NFL Playoffs: Week 16 Important Games

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So the NFL playoffs are fastly approaching, we have reached week 16 which means some very important games are at hand this weekend.  Let’s look at a few:

Atlanta vs Detroit:  While most are not expecting a fight from the disappointing Lions, this game has a major impact on the NFC Championship game.  If Atlanta wins, they are guaranteed home field advantage for the playoffs.  If they lose, SF stays alive for home field advantage.  Prediction: Atl 35 Det 17

New Orleans vs Dallas: The Saints abysmal start to the season pretty much sealed their fate.  However, the hot/cold/hot again Cowboy’s are in position to take the NFC East and slide into the playoffs playing their best ball of the season the last 3 weeks.  But, you never know which Romo will show.  Prediction:  Dal 31 NO 28

Indianapolis vs KC:  The young Colts have played well enough to win this year, and need one more game here to put some breathing room between them and Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.  Let’s see how the wunderkind, Andrew Luck, handles the late season playoff push.  Prediction Ind 21 KC 10

Washington vs Philadelphia:  The befuddled Eagles have nothing to play for… except for spoiling another NFC East Team’s playoff hopes.  First test is vs the Redskins… RGIII or not, I see the Redskins taking this game and putting themselves in the driver’s seat for the NFC East playoff spot.  Prediction: Was 24 Phi 13

Cincinnati vs Pittsburgh:  This is probably the most important game of the week.  This is as close to a must win for both teams as there will be all season.  How healthy is Big Ben?  Can the aging Pittsburgh D stop the young, flashy Bengals’ offense?  Should be a good match up.  Prediction:  Pitt 23 Cin 17

New York Giants vs Baltimore:  Giants are on the bubble (shocker).  But this is normally when they turn it on.  Murder Ray returns for the Ravens, unfortunately he doesn’t play on the offensive side of the ball.  Baltimore continues to tumble here.  Prediction NYG 17 Bal 10

Minnesota vs Houston:  Minn is riding AP to the playoffs… they’ll need a HUGE day from him to get past the Texans.  Houston has a stout enough defense to make the Vikes have to go to the air…. advantage Texans.  Texans still working on securing home field advantage, I think they take another step towards that in this game.  Prediction Hou 24 Minn 14

San Fran vs Seattle:  Who would have thought this would be a big game when the season began?  Seattle had a QB battle going between a lifetime back up and a rookie, and San Fran was coming off their best season in years.  And narrowly missed the Super Bowl last season.  Both teams have exceptional defenses, this game will come down to who takes care of the ball and can run on the opposing team.  Seattle is tough to beat at home, but the pressure is on for a rookie QB.  Prediction SF 23 Sea 21

There you have it, chime in as you see fit…. regardless of the outcome, this should be an exciting weekend for all NFL fans.

The NFL Arms Race

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The greatest of all time versus the greatest of the future?  Is that what we are really looking at here.  In the wake of the Indianapolis colts releasing Peyton Manning after over a decade of service, the question for me is… What the LUCK is going on here?  Can you really tell that much about a player and how he will fair in the NFL by watching a couple of seasons of NCAA football, timing a spandex-laden sprint, and measuring how high one can jump in a sport where his position will probably never be required to jump?  Do these measurements outweigh what a tried and tested veteran has done for an organization for over 10 years?  Listen, i know the money and injury status were an issue, but if Peyton Manning was throwing as well as they have said he was, why wouldn’t you keep him to mentor Andrew Luck for a few seasons (see Green Bay and Favre/Rogers)?

It seems to me these days too much stock is put into how players perform at a combine, or a private “audition” day where they are put into position to look good.  It’s like a beauty pageant, everybody always looks their best.  You ever wonder why they don’t hold beauty pageants at 7 a.m. in the morning?  Exactly, nobody wants to judge a bunch of bag-eyed, birds nest haired, gravel voiced beauties who collectively could make it look like an episode of Zombieland.  So why does the NFL put so much stock in the combines, wonderlic test, and how well one interviews. I’m sorry, I’ve been to a handful of job interviews and never been asked to sprint down the hallway to see how quickly i could help vacate the building if a fire broke out.

Wouldn’t you think that on field performance should outweigh some classroom tests, whether or not a player can jump across a stream from a still position,or how much eye contact they make during a discussion?  With as much money that will be spent on a player of this stature, I would like to have some real grid iron, battle tested, playing performance time from which to measure.  Too many “sure things” have come and gone and fallen by the wayside due to putting too much stock in these off field measurements (hello Ryan Leaf).  And at the end of the day, who takes the fall?  The General Manager?  Director of Player Scouting?  No, its the coach who didn’t want the “sure thing” in the first place, who wanted the trusty veteran who knew how to run their program.

So when does Loyalty succumb to Royalties?  How do you take a player like Peyton Manning and tell him, thank you for all you have done… the Super Bowl win… the new multi hundred million dollar stadium… all the revenue you have brought this city… but, the next big thing is here and we no longer need your services.  Not even, a “hey, we are going to keep you, and you are going to mold this young kid to be your heir apparent”.  Just a “thanks, here’s your gold watch, thanks for all you have done”.  A true slap in the face to a player who has never been anything (in my eyes) but the consummate professional.  Obviously I don’t know what went on behind closed doors, but you would think after all that time that the overall body of work Manning has put in he would have been given the option to stay if he wanted.

Lastly, i don’t know what size shoe Andrew Luck wears, though I am surprised it wasn’t on the NFL combine scouting report… but don’t you think he has some huge shoes to fill here?  Having to replace what is possibly the most important player to ever be a part of a professional franchise minus Michael Jordan.  This is almost a lose/lose situation.  Andrew luck could win 14 games a season and never win a Super Bowl and he’ll be looked at as a failure to all the Manning lovers in Indy.  And I don’t think that would be the case if they kept Manning to bring Luck along slowly and show him the ropes.  When you cut ties like this with a player that has meant so much to a team, there is always going to be a little bit of a bitter taste in peoples mouths… whether fair or not.  So, what do you think?  Should we just accept the new norm of putting so much stock in the “what ifs” and not so much in the “they dids”?  Weigh in folks… just make sure you don’t tip the scales, or your NFL future will surely be affected.