Posted: Tuesday December 27, 2005 11:42AM; Updated: Tuesday December 27, 2005 12:37PM
Three guys who have to step it up
1. Sean Suisham, Dallas, kicker -- As of Monday, Suisham is back kicking with the Cowboys, who have made four changes at the position since training camp. With that kind of job security, Suisham has no margin for error. It's get it done, or get out of town.
2. Patrick Ramsey, Washington, quarterback -- Even if Redskins starter Mark Brunell manages to start and play on his sprained right knee Sunday in Philadelphia, Ramsey best be ready to step in and win the game that would send Washington to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
3. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati, head coach -- The challenge Lewis faces with his first-time playoff qualifier is to fight any sign of satisfaction and contentment with just making the postseason. The Bengals blew a shot at a first-round bye last week at home against Buffalo, and can't afford any more slippage on the momentum front.
1. Anybody think Mike Tice still deserves to keep his job? The Vikings head coach had a team picked by some to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this season, and at best it'll finish a perfectly mediocre 8-8, matching last season's record. Six-game winning streak in the second half or not, Tice hasn't gotten the job done in his four years on the job. Still pushing Tice for coach of the year, Boomer Esiason?
2. I like Jim Mora and consider him one of the league's brightest young coaches. But it's time to take a deep breath and pop in another SpongeBob SquarePants video, Jimbo.
3. He simply has to get his long-running quarterback problems fixed, but Baltimore's Brian Billick, I believe, has coached himself off the endangered list, if he ever was legitimately on it to begin with given that owner Steve Bisciotti didn't want to buy out the remaining $9 million of Billick's contract.
And beleaguered Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller has also pulled an impressive late rally to assure himself of at least challenging for Baltimore's starting job in 2006. For all their offensive woes, the Ravens went 6-2 at home this season, winning six of the their last seven games at M&T Bank Stadium.
4. I know he's a living legend and all, but 28 picks in 15 games for Brett Favre and he still gets a free pass (no pun intended). Trent Dilfer wouldn't get the same treatment, and they both have earned exactly one Super Bowl ring. Just an observation, Cheeseheads. Don't try me on charges of treason and slander.
5. Love this statistic: With their win Monday night against the Jets, the Patriots reached .500 as a franchise for the first time since mid-Sept. 1969, when they were 60-60-9. The Pats are now 354-354-9, after being as low as 54 games under the break-even mark in 1994 (228-282-9). New England is 51 games over .500 since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994, and 40 games over (72-32) since Bill Belichick was hired as head coach in 2000.