JETS 7, CARDINALS 6
TRIUMPH: Frankly, the biggest triumph is that this game was not televised in my area. And really, in a game like this, you have to take stock of the little things that went well. In this case, I'm going to give props to Jets third-string QB Greg McElroy, who relieved a thoroughly ineffective Mark Sanchez to at least put points on the board. Sanchez led ten drives, with seven of them yielding fewer than 10 yards, and the other three ending in a missed field goal, interception, and punt. And then Sir McElroy, the knight in shining armor, led the J-E-T-S down the field on a 10 play, 69 yard scoring drive, which was the difference in the game. He also led a 13 play, 71 yard drive that ended the game, where they COULD HAVE TRIED FOR A TOUCHDOWN AND COVERED THE SPREAD!!
TRAGEDY: I don't know what Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt is doing, but I think it's pretty clear that Ryan Lindley is not the answer at quarterback, unless the question is "How can we make the fans feel better about our QB conundrum with Kolb and Skelton?" In three games, the rookie has the following line: 40-for-72 (56%), 376 yards, 0 TD, 4 INT. That's a pretty ineffective single game, let alone having that split over three contests. Oh, and he has an average Total QBR of 6.8 in that span, which is only ever-so-slightly better than Packers punter Tim Masthay this season. And yet, somehow, the Cards have covered the spread in two out of three of those games. Man, who would have thought at the beginning of the season that Cardinals fans would die to have Kevin Kolb's 30th ranked Total QBR back in the fold.
TREND: Man, is this a lost season for Larry Fitzgerald. The $100 million man only signed with the assumption that the quarterback situation was handled by the Kolb signing, and he has to be massively disappointed. After a 1400-yard, 8-TD season last year with a 52% catch rate with bad quarterbacking, he's on pace for 900 yards and 6 TD with a 49% catch rate. It's sad, really.
TRAIL MIX: Fun fact: Cardinals Safety Rashad Johnson had 40 rushing yards on a fake punt. The rest of the Cardinals roster had 41 rushing yards on 20 carries. That was the longest play from scrimmage they had in the past two weeks.
RAMS 16, 49ERS 13
TRIUMPH: Rams rookie wide-receiver Chris Givens had perhaps his most impressive game of the year, despite having a hundred-yard game last week and a ridiculous five consecutive games with a 50+ yard reception earlier in the year. His 11 receptions on 14 targets indicates a much more stable and reliable source of offense than the flurry of bombs he was getting earlier in the year. He's still averaging just a hair under 17 yards per reception (7th in the league), so maybe he could be a poor man's Mike Wallace circa 2010.
TRAGEDY: The real tragedy here is that this game didn't end in a tie. After these teams engaged in the first tie since 2008 a couple weeks ago, this game was tied all the way up until 26 seconds were left in overtime. That would have provided the world with the first pair of teams to tie each other twice in one season since '63, and frankly, I was shocked to find out that it had ever happened before.
TREND: While there was a little bit of public intrigue about the 49ers' signing of Randy Moss out of retirement in the offseason, he has been just more than irrelevant all season. He has more than three receptions just once (in Week 1), and has more than 40 yards just three times (and two of those were games in which he had a 40+ yard reception). However, he hasn't been completely absent as he was in Tennessee last time around, as he has at least one reception in all but two games, and is still averaging a solid 15.6 yards per reception.
PACKERS 23, VIKINGS 14
TRIUMPH: Don't look now, but perennial fantasy bust Jermichael Finley might be making a little comeback! After having 84 yards total in Weeks 5-9, he has gained at least 50 yards in each of the last three contests, including just his second touchdown of the season. Finley hasn't had a consistent role in the Packers offense over the years (50+ yards in just 10 games in '10 and '11, compared to 10 for Nelson and 9 for Jennings in just 2011), but maybe he's got his groove (back).
TRAGEDY: I'm just going to include the top Packers receivers just mentioned as a pair here. After combining for 2212 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson have fought the injury imp all season, combining for 15 total games played out of a possible 24 (and Nelson left this game with another injury). They're on pace this year to combine for 1042 yards and 9 touchdowns, which is worse than both of their individual seasons in '11. Good thing replacements Randall Cobb and James Jones are on pace to combine for 1613 and 21 in their stead.
TREND: Seriously, someone should check Adrian Peterson for use of illegal substances. I'm only half kidding. In a season following an ACL and MCL tear in the last couple weeks of 2011, Peterson is on pace for 1900+ yards and 11 touchdowns, which would represent one of the best running back seasons of all time, and an absurd 6.2 yards per carry, more than half a yard better than his best year in that category. This is made even more impressive when you consider that he's rushed for 150+ yards in four of his past six games, and Christian Ponder has thrown for just 115 yards per game in those games.
TRAIL MIX: Vikings wide receivers had three receptions on thirteen targets in this game. The first of those receptions didn't come until under 4 minutes remained in the game. PERCY, COME BACK!!!