Week 15 Friday 10-pack

With three weeks left in the 2010 regular season and 23 teams still alive for the postseason, there are plenty of story lines going into Week 15.

Since 23 teams are still alive, we thought about presenting 23 story lines.

But then we realized that’s 13 more than 10.  So we stuck with 10.

1.  Randy Moss has neutered himself.

After being fired by the Patriots and the Vikings and with a one last looming crack at a high-end long-term deal, Titans receiver Randy Moss is watching his words and actions very carefully.  And in his desire to avoid getting riled up to the point that he screws up his chances of getting paid, Moss by all appearances has killed his passion and his pride.

The latest example?  Moss gladly is stepping aside for second-year wideout Kenny Britt.

“I’m definitely a proven vet,” Moss said Thursday, according to Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com.  “Kenny, this is his second year, and just by his work ethic and the way he studies in the classroom, he wants to make a name for himself.  So basically I don’t have a problem with moving out of the way and making room for Kenny.  This is his team, it’s not mine.  I’m just here to be a part of it.”

Is that what Cris Carter did in 1998, when he was 32 and Moss was a rookie in Minnesota?  Carter lined up with Moss and continued to churn up big numbers while mentoring the youngster.

Thus, by turning off his passion to protect himself from an eruption, Moss no longer cares.  And it shows.

As a result, he can say “hello” to the T.O. phase of his career.  Because we think he’s too proud to wait several months for the phone to ring with an offer for a low-end deal, he could soon by saying “goodbye” to the NFL.

2.  Joe Flacco already is an elite quarterback.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco explained on Thursday’s Dan Patrick Show that the third-year pro became a little miffed after he was repeatedly grilled by ESPN’s Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden regarding the things Flacco needs to do to become an elite quarterback.  Eventually, Flacco essentially said he’s already there.

And he’s right.

Consider this fact.  Entering only his third NFL season, Flacco already has played in five postseason road games.  And he has won three of them.

So while Matt Ryan of the Falcons already is regarded as the superior member of the quarterback class of 2008, Ryan is 0-1 in the playoffs.  This year, we’d rather have Flacco under center in a money game, especially if that game is being played away from home.

3.  Moment of truth for the Colts.

Last year at this time, the Colts were facing the Jaguars in the hopes of pushing their record to 14-0 at a time when the top seed in the AFC already had been clinched.  Indy succeeded, barely, before tempting the football gods (and ticking off Commissioner Roger Goodell) by not trying to win the last two games of the season.

Since then, the Colts have won eight games.  And they’ve lost nine.

Now, the Colts host Jacksonville in a very meaningful game.  Lose, and the Colts will fall to 7-7, the Jags will clinch the AFC South, and the Colts will have to hope for help in the hopes of winning a wild-card berth.

Though many believe that the Colts’ Week 14 win over Tennessee means that they’re back, baby, they barely beat a very bad Titans teams.  It hardly means that the Colts have solved their many flaws.  If the Colts have indeed overcome their recent slide, they have a perfect chance to prove it.

If the Colts fail, it will be the eighth straight season in which at least one team has gone from last place to first place in one of the NFL’s eight divisions.

4.  Sparano’s job could be on the line.

The 7-6 Dolphins have generated a dreadful 1-5 record at home.  To continue their climb toward a long-shot (but not impossible, thus the use of the word “long-shot”) playoff berth, the Fins need to win their last two home games against the Bills and the Lions.

If they don’t, they surely won’t see the postseason.  And it very well could mean the end of the road for coach Tony Sparano.

With V.P. of football operations Bill Parcells now gone, Sparano and G.M. Jeff Ireland are extremely vulnerable.  And if the Dolphins can’t beat the Bills and Lions at home, Sparano (and Ireland, for that matter) could be gone.

The good news?  Maybe they’ll be available for Parcells to hire if he takes another job in 2011.

5.  Tebow’s performance down the stretch won’t matter.

If Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow gets some playing time in the last three weeks of his rookie season, he’ll have a chance to cement his status as the team’s quarterback of the future.

Or will he?

In 2011, Tebow will be at the mercy of the next coach of the team, just as Jay Cutler was once Josh McDaniels arrived.  Though it’s possible that keeping Tim Tebow will be one of the express conditions of getting the job, football coaches have been known to sprain the truth from time to time.

And so it could be that the next coach says all the right things when he’s interviewed and introduced, and then puts into motion a plan that entails not using Tebow and/or eventually trading him.

6.  Schottenheimer will be the scapegoat in New York.

In 2008, when the Jets went from 8-3 and flying high to 9-7 and home for the playoffs, coach Eric Mangini took the fall.

In 2010, if the Jets complete their collapse from 9-2 to 9-7 and fail to qualify for the postseason, who’ll get fired?

The smart money is on offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

Already, Scottenheimer is being characterized as “embattled” and “under fire.”  If the Jets can’t get to the postseason, or if they lose their first playoff game, look for Schottenheimer to be the former offensive coordinator of the Jets.

Given the Sal Alosi mess, don’t be surprised if others get run out of the building, too.

7.  Bradford better than Manning?

In 1998, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning started every game as a rookie.  Though he  threw for an NFL-record (for a first-year player) 3,739 yards, Manning’s team won only three games, the same number of victories in the season before Manning’s arrival.

In 2010, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford already has led the Rams to six times the wins that the team registered in 2009.  And though he likely won’t break Manning’s rookie passing yardage record, Bradford is closing in on becoming only the third rookie to throw for more than 3,000 yards.

He’s on pace to pass for more than 3,500 yards, which would put him at No. 2, ahead of Matt Ryan and behind only Manning.  With a couple of huge games with a playoff berth on the line, who knows?  Maybe Bradford will end up with a few more yards — and a lot more wins — that Peyton in his rookie year.

8.  Tuck rule, revisited.

Cornerback Charles Woodson will make his first visit to Foxboro on Sunday as a member of the Packers.  Nine years ago, he played in New England as a member of the  Raiders during a prime-time snow-globe game that helped give birth to the Patriots dynasty.

It was Woodson himself who hit former Michigan teammate Tom Brady to force what appeared to be a game-clinching fumble.  And then the football-watching world became introduced to the term “tuck rule.”  And then the Patriots tied the game to force overtime.  And then the Patriots won the game in overtime.

Who knows what would have happened if the Pats had lost that game?  Though most of us quit thinking about what could have been long ago, we’ve got a feeling Woodson will be thinking about it a lot on Sunday night — especially with the forecast calling for, yes, snow.

9.  Vikes should play in the elements all the time.

Speaking of snow, they’ve gotten a little bit of it lately in Minnesota.  As a result, they apparently will be playing out in it on Monday night, 29 years to the day after the last Vikings home game that was played without a lid.

And so a week after getting a glimpse of what life would be like if the Vikings move to a new city when they played a “home” game in Detroit, the locals will get a chance to experiment with outdoor football one night before the first day of winter.

At a time when the NFL has decided to play a Super Bowl in the elements, we think that the Vikings should push for an open-air home.  It would be a lot cheaper to build a stadium without a retractable dome and, perhaps more importantly, there would be no risk of snow caving in the roof.

10.  L.T. has faded, again.

In August, one of the guys at the center of the buzz (and profanity) coming from the Jets was LaDainian Tomlinson.  In his first year with an NFL team other than the Chargers, Tomlinson was running hard during training camp and the preseason.

Then, when the regular season began, Tomlinson made an instant contribution, rushing for 62, 76, 70, 133, and 94 yards in the team’s first five games, with per-carry averages of 5.6, 6.9, 4.7, 7.0 and 4.7 yards.  Along with Mike Vick, L.T. was regarded as a top candidate for the league’s comeback player of the year award.

Starting with Week Six, however, the decline commenced. Tomlinson rushed for 55 yards on 16 carries against the Broncos, a 3.4-yard average.  After the rest and rejuvenation of the bye week, he got one less yard — 54 — against the Packers, on the same number of carries.  L.T. was good for 55 and 57 in each of the next two weeks.

Since then, Tomlinson hasn’t cracked 50, rushing for 36, 49, 47, and 49 yards in the last four games.

For the season, he has 837 yards rushing and 348 yards receiving.  Both numbers put him well ahead of Shonn Greene, the presumed starter in the preseason based on a strong postseason in his rookie year.  Still, L.T. of late is playing nothing like he did early on, and it makes us wonder whether he’ll have anything left when the Jets make it to the playoffs.

If, that is, the Jets make it to the playoffs.

30 responses to “Week 15 Friday 10-pack

  1. Joe Flacco thinks he’s elite…that’s hilarious! One of the funniest things I’ve read all week!

    He’s accomplished nothing in the NFL. 3 out of 5 road playoff games? The only thing that matters there is that he’s also 2 of 5 for failing in the playoffs.

    At least let Bert make it to a superbowl before we start calling him elite.

    Right now there’s only 4 elite QBs in the NFL – Manning, Brees, Brady and Roethlisberger.

    There’s some very good QBs also (Rivers) but only a select few are elite.

  2. I’ve said all along that Troy P. was in need of rest due to the ankly injury bothering him …. and we hear he will probably not play Sunday. It’s a good call – hopefully Sanchez will continue his unimpressive QB rating and give the Steelers a couple of early turnovers so they can attempt to put the game away.

    This is a big turn game for both teams. Steelers win and the #2 seed will be locked up just about, and Jets will be out looking in for playoffs.
    Steelers lose (please no!) and #2 seed will be in jeopardy and the Jets will be one game closer to getting into playoffs and jeopardizing Chiefs & Chargers as the team left out in cold by end of season.

  3. When you talk about someone being an elite QB. (Flacco in this case) You should say what elite means – top 5, top 10, top 20? He’s certainly not top 5 and is certainly top 20 and maybe top 10. But does being in the top 1/3 make you elite? Then what’s your definition of a good QB or an average QB? The NFL isn’t Lake Wobegon.

  4. Even as a Ravens fan I have to question attaching the “elite” label to Flacco. Yes, he’s a franchise QB and his career remains on an upward trajectory…but he has fallen flat a few times in critical situations. He has capitalized on some, too, but until he does so regularly…and rarely falls down in those chances…I don’t think he can be considered elite. Does he have to win a SB to be elite? I dunno. I think Rivers is an elite QB, but he has yet to win it all.

    Flacco is on track and may one day be elite…maybe even by February 2011. But I have to agree with the Steelers fans who already posted on this topic – he’s not there yet.

    Elite: Brady, Manning, Ben, Brees, Rivers.

    On the doorstep: Rodgers, Ryan, Vick

    Next men up: Flacco, Schaub, Cassel, Bradford, Freeman

    Over-rated: Eli, Romo, Cutler, Orton

  5. Forget about Flacco as “elite.” That is garbage and doesn’t really matter anyway. My issue is that you are saying he is a better “money” QB than Ryan. Ryan took a team that was in complete disarray and now has it on pace to lock up a #1 seed. The Ravens were a solid team with one of the best defenses in the league. They were one player short of being a superbowl contender. Plug in over half the QBs in the league and the Ravens are a playoff team. Put in a truly elite one and they are superbowl bound.

  6. Randy Moss complains, you give him lip, he plays the good teammate, you tear him apart, MF, do you have anything nice to say about anybody?

    all you do is criticize. It’s not Randy Moss’ fault they don’t throw the ball to him. What is he supposed to do? If he spoke up, you’d be ripping him apart again. Man, you frustrate me every time I read something you write.

  7. 1. Flacco – not elite
    2. Vikings outdoor stadium – They should definitely do it. I believe back 29+ years ago their home playoff record was all but perfect.
    3. L.T. – When are coaches going to understand that you may need to rest (for a few weeks) your older guys. Especially when they don’t do anything for those few weeks.

  8. flacco is good, i will not take anything away from him, but ‘elite’ qbs read the blitz that polamalu was bringing, and realize he has little to no time and either hit the hot route, or take the sack at that point of the game.

  9. Flacco over Ryan? Now I’m about to revolt.

    Look at the defense that has carried Flacco at times. And then look at some of his playoff wins.

    Like that magical first win against the Dolphins in the wild card.

    Flacco completed 9-of-23 attempted passes for 135 yards without no TD or INT’s.

    How about the second game when they beat the Titans 13-10 and he was 11-of-22 for 148 yards and a touchdown.

    Flacco made 13 of 30 pass attempts for 141 yards passing, was sacked three times, and intercepted three times in the 2009 AFC Championship Game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    So he won 2 out of his first 3 playoff games by completing less than 50% of his passes with more INT’s than TD’s. Last year he won 1 out of 2 by passing for 53% completions, 0 TD’s and 3 more picks. His ypa was under 5 as well. There’s nothing elite about ANY of those numbers besides the W/L column, which should be credited to the defense.

    That has to be one of the worst evaluations I’ve seen on here so far, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Falcons fan. Their career stats are pretty even at this point despite the fact that Flacco inherited a better team to start with.

    And look at the team that beat the Falcons that year in the playoffs. The Cardinals. You know, who eventually went on to the Super Bowl and had an extremely high powered offense. Ryan still went 26 of 40(65%) with 2 picks and 2 TD’s.

    Flacco is good and will be solid for years to come, but Ryan is to Flacco as Rivers is to Brady. It’s that simple.

  10. That analogy was supposed to be backwards. Ryan is to Flacco as Brady is to Rivers. You got the idea.

  11. Instead of the tuck rule, I think you should analyze the bogus roughing the passer call against the Patriots in 1976 against the Raiders, when the Patriots should have won their first title.

  12. Once again, Foolio comes out and betrays his ridiculous, illogical, and non-factual Anti-Ryan Bias.

    Foolio, Ryan took a team with the 9th WORST defense in football in 2008, a team that was one season removed from their DogKilling QB being sent to jail and their cowardly coach quitting them to go be a pig coach of a second-rate SEC team, TO THE PLAYOFFS.

    Fluke-O was handed the keys to a Caddy. All he had to do was NOT SCREW UP. Have you even checked Fluke-O’s playoff stats? They’re HORRIBLE. He had NOTHING to do with ANY of the playoff wins. NOTHING.

    Ryan was handed the keys to a Pinto and turned it into a Mustang.

    Yeah, Foolio… I remember how two years ago, when Ryan won every award out there for an offensive rookie, you largely ignored it, but made a huge deal out of some made up Diet Pepsi Rookie award Fluke-O won.

    Or how this year when Ryan was named Offensive Player of the Month for October, you refused to run the story until 5 days later.

    Peter King, your NBC Buddy, sat in the Georgia Dome when the Falcons beat the Ravens and said that any “competition” between Ryan and Fluke-O isn’t even close.

    Ryan’s decision making, his pocket-awareness, and his ability to convert third down after third down after third down… his CLUTCHNESS… cannot even be touched by Fluke-O.

    Fluke-O is and will always be a caretaker. A guy who plays on a team with an outstanding defense who’s asked not to do too much to screw it up.

    Ryan is Matt Ice. Ryan is the guy with the 5th most TDs in the last 3 years (Manning, Brady, Brees, and Rivers only guys with more) in the NFL. Ryan is the guy who’s began his career with MORE 4th Quarter comebacks than ANY QB in history. Ryan is the guy, who when he missed 3 games last year to injury, his team couldn’t overcome it and lost those games, yet who when he came back, won the last three games of the year against teams who were favored over them, delivering the Falcons something they’ve NEVER had in their entire existence… back to back winning seasons.

    So yeah, Foolio… keep on telling us you’d take Fluke-O over Ryan.

    You’re about the only one outside of Baltimore who would. Peter King wouldn’t. Jaws wouldn’t. Gruden wouldn’t. Aikman wouldn’t. No one who knows anything about football would.

    What’s that say about you?

  13. Flacco is very good, not elite.

    Please refresh yourself on the definition of elite. Not everyone can be elite. Doing so negates the very meaning of the word.

    Elite QBs: P-Manning , Brees, Brady, BR7

  14. “Schottenheimer will be the scapegoat in New York”

    True, but you also have a mediocre (at best) QB in Sanchez. If he was as talented as the NY loudmouths would try to force you to believe then they wouldn’t be staring at their 3rd straight loss this week.

  15. lol calling Joe Flacco elite and that he’s the guy you want starting a playoff game cuz he won 3 in his first 2 years. Here are his stats in those games:

    57-120, 660 yards, 1 td, 6 int

    Yeahhh.. he was clearly the reason the Ravens won those games.

  16. Great reply sanchize6. (57-120, 660 yards, 1td, 6int) for Flacco

    I’m sick of our Sports casters/experts looking at stats that don’t show anything. Almost like they never watched the team play and only look at wins/losses.

  17. Sparano and Ireland both need to go.

    Say what you will about Carl Peterson, but he built and offense with Trent Green, Tony Gonzalez, Preist Holmes, Larry Johnson and an offensive line that was second to none.

    I would take that over what the Dolphins have fielded since Dan Marino retired.

  18. Flacco elite? But you argue about Roethlisberger and thought Dennis Dixon could replace him? Uh-huh.

    I’m straight down the line with mswravens on this one. The only change I’d make to his list is the addition of Favre to the elite line … at least until the retirement is absolutely without-a-doubt official.

  19. Flacco elite because he’s “won” playoff games. This is the kind of stuff that makes Bleacher Report look like actual NFL reporting. Insane.

    Joe Flacco’s playoff “win’s” include QB ratings of 10.0, 18.2, & 48.4.

    Flacco has more playoff QB ratings BELOW 20 than he does over 60. (2-1)

    Let’s do a little by the numbers:

    Most yardage Flacco has EVER thrown for in a playoff game? 189 yards

    Total number of Flacco TD passes in the playoffs? 1

    Total number of INTs Flacco has thrown in the playoffs? 6

    Number of playoff games where Flacco has a better than 50% completion rating? 1

    Number of playoff games where Flacco has completed 14 or more passes? 1

    INSANE to suggest that because his team has won playoff games that Flacco is elite.

    But Flacco has more “wins” in the playoffs in his 1st 2 seasons than Dan Marino, so I guess that makes Flacco better than Marino as well??? Let’s ignore the fact that it’s Ryan who is going to pass Marino’s NFL record for wins in the first 3 seasons of their career. (34-33 if the Falcons win out).

  20. What are the odds that the Jets would hire Josh McDaniels to replace offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer in the event he is sacked? I’m thinking it’s more than possible.

  21. I agree wit robb4242 flaccos stats in the playoff game where they crushef the pats last year was atrocious what was he like 4 out of 12 for like 48 yards are you serious? That qualifies you as elite? The pats d is not that good it wasnt no 99 ravens d or 03 buccaneers d he was playing agains. Elite qb? gtfoh

  22. Flacco is good, he is not elite. You are not elite until you go deep into the playoffs and come through in the clutch – over and over until you get a REP for it.

    You are elite when you trot on the field with 2 minutes & 80 yards to go, your team down, and the opposing defense sees you trot on the field and breathes (oh s..t!) under its breath.

    By the same token – he is right to get pissed when asked the question.

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