Indianapolis Colts (14-0) - Previously: #2 - The Colts won't have a shot at the Super Bowl if they sit Peyton Manning and the rest of the starters against the Jets and Bills.
And I'm not talking out of my anus. Here's proof:
The following teams rested their starters in Week 17 before a playoff game. This chart, which goes back to 2002, when the divisions re-aligned, shows how each squad performed in its initial postseason contest. The asterisks denote teams that had first-round byes, like the Colts will.
2008: Titans* - Loss SU (straight up), Loss ATS (against the spread)
2008: Colts - Loss SU, Loss ATS
2007: Colts* - Loss SU, Loss ATS
2007: Jaguars - Win SU, Loss ATS
2007: Steelers - Loss SU, Win ATS
2007: Buccaneers - Loss SU, Loss ATS
2006: Eagles - Win SU, Loss ATS
2006: Saints* - Win SU, Loss ATS
2005: Colts* - Loss SU, Loss ATS
2004: Colts - Win SU, Win ATS
2004: Steelers* - Win SU, Loss ATS
2004: Chargers - Loss SU, Loss ATS
2004: Eagles* - Win SU, Win ATS
2002: 49ers - Win SU, Loss ATS
In short, teams resting their starters in Week 17 are 7-7 straight up and 3-11 against the spread in their first playoff game. You may look at that and say, "Well 7-7 straight up isn't so bad!" Wrong. Every single team on that list, save for one, was a favorite. Going 7-7 straight up when you're expected to win isn't exactly a good thing.
New Orleans Saints (13-1) - Previously: #1 - I love how no one on ESPN brought up the fact that the Saints were missing their best defensive player (Sedrick Ellis) and their top cornerback (Jabari Greer) as a possible reason for their loss to the Cowboys.
If you're playing a top-ranked offense without two of your best defenders, you're probably not going to stop them. It's pretty simple.
Oh, and congratulations to the Cowboys for winning their annual December game. I wonder which team they'll beat in December of 2010. I'm going with the Colts in a stunning upset that will have ESPN telling us how different that December will be for Tony Romo and company.
San Diego Chargers (11-3) - Previously: #3 - Goooo Chaaajjaaazzz Gooooo.
I understand that anyone in the NFL can defeat anyone else on any given Sunday, but in my opinion, there's no team in this league that can beat San Diego five or more times out of 10. This includes the Colts; we've seen in the past that the Chargers have their number. Indianapolis better hope someone upsets the Bolts in Round 2 because I like San Diego's chances in a potential AFC Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Minnesota Vikings (11-3) - Previously: #4 - Last week I brought up the fact that Brett Favre said: "I don't know if I can make it to the playoffs. I don't know."
I told you to gather up all the money you have and bet against the Vikings until the season is finished. Well, we're 1-0 in doing so! With that in mind, let's take a week off from this strategy because the Bears are garbage.
Favre is correct in saying that his 40-year-old body is falling apart; in his past three games, he's 64-of-102 for 691 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. The completion percentage (62.1) and YPA (6.8) are much lower than his seasonal numbers (67.8, 7.8). More importantly, he's been sacked nine times in the past three games despite taking only 15 sacks between Weeks 3 and 12.
Now, Favre and Brad Childress are at odds because Childress wanted to take Favre out of the Carolina game in the third quarter because he was getting banged around too much. How did Favre manage to stay in? More on that later on.
Green Bay Packers (9-5) - Previously: #5 - Seemingly a really tough loss for the Packers, but they didn't need that game. They're pretty much in the playoffs, and it's not like they had a chance to catch Minnesota.
Time for Notes from NFL.com GameCenter - a list of a few stupid comments I read on NFL.com's new crappy GameCenter and my thoughts on them:
1. "i am so happy the browns are 14-0 chiefs suck"
Thanks to Elliot D. for sending that one via Facebook. Apparently, the only way the Browns will ever be 14-0 is via delusion.
2. "steelers are on big decline look up cicy roster there young you will have to deal with them and ravens plus browns can only get better I see pitt finish 3 rd in north next year"
Who needs punctuation, articles and correct grammar? When you make outstanding arguments like this, everything else is irrelevant.
3. "hopefully we friwken loose out miss playoffs. and cut orton loose. for get that chump. id say the same about MCD but i think he may still have potential all though ots the end of the season"
Let's hope your parents don't read this. If so, they may cut you loose because they'll see that you have no potential.
Philadelphia Eagles (10-4) - Previously: #8 - I smell something coming from South Philly. Hmm... wonder what it is.
Oh, by the way, the Eagles are awesome. That's what everyone on ESPN is saying. The guys on PTI jizzed in their pants talking about Donovan McNabb and company. The hosts on 610 WIP, meanwhile, are going nuts:
"There's no excuse for the Eagles not to go to the Super Bowl." - Angelo Cataldi.
Man, that stench is growing... ugh, what is it?
Also, did you notice that Reid went for it on 4th-and-1 on his own 29 in the FIRST QUARTER? What was he doing? Why not punt it away, force a three-and-out, and get the ball back at your own 29? Must make too much sense.
That's it, I can't take it anymore. I'm going to pass out.
Attention, city of Philadelphia: The Andy Reid Stink Bomb is upon us! This is a state of emergency! Reid has eaten too many bean burritos and cheese omlettes! Cover your noses and don't watch the Broncos game! You'll regret it!
Cincinnati Bengals (9-5) - Previously: #6 - I have all the respect for Chad Ochocinco and the rest of the Bengals for how they handled themselves against the Chargers. It's almost cruel that they lost in the final seconds - and with the help of the officials on a missed procedure penalty - but they'll bounce back. I'll be rooting for them in the playoffs.
Arizona Cardinals (9-5) - Previously: #7 - A routine win for the Cardinals, so I want to list some funny posts from the WalterFootball.com Forums:
1. PuppyPuncher: "Reggie Wayne out with broken testicles."
And sissies like Matt Ryan have to take two weeks off because of a toe injury.
2. PiazzaJordan2: "I Hate David Garrard!!!!!! I Hope He Tears His ACL And Goes On The IR Forever."
Forever. Nice. I could see it now. The year is 2065, and some kid looking at the Sacramento Jaguars' injury reports asks, "Who is David Garrard and when did he get hurt?"
3. LovemyBills: "If the Bills win another meaningless game, I'm going to punch a child."
That's actually a good idea. You'd go to prison for a year, but as soon as you come out, Andy Reid would reward you with a few million and a spot on his roster.
Baltimore Ravens (8-6) - Previously: #9 - The Ravens need to win in Pittsburgh next week to stay in front of the slew of soon-to-be 8-7 teams. Baltimore fans everywhere have to be praying that Walt Coleman is as far away from the Steel City as possible. If that means marooning Coleman on Pluto, so be it.
All kidding aside on my part (Ravens fans are not kidding), Joe Flacco is 0-3 against Ben Roethlisberger in his young career. Flacco needs to overcome this hurdle to reach the next level as an NFL quarterback.
It also sucks for Baltimore that rookie corner Lardarius Webb tore his ACL the same week Hines Ward established that he's healthy. Webb played extremely well since taking over for Fabian Washington, so this is a huge loss.
New England Patriots (9-5) - Previously: #10 - Patriots fans, if you lose early in the playoffs, don't worry; you're in for some great offseason acquisitions.
On Sunday NFL Countdown Chris Mortensen speculated that New England would get rid of Randy Moss and bring in Deion Branch this spring.
Upon reading/hearing this, Patriots fans everywhere were high-fiving each other. Why? Because Mort is always wrong!
2009 NFL Power Rankings: Week 16 - Bottom 10
32. St. Louis Rams (1-13) - Previously: #30 - Surprise, surprise. The new watered-down NFL Primetime failed to cover the Texans-Rams and Seahawks-Buccaneers matchups.
You may point out that those games are irrelevant right now. That might be the case in the grand scheme of things, but there are many football fans out there who have Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Steven Jackson, Antonio Bryant, etc. on their fantasy teams. Also, for degenerate gamblers like myself, a highlight package is always a nice refresher the day after watching the game.
31. Detroit Lions (2-12) - Previously: #31 - At least the Lions tried this week. That's a plus.
Earlier, I wondered what Brett Favre said to Brad Childress to keep him in the game when the two were having a heated argument on the sidelines. Time for oddities!
5:1 - "If you don't put me back in this game, I'm retiring and joining the Bears next year."
5:1 - "If you don't put me back in this game, I'm not giving you any spare change."
2:1 - "If you don't put me back in this game, I'm going to throw as many no-look interceptions off my back foot as I can in the playoffs. I was planning on tossing five anyway, but I could make it 25 if you're not careful."
1:3 - "If you don't put me back in this game, I'll tell the media about all the photos of naked men you have hanging in your office. Not that there's anything wrong with that."
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12) - Previously: #32 - Last week, I said that I was starting to hate Josh Freeman. Well, I really hate him now.
Check out these updated numbers:
Since Week 9, when I've picked the Buccaneers to cover (4 games), Freeman is 70-of-138 for 736 yards, two touchdowns, 12 interceptions and six fumbles. That's a completion percentage of 50.7 and a YPA of 5.3. He's also 1-3 ATS (against the spread).
Since Week 9, when I've picked against the Buccaneers (3 games), Freeman is 50-of-86 for 731 yards, seven touchdowns, two interceptions and two fumbles. That's a completion percentage of 58.1 and a YPA of 8.5. He's also 3-0 ATS (against the spread).
I have now lost seven units ($700) because of Freeman's incredible inconsistency. Freeman was obviously put on this planet to bankrupt me. My unit totals on all Buccaneer games going forward might be 0.0000000000000001.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (3-11) - Previously: #29 - Three things regarding the Chiefs:
1. DON'T KICK IT TO JOSH CRIBBS, YOU IDIOTS!!!
2. Did anyone else find it completely hilarious that a pass from the Cleveland 30-yard line was a Hail Mary for Matt Cassel? I was shocked he got it into the end zone, but I was still amused that the Chiefs had to set up a Hail Mary for him at that short of a distance. Could you imagine Ben Roethlisberger pulling this in the Super Bowl or yesterday's victory over the Packers? How embarrassing.
3. Is Jamaal Charles a first-round fantasy running back next year? I'm leaning yes, especially if the Chiefs upgrade their offensive line.
Todd Haley on Charles: "He's pushing to be one of the top guys in the league."
That's great, Todd. It still doesn't explain why you didn't recognize you should have been playing Charles over the decrepit Larry Johnson earlier in the year, when anyone who had a clue knew that you should have been doing so.
Haley - epic fail, man. Epic fail.
28. Cleveland Browns (3-11) - Previously: #28 - Cleveland quarterbacks now have 18 completions in their three wins. That's actually really impressive considering the talent.
More Notes from NFL.com GameCenter:
1. "broncos forreal ull never see playoffs or the superbowl with the bbroncos but ill tell norve to send u ticketts"
Just make sure that you spell Norv's name correctly when you send him a letter.
2. "wow kurt warner just got picked by the bills and returned 100 yards for a td brings back a sb memory"
Bills? You mean the Lions? Is that you, Kevin Reilly?
3. "I BET RAVENS GET BEAT FROM CHICAGO COME SUNDAY"
Too bad the Ravens played in Baltimore; not Chicago. Looks like you lost your bet, my friend.
27. Seattle Seahawks (5-9) - Previously: #26 - In my Week 15 NFL Game Recaps page, I opined that the Seahawks should fire Jim Mora Jr. On the WF.com forums, member SSReporters set up a Fire Jim Mora thread.
Why does Mora suck so hard?
Coach Profile: Jim Mora Jr.
- Survived as a kid despite having a crazy dad
- Has an outstanding ability of tricking NFL owners into giving him a job
- Occasionally looks like he knows what he's doing (although we all know that's not the case)
- Wants to coach middle-school kids in the state of Washington; that's his dream job
- Thinks playing scrubs over talented players is the key to success
- Does stupid things like putting QB Dog Killer in the West Coast offense
- Blames his horrible losses on others like his kicker or former GM, and never takes responsibility
- Single-handedly ruined Matt Hasselbeck, the Seattle Seahawks franchise, the city of Seattle, and the economy
26. Chicago Bears (5-9) - Previously: #25 - Jay Cutler now has 25 interceptions on the year. I was lucky enough to get Cutler to sit down and do an interview with me:
ME: Hey Jay, thanks for joining me.
ME: Obviously, this year hasn't gone as you had hoped. What went wrong?
CUTLER: "I went from playing with stars like Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal to struggling with crap players and crap coaches."
ME: So you wouldn't take responsibility for any of your 25 interceptions?
CUTLER: "Seriously, who cares? Not me. I'm just throwing the ball to random places at this point. Screw this team."
ME: Wow. Strong words.
CUTLER: "Yeah, I have a better arm than"
ME: John Elway, screw them. Wait... what just happened?
CUTLER: "Who cares? I'm so much better than these crappy"
ME: Bears players. Whoa, why am I finishing your sentences?
CUTLER: "I don't know, it's like I'm talking and suddenly the words aren't there anymore. I think you're"
ME: stealing my words. But I'm not even trying to, Jay. Does this happen to you a lot?
CUTLER: "Who cares? I'm bigger and better than John Elway was. Screw"
ME: them. This is getting really annoying. I guess it's a good thing that teams actually like intercepting your passes. I'm not having fun intercepting your words.
CUTLER: "Well, screw you. I'm Jay Cutler. I'm the best ever. I'm better than John Elway ever was. Everyone else"
ME: sucks. Yeah, I know.
25. Oakland Raiders (5-9) - Previously: #27 - Breaking news on WalterFootball.com: The Raiders have found their head coach of the future...
It's Tom Cable!
My source, Gus Johnson, during Sunday's Denver-Oakland broadcast: "Tom Cable looks like the right head coach for the Oakland Raiders."
Let's see... Cable looks like a character out of the Flintstones, he hit one of his assistant coaches, and he allegedly has an extensive history of beating his wives.
Yep! Cable definitely qualifies as the Raiders' head coach of the future!
24. Washington Redskins (4-10) - Previously: #22 - Good lord. I had five units on the Redskins. I thought it was a great spot for them. As a Monday night underdog, I thought they'd show a ton of emotion and bring 110 percent to beat their divisional rival.
Whoops. The Redskins brought nothing and couldn't come close to matching New York's intensity. In fact, I tweeted, "Giants playing well against the East Dillon Lions."
The emotionless Redskins looked like they didn't want to be there. You'd think that they'd try hard under the vigilant eye of new GM Bruce Allen, but apparently, none of those players (except for Fred Davis and Marcus Mason) want to play in Washington next season.
Instead of listing numbers, here's a graphic from NFL.com, as of four minutes remaining in the second quarter:
Complete and utter debaclation.
Oh, and it got worse. On the final play of the first half, the Redskins ran the dumbest play in the history of the NFL. They lined up in a swinging gate, eschewing a field goal, which forced Tom Coughlin to burn a timeout.
Coming back out of the stoppage, the Redskins motioned into the swinging gate again. The punter took the snap, tried to fire it to the center, saw that he was covered, and then launched up a punt-like pass toward a crowd of six Giants, which was picked off and nearly returned for a touchdown.
Forum member Leelee on the play:
That is the worst play call ever. I cannot understand how that happens in the NFL. Seriously, if I was Daniel Snyder, I'd have fired everyone at halftime for gross incompetence.
Snyder didn't fire Jim Zorn, who said the following of the play afterward:
"It was good defense. It was really good defense that hurt that play."
What Zorn should have said instead:
"It was epic fail. It was really epic fail that hurt that play."
I can't believe I was ready to defend Zorn before this game. If I were Snyder, I would have gone into the locker room and fired him at halftime.
Oh, and as for the Giants, they're awesome. Other than the Saints (assuming they get healthy on defense), they're the one team I wouldn't want to face right now. They look downright scary.
23. Buffalo Bills (5-9) - Previously: #23 - How bad are the Bills? When guard/fat slob Richie Incognito was released by the Rams last week, Ryan Fitzpatrick went to the front office and said, "We need to get him."
Yep. There's nothing like having a guy who gets whistled for personal fouls on every other drive. Oh, and let's not forget that Jim Haslett actually slapped a candy bar out of Incognito's hands on the sidelines last year. Incognito is apparently so good that he has served as an inspiration to JaMarcus Russell.
2009 NFL Power Rankings: The Rest: 11. New York Giants (8-6). Previously: #15
12. Tennessee Titans (7-7). Previously: #13
13. Miami Dolphins (7-7). Previously: #12
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7). Previously: #17
15. Dallas Cowboys (9-5). Previously: #16
16. Denver Broncos (8-6). Previously: #11
17. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-7). Previously: #21
18. Atlanta Falcons (7-7). Previously: #20
19. New York Jets (7-7). Previously: #14
20. Houston Texans (7-7). Previously: #19
21. Carolina Panthers (6-8). Previously: #24
22. San Francisco 49ers (6-8). Previously: #18
Run Defenses: Yards per carry (YPC) allowed to running backs is the best way to determine a defense's strength against the run, as opposed to rushing yards per game.
Pass Defenses: Yards Per Attempt (YPA) is the best tool to measure a defense's effectiveness versus the pass: