1. I'm sorry, there is no excuse for what happened to Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger ... and I'm not talking about the hit that caused his concussion. I'm talking about playing him more than one quarter in a meaningless game. Not only has Big Ben absorbed a gazillion hits this year, you could beat Cleveland with Benjamin Button playing QB. So why have Roethlisberger, who was sacked 46 times this year, 47 times in 2007 and 46 times in 2006, play more than a nano-second? It makes no sense, and coach Mike Tomlin deserves whatever he gets in the wake of a reckless decision.
2. Please tell me Jerry Jones had his fingers crossed when he said there won't be coaching changes with his Cowboys. After Sunday's disgraceful exit, I believe Jerry will stand pat about as much as I believe Pacman Jones chairs the next Dallas chapter of the United Way.
3. If that was a job interview, Jason Garrett flunked.
4. The club I don't want to face in the playoffs? Baltimore. The Ravens are hot, hot, hot, and they can win on the road. Plus, they beat Miami in Miami, came this close to beating Pittsburgh (twice) and might've knocked off Tennessee were it not for a lousy call against Terrell Suggs. Nope, I want no part of the Ravens.
5. Just a hunch, but the soon-to-be ex-head coach in Detroit will never be known as Hot Rod.
6. The way the Miami Dolphins figure it they have another payback awaiting them this weekend -- with former head coach Cam Cameron, now the offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, next up. "Who?" said linebacker Channing Crowder in mock jest. Um, that would be the offensive coordinator who stuck it to you earlier this season, Channing.
7. That does it. Now, more than ever, I'm convinced Chad Pennington and Philip Rivers never should have made it to the Pro Bowl, and Brett Favre and Jay Cutler should. I'm also convinced Vince Vaughn should've won an Oscar by now.
8. In the interest of everyone's time, Romeo Crennel should skip the exit interview with Cleveland owner Randy Lerner. When you finish your season without an offensive touchdown over the last six games there's really not much to say but "see ya."
9. I can't remember the last time the NFC wild cards were stronger than the third and fourth seeds, but they are now. I don't think Philadelphia and Atlanta win next week; I expect it. And I'm not alone. Oddsmakers make both early favorites.
10. What a fitting conclusion for Cincinnati's Chad Johnson/Ocho Cinco. He was inactive for Sunday's season finale and unofficially inactive the rest of the year.
11. Crennel, Dick Jauron and Herm Edwards were supposed to be fighting for their jobs, but I think we should find another verb. I didn't see much of a fight anywhere. The three of them produced a total of six points. Period. Neil Young was right: It's better to burn out than it is to fade away.
12. When they brought out the ropes in Buffalo I was afraid they were headed for Jauron or offensive coordinator Turk Schonert. Fortunately, it was to tie down the goalposts, which moved more than the Bills' offense.
13. The only thing missing from Tampa Bay's stretch drive was Willie Randolph on the sidelines to help Jon Gruden through another loss.
14. I still think there's a place for Plaxico Burress in the NFL ... in the run-and-shoot.
15. Maybe the St. Louis Rams should've produced a pulse this season, instead of a petition, to save Jim Haslett.
Just asking but ...
• Where do the Jets go for their next quarterback? Or their next head coach?
|Week 17: Keeping up with Brett, Chad and Aaron|
• In the interest of cost-cutting, can we scrap the series and just give New England two wins over Buffalo every year?
• What have the Fords managed worse -- their football team or car company?
• How can Jerry Jones not make changes in his coaching staff?
Five things I like
1. The resilience of Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid. Weren't these guys supposed to be toast by now? That's how it was spun after Reid benched McNabb in a loss last month to Baltimore. Now they're in the playoffs. Never, ever, ever, pick against the Eagles when they play Dallas in December. They've beaten them six straight times.
2. Ed Hochuli off the hook. It's time we found someone else to serve as a punching bag.
3. The Rivers-Cutler feud. It's the next best thing to Joey Porter and his next opponent.
4. Matt Cassel on fourth-down scrambles. Twice he gained key first downs when his receivers were covered. He was the difference in the Patriots' 11th straight defeat of the Bills, making plays no one from Buffalo could. Let the bidding begin.
5. Terrell Owens losing in Philadelphia. Some guys you pull for against their ex-team. Then there's T.O. So what's the problem? Next question!
Five things I don't
1. Denver's defense ... and I use that term liberally. The only thing missing is the motto "... and leave the driving to us."
2. Tony Romo in December. He's 5-8, and, I'm sorry, that's not how playoff teams are built. The guy is great three months of the season and a stiff down the stretch.
3. Brett Favre going out like this. He stunk down the stretch, and he wasn't even on the field for the Jets' last snap of the season. I think I speak for most of us when I say, please, Brett, go quietly into the night.
4. Buffalo at the end of the first half. Bad enough that the Bills mismanaged the clock. Then their offensive linemen go brain-dead and get suckered into a fight while the clock expires. My buddy Rich Q. is ticked, convinced New England started the whole thing to distract the Bills and keep them from scoring, and maybe he's right. But the Bills never should have let it happen. Is anyone in charge here?
5. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin fading away. The Bucs never won a game after he announced he was leaving for the University of Tennessee; worse his defense never showed up, surrendering 123 points their last four games -- all of them losses -- and nearly that many missed tackles.
0 -- 100-yard games by Chad Johnson/Ocho Cinco.
5 -- Consecutive years the NFC's No. 1 seed ended the regular season with a loss.
9 -- Consecutive years Dallas ended the regular season with a loss.
11 -- Consecutive losses by Cleveland to Pittsburgh.
16 -- Wins in the last 17 games by New England over Buffalo.
24 -- Philadelphia points off Dallas turnovers.
33 -- Combined passes in the Buffalo-New England game.
0-6 -- Buffalo vs. the AFC East.
Peyton Manning: He plays one series, doesn't miss a pass and punctuates it with his 27th touchdown delivery. Oh, yeah, the Colts win their ninth straight, too. Book another MVP for Peyton.
Chad Pennington: All he does is make plays and win games. Tell me the Dolphins would've won the AFC East with Chad Henne, Josh McCown or John Beck at quarterback. They wouldn't. With Pennington, they led the league in fewest turnovers and won nine of their last 10. I make him a close second to Peyton.
Adrian Peterson: He runs over, around and through the Giants, scoring on a 67-yard sprint, but the Vikings need a last-second field goal to survive. Peterson is the first Viking to lead the league in rushing and produced 10 100-yard games, including four in his last five starts. Just a guess, but he's probably looking at the silver or bronze.
Philip Rivers: He won't go to the Pro Bowl, but he should get MVP attention. All he did was lead the league in touchdowns and passer rating and break Dan Fouts' single-season franchise record for scoring passes. So the Chargers were 8-8. They won their division with a last-minute rush. Tell me that happens without Rivers.
Michael Turner: The guy finishes the season with another 200-yard effort and produces a club-record 17th touchdown. Turner was absolutely magnificent, the best free-agent pickup in years. Offensive Rookie of the Year Matt Ryan took some of the attention from Turner, but Turner should gain some votes because the Falcons did what they weren't supposed to do for years -- get taken off life support.
Next weekend's two best games
Indianapolis at San Diego: Tell me the Colts shouldn't be concerned. They lost three of their last four to San Diego, including a playoff defeat in Indianapolis a year ago. The Colts could've drawn Denver and would have won in a walk; now they will have to earn their 10th consecutive win.
Baltimore at Miami: The Dolphins are hot, but so are the Ravens. Plus, Baltimore travels well and beat the Fins this season ... in Miami, no less. I know one guy who should be geeked up for this: Cam Cameron, please come on down.
My top five
1. N.Y. Giants
My bottom five
2. St. Louis
3. Kansas City