At one point in time, this award was known as the Buckeye NFLer of the Week. Thanks to a typo and the ensuing LOLsession from the commentariat, it was renamed as the Houndie. Same intent, but now with a better name.
After watching their Buckeye brethren up their record to 11-0 in Madison on Saturday, the inspired Buckeyes of the NFL took to the field and started off HATE week with some impressive performances as the NFL wraps of their bye weeks.
With 10 games in the books, the playoff picture became murkier over the weekend in the AFC, as both teams battling for the two wild card spots took a tumble.
Things aren't any clearer in the NFC, besides Atlanta, who now sits 9-1. There are nine teams who have a realistic chance of making the playoffs.
The team that benefited the most in the AFC was Cincinnati, who won their second straight game, a dominating 28-6 road win at Kansas City. The Bengals defense was strong again, holding the woeful Chiefs to 284 total yards, including just 171 through the air.
Nate Clements helped hold Dwayne Bowe without a catch and recorded four tackles in the process, while Mike Nugent hit all four of his XP attempts, but missed his only FG try from 50 yards out. The Bengals now sit at 5-5, just a game behind the Steelers and Colts, with four straight winnable games before finishing the season against Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
A team headed in the opposite direction of Cincy is Miami, who took on Buffalo to kick things off Thursday night, losing their third straight, 19-14. In staying with the season-long trend, the game was a snoozer, featuring a combined 465 yards of total offense and just 13 points after the first quarter.
Brian Hartline accounted for more than 25 percent of the Dolphins offense, catching four balls for 49 yards. However, the three-time Houndie winner in 2012 lost a fumble in the first quarter, which led to a Buffalo FG and 10-0 lead. The stats kept Hartline in the top 10 with 53 catches for 790 yards on the year.
One of the performances that received consideration for this week's award was that of James Laurinaitis, who led the Rams with 11 total tackles, including 10 solo stops and 2 TFLs, in their 27-13 home loss to the Jets. Little Animal now has 92 tackles on the year and sits fourth in the NFL.
The Colts came back to earth a bit, getting destroyed in New England, 59-24. Nate Ebner had three tackles in his storybook rookie season, as the Patriots won their fourth straight and opened up a three-game lead on the rest of the AFC East.
The anti-storybook season is happening in Philadelphia, where the Eagles fell for the sixth straight game, this time a 31-6 loss in Washington. They now sit at 3-7 and can officially start prepping their offseason coaching search. Kurt Coleman was second on the Eagles with eight total tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
In Sunday's prime time tilt, the Steelers not only lost the game, 13-10, but also their backup QB and will now be forced to trot out 37-year-old Terrelle Pryor mentor Charlie Batch. Dick Lebeau's troops held the Ravens to 200 total yards, but their offense simply didn't help them out.
Will Allen had just one tackle and Cam Heyward appeared in the box score for the first time in a few weeks, picking up two solo stops.
On Monday night, my Bears took their second straight on the chin, getting crushed at San Francisco, 32-7. I was hoping Dane Sanzenbacher would come off the inactive list and somehow lead the Bears to a win, but once again he sat the bench and had to watch Jason Campbell struggle to a weak 107 passing yards.
On the other side, Alex Boone continues to impress on the 49ers O-Line, while Ted Ginn was held in check, returning three kicks for an average of 14.2 yards and four punts for a total of 19 yards.
Defensively, the Niners dominated the entire game, sacking Campbell six times and holding the Bears to just 151 total yards. Donte Whitner joined the party with five total tackles.
Another stat line worthy of Houndie consideration this week was A.J. Hawk's, who tied for the lead on the surging Packers with 10 tackles. The Packers have won five straight and now sit tied with the Bears at 7-3. Ryan Pickett chipped in with two tackles and got a hit on Stafford in their 24-20 win.
But for the second straight week, we had to go with one of the hottest teams in the NFL, who went out to Oakland and took down Carson Palmer and the Raiders, 38-17. Once again, Malcolm Jenkins played a huge role in leading the Saints to their fifth win in the last six games. With NYG and Chicago faltering in the last few weeks, the Saints have positioned themselves for a late-season push for the playoffs, something most thought would be impossible after their 0-4 start.
After the Saints scored midway through the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead, Malcolm Jenkins intercepted OSU-hater Carson Palmer and took it 55 yards for the pick-six. He finished the day second on the team with six tackles and now has 84 on the season, already a career high, which also puts him tied for 12th in NFL tackles.
Not to be outdone, Will Smith made a strong run with five total tackles, including a sack and a PBU. The Saints head into a brutal stretch where they face San Fran at home, with NYG and Atlanta on the road in the next three weeks.