Oh, it's not that the weather outside is frightening -- it's the fact we're in mid-November and the networks' first Christmas special is airing Sunday night! (For the record: Mr. St. Nick on ABC).
Nonetheless, with New England and Oakland renewing acquaintances this weekend, Week at a Glance is making a list and checking it twice: Beer? Check. Brats? Check. Chips? Check. More beer? Check, check. OK, we're ready for some football! ... And don't think the rowdy inhabitants of The Black Hole haven't been eagerly awaiting this rematch.
Flashback to Jan. 19. The AFC Divisional Playoff. Raiders at Patriots. In a driving New England blizzard, replay overrules a fumble recovery by Raiders. Patriots go on to tie the game and win it in overtime on an Adam Vinatieri field goal.
Hence, the "Tuck Rule" becomes forever more a part of the NFL venacular.
In keeping with the Winter Wonderland theme, here are some memorable snow-filled NFL games:
Dec. 19, 1948: Philadelphia Eagles 7, Chicago Cardinals 0 -- The 1948 NFL Championship at Philadelphia is played as a heavy snow blankets the field, making for near-impossible playing conditions in which chains cannot be used for measurements and sidelines are marked by ropes tied to stakes. Steve Van Buren scores the game's only TD on a 5-yard run.
Dec. 11, 1960: New York Giants 17, Washington 3 -- A snow of near-blizzard proportions completely blankets field in Washington, burying yard lines and drifting to a depth of eight inches in places. The Giants triumph on a Joe Morrison TD catch, Pat Summerall field goal and Tom Scott interception return.
Dec. 12, 1982: New England 3, Miami 0 -- With snow falling and winds gusting to 30 mph in 20-degree weather, snowplow driver Mark Henderson, a work-release convict, clears a spot for Patriots K John Smith to boot a 33-yard, game-winning field goal.
Oct. 15, 1984: Denver 17, Green Bay 14 -- Broncos DBs Steve Foley and Louis Wright return two fumbles for TDs 37 seconds into the game as Broncos hold on for Monday night win at Mile High Stadium. The storm drops ankle-deep snow on the field by game's end.
Dec. 1, 1985: Green Bay 21, Tampa Bay 0 -- The 15-inch snowfall at Lambeau Field is the heaviest on game day since the Packers' 1965 NFL title game. Accumulation sets the Dec. 1 record for Green Bay, but the Packers pile up 512 yards of offense anyway.
The Saints' offense ranks first in the NFC with 68.8 red zone TD percentage (32 trips, 22 TDs), bolstered by QB Aaron Brooks, who ranks third in the NFL with TD pass every 6.2 attempts. His cousin, Falcons QB Michael Vick, is second among QBs with 414 yards rushing and five rushing TDs.
The 49ers are seeking an 8-2 start for the second consecutive season, and have an NFL-low eight turnovers (third in the NFC with a plus-9 turnover ratio). Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson leads the NFL in rushing with 965 yards; no San Diego RB has ever led the league in rushing.
Bears WR Marty Booker is tied for the NFL lead (Steelers' Plaxico Burress) with 14 catches of 20 yards or more, and has a TD catch or pass in four of the past five games. The Rams, under QB Marc Bulger, are looking for their fifth consecutive game with 27 or more points (none in the first five).
Sacks need by Seahawks' John Randle to pass Rickey Jackson for eighth place on NFL's all-time list.
Consecutive passes thrown by Jets' Chad Pennington without an INT (leads the AFC with a 69.7 completion percentage).
Broncos' winning percentage under Mike Shanahan (6-1) following a loss on Monday Night Football.
Titan of the business
No AFC QB has a better career winning percentage (minimum 45 games) than the Titans' Steve McNair: 53-35 (.602). Only Favre (55-27, .670) has a better divisional winning percentage than McNair (32-18, .640). And since 1999, Tennessee has the NFL's second-best record, 38-19 (St. Louis, 41-16).
Yada, yada, yada
"It's organized chaos. When I get out of the pocket, my teammates know where I am, and I know where I am." -- 49ers QB Jeff Garcia on his planned scrambling. In the past two seasons, Garcia has a 145.2 passer rating when he is on the move out of the pocket.
CNNSI.com's Richard Harris notes Giants RB Tiki Barber has three consecutive games with at least 163 total yards. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the last two, and scored three TDs. Barber should continue to be the focal point of the Giants' offense, especially since the team's receiving corps is decimated by injuries. For more insider info, check out this week's Tip Sheet.
Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia
2002 statistics: 28 carries, 101 yards; 7 catches, 78 yards; 1 of 1 passing, 25 yards, 1 TD
In NFL debut Sept. 8 at Tennessee, Westbrook led all Eagles rushers with 42 yards on eight carries, including a 12-yard run.
One of the most decorated players in NCAA Division I-AA history, Westbrook holds the all-time NCAA record with 9,885 all-purpose yards, breaking the 9,301 yards accumulated by Brian Shay of Emporia (Kan.) State. In 46 career games, he scored 542 points with 84 TDs, carried the ball 725 times for 4,499 yards (6.2 avg.), caught 219 passes for 2,639 yards and gained 2,433 yards and 4 TDs on kickoff returns.
A fourth-round draft pick in April, Westbrook is one of only two players in Villanova history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season -- and he accomplished that feat three times. A consensus All-American and two-time A-10 Offensive Player of the Year, he also was the 2001 recipient of the Walter Payton Award (top player in Division I-AA).
A three-year member of the honor roll at DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Md., Westbrook played basketball for legendary coach Morgan Wootten and was the team's starting point guard, leading the squad in field-goal percentage and assists.
Last week's topic: Starting from scratch, who would be the first player or coach you would enshrine into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
The one man who personifies greatness in the NFL is, was, and always be Johnny Unitas. The buzz cut, the black shoes, the skill and ability, he was the very picture of what a quarterback and football player should be. Steve -- New York
Jerry Kramer, right guard for the '60s Packers. In 1969, a Hall of Fame committee named him the best guard in the NFL's first 50 years. How can he not be in the Hall, with all the other guards already there? Paul -- High Point, N.C.
Bill Walsh, the inventor of the ball-control, high-scoring modern offense that most fans like to see. Just look at all the current coaches in the NFL who have roots back to him. George -- Craig, Colo.
George Halas was there to start it all. He was a very good player and coach. He was owner of one of the original teams. Who could go before him? Everyone else has followed his lead. T.G. -- Grayslake, Ill.
Jerry Rice is the only player who is the undisputed, unchallenged, dont-bother-to-argue, single greatest player at his position in football history. And the position has barely changed since the old days -- get open and catch the ball. Ken -- San Diego
If Curly Lambeau doesnt do what he did in Green Bay, then there would be no Vince Lombardi, Don Hutson, Packer sweep or Brett Favre as we know them today. Yes, Lombardi made the Packers a legendary franchise, but Lambeau created the franchise. Jason -- Green Bay
The goal of this sport is to win championships. Otto Graham produced 10 of them. Nobody else is anywhere near that record. Ciaran -- Praha, Czech Republic
Jack Lambert, simply because he epitomizes exactly what football and the NFL should represent: missing teeth, bone-jarring collisions, talent and heart. Sean -- Pittsburgh
Bill Parcells -- so everyone will just shut up about it already! Bill -- Massapequa, N.Y.
Jim Thorpe without a doubt. He not only was the most dominate player of his era. but was as big a star -- if not bigger than stars such as Michael Jordan -- and this at a time when there was no mass media, just newspapers and word of mouth. Mickey -- Troy, N.Y.
Definitely Barry Sanders; he was the greatest running back of all time. If he continued to play and not retired, he would have broken the all-time rushing record and passed over 20,000 yards. No QB or other player could top his mad style of play. Tom -- Livonia, Mich.
I would place Vince Lombardi in first. He took the game to another level of excellence with his dominance in Green Bay. I think he is the single-most influential figure in NFL history. Scott -- Tomah, Wis.
I would definitely have to take Gale Sayers; even though he did not last as long as many would have liked, he changed not only his position, but the game he played dramatically. Jacob -- Denver
Paul Brown -- not an admirable person, perhaps, but the most influential coach/owner/innovator in the modern game. Much of what we assume is "the" way to do things came directly from what he did. Robert -- San Antonio
Jim Brown set the standard by which all other backs are measured. Eight seasons as the league's top runner, highest all-time yards-per-carry, and the rep as a tough runner who excelled in the clutch. If he had played 16 games per season, Emmitt would still be chasing him. Rick -- Raleigh, N.C.
Sports is all about winning and no one did it like Joe Montana. He won the games he was supposed to and the games he wasn't supposed to win. Four Super Bowl rings and three Super Bowl MVPs. The only time he wasn't named MVP was the year he led the Niners past the Bengals in the final moments of the game. Montana is the ultimate winner. Jaime -- Fresno, Calif.
Walter Payton exemplified what a true champion was all about. He took both his wins and losses in stride, and never once complained about being on a less than average team for years. He was, in my opinion, the most exciting running back to watch (even when the Bears were getting destroyed). Josh -- Wichita, Kan.
Given the virtually impossible choice, if the Hall of Fame were to start over, I'd give the nod to Bob Hayes, who redefined passing offense and defense and who is the most deserving to not make it in the real Hall. Gary -- Dallas
Without a doubt it would have to be Don Shula. He took the Colts to Super Bowl III, then two years later took Miami to three consecutive Super Bowls, winning two. He also coached the only undefeated team in history. He is the all-time winning coach with 347 career victories. Ken -- Wahiawa, Hawaii
Sammy Baugh created the game as it is played today, and nobody has played it better. He both showed the power of the passing game, which was only a desperation move before, and showed its weakness, by being one of the best defensive backs of the era as well. Jay -- Durham, N.C.
Tom Landry because of his class, gentlemanship and football knowledge. He loved the game and respected all aspects of it. William -- Sacramento, Calif.
A HOF player is someone who is smart, tough, talented, driven, and is respected by everyone on both sides of the field. He practices hard, plays when he is hurt, and is a team player. He plays to win, gives his best and expects others to do the same. If asked, he would play for free because he loves the game. To me, that is Dick Butkus. He was the epitome of what football is all about. Mike -- Claxton, Ga.
... And one programming note:
I have to take issue with inacurrate information in this week's "NFL Week At A Glance." You incorrectly identified Monday Night Football as the "longest-running primetime entertainment series in television history". In fact, Hockey Night In Canada, which runs every Saturday night on the CBC, has been on the air for more than 50 years. Television history isn't limited to U.S. airwaves and it would be a disservice to your loyal readers and surfers not to make this correction.
Thanks to John and several other "north of the border" readers for their comments on MNF vs. Hockey Night. However, right or wrong, Hockey Night is not considered by the numbers-crunchers at Nielsen. Never mind that Don Cherry is more enjoyable than Dennis Miller. In TV land, it's all about the proverbial "ugly Americans."
Also, several users submitted Pete Rozell's name for enshrinement. Very good call, folks. He is, after all, the reason we can lounge on Sundays watching the games, especially the Super Bowl.
Which is the best team never to win an AFL or NFL championship or Super Bowl? Make the case for why that team should be remembered.
B. Duane Cross is a senior producer CNNSI.com.
Got a comment, question or scoop for Duane? Click here.