Week 16 Observations
It's hard to fathom how Eli Manning became one of the worst quarterbacks in the league over the last 11 weeks and an absolute killer in fantasy (h/t Scott Pianowski). And the defense is even worse, totally unable to rush the passer, cover receivers or tackle.
One of the craziest stats in all of football is that the Giants have been 6-2 or better in the first half of every season since Tom Coughlin took over except 2004 when they started 5-2 and finished 6-10 and 2009 when they started 5-0 and finished 8-8. In other words, in nine seasons, the Giants have started off 6-2 six times, 7-1 once, 5-2 and 5-0. That all sounds great until you consider how reliable their terrible finishes are, mitigated greatly of course by two improbable Super Bowl runs.
Jim Schwartz should have been fired over the stadium loudspeaker for about the fifth time this season when he went for a field goal on 4th and goal from the three, down eight early in the fourth quarter. It's sad when even an out-of-contention coach doesn't have the courage to do the right thing.
Calvin Johnson broke the record for receiving yards in Week 16, and you can bet the Lions will do everything they can to get him to 2,000 against the Bears in Week 17.
The Falcons were a fraud with a good record earlier in the year, but if the 9-7 Giants could suddenly become juggernauts in the playoffs, why can't Atlanta grow into their 13-2 record? Just because they were lucky earlier in the year doesn't mean they won't be good now.
The Texans are the opposite - the formerly legit No. 1 seed that shrunk into a fraud. Does anyone think they'll get by Denver or New England, assuming they beat the Colts this week and don't wind up in the Wild Card round?
Unlike the Lions, the Vikings are resembling a playoff team rather merely than an NFL-record-delivery-system for their star player. If Christian Ponder completely doesn't crap the bed, they might not be an automatic out should they make the playoffs, either.
The Buccaneers were never contenders even though it might have looked that way for 10 minutes this season. Josh Freeman is one of those "franchise quarterbacks" you wonder whether the team wouldn't be better off not having.
In the unlikely event the Rams win in Seattle this week, they'd be above .500 on the year. That might be better than the Cowboys or Giants.
The Eagles losing on an intentional grounding penalty while knocking on the door was pretty disappointing. Plus I needed the points from RGIII in overtime. Michael Vick starts against the Giants this week and could be a good pickup for those in points leagues that go 17 weeks.
Next year, Calvin Johnson will be the No. 1 WR on almost everyone's board, but Dez Bryant should contend with A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall for No. 2. Very quietly Tony Romo might wind up with 5,000 passing yards this year (along with Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford).
In another cowardly move, Saints coach Joe Vitt punted on 4th and 1 from his own 30 up seven with under two minutes left. Not only are the Saints eliminated from contention, but going for it was clearly the right move as making the first down ends the game, and failing only gives Dallas the ball on the 30 while needing a TD. By punting, Dallas got the ball back with plenty of time and of course drove for the easy tying score. Moreover, if they failed and Dallas got the ball at the 30 and scored quickly, Drew Brees might have had time for a game-winning FG. Luckily for the Saints, they won in overtime anyway.
Why does Indy always seem to play down to its competition for three quarters, then cover the spread in the final minutes? Jamaal Charles should sue the Chiefs for neglect given what he's able to do when they decide finally to give him the ball.
If you only watched the Jaguars play the 12-3 Texans, 11-4 Patriots and 11-4 Packers, you'd think they were pretty good.
The Steelers name brand wasn't enough to carry them into the playoffs this year, though it wasn't the fault of their defense which held Cincy without an offensive score. The Bengals defense played a fantastic game, too.
The Titans really have no quit in them, scoring a TD with 1:39 left and covering what should have been the spread. Aaron Rodgers certainly delivered on his top-five status in the finals, but you probably didn't get there if you had him. It's interesting that James Jones leads the NFL with 13 TD catches on 722 yards while Calvin Johnson has five on 1,892.
The Jets attempted only 25 passes, yet gave up 11 sacks. That ratio has to be a record.
I don't want to comment much on the late games because not only were they terrible, but frankly I left at around 3:30 PT to head to the beach.
The Seahawks are a dangerous team in the playoffs, but they're like the Saints were last year in that they're good on the road, but unbeatable at home. Unless they somehow win the division though - unlikely as the Niners get Arizona at home this week - they'll be travelling.
The NFC is wide open now with the Niners, Seahawks, Falcons and Packers all capable of winning it, and the Redskins even having a chance. I'd be mildly shocked if someone other than Denver or New England comes out of the AFC.