BALTIMORE -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as I try to fathom the quirky, once-in-a-lifetime bounce of the
• The coming-up-small award for the week goes unanimously to the suddenly listless Lions, who are starting to prove their 6-2 first half of the season was a case of fraud being perpetrated against a weak NFC field -- and the rest of us as well.
Nobody had more to play for in Week 11 than Detroit, which was home against the Giants, the team it was tied for atop the NFC wild-card standings at 6-3. But nobody did less with their opportunity than the Lions, who fell 16-10 to the G-Men and head into their big Thanksgiving Day showdown against first-place Green Bay (9-1) with all the momentum of
Just two weeks ago, the Lions were 6-2 and looked like a solid bet to end a playoff drought that dates to 1999, when
Detroit still has both home and road games against the mojo-laden Packers, in addition to visits from Dallas and Kansas City, and trips to Minnesota and San Diego. Suddenly I'm seeing no more than two Lions wins in that stretch, which would mean Detroit would reverse its 6-2 first half record and finish a perfectly mediocre 8-8. Even in the NFC, that's probably not going to get the
The fun may not be completely over in Detroit this season, but as Thanksgiving week looms, the Lions are fading fast.
• On the flip side of Sunday's Giants-Lions affair, that was a big step toward warding off another patented second-half downward spiral that New York took in Ford Field. Credit to the Giants' defense, especially defensive end
But don't overlook the quietly efficient game that
• Call 'em the dreadful dozen. And
As debuts go, Beck didn't make anybody forget
The bad news? I'm starting to think these Dolphins, at 0-10, have a real shot at running the table in reverse, losing to a degree that no NFL team has ever lost before. How cool would it be if the Patriots and the Dolphins provided perfectly historic bookend seasons in the AFC East? You realize, of course, that no team has ever had either a 16-game divisional lead (as New England would) or a 16-game divisional deficit (Miami's potential fate). I knew you did.
• It took them 11 weeks to finally get it done this season, but the Eagles are at last at .500 and in position to at least make a wild-card push in the sad-sack NFC.
The Eagles shouldn't go printing those playoff tickets just yet, however. In their final six games, they're at New England, at Dallas and at New Orleans, with challenging home games against the Giants, Seattle and Buffalo to boot.
• Wow. Make that a double wow.
Did you ever think you'd watch the NFL long enough to see Vinatieri become a coin flip on anything in chip-shot range?
• Not a bad showcase game by forgotten Vikings running back
With Peterson out nursing his knee sprain, Taylor churned for 164 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries, and also caught three passes for 38 yards in Minnesota's 29-22 conquest of visiting Oakland.
• I don't know what I found more shocking, that Vikings receiver
Favre threw another three touchdown passes, and had no interceptions in Green Bay's 31-17 defeat of the Panthers. Old man Vinny didn't exactly embarrass himself, passing for 258 yards, with a pair of touchdowns and two interceptions.
• Who said the Dolphins can't draft? Miami's 2006 first-round pick, defensive back
Ginn earlier this season had two kickoff returns that went for touchdowns, but both were called back by penalties.
What is it about getting through mid-November healthy that McNabb can't seem to manage? For the third time in six seasons (2002, 2006, 2007), McNabb has suffered a right leg injury in a mid-November home game. This time, the ankle he sprained won't result in prematurely ending McNabb's season. But you still have to wonder if backup
• On my scorecard, I had
Williams' opponent, Saints running back
• If only Oakland quarterback
• I'm here to tell you, that
• Not only do the Bengals feature one of the NFL's worst defenses, but also their once-powerful offense just isn't all that any more. Four interceptions for
• How's that
• I'm beginning to come to grips with the idea that Tampa Bay is going to win the NFC South simply because no one else remotely wants to. The Bucs schedule over the season's final six weeks isn't exactly filled with Super Bowl contenders: Washington, at New Orleans, at Houston, Atlanta, at San Francisco, and Carolina.
• Think about this: If the Broncos can somehow beat the Titans at Invesco on Monday night, Denver is tied with underachieving San Diego for the AFC West lead at 5-5.
The Broncos this season have been beaten 41-3 by San Diego and 44-7 by Detroit. I'm not seeing the championship timber.