Monday Morning Hangover


And we’re back. After a short break for the holidays and a wild finish to the 2008 NFL season, I present you with the last MMH of the regular season.

There isn’t much to say about the Giants game. They lost by one point (20-19) on the road, with their backups in, to a team that was in must-win mentality. Play the regulars and starters for four quarters and the game isn’t even close. Hopefully they have a chance to play the Vikings in the playoffs, thought it is very doubtful.

The Vikings have the best run defense in the game? Well, if that is the best run defense in the game and Brandon Jacobs was wearing a t-shirt and shorts on the sidelines, then I am not sure what would happen if the Giants and Vikings met in a game that actually meant something. And if David Carr could find open receivers like it was a Friday walkthrough, then the Vikings will not last a quarter against the Eagles on Sunday.

But if there is one team that can beat the G-Men in the divisional round, it’s the Eagles, though I’m not scared. So it would be wise for Big Blue to pull for Minnesota this weekend.

So a 12-4 finish, the first seed in the NFC, and a first round bye for a team Trent Dilfer said would be the biggest disappointment in the NFL. What a disappointment.

The Lost Boys
The online slang/abbreviation/phrase “LOL” never had so much meaning. And I think those three letters can sum up the 2008 Dallas Cowboys perfectly without even going into detail because what a disgrace the 2008 Dallas Cowboys were. A team that was supposed to win the NFC East, supposed to win the NFC, and then supposed to win the Super Bowl ends their season by losing 44-6 in game where a win would put them in the postseason.

I am not sure what needs to be done in Dallas, but obviously something. 13 years and no playoff win for the Dallas Cowboys, not even a chance to break the streak, and their coach’s job is secure. Come on now Jerry Jones. You’re better than that. How are you going to keep a coach around after a 9-7 season in which just a win in the final two weeks would have given you a playoff spot and the team went 0-2. When one of those two games was at home against a team that lost on the road to the Giants by 20 points. Wade Phillips was not the answer in Dallas when he was hired and he isn’t the answer now. But as a Giants fan, I am more than happy to see him retain his job as the Cowboys demise will last at least another season with Phillips at the helm.

There is no way you can blame 44 points against on the offense, but you can blame six points for on them. And while it would be terrible to mention Tony Romo as a major source of blame in that utterly disgusting display of football, I am going to anyways. Because like I said all along Tony Romo is the closest thing to Alex Rodriguez this world has to offer. But he is even worse. Because when you take away A-Rod being the most horrific big game performer in the history of competitive sports, he is still arguably the greatest player to ever step on a baseball field. And though Tony’s career is young (even though he isn’t that young for a NFL quarterback), he has choked in every single big game he has played in. And even though Dennis Green knew the Bears were who he thought they were. I am not sure Tony Romo is what the world thinks he is.

Alert: This Team Will Self Destruct in 30 Seconds
What was the biggest collapse of 2008? The New York Jets or the Denver Broncos? It’s hard to say because you can make legitimate arguments for either one and I am not sure there is a wrong answer.

For a month the Broncos just needed to win once or have the Chargers lose and that  didn’t happen. And for a month the Jets just needed to beat teams under .500 and they couldn’t do that. And in the end, both teasm missed the postseason on the final day of the season and deservingly so.

An all New York Super Bowl? Cue the Cowboys’ “LOL.” You have to love the Jets. At least they didn’t win and let the Patriots in, instead they gave an all out awful performance and gave Miami and Chad Pennington the title. If I was a Jets fan (and I wake up and thank God every morning that I’m not) I would hope that yesterday was Brett Favre’s last game because if Favre returns in ’09, you can expect less than or equal to the same result the Jets finished this season with. There is no better anti-big game quarterback than Brett Favre and Tony Romo doesn’t even hold a candle to Favre when it comes to choking on the big stage. And yes, I am well aware that Brett Favre won a Super Bowl more than a decade, so if that won title erases all the other games he has blown, then there is something wrong with how high we hold one championship. And looking back at his career in big games, Favre managed to not single-handedly lose a big game once, and it happened to be in the Super Bowl.

But, a soon-to-be 40-year old (wow, that’s a lot of hyphens) quarterback with a shoulder as strong as Mark Prior’s isn’t exactly the formula to fix a franchise in turmoil. And on a day that Eric Mangini was fired, how can the team go forward by keeping around a player who could very easily be blamed for the majority of the losses the Jets suffered. Mangini is gone and it’s time for Brett to go too.

The AFC West is such a joy to watch. Mainly because the division’s two best teams are really lower tier NFL teams and the division’s two worst teams (Kansas City and Oakland) are arguably the two worst teams in the entire league (pretending that Detroit isn’t a pro team). And last night’s game wa a clear display of the no-defense AFC West. The fact that the Chargers put up 52 points last night and 38 the first time and lost one of the two games is remarkable and mind boggling. And the fact that Denver gave up that many points twice to the same team is even more of a head scratcher. But having San Diego in the playoffs is better for the league and better competition for the Colts, who will pick them apart anyways, than if Denver had won and gotten in. If you want to rate the most overrated teams in the NFL, Denver and San Diego are 1A and 1B, and there is no argument for that.

Oakland Beats Tampa Bay 
That could have been the headline following the Super Bowl a few years back, but instead it was the other way around. But it might just be the team that John Gruden beat that could cost him is job. And how about those Bucs? Win and you’re in. Beat the Raiders and you’re in. The Oakland Raiders. The saddest franchise not named the Detroit Lions in professional sports. Ok, maybe that’s a strecth, but comeeeeee onnnnnnnnnnn. THE OAKLAND RAIDERS. How can the Tampa Bay Bucs lose to the Raiders, at home, in a must win game for a postseason berth. It just doesn’t make sense. The only thing that makes sense is that Jeff Garcia threw the game because he was mad at John Gruden for not trusting him earlier in the season and hoping that by throwing the game he would get Gruden fired. And that is the most ridiculous conspiracy theory in the history of conspriacy theories, but what other logical explanation is there that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (once 9-3) could lose to the Oakland Raiders (once didn’t score a TD for three straight games) in a must win?

0 for the Season.
The Lions went 0-16 and no one cares, and why should they? If you go 0-16 or 1-15 or 2-14 or 7-9 who cares. It’s all the same. You didn’t make the playoffs and you are going home after Week 17. This game is about winning championships, not regular season records and statistics.

The Chicago Bears. Win and you’re in. And what happens? You lose to a team that doesn’t know what defense is. The Bears fought so hard the past few weeks only to let their entire fan base down with a dagger of a loss in Houston to a mediocre Texans team. The Bears were never good this season, but when you have a chane to make the postseason and all that sits in front of you is the Houston Texans, you win the game. Period.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Roethlisberger
And for all those people out there that believe in playing every game to win, even if it is meaningless, Ben Roethlisberger’s concussion should give you second thoughts. Because it didn’t matter if the Steelers scored 259 points or punted on every first down, their position in the playoffs was not going to change, and now their quarterback could possibly be out for a postseason game. This example of a star player getting injured in Week 17 for a winning team is going to raise questions over the next few seasons until there is another Giants-like momentum run through the playoffs.

San Francisco 7-9ers
The Washington Redskins were 6-2. They finished 8-8. A 2-6 finish for the Redskins is enough to have Jim Zorn fired, but I would think he will be given another chance given that the potential certainly is there. But about the 49ers who knocked off the Skins in Week 17. Mike Singletary has done an outstanding job with San Fran to get them to finish with a 7-9 record and he was rewarded with a 5-year deal. Good for him. I am calling it right now. The San Francisco 49ers are your 2009 NFC West Champions. And I will be betting that the day the line comes out.

And in other unimportant Week 17 news

Cincy wins three in a row to finish the season respectably, even if their 4-11-1 record isn’t.

The Falcons hold off the Rams (yes, the Rams), but settle for the 5th seed in the NFC.

The Panthers nearly blow a seemingly insurmountable lead, but get the game winning FG they couldn’t get last week to beat the Saints and clinch the No. 2 seed. Drew Brees fails to break the passing record by 16 yards.

The Colts blowout the Titans at home and finish the season with a nine straight wins.

Baltimore beats Jacksonville and ends the Patriots and Jets seasons.

And lastly, Arizona hangs on to top the Seahawks.

Welcome to the Second Season
So, here we are, The Promised Land. 12 Teams, 1 Dream. And it all starts Saturday afternoon.

This season seemed to go by rather quickly, even though it was a long and chaotic 17 weeks of great football. There were numerous upsets every Sunday and underdogs winning left and right. It seemed to be a strange NFL season, but it was unique the way every season is.

But we now have our 12 teams that have a chance to bring the title home on February 1st in Tampa Bay and believe me it is going to be one wild ride to Super Bowl XLIII.

Stay tuned, tonight the G-Men HQ presents the Road to Tampa Bay.