Blog Entry

Monday Musings

Posted on: December 29, 2008 4:02 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2008 6:00 pm

The NFL playoffs, the best postseason in sports, get under way this weekend. Here's a quick look at the four games.

Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals

Here are two teams few expected to be playing at this stage of the season. The Cardinals won the weak NFC West to earn the fourth seed, while the Falcons are the No. 5 seed.

This appears to be a study of contrasts. It's the power-running, throw-over-the-top Falcons against the wide-open throwing attack of the Cardinals.

It's rookie passer Matt Ryan against the wise veteran Kurt Warner. Starting your first playoff game on the road can be tough, which is a big obstacle for Ryan to overcome.

Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

The Eagles' playoff hopes were long, but they found a way. They head to Minnesota looking like a team getting on a bit of a roll.

The Vikings have a mediocre passing game and seeing Tarvaris Jackson matched against that Jim Johnson defense doesn't appear to be a good one for the Vikings.

I'll take Donovan McNabb over Jackson in this game. The Eagles, with all their playoff experience, might be dangerous the next few weeks. They've already defeated the Giants in New York, so there is no fear there if they beat the Vikings and move on to play the Giants.

Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins

What about the Dolphins? From 1-15 to a division title is simply amazing.

They play hard and they play tough. But are they good enough to beat a Baltimore team that plays defense as good as anybody?

Baltimore beat the Dolphins 27-10 in Week 7 and that was before Joe Flacco really got it going.

The Ravens were coming off a blowout loss to the Colts that day and re-grouped to beat the Dolphins. The Ravens were the first team to choke off the "Wildcat" formation, limiting Miami's running game.

If they do that again, they can go into Miami and win.

Just remember, though, they'll have a rookie quarterback starting a playoff game on the road.

Indianapolis Colts at San Diego Chargers

This is a rematch of a game won by 23-20 by the Colts in Week 12. The Colts won it on a 51-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri on the game's final play.

That win snapped a three-game winning streak by San Diego over the Colts. That victory was one in the Colts' nine-game streak to close out the season.

San Diego won their last four to get into the playoffs, including the impressive victory over the Broncos.

With Philip Rivers matching up against Peyton Manning, this could be a high-scoring fun one to watch. The Chargers really struggle against the pass, so look for plenty of points in this prime time Saturday affair.

Quick hits


  • All four of the road playoff teams are favored this week. Three of the four have records as good or better than the teams they will face.
  • So why not have those teams playing at home? That's a pet peeve of mine. If a team has a better record in the playoffs, it should be at home for the playoffs. Take the Atlanta Falcons-Arizona Cardinals game this week. The Falcons went 11-5 in arguably the toughest division in the league. The Cardinals went 9-7 in the worst. So what does Atlanta get, a cross-country trip to play in the Cardinals' home stadium?That makes no sense. The 12-4 Colts not only have a better record, but they beat the 8-8 Chargers -- on their field.Baltimore has the same record as the Dolphins, but beat them on their field. I understand putting the division winner in the playoffs, but then re-seed the teams once the playoff field is decided.
  • Should we be surprised that Eric Mangini was fired on Black Monday? Not really. His last two seasons have been major disappointments and he just doesn't seem to have that presence you want from a coach. He just seems too soft. Plus, the Jets have to win. They need to sell PSLs in the new stadium for 2010. In a tough economy, especially with the Wall Street crunch, the Jets need to give buyer's reasons to buy. Mangini wasn't the answer.
  • I like the decision of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to make secondary coach Raheem Morris the new defensive coordinator, taking over for Monte Kiffin, who is going to Tennessee. I hear really good things about Morris in the coaching community and the players seem to respond to him. He's done a heck of a job with the secondary in Tampa. The one concern is that he is very close to the players he coaches. That will have to change now that he's a coordinator. Morris has to realize this is gig could be a one-year deal if the Bucs don't win next season. Jon Gruden would likely be out in that scenario.
  • If Deuce McAllister played his last game for the Saints Sunday, the franchise will be saying goodbye to one of the classiest players in the league. McAllister is one of my favorites. He's a pro's pro. But it's clear that he doesn't have the same burst he once had. Here's hoping he lands on a Super Bowl contender next season if he is on his way out.
  • I know there are those out there who think teams will be lining up to give Matt Cassel a mega-contract. But I offer two names for those inclined to do so: David Garrard and Tony Romo. Their teams raced to give them contract extensions after impressive first seasons as starters. Now they're both being questioned. In the NFL, you usually are what you are as a quarterback. Pedigree matters. It doesn't always --- see Tom Brady -- but it does more than it doesn't. Cassel and Romo weren't drafted and Garrard was a fourth-round pick who didn't become a full-time starter until his sixth season.
  • I saw some good things from Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell the past two weeks. He made some bad plays, but he made more good ones. He spun his head around more the past two weeks than he did in other games I watched. He seems to be growing.
  • The end came swiftly for Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage, who was fired Sunday. Savage did a nice job building a roster in Cleveland, but the expectations, however false, hurt him this season. The Browns should be a contender next season if Brady Quinn is the real thing. I still think Savage is a good football man. He just might be better off as a director of college scouting. Sometimes running the whole show isn't for everybody. Coach Romeo Crennel followed him out the door Monday. It looks like Scott Pioli, the VP of player personnel, will take over in Cleveland. Word is Pioli is ready to leave the Belichick nest.
  • The Jaguars promoted Gene Smith to take over as the vice president of football operations last week when James "Shack" Harris resigned. That's a good move. But the team still hasn't said if Smith will have final personnel say. He should. This notion that decisions will be made by a committee is really stupid. Put it on Smith's shoulders. By the way, he has a lot of work to do to re-tool that roster.
Category: NFL

Since: Dec 8, 2008
Posted on: December 31, 2008 9:44 am

Monday Musings

Draft picks are in order of wining percentage from lower to highest except for the 31st and 32 pick which is the Superbowl loser and winner. 

Since: Nov 27, 2007
Posted on: December 30, 2008 8:58 pm

Monday Musings

Sorry Pete,

Have to disagree with you on the home field playoff arrangement.  Winning your division is tantamount to a succesful season, particularly if you have a tough division.  Recognizing that there are sometimes weak and strong divisions, changing the format to re-seed  the teams based on season records has major weaknesses: 

For example, if a team plays in an especially tough division, for the sake of argument, this year, the NFC East, South, or AFC South, the 4 teams may beat each other up (split their home and home games), and particularly if the interconference slate also is a tough row to hoe (ie. this year NFC East vs AFC North),  the winner of the division may have a poor record, say 9-7, yet has played an awfully difficult schedule.  This is the flip side of your argument.  In this instance, I would not want a winner of of one of these tough divisional races, to be subordinated to a wild card team that may have played an easier schedule in both divisional and interconference play, and simply had a better record.  Additionally, the scheduling rules are arranged (for parity's sake) that the first place winner of each division plays the first place winner of each of the other first place finishers from the prior year.....The second plance finishers, in likewise fashion, battle, and so forth.....This is the parity that has been set up by the NFL, and it works reasonably well. Less often will an underserving team win a division and host at home to a superior team.  That's why we have wild card teams...If Indy or Baltimore clearly are superior this year to the division winners, they will most likely win their playoff games on the road.

Yeah, there is no perfect system, and sometimes a team in a weak division having a weak inter-conference schedule may win their division with an 8-8 record, but more often than not, the team that wins their division has navigated a difficult schedule and deserves a home field advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs.

Since: Feb 11, 2007
Posted on: December 30, 2008 5:22 pm

Monday Musings

Only problem with that is that whole assessment ins that the Giants lost 3 of their last four. I do not disagree that they are probably the best pick for the NFC, it just goes against the whole "last five " theory...

Since: Dec 13, 2006
Posted on: December 30, 2008 4:23 pm

Monday Musings

Playoff musings...recent history suggests that there will be some upsets in the coming weeks. 

Flashback to the 2005 postseason, the Steelers (AFC #6) beat the Bengals (AFC#3) in the wildcard and went on to beat the Seahawks (NFC #1) in the Super Bowl. 

In the 2006 postseason, the Colts (AFC #3) beat the Ravens (AFC #2) and went on to beat the Bears (NFC#1) in the Super Bowl.

Just last year, the Giants (NFC #5) beat the Packers (NFC #2) and went on to beat the Patriots (AFC #1) in the Super Bowl.

Looking back over those three seasons, teams with losing records over their last five regular season games tend to struggle in the playoffs.  No surprise there.  That means, that the Cardinals will have a very tough time and the Giants games could be closer than one might think. 

Last year the Steelers were #4 AFC team, but came into the wildcard game with the Jaguars having gone 2-3 in their last 5 games and lost to the Jaguars.  In 2006, the Cowboys were 2-3 in their last five and went out in the wildcard round. 

Following recent history, I don't think both top seeds make it to the big game.  I like the Giants (NFC #1) to make it to the Super Bowl with the Chargers (AFC #4).

It should be another great postseason!! 

Since: Jan 7, 2007
Posted on: December 30, 2008 1:18 pm

Monday Musings

If the Eagles beat the Vikings, they play the Giants because the top seed gets the lowest seed. If the Vikes win, they play Carolina because they are the #3 seed and the Giants cannot play the next highest seed left. This would leave the Giants playing Atlanta, 5 seed, or Arizona, 4 seed, assuming the Eagles lose.

Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posted on: December 30, 2008 1:03 pm

Monday Musings

While you're taking away things... let's just take away the Ravens entire defense, or maybe I could take away Porter's pass rushing ability. 

Bottom can't "TAKE AWAY" anything from their last meeting.  It was a solid Baltimore win that is not all that uncommon when you look at the way they win games.  I do think this game will be a little closer, but can't go against the Ravens on this one.  Hopefully, Miami and Baltimore fans will be treated to a great football game this weekend...either way we both have to be very proud of our teams rebounding ability from last season.

Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posted on: December 30, 2008 12:50 pm

Monday Musings

The only problem I have with the current playoff system is the fact that an 8-8 team (or one with a worst record), can make it in.  To make the playoffs, a team should at least have a winning record!  If a team wins their division without a winning record, the league should replace them with the (non-playoff) team that has the best record...and move all the seeds up, making the new team the last seed.

It's that simple: No winning record = No playoffs for you!

Since: Sep 2, 2007
Posted on: December 30, 2008 12:35 pm

Monday Musings

I agree with you totally on both counts.  Playoff teams should have the last 12 draft picks the next year. Period.

Since: Feb 21, 2008
Posted on: December 30, 2008 12:34 pm

Monday Musings

Hey Prisco...FYI ...Flaccos game against Miami was his best of the season....he wasnt just getting it going....Also, take away Penningtons pick 6 and add in Fergeson ( who was out the entire second half), and its a different ballgame.....You will see on Sunday

Since: Sep 21, 2008
Posted on: December 30, 2008 12:23 pm

Monday Musings

   I knew that the Eagles would be favored but that means nothing to me. Odds are pat Williams will be back so the combination of Pat & Kevin Williams combined with Jared Allen will give McNabb a few bruises. Hopefully knock him out of the game completely.

Vikings 21 - Eagles - 17

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