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Tackle Tuesday: Wild Card Weekend

In General, NFL on January 14, 2010 at 11:21 am

Better late than never right?

Upset of the Week: Baltimore Ravens 33

New England Patriots 14

In what many expected to be the closest game of Wild Card weekend, the Ravens jumped out to a 24-0 first quarter lead and never looked back in handing Tom Brady his first career home playoff loss. The Ravens got an 83-yard TD run from running back Ray Rice on their first play from scrimmage, and went on to dominate the rest of the game, taking advantage of uncharacteristic turnovers by Brady to score quickly and often in that first quarter. The 24-0 lead proved to be more than enough, as the Ravens only added 10 more points the rest of the game but still won comfortably. It was a shocking loss for the Patriots, who many people expected to just turn it on once the playoffs started. Instead they will be sent home with a list of questions and concerns, including what to do with Randy Moss and whether or not this is the end of an era in New England.

MVP: Ray Rice Ray Rice (22 car, 159 yards, 2 TD) – You know you’re in for a good day as a RB when the first time you carry the ball you burst up-field for an 83-yard score. Rice came out and along with Willis McGahee, dominated the ground game for Baltimore, allowing them to chew up clock and literally carrying them to victory. Joe Flacco was just 4-10 for 40 yards, but it didn’t matter as the running game let him rest comfortably all day as the Patriots could not stop Baltimore ground attack.

LVP: Tom Brady Tom Brady (23-42, 154 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, Lost Fumble) – This was just a confusing game if your Patriots fans, and the most confusing of them all was Tom Brady not showing up ready to play. Brady started off the first quarter by throwing two picks, helping the Ravens jump out to that 24-0 lead and he seemed out of it the rest of the day. He rushed throws, threw into a lot of double-coverage and just never looked comfortable under the Ravens pressure. This is surely a game that Brady will want to quickly forget.

Game of the Week: Arizona Cardinals 51 Green Bay Packers 45

Where to even begin with this one? The Cardinals jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter before extending it to 31-10 early in the third, a sign that this was surely going to be the fourth blow-out of Wild Card weekend. That is until Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense decided to join the party. Rodgers threw an interception on his first pass of the game, but eventually settled down and lead the Packers to five straight touch down drives. Kurt Warner was no slouch however, as he kept the Cardinals scoring with an unbelievable passing day. After the Packers had tied the game at 45 with just over a minute and a half left, Warner quickly lead the Cardinals down field for what was a potential game-winning field goal. But Neil Rackers missed what amounts to a chip shot and the game headed into overtime. With all the momentum on their side the Packers won the coin-toss and seemed destined to pull of the huge comeback. On the first play from scrimmage in OT, Rodgers missed a wide open Greg Jennings in the middle of the field for what surely would have been the winning touchdown. Two plays later, the Cardinals brought the blitz on third down, and cornerback Michael Adams hit Rodgers and caused the ball to pop loose, linebacker Karlos Dansby snatched it out of the air and ran untouched 17 yards for the game winning score in what ended up as the highest-scoring postseason game in history. This is a game that anyone who watched will definitely not forget for a long, long time.

Play of the Week:

Greg Jennings Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers, WR

In the midst of a furious rally from a three touchdown deficit, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers drops back and throws a laser to receiver Greg Jennings, who snatches the ball out of the air one-handed for the score.

 


Stud of the Week:

Kurt Warner Kurt Warner, Cardinals, QB (29-33, 379 yards, 5 TD) – Quite simply, Warner put on what is the greatest quarterback display in NFL playoff history. Those stats are not a typo folks, Warner had more touchdown passes than incompletions in the game. Let me say that again so it settles in correctly, Warner had more touchdown passes than incompletions! Anyone who doubted if Warner could still play was silenced with this game, as he masterfully picked apart what was the NFL’s second ranked-defense. The Packers, don’t forget, are lead on the defensive side by the new Defensive Player of the Year, Charles Woodson. Warner put the ball in the toughest of spots, giving his receivers a chance to make big plays and they delivered. This was a clinic, and if any of you out there want your kids to know how a quarterback should play, just show them video of Warner in this game. Absolutely incredible.

 

Divisional Round Predictions:

Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings – Favre is 0-3 against Dallas in the playoffs, the Boys are rolling and probably the hottest team in the NFC. That being said:

Vikings 27, Cowboys 24

Arizona Cardinals vs. New Orleans Saints – If you don’t watch this game, then you are not a true football fan. Potentially, they have a chance to break the record the Cardinals just set with the Packers last week for the highest scoring postseason game in history. Warner vs. Brees should be a sight to see this weekend.

Cardinals 45, Saints 42

Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts – The Ravens look scary good right now after pounding the Pats. The Colts haven’t played a meaningful game in over a month, but don’t expect Peyton Manning to give away this game the same way Tom Brady did last week.

Colts 24, Ravens 20

New York Jets vs. San Diego Chargers – Chargers are riding an 11-game winning streak, the Jets have won three straight do-or-die games. This will come down to which team can be more effective offensively, and I’ll take Rivers over Sanchez any day of the week.

Chargers 30, Jets 17

Football Forecast: Wild Card Weekend

In General, NFL on January 7, 2010 at 10:29 am

What’s up guys? So the NFL playoffs start this weekend with the Wild Card games, and I figured I’d try and take a shot at making some picks. Here’s just a quick Football Forecast for you guys, let’s see if you can pick it any better.

New York Jets at

 Cincinnati Bengals: Let’s get the easiest pick out of the way now. The Bengals should come out and dominate this game from start to finish. The Jets are only in the playoffs because they got two wins against the Colts and Bengals, both of which basically laid down and handed over the games because they had nothing to play for.  Once the playoffs start anything is possible in theory, especially when you have one of the top ranked defenses in the league. But offensively I just don’t think the Jets can move the ball, not with a rookie quarterback in Mark Sanchez (a childhood friend so don’t call me a hater) who is playing in a playoff atmosphere for the first time. The Bengals should make quick work and give us the only blow-out of the day.

Benglas 27, Jets 10

Baltimore Ravens at

 New England Patriots: Now the picks start getting difficult to make. A couple of weeks ago I probably would have said hands down the Pats take this game, but after Wes Welkers devastating knee injury last week, I’m not as confident in them. The Pats offense will be key, because the more they can score, the more pressure they can put on the Ravens offense. Baltimore likes to run and use short passes, but if the Pats can jump out to a lead it will force the Ravens to be more aggressive and could work in New Englands favor. For the Ravens D this might be their last hurrah so to speak. Ray Lewis isn’t getting any younger and eventually this is going to become a team more known for its offense than its defense. Although I think the Ravens defense can win this game by itself, the Pats offense does just enough to squeak out a win and head to San Diego next week.

Patriots 24, Ravens 21

Green Bay Packers at

Arizona Cardinals: This game is probably the most difficult to pick for me. The Packers are simply on fire, having won 7 of 8, with the only loss coming on a last second TD by the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Arizona meanwhile, is once again being overlooked as the playoffs start, and we all know what happened last season. This game has all the makings of an exciting shoot-out between two teams with big-armed quarterbacks and explosive receivers. The difference in this game is going to come down to defenses, and they key match-up will be Charles Woodson and Larry Fitzgerald. If Woodson can contain Fitzgerald the Packers will win, plain and simple. If not, well we all remember what Fitz did last season in the playoffs. As much as I hate picking against a home-team in the playoffs, I think the Packers squeak out a win in a thriller.

Packers 35, Cardinals 34

Philadelphia Eagles at

Dallas Cowboys: A week after getting spanked 24-0 in a winner-takes-all division title game, the Eagles return to the scene of the crime to take on the Cowboys. Two weeks ago I’m picking the Eagles without a doubt. There’s no way I have any faith in Tony Romo to lead a team come playoff time. Well, then Week 17 happened and now I don’t even know what’s going on in the world. The Cowboys (!) suddenly look like a sleeper Super Bowl candidate, and the Eagles suddenly are very vulnerable. They were swept by the Boys in the regular season, and their offense hasn’t done anything in two meetings with Dallas. Desean Jackson has been shut down and the Eagles have suffered because of it. It pains me to say this, but the Cowboys have looked great the past couple of weeks, beating the Saints and Eagles in games that mattered. Man this prediction sucks.

Cowboys 21, Eagles 17

NFL Awards Predictions

In General, NFL on January 6, 2010 at 10:25 am

It’s that time of year folks, the end of the NFL regular season, and time to decide who will be recognized for their individual accomplishments. As always, there are more than a few players deserving to be mentioned and considered in each category, but only one (or two) can take home the hardware. Without any further ado, here are my picks for the most prestigious individual awards the NFL has to offer.

Offensive Rookie of the Year:

The Defensive Rookie of the Year was announced yesterday so no prediction necessary there, but what about on offense? When you look at this award the automatic question you have is what rookie stood out the most this season? When I look back 10 years from now who will I remember bursting onto the scene and creating an impact from his very first game? To me there is only one rookie who stands out among the pack, and that is Minnesota’s Percy Harvin. Harvin has made an immediate impact on the Vikings from the day he was drafted, being used as a punt returner, a kick returner, a deep threat and a guy with blazing speed who can turn any short play into a long one, opening up the playbook for the Vikings and making them that much more dangerous. Yet another great draft pick by Minnesota, who two years ago drafted a fellow by the name of Adrian Peterson and struck gold again this year with the pick of Harvin.

Winner: Percy Harvin  Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings

Comeback Player of the Year:

This is actually a very competitive award this season. A lot of times people think comeback player and they assume it means a player who came back from injury, but that is not the case. This year’s candidates include Tom Brady, who came back from a devastating injury suffered in the first game of the season last year. Or Alex Smith, the San Francisco QB who had reconstructive elbow surgery, was a back up and forgotten by many, only remembered as a colossal bust as the number one pick in a draft that produced fellow quarterback and Pro-Bowler Aaron Rodgers. But the one comeback story everyone will remember when looking back on this year is Vince Young’s. Young was forgotten, backing up an aging Kerry Collins and relegated to sitting on the sidelines as one of the biggest busts of all time. One of the most hyped quarterback prospects coming out of college, Young had failed to do anything in his tenure as a starter and was replaced and forgotten last season. But this year the Titans started 0-6, and inserted Young in to see if he had anything left. Young finally showed the reason he was a number three pick and played to his potential, starting 5-0 and finishing 8-2 as a starter leading the Titans to an unfathomable 8-8 record after their 0-6 start. Young has finally put his career on the right track.

Winner: Vince Young Vince Young, Tennessee Titans

Defensive Player of the Year:

There’s a lot of competition in this one. Because a defense has so many facets to it, it’s difficult to pinpoint one player who made the biggest impact on defense. To be honest, if I was going to pick a player who was the most valuable to their defense I would probably pick Troy Polomalu, because the Steelers entire team completely collapsed after he went down. But this award is to the player who stood out the most defensively this season, and I think very few can argue that that man was Charles Woodson of the Green Bay Packers. This season completed a stunning turn-around in Woodsons career, and was almost completely unexpected. Woodson came into the league a Heisman winner with the Raiders who almost instantly became the best lock-down corner in football. Then all of the sudden the Raiders start regressing and so does Woodson, who turn into a shell of himself. Fast-forward a couple years, he signs with the Packers and now Woodson is back to his dominant self. Tying for the lead-league with nine interceptions, Woodson also had 74 tackles (66 solo), two sacks, four forced fumbles and three pick returns for touchdowns. He cemented himself once again as one of the top three corners in the game, and the fact that he’s doing it at an age where 99% of cornerbacks begin to greatly decline is a testament to how incredible that turn-around has been.

Winner: Charles Woodson Charles Woodson, Green Bay Packers

Offensive Player of the Year:

Keep in mind, this award is different from the MVP Award. And for this award there really is only one candidate, Chris Johnson of the Titans. Johnson exploded onto the scene this season as arguably the best running back in football, setting an NFL record with over 2500 yards from scrimmage, becoming just the sixth player in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards (2,006 to be exact) and single-handedly carried the Titans with his faster-than-the-cameras-can-follow speed. Johnson was the main offensive threat on a team that finished 8-2 after a disappointing 0-6 start. It’s sad that a team with the expectations the Titans had missed the playoffs, but the fact that they even came close after an 0-6 start is absolutely incredible, and they owe it to Johnson’s amazing season. This award is Johnson’s and nobody else is even close.

Winner: Chris Johnson Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

Most Valuable Player:

This is easily one of the most competitive seasons we’ve had in a long time when it comes to the MVP award. And because (for the most part) this is a race between a group of elite quarterbacks you have to basically throw stats out the window, they are all similar to each other. So by that token you have to look at what player made the biggest difference for their offense. So in reverse order from fifth to first, here’s how my MVP vote shakes down.

5. Brett Favre Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings – Despite the lazy/dramatic finish to the season, we can’t forget what Favre did this season. Coming back at 40 he had arguably his best season of his career, which is saying something of a three-time MVP. The threat of Adrian Peterson running down teams throats opened up the field for Favre and he took full advantage of it. It says something about this MVP race that he finishes fifth in perhaps his finest season.

4. Chris Johnson Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans – Johnson had what was one of the top five seasons all-time for a running back in 2009, I’ve already told you the stats, but that wasn’t what made him so important to the Titans. Johnson was such a big play threat that it completely opened up the field for Vince Young. His blazing speed means that the second he hits any type of opening he can be gone, and his speed is not the type where he needs to hit a corner then burst, he can just burst through a hole instantly and go 70 yards untouched. If the Titans had made the playoffs I think the award would be his for sure, regardless of what anyone above him had done, but missing it drops him to fourth in these rankings.

3. Drew Brees  Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints – Brees is the ring-leader of the most explosive offense in the league and one of the most dangerous in league history. Behind the hard-throwing quarterback, the Saints exploded to a 13-0 start and became the type of instant-scoring threat that we rarely see in the NFL today. But stumbling in the last two games that mattered by playing subpar football dropped Brees from his perch atop these rankings. Although to finish third in the MVP rankings probably won’t bother Brees much if his Saints go as far as many think they can.

1B. Philip Rivers Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

1A. Peyton Manning Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts –Okay so I cheated a little bit, but there is no way I can pick between these two. The quarterbacks of what are undoubtedly the two best teams in football; both of these men are responsible for their teams success this season. While all the hype as been heaped onto Manning for what he has done (and rightfully so) you can’t overlook what Rivers did this season. After the Chargers got off to a disappointing 2-3 start, he threw them on his back and literally carried the Chargers to 11 straight wins and a 13-3 record. Rivers has become the most accurate deep-ball QB in the game, and is on the short list of two or three quarterbacks you want leading your team on a last second drive to win the game. Manning, meanwhile, has come back this season and had what could be his best season of his career. Leading a team with a new coach and an inexperienced group of receivers to a 14-0 start and the best record in the NFL. Both of these men are equally important to their teams and without them neither team would even be close to where they are right now. That’s why I can’t pick between the two and am going to have to give co-MVPs here.

Winners: Peyton Manning, Colts/ Phillip Rivers, Chargers

Tackle Tuesday: Season End edition

In General, NFL on January 5, 2010 at 9:58 am

What’s up guys? So after a Week 17 filled with meaningless games and inflated stats, I decided that instead of doing a normal Tackle Tuesday where I talked about the past weekend, I’m going to do a Tackle Tuesday: End of the Season edition. I’ll give you the game, upset, and highlight of the season, along with regular season ending Power Ranking. Coming later this week, a first-round playoff predictions article and an End of the Season Awards article, keep a look out for those folks

Upset of the Season:

 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20  New Orleans Saints 17 –

This game is only a couple of weeks old, and yes I realize that the Saints had already had their perfect season ended a week before, but think about how historically significant this game is. It was the first time that a team with at least 12 losses had beaten a team with at least 13 wins in NFL history. Now I know it happened a few years ago with the Colts, but they played their reserves in a meaningless game the entire time. This was completely different. The Saints were trying to lock up home-field advantage in the NFC, played their starters the entire game and were dominating the Bucs in the first half 17-0. Then suddenly everything changed. The Bucs somehow clawed their way to within a TD at 17-10 before Michael Spurlock sprung for a 77-yard punt return to tie it up with the time running out in the fourth quarter. This lead to a dramatic sequence in which the Saints missed a chip shot from 37-yards as time expired, the Bucs got the ball to start overtime and never looked back, ultimately winning it on a field goal and providing us with the Upset of the Season.

Game of the Season:

  Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Minnesota Vikings 17-

When I look back at the 2009 NFL season, there will be a lot of stories that stand out. The Pats fourth-and-two gamble, Brandon Marshalls 21 catch game, Favre playing in Lambeau, or many other highlights and memories we saw this season. But if one game will stay in my mind, it has to be when the Vikings visited the Steelers in Week 7 and we got what was easily the most entertaining fourth quarter of the season. Fast-forward to seven minutes left in the fourth, the Vikings trail the Steelers 13-10 but are in the red zone and looking to either tie or take the lead. Brett Favre drops back and FUHM-BAL! The ball is knocked out of his hands, scooped up and returned 77-yards by LaMarr Woodley to give the Steelers a 20-10 lead. Game over right? Wrong. On the very next kickoff, Percy Harvin catches the ball at his own 12, then races up the middle and hits the sideline untouched to break off an 88-yard touchdown return. Now we got ourselves a game, 20-17 Steelers. After the Vikings force a stop and get the ball back. Brett Favre once again leads them down field and into the red zone. Favre accounted for 334 yards in the air, but the biggest completion he made was for an 82-yard score, for the Steelers. After getting in to the red zone, Favre dropped back and felt some pressure, which caused him to dump the ball off to back-up Chester Taylor, only Favre threw it a little too hard, and Taylor took his eyes off of it a little too soon, and next thing you know a tipped ball is being returned by Keyaron Fox 82-yards the other way to seal the game, a 27-17 win for the Steelers, and thrilling game for us fans to watch.

Highlight of the Season:

 Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings –

Words don’t do this one justice so here’s the highlight from Week 7, which also happened to be Game of the Season, it speaks for itself.

End of Season Power Rankings:

1.   San Diego Chargers (13-3) – What did Week 17 teach us? Even with their back-ups in for over the three quarters, the Chargers are unbeatable right now. Plain and simple they are playing the best football in the NFL and despite the seedings are the team to beat. Eleven straight wins that have all been impressive (unlike the Colts wins to start the season) and they have absolutely no weaknesses. Defense is there, one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league running them, and easily the best special teams unit of any team remaining. As a Chargers fan I am downright giddy at the possibilities, yes I used giddy, and no I didn’t just jinx them.

2.  Indianapolis Colts (14-2)- After a 14-0 start, the Colts basically quit the last two weeks and go into the AFC playoffs as the one seed with a 14-2 record. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for resting players to avoid injuries, especially after what happened to Wes Welker over the weekend, but how many times do you get a chance to go 16-0? I realize that they say it doesn’t matter to them, but let’s be real, even if they win the Super Bowl; they’re just another 14-2 team that won the Super Bowl. They had a chance to be the firs t19-0 team to win it, but threw that away, and as a football fan I’m kind of annoyed by that.

3.  New Orleans Saints (13-3) – The other team that flirted with perfection this season, the Saints started 13-0 only to lose their final three games. They didn’t lose like the Colts however, they were going for the win in two of the three but just couldn’t get past the Cowboys or Bucs (both at home) and are kind of struggling going into the playoffs. The Saints can still score with anyone and beat a team by exploding for one quarter, but they are no longer a sure thing to even reach the NFC title game, let alone the Super Bowl.

4.  Minnesota Vikings (12-4) – The team tabbed as number two in the NFC all season long, the Vikings too are struggling entering the playoffs. Prior to Sunday they had lost three of four and looked shaky in all facets of the game. But their dismantling of the suddenly defense-less Giants kind of shook off some of those issues, kind of. Their offensive line is still susceptible to getting hammered by a blitz-heavy team, and Favre is starting to look every bit his age. It will be interesting to see what happens to this team come playoff time.

5. Green Bay Packers (11-5) – Sleeper Alert! Sleeper Alert! Right now, the hottest team in the NFC is…. The Green Bay Packers? That’s right the team that nobody notices is chugging along, playing the best football of anyone in the NFC. Their only loss in the past two months was on the road to the Steelers on a last-second miracle touch down. If I had to make my picks today, I would not be surprised at all if I went with the Pack to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. This shocks not only you but me as well people. Also, if the Eagles and Packers win this weekend, the world might just stop next week when Green Bay moves on to (wait for it, wait for it, and….. now!) play the Vikings and Brett “I-stabbed-your-entire-franchise-in-the-back-but-everyone-still-loves-me-and-it-makes-no-sense” Favre. Now that would be fun to see.

 

Tackle Tuesday: Week 16

In General, NFL on December 29, 2009 at 10:10 am

Upset of the Week: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20

New Orleans Saints 17 –

Despite the fact that the Colts lost their first game this season at home to the Jets, the Saints loss to the Bucs was a much bigger upset for many reasons. First, the Colts pulled their starters in the third quarter of a meaningless game, since they already have locked up the one-seed in the AFC. The Saints meanwhile, had something to play for, as a win would have locked up the one-seed for them in the NFC, and all they had to do was beat the lowly Bucs. New Orleans raced out to a 17-0 lead before putting it on cruise control and ultimately allowing the Bucs to tie the game on a 77-yard punt return by Michael Spurlock. The Saints had a chance to win it, but kicker Garrett Hartley missed a 37-yard field goal with five seconds left in regulation that could have won it, shocking the already-celebrating Saints crowd, and giving the Bucs a chance to steal this game in overtime on a 47-yard field goal by Connor Barth. This was only the second time in NFL history a team with as many as 12 losses beat a team with as many as 13 wins. The Saints have now dropped two in a row and are looking like anything but a sure thing in the NFC.

Game MVP: Micheal Spurlock Michael Spurlock (7 returns, 196 yards, TD)- Spurlock was the reason the Bucs even had a chance in this game, taking a late fourth-quarter punt 77 yards to the house to tie this game at 17. The Bucs are an offensively inept football team, and they needed a spark from their special teams in order to tie the game, and that’s exactly what Spurlock did, scoring the biggest touch down of his young career.

Game LVP: Garrett Hartley Garrett Hartley (1/2 FG, missed game-winning 37 yarder) – You hate to pin a loss solely on a kicker, especially when a team blows a 17-0 lead to a team as sorry as the Bucs, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do here. Hartley missed what amounts to a chip shot for most NFL kickers, a kick that everyone in New Orleans was so sure was going to be good they celebrated as soon as the ball was snapped. But Hartley hooked the potential game-winner left to the shock of the crowd, and was never given a chance to redeem himself as the Bucs won it in overtime. Seriously though, we could have given him LVP just for the picture.

Game of the Week:  Chicago Bears 36

Minnesota Vikings 30 –

It’s not often that the Monday Night game delivers us the Game of the Week, so last nights game was surprisingly good. The Vikings went in as heavy favorites against a Bears team that has struggled all season long, but came out completely lethargic and looking like anything but a team trying to lock up a first round bye in the NFC playoffs. The Bears capitalized and raced out to a 23-6 third quarter lead before the Vikings slowly made their push. Brett Favre lead a second half comeback for the Vikings, throwing for over 270 yards in the half alone and tying up the game at 23 after a TD run by Adrian Peterson. But the fun was just getting started at this point. Danieal Manning took the ensuing kick off back deep into Viking territory, setting up a go ahead touch down pass from Jay Cutler to Earl Bennett for a 30-23 Bears lead with just under five minutes remaining. Favre then showed his fourth quarter moxie, leading the Vikings on a scoring drive that culminated in a 6-yard TD pass from Favre to Sidney Rice on fourth and goal in the final seconds to force an overtime with the game tied at 30. The Bears got the ball first, driving quickly and setting up a field goal that kicker Robbie Gould missed to give the Vikings another chance to win it. But the Bears defense stood strong, getting back-to-back sacks to force a three and out, and from there Cutler moved quickly, not giving his kicker a chance to choke again and instead hitting Devin Aromashodu for a 39-yard game winning touchdown. The win gave the Bears some kind of closure on the season, while the loss has the Vikings needing a win this weekend to avoid playing on Wild Card weekend, something that seemed like a sure thing just a few weeks ago.

Play of the Week:

 Steve SmithSteve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers

Smith gets this weeks Play of the Week not for having the most impressive play, but for his toughness on this one. Panthers QB Matt Moore drops back and hits Smith for a 27-yard TD that put the Panthers up 31-0 early in the third and all but sealed the upset win over the Giants. The impressive part of this play is that Smith takes a hard hit from the Giants secondary, and is able to stay standing and get into the end zone. Look at the video and not only will you see the hit, but you’ll notice Smith holding his left arm while celebrating, that’s because the hit he took broke his arm, yet he was still able to stay focused and fight his way into the end zone.

Stud of the Week:

Devin Aromashodu  Devin Aromashodu, WR, Chicago Bears (7 catches, 150 yards, TD) – Who? That’s the first thing that has to pop into your head. The little known receiver out of Auburn had a huge game Monday Night, becoming Jay Cutlers go to receiver in an upset win over the Vikings. After posting totals of 12 catches and 102 yards all season, Aromashodu exploded onto the scene with 150 yards and the game winning 39-yard touchdown catch in overtime. Aroshamodu repeatedly beat Vikings CB and Pro-Bowler Antoine Winfield (as seen on the game winning catch) for position and helped the Bears offense keep moving, showing that his name may be one you want to remember next season as the Bears look for a go-to receiver.

NFL Top 5 After Week 16:

1.   San Diego Chargers (12-3)- Before jumping into this, I’ll give you guys a couple minutes to scream bias and complain about the Colts dropping even though they only lost because they pulled their starters. Waiting…..waiting….done? Okay good, now let’s get to the facts. The Chargers are by far the hottest team in the league right now, having won 10 straight games, and coming off a dismantling of the equally red-hot Titans in Tennessee on Christmas Day. The Colts may have the better record, but they have looked shaky all season, and the Chargers have looked nothing but stellar since stumbling out to a 2-3 start. San Diego has no weaknesses, and are the one team that the Colts definitely do not want to see come playoff time.

2. Indianapolis Colts (14-1)- I know, I know, they only lost once, and it was because their starters got pulled otherwise they’d be a win away from a perfect season. But let’s look at reality, this team has struggled mightily against some inferior opponents, and they aren’t even close to playing on the level the Chargers are playing on right now. Indy is still a favorite to reach and win the Super Bowl, but the road to the Super Bowl is definitely not going to be an easy one, especially with so many good teams in the playoff hunt going into the final weekend.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (11-4)- After Week 14, we were all sure of two things, the NFC East was wide open, and the Saints and Vikings were the two best teams in the NFC. Two weeks later and it seems we were wrong on both counts. While Philly still has to beat Dallas to clinch the NFC East, one thing is clear, the Eagles are playing better than both the Saints and Vikings right now, and both those teams should be very afraid of what Philly can do come playoff time. With Donovan McNabb hitting Desean Jackson, big plays are not only likely, they are inevitable for the Eagles, and this team is out to prove that it has been over-looked all season long.

4. New Orleans Saints (13-2)- What a difference a couple of weeks makes. Two weeks ago the Saints were 13-0, and headed for an undefeated season and a Super Bowl birth. Back-to-back losses to Dallas and Tampa Bay and suddenly the Saints are a very shaky one-seed heading into the playoffs. While they still possess the quick-strike capabilities that have made this offense so dangerous, they look confused and unsure of themselves heading into the final week of the regular season. If the Saints are going to go as far as they should come playoff time they need to step up their game and do it quickly. Otherwise when they ask Who Dat down in New Orleans, the answer will be a one and done Saints team.

5. Minnesota Vikings (11-4)- Uh oh. That’s the only thing that has to be going through the minds of Vikings fans right now. After a 10-1 start, the Vikings have dropped three of four and suddenly look very beatable. Brett Favre is looking every bit of 40, Adrian Peterson has a case of fumble-itis and the Vikings defense is getting lit up for 36 points and four touchdowns by the likes of Jay “Biggest Loser on Earth” Cutler (harsh nick-name, but seriously, who doesn’t hate the guy?) Minnesota is limping towards the playoffs, and if they are going to do any damage they need to iron out their in-house differences and figure out a way to let AP control the ground and the clock so they can have a chance come playoff time.

Tackle Tuesday: Week 15

In General, NFL on December 22, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Upset of the Week: Dallas Cowboys 24 New Orleans Saints 17 –

Coming into this game we knew two things that were certain, the Saints were undefeated and looked unbeatable, and the Cowboys were struggling through yet another December meltdown. So the outcome should be simple, the Saints win and continue a perfect season, right? Well that’s not what Dallas had in mind as they went down to the Superdome and ended the Saints perfect season in New Orleans with the 24-17 victory. The final score doesn’t indicate just how much Dallas dominated this game, they lead 24-3 before Drew Brees tried to lead the Saints on a comeback that ultimately fell a touch down short. This game could provide Dallas with the momentum it needs to get into the playoffs and avoid yet another late-season collapse.

Game MVP:  DeMarcus Ware Demarcus Ware (2 sacks, Forced Fumble) – Ware returned to the field one week after spraining his neck and absolutely dominated for the Cowboys, showing exactly why he is one of, if not the most feared defenders in the league. Ware’s relentless pass rush allowed the Cowboys play more aggressively in coverage and completely threw off Brees. Add into that the fact that Ware was able to apply pressure and strip Brees to cause the game-sealing turnover, and we have our first defensive player to win a Game MVP on Tackle Tuesday.

Game LVP: Drew Brees Drew Brees (29-45, 298 yds, 1 INT, 2 Lost Fumbles) – It’s not often you see Brees name in anything but praise, but despite the high yardage yet again, this loss can be attributed to Brees on a number of levels. He looked flustered and out of sync early, and accounted for three turnovers for the normally turnover-free Saints. Although Brees is still having an MVP-type year, this game is one he and the Saints would like to forget.

Game of the Week:  San Diego Chargers 27 Cincinnati Bengals 24 –

This was easily one of the most emotional football games we’ve seen in a long, long time. The Bengals were coming into this battle for the 2-seed in the AFC with heavy hearts after the tragic loss of teammate Chris Henry earlier in the week. With players being brought to tears during the pre-game moment of silence it was clear this was going to be a highly emotional game, with plenty at stake on both sides. Once the game started it did not disappoint, with the Bengals jumping out to a 10-7 lead after a long touchdown catch by a very emotional Chad Ochocinco. Before the Chargers were able to take a 14-13 lead into halftime. The second half looked like it was going to be dominated by the Chargers, who scored the first 10 points to jump out to a 24-13 lead. However Cincy was able to comeback and tie it up with just over a minute left before the Phillip Rivers lead the Chargers on a game-winning drive that culminated in a 52-yard field goal by Nate Kaeding to win it and all but seal the 2-seed for San Diego. Regardless of the outcome of this game, our thoughts, prayer and respect go out to the Bengal family in this time of need.

Play of the Week:

 Ben Roethlisberger Ben Roethlisberger QB, Steelers –

In a week full of highlights, including Cleveland Browns return man Joshua Cribbs setting an NFL record for career kick-off returns for touchdowns, one play stood out the most for its importance. With 6 seconds left in the game and the Steelers trailing the Packers 36-30, Ben Roethlisberger dropped back from the 19 and, well you can watch and find out.

Stud of the Week:

 Ben Roethlisberger Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers (29-46, 503 yards, 3 TDs) –

Yet another performance we couldn’t overlook from Mr. Roethlisberger. Despite the fact that Browns RB Jerome Harrison ran for a Browns record 286 yards, the third most all-time, we have to give this award to Big Ben because of the importance of his numbers. Harrisons yards came in a meaningless game against a sorry Chiefs team, while Roethlisberger’s came in a do-or-die game against what could be the best secondary in all of football. Big Ben was also clutch, throwing the game winning TD with no time left on the clock as seen above, to keep the Steelers in the playoff hunt. Roethlisberger had the tenth best day all time in terms of passing yardage in NFL history.

NFL Top 5 After Week 15:

1. Indianapolis Colts (14-0): Fourteen down, two to go. With just a couple of weeks left in the regular season the Colts have a chance to become only the second team ever to go 16-0 in the regular season, and the opportunity to be the first team to ever go 19-0. You have to respect this teams resilience, winning games despite looking at fourth-quarter deficits and taking on a persona of their MVP QB Peyton Manning. They are always cool and collected, regardless of the score or the situation, and that has them as one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

2. New Orleans Saints (13-1): Now that the chase for a perfect season is over, the Saints can focus on other things, such as healthy players and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Despite the loss, this Saints team is still having one of the best seasons of all time and look like a heavy favorite in the NFC, especially with the recent struggles of the Vikings. There is no blue-print for how to beat this team, you basically have to play perfect to knock off the Saints, and that is a true sign of greatness.

3.  San Diego Chargers (11-3): Another week, another December win for the Super Chargers. San Diego has now won 17 consecutive December games, and 9 consecutive games overall this season after defeating Cincinnati to all but clinch the 2-seed in the AFC and the first-round bye that comes with it. The Chargers are rolling right now and arguably the hottest team in the league. They have no clear weaknesses, with a clutch QB in Rivers, two RBs that can go off come playoff time (just ask the Colts) in Ladanian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles, a top-flight receiver in Vincent Jackson, and the best punter/kicker combo in the league in Mike Scifres and Nate Kaeding. This team will be extremely difficult to knock off come playoff time and seems destined for an AFC title game with the Colts.

4. Minnesota Vikings (11-3): What’s going on with the Vikings? After a 10-1 start, Minnesota is 1-2 in their last three games with two embarrassing losses on nationally televised Sunday night games. The team that was favored by many (including the Sports Authority) a couple of weeks ago to win it all, now seems like a team in turmoil who is trying to find out who they really are. The loss to the lowly Panthers highlighted the fact that if you can get pressure on Brett Favre the Vikings are more than beatable, and the tension caused when Coach Brad Childress tried to pull Favre doesn’t help ease the situation. If the Vikings are to live up to their own lofty expectations come playoff time, they need to get their acts together, and quick.

5. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4): Suddenly the Eagles are in play for a first-round bye after another win and yet another Vikings loss. With just two weeks left they may not be able to get it, but they control their own destiny in terms of the NFC East. Having already clinched a playoff spot, the Eagles can now focus on clinching their tough division with wins in the next two weeks. They control their own destiny, which at this stage in the season is something that every team would love to say. Win and the division is theirs, it’s as simple as that.

Football Forecast: Week 15

In General, NFL on December 17, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: This is an interesting game to watch. The Colts come into this game at 13-0 and holding an NFL-record 22-game winning streak as everyone already knows. They have already clinched home field throughout the AFC playoffs, and have no real motivation to go all out in this game. Meanwhile, Jacksonville sits at 7-6 and could greatly boost their playoff aspirations with a win tonight against the Colts. As we all know, division games are the toughest to play because there is rivalry and you play each other twice a year, so tendencies are picked up and focused on, especially in the second meeting between teams. This game has all the makings of an upset, and while I believe the Colts would like to finish the season undefeated, they realize that the bigger prize is the Super Bowl. This one has all the makings of an upset, and I’m going to make it my Upset Pick of the Week.

Jags 24, Colts 20

Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints: This is a game featuring polar opposites. The Cowboys come into this one struggling through yet another disappointing December. Tony Romo looks terrible, Wade Phillips looks like he doesn’t know how to coach, and Jerry Jones looks ready to hire a new head coach and possibly get a new quarterback. The Saints meanwhile have become America’s darlings this season. Going 13-0 with a high-powered, never-anything-but-fun to watch offense that scores on big plays from a little man with 5’9 Drew Brees leading the charge. While many Cowboy fans would like to believe this is the week where Dallas turns around their December misfortunes, I think the Saints continue their winning ways towards locking up home field advantage in the NFC.

Saints 31, Cowboys 20

Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Jets: Two teams heading in opposite directions meet in New York when the Jets take on the Falcons. New York is back to winning again, sitting at 7-6 and only a game out of the division lead in the AFC East. While everyone has been focused on Miami pushing the Pats, the Jets have quietly kept pace and are in a position where anything can happen. The Falcons meanwhile have been bitten by the injury bug and are suffering since a good start. Quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner have both missed games the past couple of weeks as Atlanta have all but fallen out of the playoff picture in the NFC. Factor those injuries in with the fact that the Falcons are a pretty bad road team and you get a J-E-T-S win.

Jets 20, Falcons 13

San Francisco 49ers vs. Philadelphia Eagles: A big-time game for both of these teams in their hopes of making the postseason. The Niners are coming off of a huge, dominating win over the Cardinals on Monday Night Football and have an outsiders chance at sneaking into the playoffs if they can win out and get a couple of lucky breaks. Meanwhile the Eagles now control their own destiny in the NFC East with a one-game lead over the Cowboys and Giants. Philly is playing better than any NFC team not named the Saints and despite San Francisco being desperate, should pull out a big win this weekend as well.

Eagles 27, Niners 17

Houston Texans vs. St. Louis Rams: In one of many games with no playoff implications, the fading Texans meet the hopeless Rams. There are really only two things to watch in this game, Andre Johnson before he inevitably forces his way out of Houston in the off-season, and the Rams fighting to keep the number one pick in this years draft so they can finally draft the quarterback they’ve needed over the past couple of years. Texans should take this one, but expect a big day from Steven Jackson for the Rams.

Texans 27, Rams 10

New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills: This is a key divisional game that could shake up the entire AFC East. If the Pats win they will at the very least maintain their one game lead over the Dolphins and Jets going into Week 16. But Bills upset this weekend could potentially create a three-way tie atop the AFC East and give us one of the most interesting division races we’ve seen in a while over the last two weeks of the season. There is nothing the Bills would like to do more than fix their own disappointing season by ruining the Pats season, but I don’t think they will be able to. Look for Randy Moss to have a big day and outclass TO this weekend.

Patriots 24, Bills 14

Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens: Talk about disappointment, the Bears come in to this game as possibly the biggest disappointment in the NFC, depending on if where you had Carolina in the pre-season. Many people thought Jay Cutler was going to come in and be the savior the Bears needed, but he has been nothing short of awful in his first year with Chicago. Although it is too early to tell, the trade looks very much like a disappointment. The Ravens meanwhile are fighting for their playoff lives in the very competitive AFC and have to get this home win if they want any chance to make it to the postseason.

Ravens 24, Bears 13

Miami Dolphins vs. Tennessee Titans: A couple weeks ago, who would have ever though this game could have such serious playoff implications? But here we are at Week 15 and the winner of this game could possibly have an inside track to the playoffs. The Dolphins have shocked a lot of people and are sitting at 7-6, just a game behind the struggling Patriots in the AFC East. The Titans meanwhile are 6-1 since a disappointing 0-6 start, and shockingly could win their way into the playoffs. If all goes right for them this weekend, (i.e. A win, Jags loss, Jets loss, Ravens loss, all very possible) the Titans could find themselves in a tie for the sixth playoff spot in the AFC. This game has huge implications and the teams are both evenly matched, in which case you always go with the home team.

Titans 24, Dolphins 21

Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Really, not much to say about this stinker. The Browns look to be packing it in so that they can get the number one pick, and the Chiefs are just trying to finish the season strong after such a disappointing start. Although the Browns have been playing well recently, including a shocking win over the Steelers, I think they come back down to earth and the Chiefs take this one.

Chiefs 14, Browns 13

Arizona Cardinals vs. Detroit Lions: What’s the perfect remedy for a team that was dismantled on national television by a team they should have beaten? A game against the Detroit Lions. The only way this could have been any better for the Cardinals would have been if it were a home game, but in all seriousness they should get back on track and have their way with the Lions, regardless of if Larry Fitzgerald plays with a knee sprain or not. The thing that worries me the most about the Cards however is their lack of a third receiver, when Fitzgerald went out, Steve Breaston became the number one and Anquan Boldin (remember him?) became the second receiver, but Boldin provided almost no threat whatsoever. Should be interesting to see if he can get it going against the lowly Lions.

Cardinals 31, Lions 13

Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos: Cue the old-school music, AFL rivalry montages and videos of these two teams going at it. One of the oldest rivalries in the NFL takes the field again in Denver when the Broncos host the Raiders. Despite some big wins for Oakland, they are running into a Denver team playing for their playoff lives, and are missing their spark at quarterback with Gradkowski being out. Charlie Frye will start, meaning Jamarcus Russell is now a third-stringer; can we officially call him a bust? The Broncos meanwhile seem back on track after a four-game losing streak and are trying to keep up with the Chargers in hopes of stealing away the division.

Broncos 27, Raiders 6

Cincinnati Bengals vs. San Diego Chargers: This one has Game of the Week written all over it. The Chargers and Bengals battle in a game that will most likely ultimately end up deciding the second seed in the AFC playoffs. The winner of this game will probably get a bye and a home game in the divisional round, while the loser will be relegated to Wild Card weekend. The Bengals have been up and down of late, but seem to be back on track and on their way to winning the AFC North. However they are running into a buzz saw known as the Chargers. San Diego has won an NFL-record 16 consecutive December games, and are on an 8-game winning streak. The Chargers seem destined for the two-seed and an AFC Championship game showdown with the Colts.

Chargers 24, Bengals 17

Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: If you asked me a few weeks ago which team would be fighting for the three-seed in the playoffs while the other was reeling with five consecutive losses I would have told you the Steelers would be team A and the Packers would be team B. However as we sit today the Packers are quite possibly the third best team in the NFC and the Steelers are 6-7, on the outside looking in come playoff time. Green Bay is finally putting it together and looks like a legitimate threat come playoff time, especially with a game at Lambeau. Pittsburgh meanwhile is reeling and needs to not only win out but get some major help to make it to the playoffs. That all being said, I will never bet against the Steelers at home in a must-win game, even after they lost to the Browns and Raiders in consecutive weeks.

Steelers 21, Packers 20

Tampa Bay Bucs vs. Seattle Seahawks: Another game with not much to talk about. Both teams are going to miss the playoffs and the only real implications in this game are whether or not the Bucs keep their stranglehold on the first pick in the draft. Seattle has been disappointing as well, losing games you expect them to win and fading out of the playoff race altogether. But I won’t pick against a home team, especially with the road team having to travel cross-country to play.

Seahawks 21, Bucs 7

Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers: The Vikings head into this game looking to clinch at least the two-seed in the NFC and have a very very very slim chance at taking the number one seed if the Saints collapse in their finals three games. Carolina meanwhile is just trying to end a disappointing season and avoid a blowout loss at home heading into an off-season where there will be some major changes made. Brett Favre should have his way against the Panthers, but look for Adrian Peterson to dominate this game on the ground.

Vikings 27, Panthers 14

New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins: This one seemed like a good Monday nighter at the beginning of the season, an NFC East division rivalry that would have big implications in the NFC East. But looking at it now, it seems like a game that will probably be boring and most likely end up a Giants blowout. The G-Men are struggling right now, and sit a game behind the Eagles in the NFC East. They need some help to win this division and make the playoffs, but first they need to win this game against the Skins who have played tough the past couple of weeks, including a narrow home-loss to the Saints. This has upset potential but I think the Giants pull it out.

Giants 24, Redskins 13

R.I.P. Chris Henry

In General, NFL on December 17, 2009 at 12:43 pm

As most of you have heard by now, oft-troubled Bengals WR Chris Henry died this morning from head injuries suffered in an apparent domestic dispute with his fiancee. While the details aren’t out completely yet, we should focus more on the tragedy of yet another young athlete passing. I hope the media recognizes the young man and not his off the field issues of his past. Our prayers go out to his family, and this just serves as a reminder to all of us that nothing is guaranteed in this life, not even tomorrow.

Tackle Tuesday: Week 14

In General, NFL on December 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Upset of the Week: San Francisco 49ers 24 Arizona Cardinals 9 –

I know a lot of people were much more surprised by the Browns beating the Steelers, but Pittsburgh is reeling and that was a loss that some could have predicted. This one? Not so much. The Cardinals were on a roll especially offensively, and were looking to clinch their second consecutive NFC West title on a primetime Monday night game. So of course, they came out and put up a stinker in every sense of the word. The Cardinals looked nothing like a playoff team, or even the team that handled the Vikings just a week ago, highlighting their up and down tendencies that prevent many people (myself included) from considering the Cardinals a threat to return to the Super Bowl. San Francisco came out and was much sharper than Arizona, getting three neutral zone infractions against the Cardinal defense on the first drive. The Cardinals were sloppy all game long, losing 5 fumbles and ultimately blowing a chance to clinch the division. Lucky for them they have the opportunity again soon.

Game MVP: Frank Gore, RB, Niners (25 car, 167 yds, TD) – Coming into this game Gore was somewhat of a forgotten man. He hadn’t touched the ball much the previous two games, as the Niners had been passing on an madden-like 73% of their offensive plays. A team many thought would be known for their ground game was last in rushes per game, and Gore had suffered the most. However on this night, Gore was the back many people expected him to be all season. Gore averaged over 6 yards per carry and was moving the chain and grinding the clock for the Niners while Arizona was struggling to move the ball. For one game, Gore showed why many of us thought he would be a Pro-Bowler for a run-first offense.

Game LVP: Cardinals (11 penalties for 78 yards, 7 turnovers) – This was one of those games where you can’t blame anyone specifically, because the entire team sucked. The defense was run all over by Frank Gore, jumped off side multiple times and gave the Niners new life on plenty of third-down mistakes. The offense was even worse, committing seven turnovers, including losing an astonishing five fumbles. Just overall a game to forget if your a Cardinals fan. Arizona clearly isn’t a bad team, they just had a horrible game.

 

Game of the Week: Philadelphia Eagles 45 New York Giants 38 –

A shootout in every sense of the word, this divisional game gave us all the fireworks that we expect from such a rivalry. Whether it was big plays (Desean Jacksons 72-yard punt return for a TD or 60 yard TD reception) to big numbers (27-38, 391 yards, 3 TD) this game had it all. Philadelphia took a 30-17 lead into halftime before the Giants quickly came back and took the lead 31-30. That lasted for all of well, 15 seconds because on the first play from scrimmage after that Donovan McNabb hit Jackson for that 60 yard score to put the Eagles back up 37-31. That touch down was significant because it stifled any momentum that the Giants had gained, and also gave Jackson his eight touchdown of over 50 yards this season, tying an NFL record. In the end, the Eagles defense was able to hold late and Philly left New York with a huge road win and sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

 

Play of the Week:

Desean Jackson, WR/KR/PR, Eagles –

Jackson is known for his big-time, electric plays, and this punt return is exactly what we’ve come to expect out of him. Watch as Jackson takes a step back, waits for the blocking to develop then bursts up field for the score and the two touchdown lead.

 

Stud of the Week:

Brandon Marshall, WR, Broncos (21 rec, 200 yds, 2 TDs) –

The Broncos fell to the Colts, giving Indianapolis its NFL-record 23 game winning streak and dropping the Broncos two games behind the surging Chargers in the division, but it had nothing to do with Marshall. All the much-maligned receiver did was go out and set an NFL record with 21 receptions, breaking fellow loud-mouth receiver Terrell Owens 2002 mark. Marshall spent most of the off-season demanding a trade/being suspended/pouting then ultimately showing up to play, and Sunday proved that despite his ego and off the field issues, on the field he is a force to be reckoned with.

 

NFL Top 5 After Week 14:

1. Indianapolis Colts (13-0) – Props have to be given where they are deserved. After winning their 23rd consecutive game, the Colts stand alone in NFL history with the longest winning streak ever, breaking New England’s streak from a couple years ago. The Colts seem to be getting stronger and are beating better competition now than they did at the beginning of the season. 16-0 seems likely for this squad if they want it.

2. New Orleans Saints (13-0) – The Saints keep marching after a Week 14, closer-than-it-should-have-been win over the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta was missing their quarterback in Matt Ryan and their Pro-Bowl running back in Michael Turner but still gave the Saints a fight. Ultimately, New Orleans won again and head into a game against Dallas next week on a roll. A win next week could potentially lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs for the Saints.

3. Minnesota Vikings (11-2) – Well that was quick. A week after an embarrassing loss to the Cardinals on Sunday Night Football, the Vikings went home and cured all their problems by demolishing the Bengals 30-10. Cincinnati is by most accounts the second or third best team in the AFC, so the win was impressive and silenced those critics who said Minnesota hadn’t really beaten anyone yet. Although home-field and the one seed may be out of reach for the Vikes, they can clinch a first-round bye and at least one home game if they continue winning.

4. San Diego Chargers (10-3) – Quick, which AFC team holds an NFL-record winning streak that stretches over more than three years? That would be the Chargers, who are now 16-0 in their last sixteen December games, an NFL record. This team is built for the end of the season not the beginning, and once again we are seeing that this year. After a 2-3 start the Bolts have ripped off eight consecutive wins and are firmly entrenched in the playoff picture. A win this weekend against the Bengals all but ensures them the 2-seed and a bye in the first round of the AFC playoffs.

5. Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) – Welcome back Philly. After a couple week hiatus from the Top 5, the Eagles are back following an impressive road win against division rival New York. The Eagles are now in control of their own destiny, holding a one game lead in the division race and have the inside track to the third seed in the NFC playoffs. If the Eagles continue their big plays they may shock a rested Minnesota team in the second round, but let’s get through the regular season before looking that far ahead.

Mr. Vick goes back to Atlanta

In General, NFL on December 6, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Mike Vick made is first return to Atlanta since his legal trouble began today, and dazzled the crowd with his first rushing touch down followed by his first passing touch down since his return to the NFL. I understand the man made mistakes, but he’s done a lot of work to come back and get his life together, fans and players alike recognize it and you can tell by watching these videos. Definitely a sports moment that makes you smile.