Thursday, December 27, 2007

NFL 2007 Week 16: NFC Edition

NFC EAST: With their division, their first round bye, and home field advantage all wrapped up, there isn’t a lot for the Cowboys to be playing for in the final week of the season, because you know they never play for pride. They’re lucky anyway to have it all wrapped up. With Romo hurt and TO out, they aren’t going to be playing at 100%, and they get the opportunity for a couple weeks of rest. The Redskins shouldn’t be a tough match under any other circumstances, but Washington is still fighting it out with Minnesota, who bungled their opportunity last week, for the last playoff spot. Dallas should win easily, but they don’t have a lot of heart, and Todd Collins has that secondary to throw at, so you never know. The Giants, all records aside, are the worst team in the playoffs, and will be whipping boys for whoever gets them in the first round (probably Tampa). The demoralizing loss (on three stations, no less) that they’ll suffer at the hands of the Patriots this Saturday will carry over into a demoralizing loss in the playoffs and the humiliating ousting of both Coughlin and Manning. Good times for the Giants are on the way. The Redskins, shockingly, still have a chance to make the playoffs, which is something I find utterly ridiculous. They’ve played terribly all year long and, once Todd “El Saviorrrrr” Collins comes in, they start doing well. It makes about as much sense as Derek Anderson’s rise to fame. They won’t make it, this is Minnesota’s year, and their team (especially Portis) isn’t getting any younger, so they’ll be back to their old crappy tricks soon enough. The Eagles have won two in a row, and can now say they aren’t part of the gutter of the NFC. With what should be a third win against the ailing Bills and the news that McNabb may still be an Eagle next year, they will actually have something of a respectable year. Now, if they’d only run a different play from a swing pass to Westbrook, they actually might be worth watching sometime.

NFC NORTH: Wow did Green Bay suck last week. The conditions may have played a part in it, but this didn’t stop the Bears from tearing them apart, so you can only blame the weather so much. This wasn’t the Steelers/Browns 3-0 game after all. This is the Packer team we’ll see in the playoffs: an overmatched and overrated team playing above their level until it actually counts. See the Bears of last year for reference. The Vikings, though, despite a poor performance last week against Washington, should make the playoffs. Much as I hate to say this, they’re playing the Broncos and if that’s not a recipe for another huge Adrian Peterson game, I don’t know what is. The Lions start to play halfway decent again right when it doesn’t matter for them anymore. Any thoughts that Detroit has turned the corner on the franchise should go out the window. Will Kitna be Detroit’s quarterback next year? Chances are he will be, since they aren’t going to be any worse with him than with any of the myriad of crappy quarterbacks waiting in the wings for a job, but that doesn’t make him any better than the rest. The Bears get their final loss at home next week, just to drive home how bad they are to the Chicago crowd. They’ve got to be mortified that the Eagles have come out in support of McNabb; their next season depended on getting a decent quarterback, but now they’re left with the Rex Grossmans of the world. Good luck guys, you all get to have another year with Cedric and Rex.

NFC SOUTH: It didn’t matter all that much, but it’s still disgraceful for a team like Tampa to lose to a team like San Francisco. Garcia, for as efficiently as he’s played this year, has a lot of trouble scoring touchdowns…not a good way to win playoff games. I’ll be able to support the Bucs a lot more when they finally realize that Gruden’s worthless but, for right now, I can enjoy his indignant stare after they finally lose. If they’re lucky enough to play the Giants in the first round, it’ll have to wait until round two; if they play either of the other possibilities, the gratification will be immediate. For as well as the Saints’ offense has done in the second half of the season, the defense needs a lot of work. The abysmal start has been almost entirely made up, both in record and in net points, but it doesn’t matter. Bush has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s not a starting running back in the NFL, so they have to hope that Deuce can come back in old form. Otherwise, between the backs and the receivers, they’re going to be relying on Brees alone once again, who is very good but needs people around him to succeed and won’t be able to carry it himself. If the defense could, additionally, not allow almost 24 points a game, they’ll be in a significantly better position. Their division just doesn’t warrant numbers like that. Nearly a hundred passes were thrown for almost 700 yards in the Falcons’ sixth loss in a row and, shockingly, over half of those throws, from both Redman and Warner, were actually completed. I guess that’s a good sign on both sides, except when you think about their running games, which are both very old and pretty bad.

NFC WEST: Statistically, the West is no longer the worst division in football, which makes me sad. Now, they seem to be third worst, but that’s still a boon for the Seahawks, who have been able to capitalize year after year, including this one, on their rivals’ ineptness. Seattle will either have Washington or Minnesota in the first round; the former should be an easy victory, the latter not so much. Seattle has played inconsistently all year long, so any game is a crapshoot for them, but they’re talented enough to win any of them. They’re lucky to have Atlanta this week, and should have some strong momentum going into the playoffs. Too bad it won’t be much of a test, but at least they’ll be in practice for scoring points. Arizona has had a year that’s generally better than the last few, but there are too many instances of the old ways to make me think that anything will change next year. They’re going to end the season on a really low note with a loss to St. Louis, and they’ll start next year in the same position as this one: worthless. In the final game of San Francisco’s significantly terrible season, they get the opportunity to prove, once again, how poor the Browns really are. I’m not laying any bets on a 49er victory, but the Browns are awfully susceptible to bad play, so you never know. Like the Cardinals, the Niners don’t have a lot of prospects for next season and, in spite of their overblown ranking at the start of this season, not much will be different. Last in points, last in yards, last in passing yards, and 27th in rushing yards, plus they’re still working with Ashley Lelie; yeah, I don’t think there’s much of a future for these guys. The future in this division, regardless of their performance this season, is the Rams. Injuries have demolished them, and their season has been over almost since before it began, but with their 2nd or 3rd pick in the draft, and not a lot of team changes, they should be able to challenge the Seahawks for NFC West supremacy, much to Erik’s chagrin.