One New York teams keeps rolling, another stubs its toe; chances the Lions go 0-16; who is the MVP this season?
How Cyd and Jim saw Week 13 in the NFL.
Biggest disappointment. Lots of people point to the San Diego Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars as this season’s biggest disappointments. And they have been disappointing, no doubt. But I remember talking with Jim about San Diego before the season, and neither of us thought they’d be much this season. And though I had the Jaguars winning the AFC South, it was more because I thought the other three would falter than thinking they were a good team.
For my money, the biggest disappointment this season is the New Orleans Saints. Both Jim and I had them as the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and Jim had them in the Super Bowl. Many others did, too. Their offense was supposed to be explosive, and their defense was supposed to be much-improved. Drew Brees has upheld his end of the bargain, and Reggie Bush, when he’s been healthy, has as well, for the most part. But even when the defense has played well, against the Packers last week, they’ve surrendered big points (29 in that game). And Jeremy Shockey has been a total disappointment. Even when he’s healthy and on the field, he isn’t contributing well and has lost a lot of the aggression that made him a name. Hell, he’s being outplayed by Billy Miller.
Giant sized: The New York Giants keep on rolling despite distractions that would sink other teams. The defending champs pounded Washington, 23-7, two days after their idiot receiver Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg at a nightclub. Here, thanks to Joe Guckin, are the basics in the case:
Burress shows up at the club with a loaded gun. Security turns him away, but management decides to allow him in anyway. He gets his drink on quickly, and security escorts him to the VIP area, and the gun slips and goes off when he tries to secure it. Instead of calling 911 (after all, he's got a gun and no permit) he goes home and bleeds for a couple of hours before finally going to the hospital. Meanwhile, [Giants linebacker Antonio] Pierce takes the gun and hides it in New Jersey. The cops only find out about it because someone from the Giants organization called them. They go to Burress' house and his wife won't let them in. Pierce heads to DC for today's game, and his lawyer says Pierce will cooperate only if he's not charged with anything.
All three of these teams, the Chargers, Jags and Saints, have been victims of major injuries. But, so have the Patriots, Titans, Broncos and Cowboys; They’re finding a way to win despite injuries. The other three are already talking about next year.
Houdini. The Indianapolis Colts should all go out and buy lottery tickets. Now. They are the luckiest team I have seen in a long, long time. They have escaped so many late-game situations that very easily could have seen them lose, and they’re doing it with well-timed big plays. I say they’re lucky, but that’s in the sense that you make your own luck. They’re having opportunities handed to them, and they’re taking advantage of them. I’ve had this team in and out of my top 5 for the last few weeks, but it is hard to gauge how good they really are. Their next two games are gimmes, then they play the wacky Jaguars, then they play the Titans at home, and the Titans will have nothing to play for. So, it’s likely we won’t get a real idea of how good or bad this team is until the playoffs. My guess: Good enough to win A playoff game.
The chances the Lions go 0-16. I’ve looked very closely at their remaining schedule, done some math, and I now put their chance of going winless at 32%. How’d I come up with that? I give them a 30% chance of beating the Vikings, a 5% chance of beating the Colts, a 40% chance of beating the Saints, and a 20% chance of beating the Packers. If you do the math, that gives them a combined 32% chance of losing all four games. In other words, chances are still good they won’t go 0-16, even though they will be underdogs in each game. Chances that your average NFL fan wants to see 0-16: 98%.
My To Five
1) Tennessee Titans. I didn’t see that blowout win at Detroit coming. What a way to get back on track.
2) New York Giants. Another big win for them. I do wonder at what point the offseason losses of personnel and now the likely loss of Plaxico Burress will catch up with them.
3) Carolina Panthers. Watching Steve Smith and their running attack take over this game is why I had them in the NFC Championship.
4) Pittsburgh Steelers. Very impressive win at New England. This team has been surprising me all season; Time to rethink so their big wins aren’t surprises.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They blew a lead late to New Orleans and came back to win. Watching that defense is like watching art in motion.
This all happened as Burress was out with a hamstring injury. Instead of rehabbing and lying low, he shows up at a club “sporting flashy jewelry and carrying loads of cash,” according to the New York Daily News. He now faces a weapons charge and the story has been the talk of the New York tabloids for three days.
This is the third time this season the Patriots have lost by 20 or more points; in Bill Belichik's tenure going back to 2000 it had only happened twice total.