The G-Men Show Up as the Patriots Make History with a 16-0 Regular Season

(Philadelphia, Pa) — History was made on Saturday December 29th as the New England Patriots became the NFL’s first 16-0 team as they came back from a 12-point deficit to win 38-35 (joined the 1972 Dolphins 14-0, 1942 Bears, and 1934 Bears as the only teams to be undefeated in the regular season).  The evil empire’s fans traveled down I-95 to fill Giants stadium with Patriots pride with an additional 34.5 million viewers watching the event on the NFL Network and simulcasts on NBC and CBS — ranking it as the second most watched show of the current television season behind the Academy Awards on February 25th.I guess I will have to learn the taste of “crow” as my prediction that the Giants would “mail it in” against the Patriots and rest their veterans, went right out the window.  To my chagrin, beleaguered Giants head coach Tom Coughlin decided that his team was going to stop history as he put his full compliment of players on the field in the Patriots historic 38-35 victory.  I definitely take my hat off to Coughlin and his staff as they could have easily prepared for their upcoming match-up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on wild-card weekend, but they chose to show all three-network audiences that they came to win.  The G-Men would not back down to the mighty Patriots and they were led by the fiery play of workhorse running back Brandon Jacobs (15 rushes for 67 yards, 44 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD), who got in the face of several of the vaunted Patriots.   The Giants mettle was shown in their game totals of 316 Total Net Yards, 5 penalties for 53 yards, only turnovers, and only one sack allowed.  Unfortunately the “moral victory” for Coughlin and the G-Men may have been costly as Center Shaun O’Hara, backup safety Craig Dahl and linebacker Kawika Mitchell all left the game with knee injuries, and cornerback Sam Madison had an abdominal strain.  Hopefully for the Giants they can all make it back for next week’s game, but I doubt it.

No matter what happens in the playoffs the play of often maligned Giants quarterback Eli Manning against the Patriots will be remembered — too bad for Eli his ending was very similar to Eagles backup signal caller AJ Feely’s effort against the Pats in week 12 loss.  The former Ole Miss quarterback finally looked like the player he was expected to be back in 2004 when he was the first overall pick, throwing for numbers of 22-32, 251 yards, and four touchdowns with one interception.  The interception to Patriots defensive back Ellis Hobbs proved to be costly as the Patriots immediately converted the pick into seven points on a Laurence Maloney 5-yard touchdown run.  The Giants kept fighting throughout the loss contributing everywhere even on special teams where little used player Domenik Hixon in his first game as New York’s primary kick returner went 74 yards for a score. 

But it was the Patriots night as NFL “Golden Boy” Pats quarterback Tom Brady was pinpoint throwing for 32-42, 356 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions.  Brady found his favorite target Randy Moss twice with the last one being a historic 65-yard touchdown play for both players.  The throw was Brady’s 50th touchdown pass of the year breaking Peyton Manning’s 2004 record of 49 and for Moss it was his 23rd touchdown catch breaking Jerry Rice’s record of 22 set in 1987. The record touchdown also had huge consequences on the game as the 65-yard bomb after Moss had drop a pass on the earlier play busted open the game for the Patriots and sapped the will out of the “game” Giants.  The Patriots also smashed the 1998 Vikings scoring record of 556 by posting an amazing 589 points for the season and passed the 1984 Dolphins’ regular season touchdown record (70) by putting up 75 touchdowns.

The Patriots finished with numbers of Total Net Yards 390 (only 44 rushing yards), 5 penalties for 42 yards, Time of Possession of 36:18, and no turnovers.  America’s “new” Team can now savor the victory this week as they have a bye while the Giants must now find a way to heal up in time to face the Jon Gruden led Buccaneers in Tampa Bay.  However I caution the Patriots that 16-0 is good, but a Super Bowl win and a 19-0 record is truly colossal (Both the 1934 and 1942 Bears teams finished undefeated only to lose in the post season).  Now the real “work” for Patriots is at hand as have to navigate the tough playoff waters against the Jaguars, Chargers, and Colts then get ready for the NFC’s cupcake in the Super Bowl.  If they can finish the job of going unblemished (19-0) only then they can finally mark their place in history next to my buddy Marlin Briscoe (receiver on Shula’s undefeated team) and the rest of the 1972 Dolphins by getting the ring to go along with their undefeated season.

Week 17 NFL Rankings

(Philadelphia, Pa) — As we enter the final regular season weekend of the 88th NFL season – by the way where did the time go- teams are either in the driver’s seat toward the playoffs or helping out fantasy football owners by putting stats up as they finish the string in meaningless end of season games.All eight divisional titles have been procured and ten of the potential twelve playoff spots have been clinched except for the last two remaining wild card spots. I fully anticipate the Tennessee Titans to take the AFC spot (Defensive-minded V.Y led team poised for a win with the Colts expected to sit several veterans) and the resurgent Washington Redskins to enter the NFC tournament (Trying to continue their winning streak — 3 game winning streak since the funeral of Sean Taylor –against Cowboys, who have nothing to gain by winning the game.  Both teams have veteran coaches (respectively Jeff Fisher and Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs) and had the  benefited in week 16 of producing wins while the Browns and Vikings blew their chances in “win and your in games”.  The Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts game is so anticipated that NBC invoked their “flex” scheduling rule and moved the game to prime time at 8:15 PM on Sunday.

With home field advantage already attained by America’s Team the Cowboys (NFC) and America’s most feared/hated/revered (pick an adjective) team the Patriots, there are lingering questions of whether these two anticipated Super Bowl teams and the other already in the playoffs teams will rest their veterans or play out the string.  I fully expect most of the teams to employ the tactic of resting or getting valuable players out early especially the Cowboys (injuries) and Colts (injuries and Dungy’s history).   Health is paramount as it can be a playoff teams ally or foe this time of the year and every playoff coach wants a full compliment of healthy players heading into the playoffs.

But one team that you know will not be resting their veterans in week 17 is the New England Patriots who are attempting to become the first NFL team to go 16-0 in the regular season.   The evil empire and their fans will travel down I-95 as they face the already in the playoffs Giants at the Meadowlands in a Saturday Night bout.  This anticipated historical game was so important that the NFL due to the prodding of the media and some influential people (Congressmen) decided that the game needed to be seen by the NFL Network’s small viewership (about 39% of cable households), simulcasting the game on NBC and CBS as well.  That’s right three networks showing one game that will probably be over at halftime  — the last time a game was shown on this many outlets was Super Bowl I.  

Many have speculated that it would be egregious for the Giants to not play hard to keep the Patriots from the 1972 Dolphins Holy Grail record of perfection, but expect the G-Men to rest up (injuries to RB Brandon Jacobs, WR Plaxico Burress, and others) and get ready for another road test in the playoffs.  The Pats on the other hand want to prove that spygate never happened and that they are the best team ever, so you know Brady, Moss, and other key players will be in until the game is safely tucked away.  NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci said of the Patriots, “I know they want to go 16-0.  They are going to pull their guys only if they have that luxury (of a lead).”   But don’t look for Bill “Darth Vader” Belichick to show any mercy on the G-Men’s backups as he may play all of his veterans for at least three quarters.  Belichick said, “We’ll do whatever we feel is best for the football team.” The to the point coach added resting all 22 starters is impossible, because sitting selected players creates a situation in which some are labeled more important than others.

I caution the Patriots that 16-0 is good, but a Super Bowl win and a 19-0 record is truly colossal, so they need to focus on staying healthy for the games that matter.  The Patriots will also be chasing other historical figures in the big NFL Network battle:  Brady will be looking to eclipse Peyton Manning’s touchdown record of 49 (one behind with 48), Moss needs two touchdown catches to tie Jerry Rice’s touchdown receptions mark (22), and the Patriots offense needs six points to tie the 1998 Minnesota Vikings scoring record of 556 points.  They also have an outside chance of matching the 1984 Miami Dolphins season touchdown record of 70.

Whatever happens it will all be seen on NFL Network (as mention earlier NBC and CBS will also show the game) as the cable channel that most people don’t have will be featuring a record 65.5 hours of Patriots and Giants specific programming – compared to the 36.5 hours on NFL Network prior to Patriots-Colts on Nov. 4th.  The overkill and over hype for their game will include a six-hour live pregame show featuring a whopping 14 hosts.  The pre-game length matches the longest NFL pregame show, including for a Super Bowl, on a single network.

Now on to the rankings for this week.

1.  Patriots (15-0) -Easily dumped the pitiful Dolphins as they are now knocking on the door of the ’72 Dolphins.  I have a strong feeling they will make history as they travel to the Meadowlands to face the Giants, who already know their playoff opponent.

2.  Colts (13-2) – Came out and whipped the Texans early on the way to an easy home victory and a much-needed (too many injuries) first round bye in the playoffs.  Will probably rest several starters as they host the Titans in a game they have nothing to play for.

3. Cowboys (13-2) – Romo didn’t let the Jessica Simpson masked fans of the Panthers stop him in a crucial road win that clinched home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.  Unfortunately for the Cowboys the win over the Panthers was costly as T.O hurt his ankle badly and will need all three weeks to get ready for the playoffs.  Will probably rest almost half their team in a game against he surging Redskins, who need the win for the playoffs.

4.  Jaguars (11-4) – The Raiders were the latest opponent to fall to the NFL’s best body punching physical team, who clinched a playoff berth.  The Jags travel to Houston for a grudge match against the Texans, but look for Del Rio to pull his starters early in this meaningless game.

5. Packers (12-3) – Blew a golden opportunity to hang with the banged up Cowboys for home filed advantage, but their biggest rival the Bears kicked their butt as it was special teams gaffe after gaffe.  Will need to regroup for the playoffs as they host the inconsistent Lions in a game that doesn’t matter for the Pack.

6. Steelers (10-5) – Pounded the hapless Rams on Thursday Night football in St Louis, but the victory was costly as they lost RB Willie Parker for the year.  With not much else to play for other than getting RB Najeh Davenport as they travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens, who have lost nine straight.

7.  Seahawks (10-5) – The ‘Hawks finally got their running game going as they beat up on the struggling Ravens.  Will probably increase win their fifth game out of six as they travel to Atlanta to face the “ready for next season” Falcons.

8.  Chargers (10-5) – The Chargers worked to secure the third seed in the AFC as they pounded the Broncos behind L.T on Monday Night Football.  The Bolts understand that when they travel to Oakland to face the Raiders it is always a fight, but they need this game to avoid the Patriots early in the playoffs.

9. Giants (10-5) – The G-Men finally went to their dominating running game instead of error prone quarterback Eli Manning as they dominated the Bills on their way to securing a playoff birth.  Everyone may want the Giants to play all their starters in the “big” game versus the record setting Patriots.  But look for the G-men to treat this like a preseason game as they are already slated to go to Tampa Bay next week.

10.  Buccaneers (9-6) – The Bucs got aging quarterback Jeff Garcia out early as they didn’t seem to care much as the Niners won over the NFC South champs.  Gruden will probably continue to rest veterans like Garcia and LB Derrick Brooks against at home against the Panthers. 

11.  Titans (9-6) – Kept their hope alive for the last AFC playoff spot by squeaking by the Jets.  V.Y, Keith Bullock, and the crew with a win can clinch a playoff berth as they travel to Indy to face a probable resting Colts squad.

12.  Redskins (8-7) – Won their third straight game as Todd Collins helped lead the Redskins on the brink of the playoff with a big road win over playoff “pretenders” the Vikings.  The playoffs will be on the line as the ‘Skins host a Cowboys team who is more worried about team health entering the playoffs than this old-time NFL rivalry.

13.  Browns (9-6) – Just when you thought the Dawgs turned the corner, they played like a bunch of puppies especially quarterback Derek Anderson in a bad loss to the Bengals that probably ended their playoff chances.  Host the Niners in a game they should win, but the best story of the season will probably end as the Brownies will more than likely be watching the playoffs from the outside.

14.  Vikings (8-7) – The Redskins dominated the NFL’s most potent running game on Sunday Night Football as the Vikings now need help to get in the big dance.  Will face a reeling Broncos squad in a game they must win to have a chance, but I think they already blew it.

15.  Texans (7-8) – Though the Texans have won their highest number of games in their existence, the Colts showed them that they have much work to do.  Host the Jags in a “stats only” game that doesn’t matter to the playoff picture.

16.  Eagles (7-8) – The inconsistent Birds got it right again as they traveled to New Orleans got a revenge win and found the “old” Donovan McNabb in the process.  The Birds will be shooting for a .500 record for the season and three straight wins going into the off-season as they host the Bills.

17.  Saints (7-8) – Were dominated by the Eagles as they lost another running back as Aaron Stecker was injured.  They still have a chance a very small chance of getting to the playoffs with Redskins and Vikings losses, but they need to beat the host Bears first in a rematch from last season’s NFC Championship.

18.  Cardinals (7-8) – I will give the Cards credit they really know how to put up points and yards.  However they had a surprisingly difficult time with the hapless Falcons in their win last week.  Host the reeling and infighting Rams as they attempt to jump start ’08 by finishing at .500 this season.

19.  Bills (7-8) – The game started off on an emotional high as injured comrade Kevin Everett walked into Ralph Wilson stadium, but the G-Men pounded their way via the run into the playoffs despite Eli.  The Bills will try to finish up at .500 as they travel to Philly to face the Eagles.

20.  Lions (7-8) – Finally stopped their second half swoon as they beat the reeling Chiefs in a pride game.  Travel to Green Bay to face to the Packers, but don’t expect to see much of #4 in a “stats” only game that will probably have a pre-season feel to it.

21.  Panthers (6-9) – Carolina fought hard and showed some heart for probably leaving head coach John Fox in a loss to the Cowboys.  Travel to Tampa Bay to face to the Bucs, but don’t expect to see much of Garcia or any other of his banged up comrades in a “stats” only game that will probably have a pre-season feel to it.

22.  Broncos (6-9) – The AFC Division champion Chargers showed no mercy as the Bolts quarterback Philip Rivers mocked them in a bad loss.  Host the angry Vikings, who need the win over the Broncos to have a shot at the playoffs.  The Broncos poor run defense should expect a heavy dose of Taylor and Peterson.

23.  Bears (6-9) – Even with Kyle Orton at the controls the Bears continued their Super Bowl hangover in a loss to the Vikings that ended their season.  The Bears still can have some this week as they host their long-time rival the Packers in a game that means more to the Pack.

24.  Bengals (5-10) – Surprised everyone as they may have knocked the Browns out of the playoffs and maybe they saved the job of beleaguered coach Marvin Lewis.  Finish up in sunny Miami as they face the Dolphins in the NFL’s version of the toilet bowl.

25.  49ers (5-10) – The Niners won a game that the charging toward the playoffs Bucs didn’t really care about.  Look for the boys from the bay to be carved up by the host Browns, who need a win and a Titans loss to get into the playoffs.

26.  Raiders (4-11) – Machine gun armed quarterback JaMarcus Russell finally got his chance to play extensively, but the host Jags pounded them.  Host the Chargers in an old-time AFL rivalry game as the Bolts need the win to avoid the Pats.

27.  Ravens (4-11) – Billick went to Troy Smith against the Seahawks, but it was the same result as the Ravens lost for the ninth straight time.  The Ravens may have to eat the huge contract they gave Billick as the season will mercifully end as they host hated rival the Steelers.

28.  Jets (3-12) – The J-E-T-S were no match for the possibly playoff bound Titans.  Herman Edwards will be back as this is the ultimate meaningless end of season battle with the equally pitiful Chiefs.

29.  Chiefs (4-11) – The Lions showed that the Chiefs might be one of the NFL’s worst this season.  Travel to the Meadowlands to face the equally horrible Jets in the return of Herman Edwards.

30.  Rams (3-12) – The Rams were not even close as the Steelers throttled them on Thursday Night Football.  Travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals in a “stats” only game.

31.  Falcons (3-12) – New coach Emmitt Thomas had his team play the Cards tough in Arizona losing in overtime.  The poor Falcons will finish out the string as they host the playoff bound Seahawks.

32.  Dolphins (1-14) – The ‘Phins couldn’t help their ’72 brethren as the Patriots stayed perfect in a dominating loss. Oh well the Dolphins can now look toward the first pick of the draft (LSU DT Glenn Dorsey) under the guidance of new VP of Football Bill Parcells.  Host the Bengals in a game that could very well be the last for beleaguered head coach Cam Cameron and GM Randy Mueller.

Jaguars David Garrard Deserves to be in Hawaii

(Philadelphia, Pa)— The Pro Bowl selections were announced a couple of weeks ago and once again it was one of the most controversial events of the NFL calendar with players, coaches, media, and fans either celebrating or questioning the picks.The selection process usually gets it right, but there will always be much debating about the number of players some teams get or undeserving players getting a free vacation. The 57th rendition of the game will be played in Honolulu at Aloha stadium on Feb. 10th a week after the Super Bowl, so there will be plenty of time for everyone to chime in on who was snubbed or deserving.   Remember the selection process like baseball’s All Star Game is not an exact science as fans voting based on popularity (1/3 of the vote) play a key factor — there were a record number of 83.7 million votes cast (14 million more than 2006) on NFL.com and on wireless phones with 2,262,000 total ballots.

The biggest snub in my opinion from the selections from the millions of ballots cast was the omission of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard from the AFC Pro Bowl roster.  In his first full season as a starter I have been thoroughly impressed with the cool steady play of the East Carolina product. Garrard has more than proved that the Jags braintrust of GM James Harris and Head Coach Jack Del Rio were more than correct after they handed the reigns to him in training camp 2007 instead of former “franchise” quarterback and high draft pick Byron Leftwich.  Garrard had an okay record of 5-5 as a starter in 2006, but it has been his unwavering leadership in 2007 that should have made him an all-star. The Jaguars feed off his heady play as shown by their 10-2 record this season with him as starter and their 1-2 mark without him. Garrard may not be a down the field gunslinger type or a break out of the pocket for an eighty yard run guy, but he is an efficient passer and a winner.

He clearly has outplayed Pro Bowl selectee Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.  Big Ben may have more touchdowns (32 to 18), but he is also much more reckless with the ball than the Garrard (11 Interceptions to 3). With the Jags having a better record than the Steelers (11-4 to 10-5), we should go to their head to head battle in week 15 for the decision. In that game, Garrard clearly out performed Big Ben in snowy Pittsburgh leading his team to a 29-22 win with only one interception in bad conditions including the slop that Heinz Field has become.

Even if the 2002 sixth round draft pick does not head to Hawaii as an injury replacement or alternate, this season has shown he is a player to be watched and deserves to be considered amongst the NFL’s top quarterbacks.  I guess the playoffs will have to be Garrard’s big stage to prove to the world once again that he can beat long odds to succeed (overcame Grave’s Disease).

Through fifteen games of the season, Garrard’s numbers read 12 games played, 208-325, 64%, 2509 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, 5.5 yards per pass, and 3 INTs with 182 yards rushing and 1 touchdown.

Week 16 NFL Rankings

(Philadelphia, Pa) — As we enter week 16, teams are either living the dream of going to the playoffs or the nightmare that their season is over.  With the Vikings win over the Bears on Monday Night five more teams (Panthers, Lions, Eagles, Cardinals, and Bears) joined the growing list of teams beefing up their scouting efforts for the upcoming 2008 NFL Draft.  The playoff picture is becoming clearer each week and the only division race left is in the AFC North where the Browns and Steelers are tied at 9-5 with two weeks left to sort out who will be the champ and the other a wild card team.  Remember that the Steelers own the tiebreaker because they have beaten the Browns twice head to head.Let’s talk about streaks.  The biggest streak currently in the NFL — the Patriots undefeated streak of 14 games in case you forgot — continued in week 15 as America’s New Team plowed over the Jets and don’t expect it to end in week 16 as the happy to get a win Dolphins come to Foxborough.   Speaking of the Dolphins they finally ended their excruciating winless streak last week and now they can try to help their 1972 brethren by beating the Patriots (yeah right).  Consecutive wins are important this time of the year as teams want to go into the playoffs “hot” including the Patriots (14), Colts (5), Vikings (5), and Chargers (4), while other teams will try to save their pride by ending their losing streaks before the end of the year – Ravens (8), Chiefs (7), Lions (6), Falcons (5), and Bears (3).

For the third week in a row the NFL has scheduled a Thursday Night game on the network no one can see – Thanks Cable Companies — the NFL Network with the Pittsburgh Steelers looking to secure their playoff hopes against the reeling St. Louis Rams.  Also there will be a Saturday night game as well on NFL Network as the Dallas Cowboys try to maintain their NFC home field advantage lead against the Carolina Panthers.

Now on to the rankings for this week.

1.  Patriots (14-0) – Due to the weather Man-genius and the Jets got off easy from a spygate beat down.  This week it is the Dolphins turn to get put in the corner by the Pats as the ’72 Dolphins nervously watch.

2.  Colts (12-2) – Won the AFC South again in a sloppy win over the Raiders as more players have to battle through injuries.  Host their division rival the upstart Texans in a game where they will rest several injured players.

3. Cowboys (12-2) – Maybe Tony Romo had Jessica Simpson on his mind as he played terrible in a winnable game against the Eagles.  Look for Tone-Luv to rebound on Saturday Night in Carolina as the ‘Boys take on the playoff eliminated Panthers.

4. Packers (12-2) – Brett Favre passed Dan Marino’s yardage record and the Packers continued to put pressure on the Cowboys for home field advantage in a win over the hapless Rams.  Face old-time black and blue division rival the Bears in Chicago.

5.  Jaguars (10-4) – Everyone thought that a team from Florida could not win in the snow, well they were wrong as the physical Jags ran over the Steelers for a big win.  Host the Raiders, who should be starting JaMarcus Russell since they have nothing left to play for in 2007.

6. Steelers (9-5) – This team may not be as big and tough as everyone thought as they men of steel looked like aluminum foil in their first won loss of the season to the Jaguars.  Should get back to the right side of the ledger as they take on the Rams on Thursday Night football in St Louis.

7.  Seahawks (9-5) – Behind rookie Matt Moore the Panthers showed that they still have some pride in a surprising win over the Seahawks.  Matt Hasselbeck and the boys will look to tighten things up this week at home against the struggling Ravens.

8.  Chargers (9-5) – Won their division as they sent the cowardly Lions to their sixth straight loss since the halfway point.  With nothing else to play for they may rest some veterans when they host the Broncos on Monday Night Football.

9.  Browns (9-5) – The snow was blowing every which way but loose as the Dawgs tamed the Bills in a winter wonderland.  Will make the trip down state to face their hated rival the Bengals in a game they must win to keep their AFC North division hopes alive.

10.  Buccaneers (9-5) – With Jeff Garcia back in full swing the Bucs destroyed the poor Falcons and they even finally got their first kick return for a touchdown by Michael Spurlock.  Garcia returns to San Francisco as the no Pro Bowl Bucs take on an abysmal Niners team.

11.  Vikings (8-6) – They did not look great committing four turnovers in a tougher than expected win over the Super Bowl hung-over Bears.  NBC got it right by switching the entertaining match-up between the Redskins and the host Vikes to Saturday Night because this game will have huge playoff implications.

12. Giants (9-5) – The Redskins took the guns to the G-Men who are limping home again as the playoff approach.  Will travel to wintry Buffalo to face the Bills in a game they must win if they have any intention of making the playoffs.

13.  Titans (8-6) – Behind a solid effort by VY they pushed the Chiefs further off the plank.  Host the Jets in a game that they will need to win to keep pace with the AFC North division loser for the last AFC playoff spot.

14.  Saints (7-7) – Showed that maybe they are better off without enigmatic running back Reggie Bush (2-0 without him) as they ended the playoff hopes of the reeling Cardinals.  Face the dangerous, but playoff eliminated Eagles in a game they direly need to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

15.  Bills (7-7) – The Browns dominated the Bills in blizzard like conditions thus ending their playoff hopes and one of the better stories in the NFL this season.  Host the Giants in a game where they can truly spoil the reeling G-Men’s season.

16.  Texans (7-7) – Kubiak’s boys went back to Denver and kicked the mess out of their hosts on NFL Network Thursday Night Football.  A big test awaits the Texans as they travel to Indy to take on the banged up champs.

17.  Redskins (7-7) – Kept their playoff hopes alive as they beat the descending Giants in the Meadowlands.  Travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings in a game that will have a playoff like atmosphere as the loser will leave the playoff picture.

18.  Broncos (6-8) – It was an ugly family reunion as the Texans came to Denver and sent the Broncos back to the drawing board for this year.  Finishing out the string they have to travel to sunny San Diego to face the AFC Division champion Chargers.

19.  Eagles (6-8) – The inconsistent Birds got it right this week as they shut T.O and Donovan McNabb turned back the clock in a big win.  With their playoff hopes dashed the Birds travel to New Orleans looking for revenge and trying to spoil the Saints playoff hopes.

20.  Panthers (6-8) – I don’t think it was enough to save head coach John Fox’s job but the Panthers got it done in a big win over the playoff bound Seahawks.  Host the Cowboys on Saturday Night in a game where they can make the Cow-pokes road to the Super Bowl go through the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.

21.  Cardinals (6-8) – The Saints sent the Cards packing for another year with an easier than expected win.  The Cards have nothing left to play for other than stats and pride as they host the putrid Falcons in one of the uglier games on the NFL schedule.

22.  Lions (6-8) – The Chargers showed no mercy in obliterating the Lions and sending them to their sixth straight defeat.  I guess Jon Kitna’s prognostication skills are down the toilet, but maybe he can order up a win as the Lions host the Chiefs in a pride game.

23.  Bengals (5-9) – Lost to the lowly Niners proving that this team is truly rudderless.  Host the upstart Browns in a divisional rivalry game that might decide the fate of beleaguered coach Marvin Lewis.

24.  Bears (5-9) – Even with Kyle Orton at the controls the Bears continued their Super Bowl hangover in a loss to the Vikings that ended their season.  The Bears still can have some this week as they host their long-time rival the Packers in a game that means more to the Pack.

25.  Raiders (4-10) – The Champion Colts secured another AFC South crown on Oakland’s turf despite having several key veterans injured.  I believe it is time to see machine gun armed quarterback JaMarcus Russell at the helm against the host Jags as the Raiders have nothing to play for in 2007.

26.  Chiefs (4-10) – The woeful Chiefs could not contain VY and the Titans as they continued to slide toward the end of the season with their seventh straight loss.  Travel to Detroit to face the Lions in a game someone has to win – Right ??

27.  Ravens (4-10) – The Ravens did the unthinkable as they lost to the previously winless Dolphins in overtime for their eighth straight defeat.  Billick got a slight vote of confidence from ownership, but he needs to win one before the end of the season and maybe the nothing to play for before the playoff Seahawks will accommodate the Ravens.  By the way why don’t you start Troy Smith, your season is over and you need to see if the Heisman winner can ball in the NFL.

28.  49ers (4-10) – The Niners won over the hapless Bengals, but did it prove anything other than the fact that the Patriots will be picking later in the first round of the draft.  We will see if the Mike Nolan can save his job as the Niners play host to the ascending Bucs as Garcia comes back to San Francisco.

29.  Jets (3-11) – The Jets were just glad to leave Foxborough with their pride intact as they Pats sent them home, but didn’t humiliate them as expected.  The J-E-T-S travel to Tennessee this week to face the hungry Titans.

30.  Rams (3-11) – The Rams played the Packers tough, but in the end it was the same old team in another home defeat.  Host the Steelers on Thursday Night Football in a game where they can play the role of spoiler.

31.  Falcons (3-11) – New coach Emmitt Thomas had a horrible debut as the Bucs ground the Dirty Birds into mincemeat.  With Arthur Blank searching for a new GM and coach look for the Falcons to continue one of the NFL’s most disgraceful season as they travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals.

32.  Dolphins (1-13) – They finally did the unthinkable and won a game over the Ravens in overtime as the Dolphins faithful went nuts.  The ‘Phins big reward for finally winning a game is the inauspicious task of facing the perfect Dolphins, who may want to send a message to the ’72 team by spanking this year’s bunch.

This Year’s Pro Bowl Selections are in and Here Comes the Controversy

(Philadelphia, Pa) — Pro Bowl selections were announced on Wednesday (December 18th) and once again it was one of the most controversial events of the NFL calendar with players, coaches, media, and fans either celebrating or questioning the picks.  The selection process usually gets it right, but there will always be much debating about the number of players some teams get or undeserving players getting a free vacation.  The 57th rendition of the game will be played in Honolulu at Aloha stadium on Feb. 10th a week after the Super Bowl, so there will be plenty of time for everyone to chime in on who was snubbed or deserving. Remember the selection process like baseball’s All Star Game is not an exact science as fans voting based on popularity (1/3 of the vote) play a key factor — there were a record number of 83.7 million votes cast (14 million more than 2006) on NFL.com and on wireless phones with 2,262,000 total ballots. This year’s insanity around the selections included the Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4 and contending for a playoff spot) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5 NFC South champions) not having a single player selected. Clearly reputation is a huge deciding factor over numbers sometimes when it comes to a young upstart losing a spot to a  “name” veteran (This year’s example Dolphins DE Jason Taylor getting selected over Texans DE Mario Williams).The one selection from this year that everyone will agree upon is the posthumous selection of Redskins Safety Sean Taylor.  Taylor had been leading the NFC in interceptions at the time of his death last month and he was well on his way to stamping himself as a perennial visitor to Honolulu. Redskins teammate and Center Casey Rabach said of his former comrade’s selection, “If he would have been able to finish the season, he would have been in there. It just shows the respect everybody around the league had for him and what a great player he was.”  Taylor is the second person elected posthumously to an all-star game in a professional sports league joining Philadelphia Flyers goalie Pelle Lindbergh, who was voted by fans to start in the 1986 NHL All-Star game — Being a native Philadelphian I can still remember the horrible accident involving Lindbergh’s Porsche in South Jersey that claimed the spunky netminder’s life in Nov. 11, 1985.

A recap of the selections shows once again that teams with the best records at the time of voting — AFC – Patriots (14-0) with 8 selections and in the NFC – Cowboys (12-2) with a whopping 11 players — have the most players selected as a starter or reserve.  America’s new team the Patriots tied their 1985 squad for the most players going to the Pro Bowl (8).  The contingent is led by three of Tom Brady’s wall of offensive lineman (Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, and Matt Light) and the record-setting pass combination of Brady – making his fourth Pro Bowl with insane numbers of 4,235 passing yards, 45 TDs, completion percentage over 70%, and a passer rating of 119.7 — and receiver Randy Moss – making his 6th trip after leading the NFL in receiving yards (1,343) and touchdowns (19) — who is making his first trip since 2004 after two inauspicious seasons in Oakland.

There will be 29 first time players (18 for the AFC and 11 for the NFC) at the game, which is more than I can remember (Browns KR Joshua Cribbs  (NFL kick return leader w/ a 31 yard average), Vikings rookie RB Adrian Peterson (Leading candidate for R.O.Y and NFC rushing leader with 1,278 yards), Browns WR Braylon Edwards (13 Ds), Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, NFL receptions leader Bengals WR T.J. Houshmanzadeh, veteran Patriots LB Mike Vrabel making his first appearance after 11seasons, Niners rookie tackling machine Patrick Willis, the entire NFC cornerback group (Starters Green Bay Packer Al Harris and Seattle Seahawk Marcus Trufant backed up by Dallas Cowboy Terence Newman) and many others .  But the rosters are littered with perennial veterans like:

  • Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning (8th selection) – The reigning Super Bowl MVP has led his team to a strong 12-2 record.  I can just picture him holding court at the hotel pool joking with other players/media, because I cannot think of a player that enjoys Pro Bowl week more than Manning.
  • Green Packers QB Brett Favre (9th) – The leading vote getter among fans (1,140,863 votes) tied Pro Football Hall of Famers John Elway, Dan Marino, Warren Moon and Norm Van Brocklin for the second-most Pro Bowl selections by a quarterback behind Johnny Unitas with 10.
  • San Diego Chargers backfield duo of running back LaDainian Tomlinson and fullback Lorenzo Neal were named as starters for a second year in a row. This will be LT’s fifth trip after ranking second in the NFL with 1,311 rushing yards this season. Neal in his 15th NFL season has been selected to his fourth Pro Bowl and third as a Charger.
  • Some familiar linemen – Offensive Tackle Jonathan Ogden of the Baltimore Ravens will be playing in his 11th consecutive Pro Bowl in just 12th NFL seasons and the best tackle in the business Walter Jones of the Seahawks will be joining him in on the beach (8th selection).  The linemen will also have Pittsburgh Steelers 10-year veteran guard Alan Faneca making his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl trip and maybe it will help his contract negotiations with the Steelers that reached a stalemate this summer.

The process does have the problem of “snubs” and I have listed some players that will not be making the trip to Hawaii in February.  The biggest problem areas always seem to be at running back (Fred Taylor), linebacker (Thomas Howard), and wide receiver (Wes Welker), because there are so many deserving candidates.  These guys shouldn’t be sad because injuries, playoff worn down players, alternates, coaches picks, etc will factor in non-selected players being able to take in the NFL’s All Star game/vacation week.

Offense:

Jacksonville Jaguars QB David Garrard – In his first full season as a starter I have been thoroughly impressed with the cool steady play of the East Carolina product.  In the games that Garrard didn’t play the Jags struggled 1-2.  Garrard may not be a down the field gunslinger type or a break out of the pocket for an eighty yard run guy, but he is an efficient passer and a winner.  Roethlisberger may have more touchdowns (29 to 16), but he is also much more reckless with the ball (11 Interceptions to Garrard’s 2).  With the Jags having a better record than the Steelers (10-4 to 9-5), we should go to their head to head battle last week for the decision.   In the game, Garrard out performed Big Ben in Pittsburgh in a 29-22 win in the snow and slop. 

New Patriots WR Wes Welker – The “Sultan of the Slot” deserved to be in Hawaii.  I know Randy Moss is the main receiver for Tommy Boy, but it is Welker that is the go-to guy in key game situations.  He was a monster in the Patriots three point win over the Eagles contributing 13 catches.  I know the NFL is built around big play receivers with even bigger mouths, but this mighty mite is one of the NFL’s best with 96 catches so far this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Fred Taylor – It is hard enough to believe that the Jags have no one going, but it is truly remarkable that this 10,000-yard career back has never been selected to the Pro Bowl.  I thought the chain moving former University of Florida running back that makes up half of the Jags dynamic thunder/lightning backfield with Maurice Jones-Drew should have been selected.  He currently ranks sixth in the NFL with 1,091 rushing yards and averages 5.1 yards per carry.

Cleveland Browns RB Jamal Lewis – I know Colts running back Joseph Addai is a solid selection, but the rebirth of Lewis in Cleveland is one of the NFL’s best stories for 2007.  The NFL’s third 2,000 yard back during his days with the Ravens was thrown on the scrap heap by them only to be claimed by the Dawgs.  The Browns saw immediate dividends with the reborn player and Lewis has rewarded them week in and week out, especially last week running for 163 yards in a win over the Bills that was played in the slop and snow.  His year totals are 251 carries for 1,084 yards with a 4.3 ypc and 9 touchdowns.

Cleveland Browns Offensive Tackle Joe Thomas – I don’t know if it was the rookie factor or the public is so used to voting for Ogden, but this kid deserved to go.  He has been the cornerstone of a line that has protected Derek Anderson and gotten Lewis well over 1,000 yards.  Thomas has not been credited with a sack allowed and if he doesn’t go this year look for him for at least the next five years to come.

New York Giants WR Plaxico Burress – As someone that recently watched him dismantle the Eagles in person (game changing 41-yard touchdown), I thought the big play receiver deserved a spot.  Burress has battled through a season long ankle injury, which has hurt is overall numbers (65 catches for 935 yards with 10 TDs).  But he has done the impossible of making struggling quarterback Eli Manning look good, which we know is hard to do.  With the Giants in playoff contention this probably should have been the year he went instead of Rams receiver Torry Holt.

Cleveland Browns TE Kellen Winslow – The maturation of Winslow has been tremendous this year.  We know he and perennial Pro Bowler KC tight end Tony Gonzalez have the same numbers (both have 971 yards and five touchdowns), but K2 has made a bigger impact on a playoff team. By the way Winslow has achieved the same amount of yardage on few catches (71 to Gonzalez’s 82) showing his more explosive playing style.

Defense:

Houston Texans DE Mario Williams – I would have bet anything that this year two wonder should have been in the game.  The selection process did a disservice as perennial player Jason Taylor made it in a down year for himself and his team. Williams just came off a huge night last week harassing fellow ’06 draftee Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler and registering a career high 3.5 sacks and seven tackles.  He now has 10 sacks in his last seven games and a AFC leading 13.5 sacks for the year.

Philadelphia Eagles DE Trent Cole – With the NFC sporting a group of Kampman, Kerney, and Umenioyra this position was hard to break in the top three, but Cole deserved it.  The former University of Cincinnati player’s sack total of 12.5 is more than Kampman and Umenioyra (12) — Did I mention that most of the G-man’s sacks (6) came in one game versus the Eagles, sorry Winston Justice — plus Cole has 65 tackles and 4 forced fumbles.  The Eagles may have been inconsistent all season, but defensive coordinator could count on Cole to bring the wood each week even though he was giving up usually fifty pounds to blockers.

Buccaneers LB’s Derrick Brooks and Barrett Ruud – I think it is disgraceful that the selection process could not find room for one or both of the Bucs linebackers.  The fact that the NFC South champs don’t have a single player on the Pro Bowl team is horrible and I know it will be motivation going into the playoffs.  The Bucs sport a healthy 218 points allowed (tied for first in the NFL with the Steelers), but neither linebacker nor all-world corner Rhonde Barber made it.  The linebackers omission shows once again that the selection process rewards sack players (ex. Steelers LB James Harrison) more than all-around linebackers.  Also add a snub to Raiders LB Thomas Howard who leads all LB’s with 6 INTs for his low sack total.

Oakland Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha – Everyone talks about “shutdown” corners, but this guy is a bona fide “don’t throw it to my side” guy.  He may only have one interception this year, but offensive coordinators will tell you to stay away from the Cal Bear’s side of the field.  Denver corner Champ Bailey has the press clippings, but he was routinely beaten deep while Asomugha made play after play.  I am sure the Raiders poor record had something to do with it.

Indianapolis Colts MLB Gary Brackett – Another undervalued big play guy.  Brackett is the key player on defense for the defending Super Bowl champs now that DE Dwight Freeney has been lost.  The Colts rank as the second best defense in the NFL and the undersized linebacker has contributed 107 tackles, half a sack, and four interceptions.  Those numbers should have been enough to keep Ray-Ray home.

2007 NFL Week 15 Review

(Philadelphia, Pa) —- Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the football is so delightful so let it snow, let it snow.  Week 15 brought another record for Brett Favre (#4 passed Dan Marino to become NFL’s all-time yardage leader), the continuance of the trek toward perfection (Patriots won again to move to 14-0), the surprise ending of a winless streak (Dolphins beating the Ravens in overtime to post their first win of the season), division clinching wins (Chargers and Buccaneers) and some surprise wins (Eagles over the Cowboys and Jaguars over the Steelers in Pittsburgh), but it was the bad weather that was the big story in the NFL.

As the NFL season started toward its final stretch, the weather in the cold weather non-dome cities reared its ugly head as games including the Patriots-Jets, Browns-Titans, Giants-Redskins, and Steelers-Jaguars were played in less in than ideal conditions.  The wind, snow, rain, and sleet definitely seem were factors this week and in the future they will have a major impact on team’s playoff fortunes as much as their opponents.

This time of the year is the holiday season around the NFL and certain teams will either get a playoff “present” in their stocking or a “lump of coal” in the form of spending the playoffs at home.  The NFL should be happy though as parity has caused several playoff races to go down to the wire in particularly:

  • The AFC North crown where the Steelers and the surprising Browns are now tied with records of 9-5 with two games left.
  • The AFC wild card race where the Jaguars (10-4), Titans (8-6), Bills (7-7), Texans (7-7), and the aforementioned AFC North teams are battling for the final two spots in the NFL’s A-League.
  • The NFC wild card race where the Giants (9-5), Vikings (7-7), Redskins (7-7), Saints (7-7), and a bunch of 6-8 squads will be fighting it out through week 17 for the chance at the playoffs. 

Some game highlights included:

  • Forget “spygate” – With everyone concentrating on the Patriots trying to run up the score to get revenge on Mangini and the Jets for “spygate”, the weather (windy) caused the NFL’s golden boys to concentrate on running the ball and playing tough defense in their pedestrian 20-10 win.  The Patriots didn’t throw a touchdown, but they did show their toughness as Laurence Maroney eclipsed the 100-yard mark and linebackers Adalius Thomas (9 TKLs, 1.5 sacks, 2 FF) and Junior Seau (9 TKls, 2 sacks) had huge days.  The Patriots may have not been able to humiliate the Jets due to the weather, but they did knock their quarterback out (Kellen Clemens left with rib problem) and most importantly extend their winning streak to 14 games.  The Pats matched the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only teams in history to win their first 14 games of a season.  Of course, Miami’s ’72 regular season was exactly 14 games, accounting for one of the NFL’s three undefeated/untied regular seasons in history (1934 Chicago Bears, 13-0; 1942 Chicago Bears, 11-0).  Now they will need to avoid a letdown against the “surging :)” Miami Dolphins.
  • The Dolphins Win, The Dolphins Win – All season everyone has been saying that this year’s Dolphins squad was bad enough to finish winless — the last team to achieve the unenviable lowlight were the 1976 Tampa Buccaneers who posted a 0-14 season.  Well everyone can stop with the speculation and jokes about the Dolphins as they showed that they may not be on the Patriots level, but they are good enough to take away a win in an NFL game.  The Dolphins led by quarterback Cleo Lemon refused to lay down and fought from beginning to end as they pulled off a huge “get the monkey off our back” win over the reeling Baltimore Ravens 22-16 in overtime.  Lemon connected with little used WR Greg Camarillo for a 64-yard touchdown pass to gain the relieving victory that left Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga in tears. 
  • Hey Philly Fans Get off McNabb’s Back – With everyone expecting America’s new golden boy Tony Romo to shine while his girlfriend Jessica Simpson watched.  But it was Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb who turned in one of his grittiest performances (tougher than a day old cheesesteak) as several fans in Philadelphia have been calling for #5 to go.  His numbers don’t tell the whole story (23-41, 208, 1 TD, 0 INT with 53 yards rushing) as the 9 year veteran showed Birds fans he is not the team’s biggest problem in 10-6 win over the hated Cowboys in Texas Stadium – by the way it is a lack of playmakers on the roster, but that is another conversation.  McNabb stood tall in the pocket taking hits when needed and showed mobility that has been rarely seen this season.  His 28-yard gallop showed that his wheels are slowly coming back around after his ACL injury in 2006.  The win did not come without questions as Fox sideline reporter Pam Oliver reported that she believed that McNabb did not expect to be back in Philly in 2008. Here’s hoping that she is wrong, but that decision is up to the Eagles braintrust of Lurie/Reid/Banner and not the fickle fans.
  • Who needs sunny Florida – The Jacksonville Jaguars may be a Sunbelt team by geographical standards, but they are a tough physical cold weather team at heart.  This was never more evident as they went into snowy Heinz field and handed the blue-collar Steelers their first home loss of the season 29-22 in a physical match-up.  The game was played in the slop and mud, but the Jags efficient passing behind quarterback David Garrard (17-33, 197 yards w/ 3 TD and 1 INT) and their physical running game led by Fred Taylor (25 rushes for 47 w/ 1 TD) kept churning as they put up 224 rushing yards in the win.  The Jags controlled the game with their disciplined style (only one turnover and penalty) and spun the clock for 37:39 to the Steelers 22:21.  The AFC better watch out for this big physical team in the playoffs as they showed that they travel well.
  • Move over Dan Again – Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre had already passed Dan Marino for the all-time touchdowns and passes attempted records, John Elway for the all-time victories record and even George Blanda for the career interceptions record this magical season. But it wasn’t until he completed a slant pass to his favorite receiver Donald Driver that he passed Marino again this time become the all-time NFL yardage king.  The 17-year veteran finished the game with 61,405 yards (Marino’s old record was 61,361). 2007 has been a great year for Favre and the Pack and after their 33-14 win Sunday at St. Louis, the 12-4 Packers are poised to have the road to the Super Bowl may go through the “frozen tundra” of Lambeau field.  Favre said of the record and Marino, “I’ve said this all along: I’ve never considered myself to be in the same league as Dan Marino”.  He added “What a great passer, maybe the greatest passer ever.

Games Balls

Miami Dolphins QB Cleo Lemon – Many snickered earlier this week when beleaguered Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron named Lemon the starter versus the Ravens, saying the season was already lost.  But the former Arkansas State quarterback got the last laugh as he threw for numbers of 23/39, 315 yards, one huge touchdown pass (aforementioned 64-yard strike to Camarillo for the game winner) and zero interceptions plus 12 rushing yards.  With the win you know the fifth-year pro will get another chance to start next week as the Dolphins try to help their 1972 brethren and beat the Patriots (14-0) in Foxboro to stop their quest of an undefeated season.

Honorable Mention

Houston Texans DE Mario Williams – Everyone that scoffed at the Texans making him the first overall pick last year – including yours truly – now need to eat some crow as the former North Carolina State star has had a breakout season in year two.  Williams who has been compared to Bruce Smith has become a dominant force off the edge.  He has improved footwork and hand usage plus he now has a home at the left defensive end spot. Williams was huge on Thursday night harassing fellow ’06 draftee Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler and registering a career high 3.5 sacks and seven tackles.  He now has 10 sacks in his last seven games and look for him in the Pro Bowl as he leads the AFC with 13.5 sacks for the year.

Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook – The little engine that makes the Birds go was everywhere in their big 10-6 win over their hated rival the Dallas Cowboys.  Westbrook returned one punt, continually picked up the blitz, and contributed his usual eye-popping dual threat numbers catching and running the ball (18 rushes for 81 yards plus 9 catches for 63 yards).  But B-West made the play of the game near the end of the 4th quarter when he had the chance to score after a burst up the middle instead choosing the intelligent and selfless play to stop at the Cowboys 1-yard line.  After Villanova product’s lay down, the two-minute warning came and went and the Birds ran the clock out with kneel downs.  You can also credit Eagles big right tackle John Runyan for telling B-West to “Get Down !!!”

Miami Dolphins DE Jason Taylor – The 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the year showed why he is so special in the Dolphins first win of the season.  He constantly harassed the Ravens quarterbacks producing four tackles and two sacks on defense plus he even lined up as a TE/WR at the goal line.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR/KR Michael Spurlock –  It took 32 seasons and 1,865 tries, but he former Ole’ Miss quarterback made history as he had a 90 yard kick return for a touchdown in the Bucs 37-3 over the hapless Falcons.  Did I fail to mention that kick return was the first for a touchdown in the Bucs’ history.   For the game, Spurlock had two returns for 98 yards with a 49-yard average. Spurlock said. “Everybody got their block, I hit it and found the end zone

Lloyd’s Lackey

Former Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Bobby Petrino – You can count me among the thousands of fans, media, and NFL personalities that are piling on the “turncoat” coach.  Petrino signed a long-term deal with the University of Arkansas after basically turning in his resignation to beleaguered Falcons owner Arthur Blank on a cocktail napkin.  The Falcons who have endured the whole Michael Vick fiasco deserved more.  Petrino sensing that the NFL is a “real” job where you have to work rather than recruit bolted for the safe grounds of BCS (or is it BS) college football after a 3-10 record.  Petrino not only showed disrespect to the players by not giving them the deficiency of an explanation, but he also left a whole football staff out in the cold after they had moved to Atlanta to work for him.  The poor Falcons as expected lost badly to the Bucs 37-3 (including 4 Turnovers  and 0-9 on 3rd downs) with respected veteran NFL man and interim head coach Emmitt Thomas at the helm.  Here’s hoping that they get Darren McFadden, Andre Woodson, or another franchise player in the draft to build around.

Dishonorable Mention

Dallas Cowboys Safety Roy Williams – The hard-hitting safety committed his third “horse collar” tackle of the season this time on Eagles QB Donovan McNabb.  The NFL put this rule in specifically for Williams yet the former Oklahoma star continues to try and hurt opposing players with the illegal tactic (The NFL on Monday fined and suspended Williams for 1-game).

The Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals – These two “potential
 playoff teams at the halfway point of the season have limped home.  They both had a great chance to make the playoffs, but penalties, turnovers, and a lack of heart will keep them home for the playoffs.  The Lions lost for the sixth straight time, this week getting smoked by the Chargers 51-14 as they committed six turnovers.  The Cardinals committed ten penalties and had two turnovers in a 31-24 loss to Saints.   

Detroit Lions QB Jon Kitna – So much for Kitna’s bold preseason statement that the Lions would make the playoff and have ten wins.  The journeyman quarterback was abysmal in a 51-14 shellacking by the Chargers as they lost their sixth straight game.  Kitna’s numbers were just as bad as his prediction as he threw for ugly numbers of 26-45, 302 yards, 2 touchdowns with 5 interceptions.  For the season, the Lions big mouth quarterback now has 17 touchdowns and 17 interceptions for the season.

The Baltimore Ravens – How do you lose to the formerly winless Dolphins (1-13)?? Plus they wasted a good effort by RB Willis McGahee (29 rushes for 104 yards), lost LB Ray Lewis to a broken hand, didn’t do much with 31:13 Time of Possession, and couldn’t handle defensive pressure that caused quarterback Kyle Boller to leave with a concussion.

Game Notes

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Reliant Stadium

Broncos (6-8)   0   6   7    0      13

Texans (7-7)    7   3   7   14      31  

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Monster Park

Bengals (5-9)   0   10   0   3      13

49ers (4-10)    0   14   6   0      20    

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Qualcomm Stadium

Lions (6-8)      0    7    7   0      14

Chargers (9-5)  17   17   10   7      51  

Texas Stadium

Eagles (6-8)    0   7   0   3     10  

Cowboys (12-2)  0   3   3   0      6  

McAfee Coliseum

Colts (12-2)   10   0   3   8      21

Raiders (4-10)  0   7   0   7      14  

Heinz Field

Jaguars (10-4)   3   7   12   7   29

Steelers (9-5)   0   7    0  15   22  

Superdome

Cardinals (6-8)   7    7    7   3      24

Saints (7-7)      7   14   10   0      31  

Dolphin Stadium

Ravens (4-10)    3   10   0   3   0   16

Dolphins (1-13)  0    3   7   6   6   22  

Arrowhead Stadium

Titans (8-6)   7   3   10   6      26

Chiefs (4-10)  0   14   3   0      17  

Cleveland Browns Stadium

Bills (7-7)   0   0   0   0      0

Browns (9-5)  3   5   0   0      8

Bank of America Stadium

Seahawks (9-5)   0   0   0   10      10  

Panthers (6-8)   0   0   0   13      13  

Edward Jones Dome

Packers (12-2)   7   10   10   6      33

Rams (3-11)      7    7    0   0      14

Raymond James Stadium

Falcons (3-11)       3     0    0   0       3  

Buccaneers (9-5)  14   13    3   7     37  

Gillette Stadium

Jets (3-11)       0    7    0   3      10  

Patriots (14-0)  7   10   0   3      20  

Giants Stadium

Redskins (7-7)    3   13   6   0      22  

Giants (9-5)        0    3   7   0      10  

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome

Bears (5-8)    3   10   0   0      13  

Vikings (8-6)  0    6    6   8      20  

Terrelle Pryor Shows Why he is the Nation’s Number 1 Recruit in State Championship Game

pryor.jpg 

Jeanette (PA) senior do-it-all quarterback Terrelle Pryor — Number one recruit in the country — led his team to the PIAA Pennsylvania Class AA state championship with a dominating 49-21 victory over Dunmore.

(Hershey, PA) — V.Y model number PA2007 was on display Saturday December 15th in Hershey Park Stadium as the legend of Jeanette (PA) senior do-it-all quarterback Terrelle Pryor (6’6, 220) continued to grow.  The fleet-footed multipurpose star accounted for five of Jeannette’s seven touchdowns leading the Jayhawks to an undefeated season (16-0) and a PIAA Pennsylvania Class AA state championship in a dominating 49-21 victory against Dunmore.  The “sweet” victory was appropriately acclaimed in the so called “Sweetest place on Earth” and Pryor displayed the extraordinary ability that has college recruiters across the country scurrying around for his services.  The game truly was an exclamation point to one of the greatest careers that I have followed in my 25 years of watching Pennsylvania high school football.

Pryor lived up to his enormous resume and hype — many believe that he is the greatest player in Pennsylvania’s rich high school football history — by single handedly taking apart Dunmore. Pryor rushed for three touchdowns, threw for another, punted, kicked off, played safety/rush end on defense and, for good measure, catch a 28-yard pass over two Dunmore defenders to end the first half.  I know the humble likable young man was tired after the game, but he had to be fulfilled after vindicating Jeannette’s loss in the 2006 finals loss. Pryor said after the huge win, “I just tried to make sure our team had team success — Then, everyone noticed all the individual stuff that I did.”

Pryor’s numbers for the game showed how he was a man amongst boys, finishing with 209 yards rushing on 12 carries, completing 3 of 4 passes for 83 yards, and the aforementioned one catch for a 28-yard touchdown. With his dominating effort in the title game, he finished his decorated career with 4,250 career yards rushing and 4,249 yards passing, becoming the only player in Pennsylvania history to eclipse the 4,000-yard barrier in both areas.  Pryor also finished his career by leading Jeannette on an unprecedented two-year run finishing with a 30-2 record plus breaking the state single season record for points finishing with 860 points for 2007.

Jeannette coach Ray Reitz said of Pryor, “If there is a better player than him, ever, I haven’t seen him”.  Now the jack-of-all-trades football player will switch gears and become an all-state basketball player for the winter before committing to a college this February on the much-anticipated Signing Day (Wednesday, February 6, 2008).  In a past Sports Illustrated interview the 18-year old said he has the enviable task of fielding 150-200 text messages a day from recruiters. Many of BCS level schools are looking at the spectacular athlete at a variety of positions, but you know we are hoping that Pryor gets an opportunity at quarterback first. The leading candidates for the spread-option quarterback’s services include Ohio State (rumored to be the favorite), Florida, Michigan, Penn State and Oregon.  He is even talking about pulling double duty in college playing football and basketball ala former North Carolina Tarheel Julius Peppers, but football is his first love.

The high school superstar still has one more prep game to play in the Army All-American Bowl on January 5th in San Antonio, Texas.  Wherever he decides to play his college ball, you know we will be monitoring his success as the sky is the limit for this tremendous athlete, who very well might make everyone forget the name Vince Young.