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NFL 2017 Inc.

No matter where you fall on the side of excitement over football this year two things are for certain:

  1. It has waned for everyone thanks to the issues of long term effects and all the information being fed to parents about it.
  2. Football still remains far and away the most popular sport in America.

The fact that its still a ratings bonanza for every network means it still gets to swing its dick in every room its in.  So when Roger Goodell gets to play cop and supersede the investigation done by law enforcement and hand a six game punishment to Ezekiel Elliiot, which got reversed by a federal judge on Friday, a mere 24 hours before the Cowboys and Giants were set to open the season against each other.

Of course in a weird twist, he was eligible to play in Sunday’s game but that’s neither here nor there.

The NFL has gifted its Commissioner with a brand new contract extension but i wonder if Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft, two of the most powerful owners are waking up this morning exactly thrilled with the Commissioner’s powers.  He suspended Tom Brady four games for his dubious role in DeflateGate, which while it thrilled me as a Giants fan, always seemed like payback for the Patriots constantly getting themselves into these investigations after the Commissioner slapped them on the wrist for Spygate and told them “don’t do that again”.

But the NFL isn’t suffering because Roger Gooddell sucks as a Commissioner.  Or because of a looming (in 2021 no less) labor strike that’s almost guaranteed to happen.  Oh and once the new TV contracts come in the owners may be working off numbers that the players may not necessarily like.

The NFL is suffering because its retired players are and its current personnel are taking notice.  Consider that the average NFL player’s career lasts four years.  Most will never take home the millions that playing in a major professional sports league promise, but all will take home scar tissue created by sometimes almost a decade spent sustaining car crash like hits to the head and body.

Consider players like 23-year-old Su’a Cravens from the Washington Redskins who will spend the next month contemplating retirement.  Or the slew of 20-somethings who have already decided to retire early before the damage becomes permanent and affects their post-football life.

The NFL’s contract structure guarantees its players very little and gives ownership outs once the player is no longer fit to compete.  It seems unfair to ask players to continue risking its body for an opportunity that isn’t guaranteed but that’s how the NFL has always been and it doesn’t seem like it will change despite what Odell Beckham will try.  It remains to be seen what change the NFLPA can affect in the next labor negotiations but many things will be on its mind, namely the safety of its constituent base.  If not for a bigger share of the profits to then be put into a retirement fund, but at the very least to reduce the Commissioner’s power as its only legislative body dispensing his justice.

The best theory I heard about Gooddell’s recent run of challenging his sport’s best players is to do the bidding of the owners (his bosses) to undermine the players.  If you reduce them to interchangeable parts and tell everyone that nobody is special then you can negotiate from that position.  That’s where the biggest challenge will be.  It will be interesting nonetheless.

But it may blind them from the bigger issue which is to reduce the number of games (i’m looking at you preseason) that puts its best stars in dangerous spots in meaningless situations.

Moving on, I’m going to preview the season by doing my first power rankings in four tiers: Tier IV- No shot, Tier III- long shot, Tier II- raised eyebrow, Tier I- contender.

I have my picks for week 1 in the next column- enjoy

TIER IV- NO SHOT

32. New York Jets-
Odds to win Super Bowl: 1000-to-1

Outlook: Call this season what you will but the Jets are like that Delta jet that decided to race Hurricane Irma.  Sounds dumb but you have a duty to your customers.  The Jets should consider forfeiting the season but have a duty to their customers to show up physically for 16 games but every move they made this offseason from trading Sheldon Richardson to releasing Brandon Marshall was done with the future in mind.  Much of the Jet fanbase will be watching college football more intently than they do any of their games but consider this.  The defense is decent, but with a paper thin offense it will be tough to watch.  The Jets will need another season or two, after this to fully rebuild itself from this doldrum.  Not like the owner will be around to enforce any of this anyway.

31. Buffalo Bills-
Odds to win Super Bowl: 200-to-1

Outlook: The Sean McDermott led Bills made a conscious decision to remove a bunch of its former young stars via trades or letting them walk out of the complex (mostly to New England) to greener pastures.  What it did is set them up for a bountiful future.  What the Bills will do this year is play decent up front on both sides and figure out if Tyrod Taylor has any trade value.  They long ago wrote him off as a starting NFL QB and will hope to recoup some value by the trade deadline (my guess) to get more picks in the event that a team that fancies itself a playoff contender will need a competent QB.  At the very least they have a ton of picks to fall back on while the season plays itself out in Western New York.

30. Cleveland Browns-
Odds to win Super Bowl: 100-to-1

Outlook: The only reason i have them ahead of the Bills is because their rebuild is in the second phase.  The Harvard bred, forward thinking front office of the Browns has built the team in a very old school way.  They handed out a ton of money to help build one of the better offensive lines and are using the draft to build its defense.  Myles Garrett looks like a generational talent at the defensive end position and the position-less Jabrill Peppers will likely line up in the backend and use his athleticism to affect the deep pass accuracy of his opponents.  But the Browns are betting they have hit on QB already by naming third round draft pick DeShone Kizer as their starting QB.  Is it truly hard to think that a team with a stout offensive line and a rookie QB can make some noise this season?  Where have i seen that before?

29. Chicago Bears
Odds to win Super Bowl: 100-to-1

Outlook: This seems like a good time to mention that the John Fox tenure at Chicago is about to come to an end.  That’s the deciding factor in why I put them behind the San Francisco 49ers.  The Bears have a bad front office but have the pieces that should make them attractive to any coach-GM candidate.  The key to this season will be when Mitchell Trubisky becomes the starting QB and the city of Chicago will be on edge.  The future of GM Ryan Pace will be on the line.  If he shows any kind of promise it may be enough to keep him on the job but if this season ends as disastrously he may be on a one way ticket out.

28. San Francisco 49ers
Odds to win Super Bowl: 100-to-1

Outlook: We can all agree that Jed York is a bad owner and his decision to pick Trent Baalke over Jim Harbaugh likely set his franchise back.  But now he’s armed a GM with no experience and a head coach with zero prior experience.  While every decision will be viewed from that perspective, I liked their draft, and their steadfast nature to select the best player available.  That’s how every rebuilding team should approach the draft.  Kyle Shanahan has decent pieces on offense to make them a threat to any team that thinks they can sleep walk to a win.  It makes them intriguing for the season and should help the Niners start moving forward.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars
Odds to win Super Bowl: 100-to-1

Outlook:  Even with dictator Coughlin manning the front office rather than the sideline expect the team to be fashioned in his image.  An imposing defense and hopes that the run game keeps the offense on the field long enough to give the defense rest and makes the defense play closer to the line so Blake Bortles can throw it deep to Allen Robinson.  While I think that seems unlikely, they will make betting against them tough.  MY prediction is that Leonard Fournette is the least likeliest to succeed in the NFL.

26. Miami Dolphins
Odds to win Super Bowl: 100-to-1

Outlook: Jay Cutler.  Every Bears fan, and every Denver Broncos fan know what this means.  Cutler is a nightmare to predict and the fact that many predict him to have his most productive year now that he’s reunited with former OC Adam Gase is beyond foolish.  What makes people think that Jay Cutler will be better than he was in his other stops in the NFL?  What makes people think Jay Ajayi is a top 10 back in the NFL?  His overall stats were solid but consider that outside of 3 games (1 against Pittsburgh, and 2 against Buffalo) where he had nearly half his year’s output, he had only one other 100 yard game.  I just don’t think this team will be the main deterrent to New England that some think.

25. Washington Redskins
Odds to win Super Bowl: 100-to-1

Outlook: the offseason was mired in a standoff with QB Kirk Cousins who may already have one foot in San Francisco.  If that happens, the Redskins will be left to head into next season without a QB of the future and outside of a drafting slot to get one of the top QB’s expected to enter next year’s draft.  But there will be enticing options and Jay Gruden has shown that he can turn a late round draft pick into a good QB.  Kirk Cousins is in the Alex Smith memorial hall of fame of guys who seem to lead their teams to respectability at the least while not scaring any defense or opposing fan base.  That Week 17 game where the Redskins had everything to play for and the Giants had nothing to play for shows you exactly who Kirk Cousins is: he can get you to the door, he doesn’t have the ability to walk through.

TIER III: Long Shot

24. Los Angeles Rams
Odds to win Super Bowl: 100-to-1

Outlook: I like them even without Uncle Wade having his best toy to play with heading into Week 1 at the least in Aaron Donald.  But regardless, the Rams should be improved with Wade’s aggressive scheme.  Hiring a QB-guru-centric coach is the right way to go but getting a home crowd advantage may prove difficult in a town that has rarely shown an interest in football before.  Consider the improvement in the defense and a safer approach to Jared Goff’s development and the addition of Sammy Watkins as steps in the right direction.

23. Detroit Lions
Odds to win Super Bowl: 100-to-1

Outlook: The Lions paid Matthew Stafford on a season where he improved his efficiency and helped his team to an above average record in close games.  The Lions were 8-4 in one possession games.  Make them even .500 and the division race isn’t even close.  The Lions will hope that games don’t end up that close by upgrading the offensive line but their defense remains suspect and that’s going to be too much to overcome.

22. Indianapolis Colts
Odds to win Super Bowl: 100-to-1

Outlook:  Scott Tolzien is starting week 1.  Which means all of the proclamations of Andrew Luck’s health improving were all fluff.  You have to worry about the organization’s franchise guy if the reports of him missing a significant portion of the season are true.  Not when Tennessee has a chance to be legit contenders this year.  Let’s see.

21. Cincinnati Bengals
Odds to win Super Bowl: 100-to-1

Outlook:  The Ringer’s Robert Mays put it best: the Bengals don’t do anything particularly well.  They are just solid on both fronts.  Losing their first round pick for a few games will hurt Andy Dalton but then Andy Dalton wasn’t likely to lead the Bengals to anywhere but 8-8.  Dalton and the Bengals need to break up for both their own good.

20. Denver Broncos
Odds to win Super Bowl: 40-to-1

Outlook:  The Broncos ultimately won the Brock Ostweiler deal even if they don’t have much to show for it.  Their defense will remain elite, but their offense won’t be unless Jamaal Charles returns to Chiefs form.  The Broncos play the style of one cut line play that fits what Charles can do but without his elite burst it may be a lot of 2nd and 8’s in the Broncos future.

19. Baltimore Ravens
Odds to win Super Bowl: 50-to-1

Outlook: This is one of two teams I’m leaving out of the contender talk but I can see a scenario in which they challenge for the division crown.  I love their defense and John Harbaugh coaches the team well.  Joe Flacco will have a decent set of weapons (none inspiring enough to make me consider them legit contenders) but ultimately won’t prove enough to overthrow the Steelers from taking the division.

18. Houston Texans
Odds to win Super Bowl: 40-to-1

Outlook:  Ton of positive momentum stemming from JJ Watt’s incredible work as humanitarian/fundraiser stemming from Hurricane Harvey’s relief efforts.  But while this defense will remain elite, consider the offense’s ceiling to depend on when they feel comfortable enough to run Deshaun Watson out there.  He will take some lumps this season but this is about the future and the quicker Bill O’Brien realizes it, taking a step back, to potentially take a few steps forward, the better off the Texans will be for the future.

17. New Orleans Saints
Odds to win Super Bowl: 25-to-1

Outlook: These are ridiculous odds based solely out of some gumbo-eating handicapper.  There is nothing the Saints did this offseason that make them 25-to-1 odds on favorites to win the Super Bowl.  Nothing.  Drew Brees will do his thing on offense but losing Brandin Cooks was bad but necessary.  Not getting Malcolm Butler was a curious decision in that trade but a first rounder on the OL was another curious decision.   This is a big year for the Mickey Loomis/Sean Payton team.  If this season turns bad, expect major changes in the Bayou.

TIER II: RAISED EYEBROWS

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Odds to win Super Bowl: 40-to-1

Outlook:  I’m taking points off for being on Hard Knocks.  Jameis has all the weapons on offense to realize his true potential.  This is the year we find out if he can overcome his mental mistakes.  There’s just too many moments where we heard Dirk Koetter scold him for making a poor decision.  He takes way too many chances.  This team is good enough to be 12-4 this year but it will all depend on how many times Dirk Koetter has to scold Winston.

15. Los Angeles Chargers
Odds to win Super Bowl: 60-to-1

Outlook:  Here’s a dark horse candidate to legitemately surprise people.  There’s been too many times this team has been snakebitten for one year not to go their way.  Rivers has a very good complement of weapons to put up his usual stats and the defense has an absolute stud in Joey Bosa who will terrorize opposing QB’s alongside Melvin Ingram.  Expect this team to be the talk of LA and the one difficult ticket in their 30,000 seat stadium.

14. Arizona Cardinals
Odds to win Super Bowl: 40-to-1

Outlook:  If everything about Bruce Arians wanting to chuck it deep more is true, expect Carson Palmer to have a really good year.  David Johnson is enough to scare defenses that they CAN be aggressive deep because of the many ways that he threatens a defense.  Expect the Cards to be terrific and Hasaan Reddick to have the best year from any defensive player from this draft.

13. Carolina Panthers
Odds to win Super Bowl: 30-to-1

Outlook:  The great white hope Chrisian McCaffrey will be a test in where the RB position is headed.  Teams are now looking for the next David Johnson and the Panthers may feel like they have their guy in McCaffrey who will line up in multiple ways.  Keeping him on a pitch count will help keep Jonathan Stewart AND Cam Newton healthy.  I would not be shocked by a F U year from Cam and the Panthers to put them back in the discussion as among the league’s best.

12. Tennessee Titans
Odds to win Super Bowl: 20-to-1

Outlook:  The trendy AFC contender pick.  Mariota still seems like a gimmick QB to me and for me he’s the one guy that can drive this ship to be champions or not.  They will win the South but I have my reservations in putting my faith in a gimmick QB and a coach named Mularkey.

11. Minnesota Vikings
Odds to win Super Bowl: 40-to-1

Outlook: Ton of Super Bowl talk with a defense ready to contend but I still don’t see them being better than the Packers.  Do you?  Regardless, Sam Bradford is on injury alert for me.  His stats were misleading last year as he led the league in accuracy but his yards per attempt were the lowest out of all QB’s who started atlas 15 games.  The Vikings need Bradford to take a step forward.  It might be too much as he’s now in journeyman phase of his career.

10. Philadelphia Eagles
Odds to win Super Bowl: 40-to-1

Outlook:  Here’s the other team that could potentially upset the natural order of things in the division. There’s a clear path forward for this team.  They improved a receiving corps that hindered QB Carson Wentz’ development.  Even a slight improvement by Alshon Jeffrey and co will make the Eagles a looming threat to both the Giants and Cowboys.  I can see them being no less than 3rd in this division and can easily see them playing important games in late December for playoff positioning.

9. Kansas City Chiefs
Odds to win Super Bowl: 25-to-1

Outlook: Double check those odds after a decisive Week 1 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots where it looked like they cloned dynamic offensive talent Tyreek Hill in Kareem Hunt, their rookie RB who had the best debut fantasy performance by a rookie running back in history.  I still don’t trust Alex Smith to lead an NFL franchise to the promised land.  With Eric Berry landing on IR with a ruptured achilles the back end of KC’s defense takes a huge blow given how many athletic tight ends there are in the league.  Berry was an equalizer far too few teams in the NFL have.

TIER I: The Contenders

8. Dallas Cowboys
Odds to win Super Bowl: 12-to-1

Outlook: Someone will have to explain the Cowboys rosy outlook given the turnover they had on defense.  I get what they are doing on defense, but have they really improved?  Wasn’t last year the high watermark for Dak’s efficiency?  Isn’t losing two of their offensive line starters going to cost them? They can’t possibly better thant hey were last year when they went 13-3 right?  Am i clouded by my Giants fan bias?

7. New York Giants
Odds to win Super Bowl: 12-to-1

Outlook: The offensive line still makes me uneasy.  But the defense only gets better with continuity and adding a big hulking receiver in Brandon Marshall makes them better in the red zone.  A lot of guys played beyond expectation last year and expecting that kind of projection to continue would be unrealistic.  But I think this offense plays better and my spidey-senses are tingling about this season.

6. Oakland Raiders
Odds to win Super Bowl: 8-to-1

Outlook: I don’t get this line.  If there’s one team that can have all the goodwill undone from the previous year, its this team.  I don’t buy the Marshawn Lynch addition as a reason to push them over the top but a good QB like Derek Carr can offset a lot.  Ask the Giants from last year.  I think Carr is a top 8 QB in the NFL.  But I don’t buy this team as a legit Super Bowl threat.  I’m just not willing to bet that they take a huge fall from last year but the first four games will be telling.

5. Atlanta Falcons
Odds to win Super Bowl: 16-to-1

Outlook: There’s got to be a Super Bowl hangover.  You don’t lose that game, THAT WAY and come back like nothing ever happened.  Matt Ryan is in a contract year and seeing what QB’s are making must have him salivating.  Steve Sarkisian, new OC for the Falcons won’t shy away from taking chances and that’s exactly the mindset you need after losing the Super Bowl for, taking chances.  Kudos to coach Dan Quinn for wanting to maintain that identity despite what the naysayers will say.  Expect a YUUUUGE year from Julio Jones.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Odds to win Super Bowl: 10-to-1

Outlook: If there’s a team that can dethrone the Patriots its this team.  If the Chiefs showed that you can play man-defense and the Pats are really going to be that thin on defense, the Steelers may have the offense to beat the Pats even in Foxboro.  But for the Steelers to have any chance in January, they better be hosting the Patriots.  Even then it may not matter given their recent history.

3. Green Bay Packers
Odds to win Super Bowl: 8-to-1

Outlook: Sunday’s season opener between the Seahawks and Packers will legitimately have a chance to decide who hosts who in the NFC championship game so writing off Week one won’t be easy for the loser of this game.  The Packers have Aaron Rodgers and a bevy of weapons on offense against that spectacular defense.  I still think the Seahawks are a better team overall and John Schneider made sure of that with the slew of trades he made to fortify this team’s depth.  Sunday afternoon should be eye opening.

2. Seattle Seahawks
Odds to win Super Bowl: 8-to-1

Outlook: The Seahawks doubled down on their strengths and moved the needle slightly on offense which may have given Russell Wilson another half second to play with which may be enough.  The responsibility of keeping Wilson upright falls on a very shaky O-line which had two more starters go down with season ending injuries but expect Wilson to play almost MVP-like to lead the team to the Superbowl in a rematch against…

1, New England Patriots
Odds to Win Super Bowl: 11-to-4

Outlook: We’ve been down the road before where early in the season Tom Brady doesn’t look like himself and his demise is prematurely being discussed because…ratings.  But make no mistake, this team beefed up on offense and I trust Bill Belichieck to get his team ready on defense every week.  Against the Chiefs the Pats seemed to play against their natural instinct to be aggressive and made some uncharacteristic mistakes which swung the game in KC’s favor.  Don’t expect those mistakes to continue.  Brady is mad.  And when Brady is mad, that usually means good things for the Patriots and bad things for the rest of the league

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Daily Rounds 1/4/2012

And so it went in the NFL as more and more retentions and dismissals were announced.  Dean Spanos, owner of the San Diego Chargers, announced that GM AJ Smith and head coach Norv Turner would be returning for the 2012 season but according to San Diego Union Tribune reporter Kevin Acee, both know that if they don’t make the playoffs in 2012, they will not get a similar vote of confidence from the owner Spanos.  Acee went on to write that much of this falls on AJ Smith, the GM and he knows it.  Meanwhile, Andy Reid was given a vote of confidence by the Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie.  Les Bowen of the Philly Daily News said that despite all the harsh tone and sentiment, Jeff Lurie expressed confidence in Andy Reid, albeit in a limited time frame.   Despite the defense’s inability to stop many people, Paul Domowitch of the Daily News says that Andy Reid put Juan Castillo in a pretty uncomfortable situation and so he shouldn’t be left out to dry by Reid whatever decision he makes on the defensive coordinator.  Dan Graziano of ESPN.com says that the Eagle owner used the word unacceptable so much that bringing back Reid made the word meaningless.  The Bears let go of GM Jerry Angelo and Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes that it was thanks to an abysmal history of draft selecting that led to the former scout’s dismissal from the top job in all of Chi-town football land.  Dan Pompei of the Tribune writes that forcing Lovie Smith on the new GM is a recipe for disaster.  Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun Times writes that it was not enough talent as say a Green Bay or a Detroit that ultimately led to the dismissal of Jerry Angelo.  Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com says that the Bears made the right moves and threw out some names since the Bears are in the solution business.  Peter King of SI.com weighs in on all topics including how the dominoes may fall once the dust settles.  

Is that enough for you?  A day after the Rams fired Bill Devaney and Steve Spagnuolo and Raheem Morris was sent packing in Tampa, a few more jobs opened up in NFL offices and a few quite surprisingly stayed shut.  I want to focus on them specifically so let’s run them down one by one:

Chargers:  The biggest surprise of the day was that Norv Turner will wake up this morning as the head coach of the San Diego Chargers.  If you hear talent evaluators and scouts talk about the job that AJ Smith has done in building the Chargers from perennial doormats to one of the elite teams, you’d think this team won a few championships.  Yet that’s the chatter among folks in the know:  the talent is there to win it all.  And that would lead one to believe that its the coach’s fault.  Right?  Wrong.  Apparently Norv has earned ONE FINAL shot at winning a new contract and it doesn’t necessarily mean winning a championship.  The Chargers are a very good team and over the final month showed that by playing well.  The regular season finale showed everything you needed to about the Chargers: their offense was clicking and yet the Raiders still had a chance in the end to win it.  The biggest problem the Chargers have is their head coach.  I’ve always felt that Norv Turner running an offense and Norv running a team are two totally different people and one easily out paces the other.  Some guys just can’t do the head coaching thing and it doesn’t take anything away from the offensive genius that Norv has, I’m just saying that perhaps the man would be better served wearing just that one hat than say the coach’s hat too.

Eagles: As surprising as the Chargers retention of Smith and Norv was, I wasn’t surprised by Andy Reid being given one more chance.  The shortened training season and programs limited the ability of Juan Castillo to install his defense and for Jim Washburn to install his wide 9 scheme.  But look at the raw numbers and the final 6 weeks and a different Eagles team started to emerge.  A team more confident and a team capable of scoring and playing with anyone.  Yes, the competition wasn’t all that but a team sometimes just needs to build confidence and say the Giants lost to the Jets and then the Cowboys beat the Giants in week 17, the Eagles would be hosting a playoff game.  Yes, as awful as that team played throughout the first 2 months of the season the Eagles still had a glimmer of hope heading into the final two weeks.  But there was just too much “unacceptable”-ness that couldn’t be ignored.  Reid’s decision to make Castillo, a former offensive line coach into a defensive coordinator was a dubious one.  The organization built a championship caliber defense to go with its high octane offense but I kept telling people that the offensive line was going to be a problem and it led to Vick getting injured and spending a ton of time on the side line.  The Eagles were plagued by mental errors and that falls on the coach’s lap.  Most of his decisions back fired on him during this season where all the expectations were that he not only make it to the playoffs but have a deep run.  None of that materialized.  Even in a very mediocre year for the NFC East, the Eagles with all that talent couldn’t win the division which is an upset in it of itself.  The next order of business will be to figure out what to do with Juan.  Hist last few games have been impressive and perhaps giving him a full offseason to help his players understand the scheme and the coverages may be of use.  BUT, Steve Spagnuolo, the former Eagles defensive coach is out there and there’s a rumbling among Eagle fans to retain him as the defensive coordinator a post he wanted a few years ago but was apparently held back by Reid which led to some tense times in Eagle land and eventually led to his emergence in New York as a Giant and a Super Bowl trophy.  The Eagles have plenty of tough decisions to make but make no mistake, the real unacceptable part will be this time next year if the Eagles are again left out of the dance, and Reid is looking for a lifeline: do NOT expect it from Jeff Lurie.

Bears: I agree with Dan Pompei- its tough to assume that the new GM and Lovie Smith will get along but there’s no denying that had Matt Forte and Jay Cutler NOT gone down with injuries the Bears would’ve been in the thick of things.  They were 7-3 and then Cutler and Forte went down.  I see them winning at minimum two of the games they lost.  They definitely beat the Broncos and they definitely beat the Chiefs.  That’s a 10-6 season and a wild card berth.  There were certainly holes and as Peter King pointed at the offensive line as a mystery that Jerry Angelo could never solve.  His draft record was poor and aside from Matt Forte, he didn’t draft a game changing star since trading for Jay Cutler.  But the biggest black mark was that Sam Hurd signing.  I don’t agree with it but Hurd’s arrest and charges and the fact that Angelo was accused of not doing a thorough background check may have been his undoing.  Bringing too much negative publicity may have been the final straw and there are several personnel moves that make you scratch your head.  That coupled with the fact that the Lions and Packers are teams that have been built from within and have the ability to have sustained excellence the Bears HAD to make a move to get on the boat of doing the same and bringing in a person who can draft well and help to build the core of the Bears from within.  That I feel was the biggest dilemma for the Bears who, like the Colts have masked a lot of their problems through scheme (Mike Martz also got the door) and great QB play.  The Bears had a decent team and aside from those two injuries to their most prominent offensive pieces, the Bears had very little shot of having a run with Caleb Hanie.  Lovie’s refusal to sit Hanie though was kind of odd and could’ve been the catalyst for his own firing.  Donovan McNabb may have helped the Bears a bit though even he would’ve been a long shot to cure the Bears considering their offensive line was just NOT any good.

Then there’s the decision that will REALLY make this offseason interesting.  The Indianapolis Colts fired Bill and Chris Polian Monday and owner Jim Irsay is setting the tone for a rebuilding year.  If that’s the case the Indianapolis Star’s Bob Kravitz says that means Andrew Luck will be the Colts QB in 2012 and Peyton Manning will be elsewhere.  Alex Marvez of FoxSports says that the best case scenario for the Colts would be that Peyton Manning’s neck isn’t healthy and it makes it easy for the organization to cut ties with the future hall of famer.  If not, there’s a major decision in the hands of a new GM.  Judy Batista of the New York Times says that the change was more of a cultural change as the Polians seemed to be outshining even the head coach Jim Caldwell who was spared the axing.  The decision on Caldwell will rest with the new GM.  

The Peyton Manning decision will be the most interesting personnel decision made by any one team that I can remember.  Imagine a QB with two or three more years of elite level at the quarterback position hitting the open market for teams to take.  Let’s take a look at the 12 teams that made the playoffs this year.  Out of the 12, 6 of them could use an upgrade immediately.  Imagine the Ravens with Peyton at the helm.  Imagine the 49ers with Peyton under center.  The Broncos may have Tebow magic but Peyton Manning could deliver them victories.  The Texans with Manning passing to Andre Johnson?  That’s Super Bowl worthy.  Then you open him up to owners like Daniel Snyder who has already said he would hand Peyton a blank check and let’s be real, he would and give him anything he wants.

But what about his legacy as a Colt?  In my estimation it wouldn’t suffer.  Look, this is a part of the business of football.  Teams are better off running superstars out of town a year early than a year late because of the propensity of injury in this sport.  The QB position especially is difficult.  Unfortunately the Colts won’t even be able to take advantage of having Peyton in the line up.  The Colts have until March 1st to make a decision on Peyton.  That’s the day that he’s owed a huge roster bonus upwards of $20 million.  His salary cap number will be a ridiculous $28 million which would be at the very least 1/6th of the teams’ cap number making it impossible to make additional roster changes.  The decision with the head is to finally cut Peyton Manning though it sounds harsh.  Its the right move for the organization that needs to look to its future and by firing the Polians they did just that.  We dont know what the Polians would’ve done had they been in charge of making that decision but Jim Irsay paved the way for a change.  Its something that had to be done.

Let’s not think that by any measure this is an easy decision.  Yes, Peyton’s neck surgeries the last few years are a troubling trend.  Yes, he’s getting older.  But his absence showed you how absolutely top heavy this team is in terms of production and play.  Without Peyton they are a doormat, a 2-14 disaster.  Its a result of bad drafting that has left this team woefully thin at several positions.  The Colts need to move forward and regardless of where you are as a fan, the right move is to release Peyton Manning so the Colts can build this team up the right way and give Andrew Luck a chance in the coming years to lead a good team.  If he’s as advertised if you build a solid offensive line, and get some more weapons along side Pierre Garcon (Reggie Wayne is most likely leaving and hopefully Austin Collie stops being concussed) the Colts can rebuild this team back in a division with the Texans who always have one reason or another why they can’t run away with the division.  Then there’s the Jags who are in rebuilding mode and are years away without a franchise QB at all.  Then there’s the Titans who are the second or third best team in the division depending solely on Indy’s play.  Again, this decision WILL NOT be easy but its necessary that the Colts look to the future and NOT hold on to the past.

Meanwhile the local football team in the playoffs, the Giants are looking at their battle tested schedule and wondering if they could take the 49ers and the Packers to the brink, why can’t they make a run?  Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News gets the players pulse.  Tom Rock of Newsday says that Antrell Rolle after giving props to Tom Coughlin continued the respect train and it stopped at the doorstep of fellow safety Deon Grant who sat him down and got him to be himself.  Osi Umeniyora played Sunday but suffered a setback on the high ankle sprain.  While he’s expected to miss some practice time do not expect him to miss the first playoff game in Metlife Stadium.  Mike Vaccaro says that the Giants can turn the volume up and bring some life to Metlife Stadium.  Paul Schwartz of the New York Post says that Giant fans shouldn’t compare any run the Giants may have with the one in 2007.  

Its interesting that Mike Vaccaro brings that up because the Giants in 2007 relied on a road reliable team to cruise into the Super Bowl.  The Giants rallying cry was road warriors and its been over 10 years since the Giants had a home playoff win so the Giants are overdue.  Its also interesting that the similarities between eerie events happening that year and the events of this year.  The Giants would love this team to author a similar ending and surely there is no super duper team that has no weaknesses that it would be the height of improbability that the Giants walk into their home this season and win BUT the Giants have a few glaring differences.  That team’s offensive line and running game were stout, both of which are concerns heading into the playoffs.

The Giants would have a similar up hill climb with the Saints being a very difficult task since the Giants would likely have to face them in the SuperDome where they are 8-0 this season and they are 10-0 in domes overall.  The Giants however have a passing attack which features Victor Cruz.  My biggest key going into the Falcon game will be how Nicks handles it.  Nicks is the unquestioned number one regardless of the feel good story that Cruz is.  Nicks is the move the chains/Plaxico guy who can make big catches and having both of them going at the same time would do wonders for this team and afford HUGE holes for the offensive line to work with.

The Giants need the defensive line to play lights out over the next month in order to have any chance to move forward.  If they don’t play well the secondary will get lit up.  Not a maybe, it WILL get lit up.  The pressure is on the defensive line to cause pressure and force mistakes.  The Giants will need all the help they can get.

Tyler Kepner of the New York Times believes that the Yankees are saving their cash to spend big next winter when guys like Matt Cain and Cole Hamels may wind up as free agents.  

The name to keep in mind is Matt Cain.  Cole Hamels will be retained by the Phillies barring some major malfunction on the organization’s thinking.  The Phillies have a ton of money tied up in Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay (two worthwile contracts even at THAT price), but not retaining your home grown under 30 ace like pitcher would be the height of stupidity and the antithesis of how the Phillies have operated under Ruben Amaro Jr.  Cain however remains with the Giants, a team who will have to pay HUGE bucks to Tim Lincecum and will try to tie up Buster Posey (if they are smart) and I dont know where they are willing to go payroll wise but they would have to crack the $100 million barrier to afford both and I dont know that the Giants want to sustain that kind of payroll for multiple seasons which will eventually be what they have to do in order to keep the nucleus together.  Look, the Yankees were smart NOT to invite CJ Wilson to their facility for a try out.  Its clear the Yankees do NOT want to be used to drive up his price EVEN if it benefits them by making a fellow contender spend more but the Yankees are only going to gain an ace by trade.  My guess is that the Yankees somehow pry Felix Hernandez loose from the Mariners UNLESS Prince Fielder decides to sign in Seattle.  Seattle CAN operate as a big market club but are being built through the minor leagues by Jeff Zdiruneck.

My guess is that the Nationals sign Prince Fielder.  The Mariners trade Felix to the Yankees  for multiple pieces (start with Jesus Montero AND Dellin Betances and perhaps Gaby Sanchez) which IS the right move for both teams and the Yankees STILL don’t win a world series.  Look, I’m no Mayan but I’d be lying if I told you I thought the Yankees can expect to find another Freddy Garcia AND Bartolo Colon to offset their lack of pitching depth.  You know what you got in CC Sabathia (workhorse ace) and in AJ Burnett (5.00 ERA) and at some point in time the Yankees can expect Mariano to drop off in production though I would NEVER bet against the greatest closer in the history of the position.  I expect a slightly down year from Curtis Granderson.  I expect Robinson Cano to have an MVP year next year.  I expect the slow regression of the captain and Alex Rodriguez to continue and for Manny Banuelos to have a decent rookie campaign.  I even predict he makes the team from the outset of the season.

Finally, before quitting the blog for the day, Lynn Zinser of the New York Times talks about the repercussions for Santonio Holmes quitting on his team.  Now that Rex Ryan has been shut up for good, everyone else is doing the talking and its not complementary.  Mike Lupica of the Daily News calls Rex and the Jets the joke.  Brian Costello of the Post says that Mark Sanchez during an interview with 1050 ESPN took full responsibility for trying to make things right with Santonio Holmes.  Roderick Boone of Newsday said that Rex vowed to spend more time with the offense.  

Lynn hit the nail right on the head.  Often times when players are making certain decisions during the heat of the battle they rarely think about its consequences.  They give in to their emotions and let them  take control.  Holmes wanted the football.  He didn’t get it.  He pouted.  But the setting for that was the problem.  The season was on the line and as it turns out, the Jets COULD HAVE made the playoffs had Holmes kept his head in the game and made plays to help the Jets win the game.  BUT, what can’t be ignored is that Holmes criticisms have some merit.  The offense has stunk for some time now but at least over the last two years when the Jets went on extended runs they had some sort of identity:  they were a run-oriented offense.  They went away from that slowly with Holmes’ acquisition and Plax this year but to do that in addition to cutting several veterans who would’ve provided leadership in the locker room was a recipe for disaster.  Add that to the fact that the training camps were cut short by the lockout and the team had very little time to get acclimated to the new system the Jets were setting themselves up.  By the time they tried to revert back it was too late.  They had squandered too many games and another year out of a great defense.  The Jets face a tough question but my choice would be to keep Santonio.  The Jets need to bring in a QB to really challenge Sanchez.  You want to see your franchise guy man up and win a QB competition straight up which is why throwing money at Matt Flynn is a good idea.  Of course if Peyton Manning comes into play you could make a run but with the Jets current cap situation he would have to take a lesser deal to come to the Jets though he may want to do that with how close the Jets are and the chance at playing Tom Brady twice a year.  But who knows, right now Mark Sanchez has to do what he can to reclaim that locker room because he’s NOT a leader that can voice his opinions.  Santonio had NO RESPECT for him and thus missed meetings that he tried to set up.  That kind of insubordination deserves a huge presence by Rex who needs to give up this idea and belief that he can coach anybody and focus on putting together a good team not necessarily the most talented one.

The Jets were once a team and I think most players would love to play for a coach like Rex Ryan who wears his emotions on his sleeve but Rex needs to take a step back and assess exactly what went wrong.  My opinion?  Get rid of Schotty if you are going in a different direction at the QB.  IF you get Peyton ax Schotty and get a decent offensive coordinator to take his place.  I would pray that Schottenheimer gets the Jaguars job which is apparently open.  The fact is, the Jets need help in the locker room which wasn’t the case until this year.  Either way, they want their players to quit the baby act and not quit on themselves.

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Week 3 Lines

I’m prepared today. I’m not always readily willing to admit to it but
I’m prepared. I knew this Sunday would come and I’m ready. So ready in
fact that ive already made alternate plans for that timeslot.
I’m going shopping. Id rather shop than watch what will happen to my
New York football Giants today against the Philadelphia Eagles.  Yea,
my Giants. I’ve decided to break my own rules because of the rash of
injuries hat have befell the G-men. You can’t help but want to hug the
Giants collectively, pat them on the back and say baby it’ll be ok.*
*= two things. That had to be the least manly thing I’ve ever written
but strangely I’m ok with that. The other? If that last line sounded
familiar it’s because it’s a line from the classic Method Man and Mary
J Blige song “you’re all I need”. Yes, I listen to the voices in my
head. I’m not in control.

But in this great gladiator sport you deal with injuries. Taking a
case study of the Giants offseason and the Eagles offseason you notice
a major difference in policy. The Eagles went all in knowing their
star QB Mike Vick had a limited window before he lost his greatest
weapon: his legs. Of course his legs will eventually lead to his
demise but that’s neither here nor there. They knew their window was
small, and they wisely planned financially to be ready for this
offseason setting themselves up for their spending spree. It also
helps that almost every player in the NFL wants to play with him.

The giants meanwhile were locked into contracts and couldn’t offer the
kind of deals to guys like Kevin Boss or Steve Smith, two of Eli
Manning’s safety nets,  to keep them which eventually landed both on
other teams. The worst being Smith going to those Eagles.

The Giants hierarchy is still living off the 2007 championship when
almost everything broke right for them and they made excellent draft
decisions and built the blueprint of a contender thru a single draft
which is practically unheard of.  The Eagles meanwhile have a QB with
the physical tools that their former franchise QB Donovan McNabb never
had. Theoretically the Eagles should be the hungrier team and by their
actions they are. But the Giants built their champion from within and
are sticking stubbornly to it.

In many ways this matchup is a battle of philosophies. Can a group of
mercenaries destroy a team?  The narrative in today’s shows will be
yes. I won’t stand to watch it, or maybe I will. I have faith that the
Giants way is the right way.  Now it’s time for that faith to be
tested.

Here are the lines for week 3 with the home team in caps:

49ers (+2.5) over BENGALS

BILLS (+7) over Pats-  unless ochocinco learned the play book, and
Aaron Hernandez comes to play expect this game to be close.

Texans (+4) over SAINTS

EAGLES (-8.5) over Giants

BROWNS (-2) over Dolphins

Lions (-3) over VIKINGS-  I’m all in baby.  On the Lions. Yeah I said
it.  I’m not picking against the Lions while the Lion King is in
theaters.

PANTHERS (-3) over Jags-  by the way, I’m totally on the Cam
bandwagon. Like I said in my season preview.

CHARGERS (-14.5) over Chiefs-  the only question about this game is if
Chris Berman will just sing the San Diego Super Charger theme song
while the highlights are playing.

Jets (-3) over RAIDERS-  if the Jets were concerned about this game,
trust me, all pro center Nick Mangold would’ve made the trip.

Ravens (-5) over RAMS

Falcons (+1.5) over BUCS

Cardinals (-3.5) over SEAHAWKS

BEARS(+4) over Packers-  take the under too. These teams know how to
play each other.

Steelers (-10.5) over COLTS-  add up all the guys the Giants AND the
Chiefs lost and I wonder if even that adds up to the devastation that
has befallen the Colts minus Peyton Manning.

COWBOYS (-4.5) over Redskins-  I’m gonna miss making fun of punk ass
Romo. To play that game after puncturing a lung and cracking ribs and
watching how slow he moves when he gets up, I gotta give it up to him.

Last Week: 10-4-1

Season: 19-10-1
Enjoy week 3!

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“THE ANATOMY OF A DISASTAH”

Some thoughts and observations on one of the more surprising losses of the season for the Giants.

– First off, this was an Eagle victory JUST as much as it was a Giant loss.  Don’t get me wrong, the Giants lost the game but the Eagles won it outright just on the fact that they have playmakers who can score points very quickly and teams just dont have an answer for the amount of speed that the Eagles have.  But the Michael Vick show continued at the Meadowlands.  I’m not saying that he deserves the MVP over Tom Brady but you can certainly make the case that its a lot closer than some may even be willing to concede.

When I say the Giants shut him down for all but the last 7 minutes of the game, I MEAN they had him shut down.  Their game plan was to keep him within the pocket and have someone at both ends so he wouldn’t think about going around the edge and for 52 minutes, that game plan was solid and worked.  They harassed, sacked, batted down balls and made his day for the most part very difficult.  But let’s go over the final 8 minutes

8:09 left the Eagles get the ball back.

7:40 left- Brent Celek catches a 65 yard TD pass after Kenny Phillips whiffs on a tackle.  31-17.

7:28 left- After Special teams coaches warned them about the possibility of the onside kick, what do the front line guys do?  As David Akers comes to kick the ball, they start moving back and it makes Riley Cooper’s job a helluva lot easier despite the fact that the Eagles had their all hands team which is to say they were screaming onsides kick before they even kicked the damn thing.  Eagles recover.

one play later

6:54 left- Vick slips underneath a sack by Deon Grant who runs right by him and he goes for 35 yards.  Surprisingly that’s his season long.   Vick at this point, began playing the game on feel which is when he’s most dangerous.

two plays later

5:54 left- Vick tries to run again, but this time gets sacked as the Giants maintain gap discipline and don’t give him the edge.  BUT, its for naught because Justin Tuck is called for onsides after he lines up in the neutral zone so that sack is basically wiped out.

two plays later:

3rd and Goal- 5:32 left- Vick rushes for four yards for the touchdown.  Score: 31-24 Giants

So now, 2:08 later, they score 3 TD’s and cut it to a 7 point game which now adds urgency for the Giants to make this a real game, if the Giants weren’t aware it was already.  Basically all the momentum is on the side of the Eagles and the Giants are running on fumes.

The Giants convert on a first down and force the Eagles into using all three of their timeouts which is crucial because should the Eagles needed to challenge something outside of 2 minutes, they wouldn’t have a time out and speaking of which.  The Eagles got shafted on two challenges- one that was challenged that went the Giants way and the other that they didn’t challenge which most certainly would’ve favored them.  So ALL the breaks went the Giants way.  So the Giants really had no excuses.

The Giants get the ball back and a play later:

3:56- Eli is calling an audible and David Diehl gets called for a false start and now, instead of a manageable 2nd and 6, they have a 2nd and 11.  They run and get about 3 yards.

3:08- Now, with a 3rd and 8, the Giants must convert which means they have to pass.  Incomplete and an irate Eli is asking why his receivers didn’t break early and this is where I think the absence of Steve Smith is so crucial.  With Hakeem Nicks being double covered pretty much all game and taken out, the onus was on Derek Hagan and Mario Manningham and neither are on the level of a Steve Smith which shows because adjustments on the routes like that are necessary especially when the blitz comes.  The receivers have to know to break from their routes early and help Eli out.  The Giants put themselves in this position where they had to convert in order to keep the ball OUT of Michael Vick’s hands.

Eagles get the ball back after the Giants pin them at the 2.

two incompletions later

3rd and 10- 2:50 left-  Vick finally gets the edge after Aaron Ross stupidly overpursues for the sack and Vick gets the first down…and then some and he gets 33 yards.  They had pressure to keep him in the pocket and Ross plays too far inside and Vick gets the edge and no one is beating him in a foot race.

Vick completes a 13 yard pass to Maclin and takes a hit from Jason Pierre Paul.

2:10 left- Another batted ball by JPP after the Giants again keep him in the pocket and surround him.

2nd and 10: 2:07 left- Vick rushes up the gut gets the first down and slips and falls.  2 minute warning.

Remember, Eagles have no timeouts left.

1:30 left- Maclin catches the pass, fakes to his right and turns to the left, slips a tackle and scores and now: 31-31 tie game.

Giants get the ball- 2 incompletions and then a sack.  But this is good because the Giants have made the Eagles use all their timeouts but the Eagles will STILL get a play off before the end of the game.  The point is to kick it out of bounds and hope that the Eagles play for overtime which they will.

:14 left-  All Matt Dodge has to do is kick it out of bounds.  Thats it.  Dodge gives the thumbs up signal to the sideline for some reason.  That was the moment that I began to get worried.  Pressure situation, and you have the world’s most dangerous punt returner at the other end waiting.  What does Dodge do?  Gets the ball a lil high, still has plenty of time because the Eagles go back to help block.

Jackson fumbles the ball after he gets a line drive punt.  It must have surprised Jackson as well considering the situation and Jackson takes care of the rest.  No flags.  Final score 38-31.

The entire stadium is at a loss for words except for the Eagles fans who decided to stay till the end and got themselves one of the greatest Christmas gifts ever.  Yesterday, Eli Manning said that they hand wrapped the game for the Eagles.  I disagree.  I think the Giants made three crucial mistakes:

1. Kenny Phillips not being able to tackle Brent Celek on that first touchdown that made it a 14 point game.  They scored that touchdown in 19 seconds.  19 SECONDS!!!!  Two plays were run during that drive.  Had Phillips dropped Celek, suddenly they need a few extra plays perhaps and the Eagles don’t have any type of momentum.  The Giants had taken the game over and were dominating the game, and i mean dominating the game.  This set up the chain reaction that was the onsides kick which wasn’t necessary at that point, except to somewhat keep the pressure on the G-men, who should have expected the onside kick EVERY SINGLE TIME the Eagles had to kick off to them.  But they didn’t and the Eagles took over.  By then, Vick realized he had to do whatever HE could to win this game for them.

2. David Diehl’s false start was a killer.  The Giants converted a first down and forced the Eagles into using all of their timeouts.  It was the only drive that the Giants had any kind of momentum and the running game was doing decent.  Not getting huge chunks of yards at a time, but still getting enough.  But Diehl’s false start makes it from a 2nd and 6 to 2nd and 11 and took the momentum squarely away.  Inexcusable penalty and it put the Giants into a position where on 3rd down they had to pass and the incompletion stops the clock and gives the Eagles a stoppage whereas on a 3rd and short, they can run the ball and keep the pressure on the Eagles by having the time drip drip away.  Instead of it being near the two minute mark, there’s 3:08 left on the clock.  Plenty of time for the explosive Philly offense to take the field and score.

3. The punt.  What can you say about the punt except that it should never have happened.  Not only was it the worst punt in the history of punts considering what happened, and the magnitude of this game, but you have to consider it the absolute DUMBEST play EVER!  It was so bad that Tom Coughlin ran out on to the field and you could immediately tell what he was saying to him: “what did I tell you to do?  HUH?!?”  We’ve all seen Tom Coughlin mad and upset, that’s his normal everyday face- but this was totally different.  He was so angry because he was so confused.  Matt Dodge, the rookie punter, had simple enough instructions- kick it out of bounds.  The absolute worst case scenario from that punt was Dodge getting it and line drive punting it straight to Jackson.  The worst part of that was Jackson fumbled the punt- probably from the shock of actually being given a chance to return the punt.  Even that break went the Eagles way because had Jackson received the punt cleanly, you have to assume that the Giants specials team would’ve been able to corrall him around where he got it (c’mon, lets dream shall we?).  Instead, the fumble threw everyone and all the timing off.  Watch as everyone sort of overpursues after Jackson takes a small step back and then just turns on the jets to run right through the inside seam and take it to the house.  There was a huge block at the 40 which sprang him and that would have been a block in the back if he had fielded it cleanly- the fumble actually HELPED him.  By then the momentum was completely on the side of the Eagles.  No way was that punt NOT being returned.

I had actually felt sorry for Matt Dodge and kept telling everyone- this kid has a huge leg and he will get it soon.  But even I couldn’t forgive and forget on that punt.  Even I turned into a typical pessimistic fan willing to leave him in Newark instead of taking him on the flight to Wisconsin to play the Packers next Sunday.  Mike Francesa yesterday said “if he blows it in Green Bay, they should just leave him there.”  I agree with him.  I hate for anyone to lose their job in this economy and to be left in a city like Green Bay, (just kidding), but that punt was inexcusable and for him to sit there and say he was being pressured- look at the tape there is NO ONE within five yards of you after having received the punt and all you had to do was kick it out of bounds.  Angle it out of bounds.

Simply put the Eagles were the better team on the field and if that performance didn’t put into everyone’s mind how absolutely dangerous this team is?  I dont know what will.  There is a way for teams to beat the Eagles, but you need athletes.  You need stud athletes to keep up with theirs.  Michael Vick CAN be bottled up but you have to be of absolute discipline and on two plays the Giants weren’t and Vick ran amok.  Think on this: for 52 minutes Vick had 99 passing yards and 30 something rushing yards.  By the end of the game he had more than 200 yards passing and a 130 yards rushing in a virtuoso performance.  Peter King in his Monday Morning QB article wrote that he would never be able to match this performance from this game ever again.  I disagree.  If this season is the fully mature, realizing-his-potential Michael Vick then, isn’t this kind of thing on every fan’s mind now?  If he’s become the best passer/runner combo version of himself that every defense that played him feared, isn’t this kind of feat-especially now that he’s accomplished it, something that should be expected of him?  I’m not saying he should be expected to score 28 points in 7 minutes, but with him, leading this offense, literally no lead is safe.  You can’t game plan athletes of his type.  You can try to bottle them up but once they begin playing school yard, unless you have the athletes to play that school yard too you begin to be spectators too.  Half the time he went on those runs, Giants defenders had to be amazed at his ability to escape pressure and turn losses into gains.

The Michael Vick show is back and is soooooo alive.

If the Eagles don’t make the Super Bowl, trust me when I say this- it will be a HUGE shock.  I’ve seen magical seasons and games like this are the stuff that make this season more special than any other Philly has had.  If the Eagles dont face the Patriots in the Super Bowl- it will be because of some stupidity that Philly won’t soon forget- not because Vick failed.  This playoff run will either be magical or a truly terrible shock for Philly fans.  Even they can smell it.  They know its coming.  They can beat the Bears, the Rams, the Saints, the Falcons and we all know that they own the Giants- after beating them for the sixth straight time.

What now becomes of the Giants?  Its simple:  either this loss defines them and haunts them or they put it behind them and they make a push for the playoffs renewed by their failure.  But we all know losses like this are not the kind of stuff you just put away.  These are the kind of losses that snowball and destroy a season.  Mike Francesa asked a question that I myself wondered: “if you’re a Giant player, how did you even drive home yesterday?”  I’d be staring at a wall for hours too trying to come up with words to express the disappointment.

The Giants now have to at the very least split their next two games in order to win the final playoff spot.  Next week is not given.  If the Giants lose next week trust me when I say that armageddon will be upon the G-men should they not even win week 17.  Forget about it.  If they don’t make the playoffs Tom Coughlin could get fired.  I’m not saying he deserves it but those within the organization who don’t like him may have enough ammo to get the job done.

Peter King reported that Bill Cowher may be a front runner for the job but that he isn’t sure that Cowher will get the job because of his price tag.

This collapse will live on among the greatest New York collapses of all time.  Miracle at the Meadowlands.  ALCS 2004.  METS in 2007.  Number 7 in 7 minutes in 2010.  Welcome to hell Giants fans.

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