One college football note before NFL stuff. So Rich Rodriguez is going to Michigan. That should be perfect. Instead of losing killer games at the end of the season to crappy teams, he'll lose killer games at the end of the season to Ohio State. Good choice Michigan.
Ok, on to NFL stuff.
1. I'm not sure there's anything else Brian Billick can do to get fired. He ended my dream of watching the Dolphins go 0-16, and I'll never forgive him for that. He also should be fired for not going for it on 4th and goal at the end of regulation. What in the hell are you playing for? You're not making the playoffs, just go for it you idiot. It also seems like after the game against the Pats, the Ravens could absolutely care less about this season, and with Billick as their coach I can't blame them. How else do you explain losing to the Fins? If Billick still has a job after this season ends, I'll be real surprised. The loss yesterday should be the final nail in the coffin. By the way, the Dolphins celebrated like they won the Super Bowl after beating the Ravens. Kind of embarrassing guys, you're pros who've won one game.
2. Speaking of teams quitting, I think we can now add the Lions to that list. They didn't even get off the plane in San Diego. Getting beaten 51-14 on the road when you still have an outside shot at the playoffs says "We're planning offseason tee times."
3. I rip on Eli Manning a lot, but I can't do that after what happened last night. His receivers dropped NINE passes, about 6 or 7 of which a physically disabled kid could have caught. Sure there was some wind, but seriously, Brandon Jacobs needs to learn how to catch a damn ball. By the way, Shockey being done for the season also really hurts this team. It also hurts his New Year's plans as well, I'm sure.
4. The Pats actually have a running game. It seemed to me the Pats were, of late, becoming incredibly predictable. Pass, Pass, Pass. Just like those Colts teams from a few years back that kept losing in the playoffs. And Sunday was the best chance for someone to beat the Pats given the elements. But they rode Maroney to victory. I know some people think Maroney is sort of a soft back, but I think it's just that the Pats have ignored him for about half the season. He's more than a decent running back. Still, the Pats might have some trouble in the playoffs if they wind up in a game where it's snowing and the passing game becomes pretty limited. Both the Steelers and the Colts have better running games than the Patriots and could make them pay in such a game.
5. The Browns look prepared to get back to the playoffs. The win over Buffalo was absolutely critical, seeing as the Titans also managed to win to get to 8-6 to stay alive for the wild card. Provided the Browns win one of their last two games, they'll in all likelyhood make the playoffs - and they can clinch if they win next week. If that happends, they should be the second best story in the NFL this year aside from the Patriots' run. Considering the Browns play the Bengals and the 49ers in back-to-back weeks, it may even be safe to say right now they'll make the playoffs. But one major question is, what do the Browns do with Brady Quinn? Romeo Crennel won't be starting Quinn next year with how well Derek Anderson has played this year. Plus, Derek Anderson is no longer on a short leash either. So even if he has a bad game or two, you won't be seeing Crennel looking to yank him for Quinn. Right now, I'm sure the Browns will hang on to Quinn for at least another season, but if Anderson has another good year next year, why not trade Quinn to get some defensive help? The Browns seem to have found themselves in the position the Chargers were in several years ago with Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. And something tells me the Chargers wish they still had Brees instead of Rivers. Cleveland definitely has something in Anderson, and with the way first round QBs have fared in the NFL - pretty much a total crapshoot - there's no guarantee Quinn will be any good at all. I'm on the Derek Anderson train, and my guess is Crennel is too. Unless Anderson craps out next year, I'd look to ship Quinn out in the not too distant future.
6. Matt Moore has to be one of the worst career passer rating QBs to ever start and win a game. He had a career passer rating below 22 heading into Sunday's game, yet passed for over 200 yards with no INTs and his team got the win. Is the NFL really that bad this year that something like this can happen? Yes.
7. The Packers relatively easy win over the Rams seems to say something about how bad the NFC is. I know everyone knows that the NFC is awful this year, but this game seemed to show it in more detail. Favre threw two picks (which seemed appropriate given how he also passed Marino), no receiver had a 100-yard game, Ryan Grant ran for under 60-yards and lost a fumble, and yet Green Bay won pretty easily. Even though Green Bay has a great defense, I still found the end result of the game somewhat surprising. I guess the basement of the NFC really is that bad. But is the top - aside from the Packers game - really that much better? On Sunday the Seahawks took a dive against the Panthers, who had Matt "career passer rating 21.2" Moore starting, the Giants lost at home to the Redskins, and the Cowboys lost to Philly at home too. The Cowboys also haven't looked real good since they beat Green Bay. I know I'm not exactly going out on a limb by saying whoever wins the AFC is going to win the Super Bowl, but right now, that seems inevitable rather than highly likely.
8. Anyone else wonder if Jessica Simpson has something to do with the Cowboys stinking of late? Just throwing that out there.
9. And just to continue on about how bad the NFC is, the Saints have a decent shot of making the playoffs. No team that started 0-4 has ever made the playoffs, but the Saints may do it. If that doesn't explain this entire NFL season in a nutshell, I don't know what else does.
10. The Jaguars took a huge step forward by beating the Steelers yesterday. People have been harping on them a bit for not beating a lot of winning teams, but the Steelers are a seriously legit team to beat. Plus the Jags beat them in Pittsburgh. What's crazy is that the Jags are going to be a wild card team. I sure as hell wouldn't want to play them in the first round. Also, I mention this every week, but it's true - Jack Del Rio can't get enough credit for choosing David Garrard over Leftwich. Just a great move. Garrard has 16 TDs and 2 picks this year. Just a great season for him. No way this team is 10-4 if they had stuck with Leftwich.
11. Even though I didn't watch Thursday's game, I think it's time people start stepping up and apologize to Mario Williams. He wasn't as bad a #1 pick as people made him out to be. He's had a better year than Vince Young and a ridiculously better year than Reggie Bush. I can understand people who say the Texans still should have drafted Vince Young, but at least Mario's play of late makes where he was drafted understandable. It's incredibly hard to find gifted pass rushers like Williams, so the Texans - in the end - may have been smarter than us all. That said though, there's still plenty of time left in all these guys' careers. We'll come back to this debate time and time again.
12. Lane Kiffin may ultimately be a pretty good coach. The Raiders played a real gutsy game against the Colts yesterday. That says something. Anytime you're 4-9 and you come into a game against a team like the Colts and give them everything they can handle, that speaks well of your team and coach. The thing was that a week prior, the Raiders looked like crap against the Packers. They could have just packed it in for the remainder of the season, and with a young coach like Kiffin you can easily see that happening. But Kiffin had them prepared for the Colts and they gave them a real game. It'll be interesting to see what the Raiders can do next year with JaMarcus Russell at QB. This team looks like it's pretty close to becoming relevant again.
13. I think Atlanta may be the worst team in football. And Chris Redman was 4/15 for 34 yards and 2 INTs. That's gotta be, what, a -32.7 passer rating? Atlanta really didn't think anyone could do better than him? Warrick Dunn could have done a better job than Redman. God, the Falcons are horrendous.