Ten Thoughts on the NFL: Chicago Bears and beyond

Michael Bush scored the final touchdown of an aicredible week 14 in the NFL. - Jonathan Daniel

It was a record setting Sunday in the National Football League, and with week 14 officially in the books, the playoff race is starting to shape up. Check out my Thoughts on the NFL this week, and be sure to drop a few of your own in the comment section.

1) On Sunday there was a record setting 90 touchdowns scored in the NFL. To commemorate the occasion NFL.com put together a video with all 90 TDs. It's really neat-o.

Not to be outdone, the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys combined for 9 TDs last night.

The Bears scored more, so na-na-na-boo-boo.

2) That was a sickening hit by Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward on New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Sickening but legal. As bad as it looked, and if you want to see it click here, it was well within the rules of the NFL. With defensive players being consistently fined for hitting high, they are now starting to stay low on their hits.

Here's Ward's take on the play.

"When they set the rule, everyone knew what was going to happen," Ward said, per The Plain Dealer. "This can happen if you have those types of situations. It's pretty much inevitable and they forced our hand with this one.

"I've been fined three times, and I don't like playing for free. If you go ask anybody in this league would they like to play for free? No. Repeat offenders, they're starting to suspend people for the year. I can't risk that. I won't risk that. And, I've got to play within the rules, point blank."

Defenders are cognizant of the helmet to helmet contact rule, especially when so many of them are being flagged when it appears to be inadvertent. For every jackwagon like Brandon Merriweather, there are 50 guys trying to play the right way.

It's unfortunate that a rule which was put in place to make the game safer, now seems to be forcing players to do something that used to be taboo. There was always an "unwritten rule" in football that you don't tackle at or near the knees, but now defenders are afraid of going high, because they don't want to be fined.

Then again, aiming for a ball carrier's waist, or trying to get their face-mask on the football would prevent a lot of knee injuries and helmet to helmet contact. The strike zone is shrinking, but there's still room for them to make a play.

3) The hottest team in the NFL is the Philadelphia Eagles, winners of five straight. The next hottest team*, the Jacksonville Jaguars who just won their third straight and four of their last five, after starting 0-8. It's truly been an odd season.

* Technically the Jags are tied with four other teams that have three consecutive wins, but the Jags are the most unlikely of those.

4) I'm not sure if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have rallied around head coach Greg Schiano, but they have won 4 of their last 5 after an 0-8 start. Schiano looked like a dead man walking earlier this season, but he did pull the trigger on the QB change. Mike Glennon had a stinker on Sunday, but he has played very well for a rookie 3rd round draft pick.

5) Peyton Manning saved some snark for his critics that claim he can't play in the cold weather. After his 39 for 59, 397 yard, and 4 TD performance, he said, "Whoever wrote that narrative can shove that one where the sun don't shine."

Then again, his stellar day in Denver's chilly sub freezing temperature did come against the Tennessee Titans. If he blows another playoff game, the criticism will start back up.

6) The Washington Redskins are terrible. Their head coach / owner relationship is fractured, and with the history of weird Dan Snyder football decisions, I have to side with the coach Mike Shanahan.

7) That was a big win by the New Orleans Saints knocking off the Carolina Panthers 31-13. With all the Cam Newton for MVP buzz out there, Drew Brees threw 4 TDs to remind everyone that he's still the top QB in the NFC South.

The good news for the Panthers is they have a rematch in Carolina in two weeks.

8) Speaking of big divisional wins, the San Francisco 49ers defeating the Seattle Seahawks was crucial for the Niners. That rivalry is producing the most violent games in the NFL.

9) The Chicago Bears have two players playing at an incredibly high level, yet no one can pronounce their names. Fans flubbing is one thing, but professional sports analysts are still dropping McNown and Jefferies.

10) I was as excited by last night's Bears win as any fan, but the fact remains that this team can't stop the run. The Dallas Cowboys shot themselves in the foot by not running the ball more. DeMarco Murray had 13 carries for 99 yards in the first half (7.6 ypc), and he only had five more carries the rest of the game. He added 47 more yards in those 5 carries (9.4 ypc).

What were your thoughts on my thoughts and what were some of your own thoughts?

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