure.