1. Some wide receivers make the 11 o'clock highlights with histrionics; some make them with touchdowns. Put San Diego's underappreciated Vincent Jackson in the latter category. The guy is special, but you don't hear much about him outside the 619 area code -- and that's a mistake. All he has done is produce touchdowns his past five games and four 100-yard performances this season.
2. If Lovie Smith isn't in trouble in Chicago, maybe he should be. All I know is that the Bears' past two losses featured two of the most disgraceful first halves in years. Rewind the videotape, and you'll find Cincinnati and Arizona putting up touchdowns on their first eight possessions -- with each going 4 for 4. You heard me: Cincinnati produced 28 points with its first four series, and so did Arizona. Worse, the drives ranged from 63 to 86 yards, with the two clubs combining for 612 yards in first-half offense and outscoring Chicago 62-10. Smith's expertise is defense, and defense is what Chicago does not have. Stay in touch, Lovie: I know a realtor in Winnetka you might want to contact.
3. The New York Giants have themselves to blame for their fourth consecutive loss. When you hold a three-point lead, have the ball third-and-goal at your opponent's 9 and there's just over two minutes left, you don't play it safe. You throw for the end zone to put that opponent away. The Giants didn't and suffered the consequences.
4. Ted Ginn Jr. is at it again, and I'm not talking about kickoff returns. The Dolphins had one play to make at the end of Sunday's game, and the mistake they committed was believing Ginn could make it. So they throw him the ball, and he drops it. Did someone say Groundhog Day? The guy is a return specialist who occasionally makes catches. Drafting him with the ninth pick was a mistake.
5. Smart move by Joey Porter to leave the locker room without talking to the media. When you have no tackles, there is nothing to talk about.
6. If you're looking for a piñata next Cinco De Mayo, contact the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers should be available.
7. The Cleveland Browns aren't going to go to the playoffs, so they should start getting ready for 2010 now -- which means they should start Brady Quinn at quarterback. You have a chance to discover if he can play; so play him. There is nothing to lose but another game.
8. Don't tell me the trip to London was a waste of time and money for Tampa Bay. It convinced the Bucs to play Josh Freeman, and they don't win a game without making that move.
9. Look no further than third-down conversions when you do the postseason autopsy of Kansas City. The Chiefs are 25 for 113, or 22.1 percent, dead last in the league.
10. Dear Santa, Please give me a running game. Eagerly awaiting your reply, Jim Mora.
11. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why Tom Coughlin says he was "misunderstood" when he termed his team's meeting with San Diego a "one-game season." If you take that stand, then lose -- which the Giants did -- what does it mean for what follows? It means you're toast, which is why Coughlin sought to clarify those remarks.
12. Sorry, but I'll join the chorus on Andy Reid's decision to kick a 52-yard field goal on fourth-and-11 at the Dallas 34 with 4 ½ minutes left. I don't get it. He still needed a touchdown to catch Dallas ... and he never got the ball back. "I would've gone for it there," NBC's Tony Dungy said. I'll second that.
13. Thank you, Chad Ochocinco. The Baltimore Ravens really need that deodorant now. Not only are they two games behind division-leading Cincinnati with the Bengals holding the tiebreaker; they have Indianapolis and Pittsburgh in succession after next weekend's blowout of Cleveland. The heat is on, and the Ravens are wilting.
14. Now we find out about New England: Two of its next three games are against undefeated teams, Indianapolis and New Orleans. And both are away.
15. Yes, New Orleans and Minnesota are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, and here's why: If the season were to end today, they would be the top two seeds in the NFC. So what? So dome teams don't make it to Super Bowls unless they play conference championship games indoors, and having indoor teams as the top two clubs ups those chances.
Sez them ... or Rapid Reports' Rewind
From William Bendetson in New England ... The Patriots discovered a way to stop the Wildcat offense -- lining up Vince Wilfork at defensive end. Teammates said it forced them to concentrate more on their responsibilities and not fret the fancy stuff. And it worked.
From Michael Erler in San Francisco ... If there's a silver lining for San Francisco, it might have been the play of wide receiver Jason Hill. He got into the game in the second quarter, replacing the benched Isaac Bruce, and responded with four catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns.
More from Erler ... The 49ers can fault no one but themselves for their latest loss. Their four turnovers became 24 Tennessee points.
From John Oesher in Indianapolis ... You gotta love tight end Dallas Clark's response on how he felt after his 14-catch afternoon. "Sore," he said. "That's the give and take of catching the ball. You have to get hit."
From Carter Gaddis in Tampa ... Give tight end Kellen Winslow credit for serving as the model teammate for Freeman. He spent extra time on the practice field with the rookie quarterback and extra time in the classroom talking routes and making reads. The two clicked against Green Bay and might be developing a rapport that could pay off down the road.
More from Gaddis ... Cornerback Aqib Talib's play makes him a Pro Bowl candidate, but he must clean up his off-the-field antics. He was accused of hitting a cab driver -- while the car was moving, no less -- during the preseason and was called out by coach Raheem Morris for missing curfew in London.
From Josh Katzowitz in Cincinnati ... Too bad the Bengals and Ravens are finished playing each other this season. There's so much bad blood it's too bad the quotes come to an end. Check out, for instance, what safety Chris Crocker said about Derrick Mason's three catches, despite having 13 passes aimed at him. "Derrick Mason could not be covered one-on-one," he said. "You saw those quotes, right? He said he hasn't been covered in 13 years. He was a non-factor."
More from Katzowitz ... The key element to Cincinnati's win: The Ravens entered the game converting 48.4 percent of their third downs, third best in the NFL. They converted one of 10 vs. Cincinnati, prompting linebacker Terrell Suggs to sum up the loss -- Baltimore's fourth in five games -- in two words. "It sucks," he said.
From Jason Butt in Atlanta ... Looks like the running game is back to its 2008 form. For the first time since the 13th week last year Michael Turner has put together back-to-back 100-yard games.
More from Butt ... Look for the NFL to look into the DeAngelo Hall sideline altercation. Hall singled out Falcons strength coach Jeff Fish, saying he was trying to get his "licks" in, and replays indicated he might be right. Of course, Hall has a history with the Falcons, and memories die hard.
Five things I like
1. The Fox network doing its pregame show from Afghanistan. Perfect for Veterans Week.
|Titans GM Bud Adam was right in pushing for Vince Young. (Getty Images)|
3. Cincinnati in the playoffs. The Bengals are 4-0 in their division. They play Pittsburgh next week, then follow with this: Oakland, Cleveland and Detroit.
Five things I don't
1. Jimmy Johnson in military fatigues. Something about that 'do' and a U.S. Army uniform that don't fit.
2. Walt Coleman's eyes. There is no way Donovan McNabb did not convert that fourth-down sneak. Coleman disagreed, qualifying him for auditions as an umpire in the next World Series.
3. Baltimore's rushing defense. It went 39 games in a row without allowing a 100-yard rusher. Now it allows three in its past four games, including two by Cedric Benson. That can happen when you have to protect your secondary by dropping defenders into coverage.
5. Tommie Harris' punch. C'mon, Tommie, you have to be smarter than that. You throw a punch, you go to the penalty box. That makes two of the past three games he missed, and, maybe it's a coincidence, but opponents put up 86 points on the Bears.
Just asking but ...
• Eli Manning or
• Does this make Dallas the team to beat in the NFC East?
• Why did Philadelphia sign Michael Vick? Anyone seen the guy?
• What goes more slowly in Washington -- health-care reform or the Redskins offense?
• Who loses first -- Indianapolis or New Orleans?
• 1 -- Tony Romo interceptions the past four games
• 2 -- Successive starts without a Jake Delhomme pick
• 5 -- First-half sacks of Jason Campbell
• 5 -- Matthew Stafford interceptions by a club (Seattle) that had three all season
• 7 -- Consecutive New England victories after byes
• 13 -- Houston penalties, aiding three Indianapolis scoring drives
• 25 -- Consecutive regular-season victories for Junior Seau with New England
• 4-0 -- Arizona's road record
• 48-3 -- Cincinnati's first-half score vs. its past two opponents
• 11-1 -- Matt Ryan record at home
My top five
2. New Orleans
My bottom five
31. Kansas City
29. Tampa Bay
28. St. Louis
Next weekend's three best games
New England at Indianapolis ... Latest sequel to Same Time, Next Year.
Philadelphia at San Diego ... Suddenly, the tide is going out on the Eagles.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh ... First place in the AFC North is at stake, and, no, this is not a misprint.