Close your eyes and say the words “Manning game winning drive.” I just about guarantee you aren’t picturing the guy in New York, but his brother instead. At the beginning of this season, Eli Manning proclaimed that he should be considered one of the Elite quarterbacks of the league (FMQB had him at #8). I don’t know if it’s his pouting, or his “Aww Shucks” attitude to life, but people don’t seem to take him seriously. Well the league is beginning to take notice at his clutch performances. Los Tramposos have won 6 games this year, and 5 of those wins have been because of Manning’s game winning drives. This is extremely impressive, showing the individual fortitude like that to win when the game is on the line. As most FMQB fans know, that means a lot to me. This past weekend he scored with 15 seconds left in the game, driving against the Super Bowl contending Patriots, in New England, trumping Tom Brady once again. Every other columnist has compared this game to Super Bowl XLII, so I will skip that analysis here. But it was eerie how Eli went to an unknown receiver who wore #85 on the clutch play of the drive. And then a quick drop and throw to the back left corner of the endzone for the game winning TD. More on Eli later…
Quote of the Week #1:
To make up for last week, we were at a sports bar on Sunday to catch as many games as possible. The table next to us were die-hard Saints fans, and their cheering was hilarious.
“Ahhh, look how fast Darren Sproles is. He’s so ffaaaasssstttt!” Ok, true statement
30 minutes later
“Look how fast Drew Brees is. He’s so ffaaaaasssstttt!”
Quote of the Week #2:
This was said during the middle of the play where the Cardinals Patrick Peterson ran back a 99 yard punt return for the win in OT against the Rams.
“Why would you catch that at the 2 yard line….oh, that’s why” Matt
The Rams’ 8 drives of the second half and OT looked like this. Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Turnover on Downs, Blocked FG, Punt returned for TD. Ouch. To be completely honest, if you watched those 5 minutes (from Blocked FG to Punt return) of the Rams game, you wouldn’t have to watch another down, and know everything about the Rams’ season.
The Rare Four-Point play:
What do you do in basketball if there’s 3 seconds left and you’re down by 4? You run into the defender, heave a hail mary three, hope it goes in, and hope you get the foul. Pretty slim chance on that working. What do you do if you need 4 points in football? The easy answer is score a TD and get more than 4 points, but the Rams answer is to get back to back safeties on back to back plays on defense. That being the only points scored for the Rams in the 3rd quarter, it was the first four-point quarter for a team in the NFL’s 92-year history!
I snagged this from ESPN, but it was something I was trying to figure out myself. In Jim Harbaugh’s first season as an NFL coach, the 49ers have won four games in the Eastern time zone. Picking another West Coast coach for comparison’s sake, Norv Turner has won four Eastern games in five seasons with the Chargers.
“Is this thing loaded?”
Apparently New England fans are more hardcore than I thought! Before Sunday’s game against the Giants, sensing their second straight loss, a Patriots fan shot himself in the leg in the parking lot! Three hours later the Patriots defense were all shooting themselves in the foot for not being able to stop that final drive! On a side note, I didn’t realize Plaxico Burress was a Patriots fan! Thank you , Thank you, I’m here all week.
The AFC Playoff Picture is Amazing!
Halfway through the season, typically the playoff picture begins to make itself clear. Usually, there are about 10 teams in the mix for the 6 spots, and the bottom of the barrel is already set. But take a look at the AFC, it could literally come down to Week 17 to decide the entire picture! In the AFC East, the Jets, Bills, and Patriots are all 5-3. The AFC North has the Steelers, Ravens, and Bengals all with 6 wins. And finally the AFC West has the Chiefs, Raiders, and Chargers are all 4-4 (the Broncos are 3-5) and nobody seems to want to step up and win that division. The NFL Schedulers didn’t disappoint either. Take a look at Week 17’s picture. The AFC will be determined by Bills at Patriots, Ravens at Bengals, Chiefs at Broncos, and Chargers at Raiders. Even the NFC has good matchups with playoff hopefuls Dallas at Giants, Detroit at Green Bay, and Tampa Bay at Atlanta. How will FMQB chose a Game of the Week that week?!?!?!
If the Playoffs were to Start Today:
Cincinnati and Houston would be the #1 and #2 seeds in the AFC. Last year they were a combined 10-22.
Champagne to be popped?
Every year, the league waits as undefeated teams go deep into the season without a loss, until finally the 1972 Miami Dolphins are able to pop the champagne on another guaranteed year as being the only undefeated team ever to win the Super Bowl. In 2008 they had to wait dreadfully long until the 18-0 Patriots lost on the final drive of the Super Bowl. While not as prestigious, I would imagine the 1976 Buccaneers or 2008 Lions also breathe a sigh of relief when the winless teams finally win (ok maybe not). While the Colts don’t have a particularly difficult schedule, all I know is that they better get a win in their next 2 games (Jaguars, Panthers), or else it isn’t happening. They luck out by playing Jacksonville twice yet, but drop those two games and they will really LUCK out. On the flip side, the Packers have a difficult schedule ahead, with 7 of their 8 games against playoff hopefuls. However that hasn’t seemed to matter to them yet, beating the Saints, Falcons, Chargers, Bears, and Broncos already. Their toughest stretch is back to back road games against the Lions and Giants. If they can pull that off, my bet is they go undefeated. But as of now my guess is 15-1…and a back to back championship.
And Then There was One:
While we’re on the topic, lets discuss Andrew Luck again. The one thing that will disappoint me this season even more than the Patriots winning the Super Bowl, would be if the Colts get the #1 pick. And at 0-9, they seem cruising to that finish. Here’s why…If the Colts have the #1 draft pick in the 2012 draft, they will be ruining a Hall of Fame quarterback’s career. Option A). They take Luck with the intention of having him sit for 4 years behind Peyton Manning. After all, you can’t bench or trade Peyton after what he’s done for your franchise. So instead they will waste 4 years of development on a kid that can win today. Option B) They take Luck, have him sit a year behind Manning, then trade Manning to the Dolphins, Titans, or Cardinals in 2013 to let Luck play. Manning goes down in history with Montana, Favre, and Namath for trying to hold on too long, and finishing their careers with a team other than the one they made famous. To me this is situation could turn eerily similar to Steve Young sitting behind Joe Montana. Or Rodgers behind Favre (although Rodgers wasn’t as highly touted, but look at him now). The ONLY way this can go well for either QB is if the Colts somehow go on a winning streak (Peyton could come back in December afterall), or the Colts unload Luck for a slew of 1st round picks and/or talent. I think teams will be after Luck, no matter what the price. But is ruining the eternal face of your franchise worth that price? Don’t do it Indy.
Stat of the Week #1:
Before Thursday’s game, Carson Palmer had played 6 quarters for the Raiders, and has thrown 6 interceptions. In playing the entire season, Hasselbeck, Manning, Schaub, Cutler, Flacco, McCoy, Stafford, Rodgers, Bradford, and Smith have all thrown 6 or fewer interceptions.
Stat of the Week #2:
Not one team in the AFC West has a positive point differential.
Stat of the Week #3:
What can offense do for you? The Rams defense has allowed only 6 more points than the Saints defense. Yet their 1-7 vs 6-3 records couldn’t be more dissimilar. Just shows how much a good offense does for a team.
Stat of the Week #4:
Tim Tebow is 2-1 as a starter…With a team that went 4-12 last year…His only loss is to a team that is 6-2…Does that shut up the critics? For now maybe…
Stat of the Week #5:
Matt Moore of all people had the highest QBR this week!
Stat of the Week #6:
Tim Tebow had a higher passer rating than Tom Brady
Stat of the Week #7:
Tim Tebow passed for only 6 more yards than he ran! (124 yds pass, 118 yds rush).
Stat that will be explained later:
Only 6 active quarterbacks have won Super Bowls
Stat I can’t find:
Bill Belichek is notorious for not losing back to back games. In previous years, it seemed like EVERY Patriots loss would bring up the stat on how Belichek hadn’t lost back to back games since 2000 or something. Well he lost back-to-back games this week, even has a legit shot of losing 3 in a row when the Patriots travel to the Jets!
“I see you live to die another day”
Whew, I am thanking the Bears for letting me hold onto the Nightmare’s nickname at least another 2 weeks. On a side note, I love how two wins over the Cowboys and Redskins (a combined 7-9) is enough to crown the Eagles as not being as bad as they have been. Before Monday’s game, Steve Young predicted a Eagles vs Packers NFC Championship.
My Super Bowl Matchups:
If I could choose the Super Bowl matchups for this year based on current playoff teams, I would choose one of the following. (Let’s see if any of these actually happen!)
Bengals vs 49ers: Rematch of Super Bowls XVI and XXIII. Shades of Joe Montana and Boomer Esiason. Plus it would be fun to see 2 teams who have struggled the last decade make it that far!
Cowboys vs Texans: It would just be cool to have an all-Texas Super Bowl. Would have been cool if it had been played last year in Dallas’ stadium.
Patriots vs Giants: Rematch of Super Bowl XLII. These 2 teams always put on great games together for some reason, even though they play once every 4 years.
Packers vs Patriots: Rematch of Super Bowl XXXI, plus a Tom Brady vs Aaron Rodgers matchup would be incredible!
Bears vs Ravens: This would just be an amazing defensive battle that would be worth seeing.
Packers vs Steelers: Rematch of last year’s Super Bowl, see if Steelers can get revenge from last year, or if we see the first back-to-back Champs since the Patriots did it in 2004.
Bills vs Lions: My original Super Bowl hope, the only bad part about this matchup is that one team would have to lose.
“I dub thee, Sir Eli-te”
Ok, I’ll admit that I crown people way too fast (Tebow, Cam Newton, etc). But just remember one thing, before the season, Eli Manning said he should be in the conversation of top 5 QB’s in the league and everybody laughed at him. So here comes the “crowning” part. Suppose Eli wins the Super Bowl this year. What happens then? He all of a sudden becomes the better Manning quarterback, has more rings than his dad and older brother, people will view him like Terry Bradshaw (never had great stats but could win in the clutch). I think this would be enough to put him in a top 5 QB list in the league. Only 6 active QB’s have won a Super Bowl (Eli, Peyton, Brees, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, and Brady). Should Eli win, only Brady would have more rings than him. What’s even more surprising is he’s only 30!
“Oohhhh, we’re halfway there…”
Some teams are really livin’ on a prayer at this point, but halfway through the season here’s where we’re standing for the Playoff picture, as well as my prediction on the seeds.
- Green Bay Packers
|1. Green Bay Packers
|2. San Francisco 49ers
||2. New York Giants
|3. New York Giants
||3. San Francisco 49ers
|4. New Orleans Saints
||4. New Orleans Saints
|5. Detroit Lions
||5. Detroit Lions
|6. Chicago Bears
||6. Atlanta Falcons
- Cincinnati Bengals
|1. Baltimore Ravens
|2. Houston Texans
||2. New York Jets
|3. New England Patriots
||3. Houston Texans
|4. Kansas City Chiefs
||4. Oakland Raiders
|5. Baltimore Ravens
||5. Pittsburgh Steelers
|6. Pittsburgh Steelers
||6. New England Patriots
For the NFC, I think the Giants leap the 49ers this weekend and stick with the #2 seed. The Saints win the NFC South, but the Falcons finish up strong and knock off the Bears for the last Wildcard spot. Just minor reshuffling, I think the NFC is pretty set as it is.
For the AFC, I am just not sold on the Bengals until they get an impressive win. That division is so close that 2 losses to the Steelers and Ravens will knock them out of the picture entirely. The Ravens take the #1 seed, Jets take control over the AFC East with a win over the Patriots this weekend. Chargers finally take control of the AFC West in Week 17. Unfortunately for Bills fans, they will fall one spot short.
I bet a 10-6 team from both divisions miss the playoffs. It’s rare, but there are some tight races right now.
Midseason MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Midseason Coach of the Year: Jim Harbaugh
Midseason Rookie of the Year: Cam Newton
This I Promise You:
The only mistake I have made with FMQB (besides predicting the Packers wouldn’t make the playoffs) was branding myself as Friday Morning Quarterback. I get so anxious to publish my column every week, and it’s tough to read others on ESPN who had similar ideas to mine (which makes it look like I’m stealing). But here is the first upside to it. I will be the first column able to talk about the Thursday night games (suck it MMQB and TMQ!). However I saw none of it last night, so it is hereby my promise that I will use my FMQB status and report on the Thursday night games from now on. However, very impressive that the Raiders pulled off a win in San Diego! Palmer missed on only 6 passes, had 300 yds and 2 TDs. Of course Micheal Bush stole the show with 242 yds from scrimmage, but a big division win has me back on the Raiders bandwagon for the AFC West. Without watching the game, it sounds like Palmer found his rhythm again, and if he keeps it up, look for the Raiders to finish up 10-6 atop the division.
Games of the Week:
Wow, another great slate of games this week. Somehow we’ve gotten away from the New Orleans vs. Indy and into good divisional matchups with playoff implications. Here are the games FMQB thinks you should follow:
Chargers at Raiders: Who wants the AFC West?
Steelers at Bengals: Sure the Bengals are 6-2, but are they legit enough to beat the Steelers?
Broncos at Chiefs: Who wants the AFC West? Plus all time great rivalry
Saints at Falcons: These 2 will be fighting for a playoff home game. Loser gets the wildcard spot
Giants at 49ers: Rivalry renewed, can the Eli-te Manning win on the road against a nearly flawless 49er team?
Lions at Bears: Fighting for the other wildcard spot
Patriots at Jets: Will the Patriots lose 3 in a row?
I said his name, this hereby counts towards my weekly quota of Cam-talk.