Tuesday, December 26, 2006

NFL Week 16 Wrap up

It was a bittersweet holiday weekend for many reasons.

1. A few teams desperate for wins came up short when it really mattered most

2. Yours truly was so bad picking teams I decided that next week will be my final week of doing it (so what if the season's over.)

3. The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, passed away on Christmas Day, leaving behind a legacy of legendary music ("I Feel Good") and legitimate lunacy (drug busts, domestic violence.)

Not only did the man develop an entire new style of music, he gave life to a new generation of aspiring rappers choosing to sample their way to lucrative careers.

In honor of the flamboyant funkmaster I am going to use his song titles to describe the fortunes of the teams fighting for playoff survival in Week 16.

Give it Up or Turnit Loose
In must-win situations the Giants and Falcons come up woefully short
Hop into the wayback machine with me for a second here, and let's skip all the way back to Week 7.

The Giants squashed the Cowboys 36-22 to run its record to 4-2, Eli Manning was finally looking like he was actually related to Payton, and after two more (unimpressive) wins the G-Men sat at 6-2 atop the NFC East.

The Falcons had just survived a 41-38 OT thriller against the Steelers to run its record to 4-2, and with Mike Vick passing like Dan Marino and with a league-leading rushing attack it looked as if the Dirty Birds would soar back into thew postseason.

Back to the future and these two teams are in free-falls that is rivaling K-Fed's in its embarrassing scope.

Both teams have had players sniping at the head coach; Vick gave his infamous two-fingered salute to the fickle fans at the Georgia Dome; Michael Strahan proved he is really an a-hole behind that goofy gap-toothed grin when he berated an ESPN reporter for asking a valid question; and Falcon coach Jim Moron Jr went on a radio program and practically begged to be the head coach at his alma mater, Washington.

After suffering losses in 5 of 6 games the Giants knew it couldn't afford another slip up when it travelled to New Orleans, where the Saints had already clinched a playoff spot. So what happened? New York (7-8) managed 142 yards of offense, committed 3 turnovers and allowed 359 yards in a soul-crushing 30-7 defeat.

At least they gave it their all.

Meanwhile the Birds (7-8) went out and laid a really rotten egg at home against the putrid Panthers(7-8.) Chris 1-17 Weinke turned into 2-17 Weinke with an awesome 4-7, 32 yard performance and the Falcons could only manage a field goal in a humiliating 10-3 home loss.

Vick set a record for rushing yards by a quarterback, but at this rate he could have every QB rushing record, but what he may never get another one of is a postseason victory. At least not with Atlanta.

Although each team technically remains alive for a wild card spot, their pitiful play is sure to sink their hopes next week, along with a couple of coaches jobs as well.

I Got the Feeling
Tennessee, Green Bay & the Jets take care of bizness and remain in the hunt
Yes you read that correctly: the Titans and Packers are in the race with one game left in the season.

Read it again and let it sink in, because it is an awfully overwhelming fact to digest.

Thanks to a thrilling come-from-behind (of course) 30-29 win over Buffalo Sunday the Tennessee Titans now stand at 8-7 and still alive in the AFC wild card picture.

What they have done is nothing short of Music City Miraculous; the Titans began the season 1-5 and went to 2-7 before ripping off this 6 game winning streak, all of the wins coming as a direct result of the improved play of ROY candidate Vince Young.

Against the Bills VY passed for two TDs and ran for another; in the 4th quarter he threw for one score and led the game-winning 75 yard drive that drive culminated in a field goal which knocked Buffalo out of the picture, but kept the Titans improbable hopes alive for one more week.

New York (9-6) played another exciting game against the Fins on Monday Night, winning a 13-10 squeaker thanks to a late 64-yard catch & run by former FSU star Little Leon Washington that led to a last-minute game-winning field goal.

The J-E-T-S can wrap up a wild card berth with a victory next week over the Raiders.
So they're in.

And somebody get me a doctor cuz the freakin' Packers (7-8) have clawed their way into the playoff hunt as well. Left for dead three weeks ago at 4-8 a three game winning-streak has propelled the Pack into the wild NFC race.

Wouldn't it be funny if Favre led them to the Bowl when everyone else was already deciding on his Metamucil dosage and how he was going to spend his presumably imminent retirement.

I'm Real
Saints march to home field advantage, Eagles in position to win the NFC East
Okay it's time to realize that these two teams are the real deal- not just playoff participants but legitimate Bowl contenders.

The Saints looked impressive in dispatching of the woeful Giants and in doing so secured a first-round bye in the postseason. This team started out as a warm & fuzzy feel good story- the little team that could overcome obstacles and have a decent season in the wake of the Katrina tragedy and subsequent nomadic season it had to endure last year.

But thanks to an exciting & explosive offense, a solid defense and great coaching

The Eagles secured a playoff spot with an emphatic 23-7 drubbing of the Cowboys on Christmas evening, sweeping the season series with its archenemy, and it can lock up an incredible run to the NFC East title by defeating sliding Atlanta next week. All of this has come with retread Jeff Garcia at the helm, who giggled and jumped like a school girl every time Philly scored yesterday. Take that, Terrell.

Get Up (Get on up)
Dallas, Seattle, Cincy all scuffling down the stretch
It's official: Romo-ania is dead. Unless you happen to be a B-level songstress.

The bandwagon has finally careened into a wall in Big D after yesterday's performance against Philly. Romo passed for only 142 yards with 1 TD & 2 INTs and his receivers were grumbling about the offense after the loss.

Although Dallas is still assured of a playoff spot, the way it is dropping through the standings and could lose the East title after the Eagles sweep is most definitely not the way the Tuna wants to enter the postseason.

Speaking of free-falling & back dooring the Seahawks (8-7) now own the dubious distinction of clinching a division the day it lost its third consecutive game.

Seattle had a good shot at stopping the Chargers 8 game winning streak thanks to a 140 yard effort from RB Shaun Alexander (think the reigning MVP & former TD record holder had something to prove against LT?)

But the defense allowed Phillip Rivers, who had been having a terrible day, beat them with a late touchdown pass and Seattle had officially backed into the NFC West crown by virtue of San Fran's loss to Arizona.

Once again, not exactly the way you want to enter the playoffs.

And pity poor Cincy. After a late 4 game winning streak put the Bengals square back in the Bowl picture, 2 straight losses have them on the verge of elimination.

The way it lost this week was tortuous for all Cincy fans to witness: a botched extra point would have tied the game at 24 and then a botched on-sides kick cost them another shot at victory. Instead it suffered a devastating 24-23 defeat to Denver, and it must get a lot of help in order to make it to the playoffs.

It's a Man's Man's Man's World
San Diego, New England and Baltimore cruising into the playoffs
No signs of slowing down for theses division-leading juggernauts as they gear up for what each hopes to be a Bowl-winning run.

San Diego (13-2) won for the 9th straight time despite getting an average game from LT (123 yards, no touchdowns for the first time in 2 months) and a terrible game, again, from QB Phillip Rivers (10-30, 181 yards, TDs.)

Rivers will have to step it up if San Diego wants to win it all, but as long as this team has LT, that nasty D, and home field throughout it will remain the leading contender for the championship.

The Ravens (12-3) continue to amaze and so does their rejuvenated quarterback Steve McNair. After departing the last game with a hand injury, Air McNair returned to throw for 256 yards & 3 TDs, leading the Ravens to an impressive 31-7 victory over Pittsburgh.

The loss knocked the defending champs out of the playoff race, but it only served to further fuel the notion that this Ravens squad can win another championship no just because of its great defense but thanks to a capable veteran leading the offense.

New England (11-4) is starting to gel at the right time, wrapping up its 4th consecutive AFC East title with a gritty 24-21 win over Jacksonville.

The victory was the Pats' 5th in the last 6 games, and for the second straight game it did not commit a turnover. This comes on the hells of an 11 turnover in 3 game stretch that left many fans wondering aloud if this team had what it takes to win another title.

But Tom Terrific (28-39, 249 yds, TD) has once again put the team on his back, making a hero of seldom-used tight end David Thomas (5 recs, 83 yards, TD) and benefitting from the return of RB Lawrence Maroney (7 rushes, 48 yds, TD.)

The defense also got a big lift from the return of hard hitting safety Rodney Harrison, who laid a few vicious licks in the game just to prove there are no ill effects from the broken scapula that sidelined him for 6 games.

How good are things going for New England right now? Tommy Boy ran for a career-high 31 yards on an astounding 10 carries.

Move over Mike Vick.

Please Please Please
Chicago and Indy may have good records but they have bad problems
The Bears and Mannings are both good teams, divison winners, but they look like possible first-round casualties thanks to their shoddy play of late.

Therfore they need to do some pleading, or calling out of teammates, in order to right the ship.

Indy (11-4) once again was victimized by its inability to stop the run in an awful 27-24 loss to the lowly Texans (5-10.) Ron Great Dane -remember him?- rushed for 153 yards & 2 TDS and Houston racked up 191 on the ground against the sieve-like Colts D.

This lack of effort forced Manning to call out his defense, saying he can't control what happens when he's not on the field.

No but he can control a 205 yard passing performance, and the fact that in losing 4 of the past 6 games he has thrown 6 TDs and 5 INTs in those losses. Guess the defense can't be on the field all the time, huh Payton?

Indy is sure to be one & done if and when it faces a team with a great runner in the postseason.

Chicago is contiunuing to prove my saying that they are the worst 13-2 team I have ever seen in my life.

The latest example came courtesy of a close 26-21 win over hapless Detroit(2-13.) The Bears (13-2) gave up 327 yards to a team that can't get out of its own way and had to rally with 3 fourth quarter field goals to pull out the win.

The once feared defense now gets run over regularly (hell the Yucs put up 31 on them!) and the offense is lackluster at best and ineffective at worst.

Another first round choke job waiting to happen.

All in all it was a mixed bag for the teams fighting for survival this week.

Some will taste the glory of postseason success.

Others will be left with disappointment and heartbreak.

One week to go.

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