Mess! Mess! Mess!
Is there a bigger mess in the NFL than the Jets? • Not only are they 3-6, playoffs hopes dwindling by the day, they appear to be coming apart at the seams. If trashing teammates in the tabloids counted as much as touchdowns, they'd be the toast of the NFL. • Instead they're just toast. • The latest are comments from anonymous players ripping backup quarterback Tim Tebow in New York's Daily News. So the guy who doesn't play is the problem? It was less than a year ago that the Daily News ran a similar story with unnamed Jets complaining about starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. • Sanchez says winning cures everything, but it will take a tall task for this group even to get back to .500. And after reaching the AFC title game in coach Rex Ryan's first two seasons, New York has regressed to 8-8 and now this. Running back Shonn Greene told Yahoo Sports, "Something's got to change." • And it appears change could be coming. • "We're a 3-6 team. Are we happy? Are the players happy? I know the fans aren't happy. The answer is no," Jets owner Woody Johnson said Thursday. "We're not happy. We're not happy with 3-6. I didn't sign up for a 3-6 season. We haven't had one of these in a while. I'm not happy about it. Yet I am optimistic."
1. Texans 2. Falcons
3. Bears 4. Packers
Redskins (3-6) over Eagles (3-6)
Philadelphia's little-known rookie quarterback, Nick Foles, will play — and have a tough time topping Washington's touted rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III.
Starting quarterbacks are dropping like flies. The Bears' Jay Cutler, 49ers' Alex Smith and Eagles' Michael Vick suffered concussions last week. Two Chiefs quarterbacks have suffered concussions this season.
But the biggest — and potentially most dangerous — blow is to the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger, who, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "has a rare rib injury that won't allow him to play unless it heals because it could press on his aorta and kill him." Roethlisberger also sprained his right shoulder while being sacked by the Chiefs last week, and it's unknown when he'll return.
Big Ben is the player the Steelers can least afford to lose, especially with two of their next three games against the first-place Ravens. It puts the team's playoff hopes on the shoulders of former Buc Byron Leftwich, who hasn't won as a starter since 2006.
"It's a great opportunity," Leftwich, 32, said. "We have big things on our minds. We are here preparing to try to win the Super Bowl."
What they're saying
"I realized if I got caught up in trying to fill Peyton's shoes and compare myself to him every day, I'd probably go crazy. I feel it's unattainable, so I try not to be like that."
Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, above, on trying to follow former Colts and current Broncos star quarterback Peyton Manning in Indianapolis
Times wires contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prediction of the week
The playoff picture in the NFC is a bit muddled with seven teams, including the Bucs, hovering around the second wild card spot. But foxsports.com's Peter Schrager boldly predicts the 4-5 Cowboys are going to the postseason. Not only that, they'll win the rest of their games.
Writes Schrager: "I'm looking at the rest of the Cowboys' 2012 schedule, and I'm telling you this without any 'clouded judgment' or 'spurned lover' emotion — this team's going to run the table and make the playoffs."
Schrager notes five of Dallas' final seven games are at home with two "winnable" road games against the Bengals and Redskins. But come on! When is the last time the Cowboys lived up to expectations?
Simms sticks with it
When Phil Simms called Giants QB Eli Manning, above, "not one of the elites" last week on CBS Sports Network's NFL Monday QB, he knew it might cause controversy. And it definitely did. But that didn't mean Simms, a Super Bowl MVP for the Giants, backtracked.
Simms said on a radio show Wednesday that it wasn't meant to be a shot at Manning, a two-time Super Bowl champion. And he stands by his definition of elite: "guys that can make unbelievable plays on the field by themselves."
"It makes headlines, but we're splitting hairs here," Simms said. "I get it asked all the time: 'Is so-and-so elite?' And I go, 'Oh my gosh, please, somebody stick a needle in my eye.' I'm just tired of answering it and hearing it."
Record of the week
20-3 For Cowboys QB Tony Romo in November, best in NFL history.