The San Diego Chargers are in the playoffs! They secured the final wildcard spot in the AFC and I can’t think of a team less deserving of the honor. Remember that crazy playoff scenario that kept the Steelers’ hopes alive if and only if the Jets won their final two games? Well, they did. It was the only time all season New York won two games in a row. In addition, the Ravens and Dolphins lost their final two games. The stars were all aligned and the Steelers were in the playoffs… for about fifteen minutes. The Chargers could still send them packing with a win over the Chiefs. Kansas City helped them out by resting twenty-two of their starters. If you’re wondering, that’s half the team. Ten of the replacements had never started an NFL game. It still took San Diego overtime and two bad calls before they could put themselves in position for a game winning field goal. In other words, it was all they could do to defeat a team that wasn’t really trying to win. Yes, the Chargers are in but I can’t imagine they’ll be hanging around very long.
I’d like to introduce a new segment I’m calling Patting Myself on the Back. Even after blowing that big halftime lead against the Packers a couple weeks ago, the Dallas Cowboys still had a chance to win the NFC East. All they had to do was beat the Redskins and Eagles in the final two weeks. I predicted they’d find some way to fall on their faces Week 17 against Philadelphia. It seemed like a safe bet. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is now 0 for 3 in win or go home games, but that doesn’t hold a candle to Tony Romo’s 1 for 6 record in those must win situations. Romo threw us all a curve ball by getting hurt and missing the final game. Would the curse-finally be broken? Predictably, no. The Cowboys proved something to the entire football world on Sunday. Turns out they can drive that final nail into their own coffin even without Tony Romo wielding the hammer. Late in the game against Philadelphia, Dallas had the ball and a chance to seal the victory and wrap up the title. Veteran quarterback Kyle Orton was under center. He took the snap, dropped back and said to himself, what would Tony do? The rest was like a Hollywood picture show. Orton threw a pick, the Eagles began their celebration and the Cowboys spirits were crushed once again. I love a movie with a happy ending.
The show must go on! That applies to the circus and, evidently, its ring leader. The Redskins, Browns, Buccaneers, Vikings and Lions are all in search of new head coaches. There will likely be a few more coaching vacancies in the days to come. The New York Jets, however, have decided to bring back Rex Ryan for the final year of his contract. I think they’re nuts but I’m also thrilled with their decision. First, it means Rex can’t possibly end up in Minnesota. Even better, with him staying put, it pretty much assures me another season of fodder for my weekly updates. The season is barely over and a new quarterback controversy is already brewing. Send in the clowns. The circus is back!
What do Christian Ponder (Vikings), Aaron Rodgers (Packers) and Jay Cutler (Bears) have in common? Yes, they’re all quarterbacks for NFC North teams. They also all missed significant time in 2013 due to injury. The one guy missing from the list is Matt Stafford of the Lions. He was healthy all season. In fact, most of the Lions were healthy all season. Sure, Reggie Bush missed one game and Nate Burleson was out a few weeks after he broke his arm rescuing a pizza–true story. For the most part, though, the Lions were injury free. The Vikings aren’t very good and that once mighty Bears defense is a mere shadow of it’s former self. It’s also old and broken. When Aaron Rodgers went down, Detroit should have run away with the NFC North crown. They had the deck stacked in their favor. They could have, SHOULD HAVE wrapped up a division title by the end of November. Instead, they lost six out of their last seven games and star runningback Reggie Bush referred to the team as undisciplined. Of course, we knew that even before they named Ndamukong Suh a team captain. The Detroit Lions have proven themselves a perfect fit for the only major U.S. city to declare bankruptcy.