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Monday Morning QB (cont.)

Posted: Monday November 26, 2007 3:31AM; Updated: Monday November 26, 2007 10:53AM
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Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of Week 12:

a. This is not the negative New York media speaking. This is the impartial New Jersey media speaking. The more I see Eli Manning, the more I think he'll never be a championship quarterback.

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b. I mean, taking a 26-yard sack in the fourth quarter? Ridiculous. And could he please get mad once? Punch the ground, kick the dog, cuss out his linemen, something. You know what the Minnesota game plan for playing Manning was in part? Hit him a couple of times on his first few dropbacks, and the book on him was he'd start throwing off his back foot. Which he did.

c. Jamal Lewis has more than a little bit left.

d. Very glad to see Andy Reid was coaching to win, coaching aggressively. "How about this?'' coach Jeff Fisher said Sunday night, watching Eagles-Pats midway through the second quarter with a 14-14 score. "Fun game to watch. Reminds me of our game at Indy a few years ago, when we onside-kicked a bunch.''

e. Devin Hester controlled the outcome of the Chicago-Denver game as much as any quarterback controlled the outcome of any game Sunday.

f. I can't feel sorrier for a player this morning than I feel for Kurt Warner, who played heroically and threw for 483 yards in the overtime loss to San Francisco.

g. Amazing. The Panthers will now go more than a calendar year without winning at home.

h. I liked one of Charlie Casserly's theories on the explosion of special-teams touchdowns this year -- there are new special-teams coaches on 13 teams, all implementing differing philosophies of covering kicks and punts. Interesting.

i. Chad Johnson is convinced the Bengals can run the table and finish 9-7. That's what he told me Sunday. That means beating Pittsburgh and Cleveland in the next month.

j. Didn't you just get the feeling Sunday night that Donovan McNabb is a goner in Philly?

2. I think I don't care how good Darren McFadden looked last Friday, and if you saw how he steamrolled LSU in Baton Rouge, you know he looked like a future star in the NFL. Probably. I wouldn't use a high first-round pick on him. Of the top 50 running backs in the NFL entering this weekend (ranked by rushing yards), 30 were not first-round picks. In my team rankings this week, I've got New England, Indianapolis, Dallas, Green Bay and Pittsburgh as my top five. The Patriots (11-0) have a running game by committee. Tony Dungy of the 9-2 Colts has given CFL refugee Kenton Keith 9.0 carries a game. The 10-1 Packers have had rushing efforts of 104, 55, 119, 88 and 101 yards from Ryan Grant in the last month. Grant, an undrafted free-agent by the Giants in 2005, entered camp fifth on the Giants' depth chart this summer, then was traded to Green Bay for a sixth-round draft choice. Dallas (10-1) has Julius Jones and Marion Barber III manning the running game. Jones was the 43rd player picked in the draft when he came out, Barber the 109th. Undrafted college free-agent Willie Parker -- who couldn't get consistent playing time at North Carolina -- has 3,624 yards over the last two years and 10 games for the 7-3 Steelers. More than any position in football, running back is the one you can find players from the most disparate sources.

3. I think, internally, the NFL is counting on a Nov. 27 FCC meeting in Washington to force Big Cable to go to arbitration and end the stalemate keeping the NFL network out of 70 percent of the cable homes nationwide. Commissioner Roger Goodell said the other day he thinks the FCC will have that question on its agenda, and, obviously, the league would welcome that. Why? Because then the league, which wants 65 to 70 cents per household per month from Big Cable, theoretically would be able to negotiate with Time Warner and Comcast, who could ask the NFL with justification: "Why do you think you're worth more per month than CNN?'' If, as one league source told me, the cable companies are willing to give the league about 17 cents per month now, he thinks the figures the league and Big Cable would submit to an arbitrator would be about 55 and 30 cents, respectively, and maybe they'd meet somewhere in the middle before a hearing. Of course, the FCC may not ask for arbitration either, and may just tell the two sides to resume talking. That won't help this year, though. The NFL has given up hope any of the remaining seven games will be on wide cable distribution in the next five weeks. If you want to see the games and you're in that vast 70 percent, I'd suggest a trip to your local sports bar or local computer, on NFL.com. The network has initiated two online "look-ins'' at the live game, glimpses that will last at least one complete possession. And the network will also give loggers-on some selected live "look-ins'' when either team is inside the opponent's 20. Three touchdowns were shown live last Thursday in the Indy-Atlanta game. Just a guess, but whenever a deal between Big Cable and the NFL is struck, I'd bet the live "look-ins'' will end.

4. I think it would seem to be easy to rip Kansas City coach Herman Edwards and label him my Semi-Goat of the Week. But I eschewed the goat thing, because I understand why Edwards did what he did, though I do not agree with it. On fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter at Arrowhead, with the Chiefs trailing the Raiders 20-17, Edwards passed on a 41-yard field-goal attempt by kicker Dave Rayner (15-of-22 at this point, 5-of-9 from 40 and beyond) to go for the first down. Kolby Smith lost a yard, and the Raiders hung on to win. Edwards said he went with his gut, which is what a coach is paid to do. My feeling is Edwards had no faith in Rayner, plus he feared the foot of Sebastian Janikowski on the other side (Janikowski made a 54-yarder earlier). Edwards went for it. The loss could keep the Chiefs out of the postseason. Even though I would have kicked the field goal, I understand Edwards' reasoning, though he purposely wasn't specific after the game. That would have shown a lack of faith in his kicker, as well as a lack of faith in his defense's ability to stop the Raiders from taking the ball downfield for the winning score in the final four minutes.

5. I think I can't resist one stat for Week 13: Brett Favre is 0-8 at Texas Stadium. He plays there Thursday. Asked about being known as Brett Favre Jr., at this early stage of his career, Wisconsin native Tony Romo said Sunday: "If you're trying to be Brett Favre, you're fighting an uphill battle your entire career.''

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