1. Vermeil Weeps
"It's an [gulp, pause] unbelievable [catch in the throat, pause] feeling," Rams coach Dick Vermeil managed to say after the franchise made the playoffs for the first time since 1989. Surprise! In the World According to Dick, postseason equals tears. Next up for St. Louis: securing home field throughout the NFC playoffs. To clinch, the Rams may only have to go 2-2 against four teams that are .500, at best.
2. Show Him the Money
Out of the ashes of the Bengals' woeful season will rise a free-agent quarterback who figures to land a $5 million-a-year contract in the off-season. Jeff Blake is the quarterback that the Steelers pray Kordell Stewart can still become—great arm, nice touch, knows when to run and when to stay in the pocket—and if he had played this well the past two years, the Bengals wouldn't have had to draft Akili Smith last spring. Blake, who lit up the 49ers for 334 yards and four touchdowns in a 44-30 Cincinnati win on Sunday, will make a big score in Tampa Bay, Miami, San Francisco or New Orleans.
3. The AFC W(eird)est
Two weeks ago, the Seahawks were sailing along at 8-2, leading the AFC West by three games. Now Seattle is 8-4, a game up on the Chiefs, and the teams' Dec. 26 rematch at the King-dome might decide the division. We'd take Seattle in a walk, if only Jon Kitna would stop making fatal mistakes. "We know what's at stake," says defensive tackle Riddick Parker, "and it's putting some pressure on us."