NFC Obituary/Hierarchy with Week 16 in the books

Graveyard:

Hierarchy:

6 & 7 – The new NFC West

Last year, I remember covering the meaningless Eagles-Cowboys Week 17 game at Lincoln Financial Field.  Well after that game had ended I was still writing my post-game thoughts as the Rams-Seahawks “Battle for the 4 seed” played silently on Sunday Night Football on the TV monitors overhead.  The Seahawks were a 6-9 team that had just lost 7 of their previous 9 games, and the Rams were 7-8, having lost 4 of their last 7. One of these two junk teams were not only going to get into the playoffs, but they were also going to get a home game.

Overhead TV monitors are an addiction to me.  I could be out to dinner with Angelina Jolie, and if we were at a place like Applebees (I’m a classy guy) where they have TV screens all over the place, I can’t help but look at them.  Angelina, in between taking sensual bites of her Sizzling Chili Lime Chicken Platter with side Ceasar salad, could be talking about her underpants… her panties… and even still, if there’s anything on a TV monitor anywhere within my peripheral vision, my eyes are going to wander to it.  I mean… it can be a re-run of some awful, wacky Two and a Half Men episode that I’ve seen 8 times, with an episode description on the preview guide like “Alan mistakenly glues the remote control to his balls and hilarity ensues,” and still, I can’t help but be drawn to it.

And yet, with TV monitors all around me that night at the Linc, I don’t think I looked up at that game more than once.

I care about this upcoming Cowboys-Giants game, because obviously, I’ve been covering them all season.  Readers of this blog will of course care a lot about the game, especially if you’re a Cowboys or Giants fan.  Nationally, you can probably expect that this game will garner the most attention over the course of the week, partly because it’ll decide a divisional race, and partly because they played one of the worst defensive games of the season one of the most high-scoring games of the season.  But really, it’s more so because it’s the Dallas Cowboys and the NewYork Giants.

The 2011 Cowboys and Giants are better than the 2010 Seahawks and the Rams, but still… let’s pretend for a minute that the Giants and Cowboys played in small markets like St. Louis and Seattle… Would you even bother to look up at the screen at Applebees?

5 – Call the Whaaaaaahmbulance

When the Saints continued to pass the football late against the Falcons last night so that Drew Brees could break Dan Marino’s passing record, a few offended national writers called the move “bush league” on Twitter.  Apparently, the Falcons didn’t like it either:

“No need for that,” one player told Prisco. “It came on our watch, but it didn’t have to come that way. We won’t forget it.”

Falcons coach Mike Smith said only positives about Brees after the game, but Prisco writes via team sources that Smith wasn’t happy with Peyton’s decision to go for it.

“That’s just who they are,” the Falcons player said. “We’ll see them down the road. We won’t forget any of it.”

This isn’t the first time the Falcons have gotten all butt hurt about an opponent wiping the floor with them.  When Michael Vick was still a backup behind Donovan McNabb, the Eagles went into Atlanta and stomped all over them.  In the 3rd quarter, with the score still only 13-0, Vick, at the time still just a Wildcat gimmick, came in and scored on a 5 yard run.  Later, with the game firmly in hand, he Eagles took McNabb out and put Vick in.  Vick threw a TD pass to Brent Celek, with 12:31 still left in the game.  The Falcons cried about that, too.

In what Blank would come to view as a gratuitous gesture of disrespect by Philly coach Andy Reid, Vick wowed the crowd with a 43-yard pass to wideout Reggie Brown, followed by a 5-yard scoring toss to tight end Brent Celek, his first touchdown pass since 2006 in an eventual 34-7 victory. With tens of thousands of frustrated customers already having bolted, the Dome was dominated by jubilant Vick supporters, and Blank could only sit and seethe.

This season, the Giants kept quiet when the Saints ran a questionable pitch to Mark Ingram that went for a TD, instead of running it into the line and just running out the clock.  Similarly, the Eagles kept their mouths shut when the Seahawks threw a totally unnecessary deep ball in garbage time that almost went for a score.

And you know why the Giants and Eagles kept their mouths shut?  Because you look like a whiny, crybaby douchebag if you do.  Hell, look at Keith Brooking.  The guy has been in the league for 14 years.  He went to 5 Pro Bowls.  He was a mega-star at Georgia Tech.  Got drafted 12th overall.  He was a 2-time All Pro.  He’s involved in all sorts of charities.  And yet, if you google his name, the 5th item down is a story on ESPN about him crying about the Vikings scoring a late TD against his Cowboys in the 2009 playoffs.

“I thought it was classless,” Brooking said. “I thought it was B.S. Granted, we get paid to stop them, but we had zero timeouts left. I didn’t think there was any call for that.”

That’s now very much part of his legacy.

Anyway, bringing it back to the Falcons.  Your defensive players get paid to stop opposing offenses.  Your offensive players get paid to score.  If another team puts it on you late, tough titties.  You’re not in Pop Warner anymore.  You’re in the NFL.  Deal with it.

4 – The forgotten QB

Drew Brees broke the single-season passing yard record last night.  Tom Brady is only 190 yards behind him.  And yet, neither of them are going to sniff serious MVP consideration because of what Aaron Rodgers is doing in Green Bay.  You have a rookie phenom in Cam Newton throwing for 400+ yards in his first 2 NFL starts and another rookie in Andy Dalton has a team that nobody expected to be playing meaningful games in December likely going to the playoffs.  You have people calling Eli Manning “elite,” an you have seemingly weekly debates about Tony Romo and whether or not he has the makeup to win the games that matter in the NFL.  You have a couple QBs that got hurt in Matt Schaub an Jay Cutler, and their teams are nothing close to what they were when those two guys were playing.  And obviously, the Colts kinda faltered just a tad with loss of Peyton Manning for the season.  Hell, even a college kid in Stanford made all kinds of headlines this season.  And then of course, you have Tim Tebow.

With all of that going on, it’s understandable that Matthew Stafford has sorta slipped under the radar this year.  Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, here are his numbers:

385 of 604 (63.7%), 4518 yards, 36 TD, 14 INT, 96.6 passer rating.

Stafford turns 24 years of age in 2 weeks.

3 – The preferable matchup in round 2 of the playoffs

Assuming the Niners take care of business next week in St. Louis and earn the 2 seed in the NFC, they’d obviously be the preferential opponent in the 2nd round of the playoffs should the Giants or Cowboys make it that far.  In the NFL, unlike… say… the NCAA tourney, the teams get re-seeded after every round.  Here’s what we’re likely looking at in the NFC playoffs:

(1) Packers – Bye

(2) Niners – Bye

(3) Saints vs. (6) Falcons

(4) Cowboys/Giants vs. (5) Lions

In the NCAA tourney style, the Packers would get the winner of the 4 vs 5 matchup, no matter what the outcome, while the Niners would get the winner of the 3 vs 6 game.  Not so in the NFL.  In the second round, the Packers will face whatever lowest remaining seed is still alive.  Therefore, if the Falcons can somehow knock off the Saints in the first round (don’t count on it), the Cowboys/Giants will temporarily avoid having to play the Packers in round 2 if they get past the Lions in round 1.  They would instead face the Niners.  The Cowboys beat the Niners in San Fran Week 2 this season, and the Giants had a very good chance to do the same Week 10.

Anyway, probably getting ahead of ourselves here, but it’s just something to keep in mind as the final week unfolds.

2 – Congrats, Drew

1 – Still the best

I see people trying to poke holes in the Packers, and I suppose that’s natural when a team reaches the level of play that the Packers have reached.  Don’t kid yourselves.  This here is a juggernaut.

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  33. Free Plax says:

    JimmyK, Looks like Eli is going to Marklar!

  34. KJ Brophy says:

    I was thinking the same thing that you pretty much said about the 49ers, I don’t think anyone will fear them come playoff time. I love Jim Harbaugh as a coach but I laugh when people say they are the most likely team to beat Green Bay you need to score TDs to beat the Packers & the 49ers don’t score TDs they kick FGs

  35. Joe D says:

    and i rather see the cowboys make the playoffs

    a- ihate them more

    b- they can FUCK UP ANYTHING. the games they have blown ie romo fumble, romo throwing 2 crazy easy picks to the jets etc

    c – meanwhile eli can throw a hail mary to david tyree and win the sb all the same time while throwing an easy pick to asante as he drops it..or cruz can lay the ball down to lose the game while the end up winning it… the giants pull miracles, the only time they don’t is against the eagles lol (except 2006)

  36. Joe D says:

    can i get a post on brandon jacobs? dude ran for more than 5 inches per carry for the 2nd time this season against the mediocre jets and started talking mad shit…. he needs to can it too

    1. TheStallion54 says:

      Agreed, he is a punk

    2. Free Plax says:

      To bad your asking for this post when the Giants play the Cowboys, because Brandon, is a terror against the Boys, they don’t won’t any part of tackling him.

  37. BryanH says:

    Why is it that the winning team needs to stop trying to score in a blowout but the losing team is allowed to keep playing hard? The Eagles scored 4 TDs on the Giants in 8 minutes of game last year, if any coach allows his team to take their foot off the pedal at any point in the game then he deserves to lose.
    If these whiners don’t want teams running up the score then they should forfeit the game. They’re allowed to keep trying for a comeback, and consequently the other team should be allowed to take away that opportunity (by continuing to score).

    1. Free Plax says:

      Jimmy hit the nail on the head on the falcons, they came off as punks. If you don’t want Drew Brees to break the record than stop him from passing the rock all over the yard, the Saints owe you nothing.

      1. itsallablur says:

        Anyone happen to catch Brees’ locker room speech? He was dutifully and genuinely thanking everyone in the organization, even the equipment guys (paraphrasing): “…and thanks to the equipment managers who rub down the balls…” giggles and whistles ensue, seconds later Brees says “You know what I mean,” followed by more giggles.

        Classic.

  38. JenFromNoVa says:

    I am so tired of people complaining about teams “running up the score”. Offenses are SUPPOSED to score. That’s the point. If the defense can’t do anything about it, then try something else. I would be royally ticked if the Giants had the opportunity to score despite seemingly having put the game away and didn’t. The NFL is not high school football. Score when you can. Bottom line.

  39. Andy says:

    I know your comparison was less about win percentage and more about the similar situations the two divisions are/were in (and I think it was a good comparison), but even this year the East is better than the West.
    http://espn.go.com/blog/afcnorth/post/_/id/38928/three-reasons-why-afc-north-is-best

  40. Seanrude says:

    Are the 2011 Cowboys/Giants really better than the 2010 Seahawks? Put it this way: do you expect whichever team crawls into the playoffs to actually make it past the first weekend?

    1. Yeah, I do think they’re both better than that team. The Seahawks’ win over the Saints was a complete shock. They were double-digit underdogs… at home. It wouldn’t be shocking if the Cowboys or Giants won one playoff game. They may even be favored.

    2. And the funny thing is… No matter who wins, unless it’s the ugliest game of the season, the media is going to perceive it as a HUUUUUGE win, and that team is going to get hype out the ying yang.

      1. Steve says:

        If the Giants win you know its gonna be “omg this is just like 2007 when they came out of the 6th seed…” etc. etc.

        I can’t stand most sports media.

        1. Free Plax says:

          Don’t worry, nobody hops off a bandwagon faster than the sports media, so if the Giants or Dallas win a game they will be the team nobody want’s to play, if they loose the next game all the guys on ESPN will be telling you how bad the NFC East was and they were shocked they won a playoff game.

          But seriously, if the Giants or Dallas get in their next opponent will either be the Lions or Falcons, both very beatable teams so nobody should be shocked if either team wins a game

          1. giants fan says:

            There are only two teams in the NFC that I really can’t see either the Cowboys or the Giants beating and those are NO and GB.

            1. Free Plax says:

              NO in the dome terrble match up for the Giants, but GB I would love to get another crack at.

      2. Imp says:

        Of course, that just means the media is full of shit. A team that win division at 7-9? Worst playoff team ever. A team that win division 9-7 after beating nobody? BEST. TEAM. EVAH.

        On side note, it is totally hilarious that the 7-9 Seahawks won a playoff game last year while the 14-2 Pats didn’t.

        1. Free Plax says:

          A wise fan once told me, it is better to be a 9-7 Division champ than a 10-6 non playoff team.

          1. Imp says:

            I guess. I just cannot see the Giants/Cowboys doing anything in the playoffs. Meanwhile the media will hype them up like the best thing ever, just because it is the NFC East. It’s like after the Eagles blown out the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, the Eagles were called the second best team in the NFL…at 3-4. Really?

            1. Free Plax says:

              If you really think about it besides N.O. and G.B. the NFC is wide open. Do you really think the Giants or Cowboys can’t beat the Lion’s or Falcons in the first round? Even San Fran, they beat my Giants but it was not by much and I would love to get another crack at them.

  41. Free Plax says:

    Tell em Jimmy the Eagles and Giants know how to take their ass kicking like a man.

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