Saturday, January 3, 2009
8 In the Box- AFC
1. The Dolphins completed the greatest single season turnaround in NFL history by beating the Jets 24-17, and qualifying for the playoffs a year after going 1-15. While Tony Sparano, Bill Parcells, Chad Pennington, Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Joey Porter, and David Lee (the quarterbacks coach responsible for bringing the Wildcat formation to the Dolphins and the NFL) all deserve to have heaping amounts of hosannas for this turnaround, I think we would be remiss not to recognize Brett Favre's role in all of this.
For without Brett Favre deciding he did not want to stay retired, the Dolphins almost certainly would not have gone 11-5 and won the AFC East. If Brett Favre stayed retired, Chad Pennington would have spent this season as the Jets quarterback, not the Dolphins. The Dolphins would have sputtered along with either second year non-prospect John Beck or rookie Chad Henne at quarterback. And finally, even if the Dolphins did somehow play their way into having the exact same record as the actually had heading into this final game of the season, Brett Favre wouldn't have been in a Jets uniform to throw 3 INTs and hand the Dolphins the game on a silver platter. So my MVP vote for this year goes to Brett Favre, for without him, the Dolphins would not be where they are today.
2. Meanwhile, the Jets, who spent ALL KINDS of money to upgrade just about everything on their roster this past offseason, lost 4 out of their last 5 and missed the playoffs. They are now in a state of primordial chaos. Thomas Jones went on a radio show and fired on Brett Favre this week, saying that Favre should have been pulled out of the game for his performance against the Dolphins. This came after Eric Mangini was fired as head coach earlier in the week, in a move that surprised me and I, a guy who normally does not pull out his hanky over coaches getting fired, thinks was the wrong move. How is it fair to fire a guy for not taking a team that was 3-13 last year to the playoffs this year? Were they supposed to get there this year because they now had a 40 year old QB who throws INTs all over the place, expects to be treated as above the team and above criticism, and just generally is not all that good anymore? So they improve by 6 wins despite this and for this he gets fired? That's retarded. Oh well, I guess Mangenius can still get a job washing dishes at Artie Bucco's restaurant if need be.
3. The final game of the 2008 regular season was a clash between two teams that should have been embarrassed that they even still had a chance to make the playoffs. The 7-8 Chargers and 8-7 Broncos met in a "showdown" that would determine who would be the AFC West "Champion", and get a home game against the 12-4 Colts the next week for some retarded reason. The Chargers came in having won 3 in a row, while the Broncos came in having lost somewhere between 3 and 17 games in a row, something like that, so it seemed like this was going to be a pretty easy win for the Chargers. And what do you know, it was. The Broncos once again put on a clinic of shitty defense, and were blown up by the Chargers 52-21. LaDanian Tomlinson scored 3 TDs for the Chargers, but he also hurt his groin, something he may need against the Colts this week.
4. So the Chargers are in the playoffs, and the Broncos...fire Mike Shanahan? Yes! They did the unthinkable and fired Mike Shanahan, thus defining the statute of limitations on winning back to back Super Bowls is now officially 10 years, after that, your scholarship is over. Good to know. Patrick pretty much hit it on the head with his assessment of Shanahan's axing by pointing out it was time for both teams to move on. What I think the Broncos should do now is announce that their new coach is Mike Shanahan, then it's a fresh start for everyone and the Broncos will have hired the only free agent coach who has won two Super Bowls, which would be a coup for them. If that doesn't work out, I think Dan Reeves is still out there.
5. Technically, the Ravens did not have a playoff berth wrapped up yet heading into this week. In actuality though, this team has been ripping people's heads off lately and there was no doubt they would do the same to the Jaguars, which they did. In the playoff pool my buddies and I are in, the Ravens are the sexy pick to win at least a couple of postseason games. Very, very sexy. So sexy, as a matter of fact, that it has blinded most of us into thinking that a team that has an offense led by Joe Flacco, LeRon McClain, and Derek Mason, and is coached by a rookie head coach named John Harbaugh, who most people still probably think is Jim Harbaugh, will make a long playoff run. But hey, this year having a new head coach is like the magical elixir that guarantees success, which leads me to believe we will soon see a day where every NFL team has a different head coach every year.
6. Wasn't I saying months ago that Peyton Manning should be the MVP of the league this year? Now, lo and behold, he has in fact won his 3rd MVP award. They do not call me Mr. Football for nothing. It really says something, though, about this season when the MVP of the league is a quarterback who threw only 1 more TD pass this season than he did when he was a rookie on a 3-13 team 10 years ago. What it tells me is that this NFL season has been wack.
7. Now is the time on Sprockets where I give you my picks in the playoff games. The AFC slate starts Saturday Night when the Colts travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers. You see, the Colts finished with 4 more wins than the Chargers and also beat the Chargers in their head to head matchup this year, so the Chargers get home field advantage in order to make things more fair. Or at least I think that is how it works.
The Chargers enter this game with some key injuries. LaDanian Tomlinson has some kind of groin thing going on, but NBC says he is going to play. So good for the Chargers, they get a guy who has been ineffective this year when his groin was felling OK, now they got to try to use him effectively when his groin hurts, that should work out great. Antonio Gates also has an injury and will be a game time decision. Those are bad things for the Chargers, but the worst thing for them is that they rank 31st in the league against the pass. That may be a bad thing when you are playing the team with the league MVP at quarterback. I say the Colts win, in a close game, because the Colts always seem to play close games and pull it out at the end. 28-24 Indy.
8. The early game on Sunday is Ravens at Dolphins. These teams met earlier this year, a game which the Ravens won in a game that shall be referred to as the Cameron Cameron Bowl, as the current Ravens offensive coordinator and erstwhile foreman of the demolition of the Dolphins franchise during last year's 1-15 season was all giddy after beating his old team and getting a game ball and stuff. Weeeeeeeeeeeeee!
If you don't count the Ravens 13-9 loss to the Steelers in a game they would had won had a call gone the other way, the Ravens have lost only once since October 12, and that was on the road to the Giants. They have a point differential of +141 which is tied with Tennessee for the best in the league. And they've just been ripping people's heads off lately, winning by scores like 27-7, 36-7, 34-3, 41-13...carnage. The Dolphins are a nice story, but the Ravens are one of the teams that can actually win this whole thing, so I take the Ravens.
Posted by GRRM Jr. at 10:24 AM