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.