1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of the NFL weekend:
a. If you missed it, The NFL Network did a great job on its game of the week last week. It interspersed game highlights of Pats-Colts and footage it shot last summer at Patriots training camp, with Bill Belichick instructing (harshly, at times) his troops, and then showed how those instructions came in handy at key times of the divisional playoff game. Someone smart came up with that concept. Someone smart and right.
b. Sick sight of Sunday noon: in minus-five wind chill, an incredibly inebriated kid, maybe 23, in a t-shirt, silk shorts and flip-flops, was high-fiving Eagles fans outside Lincoln Financial Field.
c. First punt into the wind: From the Eagles 38, Chris Mohr, a 15-year guy, a real pro, booted a knuckler into the 28-mph gust. It landed at the Eagles 24 and bounced back to the 30. Punt of eight yards.
d. Amazing number of Brian Dawkins jerseys in the stands at the the Linc Sunday. In the sections in front of the press box, there were three Dawkinses for every McNabb.
e. When Hollis Thomas hits you, you stay hit.
f. Donovan McNabb doesn't look for Freddie Mitchell very much. Like twice all day Sunday.
g. Eagles did a great job on Allen Rossum.
h. Please, please, please do not harp on the four conference title games lost at home by Bill Cowher. The Steelers went 16-2 and lost to the greatest team of its day. There is no shame, nor any surprise, in that -- particularly when your phenom quarterback plays like Brooks Bollinger.
i. That Rodney Harrison is one tough hombre.
j. Willie Williams had a very good year for a guy who was supposed to be a schmoe corner.
k. Charlie Weis, you did one heck of job last night. If I was a stud high school quarterback, had an 1150 on my SAT and wanted to learn multiple offensive schemes, I'd have Notre Dame at the top of my list.
2. I think Jim Mora is going to be in several more of these big games. And I mean big games, plural. The way he handles a team is something to see.
3. I think one of the best examples of the Patriots' greatness is how new guys come in and Belichick throws them into the fire in a position where they'd better play well or the team might lose. Hank Poteat comes off the University of Pittsburgh campus (he was taking classes there) to participate in a few plays in the win over the Colts last week, then plays about 20 downs against the Steelers. Covers Plaxico Burress a lot on the outside.
4. I think those were real tears the Eagles fans in the section below me were crying. Tears of happiness and relief.
5. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I love The Weather Channel. It's addicting.
b. I love Amtrak more. It is more addicting, especially traveling through a heavy snowstorm, as I did Saturday afternoon after a quick New Jersey dogcheck on Bailey the golden retriever. (She was fine, by the way, very happy to do what she loves best on the planet, which is retrieving a tennis ball in the snow until she drops.) You keep wanting to say to the conductor, "Slow down! You're going too fast!'' Until you realize you're on rails, not a road. For a while through the driving white haze, I felt like a character on Murder on the Orient Express.
c. Media Praise of the Week: My friend Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was the first to point this out, but there was an incredible photo in this week's edition of Steelers Digest with Cowher leaning over to console a fully uniformed Ben Roethlisberger, minutes after the Steelers-Jets game nine days ago. After a Steelers win, for crying out loud. Roethlisberger looked like his cat had just died. Really down. Interesting to see how hard Roethlisberger took his own failings, and how high his expectations are. The photographer was Mike Fabus. Great job, Mike. Very telling.
d. Coffeenerdness: There is never a time when you're happier to have a Starbucks in the lobby of your hotel than when the snow is blowing sideways outside.
e. When it blizzards, you tend to watch TV. I saw two good shows this weekend. Birdman of Alcatraz. Wow. Burt Lancaster was about as good as an actor can be in that movie. And the Terry BradshawSportsCentury show on ESPN was particularly revealing. "I'm never gonna be what I want to be,'' he says on it, among other very frank things.
f. Oh yeah. And the new Geico commercial. The "Tiny House'' commercial. One of the funniest commercials in recent TV annals. I'm sure you'll be sick of it in a month, but enjoy it while you can.
6. I think the best player I saw in the NFC title game was Derrick Burgess. Raise your hands: How many of you had heard of him before this weekend? Quick feet, extremely disciplined, doggedly determined. The way he rushes the passer reminds me of Leonard Marshall a couple of decades ago in New York. Burgess doesn't get there as much as Marshall did, but his athleticism is similar.
7. I think this falls under the category of "Had some time on my hands and decided to do the Vikings a consulting favor.'' If in March or April the Vikings do what I think they'll do -- troll the market for a good deal to rid the franchise of Randy Moss -- who really would be interested? Well, I think Moss would be willing to look at the Raiders. I also think the Raiders and the Vikings several months ago floated the idea of a Philip Buchanon-for-Michael Bennett deal, and so the Raiders would be interested in exploring the best-available vertical threat in recent NFL history. You know how Al Davis loves vertical threats. I also think Baltimore will have some interest, though as former Ravens backup QB Jeff Blake told me the other day: "Who would throw the ball to him?'' (A not-so-subtle jab at the arm strength of Kyle Boller.) I've heard a ton of conjecture on why the Vikes would do something like this. It's easy, and smart. Why not get rid of the biggest headache in the league? I realize trading a great player is a difficult thing, but living with his mood swings and occasional anti-team 'tude is pretty difficult, too. If the Vikings can get a first-round pick and a player at a position of need (corner, safety, most notably), a trade to rid themselves of the headache of the year is a good idea. My best guess at the next home of Moss, if he is moved:
First-round pick plus CB Philip Buchanon
First-round pick plus LB Adalius Thomas
First-round pick plus CB Fred Smoot
New York Jets
First-round pick plus DE John Abraham
First-round pick plus LB Hunter Hillenmeyer
8. I think you were all probably wondering, as was I, how possibly there could have been an AFC championship game in Foxboro if Doug Brien had made one of two field goals in the last two minutes of regulation of the playoff game in Pittsburgh last week. A Jets win last week would have set up a New York-New England title tilt -- and maybe the craziest weather game in the 85-year history of the NFL -- at 6:30 Sunday night. At that time, between 20 and 30 inches had fallen on Foxboro, according to Weather.com (depending on the drifting and blowing), and the temperatures, with wind chill, were between 10 and 15 below zero. So I posed the question to Joe Browne, the NFL executive vice president of communications, in the press box here: Would this game have been postponed one day, to let the area dig out? "I'll check it out,'' he said. He came back at me in the second half with this explanation: "Knowing the enthusiasm of the Pats' fans to get to the stadium, and knowing the cooperation of the Massachusetts authorities, I am certain we would have played in Foxboro today,'' he said, "even if we had to delay kickoff an hour or two for snow-removal purposes.''
9. I think you would be very surprised if you knew how close wunderkind Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz came to getting the 49ers coaching job. He's only 38 and the 49ers nearly fell in deep love with him, in part because he's a "Moneyball'' guy -- the 49ers think Billy Beane's principles fit in football -- and because he's so smart. (I don't know too many Georgetown economics grads coordinating offenses or defenses in the NFL.) In the end, the 49ers decided Schwartz still needs some seasoning, so they passed.
10. I think that's good hire the 49ers made in Mike Nolan, assuming he's going to have some say in how players are acquired and scouted. I like Nolan a lot. He's smart, driven and can communicate with players. I spoke with owner John York last week, and I told him the best thing he did to prove to fans he wasn't going to run his team anymore on the cheap is to eat the salaries of Dennis Erickson and Terry Donahue. "The perception of being cheap has been difficult,'' York said. "We've had so much cap trouble. We're not entirely healthy on the cap right now, but we've gotten in so much better shape. This is the first year at this time of the offseason in the five years we've been here when we've been under the cap. It seems like every year we'd sit down after the season and I'd look around the league and see New England and Green Bay under the cap and in the playoffs, and I'd say, 'We're $20 million over and out of the playoffs. What's going on?' ... Are we going to be the most active player in free agency? I doubt it. We will be a player in it, but we need to build through the draft. That will be our goal.'' To that end, the 49ers won't have a classic GM-coach structure. They'll have a coach as the lead dog in the organization -- which is the way Bill Walsh always thought was best -- with a personnel man hired from another team.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King covers the NFL beat for the magazine and is a regular contributor to SI.com. Monday Morning Quarterback appears in this space every week.