What have we learned - Week 17
The Eagles won three in a row when they were meaningless and finished the season 8-8. They wasted a brilliant year by Brian Westbrook because they didn't want to go into the season with a quarterback controversy, so they didn't re-sign Jeff Garcia, so they rushed McNabb back from his knee surgery, and early in the year, it was obvious he wasn't 100%. Hey, Eagles? Re-sign Garcia and then bench him when McNabb is healthy! You know what doesn't cause a quarterback controversy? Winning damned football games! Anyway, the Eagles would be foolish to let McNabb go, and probably foolish to do anything to Andy Reid. I would like them to go out and get a big-time wide receiver, but we'll see. They have enough talent to do some damage, but they need to keep McNabb healthy, and that means assessing the offensive line. Buffalo, meanwhile, was 7-6 but suddenly went in the tank and lost their last three. Watching them on Sunday, I'm amazed they won any games. They looked timid and untalented. Marshawn Lynch can play, but they seemed to play a very safe game, which, as we know, is a recipe for disaster. Fortune Favors the Bold! Philadelphia has a good defense, but the Bills' play-calling was deadly dull. I doubt if they'll change, because teams rarely do. But we'll see.
Turnovers: Eagles 2, Bills 0. Final score: Philadelphia 17, Buffalo 9. Turnovers = loss? No, in this case. 0-1.
Did anyone else see that dude from New England, Wilfork (I can't remember his first name) poke the Giants' player in the eye? No penalty was called, even though the refs were standing right there. What's up with that? Everyone was talking about how great it was that the Giants played to win, but if their center, who was injured in an essentially meaningless game, can't play against Tampa and Eli Manning gets hammered, how wonderful is their effort now? I don't mind teams resting their starters in meaningless games. The announcers in the Philly game were lauding the players for "going all out." Well, of course they would. If you play, you should go all out. But that doesn't mean you should be in the game. It didn't matter one bit if New Jersey or New England won that game, but I'll be interested to see if it makes a tiny bit of difference in the Giants' playoff game. As for the Cheaters, after they beat the Eagles I was hoping they would go undefeated, because now when they lose in the playoffs, it will be much sweeter. You know it's going to happen! And wouldn't it be nice if the Giants could cover the guy who has caught 22 touchdown passes on the season? Randy Moss's record-breaker was like that "sack" that Michael Strahan got on R. C. Favre a few years ago, except that I don't think the Giants' cornerback wanted to let Moss break the record. Moss ran straight down the field and no one covered him! Sheesh - no wonder he caught so many touchdown passes.
Turnovers: Giants 1, Cheaters 0. Final score: New England 38, New Jersey 35. Turnovers = loss? It was pretty crucial. 1-1.
Whenever I turned on the Seattle-Atlanta game, there was a commercial on. So I missed it, and it turned into a wildly entertaining game. I don't have much to say about it. Atlanta is a mess, and I have no idea how they can get out of it. When you have players on the team who want a felon who pled guilty released from jail, you're a mess, and it just gets worse from there. Seattle, meanwhile, is like Tampa: no one seems to know that they're in the playoffs. Everyone is talking about the top two teams, the New Jersey Mannings (who are set up for another big postseason fall), and the Washington Taylors, who are the sentimental favorite (but not mine). I have watched a few Washington games this year, and I don't see how they're any more talented than a lot of teams. Seattle should beat them pretty easily this weekend, although the Seahawks can be a basket case of a team, so who knows?
Turnovers: Seahawks 3, Falcons 0. Final score: Atlanta 44, Seattle 41. Turnovers = loss? Well, that and the fact that Seattle rested a lot of players. 2-1.
So the Saints went into the last two weeks of the season with a playoff berth on the line and screwed up twice? Man, that sucks. They need McAllister back, because Reggie Bush can play off of him. And they need to stop punting to Devin Hester, who is the only offense the Bears have. "They are who we thought they were," indeed. Chicago's Super Bowl run last year is looking more and more like a mirage.
Turnovers: Saints 3, Bears 3. Final score: Chicago 33, New Orleans 25. Turnovers = loss? Everything balances out.
Poor Cleveland. They went 10-6 but missed the playoffs, and they'll be kicking themselves for some blown games. They lost at Oakland, for crying out loud, on that cheap "call the timeout right as the kicker kicks it" crap. They were up big in the second Pittsburgh game and couldn't finish the deal. They turned the ball over too much against the Cardinals. And, of course, they blew it last week against the Bengals. Still, they saved Romeo Crennel's job, may have found a quarterback (if he's not a one-year wonder) and seem to be headed in the right direction. Meanwhile, the 49ers suck. The highlight of their year was beating Arizona twice and keeping them out of the playoffs. They were a trendy pick to make the playoffs this year, but I can't imagine them getting much better next year, either.
Turnovers: Browns 1, 49ers 0. Final score: Cleveland 20, San Francisco 7. Turnovers = loss? No. 2-2.
What's there to say about Detroit? Watching them against the Eagles earlier in the year, I knew their 6-2 record was a mirage, but they went in the tank so hard it was astonishing. They simply couldn't protect Jon Kitna, and if you can't protect the quarterback, bad things happen. That's just the way it is. I'm not happy that the Packers had such a good year, but we can all hope that R. C. Favre reverts to form in the playoffs and throws six interceptions, can't we? Can't we?????
Turnovers: Lions 2, Packers 1. Final score: Green Bay 34, Detroit 13. Turnovers = loss? It appears so. 3-2.
I'm not sure how the Bengals could stink this badly, because they have plenty of talent. It seems like they're just mentally soft, what with the bad behavior off the field and the antics on it. I would love for the Eagles to get Chad Johnson (he's disgruntled in Cincy), but only if they can somehow make him behave. Maybe they should suck it up and give him a one-year deal and then cut him loose, like they should have done with Owens. Miami is another one of those teams that looks like it will suck for a few years longer. Bill Parcells will help, but not right away. Fans should circle 2009 on their calendars, because next year isn't going to be much better than this one.
Turnovers: Bengals 1, Dolphins 1. Final score: Cincinnati 38, Miami 25. Turnovers = loss? It mattered not.
Tampa rested everyone, and Vinny Testaverde retired. Vinny sounds like a swell guy, and I know no one is putting him in the Hall of Fame, but the accolades the pundits were giving him seemed out of place. He was a decent NFL quarterback who could never become a star. My lasting memory of him will be the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, when he and his arrogant Miami Hurricanes lost to Penn State and Vinny threw five interceptions. That should have told teams you could baffle him, and that's why he never became great. Still, I wish him luck.
Turnovers: Panthers 2, Buccaneers 1. Final score: Carolina 31, Tampa 23. Turnovers = loss? No. 3-3.
Andre Davis returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, and Houston finished at 8-8, their best season ever. Matt Schaub, by the way, was 4-7 as a starter. I still think Atlanta wished they had him back. Jacksonville played mostly back-ups, so the score is indicative of nothing, but I hope they got some nice rest, because they have to beat Pittsburgh on the road for the second time this season. That won't be easy.
Turnovers: Jaguars 1, Texans 1. Final score: Houston 42, Jacksonville 28. Turnovers = loss? The two kickoff returns for touchdowns were more important.
I was reading Peter King, who said that Tarvaris Jackson's quarterback play for the Vikings means that Minnesota should NOT pursue Donovan McNabb. Really, Peter? The Vikings are out of the playoffs because Jackson couldn't make the plays the last two weeks and teams ganged up on Adrian Peterson. So if King thinks that Jackson can be a top-flight QB, he's seeing something that hasn't shown on the field yet. I'm not saying Jackson can't be good, but he's not yet. Denver, meanwhile, is struggling with Jay Cutler, but the jury is still out on him too. Next year should show better what he's all about.
Turnovers: Vikings 3, Broncos 0. Final score: Denver 22, Minnesota 19. Turnovers = loss? Pretty directly. 4-3.
JaMarcus Russell didn't have a great start, but at least he got in the game. Oakland is another team that doesn't seem to have much of a future for a few years. I didn't watch them that much this year, but they didn't seem to have much beyond Justin Fargas. Norv Turner, meanwhile, finally figured out that LaDanian Tomlinson is pretty damned good. Once he got that through his head, the Chargers were a decent team. They need to win this playoff game this weekend, because they have that huge monkey on their back. If they do win, they might be dangerous in the next round.
Turnovers: Raiders 4, Chargers 1. Final score: San Diego 30, Oakland 17. Turnovers = loss? Indeed. 5-3.
If they held a football game between two pathetic teams, would anyone notice? Well, they tried it on Sunday, as the Chiefs played the Jets, and I'm not sure anyone did notice. The Chiefs were another team that barely registered this year. Larry Johnson got his money and then got injured, Brodie Croyle is apparently the quarterback for the near future, and they're hoping next year is better. The Jets have no quarterback (unless Kellen Clemens can somehow get better) and not much else, either. At least they have a genius coach!
Turnovers: Chiefs 0, Jets 0. Final score: New Jersey 13, Kansas City 10. Turnovers = loss? Not an issue.
Arizona returned two interceptions for touchdowns and finally got an easy win, as the Rams just went meekly into the offseason. The Cardinals finished 8-8 and have plenty of talent to win in double-digits, but they have quarterback problems too. Kurt Warner had a fine season, but he turns the ball over at really bad times, like in overtime (and in the end zone) against the 49ers, and against the Rams, when he forced a couple of balls and had one returned for a touchdown. Meanwhile, Matt Leinart should be healthy, but he wasn't lighting anything up before he went down. Plus, the Cardinals have contract issues with a bunch of players, and who knows if they'll actually open up the coffers for once, as they have been a notoriously cheap franchise through the years. I'd like to see Arizona win, just because they've been bad for so long. St. Louis was decimated by injuries, but they really need to figure out how to keep Marc Bulger healthy. He's a fantastic quarterback who never gets a chance because they keep letting him get banged up. It's too bad.
Turnovers: Rams 3, Cardinals 2. Final score: Arizona 48, St. Louis 19. Turnovers = loss? Two picks returned for touchdowns by the Cardinals? I'd say yes. 6-3.
I have no interest in seeing Washington do well in the playoffs, despite their emotional season. First of all, I don't like any NFC East teams. Second, Joe Gibbs has already won three Super Bowls, so I don't need him to win any more. And I don't see why Sean Taylor's death is any more tragic than so many others in the world. Everyone wants to make him the greatest guy ever, which is not surprising given the circumstances of his death, but it doesn't mean anything to me. I feel bad for his kid, but it doesn't make me want to root for Washington, any more than I root for R. C. Favre because he's so swell and "down-to-earth." I don't see Washington winning much with Todd Collins at quarterback anyway. Go, Seahawks!
Turnovers: Washington 2, Cowboys 1. Final score: Washington 27, Dallas 6. Turnovers = loss? I guess not. 6-4.
Baltimore finally fired Brian Billick, which was good to see. I know he won a Super Bowl, but for the past few years (even last year, when the Ravens went 13-3), his team was painful to watch. Just awful. Maybe it wasn't completely his fault, but he still has to bear the blame. I wonder where he'll go next?
Turnovers: Steelers 3, Ravens 1. Final score: Baltimore 27, Pittsburgh 21. Turnovers = loss? Why not? 7-4.
The Colts played guys they found on the streets in the second half, and basically gave up the game to Tennessee, costing Cleveland a playoff spot (well, the Browns lost some games they should have won, too, as detailed above). I don't have a big problem with the Colts resting everyone, but why did NBC put this game on, when they knew one team wouldn't be playing very hard? The Titans play San Diego, and I don't see how they're going to win. Kerry Collins might play, but I don't know if it will matter much. Their quarterbacks threw 9 touchdown passes all year. NINE! I'm still not sure how they won 10 games!
Turnovers: Titans 2, Colts 1. Final score: Tennessee 16, Indianapolis 10. Turnovers = loss? No. Strange. 7-5.
The final stats for the record of teams who turn the ball over less than their opponents is 167-35. I'll take that winning percentage! I'll have to break down the numbers a bit better later on.
I don't have much to say about college football, because I'm not that interested in the bowl games. Penn State played well and beat Texas A & M on Saturday, but a 9-4 record for the season is somewhat disappointing. They have talent, and I think that they will never get back to elite level until Joe Paterno gets rid of his son, Jay, who is the quarterbacks coach. Of course, that's never going to happen. Jay Paterno never makes the quarterbacks better, so they have to rely on natural talent. We'll see what their good running quarterback, Darryl Clark, does next year. Arizona State, meanwhile, got waxed by Texas, but they still finished with a nice 10-3 record. They have a lot of players coming back, so the Pac-10 should be fun next year as well. If you haven't seen the weird play from the Holiday Bowl, check out YouTube. The Texas coach's stepson came onto the field and touched a ball that was live after an ASU fumble, committing a penalty and giving the ball back to the Sun Devils. They scored on the next play to cut the Texas lead to 21-7, held on the next series, and appeared poised to get back into the game. They didn't, of course, but that could have been a huge play. Why on earth was a guy on the sidelines in the field of play? He was pointing out the ball to the players who were chasing it, but do they really need to be told where the ball is? What a weird scene. I would imagine if he weren't Mack Brown's stepson, he would have been killed right there on the sidelines. Even so, I wonder if he'll ever be on a sideline again!
So that's the year in football. I won't be watching the playoffs, because I just don't care and I fear that the Cowboys will be playing the Cheaters, and nobody wants that! So I'll just wait until September, when the Eagles begin their Super Bowl run! You know it's coming!