|NFL Power Rankings|
Cleveland Browns (7-5)Hoo boy, did the officials ever screw them out of this one. Kellen Winslow catches what should have been the winning TD pass against the Cardinals. Classic force out. I mean the play couldn't be drawn up any more clearly. Booth review. No, he caught it out of bounds was the ruling. The forceout rule is goofy to begin with, since it involves supposition. But why even have it on the books if they're afraid to call it?
Minnesota Vikings (6-6)Adrian Peterson, coming off his knee injury, was raring to go. "You're getting only 17 touches against the Lions," he was told. "It will be closely monitored." After his third-quarter TD, which was the 16th time he touched the ball, he was removed from the contest and his helmet was taken away from him. He tried a garbage can lid, but it didn't fit right. "Hey, you owe me one more touch," he protested. So an equipment man came over and touched him. "How's that?" he said. "Wait a minute ... did that really happen?" my Flamboyante Rousse asks. Well, most of it, honey. Uh, some of it.
Tennessee Titans (7-5)They knocked the Texans' QB Matt Schaub out of the game with a dislocated left shoulder. Houston's right guard Fred Weary went down with a broken leg. And then in the Titans' postgame locker room, Albert Haynesworth was bragging about how tough they were, about how "maybe next year Schaub won't play against us. He'll sit that one out." You know, I used to like this team, kind of. Now they're making it awfully tough.
Arizona Cardinals (6-6)Talk about modest achievements. The 6-6 mark is their best after 12 games in the last seven years. That could take a hit Sunday in Seattle, but they'll still be in the wild-card race, with winnable games against the Saints, Falcons and Rams to close it out. Pretty dull stuff, I know, but tell me, please, how I can make this exciting for you?
Denver Broncos (5-7)Sweet revenge for the Raiders last weekend. It was in the first game that Mike Shanahan pulled that timeout call that took a field goal off the board, thus opening up a Pandora's box of creepy time out strategy. I should have made Oakland my upset pick, but thinking about stuff like this too late is the story of my life.
Chicago Bears (5-7)I see real passion in the running of Adrian Peterson ... that's right, same name ... who's been around for six years now, always as a utility back. I see a guy who gets great support from his teammates. So why was Cedric Benson dubbed king while this guy continued to clean the stables? I can answer in three words. Money. Money. Money.
Buffalo Bills (6-6)I just can't begin to understand what was going through their minds after Sunday's game. They came to Washington to face a team in mourning, not knowing what was in store for them ... dedication, despondency, what? They won it after a freaky call by the rival coach. How did they feel after their victory, which got them at least within smelling distance of the playoffs? Elation, but to show it would be to disrespect the death of a fellow athlete. Very difficult emotions to classify.
Washington Redskins (5-7)I seem to recall a Thomas Hardy novel in which the keynote message was given to a halfwit to deliver, and he forgets about it, or drops it down the sewer, or something. I remember thinking, that's what life is really like, not the stuff of romance literature. Thus we have a day that should have ended in some small measure of redemption concluding with a coach's blunder that probably didn't even affect the outcome of the contest but became an unforgettable ironic note. The tragedy of Sean Taylor should never be lessened, of course, but irony has no dignity at all. It can intrude anywhere.
Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)A.J. Feeley turns in a thrilling almost-victory performance against New England and the quarterback controversy is alive. Then he throws four picks against Seattle and it's barely breathing. Meanwhile Donovan McNabb tries to get his sore ankle healthy and shakes his head at his yo-yo existence in Philly. Get out, Donovan. Go somewhere you'll be loved, as Drew Brees did last year.
New Orleans Saints (5-7)Running out the clock, hey, let's do it in style, hi yup, and round you go, and now the pitch, and ... oops, where'd that ball go? The Cirque de Soleil made its appearance in the Superdome, and all the Saints can do now is watch the Buccaneer wagon pull away in the distance. The pitch off the reverse that blew up in their faces, incidentally, is called Superdome Special and last year it produced an 11-yard TD against Atlanta. This year it got the Saints a trip home for the playoffs, except that ... well, you never know in the NFC.