|NFL Power Rankings|
Cleveland Browns (8-5)I called the Browns. "What's the club record for getting an onside kick kicked to you?" The Jets did it three times. I was told to wait a minute. The next voice was identified as "Security." He wanted to know why I was interested in this particular detail and exactly where I was calling from I could tell the phone was bugged. I hung up. My question had drawn the wacko patrol. Can't be too careful these days.
Minnesota Vikings (7-6)The greatest runner who ever lived was held to three yards on 14 carries by the 49ers. Oh, he's not the greatest anymore? Gee, that's all I was reading five weeks ago when he broke the bank for 296. Oh fleeting fame, thou departest on the gossamer wings of the moth.
Denver Broncos (6-7)After his first of two touchdown catches against the Chiefs, Brandon Marshall scooped up three handfuls of the snow ringing Mile High and flang them airward. "For my family and friends in Florida," he said. "They don't get to see snow much." Tweet, flag, unsportsmanlike flinging. Can't use props for a celebration. The debate started. One fling, well, maybe, but three? Safety John Lynch represented his teammate. "A prop? A prop? Snow is natural," he said. "It comes from the sky." Yes, said the NFL, but once it hits the ground, it's supposed to stay there. Don't forget to tune in to hear Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton debate this issue Saturday night.
Tennessee Titans (7-6)If they beat K.C. and Buffalo beats Cleveland, then the three of them will be in a tie for the second AFC wild card spot. I don't know if my heart can take this excitement.
Buffalo Bills (7-6)His completion percentage wasn't too hot (11-23) but his team got the win, which was the way Trent Edwards, a California native who never had played in sub-40 degree weather said hello to the frigid, 30-degree northeast. I hate to be the one to break this, but it's gonna get colder. Yo, Trent, have you ever heard of The Hawk, which is what they call that vicious wind that comes whipping down from frozen Canada?
New Orleans Saints (6-7)Now in the NFC, 6-7 is big thunder, you see, and of the four wild-card hopefuls sporting that mark, the Saints have the hammer because of their superior NFC record. And if you would like the entire tie-breaking formula spelled out for you, hit the Google button and punch in Madness.
Washington Redskins (6-7)He came trudging through a door left open, his clothes streaked with the dust of the road, searching for work. Todd Collins, 36 years old, 12 years on the NFL circuit, many as a uniformed observer. Ten years ago he was Buffalo's starting quarterback. They replaced him with Doug Flutie. Since then, he had thrown 27 passes, that's all. Until Thursday night, when Jason Campbell went down with a knee against the Bears and Collins heard the distant sound of the bugle. He snapped on his helmet and got ready for whatever tortures lay ahead. Surprise! A fine night, statistically, culminating with two scoring fourth-quarter drives to seal the victory. Does this story have a moral? Yes. Be careful about overworking your arm.
Arizona Cardinals (6-7)Even when he was saying he was throwing the ball as well as he ever had, you could see that Kurt Warner's velocity just wasn't there. Five picks against the Seahawks might reinforce that point.
Houston Texans (6-7)DE Mario Williams, a controversial first pick in the draft ahead of Reggie Bush (injured) and Vince Young (erratic) had a big day against Tampa Bay and now has 9 ½ sacks on the year. Tiki Barber on NBC's postgame show last Sunday night, talking about that draft. "You could see that Williams was the player you had to have." Welcome to the front-runners club, Tiki. You chaps sure do learn quickly.
Philadelphia Eagles (5-8)Am I a typical sore loser type? Guess so. Donovan McNabb, at times fairly effective against the Giants, was more often a rudderless ship, especially on third down. Two of 13 was his conversion rate, and after each failure the booing of the Philly faithful (Phillful?) grew louder. But none was louder than your faithful handicapper, who had confidentially picked the Eagles, in print. "Will you keep it down? The neighbors are complaining," said my Flaming Redhead, who does not fully understand the strange byways of passion.