Posted 12/06/2010 at 11:03 PM
Over the last few years James Harrison has said some dumb things in the media and he has made a few dumb undisciplined plays for his team but he is unquestionably one of the most talented defensive players in the game and his criticism of referees targeting the Steelers more than other teams looked somewhat on target Sunday night. There were at least three egregious plays by the Ravens that easily could have been flagged for leading with the helmet or contacting the helmet and none of them were called. Harrison threw away all his credibility with the punch that should have had him kicked out of the Super Bowl but given the injuries that continue to mount, Pittsburgh is a team that could use some protection for its players. Given the physical nature of the always tight Ravens/Steelers match-ups perhaps there is a different perspective from officials and everyone is probably glad that a game where points are at a premium did not hinge on penalty.
Speaking of things being decided without clear answers, get ready for tiebreakers to decide several playoff spots this season. Every division in the NFL conceivably could come down to tiebreakers as only Kansas City has a 2-game lead in a division at the moment. The AFC wild card picture is clear this week but the NFC picture will almost certainly feature tiebreakers coming into play for at least one of the spots. The battle for the playoffs between the Bears, Packers, Eagles, and Giants could lead to a remarkable finish as the Bears and Packers have another meeting and the Packers will play the Giants. Philadelphia and New York also have one more game. The Eagles lost to both Chicago and Green Bay so they could be in trouble in a few tiebreaker scenarios if the Giants are able to keep pace and upset the Packers in week 16. Most assume three of those four will make it but don’t count Tampa Bay out after losing the big game with Atlanta last week. The closing schedule features Washington, Detroit, and Seattle the next three weeks. The Bears and Packers each have three winning teams left on the schedule and the Giants have two. The Eagles only play one winning team but the losing teams are the resurgent Cowboys and Vikings, far from easy draws. The lowly NFC West will likely come down to a tiebreaker as well and while the Rams are probably the better team and the better story, Seattle has the edge for the moment with a 3-1 division record and the Seahawks and Rams will play in week 17.
Many want to doubt Jacksonville in the AFC South but the Jaguars will not face a team that currently has a winning record the rest of the way. The same is true for Kansas City so both of those teams should feel good about their chances to hold on to division leads. If Jacksonville can win at Indianapolis next week they will lock up tiebreakers with any team in the division, and even a loss could be survived unless the Colts win out. San Diego’s game this week is huge as they can take a huge cut out of the division lead for the Chiefs. Oakland may still be the team to watch however as they are 4-0 in division games. The Raiders play Jacksonville, Indianapolis, and Kansas City, so playoff berths will go through Oakland whether the Raiders are still relevant or not. Best of Luck, and on to this week’s slate…