|NFL Power Rankings|
Seattle Seahawks (9-5)You know, it happens every year, the natural letdown that comes the week after clinching. Oh, coaches talk about maintaining the intensity or momentum or something to get a good seed and obtain a favorable playoff position, but the players just don't go at it as hard once the magic clinching becomes a fact.
Minnesota Vikings (8-6)A TD on a busted play? That's what Adrian Peterson did against the Bears. He also missed a blitz pickup that got his QB sacked. Which accounts, in part, for why he splits the game with Chester Taylor.
Tennessee Titans (8-6)Here's what stats tell you. Titans had to come from behind to beat the Chiefs. Neat, modest figures, highlighted by no turnovers. But here's an oddball-KC threw the ball 43 times, which included two picks, but the vaunted Titan pass rush didn't sack Brodie Croyle once. Ah, but his 25 completions gained only 217 yards, an average of 8.7 per. Dink stats. Throwing on rhythm. That's why he wasn't sacked. I'll tell you, I've got my own little think tank going here.
Washington Redskins (7-7)This has turned into a very tough team, coming back and beating the Bears and then the Giants in a pair of slugfests, after the Sean Taylor tragedy. I sure like them over the Vikings Sunday, even if it is in Minnesota, and then they face Dallas when the Cowboys could be resting people. The playoffs? Why not?
New Orleans Saints (7-7)They've got the tie-breaking edge on any wild-card contender that could be tied with them. You see, patience pays off. The Saints and Chargers were my preseason Super Bowl teams, and just look at them now, playoff bound, at least one of them, and, uh, OK, Peter King told me to pick the Patriots and I didn't listen. Why be clever all the time?
Houston Texans (7-7)Well, I saw for myself what Mario Williams was all about Thursday night. Ate up Matt Lepsis who was on my all-pro check list. Is Williams on it, too? Sort of. The light bulb went on for him sometime in November. Until then, he was just another DE.
Buffalo Bills (7-7)Buffalo's runners were lighter and quicker than the Browns' Jamal Lewis, but in blizzard conditions, such as those in Cleveland, mass plays a serious role. This does not sit well with people who make a living crafting diets for hefties such as me.
Philadelphia Eagles (6-8)Once I did a column on Doug Flutie called, Ways to Win That Coaches Would Never Think Of. He asked me what I'd do if I were on defense and down by a point, and out of time outs, just before the final two-minute warning. I shook my head. "Let them score," he said, which meant I could get the ball back, either eight or seven points down. I said the runner would catch on and flop. "Give him a long run," Flutie said. "No back with a chance to boost his average from 3.8 to 4.2 on one carry would pass it up. Meet Brian Westbrook. He didn't pass up the yards, just the chance to put six on the board. Smart kid, huh?
Denver Broncos (6-8)I didn't think Houston would shove them around that way. The Texans, who ranked 24th in rushing coming in, more than doubled the total of the Broncos, who ranked sixth. Yeah, you're right, I'm sick of numbers, too. That's all we hear these days. No more from now until the end of this opus.
Carolina Panthers (6-8)There's a hell of a quarterback controversy brewing in Carolina, Matt Moore, with one start and one victory under his belt, against Vince Testaverde and David Carr, both hurt, and Jake Delhomme, on IR. This is the kind of thing that keeps the fans interested -- if you take away every other form of diversion known to mankind.