Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of Week 16:
a. Todd Haley swears he didn't give that Kansas City fan the finger. I hope he's right.
b. What a weird Week 17. Bengals-Jets, Philly-Dallas, Cards-Pack could all play back-to-back weeks, depending how the Wild Card matchups fall.
c. I don't see how Tom Coughlin keeps his defensive coordinator, Bill Sheridan, after another alarming debacle Sunday.
d. Yes, I did report last night about the exceedingly gray pall over the labor negotiations between players and owners. I hear progress is virtually nil and the players are pessimistic that a new deal will get done in time for them to play the 2011 season. It was clear listening to Jerry Jones on NBC last night that the league wants to blow up the current system it views favorable to the players, and it's just as clear that if that happens, the players want something significant in return.
e. San Diego catches a major health break, getting the bye in the first round of the playoffs, as well as a couple of extra days to rest over the weekend.
f. America gave up on the Patriots too soon.
g. I wouldn't want to play the Packers right now.
h. Unless he flops against the Ravens, Shane Lechler's likely going to have the best season a punter ever had. He's a lock to break his own record for net punting average and could break Sammy Baugh's 69-year-old record for gross punting average (51.4 yards; he's at 51.1).
2. I think the NFL is going to have to ask questions to the Competition Committee, and soon, about whether it's smart to ask fans to pay real money if teams are going to treat late-season games like exhibition games.
3. I think I'd present this scenario to you, regarding the proposed 18-game schedule: Suppose the Colts started the season 14-0, and with four games to play, the closest AFC team to them in the standings were New England at 10-4, and Indy had already beaten New England. So the Colts have homefield through the AFC playoff clinched. And say Weeks 17 and 18 are home games. Now you have four games that mean nothing to a team; this year there were three. More games on the schedule could well mean more going-through the motions to make sure guys don't get hurt.
4. think it's a very long shot, but it'd be fun to see the Texans in the postseason, just to see what damage Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson could do. Johnson became the second player Sunday to have back-to-back 1,500-yard receiving seasons, joining Marvin Harrison. "I've never seen so many coverages designed for one player,'' said coach Gary Kubiak. "He's not only a great player and a great kid, but he's very smart in games.''
5. I think as much as I've had my differences with the man (and that might be my Euphemism of the Year), Terrell Owens deserves kudos for making it to 1,000 catches, which he did Sunday in Atlanta. Owens may not make it 1,100 -- I don't know what team will bring him in next spring as a possible third receiver -- but let him revel in the fun of being a mid-major receiver who persevered and became the sixth player in NFL history to hit 1,000.
6. I think this is what I liked about Week 16:
a. Loved the effort of Vince Young when the game was essentially lost Friday night. His attitude has undergone a sea change.
b. Julius Peppers lives. What got into him?
c. Good hands, Mike Wallace.
d. Four straight 1,000-yard seasons for Frank Gore. I'd never have guessed he's the only Niner to ever have four 1,000-yard seasons, but it's so.
e. When the Houston trainer was giving Gary Kubiak an injury rundown at halftime of the Texans' game at Miami, he mentioned rookie linebacker Brian Cushing being banged up in the first half. Cushing was hooked up to an IV and winked at Kubiak, as if to say, "I'll be out there. Don't worry.''
f. Travelle Wharton, Geoff Schwartz. They're the Carolina tackles who kept Matt Moore fairly clean and helped open the holes for Jonathan Stewart's franchise-record 206-yard rushing day.
g. Matt Moore is 5-2 as a starting quarterback. Looks smart, decisive. I'd be shocked if he didn't compete for the starting job in Carolina next year, assuming whoever coaches the team doesn't import a big-time quarterback.
h. Dallas' Jay Ratliff is playing the best he's ever played. He's getting to be the best-known noseman in the NFC, and for the right reasons. Strong, agile and tireless.
i. The Bucs having a never-say-die attitude in New Orleans and becoming the first team in league history with 12 losses to defeat a team with 13 wins. The missed field goal at the end of regulation helped, but they still had to seal the deal with the game-winning drive in overtime. Admirable effort.
7. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 16:
a. I hope that interception to A.J. Hawk slipped out of your hands, Matt Hasselbeck. If not, that's the Wounded Duck of the Year.
b. Laurence Maroney fumbled at the goal line for the third time this year. No worries, Laurence. It's only seven points in a game with playoff implications.
c. Are you kidding me, Dwayne Bowe? What a shameful, unprofessional display of alligator arms, resulting in a Matt Cassel interception that never should have been.
e. The Washington offense. "It was a disaster, yes,'' Jim Zorn said, in what is sure to be his second-to-last postgame presser as an NFL head coach.
f. Pro Bowl rosters will be announced Tuesday night. If I'm lucky, I'll be out at "Up in the Air.''
g. Seattle has to think about its quarterback of the future. Matt Hasselbeck looks lost.
8. I think that stinker the Giants threw up in the last Giant game at Giants Stadium (and I do mean "threw up'') should make everyone in that organization think hard about whether the talent and coach inside the place is overrated. I was certain the Giants had the deepest 53-man roster at the start of the season, but GM Jerry Reese has to look hard at the money the Giants spent in free-agency and decide if guys like Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty were bad signings or simple bad injury luck in 2009. Only Tennessee, Kansas City, Detroit and St. Louis -- now there's a murderer's row of great defenses -- have allowed more than the Giants' 383 points. Tom Coughlin and Reese need to make some major changes there, and one of the players to go might be Osi Umenyiora, who sounded like he wanted out after the game.
9. I think Jerome Harrison has had a season in the past eight days. His totals against Kansas City and Oakland: 73 carries, 434 yards, four touchdowns. Those numbers, over 16 games, are a 3,472-yard pace. Which would break a couple of records.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Rest in peace, Connie Hines.
b. Don't know Connie Hines? I'll give you a clue: She starred in the greatest sitcom in American television history. (Answer later in this item.)
c. The family got frozen out of "Sherlock Holmes'' on Christmas afternoon, so we settled for "The Hangover,'' on DVD. Laughed as hard this time as when I saw it on the big screen.
d. I watch far too many reruns of "The Office,'' mindlessly. I can't help myself. I'm gaining a much better appreciation for the greatness of Kevin's acting.
e. Coffeenerdness: I believe I set an espresso record over the weekend. Three days, six drinks, 18 shots. That's got to change. Soon.
f. I'd just like to know, as a frequent flier, how a guy passes through security twice with explosives sewn into his underwear. Don't we have animals to sniff bomb-laden underwear? Can we figure out a better system to uncover hidden bombs?
g. "So this means his retirement was an Urban legend?'' Keith Olbermann said on the set of "Football Night in America'' last night. About flip-flopping Florida coach Urban Meyer, of course.
h. I don't understand the Meyer story. What changed overnight? I admired him very much for stepping away, but not so much for coming back. There has to be a part of this that will allow Meyer to leave for good if he continues to experience the same health problems during the season.
i. So a few of you haven't received your books that I signed and we mailed out. If you're one of the folks whose book never came back, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll look into it and get back to you within a week.
j. I will be getting Kindle-conversant this week. Looking forward to it.
k. Connie Hines played Carol Post, the terminally unaware wife of Wilbur Post, who talked to Mr. Ed the horse in "Mr. Ed.'' She was the perfect southern California wife, pert and pretty and polite. But how are you married to a man who talks to a horse without knowing your husband has a close and conversational relationship with a large white horse who once tried out for the Dodgers and took sliding lessons from Leo Durocher?
Who I Like Tonight
Is Chicago really a great job in the unlikely event Lovie Smith gets fired? To rebuild the Bears will take at least three primo offensive linemen, one or two wide receivers, a rush end, an impact linebacker, a safety with an anvil in his shoulder pads and one cover corner. The Bears have $11 million invested in Smith over the next two years, which makes his ouster problematic. I'm not expecting much from the Bears tonight in a game the Vikings have to win to hold off the hard-changing Eagles for the second playoff bye in the NFC -- I call it Minnesota 26, Chicago 10 -- but I'll tell you the game they'd better not lose. Chicago at Detroit, Week 17, with the third-string quarterback playing for the Lions. A loss like that would be very hazardous to Smith's Chicago future.
NFL Truth & Rumors