1. I think this is what I liked about Week 17:
a. Romeo Crennel's job performance, which has to be one of the best by an interim coach in recent years. He went 2-1, including the Chiefs handing the Packers their only loss, and his defensive players showed how badly they want to play for him by allowing 33 points in the three games he coached. He deserves the full-time gig.
b. Telling Stat of the Day, from my NBC partner Joe Gesue: Steve Spagnuolo has lost more games in three regular seasons, 38, than Bill Belichick has lost in the last 10 regular seasons (37).
c. Jimmy Graham, with one of the best one-handed catches of the season -- with a Panther linebacker draped on him.
d. What a catch by Steve Smith, with Gumby-like use of his feet on the sideline.
e. Miami: a 21-play, 94-yard drive against a defense we all thought was supposed to be good this year.
f. Though he got fricasseed in the court of public opinion all season, Philip Rivers ended up a 4,624-yard passer this season, with a plus-seven TD-to-pick differential. Not great, certainly. But not a nightmare either.
g. Everything about Matthew Stafford this season -- from staying healthy for four months, to throwing the deep ball with such accuracy and instinct, and forming the best deep-ball bond in the game with Calvin Johnson.
h. Washington has a slew of offensive problems to fix, but Jabar Gaffney's not one of them ... 68 catches for 947 yards was a good season for a guy who always seems to get open.
i. Fitting that Indy linebacker Pat Angerer finished with an 11-tackle game. Every time I looked up this year, he was in double digits in tackles.
j. If this is it in Coltville for Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis (I think it is for both looming free agents), they went out well, Wayne with eight catches and Mathis with a sack of Blaine Gabbert.
k. The New England tight ends: 15 catches, 246 yards, three touchdowns. Who will cover them in the postseason?
l. Kudos, Rob Gronkowski, for the best offensive season a tight end has had: 90 catches, 1,327 yards (most ever by a tight end), 14.7 yards per catch, 17 touchdowns (most ever by a tight end).
2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 17:
a. Stupid call in Patriots-Bills late in the half, with Tom Brady chasing the play after an interception and Drayton Florence blocking him, and Florence getting a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness. For, as the officials ruled, driving Brady into the ground. Dumb call. All Florence did was block a man going toward the pile, presumably to try to make a tackle.
b. Awful clock management in the final minute of the first half by Buffalo coach Chan Gailey, letting 25 seconds run off the clock instead of taking one of two timeouts left with the ball in New England territory.
c. You're kidding, Panthers. Fifteen seconds left in the first half and you let Marques Colston get behind everyone in the secondary and catch a bomb for a late, defensively idiotic touchdown?
d. The Giants not being able to run well. That's going to hurt at some point in the playoffs.
e. Another reason for Brett Favre Haters to rise up: When Favre took a dive and handed Michael Strahan the last sack of his record-setting 22.5-sack season a decade ago, he set the stage for Sunday, when Jared Allen, who finished with 22, would have had the record if Favre hadn't been so charitable toward Strahan.
f. The Raiders and penalties: 163 of them (10.2 per game) for 1,358 yards ... both being NFL records. (Read Joe Posnanski's take here.)
g. Carson Palmer's season wasn't good enough to get the Raiders into the playoffs. Raiders without Palmer: 4-2. Raiders with Palmer: 4-6.
h. One more thing Hue Jackson has to figure out: Palmer's passer rating: 80.5; Campbell's, 84.1. A lot of that is Palmer learning on the fly, to be sure. But that just means there will be all the more pressure on Palmer to be a playoff quarterback in a weak division in 2012.
i. The Bucs have too many high picks on defense who are too entitled before they've done anything great.
j. Points allowed, Tampa, last eight games: 37, 35, 23, 38, 41, 31, 48, 45. A disgrace is what it is. How does a head coach with a defensive background allow that to happen?
k. Speaking of defense, what are Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham going to do this week with the Lions? Yards allowed last five games: 438, 425, 477, 367, 550. And now going back to New Orleans.
l. Bears offensive line ended 2011 in style, allowing seven sacks.
3. I think it's the golden age for so many things in the NFL, including punting. Number of punters with 40-yard net punting averages in 2011: nine. Number of the same in 2010: three. Andy Lee of the Niners averaged 50.9 yards gross and an amazing 44.0 net, while his Bay Area neighbor, Shane Lechler, was similarly great -- 50.8, 40.9.
4. I think Rex Ryan's practice of coddling Santonio Holmes went way too far when he made Holmes a captain before the season, and the Jets are paying for it now. Holmes is far too immature to be a captain. Ryan thought he could turn Holmes into a leader by giving him a position of authority. Instead, it enabled him to act entitled, and his teammates all saw him pouting and acting sullen throughout the game Sunday.
Of the many things the Jets have to fix in 2012, Holmes' attitude and Ryan's willingness to so easily hand over a position of authority as a carrot to a player he's trying to motivate is on page one of the list.
5. I think the one thing Rams owner Stan Kroenke did not like when he looked at his team over the last three years of the Steve Spagnuolo reign is that the Rams not only went 10-38 ... but also had one victory over a team that finished the season with a winning record. That came this year, with the win over the Saints.
6. I think the Bucs can get a new coach, and will. But if the fans don't see the Glazers spend in free agency this year, they won't come back in the numbers the franchise needs to flourish.
7. I think it'd be an upset if Crennel doesn't return as full-time Chiefs coach, with a strong offensive coordinator imported to coach Matt Cassel -- if, as the team presumes, Cassel is back next year.
8. I think here are some 2012 schedule highlights:
a. Drew Brees at Aaron Rodgers, again. Hope that becomes like the Colts and Patriots have been for so long -- an annual game.
b. Yes, Colts at Pats, again. Tom Brady needs a new Peyton -- or he needs the current Peyton to get back healthy so we can see more great duels.
c. And Tebow, or whoever Denver's quarterback is, at New England too.
d. Cam Newton and the Panthers at Michael Vick and the Eagles.
e. Tough road for the Niners next year. The Rex Ryan Jets (angry, I presume) on the road, along with Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady ... all away from home. And a rematch of the Handshake Bowl at Candlestick -- Jim Schwartz and the Lions will come to town.
f. Green Bay at the Giants, again. And Green Bay at Seattle, which could be interesting. Could, because I think Seattle's one of the three or four teams I'd make a candidate to have strong interest in Packer free agent quarterback Matt Flynn.
9. I think Victor Cruz made my All-Pro team with what he did over the last month or so, particularly with the 99-yard catch-and-run TD to spur the win over the Jets last week, and the 74-yard version of the same Sunday night to start the Giants on their rout of the Cowboys. In all, he averaged a 123-yard game over the last seven weeks, when the Giants had to ride the passing game so heavily because they just can't run it efficiently.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Haven't seen Girl With the Dragon Tattoo yet. Dying to. Figuratively.
b. The 24/7 show on the Rangers-Flyers continues to be the model for what sports reality shows should be. It's more real to me than Hard Knocks, and I love Hard Knocks.
c. Happy New Year, Steve Sabol. I can't tell you how many people have asked me this year, "How's Steve doing?'' Wishing you a great year.
d. You too with the Happy New Year, Paul and Linda Zimmerman.
e. That was a rough movie to watch the other night, The Hours. Had no idea what it was. That'll sober you up in a hurry. How brilliant is Meryl Streep? I could watch her plant a garden.
f. Our first New Year's Eve in New York was a real barnburner. Slept through it, though I'm told there was a lot of yelling and screaming and fireworks. No recollection of any of it.
g. Coffeenerdness: To the woman in the East Side Starbucks who put a white cream mask of some sort on her face while nursing a coffee the other day and reading the paper ... I mean, gross.
h. Beernerdness: Beer highlight of the week, by far, was having my first Allagash White on tap in about six weeks the other day. That stuff's the nectar of the gods. You have to try it. It's the beer from the little brewery in Portland, Maine, that knows how to make a good white beer as well as anyone.
i. Winenerdness ... and no, I'm not starting this as a column staple, but I did want to praise Dan Patrick for introducing me to Hollywood & Vine cabernet, which we've had at some NBC Saturday night dinners this year. Had it the other night, and I was reminded how good it was -- smooth with a strong taste of blackberry.
j. Thanks to all for their concern and Twitter care and help in finding daughter Mary Beth's lost dog in Seattle. Lucy the shepherd-lab mix turned up a day later at an animal shelter, and the reunion was a good one.
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