Posted: Monday January 2, 2012 9:14AM ; Updated: Monday January 2, 2012 10:02AM
Peter King

MMQB (cont.)

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Fine Fifteen

Broncos leave a lot to be desired
Source: SI's Andrew Perloff says despite winning the AFC West title, the Denver Broncos are no more than a middle-of-the-road team.

1. Green Bay (15-1). Doubt it will matter, but sitting Aaron Rodgers Sunday means 20 days between Rodgers playing in a game ... between the Dec. 25 game versus Chicago and the Jan. 15 divisional tilt.

2. New Orleans (13-3). Lost Mark Ingram for the year, with a reaggravation of his nagging turf toe. Amazing how it seems almost meaningless now, the way the Saints are clicking. Scored 42, 45 and 45 the last three weeks, and the scary thing is, they could have had more.

3. San Francisco (13-3). Doubt defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had a pleasant flight home from St. Louis, after watching the Rams get two rushing touchdowns. Niners had allowed one in the previous 15 games.

4. New England (13-3). Not to rain on the Pats' top-seeded parade or anything, but foes threw for 4,703 yards on New England this year. That's so bad it's almost scandalous -- 1,348 more yards in the air than the Patriots allowed in 2009.

5. Pittsburgh (12-4). I have no idea how Tim Tebow is going to score more than three field goals Sunday. I'll almost be surprised if he put up that many points.

6. Baltimore (12-4). First home playoff game of the Harbaugh Era 13 days from now, and if Cincinnati can beat T.J. Yates and the Steelers can handle Tim Tebow, you'll never guess who will march into Baltimore for the game. Clue: Uniforms are black and gold.

7. New York Giants (9-7). We know they can score, and the pass-rush is a swarm, and the Giants will be a tough out if they can cover anybody.

8. Atlanta (10-6). Delighted to see Tony Gonzalez sign up for one more season, and thrilled to see him get one more shot at his first career playoff win. That's right. The man has 1,149 catches, second in NFL history in receptions, and has never been on a winning side in a playoff game. His teams are 0-4 in the postseason.

9. Detroit (10-6). How will Jim Schwartz convince his players they have a chance to beat Drew Brees on the road after surrendering 480 yards to a backup quarterback Sunday?

10. Philadelphia (8-8). Won its last four by an average of 19.8 points.

11. Arizona (8-8). Cards went 7-2 in their last nine. Not in any dominating way, but impressive enough.

12. San Diego (8-8). Best team in the AFC West at season's end, but there's this weird thing about the NFL. Something about six-game losing streaks being bad for your playoff health.

13. Tennessee (9-7). Quirky stat of the week: Titans won four games after Thanksgiving, scoring 23 in each win.

14. Houston (10-6). Entering the postseason as meekly as, and with as little momentum as any team since ... well, Denver.

15. Cincinnati (9-7). Healthier than their Saturday playoff foe, and probably a little better overall. But it's hard to believe in a team that beat one team with a winning record this year, and that team (Tennessee) finished 9-7.

The Award Section

Offensive Players of the Week

Hard not to pick the two guys who combined to throw for 1,000 yards Sunday in the breezy, cold snow of Lambeau.

Green Bay quarterback Matt Flynn. He threw for 480 yards, with six touchdowns and one interception in the bizarre 45-41 win over the Lions. The Packers have been playing football since 1921, and never has a Green Bay quarterback thrown for as many yards or for as many touchdowns. A virtuoso game in his last regular season game as a Packer. Flynn will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford. He threw for 520 yards, with five touchdowns and two interceptions in the bizarre 45-41 loss to the Packers. He finished the season with 5,038 passing yards, the most in the 82-season history of the franchise (Detroit was the Portsmouth Spartans for four seasons before moving to Detroit in the '30s.) A tremendous way for Stafford to end the season.

Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones Drew. With 25 carries for 169 yards against a line that was stacked to stop him most of the game, Jones-Drew, who has fought since 2006 to prove he was better than his draft stock, broke the team's single-season rushing record and won the NFL rushing title. No back deserves it more.

Defensive Player of the Week

Minnesota DE Jared Allen. He needed 4.5 sacks against Chicago and its pathetic offensive line to break the all-time single-season sack record of 22.5 held by Michael Strahan. He got 3.5 by midway through the third quarter ... and then was held sackless by a team that mostly bled the clock the rest of the way. A tremendous season by a player whose motor never stops.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Kansas City P Dustin Colquitt. The Chiefs-Broncos contest was a field-position game throughout and here's where the Broncos took over after Colquitt punts: the Denver 10, 14, 26, 16, 19, 49 (of Kansas City), 25 and 16. If you're going to force Tim Tebow to start from his 20 or worse five times, you have to like your chance to win. For the day, Colquitt -- whose brother Britton was Denver's punter Sunday -- averaged 47.1 yards per punt, with a net of 41.8.

San Francisco K David Akers. For the second time in his career, Akers threw a pass in a game -- this time on a fake field goal attempt with the ball landing in wideout Michael Crabtree's hands for a 14-yard touchdown. That gave the Niners a 27-10 lead with 16 minutes to go and turned out to be hugely valuable in San Francisco's seven-point victory. Akers added two field goals to his 2011 total, giving him 44 for the season; 41 had been the record, and he broke that last week. Which leads us to...

Coach of the Week

San Francisco special teams coordinator/assistant head coach Brad Seely. He thought of the cool play that turned out to be vitally important in the Niners' win at St. Louis. In situations when San Francisco failed to pick up a new sets of downs on third down and were left in field-goal range, why not have a receiver amble to the sideline but not all the way off the field? So they practiced it a couple of times, having Crabtree head off, hoping the defense would believe he's out of play and that only 10 players were on the field.

When it was called Sunday, Akers had the option to kill the play and attempt the field goal if he thought the Rams were getting wise. But the play worked to a T, and Akers saw Crabtree near the sidelines and the Rams ignoring him. This is what I like about the 49ers -- they're not married to the conventional way of doing things. That's a good reason they're 13-3 and have the second seed in the NFC playoffs.
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