January 15, 2008

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED SO FAR?:

Can Rivers run through it?: Knee has QB's status up in air (Mike Reiss, January 15, 2008, Boston Globe)

Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who hyperextended his left knee in the second quarter of Sunday's victory over the Colts and did not return, said yesterday an MRI revealed no further damage. Tomlinson thinks he'll play against the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.

The news on quarterback Philip Rivers, on the other hand, was a bit less decisive.

Rivers sprained a ligament in his right knee during the third quarter and was replaced by Billy Volek for the remainder of the game.

Chargers coach Norv Turner likened Rivers's situation to that of tight end Antonio Gates, who did not practice last week because of a dislocated toe but played against the Colts.


The playoffs have taught and confirmed a number of lessons. Here are five. Feel free to add your own:

(1) Jacksonville is the second best team in the NFL.

(2) Peyton Manning won't win you a big game.

(3) LT had a nice run the past few years, but he may well have hit his sell by date.

(4) Any owner who prefers "the player" to Bill Parcells doesn't understand his product.

(5) The Pats may or may not be the best team in NFL history, but Tom Brady is certainly the best QB.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 15, 2008 9:52 AM
Comments

You "learn" the weirdest things:
1) Jacksonville is out and three other teams are still in. It is unproven that they are the second best team. You believed that before the playoffs.
2) Peyton Manning has a Super Bowl ring.
3) LT's team is still in the playoffs, and he's still playing.
4) I don't know what you are talking about, but anything that hurts the Cowboys is a good thing
5) Maybe, maybe

Posted by: Brandon at January 15, 2008 12:11 PM

(6) Don't rest your starters and take the last few games off after locking up your seeding. The Giants and Pats and Packers played all-out through the end of the season, and they're still in it. (The Football Gods are particularly rewarding the Giants for their Week 17 heroic effort.) The Buccaneers, Colts, and Cowboys rested their starters and went light in the last game, and they'll be watching the conference championships on TV.

Posted by: Mike Morley at January 15, 2008 12:21 PM

(7) Under modern rules, you don't need to run the ball to win, or even stop the run. You do have to have a mid-range passing game and nigh-nonexistant interceptions.

Posted by: Mike Earl at January 15, 2008 1:03 PM

2) Styles make fights. SD has Indy's number (solid 3/4 defense with a safety smart enough to stay at home and not bite on Manning's tricks) nothing more. Indy is the second best team.

PS OJ, how much are they paying you for the commercials where you play yourself? You know the one in teh diner with the bearded delusional uber-annoying New England fan?

Posted by: Benny at January 15, 2008 1:04 PM

In order for the Patriots to be beaten, some other team needs to offer Dante Scarnecchia a blank-check contract.

Posted by: b at January 15, 2008 1:16 PM

What we've learned is

(1) the Giants are very good and getting better as their rookie offensive weapons at rb and wr mature.
(2) The NFC East is a very good division, in fact the Giants/Dallas game might have been the real Superbowl.
(3)Jacksonville might be a talented team, but their coach should be fired. He made no adjustments at halftime. They needed to start blitzing Brady the way the Giants started blitzing Romo (who has a better o-line than Brady) in the 2nd half of that game.
(4) The AFC is way overrated. San Diego makes the championship game, coming like NE out of a terrible division, but would've finished dead last in the NFC East or North.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at January 15, 2008 2:18 PM

Fixed #1 for you:

(1) Green Bay is the second best team in the NFL.

Posted by: Bob at January 15, 2008 2:32 PM

"Romo (who has a better o-line than Brady)"

Dude, that's Tim McCarver level of analytical craziness. The Dallas O-line was completely obliterated in the 4th quarter by a Giants defense that wasn't anywhere near as effective against the Patriots just 2 weeks ago. If Tom Brady is in fact the greatest quarterback ever, it's at least 90% due to his O-line (hence my Dante Scarnecchia comment above). Y'know what Brady would be called if he played for the Cowboys? Tony Romo.

Posted by: b at January 15, 2008 2:44 PM

1) The Cowboys and Tony Romo don't do themselves any favors by acting laid-back and goofy. That might work in November, but playoff pressure is real and you can't smirk and laugh your way through it. Tom Brady rarely smiles this year.

2) Jeremy Shockey is definitely top-3, and perhaps the number-1 most overrated player of the entire aughts.

3) The Titans owe it to NFL fans to get Vince Young some wide receivers and see what he can do.

Posted by: Matt Cohen at January 15, 2008 3:06 PM

1. New Englanders are the most annoying people on the planet.

2. Cheaters do prosper in the NFL.

Posted by: G-Man at January 15, 2008 4:28 PM

b:

The Cowboys offensive line is THE reason for their success. Without them Romo is playing touch football in the street.

I don't think it's an exaggeration at all to say it's better than NE's. In fact, that's exactly what the Giants d-linemen were saying before Sunday -- Strahan iirc said Dallas' line was the best they'd faced this season, and since the Giants had just played NE as you point out . . .

Lastly, I don't recall the Giants blitzing NE. Indeed for all the talk about the Giants playing all out in that game, I think they didn't use a lot of their arsenal. If NE manages to beat San Diego, they'll be in for some surprises in the Superbowl.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at January 15, 2008 4:29 PM

The NFC East was certainly the best this year--basically four Buffalo Bills with no bad team and no great one. Which, along with the unbalanced schedule, makes the Pats season far more impressive than the Dolphins, since they ran the NFC East table without much effort.

Posted by: oj at January 15, 2008 4:49 PM

Jim:

(3): Are you mad?

As the second half drew on and the Jaguars realized time was running out, they finally thew a blitz on Brady. The immediate result: a 35-yard reception. They didn't blitz again.

Though, to be fair, blitzing may have been the best of a lot of bad options at that point...

Posted by: Mike Earl at January 15, 2008 5:47 PM

Jim: Of course "The Cowboys offensive line is THE reason for their success" as it is for any team that wins 13 games. But it ain't nearly as good as the Patriots.

Posted by: b at January 15, 2008 7:30 PM

Vikings have the best O-line.

The Pats O-line has the benefit of all those receivers keeping everyone honest.

Posted by: Benny at January 15, 2008 8:08 PM

a) Tom Brady is very good. The best ever? Not yet.

b) Spot on comment regarding Peyton. For years he tore up the regular season and then tanked in the post-season. Last year, they won with defense and running (although Peyton did play a marvelous 2nd half in the AFC Championship). And he probably held the offense together this year, but ran out of gas on Sunday.

c) Tomlinson is not over the hill. Maybe in 2010. He wants the ring, and he will play hard to get it. If he is strong enough to run for 150 yds., the Chargers might win on Sunday.

d) The Jags are not #2 - and they might slide next year. Taylor will be 32, and little Maurice can't carry the offense. Garrard is a lot like Steve McNair, and if he has to throw 40 passes in a game, it shows.

e) Blitzing the Pats is a risk, but it has to be done. It seems to work best from up the middle. Brady is too good to get caught by a corner blitz (and their WRs are too dangerous).

f) Brady is due for a major injury. Montana got one (in a playoff game, no less). Marino got one. Bradshaw had three, as I remember. Bart Starr missed a playoff game, and so did Unitas.

g) I am quite sure the Giants miss Shockey, even if he is a boor.

h) Beating the Pats means holding them to 17-21 points. The safeties have to play perfectly. Good luck.

i) Parcells will struggle in Miami, where the cupboard is bare.

j) How about a fake punt or FG on Sunday? Might make the difference in the snow in Green Bay.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 15, 2008 8:11 PM

(4) Any owner who prefers "the player" to Bill Parcells doesn't understand his product.

Bah. Parcells' December collapses were getting old, and so was his style of play -- even so, JJ wanted him back (but many of us fans did not). He did a nice job upgrading the talent in Dallas, but this Cowboys team can't win like the Jersey Con Man's Giants' teams (running game and defense). They've got a QB who is good at big plays, an average defense, and special teams that can't cover, so they have to win by outscoring their opponents.

When their QB has a bad game and a team like the Giants exploits the average defense and poor special teams coverage, the Cowboys lose. The Jersey Con Man didn't make a difference in the playoffs in previous years, and wouldn't have this year.

Posted by: Kevin Whited at January 17, 2008 11:53 AM
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