So it's safe to say that we're looking at a pretty decent chance of seeing at least two former Mizzou players get a shot at winning a Super Bowl this season. The two biggest contenders in the NFC, the Falcons and 49ers, have defenses each led by a couple former Missouri Tigers.
Many believe the Atlanta Falcons have accrued an 11-1 record behind an absolutely loaded offense, and while that is partially true, what many don't realize is the Falcons' scoring defense is actually ranked higher than their offense. The offense is scoring an impressive 26.4 PPG, good for 8th in the NFL. But the defense is only allowing 19.1 PPG, which is ranked 5th. While many fans aren't giving the defense the credit it deserves, here in Missouri we know what kind of players that defense can pride itself in. This week, the Falcons faced a very scary game against the streaking Saints, who had won five of their last seven games, with one of those wins handing the Falcons their only loss of the season in Week 10. The defense stepped up big time against Brees and his Saints, with none of the players doing more to seal a victory than our own Sean Weatherspoon and William Moore. 'Spoon picked off Brees once and racked up two and a half tackles while Willy Mo had what was possibly his best game of the season, intercepting two of Brees' passes and adding an impressive 10 tackles as well.
The 49ers are the other favorite in the NFC to win the conference, and there is no doubt among NFL fans that the San Francisco defense is the unit that will carry this team. Justin Smith has been a beast for the 'Niners for years now, and he doesn't intend on slowing down in 2012. The Jeff City native added his third sack of the year against the Rams while bulldozing his way to 8 tackles, elevating his season total to an impressive 59. Aldon Smith on the other hand has surpassed "beast" status and is on his way to breaking multiple records. Adding yet ANOTHER sack, he now has an incredible 17.5 through just twelve games. That's only five sacks short of the single season record of 22.5 set by Michael Strahan, with four games left to play, so it's definitely possible. That sack against the Rams did however give him a record previously owned by the great Reggie White. Aldon now has 31.5 sacks in his first two seasons in the NFL, the most in NFL history.
Danario Alexander had ANOTHER remarkable game for the Chargers, although they couldn't seem to get enough going in their loss to Cincinnati. He had six catches for 102 yards, proving yet again that he can and will be a playmaker in the NFL.
Evander "Ziggy" Hood had 5 tackles and a sack in Pittsburgh's surprising 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens. He's found a way to become a pretty big contributor to a perennially elite defense.
Most of our other Tigers in the NFL had less noteworthy games this week. Jeremy Maclin had three catches for 38 yards in Philly's loss to Dallas. CJ Mosley racked up 7 tackles and Kevin Rutland added 5 in Jacksonville's loss to Buffalo. Brad Smith had one reception for 10 yards for Buffalo.
Other Tigers in the NFL:
Tim Barnes C (St. Louis)
Beau Brinkley LS (Tennesee)
Colin Brown OT (Buffalo)
Chase Coffman TE (Atlanta, practice squad)
Chase Daniel QB (New Orleans)
Michael Egnew TE (Miami)
Andrew Gachkar LB (San Diego)
Martin Rucker TE (Kansas City, IR)
So while football Saturdays weren't so kind to our Tigers this year, Sundays have been a whole different story. Here's to hoping these teams can keep it up, and our boys can lead them to the Promised Land in February.