If you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan, you’re upset that your team held their destiny in their own hands and laid another egg on Sunday Night Football, falling to the New York Giants. The Giants continue on while the Cowboys go home.
If you’re an Oakland Raiders fan, you’re upset because you needed the Denver Broncos to lose and they did, and yet, you couldn’t beat the San Diego Chargers to win the AFC West. The Broncos continue on while the Raiders go home.
If you’re a Cincinnati Bengals fan, you’re ecstatic even though you lost to the Baltimore Ravens, allowing them to secure a first round bye in the playoffs. Even though you lost, so did the Raiders, Broncos, and Jets, and you were able to sneak in as the last wildcard. The Bengals play the Houston Texans in the first round of the playoffs.
1. I’m not going to go over every game from week 16 since there were a handful of games that didn’t matter. By the way, my early season prediction that the San Diego Chargers would beat the New York Jets in the AFC title game has no chance of coming true. My prediction that the Green Bay Packers get back to the Super Bowl after going through the Atlanta Falcons can definitely happen, even though I hope it doesn’t.
2. What do the Dallas Cowboys do with Tony Romo? It’s obvious he was paying in a ton of pain this year after breaking his ribs. But the Cowboys have high expectation every year. Romo didn’t have a bad game against the Giants, but he was upstaged by Eli Manning who had a fantastic game. What will Jerry Jones do? Does he still think Jason Garrett is the right guy for the job? Will he still back Romo? If Romo isn’t the guy for the Cowboys, I think he’ll have many suitors in a QB envy league.
(I imagine a disgruntled Cowboys’ fan put this video together. I didn’t know it was called a failure face.)
3. Tim Tebow didn’t win, yet he still won. How does that happen? Tebow had an amazingly awful game going 6-22 passing for just 60 yards in a 7-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Yet, because the Raiders couldn’t keep up with the Chargers, Denver wins the division based on a better record against common opponents.
4. Can the Pittsburgh Steelers fall prey to Timothy Richard Tebow? If they do, it might be because of the loss of their starting tailback Rashard Mendenhall, who may be out for the year after hurting his knee. The fear is that it’s a torn ACL. If Mendenhall is out, Isaac Redman will have to pick up the slack against the Broncos like he did in the victory over the Cleveland Browns. He scored the only touchdown of the game.
5. The Baltimore Ravens completed another great regular seasons in their young history. The Ravens finished 6-0 in their division and undefeated at home. It’s the 4th time since the franchise’s opening season in 1996 that they’ve won at least 12 games. If the Steelers and Bengals both win next week, the Ravens would host the Steelers in their third match-up of the season. Can they beat them three times in a year?
6. The New Englad Patriots dusted off the Buffalo Bills to clinch the number one seed in the AFC. The Bills came out swinging early, but the Patriots scored the final 49 points of the game. Bills’ QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick signed a 6-year extension for $59 million on October 28th of this year. At that point, the Bills were 4-2 and things were quite dandy in Buffalo. Since he signed the extension, the Bills are 2-8. In that same time frame Fitzpatrick has thrown 12 touchdowns to 17 interceptions. You know the Harvard grad is putting that money away before they take it from him.
7. Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be football coaches. After turning around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year and failing to build upon that this year, Raheem Morris is out of a job. And after turning the St. Louis Rams into a preseason favorite but losing players to injury, including his franchise quarterback, Steve Spagnuolo is out of a job, as is general manager Billy Devaney. Expectations.
8. Regular season awards: Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers may split the Offensive MVP award. Personally, I’d pick Brees, but you can’t go wrong with either, and I’d guess Rodgers is going to eke it out. Justin Smith is getting a tremendous amount of support for Defensive MVP. I don’t think he’s having a better season than last, but it goes to show you the difference between 7-9 and 13-3. If the Minnesota Vikings or Dallas Cowboys had better years, Jared Allen and his 22 sacks and Demarcus Ware and his 19.5 sacks would be in the running. For that same reason, Aldon Smith will probably win the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Cam Newton has to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Andy Dalton made it a race.
9. AFC wildcard games:
If Tim Tebow can score more than 10 points against the Pittsburgh Steelers, I think most football fans will be surprised. Pittsburgh turns it up a notch in the postseason and if Tim Tebow’s last three starts are any indication, defenses have figured out how to stop him completely. In Denver’s previous 6 wins, they were able to win both high and low scoring games. In their three losses to end the season, they were blown out twice and lost a 7-3 game. Pittsburgh will confuse the hell out of Tebow, stop the run, and beat the Broncos quite easily. Steelers 20, Broncos 6.
The Bengals vs. the Houston Texans is an interesting game. The Bengals were an upstart team who faltered down the stretch, going 3-6 in their last nine games. The Texans were similar, losing their last three games. The Texans’ downfall occurred after losing their starting QB Matt Schaub to injury. The teams are fairly similar statistically. The Texans run the ball well, but without Schaub, they’ve struggled in the passing game. Since TJ Yates, Matt Leinart, and Jake Delhomme have taken snaps starting in week 12, the Texans are throwing for 50 yards less per game (though Andre Johnson has been hurt). Their running game didn’t suffer as much. I’m picking the Bengals because the Texans seem ripe for the upset. Yates is hurt, though should play. The pressure is all on the Texans. And there needs to be at least one upset. Bengals 24, Texans 23.
10. NFC wildcard games:
I think the Detroit Lions give the New Orleans Saints a game for about 2 1/2 quarters before Drew Brees takes over the game. Both passing defenses aren’t fantastic, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that they both score a ton of points and teams have to throw the ball to keep up with them. The Saints won’t lose a boat race to the Lions. They may lose a boat race to the Packers. But like they proved in week 13, they’re better at Detroit’s game than Detroit is. Saints 33, Lions 21.
It seems that the Atlanta Falcons have underachieved this year. Even though they finished 10-6, they attained that record by beating the teams they were supposed to beat while losing most of their big games. Their most impressive win was beating Detroit in Detroit. But they lost to New Orleans twice, Chicago to open the season, Green Bay, Houston and even to the lowly Bucs. The Giants are similar, but even less consistent. After beating New England, they went on to lose their next four games, in which three of them were San Francisco, Green Bay, and New Orleans. Then they beat Dallas and immediately lost to Washington. I’ll take the team that wins the games they should, rather than the team who is so up and down. Falcons 24, Giants 21.