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Week 16 Friday 10-pack

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We realize that the bulk of our traffic comes from folks who check out our offerings while they otherwise would be working.

We also realize that not many of you will be working on Friday, since it’s Christmas Eve.

But every Friday we post a 10-pack of takes for the coming slate of games, and we can’t quit now simply because plenty of you won’t be around to read what we have to write.

So for those of you who are working and/or taking time out of your valuable non-work time to consider our useless facts and arguably even more useless opinions, it’s like you’re in an exclusive club, or something.

1.  We’ll take DeSean over Devin any day.

When Bears return specialist Devin Hester racked up his 14th career return touchdown on Monday, Hester was hailed as the best return man in football.

Proving yet again that American society has adopted the attention span of a chihuahua on cocaine.

DeSean Jackson is the best return man in football.  It’s not even close.  Hester’s good, but there’s no one more electric right now than Jackson.

And he plays receiver with that same flair, squirting his middle-school frame through a sliver of space and then exploding to the end zone.  Hester is an average receiver, at best.  His return skills simply don’t translate to offense.

But Jackson’s do.  Sure, he has only four punt-return touchdowns in three seasons.  Hester had seven in his first two.  (He picked up none in years three and four, but three more in 2010.)

Still, Jackson is the better player.  And of the two players, Jackson has the better chance of capping his career with the placement in Canton of a bust that likely will weigh nearly as much as his entire body.

2.  DeSean may have hurt Vick’s MVP bid.

We’ve got one last thing to say about one of the most exciting games in recent years.  When Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson broke a 31-31 tie with a 65-yard punt return on the last play of regulation, Jackson potentially robbed teammate Mike Vick of an overtime performance that could have enhanced Vick’s candidacy for the league MVP award.

Hear us out on this one.  Remember 2002, in the Metrodome?  Vick turned the Vikings’ defense into the Keystone Cops with a thrilling overtime touchdown run.  Vick kept running right out of the tunnel, and he took the single-game quarterback rushing record (173 yards) with him.

On Sunday, Vick had 130 yards rushing and one touchdown through four quarters, and he passed for 242 and three touchdowns.  In overtime, Vick could have authored a finish that would have helped him attract even more votes for what could be one of the tightest MVP votes of all time.

Then again, the Giants also could have won the game in overtime.

Vick’s next chance to make his case will come on Sunday night, when he gets the chance once again to race through the Minnesota defense on national television.  (We had to mention that to make it relevant to this weekend’s games.)

3.  A tie could be coming between Vick, Brady.

Speaking of the MVP race, we’re starting to think that the award once again will be split.

It first happened in 1997, when Brett Favre and Barry Sanders shared the hardware.  In 2003, Peyton Manning and Steve McNair also tied in the voting.

We’re surprised it hasn’t happened more often.  With 50 voters casting one all-or-nothing selection each, a year like this one easily could result in a tie vote.

That’s why the Associated Press needs to revamp the system for selecting all postseason awards, adopting a Heisman-style system with points awarded based on first-place, second-place, and third-place votes.

So don’t be surprised if Mike Vick and Tom Brady share the 2010 MVP award.

If that happens, the general public doesn’t regard it as a shared award.  Instead, each guy is regarded as an MVP.

Actually, maybe that’s the right outcome for the 2010 season.

4.  Five-way race for rushing crown.

Throughout the 2010 season, it has been presumed that Texans running back Arian Foster was destined to win the rushing crown.  And while Foster still holds the lead at 1,345 with two games to play, his margin is at 21 yards and shrinking.

In fact, four players are within 90 yards of Foster, which means that one of them, with a strong showing in one or both of the last two games, could steal the crown.

Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jaguars has 1,324.  Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs sits in third at 1,303.  Tennessee’s Chris Johnson is barely halfway to his stated goal of 2,500 yards, with 1,267.  Michael Turner of the Falcons has 1,256.

Though it’s a largely meaningless pursuit, the race could get very interesting in Week 16 and 17.

5.  Cowher goes out of character to get his next job.

On Sunday, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that former Steelers coach Bill Cowher has targeted three jobs for 2011:  the Giants, Texans, and Dolphins.  We expected that Cowher would deny it, even if his agent supplied it to Mort.

But Cowher has been silent.  Which speaks volumes.

This is the same candidate who, as recently as last year, refused to talk about any jobs that still had a man in them.  Now, Cowher or someone on his behalf is sharing his wish list with the media, while Cowher sits at best with an “it wasn’t me” expression or at worst a Cheshire smile riding over his chin.

Even with a more overt effort to get back into the league, it may not be enough.  As Peter King first pointed out several weeks ago, the looming labor uncertainty will cause teams changing out coaches to look in-house first, since continuity will be critical if the offseason training program, and possibly all or part of training camp, is lost to a work stoppage.

So why is this relevant to the coming weekend?  Because Giants coach Tom Coughlin, Texans coach Gary Kubiak, and Dolphins coach Tony Sparano surely know about the report, they’re likely upset about it, and even if they’ve received a private vote of confidence from each of their owners, they’re surely worried that back-channel discussions could be happening with Cowher.  If will thus be interesting to see how they, and their teams, respond.

6.  Rex’s recreational activities will hurt Rob the most.

Though Rex Ryan’s bizarrely public hobbies (especially when considering the largely overlooked Alt.com profile posted at Deadspin) won’t affect his employment until owner Woody Johnson is looking for reasons to justify making a change based on subpar on-field performance, there’s one guy who’ll more immediately bear the brunt of Buniongate.

Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is the identical twin of Rex Ryan.  That was regarded as a good thing earlier this year.  Now?  Not.

We’re not saying Rob Ryan won’t be hired, but to get a head-coaching job in the NFL he’ll have to submit to the informational equivalent of a colonoscopy, and he’ll be asked to sign in blood a confirmation that he has supplied the team with no false or misleading information.

Even then, recent events involving Rex could make an NFL owner far less inclined to take a chance on Rob.

So why is this relevant to the coming weekend?  The performance of Ryan’s defense in the last two games, against the Ravens and the Steelers, will be a factor in whether or not he gets any sniffs in the 2011 hiring cycle.

7.  Niners have a great shot at the NFC West crown.

We’ve assumed for weeks that the NFC West title will come down to the Rams and Seahawks, presumably when the two teams play each other on Week 17.

But even though the 49ers have won only five of 14 games, they have a fairly clear step-by-step path to the division championship.

One?  Cut a hole in a box.  Beat the Rams in St. Louis on Sunday.  Two?  Hope the Seahawks lose at Tampa on Sunday.  Three?  Beat the Cardinals at home in Week 17.

Regardless of what the Rams or Seahawks do when they play each other on January 2, the Niners would win the head-to-head tie with whichever of the two teams ends up at 7-9.

And then we’ll spend the entire wild-card week talking about how bad the 49ers are and how the playoff process needs to change and then the Niners probably will knock off the Saints at home in the first round likely the Niners nearly did in Week Two.

8.  Fins’ failures are unfathomable.

They’re 6-1 on the road.  And 1-6 at home.  Thus, they’ve won as many games in their own stadium this season as the Jets, Patriots, Steelers, Bears, Browns, and Bills.

In the 2010 calendar year, the Steelers are 2-0 at Sun Life Stadium; the team that plays there is 1-7.  Heck, even the Saints have won a game there in 2010.

Thus, 25 percent of the entire NFL has won a game at the venue this year, thanks to Miami’s inability to win more than one itself.  With or without a loss to the Lions on Sunday, we’d be surprised (not shocked but surprised) if coach Tony Sparano survives it.

9.  Where’s Reggie?

If the Saints hope to make noise in the playoffs, they need to get some production out of Reggie Bush.

He missed eight games with a fractured fibula.  In four games since returning, he has rushed for a total of 62 yards, and he has caught 16 passes for another 70.

Last week at Baltimore, Bush didn’t even get the start.  And he would have had more rushing yards if he hadn’t played at all.  (He finished with minus-4 on four carries.)

They could use him on Monday night against the Falcons.  And they’ll need him for the postseason — especially since the Saints are on track to have to do it the hard way by going on the road for up to three games in order to have a crack at the much-coveted “Two Dat.”

10.  With or without Favre, Frazier could be in trouble.

It’s no surprise that interim Vikings coach Leslie Frazier wants to see quarterback Brett Favre on the field.  We’ve all seen Joe Webb (who has a ton of potential but who hasn’t reached it yet), and that says it all.

But while Favre gives the Vikings their best chance to win, they likely won’t be doing much more winning.  Under Frazier, they barely beat a dysfunctional Redskins teams and rolled up a Buffalo squad that shut it down once Favre was knocked out of the game.

Since then, the Vikings have been plastered in back-to-back weeks, both by the Giants and by the Bears.  Though Favre hasn’t played, making only a cameo on Monday night against Chicago, the Vikings have lost whatever spark they acquired during their rare (for this year) consecutive wins.

With a likely loss looming in Philly and a finale against the Lions at Detroit, 5-11 is looking more and more likely, as is a 2-4 finish for Frazier.

Though the problems at the Metrodome possible will do enough to get the powers-that-be to donate enough public money to build a new stadium in Minnesota, the Vikings need some hope for 2011.  It will be hard to sell hope to the fan base without major changes throughout the front office and coaching staff.

The best news for Frazier is that the locker room supports him, and he’s the polar opposite in many ways of his predecessor, Brad Childress.  Still, it would have been much easier to get the fans behind Frazier with a few more wins down the stretch.

With or without Favre, we don’t see those wins coming.

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20 Responses to “Week 16 Friday 10-pack”
  1. normswifevera says: Dec 24, 2010 9:41 AM

    Regardless of the rushing title, Jamaal Charles should be the offensive player of the year. 6.4 yards a carry is nothing short of incredible.

    Of course, sites like this one would actually have to put him over and mention his name and accomplishments now and then.

  2. gypjet says: Dec 24, 2010 10:14 AM

    I just read that too. Charles is averaging 6.4 yards per. I don’t know much about him, but that is heads and shoulders above any other back with 200 or more carries. Very SICK.

  3. grpatriot says: Dec 24, 2010 10:31 AM

    Brady should win the MVP going away! This shouldn’t even be a discussion…
    Hopefully, thoughtful voters will look at the big picture and realize that forgiveness and stupidness aren’t one in the same!

    Just another poke in the eye to the players that do thier job, play by the rules! Vick is like the Hot new toy at Christmas.

  4. jfibertkc says: Dec 24, 2010 10:40 AM

    Charles is a beast. Not to mention he is in third place among all running backs with nearly 80 less carries than the few ahead and behind him. If offensive player of the year is based on production and efficiency – Charles is the definition of this.

  5. iggles20 says: Dec 24, 2010 11:05 AM

    “One? Cut a hole in a box. ” – *falls over laughing* That will never get old!

  6. zombiepatriot says: Dec 24, 2010 11:19 AM

    I think the Vick for MVP talk is interesting but I honestly don’t believe he deserves it at this time.

    The difference between the two candidates being spoken about is Brady has played every game thus far Vick has not.

    Also, the talk really heated up this past week because he was able to take advantage of a gassed defence in the second half of the game but what occurred in the first?

    I also believe if you remove Brady from the equation the Patriots have less of a chance of winning moving forward. If you remove Vick the Eagles are still in good shape.

    Vick is having a great season unfortunatley Brady has been having an exceptional season.

    In the end a split is likely because what will hurt Brady is the same bogus poo that has always hurt him… people who claim he is a system quarterback.

    Vick will get votes because like Manning he is flashy but we all know in the end who is best in this situation.

    Who cares anyhoo… how often does the league MVP win the Superbowl anyhoo? And we all know that is what is important.

  7. mrwoodz511 says: Dec 24, 2010 11:26 AM

    Some good points after number 1 – but number 1 is terrible. Even on what will be Jackson’s most famous punt return last week, he got the benefit of huge slices of fortune. The greatest return man, should not drop a punt under little pressure.

    I would love my team to have either player, but DeSean is the better receiver – but his team mate Maclin is better.

    As far as returns go Hester is untouchable. His record breaking return was not exactly one of his best – it was too easy. But the kick-off return to the 5, minutes earlier was electric. The 2 year gap was due to him not being used as often, and kickers avoiding him.

    But both players are a long way off making it to Canton as a receiver – and I do like them both. But whoever ends their career with the most kick returns for TDs should go to Canton for THAT reason. Just ask the Chargers fans how important special teams must be…

  8. doug1grohlin says: Dec 24, 2010 12:01 PM

    Hester over Jackson any day. Hester is more of a game changer than Jackson. If Hester were on any other team than the Bears, PFT would never had posted that. They hate the Bears here and that’s why they write garbage like that. Same thing happened when they said Hester, “took” the ST award from Jackson.

    Hester is better and returns, get over it.

  9. mswravens says: Dec 24, 2010 12:03 PM

    One? Cut a hole in a box.

    PRICELESS! Thanks for the Xmas Eve laugh while I toil away at work!

  10. backindasaddle says: Dec 24, 2010 12:06 PM

    1a) Despite all of his abundant talent…DeSean Jackson displays classic turd-like characteristics early on. The multi-year crystal ball forecast on DeSean:

    ‘Abundant talent, spectacular plays, and much highlight reel footage on ESPN, followed by extreme low-character self-centered turd-like behavior and a fractured locker room.’

  11. iabearsfan says: Dec 24, 2010 12:23 PM

    How can you hate the bears this much? To pick Jackson over Hester is one of the dumbest things you have written yet. Hester averages 5 yards more per return, has 2 more TD and Hesters long is 34 yards longer than Jacksons. Maybe someday you will be able to give the Bears and thier players some credit.

  12. janvanflac says: Dec 24, 2010 2:18 PM

    “‘Abundant talent, spectacular plays, and much highlight reel footage on ESPN, followed by extreme low-character self-centered turd-like behavior and a fractured locker room.’’

    Idiotic. He’s actually a fierce competitor, hard worker, and his coaches love him. Yeah, he shows off a little bit but the dude is a player. That punt return was incredible…two steps and he was at full speed…which is 2x as fast as anyone else’s full speed. Is Hester a better return man? Probably…But PFT is right DJax is a complete football player.

  13. dilberry says: Dec 24, 2010 2:23 PM

    1. We’ll take DeSean over Devin any day.

    lol?

  14. mannyicey says: Dec 24, 2010 3:12 PM

    Here’s the issue:

    People are saying that the Eagles would have done fine without Vick while Brady is the reason why the Pats are so good. The only problem with that logic is that the Eagles were without Vick and they were not that fine. With Vick, however, they are more than fine.

    Brady is good, but you got the whole “Before/After” thing with Vick and that’s what’s propelling his name up there.

    I personally see Vick winning this, but it’s between Brady and Vick. The fact that he didn’t start every game helps his cause, not hurts it, IMO.

    Oh, and I think that there should be someone else in contention, but not win it. And he’s not even a quarterback. Roddy White should at least be talked about. The Falcons are 12-2 with Roddy White being the MVP of the team. They aren’t world-beaters or sexy, but they just keep winning.

  15. sciguy51 says: Dec 24, 2010 3:14 PM

    DeSean may be the more complete player, but since he can’t help showboating, he’s going to get his bell rung/clock cleaned/etc. eventually and be put out of action for a good long time. I’ll take Hester any day.

  16. fresno500 says: Dec 24, 2010 4:24 PM

    If excitement is a variable, Brady dosen’t stand a chance.

  17. theguywhotoldtimtebowtoshutthefup says: Dec 24, 2010 5:32 PM

    “Proving yet again that American society has adopted the attention span of a chihuahua on cocaine.”

    No. Just you media idiots.

  18. eaglefansnet says: Dec 24, 2010 6:22 PM

    #
    gaypatriot says: Dec 24, 2010 10:31 AM

    Brady should win the MVP going away! This shouldn’t even be a discussion…
    Hopefully, thoughtful voters will look at the big picture and realize that forgiveness and stupidness aren’t one in the same!

    Just another poke in the eye to the players that do thier job, play by the rules! Vick is like the Hot new toy at Christmas.

    Thanks for that unbiased and objective rendering of factual material to support your opinion.

    I don’t want to get into an argument with someone who uses big words like “stupiness” but at least try to present an argument why your boy should be MVP.

  19. nik23i says: Dec 24, 2010 10:08 PM

    Jackson is a better receiver, but not even close as a returner. This year alone, Hester has one less return TD than Jackson has over his career. 16 20+ returns to 3 Hester of Jackson, this includes Kick returns which Jackson doesn’t do, but Hester still has 8 to 3 for punt returns over 20. Then Hester’s 9 40+ to Jackson’s 1 total returns. 5 40+ Punt returns to Jackson’s 1. Sorry but just this season Hester shows he’s far and away better than Jackson on returns.

  20. whodat318 says: Dec 26, 2010 12:56 PM

    Where’s Reggie? If the Saints were the top seed in the NFC no one would pose this question. Without Reggie Bush the Saints are 8-2, he’ll come around.

    Everyone is giving props to the Falcons I see. The Saints are two missed field goals away from being the #1 team (Hartley missed in week three and five) in the NFC South and the NFC. It’s funny how people are counting us out and the Falcons in. In my opinion the Saints have only loss two games, a meltdown in Cleveland due to trickery, and a dismal performance in the secondary last week in Baltimore. With that being said the Saints are in the same position they were in last year……. If the road to Dallas doesn’t go through Chicago we’ll see all the nonbelievers on that gigantic screen in disbelief…….!!!!!!! WhoDat, TwoDat!!!!!!

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