NFL Splinters | Week 16, 2009

iBy Paul Gotham

Roll of the dice

Much to the chagrin of all those looking to witness history, the Indianapolis Colts pulled the plug on their run to perfection. With a 9-3 lead at half, Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark …(anyone I forgot?) traded helmets on baseball caps, and the New York Jets handed Indy loss numero uno, 29-15.

Jim Caldwell went from relative anonymity to membership in the head coaching club. Congratulations coach! Welcome to a lifetime of second-guessing although it is unclear whether the decision was actually Caldwell’s. There has been some discussion suggesting that team president, Bill Polian, made the call.

Either way, the pressure is now squarely on the backs of the Colts. The only way these guys can make good on this decision is to win the Super Bowl. Anything short of a victory in Dolphin Stadium will serve as the ultimate Garbage Plate feast for Monday Morning Quarterbacks.

humanDare I suggest that the Who would be an all the more appropriate half time show at the Super Bowl. In the event the Colts don’t advance, wise-crackin’ analysts will question Indy’s place in history by quoting the British Invasion band: “Who are you, who-who, who-who?”

What place in history does Curtis Painter take? Painter at least earned his spot as a trivia question of the future. Hopefully, Scott Norwood gave the Colt reserve QB a call to put everything in perspective.

“All my elevens and sevens been comin’ up sixes and nines…Been comin’ on changing times; they’re just waitin’ over rise; just another roll of the dice.”

album-empire-burlesqueSeeing the real you at last?

Consider this: in week 12 of the season, New Orleans soundly defeated New England, 38-17. At that point, the Saints had won nine of eleven games by double digits. Since then, the Saints are 2-2. The two wins: by three over the Washington Redskins and by three over the Atlanta Falcons.

The two losses? Losing to Dallas is understandable. But Tampa Bay? Let’s look at this one way. The Giants beat the Bucs, 24-0 in week three. A game where the Bucs did not get a first down until late in the third quarter.

Yesterday, the Bucs had 24 first downs to the Saints 23.

Have the Saints peaked? Is it possible for Drew Brees and company to rekindle the fire they had earlier this season? In the meantime, Cajun country will be crooning Bob Dylan.

“I’m hungry and I’m irritable, and I’m tired of this bag of tricks. At one time there was nothing wrong with me that you could not fix.”

Waiting in the wings

Now that the Colts and Saints have come back to earth, who will slip by the one time favorites.

San Diego dispatched a hot Tennessee Titan team, 42-17 (not that any of us would know since the game was on the NFL Network). The Titans had won six of seven. San Diego has now won 10 in a row.  Included in those victories – Philadelphia, Denver, Dallas, and Cincinnati. The Chargers have quietly made an assault on the light brigade. With Indy forfeiting momentum, is the door wide open for the Chargers?

Or, are the Patriots back in the picture? Tom Brady and Randy Moss looked pretty comfortable slicing up the Jacksonville Jaguars.

New Orleans needs a win over the resurgent Carolina Panthers to secure home-field advantage. Are NFC rivals intimidated by the Super Dome? The Saints two losses came in the heart of Cajun Country.

Philly and Arizona might have enough of a chip on the shoulder to continue the Saints’ woes.

Muddy Waters

muddyOne week remains and seven AFC teams are jockeying for two wild card spots. The Jets and Ravens hold their own destinies. Baltimore has to play the bi-polar Raiders next week. That is not good for Baltimore, as it could open the door. Denver, Houston, and Pittsburgh wait to pounce on the possible loss. Miami and Jacksonville have as much of a chance of getting into the playoffs as Tiger Woods earning the Better Homes and Garden father-of-the-year award.

The ties that bind

At one time given up for dead, the Jets are alive. A victory over the Bengals punches Mark Sanchez’s ticket to the playoffs.

“You walk cool…but can you walk the line.”

Three in a row

Don’t look now, but the Browns have not known losing since December sixth. Any day now the ius suffix will be re-attached to Mangini.

Un-comfortably numb

How else can one describe the performance of the New York Giants? With their playoff lives hanging in the balance, playing the Meadowlands swan song, the Giants  showed nothing, zilch, zippo.  Down 24-0 at half, the Giants promptly allowed the Panthers to take the second half kickoff and go 71 yards in four plays.

Somewhere along the line the Big Blue Wrecking crew forgot how to tackle, how to block, how to punt, how to run, how to pass, how to catch, and yes, they forgot how to show feeling. Did I miss anything?

Props to Carolina’s version of Steve Smith. The nine-year vet took a helmet to his left forearm, but still held on for the touchdown despite breaking his arm.

Ndamukong sweepstakes

At 1-14, the St. Louis Rams have positioned themselves for the first pick in the draft. Detroit is 2-13. Matt Millen is gone. Would the Lions pick Shu if given a chance? Are there any good wide receivers available?

Back to the Rams – Shu would join Chris Long – the team’s overall number one pick in ’08 – on the line. Long has had five sacks since November.

Monday night lights

Minnesota at Chicago – which Favre will show? The drama queen or the gun slinger? Some are still waiting for number 4 to go clunk.

Got any NFL splinters? Share them here.

7 Responses to "NFL Splinters | Week 16, 2009"

  1. Smitty   December 29, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I almost nominated Jim Caldwell for Performance of the Week specifically for having the guts to do what he believes is best for his team. Obviously the move will be second-guessed along the way during the playoffs, but if the Colts win the Super Bowl all will be forgotten. I think that the reasoning is sound and you want your players fresh. But you do not want them rusty and I think that is why he is playing them half a game. It will be interesting to see if the decision is a momentum killer. With Peyton Manning – I doubt it will be.

    I am always skeptical of teams that are playing well in September and October and experts start calling them the teams to beat for the Super Bowl. Remember Baltimore, 3 weeks in? They were 3-0 and everyone was talking about how good they were. Then they went to New England, lost and have been under .500 since.

    You want to be hitting your stride come the end of December and early January. The Arizona Cardinals of 2008 are a perfect example . I am starting to wonder if New Orleans and Minnesota may have peaked too early.

    For me San Diego, Arizona, Philadelphia and Dallas are playing really well right now and I anticipate the NFC being a dogfight … oops bad use of words with Philly around – a battle to be the Super Bowl representative for the NFC. From the AFC, I think San Diego is the team to beat, but Indy isn’t far behind and New England seems to be picking up steam. Personally, if Vince Worfolk doesn’t make it back for the Pats, they don’t have a chance. They need him to stop the run.

    Speaking of the Pats.. Any chance BeliCHICK pulls a fast one and rests his starters against the Texans. A win for the Texans and loss by Jets could mean that the Texans get into the playoffs. Would anyone put it past Belichick to mess wtih the Jets one more time?

  2. Pingback: Pickin' Splinters

  3. Herm   December 29, 2009 at 11:41 am

    You play to win the game.

  4. Smitty   December 29, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    You play to win the Super Bowl Herm.. Maybe that is why you are doing radio shows.

    If playing to win the game was the only goal – the Detroit Lions are the defending champions!!

  5. Casey   December 29, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    I would love it if Belichick pulled off that one – rest his starters and stick it to the Jets. Why that’s as crazy as…as crazy as… going for it on fourth down inside your own 40 with the lead.

    Herm – YOU DA MAN!!!!!!! I love your insights on Mike and Mike.

  6. Muels   January 2, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    I don’t believe that the Pats will rest starters until the game is decided one way or the other. We have been too up-and-down throughout this season and with a good win last week, it’s time to put together a couple of wins to set the team’s tone for the playoffs. Also, our record away from Gillette Stadium this season is nothing to write home about, so a good win against a solid team in their own stadium would do this team a lot of psychological good.
    And Herm is right…

  7. Casey   January 2, 2010 at 10:50 pm


    The return of the legend. None too soon – you were about to become a myth.

    Belichick going for momentum. Yes, it makes sense.

    Herm is a mad commenter bent on reminding everyone of his terse wisdom.

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