Monday, December 15, 2008

4 comments MMQB Review: The Luckiest Team In the NFL Is Also the Best Edition

It's the middle of December and the playoff matchups have already been set, we are looking forward here to exciting games for the next month and a half. Here are the matchups:

NFC Playoff Standings
1. Dallas (First round bye)
2. Atlanta (First round bye)
3. Arizona
4. Green Bay
5. New York Giants
6. Philadelphia

AFC Playoff Standings
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (First round bye)
2. New England Patriots (First round bye)
3. Denver Broncos
4. Tennessee Titans
5. Indianapolis Colts
6. Baltimore Ravens

Those certainly are the playoff matchups that have been set right? I know for certain Dallas has the #1 seed in the NFC, there would never be 24 hour coverage of a borderline wild card team. I also know for certain these are the playoff matchups because I watch ESPN all the time and that's what they seem to indicate.

Let's go to this week's MMQB.

The news of Week 15:

--I didn't see the indisputable visual evidence that Walt Coleman saw under the hood in Baltimore. It was close, very close, and most likely Santonio Holmes did break the plane of the goal line in Baltimore on the biggest play of the biggest AFC game of the weekend, but it was not indisputable.

--The Giants and Titans don't look like Super Bowl locks anymore. And Jeff Fisher has some 'splainin' to do.

--The Pittsburgh Steelers might be the luckiest team on the face of the earth, but they also are the most mentally tough. You'd better have a four-leaf clover, and an anvil in your shoulder pads, to beat them right now.

--And I hope every PR guy in the league passes out to every player the part of my column about what Matt Birk is doing this week. It's that important.

That's it. That is all that happened in the NFL this week. Thanks for reading, please don't eat Peter's donuts or drink his coffee as you leave. Goodbye.

"Jeff Fisher has some 'splainin' to do?" Really? What the hell is this type of language you are speaking? Are you making fun of lower income people, are you attempting to speak like a bad caricature of a character from The Color Purple?

The Steelers are the luckiest team in the league...but also the best. Sure those statements don't jive well together but who gives a shit. MMQB is for Peter to get his feelings about Family Guy and the Office out in the open, not a column about football that is supposed to make sense.

All the ball has to in this case is touch the imaginary plane of the goal line while the player has two feet down. It was agonizingly close, but Weidner ruled the ball should be placed at about the three-inch line.

Peter King is right about the Steelers being lucky. Along with Ben Roethlisberger's shoe string tackle of Nick Harper, Big Ben's touchdown in the Super Bowl where the ball never crossed the goal line, and finally this call which should not have been know, if you are going to obey the rules of instant replay and all. I have nothing against the Steelers, but this call was inconclusive.

My brethren at NBC -- Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick, Cris Collinsworth and Bob Costas -- thought it was inconclusive. All of them.

Well, if Keith Olbermann thinks it was not a touchdown then I am definitely going to agree with him. He is an expert on things like this and all...and not annoying, not at all.

The Giants, without the injured Brandon Jacobs and the suspended Plaxico Burress and the injured and underrated right tackle Kareem McKenzie, have the offense of a .500 team.

Hold on here my favorite overweight contradictory type writing man...what happened to Domenick Hixon can do what Plaxico Burress can do and the Giants have a three headed monster at running back, which is unstoppable? All year all the stories you have heard about the Giants is about their three great running backs and how they don't even fucking need Jeremy Shockey and Plaxico Burress to play to win because they are a TEAM and Tom Coughlin deserves Hall of Fame consideration. Now it is replaced with excuses. I hate sportswriters, though they can backtrack or throw out excuses faster than I could ever imagine to.

Let's also face the fact the Giants have been incredibly lucky with their offensive line over the past two years. Those five lineman had played something like 30 straight games together, which never happens in the NFL, so to lose one of the lineman for a game is not a reason to lose. The Patriots won a Super Bowl with Troy Brown as the nickel back, I think you can adapt to losing your right tackle for one game.

So the Steelers are 11-3. They've had their share of good fortune, but to be 11-3 against that schedule is to be 13-1 or 14-0 against most other schedules.

This is complete speculation by the way. I am not sure if Peter King is using the Schedule Converter 3000 or 3050 to determine what each team's schedule converts to but the Steelers have also had to play the Bengals and Browns twice so there have been weeks off.

1. Pittsburgh (11-3). A change at the top. To beat the Pats on the road, the Cowboys at home and the Ravens in Baltimore in 15 days -- no matter how bizarre the circumstances -- is the mark of a very good team. By the way, Pittsburgh has six lives left, having used three of them to beat Baltimore, Dallas and San Diego.

The Steelers are playing great, I admit that, Peter lists Dallas and Baltimore as two of the "lives" the Steelers have left. Where is the line between getting lucky and being a good football team? One team wins these games in this manner and they have been getting breaks or could not be as good as their record indicates and the other team wins in this manner and they are a team of destiny.

I hate sportswriters.

6. Philadelphia (7-5-1).

Example A of why.

7. Dallas (9-5). Great win by some proud men. I don't expect the Terrell Owens unhappiness to stay under the surface long, however. It never does.

Has Peter not been paying attention to "As Dallas Turns" lately? T.O.'s unhappiness has been pretty obvious lately.

9. New England (9-5). The Patriots scored 35 points in the first 18 minutes at Oakland, in a driving rainstorm. Football is a funny game.

One of those was a kickoff return for a touchdown and the Raiders stink. I don't know how football is a funny game in this case, the Patriots are clearly the better team.

Goats of the Week
Dick Jauron, coach, Buffalo, and Turk Schonert, offensive coordinator, Buffalo.

Buffalo was protecting a 27-24 lead with 2:06 left in the fourth quarter. The Jets had two timeouts left. The Bills had run the ball well all day, and their last four carries had gone for four, five, three and five yards. On 2nd-and-5, Jauron called for J.P. Losman to roll right and look for fullback Corey McIntyre, and if that wasn't there, just run. Jauron figured that the even if McIntyre wasn't open, Losman could either run or throw it away, and because the clock would stop at the two-minute warning, a run play wasn't essential. Schonert agreed.

Though I know what happens and if I were a fan of the Bills, I would be pissed, this seems like pretty good logic to go for a first down before the two minute warning that would essentially kill the clock and end the game. The Jets essentially had three timeouts with the two minute warning and if the Bills did not get a first down against the Jets on the ground the next two plays, they would have Brett Favre with one timeout and about 1:50 left to win the game. Remember the Jets are good against the run.

Seems like a good gamble to me.

What they didn't count on was the blitz of backside safety Abram Elam, who leaped on Losman's shoulder and stripped the ball, allowing Shaun Ellis to recover and stumble in for the winning touchdown.

Now how the hell is this the coach and offensive coordinator's fault? This is the offensive line and J.P. Losman's fault for not seeing blitz and calling timeout or changing the play. The coach called a good play and the quarterback executed the play absolutely horribly.

I proceed straight into the intersection, and the Maxima, which only slowed down and never came close to stopping, turns left, in front of me, with no signal. Now, we can count the traffic tickets right there on three fingers -- stopping at a stop sign, not signaling on a turn and I think there's also a statute about really ticking me off. So I lean on my horn and the guy driving the Maxima waves me off. Like: You didn't really expect me to stop there, did you?

So let me guess what Peter did here. He put down his egg and cheese biscuit and Starbucks coffee he was carrying, threw the dozen donuts in the backseat and flipped the guy off?

I'm a bit of a driving hypocrite because I do my share of law-breaking driving. But I've always thought that these municipalities struggling so mightily with reduced budgets could make big dough by simply posting unmarked police cars around town and pinching drivers for rolling through stop signs and going 43 in a 25-mph zone. It might even make people drive the way they're supposed to.

That is a great idea! What a perfect thing to do with the tax payers dollars. Instead of catching speeders going at higher speeds that could kill people or having police patrolling unsafe parts of town, make sure Peter King's rented Maxima doesn't get a dent in it at an intersection. As someone who has almost been killed three times in the past two months by drivers who feel the need to pull out in front of me, I am sensitive to this issue, but there can't be police cars sitting at every stop sign so Peter King doesn't scratch his rental cars.

For starters, I don't know anyone who wants to risk a return to those glory days of 2004, when we got 3-11 Cleveland versus 3-11 Miami in Week 16, and the 5-10 Giants and 6-9 Cowboys in week 17. NFL Fever! Catch it!

Maybe the networks could let teams other than the most popular (in their minds) play games on national television. That could take care of the problem, because every year the Big Four are not going to be the best in the league.

Big Four (Dallas, New York Giants, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis).

Ebersol listens to lots of voices advising him on which game to request in NBC's six flex weeks, but he relies most heavily on a two-man kitchen cabinet, John Madden and game producer Fred Gaudelli. The contract with the NFL mandates that NBC must make its request 13 days prior to the game, but Ebersol wanted to wait for the result of the Bucs-Panthers Monday nighter last week because if the Bucs won, Carolina would be far less attractive; if Carolina won, the Panthers-Giants game potentially could be for the top seed in the NFC playoffs.

Because if Carolina had lost that game, they would have had a 9-4 record and played the Giants on Sunday, which makes the game not interesting, unlike the game this week where the Cowboys went in with a 8-5 record and played the Giants on Sunday, but this was exciting. I see the difference in Ebesol's mind. Cowboys are awesome, everyone else sucks.

I don't like the Cowboys.

a. The excessive reverence for the Heisman Trophy by ESPN had me wretching up my pork chop Saturday night. Did Jesus win the Heisman? Moses? Abraham Lincoln?

Says Peter King as he looks up quickly from kneeling at Brett Favre's crotch.

As last night's game showed for the second week in a row, teams will make the Giants prove they can throw deep without Burress before they keep a safety back consistently to guard against Domenik Hixon or another Giant beating them downfield. And Brian Baldinger backed that up with five illuminating plays on NFL Network on how differently the Eagles played the Giants without Burress.

I want to know NOW, what happened to the idea all the other Giant receivers were good enough for the team to win the Super Bowl again.

I need to stop beating up on the Giants, I don't want to look like an asshole next week.

h. Very nice job on the Steve Smith interview, Sterling Sharpe.

I clicked this link excitedly and it was the guy who 60 total catches for his career, not the other one. Most have been really interesting talking to a guy who comes from a long line of USC wide receiver busts.

3. I think you won't find me paying much attention to the Pro Bowl when the rosters are announced Tuesday afternoon. The game hasn't had meaning for a long time, but now, every players wants to make the team and no team wants to play in the game. Too many players treat it as a nuisance, not an honor.

Which is exactly why the fans should not have a vote! We need the same people voting for the honor who don't give a shit at all about the game. That makes a whole bunch of sense, right Jemele Hill?

Can we all agree the Pro Bowl does not matter to the players or anyone else, it is merely for the fans? If you can agree with this, then why can't the fans continue to vote?

5. I think if you combined Dallas Clark the receiver and Anthony Fasano the blocker, you'd have a Mackey-Winslow type, a player in the argument for the best tight end ever.

I think if you combined Julius Peppers' size and Devin Hester's elusiveness, you would have the best running back ever. This is boring already. Shut up, Peter.

f. David Clowney, that was one heck of a catch for the first grab of your career, the one-handed lunger from Brett Favre.

i. Kelley Washington of the Patriots, on a rainy field in Oakland, made a great, great tackle on a kickoff, pinning the Raiders at their seven.

This is what it has come to now. Peter has to find a way to mention the Patriots and Brett Favre positively, so he takes the most random play in a game and fits it into his column.

d. Why did Seneca Wallace run off the field at halftime in St. Louis screaming at everyone?

Because he is a leader like Dan Marino, Brett Favre, and Peyton Manning. Isn't that what leaders do, they yell at everyone?

I guess Seneca Wallace can not do it because the media has not annointed him a good quarterback yet. You can't scream at your teammates or be considered a leader if Peter King says you can't. Suck it.

f. Coffeenerdness: Did an exclusive interview with Marv Albert last night about his coffee habits. Turns out he likes three double-tall cappuccinos a day, and doesn't mind drinking them at room temperature.

There is not enough coffee in the world that could keep me up to read this interview.

g. I have to get a life now.

You mean a life other than following Brett Favre around like a stalker for the past 15 years? Yes, you do.

h. Way to sell those Staples Center suites, Laura King! Proud of you!

i. Happy 23rd birthday this week, Mary Beth King! Proud of you too!

Does Peter have a wife or did he eat her?

I am very excited for the playoffs to begin. With Dallas having homefield advantage through the playoffs I think it should be an exciting to watch. Again, there would never be 24 hour coverage of a borderline wild card team would there be?


Martin said...

Ben, how could you make such a mistake and put in the Denver Broncos as one of the Playoff teams in the AFC, when we clearly know that it's the New York Jets coming from the AFC West? Precedent was already set with Major League Soccer this year, when the New York Red Bulls represented the Western Conference in the finals.

Also, is this the site I come to for all the latest news on the IPL cricket league?

Bengoodfella said...

I know, I really screwed that one up pretty badly. I was trying to actually pay attention to the divisions and geography which apparently MLS is not so concerned with.

I did not know a New York team was in the finals for the Western Conference for MLS, that is dumb.

Ironically, J.S. knows a whole hell of a lot about cricket leagues and the sport in general and I would let him write about it, but I think he knows that everyone in America would be too confused to read it. So yes, this could be a place you could learn all of the latest news.

That was so random to be on FJM's comment board huh?

Martin said...

It was totally weird. I'm waiting for it to show up on Deadspin and Slate now.

The true playoff picture looks something more like

1. Cowboys
2. Giants
3. Eagles
4. Packers

1. Steelers
2. Jets
3. Patriots
4. Colts

With the Jets possibly being the Wild Card in the NFC and the Cowboys the AFC Wild Card, with USC and Florida being the other two.

Well, at least it seems that way.

Bengoodfella said...

I am really, really tired of hearing about the Dallas Cowboys. I swear to God if Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Atlanta all win out this year and my favorite team does not make the playoffs, there is going to be 5 straight days of anti-Cowboys posts up on this here site.

It would be the end of me, I would be found dead over my keyboard with a heart attack or something related to that.

I like your playoff bracket a little better, I did not think that USC and Florida might qualify.