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.
Before we get started, I hope everyone is having a great holiday season and most especially a wonderful Christmas Day. It's the sixth Christmas we've celebrated around these parts and I'm hoping this is the year that holiday pay kicks in.
As we enter the final week of the NFL season, the AFC playoff teams are set, with seeding and byes on the line for the last game.
Houston has looked like a lock for the top seed, but if they lose at home to Indy, they could slip to the third seed if both Denver and New England win.
This of course is significant for the Bengals, who clinched their spot with a win over the Steelers and will potentially play the third seed.
The NFC is much more interesting, as five teams still have a chance to earn the last two spots. Washington and Minnesota have the leg up, but Chicago, Dallas and NYG can get in with wins and some help.
There was dancing in the streets around the Queen City on Sunday, as the Bengals made the playoffs for the second straight year, going to Pittsburgh and coming away with the 13-10 win, the first for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green over the Steelers.
Nugent is still out with a calf injury in his right leg and may not get his job back at this point. Josh Brown missed a 56-yarder Sunday, but hit the game-winner from 43 yards and has hit 8 of 9 attempts in the last three games. If Nugent can't recover by this weekend, the Bengals will probably stick with Brown through the playoffs.
Nate Clements was quiet again with just one tackle for Cincy, while Cam Heyward had two tackles, including one for a loss, as the Steelers are officially eliminated.
Houston was surprised by Minnesota at home, 23-6, but it looks like we are going to be seeing DeVier Posey in the playoffs during his rookie campaign. Posey once again received the third most targets with six, but caught just one pass for six yards. The stats aren't there yet, but Posey has had 11 targets over the last three weeks and is trying to solidify himself as the third option for Matt Schaub entering the postseason.
For the Vikings, their surprise season continues and this time, they rode the arm of Christian Ponder to the must win. Michael Jenkins was thrown to three times and caught two for 41 yards, including a 32-yarder down to the Houston two, setting up their first TD of the game.
On defense for the Vikes, Antoine Winfield was his usual self and made a run at this week's Houndie. Winfield finished the day with five solo tackles, including a sack and another TFL, to go along with a PD. Heading into the final week, Winfield has a four-tackle lead over Courtland Finnegan of St. Louis for the league lead in tackles amongst corners.
At the wide receiver position, Brian Robiskie is back in the NFL, playing for Detroit to finish off the season. He hauled in one pass for five yards in the Lions' loss at Atlanta. Robo has two catches on the season, which is miles away from the year the other Brian is having.
Hartline has already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark, but had just two catches for 12 yards in the Dolphins' 24-10 win over Buffalo. He sits sixth in the AFC for receiving; however, he has one lone TD this year, which could initially keep him out of the Pro Bowl.
Staying on the offensive side of things, Beanie Wells returned to his 2012 form after taking home the Houndie last week. The Cardinals kept my Bears in the playoff picture and Beanie had a big role in their struggles.
On his second carry of the day, Wells fumbled at the Cardinals' one-yard line and Zack Bowman jumped on it for a Bears TD and 7-0 lead. Beanie would touch the ball only twice the rest of the game and finished with 3 yards, giving him an impressive 235 on the year.
Despite talk of more PT for Terrelle in Oakland, Matt Leinart relieved an injured Carson Palmer in the 17-6 loss at Carolina. TP did show his versatility, completing one pass for five yards, rushing once for two and catching one from Palmer for 22 yards in the first. With nothing on the line, you would think Oakland gives him a chance to play quite a bit this Sunday at San Diego.
On defense, the Saints took down the Cowboys in OT and look to finish 8-8 with a win on Sunday. As we mentioned last week, Malcolm Jenkins is on the IR, and Will Smith was a non-factor with just a QB hit in their 34-31 win.
Kurt Coleman returned from his injury and finished with seven total tackles in the Eagles' loss against Washington, while Nate Ebner had two solo stops in NE's win.
One of the hottest teams in the league is Green Bay, who demolished Tennessee, 55-7, at Lambeau Field. A.J. Hawk also made a run at this week's award, compiling seven tackles, two sacks and three QB hits, while Ryan Pickett chipped in with a tackle, as the Packers won their fourth straight and 9 of 10.
For the second time in four weeks, we have to go with James Laurinaitis for the Houndie, as he shook off a lower back injury to lead the Rams once again in tackles with 12. He also picked off a Josh Freeman pass while knocking down another in the Rams' 28-13 win.
After Tampa had pulled within a point midway through the second, JL intercepted Freeman at the St. Louis 35 and the Rams took the ensuing possession down for a TD right before half.
He crept back into the top five for total tackles with 137 and leads the league in solo stops with 115.
The Rams won't make the playoffs, but Jeff Fisher has certainly turned things around and they could be a team to reckon with in 2013. Lil' Animal is the main cog on the defensive side and is signed for another five years.