Surprise! Roger Goodell upholds own ruling on Pryor suspension

Do you remember when football used to be a contact sport?  I do.  It was what made the game great.  Now, however, thanks to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, it’s quickly turning into a video game with passing yards piling up in ways that make every defensive player sick to their stomach.  Defense was once the most important aspect of the game.  Under Goodell, however, it’s little more than a necessary evil that needs to be constantly restrained for fear that the high-priced offensive talent might actually get banged up.  Um, Roger, in case you didn’t know, that’s what the game’s all about.  If you’re gonna drop back to pass, you’re gonna get smacked down.  Risk/reward, you know?  Or it used to be, anyway.  The new defenseless player rules are quickly making for an entirely defenseless league.

He also recently upheld Terrelle Pryor’s suspension for NCAA violations.  Just consider that for a moment. He suspended a guy for violations he has exactly zero jurisdiction over, and the violations themselves aren’t even against NFL rules.  There also just might be a conflict of interest in allowing the guy who issued the thoroughly unjustified suspension to rule on the appeal, as well.  But, hey, apparently integrity only matters when Goodell says so.  This might have been something the players should have addressed in the recent CBA battle, if they weren’t too busy caving in to the owners’ ludicrous claims of poverty.

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Published in: on October 2, 2011 at 12:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Brady Quinn? Really?

I was only too ready to stand up and tell anyone who would listen after last year’s NFL Draft that I thought former Florida QB Tim Tebow would be a bust.  Well, I’m still not convinced that he will pan out, but he has shown me enough over the past year that I now believe he at least deserves a fair shot.

Denver apparently disagrees, however, dropping Tebow behind genuine, unquestioned bust and total waste of roster space Brady Quinn.  There is even talk that Tebow will be released by the Broncos.  I may not like the guy, but he’s really getting the shaft here.

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Published in: on August 26, 2011 at 1:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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Absolute Power: With Terrelle Pryor ruling, Roger Goodell proves he’s been corrupted absolutely

Just when you thought NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell couldn’t do anything to look like more of a deuchebag than he already has, here comes the Terrelle Pryor decision.  Pryor, the disgraced former Ohio State quarterback, petitioned the league for entry into the supplemental draft.  What should have been a simple yes or no decision has turned into an ugly, invented punishment for a guy not even in his league yet.

Goodell inexplicably ruled that Pryor could enter the supplemental draft but he’d be suspended for five games.  Not coincidentally, that’s a suspension exactly the length of one he agreed to at OSU before things took a massive turn for the worse with the NCAA earlier this year.  Goodell somehow has decreed that he has the authority to enforce NCAA sanctions, even when the rules violated aren’t even prohibited activities in the NFL.

It’s an egregious over-stepping of authority by Goodell, and a blatant give away as a favor to the NFL’s de facto minor league, the NCAA.

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Published in: on August 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm  Comments (1)  
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Post Week One NFL Power Rankings- NFC Edition

Yesterday, I went through the superior AFC.  Now it’s on to the NFC.

16.  St. Louis Rams-  Sam Bradford looks like he might be the real deal, but he’s still a potentially injury prone rookie.  And this could be the year Stephen Jackson finally wears down from being the only game in town.  Losing at home to a hollowed out Arizona team is the beginning of another bad season.

15.  Detroit Lions-  Even without Matthew Stafford, the Lions were an absurd NFL catch rule away from beating the Bears in Chicago.  Still, with Stafford possibly missing half the season, Detroit may see a promising year go up in smoke.

14.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers-  The Bucs held on to beat Cleveland in Tampa last week, which is nice and all, but the Browns are awful.  Josh Freeman may end up as a first rate QB, but the rest of the roster is woefully thin on talent.

13.  Carolina Panthers-  If it wasn’t for the quarterback position, these guys could be amongst the top NFC teams.  As it is, they are probably good enough to lose a lot of close games.  Getting whipped by the Giants last week with three interceptions from Matt Moore makes the start of this season look a lot like last year.

12.  San Francisco 49ers-  Here they are, the it-team in the NFC.  After getting unmercilously stomped by what to even the best estimations is a pretty generally lousy Seattle team, so much for that division title.  If Alex Smith doesn’t show something soon, all that preseason hype will result in nothing more than a high draft pick on a quarterback.

11.  Arizona Cardinals-  The Derek Anderson era of Cardinals football started off with a tight win on the road against the worst team in the conference in St. Louis. With those two, and the 49ers troubles, the league may need an emergency realignment to prevent a 5-11 division winner.

10.  Chicago Bears-  The Bears held on (unlike Calvin Johnson) to win against the Lions.  Not exactly inspiring.  On the plus side, Jay Cutler racked up tons of yards and threw more touchdowns than interceptions.  Matt Forte is going to have a monster season in Mike Martz’ offense.

9.  Philadelphia Eagles-  Ain’t America great?  Michael Vick is the savior of the Eagles’ season.  Everyone in the City of Brotherly Love is channeling memories of Randall Cunningham after his second half performance against Green Bay.  The Eagles are going to the Superbowl!  Well, maybe they should win a game first. 

8.  Dallas Cowboys-  The Cowboys offense looked putrid in the preseason, and looked just as bad losing to Washington last week.  If things on the line don’t improve, Tony Romo’s season could be shorter than expected.

7.  Seattle Seahawks-  Big, big win over San Francisco.  Still, the quality of whipping put on by Seattle rates this high a spot.  But can they keep it?  Hopefully, for the western division’s sake.

6.  Atlanta Falcons-  Losing a close game in Pittsburgh, even without Big Ben, isn’t the worst thing in the world.  Still, Matt Ryan and Michael Turner better turn it on to avoid a .500 season.

5.  Washington Redskins-  A big early-season division win over the Cowboys kicked off the Mike Shanahan era.  If the defense plays like that, they’ll be in the playoff hunt all season.  And Donovan McNabb will settle in eventually.

4.  Minnesota Vikings-  Brett Favre was rusty, the receiver corps was decimated and the Vikings still almost won in New Orleans.  Make no mistake, this team will be a factor all season.  The only question is can they keep up with Green Bay in the division.

3.  New York Giants-  The Giants beat Carolina in New Jersey thanks to Matt Moore interceptions.  Still, it was a big win and until they prove otherwise, they deserve a high spot in what looks like a fairly weak conference overall.  But remember, they started 5-0 last year and we know how that turned out.

2.  Green Bay Packers-  The Pack was probably the most impressive team in the first week, at least until Michael Vick started channeling his Falcons days.  They went into a hostile environment and gave it to the Eagles.  They did lose Ryan Grant for the season, and that could be a problem, but they’ll wins lots of games.  This is the season we get a Favre against Green Bay playoff game.

1.  New Orleans Saints-  Holding Minnesota to single digits was impressive but for the Vikings issues on that side of the ball.  The offense didn’t produce like it needs to, but Minnesota is no slouch on defense , either.  I still have concerns about the Saints defense, namely their total reliance on turnovers.  Still, they beat one of the best few teams in the league and they are the defending champions.  Until someone beats them, they’re number one.

Published in: on September 19, 2010 at 5:15 pm  Comments (2)  
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Post-Week One NFL Power Rankings: AFC Edition

Instead of making preseason NFL predictions this year, I decided to wait until some actual games were played to rank the teams.  That way, actual performance on the field would theoretically be more important than hype.  Two things seems pretty clear so far, the AFC is a much, much deeper conference, and both western divisions could conceivably send under .500 teams to the playoffs.  So, here goes, my first NFL power rankings of the year, AFC version.

16.  Cleveland Browns-  Jake Delhomme looks suspiciously like the turnover machine that lost his job in Carolina last year in their road loss to somewhat-less-putrid Tampa Bay.  Holmgren or no, these guys still suck.

15.  Buffalo Bills-  The passing game is awful, the rushing game is worse and they lost at home.  But at least they were competitive against a pretty good Miami team.  That gets them a nod over Cleveland.

14.  Denver Broncos-  This team, outside of a few players, is just plain bad.  This season will likely be closer to the 2-8 finish to last year than the 6-0 start.  Getting pretty handily beaten by a mediocre Jacksonville team is a bad start.

13.  Oakland Raiders-  This team is precisely why I wanted to avoid preseason hype.  Lots of people were talking playoffs for the Raiders.  Seriously?  They played a genuinely good team in Tennessee and showed why they’re still not ready for prime time by getting beaten worse than anyone other than San Francisco.  Bad week for the Bay area.

12.  Kansas City Chiefs-  Sure they beat the only supposedly good team in either western division in San Diego, but Matt Cassell was the worst QB in the league.  Their running game alone could be enough to win this division, but that is not saying much.

11.  Jacksonville Jaguars-  Yes, they beat Denver pretty easily at home, and David Garrard looked the part of a real quarterback.  But playing in a division with Houston, Indianapolis and Tennessee is going to make for a long season.

10.  San Diego Chargers-   Even though they lost, the Chargers are still better than Kansas City.  However, Ryan Matthews looked like the early-season favorite for bust of the year, and without Vincent Jackson, the passing attack looked pedestrian, even with one of the top QB’s in the league in Phillip Rivers.

9.  Cincinnati Bengals-  Losing to New England in Foxboro is nothing to be ashamed of.  But the big question for Cincinnati is if they are the team that got blown out in the first half or played well in the second half.

8.  New York Jets-  The defense lived up to its billing, holding Baltimore to only 10 points.  Unfortunately, the offense only scored 9.  Losing a close game at home to a Superbowl contender makes the Jets a good team but not a great one.

7.  Indianapolis Colts-  Wow, is their run defense bad.  Peyton Manning went wild through the air, but it wasn’t enough to win in Houston.  It could be an uncharacteristic long season in Indy, having Chris Johnson, Vince Young and Maurice Jones-Drew running the ball in their division.

6.  Miami Dolphins-  Sure, the Fins weren’t spectacular or flashy, by they dominated the Bills on defense and time of possession on the road.  They may only get stronger as the year goes on.

5.  Pittsburgh Steelers-  Every win they can get before Big Ben comes off suspension is gravy for this team.  If the defense holds up as it did against Atlanta,  by season’s end, they will be a real player in the Superbowl hunt.

4.  Tennessee Titans-  Vince Young looks like he may finally have figured things out, Chris Johnson is the best back in the league and they just stomped the Oakland Raiders’ bandwagon out of existence. If the Colts can’t stop the run, Tennessee will eat them for lunch.

3.  Baltimore Ravens-  The defense is already in mid-season form after holding the much-hyped Jets to single digits.  The offense wasn’t exactly brilliant, but it’s bound to get better against defenses that aren’t one of the top two or three in the league.  They have a strong-armed quarterback, quality receivers all over the field, a deep and talented backfield and a first rate defense.  They might be this season’s Saints.

2.  New England Patriots-  They looked absolutely dominant in the first half against Cincinnati, then took their foot off the gas a bit.  If they stay healthy and focused, a run at a playoff bye is a definite possibility.

1.  Houston Texans-  Matt Schaub had a very average game, but the emergence of a monster running game led the way in a victory over the defending AFC champs.  The defense did allow over 400 yards passing and three touchdowns, which is concerning.  But the Colts also happen to have the best passing offense in the league, so it’s understandable.  The offense will get better, and the defense should, too.  Finally, this will be the year the Texans made a play for the top of the AFC.

Published in: on September 19, 2010 at 12:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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Even The Packers Weren’t This Crazy

My next post, in a few minutes, will be a look at some of the negative response to Apple’s new iPad, but as I was preparing for it, I came across the news that the Philadelphia Eagles finally traded long-time quarterback star Donovan McNabb.  And to the Washington Redskins!  Within their own division!  WTF?

Now, first off, I’ve never been the biggest Donovan fan.  I’ve long-held that the Eagle should have traded him years ago after his legs went due to injury.  He’s never been accurate enough for my taste and he has the unfortunate tendency to make crucial mistakes at the ends of games.  And that doesn’t even mention the constant whining and passive aggressive poor-me interviews he’d roll out now and again.  Trading Donovan has always made a lot of sense to me, especially now that Kevin Kolb has the look of being a special player at the position.  But to trade him, still with several productive seasons left in the tank, to a hated division rival?  That’s just stupid.

Reports seem to indicate that the trade was made because coach Andy Reid wanted to do right by Donovan, and McNabb had done everything in his power to limit the legitimate options the Eagles had to make a trade in the first place, even not-so-subtly hinting that he would retire rather than accept a trade to the Oakland Raiders.  For that, I say good for him.  The NFL is a league that has a long history of chewing up players and spitting them out.  Whenever someone finds some leverage over the team, it always make me smile a bit.  But I gotta tell you, I would have kept the guy and dealt with the distraction of sitting him on the bench this season rather than significantly improve a team within your own division.  This will absolutely come back and bite the Eagles before all is said and done.

Say what you want about the way the Packers handled the transition away from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers, and personally, I think mishandled is a better way of putting it, but even they weren’t insane enough to trade him directly to the division rival Vikings, forcing him to spend a year in another conference with the Jets before manipulating his way to Minnesota for last season, and you saw how well that worked out for the Packers as the Vikings had one of the best records in the league, beating out the Packers for the division title (and beating them twice in the regular season). Favre had one of his best seasons ever at age 40, and damn-near made the Superbowl, largely due, I’m sure, to the motivation of sticking it to Green Bay’s front office.  I’m not saying the Redskins are Superbowl bound with McNabb, but now having to play two games against the Eagles that could be crucial for playoff positioning, and by some happenstance, the two meet again in the playoffs, would you bet against McNabb?  I wouldn’t.

Remember that loyalty when Andy Reid gets fired next year.  Maybe Donovan can return the favor and get him an assistant coach position with the Skins.

Published in: on April 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm  Comments (2)  
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Superbowl Wrap-Up

Well, if it isn’t apparent by now, I’ll never earn a living picking the winners in football games.  I was a brisk 4-7 in calling the NFL playoffs this season, including 2-5 from the divisional round on.  I did correctly pick the Ravens upset in New England, and almost perfectly laid out the score of the Colts beating the Jets in the AFC Title Game, but other than that it was ugly.

Anyway, I’ll wrap up this season with a few thoughts.  One, my earlier criticism of the Colts and the Saints playing it safe down the stretch seems a bit unfounded as both reached the Superbowl anyway, but I stand by my criticism.  The Colts played two teams in the AFC playoffs that you would hardly call barn-burners on offense, the Jets and the Ravens, and as such probably looked much better than they actually were.  The Saints never should have won that game against Minnesota.  The Vikings, with a little late help in overtime from the refs, gave that game away.  But New Orleans did take the Superbowl fair and square.  I wasn’t left with the same undeserving feeling after watching them beat the Colts as I did after the NFC Title game.  Still, they shouldn’t have even been there.

The Colts lost the Superbowl in the last two minutes of the first half.  The Saints went for it on 4th and goal and got stuffed, giving the ball back to Indy with about 1:30 left.  The Colts, using some of the same logic that dictated shutting it down over the season’s last two games, played it safe, ran three straight-ahead runs and had to punt, which set up the Saints with good field position, handing them 3 points.  Then New Orleans came out in the second half with that now-legendary onside kick, and the rest is Saints history.  The Colts played it safe.  New Orleans was aggressive.  They deserved to win.  Indy may have gotten to the Superbowl, but you don’t win it being soft and playing not to make mistakes.

One thing that struck me was just how bad Reggie Wayne looked all game long.  It wasn’t even the lazy, telegraphed cut at the end of the game that virtually handed an interception to New Orleans, clinching the game.  He was a non-factor from the get-go.  And don’t forget, he wasn’t exactly a world beater in their first two playoff games, either.  In the three games, Wayne averaged about 5 catches and 55 yards with only 1 touchdown total.  If I was the Colts, I’d be very concerned about that.  Dallas Clark isn’t getting any younger, and Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie look like solid receivers but not the superstar Wayne has been, or Marvin Harrison before him.  If Wayne has lost a step, and he will turn 32 next season, Indy could have a problem.  Their running game is far from adequate (last in the league, in fact).  I smell a letdown in Indy next year.

For the Saints, this is a great moment.  Enjoy it while it lasts because they are so hard to come by and can be very fleeting.  My primary concern is with their defense.  They rely almost solely on takeaways, and that stat almost never carries over from season to season.  Take the Viking game, for instance.  They got torched to the tune of almost 500 yards of offense.  If it hadn’t been for the turnovers, they get blown out.  Will all those takeaways be there next year to save the day?  Maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it.  They’d better learn to stop somebody, or this moment will be a memory very quickly.  Either way, I don’t see either team getting back to the big game again in 2011.  Just getting back to the playoffs will be tough.

So who will be there?  It’s too early to say, but I can tell you some teams who won’t.  The San Diego Chargers.  The Dallas Cowboys.  The Arizona Cardinals.  The New York Jets.  The New England Patriots.  All playoff teams this season, none of whom have the right makeup to get to the Superbowl.  Well, the Jets do have that makeup, but just ask Matt Ryan how difficult your second season as a starter can be, plus do you think they’ll be a little bit of pressure in New York after this year’s run?  And they still don’t score enough.

Some teams that could be there?  Here’s a short list of a few.  The Cincinnati Bengals.  Yes, I said the Bengals.  When healthy, they have a tough defense and a big running game.  If they can get the passing game back together again, watch out.  If Who Dat can do it, what’s stopping Who Dey next year?  The Miami Dolphins.  They will be overlooked by many with all the attention on the Jets and Pats, but don’t be surprised if this is the team to win that division next season.  The Houston Texans.  If they hadn’t gone through that lull in the middle of the season, the Jets might never have made the playoffs, and it would have been Houston playing Indy in the AFC Championship game.  The Atlanta Falcons.  When healthy, and if they can get a solid defensive presence, they’re as good as anybody.  Next season will be the record third straight winning season for the Falcons, count on it.  The Green Bay Packers.  They’re offense is good and getting better by the day.  The defense has some issues, but all the pieces are in place for a run.  And number one on my list, The Minnesota Vikings.  Make no mistake, Favre will be back.  And Adrian Peterson will have all offseason to stew over his fumbling problems.  Look for them to make some changes to improve the offensive line, and Peterson to pull an Ahman Green (a guy, coincidentally, who Brett Favre won a Superbowl with after overcoming some severe fumbling problems that ran him out of Seattle).  Watch out next season for a Green Bay-Minnesota NFC Title game.  And they think the Superbowl this year was the most watched game ever?

Published in: on February 13, 2010 at 7:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Superbowl Sunday

So I was one for two in conference championship games, almost perfectly nailing the Colts 10+ point win with the Jets scoring less than 20 points, and just missing on the Vikings pulling out a close game.  First, the Minnesota-New Orleans game.  For a conference championship, that was one sloppy game.  Neither team looked particularly worthy of a trip to the Superbowl.  The Vikings fumbled, fumbled and fumbled some more, and the Saints took advantage of Minnesota’s inability to hold on to the ball, but their offense, particularly in the second half, was far less than overwhelming.

One thing I don’t get, however, is why no outcry about how that game ended.  The Saints game winning overtime field goal was set up by not one, but two consecutive really bad calls.  Now they may have won the game anyway, but they hadn’t been moving the ball in the second half at all, so quite possibly the worst pass interference call I’ve ever seen and a “completed” catch that was bobbled and pretty clearly hit the ground before the receiver had control of it set them up nicely without actually having to make a play.  Nice clutch kick by a young kicker, by the way.  Both of those calls were really bad, yet I haven’t seen anyone out there questioning them.  Maybe it’s because the Saints are such a great story of redemption, and that’s more fun to write about that another Brett Favre gushing party; or maybe it’s because the Vikings didn’t really deserve to win with all the bad turnovers, I don’t know.  But come one.  Those were two really bad calls, back to back, that handed a win and a trip to the biggest game of all to the Saints.  It’s still a victory, but a somewhat hollow one in my mind.

And here’s another question I had while watching the game.  During Favre’s first interception in the third quarter, the Saints defender went low and hit Favre below the knees, hurting his ankle.  Favre had to have it re-taped and was hobbling around the rest of the game.  I was under the impression that this was supposed to be a 15-yard penalty.  In fact, here’s the rule:

“The fifth provision of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 12 (roughing the passer) says that: “A rushing defender is prohibited from forcibly hitting in the knee area or below a passer who has one or both feet on the ground, even if the initial contact is above the knee.”

Go back and watch the replay and tell me the defender didn’t go low, directly at Favre’s knees.  But again, no call that would have nullified the interception, and set the Vikings up better for another score.  The announcers didn’t even address the play, even after Favre was clearly hurt during it, and I have yet to see one word written anywhere in the press about it.  I’m not suggesting anything untoward here, it’s just seems like the press is playing favorites, as in the great redemptive Saints rather than the annoying and self-indulgent Brett Favre.  Still, the Vikings gave up too many chances in a game that, without all the fumbles, they could have won by two touchdowns, at least.

Anyway, here’s my take on the Superbowl.

Indianapolis Colts vs New Orleans Saints

If the Saints don’t play much, much better than they did at home in the NFC Championship Game, they’re going to get steamrolled.  They won two playoff games that were essentially given to them by the opposition.  The Cardinals fell apart and played no defense whatsoever, just like the second half the week before against the Packers, and the Vikings put up nearly 500 yards of offense, but kept coughing up the ball.  The Colts on the other hand, basically shut down the Ravens completely, and did the same to New York in the second half.  They’ve allowed all of 20 points in two games combined, beating two of the best defenses in the league fairly handily.  Dwight Freeney’s injury may be a problem, maybe not, but I just don’t see the Colts losing this game.

But watch closely.  The before-mentioned bad calls that helped the Saints beat Minnesota may rear up again in the Superbowl, and if they do, and if they help the Saints win, I’ll be very interested in seeing the media’s response to them this time.  Winning one game set up by really bad calls is one thing, but for it to happen twice in two big games, if the press ignores that, then they will lose any and all credibility.  I like the Saints, it’s great to see this long-suffering franchise have some prime-time success for a change but they have to win legitimately.  Otherwise, it looks like a giveaway by the league.

Colts win in a blowout.  Two rings for Peyton Manning and a trip to the top echelon of the best QB of all time discussions.

Published in: on February 5, 2010 at 2:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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On To The Divisional Round

So I’m batting .500 with my NFL playoff picks after last weekend.  I correctly nabbed Baltimore winning in New England and Arizona topping Green Bay, although just barely.  How great was that game, by the way?  The two teams combined for four field goal attempts (two made, two missed) and 13 touchdowns.  At least Arizona played defense in the first half, the Packers were never close to stopping Kurt Warner, as evidenced by his four incomplete passes, five touchdowns and zero interceptions.  Can we please end the argument about whether or not he’s a Hall of Famer now?  All the guy’s done is take two teams that were league-wide jokes before his arrival and turn them into legitimate championship-type clubs in the Rams and the Cardinals.  If I was Detroit, I might consider making a trade offer.

In the other two games, I wasn’t so good.  The Jets beat up on the Bengals, which goes to show you how quickly things change.  If the playoffs happened after week 10, Cincinnati stomps the Jets, but since then, New York has gotten on a roll and the wheels have fallen off for the Bengals.  Philadelphia also surprised me with its lack of effort in getting pushed around by the Cowboys (again).  I think it’s time for Donovan McNabb to move on.  It’s Kevin Kolb time  for the Eagles in 2010.  Here we are on the cusp of the second round of the playoffs, and I’ll look at each of the four games this weekend, in the order I think will be the worst to best games.

New York Jets at San Diego Chargers

This game has all the ear-marks of a blowout to me.  I may regret saying this in a couple days, but the Jets are a fraud.  Some people think that beating a Cincinnati team that went in the tank weeks ago vindicates them as a playoff team, but I’m not one of them.  Of all the teams left playing, New York is by far the worst.  They only got into the playoffs because Indianapolis tanked the game in week 16, and Cincinnati tanked the game in week 17 and still managed to show the Jets enough actual stuff to give them a good game-plan for the real show.  Don’t get me wrong, the Jets have a very good defense and a solid running game, but they are no better than a .500 team if everyone’s playing all-out.  San Diego, on the other hand, is playing the best ball in the league right now.  If this game is within two touchdowns, I’ll be surprised.

Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts

Here’s your test case, along with New Orleans, for whether or not it’s a good idea for teams that clinch early to essentially sit on their hands for weeks waiting for the playoffs.  I’ve always believed that it’s the wrong thing to do, and, much like the prevent defense all too often prevents teams from holding leads, this kind of decision is acting out of fear; namely the fear of injury.  But, even though New England got burned when Wes Welker went down in Week 17, acting out of fear simply doesn’t work.  Anyone can get hurt any time.  Football is a game of rhythm and confidence, and pulling players off the field damages both of those things.  I think that the Colts will, once again, pay the price and lose this game.  Baltimore is playing well, they can run the ball as well as anyone in the league and, last I checked, the Colts run-stopping machine Bob Sanders is still sitting home on injured reserve.  Baltimore came right out of the gate and smacked New England in the mouth last week.  The Patriots never recovered.  They’ll do the same to Indy this weekend, and you can make return reservations to the AFC Title Game for Joe Flacco, John Harbaugh and the gang.

Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings

Everything Brett Favre has done so far this season has been great and all, but this is the reason why Brad Childress brought him to town.  He’s in Minnesota for three simple reasons, to win this game, the next game and the Superbowl.  The Vikings have struggled of late, both defensively and with the running game behind a suddenly mortal-looking Adrian Peterson.  If they don’t get that together fast, the Favre experiment will amount to little more than helping to pad his already gaudy stats.  Dallas, despite my earlier misgivings of them as a viable contender has been playing very well.  Take a closer look, however, and they beat a Saints team that seemed to be trying to lose for several weeks, a Giants team that gave up long ago, and the Eagles twice, who never really got things going consistently despite a nice winning streak. And before that, they lost at home to San Diego (a real contender) and they were the one good team that managed to find a way to lose to the Giants down the stretch. Can they go into Minnesota and win?  Yes, if they run the ball well, stop the Vikings’ running game cold, and Tony Romo doesn’t fall back into bad end-of-season habits like bad turnovers.  Will they win?  I don’t think so.  Favre didn’t go through two years of strife to get to Minnesota for a one-and-done playoff appearance.  It’s going to be a close game, but Minnesota, and Brett Favre, will live to play another day.

Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints

It seems like every year, there’s a team or two that comes unexpectedly out of the gate blazing, running over people and running away with their division and a bye week only to show up on Divisional Weekend and piss it all away.  Last year, it was Tennessee and Carolina.  This year, it’ll be Indianapolis and New Orleans.  The Saints are done.  After reaching 11-0, they barely beat the Redskins, having to go to overtime against one of the worst teams in the league, eeked out a win against Atlanta, then lost three straight to the Cowboys, Tampa Bay (inexplicably) and got mauled by Carolina.  Their defense is looking more like the Saints D of last season than the one who played the first 10 games of this year, and the running game has taken some big steps backwards.  Plus, in case you didn’t notice, the guy on the other side of the field just torched the second best defense in the league for 5 touchdowns, and Arizona was pretty good on the road (6-2).  Last year at this time, the Cardinals destroyed a Carolina team on the road who had opened the season red hot, and faded a bit down the stretch.  They do it again this weekend, sending the feel good story of the year home without a Superbowl yet again.  Whatever the end result, this will be an exciting game with lots of points scored and big plays.

The NFC’s Playoff Drive

Yesterday, I went through the AFC’s teams and who was likely to make it to the postseason.  Today, I’ll go through the much-duller NFC.  Basically, barring a major collapse by someone currently in the conference’s top six teams, those will be the teams making the tournament.  No one currently out of playoff position is playing anywhere near well enough to get back into it.  There are five teams with no chance at all, relegated to spoilers.  Seattle plays San Francisco and Green Bay; St. Louis plays Arizona, San Francisco and Chicago; Detroit gets Arizona, Chicago and San Francisco;  suddenly-competitive Tampa Bay has games against Carolina, New Orleans and Atlanta twice; and Washington gets to mix it up with the AFC East trio of Dallas, Philly and the Giants as well as New Orleans.  The best they can hope for is to do a little damage and build for next year.

There are three 4-6 teams who could get hot, but I don’t think any of them are going anywhere.  (more…)

Published in: on November 27, 2009 at 5:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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